HC Deb 21 July 1981 vol 9 cc147-8
1. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the degree of co-operation between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries in policies relating to the sale of defence technology.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Geoffrey Pattie)

The sale of defence technology to Communist countries is kept under constant review in consultation with our allies, and co-operation is very close.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my hon. Friend accept that past sales of Western technology to the Soviet Union have contributed to the enhancement of the effectiveness of the Soviet war machine? Will he now discuss as a matter of urgency with his NATO colleagues the radical reform of COCOM to ensure the effective embargo on strategic technology to the Soviet Union?

Mr. Pattie

It would be impossible to give a blanket acceptance of what my hon. Friend says, although there is no doubt that over a period of time the Soviet Union has been able to acquire, by a variety of means, advanced weapon technology as opposed to equipment. With regard to COCOM, we need to balance genuine and legitimate trading interests with the desire not to sell to the Soviet Union technology that it would obviously turn to its advantage. We shall certainly keep the matter closely under review.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Has my hon. Friend had any success with exploring the terms of memoranda of understanding within NATO countries, which at the moment are apparently preventing the sale of some technology, not to countries of the Warsaw Pact but to free world countries outside that bloc which might want to buy technology but at the moment are prevented from doing so?

Mr. Pattie

I think that I know the areas to which my hon. Friend is referring. It is a matter for the countries concerned to draw up each memorandum of understanding prior to signing. It is important, when any memorandum of understanding is drawn up, that the considerations to which my hon. Friend refers are taken properly into account.

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