HC Deb 14 December 1983 vol 50 cc979-80
3. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether his policy of encouraging exports is limited by any non-commercial criteria.

Mr. Tebbit

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Dubs

Is the Minister aware that there is a firm in the midlands which manufactures and exports gang chains, leg shackles, and other such items, which are sold to countries where there are known violations of human rights and where they can be used only for the purposes of coercion, degradation and torture? Will the Minister look into this matter and see whether he can take the necessary powers to stop the export of such items?

Mr. Tebbit

I note what the hon. Gentleman says, but I understand that the truth of the matter is not entirely established. Of course, we have to understand that while there are no international understandings on the export of such items, if this country did not export them someone else would. [Interruption.] Oh yes, indeed. If that happened, the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) would grumble further about our trade position.

Mr. Hardy

Does the Secretary of State accept that a little while ago hon. Members on both sides supported my request that there should be a restraint on exporting instruments designed to confer electric shocks on people in penal institutions? Would it not therefore be consistent for the Secretary of State to take action similar to that taken by others of his colleagues in the Government?

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Gentleman raises a fair point. I have not excluded the possibility of taking action. I am explaining some of the problems that would arise in trying to make any action effective. We have a general block on the export of items which could be used, for example, for repression. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we take action in some cases, but sometimes it is not easy to conclude the purpose for which some items are designed.