HC Deb 01 March 1983 vol 38 cc115-6
1. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the approximate value of arms sales to Latin America in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Ian Stewart)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the figures contained in volume 2 of the 1982 "Statement on the Defence Estimates"—table 2.7. More recent figures are being compiled for the 1983 White Paper but will not be available in advance of publication.

Mr. Hooley

Is the Minister aware that there are a number of serious territorial disputes between the countries of Latin America? Instead of fuelling those disputes by pouring arms into that part of the world, would it not be more sensible to concert our policy with other Western countries and bring in a moratorium?

Mr. Stewart

I am aware of the factors to which the hon. Gentleman draws attention, but with all defence and para-military sales the Government take into account all relevant factors and deal with them case by case.

Mr. Stokes

Is my hon. Friend aware that some anxiety is felt by Conservative Members about arms sales to both unfriendly and doubtful powers? Will my hon. Friend have a word with our right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ensure that bankers in this country are more discriminating when making the loans that make these purchases possible?

Mr. Stewart

My hon. Friend may have heard the answer that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor gave in the House last week when he pointed out that the terms of the financial support for Argentina would make it more difficult for it to devote resources to arms purchases. All such overseas sales are subject to our political, strategic and security interests.

Mr. McNamara

When the White Paper is published, will the Minister say how many of the nations involved supported Argentina in the recent dispute with the United Kingdom over the future of the Falkland Islands? Which of those South American countries to which we are selling arms have refused to give us bases for the humanitarium purpose of supplying those islands?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman must wait for the publication of the defence Estimates. These factors are all taken into account when dealing with individual countries. Our relations with those countries is a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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