HC Deb 28 October 1987 vol 121 cc288-9
8. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the United Kingdom's trade with Afghanistan.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

United Kingdom exports to the market in 1986 were £11.4 million and imports £11.9 million. We neither encourage nor discourage trade with Afghanistan, and support for British exporters is confined to basic market information available from my Department on request.

Mr. Dalyell

I want to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman a question of which I gave his Department notice. Has the Department of Trade and Industry any end user certificates for the Blowpipe missiles that have found their way to Kabul?

Mr. Clarke

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his persistence. However, he knows perfectly well that it has never been the practice in the House for Ministers to answer questions of that kind or to give information on that sort of subject.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall that when the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1980 the European Community broke off negotiations with COMECON'? Surely the situation has not changed, as the Russians remain in Afghanistan and our approach to trade with Afghanistan should have a similar policy.

Mr. Clarke

I described our policy on trade with Afghanistan, and obviously at the moment Afghanistan is best described as a difficult market because of the Russian occupation and the civil war that is in progress. With regard to the export of sensitive items that have been described, it is not the practice of Ministers to answer questions on those subjects in the House.