HC Deb 12 January 1993 vol 216 c749
1. Mrs. Mahon

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent contacts his Department has had with the Indonesian Defence Ministry about arms sales.

The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Archie Hamilton)

My Department has a number of contacts with the Indonesian Defence Ministry covering a variety of issues. Those contacts are, however, a confidential matter for the two Governments.

Mrs. Mahon

Will the Minister confirm that the sale of British Aerospace Hawk combat aircraft to Indonesia is to go ahead? Is he aware that the Indonesian Government have illegally occupied East Timor for many years and have killed more than a third of its population? Does not he feel any shame at all that, despite the lessons of the Gulf, the British Government are continuing to sell arms to a murderous dictator?

Mr. Hamilton

The point of selling Hawk aircraft to Indonesia is to give jobs to people in this country. There is no doubt in my mind that a Hawk aircraft can do nothing to suppress the people of East Timor. The aircraft is not suitable for that purpose and we have guarantees from the Indonesians that the aircraft would not be used for internal suppression.

Mr. Nicholls

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, by third-world standards, the Indonesian regime's human rights record is considerably better than many and is improving all the time? Does he share my sadness that a country which is trying to improve its human rights record, which will be the major player in that part of the world and which has shown that it wants to be friends with Britain, should be constantly denigrated in ludicrous terms such as we have just heard?

Mr. Hamilton

Yes, and the fact that we do business with Indonesia puts us in a position where we can influence the actions of that Government. We constantly make every effort to improve their human rights record and to improve the situation in East Timor.

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