HL Deb 11 December 1969 vol 306 cc787-8

10 p.m.

LORD WINTERBOTTOMrose to move, That the Draft Defence Powers (Continuance) Order 1969, laid before the House on November 13 last, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that the Draft Defence Powers (Continuance) Order 1969, laid before this House on November 13 last, be approved. I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that the Special Orders Committee, when considering this particular Order, recommended that your Lordships should pay special attention to it because it was creating a precedent.

The Emergency Laws (Re-enactments and Repeals) Act 1964 repealed certain Defence Regulations, re-enacted a number of them with modifications, and continued the Ships and Aircraft (Transfer Restriction) Act 1939 until the end of 1969. The purpose of the Defence Powers (Continuance) Order 1969 is to continue in force the powers granted by Sections 3 and 16 of the 1964 Act, which will expire at the end of 1969, for a period of five years. The purpose of this operation is that, as noble Lords are well aware, arrangements to control the export to Communist countries of goods of strategic importance are agreed by an international Committee, COCOM, representing the NATO countries (less Iceland) and Japan. A review of the list of goods involved was completed earlier this year and the Draft Order now before your Lordships is designed to renew the powers necessary to enable us to continue to comply with these arrangements, which are to deny to our potential enemies strategic materials and equipment.

The Order contains no new power. It merely continues powers which have been available for many years and which give us some essential flexibility in operating the controls. It is a precedent, of course, only in so far as this is the first time that the Regulations have been reactivated after they have run out at the end of the first five-year period starting in 1964. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Defence Powers (Continuance) Order 1969, laid before the House on 13th November last, be approved.—(Lord Winterbottom.)


My Lords, when my right honourable friend introduced the parent Bill in another place he expressed the hope that the powers given by the relevant clauses would not be needed in perpetuity. Her Majesty's Government have, unfortunately, found it necessary to renew them for another five years. But five years is a long time, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will see that the powers will not be used any longer than is absolutely necessary.