HC Deb 12 April 1965 vol 710 cc125-6W
43. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of the official expression of the Portuguese Government's doubts, on 27th November last, of the ability of Her Majesty's Government to fulfil aircraft contracts, and that Portugal now prefers to buy submarines and other warships and equipment in countries other than Great Britain; what is being done to repair the loss of confidence and exports in Portugal, being an allied country and member of the European Free Trade Association; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. M. Stewart

I have seen the statement by a spokesman of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to which the hon. Member refers.

It is, of course, for the Portuguese Government to decide from which countries they wish to purchase military equipment. Her Majesty's Government remain prepared to approve the export of military equipment to Portugal in accordance with the policy explained by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 26th November last.

There is no evidence of a fall in our total exports to Portugal since last November. The value of these exports during the first eleven months of 1964 increased by 14 per cent. as compared with that for the same period of 1963 and there was a similar increase in the period from December, 1964, to February, 1965, as compared with the corresponding period in 1963–64. We are continuing to make every effort to increase further our exports to Portugal, as to other countries, and trade barriers between the United Kingdom and Portugal are being dismantled in accordance with the Stockholm Convention.