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Defence Equipment (Export)

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 25 April 1951

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47.

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will state the countries to which he has agreed that naval, military and air supplies and equipment can be released; to what extent periodic reviews of these agreements take place; and on what date the last review was made.

Defence equipment not required by our own Forces, or by Commonwealth or North Atlantic Treaty countries, is made available to other friendly Powers provided it is in our strategic interest, and provided that no interference with our defence production programme is entailed. Very little is available at present, and each application is considered on its merits.

I answered a Question on this matter, I think, last week. We are sending some spare parts for aircraft which were previously delivered, and there may be some other small items, but no substantial items of equipment are being exported there.

Could the right hon. Gentleman assure us that this is a matter which is discussed with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, so that there can be no difference of opinion as to what is and what is not a friendly Power? If this is not done there may well be grounds for disagreement and we shall be providing ammunition for Communist propaganda.

As far as the North Atlantic countries are concerned, we consult with the North Atlantic Council and the appropriate committees. There are some countries which are regarded as friendly, but which are outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

What about the "Hunt" class destroyer? That is an article of equipment. Is that to be sent to Egypt?

There was a Question on the Order Paper the other day to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, and I thought that he gave a very full reply.

As to whether it is unsatisfactory or not, surely that is a matter of opinion.