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Spanish Arms (Imports)

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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33.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has received from the Spanish Government to his protest against the export of arms to Egypt by Spain.

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the supply of arms to Egypt by Spain, and the representations which he has made to the Spanish Government on this subject.

In response to representations on this subject by Her Majesty's Government, the Spanish Foreign Minister gave an assurance to Her Majesty's Ambassador in Madrid on 21st June that the Spanish Government had decided, in view of the present disturbed international situation, to prohibit the export from Spain of all arms and munitions unless destined for N.A.T.O. countries.

Will the hon. Gentleman say whether any arms have actually been sent by Spain to Egypt, and if so, as there are reports that they have been, does he not consider that the lifting of the ban on the export of arms to Spain was a mistake? Does it not show that every time a concession is made to Franco, he abuses the situation?

No, Sir. I thought that the hon. Gentleman would be gratified by this assurance. So far as reports are concerned that munitions of war have been sent to Egypt, we recently received information that a large shipment of Spanish arms was about to be made, and the Ambassador has accordingly reminded the Spanish Foreign Minister of this assurance. So far, we have no information that this shipment has gone.

While we are very pleased with the action taken and with the results that have been achieved, does it not show, by the tardiness of the action that has been taken—Spain has said that in view of the disturbed relations at the moment she has banned this export of arms, but have not the disturbed relations been in existence for a long time; have not our men been killed in Egypt, possibly with some of these arms?—that Spain is most unreliable and untrustworthy as a friend or ally? Would not the hon. Gentleman make representations to our American friends on these lines?