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West German Defence Minister (Visit)

Volume 641: debated on Sunday 7 May 1961

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13.

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will make a statement as to his negotiations with the Defence Minister of the West German Republic.

I have been asked to reply.

I have nothing to add to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) on 31st May.

Could the right hon. Gentleman give us any indication when something could be added to it? We have been led to believe that negotiations took place as to the co-ordination from both a financial and an arms point of view of the N.A.T.O. forces, particularly in respect of Germany and the balance of payments problem there. We have been told that there were some orders, including 200 guns. Surely at some convenient point we should have a better statement than that.

If the hon. Member is not wholly satisfied with the statement made at the time, perhaps it would help him and other hon. Members if I give an undertaking that I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the official Press communiqué which was released after the talks. That might make it easier for hon. Members to see the matter in perspective.

Following is the communiqué.

VISIT OF HERR STRAUSS

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE: PRESS COMMUNIQUÉ

At the invitation of Mr. Harold Watkinson, the British Minister of Defence, Herr Franz Josef Strauss, the Minister of Defence of the German Federal Republic, paid a brief visit to this country this week and had discussions with Mr. Watkinson in the Ministry of Defence. The Minister of Aviation also took part in the discussions.

This was one of the regular series of meetings between the N.A.T.O. Ministers of Defence. On this occasion one of the main reasons for the meeting was to examine progress made in co-operation between Great Britain and the Federal Republic in the development and production of military equipment and German procurement of conventional weapons from British production.

The meeting also took account of the recent Anglo-German staff talks which it was agreed served a useful purpose for Anglo-German co-operation.

Herr Strauss confirmed the firm intention to take the British 105 mm tank gun for the German standard tank. An order for the first 200 guns and ammunition would be signed very shortly; another 300 guns would be contracted for later and would probably be followed by a further two thousand to match Germany's eventual need for tanks. Herr Strauss also confirmed that the contract for 50 Seacat missiles was about to be completed and that it was the intention of his Government to buy two prototypes of the British mortar spotting radar Green Archer. Direct orders for the Orpheus engine are being increased and substantial orders for Rolls Royce "Tyne" engines are in prospect for the "Transall" transport aircraft which is under joint Franco-German development.

The Ministers decided to conclude an early agreement for the joint development of a VTOL light-weight Strike fighter aircraft on the basis of the Hawker P1127 and also agreed to develop jointly, in association with France, the Rolls Royce RB162 engine.

Technical and industrial teams will meet in the very near future to carry on this work.