asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what sum has been paid by the Government of Portugal for two Bay class frigates of the British Navy recently sold to that Government; and how much the refitting and modernising of these warships prior to sale cost.
The purchase price of ships sold to other navies is a confidential matter between Her Majesty's Government and the purchaser. The Answer to the second part of the Question is that these ships were to be refitted not by the Admiralty but by private negotiations between the purchaser and a British shipbuilding firm.
Perhaps the Civil Lord will tell me whether the purchase price took into account any restriction upon the use of the ships and whether the same restriction applied to these ships as applied to the provision of arms to Portugal. I hope that he can tell us that the ships are not to be used for conveying troops to any of the Portuguese colonies or for any operation on the coasts of those colonies.
It has been made clear in many debates and Questions in the House that these ships were sold in order to replace over-age destroyers which were being scrapped and to allow Portugal to meet her N.A.T.O. obligations.