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Arms Sales

Volume 972: debated on Tuesday 30 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what new criteria he has introduced concerning the sale of arms since he assumed office; and if he will make a statement.

We shall continue to consider arms sales on their merits, taking into account the relevant political, strategic, security, economic and arms control considerations. But we shall want to be certain that there are strong arguments against a proposed arms sale before turning it down.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Will he take this appropriate moment to confirm that, on the question of arms sales, the People's Republic of China is considered to be a friendly power of Her Majesty's Government? Will he also tell the House what the Government are doing to expedite the sale of Harriers to the Chinese Government?

My hon. Friend should know that negotiations for the sale of Harriers to the People's Republic of China continue and that the Government hope that those negotiations will reach a successful conclusion. We have no political reservations about the prospects of arms sales to the People's Republic of China.

Will the Government now follow the example of America and Germany which have refused to sell arms to China but have succeeded in obtaining huge orders for non-military goods?

Many countries are currently engaged in negotiating arms sales to China. Her Majesty's Government, like their predecessors, saw no reason why negotiations for certain arms sales should not proceed, and they are now in progress.