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Volume 15: debated on Monday 14 December 1981

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if, in view of the proposed purchase by India of Mirage fighters from France to a value in excess of £100 million, he will reduce the aid to that country by a similar amount.

My right hon. Friend will not be surprised that I am somewhat disappointed by his reply. Does he agree that where a country can afford to spend this amount on sophisticated weapons, particularly with our overseas competitors, the whole question of the need for aid is brought into doubt?

Can my right hon. Friend understand the irritation of my constituents, who, with a local male unemployment rate of 23½ per cent., are told that the Government cannot find the money to make Bridlington a development area, but find that the Government can grant large sums of money to countries that are spending massive sums on sophisticated arms?

Yes, I can understand the feeling of those people, but they should understand that, under article 51 of the United Nations charter, every country has the right to self-defence. India has bought Jaguar aircraft from Britain. The contract for the Mirage deal is still being negotiated; nothing has yet been finalised.