HC Deb 31 January 1966 vol 723 cc683-6
52. Mr. Dell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his visit to Latin America.

58. Mr. John Hynd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent visits of himself and the Minister of State to Latin-American countries; and what proposals he has for improving the contacts between these countries and the United Kingdom.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)

Between 2nd and 14th January I visited Peru, Chile and Argentina. This was the first visit of a British Foreign Secretary to Latin America.

My visit has confirmed me in the view that Latin America is the most important and most mature of the developing areas of the free world and that we should pay more attention to it, both politically and in the field of trade. It was agreed that there should be more frequent bilateral consultation on international matters, on which Latin-American opinion carries great weight at the United Nations.

Mr. Dell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his visit was welcomed by all those who desire to improve relations between this country and Latin America? Has he, however, any statement to make on the cancellation of the Mantaro contract?

Mr. Stewart

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for the first part of his Question. On the second part, I discussed this contract with President Belaúnde in Lima in view of its general importance, but my hon. Friend will realise that it has always been a matter for the Peruvian Government to decide on the basis of the information and advice available to them. They have decided to exercise their right to cancel the existing contract with the Anglo-German consortium, which is in my judgment most disappointing news. I do not think I should make further comment on this point, although there will be aspects of it in which Her Majesty's Government will be concerned.

Mr. Hynd

In view of the desirability that the House and the country should be kept informed of progress in these developing relations between our country and Latin America, will the Foreign Secretary arrange for a statement to be published in HANSARD of the aid, direct and indirect, we are at present giving to those countries and any projects the Government have for developing that assistance?

Mr. Stewart

I should like to see if that is possible, as I think it should be, and I hope to be able to do it.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Will the Secretary of State say whether there were any specific proposals from these countries he visited for improving relations? Could he say what actual practical achievements he hopes to see secured by his welcome visit?

Mr. Stewart

A number of particular proposals were made which we are now examining and which will result in further discussions with the countries concerned. Since my return I have been in contact with British businessmen particularly interested in this trade and I believe it is entirely reasonable to expect that we shall see an increase of trade between this country and Latin America.