HC Deb 14 February 1972 vol 831 cc20-1
22. Mr. Luce

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has for the future of the British Ambassador's residence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Mr. Kershaw

Her Majesty's Embassy in Brazil will move early this year from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia. We cannot yet take a final decision on the future of the residence in Rio de Janeiro since there will be a continuing need for the ambassador to spend substantial periods of the year in that city. Plans for the longer term are under study in the light of recent reports by Diplomatic Service inspectors.

Mr. Luce

When my hon. Friend makes a decision on this matter, will he bear in mind that with the British Ambassador moving to Brasilia there is scope for an imaginative decision on the future of the British residence in Rio de Janeiro? In view of the growing importance of Brazil as a trading partner with Great Britain and of the enormous fund of good will towards this country, will my hon. Friend consider using this building as both a trading and a cultural centre for Great Britain?

Mr. Kershaw

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It is a very important building in Rio de Janeiro, recently completed. We will bear closely in mind the considerations my hon. Friend has put forward in finding a future use for the building.

Mr. Foley

In the light of recent events in Brazil, will the hon. Gentleman look again at the question who determines foreign policy vis-à-vis Brazil? Is it the Ministry of Defence or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office?

Mr. Kershaw

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is in charge of that matter.

Mr. Marten

Can we have an assurance that the residence will remain in British hands and not be sold or handed over to anybody else, because it is a magnificent monument to the late Ernest Bevin?

Mr. Kershaw

The building is indeed, as my hon. Friend says, a magnificent monument, and we must be rather careful about how it is used in the future. It is rather too large for our ordinary use once the main embassy has moved to Brasilia, but we will have a continuing need of it for a few years yet.