HC Deb 26 June 1974 vol 875 cc1531-3
4. Mr. Luce

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he proposes to visit Latin America.

Miss Joan Lestor

My right hon. Friend has no immediate plans to visit Latin America, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will be paying an official visit to Mexico from 29th June to 1st July, and will then lead the United Kingdom delegation to the Law of the Sea Conference for the period 2nd to 5th July. Other Ministers also have plans to visit Latin America this summer.

Mr. Luce

I am grateful for that reply. Will the hon. Lady ask her right hon. Friend to reconsider this matter and perhaps plan a wider and more extensive visit to various countries in Latin America? Does she not agree that the recent unveiling of the statue to Simon Bolivar in this country is an illustration of the enormous fund of good will in Latin America towards Great Britain? Does she also accept the growing importance of trade between Latin America and Britain, which last year amounted to £900 million? Finally, will she consider sending one of her colleagues to the Argentine to reaffirm to that Government that there should be no change in the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands without the full consent of the islanders?

Miss Lestor

I accept what the hon. Gentleman said on trade and general good will. I assure him that my right hon. Friend will be dealing with both those matters when he makes his visit to Latin America later this summer. There is a Question on the Falkland Islands later on the Order Paper. We accept that the Islanders have the right to determine their own future.

Mr. Ford

May I emphasise to my hon. Friend that Ministers should take every opportunity to visit Latin America in view of the increasing regard in that continent for Europe, and this country in particular, the increasing volume of trade with the United Kingdom and the fact that British technology and products are still held in great store in prestige terms by Latin American countries? Does she not agree that there is a great amount of inter-dependability between Great Britain and Latin America?

Miss Lestor

I accept what my hon. Friend said. I would add that at least five Ministers are visiting Latin America before the end of the summer, and I think that that is a fair representation of our feelings on the matter.

Mr. Kershaw

Will the hon. Lady not allow the Labour Government's infatuation with the United Nations, and in particular with the silliest committee of all, the Committee of Twenty-Four, to cause them to overlook the importance of the Falkland Islands? Why did the Government propose talks with the Argentine if they had nothing further to offer?

Miss Lestor

May I say that I am not opposed to infatuation with the United Nations or anybody else for that matter—[Laughter.] There are lines one always has to draw. There is a later question on the Order Paper in regard to the Falkland Islands, and I suggest that the hon. Gentleman tries to catch the Speaker's eye on that occasion.

Mr. James Johnson

I was under the impression that in her original reply my hon. Friend said that the Minister of State would be visiting Caracas for the Law of the Sea Conference. Will she give the House a pledge that when he is there he will safeguard the interests of the deep-sea fishing fleet and support our desire for an extension of limits to 200 miles?

Miss Lestor

My hon. Friend was correct in the first half of his supplementary question. On the second half of his remarks, my hon. Friend would not like to be committed at this stage.

Back to