HC Deb 27 March 1974 vol 871 cc425-7
41. Mr. Lee

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether she will stop the supply of overseas aid to Chile.

The Minister of Overseas Development (Mrs. Judith Hart)

Yes, Sir. There will be no new aid to Chile and I am stopping all present aid except that concerned with the support of Chilean students and graduates coming to Britain, which I am prepared to extend. I am allowing the completion of one or two minor technical assistance projects.

Mr. Lee

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that her reply will give great satisfaction to the House, in view of the fact that the present Chilean Government, if it can be so called, indulge in the murder of their opponents on a scale unknown of any Government since that of Stalin?

Mrs. Hart

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That is also my understanding of the situation in Chile.

Sir Frederic Bennett

The Minister will remember that when in opposition she said not only that when she got into office she would take immediate steps to stop aid to Chile but that she would bring effective pressure on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to stop all international aid to Chile. Will the right hon. Lady give an account of the pressures which she has so far exerted?

Mrs. Hart

I fear not. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I have had discussions with ministerial colleagues in Europe but I am afraid I cannot reveal the contents of those.

Mr. Kerr

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there is no question of the delivery of the naval frigates currently on order to Chile in the near future?

Mrs. Hart

On that point I must refer my hon. Friend to the earlier answer of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. Wood

Is the right hon. Lady aware that, small as the British programme was in Chile, her decision is not only illogical but will do great damage to a country whose needs are very great? Will she finally confirm that she has now totally abandoned the view that she argued with passion when in opposition—that political considerations should be subordinate to development needs?

Mrs. Hart

On the latter point, if the right hon. Gentleman refreshes his memory correctly he will find that I argued somewhat differently. On his main point, as he will know, the three main areas of technical assistance in Chile were in industrial training, where in the whole of industry the trade unions have been suppressed and trade unionists have been imprisoned, persecuted and killed; in agriculture, where the present military régime is totally reversing the programme of land reform to which our aid is directed; and, thirdly, in education, where most of the educational institutions are now in the hands of generals, departments have been closed and there has been suppression and persecution of people engaged in education.

Mr. Kinnock

I congratulate my right hon Friend and my other right hon. and hon. Friends in the Foreign Office on the approach that they have taken to refugees from, armaments to, and aid to the Fascist junta in Chile. In her current policy my right hon. Friend has the endorsement of a large proportion of the anti-Fascist world. Would it not have been illogical for my right hon. Friend to give aid to Chile which would have provided the generals with resources to buy armaments to suppress their people?

Mrs. Hart

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his endorsement of the policy. In Britain, as in Chile, there are two versions of the facts. I fear that most right hon. and hon. Members of the Opposition have completely accepted the propaganda version of the facts put out by the military régime.

Mr. Amery

Is the right hon. Lady aware that we are all very understanding of the fact that she has to console the left wing of her party for the minority Government's inability to fulfil a truly Socialist manifesto?

Mrs. Hart

The right hon. Gentleman should look back at the history of the Labour Party's reactions to the events in Chile from the moment at which they occurred.