HC Deb 18 February 1976 vol 905 cc1275-7
12. Mr. Ovenden

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now sever diplomatic relations with the Government of Chile.

15. Mr. Kilroy-Silk

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now take steps to break off diplomatic relations with Chile.

Mr. James Callaghan

I would refer my hon. Friends to the written reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Fletcher) on 11th February.—[Vol. 905. c. 238.]

Mr. Ovenden

I appreciate my right hon. Friend's concern to do what he considers to be in the best interests of British citizens in Chile, but does he accept that it might be in their interests—and would certainly be in the interests of the people of Chile—if the Government gave an unequivocal demonstration that we as a civilised nation are no longer prepared to tolerate the total disregard for human rights shown by the Chilean régime?

Mr. Churchill

What about the Soviet Union?

Mr. Heffer

What about the Soviet Union? We know what goes on.

Mr. Churchill

We do not break off relations with the Soviet Union.

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Heffer

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order. After Questions, if the hon. Member will be so kind.

Mr. Callaghan

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the chance to reply. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Ovenden) is anxious about these matters, and of course we keep them constantly in mind. The Chilean régime can be in no doubt about world opinion of the régime and the way it is carried on. Breaking off diplomatic relations would not help the Chilean political prisoners whom we are doing our best to assist at the moment, the refugees or the British subjects, of whom there are about 4,000 in Chile.

Mr. Kershaw

In view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's present anxieties, has any estimate been made of the saving to the Foreign Office Vote which would be achieved by breaking off diplomatic relations with all the Governments of which hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite from time to time dis-approve?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir, but there would be some compensating expenditure on a hostel for ex-ambassadors.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Given the nature of the despicable Fascist régime in Chile and its treatment of political prisoners, is not the only course of action we can take to break off diplomatic relations and dissociate ourselves from that régime?

Mr. Callaghan

I have already answered that question. In my judgment it would not help British interests so to do.

Mr. Blaker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Opposition are glad that he does not intend to break off diplomatic relations with Chile? We hope that he will take the same robust line in response to the pressure he will no doubt get from his hon. Friends below the Gangway in relation to the Soviet Union.

Mr. Callaghan

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman said and I look forward to the great support that he will give me on the question of Angola.

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