HC Deb 02 February 1977 vol 925 cc534-6
9. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the present state of relations between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Chile.

Mr. Rowlands

There has been no change in Her Majesty's Government's consistently defined and clearly stated position.

Mr. Flannery

Will my hon. Friend accept from me, on behalf of many of my hon. Friends, our congratulations on the very honourable position that the Government have taken about Chile? However, will he further accept that many of us are deeply worried about the slowing down in the granting of visas for refugees and about indications of political bias on the part of the chief adjudicator and, for instance, the Scottish adjudicator in regard to the granting of visas to these refugees? Will he consult the Home Secretary about what can be done in order to speed up this process and to sack the adjudicators who are so violently politically biased?

Mr. Rowlands

I do not think that I can comment on the allegations by my hon. Friend about the adjudicators. That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. If there is an obvious way of speeding up the process of granting visas, after close consultation with the Home Office we shall do our best to achieve that objective.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

How does the state of our diplomatic relations with Chile compare with the state of our diplomatic relations with Cambodia?

Mr. Rowlands

We have applied or sought to have a non-rsident ambassador in Kampuchea. We have diplomtic relations with Chile but no ambassador there.

Mr. Buchan

I thank my hon. Friend for the strong letter of disapproval—I think we must interpret it as such—that he wrote to the Scottish Football Association in respect of the horrifying proposed match in the Santiago Stadium—the scene of murder, death and torture.

I also ask that both the chief adjudicator and the Scottish adjudicator should be sacked. Their determinations are full of gratuitous insults towards the people involved and towards the people of this country who show their disapproval of the Pinochet régime.

Mr. Rowlands

My hon. Friend's latter point does not come within the purview of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; it is a matter that is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

As for the proposed visit to Chile by the Scottish football team, my hon. Friend will know that we were asked to give a political assessment, which we have done. There can be no question of Government approval for such a visit.

Sir Frederic Bennett

Has the hon. Gentleman undertaken a comparative study of the extent of the observance of human rights and issues of visas in Chile and certain countries behind the Iron Curtain, including Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union? If not, will he do so?

Mr. Rowlands

I do not know that one can carry out the sort of study that the hon. Gentleman suggests. All I know is that at least on the Government Benches there is an even-handed policy towards human rights. Today, for example, we have had strong condemnation from my hon. Friends about the actions of Czechoslovakia, but we have heard nothing from Opposition Members. We have not had a word of criticism from them about human rights in Chile.

Forward to