HC Deb 13 July 1977 vol 935 cc419-20
12. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Ministers of the present Government of Chile have visited Great Britain since the fall of the Allende Government.

Mr. Rowlands

We are aware of four such visits, all private: by the Chilean Ministers of Labour, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Mining.

Mr. Flannery

Will my hon. Friend accept from me that there was deep concern throughout the Labour movement that the Finance Minister of the Chilean Fascist junta which brutally and bloodily overthrew the democratically-elected Government of Chile under President Allende should come to this country? Will he further accept that resolutions have been passed all over the country against the fact that this man came here on what is termed a private visit? Will he assure me that no one from the Foreign Office sat in on any of the meetings that this man held?

Mr. Rowlands

In many respects I share my hon. Friend's view about Chile. These visits were private, and no British Minister attended arty of the functions. A small number of officials attended, on an information basis only. But no one can have any doubt where this Government stand in relation to the Government of Chile.

Mr. Madden

What representations are the Government making to ensure that the commitment made by the Chilean regime to the Secretary General of the United Nations to investigate the whereabouts of 2,500 missing people in Chile is carried out? What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that non-traditional exports from Chile, including milk, are not allowed to enter Europe?

Mr. Rowlands

I do not have any information on the second point but I shall certainly pursue it. We have a direct interest in a number of acknowledged arrests by the Chilean régime, particularly of Mr. William Beausire, who is a British citizen. Obviously an independent inquiry is urgently needed. We have pressed for such an inquiry, and so has the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Is the Minister aware that there are a good many Socialist countries with less than perfect democratic institutions whose Ministers are welcomed in this country? Can he explain why there is this distinction of attitude between Chile and Socialist and Communist countries?

Mr. Rowlands

Anyone who has assessed, analysed and studied the nature of the Chilean régime, how it came to power and how it has behaved since, will recognise why such strength of feeling exists in this country.