HC Deb 09 June 1982 vol 25 cc197-8
8. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had any recent discussions or communications with the Foreign Minister of Chile.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Cranley Onslow)

No, Sir.

Mr. Flannery

Should the Minister have discussions with his equivalent in Chile, will he remember that the Chilean Government are a Fascist Government, something which his hon. Friends seem only recently to have discovered about Argentina? Is he aware that many poor people disappear in Chile, and further, that whereas Chileans once had the opportunity to come to Britain as refugees, the Government have now stopped that immigration? Will he reconsider the Government's policy of supplying armaments to such a regime and relax any rules that the Government have that prevent these poor people for corning to Britain as refugees, as they used to do when Labour Governments were in office?

Mr. Onslow

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of our policy on the sale of arms to Chile. We have made it clear that we are not prepared to sell arms or equipment to Chile that are likely to be used for internal repression. There has been no change in this policy. We have left the Chilean Government in no doubt that their record on human rights has given rise to deep concern in Britain. We shall continue to take every appropriate opportunity to apply constructive pressure on the Chilean Government to improve their performance, but I see no need for the change of policy that the hon. Gentleman wants.

Sir Frederic Bennett

Does my hon. Friend find it rather odd that Labour Members spend so much time talking about the need not to damage relations with South American nations, but seem prepared to do so with one country that has not by any means been unhelpful towards the present struggle? Does lie accept that within the OAS and otherwise Chile has riot been unhelpful? Will he confirm that Chile has no territorial dispute with the United Kingdom?

Mr. Onslow

I am not responsible for the actions of Labour Members. However, I am glad to confirm what my hon. Friend has said about the Chilean Government's attitude to the Falklands dispute, which has been restrained and neutral. They have abstained without comment on the resolutions that have come before the Rio Treaty signatories. There is no quarrel between ourselves and the Chilean Government on territorial matters.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Will the Minister agree that in that so-called not unhelpful country the chronicle of repression, the attack upon human rights, torture, abduction and killings continue unabated? Will he take this opportunity to refute any suggestion that there will be any military tie-up or co-operation between Britain and that bloody country—[Interruption.]—that bloodstained country that has much to answer for?

Mr. Onslow

It is not our practice to comment on individual defence contracts or the possible involvement of third parties in the Falklands dispute. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman feels that he is justified in using such extravagant language on a subject that seems to be one of the few on which all Labour Members appear to be united.