§ 17. Mr. Canavan
asked the Minister for Trade whether he remains satisfied with the efficacy of trade sanctions against Argentina.
§ Mr. Peter Rees
The trade sanctions taken by the European Community and other countries have contributed substantially to the withdrawal of international confidence in the Argentine economy.
§ Mr. Canavan
Will the Minister give an assurance that the Falklands inquiry promised by the Prime Minister will investigate how British bankers such as Schroder Wagg were allowed to continue loan arrangements that helped to prop up the Argentine economy and how even the Bank of England was allowed to continue short-term loan arrangements with Argentina, while over 1,000 lives were being lost in a costly military conflict? Do the Tory Government believe that bankers' profits are more important than human lives?
§ Mr. Rees
Certainly not. The House is used to the unsubstantiated allegations of the hon. Gentleman, which 14 he repeats on many occasions without bothering to back them up with solid evidence. If there is solid evidence of breaches of the order that was introduced by this Administration after the invasion by the Argentine troops, I shall be happy to look at it.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is not my hon. and learned Friend somewhat disappointed with the attitude of our EEC partners in dropping sanctions against Argentina so quickly? Does that not show that in trade matters, as in defence, the first duty of the Government is to look after our own country's interests?
§ Mr. Rees
It is the Government's duty to look after this country's interests, but they must do so within the framework that various Governments have considered appropriate and helpful to embrace other countries' activities. My hon. Friend referred to sanctions by the other countries of the European Community. I am sure that the House will recognise the remarkable solidarity that has been shown throughout this period. [Interruption.] I do not think that it is appropriate or necessary to consider that allegation. I am not certain whose back was stabbed by whom. The European Community has stated categorically that, should there be a resumption of hostilities, a new situation would arise to which the 10 members of the European Community would have to react immediately.
§ Mr. Faulds
If trade sanctions were so effective in this minor and ill-judged adventure in the South Atlantic, will the Minister consider impressing on his colleagues the efficacy of trade sanctions, as far as the EEC trade and financial agreements are concerned, on the genocidal policies of Israel?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman's question was about Israel. That subject does not arise on this question.
§ Mr. Faulds
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Surely representations to a colleague are perfectly in order. Perhaps I can be allowed occasionally to make a point in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Squire
Contrary to an earlier comment, does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the prompt delivery of sanctions by our European colleagues, which was sustained by the overwhelming majority throughout our hostilities, was a fine example of the co-operation that we receive from Europe, which should be applauded and not criticised?
§ Mr. Dalyell
Realistically, is there a cat's chance in hell that our European partners will reimpose sanctions once they have been lifted? Is not the sanctions policy in ruins? Will the Department of Trade look carefully at what 15 happens to the end user certificates for the export of arms? Is there not evidence that Colombia, Venezuela and other countries have been lax in the use of end user certificates?
§ Mr. Rees
In reply to the hon. Gentleman, I can say truthfully that the policy on economic sanctions is not in ruins. It would be idle for me to speculate on how, why and in what circumstances the policy might have to be resurrected by the European Community. I am sure that the House hopes that a situation that would make it necessary for the Community to consider a reimposition of sanctions will not arise. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's second point, we shall consider the question of end user certificates.