HC Deb 26 October 1982 vol 29 cc885-6
Q1. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Prime Minister what has been the total cost to public funds of the military presence and civil units in the Falkland Islands since the cessation of hostilities.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

The records do not distinguish between costs arising before the cessation of hostilities and those arising subsequently. The extra cost to the defence budget of the operation to repossess the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Southern Thule, including the maintenance of our forces up to the end of September and the replacement of lost equipment, is estimated to be about £700 million. Some extra costs, of much smaller dimensions, have fallen on the votes of civil Departments, and £10 million has so far been allocated to rehabilitation, of which £8.6 million has been committed.

Mr. Dalyell

In saying that the Falklands crisis came out of the blue, does the Prime Minister mean that she had no warning of invasion before Wednesday 31 March?

The Prime Minister

I have already made it clear in my speeches during the debate on the Falklands campaign that that was so, so far as the Falkland Islands were concerned.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, despite what we have heard from the Opposition, the vast majority of the British public greatly admire her strong stand on the whole Falklands situation and that, with regard to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), in Mr. Attlee's words, a period of silence on his part would be welcomed?

The Prime Minister

I believe that the whole House is glad that the people of the Falkland Islands have been restored to freedom and justice as a result of the bravery and valour of our Armed Forces.

Mr. Bidwell

Will the right hon. Lady now say whether her notion of a "fortress Falkland" into the distant future is now sustained in her mind? As the Argentines and South Americans are far closer to those islands than we shall ever be, and as the cost of sustaining a powerful military presence will be an economic drain in the future, is it not sensible to think that, with a new regime and democratic developments in Argentina, this notion on her part will be blown away and that there must eventually be a South American involvement in the administration of those islands?

The Prime Minister

The people of the Falkland Islands, being a democratic and free people, have that right to determine their own future. We have the right here, and because of it the hon. Gentleman is elected to this House. I may not agree with that decision, but I defend the right of the people concerned to make their own decisions.

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