HC Deb 13 April 1983 vol 40 cc794-6
12. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are his plans to discuss the future of relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina with other American nations.

Mr. Pym

I take every opportunity to explain to other American nations our attitude to future relations with Argentina. The Governments of these nations can be in no doubt of our willingness to move back towards a normal relationship with Argentina, but so far Argentina has not even declared a definitive end to hostilities, still less renounced the possibility of a further resort to force.

Mr. Douglas

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that, while the decision to expand the existing airport at Port Stanley, or to site a new airport, may be a decision for another Department, that decision will have enormous foreign policy implications, in that it will be a signal to the Argentines and to others of our intention to stay there until kingdom come? Therefore, before he undertakes further discussions with countries in Latin America, will he consult the Secretary of State for Defence to ensure that the right decision is made on that capital investment?

Mr. Pym

It was not so long ago that the House was criticising this Government and the previous Government for not acting on the recommendations of an earlier Shackleton report that there should be a second airfield. The situation being what it is, the airfield is necessary in present circumstances for the defence of the islanders. We have taken the decision, although we have not yet decided exactly how it is to be carried out. We believe it to be necessary.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the building of an air base in the Falklands is in keeping with the policies that have been pursued by successive British Governments? There is a military need to provide this base and later it can be used for civil purposes as the circumstances change.

Mr. Pym

It will be used for civil purposes, anyway.

Mr. Dalyell

On 2 May, did the Foreign Secretary know of the Prime Minister's decision to sink the General Belgrano and if so, why did the Government not consult our American allies whose hemispheric relations were affected?

Mr. Pym

I do not think that that arises under this question.

Mr. Clinton Davis

In any consultations that the right hon. Gentleman embarks upon with other American nations in relation to this matter, will he give an assurance to the House that he will not seek to secure closer and more friendly relations with Chile while it continues under the present odious regime? In particular, does he recognise that it would be seen as being very cynical indeed to denounce, rightly, in the way that he has done the Argentine regime for being fascist, while at the same time giving some form of approbation to the odious regime in Chile?

Mr. Pym

The Government's policy is to improve relations with all countries in Latin America.

Sir Bernard Braine

Was there an inquiry into General Matthei's remarks about the representations made to my right hon. Friend's Department concerning Oscar Rojas, about whom assurances were given by the Chilean Ambassador in London, who is now his country's Foreign Minister? What steps were taken to ensure that the inquiries made by the British Government were being followed through?

Mr. Pym

I require notice of that question.