§ 8. Mr. Canavan
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will seek to meet representatives of the Falkland Islands Company to discuss Government policy on the Falkland Islands.
§ Mr. Whitney
Ministers and officials already discuss regularly a wide range of matters with those who have a significant interest in the Falkland Islands, including the Falkland Islands Company.
§ Mr. Canavan
Will the Government order an inquiry into reports that the Falkland Islands Company collaborated with occupying Argentine forces last year, to the extent that the company received £93,000 for supplying the Argentine forces and then had the brass neck to claim £2 million war damages from the British Government? Why should a capitalist outfit such as Coalite, with pre-tax profits of over £27 million, be allowed to make a killing out of an unnecessary war in which over 1,000 people lost their lives?
§ Mr. Whitney
The hon. Gentleman confuses at least three different issues. No one would argue with him about the horror of 1,000 lives being lost.
In point of legal fact, no legislative action had been taken to prevent the trading activities to which the hon. Gentleman referred. Therefore, the Falkland Islands Company was not acting illegally in supplying goods to the Argentine military authorities.
The hon. Gentleman referred to Coalite. The profits of the Falkland Islands Company amounted to less than 1 per cent. of the group's profits. The company's compensation claim is being discussed and we are not yet ready to reveal details.