HC Deb 09 March 1983 vol 38 cc822-3
2. Mr. Russell Kerr

asked the Secretary of Stale for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any proposals to strengthen political relations with Bolivia.

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

Her Majesty's Government welcome the return of democratic government to Bolivia. We shall continue to work for close and friendly relations.

Mr. Kerr

Given the very welcome moves towards a more democratic Bolivia—which is among the poorest countries in Latin America—will the Government give an assurance that they will adopt an ever more independent stance towards that troubled continent, with a view eventually to being able to strike a pose that is independent of America?

Mr. Onslow

I do not accept the implication that we are in some way tied to America's coat tails in that continent.

Mr. Robert Hughes

In everything.

Mr. Onslow

The hon. Gentleman may say "in everything", but that just shows how little interest he takes in such issues.

Mr. Winnick

Does the Minister agree that the Bolivian Government should be congratulated on agreeing to extradite Barbie to France, where he will shortly be tried for crimes against humanity? Would it not be wrong for one of the most notorious Nazi mass murderers, Walter Rauff, to escape justice, although he was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people during the last war?

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

So was Joseph Stalin.

Mr. Cryer

Twenty million Russians died fighting against Facism during the last war.

Mr. Winnick

Will the Minister therefore ensure that representations are made to the Chilean Government for Rauff to be extradited to Europe, where he, too, can face justice?

Mr. Onslow

I do not see how that issue can arise on question No. 2.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I appeal to hon. Members below the Gangway to have their private chats outside the Chamber.

Mr. Clinton Davis

The Opposition also welcome the overthrow of the military Fascist junta in Bolivia and its replacement by a democratic Government, but is the Minister aware that Bolivia's economy is still heavily beleaguered and that it is in desperate need of assistance? Will he consider giving assistance to the tin-mining industry, in particular, and any other form of aid that would rescue the Bolivians from their present plight?

Mr. Onslow

We already give Bolivia more than £1 million annually in aid. We are reviewing our aid programme to Bolivia with a view to seeing what further assistance we can provide within the resources available. Obviously, the question of assistance to the mining sector would arise in that context.

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