HC Deb 09 April 1986 vol 95 cc148-50
3. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if any soldiers or officers of the Chilean Government are presently being trained in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tim Eggar)

We do provide some training for Chilean armed forces personnel in the United Kingdom, but do not allocate places to Chileans on courses covering internal security techniques.

Mr. Flannery

Is not this provision of training utterly disgraceful? The Minister's reply is rather like that of the second housemaid who said that her baby was only a little one. The reality is that a principle is involved. That brute beast Pinochet is in charge of Chile and the people of Chile are steadily going for his throat to get rid of him. Are we not to change a policy that has applauded his master's voice in Washington with Marcos, Duvalier, Samosa and company? Why do we not denounce Pinochet democratically in our own right, remove anything to do with him from Britain and support the people of Chile in their drive towards democracy?

Mr. Eggar

It is sad that the hon. Gentleman has such a partial view of affairs. We have continued to make clear our concern about the Chilean Government's human rights record. We supported both the resolution of 14 March of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which criticised Chile's record, and the European Community's presidency statement of 18 March, which expressed concern about restrictions on freedom in Chile.

Sir Frederic Bennett

If we are to have any sort of objective appraisal of these matters, should the House not recall that at the time of the Falklands conflict we were by no means unhappy to receive indirect assistance from the Chileans? I wonder whether my hon. Friend could put in the Library a list of the other countries, about which no complaint seems to be made, which send members of their armed forces to be trained in Britain, including Libya?

Mr. Eggar

I have taken careful note of what my right hon. Friend has said. I must tell him that details of bilateral military training involving all countries are kept confidential.

Mr. Winnick

Does the Minister realise how deplorable it is to have such close collaboration with a bloodstained dictatorship, such as the Chilean junta? Is it not the height of hypocrisy for Tory Members to denounce repression in eastern Europe while being only too pleased to have this form of collaboration with the regime in Chile?

Mr. Eggar

We have always made it clear that we condemn abuses of human rights wherever they may occur.

Mr. Dalyell

How do the Government know whether or not their help will be used to develop internal techniques? What do the Chilean forces have to do other than concentrate on internal affairs? That is what they are about.

Mr. Eggar

As I have already made clear to the House, we have made it our policy not to allocate places for military training within the United Kingdom on courses which cover internal security techniques.

Mr. Hill

Does my hon. Friend agree that only countries with which we enjoy friendly relations should receive training facilities in Britain? Some of the countries which have asked for military training here for their forces are anti-European or anti-United Kingdom.

Mr. Eggar

We take a number of factors into consideration when military training is requested by Third-world countries. As I said to my right hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett), the details of those countries which send officers to this country for training are confidential.

Mr. Foulkes

Do the Government not recognise from experience in Haiti and the Philippines that external pressure is important in dealing with dictators? Do the Government not also recognise that by supporting the dictator Pinochet and training his troops they are undermining the democratic forces of the Right as well as of the Left in Chile? In view of the strong views expressed in the House today, will the Government rethink this policy immediately?

Mr. Eggar

Our policy is absolutely clear. We have made clear our concern about the position on human rights in Chile by our support for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees' announcement and for the EC presidency. There can be no doubt about our views on human rights in Chile.

Mr. Flannery

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of those replies, which mean that we are supporting a brutal dictatorship, I reserve the right to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

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