HC Deb 07 March 1990 vol 168 cc870-1
17. Mr. Skinner

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he intends to visit Central America; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sainsbury

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has no plans at present to visit Central America.

Mr. Skinner

If he does, and if the Government give financial aid to Nicaragua, how much money will be handed over? Will he ensure that any aid given to Nicaragua goes towards genuine demobilisation of the Contras? To use the Foreign Secretary's words, will he ensure that the money is used for tractors and not tanks?

Mr. Sainsbury

I am glad to confirm that my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) has already discussed those matters with President Violetta Chamorro. The sort of aid that we would be considering particularly would be technical co-operation covering matters such as English language teaching and scholarships, rather than the subjects to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Will the Minister try to convince Labour Members that they should abide by the advice on the placard carried by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) outside the American embassy the Sunday before the election and respect the result in Nicaragua?

Mr. Sainsbury

I am happy to know that the result is being generally respected. As I have said, we hope that there will be a full and peaceful transfer of power in due course and that the result will be accepted by all elements of the previous Sandinista Government.

Mr. Heffer

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the Somoza regime was overthrown because Mrs. Chamorro's husband was killed and that the Sandinistas were totally in association with her and others who were then fighting the dictatorship? Will he also bear in mind that in 1984—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Hon. Members should ask just one question.

Mr. Heffer

There was a general election in 1984 which was won by the Sandinistas. They won that election fairly. Now, having lost the latest election, they have handed over power—[interruption.] It is about time that Her Majesty's Government decided to support democracy instead of arguing that it was a Marxist-Leninist Government when part of that Government were members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Mr. Sainsbury

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman's verdict on the earlier election. I am happy to confirm, however, that all the observers have pronounced that the election which has just taken place and which resulted in a decisive rejection of the Socialist management of the Sandinistas, was indeed free and fair.

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