HC Deb 30 March 1994 vol 240 cc926-7
15. Ms Eagle

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings he has had with representatives of the Malaysian Government to discuss trading relations with the United Kingdom.

Mr. Goodlad

I refer the hon. Lady to the reply that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave to the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham) earlier.

Ms Eagle

Would the Minister care to comment on reports that Ameristar, a company taken over by Mark Thatcher, has just landed a lucrative contract with the state-owned Malaysian Oil Corporation? Does he think that this is due to merit, or to services rendered by Lady Thatcher when she gave the initial go-ahead to the Pergau dam project? Does he think that British taxpayers' money should be used as a sweetener to enrich the fortunes of the son of a former Prime Minister?

Mr. Goodlad

I have no knowledge of the matter that the hon. Lady mentions. If it involves any point of ministerial responsibility, I will write to her.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

Will my right hon. Friend make a point of congratulating the Malaysian Government and their defence forces on the admirable work that they have done in recent days in seeking to rescue the climbers of the British Army? Will he pay tribute to the courage of one pilot in particular, who certainly risked his life to extricate our climbers, and will he do all he can to make sure that relations between the defence forces of our country and Malaysia remain warm and cordial?

Mr. Goodlad

I agree whole-heartedly with my hon. Friend. The contribution of the Malaysian armed forces was absolutely crucial—particularly that of the pilot mentioned by my hon. Friend. Their professionalism was absolutely exemplary; without it, the outcome could have been very different indeed.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has sent a message of thanks to Dr Mahathir, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has written to his opposite number in Malaysia. The co-operation to which my hon. Friend rightly draws our attention shows the real strength of the relations between the United Kingdom and Malaysia. I am pleased that the press, too, have recognised that.