HC Deb 06 May 1999 vol 330 c1073
6. Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

If he will make a statement on trade relations with Libya. [82362]

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Stephen Byers)

I am currently considering what Government services can be restored, following the suspension of the United Nations and European Union sanctions.

Mr. Dalyell

Albeit after 15 Adjournment debates on Lockerbie, I myself shall not go back to Libya until proceedings at Zeist are over. However, my right hon. Friend's reply is constructive and pleases me greatly, so I dare to suggest that he might consider himself leading a delegation to Libya. Given that Hadrian's wall is in my right hon. Friend's constituency, the descendants of the great artists of the Roman empire would be delighted to show him Leptis Magna and Cyrene, and he might be tempted to go.

Be that as it may, will my right hon. Friend say whether a problem remains with the case of WPC Yvonne Fletcher? Two years ago, I went to see Assistant Commissioner David Veness in Scotland Yard. Evidence from George Styles, the British Army's senior ballistics officer, Huw Thomas, the former consultant surgeon at the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast, and Home Office pathologist Bernard Knight suggests that there is grave doubt about how that tragedy happened.

In view of that doubt, surely the tragedy should not form the basis for future relations with Libya. If my right hon. Friend were to visit Libya, would he reflect on whether it would be possible for him to make an apology for the permission given in 1986 for bombers based at Fairford to launch an attack on the working-class areas of Benghazi and Tripoli? That attack was as ill-conceived as the bombing attack on Al Shifa and the Sudan now turns out to have been.

Mr. Byers

Our response to the end of sanctions will be positive, but satisfactory progress must be made in a number of areas and especially in resolving the outstanding issues in the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher. Until that matter is resolved satisfactorily, it will not be possible to resume full diplomatic relations.

However, the lifting of sanctions means that we can examine in a far more positive light the steps that we might be able to take with regard to considering matters of trade with Libya.