HL Deb 07 February 1985 vol 459 cc1210-1

3.22 p.m.

Lord Balfour of Inchyre

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider enhancing a "more pragmatic and constructive approach" by the Argentine Government to negotiations for restoring economic and cultural relations by proposing a 10 year holiday from all discussion on sovereignty over the Falkland Islands entirely without prejudice to present positions of the parties in order to give an opportunity for possible changes in the world over the next 10 years to effect material alterations in the positions of both parties.

Baroness Young

My Lords, we have already taken several initiatives designed to restore a more normal relationship with Argentina in practical areas of this sort. This remains our aim. The Argentines have, however, blocked progress by insisting that linkage with discussion of sovereignty must be a precondition for talks about the normalisation of bilateral relations. We have made it clear that we are not prepared to discuss sovereignty.

Lord Balfour of Inchrye

My Lords, I should like to thank the Minister for that reply which, of course, I accept gladly; but may I ask her this: will Her Majesty's Government go on seeking initiatives, perhaps even internationally, which will result in a revival of the Berne Agreement and thereby bring the Argentine to the conference table for matters economic and cultural and without any reference at all on either side to the vexed question of sovereignty?

Baroness Young

Yes, my Lords. It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government that we should have more normal bilateral relations with Argentina, to include such matters as the noble Lord has indicated—trade and cultural affairs.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, could not the formula on sovereignty described by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in his Statement yesterday about Gibraltar and the way that that is to be dealt with be used to start new talks with the Argentine?

Baroness Young

My Lords, we do not see that any precedent has been set in the negotiations on Gibraltar. The position in relation to the Falklands and Argentina is historically, legally and geographically quite different.

Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, would it not be in the general interest if material alterations in the position of both parties were effected here and now?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I do not think that that would alter the relationship and I do not know what, indeed, the noble Lord has in mind when he asks that supplementary question.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, can my noble friend say whether the Argentine yet accepts that hostilities are now at an end?

Baroness Young

My Lords, so far the Argentine Government have not formally declared a cessation of hostilities.

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