HL Deb 11 March 1987 vol 485 cc1047-9

2.45 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

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 why they voted in favour of a loan from the World Bank to the Government of Chile last November.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

My Lords, as my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State explained in another place on 21st November 1986, we voted in favour of the structural adjustment loan for Chile simply and solely in accordance with our established policy of voting on such loans on the basis of technical criteria. The World Bank's articles of agreement require it to take decisions exclusively on the basis of economic considerations.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, is not the noble Baroness aware that our ally the United States abstained on this occasion and therefore did not apparently observe the criteria laid down? Is it the case that Her Majesty's Government, as distinct from the American Administration, are less concerned with the appalling record of human rights in Chile than are the Americans?

Baroness Young

My Lords, how the American Government voted is a matter for them. I have said what the policy of this Government is; namely, to vote in the international and financial institutions only on economic and technical grounds. We of course keep up pressure on the Chilean Government in the appropriate fora—for example, in the United Nations on the question of human rights.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the Americans abstained and that they stuck to their principle that they would not touch with a bargepole that kind of society which the Americans recognise was created out of terrorism and has maintained terrorism? The British Government have been opposed to terrorism. Why did they relax their standards to vote for this loan which was made to a terrorist organisation?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I have already given the answer to the Question that the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, has asked in answer to his noble friend's original Question. I would not describe the Government of Chile as a terrorist organisation: it is a military government. We have made plain on a number of occasions that we oppose violations of human rights wherever they occur.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, will the noble Baroness be kind enough to describe the full purpose of the loan, and will she say, in the light of the record of Chile on human rights, whether there is machinery to monitor the loan so that it is not used for undesirable purposes?

Baroness Young

My Lords, the purpose of the loan was to help the Chilean economy. We believe that a strong economy is in the interests of all the Chilean people. Naturally, on giving the loan, the financial institutions will make quite sure that both the technical and the economic criteria are met. However, it may be of interest to the noble Lord to know that, in using the criteria that we use on loans, we supported an Inter-American Development Bank loan for Nicaragua in 1983.

Lord Rea

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that many people in Chile who are working towards the return of democratic institutions there were deeply disappointed when they read of the British Government's vote in this case?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I have given the reasons for our vote in this particular case, but let me say that we have supported moves to re-establish fundamental human rights in Chile. We voted in favour of critical resolutions on Chile at the United Nations in 1984, 1985 and 1986, and in 1985 and 1986 at the United Nations Commission of Human Rights.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, it is not simply a question of voting; it is a question of supplying the resources which that regime is using in order to oppress its own people. Has the noble Baroness read the Amnesty International report? Is she aware of the number of Chileans who have simply disappeared completely, and does she not accept that that is a terrorist form of administration? Is she not conscious of the fact that, if the Americans can show their disapproval through the withholding of their vote for the provision of money to this regime, the British Government can do the same if they are as sincere in their opposition to this terrorist organisation?

Baroness Young

My Lords, we and our Community partners have frequently made plain our concern about human rights and abuses, and the continuation of violence in Chile. Indeed, we have condemned violence from all quarters, including the attack on the president.