HC Deb 24 June 1982 vol 26 cc162-3W
Q22. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a further statement on the Falkland Islands.

Q30. Mr. Michael Brown

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a further statement on the Falkland Islands.

Q43. Mr. Latham

asked the Prime Minister whether she will make a further statement on the Falkland Islands.

The Prime Minister

On 20 June 10 Argentine military personnel, illegally present on Southern Thule, surrendered to British forces.

There have been no further military incidents but we have not yet received satisfactory assurance that the cessation of hostilities is permanent. That being so, we continue to hold 563 prisoners of war. We have so far repatriated 10,487 and a further 263 are in process of repatriation. We shall shortly begin to reduce our own forces on the Islands.

The major priority now is reconstruction. Mr. Hunt as Civil Commissioner, left the United Kingdom on 23 June with the first group of returning islanders and officials. They are expected to arrive in Port Stanley tomorrow. The task of reconstruction is complicated by the presence of plastic mines laid indiscriminately by the Argentine forces.

I hope to make a statement later today on my discussion of these matters in New York and Washington yesterday.

Q27. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Prime Minister what will be the cost on an annual basis of extending the airstrip in the Falkland Islands, of defending it with Rapier missiles and of keeping submarines and some ships in the area; and for what period these measures are intended to be maintained.

The Prime Minister

It is too early to say.

Mr. Douglas

asked the Prime Minister if she will publish in the Official Report the contents of the letter or letters to parliamentary leaders relating to their setting up of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the recent events in the Falkland Islands and Dependencies when the letters have been sent.

The Prime Minister

No. It is not customary to make public the contents of confidential exchanges with Opposition Leaders.

Mr. Dubs

asked the Prime Minister if she will ensure that no charges are imposed upon members of the Armed Forces in the Falkland Islands who wish to telephone home.

The Prime Minister

Where possible arrangements are made for injured members of the task force to make one telephone call home, paid for out of welfare funds. We have no immediate plans, however, to make free telephone facilities available to members of the task force. There are no shore-based telephone links between the Falklands and the United Kingdom and it may be some time before they can be repaired. Only a limited number of ships with the task force have the necessary equipment for telephoning the United Kingdom and it would clearly be difficult to arrange access to it for the numbers of men involved. To arrange an equitable system for the 20,000 or so members of the task force to make free telephone calls home would in present circumstances therefore pose not only considerable administrative problems but, more importantly, difficult operational problems.

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