§ Q50. Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement about the remaining Argentine minefields in the Falkland Islands.
§ The Prime Minister
As my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces said in his reply on 18 October 1982—[Vol. 29, c. 49–50]—a major programme of research and development work is in hand with the aim of finding a safe and effective solution to the problems of detecting and clearing mines in the difficult terrain and conditions of the Falklands, but it is too early to predict the results. In addition to work undertaken by MOD establishments, contracts have been placed with commercial firms and trials of equipment including excavators, armoured tractors and rotavators are being carried out in the islands before the onset of the Falklands winter. The process of fencing off all the known minefields is now complete. In the interests of the safety of the personnel involved, mine clearance operations are being undertaken only if necessary to meet the urgent needs of the civilian population or the garrison.