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Orders of the Day — Chile

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1973.

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Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton 12:00 am, 28th November 1973

I met, as did the hon. and gallant Gentleman, good and decent democrats in all walks of life and of all political parties in Chile. They were people who were dedicated to the democratic process. They believed passionately in democracy. Chile was called the England of Latin America. They based their democratic concepts on British concepts. Many of those people may be dead, imprisoned or hunted out of their country. They may be hiding. Who knows what has happened to Oscar Weiss? Even members of the National Party have been arrested under the junta. The Trade Union Congress of Chile has been destroyed and its leaders imprisoned, some shot. Can we possibly accept all this?

I feel emotional about this because I believe in democracy and in Parliament, and when democracy is destroyed in any part of the world for any reason I feel very emotional about it. In Liverpool, most of the dockers in my constituency are very good Catholics. They have refused to handle material for Chile. I say that that is magnificent. I hope that other workers in this country will follow suit, because we have a tradition among our workers of putting principle before expediency. There was a time when the workers of Lancashire starved rather than have the cotton imported from the Southern States of the United States. That is also our tradition, also part of our history.

I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will search their consciences and support the Opposition motion.