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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 Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay 12:00 am, 28th November 1973

Yes, the right hon. Gentleman was right. There has never been any criticism about the fact that we should try to improve our contacts with all countries whether or not we approve of their regimes. I have been consistent in this view, whether it involves a Communist country, or South Africa or anywhere else. Right hon. and hon. Members on the Labour benches maintain a deliberate and perverse double standard on all these facts.

Let me move to Labour's record both in government and in Opposition. We recently had a debate in this House in which—unless there has been a change in the Shadow Cabinet allocation of responsibilities of which I am not aware—the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) spoke on behalf of the Labour Party. He sought to reprove the Conservative Government for not extending recognition to North Vietnam. There is one big difference in that situation : that is a Communist Government. I should like to read a few sentences from the right hon. Gentleman's speech. In regard to his criticism that the present Government had not extended recognition to North Vietnam, the right hon. Gentleman said : What is the reason for the delay? Is recognition supposed to be some sort of prize for good behaviour? … I hope that is not the position. Later in the same speech the right hon. Gentleman, again referring to North Vietnam, said : I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he wants to exercise influence or not. If Her Majesty's Government want to exercise influence they should recognise the accredited Government there, and when they do so perhaps they will be able to talk to the Prime Minister of North Vietnam and other leaders. That in no sense implies any moral approbation of the régime, but it implies the reality of the situation …".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th June 1973 ; Vol. 858, c. 1744–5.] May I pose in rhetorical terms the question whether that speech could not equally apply to the influence we may or may not exercise in Chile. The only difference is the colour of the political flag they fly. There is no Labour Member now present who can deny that fact.