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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

By some strange thinking I had an idea that that would be a bogus point of order, and this conclusion has now been justified. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite want to explain their double standards, they are welcome to do so at leisure on some other occa-sison.

I move now to the suggestion of trade and aid boycotts. Recently I seem to have heard it suggested that because the Arab States disagree with the policies of other countries, justified or unjustified, it is blackmail for them to use economic weapons to further their ends. Apparently it is permissible to call that blackmail. But apparently we think that because we disapprove of the policies of another Government we have the right to exercise economic, trading and financial boycotts. Whatever the Opposition may think about my speech, there are people outside this country who notice this dichotomy of thinking and actually see for themselves that Britain stands on a pedestal saying, "If we do not like this or that country's policies, we have the right to use every economic weapon at our disposal to overturn those policies, but, if anyone else does it, it becomes political blackmail which it is impossible for Britain to accept."

I come, then, to the record of the Labour Government. When at an earlier stage the Argentine forsook the form of democracy that it then had and endured a military coup, the Labour Government of the day used almost the same language, saying that the policies of Argentina were for Argentina to work out for herself and that if that country were not hostile to us there was no reason for not maintaining arms deliveries to it, and the Labour Government continued arms deliveries. It may be that the sprinkling of right hon. and hon. Members at present on the Opposition benches believed that their own Government were wicked and wrong in the past and that they would all ensure that this never happened again. However we can deal only with the record of a Government. We cannot deal with the records of individual hon. Members, whether they sit above or below the Gangway.

My last word is to my own Government. I understand from what my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said that eight Chileans are coming to this country. I am not clear whether they are coming as refugees, and I have done my best to find out. The most recent information that I have, which I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm, is that the eight persons concerned are not coming here as refugees but are coming here because they possess skills and training which will be of real use to this country. I have tried to discover what those skills are which should lead us to allow eight Chileans with special skills to come here at a time when we are exercising rigorous control over Commonwealth immigration. I understand that they are coming as economic and business consultancy managers. I should not think that the Chilean Government's record on economic matters over the last year or two justified our bringing in Chilean business consultants to help us with our admittedly difficult economic position. If we need the advice and assistance of business consultants from Chile, then, in view of their past contribution to the economy of that country, I would say, "Come back Balogh and Kaldor, all is forgiven."