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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 John Temple Mr John Temple , City of Chester 12:00 am, 28th November 1973

Up to 23rd November, 1,078 people were killed, including 60 military personnel.

Returning to my friend who was caught in the crossfire, naturally, any sensible person in such a position when a military coup is occurring lies on the ground. My friend did so, with many others. When the shooting finished at the end of the day, they walked away. That is exactly what happened to an enormous number of people. I am surprised that some of the correspondents mistook some of the people who were lying on the ground for dead, when they had not been harmed at all.

If we have to have a debate on what I call a friendly country, a debate which I deplore, the House should be much more concerned, as I am, with the future of that country. We should be concerned for the people of Chile.

I believe that the motion is quite disgraceful in that part of it which begs Her Majesty's Government to withhold aid, as well as to influence World Bank and IMF assistance. It is that foreign aid and assistance, and the re-negotiation of the enormous foreign debts, that is absolutely imperative if the economy of Chile is to get back on to the rails again. If this motion is passed tonight—and I sincerely hope that it will not—the whole economy of Chile will not have a chance of returning to normal.

I must ask my right hon. Friend whether he will consider as soon as possible giving extended ECGD cover, because it is most important that the trade between our two countries is rapidly increased. I can give good reports to the House about the way business is returning to normal, and 70 to 80 per cent. of the people of Chile are now fully behind the present Government. Our aim should be to give maximum encouragement to our good friends in Chile who, at the moment, are in a pretty tight corner.

I entirely support my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in his action in giving speedy recognition to the Government of Chile. I believe that that was only in accordance with normal practice and was entirely justified. I also believe that the continuation of the sale of arms is entirely justified. In the first part of my speech, I referred to the very long connection between the Chilean Navy and the Royal Navy and, as my right hon. Friend said, if the workers in the shipyards in many parts of the country realised that those orders for submarines and frigates and for the repair of naval vessels might be cancelled, there would be enormous dismay and lobbies coming up to Westminster. Fortunately that will not happen and we shall continue supplying arms to an essentially friendly country.

I look forward to the time when Chile, with that wonderful record of parliamentary democracy, will be able to resume its position. That frequently happens in Latin America after military coups and I can see no reason why history should not repeat itself. I deplore the fact that the Opposition are playing politics, with a callous disregard for the real welfare and advancement of the people of Chile.