Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1984.

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Photo of Tim Yeo Tim Yeo , South Suffolk 12:00 am, 25th July 1984

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the United Kingdom's relations with Argentina.

Photo of Sir Ray Whitney Sir Ray Whitney , Wycombe

As my right hon. and learned Friend told the House on 20 July, we regret that the Argentine Government brought the talks in Berne last week to a premature end. We shall obviously need to assess the implications of the Argentine attitude, which caused the breakdown. We continue to take the view that it is in the interests of all concerned to seek the restoration of more normal relations between Britain and Argentina and will stand firmly by our commitments to the Falkland Islanders.

Photo of Tim Yeo Tim Yeo , South Suffolk

As the strained relations between ourselves and Argentina are leading not only to the imposition of a severe financial burden on this country but are in danger of distorting our whole defence strategy, may we have an assurance that the Government will make every possible effort to bring about a resumption of discussions with Argentina, notwithstanding the fact that the Argentines were responsible for the breakdown of last week's talks?

Photo of Sir Ray Whitney Sir Ray Whitney , Wycombe

I am glad that my hon. Friend recognises where the fault lay for the breakdown of the talks. We shall certainly seek the normalisation of relations with Argentina, as I said in my main reply, but we must also retain our commitment to the Falkland Islanders and proceed with the economic development of the Falklands.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Should we not be deeply concerned about the authoritative reports coming out of Washington, from Dr. Robert Scheinn and others, that a formidable rearmament programme is going in Argentina? What are we to make of the battalion amphibious exercises at night? What we are to make of the Syhawks that are being armed with more Exocets? [Interruption.] Formidable rearmament is going on. What is the Government's assessment of that? As they will not give an assessment in answer to written questions, will the Minister give an undertaking to make a statement on the matter?

Photo of Sir Ray Whitney Sir Ray Whitney , Wycombe

Our views on the continued sale of arms to the Argentine Government are well known. We keep the matter well under survey and we are satisfied that all our allies who are potential arms suppliers are well appreciative of our concerns—concerns which the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) also expresses.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.