asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the British consular representative at the Swedish embassy in Tehran is involved in trade promotion.
Yes. Two of the 16 United Kingdom based staff of the British interests section in Tehran are directly concernd with commercial work. This number is to be increased to four later this year.
The Minister will remember that he said in answer to an earlier question that the Government would do all that they could to end the Gulf war. Does he agree that our trade with Iran is now greater than it was in the days of the Shah—this trade is clearly being actively promoted by the Government—and that this strengthens the Khomeini regime and enables it more actively to pursue the war and its internal repression?
It is true that our trade with Iran is quite strong, as it is with many other countries with the policies of whose Governments we do not necessarily agree. We have ordinary commercial trade with Iran, as we have incidentally, with Iraq, but it is not right to suggest that that in itself is contributing to the war. Nothing could be further from the truth. All our objectives and aims as a Government are concentrated on trying to work with other parties to bring peaceful mediation between the two parties. That is our priority. That is why we remain neutral and that is why we concentrate on not selling lethal equipment.
Order. I do not want to pre-empt the right hon. Gentleman, but he was not in the Chamber when we had a good run on Question No. 1, which was concerned with human rights, in which the Opposition Front Bench intervened. I felt it right, in fairness to Back Benchers, to move on to the next question, the House having had a good run on Question No. 1.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Question No. 8 is concerned with East-West relations, the most important single issue facing Britain and the world, and not with human rights. You will be aware that I rose to intervene on that issue, having intervened only once in previous questions. Is it not contrary to precedent that you decided not to recognise my rising?
Order. We have done rather badly with questions today. We have taken only nine questions. The Opposition Front Bench has intervened no fewer than four times, which takes up rather more time. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that I am concerned to ensure that Back Benchers have a fair share share of Question Time. We discussed human rights at some length on Question No. 1.