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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:33 pm on 16th April 1986.

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Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford 5:33 pm, 16th April 1986

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood what I was saying about our interests. Of course, it is the general national interest that must be considered. It may well be, tragically enough, in certain circumstances that the interests of individuals have to be sacrificed to the promotion of the general interest. I hope that that answers the hon. Gentleman's point.

It was in the light of protecting and advancing British interests that the Prime Minister and other Ministers took the decision that they did. It was an extremely difficult decision, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour) said yesterday. Great risks were involved in that decision, but I am satisfied, as I suppose most reasonable people will be satisfied, that every reasonable step was taken to limit the damage.

This was not totally successful, of course, and it is absolutely right that we should express our profound regret that innocent people have lost their lives. When the Prime Minister said that, there were jeers from some Members on the Opposition Benches. What would they have said if she had expressed no regret? There would have been equal condemnation.