Falkland Islands

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1986.

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Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar 12:00 am, 17th June 1986

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if there has been any change in the pattern of patrols in the south Atlantic following the sinking of a fishing vessel by the Argentine navy off the Falklands Islands.

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

My hon. Friend will, I am sure, understand that I cannot provide details of Royal Navy patrol patterns in the south Atlantic. However, Her Majesty's Government have strongly condemned the deplorable attack on an unarmed fishing vessel in international waters by an Argentine coastguard vessel on 28 May, with resultant loss of life.

Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar

I understand the Minister's inability to be specific, but will he give the House an assurance that the Government remain satisfied that the level of naval patrolling within our terroritorial waters around the Falklands remains adequate to deter the sort of movement to which I referred in my question? More generally, has the incident caused Her Majesty's Government to reconsider the prospect, to which they look forward, of reducing the garrison on the Falkland Islands?

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

I can assure my hon. Friend that we keep our force levels under review, and at present we are certainly satisfied that our force levels in the south Atlantic are appropriate to meet the threat.

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich

As the seas around the Falkland Islands now seem to be becoming a traffic jam of foreign trawlers, all intent on stripping the islands of one of its most important assets, is it not time that Britain and Argentina got together to try to agree some sensible policy for protecting the fish stock?

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that fisheries policy is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. He will also be aware that Government policy is to try to produce a multinational solution to that problem.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

Are Her Majesty's Government aware that, as a result of this example of frightfulness, the British people of the Falkland Islands are the more resolved that they shall not pass under the sovereignty or administration of Argentina?

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He knows, as well as anybody else, that on every possible occasion in recent years the people of the Falkland Islands have made it clear that they wish to remain under a British Government.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Whatever the ministerial responsibility, what are the Government, as a whole, going to do about the ecological disaster of over-fishing?

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

As I have already said, the Government are trying to negotiate a satisfactory multinational fishing regime.

Photo of Mr Cyril Townsend Mr Cyril Townsend , Bexleyheath

Will my right hon. Friend continue, privately and effectively, to point out to the Foreign Office the extra burden that will fall upon the Royal Navy should Britain decide to go for a unilateral conservation regime in that part of the world?