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Mr. Bendall : In view of the historic events taking place in eastern Europe, will my right hon. Friend confirm that Britain will maintain her military commitment to NATO and encourage other member states to do likewise?
Column 837The Prime Minister : Yes. I think that the members of the European Community, and I am sure the Heads of Government when they meet at NATO next Monday, will reaffirm that it is vital to continue NATO which has given us peace for the past 40 years. Both the concept and practice are good. It is vital to retain NATO and the Warsaw pact which provide the machinery through which we are negotiating conventional and chemical arms reductions. We are fortunate to enjoy peace. We must always have the means to keep the peace and NATO is that means.
Mr. Ashdown : How is it that the Prime Minister trusts the Vietnamese Government so little that she is prepared to risk aiding the Khmer Rouge in order to be able to kick that Government out of Cambodia, and yet trusts them so much that she is prepared to use force to repatriate the Vietnamese boat people into their hands? When will the Government get rid of one or other, but preferably both, of those shameful policies?
The Prime Minister : As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, we do not support the Khmer Rouge. We have supported the non-Communist resistance. If the right hon. Gentleman is referring to the representation in the United Nations, he will know that that is determined by the United Nations credentials committee which presently supports the Democratic Alliance of which Khmer Rouge is a part. Is he suggesting as some people are that one should support the Hun Sen Government? Hun Sen and some of his people were members of Khmer Rouge and as a puppet Government were previously kept in power by the Vietnamese.
Column 838The right hon. Gentleman asked about the Vietnamese boat people. Those who are genuine refugees--and that again is determined by the United Nations--will not be returned. Those who are illegal immigrants will be returned and it is customary under international law for countries to receive their own immigrants back into their country. If the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting that we should ever get to a position where we cannot return illegal immigrants to their country of origin, he is proposing international chaos.
Dame Janet Fookes : Will my right hon. Friend take a little time today to reflect on two outstanding achievements? First, will she reflect on the 70th anniversary of Lady Astor the Member for Plymouth, Sutton, taking her seat in this place as the first woman Member of Parliament? Secondly, will she reflect on her own outstanding achievement as Britain's first woman Prime Minister?
The Prime Minister : I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We would all do well to remember that this is the 70th anniversary of the day on which Lady Astor took her seat in the House. It was a momentous day for women and a great tribute to all the suffragettes who had worked so hard to see that day. We must also be grateful to Lady Astor for the magnificent way in which she discharged her duties so that many of us could follow after. I thank my hon. Friend for mentioning my "first" and hope that it will continue.
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