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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Last year, Peru amended its constitution to permit an extension of the death penalty and to apply it to terrorist offences. That constitution was agreed in a referendum and it is up to the people and the Government of Peru to apply their own laws in their own way. I can give the hon. Gentleman one assurance : the new constitution refers to the use of the death penalty being in conformity with the laws and treaties to which Peru subscribes, which may answer the second point that he made.

Mr. Allason : Is my hon. Friend aware that there was a referendum on the death penalty in Bermuda about three years ago, but that did not seem to prevent the Government on that occasion from interfering and recommending that Bermuda should change its mind about the death penalty?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The international status and relationship with this country in the case of Bermuda are rather different to those in the case of Peru, as the hon. Gentleman surely knows.

Mr. Bennett : Does the Minister accept that we ought to get rid of the death penalty from our own statutes so that we could then campaign around the world to get rid of that barbaric practice in all countries?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : Whatever our views about the death penalty, Conservative Members believe that it is up to sovereign states to amend their constitutions in their

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own way. As I have said, in this case that was done by referendum and we respect that judgment of the Peruvian people.

Middle East

10. Mr. Luff : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest prospects for a comprehensive peace in the middle east.

14. Mr. Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to promote peace in the middle east ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Lebanon, Israel and the occupied territories and Jordan from 3 to 6 January. The Prime Minister met Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan in London on 11 January. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary held discussions with the Lebanese Prime Minister in London on 25 and 26 January. I am encouraged by the determination of all the parties to make progress towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.

Mr. Luff : Against the background of the great courage being shown by Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Syria and Jordan in furthering the peace process, is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the welcome for the Government's decision to extend £50 million of export credit to Lebanon? Can he confirm that that credit will be used in part to build civil defence orders, which will further enhance the security of the region? Against that background, does he not feel that the time has come for the British Government to drop the arms embargo on Israel, an embargo which Britain applies uniquely among European Community nations?

Mr. Hogg : In the case of the arms embargo on Israel, which was imposed following the invasion by Israel of south Lebanon, there is an obligation on Israel under the provisions of UN resolution 425 to leave south Lebanon. I hope that that will happen soon. It will be much easier to relax the arms embargo so far as Israel is concerned when that happens.

Mr. Burden : While welcoming the continued progress being made in peace talks between Israel and the PLO, does the Minister agree that it is rather dangerous that the Israeli Premier has been saying that peace is still some way off, and that that could send out entirely the wrong message? Does he agree that confidence-building measures are vital and that for the Palestinians, who have been under occupation since 1967, a good confidence-building measure which Israel has in its power to institute is the release of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners who remain in Israeli jails?

Mr. Hogg : There has, indeed, been progress by Israel in releasing prisoners and that is very much to be commended. There are people who are still held and we should like there to be further progress in that area.

On the subject of Prime Minister Rabin's comments, it is important that Prime Minister Rabin is realistic, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we should like there to be an early agreement on this stage of the talks.

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Mr. Batiste : Can my hon. Friend confirm that, as and when the British Government wish to invoke it, they have powers under the Protection of Trading Interests Act 1980 to prevent British companies providing information to the Arab Boycott Office for the purpose of the boycott of Israel, in just the same way as the Government invoked those powers against the United States some years ago?

Mr. Hogg : I do not know whether my hon. Friend is right about the effect of the legislation to which he refers, but I will certainly write to him. I think that persuasion is the best way forward, and I am pleased by the encouraging signs that we see among the Gulf Co-operation Council countries concerning a relaxation of the boycott, especially in its tertiary and secondary phases.

Mr. Worthington : Has the Minister read the speech by Prime Minister Rabin to the Council of Europe on 26 January, which in some respects could have been delivered by Yasser Arafat? Prime Minister Rabin called on Europe to contribute to the transformation of the region through economic development and co-operation, by rehabilitating refugees, developing water and natural resources, overcoming environmental hazards and regulating arms control. Is it not true that Europe has still not measured up to that task, and what does the Minister intend to do about it?

Mr. Hogg : I have not read Prime Minister Rabin's speech, but I shall be happy to do so, and I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has brought it to my attention. As for the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made it plain that the United Kingdom is contributing about £70 million over the next three years. Implicit in the question was a suggestion that the United Kingdom Government should increase our own public expenditure in the occupied territories. That sounds awfully like an additional commitment to additional public spending that has not been cleared by what the Opposition amusingly call their Treasury Front Bench.

Mr. Anthony Coombs : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that ultimately an enduring peace in the middle east will depend on a sense of religious toleration in all countries, which has previously been conspicuous by its absence? In particular, has he seen recent reports by Middle East Watch, Amnesty International and the Jubilee Campaign on the increasing oppression of the Christian minority of 200,000 people in Iran, culminating in the death of Bishop Hovsepian Mehr of the Assemblies of God only 10 days ago? Will my right hon. and learned Friend urge the Iranian Government to allow the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to send in a special rapporteur to examine the position of Christian minorities in that country?

Mr. Hogg : My hon. Friend makes a sound point. I am afraid that the state of human rights in Iran is a matter for considerable concern. We need to take every opportunity not only to impress upon the Government of Iran our concern about those matters but to expose to international opinion what is going on there.

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11. Mrs. Anne Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with the Government of Bangladesh about human rights issues in the Chittagong hill tracts.

The Parliamentary Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd) : We regularly remind the Bangladesh Government of our concerns about human rights in the Chittagong hill tracts.

Mrs. Campbell : Will the Minister make further representations to the Government of Bangladesh about the illegal arrests, torture and rape taking place there, as well as the massacre of tribal people that occurred on 17 November 1993? Will he also make representations to the Indian Government to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other aid agencies access to the refugee camps to which many of the indigenous people have escaped?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I last made representations about the problems in the Chittagong hill tracts to the Bangladeshi Finance Minister less than two weeks ago when he was in London. Our high commissioner made representations to the chairman of the special committee responsible for discussions with representatives from the Chittagong hill tracts, who is a Minister in Bangladesh. So we are continuing to make representations. As for United Nations involvement, that is not the wish of either of the Governments concerned. However, the hon. Lady will be pleased to learn that there are strong signs that refugees in India wish to return to the Chittagong hill tracts. The fact that they are contemplating doing that shows that the situation must be improving.


13. Mr. Bates : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department is doing to promote trade with Brazil.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Alastair Goodlad) : Like all Foreign and Commonwealth Office posts, those in Brazil have export promotion as a top priority. They seek out export opportunities, advise British companies on the business to be won in their markets, lobby on their behalf for major contracts and against discrimination, organise visits by Ministers and trade missions with the specific objective of winning business, among other tasks. I am happy to say that our exports to Brazil were up by more than 50 per cent. in 1993 compared with 1992.

Mr. Bates : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Is he aware that that positive answer is endorsed by news that Westland Helicopters has secured a £150 million order to supply nine Superlynx helicopters to the Brazilian navy? Does he agree that that demonstrates not only the strength of the defence industry in Britain, beating off tough competition from the United States and France, but the healthy trade relations that we enjoy with Brazil?

Mr. Goodlad : I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he says, 1994 has got off to an excellent start in our exports to Brazil and I welcome the announcement by Westland of

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its success in the £150 million order to supply helicopters to the Brazilian navy. Our embassy in Brazil supported the negotiations throughout.

Mr. McAvoy : The Minister has confirmed that there are arms exports to Brazil. Will he clarify whether Britain also gives aid to Brazil? If the answer is affirmative and bearing in mind the fact that the former Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Younger, and the former Malaysian foreign

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Minister said that there were links between aid and arms to Malaysia, will the Minister give a categorical assurance that such links will not be established with Brazil?

Mr. Goodlad : The aid programme to Brazil is running at about £4 million a year. Its priorities cover forestry, the urban environment, health and help to non-governmental organisations engaged in rural and urban poverty, including those that help street children. Of course there is no connection between the aid programme and arms sales.

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