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El Salvador

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the situation in El Salvador.

The results of the elections are not yet final. No one party appears to have an overall majority.

As the House knows, Her Majesty's Government take the view that if El Salvador is to achieve peace and stability, there is a need for peaceful rather than violent change and full respect for human rights and further progress on social and economic reform.

In view of the legitimate concern of Her Majesty's Government that there should be a concerted European response to the problems of Poland, Afghanistan and the Middle East, why do Her Majesty's Government not take the same view when it comes to a response to the problems of Central America? In particular, will the Minister say why we fell out of line with our European neighbours on the vote on human rights in the United Nations on 16 December, and why we broke the line on the question of observers?

It is right and important that the members of the European Community should continue to exchange views about Central Latin America. This will become increasingly important in the forthcoming weeks. What really matters if peace and stability are to be achieved in that part of the world is that the important nations such as Mexico, Venezuela and others, as well as the democratic nations such as Costa Rica, Honduras and so on should play a key role. It is their region, they have important views to express, and it is important to keep in touch with them.

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on having the wisdom to stick by his decision to send observers to the El Salvador elections so that the House may be informed independently of the nature of those elections and their outcome? With the apparent result of the elections, will my hon. Friend and the Government now support a negotiated settlement with all parties interested in the El Salvador problem?

We shall do whatever we can in our own way to try to foster peaceful change, social reform and respect for human rights. I was due to leave for Mexico tonight for discussions with the Mexican Government. I have decided to postpone my visit temporarily, but it will be helpful for us to have an exchange with them.