As I said only yesterday to representatives of the Falklands Islands Government who were in London for the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council, this Government remain steadfastly committed to the defence and security of the Falklands. We will continue to speak up for the islanders’ right to self-determination and to provide them with support as they seek to develop and internationalise their economy.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer, particularly his reference to self-determination for the Falkland islanders. Does he agree that anything other than self-determination would be nothing other than an affront to the 255 British servicemen who gave their lives during the Falklands conflict?
Yes, I entirely agree. As a result of that conflict, we are still mine-clearing on the islands. I congratulate BACTEC, the company in my hon. Friend’s constituency that has just secured the contract to carry out the fourth phase of de-mining in the Falklands. The people of the Falkland Islands have spoken. I was there in February. There was a 92% turnout, and 99.8% voted yes. People in the region should respect their human rights and their rights to self-determination.
The Minister will know that there is going to be an election in Argentina soon and that rhetoric against the Falkland Islands usually increases considerably in such periods. What representations are the Government making to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including some that are in receipt of British development assistance, to try to neutralise the rhetoric that will come out of Argentina?
We do not seek to neutralise anything; we just seek to tell it as it is and we encourage the Falkland islanders, who are by far the best advocates, to travel around the region to tell others about their life. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: we anticipate an increase in rhetoric, threats and intimidation as we approach the election, but we are hopeful that after it we might be able to have a more mature and sophisticated relationship with whoever will be the President of Argentina.