The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1992Prime Minister (1990-1997)

PMQT Written Answers – 20 November 1992

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 20th November 1992.




Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on what Libya has done to comply with Security Council resolutions 731 and 748 and Her Majesty’s Government’s policy to bring Libya to compliance.

The Prime Minister : It is our policy that Libya should implement in full the two SCRs to which the hon. Member has referred. Neither we nor the other co- sponsors of the resolution in question, France, and the United States, will be satisfied with less. Unfortunately, I cannot report more than limited success at this stage.

During the summer the Libyan authorities closed, and in some cases dismantled, many of the camps previously used to house or train terrorists. They have also given us information on their links with the Provisional Irish Republican Army which we believe may prove useful. We welcome both these developments as steps towards demonstrating that Libya has renounced terrorism called for in SCR 731 and 748.

But the Libyans must take further steps in order to comply fully with those resolutions. In particular, it is necessary for them to surrender for trial in Scotland or the United States the two accused of responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and for them to satisfy the French demands for co-operation on the investigation into the UTA bombing. Libya can be sure that a trial in Scotland will be fair, and in accordance with normal Scottish procedures, including trial by jury. If the Libyans convince us that they have decided to surrender the two suspects, then we would be willing to meet them to discuss the mechanics of handing them over.

We have no hidden agenda, and we are not seeking to use this issue to undermine the regime in Libya. But it is now a year since the warrants for the two accused of Lockerbie were issued. There can be no question of any relaxation of United Nations sanctions, complete or in part, until Libya has surrendered the two accused of Lockerbie and satisfied French requirements on UTA. If they do, this situation will be transformed. If they do not, the consequences for Libya are bound to be increasingly serious.


Iraq (Exports)

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the letter, reference 000399, dated 20 June 1990, from the principal private secretary to the noble Lord, Lord Ridley, then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, to the private secretary to the chairman of Customs and Excise, under the heading “Exports to Iraq” which was copied to him as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the previous letter, reference 000395, copies of which have been sent to him.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 16 November 1992] : The first document to which the hon. Member refers relates to consultations between Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise and the Department of Trade and Industry prior to a fact-finding visit by Customs officers to the premises of Matrix Churchill. A reply from Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise to the Department of Trade and Industry dated 22 June 1990 made it clear that decisions about any follow-up action would rest with the Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise in accordance with their statutory responsibilities. These documents were copied to my Private Secretary in the Treasury. Treasury records do not reveal whether I saw this correspondence, but I have no recollection of having done so. The then Paymaster General was responsible in the first instance for matters involving Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise.

The second document is an internal submission dated 14 June 1990 to the right hon. Lord Ridley, then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, concerning the implications of the visit by customs officers to Matrix Churchill. It was not copied to other Ministers. It will be for Lord Justice Scott to consider the relevance of this document to the implementation of Government policy on the export of defence equipment to Iraq.