BARONESS Thatcher blocked questioning about the Pergau dam affair yesterday as she cancelled an expected a question and answer session at a London conference, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.
Reporters had been told to expect 15 minutes of questions following the ex-Prime Minister's her speech at a 'World Trade After Gatt' conference. co-hosted by Taskforce Communications, a company chaired by former Cabinet colleague Cecil Parkinson. While her speech it dwelt substantially on the booming economies of Asia, n countries, there was no reference to Malaysia. Lady Thatcher, whose son Mark was named on Tuesday in connection with the Pergau controversy by Sir David Steel, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, waved aside all attempts to ask about Britain's future trading prospects with Malaysia.
One of her aides said: 'We thought it was be better to keep to the main theme.'
of the conference.'
Gerald Howarth, managing director of Taskforce Communications and a former Tory MP on the Thatcherite right, said the conference was about trade with all countries, not just one.
Lady Thatcher took the opportunity to attack
The former Prime Minister attacked her favourite target, accusing the former EC of dumping food surpluses on to the world market at artificial prices after 1972. 'As a consequence, many developing countries were dealt a double blow. They could not export to us and could not export to other markets either.'
'Over the years the Community has done little to make recompense for this damage. Indeed, I understand that the EC has spent nearly twice as much money protecting itself from agricultural imports from Third World countries than it has spent in overseas aid to those countries.
Lady Thatcher said European Community Association Agreements with the countries of eastern and central Europe were examples of where trade policy should be conducted more generously. 'If ever there was a case for trade more than aid, this is it.'
The European Union had resolutely refused to allow Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic or Slovakia the means to increase their prosperity through free commerce with their western neighbours.'