Oral Answers to Questions — Rhodesia

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th February 1967.

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Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans 12:00 am, 27th February 1967

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will take the necessary steps to refer the vote of the Security Council on mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia to the International Court at The Hague for an opinion as to its validity.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if Her Majesty's Government will take steps to secure an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice as to the jurisdiction of the United Nations in the Rhodesian question and as to the application of Articles 39 and 41 of the Charter to the circumstances of this case.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, in a letter to the United Nations Association Executive Committee about South-West Africa, said that it does no service to the United Nations to vote for a resolution the legal basis of which is doubtful? Since there is increasing doubt about the legal basis of the vote on mandatory sanctions, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to think about the matter again?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I am aware of my right hon. Friend's letter, but it is not relevant in this case. As my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor said in another place on 31st January, Her Majesty's Government see no need to bring this matter before the International Court of Justice, even if they had power to do so.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that his noble Friend admitted in another place on 6th February that this document, like another, is capable of more than one construction? Would not he agree that there is, not only in this country, sub- stantial legal doubt on this matter and that it would be appropriate, for the high standing of the United Nations and for the actions which it may take, that an advisory opinion should be sought under the appropriate Article from the International Court?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

No, Sir. With respect, Her Majesty's Government prefer the legal opinion of the Lord Chancellor to the legal opinions of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and others who have expressed doubts about this matter. [Interruption.] Furthermore, individual States are not empowered, as apparently the right hon. and learned Gentleman believes that they are, under the United Nations Charter or the Statute of the International Court of Justice to seek advisory opinions from the Court.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Would my right hon. Friend agree that there is full power under the Charter for the Security Council to determine whether or not there is a threat to peace and that, having so determined, the Security Council has full authority to authorise mandatory sanctions?

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recollect that Lord Caradon said that United Nations action under Chapter 7 could and should be taken only in circumstances when an immediate threat of hostilities existed? What is the immediate threat of hostilities?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I would refer the noble Lord to what was said in the House on 6th February by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General about the nature of the threat.

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

Surely it would be in the interests of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to get this point clarified. Is he aware that out of the 100 States approached, about 50 are doing nothing at all about this ruling, the reason being that many of them do not believe it to be a legal ruling?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I repeat that Her Majesty's Government are in no doubt whatever about the Tightness of their action on this matter and the Tightness of the United Nations Organisation.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. Handing:

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further instructions he has given to the United Kingdom permanent representative at the United Nations regarding action to be taken through the Security Council concerning the threat to peace from the illegal régime in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which countries require to introduce domestic legislation in order to give effect to economic sanctions against Rhodesia under Article 41 of the Charter; and which have in fact done so.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, what information he now has about the degree of co-operation by South Africa, Portugal and other foreign governments in the United Nations' sanctions policy against Rhodesia; what studies have been made in co-operation with the United Nations with a view to extending the sanctions policy to Southern Africa as a whole; and what consideration has been given to the possibility of alleviating consequent special problems of certain member-states under the provisions of Article 50 of the United Nations Charter.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Our representative at the United Nations has submitted to the Secretary-General, in accordance with the Security Council resolution of 16th December last, information on measures taken to implement the resolution. The Secretary-General's report was published on 24th February. Our representative has no instructions for further action.

I had a general discussion of the Rhodesia problem with the Secretary-General when he passed through London on 23rd February.

On the future of sanctions, I have nothing to add to my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs' replies to Questions on 14th February.—[Vol. 741, c. 322.]

The question of extending sanctions to Southern Africa as a whole has not arisen.

We understand that certain member States have informed the Secretary-General that they may wish to consult the Security Council under Article 50 of the Charter. The implications of this are being studied.

Photo of Mr William Hamling Mr William Hamling , Woolwich West

I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend. Will he assure the House that Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that the imposition of sanctions so far taken will be sufficient to bring this rebel Government to their senses? [Interruption] Will he also undertake to keep the imposition of sanctions constantly in mind in order to bring an early end to this rebel Government?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

We shall, of course, keep under constant scrutiny the effectiveness of sanctions, and we shall do all we can to make available to the Secretary-General the information at our disposal to ensure that the effectiveness is made as great as possible.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

Does the Minister realise that by grouping my Question with those of his hon. Friends he has avoided giving the information asked for in my Question? Does he recall that on 7th December last the Commonwealth Secretary said that certain nations were trading with Rhodesia because they did not have domestic legislation to prevent it, and that the introduction of mandatory sanctions would give them the opportunity to introduce that domestic legislation? Will the right hon. Gentleman now tell the House of Commons what has happened in that regard in three months? We want to know.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

The reason I was not able to refer specifically to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Question is that the Secretary-General's report, which contains the material to answer him, has only just become available and is still under study. What I can tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman at this stage is that 72 countries have so far replied to the Secretary-General's request for information, and several States have reported that they have no trade or other relations with Southern Rhodesia. Most of the others have indicated that they have initiated, or are initiating, the legislative action necessary to ensure full compliance.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Would my right hon. Gentleman agree that now we have embarked on a policy of sanctions the viability of the United Nations is at stake, so that we must embark on contingency planning if present measures should not be sufficient in themselves?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Well—one step at a time. Let us be sure that the mandatory resolution is fully implemented by the United Nations membership and see what results flow from that.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Buckinghamshire South

With regard to the threat to peace referred to in the Question, will the right hon. Gentleman take the opportunity to tell the House which State is threatened by Rhodesia? [Interruption.] As to the illegality of the règime, also referred to, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the United Nations sanctions are more illegal than the règime?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I repudiate the final point made by the hon. and learned Gentleman. His earlier point I answered a moment or two ago. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General referred very fully to the threat to peace on 6th February.

Photo of Mr Alistair Macdonald Mr Alistair Macdonald , Chislehurst

With reference to Question No. 10, what steps does the Minister take to satisfy himself that our commercial attachès and other commercial experts in legations and embassies abroad have sufficient commercial experience and acumen to satisfy themselves that the legislation passed is apt for its purpose and is being observed, and enforced if necessary?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

We are sure that our commercial attachès are thoroughly professional and competent both for the job of investigating the effectiveness of economic legislation in this aspect and also for the job of promoting British exports.