Oral Answers to Questions — Rhodesia

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1968.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice 12:00 am, 23rd January 1968

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a further statement on Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

I have been asked to reply.

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend on 18th January to Questions by the hon. Members for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham) and for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison).—[Vol. 756, c. 1950.]

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Is it not now clear that the initiative lies with the Rhodesians and that very soon they are likely to break their last links with this country? Would not the right hon. Gentleman consider making some concessions at least to salve something from the debacle of Government policy?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

I am not sure who the hon. Gentleman thinks has to salve something from whose debacle. We have gone as far as we could go; the Smith régime has not moved at all. We both know that there are situations which, if they wished, they could take hold of and help. I do not think that we are called upon to do anything else now except to hold on to the course which not only we but the world outside believe to be the right course.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Is the Foreign Secretary, therefore, saying that Her Majesty's Government propose to take no steps whatever to try to overcome the obstacles which emerged during the Commonwealth Secretary's visit to Rhodesia?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

No obstacles emerged during the Commonwealth Secretary's visit. The obstacles are that the Smith régime went back on agreements and arrangements which Smith had made. Difficulties are rising in Rhodesia. I suggest that the right thing for all of us to do is to hold the position and wait until people in Rhodesia understand what is happening, as, I believe, many of them are doing.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

What formal knowledge does my right hon. Friend have of the development of an opposition party in Rhodesia, an opposition to the illegal Smith régime? What steps are the Government taking to tighten up sanctions to expedite that development?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

The tightening up of sanctions, which are a matter of a mandatory resolution of the U.N., is, of course, for the United Nations. As for what develops in Rhodesia, on the whole I would not help events if I were to comment too much.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I must press the Foreign Secretary. During the Commonwealth Secretary's visit, Mr. Smith asked for certain changes to be made in the "Tiger" constitution, changes which Her Majesty's Government said they found unacceptable. Is the Foreign Secretary saying that the Government are to take absolutely no action whatever to try to find ways round those difficulties with Mr. Smith?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

What I am saying is that Mr. Smith has gone so far back on agreements which he made that it is not for us to find ways round the difficulty. It is for him to go back to the agreement which he made and to work it out with his own people. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that he would do far better making that plain to Mr. Smith than trying to lecture us.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

Does my right hon. Friend agree that since the "Tiger" constitution the Smith régime has introduced a great deal of racialist and repressive legislation which is moving it far away from the community of nations?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

That may well be so. At the time of the "Tiger" constitution, we thought that we had an arrangement on which we could get an honourable settlement. It is still the purpose of the Government to get an honourable settlement. I do not think that we can be asked to be those who move from here.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

Does the right hon.Gentleman mean by his statement that there has been no further contact between the British Government and the Rhodesian Government——

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

—between the British Government and the Rhodesian Government——

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Smethwick

Since when was it a Government?

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) must contain himself.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

—since the Commonwealth Secretary's visit? Does the right lion. Gentleman realise that if he allows things just to drift, he will find that the Rhodesian authorities have set up a new constitution and that after that there will be no possibility of a settlement?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Even knowing the right hon. Gentleman as well as I do, I am very surprised that he should espouse an illegal régime as he does. We have contacts with the Governor; we do not have contacts in that sense with an illegal régime.