Rhodesia

Oral Answers to Questions — Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th April 1968.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South 12:00 am, 9th April 1968

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will state the progress of the latest sanctions taken against the illegal régime in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the future of sanctions against Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what further action he has taken within the framework of the efforts of the United Nations and Commonwealth countries to implement comprehensive mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what is the latest assessment he has made of the effect of sanctions on the Rhodesian economy and on Rhodesian domestic politics.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I would refer the hon. Members to the statements made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and by myself on 27th March, 1968.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

Can the Commonwealth Secretary give any indication how soon it will be when sanctions are extended and along what lines they are likely to be extended? Are we in touch with the United Nations Secretariat about sanction-busting, as one or two countries should know better?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

We are of course in touch with the United Nations Secretariat, and in the United Nations itself consultations are going on about a possible resolution. I should not like to anticipate the results of those consultations.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there will be the utmost resistance on this side of the House to any extension of these sanctions, which have strengthened Mr. Smith?—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Witness the lifting of the censorship. If the object is to induce negotiations, will the right hon. Gentleman take up the offer of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I cannot agree with the hon. Member. The question of extension of sanctions is of course something that is designed to indicate to the régime that, however long it seeks to go along this road, it is a road which leads to economic stagnation. I think that enjoys very general support at the United Nations as well as very considerable support in this House.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

On Question No. 27, could the right hon. Gentleman confirm that in fact the political position of Mr. Smith in Rhodesia today is stronger than ever before? Is it not now quite clear that sanctions is a policy which is far more hurtful to this country than it is in promoting the cause which the Government seek to promote?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

No, Sir. I cannot accept that at all. I think the hon. Member must know very well that at the moment, for example, Rhodesia has cut herself off from her traditional sources of outside development capital and is using her internal resources for wasteful stockpiling of unexportable commodities like tobacco. Since the African population of Rhodesia is increasing very rapidly, the real economic state in Rhodesia is one of decline.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, unless the sanctions policy is made effective, there is a danger that the Commonwealth will not survive? Will he therefore consider listing the individual foreign companies which are violating sanctions so that measures can be taken against them at the United Nations?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I agree with my hon. Friend that the future of the Commonwealth is very much at stake in making sanctions as effective as possible. The suggestion my hon. Friend makes is one of a number of suggestions that are under consideration at the United Nations at the moment.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The Secretary of State did not answer the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), which was simply this. Is it not a fact that the political position of Mr. Smith is now stronger than ever?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I am increasingly depressed by the degree to which hon. Members, and now right hon. Members, opposite rush in to suggest how strong Mr. Smith is. These great and serious moral international issues must be seen in a much longer time scale than the temporary popularity of an individual over a month or two.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

That is not good enough. The point simply is that the House should know whether sanctions are working. Have not sanctions in fact strengthened the position of Mr. Smith?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

In the short run sanctions are bound to have the effect that the right hon. Gentleman is describing. Is he drawing the implication from that, that in the short run we should surrender? I certainly do not draw that implication.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs which countries are, and which are not, now applying United Nations mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia; what representations have been made in this regard; and with what result.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Eveyn King) on 25th January, 1968. As the hon. Member will be aware, exchanges between Governments are confidential.—[Vol. 757, c. 173.]

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Since when there has been no change. Is not the Secretary of State aware that one of the consequences of this futile farce is that other members of the United Nations—competitors of ours—are merely taking our trade? When will the Government face facts and bind up these self-inflicted wounds?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

If the hon. Gentleman feels that way, why does he resist the proposal for comprehensive mandatory sanctions which would put those people who are, as he says, taking our trade on an equal footing with British traders?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the latest recommendations of the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

No, Sir. The Committee's proceedings are confidential.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Notwithstanding that, could the Government, in consultation with our Commonwealth colleagues, use every possible pressure—for instance, on Portugal—whether it be through N.A.T.O., E.F.T.A. or any other medium, to ensure that there is proper policing of sanctions on the Mozambique border?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I assure my hon. Friend that the discussions now going on at the United Nations are designed to fulfil the purposes he has in mind.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

We welcome the Secretary of State back from his recent very long journey. Did he obtain from Commonwealth Governments in Asia a very great deal of support for his sanctions policy?

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what information he now has regarding the number of men under sentence of death in Rhodesia as the result of guerilla activity; whether next of kin have been informed; and whether the names of all those thus sentenced are now known.

Photo of Mr William Whitlock Mr William Whitlock , Nottingham North

There is nothing that I can at present add to the Answer which was given to my hon. Friend on 12th March.—[Vol. 760, c. 262.]

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Does my hon. Friend agree that that sentence for any of the freedom fighters in what amounts to a civil war situation is utterly indefensible, and that they should be assured of prisoner-of-war status? If we are not in a position to guarantee that ourselves, will my hon. Friend initiate discussions with the Red Cross?

Photo of Mr William Whitlock Mr William Whitlock , Nottingham North

The names of all those who have been sentenced cannot be known because some have been withheld for security reasons. Moreover, the names of those whom the régime has announced its intention of not hanging have not been disclosed. It would therefore be very difficult to find out by any means who are the people involved.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Is it Her Majesty's Government's position that it is all right for Mr. Dupont, the Officer Administering the Government, as he is called, to exercise or usurp the Royal prerogative of mercy and reprieve persons sentenced to death in Rhodesia?

Photo of Mr Edwin Brooks Mr Edwin Brooks , Bebington

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will state Her Majesty's Government's policy with regard to the maintenance of law and order in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Her Majesty's Government would deplore a breakdown of law and order in Rhodesia. Their policy is to promote a return to constitutional rule and they do not believe that this will be achieved by violence.

Photo of Mr Edwin Brooks Mr Edwin Brooks , Bebington

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the policy of sanctions is designed to cause a crisis of confidence and of government in Salisbury? Is not the very success of the sanctions policy to be measured, at least to some extent, by a steady weakening of the internal forces of law, order and racialist repression?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I do not agree with that. The policy of sanctions is designed precisely in order to try to produce a peaceful solution without all the suffering to people of all races that would result from the use of force and violence.

Mr. Colin Jackson:

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current situation in Southern Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I said in the debate on Rhodesia on 27th March.

Mr. Jackson:

Bearing in mind certain remarks from hon. Members opposite today, will my right hon. Friend remind the House that the State of Mr. Smith is a police State? Is there any evidence either in education or housing that Mr. Smith's régime has moved any way towards a multiracial society?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

On education and housing, I am afraid that the sad evidence is that the Smith régime have been moving in a more segregationist direction. We of course welcome the lifting of the censorship by the régime inside Rhodesia, although I am bound to say that I would feel more optimistic about the future if the régime were to go ahead and lift some of the more oppressive features of the police State.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Does it remain the position of the Government that they are not prepared to have any negotiations with the present régime of Mr. Smith?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

The immediate question is to see what comes out of the consultations at present going on in the Security Council. This is the immediate scene of future action in relation to Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will remove the word British from the title of the British South Africa Police, in view of the fact that they are now fighting for the Rhodesian illegal régime against loyal British subjects in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr William Whitlock Mr William Whitlock , Nottingham North

This would serve no useful purpose.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

Is my hon. Friend aware that some of the casualties suffered by white rebels in Rhodesia have been created by bombing by the Royal Rhodesian Air Force? Will he advise Her Majesty to remove the title "royal" from this traitorous and inaccurate organisation?

Photo of Mr William Whitlock Mr William Whitlock , Nottingham North

That is an entirely different question.