What representations has the right hon. Gentleman received from the Nigerian Government about this impending decision? Would he agree that it would be a great irony if, after the controversial steps which Britain took to maintain British influence in Nigeria during the civil war, we were now to force Nigeria into the arms of Russia by this policy?
I certainly hope that we shall not force Nigeria into the arms of the Soviet Union. The exchanges that we have had with Commonwealth countries must, of course, be confidential until Her Majesty's Government take a decision.
In this connection, would my right hon. Friend agree that those who would have us believe that the main source of danger to this country springs from the problems of race—though I agree that these problems are important—are completely wrong, that the main source of danger remains Soviet power and that this menace is steadily increasing?
Soviet power can of course be a menace and if there were a monopoly of Soviet power in, for example, the Indian Ocean, the West might find its options closed as to the policies that it might wish to pursue. The problems of race are also, of course, problems of which we must take very careful account.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the careful and very proper consultations which he has already had have led to a much better understanding of the British position over this issue?
I hope that that is true. What has happened in the Mediterranean and the pattern which might be introduced into the Indian Ocean has certainly impressed those whom we have consulted.
Would my right hon. Friend agree that there is no hurry to announce a decision in this matter and that on an issue which may well prejudice the future of the whole Commonwealth, it would be proper for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers together to discuss it, especially as their forthcoming meeting is to be comparatively soon.
I will certainly bear in mind what my right hon. Friend says. I do not think that anybody could accuse us of not taking time to consult the Commonwealth.
Reverting to an answer which he gave to an earlier supplementary question, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say whether he agrees with his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence that the presence of the Soviet Fleet in the Indian Ocean is nothing to get steamed up against? [Hors. MEMBERS: "Against?"] Yes, to get steamed up against or, indeed, to get steamed up over?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are five frigates of the Royal Navy allocated to the Indian Ocean with the duty of blockading the Port of Beira? Is he further aware that the whole of Her Majesty's Opposition strongly support the plea made by his hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) that a decision should not be taken until there has been a chance for collective consideration by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in Singapore?
We certainly have no intention of getting steamed up in this matter. However, Governments must use foresight, and the present Government are responsible for this nation's security. We must, therefore, look ahead and see what plans can be made for the security of the Indian Ocean.
To answer the right hon. Gentleman's question about the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), that will certainly be taken into account.