Rhodesia

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th April 1972.

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Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough 12:00 am, 24th April 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the dossier prepared by Mr. Ian Smith on the allegations of violence and intimidation when the Pearce Commission was in Southern Rhodesia.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

No, Sir. The dossier was presented to the Pearce Commission and not to me and it is for the Commission to consider it.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

Bearing in mind that unless information such as this dossier is said to contain is made publicly available very little credibility can be attached to it, and also bearing in mind the Foreign Secretary's knowledge of the intimidation, the assaults, the imprisonment and the detention which have taken place concerning people who were campaigning against the terms of the settlement, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to make available to the House the most detailed information possible about what took place when the Pearce Commission was in Rhodesia?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I shall consider the matter, but I should prefer to see the Pearce Report first. The hon. Member will remember that Lord Pearce particularly asked for two extra commissioners to deal with this question of intimidation, so I should like to see his report first.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Although there was a certain amount of intimidation or direct pressure both ways, would my right hon. Friend agree that the degree and extent of it was not really as great as to invalidate the findings of the Pearce Commission, whatever they may be?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

Lord Pearce considered this at one time in relation to whether his commission could stay in Rhodesia, and obviously he considered that he could carry on with his job. The situation was not such as to prevent his staying there. As regards the future, I should like to consider what my hon. Friend has said, but we must see Lord Pearce and his report.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party, Shadow Foreign Secretary

The right hon. Gentleman has twice said that he wants to see Lord Pearce's report. Can he say what the present status is of that, when he hopes to receive it and when we are likely to hear a statement on it? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in the absence of the publication of this document prepared by Mr. Smith, there is considerable concern that action may be taken against people on very tainted evidence?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I think I shall receive the report very shortly, in a matter of a few weeks—I hope at about the beginning of May. Thereafter we shall have to debate the matter, which will be a matter for discussion between the right hon. Gentleman, the usual channels and myself. It is a report to me and I should like to have time to consider it. The House, too, will want to consider all these matters. I shall bear in mind what the right hon. Gentle- man has said, particularly about detainees.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in view of the facts that an illegal tribunal has declared that the continued detention of Garfield and Judith Todd and Josiah and Ruth China-mano is necessary in the interests of public safety and order, and that the illegal régime is unwilling to try people in an open court of law, what action Her Majesty's Government will now take to free these British subjects from detention without trial.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

As the House knows, we have made representations about these detentions, but we have no power to secure release or open trial.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

What action is the right hon. Gentleman proposing to take to secure some power to reimpose the reality of British rule in Rhodesia and to secure the release of all those detained without trial by the usurping régime?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

As to reimposing the reality of power, the hon. Gentleman knows that his Government could not impose what he calls the reality of power. They tried once in relation to those Africans condemned to be hanged, and they failed. At least the position about detainees is better than it was two years ago. There are 67 now, where there were 133 before. No one is content with that, but at least the position is better.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raised the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common wealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest developments with regard to the work of the Pearce Commission.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is yet able to make a statement on the conclusions of the Pearce Commission, and on the United Kingdom's relations with the Rhodesian Government in the light of these conclusions.

Photo of Mr William Price Mr William Price , Rugby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he can now give the date when he expects to receive Lord Pearce's report on the proposed settlement with Rhodesia.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

The Pearce Commission is still preparing its report. I hope to receive it fairly soon. As I told the House on 27th March, I shall then need some time to consider the report before making any further statement of policy.—[Vol. 834, c. 4.]

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain the sort of back-door pressure which the illegal régime in Rhodesia is seeking to exercise upon him and upon the Pearce Commission? Further, will he say who the emissaries were who were received by his Department last week from that régime, what was the purpose of their visit and what was its outcome?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

The hon. Gentleman is mistaken if he thinks that I am inclined to give way to what he calls back-door pressure. That is not my habit. As regards the emissaries, the hon. Gentleman will know that we have a representative in Salisbury all the time. Mr. Smith wanted two of his close advisers to talk about possibilities for the future, and I thought that it was a sensible thing to do.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Can my right hon. Friend give some idea when he will be able to make a statement to the House—for example, whether it will be before the Whitsun Recess—and will he say how many officials we have representing our Government in the Rhodesian capital?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I imagine that my hon. Friend did not hear the earlier exchanges on that point. I hope to receive the report some time about the beginning of May. Thereafter it will be for me to study the report, and that I shall do. We shall then arrange through the usual channels for a statement and debate. My hon. Friend spoke of the Whitsun Recess. It is a matter which we shall have to consider through the usual channels; we shall try to make the timing convenient to the House.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

Could the right hon. Gentleman clarify the answers which he has given? It is his intention, is it not, to publish the report after he has had time to study it?

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Empress Catharine once put a guard on a snowdrop, and it was found to be still there 200 years later? Is not our guard on the Mozambique Channel rapidly falling into the same category?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

The hon. and learned Gentleman's analogies are always amusing. While sanctions last, we have to maintain our obligations under them.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

asked the-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the illegal Rhodesian régime concerning infringements of the undertakings given to him by Mr. Smith prior to the establishment of the Pearce Commission; and what reply he has received.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I would wish to see Lord Pearce's findings on this before I decide whether any action is called for.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Is the right hon Gentleman aware that Mr. Smith is still pursuing viciously racialist policies, despite the undertakings that were given prior to the setting up of the Pearce Commission, notably about the razing to the ground, purely for racialist reasons, of the homes of black Rhodesians? What representations did the right hon. Gentleman make last week to the secret emissaries from the Smith régime?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I have told Mr. Smith on many occasions that we disagree with the action he has taken, that we deplore some of his actions in this respect and that these detentions are unjustified. However, I have no power to insist on what action Mr. Smith should take in Rhodesia. I would like to see Lord Pearce's findings on this matter before considering any further action I can usefully take.

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

Why did the right hon. Gentleman think it proper for emissaries of the Smith régime to be received by his Department while the British Government thought it improper to have a meeting with Bishop Muzorewa on his recent visit?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I am always willing to see anybody from Rhodesia who wishes to see me if I think that such a meeting will contribute towards a solution of the present difficult problem. I do not think I was here when the Bishop was in London.