Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1976.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby 12:00 am, 14th December 1976

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he said about forbearance in this kind of situation. If I may I should like warmly to welcome the right hon. Gentleman to the Opposition Front Bench as shadow Foreign Secretary.

The question about passivity is obviously one that has worried me. We constantly consider whether I should have gone to Geneva and whether we should have tabled positive British proposals at an earlier moment than this. These are very difficult tactical matters of judgment. They are two cards that we have to play and could have played at any particular time. My judgment has been —and it has been justified—that the moment has not been reached when these cards ought to be played. They can be played only once, and they must be played at the most decisive possible moment.

As to Mr. Richard being in a hopeless rôle in Africa, this is not the view that he holds. As the House can imagine, I have had the most intensive discussions with him. He will go with my authority behind him and knowing that he can call on my support at any given moment. On the rôle of the United States, I had prolonged discussions with Dr. Kissinger on Friday and Saturday, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I have his absolute support in what I am proposing.

Let me end with one comment on the question of passivity. Nobody but a fool in my position would be certain that every tactical judgment he makes is right. But if I look back to the debate seven weeks ago on the Rhodesia Order, as I did this morning, I conclude that it is something of a miracle that things have gone as successfully as they have.