Rhodesia

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1977.

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Photo of Mr Robert Taylor Mr Robert Taylor , Croydon North West 12:00 am, 5th December 1977

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the invitation of the Foreign Secretary to the so-called leaders of the Patriotic Front to come to this country at a time when the Prime Minister of Rhodesia is conducting negotiations with responsible leaders of African opinion in that country. I claim that the matter is specific because the invitation has definitely been issued over this weekend. I claim that it is urgent because, unless this House decides otherwise, these so-called guests will be able to be received here by Her Majesty's Government within the next week or so. I suggest that it is important—indeed, most important—because of the present delicate state of negotiations between Mr. Smith and the leaders of responsible African opinion in Rhodesia.

The present negotiations are on the basis of "one-man-one-vote". That has surely been the objective of all the negotiations that have been attempted over the past 13 years. If the proposed meeting between the Foreign Secretary and the so-called leaders of the Patriotic Front takes place, it will be regarded, and rightly so in my opinion, as an attempt to sabotage the negotiations that are taking place in Salisbury.

I believe that a parallel situation would be created if Washington, for instance, were to invite the leaders of the Provisional IRA to go to Washington to discuss the future of Northern Ireland. I believe that this House should have an opportunity to discuss most urgently the invitation that has been sent by the Foreign Secretary on our behalf, because I think that it is completely contrary to the views of the British people.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Taylor) did me the courtesy of giving me notice before 12 o'clock that he wished to make this application under Standing Order No. 9. He wishes to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter, namely, the invitation of the Foreign Secretary to the so-called leaders of the Patriotic Front to come to this country at a time when the Prime Minister of Rhodesia is conducting negotiations with responsible leaders of African opinion in that country. I listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman had to say, and I remind the House that it is for me to decide not the importance of the matter but whether it should be given precedence over the Orders of the Day. I have to rule that the hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.