Angola

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd December 1982.

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Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

Not at present, Sir.

Photo of Mr David Ginsburg Mr David Ginsburg , Dewsbury

Is the Minister aware that my constituent, Colin Evans, has already served a seven-year sentence there and so have the constituents of a number of hon. Members? Is he further aware that they have another 18 years to serve and that they could very easily become forgotten men? Will the Foreign Secretary consider doing what was successfully done by one of his predecessors, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) when he visited Uganda, or will he at least try some other positive initiative to bring these men home?

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not seeking to draw a parallel between the present Angolan Government and the Government of General Amin. While I fully appreciate his concern for his constituent, I can assure him we are in touch with the Angolan Government at the highest levels. At the same time, I hope that neither he nor the House will want me to say anything that might jeopardise the chances of the prisoners' release. We should also remember what the Angolan people have suffered, and continue to suffer, since 1976 and understand that an act of clemency which is a decision entirely for the Angolan Government, may still be far from easy in such circumstances.

Photo of Mr Harvey Proctor Mr Harvey Proctor , Basildon

My hon. Friend will be aware that one of my constituents, Mr. Malcolm Wright, is also imprisoned in Angola. Is one of the considerations that the Angolan Government will take into account whether there is any current or likely British mercenary activity in that area? Can my hon. Friend shed some light on that, which might reassure the Angola Government so as to enable them to act on a clemency appeal?

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern for his constituent. With regard to his point about mercenaries, I have no evidence to suggest that any British mercenaries may have been or are likely to be recruited for any purpose against the Angola Government. If my hon. Friend or anyone else has any information to that effect I hope that they will let me know so that we can take appropriate legal action against those involved.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Will the Minister assure the Angolan Government that no pressure will be brought to bear on them to dispense with military support from Cuba until and unless there has been a complete withdrawal of South African forces, both from Angolan territory, where they are unlawfully operating, and from Namibia?

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands that our anxiety in this matter as a member of the Contact Group of Five is to promote a settlement. We shall do everything we possibly can to achieve that end.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

With regard to mercenaries, are not the Cubans now the mercenaries in Angola? Is not their withdrawal the key to an easement of the conflict which affects Angola, Namibia and South Africa? Will Her Majesty's Government do all that they can to bring that about? Perhaps Mr. Andropov might be asked to use his influence?

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

I do not know what influence Mr. Andropov may have over the Cubans at this moment. I think that my hon. Friend is right to suggest that the presence of Cubans in any part of Africa is an unhelpful influence, but we must recall that they are in Angola at the invitation of the Angolan Government. Whether they withdraw is a matter for that Government.

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

Does the Minister appreciate that his reply is regarded by the Opposition as extremely helpful? Is it not a fact that the concept of linkage or parallelism was not conceived in the debates and discussions that took place within the United Nations and among the contact States until very recently, although Cuban forces had been in Angola for some considerable time even then? Will the hon. Gentleman make it abundantly plain that the Government dissociate themselves entirely from the concept of linkage or parallelism?

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

I do not think that it would be helpful for me to respond to the hon. Gentleman's last request. However, it must be an objective to resolve the problem altogether and comprehensively. If the Namibia question offers an opportunity for the wider resolution of problems in Southern Africa, it will be a great mistake to ignore the opportunity.