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South Africa (Sanctions)

– in the House of Commons at 4:57 pm on 22nd July 1986.

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Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn , Sheffield Central 4:57 pm, 22nd July 1986

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the application of the Nassau Accord in relation to sanctions against South Africa. The accord was agreed in October 1985 and it had three main areas of action. First, there was the immediate application of limited sanctions—in fact, to coin the Prime Minister's words when she reported to the House, teeny-weeny sanctions.

The second area of action was that an Eminent Persons Group of seven should be set up whose terms of reference were clearly laid down in the accord. They were charged with the responsibility of bringing back to the Commonwealth Heads of State conference a full report within six months. The timetable was subsequently altered to about nine months.

I am sure that all hon. Members are au fait with the contents of the Eminent Persons Group's report. I want to quote the penultimate paragraph of the conclusions of that report, which gives the House an overwhelming reason for supporting the Bill. It says: The question in front of Heads of Government is in our view clear. It is not whether such measures will compel change; it is already the case that their absence and Pretoria's belief that they need not be feared, defers change. Is the Commonwealth to stand by and allow the cycle of violence to spiral? Or will it take concerted action of an effective kind? Such action may offer the last opportunity to avert what could be the worse bloodbath since the Second World War. Thirdly, the accord outlined a further eight points which should be taken into account if adequate progress had not been made in nine months. Those eight points should be spelt out because that, no more and no less, is what I am asking the House to endorse this afternoon and to put into formal legislation. They are: a ban on air links with South Africa; a ban on new investment or reinvestment of profits earned in South Africa; a ban on the import of agricultural products from South Africa; the termination of double taxation agreements with South Africa; the termination of all Government assistance to investment in and trade with, South Africa; a ban on all Government procurement in South Africa; a ban on Government contracts with majority-owned South African companies, and, last but by no means least, a ban on the promotion of tourism to South Africa.

Those were the eight points that were set out in the Nassau accord. Many of us believe that they are minimal and want full mandatory economic sanctions to be applied to South Africa, and I believe that the House must make a decision this afternoon in the light of the developing situation in South Africa.

As we all know, the situation in South Africa is deteriorating daily. Calls for the application of sanctions as a means of ensuring that the Pretoria regime gets round the negotiating table with the true leaders of the people of South Africa are almost universal. The South African Council of Churches, the trade union movement, Bishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and, as we reported last week in the South Africa debate, some business men, are now calling for sanctions to be applied. Outside South Africa, many nations are asking for action to be taken. The Synod of the Church of England, Archbishop Runcie, and the United States Congress have called for sanctions against South Africa, and during the past two or three days two white members of the Commonwealth, including the Canadian all-party committee on human rights, have asked for broad economic sanctions to be applied from 30 September 1986. If agreement is not arrived at by the Commonwealth heads of Government, there are calls for Canada to go it alone.

The Australian Prime Minister, in a special appeal to the British Prime Minister, said: I can only express the hope that the developing attitudes around the world will impress themselves upon those who have to make the decisions in London when we meet there in a very short time … and I hope these events are becoming clear to the British Prime Minister. The most significant movement over the past few days has come from British industry. It was reported in the press on Sunday, and was followed up yesterday, that the British Industry Committee on South Africa, which includes 50 of the largest British companies operating in South Africa, has changed its position and is now calling for limited sanctions. Why has it done this?

Its change of position has been caused by the slogan that is going the rounds in Africa and elsewere, "Buy British Last". That has caused the change in attitude in British business.

The options before the House are now clear. Do we support the vast majority of the Commonwealth, the overwhelming majority of the South African people, all the front-line states, the Church inside and outside South Africa, and, latterly, many parts of the business community? Or do we reject this near universal concensus in slavish adherence to the British Prime Minister, whose credibility sinks daily at home and abroad in that she says that sanctions will hurt the blacks?

For 100 years the blacks in South Africa have been struggling to be free. Over the past 50 years, since the Nationalist Government was formed, apartheid has been written into the constitution. In rural areas, the blacks have one of the highest infant mortality rates, at 500 per 1,000, of any country with a comparable GDP. South Africa is one of the worst countries in the world in that respect. Spending on education is balanced to one in favour of the whites. There is one doctor for every 300 whites, but only one doctor for every 12,000 blacks.

The blacks in South Africa have been suffering for years and they are calling for help. The Government have not heeded that call. The Prime Minister turned her back on the Brandt report, and her conduct towards the Third world in aid has been nothing less than deplorable. It is unacceptable for the Prime Minister to lecture us about the suffering of the South African people and claim that sanctions will cost Britain jobs.

The Prime Minister's claims have a hollow ring, both inside and outside the House, as there are 4 million people unemployed in this country and there are even some doubts about how the unemployment figures are calculated. The Tory Benches must take note of the major companies in the United Kingdom, which, in response to the slogan "Buy British Last" have said that not imposing sanctions could be extremely costly for the United Kingdom, if not in the short term, certainly in the long term—[Interruption.] I am trying to make myself heard.

The House has a special responsibility in the matter. In 1909 it passed the constitution Act for the Union of South Africa. This is possibly the only constitution based on racism, as racism is inherent in the Act. There was some opposition to the Act, but we have a responsibility now not to drag our heels on this issue. We must take the lead, bearing in mind that that constitution derived from this House of Commons and that the racist regime of apartheid was built into that constitution.

An interesting letter appeared in The Times on 27 July 1909. It said: We of European birth or descent are, by virtue of our civilisation, undoubtedly dominant; we shall, if we deserve it, remain dominant, but only in so far as we recognise and perform the duties which our privileged position entails. Our dominance must be dominance of merit in a free country, where career is open to talent and to civilised men,"— this may refer to Conservative Members— with no discrimination upon such unsound, unstable grounds of race or colour. The point of that letter to The Times, written nearly 100 years ago, is relevant to the House in 1986. Discussions are necessary. Will this House, in 1986, have integrity, humanity and compassion and act in concert with the Commonwealth and approve my Bill this afternoon? The Bill will signal to South Africa and to the Commonwealth that we mean business and that we will attack the apartheid regime.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking 5:07 pm, 22nd July 1986

In this House we know how frequently private Members' Bills are used as publicity stunts. Because we understand that, we do not normally wish to waste too much time on them. Indeed, we often let them pass on the nod. This practice is not so generally understood outside the House.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) is a member of the national executive committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. His arguments are familiar to us and I do not need to spend time on them now. [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) was heard in relative silence. We have freedom of speech in this place.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

The hon. Gentleman cannot persuade me that if his Bill is allowed an unopposed passage today it will not be trumpeted around the world by the Anti-Apartheid Movement as a major setback for the Government and their policies. It becomes all the more obvious that that would be so when we remember, as the hon. Gentleman did not remind us, that the Foreign Secretary sets off today on the second stage of his South African mission.

We all know the case against apartheid, and we are united in this House and elsewhere in the country in our opposition to that abhorrent system. At the same time, we should also be united in wishing the Foreign Secretary success in achieving the objectives that he has set. If his mission is ultimately unsuccessful—as I hope it will not be—we know that then will be the time to consider with our partners in the European Community and in the Commonwealth, and with our friends in the West, what measures should be taken.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made that clear time and again. In the meantime, it does no one any good to join the Leader of the Opposition— who is such a great boy for the bombastic cliché—in talking about using sanctions to bring Botha to heel. Whatever the armchair guerrillas may say, the imposition of sanctions is not an end in itself. Our end and our aim must be a peaceful settlement in South Africa, not the promotion of violence and death.

The House today should give its full support, therefore, to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary in his very difficult task. We must not weaken his hand by suggesting that we believe that he can intimidate or blackmail Pretoria into submission. We should reject this thoroughly mischievous and unhelpful measure.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and Nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business):-

The House divided: Ayes 196, Noes 243.

Division No. 273][5.10 pm
Alton, DavidEadie, Alex
Anderson, DonaldEastham, Ken
Archer, Rt Hon PeterEdwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Ashdown, PaddyEvans, John (St. Helens N)
Ashley, Rt Hon JackEwing, Harry
Ashton, JoeFatchett, Derek
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Faulds, Andrew
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Barnett, GuyFields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Barron, KevinFisher, Mark
Beckett, Mrs MargaretFlannery, Martin
Beith, A. J.Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bell, StuartForrester, John
Benn, Rt Hon TonyFoster, Derek
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Foulkes, George
Bidwell, SydneyFraser, J. (Norwood)
Blair, AnthonyFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Boothroyd, Miss BettyFreud, Clement
Boyes, RolandGarrett, W. E.
Bray, Dr JeremyGeorge, Bruce
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Godman, Dr Norman
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Golding, Mrs Llin
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Gould, Bryan
Buchan, NormanHamilton, James (M'well N)
Caborn, RichardHamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J.Hardy, Peter
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Harman, Ms Harriet
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Carter-Jones, LewisHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Cartwright, JohnHeffer, Eric S.
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Clarke, ThomasHolland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Clay, RobertHome Robertson, John
Clelland, David GordonHughes, Dr Mark (Durham)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cohen, HarryHughes, Roy (Newport East)
Coleman, DonaldHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Conlan, BernardHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Janner, Hon Greville
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)John, Brynmor
Corbett, RobinJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Craigen, J. M.Kennedy, Charles
Crowther, StanKilroy-Silk, Robert
Cunliffe, LawrenceKirkwood, Archy
Cunningham, Dr JohnLambie, David
Dalyell, TamLamond, James
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)Leadbitter, Ted
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Leighton, Ronald
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I)Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Deakins, EricLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dewar, DonaldLofthouse, Geoffrey
Dixon, DonaldLoyden, Edward
Dobson, FrankMcCartney, Hugh
Dormand, JackMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Douglas, DickMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dubs, AlfredMcKelvey, William
Duffy, A. E. P.MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.McTaggart, Robert
McWilliam, JohnRooker, J. W.
Madden, MaxRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Mallon, SeamusRowlands, Ted
Marek, Dr JohnRyman, John
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Sedgemore, Brian
Martin, MichaelSheerman, Barry
Mason, Rt Hon RoyShields, Mrs Elizabeth
Maynard, Miss JoanShore, Rt Hon Peter
Meacher, MichaelShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Meadowcroft, MichaelShort, Mrs H.(W'hampt'n NE)
Michie, WilliamSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Mikardo, IanSkinner, Dennis
Millan, Rt Hon BruceSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Snape, Peter
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Nellist, DavidStott, Roger
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonStrang, Gavin
O'Brien, WilliamStraw, Jack
O'Neill, MartinThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidThorne, Stan (Preston)
Park, GeorgeTorney, Tom
Parry, RobertWainwright, R.
Patchett, TerryWallace, James
Pavitt, LaurieWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, PeterWareing, Robert
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Weetch, Ken
Radice, GilesWelsh, Michael
Randall, StuartWigley, Dafydd
Raynsford, NickWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Redmond, MartinWilson, Gordon
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Winnick, David
Richardson, Ms JoWrigglesworth, Ian
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Robertson, GeorgeTellers for the Ayes:
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)Mr. Jeremy Corbyn and
Rogers, AllanMr. Tony Banks.
Ancram, MichaelClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Aspinwall, JackClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Clegg, Sir Walter
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Coombs, Simon
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Cope, John
Batiste, SpencerCorrie, John
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyCouchman, James
Bendall, VivianCranborne, Viscount
Benyon, WilliamCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Bevan, David GilroyDickens, Geoffrey
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDicks, Terry
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnDorrell, Stephen
Blackburn, JohnDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterDover, Den
Bonsor, Sir Nicholasdu Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Bottomley, PeterDunn, Robert
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Durant, Tony
Brandon-Bravo, MartinEvennett, David
Bright, GrahamEyre, Sir Reginald
Brinton, TimFairbairn, Nicholas
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Farr, Sir John
Browne, JohnFavell, Anthony
Bruinvels, PeterFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bryan, Sir PaulFletcher, Alexander
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Fookes, Miss Janet
Buck, Sir AntonyForman, Nigel
Budgen, NickForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burt, AlistairForth, Eric
Butcher, JohnFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Butler, Rt Hon Sir AdamFox, Sir Marcus
Butterfill, JohnFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Carlisle, John (Luton N)Freeman, Roger
Cash, WilliamFry, Peter
Chalker, Mrs LyndaGale, Roger
Channon, Rt Hon PaulGardiner, George (Reigate)
Chope, ChristopherGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Churchill, W. S.Garel-Jones, Tristan
Glyn, Dr AlanKershaw, Sir Anthony
Gorst, JohnKey, Robert
Gower, Sir RaymondKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Grant, Sir AnthonyKnight, Greg (Derby N)
Greenway, HarryKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Griffiths, Sir EldonLamont, Rt Hon Norman
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Lang, Ian
Grist, IanLatham, Michael
Ground, PatrickLawler, Geoffrey
Grylls, MichaelLawrence, Ivan
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Lee, John (Pendle)
Hannam, JohnLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Hargreaves, KennethLester, Jim
Harris, DavidLewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Haselhurst, AlanLightbown, David
Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelLilley, Peter
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Hawksley, WarrenMacGregor, Rt Hon John
Hayes, J.MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon BarneyMaclean, David John
Hayward, RobertMcLoughlin, Patrick
Heddle, JohnMcNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Henderson, BarryMcQuarrie, Albert
Hickmet, RichardMajor, John
Hill, JamesMalone, Gerald
Hirst, MichaelMarland, Paul
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Marlow, Antony
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Holt, RichardMates, Michael
Hordern, Sir PeterMather, Carol
Howard, MichaelMaude, Hon Francis
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hunter, AndrewMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasMonro, Sir Hector
Irving, CharlesMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Jackson, RobertMorris, M. (N'hampton S)
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickMudd, David
Jessel, TobyMurphy, Christopher
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyNeale, Gerrard
Jones, Robert (Herts W)Neubert, Michael
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelNicholls, Patrick
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineOnslow, Cranley
Oppenheim, PhillipStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Osborn, Sir JohnStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Stokes, John
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Tapsell, Sir Peter
Patten, Christopher (Bath)Taylor, John (Solihull)
Pattie, GeoffreyTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pawsey, JamesTerlezki, Stefan
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Pollock, AlexanderThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Porter, BarryThornton, Malcolm
Portillo, MichaelThurnham, Peter
Powell, Rt Hon J. E.Townend, John (Bridlington)
Powell, William (Corby)Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Powley, JohnTrippier, David
Prentice, Rt Hon RegTrotter, Neville
Price, Sir DavidTwinn, Dr Ian
Proctor, K. HarveyVaughan, Sir Gerard
Raffan, KeithViggers, Peter
Rhodes James, RobertWaddington, David
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonWakeham, Rt Hon John
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Waldegrave, Hon William
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Walden, George
Roe, Mrs MarionWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Rowe, AndrewWall, Sir Patrick
Rumbold, Mrs AngelaWalters, Dennis
Sackville, Hon ThomasWard, John
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Sayeed, JonathanWatts, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Whitfield, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Wiggin, Jerry
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Wilkinson, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Winterton, Nicholas
Shersby, MichaelWood, Timothy
Silvester, FredWoodcock, Michael
Sims, RogerYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Skeet, Sir TrevorYounger, Rt Hon George
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Tellers for the Noes:
Speed, KeithMr. Gwilym Jones and
Spencer, DerekMr. Gerald Bowden.
Stanbrook, Ivor

Question accordingly negatived.