Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27 March 2001.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 12:00, 27 March 2001

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. To sharpen the point, the House and those on the Opposition Benches might wish to recall that it was the Conservative Government who presided over the government of Great Britain at the time of the Matabeleland massacres, which led to the killing of 10,000 people in Zimbabwe and took place over a period of two or three years, during which there was not a word of criticism from any Minister. There was no cut in overseas aid—on the contrary, Lady Thatcher increased aid by £10 million at the time of the massacres. No attempt was made to use the Commonwealth against Zimbabwe at the time. It is no wonder that President Mugabe let it be known that he was grateful for the British Government's restraint. In the light of their inactivity at the time, it is rich hypocrisy on the part of the Conservative Opposition to criticise us for not doing more.