HC Deb 29 March 1960 vol 620 cc1139-40
46. Mr. Foot

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received the resolution sent to him by the Executive Committee of the Ipswich Borough Labour Party deploring the recent massacre in the Union of South Africa arising out of the racial policy of the Union and expressing the opinion that it is the duty of the Government of the United Kingdom to make a contribution towards the relief of the victims and their dependants; and what reply he has sent or proposes to send.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has received this resolution. It has been acknowledged and the writer informed that its terms have been noted.

Mr. Foot

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the first part of the resolution almost certainly represents the views of the great bulk of public opinion in this country? Will the Government consider ways in which they can give effect to the second part of the resolution?

Mr. Butler

The Government have already tabled an Amendment to the Motion on the Order Paper, which I think indicates our views on this matter. The hon. and learned Member can regard that as an answer to the first part of his supplementary question. I cannot give any further answer than was given by the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations in relation to compensation. In regard to the British subjects involved, the High Commissioner has not yet sent us a full report. The only information available is that one Mosuto, who would be in our general care as a British subject, was injured. We are awaiting the report of the High Commissioner on this matter.

Mr. P. Williams

Before going further in emotional criticisms of South Africa in this House, would it not be better if the House could be fully informed of the facts of the situation in the Union, particularly in relation to intimidation and who in fact started the firing in the recent regrettable incidents?

Mr. Butler

The South African Government have issued their own statement and at this stage I have no other document to which to refer my hon. Friend.

Mr. Gaitskell

Since the Government Amendment expresses sympathy with South Africa, would it not be a good plan if the Government were to give practical expression to that sympathy by contributing to a fund for the relief of the victims and their dependants?

Mr. Butler

My hon. Friend the Minister of State explained the position in this sort of case and the difficulties of so doing, but made an exception in the case of those who are British citizens. That is why I drew attention to the one casualty of which we are at present aware and upon which we are awaiting a further report from the High Commissioner.

Mr. Gaitskell

Surely it is not usual to confine a practical expression of sympathy and a contribution to a fund to those who are British subjects in Colonial Territories? Do we not frequently make contributions to funds for the relieving of distress in other countries?

Mr. Butler

The question arises of what the right hon. Member means by "relief of distress". It is not easy to find an exact precedent for a situation of this sort which falls within the jurisdiction of another Government. That is why the spokesmen of Her Majesty's Government have deliberately confined themselves to the question of those who may be of British citizenship.

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