HC Deb 06 July 1961 vol 643 cc1633-5
16. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what conditions have been imposed on the United Nations mission in the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

17. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what restrictions as regards location have now been placed on the United Nations mission to South-West Africa whilst in Bechuanaland.

Mr. Braine

In telling the Chairman of the South-West Africa Committee that we would do what we could to meet his requests for certain transport and accommodation facilities in Bechuanaland, we imposed no restrictions or conditions upon the Committee's activities within the Protectorate. It was, however, made clear to the Chairman that in granting these requests it was our understanding that the Committee did not intend to enter South-West Africa from Bechuanaland without the permission of the South African Government.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

But what is this Committee doing in Bechuanaland? When the administering Power in South-West Africa is unwilling to receive the mission what is the purpose of its presence in Bechuanaland, especially as there is danger of its embroiling us with the South African authorities whose good will, whether we like it or not, is necessary to the economy of the High Commission Territories?

Mr. Braine

The Committee said it wished to visit the territory in implementation of the General Assembly resolution, and later in Bechuanaland proposed to visit Herero residents originally from South-West Africa. On that basis we saw no objection to the visit for this specific purpose.

Mr. Brockway

While welcoming the opportunities given in Bechuanaland, may I ask whether this mission is not instructed to go to South-West Africa by the United Nations, and are not the Government of the Union of South Africa defying that decision of the United Nations? Why should we not give all possible facilities for the mission to visit South-West Africa even if it is from the territory of our Protectorate?

Mr. Braine

We are not responsible for the Government of South Africa, but the Committee made no submission to us that it intended to eater South-West Africa at the time of its request for facilities in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. We have since asked the chairman to confirm our understanding that the Committee will not attempt to enter South-West Africa from the Protectorate without permission.

Mr. Brockway

Why not?

Mr. Braine

Because we are responsible for the Protectorate. We have granted such facilities as we have been asked for within the Protectorate. I think that it is reasonable to expect the Committee to agree to our request not to go beyond the border.

Mr. Marquand

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is highly desirable that this Committee should visit Bechuanaland, because there it will find large numbers of refugees who have been driven out of South-West Africa and so will be able to collect a great deal of valuable information? If this Committee should make a further request to the Government, may we express the hope that the Government would receive it with courtesy and common sense equal to that which they have shown on this occasion?