HC Deb 19 December 1962 vol 669 cc1238-40
3. Mrs. Castle

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will appoint an interdepartmental committee representing the Board of Trade, the Treasury and the Ministry of Labour to examine and report on the effects on the economy of Great Britain's participation in economic sanctions against South Africa with a view to implementing the resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 6th November.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. B. Godber)

No, Sir.

Mrs. Castle

Do Her Majesty's Government intend to do nothing whatsoever about this resolution which was passed by a two-thirds majority at the General Assembly? Is it not bad enough that the Government should be sabotaging U Thant's efforts to settle the Congo question by imposing sanctions against Katanga, without the Government also refusing to do anything about this resolution on South Africa? Are they determined to wreck the United Nations?

Mr. Godber

No, Sir. As to the extraneous matter that the hon. Lady has brought in, I shall defer any comments to a later Question. As regards South Africa, Her Majesty's Government voted against this resolution, as the hon. Lady is well aware. We did not and do not think that sanctions are right in this case. We do not believe that sanctions will help the people about whom the hon. Lady appears to be concerned. We believe that it is a wrong method of approach and we voted against the resolution.

Mr. H. Wilson

Did our representative suggest any other possibility of helping the oppressed people of South Africa? Secondly, will not the hon. Gentleman say at least that Her Majesty's Government will enforce an arms embargo in relation to South Africa?

Mr. Godber

There is on the Order Paper a Question about the second point. As to the first point, Her Majesty's Government have made quite clear that we believe that it does not help these people to act in the way proposed, through sanctions. What we have to do is to try to win over South Africa to a more realistic appreciation of the position. We have wholeheartily condemned their policies of apartheid at the present United Nations Assembly. They are quite clear about our views in this matter. We believe that this is the best way in which we can help.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will my hon. Friend confirm that there is no efficacy under the Charter of the United Nations in a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly?

Mr. Godber

Yes, that is perfectly true.

Mrs. Castle

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that this demand for sanctions against South Africa is backed by the overwhelming majority of the people of South Africa? The African and Asian organisations—

Mr. Fell


Mrs. Castle

I am in much better touch with the situation than the hon. Member is. Is the Minister of State not aware that an absolute heartcry has gone out from Chief Luthuli asking the Western nations to apply this economic pressure against South Africa as the only way of avoiding terrible bloodshed and the continued imposition of a police State?

Mr. Godber

I do not accept that this would be the way in which to avoid further difficulties there. I have expressed quite clearly Her Majesty's Government's view on this matter.