§ 20. Mr. Brockway
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action Her Majesty's Government have taken following the recommendation of the United Nations Special Committee 6 on Apartheid urging the Government of the Republic of South Africa to refrain from the execution of persons sentenced for opposition to its racial policies.
§ Mr. P. Thomas
None, Sir. I understand, however, that on 27th March the Secretary-General of the United Nations addressed an appeal to the South African Government to spare the lives of those facing execution or death sentences for acts arising from their opposition to the South African Government's racial policies.
§ Mr. Brockway
Exactly. Has not the hon. Gentleman already said that the Government have indicated to the Republican Government of South Africa the feeling in this country about political prisoners? Is it not much graver when over 50 of these men, because of their resistance to apartheid, have already been sentenced to death? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that five men of great integrity and reputation are being charged with the prospect of sentences of death? Does he not realise that this will cause a protest by the moral opinion of the world as great as there was against the Sharpeville massacre? Ought he not, as a representative of our people, to express opposition to this charge?
§ Mr. Thomas
I have already told the hon. Gentleman and the House that Her Majesty's Ambassador made representations to the South African Government and expressed to them our reasons why we voted for the resolution in the United Nations and the depth of public opinion in this country. As to the number of people who have been sentenced to death, I do not believe that anyone has been sentenced to death for an act which has not involved the death of somebody else—
§ Mr. Thomas
—which includes sabotage and murder. As to the last part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, which referred to the Rivonia trial, no sentence of death has yet been passed and it would be quite inappropriate for Her Majesty's Government to make representations about a trial which is still proceeding.
Do we infer from the reply which we have just been given that 7 the Government's present policy towards South Africa is having no result whatever? Will the Government, therefore, consider sharpening their sanctions and, above all, will they refrain from making the sort of statement which we have now heard, which is more than half an apology for the actions of the South African Government?
§ Mr. Thomas
I do not think that that is so. If the hon. Lady reads what I have said, she will see that I was replying to her hon. Friend's suggestion that 50 people had been sentenced to death because of their opposition to apartheid. Therefore, I mentioned—and I said that I thought I was right—that no sentence of death had been imposed where the charge did not involve the death of another person. As to our attitude to the policy of apartheid, we have consistently made our position quite clear. In the United Nations, when the resolution which has been referred to was passed, I was present and I made the position of Her Majesty's Government clear to the General Assembly.