HC Deb 05 May 1964 vol 694 cc1108-10
Q2. Mrs. Castle

asked the Prime Minister whether he will bring before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference the report of the United Nations Special Committee on South Africa, with a view to agreeing a concerted policy regarding its recommendations.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Lady to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) on the 30th April.

Mrs. Castle

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recall his speech at Southampton a few days ago when he warned that the greatest danger in the world today was that of racialism and hoped that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference would provide an opportunity to bridge the gulf between the old world and the new? If he meant what he said, will he not institute a British initiative at the Conference to have this valuable report on how to get rid of apartheid discussed at the Conference and thus use the Commonwealth for its correct purpose of striking a blow against racialism?

The Prime Minister

Every Commonwealth country is aware of the report, which is in two parts. The first requests South Africa to convene a conference to consider how the Constitution could be run on non-racial lines. The second part proposes economic sanctions if South Africa does not obey this within a certain time. I have explained many times that Her Majesty's Government are against economic sanctions against South Africa or any other country.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

May I ask the Prime Minister about the fundamental basis of Government policy? Does he accept the finding of the Committee that apartheid is a violation of South Africa's Charter obligations as a member of the United Nations? Does he agree with the finding of the Committee that, unless the United Nations reacts against this challenge to its authority, the threat to peace and security in Africa and the world will be greatly increased?

The Prime Minister

We have made it plain time and again on behalf of the Government and, I think, of everyone in this country that we are against apartheid, but we do not feel that this——

Mrs. Slater

How much?

The Prime Minister

I am answering the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) if the hon. Lady will wait. We do not feel that this constitutes a threat to the peace or a breach of the peace under Chapter VII of the Charter.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Has the Prime Minister read paragraph 20 of the report? It says: The Special Committee is convinced that positive and dynamic action by the Security Council is essential to prevent a violent conflict in South Africa, which might have serious international consequences and which the United Nations is in duty bound to prevent by every means available to it under the Charter.

The Prime Minister

We are studying the Report but, as I have said, we do not believe that Chapter VII, which provides for mandatory and coercive measures, applies. If the party opposite is in favour of economic sanctions against South Africa, it must say so clearly.