HC Deb 25 January 1966 vol 723 cc16-8
14. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what is the cost to date of the supply lift to Zambia; and whether he will make a statement.

25 and 26. Mr. Cooper

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (1) what is the cost per aircraft per flight of the Zambian oil lift; and what is the value of oil off-loaded per flight; and

(2) what is the estimated weekly cost of the oil air-lift to Zambia.

27. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what quantities of oil have been conveyed to Zambia from Angola via the Benguela Railway since the recent oil-lift started; and what is the comparable figure for oil flown there from Dar-es-Salaam.

32. Mr. Hugh Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what was the weekly rate of delivery of petroleum products in tons to Zambia since the beginning of 1966.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

The airlift of oil to Zambia, which began on the 19th December, 1965, cost £100,000 up to 31st December, the latest date for which precise figures are available. I regret that it is not possible for me at this stage to reveal any details as to the costs of the British airlift since that date or to its capacity, except that I can assure the House that with the help of the airlift Zambia's oil requirements are now being met and stocks are being replenished. The airlift at the start was carried out wholly by the R.A.F., and I should like to take advantage of hon. Members' Questions to pay tribute to the officials, officers and men who went to work with such speed and effectiveness. The first supplies of oil were flown into Zambia by R.A.F. Britannias within 48 hours of the announcement of the oil embargo.

With reference to the hon. Member's Question about the Benguela Railway, the supply of oil into Zambia by surface routes is the responsibility of the Zambia Government; and I am not in a position to give details.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Will the Government come to their senses and lift this heavy burden upon the British and Zambian peoples resulting from their policy of sanctions? Should not the Commonwealth Relations Office be concerned with trying to restore full co-operative relations between the inter-dependent States of Rhodesia, Malawi and Zambia rather than with pursuing this disastrous policy?

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Member speaks, of course, for himself as always. The fact is fiat the three parties in this House are committed to bringing this rebellion in Rhodesia to an end and the airlift is part of that operation.

Mr. Cooper

Is not this a ridiculous waste of the nation's valuable resources? Is it not time, instead of the Prime Minister carrying on his personal vendetta, that the Government got down to the serious job of negotiating a settlement of this vital problem?

Mr. Hughes

The British taxpayer had to pay some pretty formidable bills when the party opposite was in power for much less worthy causes than this one.

Mr. John Hynd

Is not the total of the cost of this airlift to date about one-third of the lowest prize issued on the pools?

Mr. Cooper

On a point of order—

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the point of order has anything to do with giving notice to raise the matter on the Adjournment, the hon. Member should not raise it now.

Mr. Cooper

On a point of order. Question No. 25, which the hon. Gentleman purported to answer with others, is on quite different lines.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order and it is wasting Question time.

Mr. Fraser

Surely what the Minister said is a tissue of evasions. What we want to know is whether Zambia is getting requisite supplies of oil. He said that she is getting all she requires. Will lie then explain why there is almost no petrol in large areas of Zambia at the moment? What does he mean? Will he tell us?

Mr. Hughes

Zambia is getting an adequate supply of oil by air and surface routes, as the hon. Member knows perfectly well, to the extent that rationing in Zambia is being relaxed.

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