HC Deb 08 November 1966 vol 735 cc1134-6
9 and 10. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many tons of petrol have been transported by air or other means to Zambia under the special arrangements made by Her Majesty's Government; and what has been the total cost of purchasing and transporting the petrol;

(2) what contribution Zambia has made towards the cost of the petrol supplied to it under the special arrangements made by Her Majesty's Government.

31. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the withdrawal of the Royal Air Force from Zambia.

Mrs. Hart

The R.A.F. airlift into Zambia came to an end, with the agreement of the Zambian Government, on 31st October, and R.A.F. personnel in Zambia are now being withdrawn. The R.A.F. airlift and the British civil airlift, which operated from Dar es Salaam from January to May of this year, together transported about 22,000 tons of oil into Zambia. The cost of these airlifts to Her Majesty's Government has been nearly £6 million. The cost of the oil itself, except that used by the R.A.F., has been met by the Zambian Government.

The airlifts organised by Her Majesty's Government have made a valuable contribution to Zambia's oil supplies, and the Zambian Government have expressed their gratitude for them. I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to all the British civilian and Services personnel involved in the exercise for the high degree of skill and efficiency with which they carried out a very important task.

Mr. Taylor

Would the hon. Lady agree that the cost of this exercise was equivalent to over £1 per gallon? Secondly, can she say where the oil is coming from into Zambia, and whether the supplies of oil in Zambia are adequate?

Mrs. Hart

The cost of transporting oil via the airlift was a necessary cost following the action of Rhodesia after the I.D.I. On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, there are in fact alternative routes now developed in Zambia by which enough P.O.L. is coming in to meet Zambian needs. I think that that answers all three of the points raised by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Manuel

Can my hon. Friend tell the House the amount of petrol or fuel oil which has been stolen en route into Zambia, and what steps have been taken to combat the loss of supplies?

Mrs. Hart

If my hon. Friend has evidence to this effect, perhaps he will let me know, but we have not received evidence of any large-scale amount of oil going missing in this way.

Mr. Biffen

Why is the hon. Lady so reluctant to reveal the total cost of purchasing and transporting all this oil?

Mrs. Hart

I have given the figure. The cost of the two airlifts, civil and Royal Air Force, was £6 million. The Zambian Government have paid the actual cost of the oil involved.

Mr. Paget

Will my hon. Friend tell us why she says that the shortage of oil in Zambia was the result of the action of the Rhodesian régime? Has not the Rhodesian régime offered to refine and convey to Zambia all the oil that she requires, and is not that offer still open?

Mrs. Hart

I do not know whether my hon. and learned Friend is suggesting that the British Government ought not to have applied the oil sanctions which they did, and which were supported by both sides of the House at the time. The oil sanctions arose from the declaration of U.D.I, and Zambia's difficulties arose from that.

Mr. Maudling

The question was about the offer made by the Rhodesian régime. Will the hon. Lady answer that question?

Mrs. Hart

Indeed. If the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. and learned Friend are suggesting that one way out of this situation is for Zambia to avail herself of oil, despite the sanctions applied by the British Government and the Commonwealth, of course this would be possible, but I do not think that it would be advisable.

Sir G. Nabarro

Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle.

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