HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc44-7

Mr. Evelyn King (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on recent deportations of British citizens from Zambia, and what representations the British High Commissioner is making.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

These deportations were announced by the Zambian Ministry of Home Affairs on the morning of 27th October. Earlier warnings were made by President Kaunda that racially-minded persons who were fomenting discontent on the Copper Belt would be deported. No names were given, and I asked our Acting High Commissioner to find out urgently if the names of any United Kingdom citizens were included. On ascertaining that United Kingdom citizens were, in fact, involved, our Acting High Commissioner in Lusaka was instructed to make a protest against the very short notice given to the persons deported.

The Acting High Commissioner was instructed to make it clear that the British Government did not question in principle the right of other Commonwealth Governments to expel United Kingdom nationals We did reserve the right to make representations in individual cases, if the right to expel appeared to be exercised arbitrarily or in circumstances which would cause hardship to individuals. I myself, on the evening of the 27th October, asked the Zambian High Commissioner to call on me at the House of Commons, and spoke to him in this sense. I made it clear that there could well be hardship arising from the suddenness of these deportations which was, in my opinion, inconsistent with the humanitarian views consistently held by the Zambian Government.

The Zambian Government's answer to our representations has now been received. The reply contains an assurance that the Zambian Government are prepared to receive representations from Her Majesty's Government in individual cases, but there are certain points I am still pursuing with the Zambian Government.

Mr. King

May I congratulate the right hot. Gentleman on what he has said, and, of course, deplore any unwise conduct which has taken place? Does he accept that it would be the unanimous view of [...] House that if Britain were to expel 11 Africans at 24 hours' notice, without charge made, that would be unthinkable and that civilised action which we wish to preserve will not be made easier if Africans thus behave to Europeans?

Mr. Bowden

The House may wish to be aware that the actual number is still unknown, that is the number of United Kingdom citizens. It is probably as high as 12 out of the 25. I made it absolutely clear to the High Commissioner for Zambia, when he called on me here, that in our view the 24 hours' notice, without any charge being made, was extremely unsatisfactory, and I asked for an explanation.

Mr. Winnick

While deploring the action of the Zambian Government in this respect, does not my right hon. Friend agree that the I.U.D.I. in Rhodesia undermines the whole security position of Europeans in African-ruled countries and the action of the Tory Opposition in giving support to Smith undermines the position of many Europeans in many other African nations?

Mr. Bowden

Action in any particular country does, of course, have an effect on others, but I should have thought, in view of the earlier advice of the Zambian Government and the representations I have made to them, that they would be able to provide us with rather more information about United Kingdom deportees.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

When the right hon. Gentleman refers to this country recognising the right of other countries to expel United Kingdom citizens, would he make it clear that the expulsion of British nationals abroad, without charge or conviction made against them on any offence known to the law, is inconsistent with the previous relationshop between Commonwealth countries and is one which Her Majesty's Government would repudiate strongly?

Mr. Bowden

I have already said that the short 24 hours' notice is one of the difficulties here. We would like and have asked the Zambian Government to let us have the names of the deportees and their offences.

Mr. Faulds

Is it not a fact that bad relations with 7ambia stem directly from the racialist attitudes of the Smith régime which are supported by, and sympathised with in their hearts by, members of the Opposition?

Mr. Bowden

I do not accept for one moment that there are bad relations with Zambia. This is one incident which can be cleared up very quickly.

Mr. Thorpe

In view of the admirable record which President Kaunda has had in trying to set up a non-racial society, would the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is far too early to pass judgment one way or the other on this case? Would he also agree that the tensions which are set up are a direct result of the Government's failure to bring down the Smith régime?

Mr. Bowden

I accept that there are considerable tensions in the Copper Belt, but I would still reiterate that if we had information about recent individual deportations we would more easily be able to assess the importance of this.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Clerk will now proceed to read the Orders of the Day.