HC Deb 04 July 1967 vol 749 cc1565-7
Q6. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now make a further statement on reopening of talks with Mr. Ian Smith's Government in Salisbury, Rhodesia.

Q9. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now prepared to meet Mr. Ian Smith in Salisbury or London to discuss a permanent settlement of the problem of the independence of Rhodesia.

Q10. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on Lord Alport's visit to Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add at present to the Answer I gave on 13th June to a Question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys). Any further statement on Lord Alport's visit must await his return to this country.—[Vol. 748, c. 305.]

Sir G. Nabarro

While Lord Alport talks, has the Prime Minister observed that the United States of America is importing 50 per cent. more from Rhodesia and that the whole of Britain's former trade with Rhodesia has been replaced by French, German, Dutch and Japanese exports to Rhodesia? What is being done to retrieve this calamitous state of affairs?

The Prime Minister

It is not the fact that the reductions that we made when sanctions were applied by a vote of this House have been made up by other countries. It is a fact that in certain items certain countries did increase their trade. The figures which I think the hon. Membre has in mind relate to trade placed and in course of movement before the adoption by the United Nations of general sanction. Most of the countries concerned have made very severe cuts in their trade and some of them are applying total sanctions against Rhodesia since that time.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will the Prime Minister reconsider his decision not to meet Mr. Ian Smith and not let pride prevent the solution of this difficult problem?

The Prime Minister

There is no question of pride in this matter. As the House knows, I had discussions with Mr. Smith last December. What is relevant is whether a settlement is genuinely desired by ruling circles in Salisbury and whether anyone who does desire it would be able to get a settlement without being over-ruled by extremist colleagues. In this connection it was rather depressing when, as the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) said, there were signs of a willingness on the part of Mr. Smith to talk and messages were coming from him but as soon as Lord Alport's visit was announced he denied that he was willing to have talks.

Mr. Wall

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it looks as though there will be a chance of a resumption of talks? Can he say when he expects Lord Alport to report and when the right hon. Gentleman will report to the House?

The Prime Minister

It is too early to say yet, because until today Lord Alport has only had a courtesy discussion with Mr. Smith. He has been out in the country. He has been seeing representatives of varying shades of opinion. I do not think he has yet seen, for example, representatives of the African Nationalists who I understand he is desirous of seeing, and quite rightly so. It is too early to form any view from any messages received. I do not know when he is coming back, but I think he intends to stay until he has completed the job. So many people of all shades of opinion are anxious to see him that I think it may be a little longer than expected.

Mr. Ashley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if sanctions are being undermined in any significant way, this is a reason for not submitting to the illegal Smith régime and for intensifying the sanctions policy?

The Prime Minister

The United Nations provide a procedure in that matter. It is the duty of the Secretary-General to collect information from all the countries which are bound by these sanctions and to recommend appropriate action to the United Nations.

Mr. Paget

Now that Rhodesia has demonstrated that she can have a favourable balance of payments, in spite of her tobacco and sugar exports being stopped, and that she can increase the total of her trade in spite of sanctions, what is the point of going on?

The Prime Minister

In the first place, she has not increased the total of her trade. In the second place, she has not got a favourable balance of payments. Since my hon. and learned Friend, I remember, within a month of the application of sanctions had already decided that they had failed, I do not think, if he is in touch now with many of the farmers concerned with tobacco, sugar or anything else, he would hold the same optimistic point of view that he expressed on that occasion.

Mr. David Steel

Is the Prime Minister aware of the concern felt at the Answer he gave the other week about the possibility of the British Government going back on the N.I.B.M.A.R. pledge? Would he elaborate on the Answer that he gave?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add. We made the announcement in December, following the Commonwealth Conference, which, after a long tussle, acquiesced in our having a last go at securing agreement with Mr. Smith, which took place on H.M.S. "Tiger". I have said on a number of occasions that if there was a substantial change in circumstances we would naturally be willing to discuss this matter with the Commonwealth. I cannot go further than that.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have now passed Question Time. Mr. Stonehouse, to answer Written Question No. 16.