HC Deb 07 March 1967 vol 742 cc1254-6
Q1. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Prime Minister what new efforts he has made to solve the Rhodesia problem.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I would refer the hon. Member to the many Answers to Questions on this subject given by my right hon. Friends and myself in recent months.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

While recognising that the Prime Minister has many problems on his mind, may I ask him whether he is now able to answer the question he failed to answer on 21st February when I asked him a supplementary question, namely, whether the Government, being unable to take on South Africa, are contemplating the use of force against Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

I was not aware that I had failed to answer the question. The answer is that we are certainly not contemplating and certainly do not intend to use force.

Mr. Bellenger

In view of the many grave complications that are bound to arise—for example, in the repudiation of debt guaranteed by the British Government and other matters—can my right hon. Friend say whether an initiative will be taken at some time, or is it to be left to the United Nations?

The Prime Minister

Debts are a separate question. There has been a whole succession of defaults by Rhodesia on international borrowings. As to the United Nations, as my right hon. Friend knows, it was through the United Nations that the resolution on mandatory sanctions was obtained, and this will have its effect on Rhodesia.

Mr. Sandys

Since the Prime Minister has told us that the estimate of the cost of the Rhodesian crisis which he gave to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers has proved too high, why does he so doggedly —[Laughter.]—refuse to give us the revised figure? Is this not another example of his contemptuous attitude towards Parliament?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. My contempt was to the right hon. Gentleman for his failure to tell us where he got that document from; and also to the fact that he has systematically tried to represent my statement to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers as being the cost of sanctions when it was the then estimate, which was never withdrawn, of the total cost to us of what Rhodesia has involved us in. With regard to a revised estimate we do not have final figures, but if the right hon. Gentleman cares to put down a Question I will certainly do my best to give him the up-to-date figure for 1966.

Mr. Faulds

Can we have an assurance that the necessary contingency planning has been made if at the end of the day we have to snuff out Smith and his rebel clique by military means?

The Prime Minister

I have already made it plain that the right way to solve this problem, after the very serious efforts we made in December to do it by discussion, does not include the use of military force.