HC Deb 02 May 1967 vol 746 cc297-8
28. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs why the British High Commissioner in Lusaka did not visit Mr. Cecil Swift, a Rhodesian British subject, in detention, on 13th April.

Mr. George Thomas

It has never been the normal practice for British High Commissioners in Commonwealth countries automatically to extend protection to Rhodesian citizens. However, in the circumstances of this case, the Zambian authorities have now been requested to afford access to Mr. Swift for one of the High Commissioner's officials in Lusaka.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Are Her Majesty's Government in any way responsible for Rhodesia or not? Why did the representative of the British High Commission not visit this Rhodesian when he visited the other British subjects who were in detention? Is it intended that the inference should be drawn that Her Majesty's Government now think that Rhodesia is a sovereign State responsible for its own citizens?

Mr. Thomas

The answer is quite simple. A Rhodesia citizen is not a United Kingdom citizen, although he is regarded as a United Kingdom national in international law. We have the right, although not an obligation, to act in the interests of a Rhodesian citizen if the circumstances justify it, and that we are now doing.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply and in view of the brutal treatment accorded this British subject—[Interruption.]—I beg to give notice that I shall seek leave to raise this matter on the Adjournment.