HC Deb 08 November 1967 vol 753 cc1020-2
27. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether Great Britain is still committed to, and whether forces are still available for, military intervention in Rhodesia following a breakdown of law and order in that territory.

Mr. Healey

The position has not changed since my reply to the hon. Member's Question last April.

Mr. Judd

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that, with the steady erosion of law and order as we understand them in Britain, that situation is rapidly coming about? At what point would he be prepared to intervene?

Mr. Healey

I do not believe that that point has come about, and I am afraid that I cannot speculate on hypothetical contingencies.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Do the British Government hold themselves responsible for the integrity of Rhodesia against aggression or subversion from outside?.

Hon. Members

South Africa.

Mr. Healey

I do not know precisely to which matter the hon. Member is referring. If he will tell me I will try to reply.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

The right hon. Gentleman is aware that there have been incursions across the Rhodesian frontier. Is not the House responsible for Rhodesia, according to the Government? I therefore ask, does the Secretary of State hear any responsibility for the defence of Rhodesia?

Mr. Healey

I have no responsibility for the incursions which have taken place, according to reports, in both directions, from North and South, but the hon. Member knows that protests have been made to certain Governments.

Mr. Whitaker

What further action will be taken about the invasion of British soil from South Africa? Can my right hon. Friend recollect any previous invasion of British territory when the benches opposite did not loudly demand that a gunboat should be sent?

Mr. Healey

I am not sure whether that is the purport of the question by the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison).

36. Dr. David Kerr

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what appraisals have been made in the last six months of the feasibility of the use of force against the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia; and what conclusions have been reached.

Mr. Healey

I have nothing to add to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 12th November, 1965.—[Vol. 720, c. 538.]

Dr. Kerr

May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the fact that I have asked about feasibility studies in the last six months, during which the situation has changed? I want to know whether my right hon. Friend is asking us to accept, in a changing situation in relation to Rhodesia, that his Ministry has not made up-to-date feasibility studies.

Mr. Healey

I have often told the House that it is not the practice and never has been to discuss contingency plans in the House in detail. Nothing in the situation has required the Government to change the view expressed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the date I mentioned, when he said: I think the whole House will feel that we should not consider sending what would be a major military invasion for the purpose of imposing a constitutional solution on Rhodesia."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 538.]