HC Deb 25 January 1968 vol 757 cc578-81
Q1. Mr. Judd

asked the Prime Minister which firms, in which foreign countries, are now known to be breaking the sanctions imposed on Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

From time to time reports have been received about sanctions breaking abroad by companies incorporated in the United Kingdom. These are in each case fully investigated. I am not in a position to give an account of the activities in foreign countries of firms incorporated abroad.

Mr. Judd

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the strongest possible representations should be made to the French Government to bring home our concern about the deliberate connivance at the despicable undermining of sanctions by firms like Total, and to assist in this should not we internationalise the supervision of sanctions?

The Prime Minister

When we hear of any cases affecting other countries, we bring them to the attention of their Governments. As the House knows, a working party of the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee is studying ways and means of making sanctions more effective. What has been reported is being considered by individual Governments as to the action they might take in respect of the activities of those companies in their own territories?

Mr. Maudling

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long he now estimates it will take for sanctions to produce a decisive result in Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

No. But I think that it would be a shorter period if right hon. Gentlemen opposite would tell their friends in Rhodesia exactly where their responsibility lies and make clear that they still stand by the principles which they laid down when they were the Government.

Q6. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister what further communications he has exchanged with Mr. Smith's Government in Rhodesia; and if he will make a statement.

Q8. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Prime Minister what progress he has made in reaching a settlement of the Rhodesian problem.

Q2. Mr. Hamling

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister

I would refer hon. Members to the Answer I gave on 18th January to Questions by the hon. Members for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham) and Chigwell (Mr. BiggsDavison).—[Vol. 756, c. 1950.]

Mr. Wall

Is it not the Government's intention to let matters take their inevitable course until Rhodesia declares herself a republic? Will he not take some further initiative to try to reach a compromise?

The Prime Minister

The course is inevitable until the regime in Rhodesia return to constitutional rule. This has always been our position. It is for them to take an initiative, and they have been given abundant and generous opportunities to do so.

Mr. Taylor

Facing the realities of the situation, does the Prime Minister not accept that this dispute will go on for years and years? In these circumstances, would he not be prepared to invite an international statesman like Sir Robert Menzies to mediate?

The Prime Minister

Facing the realities of the situation means facing the fact that this Government—this former Government, this régime—acted unconstitutionally and is now unconstitutional. I put it repeatedly to Mr. Smith, both before U.D.I. and after it, that there should be a commission of senior responsible Commonwealth statesmen. A number of names were mentioned, including the one referred to by the hon. Gentleman. Every one of them was rejected by Mr. Smith. He was not allowing the Commonwealth to have anything to do with it. What he thinks about the Commonwealth is even lower than what he thinks about the United Nations.

Mr. Ogden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that any declaration of a republic by the illegal regime would bring very strong pressure from this side of the House about the urgent need to reestablish the authority of Her Majesty's Government in Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

Any statement by what is already an illegal Government that they were creating an illegal republic would have no validity in law or in international relations.

Mr. Sandys

Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point which was not cleared up by the Foreign Secretary on Tuesday and say whether or not there has been any further contact between the British Government and the Rhodesian Prime Minister since the visit of the Commonwealth Secretary?

The Prime Minister

First, of course, there is no Rhodesian Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman has lived on this legend long enough—[Interruption.] I have checked again what I said on that occasion. I said that I had published a Blue Book setting out everything that I said to the Rhodesian Prime Minister. I said that because he was Prime Minister until U.D.I. The right hon. Gentleman spent a lot of time explaining to him—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I will, but as I was answering it I was interrupted by the right hon. Gentleman from a seated position, and I was replying to him. What the right hon. Gentleman himself said to Mr. Smith when he was Prime Minister of Rhodesia was that he would be totally illegal and no longer Prime Minister if they committed U.D.I. That is why I cannot use the expression "Prime Minister", if he does.

As for his other question, if the answer is not clear, I will make it clear. There has been no dealing with Mr. Smith or contact with him since the statement of my right hon. Friend in the House when he told hon. Members that Mr. Smith, so far from moving towards the "Tiger" agreement, had moved away from it in circumstances which made the position absolutely impossible by breaching three more of the six principles.

Mr. Roebuck

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the illegal régime could be brought down quickly if their oil could be cut off? If that is so, why are the Government dragging their feet about making appropriate approaches to the French Government? Is my right hon. Friend aware that his answer to the supplementary question of my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) was identical to one he gave before the Recess? Will he not stir things up?

The Prime Minister

I thought that I had dealt with this question. This matter is being dealt with by the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee, and members of it have reported to their Governments. It will not he surprising if some of those Governments say that they cannot have dealings with firms who are sanction breaking in Rhodesia.