HC Deb 01 July 1968 vol 767 cc1089-90
68. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the United Kingdom abstained on 28th May from supporting in the United Nations Economic and Social Council a resolution condemning the continued infringement of trade union rights and unlawful prosecution of trade union workers in South Africa.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Goronwy Roberts)

We voted in favour of those parts of the resolution which endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the ad hoc working group on trades union rights in South Africa, but we felt obliged to abstain on the resolution as a whole because it also extended the original mandate of the working group to cover infringements of trades union rights in South-West Africa, Rhodesia and the Portuguese territories in Africa.

Mr. Hooley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it docs no good to Britain's reputation for us to appear to be indifferent to or to condone this kind of practice, which is the product of the apartheid doctrine of South Africa? Could we not take a positive attitude in the Councils of the United Nations on this kind of resolution?

Mr. Roberts

We make our abhorrence of apartheid perfectly clear constantly and consistently. The question here was whether this was the best method of dealing with the matter in the territories I have named. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State explained the position fully, and I think it is widely understood and accepted.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Was not such a resolution a clear infringement of Article 2, paragraph 7, of the United Nations Charter?

Mr. Roberts

I could not at the moment say whether the resolution was an infringement of that Article.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Will the right hon. Gentleman speak up? There is no microphone.

Mr. Roberts

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. If the hon. Gentleman will kindly table that question, I will do my best to answer it.