HC Deb 21 March 1968 vol 761 cc590-3
Q2. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a further statement on the situation in Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister

I have, as yet, nothing to add to the Answers I gave to Questions on this subject on 14th March.—[Vol. 760, c. 1617–31.]

Mr. Bellenger

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there has been a substantial attempt to invade Rhodesia by military force?

The Prime Minister

Our information on this is necessarily limited but there is no doubt that there has been considerable infiltration from the north by expatriate organisations amongst the Rhodesian African population, and my right hon. Friend will have seen the fairly full accounts of the fighting which has been going on.

Mr. Thorpe

Can the Prime Minister say whether a report can be made on the meeting of the Commonwealth Sub-Committee on Sanctions?

The Prime Minister

I understand that talks are going on through the usual channels with a view to an early debate on Rhodesia. It would be possible then for my right hon. Friends to make a fuller statement about all these questions, including not only the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee, which met last Friday, but the pressing and rapidly changing situation in the Security Council.

Mr. Roebuck

Is it not a fact that "sanction-busting" is still continuing at a tremendous rate, particularly by France, Portugal and Japan? Can we have some effective action to ensure that these people play the game?

The Prime Minister

There is certainly no evidence that the Governments of France and Japan or Portugal, have been directly associated with this. The extent to which this has been happening has been highly exaggerated but there have been some cases. This must be a matter for the debates now going on in the Security Council.

Sir C. Osborne

Would the Prime Minister do whatever lies in his power to prevent Rhodesia from being turned into a second Congo?

The Prime Minister

Yes, that is what we have been trying to do since 11th November, 1965.

Mr. Whitaker

As violence on an increasing scale is inevitable if democratic evolution in Rhodesia is denied, would not a United Nations peace-keeping force preserve peace and order in Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

The whole House deplores the recourse to violence in any form in Rhodesia, including the violence which is occasioned by a direct flouting of the rule of law by those supposed to be in authority there. That still does not make any of us any happier about the extremely serious fighting and death that goes on in consequence. With regard to a peace-keeping force by the United Nations, my hon. Friend will be aware of the various answers given in the past and the difficulties raised, not least in the United Nations, about getting such a force.

Mr. Maudling

Can the Prime Minister say how much importance he attaches to the initiatives of the Soviet Union, reported recently, and what reaction the Government intend to make to this?

The Prime Minister

This will obviously give the House a very good impression of the line that the Soviet Union is likely to take at the Security Council. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that a very considerable proportion of the nations represented at the Security Council take the problem of Rhodesia, and not least the provocation caused by the flouting of the rule of law and the illegal hangings, extremely seriously indeed, and regard it as something which this House cannot ignore.

Dr. Gray

Has my right hon. Friend made representations to the Government of Algeria on supplies of oil to French companies?

The Prime Minister

This is an extremely complicated issue because the oil in question comes through Lourenco Marques and a large proportion of it gets to Rhodesia on a little trip round parts of South Africa. The authorities in Mozambique deny any responsibility for supplying to Rhodesia. These are questions that will inevitably come up in the debate at the Security Council.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Page—Question No. Q3.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order. Would it not have been in accordance with the normal practice of the House for the Prime Minister to have taken Question No. 14 with Question No. 2? It is on all fours with Question No. 2. What is he afraid of?

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman did not do so.

The Prime Minister

Further to that point of order. I have been repeatedly criticised from the other side of the House for answering with earlier Questions, Questions which were later on the Order Paper. It must be a matter of judgment in each case of what is to the greatest convenience to the House. I was also aware that we would be debating Rhodesia in the near future.

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