HC Deb 24 April 1969 vol 782 cc646-8
30. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further negotiations have taken place with the Marylebone Cricket Club over the proposed South African cricket test tour next year.

Mr. Denis Howell

Visits to this country by sports teams from overseas are a matter for their hosts, the governing body of the Sport in England, in this instance the newly-created M.C.C. Council. In the case of a South African cricket team, there would be no question of any grant from Government funds, and whilst I am naturally available to any governing body which may wish to consult me, sporting visitors are in the same category as all other visitors from that country.

Mr. Winnick

Would it not be absolutely disgraceful if, following the disclosures over the d'Oliviera affair, the South African cricket team came here to play in Britain next year? Is my hon. Friend aware that many of us consider that the advice which was given by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) to the M.C.C. was deplorable and unworthy of anyone in his position in public life?

Mr. Howell

I have made it clear many times that I deprecate the choice of teams on any racial basis, and there is no question of money being given for tours here or for British teams to tour in South Africa while apartheid remains. But it is purely a matter for the sports concerned whether these ethical and moral questions should be implemented in the manner which many hon. Members would like.

Captain W. Elliot

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that contacts between nationals of different nations is one way of moderating attitudes and that this has been particularly borne out by the moderation of attitudes between the West and Russia since the last World War? Is it not juvenile to cut off these contacts and to ostracise another country, which is merely self-defeating?

Mr. Howell

I am aware that there is a genuine feeling among many sporting folk that the considerations which the hon. Gentleman has in mind are true, but, in my view, there is absolutely no evidence that the continuing contacts in South Africa are having any beneficial and civilising effects on the Administration there.