HC Deb 24 January 1969 vol 776 cc799-800

Mr. Roebuck (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about the proposed expulsion of Mr. John Worrall from Southern Rhodesia.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Maurice Foley)

I do not know why Mr. Worrall is being expelled, and I understand he has been given no reasons himself. Her Majesty's Government believe in the freedom of the Press and deplore the restrictions that the illegal régime have, at various times, imposed on it.

Mr. Roebuck

Is my hon. Friend aware that Mr. Worrall is the twenty-first Pressmen to have been declared a prohibited immigrant since the illegal act of independence? Is he further aware that Mr. Worrall's only crime is that he has told the truth to the readers of The Guardian? In view of this further outrage against liberal and civilised conscience, will the Government now call off the "Fearless" proposals?

Mr. Foley

I am aware that this is the twenty-first instance of a Pressman being expelled without any reason being given. No reason has been given, so that I cannot question whether or not he has been expelled for telling the truth.

What I can say is that the incident, in view of the fact that Mr. Worrall has been resident there for a number of years and is in high standing amongst journalists there, is a deplorable one. However, this of itself is no ground for us to withdraw the "Fearless" proposals. It is yet another indication that Mr. Smith may be being pushed by some of his own wild men.

Mr. Winnick

Is it not disgraceful that correspondents like Mr. Worrall should be treated in such a way and expelled by the illegal régime? Does not my hon. Friend agree that it is a very good illustration of the methods of the police State politicians who continue to rule Rhodesia? Why should we continue with the "Fearless" offer?

Mr. Foley

I agree with many of my hon. Friend's comments. However, the "Fearless" proposals remain on the table. It is up to the other side to take the initiative. They are there as our offer to them. We are aware of realities in Rhodesia. Nevertheless, we feel that we have to make this effort.

Mr. Hooley

Since Mr. Worrall has himself expressed support for the "Fearless" proposals, is this not an indication that the Smith régime are not taking them seriously? Ought Her Majesty's Government not now to seek to destroy Smith rather than treat with him?

Mr. Winnick

Hear, hear. The sooner, the better.

Mr. Foley

I would not like to conjecture an answer on whether Mr. Worrall was expelled because he supported the "Fearless" proposals. As for the Smith régime, we have made our proposals, and it is up to them now to accept them or come back to us. We are waiting to hear from them.

Dame Joan Vickers

Do the Government propose making any protest? After all, they have still the power to do that. Do they intend protesting to the Smith régime?

Mr. Foley

In this and many other instances we have publicly expressed our disapproval. I am sure that this of itself is sufficient to indicate to Mr. Smith and his illegal régime how we abhor the methods by which they are proceeding in Rhodesia.

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