HC Deb 06 April 1970 vol 799 cc23-4
21. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations with Lesotho.

Mr. Foley

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave on 23rd March to the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison).—[Vol. 798, c. 266.]

Mr. Wall

As King Moshoeshoe II is recognised as king, and the Prime Minister is in effective control of the country, what criteria do the Government need before they will accord recognition and resume the supply of aid?

Mr. Foley

I agree that the king is still king, even if he is on extended leave of absence. I do not agree that the Prime Minister or the present Government of Lesotho fulfil all our normal criteria, which are that the new Government enjoy, with a reasonable prospect of permanence, the obedience of the mass of the population, and have effective control of much the greater part of the territory of the State concerned.

Mr. Braine

Bearing in mind that the Government were much criticised for turning off the tap of aid to Tanzania for political reasons, and have since reversed their policy, is it not unsatisfactory that our commitment to Lesotho should be left in such uncertainty? When will a firm decision be made?

Mr. Foley

The hon. Gentleman refers to a commitment. What we are committed to is having further talks with Lesotho on the aid programme. We are not attempting to interfere in the country's internal affairs. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development made the position quite clear in answering Questions on 19th February and 19th March.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is clear to all who have eyes to see that the present Government in Lesotho were not democratically elected, and that power has been seized by a Government who were turned out of office, and it is therefore not our intention to supply such a Government with British funds?

Mr. Foley

I think that the question is, first, one of recognition, and as soon as there is recognition there are negotiations and discussions on aid. We are talking about the first of those principles.

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