HC Deb 20 July 1970 vol 804 cc11-3
8. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to visit the African countries of the Commonwealth.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I should like to be able to visit some of the African Commonwealth countries at a future date.

Mr. Maclennan

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it might have been wise to have paid a visit to these countries before he made his excursion into the rôle of arms salesman? Is he satisfied, or does he merely hope, that there will be many of these countries for him to visit after his announcement this afternoon?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I have already visited many of these African countries and I know most of the African leaders, and, therefore, I shall be very glad to resume contact with them at some future date. There are many invitations for a Foreign Secretary to go abroad. It is sometimes better for him to stay at his desk.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

When my right hon. Friend is in touch with those countries will he point out to them that their safety and prosperity and, indeed, their continued independence depend on free, unfettered use of all the sea routes around Africa?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I shall be dealing with these matters a little later this afternoon.

62. Mr. Crouch

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to visit the African countries of the Commonwealth and in particular Nigeria.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave earlier today in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan).

Mr. Crouch

As regards Nigeria, may I remind my right hon. Friend that the last Administration gave positive help to the Government of Nigeria in suppressing a minority in that country? Is he aware that there is concern in this country that insufficient effective help is being given by that Government to the alleviation of the distress of that minority in the Eastern Region and that it would help if my right hon. Friend visited that country?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The help given by the Nigerian Government for relief is another matter. I hope that perhaps the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), who was previously Foreign Secretary, might well manage to visit Nigeria. Certainly, if I can do so soon I should like to visit that country.

Mr. Grimond

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable anxiety about relief in the former territory of Biafra and that it might help if he visited Nigeria and afterwards made a statement in the House about the situation in what was Biafra and about the destination of British help?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I will certainly bear that in mind. But, as I said before the right hon. Gentleman came into the Chamber, there are many claims on a Foreign Secretary to visit different countries. Certainly I will bear it in mind.

Mr. Nigel Fisher

Now that the civil war in Nigeria is over, would not it be useful and indicative of our friendship with Nigeria if my right hon. Friend visited the country this summer or in the autumn to establish personal contact with General Gowon?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, Sir. The possibiliity in the future is that General Gowon might come here. There can be no doubt about the friendship of Her Majesty's Government for the Nigerian Government. I think that we showed the attitude of friendship all the way through that Government's difficulties in their war.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) would be a welcome visitor to Nigeria and that, after his visit, it would be better to leave Nigerian affairs to the Federal Government?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I would agree with both propositions.

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