HC Deb 02 March 1970 vol 797 cc10-1
5. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations between the United Kingdom and Lesotho, in the light of recent developments.

14. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about recognition by Her Majesty's Government of Lesotho.

41. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's relations with the present Government of Lesotho.

Mr. M. Stewart

Recent events in Lesotho led to the abandonment of the election before all the results had been declared and the suspension of the constitution, in what was admitted to be a seizure of power.

In these circumstances our normal criteria for recognition must be applied as in the case of all independent States where power is assumed by unconstitutional means. Our relations with Lesotho are therefore under review.

Mr. Biffen

Can the right hon. Gentleman say which of the normal criteria for recognition is not being met in Lesotho, in his view? Is it the intention of Her Majesty's Government to use the aid programme as a means to influence the domestic politics of that country?

Mr. Stewart

We cannot be certain that any of the normal criteria of recognition are satisfied at present. A judgment about aid is naturally connected with a judgment on recognition. For the present this must remain under review.

Mr. Wail

Is not one of the criteria the establishment of adequate control? Does not that exist in Lesotho? Why do the Government rush to recognise potentially hostile Governments, such as that in Libya, and not a potentially friendly one?

Mr. Stewart

I think that the hon. Gentleman is aware that our recognition of Libya was by no means isolated. It was a decision of most countries that had relations with it. It would not have been right for us to reach an immediate decision on recognition. We must see a little more into the future first.

Mr. Braine

Is there any foundation in the report that Chief Jonathan is anxious to return to constitutional government, is contacting the Opposition, and wishes to hold elections? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that continued delay in this matter imperils the whole economy of Lesotho?

Mr. Stewart

I understand that there have been consultations between Chief Jonathan and the Opposition. I could not necessarily confirm what the hon. Gentleman suggests, that these would result in the resumption of constitutional rule, although I hope that that will be so.

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