HC Deb 02 March 1970 vol 797 cc11-21
6. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the latest assessment that has been made of the political and economic consequences of sanctions upon Rhodesia; and what indication has been given by the present Administration in Rhodesia of its intention to return to legality

15. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking with regard to the proposed declaration of a republic by Rhodesia.

18. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many countries now maintain diplomatic, consular or trade missions in Rhodesia; which countries so do; and what changes in this respect have taken place since 8th December, 1969.

38. Mr. John Lee

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now make a further statement on Rhodesia.

46. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if any nation has now recognised the illegal régime in Rhodesia.

47. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the Government intend to take with regard to the proposed declaration of a so-called republic in Rhodesia.

Mr. M. Stewart

I would seek your permission, Mr. Speaker, and the indulgence of the House, to answer Question 6 and Questions 15, 18, 38, 46 and 47 together and to give a longer Answer than is normally permitted.

The purported assumption of a republican status by the régime in Southern Rhodesia is, like the 1965 declaration of independence itself, illegal.

This latest event does not in any way affect the Government's determination to maintain economic sanctions and to increase their efficiency whenever possible. The international isolation of the régime remains a fact. No Government has granted formal recognition to the régime and the great majority of Governments including the 13 who maintain consular or other offices in Southern Rhodesia, share our view that real progress can be made and long-term harmony established in Southern Rhodesia only as the result of a return to legality.

But this further act of illegality and disloyalty does have certain legal consequences for those who perpetrate it or are associated with it. It can no longer be disputed that the members and supporters of the régime are seeking to deprive the Queen of Her authority in a part of Her dominions.

At the time of the illegal declaration of independence, the Governor called upon public servants to refrain from acts which furthered the rebellion but, subject to that, to carry on their normal tasks. It is quite clear that in a number of cases members of the public services, including the courts as became apparent from a judgement in the Appellate Division of the High Court in September, 1968, have joined the rebellion—

Sir S. McAdden

On a point of order. I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman when he is making a very important statement, but is not this a subject that should be dealt with by statement at the end of Questions rather than taking up valuable Question time?

Mr. Stewart

Further to that point of order. I have already informed the House that I have a statement to make about aircraft security. I believe that the House was anxious to have a statement both on that and on Rhodesia. I had to consider what way of doing this would make least demand on the time of the House. I believe that the decision I have taken is fairest both to potential questioners and all those who are interested in the business of the House.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. Time is proceeding. We have one hour for Questions. Mr. Stewart.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order. As Her Majesty's Government are entirely impotent in this matter, is not this statement entirely nugatory?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is not a point of order.

Mr. Stewart

I am anxious to try to deal with matters that I know the House wants dealt with properly and with the least consumption of time.

I was saying that it is quite clear that in a number of cases members of the public services, including the courts, have joined the rebellion. In other cases members of the public service may still believe that they could continue to function as they did before i.d.i. But this is not so and can no longer be seen in this light. The former Governor's injunction has lapsed and those who continue to serve a régime which asserts illegally that Southern Rhodesia is a republic—like those appointed by the régime—cannot be regarded as serving the crown in Southern Rhodesia. This change in their status must, in our view, have consequences for the functions they perform and for the validity of acts done in the performance of those functions; the effects of these matters on individuals will however fall to be considered by the courts in this country.

Mr. Biffen

Is not it quite clear that sanctions have failed? Is not this manifest to all except those who live in the dream world of the Treasury Bench? Can the right hon. Gentleman state a single thing he has told us this afternoon in response to the decision of Mr. Smith to declare a republic which gives any indication whatsoever that the Government's policy will be any more successful in the future than it has been in the past?

Mr. Stewart

We should take notice that the policy of sanctions has the full support of countries throughout the world, with one or two notorious exceptions; that it has had grave results on the gross national product in Rhodesia; that it has created a situation in which those who purport to be the Rhodesian Government have had to make it what they call a "criminal offence" to tell the truth about the economic situation in Rhodesia; and that in any case it is of vital importance for good relations between the different races of mankind that this policy should be maintained and that the illegality of the Rhodesian rebellion should be formally asserted.

Mr. Wall

While I deeply regret the declaration of a republic by Rhodesia, may I ask the Foreign Secretary whether he does not agree that these decisions, though nearly always illegal, are irreversible? It took Great Britain seven years to recognise the United States. How long are the Government going to delay in this case?

Mr. Stewart

I regard the hon. Gentleman's comparison with the United States as very remarkable. The American Declaration of Independence was a declaration for liberty. The Rhodesian declaration was a declaration against it.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, although he purported to answer my Question No. 18 in his statement, he did not answer either the second or the third part of it? Will he now tell us which countries maintain these missions and what changes have taken place since December? Will he also say whether these countries, which he will, I hope, name, do not maintain missions there for the same reasons that we maintain a mission facing the illegal régime in Lesotho—in order to protect their nationals? Why should not British subjects have the same protection?

Mr. Stewart

The answer as to what countries maintain consular representation in Rhodesia was given to the House on 8th December. There are 13 such countries. Countries maintain these missions for the reason which the right hon. Gentleman has stated, but I believe that it would be entirely wrong for Her Majesty's Government, against whom Rhodesia is in rebellion, to maintain a mission of that kind. It must be noticed also that the maintenance of consular representation in no way implies recognition.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Does not the reply to that supplementary question show the shortcomings of using Questions on the Order Paper as a peg at Question Time on which to hang a statement on a matter generally connected with a situation so that a Question itself is never answered?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order. It is a point of indignation.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Further to that point of order.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman is cutting into Question Time.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The responsibility in this case is the Foreign Secretary's, Mr. Speaker. He purported to answer Question No. 18 with the quite separate Question No. 6, and he did not answer the second and third parts of No. 18. What protection have hon. Members against this kind of action?

Mr. Speaker

This is an old point of order. A Minister answers Questions in the way he wishes. Question Time is precious and Mr. Speaker tries to protect it.

Mr. John Lee

Does my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General regard this latest act in Rhodesia as treason? In future, will people who have dealings with Rhodesia be meted out with the treason law? Can we have a statement as to the way in which sanctions could be further extended, and will the Government reconsider the question of force, this being the week in which we consider the Defence Estimates?

Mr. Stewart

The question of the use of force has been answered on many occasions and I think that the rest of my hon. Friend's supplementary question is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, although I would add that, of course, this recent decision by the régime in Rhodesia is a clear rejection of their allegiance to the Crown.

Mr. John Lee

It is treason.

Mr. Molloy

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that, while this might be the end of an unpleasant and unhappy chapter, it is by no means the end of the story, and that a whole continent could well be inflamed into warfare and bloodshed? Does not he also agree that we should still maintain the advocacy of the six principles, which have been embraced by right hon. and hon. Members opposite? Finally, does not he agree that the attitude of the Conservative Party on this whole issue has been foetid, disgraceful and cowardly?

Mr. Stewart

I think that there is no doubt that we should all maintain the six principles. I never attempt to answer for the attitude of the Conservative Party. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members opposite will agree with what I have said about the importance of maintaining the six principles and not imagine that any honourable agreement could be reached, or any possible agreement, between Her Majesty's Government and the régime in Rhodesia who have contravened these principles.

I entirely agree with the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. This may be the end of one episode but there remains the grave and terrible problem of relations between white and black in Southern Africa. It is because we have been aware of the importance of that issue that, despite the difficulties, we have been determined not to compromise with the Rhodesian régime.

Mr. Winnick

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the statement by the Rhodesian Front about a so-called republic should be treated with utter contempt? What further steps will be undertaken by Her Majesty's Government here and in the United Nations to extend and intensify sanctions against the illegal régime? Do the United States and our Western European allies realise that, by keeping consultates open in Salisbury, they are playing into the hands of the Rhodesian Front and the illegal régime?

Mr. Stewart

I have made it clear that the purported declaration of a republic has no legal authority whatever. We have made it clear that we would like to see the consulates withdrawn but we have to accept that there is not a mandatory United Nations requirement to this effect. I think one must notice, as I said before, that the maintenance of a consulate in no way implies recognition of any kind.

Mr. Maudling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) asked him two very clear and definite questions? These were, firstly, which countries now maintain diplomatic and trade missions in Rhodesia, and, secondly, what change has taken place in this respect since December? Is the right hon. Gentleman unwilling or unable to answer those questions?

Mr. Stewart

The first was answered on 8th December. I am sorry, but I cannot supply the answer to the other question immediately. I will take steps to inform the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter).

Mr. Maudling

Question No. 18 asked what countries now maintain these missions. How can an Answer given on 8th December give the answer about what is happening now?

Mr. Stewart

I can add this piece of information. Since the Answer on 8th December, the following have closed down their missions completely: Australia, Britain, Canada, Finland, Japan, Sweden and Turkey. In view of the comment from the benches opposite earlier, that Britain is the only civilised country which has withdrawn its consulate, I draw attention again to the fact that, in addition to ourselves, Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, Sweden and Turkey have done so. Further, Switzerland and West Germany have withdrawn their consular officers, leaving their offices in the care of a non-consular officer.

Then there are countries which have withdrawn career consular officers and have left honorary consuls there—Belgium and Denmark. A number of countries have retained their official representation but at a reduced level—France, Italy, The Netherlands and the United States. Three countries still have honorary representation—Austria, Greece and Norway. Two countries have maintained their career representation at the previous level—Portugal and South Africa. I apologise for the length of that reply but the right hon. Gentleman wanted it.

Mr. William Hamilton

Would my right hon. Friend make further representations to the United States Government to the effect that if they do not withdraw their consulate that decision will have dire consequences on their own anti-racialist policies within the United States and on their relations with the rest of black Africa? Would he say whether the continual support of hon. Members opposite for the illegal régime in Rhodesia comes very near to treachery?

Mr. Stewart

On the first part of the supplementary question, we have made our view very clear to the United States Government. But, if my hon. Friend will forgive me for saying so, I do not think that the nature and tone of his argument is necessarily the most persuasive. On the latter part of the supplementary question, I wish that the view of the Opposition on this act of disloyalty could be made a little clearer.

Mr. Thorpe

Reverting to the supplementary question of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), since any future consulate would be accredited no longer to the Queen but to an illegal régime, would the Foreign Secretary make it clear, particularly to the United States, that, while we accept equivocation from certain Right-wing Members of this House, whose Oath of Allegiance to the Crown would now appear to be under severe strain, those of us who value good relations with America would deplore this as unnecessarily damaging to the maintenance of good relations between this country and the United States?

Mr. Stewart

I have said that we have made our views clear to the Government of the United States, but I should make this plain: a consular mission is not, in the proper sense of the word, accredited. We ourselves maintain consular missions to régimes which we do not recognise—for example, North Vietnam.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. John Biggs-Davison, Question No. 7.

Sir F. Bennett

On a point of order. I cannot understand, subject to your direction, Mr. Speaker, why I have not had the opportunity of putting a supplementary question on Question No. 33, which I tabled three weeks ago, when, as far as I can gather, every Member who has tabled a Question on this matter has had such an opportunity.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has no automatic right to put a supplementary question. The fact that his Question is numbered 33 has nothing to do with the Chair.

Sir F. Bennett

Further to that point of order—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is wasting Question Time.

Sir F. Bennett

Further to that point of order. My Question No. 33 was answered with Question No. 6. In those circumstances, I thought that I had the right to put a supplementary Question.

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman's Question was answered with Question No. 6, he might have such a right. My information is that it was not.

28. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to West Germany, France, Switzerland and Japan regarding the recorded value of goods imported into each of these countries from South Africa during the first five months of 1969 exceeding the recorded value of South African exports to them by 50, 60, 218 and 48 per cent., respectively, in view of the evidence of trade with Rhodesia which these figures represent; and with what results.

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

We keep in touch with friendly Governments about ways of making sanctions more effective but it is for the Security Council to determine whether any particular Government is in breach of its obligations under Security Council Resolution No. 253.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That robust reply is enough to make the German and French importers shake in their shoes. Would the hon. Gentleman agree that it might be better if, instead of moaning about the maintenance of the American consulate in Salisbury, we followed the American example and ourselves set up a consulate in Salisbury in order to assist our British business men to find ways round sanctions?

Mr. Foley

The answer would be "No, Sir". I remind the hon. Gentleman that this is not the first occasion on which he has not done his homework in studying figures of exports from South Africa, which are f.o.b., and imports to receiving countries, which are c.i.f.

Mr. Hooley

In view of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary earlier this afternoon that sanctions should be made more effective, is it not time that we took a new initiative in the Security Council to create a sanctions inspectorate, in order to make it clear to the world that we really believe in this policy?

Mr. Foley

This is a matter which has been raised at the United Nations without the response my hon. Friend is seeking.

33. Sir F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now enumerate all those countries with representative missions in Rhodesia prior to the unilateral declaration of independence and today, irrespective of any changes or modifications in the descriptive status or location of those missions within Rhodesia.

Mr. Foley

Prior to the illegal declaration of independence 20 countries had representatives, some of them honorary, in Southern Rhodesia. I will, with permission, list those countries in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

I would also refer the hon. Member to the Answer which my right hon. Friend gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) and other hon. Members about those countries which at present have representatives in Southern Rhodesia.

Sir F. Bennett

Putting aside my curiosity as to why my Question was not answered with another Question which was identical, may I now ask the Minister whether he would agree to amend an early reply of his right hon. Friend, who said that a large number of countries represented in Rhodesia had left, compared with those which had stayed behind, when the figures are 5 and 13 respectively? Will he also tell us why, a few minutes ago, the Foreign Secretary said that we had raised the matter of the U.S. consulate with the United States, when only the other day the Prime Minister said that we had not so raised it?

Mr. Foley

Had the hon. Gentleman been present at the time he would have heard the list of Questions, which did not include his own Question, to which my right hon. Friend proposed to reply. I hope that he is not now complaining that he is getting special attention for his Question. As to the earlier answer about missions, one must be clear that a representative mission is normally what we would call a diplomatic mission. My right hon. Friend has said that at the time of the illegal declaration there were 20 missions of one sort or another. Most have been reduced in status. Only two—the South African and the Portuguese—could be called diplomatic missions. Seven have been withdrawn, and others have been reduced in status. I think that this is the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question.

Following is the list:

On 10th November, 1965, the following 20 countries had representatives, some of them honorary, in Southern Rhodesia: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America, West Germany.

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