HC Deb 04 May 1970 vol 801 cc3-10
2. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now take steps to redefine the purpose of economic sanctions imposed against Rhodesia.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)

The purpose of sanctions is to bring home to those who are responsible for policy in Rhodesia the unrelenting hostility of the whole of mankind to the racialist principles on which their policies are based; and to maintain the international isolation of the illegal régime until there can be an honourable settlement consistent with our principles.

Mr. Taylor

As after five years of sanctions the Rhodesian economy grew last year faster than in the previous 15 years, and petrol today in Salisbury is 1s. a gallon cheaper than it is in London, are not sanctions really just a bad joke, and should they not be abandoned?

Mr. Stewart

No, Sir. If the hon. Member thinks sanctions should be abandoned he should try to persuade the leader of his own party of that doctrine, which his own leader does not share at the moment. It is true that, due to certain fortuitous circumstances, the Rhodesian economy was comparatively fortunate last year, but there has been no growth in the income per head at all in Rhodesia since the illegal declaration of independence.

Mr. Braine

Would the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the purpose of sanctions has now completely changed? Once upon a time it was to bring the illegal régime to the conference table in the hope of securing an honourable settlement. Now that has failed. It is quite clear, is it not, that the object is to inflict the maximum damage to the economy of Rhodesia, including the Africans, who are the hardest hit of all?

Mr. Stewart

I draw the hon. Member's attention to what I said at the end of my answer: to maintain the international isolation of the illegal régime until there can be an honourable settlement consistent with our principles. That is not inconsistent with the original purpose of sanctions which the hon. Member quoted, and I presume that the hon. Gentleman, sitting where he does, is in favour of the continuance of sanctions.

11. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had this year with the Australian Government regarding the operation of mandatory trade sanctions against Rhodesia.

Mr. M. Stewart

We are continually in touch with Commonwealth Governments, in particular through the machinery of the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee, regarding the implementation of sanctions against Rhodesia. Such discussions are, of course, confidential.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Now that Rhodesia has apparently become the major importer of Australian wheat, do the British Government accept that these exports are justified on humanitarian grounds? If so, is there not a case for promoting the humanitarian export of Scottish machine tools, textiles and other commodities to Rhodesia, which would help to reduce the level of unemployment in Scotland?

Mr. Stewart

In reply to the first part of the supplementary question, No, Sir, we do not accept that view. The second part of the supplementary question therefore does not arise.

Mr. Henig

Does not my right hon. Friend share the feelings of sheer nausea of many of us on this side of the House at the glee with which hon. Members opposite greet any flaw that they find in the sanctions? Would it not be more in keeping with the spirit of the House of Commons if all hon. Members were to give full support to sanctions and condemn any sanction-breaking wheresoever it may occur?

Mr. Stewart

I think that is so. The difference between the Government and some hon. Members opposite, though, I understand, not the titular leadership of the Conservative Party, is that some hon. Members opposite are in sympathy with the rebellion and want it to succeed. We do not.

13. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now appoint an independent commission to settle any outstanding matters in dispute between Her Majesty's Government and those who have left the service of the Government of Rhodesia since 1964.

Mr, M. Stewart

Any matter in dispute from 1964 until the illegal declaration of independence on 11th November, 1965, would be for a legal Government of Southern Rhodesia to consider when that is re-established. So far as the period since 11th November, 1965, is concerned. I do not consider this would be appropriate or necessary.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Will not the Foreign Secretary realise that the honour of Ministers is in question, particularly that of the Prime Minister following his remarks in November, 1965? Would this not be an easy matter to resolve in view of the relatively few individuals concerned, and will not some British Government one day have to clear the matter up? Therefore, should not this Government clear its own honour?

Mr. Stewart

I cannot accept that. I have examined the matter carefully. If the hon. Gentleman has fresh grounds for believing that such a commission is necessary, I would be prepared to consider them. But, looking at the facts as they now stand and at what has been said, I cannot see that there is any case.

Mr. Braine

Surely the Foreign Secretary recalls the quite specific pledge made in this House on 11th November 1965 by the Prime Minister that public servants in Rhodesia who resigned because of their loyalty to the Queen would receive compensation? Is it not clear from that statement, which I have here but I will not read out since it is a lengthy one, that Mr. Hall and others should be compensated for financial loss due to the actions they undertook in carrying out the orders of Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Stewart

There is a scheme of assistance for those who resigned on grounds of conscience. If there is a dispute about whether any particular individuals come within that category, I will look at any evidence supplied to me. I have no ground at present for supposing that anyone who is entitled is not within that scheme.

21. Mr. Brooks

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent communication he has received regarding the conditions on which the illegal Rhodesian régime is prepared to negotiate an agreement with Great Britain on the basis of the Six Principles.

Mr. M. Stewart

None, Sir. Communications from the illegal régime ended with a memorandum in April last year, which was published in Command 4065 of June, 1969.

Mr. Brooks

In view of the fact that Ian Smith's Government have now declared U.D.I. from the whole of Western Christendom, would it not be a good idea to invite to this country the courageous leaders of the Rhodesian churches, who might be able to explain to some hon. Gentlemen opposite that there are some principles beyond price?

Mr. Stewart

I am obliged for that suggestion. I will consider it.

Mr. Sandys

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that I asked him a question the other day about the number of illegal régimes which had been recognised by the British Government in recent years, to which he replied that the information was not readily available and that the research required would not justify the expense involved? Does not he realise that, sooner or later, the illegal régime in Rhodesia—which of course it is—will have to be recognised?

Mr. Stewart

The right hon. Gentleman asks me a great many questions. But I think I remember that one. None the less, this is a very different matter. This is a rebellion against the Crown, which I would have thought all hon. Members would reprobate, especially as it is a rebellion which has not, as other rebellions have, any moral principle behind it. I would have thought that, for that reason, we could all be united in condemning it.

25. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now make a statement on the Government's policy regarding diplomatic relations with Portugal and South Africa, following the decision of their Governments to maintain diplomatic relations with the illegal self-styled Republican Government of Southern Rhodesia.

Mr. M. Stewart

It is not correct to describe such contacts as these Governments have or have had with the illegal régime as diplomatic relations. However, as we have often made clear in the past, Her Majesty's Government regret the failure of both these Governments to comply with Security Council Resolutions on Southern Rhodesia.

Mr. Judd

While I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he does not agree that de facto full political and economic co-operation continues between Portugal and South Africa on the one hand and the illegal régime in Rhodesia on the other? Does not he also agree that it is intolerable that the Governments of two countries which seek full diplomatic relations with this country should continue largely unscathed their co-operation with a régime which is in revolt against the Crown?

Mr. Stewart

The position is not quite as my hon. Friend states. The Portuguese Government, for example, have announced that the person at present filling the office of Consul-General in Salisbury is to be transferred. The South African representative in Southern Rhodesia is described in a manner which emphasises that he is not a proper diplomatic representative.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The President of the Board of Trade said last week that he was in favour of the maximum expansion of British trade with South Africa. Does the Foreign Secretary agree?

Mr. Stewart

If the hon. Gentleman noticed a speech that I made earlier on this matter, he would know that I have made it clear that we believe that peaceable trade should be conducted fully with all nations, whatever their ideology, unless there is an express resolution of the Security Council to the contrary. I think that that is a sensible position, and that is what we maintain.

Mr. Paget

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the Republic of Rhodesia exists and has effective control of its territory, that the principles of Christian Science whereby one does not recognise what one does not like the look of do not work in foreign affairs, and that the sooner we clear up this nonsense the better?

Mr. Stewart

I believe that there is another thing that does not work in foreign affairs, and that is the principle of giving up a policy because it appears difficult to continue. I am concerned not so much with Christian Science as with the principles of Christianity, as are a good many Rhodesians.

31. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he proposes to take with regard to the result of the Rhodesian General Election.

Mr. M. Stewart

None, Sir.

Mr. Wall

The Foreign Secretary indicated in answer to a previous Question that the policy of sanctions is designed to secure an honourable settlement. Can he say when that will come about, and whether after the General Election Rhodesia will give up independence? Surely it is time the Government faced facts, as their predecessor, Lord North, was forced to do.

Mr. Stewart

I always reject this comparison between Rhodesian independence and American independence. As I have pointed out, the American Declaration was for liberty and the Rhodesian declaration is against it. In any event, the Rhodesian General Election is not of itself an event which ought to cause any alteration of policy.

Mr. Paget

Can my right hon. Friend tell us whether his recognition of the régime of Dr. Husak and Mr. Kadar and of Chairman Mao were motivated by his Christian principles or by his recognition of the obligation of international law to recognise régimes which are effectively in control of their territories?

Mr. Stewart

My hon. and learned Friend is neglecting two points. First, neither Czechoslovakia nor China has ever been part of Her Majesty's Dominions. We are dealing here with a rebellion against the Crown. Secondly, as to the reference to Christian principles, this is not an argument I would normally use in this House, but the Russian Government, after all, have never claimed to be a defender of the faith. Part of Mr. Smith's claim is that he is, as he puts it, defending Christian civilisation. It is important to make clear that that is not so.

41. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's ruling that divorces granted in Rhodesia after the illegal declaration of independence are invalid.

Mr. M. Stewart

Her Majesty's Government have given no such ruling, nor would it be appropriate for them to do so. From time to time they have drawn attention to the illegality of certain acts in Southern Rhodesia and expressed a view as to their consequences. But, as I said on 2nd March— the effects of these matters on individuals will however fall to be considered by the courts in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1970; Vol. 797, c. 13.]

Mr. Hamilton

As Her Majesty's Government do not recognise the illegal régime, does it not follow that we cannot recognise any decisions made by the illegal courts within that illegal régime? Will my right hon. Friend make a further statement to clarify the position, which is causing a good deal of concern to many citizens?

Mr. Stewart

The statement I made earlier drew the attention, as it was intended to draw the attention, of individuals to possible consequences of the illegality of the régime. It is not possible or proper for the Government to pronounce on individual cases. This is a matter for the courts.

Mr. Hogg

I realise that this is not properly a matter for the Foreign Secretary, but will he confer with the Attorney-General, because doubts as to the marital status of individuals may cause great unhappiness, not only to the individuals themselves but to many other people of quite different nationalities all over the world? Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is not a matter which should be left in doubt simply because of the unhappy situation existing in the international field?

Mr. Stewart

I am certainly willing to consult my right hon. and learned Friend on this matter.