HC Deb 12 July 1971 vol 821 cc22-3
11. Mr. Robert Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is now in a position to make a statement of Government policy on The Hague International Court ruling on Namibia, South-West Africa.

20. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs following the judgment of the International Court of Justice, whether he will make a statement on British policy towards Namibia.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on South-West Africa and the separate and dissenting opinions are long and important. I must ask hon. Members to await the completion of the Government's study of the Opinion.

Mr. Hughes

Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear to the South African Government that Her Majesty's Government consider that South Africa's writ does not now run in South-West Africa? Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate some idea of the line he intends to take when the whole Opinion is discussed in the United Nations?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

No, Sir. As I said, this is a long judgment—it runs to 400 pages—and there are dissenting judgments. I must ask for time to consider it before answering a question on it.

Mr. Judd

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that this Advisory Opinion is of great significance not only for itself but for the process of building up the whole tradition of international law? Will he undertake to come to the House as soon as possible and make the fullest possible statement on the Government's position? If by any chance the Government decide that they will not accept this Advisory Opinion, will he make a full statement to the House on precisely how they can justify that attitude?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I will certainly take the opportunity to clarify this matter to the House as soon as the Government are ready to do so.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

As the matter is now being discussed in the United Nations and it may be that the question will arise for decision at a fairly early stage, will the Foreign Secretary assure us that the Government will not apply the veto, as they did on an earlier occasion in relation to Southern Africa, and that, before a decision is announced, or perhaps when the decision has been announced but at an early stage thereafter, there will be a debate about the whole problem of Namibia?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We shall have to see what happens in the United Nations. The United Nations has been known to discuss things without adequate knowledge.