HC Deb 12 July 1971 vol 821 cc15-8
4. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit Rhodesia.

15. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he now has to visit Rhodesia.

28. Mr. Evelyn King

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

39. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now pay an official visit to Rhodesia.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I have no plans to visit Rhodesia at present. Lord Goodman has visited Rhodesia at my request to engage in exploratory discussions. As I have told the House, I shall make a statement when there is something of substance to report. As I have often said, any settlement would have to be within the five principles.

Mr. Davis

Having regard to the constantly totalitarian and racist behaviour of the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia, will the right hon. Gentleman indicate what possible credence he could give to any pledge by that Government to honour the five principles? Having regard to that behaviour, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be best if these talks, official, unofficial, or whatever they are, were called off at once?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The hon. Gentleman might have put that question to his right hon. Friend some time ago.

Mr. Johnson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are glad to know that he has made plain his approval of the wise words of a wise statesman, Sir Roy Welensky, that, inevitably, this society will lead to an apartheid-type society? Since the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to see black helots or slaves administered by a white minority, is he aware that we are glad to hear him say that he will stand by the five principles and not settle on any other terms?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Our obligation, as far as we can discharge it, is to the Europeans and the Africans in Rhodesia. That is why a settlement must be within the framework of the five principles that we have made.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

In view of the fact that Rhodesia effectively has been independent for 48 years and that for the last seven we have tried unsuccessfully to pretend otherwise, does not my right hon. Friend agree that it might not be a bad idea to consider the possibility of recognising that, if the Rhodesians wish to risk the prospect of a blood bath in 10, 20, 30 or 40 years, it is no business of ours?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I think that the general opinion in the House is that at least we should try to bring Rhodesia to legality. That is the whole purpose of the negotiations.

Mr. Healey

While welcoming the right hon. Gentleman's reassertion of his determination to ensure that the five principles are complied with, including the fifth, which would meet the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis), will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will take no decision about changing the Government's relations with Rhodesia before the House has a chance to consider the proposals that are in mind?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

All Governments must always reserve the right to take decisions when they like. I have promised that I shall come to the House and make a statement the moment that there is anything of substance to report. That might well be on the approach to a decision.

Mr. Healey

I can well understand that, but I hope that, in view of the deep interest and concern on both sides of the House, the right hon. Gentleman will assure us that he will take no decision about changing the relations of Her Majesty's Government with Rhodesia while the House is in recess. The right hon. Gentleman gave a similar undertaking last year with regard to arms for South Africa. This matter is of equal importance to our relations with the whole of Africa, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman ought to give a similar assurance.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The right hon. Gentleman is not quite accurate about what I said in relation to South Africa. No Government can possibly pledge themselves as to when they will or will not take a decision. What I can say is that, before anyone else knows about the decision, that decision will be brought to this House.

14. Sir F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a further statement on the future of the Rhodesian sanctions Royal Air Force detachment in Malagasy.

Mr. Kershaw

The Government of the Malagasy Republic have confirmed that they would like the Royal Air Force detachment at Majunga to be withdrawn. Exchanges with the Malagasy Government about the timing and other implications of their request are continuing.

Sir F. Bennett

On the assumption that this patrol has been performing an invaluable function in enforcing sanctions, commensurate with its cost, can my hon. Friend say how this blockade is to continue without it, and what alternative plans he has to replace it?

Mr. Kershaw

It is true that this detachment has been helpful for patrol purposes and that its disappearance will naturally make the operation more difficult, but I think that the question of what, if anything, should be put in its place is for my noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence.

Mr. Healey

As the Government have decided to run on the aircraft carrier for another few years, would not this be a very good use for it? This is a rôle which it could usefully perform, whereas it has no useful rôle in the Mediterranean or North Atlantic.

Mr. Kershaw

That, too, is obviously a question for my noble Friend.

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