HC Deb 11 December 1972 vol 848 cc20-2
16. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government at the United Nations towards resolutions and statements concerned with Portugal and her overseas territories.

Mr. Amery

The test we apply to draft resolutions tabled at the United Nations is whether the resolution in question would be likely to promote peaceful progress towards self-determination and an end to armed confrontation. Our statements reflect this policy.

Mr. Judd

Does the Minister agree that the increased evidence that when the chips are down we side with the oppressive régimes of southern Africa is leading to a dangerous polarisation in that part of the continent and is playing into the hands of those Communist extremists who are determined to extract every ounce of opportunity from the situation thus presented?

Mr. Amery

I do not believe that it would lead to peaceful progress to self-determination or an end to confrontation if we were to take sides in support of guerrilla movements.

Mr. Sproat

Is it not unfortunately typical of the hyprocrisy that often surrounds these matters that Uganda should have been amongst those to condemn the Portuguese for so-called racialist oppression, and is it not a fact that no Asian or anyone, whatever the colour of his skin, has been threatened with being thrown out of Portuguese East Africa? Is it not also true that whatever else may be said about the Portuguese, they are dedicated multi-racialists?

Mr. Amery

I cannot deny the facts that my hon. Friend has mentioned.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

It is a question not of siding with guerrilla movements but rather of taking action in the United Nations by a proper initiative to prevent the guerrilla movements from developing the situation into disastrous proportions, not only in Portugal but throughout central Africa.

Mr. Amery

As I am sure the right hon. Member is aware, the Portuguese Government has stated that it is giving greater autonomy to its dependent territories; and before we intervene in the affairs of another country, which would be questionable under the United Nations Charter, we had better see how its new policies work out.

25. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the United Kingdom delegate at the United Nations General Assembly, on 14th November, voted against a resolution aimed at persuading Portugal to free her African colonies.

Mr. Amery

We voted against the General Assembly resolution because we did not think that it would help to peaceful progress towards self-determination.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the Minister recognise that that vote will be interpreted as support for one of the most repressive colonial régimes in Africa? If the Government are not prepared to condemn the régime, they will reap the whirlwind in Africa and elsewhere. Will not the Minister say that he condemns all colonial repression—a practice that we have sought to discard in some measure?

Mr. Amery

I am sure the hon. Member will be the first to realise that if we were to condemn all régimes on ideological grounds we should have a long list of régimes to condemn in many continents. In these matters we must be guided by the principles of the Charter and our own long-established policy.

Mr. Wall

Are there not more black than white voters in Angola and more black than white troops in Mozambique? In those circumstances, is it not nonsense to talk about a repressive régime holding down the people?

Mr. Amery

Everyone who has studied the question is well aware of the multi-racial policies pursued by the Portuguese Government.