HC Deb 12 June 1972 vol 838 cc967-73
1. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now take steps to improve the effectiveness of international sanctions against Rhodesia.

3. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he intends to take at the United Nations concerning the strengthening of sanctions against the illegal Rhodesian régime following the publication of the Pearce Report.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

Her Majesty's Government are already taking every step open to them to make existing sanctions effective by strict enforcement within Britain and by reporting suspected breaches to the Security Council, the body which has the primary responsibility for this matter. Sanctions evasion, however, is still widespread. There is no need for new machinery: what is required is a stricter enforcement by the international community of existing measures.

Mr. Hamilton

Has the Foreign Secretary made any direct representations to the United States and other sanctions breakers among our allies, and what steps is he taking to strengthen the blockade on the ports which are supplying raw materials to Rhodesia?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The United States Administration itself brought the breach of sanctions in respect of chrome to the notice of the United Nations and therefore there was no need for action by us. The breach of sanctions in relation to chrome was an act not of the United States Administration, which tried to stop it, but of Congress, which repeated its decision. The obligation laid on us by the United Nations in respect of the control of ports relates solely to the importation of oil through Beira.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Will my right hon. Friend take note that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) and other Opposition Members think it better that the United States should buy chrome from Communist sources rather than from Rhodesia?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

That is a matter for the United States Government and not for me.

Mr. Richard

The Foreign Secretary will know that in his comments on the Pearce Report Mr. Smith said that sanctions had become much less effective since the proposed settlement with the United Kingdom last November. Does the Foreign Secretary share the view that sanctions have weakened within the last six months? If he takes that view, will he tell the House what he will do about it?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

This must be admitted because exports from Rhodesia have recovered to 97 per cent. of what they were before sanctions were imposed; so sanctions are having some effect. A lot of exports are going to countries which are members of the United Nations and which are supposed to be supporting sanctions. That is beyond dispute. We have made 170 recommendations that breaches of sanctions should be looked into and in only four cases have prosecutions been made.

2. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications he has had with the illegal régime in Rhodesia regarding the response of Her Majesty's Government to the report of the Pearce Commission.

46. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on discussions he has had with the Rhodesian Government subsequent to the publication of the Pearce Report.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. Members for Rugby (Mr. William Price) and West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) on 5th June.—[Vol. 838, c. 18.]

Mr. Whitehead

When the Foreign Secretary next communicates with the Smith régime will he say that there can be no further negotiations on a constitutional settlement in Rhodesia without the presence of the Africans in Rhodesia at the conference table, since by their reaction to the Pearce Commission they have clearly indicated that they have no confidence in the Smith régime to act as broker on their behalf?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We shall be debating this matter on Thursday in greater detail, so I shall give only a short answer now. The next step must come from Rhodesia and it would be very much better if it was multi-racial.

Mr. Wall

Is my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary aware that he is in great danger of emulating Lord North, who took seven years to recognise the rebellious American colonies? As both the British and Rhodesian Governments have now reached agreement, even though unfortunately this has been overthrown, would is not be better to maintain representatives in each other's capitals?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I am concerned, as I am sure my hon. Friend must be, that there should be a quiet time for reflection by all races in Rhodesia. As to the next stage of any negotiations there may be, I do not think representation of the Rhodesian Government in London would contribute at this moment to that quiet reflection.

Mr. Bidwell

This is an extraordinarily long-winded affair. Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when he reported to the House on the Pearce Commission's activities he said that some African people were rather prone to accept a formula which would mean gradual unimpeded progress towards majority rule but that they did not trust the Smith régime to carry it through? Can he say whether at any time during his period as Foreign Secretary, and, as far as he knows, during the period of the Labour Government, the possibility of placing a British garrison in Rhodesia, to ensure that such terms are carried out, was ever mooted?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

No, Sir. I do not think that policy would be favoured by either side of the House.

12. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with Commonwealth leaders on joint Commonwealth policy towards Rhodesia following publication of the Pearce Report.

51. Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications he has had with African Commonwealth countries since the publication of the Pearce Report; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I have had no discussions about a joint Commonwealth policy but Commonwealth Governments have been kept informed of all important developments over Rhodesia. We have received communications from some of them.

Mr. Judd

Would the Foreign Secretary agree that many Commonwealth countries are unlikely to be impressed by professions of good faith on our part towards the sanctions policy or by pacifist reports to the United Nations concerning sanctions breaking by others, and that what it really wants from us is a determined willingness on our part to make the strongest possible representations to Portugal and South Africa and others who, we know, are breaking sanctions? Can the Foreign Secretary tell the House what representations he has made to Portugal and South Africa in this respect?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Representations to Portugal and South Africa would not be much good because they have opted out, deliberately, of the sanctions policy. There are many other countries, however, which are breaking sanctions. I do not think it is a good thing to name them—[Hon. Members: "Why not?"]—because sometimes it is a shipping company which has nothing to do with the country concerned, sometimes it is an industrial company over which its Government have no control and sometimes, as in the case of American chrome, the Administration are trying to do one thing and their Parliament has rejected it. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can point his finger to us. We have done everything required of us under the sanctions legislation which provides all the powers which the Security Council wants, and it is for the Secretary-General and the Security Council to enforce it.

Mr. Haselhurst

In view of the fact that Britain has in the Continent of Africa far greater political and commercial interests than the resumption of trade with Rhodesia, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he will strive very hard to keep in harmony with the advice he may receive from our Commonwealth friends?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, certainly, we will keep in very close touch with our Commonwealth friends. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development, for example, was in Nigeria at the time I announced our decision over the Pearce Report. I think those conversations will help greatly.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the right hon. Gentleman recall that when he announced the Pearce Commission he was kind enough to take note of an early day Motion of mine concerning the Land Tenure Act and the Epworth mission land settlement? Will he keep Commonwealth Governments and us here informed of any further embarkation upon the operation of the Land Tenure Act against the Methodist mission at Epworth?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes. As I shall say on Thursday—without anticipating too much of my speech—one of my anxieties is that these problems which we were able to settle with Mr. Smith in November will be wide open if this settlement is not accepted.

Mr. Soref

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House what communications he has had with the Rhodesian Prime Minister—

Mr. Faulds

There is no such animal—

Mr. Soref

—concerning the Wankie Colliery disaster in which 431 miners lost their lives, and to what extent this country is offering aid and assistance to the bereaved?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I think the whole House will have been horrified at that disaster and will wish to express its sympathy with the relatives who have suffered so much. I asked Mr. Smith whether a relief fund was being set up in Rhodesia. He tells me it is, and the Government here have decided to contribute £25,000.

19. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether countries are now applying and enforcing full sanctions against Rhodesia.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The great majority of United Nations members have informed the Security Council that they are complying with the relevant Security Council resolutions. It is for the Security Council to determine how fully they are doing so.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Surely the short answer is only Britain and the United States, but selectively. Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who have never supported sanctions are not likely to start now, remembering that the Prime Minister said in 1968 that the only purpose of sanctions was to bring about a negotiation?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I well remember the vote on the mandatory sanctions in which this party disagreed with the Government of the day. These sanctions were passed. They will operate unless we get a settlement from Rhodesia or unless at some future time we decide that in the operation of the sanctions we have to ask for a different system.

Mr. William Hamilton

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance about the steps he is taking to ensure that the aid which he announced in answer to an earlier supplementary question to the miners and their relatives affected by the Wankie disaster will be allocated fairly as between white and black vicitims?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I think that on the whole the hon. Gentleman will wish he had not asked that question.

Mr. Mather

Have you been down a mine in Rhodesia?

Mr. Hamilton

I have been down more mines than you.

Sir Alec Doulgas-Home

There were 400 Africans killed and 30 Europeans killed. They are all dead and all their families, black or white, are suffering. This £25,000 will go to the families who have suffered, whether black or white.