HC Deb 06 March 1972 vol 832 cc1018-20
23. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the purpose of the invitation to the Portuguese Foreign Secretary to visit Great Britain.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

When I visited Lisbon last June I invited the Portuguese Foreign Minister to pay a return visit to this country. Dr. Patricio will be coming to Britain from 6th to 10th March for this purpose. This will provide an opportunity for us to discuss bilateral and international matters in which Britain and Portugal have a common interest.

Mr. Judd

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that many hon. Members view with considerable concern and some distaste this fresh evidence of new and closer relationships between Britain and Portugal? Will he assure the House that he will leave the Portuguese Foreign Secretary in absolutely no doubt that Britain condemns the lack of basic freedoms in Portugal, condemns the sabotaging of sanctions against Rhodesia by Portugal and condemns the wars of colonial repression in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I will not be led into discussing with the Portuguese Foreign Minister the internal affairs of his country. I should be very annoyed if he tried to do that with me. We have different colonial policies in Africa and proceed on different lines. This is a matter which I can explain to the Portuguese Foreign Minister, and, indeed, he knows it already. However, that is no reason why we should not talk together. We talk together as allies in N.A.T.O. I am glad that Dr. Patricio is coming.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

While the visit would certainly go with a swing if my right hon. Friend did what the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) suggested, might it not be a good idea perhaps, referring to an earlier Question, to take this opportunity of ending the blockading of a Portuguese port?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We have undertaken a certain obligation under the sanctions arrangements. We must stick to that obligation. If we wish to alter that situation at any time, we should have to do so through the United Nations.

Mr. Paget

Has the right hon. Gentleman observed a certain dichotomy in the enthusiasm that he should visit China and the deploring that he should visit Portugal on the ground that either of them is democratic or not democratic?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

These distinctions are sometimes beyond me.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Following the last question, does my right hon. Friend realise that while many people object to the doings of certain Communist countries, they still welcome their Foreign Ministers here to talk to them?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Foley

Will the right hon. Gentleman satisfy himself, when the Foreign Minister of Portugal comes here, that Portugal is not using arms supplied for N.A.T.O. purposes in its colonial adventures in Africa?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes. I examined allegations made by hon. Gentlemen opposite a short time ago that Portugal was relying on arms supplied for N.A.T.O. purposes for conducting its affairs in Africa. I made a very careful examination of those allegations and found that they were totally without foundation.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Will my right hon. Friend make it plain to the Portuguese Foreign Minister that British foreign policy is based not on ideological motives but on the protection of British interests, and that those who are concerned with British interests welcome the visit of the Portuguese Foreign Minister because it will promote friendship between the two countries in which those interests can be better promoted?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, between the two countries and between two allies for a very long time.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Is not the distinction between talking to the Communist countries and to the Portuguese Foreign Minister what one talks about and how one says it? Would it not be right for the Foreign Secretary to blow the wind of change in the general direction of The Foreign Minister, as his predecessor did in relation to South Africa?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The hon. Gentleman is right when he says that in meetings between all sorts of persons it depends what one says and how one says it. I think he can rely on Dr. Patricio and I to say things in the right way.

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