HC Deb 23 March 1972 vol 833 cc1671-2
Q2. Miss Lestor

asked the Prime Minister if he will go to Southern Rhodesia after the return of the Pearce Commission to seek to meet the African spokesmen who have opposed the proposed settlement.

Q1. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Rhodesia after the return of the Pearce Commission.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

No, Sir. The Pearce Commission has listened to all shades of opinion in Rhodesia, and I await its report.

Miss Lestor

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that one of the tragedies of the Rhodesian situation is that the African spokesmen were not involved either with the circumstances that led to the proposed settlement or with the Commission that was elected to present it to the Rhodesian people? Will he therefore give an undertaking that whatever the result of the Pearce Commision he will immediately make contact with the African leaders to find out exactly what is their point of view?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had contact with a large number of African leaders when he was in Salisbury in connection with these negotiations. We must now await the report of the Pearce Commission.

Mr. Foley

Will the right hon. Gentleman comment on the representations that were made to him directly by Bishop Muzorewa, the Chairman of the National African Council, who asked whether, if Pearce returned a "No", the Government would maintain sanctions?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said that if the decision of the Pearce Commission is "No", then the situation remains as it is today. He has always made that quite clear. As to the bishop's letter, it was a lengthy one, containing a large number of points, and I replied to it in detail, point by point.

Mr. Healey

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that last answer. Can he assure the House that in view of that answer he will now express to the American Administration Her Majesty's Government's deep disappointment at the action that it has taken in removing sanctions on chrome and asbestos? As there is widespread opposition in the United States to this decision, which was taken by the American Congress without the authority of the American Government, is there any excuse whatever for the Governments supine acceptance of the decision in the United Nations discussions?

The Prime Minister

This is a matter between the United Nations and the United States, because it is a question of a mandatory Resolution. It is not for us to interfere with discussions in the American Congress. This is a matter for the United Nations to deal with.