HC Deb 23 October 1972 vol 843 cc775-7
22. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice about the South African Government's policies is given in South Africa by his Department's representatives to British businessmen visiting that country.

The Under-Secretary of State for foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Anthony Kershaw)

Information and advice on the South African Government's policies as they may affect British businessmen are given on request by the Commercial Departments of the Embassy and our Consulates-General.

Mr. Huckfield

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the only advice his Department's representatives are giving to British businesmen in South Africa is to follow local custom? As Britain is South Africa's largest overseas investor, and consequently is seen by Africans as propping up apartheid, is it not time that this country told its own businessmen that they either act as agents of social change in South Africa or get out?

Mr. Kershaw

We have made it clear on a number of occasions that Her Majesty's Government do not believe in the policies of boycott and ostracism for South Africa, any more than did the previous Government, which the hon. Gentleman supported. As to the information we give, we have given our firms there every encouragement to conduct their businesses in the best possible way in South Africa.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Does the hon. Gentleman advise businessmen visiting South Africa that South Africa's presence in Namibia is illegal, as laid down by the International Court of Justice, and therefore discourage British businessmen taking part in an internationally recognised illegal act?

Mr. Kershaw

The hon. Gentleman is misinformed. It is not accepted that South Africa's presence in Namibia is illegal. Therefore, we do not so advise British businessmen.

37. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official communication and contact is maintained by representatives of his Department in South Africa with the National Union of South African Students.

Mr. Kershaw

The Ambassador's official contacts are with the South African Government to whom he is accredited. But he and his staff naturally keep in touch with a wide spectrum of political, social and economic opinion, including representatives of the organisation mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Huckfield

is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in fact, his Department's representative's contacts with NUSAS are very sparing and slight indeed? As this is one of the few non-racial organisations left in South Africa and as the South African Government are doing their best to crush NUSAS in a highly rigged and biased parliamentary commission, will his Department do its best not only to strengthen links with NUSAS but also offer some kind of support?

Mr. Kershaw

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The Embassy in South Africa is in close contact with NUSAS and with a large number of other multiracial organisations. I know that the hon. Gentleman, when he was recently in South Africa, took very biased information about what is going on there.

Mr. Blaker

Will my hon. Friend say what instructions are given by his Department to our representatives in Moscow about maintaining contact with organisations which the Soviet Government are trying to crush?

Mr. Kershaw

We are anxious to make contact with other organisations but we are not allowed to do so there.

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