HC Deb 10 April 1973 vol 854 cc1121-3
13. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will make a statement on her visit to South Africa.

15. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will make a statement about her recent official visit to South Africa.

Mrs. Thatcher

I attended the inauguration of a new observing station for the South African Astronomical Observatory as the Minister responsible for the Science Research Council which is a partner in the observatory with the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Mr. Judd

Does the right hon. Lady feel no responsibility as the guardian of all the finest traditions of liberal education? Why did she not take the opportunity, whilst in South Africa, to make it absolutely clear beyond doubt that the British people and Government are fundamentally opposed to the persecution of students and academics in South Africa and anywhere else in the world?

Mrs. Thatcher

At my original conference I made very clear indeed the Government's views on apartheid and how we view the role of students.

Mr. Huckfield

Did the right hon. Lady feel moved to say anything about the case of John Hosey from Coventry, about which I sent her a telegram? Does not she realise that he has already been imprisoned without trial for six months and that he could face a sentence of at least five years' imprisonment if he were convicted under the Terrorism Act when his only crime was handing out leaflets?

Mrs. Thatcher

The hon. Gentleman sent me a telegram and I sent him a reply. The person to whom he refers is a citizen of the Irish Republic, and as such I felt that I had no locus.

Mr. Maclennan

If the Secretary of State is not prepared to make a protest, will she at least consider that the South African Government are depriving Africans of education, and black Africans in particular? Will she give thought to the possibility of offering places at higher institutions of learning in this country to black African students who are debarred by the Government of their country from access to technical education in their own country?

Mrs. Thatcher

While I was in South Africa I visited two educational establishments. I visited the Oral Learning Centre School in Cape Town for disadvantaged children in the coloured part of Cape Town, and the University of the Western Cape, which is a university for coloured people.

Mr. Evelyn King

While we deplore much that happens in South Africa, is not the last question a little misjudged? Is it not a fact, and should not the fact have been brought out, that the educational provision for black Africans in South Africa is better than in any other State in the African continent?

Mr. Huckfield


Mrs. Thatcher

With respect, I do not think that is a question for which I am responsible. I visited the Oral Learning School.