HC Deb 09 May 1973 vol 856 cc461-8
1. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the countries to whom he has made representations with regard to the operation of sanctions against Rhodesia.

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

No, Sir. We make available to the United Nations Sanctions Supervisory Committee information about suspected breaches of sanctions. But our Notes are not proof of any offence and it would be misleading to list countries named. However, the annual reports of the committee record these Notes and the results of inquiries.

Mr. Strang

Does the Secretary of State accept that, as the administering Power still responsible for Rhodesia and the country which initiated the question of sanctions in the Security Council, we have a special responsibility in this matter? When there is a scandal such as the Boeings affair, is it not reasonable to expect the British Government to take the lead in asking for an inquiry into that sort of situation?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

On the subject of the Boeings we have taken a lead, as I shall say in answer to another Question. All that I am saying now is that to name the countries would be misleading, but the hon. Member can find them, if he likes, in the reports of the committee.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is it not the case that the Boeings were ordered through a South African consortium, in its name, and later transplanted into Rhodesia, all of which would have been a perfectly legal deal, since the South Africans have never lent support to our sanctions policy against Rhodesia?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

No, Sir, I do not think that that was how it happened at all.

Mr. Richard

Does the Secretary of State agree that, given the present political situation in Rhodesia, this, perhaps, is particularly the time when, far from seeking to weaken sanctions, we should be trying to strengthen them? Is he prepared to consider the possibility, and later make a statement to the House about the effect of his consideration, by such ways as may be open to him—various suggestions have been made, which the Government have not as yet accepted—of strengthening sanctions?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I have not yet found a way. I think that the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) made a suggestion that the United Nations committee might employ an ombudsman. I am willing to consider that, but the committee's secretary is one of Dr. Waldheim's executives. I think that its machinery is adequate to find out. It is the political will of different countries that is missing.

5. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make proposals to the United Nations Sanctions Supervisory Committee with a view to blocking the loophole that allowed the supply of Boeing airliners to Rhodesia.

10. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the action taken by Her Majesty's Government to strengthen sanctions against Rhodesia following the successful purchase by the illegal regime of three Boeing aircraft.

13. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs following the acquisition by Rhodesia of three Boeing aircraft, whether he will make a statement on the efficacy of United Nations sanctions and their continuation.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We have passed to the United Nations Sanctions Committee such fresh information about this sale as we have received. What is lacking is not new measures or machinery but the political will to make the present measures fully effective.

Mr. Steel

Can the Foreign Secretary give the House any more information as to the origin of the sale? Secondly, what steps are being taken by the United States Government to make sure that there is no follow-up in the supply of essential spares?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

On the latter point, I have no reason to think that there is any supply of spares. I shall look into the matter. Concerning the origin of the Boeing sales, we do not publish what we send to the United Nations committee until it has had a look at it. It seems to me that it has been through firms in three countries, of which South Africa is not one—as far as we know. This is a complicated matter, which the United Nations must examine first.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that after seven years it is time for us to realise that we are wrong, root and branch, about the whole business and drop these absurd sanctions, which are in any case wholly invalid under the Charter of the United Nations?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I have said that if I altered my view about sanctions I would tell the House. But as long as there are mandatory sanctions they had better be observed by other countries to the extent that we observe them.

Mr. Judd

In view of the rôle of Portugal in facilitating the routing of these Boeings to Rhodesia, has not the time come to call off the official jollifications with the Lisbon Government? How long are we expected to go on cheapening ourselves at Lisbon's behest? What is the Government's policy towards the forthcoming visit to Lisbon by the Duke of Edinburgh? Is he expected to congratulate the Portugese Government on their effective support for an illegal regime, in rebellion against the Crown?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

There may be an implication in the hon. Gentleman's question that the Portuguese Government had something to do with the Boeings. As far as I know, there is no foundation for that. I had better make that clear. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Portuguese alliance with Britain is 600 years old. It is an alliance in which both countries have taken pride, and I think we ought to celebrate it.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is not the application by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Dr. David Steel) of the word "loophole" to these ludicrous sanctions the understatement of the day?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

It would take quite a loophole to get through 240 million dollars worth of export trade.

18. Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the annual cost to the United Kingdom of the maintenance of sanctions in respect of Rhodesia over the next five years.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

It is very difficult to speculate on what the situation will be during the next five years, but I can say that from 1st April 1972 to 31st March 1973 the cost to public funds was approximately £3 million.

Mr. Haselhurst

Will my right hon. Friend explain whether that is merely the direct cost of maintaining sanctions, rather than the consequential loss of trade? Further, will he say whether, in any calculations it has undertaken, his Department has taken into account the possible economic loss to this country which would arise by the reaction of other States if we were to drop sanctions?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I was talking about direct expenditure. Incidentally, a good deal, or part of that expenditure, has been due to payments which we have to make to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in relation to the Kariba Dam—which is an old story. However, we are liable for those payments. These are direct calculations. Trade between southern Africa —that is, South Africa, Rhodesia and Portuguese Africa—and the rest of Africa —is about level.

19. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is satisfied with the operation of the surveillance procedures of Her Majesty's Government regarding United Nations mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia.

27. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement regarding investigations into the operation of sanctions against Rhodesia.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, Sir. The United Kingdom has an exemplary record for sanctions enforcement. Eighteen British firms and individuals have been convicted and fines totalling over £200,000 have been imposed by the courts.

Mr. Whitehead

As the arrival of the three Boeing aircraft plainly indicates flaws in the surveillance procedures, will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House a little more about Her Majesty's Government's plan by way of ex post facto operations in this matter? Does he regard these aircraft as registered Rhodesian aircraft, stateless aircraft, or anything else? Will he give an undertaking to the House that they will not be insured by or through British insurance? Will he say whether any loyal Rhodesian subjects who remove these aeroplanes from Rhodesia and bring them to Britain or to a British dependency will not be prosecuted under the Protection of Aircraft Bill, which is currently before the House?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I understand that these Rhodesian aircraft can fly only on routes on which Rhodesian aircraft already fly. I answered an earlier question about spares. There is no question of spares reaching these aircraft. The sort of thing which the hon. Gentleman suggests would be a breach of sanctions.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Yesterday the Prime Minister said that in his view the imposition of sanctions had had some effect on the bargaining position that Mr. Smith adopted. Arising from that, will my right hon. Friend say whether it is the Government's view that sanctions are doomed to failure, or that they will succeed? If it is their view that they will succeed, when will they succeed? Does my right hon. Friend agree that, clearly it is not a case of weeks or months?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

That has been true, but it is clear that sanctions have had some effect. Rhodesia is desperately short of foreign exchange and some other goods—for example, rolling stock. However, to think that sanctions would have a decisive political effect on a short-term basis was a miscalulation.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Has the right hon. Gentleman made any attempt to persuade the United States to stop betraying the United Nations' sanctions policy by continuing to import vast quantites of chrome from Rhodesia? The principle of sanctions comes before the consideration of profit.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The United State advances the argument not of profit but of security. If the United States did not import chrome from Rhodesia it would have to get all its chrome from the Soviet Union.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

In an earlier reply my right hon. Friend mentioned the illegal regime's need for rolling stock. Has he any evidence that the regime has purchased rolling stock, including locomotives, in recent months?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I should like notice of that question. At the moment I cannot remember whether there has been any evidence of such a purchase.

23. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the change in the level of exports from Rhodesia between 1971 and 1972; and what has been the average annual increase in the Rhodesian gross domestic product at constant prices since UDI.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Balniel)

Figures published by the Rhodesian authorities, the accuracy of which Her Majesty's Government have no way of checking, suggest that Rhodesian exports may have risen by over £30 million and that the average annual increase in the Rhodesian gross domestic product since UDI was about 5 per cent.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend for that information. Would it not be rather nice if we could find somebody to impose sanctions on us? Does he consider that it would be worth being described as a member of a regime in order to achieve something of this nature?

Lord Balniel

My hon. Friend must also take account of the fact that the Rhodesian authorities tend to paint a rosy picture of their economic affairs. They are very selective in their choice of statistics, and their statistics frequently have to be revised.

Mr. Maclennan

If he has not already done so, will the right hon. Gentleman consider raising this matter and also the control of imports into Rhodesia in the D'Avignon Committee? It appears that some of our new European friends are not quite ad idemwith us on the problem of sanctions. In particular, will he seek to develop a common foreign policy in Western Europe on the implementation of sanctions?

Lord Balniel

Questions concerning the implementation of sanctions are a matter for the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations. It is best that such matters are left in the committee's hands.

Mr. Thorpe

Is there not some merit in the proposition that hon. Members who take an oath of loyalty to the Crown should not glory in a rebellion against the Crown? Should they not at least join the rest of the civilised world community in trying to bring rebellion to an end, and to bring about a non-racial solution, which is the only alternative to bloodshed and civil war? Those are the inevitable consequences unless we can get a settlement.

Lord Balniel

The right hon. Gentleman is making a premise which would not be accepted in the House. I know of no hon. Member who glories in a rebellion—[HON. MEMBERS: "We do."] I believe that the great mass of hon. Members are anxious to reach a political solution in the interests of people living in Rhodesia, in accordance with the general principles which are widely accepted in the House.

Mr. Evelyn King

Economics and sentiment apart, is not one of the difficulties about the imposition of sanctions —a difficulty that has been apparent throughout history and not merely in the case of Rhodesia—the fact that they have always served to strengthen the regime against which they are imposed? Is it not a fact that Mr. Smith's position— he is almost alone in being Prime Minister of Rhodesia for so long—has been immeasurably strengthened by sanctions? Is not that a matter to which the Foreign Office should give real attention?

Lord Balniel

My right hon. Friend has stated frequently in the House that if he had any reason for believing that sanctions had finally failed in their purpose he would explain the position to Parliament and make his decision. However, he has not reached that decision, and that is not the view of Her Majesty's Government.

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