HC Deb 19 December 1974 vol 883 cc1805-7
Q2. Mr. Kinnock

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with co-ordination between the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary in the procedures for the termination of the Simonstown Agreement.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Foreign Secretary has spoken of discussing the termination of the Simonstown Agreement, that the Secretary of State for Defence has spoken of negotiating the end of the Simonstown Agreement, and that there is a great deal more than a semantic difference between these two prospects? Will he tell us which procedure will be adopted, when it will be started, and when he expects it to be concluded?

The Prime Minister

The matter is quite simple. It has been explained before, but I shall explain it again. We see no need for the Simonstown Agreeement. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, even before the announcement of our proposals on defence, said that, if necessary, it could be left to wither on the vine. The position, so far as we can tell from the legal interpretation, is that the Simonstown Agreement exists until it is ended by mutual agreement. If the South African Government insist on that position we shall enter into negotiations to bring it to an end, but we do not now propose to regard it as operative. We have no obligations under the agreement.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

The Prime Minister will certainly regret those words about the Simonstown Agreement, since there is perceptible evidence that the tragic logjam of attitudes in Southern Africa is breaking up. Is this the right time to increase the degree of social and political ostracism of South Africa?

The Prime Minister

It is not a question of the degree of ostracism of South Africa. We very much welcome what has been happening there—which is the result of many hon. Members on this side of the House pressing the points that they have done over the last 10 years against votes by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite on Rhodesia, on South Africa and on arms for South Africa. The South African Government are now forming a new view on where their interests lie. I welcome that they are doing that. I hope that it will lead, as has been foreshadowed in the statement by the South African Prime Minister, to substantial changes. I am referring not only to Rhodesia and apartheid, but to Namibia. We welcome the changes that are taking place, but the Simonstown Agreement has nothing to do with them.