HC Deb 30 April 1975 vol 891 cc446-8
4. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on developments in British policy towards States and territories in Southern Africa.

9. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government raised the question of the situation in Southern Africa at the Commonwealth Conference.

Mr. Ennals

There has been no change in the policies which my right hon. Friend announced on 4th December. We shall continue to make a full and constructive contribution towards a peaceful solution of the region's problem. Problems in Southern Africa are a central issue at today's meeting of Common wealth Prime Ministers in Kingston.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I welcome the efforts being made by Her Majesty's Government, in line with the South African and other African Governments, to bring about détente in Southern Africa, but may I take it from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will be taking advantage of the Common wealth Conference to try to persuade African nationalists and leaders of African States there to do their best to end the terrorism in Rhodesia which is spoiling the atmosphere for a settlement?

Mr. Ennals

Previously in the House I have recorded the Government's appreciation of the rôle of the three African presidents and also of the rôle of South Africa in helping to bring about a détente. There are important discussions going on in Kingston. My right hon. Friend yesterday had meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Tanzania, Botswana and Zambia. From these discussions and the discussion which will take place with Bishop Muzorewa we hope that progress can be made.

Mr. Ioan Evans

In the light of the Security Council's resolution on Namibia in December, what representations have Her Majesty's Government made to the Government of South Africa? Can my right hon. Friend throw some light on the deliberations in the Security Council on the question whether Namibia is to be welcomed into membership? As the African leaders are in Kingston, what proposals will the Government make to Commonwealth leaders to bring the illegal régime in Rhodesia to an end at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Ennals

Together with France and the United States, we made known our views about Namibia to the South African Government on 22nd April. This underlines the importance that we attach to an early solution of the problem. Our position is and has always been that South Africa should grant Namibia self-determination and independence, and should do so soon. These views have been fairly stated by the three Governments to the Government of South Africa.

It was made clear by my right hon. Friend in discussions which we had with SWAPO representatives that if at the appropriate stage Namibia were to apply for membership of the Commonwealth we would wish to support that application.

Rhodesia is probably the central issue at Kingston today. We shall have to see what sort of initiative comes from the Commonwealth Conference, and whether there are particular initiatives that can be taken by Her Majesty's Government in the light of the changing situation.

Mr. Rifkind

Is the Minister aware of the suggestion that once Mozambique becomes independent in June it may desire to impose full sanctions against Rhodesia and will expect the Commonwealth countries, and Britain in particular, to support such a move? Will the hon. Gentleman say what will be the British Government's attitude to such a suggestion, and whether they will provide funds for the imposition of sanctions if Mozambique requests that course?

Mr. Ennals

The Provisional Government of Mozambique have said that decisions on this question will be taken after independence in June. Meanwhile, there is every reason to believe that Mozambique will support efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to the Rhodesia problem. This has been discussed by my right hon. Friend in Kingston, and the Government will certainly play their part in any effort to assist Mozambique in this respect.

Mr. James Johnson

In the light of the supplementary question put by the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison), is it not the Government's view that the indigenous peoples of Rhodesia are pursuing a civil war against an illegal Government now based in Salisbury? Is it not completely tendentious to use the term "terrorists" to describe nationalists who are fighting for their future freedom?

Mr. Ennals

The most helpful comment I can make is that it is an illegal régime, but attempts are being made to try to create a changed situation. We should give every assistance we can to those who have the burden of responsibility of changing policies that have been ruthlessly adhered to up to this time. It is important for the House that this should be done, because the House has the responsibility, eventually, for granting independence to Rhodesia, and for that purpose there will have to be a constitutional conference. We should do everything we can to promote such a conference.