HC Deb 18 February 1976 vol 905 cc1277-8
16. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what formal recognition Her Majesty's Government propose to accord to the Bantustans set up within the Republic of South Africa.

Mr. Ennals

The question does not arise because at present Her Majesty's Government regard the Homelands as forming an integral part of the Republic of South Africa. If a request for recognition as an independent State were to be received from a Homeland it would be considered against our well-established legal criteria for recognition and in the light of all the relevant circumstances at the time. We would have to be satisfied about the independence of such a territory including its handling of its external relations.

Mr. Hooley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I hope the question will not be considered at all? Is he aware that both the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity are totally opposed to the Bantustan policy? Could he explain why this country alone among almost all other countries has accepted a delegation of Bantustan leaders, who are paid nominees of the South African Government?

Mr. Ennals

We see the Bantustan policy as being an integtal part of apart- heid, which the present Government have on many occasions strongly condemned. Therefore, we have condemned the policy of the Bantustan.

We have invited people from many parts of the world who are involved in many aspects of life. Our view is that it is better for them to come here to meet British people, to be confronted with the arguments, such as those of my hon. Friend, than being left in seclusion. We believe, therefore—and I think that they felt this—that open debate is better than restriction.

Mr. Russell Kerr

Let them resign their position first.

Mr. Tugendhat

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Opposition absolutely agree that this issue should not be prejudged and that we should wait and see exactly how the Bantustans turn out? Does he agree that many of the leaders of the Bantustans have fought hard on behalf of the rights of their kinfolk in difficult circumstances and deserve encouragement and not disparagement?

Mr. Ennals

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question we have to await a decision. That decision may well arise fairly soon if the Transkei is declared independent in October, so it is a fairly urgent issue.

I had the opportunity of meeting the visitors. I spoke frankly about the views of Her Majesty's Government. It is interesting that they also made criticisms of the policies of the South African Government and said that they had no objection to my making that fact public.

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