HC Deb 07 July 1976 vol 914 cc1353-5
9. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy toward the present situation in South Africa.

Mr. Hattersley

As my right hon. Friend told my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) on 24th June, we are deeply disturbed by recent events in South Africa which are a clear warning to the South African Government of the urgent need to change their racial policies. The United Kingdom supported a United Nations Security Council resolution on 19th June condemning the callous resort to violence by the South African Government against those opposing racial discrimination.

Mr. Canavan

In view of the oppressive brutality of the racialist régime in South Africa, especially the recent atrocities in Soweto, will my right hon. Friend take additional measures to stop people in this country bolstering up apartheid? In particular, will he take additional measures to stop the export not only of arms but of technical equipment for use by the South African military and police forces and additional measures to stop the export of investment, including indirect investment in South Africa by public bodies such as local authorities?

Mr. Hattersley

I do not believe that a policy of general economic sanctions would be in the interests either of the British people or of South Africa. However, I would take this opportunity to assure my hon. Friend that our policy of embargoing and preventing the export of equipment which might be used for military purposes in South Africa will continue and is being applied rigidly.

Mr. Blaker

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, will he confirm that he repudiates the suggestion made recently by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party that the Government should work at the United Nations for a mandatory ban on all trade with South Africa? Since our exports to South Africa exceeded £600 million last year, how many jobs would be affected if such a ban came into force?

Mr. Hattersley

These matters, although they raise questions of deeply-held conscience and principle, are best not discussed in emotive terms like "repudiate". I have made clear our attitude towards economic sanctions, as has my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. That will continue to be the Government's policy.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Secretary of State's reply to me about the Soweto massacre was warmly received, while one regretted the necessity for that kind of reply? Is he aware that the majority of the people in South Africa will either get their liberty or will take their liberty and that the difference between the two options is an ocean of blood and a generation of misery? Has he acquainted Dr. Kissinger of Her Majesty's Government's views, and what has been the response from the American Secretary of State?

Mr. Hattersley

It is not for me to interpret the views of the American Administration or the Secretary of State, but I should have thought that it was clear from statements made publicly by Dr. Kissinger that he shares the view which my hon. Friend and I hold, which is not only that the policy of South Africa is morally wrong but that it is impossible to continue in practice. I should have thought that the evidence of that was overwhelming and accepted by all thinking people.

Mr. Churchill

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Anglo-French Puma helicopter is still being sold to South Africa as it was by the pre-1970 Labour Government?

Mr. Hattersley

No, I cannot.

Mr. Younger

When the right hon. Gentleman talks of a risk of violence in South Africa, will he bear in mind that over half of those tragically killed in Soweto were killed not by the police but by other rioters?

Mr. Hattersley

I think there is an interesting philosophical distinction between the occasion of their death, which may have been rioting, and the cause of their death, which seems unequivocally to have been the policies of the South African Government.

Mr. Hooley

Do Her Majesty's Government draw any distinction of policy towards South Africa as distinct from Namibia?

Mr. Hattersley


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