HC Deb 09 March 1976 vol 907 cc244-7
Q4. Mr. Rifkind

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to meet the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Prime Minister

I have met the Secretary-General on a number of occasions. I look forward to meeting him in the future whenever this will be beneficial to British and world interests, Sir.

Mr. Rifkind

If the Prime Minister is not to meet the Secretary-General in the near future, will he now instruct our Ambassador to the United Nations to raise in the Security Council the question of the continued aggression of the Soviet Union and of Cuba in the internal affairs of Angola, and the threat to extend that aggression to other parts of Africa? Will the Prime Minister accept that we must use all diplomatic means at our disposal to put the Soviet Union in the dock and to brand Mr. Brezhnev as the most blatant imperialist in Africa since Cecil Rhodes?

The Prime Minister

I do not want to go back into history. As I have said previously, one of the big problems in Africa is the competing imperialism of the Russians and Chinese, which has, I think, had serious effects in parts of Africa. We are in the closest touch with our allies in these matters and we shall lose no opportunity of dealing with them and pressing them where it is most important. If the answer is that this can be best done in the United Nations, we shall not hesitate to do so.

Mr. Wellbeloved

When my right hon. Friend meets Dr. Waldheim, will he raise with him the activities of South African agents in relation to the internal affairs of democratic countries, including Britain? Has my right hon. Friend received any evidence about the involvement of South African agents in the framing of leading Liberal Party members?

The Prime Minister

I have no doubt at all that there is strong South African participation in recent activities relating to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party, based on massive reserves of business money and private agents of various kinds and various qualities. However, I have seen no evidence at all that the South African Government or its agencies or agents have any connection with these unsavoury activities.

Mr. Luce

Will the Prime Minister say whether he finds it totally unacceptable, as far as Britain and the West is concerned, that Russia should preach detente at Helsinki and practise precisely the opposite in Southern Africa? If he agrees with that, what is he doing to raise the matter at the United Nations and to seek the removal of Soviet forces from Southern Africa?

The Prime Minister

I have already answered an earlier question about Russia and Cuba, and I also introduced the question of Chinese participation in various parts of Africa. I said that if and when we believe that the right approach is by raising the matter or helping others to raise it in the United Nations we shall certainly do so. We do not believe that that moment has come. Our views will be made very clear to the Soviet Government before and during Mr. Gromyko's visit.

Mr. Hooley

When my right hon. Friend meets the Secretary-General, will he make it clear that the United Kingdom is totally opposed to racialism in Southern Africa, whether it is practised in Rhodesia, Namibia or South Africa itself? Will he indicate how the British Government propose to take the initiative within the United Nations to put an end to that situation?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. We have made this clear on a number of occasions with regard to all these coun- tries, and the United Nations went on record, on our initiative, in the matter of sanctions against racialism in Rhodesia as long ago as the end of 1965.

Mr. Lane

Is not the continual inactivity of the Government in the face of the worsening situation in Rhodesia reminiscent of their inactivity over Cyprus two years ago? If the Government will not take an early initiative at the United Nations, what action will they take to make sure that Rhodesia is primarily a British responsibility?

The Prime Minister

There was no inactivity over Cyprus two years ago. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did not get a day's summer holiday at all that year and was extremely active in those matters. Full reports were given to the House. Some in the House may support one side in Cyprus; some may support another. We were concerned to maintain peace and to get an honourable settlement in Cyprus, as we still are.

With regard to Rhodesia, I am glad to see that some Opposition Members, after the line that they took 10 years ago and have taken since, now take the view that we were right to reject the UDI. They divided and split three ways about sanctions at that time. However, my right hon. and hon. Friends who are Ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have made it clear that we did not interpret the action that we then took as meaning that we had to intervene on the side of the white minority against the Rhodesian majority.

Mr. Pardoe

The Prime Minister is obviously aware that he has made an extremely serious and important statement in answer to an earlier question about South African security forces. In view of the very serious nature of that suggestion—that South African security forces, without the apparent recognition of the South African Government, are involved with affairs in this country to do with politicians, perhaps of all parties—what action does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take?

The Prime Minister

I did not say "security forces"; I said there is no evidence of South African Government participation in this matter. I referred to some very strong and heavily financed private masterminding of certain political operations. Anyone in the House who is concerned with democracy will feel revolted by the fact that we have to face this sort of thing in this country, so far as leaders of any party or all parties are concerned. I have made clear where I believe the responsibility to lie here, but I do not believe I can find any evidence about the involvement of the South African Government.

With regard to the South African Government, I answered a Question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), by a Written Answer, which the hon. Gentleman may not have seen, because he has been very busy of late. That answer said that in respect of questions about South African agency participation in relation to certain African organisations which have offices here, police inquiries are continuing, and if anything comes out of them requiring action, we shall take whatever action is appropriate.

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