HC Deb 10 March 1976 vol 907 cc396-401
4. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement about Lord Greenhill's discussions in Rhodesia.

5. Miss Joan Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the present situation in Southern Rhodesia.

8. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Lord Greenhill's visit to Rhodesia.

10. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a further statement about Rhodesia.

13. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is proposed following the discussions between Lord Greenhill and the illegal régime in Rhodesia; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. James Callaghan

Shortly after Lord Greenhill's return to this country a meeting was held between Mr. Smith and Mr. Nkomo. I have received some account of what took place, and I am informed that another meeting has been arranged. Her Majesty's Government welcome these talks but are not involved in them.

The decision by Mozambique to close her borders with Rhodesia and apply sanctions increases the isolation of the Smith régime and is a further indication, to which he should pay full attention, that there will be no peaceful progress for the people of Rhodesia until the legitimate political aspirations of the African majority in Rhodesia have been met.

Guerrilla forces are training on Rhodesia's borders, and my understanding is that whilst Rhodesia's neighbours would still prefer a peaceful solution they fear that continued procrastination by Mr. Smith will make an armed struggle inevitable. I am maintaining continuous contact with Rhodesia's neighbouring States and shall as far as possible co-ordinate action with them. If an opportunity can be created which will achieve Britain's long-standing policy towards Rhodesia and secure majority rule by peaceful means, I shall be ready to take it.

Mr. Whitehead

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. I hope that the gravity of it will be appreciated in Salisbury. Is my right hon. Friend aware that, according to the Rhodesia Herald today, Mr. Smith has once again seen fit to deny that he has made fresh proposals of any kind to Mr. Nkomo? Therefore, there seems to be no point in trying to match every twist and turn of the Smith régime. Should not the Government, rather than sending out further emissaries, simply hold themselves ready to guarantee and, if necessary, police any peaceful transfer of power under majority rule conditions at such time as that can be achieved?

Mr. Callaghan

I must agree, with regret, with what my hon. Friend said about the twists and turns of the Rhodesian régime's position. I regret to say that I have not been informed of what appeared in the Rhodesia Herald today. However, our best course is to stand by the policy that we have advocated. It is well known in Africa, and is generally accepted by the Foreign Ministers—and their leaders—with whom I have had opportunities of discussion recently. That is the best way in which we should pursue our interests and those of the Rhodesian people.

Mr. Maudling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, first, that Conservative Members urge him to do all he possibly can in every way to bring about a settlement between Mr. Smith and Mr. Nkomo? Secondly, is he aware that so long as the Mozambique Government are conniving at, if not fermenting, terrorism and bloodshed across the frontier with Rhodesia, we should regard any aid to that country as an outrage?

Mr. Callaghan

I shall continue to do what I can to promote a settlement on the basis of well-known British policy. I reject entirely what the right hon. Gentleman said about aid to Mozambique. The United Nations has called for assistance to that country and every Commonwealth country is joining in. If the Conservative Opposition want to stand out against that, let them say so.

Mr. Maudling

The Foreign Secretary has said that he rejects all that I said. Does he reject my statement that the Mozambique Government are conniving at or fermenting this terrorism?

Mr. Callaghan

The major part of the right hon. Gentleman's question was directed to aid to Mozambique. The right hon. Gentleman made that conditional upon certain events taking place. I have already said in my main answer that it is the desire of the four Presidents that there should be a peaceful settlement. If the guerrillas, who are now training on the various borders around Rhodesia, are expelled from one country, they will go to another. It is about time the right hon. Gentleman faced the inevitability of this, turned his metaphorical guns on Mr. Smith and told him to come to terms. That is the way to save the Rhodesian Europeans.

Mr. Stokes

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Points of order will be taken after Question Time.

Miss Lestor

I formally welcome my right hon. Friend's statement that we are totally on the side of democracy in Southern Rhodesia. Is he considering the possibility of visiting President Nyerere in the near future, in order to stress the importance of contact with the four Presidents? What consideration is being given to the plight of Zambia, which has probably suffered more than any other nation in respect of UDI and sanctions? Are any discussions likely to take place on what can be done about Zambia?

Mr. Callaghan

It is of vital importance for the future of this country that as far as possible we should co-ordinate our policies with the four Presidents. I hope that the Conservative Party believes that that is right. Co-ordinating our policy means giving aid where aid is required. That is in our total interest. If I thought it was necessary, in furtherance of that co-ordination, to visit President Nyerere, I should be happy to do so. I believe that a later Question has been tabled on Zambia. However, yesterday I had the good fortune to have a discussion with the Foreign Minister of Zambia on this matter.

Mr. Canavan

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the recent Daily Record report that the rebel Rhodesian régime is in the process of trying to recruit Scots mercenaries, with the aid of information about ex-Service men's records and private addresses? Does my right hon. Friend realise that that is causing grave public concern, particularly in view of the racialist reference on the application form and because of the possibility of collaboration between the Rhodesian and South African authorities?

Mr. Callaghan

I have seen some reports to that effect. If there are people in this country who are recruiting mercenaries, I understand that they render themselves liable to prosecution under the sanctions legislation. I hope that they will take due note of that. The position is very different from that which has obtained in Angola.

Mr. David Steel

In view of some rather wild utterances about a possible British military involvement in Rhodesia. will the Foreign Secretary confirm that in his view the only circumstances in which that could be right would be if there were, first, a return to legality and an end to the state of rebellion and, secondly, if the purpose of a British military presence was to secure conditions in which a swift and orderly transfer of rule to the majority could take place?

Mr. Callaghan

I do not know the authority for any of those suggestions, but there is certainly no intention on our part to launch such a campaign. The hon. Gentleman has stated conditions under which we would need to look seriously at that proposition.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Does my right hon. Friend realise that his stand will have the full support of Labour Members? Does he further realise that the illegal régime in Rhodesia has been condemned not only by the Organisation of African Unity but by the whole Commonwealth and the United Nations? If there is a blood bath in Rhodesia, does he realise that the responsibility will be partly shared by those in this country who have lent their support to the illegal régime in Rhodesia?

Mr. Callaghan

I regret what the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), an Opposition spokesman on this matter, said this afternoon. I believe that his remarks will give great encouragement to the Smith régime in its persistent defiance of the United Nations and the Commonwealth as a whole. What is more, the right hon. Gentleman's statements will do long-term damage to the position of the Europeans in Rhodesia.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Surely the right hon. Gentleman will take into consideration the fact that the whole world wishes to avoid violence as much as possible at this stage. To pay £10 million of British taxpayers' money to a régime which encourages violence is like giving money to the IRA. If money has to be given to Mozambique, will the right hon. Gentleman consider paying some money to get the 50,000 people, black, white and coloured, who wish to seek asylum in Portugal back to that country rather than have them suffer under the tyranny of President Machel?

Mr. Callaghan

The right hon. Gentleman is doing the peaceful settlement in Rhodesia no good by this display of latter-day Blimpism. It is about time some Opposition Members faced up to the responsibility of this situation. What is required for a peaceful transition to African majority rule is a simple statement by Mr. Smith to the effect that all this can eventuate. [Interruption.] If any hon. Member thinks that I am destroying it, I must say that he has a very twisted sense of history.