HC Deb 18 March 1976 vol 907 cc1539-41
Q3. Mr. Luce

asked the Prime Minister whether he will raise the problems of Southern Africa at the forthcoming meeting of the EEC Heads of State.

The Prime Minister

It is not the practice to publish an agenda for European Council meetings or to specify in detail what subjects will be raised, Sir.

Mr. Luce

As one of his final gestures, will the Prime Minister, in concert with the Community Heads of State, make it absolutely plain now to Mr. Nkomo and to Mr. Smith that if only they will reach agreement at this late hour, Britain, with the support of the West and the Community, will stand ready to give every possible assistance to the Europeans and Africans in Rhodesia to facilitate a peaceful transition to independence?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made this clear on a number of occasions. We want to give whatever assistance is possible to this end, but it must be a realistic settlement capable of sticking. There could have been one 10 years ago. On many occasions Mr. Smith put forward proposals which, if he had not resiled from them, could have led to a peaceful settlement.

The European Council is a relatively new invention—I think, an extremely good and successful one. These matters do not normally come up on the agenda but, as the hon. Gentleman may be aware, it often happens that in what is called the "fringe of conference"—dinners, lunches and late night meetings—we discuss world affairs. Last year the European Council discussed the Helsinki Conference and the problems of Spain and Portugal.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will the Prime Minister urge the EEC to join our embargo on arms for South Africa? Secondly, is he aware that Centurion parts, spares and equipment have been supplied by Aviation (Jersey) Ltd, whose manager this morning told the South African Press that there was no reservation placed on such supplies by Her Majesty's Government?

The Prime Minister

We have already pressed our colleagues in every forum to support the line that we took on arms for South Africa when we came into office in 1964, and again in 1974. We have always pressed for full support for the sanctions policy. It was French oil in the period of President de Gaulle which frustrated the sanctions and which kept the white Rhodesian régime afloat.

With regard to the situation in the Channel Islands, I cannot anticipate any possible criminal proceedings. The responsibility in these matters is that of the local Government there. I understand that their laws are very similar to ours in the matter of sanctions on Rhodesia and the supply of arms to these areas. We must wait to see whether there will be prosecutions in their courts.

Mr. Marten

As the United Kingdom has been enforcing sanctions against Rhodesia and as some of the biggest sanction busters on Rhodesia are in fact our major partners in the Common Market, is it right that we should make this contribution to Mozambique while at the same time the big sanction busters, our partners in the Common Market, are not contributing to Mozambique, because one of the essences of the Common Market is that there should be fair competition?

The Prime Minister

I have referred—not now, but in past years—to the rôle of France in sanctions busting; otherwise, I think that the oil sanction would have been effective. If the hon. Gentleman has any evidence about sanctions busting by any country, no doubt my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary would be very glad to receive it from him. However, on the other issues raised here, I do not think that this is really a matter for the EEC Heads of Government, because giving help to Mozambique was a unanimous decision of the Commonwealth Conference. I have never known the hon. Gentleman—however much he may have been criticised from his own side—to be backward in supporting the Commonwealth and its decisions.