HC Deb 19 May 1976 vol 911 cc1396-8
10. Miss Joan Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance of a defensive nature is being given to Zambia in order to protect her territorial integrity against possible attacks from Southern Rhodesia.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Edward Rowlands)

The Government are not providing assistance for this purpose. But we are in continual close touch with the Zambian Government about matters relating to Rhodesia and its effects on Zambia.

Miss Lestor

Bearing in mind that Ian Smith has made it perfectly clear that he intends to pursue the freedom fighters across the Zambian border, does not the Minister agree that it is morally right for us to supply arms to Zambia, either as aid or on favourable terms, in order to stand up morally on this issue and to avoid the Communist countries supplying the arms, as otherwise they will do? If this happens, we shall be faced with the criticism of allowing Communist influence to dominate.

Mr. Rowlands

We issue export licences to Zambia on a regular basis, and manufacturers are free to sell arms, subject to export licences.

Mr. David Steel

Does any understanding exist between the two Governments about the British Government giving help to Zambia in the event of an incursion over her borders from the south?

Mr. Rowlands

We have no military guarantees between ourselves and Zambia, but we are keeping the situation under review.

Mr. Spearing

Does the Minister remember that some time ago, when Zambia helped us—at some cost to herself—with the sanctions policy by closing her trading links with the South, the British Government provided some assistance to that country? Would the Government investigate whether there has been any question from the Zambian Government about further assistance?

Mr. Rowlands

We have not received any requests for specific military aid.

Sir John Rodgers

What assistance of a military nature is being given to the Rhodesians in order to protect them from terrorist incursions from Zambia and Mozambique?

Mr. Rowlands

We have no intention of giving any military assistance to an illegal regime.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Ignoring the element of fantasy in both the question and the answer, will the Government accept that the people of Britain, certainly in my constituency, are not prepared to see the people of Rhodesia sold down the river to terrorism?

Mr. Rowlands

The Government are not prepared to see the vast majority of Rhodesian citizens, black and white, sold down the river to any minority regime with the support of hon. Members opposite.

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