HC Deb 06 December 1977 vol 940 cc1121-3
Q3. Mr. Temple-Morris

asked the Prime Minister if he will dismiss the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Mr. Foot

I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), on 24th November.

Mr. Temple-Morris

On the subject of Rhodesia, is the Lord President aware that the Foreign Secretary is in danger of alienating not only Mr. Smith but also the Patriotic Front, which yesterday described the Foreign Secretary, somewhat alarmingly, as both Machiavellian and bloodthirsty? Does he agree that the most encouraging signs in this dreadful crisis are the efforts being made within Rhodesia to effect an internal settlement?

Mr. Foot

I do not accept any of the strictures that the hon. Gentleman, if he is purveying—or purporting to purvey—the views of others, is seeking to cast on my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I believe that the proposals that he has put forward are still being considered by all the parties concerned. Certainly we are not withdrawing those proposals, and I think that while they are there it would be very unwise for hon. Members to comment upon them in the manner in which the hon. Gentleman has done.

Mr. Dalyell

Can the Lord President shed any light on a suggestion made by the Foreign Secretary in a speech to Scotland, in Edinburgh, on Friday, 25th November, that somehow or other a Scottish Assembly would be consulted in an institutional way on British policy towards the European Common Market?

Mr. Foot

I know that my hon. Friend studies these matters and follows them with the greatest care. We have had discussions in the House already on that aspect of the Scotland Bill. There are still to be discussed clauses in the Bill which will refer to this matter, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will raise the matter then.

Mr. Tapsell

While the future of the Foreign Secretary is under discussion, has the Leader of the House drawn the attention of the Prime Minister to this country's treaty obligation to its EEC partners to modify our exchange control regulations by the end of this year to ensure that our firms are free to undertake direct investment in Community countries, and are these obligations going to be honoured?

Mr. Foot

Since the hon. Gentleman's premise is false, the rest of his question does not really arise. But there is plenty of time to discuss that whole question. Many months lie ahead before decisions have to be made upon it.

Mr. Tapsell

Three weeks.

Mr. Grocott

Is it not becoming increasingly and tragically obvious that the people of Zimbabwe will achieve their freedom only by fighting for it? Is it not important, therefore, that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary should have consultations to see how we might best financially and materially assist the liberation movements which are fighting for their freedom?

Mr. Foot

The British Government have had consultations with all the parties concerned, both in Zimbabwe and outside. We still hope for, and are trying to secure, a peaceful solution in the interests of all the peoples in the whole of Southern Africa.

Mr. John Davies

I welcome the reproof of the Leader of the House to the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tam-worth (Mr. Grocott) for his really dangerous assertion that this matter can be settled only by warfare, but may I return to the answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris)? Can he assure the House that if the Foreign Secretary sees Mr. Nkomo he will press upon him the need to take an active part in the discussions, in which Muzorewa, Sithole and Chirau have all now joined, with the Rhodesian Front Government, with a view to a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia?

Mr. Foot

Since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs took the initiative with all the different parties in seeking to open up the discussions that could lead to that settlement, I do not think that it is necessary for me to give him that incitement. Of course, in his discussions with all parties, he is seeking to guide them towards a peaceful solution.