HC Deb 15 June 1977 vol 933 cc370-2
11. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will list his official engagements for 15th June.

Dr. Owen

This morning I attended a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. I had meetings with the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Fiji, and with Mr. Joshua Nkomo. I expect to attend a further meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government this afternoon and the Prime Minister's reception this evening.

Mr. Janner

When my right hon. Friend meets the Commonwealth Heads of Government later today, will he express to them this House's appreciation of their unanimous and forthright condemnation of the Amin régime in Uganda? Will he accept the appreciation of the House for the part that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and he took in encouraging the Heads of Government to reach that decision? Does he not feel that now is the appropriate time for us to cease trading with Uganda, both in respect of the Stansted whisky run and all other trade with this thoroughly racist and atrocious régime?

Dr. Owen

The world can be in no doubt about our view of President Amin's régime. It is a source of great satisfaction to us all that many Commonwealth leaders have taken such a firm stand on this issue. I am glad that my hon. and learned Friend accepts that the Government's decision to do everything possible to make sure that the Commonwealth came together in London and was able to discuss this has been justified. However, we have no quarrel with the people of Uganda, and it would be a very serious step to attempt to embark on a policy of trade sanctions. [Interruption.] I can assure hon. Members that the situation in Uganda is such that it is worth considering measures, even if we may find them of a very serious nature. I recognise the concern of the House on the question of the Stansted flights, and I am examining the matter.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

In view of the recognition of the new régime in the Seychelles, do the British Government now have a high commissioner in the Seychelles? Has anybody from the Seychelles played a part in the Commonwealth Conference, other than Mr. Mancham, who is deposed?

Dr. Owen

We have had a High Commission in the Seychelles and have had one throughout this period. No one from the Seychelles has taken part in the Heads of Government meeting. It would have been open to the new President to nominate somebody. When the matter was discussed in the opening stages of the conference, when the issue was not clear and President Mancham asked to speak to the conference, it was decided that the matter was best dealt with by discussions outside the conference. The Seychelles has not been formally represented, although the position has been kept for it and its name-plate has been left open.

Mr. Ron Thomas

Will my right hon. Friend spare a little time today to take some effective measures against the sanction-busting by the major oil companies in supplying oil to the illegal régime in Rhodesia, especially in regard to British Petroleum and Shell and British companies which are supplying oil through their intermediaries and subsidiaries in Southern Africa?

Dr. Owen

As my hon. Friend knows, I established an inquiry, under the powers and provisions provided for this purpose, to look into the allegations that have been made and to see whether there is any evidence on which the Director of Public Prosecutions would then have to decide whether the evidence was such that action could be taken.

There is no doubt that oil has entered Rhodesia despite the United Nations resolutions, and it is coming through South Africa. The problem is whether it is coming from the subsidiaries of major international companies and whether, under our own national law, we can enforce a control of the subsidiaries of such companies. But these are issues that Mr. Bingham will be looking into in his inquiry.

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