HC Deb 11 July 1979 vol 970 cc444-7
2. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement about Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

3. Mr. Myles

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he intends to make a visit to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

5. Mrs. Knight

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will now afford recognition to the new State of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia; and if he will make a statement.

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir Ian Gilmour)

I have nothing to add to the statement that I made yesterday. I have at present no plans to visit Rhodesia.

Mr. Whitehead

Has the Lord Privy Seal had an opportunity to heed Lord Carver's words in another place yesterday, that Bishop Muzorewa was shielding himself from the African sun with a white parasol? If the Government profess major admiration for the bishop and his Administration, should not they be helping him by insisting on the removal of the white parasol in the form of Mr. Ian Smith?

Sir I. Gilmour

With all respect to the hon. Gentleman, who I know takes a great interest in the matter, that was a bit contrived. I have not yet seen Lord Carver's remarks. I shall read them. I made our position clear yesterday. We look forward to having most useful talks with Bishop Muzorewa later in the week.

Mr. Myles

In seeking the widest possible international support for bringing Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to legal independence, will my right hon. Friend ensure that he has regard for the stability of the Government in that country so that everyone may continue in a civilised existence?

Sir I. Gilmour

I entirely agree with both prongs—if that is the right word—of my hon. Friend's question. The two things are equally important. It is vital that there should be wide international acceptance and that the stability and continuity of the Government should be preserved.

Mrs. Knight

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, first, that all the conditions laid down on HMS " Tiger " for a return to legality have now been met and, secondly, that when Bishop Muzorewa's Government came to power thousands of black Rhodesians voted and refused to be intimidated by terrorist threats? Does he appreciate that delay in recognition not only amounts to moving the tape while the race is still on but seriously weakens the opportunity for the Muzorewa Government to succeed in peace and gives a strong push to the power of the terrorists?

Sir I. Gilmour

I confess that I no longer have in my head exactly what was decided on HMS " Tiger," but I accept what my hon. Friend has said. Of course I follow the force of my hon. Friend's argument, but I am sure she will concede that it is deeply in the interests not only of this country—we should not neglect the interests of this country—but of the people about whom my hon. Friend is concerned who live in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia that a settlement should be as widely accepted as possible and that it should take place in a context that brings forward the likelihood of an end to the war. Surely that is in the interests of the people now living in Rhodesia.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

When the Lord Privy Seal meets the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia at the weekend, will he inquire why the people of that country are not allowed to buy a copy of the bishop's book because it was banned by the previous Government?

Sir I. Gilmour

That may or may not be an interesting question. I do not guarantee to answer it, because it is arguable that I may have more important questions to deal with.

Mr. Murphy

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, although consultations with other nations are extremely important, we, as the colonial Power, have the right to lead in these matters, that many other nations are waiting for that leadership and that this is the prime concern of Her Majesty's Government?

Sir I. Gilmour

What my hon Friend says is true. That is why I said in my statement yesterday that when our consultations have been completed we shall make proposals designed to bring Rhodesia to legal independence on a basis which we believe to be acceptable to the international community. I believe that it should be done based on British proposals, and that will be done.

Mr. Ioan Evans

As we had a thin statement yesterday, although there was a thick statement from the Prime Minister in Australia, may we have clarification, before we have a debate on Rhodesia, of the Government's attitude to maintaining sanctions after November? As North Sea oil will be exported to South Africa, is there any guarantee that that will not get through to Rhodesia while sanctions are maintained?

Sir I. Gilmour

The position with regard to sanctions was made clear by the answers of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the House on 3 July. The second part of the hon. Gentleman's question is quite untrue. There is no question of North Sea oil going anywhere near South Africa.

Mr. Temple-Morris

I appreciate the importance of the talks that are at present proceeding, but may I ask my right hon. Friend to avoid, at all costs, any undue delay or impression of indecision in this matter which will make it far more difficult to deal with Black Africa in particular and all parties generally? Also, does my right hon. Friend acknowledge the danger if he were to delay, because he runs the risk of falling into a policy indistinguishable from that of the previous Government?

Sir I. Gilmour

Of course we shall not delay unduly. Equally, as my hon. Friend suggested yesterday, we shall not proceed with undue haste. This is a matter of the utmost gravity which concerns the lives of a great many people. It is only right that we should proceed through consultation with our allies and others concerned and, indeed, with Bishop Muzorewa. That is what we are doing.

Mr. Shore

I should like to ask the Lord Privy Seal one question arising from an interesting passage in the speech of his right hon. Friend, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, yesterday. The noble Lord refers there to making proposals for Rhodesia comparable with the terms on which we have granted independence to other countries in the Commonwealth."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 10 July 1979; Vol. 401, c. 763.] What, in the Government's view, was the essence of the terms that were used on those earlier occasions?

Sir I. Gilmour

Basically, that we should set up an independent Government enjoying majority democratic support.