HC Deb 13 June 1979 vol 968 cc412-5
2. Mr. Jessel

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the future of Rhodesia.

8. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on Rhodesia.

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir Ian Gilmour)

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has stated in the House, the Government's objective is to build on the changes that have taken place in Rhodesia to achieve a return to legality with the widest possible international acceptance. The Government have therefore embarked on a process of consultation. A senior official is at present in Salisbury, and my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Harlech is currently in Africa consulting the Commonwealth and other African Governments most closely concerned.

Mr. Jessel

Having accepted the report of Lord Boyd that the elections in Rhodesia were free and fair, will the Government, after any necessary consultations, recognise the Government of Bishop Muzorewa? As the purpose of sanctions was to bring about black majority rule, and as we now have black majority rule, is there any point in continuing sanctions?

Sir I. Gilmour

I entirely agree that we now have a Government there based on black majority rule. But we have made it clear that our objective is to restore Rhodesia to legality amid wide international recognition and help to end the war. I am sure that that is the most effective way in which to carry out our responsibilities and to help Rhodesia.

Mr. James Johnson

Will the Minister confirm my view that there is not a single leader in the old Commonwealth or the new Third world Commonwealth, Africa or Asia, black or white, who would support the ending of sanctions against Zimbabwe? Therefore, would the Government be prepared to go to Lusaka and be in a minority of one if we were to end sanctions?

Sir I. Gilmour

I am not prepared to confirm the hon. Gentleman's sweeping assertion about the view of every single head of Government on sanctions. As I said, we are now engaged in the process of important consultations on this matter. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will concede that important developments have taken place. It is inevitable and right that the Government should pay attention to the developments that have taken place, and that is what we are doing.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are many in Zambia who look forward to an early settlement in Rhodesia based on the internal settlement, not only because of the need to import maize from South Africa via Zimbabwe—Rhodesia but also because of increasing concern that Mr. Nkomo's forces inside Zambia are now larger than those of the Zambian Army?

Sir I. Gilmour

I am sure there is a good deal in what my hon. Friend says. Obviously there would be important economic advantages for Zambia if this conflict were concluded and peace made with the present Rhodesian Government. But there are also other important political implications which must be taken into account.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all previous Governments have accepted the importance of the six principles, one of which was that any settlement should have the full-hearted support and consent of all the Rhodesian people? Since the present constitution was submitted not to the blacks but only to the whites, why has the right hon. Gentleman now abandoned that principle?

Sir I. Gilmour

I agree that there is room for differences of opinion about the fifth principle, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees that considerable progress has been made towards satisfying the fifth principle. The hon. Gentleman will probably have read Lord Boyd's report which concluded, in the same way as did the report of the Australian observers, that in the elections the people had expressed their own views in numbers which demonstrated a significant judgment on the constitutional basis of the election itself, and that the result represented the wish of the majority of the electorate.

Mr. Hastings

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the world, including the Government of the United States, is waiting for a British initiative? My right hon. Friend has said that he wants the widest possible recognition. Is not the way to get this to terminate these consultations as soon as possible and to go ahead and recognise without delay, and without waiting for the Commonwealth conference?

Sir I. Gilmour

I am sure that my hon. Friend recognises that there have been several British initiatives. We sent Sir Antony Duff to Salisbury almost immediately. My noble Friend Lord Harlech, as I have already said, is at present visiting Africa. We have sent a senior official to Rhodesia. We have, therefore, made several initiatives. I am not sure that the lead that my hon. Friend is asking for would necessarily be followed at this stage. If it were, so much the better. But we have stated our objective which I should have thought would have been in accordance with the views of my hon. Friend. We are engaged in most delicate consultations and negotiations, and I believe we are proceeding in the right way.

Dr. Owen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Opposition welcome the visit of the noble Lord? Will he confirm that Lord Harlech will be seeing Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, and will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to the House that he will say that he is prepared to use the British Government's diplomatic and other influence to try to bring about a negotiation between Bishop Muzorewa and the leaders of the Patriotic Front? Will he also confirm to the House that he has no intention of affording creeping recognition to Bishop Muzorewa and also that he has no intention of just waiting, cynically, until the Commonwealth conference is over?

Sir I. Gilmour

I am grateful for what the right hon. Gentleman said about the mission of my noble Friend Lord Harlech. We are certainly not proceeding in any cynical way, and we are not proceeding by way of affording creeping recognition to Bishop Muzorewa. In our aim to achieve the greatest possible recognition, we hope that there will be negotiations or anything else which will help a peaceful settlement. I can certainly confirm that. Lord Harlech has authority to meet the leaders of the Patriotic Front. Who exactly he meets will, of course, depend on who is there at the relevant time and place.

Back to
Forward to