HC Deb 18 March 1981 vol 1 cc275-6
6. Mr. John Carlisle

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will seek to terminate the Gleneagles agreement with a view to renewing sporting links with South Africa.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Blaker)

No, Sir.

Mr. Carlisle

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Gleneagles agreement has become an easy political move from any country wishing to harm South Africa? Is he not concerned that the recent black list of sportsmen drawn up by the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee is a gross infringement of personal liberty? Will he assure the House that the Government will dissociate themselves from any United Nations resolution that may support the existence of that list?

Mr. Blaker

The black list is a different matter from the Gleneagles agreement. I assure my hon. Friend that we could not accept any proposal which obliged the British Government to impose limitations on the freedom of movement of our own citizens.

Mr. Sever

Will the Minister take the opportunity today to reaffirm the Government's belief that apartheid is totally unacceptable to the British people? Will he take the opportunity, in a statement which he could issue today, to advise British sports people invited to South Africa that they should not go, since that is tantamount to accepting apartheid?

Mr. Blaker

We have frequently made our position clear on that. We strongly disapprove of apartheid. On several occasions we have communicated our continued support for the Gleneagles agreement to sporting organisations.

Mr. Wall

What positive action does my hon. Friend propose to take to prevent blackmail of individual sportsmen, as appears to be proposed by various neo-Marxist organisations?

Mr. Blaker

There are already signs that some countries are having second thoughts about the blackmail involved in such black lists. I cite the example of the statement by the four West Indian Governments recently made in connection with cricket. We cannot dictate to other countries whom they will admit into their territory, but we insist that our sporting organisations should have the right to choose their own teams. We insist that we cannot be obliged to dictate to our sportsmen where and when they go.

Mr. Denzil Davies

Does the Minister agree with the statement made last night by the President of Nigeria to the effect that we should reduce our ties, especially our economic ties, with South Africa? Is it not a fact that the odious policies of the South African Government not only create instability in Southern Africa but threaten both the commercial and security interests of Western democracies?

Mr. Blaker

As we have frequently made clear, we draw a distinction between economic ties on the one hand and sporting ties on the other. In connection with sporting ties, there is no doubt that the actions taken in the past have led to increased integration in South Africa. In relation to economic ties with South Africa, I have nothing to add to what has already been said many times by the Government on that subject.