HC Deb 22 February 1984 vol 54 c802
2. Mr. Chope

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will increase the support being given by Her Majesty's embassies in the promotion of trade between the United Kingdom and countries in Southern Africa.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

No, Sir. We are satisfied that the present level of commercial staffing in and promotional support by our posts in Southern Africa is in keeping with our needs and interests. It is subject to continual review.

Mr. Chope

In the light of the welcome rapprochement between the nations in Southern Africa, does my hon. Friend agree that the time is now right for a much higher political profile to be adopted by the British Government in promoting trade with all the countries of Southern Africa, on which so many jobs in this country depend?

Mr. Rifkind

We have never hesitated to emphasise that trade with all the countries of Southern Africa is highly desirable in the interests both of the United Kingdom and of the countries in that region. We shall continue to do all in our power to ensure that British exports to and trade with those countries is at the maximum possible level.

Mr. Nellist

Is the Minister talking about the desirability of trading with South Africa, a country which puts profits so high above regard for human life that last year 17,000 miners were injured and 800 killed? Is he saying that trade with such a country is important to British industry? Will he accept that the last major inquiry, in the late 1970s, into health and safety in South Africa showed that there were 29 factory inspectors for 30,000 factories, and that British investment is an important component in those factories?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that if the United Kingdom traded only with countries which have Governments with which we entirely agree, we should trade with only a few parts of the world. The United Kingdom trades with such countries as the Soviet Union and others in the Warsaw pact, about whose internal policies the hon. Gentleman is no doubt concerned. That has not prevented us trading with them, nor will it prevent us trading with South Africa.

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