HC Deb 22 July 1986 vol 102 cc204-10 4.57 pm
Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the application of the Nassau Accord in relation to sanctions against South Africa. The accord was agreed in October 1985 and it had three main areas of action. First, there was the immediate application of limited sanctions—in fact, to coin the Prime Minister's words when she reported to the House, teeny-weeny sanctions.

The second area of action was that an Eminent Persons Group of seven should be set up whose terms of reference were clearly laid down in the accord. They were charged with the responsibility of bringing back to the Commonwealth Heads of State conference a full report within six months. The timetable was subsequently altered to about nine months.

I am sure that all hon. Members are au fait with the contents of the Eminent Persons Group's report. I want to quote the penultimate paragraph of the conclusions of that report, which gives the House an overwhelming reason for supporting the Bill. It says: The question in front of Heads of Government is in our view clear. It is not whether such measures will compel change; it is already the case that their absence and Pretoria's belief that they need not be feared, defers change. Is the Commonwealth to stand by and allow the cycle of violence to spiral? Or will it take concerted action of an effective kind? Such action may offer the last opportunity to avert what could be the worse bloodbath since the Second World War. Thirdly, the accord outlined a further eight points which should be taken into account if adequate progress had not been made in nine months. Those eight points should be spelt out because that, no more and no less, is what I am asking the House to endorse this afternoon and to put into formal legislation. They are: a ban on air links with South Africa; a ban on new investment or reinvestment of profits earned in South Africa; a ban on the import of agricultural products from South Africa; the termination of double taxation agreements with South Africa; the termination of all Government assistance to investment in and trade with, South Africa; a ban on all Government procurement in South Africa; a ban on Government contracts with majority-owned South African companies, and, last but by no means least, a ban on the promotion of tourism to South Africa.

Those were the eight points that were set out in the Nassau accord. Many of us believe that they are minimal and want full mandatory economic sanctions to be applied to South Africa, and I believe that the House must make a decision this afternoon in the light of the developing situation in South Africa.

As we all know, the situation in South Africa is deteriorating daily. Calls for the application of sanctions as a means of ensuring that the Pretoria regime gets round the negotiating table with the true leaders of the people of South Africa are almost universal. The South African Council of Churches, the trade union movement, Bishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and, as we reported last week in the South Africa debate, some business men, are now calling for sanctions to be applied. Outside South Africa, many nations are asking for action to be taken. The Synod of the Church of England, Archbishop Runcie, and the United States Congress have called for sanctions against South Africa, and during the past two or three days two white members of the Commonwealth, including the Canadian all-party committee on human rights, have asked for broad economic sanctions to be applied from 30 September 1986. If agreement is not arrived at by the Commonwealth heads of Government, there are calls for Canada to go it alone.

The Australian Prime Minister, in a special appeal to the British Prime Minister, said: I can only express the hope that the developing attitudes around the world will impress themselves upon those who have to make the decisions in London when we meet there in a very short time … and I hope these events are becoming clear to the British Prime Minister. The most significant movement over the past few days has come from British industry. It was reported in the press on Sunday, and was followed up yesterday, that the British Industry Committee on South Africa, which includes 50 of the largest British companies operating in South Africa, has changed its position and is now calling for limited sanctions. Why has it done this?

Its change of position has been caused by the slogan that is going the rounds in Africa and elsewere, "Buy British Last". That has caused the change in attitude in British business.

The options before the House are now clear. Do we support the vast majority of the Commonwealth, the overwhelming majority of the South African people, all the front-line states, the Church inside and outside South Africa, and, latterly, many parts of the business community? Or do we reject this near universal concensus in slavish adherence to the British Prime Minister, whose credibility sinks daily at home and abroad in that she says that sanctions will hurt the blacks?

For 100 years the blacks in South Africa have been struggling to be free. Over the past 50 years, since the Nationalist Government was formed, apartheid has been written into the constitution. In rural areas, the blacks have one of the highest infant mortality rates, at 500 per 1,000, of any country with a comparable GDP. South Africa is one of the worst countries in the world in that respect. Spending on education is balanced to one in favour of the whites. There is one doctor for every 300 whites, but only one doctor for every 12,000 blacks.

The blacks in South Africa have been suffering for years and they are calling for help. The Government have not heeded that call. The Prime Minister turned her back on the Brandt report, and her conduct towards the Third world in aid has been nothing less than deplorable. It is unacceptable for the Prime Minister to lecture us about the suffering of the South African people and claim that sanctions will cost Britain jobs.

The Prime Minister's claims have a hollow ring, both inside and outside the House, as there are 4 million people unemployed in this country and there are even some doubts about how the unemployment figures are calculated. The Tory Benches must take note of the major companies in the United Kingdom, which, in response to the slogan "Buy British Last" have said that not imposing sanctions could be extremely costly for the United Kingdom, if not in the short term, certainly in the long term—[Interruption.] I am trying to make myself heard.

The House has a special responsibility in the matter. In 1909 it passed the constitution Act for the Union of South Africa. This is possibly the only constitution based on racism, as racism is inherent in the Act. There was some opposition to the Act, but we have a responsibility now not to drag our heels on this issue. We must take the lead, bearing in mind that that constitution derived from this House of Commons and that the racist regime of apartheid was built into that constitution.

An interesting letter appeared in The Times on 27 July 1909. It said: We of European birth or descent are, by virtue of our civilisation, undoubtedly dominant; we shall, if we deserve it, remain dominant, but only in so far as we recognise and perform the duties which our privileged position entails. Our dominance must be dominance of merit in a free country, where career is open to talent and to civilised men,"— this may refer to Conservative Members— with no discrimination upon such unsound, unstable grounds of race or colour. The point of that letter to The Times, written nearly 100 years ago, is relevant to the House in 1986. Discussions are necessary. Will this House, in 1986, have integrity, humanity and compassion and act in concert with the Commonwealth and approve my Bill this afternoon? The Bill will signal to South Africa and to the Commonwealth that we mean business and that we will attack the apartheid regime.

5.7 pm

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

In this House we know how frequently private Members' Bills are used as publicity stunts. Because we understand that, we do not normally wish to waste too much time on them. Indeed, we often let them pass on the nod. This practice is not so generally understood outside the House.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) is a member of the national executive committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. His arguments are familiar to us and I do not need to spend time on them now. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) was heard in relative silence. We have freedom of speech in this place.

Mr. Onslow

The hon. Gentleman cannot persuade me that if his Bill is allowed an unopposed passage today it will not be trumpeted around the world by the Anti-Apartheid Movement as a major setback for the Government and their policies. It becomes all the more obvious that that would be so when we remember, as the hon. Gentleman did not remind us, that the Foreign Secretary sets off today on the second stage of his South African mission.

We all know the case against apartheid, and we are united in this House and elsewhere in the country in our opposition to that abhorrent system. At the same time, we should also be united in wishing the Foreign Secretary success in achieving the objectives that he has set. If his mission is ultimately unsuccessful—as I hope it will not be—we know that then will be the time to consider with our partners in the European Community and in the Commonwealth, and with our friends in the West, what measures should be taken.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made that clear time and again. In the meantime, it does no one any good to join the Leader of the Opposition— who is such a great boy for the bombastic cliché—in talking about using sanctions to bring Botha to heel. Whatever the armchair guerrillas may say, the imposition of sanctions is not an end in itself. Our end and our aim must be a peaceful settlement in South Africa, not the promotion of violence and death.

The House today should give its full support, therefore, to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary in his very difficult task. We must not weaken his hand by suggesting that we believe that he can intimidate or blackmail Pretoria into submission. We should reject this thoroughly mischievous and unhelpful measure.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and Nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business):-

The House divided: Ayes 196, Noes 243.

Division No. 273] [5.10 pm
Alton, David Eadie, Alex
Anderson, Donald Eastham, Ken
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Ashdown, Paddy Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Ewing, Harry
Ashton, Joe Fatchett, Derek
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Faulds, Andrew
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Barnett, Guy Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Barron, Kevin Fisher, Mark
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Flannery, Martin
Beith, A. J. Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bell, Stuart Forrester, John
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Foster, Derek
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Foulkes, George
Bidwell, Sydney Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Blair, Anthony Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Freud, Clement
Boyes, Roland Garrett, W. E.
Bray, Dr Jeremy George, Bruce
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Godman, Dr Norman
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Golding, Mrs Llin
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Gould, Bryan
Buchan, Norman Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Caborn, Richard Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Hardy, Peter
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Harman, Ms Harriet
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Carter-Jones, Lewis Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Cartwright, John Heffer, Eric S.
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Clarke, Thomas Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Clay, Robert Home Robertson, John
Clelland, David Gordon Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cohen, Harry Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Janner, Hon Greville
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) John, Brynmor
Corbett, Robin Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Craigen, J. M. Kennedy, Charles
Crowther, Stan Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kirkwood, Archy
Cunningham, Dr John Lambie, David
Dalyell, Tam Lamond, James
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Leadbitter, Ted
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Leighton, Ronald
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Deakins, Eric Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dewar, Donald Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dixon, Donald Loyden, Edward
Dobson, Frank McCartney, Hugh
Dormand, Jack McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Douglas, Dick McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dubs, Alfred McKelvey, William
Duffy, A. E. P. MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. McTaggart, Robert
McWilliam, John Rooker, J. W.
Madden, Max Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Mallon, Seamus Rowlands, Ted
Marek, Dr John Ryman, John
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sedgemore, Brian
Martin, Michael Sheerman, Barry
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Shields, Mrs Elizabeth
Maynard, Miss Joan Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Meacher, Michael Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Meadowcroft, Michael Short, Mrs H.(W'hampt'n NE)
Michie, William Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Mikardo, Ian Skinner, Dennis
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Snape, Peter
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Nellist, David Stott, Roger
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Strang, Gavin
O'Brien, William Straw, Jack
O'Neill, Martin Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Park, George Torney, Tom
Parry, Robert Wainwright, R.
Patchett, Terry Wallace, James
Pavitt, Laurie Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, Peter Wareing, Robert
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Weetch, Ken
Radice, Giles Welsh, Michael
Randall, Stuart Wigley, Dafydd
Raynsford, Nick Williams, Rt Hon A.
Redmond, Martin Wilson, Gordon
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Winnick, David
Richardson, Ms Jo Wrigglesworth, Ian
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Robertson, George Tellers for the Ayes:
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) Mr. Jeremy Corbyn and
Rogers, Allan Mr. Tony Banks.
Ancram, Michael Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Aspinwall, Jack Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Clegg, Sir Walter
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Coombs, Simon
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Cope, John
Batiste, Spencer Corrie, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Couchman, James
Bendall, Vivian Cranborne, Viscount
Benyon, William Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bevan, David Gilroy Dickens, Geoffrey
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dicks, Terry
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Dorrell, Stephen
Blackburn, John Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Dover, Den
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Bottomley, Peter Dunn, Robert
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Durant, Tony
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Evennett, David
Bright, Graham Eyre, Sir Reginald
Brinton, Tim Fairbairn, Nicholas
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Farr, Sir John
Browne, John Favell, Anthony
Bruinvels, Peter Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bryan, Sir Paul Fletcher, Alexander
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Fookes, Miss Janet
Buck, Sir Antony Forman, Nigel
Budgen, Nick Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burt, Alistair Forth, Eric
Butcher, John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Fox, Sir Marcus
Butterfill, John Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Freeman, Roger
Cash, William Fry, Peter
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Gale, Roger
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Chope, Christopher Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Churchill, W. S. Garel-Jones, Tristan
Glyn, Dr Alan Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Gorst, John Key, Robert
Gower, Sir Raymond King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Grant, Sir Anthony Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Greenway, Harry Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Lang, Ian
Grist, Ian Latham, Michael
Ground, Patrick Lawler, Geoffrey
Grylls, Michael Lawrence, Ivan
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Lee, John (Pendle)
Hannam, John Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Hargreaves, Kenneth Lester, Jim
Harris, David Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Haselhurst, Alan Lightbown, David
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Lilley, Peter
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Hawksley, Warren MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Hayes, J. MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney Maclean, David John
Hayward, Robert McLoughlin, Patrick
Heddle, John McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Henderson, Barry McQuarrie, Albert
Hickmet, Richard Major, John
Hill, James Malone, Gerald
Hirst, Michael Marland, Paul
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Marlow, Antony
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Holt, Richard Mates, Michael
Hordern, Sir Peter Mather, Carol
Howard, Michael Maude, Hon Francis
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hunter, Andrew Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Monro, Sir Hector
Irving, Charles Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Jackson, Robert Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Mudd, David
Jessel, Toby Murphy, Christopher
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Neale, Gerrard
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Neubert, Michael
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Nicholls, Patrick
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Onslow, Cranley
Oppenheim, Phillip Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Osborn, Sir John Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Page, Sir John (Harrow W) Stokes, John
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Taylor, John (Solihull)
Pattie, Geoffrey Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pawsey, James Terlezki, Stefan
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Pollock, Alexander Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Porter, Barry Thornton, Malcolm
Portillo, Michael Thurnham, Peter
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. Townend, John (Bridlington)
Powell, William (Corby) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Powley, John Trippier, David
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Trotter, Neville
Price, Sir David Twinn, Dr Ian
Proctor, K. Harvey Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Raffan, Keith Viggers, Peter
Rhodes James, Robert Waddington, David
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Waldegrave, Hon William
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Walden, George
Roe, Mrs Marion Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Rowe, Andrew Wall, Sir Patrick
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Walters, Dennis
Sackville, Hon Thomas Ward, John
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Sayeed, Jonathan Watts, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Whitfield, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wiggin, Jerry
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wilkinson, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Winterton, Nicholas
Shersby, Michael Wood, Timothy
Silvester, Fred Woodcock, Michael
Sims, Roger Young, Sir George (Acton)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Younger, Rt Hon George
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Tellers for the Noes:
Speed, Keith Mr. Gwilym Jones and
Spencer, Derek Mr. Gerald Bowden.
Stanbrook, Ivor

Question accordingly negatived.