HC Deb 05 March 1986 vol 93 cc296-7
4. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of South Africa concerning the release of Nelson Mandela.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Our views about the release of Mr. Mandela are well known to the South African Government. I last raised Mr. Mandela's case when I saw the South African ambassador on 13 February.

Mr. Alton

Will the Foreign Secretary take every opportunity to make it clear to the South African Government that the continued incarceration of Nelson Mandela is an affront to the people of South Africa and that his release is a prerequisite to reconciliation between black and white people there? Will he instruct our ambassador in South Africa to visit Nelson Mandela and to seek an interview to establish the present state of his health and wellbeing?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

We have made clear on many occasions our belief that the unconditional release of Mr. Mandela would constitute a major act of reconciliation in South Africa and could provide the impetus for genuine dialogue and a peaceful settlement. We have stressed, and will continue to stress, the importance of that point to the South African Government.

Mr. John Carlile

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the prerequisite of the South African Government for the release of Nelson Madela, that he should renounce the use of violence, is reasonable? It is in the interests of the ANC that he remains incarcerated while it performs its own acts of violence in South Africa and outside.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I cannot accept my hon. Friend's conclusions about the situation, although I join him—and I am sure the whole House will join him — in condemning violence from any quarter. The ANC is clearly an important focus of black opinion in South Africa. Nevertheless, we thought it right to establish official contact with the ANC specifically to stress our commitment to dialogue and to impress upon it the need to bring an end to all violence in South Africa.