HC Deb 18 November 1987 vol 122 cc1052-3
7. Miss Lestor

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current situation regarding the future of Namibia.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

We remain committed to the independence of Namibia on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolution 435, and without precon-ditions. The United Nations Secretary General and the United States Administration are engaged in continuing efforts to secure its implementation. We support their efforts.

Miss Lestor

Is the right hon. Lady aware that we are being seen, as others are, to be dragging our feet over Namibia? With no foreign journalists allowed into that country, we had to go to the children's conference in Harare and Zimbabwe to learn of the torture, detention and murder of the children who are caught up in the conflict. When her right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary meets Archbishop Huddleston shortly to discuss the matter, will he bear in mind that the world should be alerted to what is happening in Namibia, with a view to some concerted action being taken at the summit in Copenhagen?

Mrs. Chalker

I understand the hon. Lady's anxiety. It is simply not true that nothing has been done. We have made sure that representations about Namibia have been made here and in Pretoria to the South African Government. We continue to he well aware of, and condemn, all abuses of human rights, wherever they may occur and whoever may perpetrate them. Indeed, we shall continue to urge South Africa to withdraw from Namibia. We voted in support of resolution 601, and we shall help the implementation of it wherever we can. As I said earlier, we remain fully in support of the withdrawal of troops, but that is not a precondition for a Namibian settlement, which should be an internationally accepted settlement.

Mr. Atkinson

Will my right hon. Friend consider visiting Namibia? She will see for herself the considerable progress that has been made by the transitional Government towards eliminating apartheid and racial discrimination. She will also have the opportunity of meeting the committee of parents whose sons and daughters have been abducted to SWAPO camps, where they have been held against their will, in Zambia and Angola.

Mrs. Chalker

I have no plans to visit Namibia at present. We do not and shall not recognise the TGNU or any settlement that is inconsistent with the United Nations plan. We shall not meet members of the TGNU in their official capacity. We shall continue to promote dialogue across the political spectrum with all parties in the Namibian dispute. That is why we have made several representations to South African authorities on behalf of detainees, and we shall continue to do that.

Mr. Wilson

Will the Minister elaborate on what the Government are doing to encourage the implementation of resolution 601? Does she agree that the British Government's treatment of the Namibian delegation to Vancouver was contemptible? Does she agree also that the Prime Minister's craven attitude towards Pretoria at the Commonwealth conference — whatever the Minister's personal good will might be — makes one wonder whether the British Government will do anything to impose a settlement on Namibia that might inconvenience the Prime Minister's friends in Pretoria.

Mrs. Chalker

I have already answered the point on resolution 601. We shall help its implementation wherever we can. We wish to see a ceasefire between the South African Government and SWAPO, which will lead to SCR 435. In regard to the hon. Gentleman's other comments, we did not enter into any discussions with Namibia—it was not part of the Commonwealth conference at Vancouver—and there is no reason why we should have done so.

Mr. Colvin

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a most significant further step towards the democracy that we all wish to see established in Namibia would be taken if the South African Government would agree to the repeal of the Administrator General 8, which presently enshrines ethnic divisions in that country?

Mrs. Chalker

Sadly, I see no sign of the withdrawal of AG 8. But my hon. Friend is right; it might help the overall position, which, as I made clear, we wish to assist.

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