HC Deb 19 October 1988 vol 138 cc872-3
1. Mr. Knowles

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy towards recognition of Bophuthatswana.

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

The creation of Bophuthatswana by the South African Government was a key element in the policy of separate development, to which we are wholly opposed. In common with all other states, except South Africa, we do not recognise Bophuthatswana as independent.

Mr. Knowles

I thank my right hon. Friend for her reply, but may I remind her of her comments earlier this year after the abortive coup in Bophuthatswana: that the intervention of South African forces proved that Bophuthatswana was not independent? In the light of recent events in Lesotho, is she reconsidering those earlier remarks or are the Government reconsidering their policy towards Lesotho?

Mrs. Chalker

I am well aware that the intervention by the South African Government in Bophuthatswana, which is part of the Republic of South Africa, concerned many hon. Members. It is true that Bophuthatswana and Lesotho depend in varying degrees on the South African economy, but Lesotho was never part of the South African union. Unlike Lesotho, Bophuthatswana and the other independent homelands—so called—are effectively dependent on South Africa in foreign policy. They also receive loans and grants from the South African Government, so their position is not the same.

Mr. Beggs

Is there not a democratically elected Government in Bophuthatswana, a multi-cultural society with a Christian ethos and a free enterprise economy? Does the Minister accept that it is striving to be completely free financially from South Africa? What further evidence is required by Her Majesty's Government to grant recognition to Bophuthatswana?

Mrs. Chalker

There would be consideration of such a course only if the writ of the Republic of South Africa did not run in Bophuthatswana. It does, and that country is recognised only by the Republic of South Africa. I cannot see, as I know Her Majesty's ambassador to Pretoria told the hon. Gentleman when he met him on 4 October, that such a situation is ever likely to pertain.

Mr. Gardiner

Despite my right hon. Friend's answer, is it not essential that the staff of the British embassy in the Republic know what is going on in Bophuthatswana and that they should know the political views of its populace? To that end, will my right hon. Friend tell us how often members of our overseas staff visit Bophuthatswana, and to what kind of persons they talk?

Mrs. Chalker

My hon. Friend knows already that everybody in the embassy in South Africa charged with knowing the political circumstances of the whole of the Republic of South Africa visits different parts of that country, which includes Bophuthatswana. Sometimes members of staff may go more frequently than others to forward projects such as those that were described to a number of colleagues when they visited South Africa and Bophuthatswana in October this year. I know that in recent months, because of the number of projects coming forward—of which we hope there will be more—in Kuruman and other places, there have been slightly more visits, but staff go whenever they need, as well as on a regular basis.

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