HC Deb 19 October 1988 vol 138 cc882-4
9. Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations Her Majesty's Government has made to the Government of the Republic of South Africa; and on what subjects.

Mrs. Chalker

We have made representations to the South African Government, both bilaterally and with our European partners, on a wide range of issues.

Mr. Pike

Will the Minister recognise that in South Africa there is a growing opinion among whites that the ANC must be involved in negotiations about the future of that country? That is evidenced by business and now by sporting contacts. Will she do all in her power to urge the South African Government to accept that, if they want meaningful talks to achieve a just, peaceful and acceptable solution to the problems of apartheid in that country, they must allow the blacks freely to appoint their own representatives to such negotiations and be involved in the formulation of the agenda for such meetings?

Mrs. Chalker

It would be most welcome if the Government of South Africa would involve the representatives of all groups of black people in meaningful negotiations in South Africa. Until such time as they do we shall continue to seek to persuade them through dialogue that this is the only way towards a peaceful transition.

Mr. John Carlisle

May I correct an earlier reply by my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) about the South African rugby board—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member should ask a question.

Mr. Carlisle

It is leading to a question, Mr. Speaker. May I remind my right hon. Friend that the South African rugby board—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member should ask his right hon. Friend a question.

Mr. Carlisle

Does my right hon. Friend accept that some on the Government side will give a cautious welcome to the news that Dr. Daniël Craven and the ANC have come to some arrangements over the future of international rugby? Does my right hon. Friend also accept that many of us on the Government Benches remain deeply suspicious of the motives of the ANC and believe that unless they renounce violence and armed conflict such talks are worthless?

Mrs. Chalker

My hon. Friend knows that we have called upon the ANC to renounce violence. We call upon all those who are engaged in violence to cease that violence, because the use of violence is not the way to bring about a peaceful solution in South Africa. I shall look at what my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) said and what I said to him in reply, but I do not think anything was said that would give my hon. Friend real grounds for correcting me.

Mr. Steel

Will the Minister be a little warmer than she was this afternoon and a lot warmer than the Minister with responsibility for sport was yesterday in congratulating the ANC and Dr. Craven on getting together, at least to discuss the future of multi-racial rugby? Will she also assert that that would never have happened had it not been for the success of the various sports boycott campaigns over the years and the Gleneagles agreement?

Mrs. Chalker

I always welcome it when those who previously had not found it possible to agree come together with the object of agreeing on a matter such as this. If the reports of the discussions between the African National Congress, the South African rugby board and the rugby union are correct, and if they lead to the creation of a single non-racial governing body for rugby in South Africa, that will be an encouraging development.

Mr. Cormack

In the context of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle), is my right hon. Friend aware that there are more of us than there are of them?

Mrs. Chalker

That all depends on what the dividing line may be.

Miss Lestor

While supporting the question by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike), and notwithstanding the earlier reply by the right hon. Lady, on Angola, may I ask whether it would be correct of her to support me in saying that there is considerable mistrust about the intentions of South Africa in that region, including Angola and other areas? Conservative Members refer to violence by the ANC, by if South Africa wants to establish any basis of credibility in that region ought not the right hon. Lady to put pressure on the South African Government immediately to cease the imminent political hangings in South Africa? If South Africa were to comply it would at least show that there is some degree of credibility in what it is saying rather than in what it is doing.

Mrs. Chalker

The hon. Lady knows that we have always been prepared to join appeals for clemency in cases that are clearly political and where there are strong humanitarian grounds for clemency. In respect of the last part of her question, if that should be needed, once the legal process has been concluded—as has been the case with the Sharpeville Six and others—that will be done. As for the earlier part of the question, we shall condemn now, and always, violence, wherever the source of that violence may be. Cross-border violence in southern Africa will do nothing to bring about peace in the region.

Mr. Neil Hamilton

Does my right hon. Friend accept that one of the major reasons for the rise of the so-called Conservative party in South Africa has been the important element of dismantling the apartheid system that President Botha has brought about in the last five or six years, and that continuing attempts to isolate insecurity of certain elements among the whites who support the Conservative party and make President Botha's task even more difficult?

Mrs. Chalker

We would welcome any moves towards meaningful reform. I fully accept that there have been some such moves, but they are not enough. There is still the Group Areas Act and the Population Registration Act, and the South African Government have put forward a Bill to promote so-called orderly internal politics. However, none of those can hasten the end of the division of the people.

As one hon. Gentleman said earlier, many people are now recognising the need of all races in South Africa to come together to discuss future systems of government. Unfortunately, those in the KP—the Conservative party in South Africa—are not presently among them.

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