HC Deb 07 March 1990 vol 168 cc855-6
1. Mr. John Carlisle

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, in the light of recent events in South Africa, he will consider lifting all existing sanctions.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

We shall maintain our policy of encouragement and pressure on the South African Government to bring about an end to apartheid, giving a measured response to progress as it occurs.

Mr. Carlisle

Is it Her Majesty's Government policy to offer British taxpayers' money to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, as recent reports stated? If that is the case, does my right hon. Friend accept that many Conservative Members would find that policy somewhat repugnant, particularly because the ANC is still in favour of the armed struggle and Nelson Mandela still rejects the lifting of sanctions, which would create the conditions whereby peaceful reform could take place?

Mr. Hurd

I told the House last month that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State is consulting hon. Members of different parties on whether it would be a good idea to set up a public body outside the Government, which could help and support groups or parties, whether in eastern Europe or southern Africa, as they move towards democracy. That is the state of affairs. Our whole emphasis in South Africa is on peaceful dialogue and helping to get that going.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Does the Foreign Secretary accept that the Government might lift the greatest sanction of all, the non-recognition of Bophuthatswana's independence, in the light of a recent statement by its President welcoming the release of Nelson Mandela and saying that it maintained its independence not because of apartheid, but through its historic identity?

Mr. Hurd

We are prepared to be reasonably unorthodox in these matters, but I do not believe that that particular step would help matters forward.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

Does my right hon. Friend agree that after the Dublin summit, his European colleagues tried to keep Britain on board, and that the concept of an official visit to South Africa and of the carrot and stick policy was accepted by them? In the light of that, was it wise for the United Kingdom to break the resolution? As we are encouraging the Soviet Union to release its last political prisoners, should not we do the same in South Africa?

Mr. Hurd

I do not flatter myself that I attended a summit. At Dublin we put forward the compromise proposal that if other partners were prepared to move once the state of emergency was lifted, we would postpone any action on our part. I am sad that that compromise did not find immediate favour. I hope that perhaps as a result of the Troika Mission, or in other ways, all members of the Community will register what many of them feel and have expressed—the need to give practical encouragement to President de Klerk to continue along the road on which he has started.

Mr. Anderson

Will not the Foreign Secretary honestly admit that one of the crosses that he must bear is the perception among our allies and in Africa that the Prime Minister shares the view of the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) on this issue? With his troubles in Dublin fresh in his memory, will he try to persuade the Prime Minister to give a clear undertaking that we shall not break any more of our legal international obligations in respect of sanctions?

Mr. Hurd

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have broken no legal obligations. We believe not only that we have taken the right action but that it would be stupid to do otherwise. We believe that it is wise to take a measured approach of not relaxing all sanctions, but taking limited steps to recognise and encourage what has been done. Others have recognised it in words, but we felt it wise to go further and give some recognition in substance. That is abundantly justified.

Mr. Wells

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be better not to move any further on sanctions or any other policy towards South Africa until he has had an opportunity of speaking to Mr. Nelson Mandela? Will he confirm that he will ask Mr. Mandela to this country for that purpose among others?

Mr. Hurd

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already invited Mr. Mandela to discuss the whole situation in South Africa with her. I hope, and am encouraged by some of the answers that he has been giving, that that may be possible.

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