HL Deb 01 February 1968 vol 288 cc867-8

3.14 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the direct cost to this country of operating sanctions against Rhodesia, and what assessment they have made of the consequential indirect losses arising therefrom.]


My Lords, the direct cost of payments by the Exchequer, including aid to Zambia, was £27½ million between I.D.I. and December 31, 1967. The cost to the United Kingdom balance of payments cannot be precisely estimated. The cost for 1967 will probably be similar to that of £40 million given for 1966 by the Prime Minister on March 16, 1967. In addition, about £10 million of the additional cost of copper imports in 1967 might be attributed to the Rhodesian situation, among the many factors affecting copper prices.


My Lords, from those figures which the noble Lord has given, the cost so far as they know is £37 million a year. But is he aware that there are other matters which, as he said, are difficult to estimate, such as the increased cost of tobacco, which now has to be bought from other sources which are more expensive than Rhodesia and which also involves dollars? Is it quite impossible to estimate what that may cost? Further, there is the indirect cost through other countries getting into the Rhodesian market and our permanently losing those exports. It is really impossible to make any estimate of those figures, which must be pretty considerable?


My Lords, the figure I gave was £40 million, not £37 million, for the cost to the balance of payments, and this is made up of various items, including the estimated increased cost of tobacco imports, the estimated increased cost of copper imports and the other factors which the noble Lord has mentioned.


My Lords, can the noble Lord give an assurance that the Government will not add to the loss this country is already enduring as a result of sanctions by giving way to the demand for some £20 million made by Zambia for the alleged losses that that country is supposed to be suffering as a result of sanctions?


My Lords, that is a different question. I cannot say anything on it except that the "alleged" loss is a very real one to Zambia.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he realises the continuing irritation that is involved between this country and Rhodesia—and I have been there quite recently—over these sanctions? They are doing no good. We are not going to bring Rhodesia down. Take them off and make a settlement.


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are very anxious to make a settlement, but only on terms which are acceptable not only to the people of this country but to the whole of the rest of the world. No country has as yet recognised the present régime in Rhodesia.