§ 3.36 p.m.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, with the permission of the House I will repeat a Statement which is being: made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the Government's review of policy towards South Africa. The Statement is as follows:
"I will, with your permission Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, make a Statement on the Government's review policy towards Southern Africa, which is now complete. We believe it essential for Britain to make clear its firm stand against the policy of apartheid and racialism.
"Following the Government's decision to re-impose the United Nations embargo on the sale of arms to South Africa we have now competed an overhaul of the licensing arrangements for arms sales. This will ensure that our policies are fully in line with our international undertakings.
"The Government have acted upon the Trade and Industry sub-Committee 212 Report concerning wages and conditions in South Africa. My right honourable friend has commended the Committee's guidelines on employment practices to the chairmen of British firms with interests in South Africa. To assist this I am making a new appointment of a Labour Attaché to our Embassy in Pretoria.
"In matters of civil trade, and where international obligations do not conflict, it is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government that commercial trading relations with other countries should be based on considerations of their internal or external policies. So far as normal trade and investment are concerned, firms remain free to carry out existing or future contacts in South Africa. The usual range of export services, including trade missions and ECGD cover, will remain available, as for markets of equal commercial standing.
"The Government regard sporting contacts with South Africa, so long as selection on the basis of race or colour is maintained, as repugnant and they will receive no official support or approval. The Government ask organisations and individuals to take serious note of this policy although we shall clearly not interfere with their right to decide these matters for themselves.
"It is nearly 20 years since the Simonstown Agreement was signed in circumstances very different from those of today and some of the provisions of the Agreement are no longer appropriate. We intend to hold discussions with the South African Government to bring the Agreement to an end. We should be ready to use on a 'customer' basis, as other countries do, the docking and other facilities at Simonstown as and when necessary.
"The Government have considered the Advisory Opinion concerning Namibia which the International Court of Justice gave in 1971. This is a complicated matter and I am therefore circulating a fuller statement of our position in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Government's conclusion is that the mandate can no longer be regarded as being in force, that South Africa's occupation of Namibia is unlawful, 213 and that it should withdraw. I am informing both the South African Government and the UN of these conclusions.
"There are certain elements of the Court's Opinion which we do not accept. In particular, we cannot agree that the existing Resolutions of the Security Council concerning Namibia are mandatory. This is a point of fundamental importance, with implications going beyond the Namibia question itself. Nevertheless, in keeping with the spirit of these Resolutions we have decided to give no further promotional support for trade with Namibia.
"The Government look to South Africa to heed the UN calls on her to withdraw from this international territory, and we shall lend our support in the international community to help bring this about.
"We have made a contribution of £10,000 to the UN Fund for Namibia and we shall, subject to Parliamentary approval, contribute £20,000 to UNICEF Funds for humanitarian assistance, through liberation movements, to women and children refugees from Namibia. We also propose to make a contribution to the United Nations Research Institute for Namibia at Lusaka. We have made repeated representations to the South African Government concerning the plight of SWAPO leaders and will develop contacts with representatives of SWAPO.
"As regards Rhodesia, I set out in detail our policy when the House renewed the Sanctions Order on 8th November. The House will have noted that the situation is more fluid than for some time and I shall be ready to take advantage of any developments. As the House knows, I have planned a visit to Africa at the end of this month and this will give me the opportunity of personal discussions with the African Heads of State most closely involved. We seek a just and peaceful solution which will require the support of the African people, and in this the African National Congress, ZANU and ZAPU have an important role to play. These bodies know that we are willing to enter into discussions with them as an essential part of discussions about Rhodesia's future.
214 "Our aim throughout Southern Africa is to make a constructive contribution to peace, justice and racial equality and we shall work in cooperation with other countries and organisations to that end."
My Lords, that is the end of the Statement.
Following is the further Statement referred to:It will be recalled that the Security Council of the United Nations sought the advice of the International Court on the question 'what are the legal consequences for states of the continued presence of South Africa in Namibia notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276'. The principal conclusions reached by the Court in its advisory opinion of 23 June 1971 were—(1) by 13 votes to 2, that, the continued presence of South Africa in Namibia being illegal, South Africa is under obligation to withdraw its administration from Namibia immediately and thus put an end to its occupation of the Territory;(2) by 11 votes to 4, that States Members of the United Nations are under obligation to recognise the illegality of South Africa's presence in Namibia and the invalidity of its acts on behalf of or concerning Namibia and to refrain from any acts and in particular any dealings with the Government of South Africa implying recognition of the legality of, or lending support or assistance to, such presence and administration.In October 1971 the Government of the day informed Parliament and the Security Council that they did not accept these conclusions.In its opinion the Court examined the legality of Resolution 2145 of 1966 by which the General Assembly purported to terminate the mandate. One of the underlying questions, to which the Court gave an affirmative answer, was whether the General Assembly had the competence to make such an executive decision. The Charter confers upon the General Assembly powers which, with certain exceptions of very limited scope, are recommendatory only, and in our opinion the arguments in support of the legal effectiveness of the Resolution are not convincing. Accordingly, we are unable to accept the Court's reasoning on Resolution 2145 and its conclusion that that Resolution operated of itself to terminate the mandate.However, South Africa has itself repudiated the mandate and the obligations which it accepted by virtue of the mandate. The United Nations by resolutions commanding very wide support both in the Assembly and in the Security Council has adopted the position that, owing to fundamental breaches of its obligations on the part of the Mandatory, the mandate is no longer in force. In view of South Africa's conduct, by which she has divested herself of any entitlement under the mandate, and of the recognition thereof and 215 response thereto by the United Nations and the international community, the mandate cannot be regarded as still alive and operative; and with the termination of the mandate South Africa's rights to administer the territory have lapsed. Nevertheless the international status of the Territory still continues, since no lawful basis exists or has ever existed upon which South Africa can or could have unilaterally altered that status.The General Assembly having called the attention of the Security Council to Resolution 2145, the Council adopted Resolutions in 1969 and 1970 of which the essential one was 276 of 1970. This Resolution reaffirmed Resolution 2145, declared the presence of South African authorities in Namibia and all acts taken by the Government of South Africa on behalf of or concerning the Territory after termination of the mandate to be illegal, and called upon all States to refrain from any dealings with the Government of South Africa inconsistent with this declaration. There was no prior finding under Article 39 of the Charter to found a mandatory resolution within Chapter VII; indeed proposals for such a finding were not accepted. Nevertheless the opinion of the Court was that Resolution 276 imposed obligations upon member States, The Government believe that the course of events in the Security Council and the consultation among its members do not support the conclusions of fact asserted in the Court's opinion. And as a matter of law they remain of the view that the Security Council cannot take decisions generally binding on member States unless there has been a determination under Article 39 of the existence of a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace or an act of aggression. Consequently they are unable to accept this part of the advisory opinion.However, for the reasons explained above, the Government take the view that South Africa is in occupation without title of a territory which has international status. This occupation is unlawful and South Africa should withdraw. Meanwhile South Africa remains the de facto administering authority. However, in the circumstances there is an obligation on States not to recognise any right of South Africa to continue to administer the territory. But there is no obligation, in the absence of appropriate decisions under Chapter VII of the Charter, to take measures which are in nature of sanctions. It follows that we do not accept an obligation to take active measures of pressure to limit or stop commercial or industrial relations of our nationals with the South African administration of Namibia.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Earl COWLEY
My Lords, I think the whole House will be grateful to the noble Lord for repeating this Statement to the House. It is, of course, a very long and detailed Statement and will need very careful study. It seems to be based on the Government's attitude to race in general which, at a time when 216 Britain needs many new and continuing friendships with countries abroad, can only do much damage. Referring to the Simonstown Agreement, we shall, of course, have a chance to debate this fully next week. Referring to trade with Southern Africa, it seems to be rather inconsistent, on the one hand, to allow civil trade to continue and to encourage it, while on the other hand to regard sporting contacts as repugnant. I should think that sporting contacts are a means of creating better understanding and of improving friendships abroad.
Turning to what the noble Lord said about Namibia, perhaps he would be good enough to explain to the House why he no longer regards the Mandate as being in force, when at the same time the Government do not regard the existing Resolutions of the Security Council as being mandatory. Surely, if the Government are to refuse to promote support for trade with Namibia, the only people who will really suffer will be the people of Namibia. I am sure that cannot be the Government's intention.
The noble Lord said in the Statement that the Government are to make a contribution of £10,000 to the United Nations Fund and, on top of that, a contribution of £20,000 for humanitarian assistance to be distributed through liberation movements. Could the noble Lord tell the House what liberation movements these will be, and what guarantees he has from those movements that the funds will, in fact, be used for humanitarian purposes and not for something else? Finally, could the noble Lord please tell the House a little more about the proposed meeting which is to take place in Lusaka, and also who will be attending that meeting?
§ Lord BYERS
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for repeating the Statement and certainly from these Benches we give a general welcome to it. Certainly we are totally opposed to apartheid and racialism. I should like to ask the noble Lord two questions. First, as regards British firms going out to South Africa, would it not be wise to give those firms, when they are about to set up there for the first time, some clear guidance before they make their final decision to go there?
Secondly, I should like to suggest that the labour attaché—and I welcome this 217 new appointment—ought, if possible, to have experience of working in British industry in the United Kingdom and also of industry in South Africa. If we could bring that experience into our diplomatic arrangements with Pretoria, it might be very helpful. I doubt whether one labour attaché will be enough and I suspect it will soon be proved that we shall need more. As for Namibia, I ask the Government to urge the South African Government to try to find a peaceful solution to this problem through SWAPO. The position cannot continue at it is at present, and a reversal of the policy of the South African Government is long overdue.
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, may I thank both the noble Earl and the noble Lord for raising these points. First, I would say to the noble Earl who speaks to-day for the Opposition on these matters that many of the points he raised will need to be gone into in greater depth during the debate which has been promised shortly. I agree that the Statement requires careful and lengthy study. The emphasis is on consultation and discussion. Therefore, perhaps we might all be well advised to study the Statement and also the fuller Statement which we are making available in the OFFICIAL REPORT in relation to Namibia.
On trade, I am afraid there is a profound difference of opinion on the point which was made by the noble Earl. We feel that while normal trade can proceed, we nevertheless have a duty, and, indeed, an obligation, to the millions in the rest of Africa to make it very clear that we find that discrimination on grounds of race and colour—especially with regard to sports and particularly as regards Rugby, in my own personal view—is repulsive, I am sure, to the prevailing sentiment and conscience of this country. Nevertheless, there can be a difference of opinion about how to use these contests. We do not agree with the noble Earl, and no doubt this is something that we can go into further during our later debate. Normal trade will continue, and in this respect may I say to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, that it will continue also in Namibia. We shall not withdraw the existing enablements, including ECGD, from Namibia, 218 but we shall not promote further trade in that country.
Turning to the point made by the noble Earl about liberation movements, I take his point. These contributions are being made to official organisations of the United Nations. In the case of the £20,000, which was specially mentioned by the noble Earl, this is being paid to UNICEF, which is an organisation which, probably, above all others, has a reputation for using money wisely and for the purposes for which it was subscribed. However, I take the point and I sympathise with it. It is in the interests of everybody that these sums should, in fact, be used fully for the relief of refugees and for the promotion of education and training.
Regarding Rhodesia and the meeting which has been referred to, of course we are not participants; and advisedly so. We have been kept informed of the discussions leading up to and during the meeting—which may well prove to be very important—but details must remain confidential. We have welcomed the decision of the Rhodesian régime to release two African leaders of dissident movements and to make it possible for them to engage in discussions with Heads of State of neighbouring African countries, and also with their own followers in Rhodesia. I think this goes a considerable way towards answering the second part of the question put by the noble Earl.
Turning to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, I am extremely grateful to him for the two very valuable suggestions he made in regard to the appoinment of a Labour Attaché in Pretoria. Here is a valid field for promotion. He will promote the implementation of the recommendations made by the TIS Committee. The noble Lord suggested with some cogency that whoever is appointed could with advantage be someone who has experience not only of British industry but of South African industry, too.
This will be borne in mind, as also will the other valid point made by the noble Lord; namely, that the South African Government should be constantly pressed—as we are constantly pressing them—and advised to find a way of disengaging from Namibia, and to do so through contact and consultation with SWAPO. The 219 South-West African Peoples Organisation is the accepted political organisation giving a lead to the people of this territory. Without engaging too much in polemics at the moment, I agree with the noble Earl that the South African Government would be well advised to make immediate and full contact with SWAPO, and thereby begin the process of disengagement from Namibia.
That reminds me of one point which the noble Earl opposite made about the mandate. We regard the mandate as having lapsed, as indeed does the South African Government. This is not the time at which to discuss what happened to the old League of Nations mandate, or indeed to canvass the findings of the International Court. However, the noble Earl is quite right; the mandate has lapsed and we so regard it. Indeed, the South African Government do not regard it as being in force any more.
On the question of obeying the mandatory UN resolutions, I assume that the noble Earl was referring to resolutions which sought to make mandatory certain actions deemed to derive from Article 39, as in the case of Rhodesia. We resist this. We do not think that those resolutions can be mandatory for Article 39 action on us, or indeed on any other country.
§ Lord MAYBRAY-KING
My Lords, if, as seems possible, Mr. Macmillan's winds of change are coming to South Africa and Rhodesia at the moment, and there are moves towards giving the black Africans in South Africa and the black Africans in Rhodesia rights to share with the white Africans in both States, will he do what he can to further all the negotiations which are taking place along those lines at the moment?
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, I speak for my right honourable friend and for Her Majesty's Government and, I am sure, for all sides of the House when I give an unqualified assurance on that point.
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, will the Government tell us something further about the movements of the Foreign Secretary when he visits Africa? Can we be sure that the Government will not involve themselves in any double-think about Africa? May we take it that it 220 will be their object to ensure that the black Africans behave as well as the white Africans or at any rate, no worse? May we take it that the gross maladministration of Uganda will be of equal interest to them, that the flagrant execution of political prisoners in Ethiopia, will be of some interest and that they will try to resist any more racialist expulsions of Asians from East Africa, which is liable to be a very great embarrassment to this country?
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
The noble Lord has made a most acceptable statement of true equality, and it should be the object of us all to secure that there is an even-handed approach in dealing with these questions wherever they arise. I know that my right honourable friend will agree with the basic philosophy behind my noble friend's statement.
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, arising out of the Statement of the Minister, will consideration be given to the widespread feeling in this country that connecting the internal condition of a country with sport, games or recreation is a matter of great regret? Secondly, referring to the Statement which the noble Lord made with regard to the attitude towards South-West Africa, could he make any comment on the position of the enclave, or the area around the only substantial port in the area, which by international agreement is the property of the South African Republic? Would it not be difficult to separate those? Could he make some comment on that? Thirdly, referring to the intended visit of the Secretary of State to Southern Africa, can he give some hope that reconsideration will yet be given to the statement which he made earlier, that while it will include what was Bechuanaland it will not include a visit to the South African Republic, which seems regrettable considering the importance of those two countries' trade with this country?
Lastly, with regard to Rhodesia, the noble Lord said that the Press had referred to some recent meetings. Could he make any comment on the fact that there have been differences in the Press reports? Some stated that the release for conference of Africans detained in Rhodesia was made unconditionally; others stated definitely that for the first 221 time there had been agreement by those detainees that they would renounce all association with terrorism, and that any negotiations would be strictly along constitutional lines, although hitherto that has not been a condition acceptable to them.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, on the first point relating to sport which the noble Lord raised, I can only repeat what I said in response to his noble friend. I sense some difference of opinion on this, but I hope that there will be a consensus about standing firm against discrimination on the grounds of race or colour especially in the field of sport. Secondly, the noble Lord referred to the territorial enclave in Namibia. I could not now make a comment on the possibility of special treatment for this enclave—clearly, it is a very big question to raise—except to say that the future of this former colonial territory (now Namibia) must probably be regarded as a whole. Thirdly. as to the visit of the Secretary of State—which brings me to the point made by the noble Lord who spoke earlier—he has said that, at least at this stage, he does not think that a visit to the South African Republic would be helpful, but this in no way rules out a future visit there. I can assure the noble Lord that he is in close contact through diplomatic channels with the Government of South Africa, and he very much hopes that the helpful suggestions that have recently emanated from this country will be implemented in action as soon as possible.
On Rhodesia and the release for conference, I cannot comment on conflicting reports in the Press but I would hope that the release was unconditional. That would be a great step forward in ensuring that agitation in Rhodesia was divorced from terrorism.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I do not think I have ever welcomed a Statement from Government more deeply than the Statement which I have just heard. It reflects decisions for which some of us in this country have worked over very many years. I want first, incidentally, to respond to the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, about the labour attachés to the embassy in the Republic. I endorse his suggestion that it is desir- 222 able that more than one attaché should be appoint. I endorse also the suggestion which was made by the Minister that an attaché might be a person with South African experience. The Minister will be aware that many years ago a number of us were associated with the sending of a very prominent British trade unionist of experience and tolerance to the Republic to organise the African workers. He might be available for that purpose. That might make a very great contribution towards fairer conditions in British-owned industry in the Republic.
I want to be very restrained in what I say about the situation in Southern Africa. In the past few weeks it has changed fundamentally, with the attitude of Mr. Vorster in meeting African countries, in the discussions which have taken place at Lusaka, where even those who have been detained for nearly 10 years have been allowed to meet. The suggestion I want to make to the Minister—and I do not ask him for a reply now because that might be difficult—is this: when the Foreign Secretary goes to Africa and meets the leaders of the African countries, he should ask that, just as Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole were permitted by Mr. Ian Smith to go to Lusaka to meet other African leaders, so they should be allowed to meet the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs here.
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, I hope that my noble friend Lord Brockway will not take this observation too harshly, but I think he and many others in the past two or three days have been developing rather lengthy interventions in Question Time. This causes great difficulty and is a great embarrassment to me. As the House knows, I have had to intervene on a number of occasions. I hope that my noble friend, and all others who participate and have really gone a little too far, will remember, in the interests of this House, that we should keep our remarks as short as possible. Regarding Statements, if possible our remarks should be directed more to elucidating information than making comment.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, may I ask two crisp questions? Perhaps the most important event in Africa for a very long time has been that in the past week or so there appears to have been a loosening up in the rigidity that we have all 223 experienced over these past years. There is some disappointment in this House that the noble Lord has made a Statement but has not in any sense referred to that event. Can the House expect a Statement about that matter in the near future? Secondly, may I ask what is meant when the Statement says that there has been an overhaul of the licensing arrangements for arms sales which will ensure that our policies are fully in line with our international undertakings? So far as I know, they always were.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, if I may address myself first to my noble friend Lord Brockway, I have taken a full note of what he said, including the suggestion which he made in his comments. I am grateful to him for making those comments. As to the two "crisp questions" asked by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, I did, in answer to one supplementary question, indicate cautious optimism about certain movements which have occurred in the past few weeks. One is always chary of sounding too hopeful about developments of this sort when they are not accompanied by practical action. But I hope it will go from the House to those concerned that we hope those hopeful signs will be translated into action. Regarding the second point, about the overhaul of licensing arrangements, while we shall not license further exports of arms, we shall scrutinise very carefully dual-purpose equipment which can be used for life saving and life-guarding purposes as well as for military purposes. It is impossible to be categorical and precise about a certain range of equipment, and the licensing overhaul is addressed mainly to identifying what we can properly make available to South Africa in accordance with our international obligations.
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
My Lords, is my noble friend aware that some of us appreciate the reference to the labour attachés and would follow up the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Byers? In passing, some of us would like to pay tribute to our late colleague, Ernest Bevin, who introduced this system in the winds of change that we all now know about. Is my noble friend aware that some of us take rather lightly the assumption that European man is so excellent in the art of governing; and may not some 224 noble Lords speak a little more with their tongues in their cheeks, when we ourselves are surrounded with terrorism and problems in Ireland greater than those in Africa? Like Occam, does my noble friend agree that we have to look at the future of tens of millions of black men as well as a minority of whites?
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, I ought to intervene on behalf of the House. We have now been on this Statement for 32 minutes. To me, it is a long Statement, and there has been great interest in it; but, in the interests of those taking part in the debate on the increasing frustrations of urban transport, I think we should now resume that discussion.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I want to raise a point. I am not going to speak about the Statement that has been made. I want to raise one point with the Leader of the House. The noble Lord the Leader of the House has indicated that when Statements are made the procedure to be followed is similar to Question Time and that only questions should be put. Is he aware that I earlier raised this issue? I want to keep to the Rules of the House; but I was informed categorically that when Statements are made Back-Benchers have the same right as those on the Front Benches to make statements in reply. I ask the noble Lord the Leader of the House whether or not that is the case.
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, there was a time when, by custom only questions were put to the Minister following Statements. In practice, and over a period of time, it became the accepted fact that those who occupied the two Front Benches opposite were allowed to make a brief statement as to the position of their Party on the Statement that had been made. The matter was considered at the Procedure Committee and it was the view of the House, when it considered the Report, that what had been extended in the past to the Front Benches should also be extended to Members on all sides of the House. I was not in any way criticising any noble Lord for expressing a view; what I was trying to do was to impress upon the House that we ought to keep these expressions of view as short as possible and not indulge in what could easily become a general debate.
225 I should like to say this to the House as a whole because this is an opportunity which does not often arise: I believe that unless Members of this House exercise restraint we will have no other option but to adopt the procedure of another place, of having a Speaker and having much more rigorous rules of debate and discussion. I believe that if we were to do that, the opportunities and freedoms that we enjoy here would quickly disappear. But I believe we need restraint, and I appeal to the House that in future we exercise restraint.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, I would support the noble Lord the Leader of the House. For my part, if he will allow me to say so, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack does very well, since he cannot interfere, and that is the way I want it to happen and want it to continue. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, is of course quite right in his statement of the position, and right in the sense that it is the custom of your Lordships' House that every Member of this House is equal to any other and the Front Bench do not have any advantage over anyone else. Nevertheless, I think that for the convenience of the House it is sometimes understandable that the Opposition spokesman, of whichever Party he might be, is allowed, within very strong limits, to elaborate a little more than it would be perhaps convenient for every Member of your Lordships' House to do who wants to ask a question. Although it is sometimes abused by my noble friends and myself, I promise on our part that we shall, so far as we can, stick to questions and be as short as we can, in the hope that the rest of your Lordships will not feel that this Front Bench at any rate abuses its privilege, if it has any, and the business of the House will not be interrupted for too long on these occasions.
§ Lord BYERS
My Lords, may I endorse that contribution very briefly. May I also suggest to the noble Lord the Leader of the House that it is not quite correct to say that statements are made from the Front Benches opposite in reply to Statements made by the Government. As I understand it, the practice is that, wherever one sits in the House, one is permitted to make a very short intro- 226 ductory statement followed by a question, but not a statement against a Statement.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, may I ask the Leader of the House merely a question? I am not going to make a speech, so if he is worried about that he need not be. Is it necessary to change the procedure of your Lordships' House and have a Speaker, as he suggests, simply because of this dilemma? Surely on a very important issue—and this was a very important issue—it is possible through the usual channels to decide whether there is a desire for a debate on a subject. Obviously in this case there was a desire for a debate. There may still be a desire for a debate. Surely that is a far better way of dealing with the matter. As I understand it, it is impossible to decide what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has just suggested—that all of us should be equal. Those on the Opposition Front Bench are obviously entitled to say something about an important Statement that comes before your Lordships' House. And if it sometimes happens that a noble Lord on the Back Benches is intensely interested in the subject and is known to be so, surely there can be a little relaxation—as, for example, in the case of my noble friend Lord Brock-way. Arrangements ought to be made through the usual channels to provide for a debate on an important topic when it is known that the particular subject is coming before the House.
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, I will certainly see what can be done. We are always open through the usual channels to consider ways and means by which the interests and opportunities of Members may be not only safeguarded but developed. I appreciate that the subject we have had before us is one of great interest and there are some Members, such as my noble friend Lord Brockway, who have spent a lifetime in that field. But I hope that my noble friend and the House will accept that one also needs to protect the interests of all those who wish to take part in the main debate that is before your Lordships' House. It is not easy to know when to intervene. Sometimes one is too quick, sometimes too slow, but one has to take what is the general atmosphere in the House. In response to my noble friend, I will certainly see how we can 227 meet the wishes to provide more opportunity for debate. I must say that, unless we are willing to sit longer—and that means Members attending until later than they now normally do—I find it very difficult to see how we can provide a great deal more time for discussions of this kind. But I will certainly look into what my noble friend says.
§ Lord MAYBRAY-KING
My Lords, is not the question one that was put in the other place a long time ago—a question not of latitude but of longitude?