HL Deb 10 May 1977 vol 383 cc156-9

2.38 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are placing any difficulties in the way of the recruitment of academic staff for the University of Rhodesia.


No, my Lords; the Government are always ready to license advertisements for staff for the University. These advertisements must include a notice urging prospective applicants to seek official advice about the risks involved before taking up employment in Rhodesia, but we understand that the University authorities are content with this arrangement.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware, as he must be, that the University of Rhodesia is non-racial? Indeed, is he aware that there are more black students than white students, that the University is doing a good job and that it is very largely supported financially by the British Government? Is he further aware that their licence to advertise was revoked last year unless three conditions were inserted in the advertisements, three conditions which would have put off any academic staff from applying for any job in the University of Rhodesia? Can he tell me whether his Answer this afternoon means that is is not now necessary for the University to insert those three conditions into the advertisements?


My Lords, on the last point, the position is that advertisements should carry a required statement which I think is perfectly reasonable and helpful. This is the statement: Revised warning to be carried in advertisements. The British Government urge that United Kingdom nationals who wish to visit Rhodesia or to take up employment there should consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Rhodesia Department, or the nearest British Consular Office before doing so". I think that this is a natural precaution both in the interests of prospective applicants and, indeed, to keep us within the terms of the sanctions order.

As to the first part of the noble Lord's supplementary question, I entirely agree that we greatly appreciate the excellent work of this University in the past and in the present as a multi-racial institution. We hope that it will be able to carry on its multiracial function in the future, whatever the form of government in Southern Rhodesia proves to be. The noble Lord is also quite right about the considerable amount of financial support that we give to the University to promote this kind of policy. In the current financial year, we expect to be contributing some £380,000 in the form of grants to students at the University and, as the noble Lord has remarked, the majority of its students are, indeed, Rhodesian Africans.


My Lords, to remove all doubt, could the noble Lord confirm that the Government have, in fact, altered the revocation of the licence, about which Sir Hugh Springer informed the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Rhodesia on 27th August 1976, and that the three conditions which it was then necessary to insert in the advertisement are no longer required?


Yes, my Lords; I can provide confirmation in these terms. I have a copy of the two variants. The first, which proved unacceptable to the University authorities, we withdrew. The second, which I will not quote in full, has proved to be not only acceptable to the University authorities but has elicited a letter which I have here, from which I cannot quote, from the Vice-Chancellor, saying how pleased lie is with the concessions we have made.


My Lords, when applicants apply to the Rhodesian Department of the Commonwealth Office, as the advertisement says they must, what happens then? What exchanges take place? What questions are asked? What exchange takes place following an application under the advertisement?


My Lords, when applicants come to the Rhodesian Department, they are told what the position is in Rhodesia; for instance, in regard to national service, which, after two years, applies to people who go there to work. The!, are also given necessary information about the internal position and, indeed, the position in regard to insurgent activities. It is an informal but factual exchange of question and answer designed to help applicants to make up their minds as to whether they are taking the right action in going there. After all, there are no consular or other facilities in that country to help them if they find themselves in a difficulty once they are there.


My Lords, would my noble friend not agree that the tilling of these vacancies could provide a useful channel for disseminating the Government's present policy towards Rhodesia?


My Lords, that may well be so. I join, also, with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in looking forward to the time when this University— and I repeat that it has done excellent work in a multi-racial way in the past, and it is continuing to do so—may be enabled to do excellent work whatever the future regime in Zimbabwe may be.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend, briefly, whether, if an academic, a lecturer or professor, takes an appointment, his superannuation situation would be in order later on if he moves from a university post?


My Lords, I could not answer that question without due notice.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, could the noble Lord tell us how many advertisements are being placed and the number of academic staff who are going from this country to Rhodesia to teach in the University?


My Lords, without advice I am afraid that I could not be precise about either point.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware of the great satisfaction which his Answer to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will give to noble Lords in all parts of the House and to everyone who believes that this university in Rhodesia is one of the outstanding successes of the British Government's efforts for Rhodesia?


My Lords, I am delighted to receive confirmation and support from so distinguished a quarter for our attitude and the attitude of successive Governments.