HL Deb 22 November 1979 vol 403 cc277-9

3.4 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 whether they intend to offer any assistance to the Government of Zambia in defence of its territory now under attack by external forces.


My Lords, the Zambian Government have not asked us to provide military assistance. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has this afternoon spoken to President Kaunda, and has sent a personal message to express the Government's concern about the events in Zambia. The most effective constraint on further incidents will be the earliest possible agreement at the constitutional conference on a cease-fire.

In the meantime, I shall be asking in the conference later this afternoon that the Rhodesian authorities should give an immediate undertaking to suspend all cross-border operations into Zambia and that the leaders of the Patriotic Front should give a simultaneous undertaking, in co-operation with the Zambian authorities, to stop all movements of Patriotic Front personnel from Zambia into Rhodesia.


My Lords, I welcome a part of that Answer which the noble Lord the Foreign Minister has given, but would he not agree that the most effective way of stopping incursions into Zambia would be to make very firm and strong representations to General Walls, who is a part of the Lancaster House Conference? Is he aware that his noble friend Lord Trefgarne yesterday agreed that Zambia had been in the forefront of the suffering from sanctions ever since 1965? Is it not also the case that Zambia has been in the front line as a base for the attacks on those who rebelled against Her Majesty and Her Majesty's authority 15 years ago? Will he not take the opportunity that Lancaster House presents to him to make sure that General Walls knows the feelings of this country about the attack of his troops on a friendly Commonwealth country?


My Lords, I tried before this conference started to get all parties to agree to a cease-fire and they did not do so, although the Rhodesian authorities were prepared to do so. When I presented the paper on the cease-fire, having agreed the constitutional arrangements and the transitional arrangements, I said to the parties concerned that I thought the only way in which we could go forward was to get a cease-fire as quickly as possible: otherwise incidents were bound to occur and it would put at risk the whole of this conference. And, my Lords, the only conclusion one can draw from what has happened over the past two days is that all parties must address themselves at once to agreeing to a cease-fire.

Several noble Lords

Hear, hear!


My Lords, may I on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the House, say how warmly we welcome what the Foreign Secretary said in his first reply to my noble friend? We wish him godspeed in his efforts this afternoon to secure restraint, in the first instance, by all concerned in Southern Africa, preparatory to a durable, permanent and effective cease-fire.


My Lords, may we also, from these Benches, give full support to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary at a very, very difficult time.


My Lords, will the noble Lord also take with him our congratulations on the news, which came on the wireless at one o'clock, that Bishop Muzorewa has announced the release of a very large number of political prisoners, leaving only 19 now in detention?


My Lords, I cannot express to the House at this moment how much I welcome any good news.


My Lords, can I persuade the Foreign Secretary to distinguish between the civil war in Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and the invasion of a fellow member of the Commonwealth—namely, Zambia? Can I not persuade him to condemn the invasion of Zambia? Also, as his right honourable friend in another place indicated yesterday that representations had been made to the Salisbury delegation and it is apparent that those representations are being defied and ignored, will he not make still further representations to General Walls to stop this attack on a friendly Commonwealth country that has played a very great part in the success, or partial success, of the Lancaster House talks?


My Lords, everybody in the House deplores any action which increases tension or which causes loss of life, and I made it abundantly plain in my first Answer what I intend to do this afternoon.


My Lords, the prospect is that a ceasefire is near. Is it not contrary to the interests of peace to seek to enlarge this incident when the prospect is that real peace may very soon be with us?