HL Deb 23 January 1980 vol 404 cc454-6

3.34 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House I will now repeat a Statement being made in another place in answer to a Private Notice Question on Rhodesia. The Statement is as follows:

"We naturally greatly regret the incident to which the right honourable gentleman refers. I understand that police investigations are in hand. My right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal gave a full account of progress on the cease-fire and preparations for the elections in this House on Wednesday, 16th of January. I have nothing to add to that and to the remarks I made during the debate on the two Southern Rhodesia orders the following day".

My Lords, that is the end of the Statement.


My Lords, may I first thank the Minister for repeating that Statement and join with him in expressing not only concern about this tragic and dangerous incident but also sympathy for the relatives of Mr. Saunyama, an accredited parliamentary candidate taking part in what we all hope will be free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. May I also welcome what the noble Lord has said about the police investigation being in hand and, implicitly, that this terrible incident, this crime, will be dealt with by due process of law. Would the Minister further agree that whoever is found to be responsible it is now more than ever necessary that the Governor should continue to be empowered, and, indeed, encouraged, to keep a very tight hold on the so-called auxiliaries and to use only the proper statutory and disciplined armed forces for the maintenance of law and order in Zimbabwe?

Finally, may I refer him to what Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe have said about the auxiliaries over the past few days and ask the Government to pay attention to what they have said; so that incidents of this kind, which are tragic in themselves and potentially of very great danger to the kind of future that we are all trying to build for Zimbabwe, can be averted? As to the statements of his right honourable friend in another place the day before yesterday and his own yesterday, for the moment we shall not pursue any further questions arising from the two orders; but, of course, the Government will understand that we may return to the question of the progress of the cease-fire in the next few days or, certainly, in the next few weeks.


My Lords, naturally we on these Benches associate ourselves with the expressions of regret made by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, at this regrettable incident and should like to express our sympathy for the family. But if we look at things from the practical point of view, I should imagine that it is only too likely that some kind of incident of this sort may take place again before the elections next month and I should doubt whether on every occasion on which a similar incident occurs it is necessary to put down a Private Notice Question and interrogate the Government. We must assume, and I think we can assume, that the Governor is doing all he can within his means and powers to suppress such incidents and that that is all he can do at the present.


My Lords, I am obliged to both noble Lords for their response. To take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, about the auxiliaries, they are part of the Rhodesian forces and are equally obliged to observe the cease-fire. Any complaints against their activities will be investigated and dealt with appropriately. This has already happened in a small number of cases.


My Lords, I must refer to the statement made by the spokesman for the Liberal Party today and similar kinds of statement from the Liberal Party spokesman yesterday. The Liberal Party are quite a small, uninfluential and, in my judgment, unimportant section of the community. They take upon themselves the role not of schoolmaster—for that would be a reflection on my ex-schoolmaster—but of schoolmistress, which is much more likely, and so far as I am concerned, I am not wearing it.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the view of every noble Member of this House is of equal value?