HL Deb 07 February 1985 vol 459 cc1207-9

3.15 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what actions they are taking at present to secure the independence of Namibia.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

My Lords, we believe that the best prospect of achieving a Namibia settlement lies in the current United States-led negotiations. We support these negotiations and have urged other governments in the region to do so too. We shall continue to do everything we can to encourage the parties involved to reach an agreement which will permit the implementation of Security Council Resolution 435.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that Answer. Does she agree that the latest procrastination of the South African Government has been the attempted insistence on the inclusion in the Angolan Government of UNITA which has its bases in Namibia? Can she elucidate for the House the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards UNITA, particularly in view of the fact that UNITA has recently seized three British hostages? Do Her Majesty's Government regard UNITA as a terrorist organisation or as a valid political party?

Baroness Young

My Lords, as far as the attitude of the United Kingdom Government is concerned, we are already urging support for the present process and we see our best role as to put our weight behind the United States effort. As regards our attitude to UNITA, we have indicated this in the way that we have expressed our concern to UNITA when they have taken hostages of British employees in the mining companies. We regard this as very unhelpful behaviour in the current situation.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Baroness is able to tell us the outcome of the recent talks between South Africa, the United States and Angola? Can she also tell us what is the present attitude of Her Majesty's Government to the question of linkage?

Baroness Young

My Lords, Cuban withdrawal was not part of Security Council Resolution 435, nor do we recognise it as a precondition for a settlement. The United States and South African Government concerns must be tackled, and the fact that they have made a linkage cannot be ignored if a settlement is to be reached. We welcome the fact that Angola has now put forward proposals on Cuban withdrawal.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the insouciant attitude of the Free World to the Namibian situation reflects no credit on us, on the rest of the Free World and certainly not on the United States of America? Is she further aware that this change of heart by the United States of America is welcomed and could lead to a solution? Can she say what is the practical—in her words—"weight" and help that this Government are prepared to give the United Nations to free Namibia?

Baroness Young

My Lords, we believe that the United States is playing a constructive role in the current negotiations and offers the best hope of progress. As I have already indicated, we are putting our weight behind that negotiation process.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness one question arising from her first answer to a supplementary question? If Her Majesty's Government are prepared to talk to UNITA, is that because they do not regard it as a terrorist organisation—in view of the fact that Her Majesty's Government have stated that they will not talk to the ANC of South Africa because it is a terrorist organisation? Secondly, will she tell us what the attitude of Her Majesty's Government is to the proposition that after independence of Namibia the organisation known as Koevoet, which is a paramilitary organisation at present spreading havoc in Namibia, should become a part of the regular police?

Baroness Young

My Lords, we have already expressed our concern at the allegations of atrocities by Koevoet. We have no wish to see Koevoet remain in Namibia during the implementation of the United Nations plan, but technically it is part of the Namibian police force. The United Nations plan states that responsibility for maintaining law and order in Namibia during the transition to independence shall rest with "existing police forces", but we are anxious that there should be no interference or intimidation. It is up to the United Nations special representative to ensure this.

The first part of the noble Lord's question is too wide of the original Question. If he cares to put down a Question on the specific point, I shall try to answer it.

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