HL Deb 31 July 1986 vol 479 cc1034-46

2.30 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now make a Statement about the recent visit to southern Africa of my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary.

In accordance with the mandate entrusted to him by the 12 European Community countries at The Hague on 27th June 1986, the Foreign Secretary made a second visit to southern Africa from 22nd to 29th July. He undertook a busy programme of 20 separate meetings in five days in South Africa as well as spending three days visiting other countries in the region. In South Africa he had meetings at the beginning and end of his mission with State President Botha and with the South African Foreign Minister. He also met four other members of the South African Cabinet. Outside the Government he met, among others, opposition and Government MPs, and black and white business leaders. He also had meetings with two leaders of homelands, Chief Buthelezi and Mr. Enos Mabuza. My right honourable and learned friend had hoped to see Mr. Nelson Mandela as well as representatives of radical black organisations but regrettably this did not prove possible.

While in the region, my right honourable and learned friend also had meetings with President Kaunda of Zambia, President Masire of Botswana, Prime Minister Bhekimbi of Swaziland and with King Moeshoeshoe and General Lekhanya of Lesotho. The discussions which he had with these leaders provided a valuable opportunity to explain the Twelve's policy and to seek their views on the South African problem. They also brought out the serious concern felt by most of South Africa's neighbours about the potential consequences for their countries of a policy of general economic sanctions against South Africa and the dangers of escalating confrontation in the region.

In his discussions with the South African Government, the Foreign Secretary made clear the view of the 12 members of the European Community that there was an urgent need for fundamental but peaceful change in South Africa, leading to the total abolition of apartheid. In this connection, he stressed that in order to establish the necessary conditions for peaceful dialogue it was essential to release Nelson Mandela and other political leaders and to unban the ANC and other political parties. My right honourable and learned friend was able in this way to convey to the South African Government the deep concern felt by the United Kingdom, the European Community and western countries generally on this matter. The South African Government can be in no doubt of the strength of this concern.

My right honourable and learned friend regrets that the responses he received from the South African Government were not such as to enable him to report progress of the kind which he sought. He is conveying the outcome to our Community partners and will also be able to give his assessment of the visit to the review meeting of the seven Commonwealth Heads of Government which begins in London on 3rd August. The Government will continue to make every effort to work for a negotiated solution to the problem of South Africa.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for the Statement that she has made about the Foreign Secretary's visit to southern Africa. I am bound to say, however, that the Statement is deeply disappointing and says nothing whatsoever by way of positive proposals as to how to deal with the present critical situation affecting this country, our relations with the Commonwealth, our relations with the United States and with the world at large.

While the Foreign Secretary's chances of success on his mission to Pretoria were slim, all sides of the House wished him well. In the course of the impossible task placed upon the Foreign Secretary by the Government, his personal standing was, if I may say so, not diminished by his experiences and by his reactions to them.

I accept that the noble Baroness and the Government are opposed to apartheid. My personal abhorrence of apartheid was implanted for ever in my mind when, on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, I attended in 1961 the inquiry at Vereeniging into the massacre by South African police of 67 Africans in Sharpeville, demonstrating peacefully against the pass laws.

Has not the situation now become a critical one in the light of the total collapse of the Foreign Secretary's mission to South Africa? Are there not now urgent questions that, frankly, many of us were hoping and expecting the Government to make reference to, and to provide answers to, in the course of today's Statement? First, there has been serious delay in dealing with the problems—already six weeks have elapsed since the Commonwealth group of eminent persons reported—and yet there is no indication of urgency in the Statement. What I now ask is this. What specific proposals will Her Majesty's Government be putting to the mini-Commonwealth summit next Sunday if that conference is not to end in disarray? Should not the Government be making a public commitment now to proceeding with effective measures by way of comprehensive sactions without delay?

Secondly, is the noble Baroness aware of the comment in the Foreign Affairs Committee report that: The danger of the disintegration of the Commonwealth as a result of differences of policy towards southern Africa is not to be dismissed lightly"? What steps are the Government taking to convince our Commonwealth partners, who want action, that the British Government are committed to speedy elimination of apartheid? Will efforts be made to direct the EC under the period of British presidency towards implementing rigorous measures against the South African Government if they persist in their actions and refuse to meet the gravity of the situation?

Finally, should not the Government now join our friends and allies in the Commonwealth and in the EC—and now, as seems possible, in the United States—in proposing mandatory sanctions against South Africa in the Security Council?

Baroness Seear

My Lords, we on these Benches also wish to thank the noble Baroness for making the Statement in your Lordships' House this afternoon, and we, too, wish to express our understanding of the extremely difficult task undertaken by the Foreign Secretary; undertaken with great courage and determination, if, alas! with total lack of success.

Having said that, I am bound to observe that the Statement appears to be totally inadequate in the face of the position in South Africa, and also in the light of the anger and anxiety that is developing in this country at what is going on in South Africa; at the increasing bloodshed, and at the arrogant rejection by the South African leaders of any attempt to meet our Foreign Secretary and to discuss with him, in a way that would lead to any hope of understanding, the deep problems that confront South Africa and all of us because of our connections with South Africa.

There is anger and anxiety because time is running out. For months we have heard a great deal, and have known for years, that the issue of apartheid has been getting worse and worse. We had the meeting in Nassau. We had the Eminent Persons Group. The result, so far, is nothing. Time is not on our side. It is not on the side of South Africa. It is not on the side of the moderate leaders of the blacks, without whose leadership there is no hope for anything other than a bloodbath in South Africa. If those men are swept aside, what hope is there for decades to come of either the economic or political development of South Africa which we wish to see?

In the light of this one can only say that the Statement is a totally inadequate response. I should like to ask the noble Baroness one or two questions in connection with it. In the first place, we are told that the border states expressed concern about the potential consequences of general economic sanctions, but I suspect that they expressed a great deal more than that. Can we be told more about what Kenneth Kaunda said to the Foreign Secretary? What was his attitude? What did he hope would come from the mission, if anything, and what did he feel we ought to be doing? Surely more was said than a mere expression of concern about the effect of sanctions.

What is the Foreign Secretary going to say to the EC countries in his position as President of the EC. What sort of a lead is he going to give? In the last sentence of the Statement the Government refer to continuing to work for a negotiated solution to the problems of South Africa. Why do the Government think that continuing to work for a negotiated solution, which up to now has led to nothing, will lead to any success in the future; unless the Foreign Secretary is seen to be negotiating from a basis of strength, with a determination to take positive measures and see that something is done? Why should the South African Government take any more notice in the future than they have in the past if Sir Geoffrey continues to negotiate from the position of weakness which he takes up at the present time?

Her Majesty's Government were party to the Nassau Agreement. It was laid down clearly then what was to be expected: the release of Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC. Six months were given for that to take place. The Eminent Persons Group went with a commission to bring about achievement along the lines laid down at Nassau. They said that they failed. Do we just stand back with that failure and do nothing? As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones asked: what are the Government going to say to the seven members of the Commonwealth? They have shown their anger in a mild way—though not mild to many people—in their reaction to the Commonwealth Games. What will they say in reacting to what Sir Geoffrey will apparently by saying to them in the light of today's Statement?

Finally, I ask the noble Baroness to tell the House that if, during the Recess, any member of the Commonwealth decides to leave the Commonwealth, Parliament will be recalled to discuss this before the Commonwealth breaks up.

2.45 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I am grateful that both the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, reiterated what has been said from both the Labour and Liberal Benches, that they wished my right honourable and learned friend well in his mission to South Africa. They reiterated what I think is believed by all British people—that is, that in no way has his personal standing been diminished by any of his experiences. Indeed, he has bravely stood out and stood up for what we all believe—the point that has been made: that we all want to seek a change in apartheid and we want to see that change brought about peacefully. The question is how we are to achieve that.

I have been asked a number of questions both by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and as in a sense both sets of questions overlap. I shall answer them together. I think the first one concerns a general feeling that the Government had no positive or new proposals on how to deal with the present situation. Let me put it to your Lordships this particular way. The position that we are in remains as my right honourable and learned friend has already made clear. In the Commonwealth meeting which will take place on 3rd August, consideration of the case for further measures is an item on the agenda, and so too is it in the European Community connection on a different timescale. It would really not be right on this occasion for me to anticipate what will come out of that meeting.

Perhaps I may say to your Lordships that we are already implementing a whole range of measures with our European Community partners and our Commonwealth partners. I shall not list them all today, though I have done so on previous occasions, but of course they include the United Nations arms embargo, the Gleneagles agreement, the Luxembourg package and Nassau accord. May I say to your Lordships that there is no automaticity that something further will happen, but I repeat that my right honourable and learned friend has said in another place that if his mission did not procure tangible and substantial progress, then agreement on further measures was likely to be necessary. This is an objective statement of reality; it is not a threat.

I was secondly asked about the report of the Foreign Affairs Committee regarding the dangers of the disintegration of the Commonwealth. The noble and learned Lord will be well aware of the convention of the Government not commenting on a committee report at this stage, so I can only say to him that of course we acknowledge the importance of the Commonwealth. I should like to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, with regard to the last point that she raised, that whether or not any country might leave the Commonwealth is a totally hypothetical situation, and I think it would be most unwise to comment in any way on this suggestion.

As for the recall of Parliament, that would be a matter not for myself but for consideration in the usual way in which these matters are conducted in both Houses of Parliament. However, in the present context I think it is very important to stick to the facts, and, following upon the Cabinet meeting this morning, I should like to add that the Cabinet thanked my right honourable and learned friend for the dignified and persuasive way in which he carried out his mission. The Cabinet was deeply dismayed by President Botha's discourtesy to my right honourable and learned friend; and it was unanimous in its support for the policy that both my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary have pursued, which is to try by negotiation to achieve an end to apartheid.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

My Lords, eleven days ago I was priviledged to meet representatives of the Zulu nation, which is a nation of 6 million people. To a man, they were against sanctions. I also was upset about the discourtesy shown to our Foreign Secretary by President Botha, but I should like to point out that in the past three years he has pretty well dismantled apartheid apart from the Group Areas Act.

Noble Lords

No, no!

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

Yes, my Lords, he has—apart from having one man, one vote, which of course, as a great number of educated Africans will tell you, would create complete chaos. Change has to come slowly. He has dismantled everything apart from the Group Areas Act. If your Lordships do not know what the Group Areas Act is, I will tell you. It does not actually allow black Africans to live in the better suburbs and housing districts which are limited to whites. However, the South African government are rather winking an eye at that. I happen to know that it is actually happening. The only other matter is, as I say, the question of one man one vote, which will take time and which will have to be done through persuasion and not by the stick. I should also like to point out that the South African government have on several occasions offered Mr. Mandela his freedom if he would renounce violence. They have done the same in relation to the African National Union, but they will not renounce violence. With the greatest respect—

Noble Lords

Order! Order!

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that it is entirely wrong to continue with a statement? He should bring his remarks to a close with a question.

Baroness Young

My Lords, my noble friend, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, asked three questions. My right honourable and learned friend did in fact meet Chief Buthelezi and is well aware of the views which he has expressed on behalf of the Zulu people. We are also well aware that the South African Government has taken steps partially to dismantle apartheid. We have welcomed those steps. What we have always said is that they have not gone far enough or fast enough. Concerning the point of the offer of freedom for Nelson Mandela in return for the renunciation of violence, I think it is important to note that what my right honourable and learned friend said (and it is the view of the Government) is that we want not only the release of Nelson Mandela but also the release of other political prisoners and the unbanning of the ANC.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, only a few hours ago I was asking the noble Lady in a two-hour debate a question concerning what the Government's response was to the report of the Eminent Persons Group. She did not answer the House last night and she did not answer the House in the Statement this afternoon. She did quote the Nassau Agreement of last October, which stated that if the Eminent Persons Group did not find any movement towards what the whole Commonwealth was looking for in South Africa, then there would be a mini-summit meeting to consider further measures. Are we not entitled to know what the policy of Her Majesty's Government is when the Eminent Persons report has made it clear that the Africans of South Africa are willing to negotiate with the Government, but the South African government is not willing to negotiate, which has been confirmed by the visit of the Foreign Secretary? Are we not entitled to know now what the policy of Her Majesty's Government is in relation to what has been made plain by every other member of the Commonwealth as they enter this crucial summit meeting this weekend?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I am completely dismayed by what the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, has said. We had a debate last night lasting nearly two hours, at the end of which I set out the Government's statement. I went out of my way to answer the specific points he raised and I have no intention of repeating this afternoon what I said last night. I can only say that so far as what the noble Lord has described as the mini-summit (by which I take it he means the meeting of seven Commonwealth countries), I have already answered that question in what I have said to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones.

Lord Soames

My Lords, will my noble friend tell the House that the Government have been discussing for many weeks with the other main trading partners of South Africa what action they should all agree to take if the highly regrettable state of affairs comes about whereby the Government of Pretoria refuse to take further steps to dismantle apartheid of their own volition?

Baroness Young

My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely correct. Discussions have been going on with our Community partners, and we had discussions with our Commonwealth partners stemming from the Nassau meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. As I said, we are already implementing a whole range of measures with our Community and Commonwealth partners. As I have also indicated, my right honourable and learned friend made clear on 17th July in another place his view on other measures.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, what has happened is a deep humiliation both to the Foreign Secretary and to the Prime Minister. They were persuaded that apartheid could be ended by reasonable discussion. The Foreign Secretary travelled half-way round the world to discuss this matter with President Botha of South Africa. He was given a colossal snub. The South African Head of Government even refused to consider the proposals that he was going to make. Both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister must feel utterly humiliated by what has occurred.

What I do not understand is this. Why did not the British Embassy in South Africa, and indeed the embassies of the other EC countries, obtain the knowledge and give the information to the British Government which would have prevented that disaster? Apparently it was only two days before he met the Head of State of South Africa, when the Foreign Secretary was in Botswana, that he understood the rejection which was likely to take place.

I welcome the reported proposal of the Indian Government that in September there should be a meeting of all the Commonwealth countries to consider what should be done. I suggest that that meeting should be broader than just a meeting of the Commonwealth countries. The governments of the EC are involved; the world is involved. I should like to see the Security Council of the United Nations initiating a world conference to consider what action can be taken. A meeting of the Commonwealth nations might well precede it.

Lord Soames

Enough is enough, my Lords!

Lord Brockway

My Lords, I wish to sound a warning against the possibility of limited sanctions. They would fail. All history shows the ability of governments, when foreign action is taken, to adjust themselves to it. Apartheid is not just a matter of rules, regulations and adminstration; it is, as my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby pointed out in his remarkable speech during the South African debate, a way of life for the Afrikaners who rule the South African Government. Only a fundamental change of power will end that. I have no doubt that in the long run apartheid will be abolished, but I am fearful and pessimistic about the means of that realisation.

Noble Lords


Lord Brockway

My Lords, there will be a blood bath in South Africa and a war in the world. I conclude by urging intervention by United Nations forces if apartheid is ultimately to be overthrown.

3 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I do not accept what the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said: that either my right honourable friend the Prime Minister or my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary have been humiliated by that visit. I am bound to say that I have listened in this House on many occasions to the noble Lord putting, if I may say so, eloquently the case for negotiation and talks with people. I am surprised that he should feel that making a further effort to negotiate with the people who are in a position to implement change in apartheid is humiliating or not worth while. We do not see it in those terms.

I was interested to hear what he said about sanctions because I think that he has indicated that sanctions are not easy to apply, or the easy policy which is sometimes implied, which will bring about the changes that we should all like to see. I should not like to comment on the Indian Government's proposals as I have not seen anything of that nature.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, I shall confine myself to questions but I have several questions to ask. First, has not the Foreign Office been a little naive? Has it not taken it a very long time to find out that neither the Jews nor the Boers can be talked out of their promised lands? Both are people of faith: both are good fighters. Should the Foreign Office also not consider that they both have the bomb? Have we costed sanctions? There are certainly more than a million migrant workers in South Africa. When sanctions are put on they will not be needed and they will become a menace. Within days, they will be trucked out of the country. Who will feed them? Where will they go? Has UNRWA prepared refugee camps to receive them, because they will need them?

On the question of trade, all South Africa's neighbours have her as their largest trading partner. They do not just trade with South Africa; there is the question of transport. The remittances will be cut on which their budgets so largely depend to pay for their imports. What are we going to do to meet their problems? The heroic black leaders scorn these materialistic considerations. They say, "We will take the suffering". It is not the leaders who will starve. Mr. Nelson Mandela will still get his ration; millions will not. African leaders have always had the tendency to take heroic policies and the lives of the ruled have always been expendable. I do not think that there is—in fact I am sure that there is not—a single black ruled country in Africa in which the ordinary citizen's prospect of dying from natural causes has not considerably receded since colonial days.

Noble Lords


Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, as the noble Baroness is aware, they have suffered from drought. But what rulers of Africa have not suffered from drought? Droughts are endemic in the African climate. The differing factor has been black governments and millions have died as a result throughout Africa—

Noble Lords


Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, is it not odd that we should be conspiring to wreck the only economy in Africa that works? I think we could be better occupied. Again, do we need the burden of feeding the millions on South Africa's borders? If we do not, nobody will. What is the cost of this?

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

My Lords, one thing that is clear about a Statement is that we must not turn it into a debate. I wonder whether the noble Lord would think it right to draw his remarks to a conclusion.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, can I put my final question? Who will pay for the victims of this? We start off with Namibia. Who will pay for Namibia? South Africa has been paying some 500 million a year. Who will take that on? That is only a trifle compared with the needs of all her other neighbours who are going to be starving. Are we really to go in for this performance—

Noble Lords


Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, I end with this. Our Prime Minister has behaved with the utmost courage. I hope that her courage does not leave her, because if it does millions will die.

Baroness Young

My Lords, the noble Lord. Lord Paget, has asked a number of questions and made a number of points. But I shall try to confine my answers to those which are relevant to the Statement.

The noble Lord mentioned a whole range of measures which might be taken and asked whether, in what we have done, we had considered their effects. We have consistently argued against general economic sanctions. Experience has shown that they do not work, and any further measures in addition to those that the United Kingdom has implemented over the years have to be considered in the light of that experience. We believe that, against the supposed benefits, all should weigh carefully the effects of general economic sanctions in South Africa on South Africa's neighbours and on the United Kingdom. We believe that the balance is against such sanctions.

On the effects of sanctions on the front-line states, we are examining the possibility for further assistance in the context of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference, but clearly the United Kingdom is not in a position to offset the effects of economic sanctions on the front-line states. The importance of that is that it underlines the importance of seeking a solution through dialogue and not through confrontation.

I should like to conclude by saying that the mandate which my right honourable and learned friend was given at the Hague meeting has still nearly two months to run. There is no need for instant decisions.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the calm good sense of her original Statement does not, to many of us, seem to merit the highly critical comments which it received from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear? Is she also aware that it seems to many of us thoroughly sensible not to indicate in advance of the meeting with the Commonwealth Heads of Government at the weekend and in advance of discussions with them, exactly how Her Majesty's Government are contemplating proceeding? Is not the purpose to have a discussion with them and to see whether a meeting of minds can be achieved among those who are very largely concerned?

Is my noble friend also aware of the fact that the apparent wish of a number of noble Lords opposite to rush into measures which, whatever else they may do, would inflict untold misery and suffering on a large number of innocent people, shocks some of us?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter for his very helpful and positive support for the Statement that I have made and for his support for the policy and the line that is being pursued by the Government.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that those of us who wished our Foreign Secretary all good fortune and godspeed in his difficult task, acknowledging that he was speaking not for this country but for the European Community as well, consider that his summary dismissal by Botha was indicative of what that country thinks of the opinion of the rest of Europe? Will not the noble Baroness also agree that most political parties in Western Europe and in the United Kingdom as well as the United States Congress approved of the Report of the Eminent Persons Group and that they were sabotaged and prevented from implementing their recommendations by the stubborness of the President of the United States of America and the British Prime Minister? Therefore, would not the noble Baroness agree that the Commonwealth conference can provide, if we take the right initiative, a vital wind of change which will not only be able to unite this nation, the European Community and the United States, but will find approval in the rest of the civilised world? I am referring to the fact that in our unity we condemn apartheid with our words and we have the courage and the fortitude to make our words a reality in some form of unified action which will speak even louder than the words of the most courageous person.

Baroness Young

My Lords, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, I point out that my right honourable and learned friend during his visit to Southern Africa had the opportunity to put very frankly our view about the situation in South Africa to State President Botha and to other members of the South African Government, and in the same way he has had the opportunity to put very freely and frankly our position to President Kaunda. We have made clear on many occasions that we condemn apartheid. I would only add so far as concerns the United States and its attitude to the mission of my right honourable and learned friend, that it has been very supportive, and my right honourable and learned friend will be seeing Dr. Crocker later this afternoon. The Hague Summit decision provided for consultation with other industrialised countries.

Lord Alport

My Lords, I should like to ask my noble friend, or rather I should like to ask the Leader of the House whether he does not consider that most of the interventions that have taken place since this Statement was made, apart from those from the Front Bench, have been a gross abuse of the procedure of the House; contrary to the traditions of the House and unfair on a Minister who is here not to have a debate but to answer questions? In those circumstances, the proceedings of the past half hour or so have not been of any advantage to the reputation of this House.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Alport, that it is a matter of concern that some of the questions have been way outside the terms of the Statement. The convention of the House is that on a Statement noble Lords should put questions, with the exception of the Front Bench speakers. I shall of course draw to the notice of my noble friend the Leader of the House the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Alport.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, the standing order refers to Statements as being the opportunity for "brief comments and questions", so noble Lords may make brief comments as well as ask questions.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that in the hotels of Johannesburg and Pretoria there are now waiting salesmen from Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, and agents of the state trading companies in Eastern Europe, all of whom are hoping that we shall be stupid enough to impose sanctions? Furthermore, is my noble friend aware that large numbers of people in this country are fed up to the back teeth with being lectured by people who come from governments whose legitimacy and rectitude leave much to be desired?

Thirdly, and lastly, is it not unhealthy that we are so obsessed by South Africa that we take no notice of other tyrannies in this world? Was that obsession not totally encapsulated by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, who gave the impression of being one of Lord Milner's children, and that she wanted to govern and boss about South Africa? South Africa is not a nice state, but we should not be quite so obsessed with one tyranny in the world when there are hundreds of others.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I note of course what my noble friend Lord Onslow has said. One of the difficulties about sanctions is that to be effective they require the complete co-operation of all countries. He is right to draw this point to our attention.

Following on what the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, has said—and I appreciate that I had not the advantage he had of having the Companion to the Standing Orders in front of me—in fact we have now spent just over three-quarters of an hour on this Statement while we are in the middle of a debate on an important Bill. We had a debate on South Africa last night—the third such debate since April—and it might be the wish of your Lordships that we should return to the debate on the European Community.

Lord Monson

My Lords, I shall be brief. Would the noble Baroness agree that ,all those African Commonwealth countries which are trying to force or panic this country into precipitate action, by boycotting the Commonwealth Games and so on, themselves engage in trade with South Africa, whether openly or surreptitiously?

Baroness Young

My Lords, we very much regret what has happened regarding the Commonwealth Games. The important thing to remember is that they are Commonwealth Games, although they happen to be taking place in Edinburgh.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I promise questions, comments and brevity. May I first be allowed to dissociate these Benches from the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Paget. Secondly, may I ask the noble Baroness whether it is not a pity that the one House of Parliament sitting at this critical time is dealing with a Statement out of which only words have come while no policy statement at all has issued from Her Majesty's Government? If one takes it for granted, as we do from all sides of this House, that it was right and proper, with his customary dignity, for the Foreign Secretary to try to use the force of reason with the Government of South Africa, is it not clear that that voice of reason was treated with impertinence? If that is so, what are we going to do now that reason has been shown not to prevail?

Baroness Young

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, puts in rather a different form the question that was put by his noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones. My answer remains to him, as it was in the beginning to the noble and learned Lord, that my right honourable and learned friend has made clear that at the Commonwealth meeting next week consideration of the case for further measures is an item on the agenda. So is it too in the European Community context, but on a different timescale. It would not be right for me to anticipate that discussion

Lord Ferrier

My Lords, will the noble Baroness—

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, may I say—

Noble Lords


Lord Belstead

My Lords, I do not think we can have two or more than two noble Lords on their feet at the same time. I wonder whether I might ask your Lordships if it is the feeling of the House, despite the fact that this is a matter of considerable concern, that after 50 minutes we ought now to move on to other business?

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I rose to my feet to say just that to the noble Lord. From these Benches we support him completely.