HL Deb 21 January 1987 vol 483 cc928-9

2.50 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 why Namibia was excluded from the provisions of the EC sanctions agreement; and whether they consider this exclusion to be a hindrance to the effective implementation of that agreement.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, we joined other European partners in excluding Namibia from the measures taken against South Africa because we do not believe that to apply such measures to Namibia would advance the common objective of Namibian independence. We do not consider that this exclusion will be a hindrance to implementation of the measures.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, were not EC sanctions imposed against the racist regime of South Africa which illegally occupies the territory of Namibia? Would it not therefore be much more effective if those sanctions were applied totally to the South African Administration within South African frontiers and also within the frontiers of Namibia which it illegally occupies?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that the exclusion was not intended to allow the leakage of banned products, but if South Africa were shown to be using Namibia as a loophole we should be prepared to review the situation.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, would not the impoverishment of a country be the worst possible way of helping it towards independence?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I agree entirely that impoverishment would in no way contribute to the aim to which my noble friend has referred. The best way to achieve independence for Namibia would be the implementation of the United Nations plan.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

My Lords, does the Minister appreciate that in Namibia there are representative black voices calling for the implementation of such sanctions in the interests of speeding the independence process?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I believe that they are mistaken.

Lord Wilberforce

My Lords, can the Minister confirm that the United Nations' policy of sanctions against South Africa does not extend to Namibia?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the noble and learned Lord is right.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, is the sanctions policy having any success at all?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I have as yet observed none.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, is it not the case that the sanctions imposed by the United States Congress include Namibia? Whatever the Minister may think about the impoverishment of the country, on behalf of his Government does he not fully support the EC policy of applying sanctions to South Africa to undermine the apartheid policy? He referred in an earlier answer to a possible leakage through Namibia. Is it not possible that Namibia may be used for the new investment which is forbidden in South Africa? Could not the South Africans use Namibia as a means of obtaining new investment, against the EC sanctions policy?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, as I said earlier, if it became apparent that loopholes existed in the arrangements that are in place, we should be prepared to review the situation. I remain very much of the view that sanctions would not contribute to Namibia's course to independence. As I said earlier, I believe that the best way to achieve that is by the implementation of the United Nations plan.

Lord Shackleton

My Lords, does the Minister agree that the failure to implement the plan is due entirely to the attitude of the South African Government? At the same time, does he recognise that the important difference is that in Namibia there is no colour bar or apartheid of the kind that prevails in South Africa?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, circumstances in Namibia are different in sociological terms from those that exist in South Africa. As to the attitude of South Africa towards the independence of Namibia, it is committed to the United Nations plan, as the noble Lord will be aware. It is now up to all parties concerned to implement it.