HL Deb 15 October 1991 vol 531 cc1064-88

7.15 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they agree that sanctions would influence the South African Government to make progress towards a non-racist and democratic society.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as some of your Lordships will know, I spent two months in South Africa this summer for the first time since 1959. What then were the major changes that I saw? There were no pass laws, the Immorality Act and Mixed Marriages Act had been repealed; the Group Areas Act was repealed; the Land Act was repealed; and the Population Registration Act was repealed. There was decided progress. However, without doubt there was a clear indication that apartheid is not dead, and one wonders how long it will take until it is finally killed off.

I talked with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Cyril Ramaphosa. Although distinguished international figures, not one has a vote in South Africa, in his own land. The Land Act has been repealed. Those Africans who were pushed off the land and whose land was occupied by the whites are still off the land and there are no plans for them to return to the land of their ancestors.

Wealth distribution is, if anything, growing worse. The gap between white and black as regards the provision of social services, disposable income, infrastructure and the quality of life is very much the same as I saw it to be 40 years ago. One hears that the Bantu Education Act no longer exists and that there is now equality in education. Mixed schools, colleges and universities are permitted. When I was in Cape Town two months ago a little eight year-old coloured girl was denied access to three schools because her skin was too dark. In fact, only when a large majority—85 per cent. of the white parents in a school—approve of desegregation can non-Europeans be admitted to those schools.

As I have insisted in this House before, certain apartheid laws and the legalisation of long-standing social discriminatory practices have been repealed; and we welcome that. However, let us not delude ourselves because it it not simply apartheid—a word only invented in 1948—that the majority of the South African population is determined to extirpate. The people are not going back to the conditions of 1948. They are looking for and demanding a truly non-racial nation.

The African National Congress is totally pledged to negotiations leading to a new, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic constitution. For those who deal in the field of demonology, I quote Chris Hani, who is not only a member of the Communist Party and a member of the National Working Committee of the ANC but is also one of the chief leaders of Umkhontowe Sizwe, the military arm of the ANC. Before the ANC national congress in Durban last July, he said publicly and categorically that however many ANC leaders were killed, that must not divert the party from the path towards negotiation.

The ANC stands, as it always has done, for negotiations and for discussions to bring in an agreed new non-racial democratic constitution. Where do the de Klerk Government stand? First, because of the intrepid work of journalists —here, in particular within the Guardian, David Beresford, and in South Africa within the organisation of the Weekly Mail under the leadership of its courageous editor Anton Harbor—the scandal of the Government's funding of the organisation known as Inkatha was exposed. I have mentioned that in previous debates and have always been challenged regarding the whereabouts of my documentation. I now possess that documentation. Although in a short debate such as this I cannot go into the details, should any noble Lord question any of the statements I make, I shall be happy to provide him with full documentation of every assertion.

I heard three Ministers—Adriaan Volk, Minister for law and order, Pik Botha, the Foreign Minister and the President, F.W. de Klerk—publicly admit that, despite previous denials, they had been funding the organisation of Inkatha. Moreover, not only had they funded but they had created the opposition union to the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, known as the United Workers Union of South Africa, again an arm of Inkatha.

While in South Africa I took the opportunity to go to Ulundi, in Natal, to hear Chief Buthelezi in his defence of Inkatha. Only a few days before the revelations were made public, Chief Buthelezi assured me that the funds of Inkatha came solely from the subscriptions of its members. That was a few days before leading members of the government admitted publicly that they had been funding Inkatha. Not only had they been funding it, but since then it has been revealed that official security forces of the South African state had been training the Impis—warriors of the Inkatha movement —in the terrorist methods they had been using throughout Natal and in the Transvaal townships.

What is more, quite extraordinarily, in listening to the press conference given by both Pik Botha and President de Klerk, they voluntarily offered us the information that they had been secretly funding opposition parties to SWAPO in Namibia during the elections, despite the agreement that they had made in New York before the elections.

Secondly, we come to the subject of violence. Violence is a terrible scourge in South Africa today. I took part in a march in Kavelitsha outside Cape Town demanding that the police should take action against the murder of the local ANC leader whose wife had been murdered six months earlier. As we reached the police station where the petition was to be handed in, what is known in South Africa as a "combi" or "minibus" in a service station opposite the police station was suddenly surrounded by police. There were no demonstrators anywhere near that combi and it went up in smoke. I could not have had a more personal experience of deliberate provocation.

Over the past few weeks the slaughter on the commuter trains from Johannesburg to the townships has continued and increased. It is continuing today and no doubt tonight people are losing their lives on those commuter trains. It has been shown again that security forces are involved in those murderous activities. Only a few days ago at Thokoza outside Johannesburg, at the funeral of Sam Ntuli, one of the divisional leaders of the ANC, armed men gunned down 18 members of the mourning procession. During the past weekend in Soweto another 21 were gunned down by the same unknown assassins—no arrests; no prosecutions. Without doubt it is now fully established that certain members—I do not say all—of the security forces are deliberately indulging in violence to protect those engaged in violence, and inevitably provoking a certain degree of counter-violence.

Thirdly, since I left South Africa President de Klerk has tabled his constitutional proposals. In the 1950s and early 1960s we spoke of the fancy franchises that our colonial office devised for emerging colonial territories. There has been nothing as fancy as the constitution proposed by the National Party led by President de Klerk. As a nice sop to the international community he begins with a universal franchise for the Lower House. The Upper House will then have absolute veto on any legislation passed by the Lower House. The Upper House will be elected through nine new regions in each one of which any party, however small, which secures 10 per cent. of the vote will be entitled to an equal number of seats as any other party. For example, if the African National Congress pulls 70 per cent. of the votes and three other parties each pull 10 per cent., the African National Congress will take only one quarter of the seats in the Upper House. Added to that, the cabinet must be drawn from the major parties.

There could be no clearer indication that there is a determined effort to prevent the ANC from gaining governmental powers and therefore that there is a clearly directed effort against the principle of majority rule. That has been the objective of the de Klerk Government, however many votes and however much support the ANC obtains. When I was in South Africa a reputable independent opinion poll showed that the ANC would obtain around 70 per cent. of the votes of blacks in the urban areas and Inkatha would obtain 3 per cent.

I heard President de Klerk quite categorically admit in his press conference that the change within the apartheid system, the repeal of the major apartheid laws—which had been debated and were still being passed in 1950—had been caused, first, because of the impact of international economic sanctions and, secondly, because of the combined effort, with international sanctions, of the revolt of Africans within that country. That was the cause of the change within the apartheid regime. I date it from 1985 when the Chase Manhattan Bank withdrew from South Africa and other financial institutions followed in their lemming-like ways. That is an important admission by President de Klerk.

I hope that nobody will argue tonight that the only way towards the abolition of apartheid and the building up of a democratic state is to support economic prosperity in South Africa. It was most economically prosperous during the 1960s. That enabled the then governments with people like Dr. Verwoerd to impose apartheid in the strictest possible sense. The two went along together. As I have just outlined, we have seen what a white South African Government will do with economic prosperity and how they will use it to undermine the democratic parties such as the ANC and anything which is going to weaken white power.

Therefore it seems that the case is quite clear. We have a situation in which certain of the apartheid laws have been repealed. Discrimination and racialism continue. The government have shown that they are determined to use every effort to prevent majority rule resulting in governmental power. The only way in which the South African Government can be led to agree to a genuine democratic constitution is to continue with the economic sanctions which have already caused them to change tack to some extent.

Until an interim government replaces the present all white government; until such a government is formed which can share power—in the interim the ANC is prepared to share power—over the political system, the security forces and government revenues and public money, economic sanctions must remain or we are betraying the cause of majority rule in South Africa. I asked Nelson Mandela whether he still believes President de Klerk to be a man of integrity. He said that he did not know and that either he cannot control his own government and the security forces under that government, and the police forces who have been providing funds for organisations such as Inkatha, or it is a deliberate policy. We should leave it like that for none of us knows what is the truth.

I suggest that if President de Klerk is innocent and it is elements within his forces who want to prevent the majority rule being attained, then let us offer him the prospect of a carrot that when democracy is established, even if only in the interim period, then sanctions will be removed. If he is innocent that will surely strengthen him against his own dissidents. However, if he is guilty and it is a deliberate policy to de-stabilise the ANC and prevent majority rule coming on the South African scene, then economic sanctions are the only lever apart from internal revolt. Therefore, to the extent that international economic sanctions are retained, so there will be less need for internal revolt and less danger of internal violence.

Sanctions have been shown to change the path of South African Governments. Sanctions have to be retained until that fact achieves the objective which I believe we all share and which is the only objective—that is to say, a genuine, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.

7.35 p.m.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, it is customary to say something about the noble Lord or the speaker who has preceded one when one rises to speak. Tonight I have heard from the noble Lord a long criticism of the way in which the South African Government carries out their duty at the present time. I wonder whether the noble Lord had the courtesy to leave with, say, the president of the Government of South Africa any of the comments which he has made today to noble Lords in one of the Chambers of Her Majesty's Government. If he has not done that, then it would be quite wrong for me at the moment to try to answer, with some justification, all of the criticisms that he has made.

The criticisms that he has made of the South African Government are a very serious matter. For example, he said that there had been difficulties because certain of the laws have been withdrawn which, in his opinion, would have helped the government of that country. There is still the problem of the whites and settlement out there. It would have been helpful for the noble Lord to have given us some idea of how he suggests that there may be some co-operation between the whites and the Africans of that country.

In addition to that, he has not said one word about sanctions which would give me confidence that worse things would not happen if sanctions were introduced. The noble Lord has asked Her Majesty's Government: whether they agree that sanctions would influence the South African Government to make progress towards a non-racist and democratic society". My answer to that is no. I do not consider that the imposition of sanctions would be a contributory cause in bringing about the state of affairs in South Africa which the noble Lord wishes to see. In saying that, I speak with some authority as a former member of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. Therefore, I can speak with some knowledge of the policies of Her Majesty's Government both before and after 1945 when the African empire started to be dismantled. A British policy existed at the time of the hand over which placed upon those who were responsible, with the British Government, a paramount duty to see that it was achieved peacefully and that, above all, there should be no betrayal of the indigenous people and the millions who had been left behind in independence to live under some government to be established at that time.

That would have been the kind of speech that we would have liked to have heard from the noble Lord. When there is unrest in South Africa, as at the present time, and when it is tribal (I shall illustrate this later) it would be quite wrong to impose sanctions. I do not believe that they would help progress towards the establishment of a non-racist and democratic society. If sanctions were imposed, there would be an escalation of unrest and betrayal of the people to whom we still have some responsibility. It is not as though, as the noble Lord implies, everything has been bad in South Africa with the present South African Government.

On 29th September 1989 the office of the state president was established and President de Klerk took up his position in that system. I may be wrong, but I believe that the state president has recently invited Nelson Mandela of the ANC to join him, or at least help him, in governing the country in the present difficult circumstances.

What else is there in South Africa at present? We have heard something about the government out there. However, if sanctions were to be introduced, what on earth would happen? The situation would be very much worse. At the present moment I understand there is a cabinet of eight. There exist Ministers of defence, foreign affairs, constitutional development, finance, manpower, and law and order. There is a House of Assembly, which the noble Lord touched on, where, in the general election of 1989, the National Party won 93 seats, the Conservatives 39 seats, the Democrats 33, and there was one vacant seat. That is a total of 166 seats. I am of the opinion that even if these people have not governed in the way that the noble Lord has illustrated that he would like to see them govern, it would not be wise to upset the situation which exists in that respect and which would be much worse if sanctions were imposed. Has the noble Lord considered what are some of the difficulties facing President de Klerk and Nelson Mandela? We should not increase those difficulties by the imposition of sanctions.

I do not know whether the noble Lord is aware that in South Africa there are, including the ANC, 29 registered political organisations which have to receive the consideration of the president. That is not easy.

I turn again to the existence of African tribal unrest, which I mentioned earlier, where various tribal factions are now having a go at each other. That is resulting in a number of Africans being shot and murdered in the outbreak of violence. That has nothing to do with apartheid or dissatisfaction with President de Klerk. No, my Lords; it is motivated by various Africans jockeying for power when independence arrives. It makes difficulties far worse for President de Klerk and Nelson Mandela when allegations are made about the security forces and it is reported in the press that when murders occur the forces stand by and watch the atrocities when—it is stated—they should intervene and prevent them. If that story is true, it is a damaging statement to make; if it is not a true statement, it should be corrected as soon as possible.

In either case, and for all the reasons I have given, it would be extremely dangerous to impose sanctions. Sanctions would bring about a serious breakdown of law and order in South Africa and would finally contribute towards an increase in the difficulties of the government of that country and for President de Klerk. I am therefore totally against the imposition of sanctions.

7.43 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

My Lords, we should all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, for giving us an opportunity at this point to think about the tragic situation in South Africa and what might be done from this country in order to help.

I wish to speak about the opinion of the Churches in South Africa as can be judged from statements of Church leaders. But first a brief word about the Churches in Britain. We have had a very long history of involvement in the South African issue. In fact no international cause has taken up more time in discussion, in meetings, in producing documents and, of course, in prayer.

On the subject of sanctions, the Church of England General Synod has debated the issue a number of times over the years. It has moved from a position of constructive engagement in the economy of South Africa to a firm position in support of progressive disengagement. That means sanctions by all member countries of the United Nations, including Britain. A resolution to this effect was passed on 7th July 1986 almost unanimously in our General Synod. I quote: This Synod urges Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the failure of the mission of the Eminent Persons' Group, to deploy effective economic sanctions against South Africa, requests banking and financial institutions, trans-national corporations, and all bodies with significant links in South Africa to take whatever steps are in their power—including acts of disengagement—to increase the pressure on that economy". It is significant that at that time a few years ago, the resolution also urged the financial bodies of the Church to give a clear lead in that direction.

Noble Lords may have read in the newspapers of the action being undertaken at the moment in the courts to obtain a legal opinion on the duties of the Church Commissioners. This has been initiated by the Bishop of Oxford and some others. The origins of this go back to the strong feeling on the part of many in the Churches that the Church Commissioners were not sufficiently following the advice of that General Synod resolution to use the Church's financial pressure for a greater disengagement from South Africa; that is, sanctions and economic pressure. That stand was taken after careful consideration of what the Churches in South Africa were asking us to do—that is, Churches with an overwhelming majority of black members. They were asking at that time for that pressure to be increased.

The question is whether the situation in South Africa has now changed so much that sanctions should be lifted and all pressure from this country for sanctions should now disappear. Has apartheid really been dismantled? What is the view of majority black opinion on the matter, and especially the opinion of responsible Christian bodies?

We may note that the Churches in South Africa are much more important in this context on the political and social scene than the Churches in Britain. I know there is some fuss from time to time about the statements which the Archbishop of Canterbury makes, or about the Faith in the City Report and that kind of thing, but that does not compare with the importance of the Churches on the South African scene. One only needs to notice the outstanding leadership of people such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Reverend Alan Boesak and the Reverend Frank Chikane, who is the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, over the years to have proof of that. It is no surprise that the Churches are the ones who organised the national peace initiative that brought together the parties in conflict —the South African Government, the ANC and Inkatha to produce the recent peace agreement which was signed by all three.

I have three important statements on the sanctions issue which have recently come from the Christian bodies in South Africa. In date order, they are from the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference of 19th August; from the South African Council of Churches, signed by the Reverend Frank Chikane on 30th August; and from the South African Anglican Bishops, signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on 8th September. I shall be pleased to make copies available to any noble Lords who may wish to see them.

The Churches are not wholly united in their advice to us, their international partners, on the sanctions issue. However, one must say that none of the Churches is calling for all sanctions to be lifted now. The South African Council of Churches says: This is not the time to lift economic sanctions. We would urge our international partners to maintain the sanctions position until the change in South Africa is irreversible and profound, as declared in United Nations and OAU resolutions". The SACC is further very critical of the American decision to lift sanctions. I quote: We were alarmed that President Bush chose this sensitive time to sign off the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1988. Whilst we have always considered the US Government's conditions for lifting sanctions as falling short of our call for the maintenance of comprehensive sanctions until apartheid is constitutionally eliminated, we were surprised that the US lifted sanctions before even their limited conditions were met, and facilitated this through an unjustifiable redefinition of political offences". That is the SACC statement—which is the one which is most outspoken—that sanctions should remain.

The statement of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' conference is different in emphasis. It agrees that apartheid is not ended but it acknowledges the success of sanctions in bringing about a situation in which they are no longer necessary. On the point about the success of sanctions, perhaps I may say that all the Church statements agree that there has been a remarkable impact of sanctions over the years. I was a little puzzled when the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, said that he did not believe that sanctions had contributed anything to improving the situation in South Africa. I was puzzled about that because even President de Klerk and members of his government have declared quite forcefully that sanctions have produced the changes which we have seen, which I am sure we all welcome, towards the elimination of apartheid. The Churches welcome those moves as well.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, my reference was to the unrest in South Africa caused by people who, I have been informed, are jockeying for position in readiness for the granting of full independence. Every one of them is interested in that. The security forces have a bounden duty to support the government in power. I do not know whether they have committed excesses, but it is a dangerous thing in a country to criticise people who are trying to maintain law and order.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

My Lords, the noble Lord forgets that all the evidence now shows quite clearly the heavy involvement of the security forces, or elements of them, in some of the things that have been taking place.

I shall say a few words about violence in South Africa before I conclude my remarks. I wish to quote from the statement of the Southern African Catholic Bishops. They say: We conclude that what is now required is a united political, social and economic effort in pursuit of the vision of the future … Attention should be concentrated on the social dimensions of new investment and the promotion of massive projects to improve the social fabric and multiply employment opportunities". The Catholic Bishops believe that the time has come for lifting some economic sanctions and bringing in investment but they believe that that investment should be carefully controlled and should not be the kind of investment which we have seen in South Africa in the past at the time of its greatest prosperity.

The Anglican Bishops emphasise that sanctions have been a success, pointing to the admission by ministers, especially the Minister of Justice, Mr. Coetzee, that they have forced change. More cautiously than the Catholic Bishops, they state: We should like to explore the feasibility of linking the lifting of specific sanctions to the achievement of clearly defined objectives". They say that new ways should be found to channel investments. They continue: In past periods of prosperity, the allocation of incoming investment has been controlled by business and government interests dominated by white South Africans, and the main beneficiaries of growth have been whites". That is a sharp warning against the kind of free market economics now being advocated for the South African situation by people in this country. It is the theory of trickle down growth—if one makes an economy grow, a lot of people become very wealthy and in the end the wealth trickles down to the poorest. It has never happened like that in South Africa in the past under apartheid. It is unlikely to happen in that way in the future.

May we note from these statements that all those informed on the situation agree that economic sanctions have been a success. I do not believe for a moment that South Africa would have withdrawn from Angola or given Namibia independence without the effect of sanctions. All these statements welcome the changes that have taken place. They are some degree of progress. All are deeply worried about the violence and are convinced of the involvement of security forces and the failure of the government to care about black lives. All are concerned about the trickery and lies which have characterised the de Klerk government in some aspects in recent months. That is put most strikingly in the Catholic Bishops' statement: Sadly, over the years we have grown accustomed to finding out that, all too frequently, denials by those in authority in our land stand for little. South Africa's involvement in Angola was denied only for us to find out later that we were heavily involved. Cross-border destabilisation was denied and later found out to be true. Funding of organisations within and outside South Africa was denied and then, on production of irrefutable evidence, grudgingly admitted. Time and time again truth has been the victim of political expediency on the part of those who rule our land". There is also a deep longing that the de Klerk government should acknowledge the iniquities of the past. I quote again from the Catholic Bishops' statement: We consider that the process of change would be greatly helped if the government of the day publicly acknowledged the iniquity of the past and made immediate and honourable amends, for example, in the case of land expropriated under the apartheid system". All are agreed that apartheid is not ended. There are no votes for blacks and the violence makes democracy meaningless. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, that the violence is not simply tribal. It has partly been produced by an apartheid situation in which people have been deliberately separated from each other over the years.

I conclude by saying that in the South African situation one sometimes sees immensely moving examples of people who are maintaining faith and hope despite tragedy and difficulty. Very often they are put in Biblical terms. One black South African said recently, using a direct Biblical image: "We have left the slavery of the land of Egypt. Now we are in the wilderness and this is still a terrible time for us". We must make sure that in that wilderness they are not left without friends.

7.56 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsey and Abingdon

My Lords, I shall not be drawn today into the question of apartheid or one man one vote. I have an interest to declare in that I have in the past, through my insurance interests, done business in South Africa. I happened to be talking to a South African friend and business associate on the telephone the other day. When I asked how things were these days in South Africa, back came the answer, "Boring, everyone wants to talk to us and be nice". My reply was, "Don't be too certain. There is a Question down for debate in the House of Lords asking Her Majesty's Government whether they would consider imposing sanctions in order to speed up the democratic process". It was suggested that I should support that idea as it might make life more exciting again in what he described as "this boring country run by silly people".

I have always been interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, has had to say in the past on the subject of South Africa. I have quite often agreed with his assessment of certain aspects of the situation as seen from outside that unhappy country. For instance, I am still to be convinced about the role of the South African police and security services in regard to law and order. However, on this occasion I am more sad than cross with the noble Lord in his decision to put down the Unstarred Question at this particular moment in time. The whole process of change in South Africa has reached a very difficult and sensitive stage. I therefore think that the timing of asking this Question is most inappropriate.

We must all agree that tribal violence in the townships is to be deplored, but imposing sanctions at this time is not the answer. It will be met by the laager mentality of the hard Right who will do all in their power to undermine the democratic process now under way. It will not solve or bring to an end the township violence. Sanctions will only give the edge to our main trading competitors, who will take no notice of any actions we might take.

Finally, the change that is going on in South Africa does not all come as a result of pressure from without but more so from within, with people like Nadine Gordimer, the new Nobel Laureate for literature. I trust that my noble friend the Minister will therefore reject any question of sanctions being imposed at this time.

8 p.m.

Lord St. John of Bletso

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, for initiating today's debate and I am obviously pleased that after so many years he has been able to visit South Africa and see at first hand the situation unfolding in that country. As your Lordships may be aware, I spent 28 years living there and have been out there five times this year. There are, unfortunately, a number of matters on which I should like to take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby.

It is perhaps opportune that today's debate is taking place on the eve of the Commonwealth Summit in Zimbabwe. I find some of the views of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, on sanctions to be quite confusing. Yes, certainly it was right and proper to have sanctions when legislative apartheid was in place and while the opposition parties were banned. But now that all apartheid laws—and I say "all" apartheid laws because the noble Lord referred to the "partial" repeal of apartheid laws—have been repealed from the statute books and now that all political parties have been unbanned, political prisoners released and the Government have clearly committed themselves to an irreversible reform programme, why should we still bang away at this issue of sanctions? Surely we should be forward looking? Moreover, surely it is the case that the political and economic health of South Africa are symbiotically related? The odds are overwhelmingly in favour of the current negotiation process which seeks to draw a new non-racial constitution. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, wishes to intervene. I gladly give way.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. On the point that he just mentioned, I can give him 27 laws under the apartheid system which are still on the statute book.

Lord St. John of Bletso

My Lords, the basic vestiges of all the apartheid laws—the Group Areas Act, the pass laws and the land Act—have all been repealed. Yes, there may be regional statutes which are still in place. I intend to take issue with the noble Lord on the education system where certainly apartheid is still in place.

However, there is no denying the fact—and I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester—that sanctions have had a profound impact on South Africa. Yes, they have had a psychological and an economic impact on the South African Government. But surely the immediate challenges of any current or, for that matter, any future government is to raise economic growth thereby creating jobs, allowing better housing, education, health care and generally higher standards of living. The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Chris Stals, said recently: South Africa would become ungovernable within five years if political uncertainty and social unrest continue to blight economic growth". Against that, I wish to quote a recent statement by Nelson Mandela. He said: It is clear to us that any political settlement cannot survive unless we can turn the economy round so that it generates the jobs and the wealth which will make a rapid and visible impact on the standard of living of especially the black people". In debating the subject of South Africa it is important to identify the key dynamics of the South African economy. We have a country of 38 million people of which 74 per cent. are blacks, 14 per cent. are whites and the residue are Indians and Asians. It has a population growth rate of just in excess 2.5 per cent. and an urbanization rate well in excess of 1 million per annum. On top of that, 60 per cent. of the population are under the age of 23 and, of the workforce, almost 45 per cent. are unemployed—that is, excluding the informal sector. Economic sanctions have led to a pyramid structure of complex holding companies controlling the bulk of the corporate sector. I refer to such companies as the Anglo American Corporation, Barlows, Liberty Life, and GENCOR.

While it is understandable, as the noble Lord mentioned, that there are calls by the ANC for an equitable redistribution of wealth, I rather feel that the expectations of the "emancipated" for better living standards may be in excess of what any government can possibly achieve, unless of course there is a dramatic increase in economic growth. The ANC needs to nurture investor confidence. Recent statements on nationalisation and the renegotiation of international loans are counter productive and, in my view, short-term thinking.

I thought that the following quote made by Peter Wrighton, the chairman of one of South Africa's largest food manufacturing companies, at a recent presentation in London sums up the current state of play between the ANC and the South African Government. He said: It is important to bear the underlying dynamic of mutual dependence between the ANC and the Nationalist Party in mind when watching the negotiation process unfold. There will be hiccups and there will be bluster, but these should not distract one from the compelling reasons why the process should proceed. The bluster will come particularly from the ANC: they have to placate a fairly militant constituency and have not got any real power over resources with which to do this. Without access to the economic tools of Government and with future policies very much at an embryonic stage, sloganeering becomes a major option. The reality, however, is that their bottom line is considerably more pragmatic than their rhetoric suggests. Observers should not make the mistake of reading published statements at face-value, as this often gives the impression of differences with the Government being much larger than in reality they are". Under the current constitution the Government must call another election by September 1994. There is a large convergence of views from both the ANC and the Nationalist Party on the aims and content of the forthcoming multi-party conference. With the recent news that both AZAPO and the PAC have intimated their willingness to come to the negotiating table, there is a real opportunity of consensus being reached on the underlying principles for a new constitution in South Africa.

All parties agree on the need for a multi-party democracy, an independent judiciary and a rule of law. However, to date the timing of the multi-party conference is uncertain, and to a large degree that is because of the ANC's unwillingness to come to the negotiating table. President de Klerk has indicated his keenness to proceed in haste: first, by outlining the Nationalist Party's constitutional proposals—and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, that there is scope for considerable compromise on those proposals—and, secondly, by recently signing the peace accord with Nelson Mandela and Chief Gatsha Buthelezi. I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, made mention of the violence in South Africa, but he made no mention of the peace accord. It is a very important part of South Africa's future. It is the first time that Nelson Mandela, Chief Buthelezi and President F. W. de Klerk have put their signatures to a document. Thirdly, in meeting the demands of the ANC on the return of exiles, the Government recently agreed to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees setting up offices in South Africa to oversee and co-ordinate the return of exiles.

Perhaps I may touch very briefly on the Graeme Rudman amendments. When those restrictions are lifted—and I think that it is only a matter of time—and South Africa has open access to IMF loans, it is unlikely that it will seek many loans from the IMF. What it requires is access to World Bank funding. As your Lordships may be aware, the World Bank only funds projects when it has carried out extensive feasibility studies. Those studies invariably take up to two or three years to complete. It is my contention that in two or three years' time we will have a black government in South Africa.

Unless and until an enduring constitutional settlement is achieved which secures the future of a market economy free from undue political interference, domestic and international business confidence in South Africa will remain fragile. Clearly there is enormous interest and potential for the region. It has been enhanced recently by the peace accord in Angola. Of late there has been a non-stop stream of international government and business delegations going to South Africa.

Finally, I should like to refer to the education issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby. Yes, indeed, it is tragic to hear the story of a black girl who has been refused by three schools in Capetown. However, he must agree with me that all universities and private schools are now integrated and that the government have left the integration of public schools in the hands of the parent-teacher organisations dependent on 75 per cent. agreement. The noble Lord mentioned 85 per cent. That figure, I believe, is incorrect.

I agree with the criticisms as regards the Inkathagate allegations against the security forces. They must be condemned, but the irony is that the matter has turned out positively for South Africa: gone is General Magnus Malan, the Minister of Defence; and gone is Adriaan Volk—

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, he is in the cabinet!

Lord St. John of Bletso

My Lords, the noble Lord says that he is in the cabinet: he is the Minister for Forestry and Water Affairs. It has brought to the top of the agenda the whole issue of accountability. That is imperative in South Africa today.

Democracy does not flourish in the midst of poverty. Clearly, P.W. Botha's Rubicon has been crossed and change in South Africa is now irreversible. I commend the Government's stand on the lifting of sanctions and the promotion of economic growth in South Africa. That is the only sensible way forward.

8.12 p.m.

The Earl of Clanwilliam

My Lords, I thank your Lords hips for allowing me to speak at this time. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, for his interesting diatripe on the errors of the South African Government, of which there are no doubt many as there are with many other governments. That they are changing is perhaps due more to diplomacy than sanctions. He also described the terrible internecine warfare occurring between the black tribes of South Africa. That hardly augurs well for democracy in that benighted country.

President de Klerk's first move towards democracy came about as a direct result of the change of regime in the Soviet Union. He saw a window of opportunity after years of diplomatic pressure imposed upon him by many people in this country. He took it. That is not evidence of the success of sanctions. The noble Lord, Lord St.John of Bletso, said everything that needs to be sad about conditions in South Africa and fully answered remarks made by other noble Lords.

I shall discuss the history of sanctions. We should remember the Rhodesian UDI. It lasted for 13 years. Sanctions did not stop UDI. Zimbabwe was created by diPlomacy. UDI survived longer than Napoleon. He suffered a serious naval blockade throughout his life and was beaten only by battles on sea and land. We should consider Iraq and Mr. Hussein. There he is living happily under sanctions with no problems. He is murdering his compatriots —the Shias and the Kurds. Whatever one may think of the result of the Iraq war, sanctions had no effect.

Before the Iraq war the United Nations had one option only. Its sole tooth was the imposition of sanctions. That was the only way it could show its displeasure or try to coerce governments. If South Africa's neighbours call for sanctions to implement democracy, we should perhaps ask them to look at the large beam in their own governments' eye. Their regimes have no pretence of democracy. For them to call for sanctions is pure hypocrisy.

As for South Africa, let me quote the recent poll held in March this year. Polls may or may not be to one's taste. In that poll, the voting against sanctions was: 67 per cent. of black respondents; 90 per cent. of white respondents; 76 per cent. of coloured respondents; and 81 per cent. of Asian respondents. In the light of that poll there seems to be little chance of promoting democracy in South Africa through sanctions. We should send a clear message to the world that sanctions are a specious waste of time.

8.16 p.m.

Lord Pitt of Hampstead

My Lords, I apologise for not having put down my name to speak, but there is a point that I need to make. The suggestion that the imposition of sanctions on South Africa would create a great deal of disorder presupposes that no sanctions are being imposed in South Africa at the moment, but they are. This country has been slow to impose sanctions and has been anxious to remove the sanctions that have been imposed.

International sanctions still exist. The South African Government would like to have them removed. The people in South Africa who have no vote, of whom my noble friend Lord Hatch spoke, would like those sanctions maintained because they want to be certain that apartheid and the disadvantages that they now suffer will be removed. As I have said before, we have an opportunity to use sanctions as both a stick and a carrot. We should say that sanctions will not be removed until the groups who have to negotiate a new constitution for South Africa ask to have them removed. I made that suggestion in a speech last year and I still believe that that is the approach that should be taken. Both groups need to have sanctions removed.

The noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, is right. There would be no point in a black government taking over a country that was in a terrible economic state. They will not want to take over South Africa in a terrible state any more than the present government want South Africa to deteriorate further. Both sides have a strong reason for wanting sanctions removed. The South African Government believe that they are moving in a direction which warrants the removal of sanctions. If I read their attitude aright, the ANC, the Churches and others are not sure whether they can support the removal of sanctions at this stage. It strikes me that, when the conference starts and they come together to try to iron out a constitution acceptable to all, that will be the moment for making a decision. Frankly, the carrot of sanctions being removed once agreement is reached will be a strong incentive for people to get together and try to iron out a constitution which will be of value to South Africa.

8.20 p.m.

Lord Richard

My Lords, I start by congratulating my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby on initiating the debate. It has been useful for a number of reasons. One is that it has exposed yet again the gulf that occasionally divides the two parties. I find some of the speeches tonight frankly surprising. I hope that the debate also indicates that the gulf between the two Front Benches is not as wide as the gulf to which I referred. I await with great interest what the Minister has to say.

Perhaps I may sum up the position of my party on the issue with a short sentence: so far so good, but not enough yet. We hope that matters are going in the right direction. In a moment I shall examine where we have reached and how far we have to go. At this stage, it has been made perfectly clear by the spokesmen for the Labour Party that we would not be in favour of the total removal of sanctions.

Where have we got to in the process of political change in South Africa? It is undeniable that over the past two years considerable progress has been made. I give the South African Government credit for that. It is true that the legal framework for the maintenance of apartheid no longer exists in South Africa. I do not, however, share the view of the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, when he says that the only object of sanctions was to make sure that the legal framework of apartheid was removed. I never regarded the imposition of sanctions as being merely confined to the removal of certain Acts of the South African Parliament from its statute book.

Lord St. John of Bletso

My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that I said that the object was not just to remove the remaining vestiges of apartheid but also so that all political parties would be unbanned and political refugees and prisoners would be released?

Lord Richard

My Lords, the terrible thing about sitting in one's seat while someone else is on his feet is that there is a tendency, which I try to resist, to take notes of what is said. My note of what the noble Lord said is, "Yes, it was right to have sanctions while legislative apartheid was on the books. But why are we still banging on"—that is the effect of it—"about sanctions now that the legislative framework has been removed?" I merely say to the noble Lord that I and my party did not see sanctions as being merely a method of re-drawing the legislative basis upon which apartheid was imposed.

I give credit because credit is due to the South African Government and President de Klerk for those steps that they have taken. In that context and given the political background of South Africa, those steps took a considerable amount of political courage.

There has been progress: Nelson Mandela was released, which was another major step forward. Other political prisoners were released; there was the unbanning of the ANC and the repeal of key portions of legislation. All this we should take into account in considering how far we have gone down the road towards a democratic unitary political system in South Africa and how far we still have to go. An agreement has been signed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the South African Government culminating in the return of the South African political exiles. It is interesting that the major aspects of this agreement are an amnesty for political offences, the formalisation of the presence of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in South Africa and freedom of movement for returnees. If one went back 10 years and asked how long it would take for this to be introduced in South Africa given the political background and climate then, one might have thought that it would have taken a great deal longer.

The UN High Commissioner herself said that the signing of the agreement marked the, beginning of the end of a 30 year old human tragedy". The chair of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid expressed the hope that the agreement improved prospects for a negotiated settlement. Again, so far so good.

However, despite this progress, apartheid remains in existence and in force. Moreover, there has been an escalation of violence in recent months in clashes between Inkatha and ANC supporters. Whatever noble Lords on the other side say, there is significant evidence which I do not think we can easily ignore of collusion by the security forces with Inkatha in the precipitation of some of that violence.

Against this background a national peace accord to end the violence was signed by the Government, the ANC and Inkatha. As the noble Lord, Lord St. John, said, again we should give credit to the South African Government for that, which is a major step and we must accept it as such. It set out a code of conduct for political parties and made arrangements for the monitoring of the security forces. Once again, so far so good. It is interesting that these trends are referred to in the second progress report of the United Nations Secretary General on the implementation of the declaration on apartheid which was adopted this autumn by the General Assembly.

In the report the Secretary General states: The progress towards the end of apartheid in South Africa, although halting, remained on course". The report also highlights the fact that, despite the passing of certain laws to end apartheid, socio-economic inequalities persist and threaten the peace process, which will probably be lengthy and vulnerable. The Secretary General emphasised that the violence was a "serious obstacle to the evolving political dialogue". He questioned the impartiality of the security forces but expressed hopes that recent initiatives would boost this process. That seems to me to be a sensible, moderate, indeed modest, analysis of the position which we seem to have reached.

What about the existing sanctions? What has happened to them? In April 1991 the European Community agreed in principle to lift its 1986 ban on the import of South African iron, steel and gold coins. This follows last year's EC decision to lift the voluntary ban on new investment. In July the United States lifted sanctions against South Africa, a move condemned by the United Nations, which remains in favour of maintaining sanctions. This week the Commonwealth will consider the issue.

I have no special knowledge but I anticipate that sanctions restricting cultural and sporting ties will almost certainly be lifted. As a Welshman in a very painful position at the moment, perhaps I may say what a great pleasure it would be for me to see someone beating the Australians and New Zealanders. If those sanctions are lifted, I suspect that economic sanctions and the arms embargo are expected to remain in place until further progress is made towards democracy in South Africa.

The recent upsurge in violence, the evidence of government collusion with Inkatha and the fact that democracy still remains an aim rather than a reality in South Africa seem to me to highlight the need for the international community to maintain sanctions at least at present.

Perhaps I may turn for a moment to constitutional developments about which some noble Lords spoke, notably my noble friend Lord Hatch. President de Klerk outlined the National Party's proposals for constitutional reform at a special congress of that party on 4th September. The main ones are universal adult suffrage for voting to a lower house which would be subject to the veto powers of an upper chamber and a collective presidency. This has been criticised as sustaining minority white rule. The ANC has specifically criticised it on the basis that it would exclude the ANC from any power. This was reflected in an article published recently in the New Statesman in which my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby interviewed Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela said that he thought the constitutional proposals were: an attempt to introduce more apartheid through the backdoor. They are the proposals of a government which wants to bring about some changes in the country but which cannot totally reject the influence of apartheid. The second house—its composition and its powers—show clearly that these proposals are intended to make it impossible for majority rule to operate. I am not aware of anywhere else in the world where parliament can be vetoed by a minority". Whatever else one can say about the constitutional proposals and the process leading from the present position to an eventual constitutional settlement, one must acknowledge that the process will be long and difficult. It will require a great deal of patient and painstaking negotiation.

Despite those misgivings Mr. Mandela emphasised the ANC's willingness to negotiate with the government. He has called on members of the clergy and the business community to convene an all-party congress to discuss the establishment of a democratic government, a new constitution and a non-racist society. However, the cycle of violence has plunged relations between the government and the ANC down to an all time low. It might therefore take some time to get negotiations back on track. It is against that background of the progress that has been made and the current position in South Africa that we have to consider whether this is the right time to take further steps to remove the economic and financial sanctions that are imposed by the international community.

I hope the House will give me credit for not approaching this matter in a confrontational state of mind. South Africa is a part of the world that I have been interested in and partially involved with for a long time. I have tried to think through the problems of South Africa in a sensible way. I do not believe this is the right time for us to remove sanctions totally. Our policy should be framed and implemented in conjunction with the international community as a whole. We should abide by the policies agreed by the Commonwealth and the United Nations. At the Labour Party Conference this year my right honourable friend Mr Kaufman stated: Relaxing sanctions must not be seen as an incentive to action that might or might not take place. Before easing sanctions can be considered irreversible action to dismantle apartheid must indubitably be seen to take place". As I said at the outset, I am not sure whether we are at that stage yet. We may be there and I hope we are. I hope that by his actions in the near future President de Klerk will be able to convince people like me, and others who think like me, that he is firmly set upon this course. If I become convinced of that I shall be happy to return to this House and make another speech about sanctions but at the moment I am not totally convinced of the case for removing sanctions. Therefore in the present circumstances I fear that sanctions must remain.

Finally, I wish to refer to economic development in Southern Africa generally. There is a growing concern that the West will concentrate new investment and trade on Angola and post-apartheid South Africa. Southern Africa does not merely consist of those two countries. I hope that while encouraging trade with and investment in a post-apartheid South Africa, the Government here will be sensitive to the needs of the region as a whole and will promote economic ties accordingly and not at the expense of other African states. However, there is no doubt that a post-apartheid South Africa will need massive investment, assistance and help from the West. The economic problems of that country are formidable. Greater economic equality for all the people of South Africa will require a massive effort not only by the South African Government but by the international community as a whole and particularly by those countries which are favourably inclined to these developments and which have helped to urge South Africa in the right direction. I hope that when that moment arrives Her Majesty's Government will be generous.

8.35 p.m.

Lord Cavendish of Furness

My Lords, I join other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, for giving us an opportunity once again to discuss South Africa this evening. Many noble Lords spoke from a basis of personal experience which has left me at a disadvantage in this matter. As one would expect, noble Lords spoke with feeling.

The previous occasion on which your Lordships' House addressed this topic was in February. Since then South Africa has made further remarkable progress towards building a new nation. I have listened to the whole debate with great interest. I hope that I shall reply to the matters raised in the debate. I am glad to be able to describe briefly how we may most effectively encourage South Africa to continue on the road towards a non-racial democracy.

This year has seen no slackening of momentum in President de Klerk's programme of reform. His government repealed the main measures which enforced statutory racial discrimination in South Africa. These have been rehearsed this evening. The Land Acts dating from 1913 and 1936 are no more. Everyone, regardless of race, now has the right to possess land anywhere in South Africa. The Group Areas Act of 1950 has also gone. Therefore, as regards the law, anyone can live anywhere in South Africa.

Finally, the Population Registration Act of 1950 was abolished. There is no longer an official system for classifying the people of South Africa according to race. A temporary exception is that existing electoral rolls have been retained for the purpose, inter alia of allowing parliamentary by-elections to be held while the new, non-racial constitution is being negotiated.

In the context of South African history, these repeals are a remarkable achievement. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have acknowledged that fact. But nobody should pretend that, as a result, all traces of apartheid have vanished. I am not pretending that that is the case. Its legacy—the ingrained attitudes born of years of conflict and the wide inequalities between the haves and the have nots—remains. This inheritance of a pitiless and ultimately pointless period in South African history will remain as a challenge to successive governments in South Africa for many years to come. We hope that all parties and other groups in South Africa will soon be able to agree on ambitious measures to begin removing the vestiges of past injustice. To this end, it will be essential for South Africa to resume economic growth as soon as possible.

Its population is growing at an annual rate of about 2.8 per cent. Therefore, even in the years when South Africa achieved some modest increases in output, the income of its people continued to drop. Per capita gross domestic product has fallen in real terms by 12 per cent. since 1982. The lack of growth may undermine the political process. South Africa will find it much harder to make the transition to a non-racial democracy.

Unless its people perceive the economic benefits of the transition to them, they may lose patience with the process of negotiation which now at last is in prospect. Nelson Mandela has himself argued that peace and stability in South Africa will depend on social and economic progress. This progress will depend in part on foreign investment and on South Africa's renewed access to the international financial institutions.

The Government's aim continues to be the encouragement of a peaceful transition to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous South Africa. We believe that the continuance of economic and financial sanctions by some countries is working against this aim. They must go as soon as possible to help rebuild the confidence of investors in South Africa. The time for putting the financial screws on South Africa is long past, as my noble friend Lord Lindsey and Abingdon has stressed.

As we have seen this year, the process of reform is now unstoppable. President de Klerk and Mr. Mandela are both committed to a negotiated solution to South Africa's problems, but their aims are endangered by South Africa's poor economic performance.

Our European partners share our view. That is why the European Community lifted its ban on new investment in South Africa at the end of last year. The European Community Foreign Ministers further responded to the tabling of Bills to repeal the apartheid laws by deciding, in April, to lift bans on the import from South Africa of iron and steel and of gold coins, a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Richard. That decision is still held up by a parliamentary scrutiny reserve entered by Denmark. We shall continue to discuss with Denmark how that reserve may be lifted. We shall work to lift other European Community measures to help bring growth and jobs to South Africa.

We welcome the decision of the United States Government in July to abolish all the restrictive measures imposed by the comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. But other US legislation still blocks South Africa's access to the International Monetary Fund. So we are now in close touch with the United States Government on the need for South Africa to return to a normal financial environment and, in particular, to regain access to the International Monetary Fund.

We applaud the preparatory work already done on South Africa by the other main international financial institution, the World Bank, which has worked with the African National Congress for that purpose.

My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs are today in Harare, where Commonwealth Heads of Government will consider the progress which South Africa has made since they last met in 1989. Our aim there will be to achieve a more realistic and businesslike atmosphere in which the Commonwealth devotes more time to discussing its own objectives and its future and less time to sticking pins into South Africa. I am sure that our Commonwealth friends will acknowledge President de Klerk's historic achievements. We should like them to lift all trade and financial sanctions now. However, if they do not do so the disagreement between us will be about the pace of lifting sanctions and not about the real changes which the South African Government have achieved. In any event, we shall support the principle of positive Commonwealth measures to help the new South Africa emerge.

It is not true that the Government are pressing for the immediate lifting of all sanctions against South Africa. The arms embargo and associated military sanctions should remain until South Africa has a democratic constitution. I hope that that answers the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead. However, retaining financial sanctions until the new South Africa is born would be potentially disastrous. The population is growing at approximately one million a year; 320,000 extra school places are needed each year; nearly 1,000 new job seekers arrive on the labour market each day, but unemployment remains stubbornly high at around 40 per cent. in most black areas. To deny South Africa opportunities for economic growth would leave any future government with a hopeless task. Those facts, and more, were eloquently put forward by the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso—and I hope that I have pronounced his name correctly.

Here perhaps I may deal with some of the specific points, raised in the course of the debate. I shall start with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, whose debate it is. He referred, as did other noble Lords, to the Inkathagate episode. It is fair to say that President de Klerk responded firmly to the revelations in July of secret funding to Inkatha and other organisations. We have consistently called on the South African Government to re-establish confidence in the impartiality of the security forces. That is an enormous task, but President de Klerk and his new Ministers responsible for the security forces are, I am assured and believe, tackling the problem.

President de Klerk worked with the ANC, Inkatha, Church and business leaders to produce the national peace accord on 14th September. I am very glad to take this opportunity to salute the skill and diligence of Church leaders in helping to bring that accord about. The Government of South Africa have the prime responsibility for upholding law and order but all signatories to the peace accord must work to see that it is firmly implemented. The peace accord shows what the South Africa parties can do together.

We welcome the consistent calls of President de Klerk and the ANC for early multi-party negotiations within which it should be possible to discuss measures to restore confidence in the security forces. I do not underestimate the importance of that. The violence has had a tragic human cost, delaying the political process and economic regeneration, but it is not a reason for holding up political progress. We hope that the international community will respond, for example, as we have by offering to help South Africa with community policing.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, alleged that President de Klerk's constitutional proposals are undemocratic. President de Klerk issued the National Party's constitutional model on 4th September. Like the noble Lord, we welcome its commitment to one person one vote and to a parliamentary system of government involving the participation of all. The proposal for a Bill of Rights and a new independent judiciary to uphold it are also welcome. I do not believe that it would be right for us to comment on all the aspects of the proposals. It is, after all, for South Africans to reach a negotiated agreement on the precise shape of their new constitution.

The noble Lord sought to discredit the sincerity of Mr. de Klerk. He asked whether he would go back on his word. President de Klerk has consistently delivered his promises. Sometimes he has gone further—for example, by deciding to repeal the Population Registration Act at once. We believe that the process of political reform has developed its own momentum and cannot be put into reverse.

If I understood him correctly the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, concluded that no sanctions should be lifted. As specific moves are achieved, and specific rungs of the ladder are stepped upon, it may be felt that sanctions can progressively be reduced". Those are not my words or the words of Her Majesty's Government. They are the words of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, at column 386 of the Official Report of 18th February. It is a little unfair to read from the Official Report out of context and, in fairness, I must say that those remarks are qualified. However, they emphasise that we must be drawing closer in our ideas of how the process should develop.

My noble friend Lord Gridley questioned whether sanctions would achieve what we all want, as did my noble friend Lord Clanwilliam. It is pointless to revive the old controversy about the effectiveness of sanctions. If they had any influence, it was among other factors, including the massive changes in South Africa and in the world order which contributed to a change of heart among South Africa's leaders. The fact is that economic and financial sanctions are now harming South Africa. Our main preoccupation should be to carry on, helping to build a new nation there.

I was grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester for his thorough account of Church opinion in South Africa, which I shall need to study. In my view it would be a mistake to delay lifting sanctions until irreversible progress is made. Here I am mindful of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Richard. Political progress in South Africa has already developed a momentum of its own, as I have said. We do not believe that sanctions will significantly affect it. The ANC and other black groups in South Africa support South Africa's re-entry into international sport and the lifting of other sanctions preventing travel and other forms of personal contact with South Africa. Everyone agrees that the end of sanctions is now in sight. The residual controversy over the timing of their abolition is important for South Africa's economic future, but it is not an epic battle between entrenched political positions.

Finally, perhaps I may say how grateful I was to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for outlining so succinctly the Opposition's attitude. I am grateful to him for his welcome, albeit partial, for the policy. I am also grateful for his interesting analysis and for his not quibbling, as Oppositions can do, on a matter which is of such national importance and in respect of which messages are picked up around the world. I hope that the noble Lord will accept my thanks for that. He acknowledged that the legal framework of sanctions had been removed.

Lord Richard

My Lords, I referred to the legal framework of apartheid.

Lord Cavendish of Furness

I beg your pardon, my Lords. I thank the noble Lord for his correction. I accept from him that it is not everything, but it certainly goes a long way.

I am glad to join the noble Lord, Lord Richard, in welcoming the agreement reached on 16th August between the South African Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on procedures for the return of political exiles to South Africa. That agreement could end months of uncertainty about the indemnity of exiles, of whom about 1,000 have already returned. We are already giving practical help with the resettlement of exiles without discriminating between political groups. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has in addition offered £500,000 to be spent through the UNHCR. In all, we shall spend at least £1 million to help bring exiles home.

Before I conclude, I should say a word about sporting links with South Africa. We welcome the consensus within the Commonwealth—and in the Olympic movement—that, where sport is integrated in South Africa, it no longer makes sense to discourage our sportsmen and women from competing with their South African counterparts. South Africa's re-entry into the International Cricket Council and into the Olympic movement in July were remarkable testimony of how much and how profoundly things have changed in South Africa, and in international attitudes towards it.

In the past, South Africa has tended to turn our thoughts to the question of sanctions and how best to eliminate the immoral and ineffectual policy of apartheid. But I hope that I may end on a positive note today. Britain has long led the way in the European Community and the Commonwealth with constructive measures to combat apartheid. Most of these measures involve various types of training to encourage the emergence of skilled workers and entrepreneurs in South Africa.

On 16th September my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Minister for Overseas Development announced three new initiatives aiming, first, to train a new generation of black public administrators in South Africa; secondly, to assist the South African police to develop ways of meeting the needs of each community; and, thirdly, when the time is right, to familiarise black political leaders with British democratic institutions.

For all those purposes, the value of our bilateral aid programme will be over £10 million annually from 1992. We contribute a further £4 million a year to European Community programmes for the black communities in South Africa. We shall, as I have said, seek to support the positive measures being discussed by Commonwealth Heads of Government this week. Our forward-looking response to South Africa's development remains a key element in helping it to move towards a negotiated settlement. We hope that the parties in South Africa can begin talks this year towards a new constitution which will bring democracy and freedom to all its people.