HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc228-9W
Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether the public statements by Commodore Fanshawe, Naval Attaché in South Africa, and Commander Marshall, Assistant Naval Attaché, on the treatment of coloured British Servicemen visiting South Africa, in particular that by the Assistant Attaché describing apartheid as a joke, were made with his authority; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Kirk

Commodore Fanshawe gave an interview to a British journalist on the subject of coloured ratings from H.M. ships taking shore leave in South Africa. He mentioned that there is no bar on ratings going ashore, but that in accordance with world-wide practice they must obey the laws of the country concerned if they do so. The phrase "shouldn't have joined if he can't take a joke" used by the Assistant Attaché is a term often used in the Services against themselves; and, although its use was most unfortunate in the circumstances, it was in no way meant to imply thatapartheid should be treated as a joke.

The fact that R.N. personnel are allowed to take shore leave in South Africa in no way condones apartheid.