§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government consider that the visit of 12 England cricketers to South Africa is in breach of the Gleneagles agreement; and if she will make a statement.
§ The Prime Minister
Although described as a "private tour" the composition of the tour party and the fact that a series of four-day and one-day test matches are planned is such that the tour cannot be regarded other than as a major sporting link with South Africa. As such it is contrary to the principles of the Gleneagles agreement to which the Government are committed. My hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport has made clear Her Majesty's Government's view of the tour and the secrecy under which the arrangements were made. Both the Government and the Test and County Cricket Board were unaware of this tour.
I must pay tribute to the Test and County Cricket Board for all it has done to uphold the principles of the Gleneagles agreement. No test matches have been played against South Africa here or in that country since 1965. The ramifications of this tour could affect the financial structure of cricket in this country and jeopardise the future of multi-racial internationl cricket; it could also have implications for international sport generally. I deeply regret that the Government were not given the opportunity to discuss the matter beforehand.
My hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport has already discussed the tour with the chairman and secretary of the Test and County Cricket Board with whom any action must lie.