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Angola

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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4.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make representations to the Portuguese Government in view of the fact that it is not complying with Article 10 of the Anglo-Portuguese Convention of 1891, which guarantees full protection for missionaries in British and Portuguese territories in Africa.

I shall, of course, be ready to consider this if the missionary bodies who are those principally concerned bring forward facts which justify such representations.

Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting to the House that he is in any doubt at all that there is no freedom of religion and religious speech in Angola? After the miserable collaboration of the Tory Party with the Portuguese Government and the I.L.O. in the breaches of those terms in 1930 and after the miserable collaboration of the Tory Government over the United Nations resolution seeking to abolish forced labour in Angola in 1957, is the right hon. Gentleman really now suggesting that the Foreign Office, all of them, several thousands of them, are unaware that missionaries have been murdered in Angola and are unaware that there is no freedom of religious expression? Has the right hon. Gentleman not read the speeches of Dr. Salazar that were made 15 years ago?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As we have a debate this afternoon on the question of Angola, is not that the moment for the hon. Gentleman to put forward all these points?

The real point about it is that rather too often I have to appeal to hon. Members not to make speeches at Question Time because we do not get through enough Questions. Perhaps the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) will get near to bringing his question to an end.

I appreciate your courtesy, Mr. Speaker. One does not often speak on the grave of 50,000 citizens.

If questions were to be increased in length proportionate to their importance and gravity, it would be difficult for me to judge the element of inordinate length.

I understand that in central and South Angola British Baptist missionaries are carrying on their work without difficulty. That is the information that we have. As far as Northern Angola is concerned, where the troubles are at the moment, the Baptist missions have been closed in certain places, in one where the whole Portuguese administration has been withdrawn and is, therefore, unable to protect them, and in another where they have been withdrawn for security reasons. I propose to deal with this matter later on in the debate.

8.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the decision of Her Majesty's Government to send the United Kingdom Consul-General and another official of the Lisbon Embassy on a visit of inquiry to Angola.

18.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reports on the situation in Angola have now been received from the Consul-General in Luanda and another member of Her Majesty's Embassy in Lisbon.

31.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what report he has received from the Consul-General in Luanda, Angola, following his visit to the northern part of that territory; and what changes in the policy of Her Majesty's Government are proposed in the light of that report.

Her Majesty's Consul-General at Luanda will be accompanied on his visit by the Military and Air Attaches to Her Majesty's Embassy at Lisbon, who left for Luanda on 3rd July. It is expected the visit to Northern Angola will begin shortly.

Will the Lord Privy Seal give our representatives instructions that whilst they are in North Angola they will meet the few English missionaries who remain there, and the few African pastors; and will he instruct them to proceed to the Congo to meet the representatives of the 100,000 refugees who are there?

As to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, our representatives in the Congo are already able to meet the refugees who are now in that country. I am certain that the Consul-General and the Attaches who are to go to Northern Angola will take every opportunity to meet those on the spot and judge the position for themselves.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the important things about a mission of this kind, investigating this kind of allegation, is that it should take place very quickly, because the material evidence tends to vanish? Is he aware that it is now about ten days since his noble Friend made this announcement in the House of Lords? Since he himself told us that the Consul-General was in Luanda all the time, could they not have gone there a bit sooner?

We are anxious that they should go there as soon as possible, but as part of the issue in debate is the military conditions and situation there we thought it advisable that the Consul-General should go accompanied by the Military Attaché. As the Air Attaché has a fluent knowledge of Portuguese, we thought that too would be an asset.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman been aware for some time that there was to be a debate in this House on the Angola situation, and could not he have pressed that the Consul-General should himself, if necessary, have gone to the Northern Territory in order that the right hon. Gentleman might, during the debate later this evening, give the House a report of what was found? Will he give an assurance that when the report comes through he will consider publishing it as a White Paper?

The necessary arrangements have to be made, and they are not entirely in our own hands. As to publishing the report, it is not, of course, the practice to publish diplomatic reports of this kind, but I will certainly give all the information I can to the House at the earliest opportunity after we have received the report.

Did Her Majesty's Government previously ask permission for our Consul-General in Luanda to be allowed to visit the area where fighting was going on in Angola in the middle of March? Secondly, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he has instructed the mission making the visit to inquire whether British arms are being used by the Portuguese Government in their repression of the native population?

We have not previously asked formal permission to go to the Northern Territory. In regard to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, our representatives can certainly look into that.

9.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has considered the petitions forwarded to him by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme on 27th June calling for action within the United Nations by Her Majesty's Government in relation to Portuguese punitive measures in Angola and to bring about peace in the area; and what reply he has made.

I have already sent a reply to the hon. Gentleman, which he should by now have received.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say on what occasions and in what form he has conveyed to the Portuguese Government the very strong protests received from citizens in this country, especially from members of the church communities, about the atrocities and outrages in Angola? Is the Lord Privy Seal aware of the very strong opposition there is throughout the country to any continued supply of arms to a Government responsible for these outrages?

The Portuguese Government is well aware of the strong feelings we have in this country, and of the petitions presented to individual Members of Parliament—and to this House, as we have seen this afternoon. In addition, my noble Friend had a very full opportunity to discuss this matter with the Portuguese Government during his recent visit to Lisbon.

11.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received regarding the activities of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Inquiry on Angola.

35.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what recent representations he has made to facilitate the work of the United Nations Committee of Inquiry into the situation in Angola following the decisions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

2.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information has been brought to the attention of the United Nations sub-committee on Angola regarding the execution of Africans in the village of Tomboco and other places, and regarding the machine gunning of children from aeroplanes in that country; and what progress has been made by the subcommittee in their study of conditions in Angola.

I understand that the Sub-Committee is meeting at present in New York, and that the Portuguese Government is in touch with Senor Salamanca, who is its Chairman. Its proceeding are confidential, and I am unable to say what information may have been brought to its attention. Its latest progress report is in United Nations Press Release GA/2221, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. We hope that the Sub-Committee will report as soon as possible.

Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether the Sub-Committee has yet requested permission to enter Angola to pursue inquiries and, if so, what has been the response of the Portuguese Government to this request?

As I have said, the Sub-Committee is in touch with the Portuguese Government, but we do not know what decision has been reached.

In the event of Portugal refusing such permission, will the Lord Privy Seal consider allowing the Sub-Committee entry to Northern Rhodesia in order to pursue its inquiries?

We hope that that eventuality will not arise. We have expressed publicly the hope that the Portuguese Government will co-operate with the Sub-Committee. In regard to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, this is not a matter that the Sub-Committee wishes to discuss with individuals. It wishes to go to Angola itself.

Will the right hon. Gentlernan supply to the Sub-Committee the evidence of the British missionaries and British journalists who have been in Angola?

I think that the right hon. Gentleman raised this question last week, and I understand now that the Sub-Committee has been in direct touch with British Baptist missionaries who have come back from Angola about any evidence they can give to it.

34.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what contribution has been made or offered to the United Nations by Her Majesty's Government for the relief of refugees from Angola.

None, Sir. The United Nations authorities have not asked for contributions for the relief of refugees from Angola. However, as I told the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) in reply to a Question on 28th June, the United Nations authorities are using supplies provided by the Congo Famine Relief Fund for relief work amongst Angolan refugees in the Congo. They consider that their present stocks of food are adequate for this purpose.

If the Government will not do something positive about this matter through the United Nations, will not they go a little further on humanitarian grounds alone? Will the Government consider the fact that there are 100,000 Angolan refugees in the Congo now? Would not it be appropriate for the Government to make some contribution to the International Red Cross in order to deal with this human problem?

I have looked into this matter most carefully. The fact remains that the United Nations famine relief organisation is doing an extremely good job. It has adequate supplies. The Red Cross is also very well provided for, and I should like to pay tribute, as I am sure the whole House would, to the remarkable job which it has done with regard to this very large number of refugees. There is no call at present for additional funds. If any came, naturally the Government would consider it sympathetically.

Does not the Minister of State recognise that the greatest contribution which the Government can make to this repression by the Portuguese Government is to make a forthright declaration against the atrocities which are taking place?