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United Nations (Foreign Secretary's Visit)

Volume 721: debated on Monday 22 November 1965

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent visit to the United Nations.

I visited the United Nations from 12th November to 17th November to take part in the debate in the Security Council on Rhodesia. My object was to seek the active support of the Council in making effective the measures we were taking to deal with the illegal declaration of independence.

There was unanimous agreement on the part of the Council on the illegality of Mr. Smith's action. This was demonstrated by the passage early in the debate of a Resolution condemning the illegal declaration of independence and calling upon all States not to recognise or to render any assistance to the illegal régime in Rhodesia. There was furthermore unanimous agreement on the need for swift and effective measures to restore constitutional government in Rhodesia, although, as hon. Members will be aware, the view was expressed that the measures which we have taken did not go far enough in this direction and we were urged to apply wider measures.

I am glad to say that, as hon. Members will no doubt have seen, we were able to resolve these difficulties and the Security Council adopted a Resolution on 20th November which was supported by all the members of the Council except France, which abstained. I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library.

Since Her Majesty's Government voted for the entire contents of this Resolution, does it mean, as they voted for paragraph 8, that the Government are now committed to breaking economic relations with Southern Rhodesia, including an oil embargo?

We are committed to implementing this Resolution, that is to say, to doing what is in our power in this direction. It was our view—I expressed this at the Security Council—that it would have been desirable for a working group of the Security Council to be set up to discuss the methods by which this part of the Resolution might be implemented. That proposal in that form did not commend itself to the Security Council as a whole. It will now be important for us, together with other Governments, to take counsel on the best methods of implementing this part of the Resolution.

Can my right hon. Friend say at this juncture whether he regards it as a practical proposition to impose the oil embargo on Rhodesia, and will he, if that is the case, take all steps to implement it?

My hon. Friend will realise that the pursuit of this policy involves the help and assistance of other Governments. The task now, not only for us but, in view of the Security Council Resolution, for all countries, is to take speedy counsels as to the best method of implementing this Resolution.

The text of the Resolution is of the highest possible importance. Since it appears to be inconsistent with what the Prime Minister said to this House about United Kingdom responsibility, about the 1961 Constitution, and about oil embargoes, will the Foreign Secretary ask his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to make a full statement tomorrow to the House on where the Government now stand, and in particular what they mean to do in practical terms about oil and trade generally?

I am sure that the request the right hon. Gentleman has made for a full statement by my right hon. Friend will be noted. I do not accept that there are any inconsistencies. It seemed to me important that we should get at the Security Council the support of other nations for the measures we already had taken. We must, in view of that, take into account the desire for wider measures, and that we have done.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in response to his acceptance of a total trade embargo and an oil embargo, as far as I can see, he was able to get any reciprocal understanding that force under all circumstances, which I understand is the Government's position, is out of the question, or is this only something temporary which will be raised again tomorrow?

If the hon. Gentleman will compare the Resolution that was passed with an earlier Resolution which was tabled in the Security Council, he will see that the answer to his question is, "Yes".

One of the purposes of our being represented at the Security Council was to prevent the adoption of any resolution or measure that seemed to us to be reckless or foolish.