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Rhodesia

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 21 December 1965

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Q5.

asked the Prime Minister what consultations Her Majesty's Ambassador in Pretoria has had with the South African Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary on the application of economic sanctions against Rhodesia.

I have nothing to add to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs on 13th December to similar Questions by hon. Members.

As the ultimate success of any policy of sanctions against Rhodesia has always depended, and will continue to depend, on the policy of the South African Government, is it not wholly irresponsible of Her Majesty's Government to embark on a stiffening of sanctions without finding out and informing the country what that policy is likely to be?

No, Sir. I cannot understand whether some hon. Gentlemen want these sanctions to be effective or not. There is no reason to believe that South Africa is likely to frustrate what is now the law of Rhodesia in relation to oil sanctions. We are in close touch with them. I do not think that in every case we ought to go round every country which could frustrate sanctions before deciding to introduce them.

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister what consultations Her Majesty's Ambassador in Pretoria has had with the South African Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary on the likely reaction of that country towards the intervention of British troops in Rhodesia.

In view of the fact that the stiffening of sanctions against Rhodesia is bound to mean that country stiffening its measures against Zambia to the point where, as the Prime Minister will recognise, there will be pressure for the involvement of British troops, again is it not irresponsible to lead the country in this direction without finding out what the consequences are likely to be?

The country is not being led in this direction. I am not certain that pressures for deploying troops in Rhodesia could be any stronger than the pressures we have already had in these last few weeks, but since we have no policy at all—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I think we have a policy on Rhodesia, and we hope this afternoon to hear what policy hon. Gentlemen opposite have. I am prepared to state what ours is. As I was saying, since we have no policy at all of intervening with military forces in Rhodesia, since that is our position, it would have been highly irresponsible to have asked South Africa what her attitude would have been if we had.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the British Broadcasting Corporation concerning the content of programmes beamed to Rhodesia.

None, Sir. The British Broadcasting Corporation will have full responsibility for programme content.

As these broadcasts are now presumably an instrument of official policy, is the Prime Minister really content that they should not be under any form of Government control?

I think that the B.B.C. has a very high reputation in its overseas broadcasts. That reputation stems from its independence and from its ability to present news bulletins as it thinks fit. We all remember the terribly unhappy incident at the time of the Suez collusion when there was interference with the B.B.C., and we are leaving to the B.B.C. the preparation of its normal African news bulletins.