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Commons Chamber

Volume 828: debated on Monday 13 December 1971

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House Of Commons

Monday, 13th December, 1971

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Trade

Ordered,

That there be laid before this House Statistics relating to Overseas Trade of the United Kingdom for each month during the year 1972.—[Mr. John Davies.]

Oral Answers To Questions

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Ghanaian Frigate

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the outcome of his attempts to sell to a Commonwealth country or foreign power the Ghanaian frigate originally built for President Nkrumah, which has been lying in the Clyde for many years.

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, told the House on 21st October, arrangements are in hand to transfer ownership of the vessel to Her Majesty's Government.—[Vol. 823; c. 178.]

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it is now three years ago that I alluded to this vessel as "a floating gin palace" and suggested that, in view of the fact that the hulk and much of the vessel was sound, leaving aside the Nkrumah embellishments, it should be used for naval purposes instead of being left to lie rotting in the Clyde? What can my right hon. Friend say to bring matters up to date?

The position was that, until we agreed to take it over from Ghana a few months ago, it was the responsibility of the Ghanaian Government. Now that we have accepted responsibility for it, it will be for Her Majesty's Government to dispose of it or to use it in the way that they think fit. In view of my hon. Friend's comment about it being a gin palace, he will realise the problems that arise in combining a fighting ship and a gin palace. This is not a requirement of many navies.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any idea about the use to which the Government might put this vessel?

That is a question that the hon. Gentleman will have to put to my noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence. It is not for me to answer it.

European Economic Community

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to invite the enlarged European Economic Community to have its European Parliament headquarters in London with buildings donated by the British Government.

May I first congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on the successful outcome of his recent negotiations? While thanking him for his answer, as far as it goes, may I ask him whether he does not agree that it is right and proper that the institutions connected with the Common Market should be situated in the capitals of the Common Market countries and whether he also agrees that a disproportionate, if not monopolistic, position has been attained by the capitals of the Six in terms of the headquarters of other international organisations such as U.N.E.S.C.O., O.E.C.D., N.A.T.O., F.A.O., etc., and that it is time that Britain showed her Europeanisation by offering to provide a building for the enlarged European Parliament? Can my right hon. and learned Friend assure the House that, if he is requested by the European parliamentarians, he will make that generous and sensible gesture?

At present, the sessions of the Parliament are divided between Strasbourg and Luxembourg. These arrangements appear satisfactory to the present members of that Parliament. I am sure that we do not want to disturb existing arrangements which are working satisfactorily. When we are a member of the Community, I hope that the Community may feel that some of its institutions might be sited here. But that is all a matter for the future and a matter for general agreement.

I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not take too seriously the congratulations of the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) on his recent negotiations. Will he accept that a large proportion of the fishing community feels that it has been sold out?

I hope to make a statement on that later and to satisfy the hon. Gentleman that no one has been sold out.

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he proposes to sign the Treaty of Accession to the Common Market.

We hope the necessary preparations will be completed in order that the Treaty may be signed in the middle of January.

As the vote on 28th October was taken subject to the agreement on fisheries, if any, can my right hon. and learned Friend assure us that the Treaty of Accession will not be signed until the fisheries agreement has been debated and voted upon in this House? In replying, I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not say that this is a matter for the Leader of the House, because I am asking about the signing of the Treaty of Accession.

We have, as I have to report to the House later, reached a satisfactory settlement on the fisheries problem acceptable to ourselves, to Denmark and to the Republic of Ireland. In these circumstances we are going ahead with the preparations for signing the Treaty.

I appreciate that we shall be discussing the statement by the right hon. and learned Gentleman at the end of Questions, but taking up his hon. Friend's point, he will recall that he gave the House certain assurances on 25th October regarding the situation concerning fisheries. These assurances have not been met by the agreement which he reached on Saturday with members of the Six. That being the case, will he not agree that the House must have an opportunity to discuss and debate the fisheries agreement before the Government sign the Treaty of Accession?

I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would wait to hear what the agreement was before deciding that it was unsatisfactory in any respect. However, if he listens to my statement, and then recalls what I told the House were our objectives after my statements on 11th November and 1st December, he will see that we have reached an agreement fully in accord with those statements.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's attitude and policy in relation to entry into the European Economic Community arising from the latest negotiations, in particular stating what common attitudes were taken together with Norway and Denmark on fisheries and on the future of European Free Trade Association.

I would ask the hon. Member to await the statement which, with permission, I shall make later today on the weekend's discussions in Brussels.

While I will certainly await the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement on the fishery negotiations with interest, may I point out that my Question also referred to the future of the European Free Trade Association and that we are entitled to a reply on that point?

There is no problem about that in the context of the negotiations we have had on fisheries regulations. The position as to the E.F.T.A. negotiations are as I have repeatedly stated in the House.

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement of his most recent discussions on the fishing grounds dispute in the European Economic Community.

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the latest position in the continuing discussions with the European Economic Community regarding their common fisheries policy; what co-operation he is now pursuing with other applicants and with Norway in particular in this matter; and if he will make a statement.

I would ask the hon. Members to await the statement which I shall, with permission, make later this afternoon.

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress of British negotiations to join the European Economic Community.

I would ask my hon. Friend to await the statement which, with permission, I shall make later today on the weekend's discussions in Brussels.

Trusting to your benevolence, Mr. Speaker, I shall take that course.

Rhodesia

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what requests he made for the release from detention of Mr. Joshua Nkomo and the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole during the course of his negotiations with the illegal régime and Mr. Smith in Rhodesia.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

The substance of my discussions in Salisbury must remain confidential. Mr. Nkomo's case is covered by the section in the White Paper about detainees. The Reverend Sithole however is in a different category as he is serving a prison sentence.

Is that reply not a supreme example of the right hon. Gentleman's propensity for appeasing Fascist régimes? How could any reasonable basis of assessing African opinion be reached without the release of these two gentlemen? Is it not a fact that Mr. Nkomo has been unlawfully detained for many years, and that the Reverend Sit-hole was punished by a bigoted court without any real responsibility?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will keep an open mind. The important thing is that these gentlemen should make their opinions known to the Commission of Acceptability.

Would the Foreign Secretary accept that to obtain free and proper discussions before the test of acceptability—and to show the feeling of both Governments towards a settlement—a general amnesty for all those detained, under whatever law, should be made available, to show good will?

That was not a condition made at the time of the attempted settlement on "Fearless". As far as the detainees are concerned, the hon. Gentleman will perhaps have noticed that some 54 detainees have been let out in the last month and the rest will be inquired into by a tribunal.

The Foreign Secretary said—and this is roughly the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite and on this side of the House—that the important thing is for Mr. Sithole's views to be given to the Commission. When in Salisbury, did the right hon. Gentleman receive any assurance, which he could repeat to the House, that Mr. Sithole will get this opportunity and that no barrier will be raised in his way to giving evidence?

I cannot say in what way Mr. Sithole will be able to express his opinion. He sent me a long memorandum and Mr. Mugabe, his right-hand man, came to explain Mr. Sithole's views.

I must press the right hon. Gentleman on this. A moment ago he said that Mr. Sithole would be free to give his views to the Commission. Most people who know the situation in Rhodesia will feel that it is indispensable that he should be free. Surely the right hon. Gentleman sought some assurances from Mr. Smith on this? If he has not done so, will he do so immediately?

There is no doubt that Mr. Sithole will be able to express his opinion, as he did to me, but in exactly what form I would not commit myself now. It will be for the Commission to satisfy itself that it has his opinion.

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications he has received from leaders of African Governments, and Africans inside Rhodesia, relating to his announcement on 25th November, 1971, of a proposed settlement with the illegal régime in Rhodesia.

Two messages have so far been received from African leaders in reply to a message which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister sent them when the proposals were announced. None has been received from Africans inside Rhodesia.

In view of the reported widespread mistrust of the Pearce Commission, as at present constituted, by Africans inside Rhodesia and responsible African leaders throughout the continent, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman when he will be in a position to announce additional names? Can he say whether one of them will be African?

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the commission to test acceptability of the settlement proposals will start work in Rhodesia.

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the composition and timetable of the commission set up to ascertain whether the proposals for granting independence to Rhodesia are acceptable to all sections of the population.

As regards the composition of the Commission, I am considering the possibility of appointing an additional Deputy Chairman or Deputy Chairmen, and the House will be informed as soon as a decision is reached, which I hope will be very soon. On timing, I understand that given the complex planning involved, it is unlikely that the Commission will start its work in Rhodesia until the New Year.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that information, could I ask him to make it clear that the Commission will do its work with complete thoroughness, with no pressure of deadlines and with ample time for the proposals to be clearly explained to Africans in Rhodesia?

This is most important, and the Commission can take as long as it feels is necessary.

When the Foreign Secretary appointed Lord Pearce to be Chairman of the Commission was he aware that he was the only judge to dissent from the Privy Council's recommendation that the Smith régime be made illegal? How does he expect a Commission headed by such a man to be acceptable to educated Africans in Rhodesia?

There is no question about Lord Pearce's impartiality in this matter. He is impartial and will be acceptable.

Would the right hon. Gentleman clear up an uncertainty which many hon. Members will have about the nature of the Commission? He referred to a number of commissioners and one or two additional Vice-Chairmen. He also told the House that there was no particular importance about the requirement that the report would be signed only by the Chairman and Vice-Chairmen, thereby implying that all commissioners would sign the report. Is this the case, and will the Commission be a substantial one, consisting in all—Vice-Chairmen and commissioners together—of 15 to 20 persons?

Lord Pearce feels that about 16—which would roughly make the number the hon. Gentleman suggests—would be necessary to fulfil the task. The report will probably be signed by the five.

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in full the details of the discussions between himself and Mr. Joshua Nkomo.

No, Sir. Like my other discussions with African leaders in Salisbury, my discussion with Mr. Nkomo was confidential.

Is the Foreign Secretary not aware that any secrecy about discussions with the detained African leaders would be very bad indeed when discussing any test of acceptability? Would he therefore comment whether we would be right in assuming that the report in the Observer of 28th November by Colin Smith about the discussions with Mr. Nkomo was an accurate report?

As for the accuracy or otherwise of the conversations I had with Mr. Nkomo, the hon. Lady will remember that I saw over 100 Africans and groups of Africans, and it would be impossible to disclose one conversation without disclosing them all.

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will arrange for representatives of the major Rhodesian African political parties led by Joshua Nkomo and the Reverend N. Sithole to attend future Commonwealth conferences as observers in order to report on developments in Rhodesia arising from the agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Smith régime.

It is not within the British Government's power to make such arrangements.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a disappointing reply since it closes one of the main avenues to African opinion following the take-over by the Smith régime? Do not the coloured peoples of Rhodesia need protection by the British Government so that the Commonwealth and world opinion may be informed about what is happening in Rhodesia after the settlement?

This must be a matter for the Commonwealth generally to consider, if it wishes to do so. It is not a matter for Her Majesty's Government alone.

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the United Nations have agreed to ask two imprisoned Africans to address them on the Rhodesian problem, he will seek to persuade Mr. Ian Smith to permit these men freedom and facilities to travel to the United Nations offices.

The White Paper makes it clear that agreement was reached on the release of a number of detainees and the consideration by a tribunal of the release of others. Whilst the Rhodesian authorities are aware of the Security Council proposal, we are not in a position to require them to allow the persons concerned to visit New York.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that my Question refers to a request by the United Nations made since the White Paper? Since the Foreign Secretary and Lord Goodman appear to have a lot of influence with Mr. Smith, could not either he or Lord Goodman fly to see Mr. Smith to try to persuade him to allow these gentlemen to go to address the United Nations? Since these gentlemen have neither committed nor been found guilty of any crime, is this not the least the right hon. Gentleman can do?

The Rhodesian authorities have been informed, and I intend to take no further action.

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official communications he has received from other members of the Commonwealth to his proposals for a settlement of the Rhodesian problem.

We have received one formal communication from a member of the Commonwealth on this subject and have had a number of informal contacts. The content of these exchanges is confidential.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he intends to invite official comment from members of the Commonwealth and, if he does, will he take the trouble to circulate the official replies in the OFFICIAL REPORT? Is he aware that from the evidence we can adduce, from newspapers and other sources, the bulk of the African members of the Commonwealth and the coloured members of the Commonwealth are emphatically against the proposals put before the House?

My right hon. Friend took the trouble to write a letter to all the heads of the Governments in the Commonwealth, describing the proposals. We had only two official reactions to this. It is up to any Commonwealth leader to reply to my right hon. Friend's letter at any time.

If my right hon. Friend accedes to the request of the hon. Gentleman to publish the reactions of the African political leaders, will he at the same time make it clear whether such leaders observe the five principles in their own countries?

I think that we can safely leave this matter to the leaders of the Commonwealth Governments.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that all the evidence supplied to the Pearce Commission will be published in full in the report?

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make it his policy to seek to arrange for the United Nations Organisation to take over Southern Rhodesia as a trust territory under Articles 75 and 81 of the United Nations Charter, in the event of the test of acceptability resulting in the rejection of the proposed settlement.

The Pearce Commission have to ascertain whether the present proposals are acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. I do not want to prejudice their task by anticipating a particular result of their work.

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that his answer does not pass my test of acceptability? Does he not see that the test of acceptability in Rhodesia will be a farce if the participants are not informed of the Government's alternative policy to a settlement with Smith?

The hon. and learned Gentleman asked me before I went to Rhodesia to make a forecast of what I would do if my mission failed. I decline to make a forecast now.

On the subject of the test of acceptability, does my right hon. Friend expect to be in a position to tell the House what the full membership of the Pearce Commission will be before we rise for Christmas, and will he say whether reports emanating from Salisbury, and which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, saying that it is in his mind now to appoint 14 commissioners, are correct? Or is this a confusion between commissioners and assessors?

I think there may be some confusion, because the whole lot are really known as commissioners. There will be five and I hope very soon to be able to announce the two additional names. On what is known as the Commission on the Test of Acceptability I think there will be 16 further members whom Lord Pearce would like to have.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman in this connection whether he will arrange for hon. Members to be given copies of the English text of the document purporting to explain the meaning of the Commission in simple terms and which I understand the Government are preparing also in African languages for the Commission's use?

South Africa (Arrested British Subjects)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what protests he has made concerning the arrest of 71 British subjects by the South African Government during the last year; and if he will list the criminal charges on which 55 of these British subjects have been detained.

There are normally no grounds for protesting in regard to the arrest in a foreign country of a British subject who is charged with having committed an offence under the law of that country. We have as necessary reminded the South African Government that when a United Kingdom citizen is arrested we expect him to be charged and brought to trial or speedily released. I will with permission circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the other details which the hon. Member has requested.

As he will see, they cover a very wide range of which theft and fraud amount to well over half of those involved.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether those seven arrested on political charges have been brought to trial and charged and, if not, what protests he has made in this connection?

Of the seven, three were charged and convicted and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment. After one month they were released and deported. One of the other four is the Dean of Johannesburg, and there is the question of an appeal at present. The other three who have not yet been charged are concerned with matters on which we have made representations, but these are more recent arrests.

Following is the information:

BREAKDOWN OF THE CRIMINAL CHARGES ON WHICH 55 BRITISH SUBJECTS HAVE BEEN CHARGED IN SOUTH AFRICA DURING THE LAST YEAR (FROM 1ST DECEMBER,1970).
Theft22
Illegal Immigration7
Possession of dangerous weapons2
Housebreaking and attempted theft1
Causing a disturbance1
Assault … …1
Fraud10
Attempted rape1
Breach of Immorality Act1
Contempt of Court1
Rape/Incest2
Debt3
Manslaughter1
Attempted Murder1
Abducting a Minor1
Total55

Persian Gulf

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about the arrangements made by Her Majesty's Government in the form of a Treaty with the Sultan of Muscat and Oman, following British withdrawal from the Gulf.

No fresh treaty was called for.

A Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation was concluded between the United Kingdom and the Sultanate on 20th December, 1951, and remains in force. Its validity has not been affected by the recent termination of our special treaty relations with Bahrain, Qatar and the Trucial States, or by the plans for the withdrawal of British forces from the Gulf.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Sultan of Muscat and Oman, at a recent Press conference, in the presence of French journalists, stated that he had signed a secret treaty with Her Majesty's Government to last for 30 years, regulating the maintenance of British military bases in that country? Is he aware that this has already been reported in the French Press? Is he further aware that there has been a civil war in that country for the last 16 years and that many hundreds of political prisoners are still detained without trial? Is it not time that we withdrew our support for this unrepresentative hereditary ruler and supported the people of Muscat and Oman, who want a democratic régime?

This is an independent Government with whom Britain is in a treaty relationship, and I have explained what that relationship is. I know nothing of the Press conference to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but if he would like to send me details I would be happy to look into it.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek leave to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Tanzania

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Tanzanian Government in respect of that provision of the Exchange Control Ordinances which can compel British subjects working in Tanzania to sell assets in Great Britain in exchange for Tanzanian currency.

None, Sir. The existing law on this subject remains the same as it was before independence.

Does that not mean that if a British subject is in Tanzania for 300 days and thereafter he were to inherit, say, £1,000 in this country he could be compelled to convert that money to Tanzanian shillings, which would be uncashable in Great Britain and possibly irremovable from Tanzania? Is that not an intolerable position, about which representations ought to be made?

The difficulty is that the present arrangements are those which were enforced before Tanzania became independent and therefore I do not see how we can make representations for changes in a law which we tolerated in those circumstances. The position about the 300-day rule is that this is a new provision suggested in a proposed law which has not yet been promulgated. I am told, however, that the Bank of Tanzania will still retain its existing discretion to define residential status in certain special circumstances and that might apply in the case the hon. Gentleman raised, although without further details I could not say definitely.

Middle East

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common. wealth Affairs what representations he made to the Israeli Foreign Minister during his recent talks with him, for Israel to reconsider its rejection of Ambassador Jarring's request made earlier this year, for a specific commitment of Israeli withdrawal from occupation of the territory of neighbouring countries in the light of four power talks on the Middle East.

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement concerning his recent talks with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr. Abba Eban.

My talks with Mr. Eban naturally centred on the situation in the Middle East, but we also discussed a number of other subjects of mutual interest. The details must remain confidential.

Will the right hon. Gentleman continue to take every possible opportunity to impress upon the Government of Israel that its continuing occupation and colonisation of the territory of neighbouring countries is the major obstacle to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East?

The most practical thing to do is to try to get discussions going between Egypt and Israel, in particular under Resolution 242. As long as the momentum of talks can be maintained under that Resolution, and possibly speeded up, that is the best hope of peace.

Is it not clear that Israel, perhaps like India, is not prepared to accept paper guarantees and has always welcomed the prospect of direct talks with her Arab neighours?

That is true and it is the Israeli case that negotiations ought to start, but we all know the limitations to the possibilities of those negotiations. I was quite convinced after having been to Cairo and seeing Mr. Eban that the momentum of these discussions must, in one way or another, be stepped up and under a third party. The best third party anyone has been able to think of so far is Dr. Jarring.

Is it not clear that Israel is obviously deeply suspicious as a result of what happened on the previous occasion when the United Nations troops were withdrawn very quickly? Is it not also clear that Israel really does want peace and has made it absolutely clear that she must have peace with guaranteed frontiers to ensure her existence as a State?

There have been a number of offers of international guarantees and I think that we could in any new international guarantees avoid the dangers of the past, for example by making a decision on withdrawal unanimous.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Egyptians have now given all the undertakings requested of them by Ambassador Jarring and by the British and American Governments? Is it not plain that if war in the Middle East is to be avoided pressure must be brought to bear on Israel sooner or later to make her contribution?

I think it is true that Egypt and the Arab countries want to live at peace with Israel. I was satisfied of that. Nevertheless, the deadlock remains, and the practical thing is to try to find a way out of the deadlock by starting talks with a much greater momentum than they have had up to now.

Development Divisions

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has yet decided on the places at which he proposes to establish three new development divisions overseas and the total number of staff proposed; and if he will make a statement.

I cannot yet say where the new divisions will be. I hope to be in a position to do so very soon and to give the other information for which the hon. Member asks.

The whole House will welcome the extension of the Department's work in this way. When the extra divisions are full established, will the right hon. Gentleman consider how they may serve the high commissions and embassies in the area in order to encourage a great deal of activity from the other side of the right hon. Gentleman's Department?

I feel that the future development divisions will have to operate largely as the existing development divisions have done, namely, in close conjunction with embassies and high commissions in their areas, in order to maximise the effectiveness of their work.

India (Overseas Aid)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the recent visit to India of the Minister for Overseas Aid.

I returned to England on 1st December after spending two weeks in or near Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta, at the invitation of the Government of India.

I was able to see examples of the developments in agriculture, and I looked at both light and heavy industry, at some of the educational institutions which we are assisting, and at urban improvement work in Calcutta. I had useful talks with a number of Ministers about the continuing rôle of British aid, and I signed two loan agreements. I also discussed, both with Ministers and with business men, the opportunities for foreign private investment.

Finally, in West Bengal, I saw some of the refugee camps, and the work of voluntary organisations from Britain within them. This has given me a clearer idea of some of the problems that will have to be solved when the fighting is over.

In planning his forward programmes, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the tremendous amount which India has given in order to deal with the refugee problem, which the right hon. Gentleman has seen? Although India still ranks high in the total amount of aid given, because of its large population and large area which has to be extended, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the amount is even larger to deal with the fresh problems which he has seen?

I shall have very much in mind in the next few months all the considerations which the hon. Gentleman mentioned. I appreciate the continuing need not only for development in India but for the relief of the refugees, whether they remain in West Bengal or in East Pakistan, in the next few months.

In considering this matter, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a new factor seems to have entered into the situation, and that is the extraordinary and regrettable decision of the United States Government to cease providing economic aid to India? In my view, this is an added reason for calling a meeting of the India Aid Consortium.

As I understand it, the United States Government have suspended that portion of their promised aid to India which has not been committed. My view is that we should continue to give India the aid which we have pledged. Therefore, I hope that the right hon. Lady and I are in full agreement.

Commonwealth Development Corporation

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in which countries outside the Commonwealth the Commonwealth Development Corporation now has projects; what have been the principal financial problems encountered in taking on projects in non-Commonwealth countries; and whether he will make a statement.

The Commonwealth Development Corporation has projects in Cameroon and in Indonesia and others are being considered in Ethiopia and Thailand. The two main financial difficulties encountered by the Corporation in non-Commonwealth countries concern its tax position and the high cost of commencing operations in new countries.

While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he would also agree that one of the difficulties about the Corporation's effectiveness outside the Commonwealth is the very high interest rates at which money is made available by the Treasury in this country? Is there any prospect of seeing favourable rates of interest charged on money to the Corporation for projects outside the Commonwealth?

This is a matter which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we have been considering. I shall certainly take note of what he said because I, too, am very anxious, as, I believe, is the hon. Member, that the C.D.C. should widen its operations in the developing world generally.

Before considering an extension of the corporation's activities in Indonesia, would my hon. Friend get a satisfactory settlement with the Government of Indonesia of outstanding claims to compensation for British assets seized?

This is another question and outside the proper field of my responsibility.

Persian Gulf

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the latest position in the Persian Gulf.

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a further statement about the situation in the Gulf.

I have nothing to add to the statement made to the House by my right hon. Friend on 6th December.—[Vol. 827, c. 944–6.]

Would my right hon. Friend say whether it is intended to establish a base to assist the Union in planning its defence forces and, if so, whether this base can be used by British troops in rotation?

Yes. There is a proposal for British forces to train in the area at regular intervals. That has been arranged in accordance with the plan outlined by my right hon. Friend in his statement in March.

In view of the irrational confiscation by Libya of the oil company following recent events in the Gulf, would the Government now desist from demeaning themselves—complete with Lawrence of Arabia headgear—by courting the irrational tyrannies and, instead, adopt a sensible policy with the one stable democracy in the area?

I am not clear what the hon. Gentleman is asking us to do. We inherited from his party a difficult problem in the Gulf area which my right hon. Friend, with great patience, has brought to what I believe is a satisfactory and honourable conclusion under which all the States in the Gulf, both Arab and non-Arab, can, I think, look forward to a future of stability, as a result of what Britain has done. I would have thought it would commend itself to the hon. Member.

Would my right hon. Friend continue to pursue British interests in the area, and in this connection would he make representations to the Government of Kuwait, who have always had a very moderate policy, to try to persuade them that it must be in the interests of Kuwait as well as of other countries which want to see stability in the Gulf that good relations between Iran and Kuwait should be preserved, and, at the same time, indicate how British foreign policy recently has been imaginative in the Middle East and, therefore, how ridiculous it is for countries to discriminate against us and not the United States?

Yes, I agree very much with what my hon. Friend has been saying, and we would want to see in the States in the Gulf the best possible relationships between one another and with us. I believe that there is a community of interests between the Arab States there and Iran, which we have been trying to bring about and foster. It has been the whole purpose of our policy to ensure stability which, I believe, will be achieved by the arrangements which we have helped to establish.

Going back to the original Question, is it the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Gulf, or just the Gulf?

One Question referred to the Gulf and the other to the Persian Gulf. I am quite happy to rest on the Gulf.

Was the settlement quite honourable, as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested? He is aware—is he not?—that there were some people shot and some killed during the time when we were—shall we say?—accountable for law and order. Is compensation being paid to the families of those who were shot?

The hon. Member refers to an unfortunate incident on the Greater Tunb Island, which we regret very much, but, although, as he says, we were responsible, for it is true that Britain's responsibility did not end technically until 24 hours later, we have made it quite clear that we did not think that that was possible or practicable, when we were at the end of the period of our protection, as we explained to the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah. While we regret it, we cannot accept responsibility for it.

European Security Conference

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the latest initiatives taken by Her Majesty's Government to secure an East-West security conference and an agreement for mutual balanced force reductions.

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further initiatives Her Majesty's Government have made to enable an East-West security conference to be held.

I and my colleagues of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation discussed the proposed Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe very fully at the recent meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels as well as the question of mutual and balanced force reductions. The Alliance's policy, with which Her Majesty's Government concur, is set out in the Communiqué issued after that meeting, which, with permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

As this weekend East and West initialled a transit agreement, what on earth are we waiting for now? Is it not clear that in international circles the British Government are regarded as being the ones to apply the brake to greater progress towards a security conference?

We are not waiting for anything. We did not want to wait for anything. When we left Lisbon after the last meeting of the North Atlantic Council we anticipated that multilateral arrangements for a security conference would begin. The hon. Member will recall that the Russians required that the protocol should be signed simultaneously with ratification of the treaties between the Federal German Republic, Poland and the Soviet Union. Now the Federal German Republic has to pass some acts through its Parliament connected with these treaties. So I am afraid that preparation of the security conference has been delayed by that for the last few months.

Could the Foreign Secretary explain why it is not possible for preparations for the security conference to begin immediately? He will recognise that the passing of the treaties through the Bonn Parliament is largely at the mercy of decisions of the opposition parties in Bonn, whereas the earlier we have the security conference in Europe, which, as he himself admitted, is in the interests of all peoples in Europe, East and West, and the sooner we can make progress towards such a conference, the better.

The right hon. Gentleman will have seen that the members of the North Atlantic Council are anxious to get on with preparations. Therefore, we are contacting the Finnish Government who have offered to give facilities for such a conference. The judgment of the Council of Ministers was that the multilateral preparations must begin as soon as possible after the ratification of the two German Treaties with Poland and the Soviet Union, and after the signature of the Berlin protocol.

Following is the communique:

Final Communique

The North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 9th and 10th December, 1971. Foreign and Defence Ministers were present.

2. Ministers stressed that their governments would continue to pursue their long-standing objectives of achieving, through a genuine relaxation of tensions, a just and lasting peace and stability in Europe. They recalled that since the creation of the Alliance over twenty years ago the treaty area has been free of armed conflict and that under existing international conditions the North Atlantic Treaty remains indispensable for the security of member States.

3. Ministers examined the international situation and expressed their deep concern over the tragic events in Southern Asia. It is their fervent hope that hostilities between India and Pakistan will give way to an early and peaceful solution of all aspects of the conflict.

4. Turning to developments in and around Europe, including the Mediterranean, Ministers reviewed the status of the various initiatives undertaken or supported by the Allies and assessed the results of the numerous bilateral contacts between the Allies and other European states.

5. Ministers noted the effects which continuing difficulties in trade and monetary policy could have, among other things, on the state of the Alliance. They were encouraged by the various efforts underway in other fora to remedy these difficulties in the economic sphere. The Ministers decided to keep this matter under continuing review.

6. Ministers took note with satisfaction of the signature, on 3rd September, 1971, of the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin. They also noted that the German arrangements to implement and supplement the Quadripartite Agreement now appear to be nearing completion, and that, once these arrangements have been concluded, the Governments of France, the United Kingdom and the United States would be prepared to sign forthwith the final Quadripartite Protocol which would bring the complete Berlin Agreement into effect. Ministers expressed the hope that this would soon be achieved.

7. Ministers viewed this emerging Agreement as an important and encouraging development. Once completed and in effect, the Agreement should bring about practical improvements, while maintaining the Quadripartite status of Berlin and the rights and responsibilities of France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union with regard to Berlin and Germany as a whole. Specifically, Ministers noted that movement of civilian persons and goods between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Western Sectors of Berlin will then be unimpeded, and that the residents of the Western Sectors will be able to visit East Berlin and the G.D.R. Ministers also welcomed the assurance in the Quadripartite Agreement that the ties between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Western Sectors of Berlin will be maintained and developed.

8. Ministers considered that achievement of the Berlin Agreement would also demonstrate that, with a constructive attitude on all sides, it should be possible to reach reasonable solutions between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic which take into account the special situation in Germany. Ministers took the view that this example would encourage progress on other problems in Europe.

9. Ministers recalled that at their meeting in Lisbon they declared their readiness to undertake multilateral conversations intended to lead to a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe as soon as the negotiations on Berlin had reached a successful conclusion. In the light of the encouraging developments referred to above they affirmed their readiness to initiate such conversations on this basis as soon as possible.

10. In this perspective, they propose to intensify their preparations and their bilateral contacts with other interested parties.

11. Ministers also took note of the invitation of the Finnish Government to the effect that heads of mission of the countries concerned accredited in Helsinki should undertake multilateral conversations. They stated that their Governments appreciated this initiative and that they will keep in touch with the Finnish Government in order to consult on this matter.

12. Ministers considered that a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe should not serve to perpetuate the post-war division of Europe but rather should contribute to reconciliation and co-operation between the participating states by initiating a process of reducing the barriers that still exist. Therefore, Ministers reaffirmed that the Conference should address in a concrete manner the underlying causes of tension in Europe and the basic principles which should govern relations among states irrespective of political and social systems.

13. Ministers took note of the report of the Council in Permanent Session concerning a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. This report examined four areas of discussion at such a conference: (A) Questions of Security, including Principles Governing Relations between States and certain military aspects of security; (B) Freer Movement of People, Information and Ideas, and Cultural Relations; (C) Co-operation in the Fields of Economics, Applied Science and Technology, and Pure Science; and (D) Co-operation to Improve the Human Environment. Ministers requested the Council in Permanent Session to continue these studies with a view to facilitating a constructive discussion of these subjects at the negotiations.

14. Ministers representing countries which participate in the N.A.T.O. integrated defence programme reaffirmed their longstanding belief that a mutual and balanced reduction of forces in Central Europe which preserves the legitimate security interests of all concerned would maintain security and enhance stability in Europe, make an important contribution to the easing of tension and improve East-West relations generally.

15. These Ministers reviewed the developments with respect to mutual and balanced force reductions since their last meeting in Lisbon. They reaffirmed the decisions taken at the meeting of Deputy Foreign Ministers and High Officials on 5th and 6th October, 1971, to propose exploratory talks with the Soviet Government and other interested governments and to charge Mr. Brosio with this mission on the basis of a substantive mandate. They expressed their thanks to Mr. Brosio for accepting.

16. The Ministers noted with regret that the Soviet Government has so far failed to respond to the Allied initiative in this important area of East-West relations in which that Government had earlier expressed an interest. Noting statements by Soviet leaders to the effect that they hoped East-West talks on force reductions in Europe would begin as soon as possible, these Ministers hope that Mr. Brosio will soon be able to go to Moscow. The interested Allied Governments continue to believe that prior explorations of this question as essential in preparation for eventual multilateral negotiations.

17. These Ministers emphasised the importance they attach to measures which would reduce the dangers of military confrontation and thus enhance security in Europe. They noted that a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe should deal with these aspects in a suitable manner.

18. Ministers noted a report on further studies conducted within N.A.T.O. on mutual and balanced force reductions since the Lisbon Meeting. They instructed the Permanent Representatives to continue this work.

19. Ministers welcomed the fact that the negotiations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. on strategic arms limitations have resulted in concrete agreements to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war and to improve communication arrangements between the two governments. Satisfaction was expressed for the close Alliance consultation which has been conducted throughout the course of the Strategic Arms Limitations talks. Ministers expressed the hope that these negotiations will soon lead to agreements which would curb the competition in strategic arms and strengthen international peace and security.

20. Ministers reaffirmed their determination to promote progress in disarmament and arms control and reviewed recent developments in these fields. They expressed satisfaction at the measures envisaged to prohibit the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and their destruction. They hoped that all States will adopt similar measures. Ministers also expressed the hope that headway could be made towards reaching an agreement on the controlled prohibition of chemical weapons. Ministers representing countries which participate in the N.A.T.O. integrated defence programme noted with interest the efforts being undertaken to find effective means for the verification of an eventual agreement on a comprehensive test ban.

21. Ministers took note of a report on the situation in the Mediterranean prepared on their instructions by the Council in Permanent Session. They reaffirmed their concern about the course of events in this area, while expressing their hope that a peaceful solution would be found in the Eastern Mediterranean. In the light of the conclusions of the report before them, they instructed the Council in Permanent Session to continue consultations on this subject and to follow the evolution of the various aspects of the situation in order to report thereon at their next meeting.

Ministers were pleased by the new achievements of the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (C.C.M.S.) in its studies, especially in the fields of air and water pollution, and by the initiation of a project on the application of modern technology to health care.

23. The Spring Ministerial Meeting of the Council will be held in Bonn on 30th and 31st May, 1972.

24. Ministers requested the Foreign Minister of Belgium to transmit the text of the preceding paragraphs in their behalf through diplomatic channels to all other interested parties, including neutral and non-aligned governments.

25. Ministers of the countries participating in N.A.T.O.'s integrated defence programme met as the Defence Planning Committee.

26. In the light of the considerations outlined in the preceding paragraphs, they emphasised that N.A.T.O.'s efforts to achieve sufficient defence capabilities and the striving for détente are not incompatible but complementary, and that sufficient and credible defence is a necessary corollary to realistic negotiations on security and co-operation in Europe. In the same context and as a fundamental principle, these Ministers reaffirmed the well-known position of the Alliance that its overall military capability should not be reduced except as part of a pattern of mutual force reductions balanced in scope and timing.

27. These Ministers discussed mutual and balanced force reduction (M.B.F.R.) and reaffirmed their intent to continue their close involvement in the development of common allied positions.

28. They noted the growth of Soviet military efforts in recent years and the indications that the Soviet Union continues to strengthen both its strategic nuclear and its conventional forces, especially naval forces. They therefore agreed on the need for continued and systematic improvement of N.A.T.O.'s conventional forces and for the maintenance of adequate and modern tactical and strategic nuclear forces in order to ensure that the deterrent remains effective at all levels, and in order to avoid weakening the basis of N.A.T.O.'s search for détente.

29. They discussed a follow-up report to the Alliance Defence Study for the Seventies (the AD 70 Study). They welcomed the progress being made by members in improving Alliance defences. In particular they noted with satisfaction the further specific and important efforts announced on 7th December by those European member countries which participated in the European Defence Improvement Programme, and recognised the emphasis which these European member countries are placing on modernising the equipment of their forces, land, sea and air, along AD 70 lines. They also welcomed the substantial improvements to their conventional forces planned by the United States, and they noted with satisfaction the enhanced United States contribution to N.A.T.O.'s strategic deterrent which will result from the deployment of the POSEIDON weapon system. They heard with appreciation the reaffirmation by the United States Secretary of Defence that, given a similar approach by the other Allies, the United States would maintain and improve their own forces in Europe and would not reduce them except in the context of reciprocal East-West action.

30. They endorsed the priority areas which were proposed to them for the further implementation of the AD 70 recommendations. Within these areas they identified for early action certain fields such as additional anti-tank weapons and modern tanks; advanced electronic equipment for certain combat aircraft; improved all-weather strike, attack and reconnaissance air forces; improved air defences and aircraft protection; better maritime surveillance and anti-submarine forces; more maritime patrol aircraft and seaborne missile systems; the replacement of over-age ships; the strengthening and modernisation of local and reinforcement forces on the Northern and South-Eastern Flanks; and larger ammunition stocks for land and air forces.

31. They recognised the global nature of the Soviet maritime capability, and in particular the deployments and activities of the Soviet fleets in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. In their discussion they reaffirmed the need for appropriate Allied measures, and reviewed progress.

32. They noted the force commitments undertaken by member nations for the year 1972 and they adopted a five-year N.A.T.O. Force Plan for the period 1972–76, including many AD 70 implementation measures.

33. They concluded that the aim within N.A.T.O. should be to allocate to defence purposes, where this is within the economic capability of countries, a stable and possibly larger proportion of their growing national wealth, in order to maintain an adequate deterrent and defensive capability.

34. The Defence Ministers comprising the Nuclear Defence Affairs Committee (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States) also convened to examine reports on the activity of the Nuclear Planning Group during the past year and on its projected work.

35. The next Ministerial meeting of the Defence Planning Committee will be held in the Spring of 1972.

57.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official representations he has received from the United States Government calling for a Ministerial meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries to prepare for a European security conference: and what has been his reply.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Anthony Royle)

The United States Ambassador called on my right hon. Friend before the recent meeting of the North Atlantic Council to outline the position which Mr. Secretary Rogers would take on matters affecting the preparation of a Conference on European Security. The Communiqué issued after that meeting, which is being circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT, sets out the Alliance's position on this question.

Since the Government's position is that there should be a conference provided that there is proper preparation for it, should not the Government separate preparation for a European security conference from such a conference, and should they not be preparing so that the conference can begin as soon as there is ratification of the German agreements?

My right hon. Friend in answer to earlier Questions made Her Majesty's Government's position clear—that we were glad the N.A.T.O. Ministers had affirmed their readiness to initiate, as soon as possible after the successful conclusion of the Berlin talks, multilateral conversations intended to lead to a conference on security questions.

It is hard to see what could come out of such a conference unless there were mutually balanced reductions, involving a proper identification to see that the reductions really were mutual and balancing, and it is difficult to see how this can be achieved in the present circumstances of East-West relations. Would my hon. Friend agree to go slowly towards the convening of an East-West conference?

I note my hon. Friend's comments and, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said earlier, we wish to make certain that there are careful preparations before we go ahead with this conference.

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that, if he were to accept the proposal put forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott Hopkins), it would mean that there would be no endeavour whatever to resolve the problems which face East and West Europe? Will he repudiate that suggestion and clearly state that it is the Government's policy to attempt some rapprochement with the Soviet Union and other East European countries?

We have made clear on many occasions, as has my right hon. Friend this afternoon, that it is our intention to play a part in a European security conference, subject to its being carefully prepared.

58.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official representations he has received from the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics calling for a European security conference in 1972; and what has been his reply.

The Soviet Chargé d'Affaires called on 15th October to explain the position of his Government on the preparations for a Conference on European Security in advance of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in December. He was informed that Her Majesty's Government would play a full and constructive part in the preparations and in the subsequent Conference.

Now that Mr. Brezhnev has called for a conference to be held in 1972, will Her Majesty's Government exercise all reasonable speed in making preparations for such a conference, otherwise the propaganda initiative in this matter will be handed to the Soviet Government?

My right hon. Friend made our position clear in answer to the earlier Question.

India And Pakistan

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about initiatives taken by Her Majesty's Government to promote a settlement of the situation in Pakistan and India.

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Pakistan with a view to promoting a political settlement of the war in East Bengal.

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his latest discussions with the Governments of India and Pakistan.

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on Her Majesty's Government's initiatives in connection with the situation within the Indian sub-continent.

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what results he has achieved by his urging the Indian Government to withdraw from the borders with Pakistan.

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will ask the West Pakistan Government to withdraw its forces from East Bengal.

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on what steps are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to promote a political settlement in East Pakistan.

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek powers to call immediately a meeting of heads of Government of India and Pakistan to discuss cease fire between the warring parties.

I would ask hon. Members to await the full statement which, with your permission. Mr. Speaker, I shall be making after Questions on this matter.

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on his exchanges with the Pakistan Government on the need to release Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and to hold discussions with him on the future of East Bengal.

As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary told the House on 18th November, the Government have already expressed concern to the Pakistan Government about Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. My present understanding is that the trial of Sheikh Mujibur has not yet ended.

It is for the Pakistan Government to decide whether or not to hold discussions with Sheikh Mujibur.—[Vol. 826, c. 626–8.]

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, but will he make it clear, either now or when he makes his statement later, that the only way to avoid prolonged bloodshed and suffering is by the immediate withdrawal of the Pakistan Army from Bangladesh and the release of Sheikh Mujibur so that he may take over the duties to which he was elected by his people a year ago?

I shall be making a full statement on these matters after Question Time, but perhaps I can reply to the right hon. Gentleman in this way: we have repeatedly stated our wish to see a dialogue take place between those in West Pakistan who hold the power and those who can command confidence in East Pakistan. So far we have been unable to achieve this.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that Sheikh Mujibur is alive? Is he aware that there is a good deal of speculation in India and East Pakistan about whether this gentleman is alive?

As far as we know, Sheikh Mujibur is alive. The hon. and learned Gentleman will understand that we have no method of being certain, but we think that he is alive.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is for economic aid, other than food aid, for Pakistan; and if he will make a statement.

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now cut off non-project aid to Pakistan, as a sequel to the decision not to initiate new project aid in present circumstances.

We have pledged no new aid to Pakistan this year, but we are honouring our obligations under the existing loan agreements for both project and non-project aid. Now that war has broken out, it is possible that aid shipments may not be able to reach Pakistani ports.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will use this period during which supplies are bound to be delayed in arriving in Pakistan to rethink his whole aid programme. Will he consider very carefully what part our aid programme can play for the eastern part of East Bengal, which may well be emerging as a new State but a State with very great economic needs?

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is in no doubt about my concern ever since the difficulties began this spring over the inevitable delay in the resumption of our aid programme in East Pakistan. I am still very anxious that the programme should be resumed and that conditions should exist to allow me to resume it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all of us who have held his office are bound to recognise that the way in which aid has flowed to Pakistan in recent years may have contributed to the difference between the two wings of Pakistan and therefore has been one of the contributory causes of the present crisis? Looking to the future, is the right hon. Gentleman's Department preparing plans for a substantial aid programme for Bangladesh when it shortly becomes an independent State?

We have examined the needs of East Pakistan this year and we shall do so in future. As I have said, we shall be examining the situation very carefully in the next few months to see when conditions are suitable for a resumption of the very much needed aid.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that a good part of our aid to Pakistan was required because of irrigation work and work on dams which had to be done in the Indus Valley because of India's unilateral action some years ago? Can the right hon. Gentleman explain what benefit there can be for the people of Pakistan if assistance with beneficial work required to be done because of Indian action against the people of West Pakistan is withheld?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I cannot believe that that would bring any benefit to East Pakistan. That is why we have continued the Indus Valley project.

In view of the events which have taken place in the last week or two, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be entirely appropriate if the British Government were to seek to convene a meeting of the Pakistan Aid Consortium and the India Aid Consortium with the purpose, first, of maximising immediate aid to India and, secondly, of ensuring that a programme of aid to East Bengal, presumably as a separate State, can be initiated at the earliest possible moment?

Naturally I shall take account of the right hon. Lady's suggestion, but my present feeling is that it might be premature to convene meetings of the consortia until we can see more clearly what the situation will be.

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the evacuation arrangements for British nationals in Karachi, Dacca and other areas involved in the fighting between India and Pakistan.

I would ask the hon. Member to await the statement which, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall be making after Questions.

Bahamas

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will pay an official visit to the island of Abaco in the Bahamas.

I visited the Bahamas in January. My right hon. Friend has no present plans to do so.

Is the Minister aware that a number of people on the island of Abaco are rather unhappy about future constitutional proposals for the Bahamas, and could he tell the House what happened to the petition that was signed by a large number of these people and presented to the Governor earlier this year?

This petition was considered, but the petitioners were advised by the Governor that any proposals for a change in the constitution should be put forward through their own elected representatives to the Governor. Their views were by no means unanimous. One of the elected members from Abaco led a delegation to the Governor declaring unshakeable opposition to any separation. There is obviously a divergence of views.

South Africa (Arms Supply)

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in supplying arms to South Africa in accordance with the terms of the Simonstown Agreement.

The contract for the supply of seven Wasp helicopters has now been signed.

That answer will not be received with any great excitement on this side of the House. Will the hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that no further orders will be fulfilled by British manufacturers? Furthermore, does the contract for seven helicopters completely fulfil our obligations under the Simonstown Agreement?

The position was fully set Out in the debate last February, and I do not think I need add anything more. The position of Her Majesty's Government was reserved in regard to further orders, if we chose to consider them, but we said that we would notify the House if we did so. The position is precisely as I stated it. The order for seven helicopters stands and no other orders have been placed.

How many jobs will be provided in fulfilment of this contract?

I cannot give the exact number, but this will obviously be a useful help in the employment situation.

British Subjects (Arrest And Detention)

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those countries in which British subjects are under arrest or detention, stating the numbers in each case.

I will, with permission, circulate this information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether any other country has anything like the number of people under arrest or in detention as has South Africa?

Yes, Sir. The list is a very full one. In regard to those serving sentences, the first country in the list is the United States; second, Spain; third, South Africa; fourth, Germany. As to those who are awaiting trial: first, Germany; second, Spain; third, Zambia; fourth, Tanzania.

Following is the information:

Details of British subjects reported to be under arrest or detention are listed below. These have been compiled from information available in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 1st December, 1971.

Country

Number of British subjects arrested and awaiting trial

Number of British subjects serving sentences

In custody

Not in custody

Austria13
Belgium36
Bolivia1
Brazil11
Bulgaria3
Chile2
China4
Denmark2
Finland2
France10110
Germany19312
Greece96
Guatemala12
Hungary1
India1121
Iran514
Israel923
Italy1114
Kenya2
Kuwait1
Lebanon54
Luxembourg2
Malawi1
Malta1
Mexico2
Morocco115
Netherlands22
Nigeria1
Norway24
Pakistan1
Portugal5
Rhodesia2
Roumania1
Saudi Arabia1
South Africa9316
Spain15219
Sweden16
Switzerland417
Tanzania121
Tunisia11

Country

Number of British subjects arrested and awaiting trial

Number of British subjects serving sentences

In custody

Not in custody

Turkey44
Uganda11
United States of America3443
YDPR (Aden)21
Yugoslavia14
Zaire1
Zambia133

No records are maintained of British subjects arrested or detained in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Trade And Industry

Dearne Valley

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to improve the employment situation in the Dearne Valley constituency area.

The Dearne Valley is already an intermediate area. The Department will continue to bring to the notice of suitable firms the advantages of locating there.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that up to now the Government's promises have not brought any more jobs to the Dearne Valley area, and that unemployment there has been rising and is now almost 8 per cent? When will they do something about bringing jobs to this area?

I accept that unemployment has been rising in the Dearne Valley, as it has elsewhere. As for what the Government are doing about it, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Industrial Development Certificates (South Yorkshire)

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many industrial development certificates have been granted in the South Yorkshire coal mining intermediate area since June, 1970; and how many jobs for men and women will be provided thereby.

There were 117, estimated to provide 3,000 jobs for men and 1,600 jobs for women.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that in spite of his right hon. Friend's fourth attempt to create jobs in South Yorkshire, none has been forthcoming? Will he also take into the account the tact that many people in the Dearne Valley district have to travel many miles to obtain work? When will the Government do something to make certain that South Yorkshire will become a more viable community than it is at present?

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman says, but measures already taken to put the economy on a sound basis should lead to the revival of investment in industry in the Dearne Valley.

Does my hon. Friend realise when considering the question of I.D.C.s in South Yorkshire that he should appreciate that next door in Derbyshire we, too, are in need of new and alternative forms of employment? Will the Government see that in pursuing their I.D.C policy more jobs will be provided in the longer term, not only in Yorkshire, but in the intermediate areas and indeed more widely?

My hon. Friend will realise that I.D.C.s are freely available in South Yorkshire in the intermediate area; and as for the availability of I.D.C.s in other parts of the country, the position was set out by the Department of Trade and Industry on 5th July.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Northern Ireland (Senator Barnhill)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the murder of Senator John Barnhill in Northern Ireland yesterday and whether he will now make urgent representations to the Government of the Irish Republic to ensure that they cease to harbour and give refuge to men who are perpetrating a series of murders of citizens of the United Kingdom.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

We were deeply shocked at the murder of Senator Barnhill and I know that the House will join me in expressing our deep sympathy to his family. A statement on this despicable case of murder, however, is not for me.

We have made repeated representations to the Government of the Republic of Ireland about cross-Border incidents, and in the light of the recent murders carried out close to the Border by men who are able to take refuge in the Republic, these will be renewed urgently.

I thank the Foreign Secretary for that reply. Is he aware that all right-thinking sections of the Northern Ireland community on both sides of the religious fence utterly condemn this vile murder? Does he agree that, as there has been from all right-thinking sections of the community this united expression of detestation, now is the time to push representations with the Irish Republic on this issue?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is the fifth cold-blooded murder in this area and that those who have been committing these crimes have been seen to escape across the border? Does he agree that if incursions of this kind were made into any other part of the United Kingdom and any other Government in Europe were harbouring such criminals Her Majesty's Government would take effective steps to put an end to the matter once and for all?

The House will have recognised the universal condemnation of this deliberate murder. We shall, as I told my hon. Friend, urge the Government of the Republic to take effective action to control these people on their side of the border.

May I associate Her Majesty's Opposition with the Foreign Secretary's sentiments about the appalling incidents which have occurred in Northern Ireland in the last week or two?

The right hon. Gentleman will have noted with profound approval the forthright statement of Cardinal Conway condemning recent incidents of violence of this nature. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the sense of shock which is felt among all communities and on both sides of the frontier in Ireland may present him with an opportunity to have talks with the Government of the Republic of Eire which could set this whole issue on a happier path? Will he consider with his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister whether the time has not come to take up the longer-term perspectives opened up by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in a recent speech which I think had wide approval on both sides of the House?

I have, of course, noted the statement of Cardinal Conway, and I welcome it, as the right hon. Gentleman does. I think this is an opportunity to take up with the Government of the Irish Republic these matters, for which they must accept some responsibility for control on their side of the Border. On the wider questions, the right hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today in Belfast, and I hope that progress will be made towards discussions with all parties.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since the statement and suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition there has, in fact, been an increase in the amount of violence in Northern Ireland? [Interruption.] Is he also aware that, despite the many representations which Her Majesty's Government have stated that they have made in the past, the Government of the South of Ireland are still harbouring these men and are not bringing them effectively to justice?

Will my right hon. Friend study what economic and other pressures may be put on the South of Ireland, because the people of the North will not tolerate large numbers of people in the South having freedom to move freely into and out of this country, exercising the franchise while they are here, remembering that during the last I.R.A. campaign between 1956 and 1962 the South of Ireland interned large numbers of known and self-confessed I.R.A. criminals? Will he see that the South of Ireland takes effective measures to bring this campaign of assassination to an end?

I said that we would do our best in representations to and discussions with the Government of the Republic. I do not really think that there is any point in going far back in history on this issue. I would rather, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said, look at this as an opportunity to obtain a constructive attitude.

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that all hon. Members on this side of the House condemn this atrocious murder? Has he noted the statement not only of Cardinal Conway but of the S.D.L.P., which in forthright terms has also condemned this murder?

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that those who are suggesting political initiatives are not responsible for the escalation and that what we need now is a fresh political initiative from Her Majesty's Government? Does he agree that that would be not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength, and that something will have to be done about internment if we are to have some de-escalation of this serious matter?

Everyone is totally sickened by these crimes which have continued for so long. My right hon. Friend goes to Northern Ireland to seek a political initiative, and I suggest that the hon. Gentleman awaits his return, and then, if he wishes, he can put to him any questions he may have.

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that, while everybody warmly welcomes the proper condemnation by Cardinal Conway of these murders and outrages, the immediate necessity is to ensure prompt and effective executive action by the Irish authorities to restrain and prevent these outrages?

India And Pakistan

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to make a statement.

The hostilities between India and Pakistan continue. Indian forces have advanced deep into East Pakistan, have captured the town of Jessore and have now virtually surrounded Dacca. Fighting is also continuing on the border between India and West Pakistan, particularly in the Chumb area where Pakistan forces have penetrated into Indian territory.

As the House is aware, seven British subjects were killed and six injured when a British ship was attacked in Karachi harbour on 9th December. In a message to the Prime Minister, the Indian Prime Minister has expressed her great regret for this attack and we are seeking compensation. Apart from this tragic incident we are not so far aware that any other British lives have been lost.

I am happy to say that the airlift of British subjects and other foreign nationals from Karachi, Islamabad and Dacca is now complete. This means that, with the exception of a small number of United Kingdom nationals in Khulna, Chittagong and elsewhere, about whom urgent inquiries are being made but some of whom appear to have taken the decition to remain, all those British subjects wishing to leave Pakistan have now done so. Over 1,300 persons were airlifted out of Pakistan by the Royal Air Force in three days; this was no easy task and in the case of Dacca in particular it was carried out in circumstances of considerable difficulty and danger. I am sure the House will wish to join me in expressing congratulations and thanks to all those in the Services and in our posts in the subcontinent who were involved in this fine achievement. Our Deputy High Commissioner and a residual staff remain in Dacca.

Since the fighting broke out we have reviewed our policy on arms sales, and, as I promised the House on 6th December, we have been in touch with the Governments of countries who have been main suppliers to India and Pakistan. I must report that as a result of these contacts there is no prospect of any general embargo on the sale of arms. That being so, I have considered what our own attitude should be.

There is, as the House knows, no military aid to India. As for sales, the Indian Government have a number of long-term contracts with commercial firms for the supply of military equipment. These are subject to export licence, the grant of which is being kept under constant review, in the light of the existing circumstances, including the state of hostilities in the sub-continent, the situation at the United Nations and the attitudes of alternative suppliers. As far as Pakistan is concerned we have not been a regular supplier of arms for Pakistan for some years. Therefore there are no similar contracts. The same supervision would be given to any orders from Pakistan which may be placed here.

The House will be aware that there have been a number of efforts to bring about a ceasefire as a prelude to a political settlement. All resolutions in the Security Council however were vetoed; and a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the forces of both India and Pakistan to their own territories which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 7th December, has proved ineffective. For their part, Her Majesty's Government believe that it is necessary to seek practical means of bringing the fighting to an end which take account of the realities of the situation and the attitudes of the parties. We are, therefore, in touch with other members of the Security Council to see how we can best assist in bringing about the earliest possible end to the fighting and the institution of constructive discussions.

First, may I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement? The whole House will wish to join him in congratulating Her Majesty's Services; and, indeed, the diplomats concerned, because it is clear that their rôle was almost as important as that of the Services in carrying out this evacuation with such extraordinary skill and success. I have one question for the right hon. Gentleman. Many Members of the House will have been disturbed to read stories that the passports of many of the civilians evacuated have been confiscated. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman would make a statement about this. Is there no better way of ensuring the necessary contribution to the cost of the evacuation by those concerned?

On the question of arms supplies, we on this side of the House feel that the position taken by Her Majesty's Government is both wise and necessary, and while it is important to keep a close eye on the fulfilment of existing orders, it would be quite wrong to carry out a unilateral embargo on arms supplies to one of the parties to the dispute when there is no certainty that other arms supplying countries will follow suit.

Finally, may I also congratulate the right hon. Gentleman again—I cannot guarantee to continue in this tone of congratulation for the rest of the afternoon—on the attitude taken by Her Majesty's Government at the United Nations. I think that all of us will feel that this is no time for inflammatory gestures, and it is very important for Her Majesty's Government to maintain a position which may, at some stage in the future, give them an opportunity of making a constructive intervention with the support of both sides to the dispute.

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, particularly for the tribute he paid to the members of the diplomatic staff, who have done really superb work under very trying conditions. Yes, there must be a better way than impounding passports. Of that, I am quite convinced, and I shall look into this matter urgently. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his comments on the very difficult question of arms supplies. We gave this a great deal of thought. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition raised this point a week or two ago. I think that we have come to the right answer. I shall keep a very vigilant eye on this all the time. We came to the conclusion, like right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that it was no use taking part in ineffective posturings in the United Nations and that we should do better to await a chance for more effective action, which may come in the course of the next few weeks.

Would my right hon. Friend say how many British subjects are in Chittagong and Khulna, and whether they are in any danger?

As far as we know—and this is uncertain—there are about 16 in Chittagong and some nine in Khulna, I think. On previous occasions a good many of that number decided to stay when offered the chance of evacuation. They may decide to stay again. We are looking at the matter carefully and trying to see how many want to go.

Will there not be a huge task of reconstruction and rehabilitation to be carried out in Bangladesh and is it not vital that that task should begin as soon as conditions there permit? Has the Foreign Secretary had any discussions with the Indian Government about the contribution which Britain can make to that task?

I do not know whether the hon. Member was present during Question Time, but it was then made clear that the situation has changed a good deal, and the whole question of aid to East Pakistan will have to be reconsidered, with, among others, the Americans, who have temporarily, at any rate, cut off the additional aid which they were going to give to India or Pakistan. We shall have to look at this from the start. I am well aware of the large problem which will be presented to everyone.

In the Security Council will my right hon. Friend be on the side of the Americans in urging a withdrawal of forces and a cease-fire—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—before further blood is needlessly shed? If India and her friend and mentor the Soviet Union are eager for India to continue hostilities until they obtain their military and political objectives, will he then consider a unilateral embargo on the further sale of arms to India to bring pressure on that country?

I do not think that it is a question of being on the side of the United States or any other country. We have to make up our minds ourselves on what is the best rôle which Britain can play to help to bring about a ceasefire and an orderly political settlement following that.

In view of the hopeless military situation of the Pakistan forces in East Bengal, will the right hon. Gentleman consider using his good offices to secure a negotiated withdrawal of those forces? Will he also bear in mind the danger of communal massacres after a cease-fire and adopt an attitude of some reserve towards the withdrawal of the Indian Army from East Bengal?

All these dangers are present in the minds of everyone in the House, and communal rioting, even outside East Bengal, has been one of the very greatest dangers of all. Mercifully, this has not happened so far, but we have closely in mind all the questions my hon. Friend has raised.