Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 894: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

European Security And Co-Operation


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest progress on the CSCE.

This matter was considered by the Foreign Ministers at their meeting in Luxembourg yesterday. They issued the following statement:

"The Foreign Ministers of the Nine are willing to complete the work of the conference as soon as possible. Taking into account the substantial progress accomplished on numerous subjects, they think that it is now both desirable and feasible to complete the negotiations in Geneva so that the third phase can take place in Helsinki by the end of July.
The realisation of this hope depends on all delegations as hitherto accelerating their work and their efforts so that general agreement may be reached on all outstanding questions. The Nine, for their part, are ready to make every effort to contribute to this end."

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. Although believing myself that the balance of advantage lies just with the West in these talks, and congratulating the right hon. Gentleman and his Department on the skilful contribution they have made to these talks may I ask him to confirm that any result- ing documents will in no way whatsoever give new approval or recognition in international law to frontiers emerging as a result of the Second World War? Will he also say how confident he is that the principles of non-intervention set out in Basket I will be regarded by the Soviet Union as superior to the Brezhnev doctrine?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said. The documents will be political and not legal documents, but they will have considerable significance, even though they are political documents.

As to non-intervention, there has been a great deal of discussion about the phraseology of these matters, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will find it satisfactory when he sees the final version. I should not like to pronounce on the exact legal status, except in the context of what I have already said.

I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for making what is an important statement about the progress of this conference. Surely he appreciates that the House needs and wants to know——

I was about to ask: will the right hon. Gentleman take an opportunity, before any final agreement is reached in Helsinki, to provide the House with a good deal more information, so that we may discuss this important matter, which could transform the political and, indeed, the security scene of Europe, if, as we all hope, it is successful?

The documents are in a state of final preparation but are by no means completed. They then have to be officially translated, and the work will take a great deal of time. I shall try to lay them before the House as quickly as possible. They are all bound to be completed before we go to Helsinki.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further progress has been made towards a political settlement based on the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus and towards the further aims outlined in Command Paper No. 6066, paragraphs 10 and 11; and if he will make a statement.

Her Majesty's Government continue to support the inter-communal talks under the good offices of the United Nations Secretary General, a third round of which is due to take place in Vienna on 24th July. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State told the House on 10th June, the Commonwealth Committee has not yet met, but is expected to do so in July.

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the continuing presence of about 38,000 Turkish troops and the creation of a permanent Turkish State in Cyprus is in direct defiance of the United Nations' decision? Does he further agree that there is now a need for additional initiatives outside the third round of the opening talks in Vienna? Is it not the responsibility of our own Government, as a guarantor nation, now to seek further sanctions, and does my right hon. Friend not agree that when a nation is in defiance of a United Nations' decision, the only sanction available to the world is the imposition of an arms embargo or an economic embargo upon that nation until it conforms to the decision? Will the Foreign Secretary therefore now consider the whole business of imposing an arms embargo or an economic embargo upon Turkey until that nation conforms to the United Nations' decision?

There is no doubt that the terms of the United Nations' resolution have not been carried out. That has been consistently stated. Her Majesty's Government's position on the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus is quite clear. We do not recognise it, nor has it claimed recognition as an independent State.

As to how we enforce compliance with the United Nations' resolution, that is a matter of opinion. My hon. Friend seems to think that an arms embargo and a trade embargo would do that. I have no evidence at all that either measure would be successful, except to increase the stubbornness of the Turks.

Will the Foreign Secretary say what he has been able to do to protect Briish residents in Cyprus and their property there? Will he say, further, what he has been able to do about the property there of those normally resident not in Cyprus but in the United Kingdom?

There is a later Question about that matter. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask his supplementary question then.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now make a statement on the compensation of British citizens for loss of or damage to their property in Cyprus.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Turkish Government about damage to the property of British subjects in Cyprus, and with what effect.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) on 11 th June and my hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) on 18th June.

I am now able to inform the House that as the result of the ministerial talks held in Ankara and Brussels last month, further contacts took place earlier this month in London between British and Turkish officials on the claims of British subjects and the counter-claims of the Turkish-Cypriots. There have also been recent discussions in Nicosia between the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community and the British High Commissioner on the subject of claims. Her Majesty's Government will continue to do all they possibly can to ensure that the interests of British citizens are satisfactorily resolved.

I welcome that answer. As the Turkish Foreign Minister told the Minister of State as long ago as 22nd May that his consideration of this question would be tempered by what he described as a sense of justice, may I ask whether the Minister of State accepts that there will be some disappointment at the fact that there have not yet been practical proposals for the recompense of British citizens? Will the right hon. Gentleman remind the Turkish Foreign Minister that if he is inspired by a sense of justice, justice delayed is justice denied?

I have a good deal of sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says. However, I must tell the hon. Gentleman that when I met the Turkish Foreign Minister in Ankara some weeks ago, there was a first genuine sign of hope that the problems of the British citizens concerned would be resolved. I was impressed by the determination and sincerity with which the Turkish Foreign Minister promised to make some progress in this matter. We can only hope that the progress which I am sure will come about, will come about speedily, because that is an absolute necessity.

Will the right hon. Gentleman remind the Turkish Government that Turkey has many friends in this country but that their friendship is under certain strains due to the delay in settling the legitimate claims of elderly British people in Cyprus—a delay which has now continued for far too long?

I made exactly that point to the Turkish Foreign Minister five weeks ago. I told him not only that Parliamentary pressure was growing irresistible but that it was pressure with which I wholly sympathised. I think that he understood that point very well.

The right hon. Gentleman is impressed by the attitude of the Turkish Foreign Minister, but has any practical progress been made in these talks? Has there been any discussion of practical proposals for compensation?

There has been some practical progress, although certainly not as much as one would wish. However, the fact that early this week and late last week there was discussion as a result of Turkish emissaries being sent to London is in itself a sign of progress. I cannot pretend that there are figures or numbers that I can yet offer to the House as a Turkish offer, but the conversations have begun, and that is progress.

May I, too, ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept my congratulations on the progress achieved and on the terms of his answer to my previous question, to which he referred? May I now ask him whether, in principle, the Turkish Government accept liability, subject to the proof of damage and matters of quantum in each case?

No, Sir, not entirely. The Turkish Government, as represented by its Foreign Secretary when I met him five weeks ago, acknowledged the statement as I described it. The Turkish Foreign Secretary said that he understood that there were problems involved not simply in allocating blame but also in deciding which authority was the legal authority on which responsibility had to lie. But the fact that the Turkish Government sent a representative to Britain is an indication that they want to play a practical part in meeting the needs. When I saw the Turkish Foreign Minister he said that in terms of money he knew that they could not be met by the Government of Cyprus but would have to be provided by another source. I assumed that to mean—and I hope it to mean—the Government of Turkey.

Middle East


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs what consultations are currently taking place between himself and Dr. Kissinger designed to secure a permanent peace settlement in the Middle East.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of State about the Middle East; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Kissinger and I are in constant touch through diplomatic channels concerning the Middle East. We last discussed the subject in person when we met on 30th May. We continue to encourage the United States to play a major rôle in the search for a just and lasting settlement.

In these consultations will my right hon. Friend stress that one at least amongst the many major factors in this situation is that the State of Israel should define the borders within which she constantly tells the world she wishes to live in peace but which so far she has refused to delineate?

That is a question of timing. Obviously that moment will come, but I doubt whether this is the right psychological moment to press Israel to take a definitive step of that kind. There is much more prospect of another round of negotiations on a limited basis providing a lessening of further tension.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the State of Israel has already withdrawn some troops from Sinai and stands fully prepared to discuss the future of the Gidi and Mitla Passes, and is willing to engage in further discussions on the political status of the West Bank, possibly as part of a wider confederation? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind also the need to keep the momentum of the present initiative going, and will he stress to Secretary of State Kissinger that he endorses all that he is doing to encourage that momentum?

I agree with the last part of my hon. Friend's question about the need to keep the momentum going. If, as he says, Israel is willing to consider the matters that he has enumerated, there is some prospect of a further step towards peace.

Quite apart from his conversations with Dr. Kissinger, has the Foreign Secretary been able to discuss this matter with his EEC colleagues in Luxembourg, and does he accept that, now that the referendum is over, Middle East countries are expecting Britain and France to take the lead in formulating an independent European policy and perhaps an independent European initiative in the area?

Over the past few weeks I have had discussions with Mr. Rabin, Mr. Allon and Mr. Fahmi, the Foreign Minister of Egypt, and Mr. Khaddam, the foreign Minister of Syria. We touched on these matters in Luxembourg yesterday, but we did not go into them in depth, although I remind the hon. Gentleman that a meeting of experts took place in Cairo on the Euro-Arab dialogue on Monday 15th June. We can all construct further initiatives. There is no difficulty about that. The problem is to ensure that the initiatives now taking place come to sucessful fruition.

In my right hon. Friend's consideration of the Middle East problem will he bear in mind that the stage-by-stage process favoured by Israel and the United States merely serves, both in the passage of time and in Israel's expansionist settlements, to consolidate Israel's occupation of Arab territory? Many of us are becoming increasingly unprepared to accept this and would welcome a speedy move to Geneva, at which both Britain and France should be represented, in response to Arab requests.

That is a partial statement of the situation which I do not wholly accept. There are great merits in a step-by-step approach when there is no complete trust between the two sides and when an intermediary such as the United States is playing its part. I believe that this is still the best way forward. It services the cause of peace rather than any individual State in the area.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, in order to encourage the current Middle East peace negotiations, he will prohibit the proposed arms supply to Egypt and future arms supplies to Israel, and take the initiative for a joint embargo on arms supplied to both sides in the Middle East by Great Britain, the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and France.

No, Sir; an effective agreement on some measures of arms limitation in the Middle East is likely to be possible only with the support of the parties to the dispute and in the context of a general settlement.

I understand that our explanation is that we want to maintain the military balance. Has not the same argument been used as an excuse by arms exporters for a century, with fatal results? Whatever the cost to Britain in lost exports, would not it be far, far less than the cost to Britain and to all mankind of a third world war, resulting from the escalation of the resumption of fighting in the Middle East?

The answer to the last part of my hon. Friend's question is, "Yes, it would". No one wants a third world war. As regards the first part of my hon. Friend's question, arms exporters may send arms only under licence, and the British Government have laid down a clear policy on these matters, to which we adhere. But the situation at the moment is that if Britain did not meet minimum requests from these countries, not only would these countries themselves feel that Britain was unwilling to assist; they would turn elsewhere, and perhaps to quarters to which my hon. Friend would not wish them to turn.

Can the right hon. Gentleman think of any agreement controlling the supply of arms in the Middle East or anywhere else which has not been immediately broken by the Communist countries concerned, almost as soon as it has been signed?

The USSR is playing a restrained rôle in the Middle East at present. In those circumstances, I do not wish to engage in a propaganda battle with her.

Will my right hon. Friend think again about his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) and accept that, if the four countries named in the Question agreed not to supply arms to the nations in the Middle East, at least the attempt might be worth while? If they do not have the means with which to wage war it makes the waging of war unlikely, if not impossible.

That is an ideal situation, but I live in a world of reality, and there is not the faintest chance of that being achieved.

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that the Secretary of State for Defence has been extremely skilful at concealing some of the details of the reported arms deal with Egypt? If the reports of a £450 million arms deal are true, bearing in mind the present initiatives being undertaken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, is not this the wrong moment at which to be selling arms, and is not the amount too large?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to pay an official visit to the Middle East.

I have accepted invitations to pay official visits to Egypt and to Syria. No dates have yet been fixed.

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that that is a most welcome reply, but that he has a lot of ground to catch up when he visits the Middle East, because he is the only Foreign Minister from a major Power in the Western World not to have been to the Middle East in either 1974 or 1975—a record which compares unfavourably with the active visits by other Foreign Ministers? When he makes these visits, will the right hon. Gentleman please reassure people that Britain does not want to opt out of peace making in the Middle East?

The hon. Gentleman forgets that, with remarkable prescience, I went to the Middle East in the weeks before I became Foreign Minister in 1974, and returned from there on the day that the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) declared a General Election, having had conversations with President Sadat, Israeli leaders and many others, so that there was no great need to return, quite apart from the fact that we have had two General Elections. I do not complain about this. We are fortunate in being a staging post, which means that leaders of Arab countries as well as leaders of Israel frequently come through London. I imagine that if we were to do an arithmetical totting up, for what it is worth—it would not be worth very much—I probably would be found to have had more contact with Arab leaders than have many other Foreign Ministers.

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that despite all the wheelings and dealings that are taking place—with which I would not necessarily disagree—the crux of the situation in the Middle East is that the Palestinians have been displaced from their homeland? Does he agree that in any future settlement it is their interests and their welfare which must he given the first consideration?

There is no doubt that the future of the Palestinians is one of the very difficult matters that will have to be settled if there is to be an overall peace settlement. That is one reason why there is still much to commend a step-by-step approach, although there is also no doubt that some people want a return to negotiations in Geneva. However, despite public protestations about the desire of a return to Geneva, I am not at all sure that those protestations are matched by private desires.

Does the Foreign Secretary not agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet East (Mr. Aitken), has a point? I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman has been heavily involved in European negotiations, and I realise also that other Ministers have been to the Middle East. I believe, from personal experience, that a visit by the Foreign Secretary at this time would be opportune and would assist in the development of our trade and diplomatic efforts in the Middle East.

I recognise that. As I said in my original answer, I have accepted invitations to pay official visits to Egypt and Syria, and I have other areas in mind to visit. The hon. Gentleman will also know that there are many other problems also which are engaging our attention from day to day.

Does the Foreign Secretary have any intention of meeting the leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation? It appears that that organisation is the key to the whole situation, and it would be as well to have direct consultations and talks with it.

The leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation have not yet recognised the existence of the State of Israel. In those circumstances, I find it difficult to meet them.

South Africa (Iron And Steel Corporation)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many complaints he has received on behalf of British citizens resident in South Africa about the activities of the Iron and Steel Corporation of South Africa.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Edward Rowlands)

Five such cases have come to the notice of our consular posts in South Africa.

Can nothing be done about this corporation placing in the British Press misleading advertisements which depict South Africa as a land flowing with milk and honey and which lure British workers to that country with paid passages and promises of housing for their families? These workers often find themselves stranded in South Africa, and then Members of Parliament are obliged to ask the Foreign Office to assist in bringing them back to Britain, to their families. Can nothing be done to stop the further exploitation of labour by this racialist régime?

British workers going to South Africa should be cautious in their approaches, especially to some of the advertisements, which in some cases could be misleading over matters of overtime and conditions of work. On the practical action that we can take when problems arise in South Africa, the staff of our posts in South Africa keep a close watch on these matters. The recently appointed First Secretary will shortly be visiting the area where a number of our immigrants work and will discuss a number of matters with them.

Has the time not arrived when the Foreign Secretary should remind some of his colleagues that British governmental responsibility for the actions of a State-controlled South African-governed corporation ended in 1909, and that if British citizens have complaints against such a corporation, the proper address to which such complaints should be sent is the Minister for Industry in South Africa?

I do not think that any British Government or consular post in South Africa can wash its hands of the problems which may arise with British citizens.

Non-Proliferation Treaty


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now make a statement on the result of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

The most important achievement of the conference was the adoption by consensus of a Final Declara- tion, copies of which have been placed in the Library. I believe that the support shown for this constructive declaration demonstrates the will of the great majority of Governments to increase the effectiveness of this vitally important treaty and will encourage non-parties to join.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for depositing that declaration. Does he agree that it indicates that no real progress has been made towards further restriction of the proliferation of nuclear technology? Will he reconsider the opposition expressed by the British Government at the review conference to the proposal that the sale of nuclear technology should be restricted to parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to the proposal that the reprocessing of nuclear fuel should be placed under international control? What view did the Government express to the Government of West Germany at the recent London talks on the proposed contract with the Government of Brazil, which will give that country a nuclear weapon capability, although it has consistently refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

I cannot accept the desirability of changing the position we took at the conference, nor can I accept that the disappointments at that conference were as great as my hon. Friend supposes. The joint declaration shows some progress, which we should all welcome.

The hon. Member will have to give me notice of the second part of his question.

Southern Africa


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make known to the United States of America Her Majesty's Government's views on the situation in southern Africa.

Full opportunity is always taken of my regular contacts with the United States' Government to explain Her Majesty's Government's views of southern Africa.

Will my right hon. Friend try to ensure that when the issue again comes before the Security Council, South Africa will not be protected from the consequences of its illegal occupation of Namibia by the combined vetoes of the United States and the United Kingdom?

I should never want to use a veto, but, on the other hand, the language that is used in resolutions must also be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government. On this occasion, despite the great work that had gone into securing a constructive resolution, this was overturned at the last minute and I was not prepared to instruct our delegate to vote for it.

Now that Mozambique has become independent, is the Foreign Secretary in a position to give the House more information about his intention regarding aid to that country, in the context of the imposition of sanctions against Rhodesia? Will he confirm that if this is his intention, such aid should be firmly in the context of a United Nations' resolution? How does he envisage that the quantum of such aid should be assessed?

As I have explained on previous occasions, this matter will, first, have to be discussed with the new Mozambique Government, which took office only yesterday or today. Following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, we should prefer the initiative to be taken through the United Nations, and that is what we shall work for. On the other hand, I should not rule out bilateral aid if that seemed to be the only way of assisting.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have studied with some care the exact text of the resolution which the British Government vetoed? Is he aware that the text was absolutely consonant with Labour Party policy as it has been expressed over many years?

No, Sir, I am not aware of anything of the sort. The resolution proposed was unreasonable and extreme. It sought to make a determination under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which would have paved the way for a whole range of actions that we believe would have been unjustified.

Law Of The Sea Conference


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place, since the end of the Geneva session of the Law of the Sea Conference, with the chairman of the Committee of 77; and whether he will make a statement.

Since the Geneva session ended on 9th May, we have been examining the single negotiating texts produced by the chairmen of the main committees. We shall be having extensive consultations on these with other States, including members of the Group of 77, before the next session of the conference.

Will the Minister discuss with Mr. Evensen the concept of the exclusive economic zone? Will he also discuss the compatibility of this with the concept that the sea-bed should be the common heritage of mankind?

We should be hoping for too much if we believed that much progress could be made at this conference without the acceptance of some of the general principles of the economic zone. I understand that within that concept there have to be understandings about sharing the revenues that might come from it, and free passage among, upon and above it. Therefore, the British representative at the discussions to which the hon. Gentleman referred will bear all these points in mind.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the impatience felt in many of the fishing areas over the failure to come to some concrete decisions about fishing and economic zones? This is causing great distress. People do not know what investment to put into the industry. When shall we be told something definite for them?

I understand the problem that has been created, not least because of the progress of the Law of the Sea Conference and the need to carry out parallel discussions on the common fisheries policy with the EEC. The combination of those two negotiations is causing a good deal of uncertainty. My hon. Friend will understand that an international negotiation of the sort that has been taking place in Geneva, and before that in Carácas, is bound to take some time. If it is to succeed, it needs to have the support of many nations with many different interests. That can be achieved only over a long period.

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to tell the House about the recent talks which his right hon. Friend had with the Norwegian Foreign Minister and the Icelandic Prime Minister on the desire of those countries to increase their fishing limits? Is he able to say whether he is putting forward proposals whereby our limits can be increased at the same time, on the basis of mutual co-operation and understanding with them?

Our obligation is to conclude with our partners and friends a successful Law of the Sea Conference and to make sure that the common fisheries policy of the EEC meets the needs of our own fishermen. We are pursuing that end. I do not think that the revelation of negotiations with individual countries would help that.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the growing pressure among fishing industries of many nations towards demanding united action for a 200-mile EEZ? In view of the slowness of the Law of the Sea Conference and with the very difficult questions of international law it has to determine, will the right hon. Gentleman consider an interim decision on this matter?

It is important that no decisions or arbitrary unilateral actions are taken before the outcome of the main considerations. We have made it clear that we would not contemplate taking a decision or making statements which were in conflict with international law. It is important that the entire thing be done as a package rather than individual items being pursued.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations he has had with the Government of Brazil on aid to the new Government of Mozambique.

None, Sir, although my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, when recently in Brazil, took the opportunity to exchange views with the Brazilian Government on recent developments in Africa.

As my right hon. Friend has just said, the particular need of aid for Mozambique is a question that we wish the independent Government of Mozambique to determine and discuss with all parties. We hope that it will form part of a United Nations programme.

May I press the Minister on the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker)? The Secretary of State told us that there have been preliminary contacts with the Frelimo authorities before independence. What scale of sums was discussed as the possible British contribution? Would this be at the expense of existing foreign aid commitments which might be less purely political in origin?

It is difficult to make an assessment at present. There have been no detailed discussions, either bilaterally or internationally, about the degree of aid to Mozambique at present.

Mr Tindemans (Visit)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects Mr. Leo Tindemans to make a visit to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Tindemans will visit the United Kingdom from 29th June to 2nd July. He will have talks with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, with my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and with other Ministers and will also meet representatives of opinion outside the Government.

How will Mr. Tindemans be going about meeting other elements of opinion in Britain besides Ministers? Are the Government to have formal or informal talks on this matter? Will my right hon. Friend consider having a debate on the subject of political union in Europe while Mr. Tindemans is here?

The subject of a debate must be one for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. As to whether the talks will be formal or informal, I think that the assurance for which my hon. Friend asks is the assurance that the talks in which we take part will not result in commitments by the Government. I certainly give him that assurance without qualification.

Regarding Mr. Tindemans' conversations with people outside the Government, the position is that his programme is being determined by and organised by the Belgian Embassy in London. I understand that as part of that programme the Belgian Ambassador has arranged already for Mr. Tindemans to visit Scotland and Wales, and to call on representatives of the major political parties.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Tindemans has already sought discussions with the Leader of the Opposition and has been made very welcome and assured that these discussions will be very full and frank?

Extraordinarily enough, I included the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition among the major political parties.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government concerning the future of Namibia, in the light of the expiration of the deadline set by the Security Council for South African withdrawal from Namibia.

Our policy concerning the future of Namibia remains as I stated it in this House on 4th December last. Our position in the Security Council was explained in answer to my hon. Friend's Question on 18th June and again earlier this afternoon.

Will it continue to be the policy of Her Majesty's Government to give diplomatic aid and comfort to South Africa by vetoing in the Security Council and voting against in the General Assembly of the United Nations, resolutions designed to bring pressure on South Africa to give up Namibia?

That is clearly not the case. As I explained earlier, it depends on the nature of the resolution. We have made it quite clear to South Africa that we regard her occupation of Namibia as unlawful. We have indicated to South Africa that she should withdraw, and we are having very friendly conversations with SWAPO, and, indeed, are giving it aid. None of these matters can give very much comfort to South Africa, to use my hon. Friend's words, but whether we should declare that this is a threat to peace, with all the consequences that that entails under Chapter 7, is a different matter. Another resolution which could have been equally effective could have got past without a veto.

Arising from his meeting with the President of SWAPO on 11th June, will the Foreign Secretary say exactly what is the extent of the educational assistance being given to SWAPO and what is the Government's intention about such assistance in the future?

I should require notice to be able to give a detailed reply, but I am quite certain that we are giving £35,000 to assist young men, and perhaps women, from that country to come here to study. Subject to the approval of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development, I am willing to increase that sum in order that we may have a trained cadre of people available to help in Namibia when the time for the freedom of that country arrives.

European Community



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements he has made for the supply of information to the public on EEC matters following the referendum result.

The special arrangements made during the referendum campaign have been terminated, but the arrangements which existed previously will of course continue.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that there is now likely to be a growing public demand for information on EEC matters—a demand which cannot be properly met by the Commission's own information offices? Does he accept that there is therefore a responsibility on the Government to provide more authoritative information on the Community's aims and objectives, particularly within the Council of Ministers? To that end, would it not be helpful if Ministers made more frequent statements to the House on what they are doing, have done or are proposing to do, within the Council?

There is a very comprehensive system of statements, debates. White Papers and other matters which has been agreed by the House as a result of a previous report and which the Leader of the House announced some months ago as part of our intention of making sure that the House is informed about Community matters. I shall be making such a statement later this afternoon. I think that the way the country has to be informed on progress in the EEC is through debates, questions and procedures in this House, and I am sure that we have given adequate opportunity for those debates and other procedures to be carried out.

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to publish a White Paper to explain to the people of Scotland the full implications of EEC membership? Will he refer particularly to the future of the steel, fishing and agriculture industries and of the Scottish Assembly and the Scottish Development Agency? Will he confirm or deny the validity of guarantees given to the people of Scotland on these issues by the pro-European campaign during the referendum?

I think that the hon. Member is making her speech three weeks late. It would be unchivalrous of me to remind her of the votes in Scotland as a result of the previous speeches that she made. I do not commit the Government to producing a specific White Paper on the subjects she referred to, but the Government are obliged to produce periodic White Papers on progress within the EEC and I have no doubt that these subjects will be touched on there.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the EEC draft proposals should be readily available to the public, particularly through Her Majesty's Stationery Office? Is he aware that the Paymaster-General has already given an assurance to the House that steps are in hand to achieve this end? What progress has been made?

I cannot, offhand, give my hon. Friend new information about draft proposals being available to the public through the usual sources, but no doubt he will recall that they are made available as quickly as possible in the House. I can only reiterate my answer to the first question. The real obligations of parliamentary scrutiny are to make sure that this House is aware of what goes on and to give hon. Members the opportunity of publicising their views on these matters. That we have promised to do.

Foreign Policy


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent progress has been made in working out a common foreign policy for the member States of the EEC.

There is a growing wish among member States of the European Community to use the political co-operation machinery to work for common positions on foreign policy. Member States now regularly discuss international events as they occur. There has been continuing close co-operation on the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, on the Euro-Arab dialogue, on the problems of the Middle East and Cyprus, and on developments in Portugal, Latin America and Africa.

I thank the Foreign Secretary for that reply. Does he not feel that the foreign policy differences which exist between members of the Community are now differences of emphasis and not of fundamentals? Would it not be possible to go beyond the machinery for co-operation which the right hon. Gentleman has described and make a strenuous effort now to get a concerted policy across the board?

If we were to try to get a concerted policy across the board we should encounter a lot of difficulties. It is better that we should foresee what is likely to happen in these situations and work out common positions, rather than adopt an abstract group of principles from which, when the strain is applied, we should probably depart.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that further co-ordination of foreign policies of member States might have implications for the overseas aid policies of at least some of those nations? Will he confirm that the proposal to give the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of Overseas Development similar powers in respect of these functions has nothing to do with the proposals for the co-ordination of the foreign policies of member States.

I had never thought of that matter until my hon. Friend suggested it. He is quite right in saying that the discussion of the aid programmes and the fact that Britain is the largest member of the Commonwealth and carries with it about 30 other Commonwealth countries into these discussions, is transforming Community debates on aid to the developing countries. Those factors are giving these debates a greater sense of urgency and relevance, and I hope that they will produce more aid.

Will the right hon. Gentleman lay before the House or otherwise publish the evidently important speech that he made yesterday in the Council of Foreign Ministers, of which what appear to be extracts have appeared in the Press?

If that is the wish of the House I shall be delighted to do so. I shall certainly put a copy of the speech in the Library. I do not rate its importance as being above that.

Treaty Of Rome


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations that Articles 92 and 93 of the Treaty of Rome should be applied with a high degree of flexibility.

Our objectives on the retention of those powers needed to pursue effective regional and industrial policies were satisfactorily achieved in renegotiation, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we would make representations if they seemed necessary.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is frequently the task of a Labour Government to distort competition, contrary to the terms of those Articles? Will he attempt to ensure that the Labour Government are free to apply their policies towards industry without interference by the Commissioners, who, as he knows, are not subject to the right of veto in this respect?

It is important to approach Community policy and the policy of the Labour Party not as matters of semantics but as matters of reality. I have no doubt that a Labour Government would be able to do what they wished within the Treaty of Rome and within the Community.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give a categorical assurance that the EEC will have no control over the constitution, financial powers and autonomy of the Scottish Development Agency?

I think that I can give that assurance, but I am reluctant to give an assurance as total as that on any occasion without suitable notice. If I cannot give such an assurance I shall gladly write to the hon. Member about it, and if I am wrong I have no doubt that he will publish my refutation of my own answer.

European Parliament


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of the EEC on direct elections to the European Parliament; and what communications he has had with the Council of Ministers on this subject since the referendum.

At their meeting in December 1974 the EEC Heads of Government noted that the objective laid down in the Treaty of Rome of election by universal suffrage should be achieved as soon as possible. We shall now undertake a thorough study of this matter.

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that now that the referendum is over, the time for prevarication over direct elections to the European Parliament is also over? Does he agree that to have direct elections to the European Parliament in 1978 would be the best way to strengthen the democratic control of the institution? Will the Government hasten to make a decision on the matter, in agreement with what the rest of the Community did in 1974?

I disagree with each of the three points of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. There has certainly been no prevarication. If we had not taken time over the matter during the renegotiation, it would have been that we had prevaricated but that we had moved with an urgency and speed which were altogether intolerable while the British people were making up their minds as to where our future lay. The hon. Gentleman must understand that a high level of democracy is preserved within the Community by the existence of a Council of Ministers, each democratically elected and each able to prevent proposals going ahead which, in their view, are not in the national interest. There must now be a careful examination of the desirability and propriety of direct elections. I have no doubt that when that careful examination has been completed, my right hon. Friend will report it to the House.

As the question of direct elections was not one of the items in the renegotiated terms, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that not only shall we examine the matter in depth but that the views of the Labour Party will be taken into consideration before there is any question of a commitment of any kind by the Government?

That would be such a step forward—some hon. Members might describe it as a step in the other direction—such a step in our constitutional history that it would be essential that all the parties and many interests be consulted before the Government made up their mind.

In the process of whatever consultation the Government feel to be right in the matter, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that there is the fullest debate in the House?

Yes, Sir. I give that assurance at once. Before any system of direct elections was implemented, legislation would need to be passed in this House. But the hon. Gentleman is right in implying that at the earliest stage the House should be notified of the Government's intentions and given any opportunity to express its views. I promise the hon. Gentleman that that will happen.

Foreign Ministers


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about his latest meeting with other EEC Foreign Ministers.

At the meeting of the Council of Ministers yesterday I took the opportunity to assure them that following the referendum the United Kingdom would play a full and constructive part in Community policies and activities. In the course of a long agenda we discussed the Community's relations with Canada, Egypt and Portugal; we held an Association Council with Cyprus; we took note of Greece's application to join the Community; we considered the next steps on raw materials and commodities; and among various trade items, I am glad to say, we reached a satisfactory settlement on the question of beef exports to the Community from Botswana.

If the country continues on its present mad economic course, shall we not find it increasingly difficult to exert in the Community the influence we should be capable of exerting? If we can bring inflation under control, however—as other member countries of the Community appear to be doing—does the right hon. Gentleman agree that we shall be able to play a major rôle in influencing the policies of the Community, both internal and external?

I do not necessarily accept the hypothesis with which the hon. Gentleman began his supplementary question, but every one of us on the Government side of the House remembers that on a very early page in the Labour Party manifesto we said that our first and most important task was to overcome inflation, and I believe that the steps now being taken will achieve that end. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] Those are questions that should be addressed to other Ministers. I have little doubt, having been at least an observer of some of the discussions, that there is more prospect of our overcoming inflation with—[An HON. MEMBER: "Careful."] I shall be very careful—the consent and assent of the trade unions and the people of this country than by any kind of statutory policies or political coalitions.

Is it correct that the right hon. Gentleman finds himself greatly inhibited in initiating any foreign policy moves because of the present rate of inflation? Does he find that rate an in- tolerable hindrance to taking major steps in foreign policy?

I am being tempted on to Tom Tiddler's ground. The answer is a mixed one. Britain's view is taken very seriously by our colleagues in the Community and other nations in the world. At the same time, I cannot depart from what I said on the 8 o'clock news—I do not know whether anybody listened to it—[Interruption.] I am glad that I had an audience. I said that of course the impact of inflation weakened our ability to take initiatives in foreign affairs. It weakens it in many ways. It weakens the respect with which we are listened to if our affairs do not seem to be under proper management, and it limits the assistance we can give when there are a number of desirable ends at stake.

For example, we must now consider the question of aid to succour democracy in Portugal. I should like Britain to be in a position in which we could ensure that Portugal followed a democratic path by assistance from outside, if such a thing is possible. But how can I look my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the eye and ask him for large sums at present? I give that as an example. There are many other illustrations of that kind.

Can my right hon. Friend say what was the settlement on beef exports from Botswana that he mentioned?

Yes, Sir. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity of boasting. The Batswana, who are so heavily dependent on cattle, instead of being required to pay a levy of 100 per cent. on their imports into the Community, as under the Community rules, will now pay a levy of 10 per cent. That is the minimum that anybody could be expected to pay. I am glad to say that that levy will make very little difference. They will also charge an export tax which they will be able to use in any way they like, in their own country, to reimburse their people. The Botswana delegation met me at 1 a.m. today in Luxembourg, and thanked me profusely. That only goes to show how much the fears that some people expressed before the referendum have proved to be incorrect.

Energy Policy


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if EEC energy policy will be discussed at the next Heads of State meeting.

The agenda for the meeting has not been settled, but I expect that energy matters will be discussed.

Have the Government satisfied our European partners that the British National Oil Corporation, as it is proposed to be established under the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-Lines Bill, will in no way contravene the rules on fair trading and unsubsidised competition? If so, how?

Certainly we have satisfied our partners. I assume that we have done so by the force and logic of our argument.

At the meeting will the right hon. Gentleman confirm this country's determination that the oil to be taken from the Scottish sector of the North Sea will be refined in the United Kingdom, and will not be shipped or piped straight to our EEC partners?

Such questions are more appropriate for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, but I must remind the hon. Gentleman that our policy on the national control of oil—a policy which was shared by the previous Government—has been accepted—[Interruption.] The British national policy on British oil was accepted by our predecessors when they were in Government, and it is in all ways consistent with our membership of the Community.

Mineral Resources


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take an initiative towards the development of an EEC policy for the development of mineral resources among the Group of 77.

The Prime Minister's initiative on commodities at the Heads of Commonwealth Government meeting at Kingston sought to create a broad frame- work within which policies for individual raw materials, including the development of mineral resources, could be worked out. We are now pursuing these ideas with our partners in the EEC, where careful and urgent study is at present being given to these problems.

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken note of the much more aggressive attitude towards commodity stabilisation schemes shown by the Group of 77 than the attitude advanced by the Prime Minister at the Jamaica conference? Is this not a very good area for the EEC to examine, both for financing overseas sources of minerals and for using its collective consumer power in the event of expropriation by the overseas host country?

No, Sir. I think that the remedy the hon. Gentleman suggests is wrong. We have all noticed the aggressive attitude adopted by some developing countries. The object of the Kingston initiative of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was to convince them that in these matters co-operation is better than confrontation. If the hon. Gentleman wants to advance that thesis, he must advance it in a way which does not run side by side with the suggestion that the developed countries—the raw material consumers—should act in an aggressive fashion. That would be altogether inappropriate.

Can the Minister say anything further about the attitude of the Government to the most interesting document produced by the Commission on the supply of raw materials to the Community, and especially to its imaginative ideas for a combination of private and State enterprise in the exploration and development of new mineral resources in the less developed countries?

That document was examined at the political co-operation meeting of the EEC Council of Ministers in Dublin some weeks ago. That was a preliminary examination. The details are now being considered by individual member countries and experts. I welcomed parts of that document when I attended that meeting, not least because they confirmed the suggestions put forward by the Prime Minister in Kingston some days before.