Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 4 May 1977

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

Untitled Debate

Before we turn to Questions, may I remind the House that yesterday both questions and answers were inordinately long, and in this place brevity is not only the soul of wit but a mark of wisdom and compassion.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Nuclear Disarmament


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common wealth Affairs if he will approach the, United States Government with a view to furthering nuclear disarmament, in the light of the recent contacts between the United States Secretary of State and Mr. Brezhnev.

We are regularly in touch with our United States allies on subjects related to nuclear disarmament. My right hon. Friend discussed these with the United States Secretary of State when he came to London after his visit to Moscow, and he looks forward to seeing Mr. Vance again later this week.

Could not Britain take an initiative to encourage the doves on both sides? Will the Foreign Secretary tell Mr. Carter that the high hopes that many of us entertained about his early pronouncements have been diminished by his recent SALT proposals, which will discourage rather than help agreement on nuclear disarmament?

I assure my hon. Friend that the British Government, together with their American allies, seek effective multilateral disarmament which can be guaranteed, and we shall work closely towards that with them. It is far too early a point at which to assess the outcome, at the beginning of these vital SALT negotiations.

Will the hon. Gentleman point out to the Foreign Secretary, so that he may point it out in negotiations, that we sometimes fear that the Russians are eagles in doves' clothing when they talk of disarmament? Will he reinforce the point that it must be mutual, it must be balanced, and it must be proper?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that the British Government are determined that any disarmament which may be achieved will be guaranteed and enforceable. Future generations will not forgive us for cosmetics in this respect.

I support my hon. Friend in his desire for multilateral nuclear disarmament, in the light of what seems to many of us the declining military value of our own nuclear deterrent, but what value does he currently place on it as an independent military force?

Our position remains unchanged. I think that my hon. Friend is well aware of our position as stated, for example, in the manifesto at the last General Election.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he intends to take to ensure that treaties signed by Her Majesty's Government with the United States Government are honoured in accordance with international law, in the light of his answer to the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington that the United States Government are failing to honour their solemn obligations by refusing to ensure that Concorde can land in New York.

We have repeatedly made clear to the United States Government that we take a serious view of the denial of our rights to operate Concorde at Kennedy Airport. Until the results of the court hearing that began on 28th April are known it would not be appropriate to comment further.

I thank the Minister for that reply, but is President Carter really as powerless as he pretends? If, for instance, California were to declare a 500-mile fishing zone, would the President shrug his shoulders? Will the Minister note that there is an increasing demand in this country and in France, both from members of the public and from workers involved, for positive action, such as the withdrawal of traffic rights between New York and Britain and New York and France in the event that we are denied our legitimate rights?

The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that the Government are well aware of the strength of feeling in this country. Representations have forcefully been made to our American friends on this matter. But we see ourselves as close friends and colleagues of the Americans. We do not, therefore, look to melodramatic action.

As for the hon. Gentleman's point about law within the states, he frequently advocates the principles of the rule of law, and it is the rule of law that is being applied within the states.

Whilst thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I say that it is time that the British Government made repeated recommendations to President Carter at the summit meeting? Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that this will be done?

Obviously it is not for me to comment upon what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister may decide to do and when. He has already drawn this matter to the attention of the American Administration, and I am certain that he and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will continue to do so whenever it is appropriate.

Of course, I fully appreciate our close relationship with the United States. But does the Minister of State realise that there is a very strong tendency to believe that the Government are less determined in their action to ensure that Concorde flies into New York than are our French allies?

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that, whatever the temptations, any tendency to believe that would be totally ill-founded. The Government are completely committed.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further initiative he proposes in association with other permanent members of the Security Council, with a view to ending the illegal occupation of Namibia by South Africa.

Following a démarche to the South African Government of 7th April the five Western members of the Security Council have begun discussions with the South Africans on how to achieve the aim of early and peaceful independence for Namibia on a basis that will meet with international acceptance.

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that the policy of amiable conversation with Mr. Vorster, plus massive economic support for South Africa from the Western world, has brought no results in terms of the diminution of apartheid or the end of the illegal occupation of Namibia? Is it not high time now that Chapter 7 of the Charter was invoked and that the Western Powers made it clear that they were serious in this matter?

No, I do not think that it would be in our interests to invoke Chapter 7 determinations. They could lead to mandatory economic sanctions against South Africa, which, as I said before, would have not only economic consequences but adverse political consequences for this country, forcing the South African Government totally into a laager mentality and building up even more reactionary and racialist policies than they have at the moment. I think that this unprecedented démarche of the five Western Security Council Powers is one of the best ways of bringing the collective strength of the Western democracies to bear on South Africa, and I am hopeful that it will produce some results.

May we take it that the five permanent members of the Security Council are all agreed that Resolution 383 provides only the minimum basis on which an acceptable formulation of a solution could be found?

I think that the right hon. Gentleman means Resolution 385. It is on the basis of Resolution 385 that the démarche is in fact being conducted. We strongly believe that this offers the best prospect of achieving independence in Namibia.

What value does my right hon. Friend place upon the Turnhalle conference? Does he recognise that some of us would not feel it proper to recognise SWAPO as the sole and authoritative representatives of South-West Africa?

The whole question of the Turnhalle conference and, perhaps more important, the Turnhalle Government is obviously one of the factors that will have to be borne in mind in these discussions. Certainly, if we are aiming to get Resolution 385 implemented, this would require electoral machinery that would allow all the representatives of opinion in Namibia to express themselves.

What does the right hon. Gentleman make of the report in The Times yesterday, which suggested that if open elections are to be proposed for Namibia SWAPO would not agree to take part in them, for fear that it might lose?

It is not for me to comment on reports in The Times. I discussed this question with representatives of SWAPO in Lusaka and I did not find that they were afraid of elections. They wanted to make sure that the elections would be held in circumstances in which they could fully participate and have an effective democratic voice, which is far from being the case at the moment.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what prospects he now assesses for a full start to the series of consultations needed to discuss an independence constitution for Rhodesia and any transitional arrangements.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has yet decided the venue of the forthcoming conference on Rhodesia.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is yet in a position to announce the setting up of a constitutional conference on Rhodesia.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further discussions he has had to prepare for the successful achievement of a majority-ruled Zimbabwe


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement about his constitutional proposals for Rhodesia.

Consultations are continuing with the United States Government and I shall be seeing the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Vance, in London later this week. Following these consultations, an announcement will be made about the next steps.

May I, I am sure with other Members, wish the Foreign Secretary well in these very difficult and intricate negotiations, which I am sure will take some time? In general terms, how optimistic does he now feel about the situation? Does he feel that Mr. Smith's latest television broadcast is a step in the right direction? How concrete will be the joint Anglo-United States chairmanship of a proper conference when it is convened in due course?

It is hard to make an assessment on the basis of optimism or pessimism. The important thing is to keep the momentum going. That means getting into the detail of consultations, without which we cannot have a successful conference. This conference, were it to be called—that is a decision to be taken jointly by the United States and ourselves—would have to be very carefully prepared. I think that, whatever decision we take, there is a great deal to be said for having bilateral discussions of detail.

Will the Foreign Secretary agree to consider personally chairing any future conference that may be held, in order to maximise the prospects of success? Will he also consider inviting political parties representative of opinion in Rhodesia other than the Rhodesian Front?

I have already made it clear that I would chair any conference that might be called. There seems to be some misapprehension about this matter. There has never been a question of co-chairmanship of the conference. I should chair it myself because, of course, if we go to a conference, it may well be more a Lancaster House-type conference, which is a constitutional conference and usually pre-dates a Bill being presented to the House, although another form of conference might be considered. All these points have yet to have firm decisions taken on them, and that is what I shall discuss with Mr. Vance.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many Members on the Government side of the House warmly support the Government's decision not to allow the Duke of Montrose into this country? Does he agree that gestures of this sort, although small, are extremely important, in that they show to the people of Africa exactly and clearly in terms of Britain who are on the side of legality and who are on the side of illegality?

I want the situation to emerge in which we have a peaceful transition to majority rule and we can lift all these forms of sanction. I think that the whole House wants this, too. But until we are assured that there will be majority rule in Rhodesia and a real independence for Zimbabwe, in my view it would be extremely imprudent to relax existing sanctions.

I wish the Secretary of State well in his consultations on Rhodesia. Does he agree, however, that the time might now be opportune, in view of the imminent victory of the Scottish National Party at the next General Election, when it will get a mandate for Scottish independence, to enter into consultations a little nearer home about a constitution for an independent Scotland, which my party has already prepared in draft? In the light of the district council election results and the remarks of the Monarch today at the ceremony—

Order. The hon. Lady was not here when I made my earlier remarks about wisdom.

The supplementary question went somewhat wide of Rhodesia, but I am under no illusions that I need all the help I can get, from whatever quarter. I would accept it from the Scottish National Party.

Will the Secretary of State address his mind to the effect that the intended participation by the British Government in the Group of 24 Conference in Maputo may have upon any conference for a Rhodesian settlement? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that it will have an effect, and if it does, or even if it does not, will he answer this specific question: bearing in mind the importance of Mr. Smith and Mr. Vorster in any settlement, have they been informed of intended British participation in the Maputo conference, and, if so, how have they been informed?

That is a decision for the British Government to take. I took the decision to send my hon. Friend to Maputo in the belief that it would be beneficial to the negotiations that are taking place over an independent Zimbabwe and an independent Namibia. It is in that context that my hon. Friend will go, and it is in that context that he will speak of the belief of the British Government that there can be a peaceful transition to majority rule in both those countries. That is what we shall work for.

Does the Foreign Secretary accept that there are two matters for relief? The first is the correction made to Hansard, by his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, to the words that the right hon. Gentleman actually used in replying to me yesterday on this self-same subject, in which he said—and I quote The Times—that

"The position of the Government has never been in doubt. We have always said we would give humanitarian and other aid to liberation movements but have never supported the use of arms."
It is interesting to see that the change eliminates the philosophical point of being always committed to such a course, and I think that we are relieved on that account. Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of that?

The Foreign Secretary knows, I think, that his remarks about the conference on Rhodesia are a matter of some relief to us. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Opposition believe that there is an urgent need to have a mission in Rhodesia with a view to preparing a method of consultation of the people in fulfilment of our obligations under Article 5 of our all-party undertakings towards that country?

The question of consulting the people, as in the five principles, is certainly something to which the House will wish to return. It could be done either in the form of the Pearce Commission or in the form of an election. However, that is further down the road—when a constitution has been agreed, or at least much further agreement has been reached than at the moment. We now need to try to demarcate the areas of agreement. We have not made a decision how to proceed or whether to hold a conference, but one thing that is perfectly clear is that any decisions on these matters need to be very carefully prepared.

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify what the Prime Minister said yesterday? According to Hansard, he said:

"We have given humanitarian and other aid to liberation movements".—[Official Report, 3rd May, 1977; Vol. 931, c. 226.]
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said just now, The Times reported that the Prime Minister said:
"We have always said we would give…
The version that I heard was:
"We have always said that we would give…"
but, whichever is the authorised version, I do not remember that that has ever been the policy either of the present Administration or of previous Administrations. When did this departure occur? Does it not make us not just accomplices but co-belligerents in the terrorist movement?

There are many United Nations organisations which give humanitarian support and, I suspect, have given it in the time of previous Conservative Administrations, but I shall gladly look into that. It has certainly been our belief that the innocent victims of armed struggles ought not to be excluded from humanitarian relief, and I should have thought that that was a policy that had been agreed by all Members of the House.

I was not here when the Prime Minister made his statement, as I was in the Council of Foreign Ministers, but I think that he was using the words in the sense of humanitarian aid, which is, of course—[Interruption.] These questions as to what the Prime Minister meant would be best directed to the Prime Minister, but his words were clear—that he supported the presence of a British Minister at the Maputo conference as making a contribution—we hoped—to getting a more balanced debate in Maputo on the issue of a peaceful transition to majority rule in both an independent Zimbabwe and Namibia.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the situation in Rhodesia.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on developments in Rhodesia since his visit to that country.

I have nothing to add at present to the statement that I made to the House on 19th April, although I would refer the hon. Members to my earlier answers today.

Has the right hon. Gentleman given further consideration to the establishment of a mission in Rhodesia? Does he recognise that the establishment of such a mission would help in the preparation for the forthcoming conference and help to restore the balance of opinion in Rhodesia, which must be deeply disturbed by his decision to be represented in Maputo at a United Nations conference but not in Rhodesia?

I do not think that that would necessarily be the opinion inside Rhodesia. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, who has a good record in this House for representing black opinion as well as white opinion, will take into account what will be the black opinion in Rhodesia. It is my belief that representation at Maputo will help towards expressing the democratic case for a peaceful transition. I believe that there are many black Africans who would wish that voice to be raised in Maputo.

I have made clear to the House that I am open-minded about the question of a mission, but such a decision must be taken at the right time in negotiations. At this stage, we have not even made a decision whether to go ahead with the conference. We have not yet had the sort of in-depth consultations that may be necessary. At a certain stage it may be helpful to have a mission in Salisbury, and I do not exclude that possibility. I was prepared to go there myself. I am prepared to send officials there under some circumstances. But the question of when and where to establish a mission is a delicate question of timing, and I think that it is premature at this moment.

Since there is obviously a need for an early test of opinion in Rhodesia, could the Secretary of State now address his mind to a matter that he did not mention at all when he made his statement after his return from Rhodesia—namely, the question of Bishop Muzorewa's proposal for a referendum? What are his views on that?

Bishop Muzorewa's proposal for a referendum, if carefully analysed, is effectively a call for a general election, with power then being transferred to the victor in the referendum, which is effectively a transition to a black majority Government, as it would then be. In such terms this, therefore, is unacceptable to Mr. Smith and the Rhodesian Front. What Mr. Smith has proposed at various stages is a referendum, followed by negotiations with the black leaders on a transition to majority rule, or negotiations on a constitution. That has been specifically excluded by Bishop Muzorewa. An internal referendum of the sort proposed by Mr. Smith would not carry conviction, either inside or outside Rhodesia, among black Rhodesian opinion.

Has my right hon. Friend received any further communications from Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo since their public comments on his constitutional proposals, as many of us believe that a continuing dialogue with them would mean that the rather regrettable statements which they made are not the last word they have to say about the constitutional proposals?

A number of informal and private discussions have taken place which I do not think it would be appropriate to reveal, but I am open at any time to discussions and I certainly welcome my hon. Friend's suggestion of a continuing dialogue. That is what I want, as well as a discussion of the whole question of trying to achieve a transition with an expression of all forms of opinion.

May I press the right hon. Gentleman a little more on the question of a British mission to Rhodesia? Is he absolutely satisfied that it should be bound up with the whole question of the negotiation of the general problem? Might it not be practicable and sensible first to announce that we are re-establishing a British governmental presence in Rhodesia?

I do not believe that it would at this juncture. It is a question of judgment. What it is quite clear is necessary before one can take any of these steps is a realistic assessment of the chances of a successful outcome were one to call a conference, and the general determination, particularly of Mr. Smith and the Rhodesian Front, to achieve a settlement. This is a balance of judgments.

I note that the Opposition think that a mission should be established now. It is my firm view that it would be premature to establish it now. I agree that consultations must take place, and they certainly must take place in Africa at a fairly early stage

Helsinki Final Act


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have been held between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the British Government representatives on the operation of the Helsinki Agreement as applicable to Soviet Jews.

There have been frequent discussions between representatives of the Soviet Government and of Her Majesty's Government at various levels in which views have been exchanged on all aspects of the Helsinki Final Act. In the course of these discussions the Soviet representatives were left in no doubt about the concern of the British people about human rights and the Government's commitment to seeking full implementation of all provisions of the Final Act by signatory countries.

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that there is a great deal of concern among members of all parties in the House about the failure of the Soviet Government to implement the right of freedom of exit and entry as it applies to Soviet Jews? Will the Government put on more pressure on this matter? On a specific case, will the Government discuss with the USSR the question of Anatoly Shcharansky, who, having been harassed for about four years and having served 12 prison sentences, has now been arrested and is, we understand, likely to be charged with treason, which carries the supreme penalty, although the charge has not yet been levelled against him?

I share the hon. Lady's concern, as I think the whole House does, about reports of the kind that she mentioned. As she knows, under the Helsinki agreement the Soviet Union has undertaken to facilitate freer movement and contacts, individually and collectively, whether privately or officially. She can take it that the British Government will continue to remind the Soviet Government of their obligations in that respect, in the Belgrade conference and in the preparations for that conference.

Is the Minister aware that the British parliamentary delegation found that the Supreme Soviet were willing to discuss the matter of human rights and of Jewish emigration at considerable length last week? Will he ensure that the Soviet Union knows that this concern for Jewish emigrants is not part of a major campaign to undermine the stability of the Soviet Union but is part of a deep feeling for human rights, expressed by many thousands of individuals in this country?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is important to make clear to the Soviet Government that when Western Governments express concern about these matters it is not part of a great attempt to subvert the whole Soviet system. We are attempting to express the views that are very widely held among our people of concern about the human rights questions involved, and we shall continue to try to make that point clear.

I remind the Minister that the Opposition have often pressed the Government to arrange a full debate on human rights before the Belgrade conference. There has been an enormous growth of interest in and concern about that matter both here and in other countries. Will the Minister do his best to persuade the Leader of the House to ensure that we have a proper debate before our representatives go to Belgrade?

We are well aware of the concern that has been expressed more than once in the House to have a debate before the Belgrade conference. It is, of course, a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. I shall report what the hon. Gentleman said, and hope that it will be possible to have such a debate.

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that a number of hon. Members feel that there is little point in going to Belgrade while the Soviet Union behave as they are behaving towards the Jews and other minorities who wish only to exercise their religious and other beliefs within that country? The Russians have made a mockery of the Helsinki agreement, and there is little point in taking it further unless they show their real intention.

I think that it is an extraordinary view that, because of accusations of that kind, it is not worth going to the Belgrade conference. One of the main purposes of that conference is precisely to discuss the implementation of the Helsinki agreement. Therefore, it provides us with an exceptionally good opportunity to express the point of view expressed today in the House on matters of this kind.

Following upon that, would the Minister care to comment on the apparent contradiction in the Helsinki agreement between that part of it which swears that no member will interfere in the internal affairs of another nation and, a few pages later, quite properly, obligates all members to pay special regard towards human rights within their own territories? When in Helsinki, will the Foreign Secretary make sure that the latter prevails over the former?

Perhaps I can correct one or two points in the final part of the hon. and learned Member's remarks. The forthcoming conference will be held in Belgrade, not in Helsinki, and the Foreign Secretary will not attend. The conference will be attended by representatives to be appointed by the Foreign Secretary.

On the main point made by the hon. and learned Gentleman, there is, of course, an inherent contradiction, which affects not only the Helsinki agreement but all discussions on human rights in, for example, the United Nations.

As hon. Members know, Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter reserves to the member States matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of those States and points out that they are outside international jurisdiction. On the other hand, there are provisions and undertakings concerning human rights.

I should say that the trend in the world today is for us to pay less regard to the old-fashioned rules concerning national sovereignty and to accept that there are certain international obligations in this respect which give us the right to express strongly-held views on such matters.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to publish progress on Helsinki CSCE agreement prior to the review in Belgrade.

It is certainly the Government's intention to continue to provide Parliament and the public with information on developments as the date of the Belgrade follow-up meetings approaches. My right hon. and noble Friend and officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have recently given evidence before the Defence and External Affairs Sub-Committee on the implementation of the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act. I understand that the Sub-Committee's report will be published in the near future.

In view of the widespread desire in this country to see practical evidence that the signatories to the Helsinki agreement fulfil their obligations, particularly in respect of human rights and the exchange of information and people, will the Minister ensure that the evidence available about the progress of the Helsinki Treaty should be published fully? Does he agree that a debate in this House is essential before the Belgrade review?

We have from time to time published, in answers to Questions and in other ways, information about the extent of implementation at the present time. I understand that that matter was also discussed in the Defence and External Affairs Sub-Committee, which will, I believe, shortly issue a report. In addition, as I think the House knows, a committee under the chairmanship of Lord Thomson is discussing precisely the question of the degree of implementation of the Helsinki agreement so far. I have already commented on the request for a debate and I will record the hon. Member's concern.

Does my hon. Friend agree that publication of progress—or, indeed, of lack of progress—on Basket III of the Final Act is of immense value to human rights campaigners in all the signatory countries? Does he also agree that we should close our minds to those who say that we should not go to Belgrade or collaborate further in the follow-up conference?

I certainly agree on the latter point, on which I have already expressed my view. The Belgrade conference is in itself a most important event, which gives us a very good opportunity for raising the matters that are of concern to us. I am sure that we shall attend and take no notice of those who say anything different. I agree also that the publication of information is valuable. It must be authoritative information, and we shall consider what can and should be done in that respect.

The House welcomes the Minister's statement that the Government continue to attach importance to human rights, especially in view of President Carter's statement this week that he does not propose to back down on his stand on this issue. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the Government are not waiting for the Belgrade conference before making representations to the Soviet Union about breaches of the Helsinki Final Act? What, for example, have the Government said to the Soviet Union about the detention without trial of Mr.Shcharansky and six other members of the Helsinki agreement monitoring group?

I have already expressed my views on the hon. Gentleman's first point. As I have said, we have had continuing discussions at a number of levels with representatives of the Soviet Government about a number of these points. We shall continue that process, and we hope that the Soviet Government will be in no doubt about the strength of feeling that exists on these points.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a Foreign Office Minister last visited Zaire.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, as Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, visited Zaire in July 1975.

Do the Government join the United States Government in paying tribute to the activities of France, Morocco and Egypt in Zaire? Is it the Minister's view that either the Soviet Union or the Cubans have been directly involved in the recent invasion?

There are conflicting reports about the external intervention in the Shaba incident. Our position was made clear last week in the Declaration of the Nine on African affairs. We wish to respect the integrity of every country, especially in the context of the situation in Zaire.

It is not only insulting to the Africans, but extremely dangerous, when non-African powers, such as Cuba, East Germany and the Soviet Union, assist other African countries to invade another African country, thus exacerbating the cold war in Africa?

As I said, and as is contained in the Declaration of the Nine at the recent meeting of Foreign Ministers, we must respect the integrity of and non-intervention in the internal affairs of African countries.

The Minister did not answer the question whether he thought that the French and Moroccans were right in helping Zaire to protect itself against an invasion.

The request by the Zaire Government to the Moroccan Government and the French support was perfectly proper.

Ocean Island


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made in the discussions between Her Majesty's Government and the Australian and New Zealand Governments towards a satisfactory settlement for the Gilbert Islands and the Banabans.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the Ocean Island situation; and the recent visit of a Foreign Office emissary to Fiji.

Close consultations are continuing with the Australian and New Zealand Governments. Mr. Richard Posnett, the emissary appointed to visit the area and to report to my right hon. and noble Friend, had discussions in Fiji with the Prime Minister and with the Banaban community. He also had talks in the other countries concerned. As soon as our consultations are complete, we will advise the House of their outcome.

I welcome that reply, but does not the hon. Gentleman accept that a satisfactory financial settlement is vital to the Gilbert Islands and to the Banabans, especially when phosphate revenue ceases? Can he give the House an assurance that the Government are seeking the agreement of the Australian and New Zealand Governments about the future of the accumulated reserves of the Phosphate Commission?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the position that will come about when the phosphates are exhausted in about two years' time will create a difficult condition not only for the Banabans but for the Gilbertese. We have been pursuing consultations with the Australian and New Zealand Governments on precisely these questions, including the possibility that the hon. Gentleman mentioned.

Whilst also welcoming the statement made by my hon. Friend, may I remind him of what he said earlier about accepting certain international obligations in respect of human rights? Will he please apply that to the Banaban situation, bearing in mind that Britain has already been morally condemned for not providing compensation? Will he also let us know how much longer this affair will drag on before there is a solution?

I do not know that I should accept that we were guilty of a great violation of human rights in this case. We are, of course, concerned not about the condemnation but about the amount of criticism by the judge. It is largely for those reasons that Mr. Posnett was sent out to discuss the situation in the area. As a result of that visit, we are now considering what action we should take, and note that the possibilities include some kind of compensation of the kind that my hon. Friend suggested.

Does the Minister recall that five months have elapsed since, in his judgment in the case of the Banabans versus the Crown, the Vice-Chancellor drew the Government's attention to a grievous wrong done to a small and defenceless people, which his court—in his words—was powerless to put right? How much longer have these people to wait before justice is done? Can the Minister give the House a firm assurance that, as the final act of reparation. Her Majesty's Government will heed the Banabans' claim to the separation of their homeland. Ocean Island, from the Gilbert Islands?

I do not think that the judge used the words "grievous wrong", but he did suggest that the conduct of Her Majesty's Government at an earlier period had not, perhaps, been all that it might have been. The hon. Gentleman asked when we would be able to announce a decision. My noble Friend hopes to be able to do so, and a statement will be made in both Houses within the next month or so. The constitutional future of Ocean Island is one of the important matters that have been considered. I think that it can be taken that the statement will cover that point.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this miserable saga is now souring our relations with a friendly Commonwealth country—Fiji? Do the Government appreciate that only a really magnanimous and generous settlement to the Banabans will satisfactorily conclude that saga?

It is true, as my hon. Friend has said, that the Government of Fiji are concerned about this matter. We hope that when the statement is made it will have the effect of finally resolving this long-standing and difficult problem.

Does the Minister accept that the only way to solve the problem is by engendering confidence among all parties and that that process is not assisted by attempts made from official sources, exemplified even this afternoon, to minimise and underestimate a very serious criticism made by the learned judge in the recent proceedings?

I certainly was not intending to minimise the effect of the remarks made by the judge. It is precisely because we take those remarks extremely seriously that we have been having this very intensive consultation and will be announcing a decision that I hope will be satisfactory to everybody in the House.

Chile V Scotland Football Match


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the official facilities proposed for the Chile versus Scotland football international at Santiago; and if he will make a statement.

No official facilities from the Government are proposed for this match, with which they are not in any way concerned.

As the Scottish Football Association is using the threat of disciplinary action to force footballers to play in a stadium which has formerly been used as a concentration camp and which is stained with the blood of countless innocent victims, will my hon. Friend demand that this match be stopped? If the SFA refuse to stop it, will he tell Willie Allan, the reactionary autocrat who runs the SFA, that there will be absolutely no Government hospitality or official facilities at all during the whole of the SFA tour of South America?

As I told my hon. Friend, no official facilities from the Government are proposed for this match. When the Scottish Football Association wrote to me asking for a political assessment, I gave it, as my hon. Friend will know, in very clear terms.

Is the Minister aware that there is deep offence in Scotland at the crass insensibility of the Scottish Football Association in approving this fixture, since it will be taken as tacit approval of a vicious and despotic regime? Will he make his objections more strongly to the SFA?

If the right hon. Gentleman reads the letter that I wrote to the Scottish Football Association giving the political assessment, he can come to no other conclusion about where the Government stand on the issue.

On what grounds of foreign policy or respect for human rights is it bad to play football with Chileans but good to play football with Russians?

I was asked by the Scottish Football Association to give an assessment of the position in Chile, and that is what I gave. It is a perfectly accurate description.

Does the Minister agree that if only countries with democratic Governments were allowed to take part in international football competitions such as the World Cup, Scotland might have more prospect of reaching the finals than she seems to have had in recent years?

The Welsh managed to beat Czechoslovakia very convincingly recently, but I do not know what conclusions one should draw from that. I cannot forecast the success of the Scottish football team in any circumstances.

Does the Minister appreciate that, whatever his hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) may say, those on the terraces who watch football and vote Socialist do not share the humbug that he utters?

The hon. and learned Gentleman ought to realise what deep feeling there is about this visit to Chile, particularly because the game is to be played at the stadium that was the scene of considerable hardship and torture to citizens.

European Community



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what outstanding issues remain to be resolved about the issue of a uniform EEC passport.

There are two main features of the design still to be agreed in Brussels. They concern the layout of the cover and the languages to be used inside the passport. In addition, there are other matters of detail to be discussed with our Community partners.

Will the Minister confirm that the Government remain committed in principle to the issue of a uniform EEC passport? How serious are the particular points that appear to have been made by the German Government?

We are committed in principle, although a lot of practical details have to be finalised. The objections by the German Government to what is proposed are not fundamental. It is a matter of reconciling different outlooks.

Does the commitment remain intact that there will be no change in this matter before there has been an affirmative decision of this House to approve it?

We are agreed that the House should have an opportunity to discuss the subject. While, of course, the timing of the debate must be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, I can give a categorical assurance that my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, who will be responsible for the decision, accepts that it is proper that the House should be given an opportunity to debate the matter before the Government are finally committed on the issues under discussion in Brussels.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that this proposal is using the Crown's Prerogative? Does he think that it is a proper use of the Crown's Prero- gative in this respect and can he give an absolute assurance that if the House does not give permission, the proposal will not go forward?

Will the Minister clear up one point? He said that the House should debate it. What we really want, on both sides of the House, quite sensibly, is the opportunity to decide the matter and not just to debate it. Will the Minister give that assurance?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman recognises, as I have just said, that this is a matter for the Royal Prerogative—

but we are agreed that the House should have an opportunity to discuss the matter.

Will my hon. Friend make clear whether the EEC passport is to be compulsory or whether there will be an option for a British subject to choose either the EEC or the British passport?

The passport will remain a national one and it will be issued by the British Government. Therefore, every holder of a British passport will have the new passport in due course.

Is this passport to be an alternative to or a substitute for the British passport, which we all want to have?

I do not think, with great respect, that the right hon. Gentleman listened to my last answer. I said that we shall remain responsible for this passport—it will be a national passport—and, therefore, in due course it is anticipated that all people who hold a British passport will hold this passport.

Foreign Ministers


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the other Foreign Ministers of the EEC


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the other Foreign Ministers of the EEC.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the other EEC Foreign Ministers.

I met my Community colleagues yesterday at the Foreign Affairs Council. I shall meet them again informally at Leeds Castle on the 21st and 22nd of this month.

Yesterday's Council was—and future meetings are likely to be—largely taken up with the preparation of mandates for negotiations which are either taking place this month or due to open shortly. These include the Conference on International Economic Co-operation in Paris, textiles, third country fishery agreements, relations with COMECON, and new trading arrangements with Cyprus. Such mandates are, by their nature, confidential. I shall be meeting three EEC Foreign Ministers at the Downing Street Summit on Saturday and Sunday and seven of them at the NATO ministerial meeting early next week.

When the Foreign Secretary meets his EEC colleagues, will he draw their attention to yesterday's Scottish district council election results? Notwithstanding the unprecedented and ill-advised remarks heard in these precincts today, will the Foreign Secretary tell them that he will probably have the distinction of being the last Foreign Secretary for the United Kingdom as we know it, and that the Scottish people will soon have their own Foreign Secretary to defend their interests in the EEC and elsewhere?

When we met the Foreign Ministers in Brussels yesterday my hon. Friend upheld the interests of fishermen throughout the United Kingdom. Some of these were the interests of Scottish fishermen. My hon. Friend made it perfectly clear to his Community colleagues that feeling was very strong, for example, over the whole issue of the Faroese.

When the Foreign Secretary met his colleagues yesterday, was he able to tell them formally, or informally, on what date the Government will introduce their Bill for direct elections? For their information and that of the House, will the Foreign Secretary give an assur ance that it will be before the Whitsun Recess?

When the Bill will be introduced is a question for the Leader of the House. No formal discussion took place on this subject. There is not the same tremendous interest as appears to be exhibited on the Opposition Benches. A number of member States are not at this moment introducing such legislation. Each member State is taking its own decision on when to introduce a Bill. There is a common belief that Britain is way behind the rest. That is not so.

If my right hon. Friend bumps into Roy Jenkins in the corridor at the Summit Conference during this weekend, will he remind him that in his old constituency and that of his friend at Ashfield the electorate deserted en masse, partly because of Britain's involvement in the Common Market? The victor at Grimsby played the opposite card, to great effect.

Now that the great apostle has gone to Europe—the financial haven—is it not time that the Government understood the feelings of the British electorate and got Britain out of the Common Market altogether?

Unfortunately, I did not go either to Ashfield or to Stechford. I went to Grimsby, and I was glad with the result there.

As for the reference to the two individuals concerned, my hon. Friend knows that they are, and remain, personal friends of mine.

When he sees his European colleagues, will the Foreign Secretary take the lead with them in seeking to establish some sort of Community policy in foreign affairs, particularly in view of the threat to European and United Kingdom supplies of raw materials as constituted by the increased success of Soviet imperialism in Africa?

At the last meeting there was an extensive discussion about the political co-operation machinery on Africa and the issue of a joint statement. There is a great measure of agreement on the whole question of how we should conduct our responsibilities to Africa. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is important that, wherever possible, we should co-ordinate and concert foreign policy in major areas of the world.

Especially in view of his last answer, will my right hon. Friend assure us that, prior to the Helsinki review conference in Belgrade, the views of the Nine on the failure of the Soviet side to live up to many of its undertakings in Helsinki will be considered and that a joint policy of the Nine will be agreed?

Yes. We have had discussion of preparation for Belgrade at, I believe, the last three political co-operation meetings—certainly the last two. I believe that there is a degree of unanimity on this issue which is unprecedented, although it was manifested prior to Helsinki itself.

We are determined that the Belgrade follow-up conference should concentrate on implementation of the Helsinki Final Act and that we should not be diverted to major new proposals—at least not at the expense of implementation. We want to find ways to increase and improve implementation, because the performance has been disappointing. I do not deny that.

Would the Foreign Secretary propose that the Council of Ministers should send a message of good wishes to Spain, not to any particular group but to the people of Spain as a whole, as they enter their first election for a free Parliament in 40 years? Would that not be an appropriate move by the EEC in view of the remarkable progress that Spain has made, in a short time, towards restoring parliamentary democracy?

The nine member States all represent democracy and believe in a strengthening of democracy wherever it occurs. At the last meeting on political co-operation, they welcomed the decision, which had then only recently been made by Spain, to hold fully democratic elections. We believe that it is a significant advance in Europe that there should be an additional democratic European country.

European Assembly Members


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the EEC Council of Ministers about the conditions of service in any directly-elected EEC Assembly.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. John Tomlinson)

These questions have not been discussed by the Council of Ministers but I understand that they are under consideration in the European Parliament itself.

As we have been told by the Prime Minister and by the French that the Assembly, if it is directly elected, will not have any increased powers, and as we know that the present delegates to the European Assembly manage without any salary at all, will the Foreign Secretary make it perfectly clear to the Council of Ministers, regardless of whether the European Assembly is discussing it, that the rumoured salary of £25,000 plus vast expenses is absolutely out of all line with the rate for the job? The House very much objects to it.

The Community's budget procedures are very complicated. The budget of the Parliament is regarded as non-obligatory expenditure on which, within overall limits, the Parliament has the last say. The hon. Gentleman's views will no doubt serve to emphasise to those concerned the need to avoid extravagance in framing the necessary provisions.

Can my hon. Friend say whether the salaries of British Members of this Assembly will be subject to British income tax?

As I am not in a position at the moment to say anything about the provisions—since they have not been subject to ministerial consideration—I am not able to say how those salaries will be taxed.

Direct Elections


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the progress of the nine members of the EEC towards direct elections.

I refer the hon. Member to the account given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State during the debate on direct elections on 25th April.

In spite of the fact that the Foreign Secretary has just told us that there is very little concern in the rest of Europe about the progress of this country towards direct elections, does not the Minister accept that it seems, from what we have learned today and at other times, that there is likely to be a slight controversy about the nature of any Bill that may come forward? Therefore, if the Government are to use their best endeavours to get it through, would it not be wise to bring it forward at an early date?

The question of bringing forward the Bill is not a matter for myself or for my right hon. Friend. But, as I have said repeatedly, the Government are committed, and have made quite clear their commitment, to use their best endeavours to hold the first elections in 1978. I do not believe that there is any reason why the United Kingdom should hold things up.

Can my hon. Friend confirm that whatever this House may decide about Britain's participation in direct elections there exists an increasing acceptance among our European partners that they will not take place in 1978? Does he agree that that is acceptable and necessary if the House is to subject to proper scrutiny the fundamental issues involved in direct elections?

I note carefully what my hon. Friend says. I, too, have been engaged in discussions with people in Strasbourg. But the situations in other countries are not a matter on which I can comment. If other countries have difficulties, I am not aware of them. I can see no insuperable reasons for our not meeting the target date of 1978 to which we have committed ourselves.

Did the hon. Gentleman agree with the Foreign Secretary's statement just now that we were not behind any of the other member States in their preparations? Will the hon. Gentleman now spell out clearly and categorically which of the other member States, with the exception of Belgium, are behind us in their preparations?

It is not for me to comment on each member State; it is for each of the member Governments to decide how to implement their expressed intention of enabling direct elections to take place in May or June of next year. The procedures are different in each country, but overall we are not lagging behind.

But in view of the answer given, will the Minister please now give an answer that the Home Secretary failed to give the other day, and tell us the latest date at which the preferred system of electoral arrangements by this House can be implemented? What is the latest date by which the Bill must be presented in order to carry through the preferred system of elections?

As the House has not yet decided on the preferred system, I am not in a position to give an answer.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has had any correspondence with the Commissioner of the European Community concerning Article 101 of the Treaty of Rome.

My right hon. Friend has had no correspondence on this subject with the Commission arising from Article 101 of the EEC Treaty.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that Article 101 concerns the distortion of competition in the Community? In case Her Majesty's Government should wish to reintroduce the regional employment premium to solve some of our difficulties, will they now write to the Commission asking whether it comes within the terms of this article or whether they would be prohibited from taking such a step?

My hon. Friend will recognise that there is nothing to prevent such action being taken, but equally he will recognise that matters of competition are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection and those concerning the regional employment premium are for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Cultural Workers


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has seen the submission to the EEC Commission by the International Federation of Actors, International Federation of Musicians and International Federation of Unions of Audio Visual Workers on behalf of cultural workers; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware of the existence of the submission. It was not addressed to member States and the Commission has not consulted them on it.

Will my hon. Friend take this matter on board and have a look at it himself, so that when it next comes up he will be able to give a more comprehensive answer?

If those who made the submission would care to consult me, I should be willing to give my views upon it.