Skip to main content

Rhodesia

Volume 975: debated on Wednesday 5 December 1979

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

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the unlawful operations of South African armed forces on British territory in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia."
There are now reports from many quarters that members of the defence forces of the Republic of South Africa are operating in co-operation with, or as part of, the armed forces of an illegal regime. I do not know of any responsible commentator, Government Minister or official who has sought to deny these reports. Indeed, from the exchanges this afternoon in the House it appears that the Prime Minister of South Africa has admitted this. These reports appeared this morning in responsible journals such as The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and others. The matter is therefore specific.

There can be no doubt that the matter is important. The protection of British citizens against external aggression is the prime duty of any British Government, and some would say that it is their overriding duty. In the context of the current warfare in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, it is clearly of the utmost importance that foreign forces that have no lawful right to be in that territory should be required to withdraw.

It is also important for the House to know whether there has been any implicit or explicit acquiescence by the British Government in the operations of the South African troops in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and what protest or other démarche was made by the Foreign Secretary when he met Mr. Pik Botha in London a few days ago.

I submit that the matter is also urgent. We have all watched with anxiety and hope the progress of the talks at Lancaster House. All hon. Members want these talks to lead to freedom, independence and constitutional government in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, but the presence of foreign forces from a hostile, racist State, against which successive British Governments have for many years maintained an arms embargo, is a major obstacle to the successful outcome of the present negotiations. It would be a tragedy for the whole of Africa if those negotiations failed.

I submit, therefore, that the matter is specific, important and urgent enough to be debated by the House forthwith.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) gave me notice before 12 o'clock noon today that he would seek to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the unlawful operations of South African armed forces on British territory in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia."
I listened carefully to what the hon. Member said and also to the exchanges that took place earlier this afternoon.

As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9, I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in the Order but to give no reasons for my decision. I have to rule that the hon. Member's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.