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Yugoslavia

Volume 976: debated on Wednesday 16 January 1980

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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 urgent need for an international guarantee of the future independence and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia."
I know that it has been indicated that we are shortly to have a foreign affairs debate centring on Afghanistan, but in the wake of the invasion of that country by Soviet forces hon. Members throughout the House are concerned about another and a European country. That concern has been demonstrated in an early-day motion that I tabled last night and that has already attracted about 150 signatures.

It is quite obvious that the President of Yugoslavia is a sick man. If the latest reports are to be believed, he is gravely ill. Naturally, we all wish him well and hope that he will recover and be able to lead his people for some years to come. But above sympathy and good wishes, President Tito and his people need a guarantee of their future independence as a nation and of their territorial integrity, and they need that guarantee from the international community.

In a case such as this, someone must take the lead. Yesterday in this House my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister showed that she was willing to take an initiative, through NATO. I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will allow the House an opportunity to show its united resolve. Too often in matters of grave international consequence we react, we do not anticipate. Here is a chance for us to anticipate and perhaps prevent what could be a global disaster.

The hon. Member for Stafford shire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) gave me notice before 12 o'clock today that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believed should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the urgent need for an international guarantee of the future independence and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia."
I listened with deep concern to the hon. Gentleman, and I in no way seek to detract from the seriousness of his statement to the House. I am aware that he has raised a most important matter, but the House knows that 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.

After listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman—and I am in no way saying that this matter ought not to be debated—I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and therefore I cannot submit his application to the House.