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Rhodesia (Ceasefire Medal)

Volume 982: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received concerning the striking of a medal to be awarded to members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces who monitored the ceasefire in Rhodesia.

I have received a few inquiries from hon. Members and from members of the public on this subject. The possibility of an award for service in Southern Rhodesia has been in my mind for a long time and is under very serious consideration.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that answer will give some satisfaction to those who admire greatly the conduct of the officers and men who went to Rhodesia on what people who have served in the RAF would regard as a rather "dicey operation" demanding calm, cool courage? Does my right hon. Friend agree that their effectiveness in ensuring a ceasefire in the run-up to the election deserves the acknowledgement and recognition of the House?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and I fully endorse what he says. There is a procedure for arranging such matters and proper consideration is being given to it.

Does the Secretary of State accept that a Commonwealth force was involved? Does he agree that it did a unique job in Rhodesia? Is he aware that Prime Minister Mugabe acknowledges the effect of the monitoring force? Does he agree that such a unique service deserves a uniquie response? Would it not be better to contact the prime Minister of Zimbabwe and suggest that Zimbabwe strikes its own medal for the forces?

The right hon. Gentleman is right—a Commonwealth force was involved. The important point that he makes is being borne in mind.

May I join in the tributes paid to the British participants in the monitoring force? Will my right hon. Friend also take the opportunity to pay tribute to the Rhodesian security forces, both black and white, without whom the monitoring force could not have completed its task?

I am certainly prepared to do that and to add my tributes to the British policemen and to everybody who made a contribution to what turned out to be a great success.

In view of the unique character of the force will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of publishing an official history of the activities of the monitoring force?