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South Africa

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 11 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy on sanctions against South Africa.

Our policy is unchanged. We continue to believe that pressure should be relaxed as progress is made in South Africa. We welcome the Dublin European Council's endorsement of this principle.

As Her Majesty's Government's attitude to sanctions, which was endorsed by my right hon. Friend the Minister this afternoon, is that they are yesterday's argument or, in the words of the Prime Minister, they have no part to play in policy towards South Africa, why do we still insist on supporting the obnoxious Gleneagles agreement which upholds sporting sanctions against that country? Does my right hon. Friend accept that the one message of encouragement for President de Klerk to pursue the path of reform that he would like would be an invitation to the Springboks to play cricket at Lord's and rugby at Twickenham?

The Gleneagles agreement was an obligation which was entered into collectively and we shall honour it. That does not argue against our belief that as progress is made we should persuade our colleagues to move in step with it.

Is the Minister aware that Labour Members have the highest respect and praise for all those in South Africa, black and white alike and in the African National Congress and outside it, who have fought and suffered all their lives, as Nelson Mandela did for more than 25 years in prison, for a democratic South Africa, but that we have the highest contempt, if that is the right expression, for people like the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) who throughout has done his best to side with the oppressors, taken free trips to South Africa and in every conceivable way opposed the progress now taking place in that country?

As usual with the hon. Member, his remarks were unfair, overblown and exaggerated. My hon. Friends who have argued for many years that those who were seeking to damage the South African economy would damage all the South African people will turn out to be right. Although the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) has not yet found a formula for these matters, the hon. Gentleman should accept what Mr. Mandela said—that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is an enemy of apartheid and all kinds of racism. I hope that he will accept that all Conservative Members share those views.

May I reinforce the point made earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies)? Has my right hon. Friend observed that those who call for the continuation of sanctions against South Africa tend to be the same people who call for economic aid to the Soviet Union? If it is right to help President Gorbachev to survive, must not it be right to help President de Klerk to survive?

The analogy is apt. Mr. de Klerk faces exactly the same dangers and pressures as Mr. Gorbachev. It is no more certain that the one will survive than the other. It is surely in the interests of progress in those countries that both do so.