My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in securing a cease-fire and an election in Namibia under United Nations supervision.
My Lords, there has been less progress than we would have wished. But following the South African reply of 29th August to the United Nations Secretary-General, the gap has been further narrowed. South Africa has agreed to receive a United Nations Secretariat team from 20th to 27th October in a further effort to reach agreement on early implementation of the United Nations settlement plan.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. However, have the South African Government accepted the Security Council Resolution 435 which provides for United Nations control of a cease-fire and demilitarised zone and United Nations supervision of elections and independence? Secondly, are the Government satisfied that South Africa has given up any intention to declare unilateral independence based on, first, the executive authority which it has given to the Turnhalle Assembly, unrecognised internationally; secondly, its authorisation of an army under that Assembly; and thirdly, its announcement of a constitution for Namibia which includes second-tier, apartheid ethnic councils?
My Lords, most of the problems to which the noble Lord refers have indeed been settled. The main points in dispute now are the South African request for impartiality of treatment between SWAPO and the internal parties by the United Nations organs, together with the inclusion of internal parties in future consultations. We hope that a settlement can be reached on these outstanding issues.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that on this side of the House—indeed, I think, in most parts of the House—there is a feeling that the South African Government has delayed in this settlement beyond what is a reasonable time? Could we have an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will be pressing, both at the United Nations and in other ways which are open to them, to obtain a very speedy attempt at an agreement in what is a serious and dangerous situation?
My Lords, certainly South African consideration of some of these matters has taken longer than we would have wished. However, they have agreed to accept later this month the United Nations Secretariat team to which I have referred, and we hope that the outstanding difficulties can then be resolved.
My Lords, can the noble Lord the Minister say whether, during this protracted interim period since the five Western countries began negotiations, the British Government or any other of the five have made representations to the South African Government about the continued loss, particularly of mineral wealth but also of other economic wealth, which is going into the South African Treasury at the expense of a future independent Namibia?
My Lords, I am not quite sure to which economic wealth the noble Lord refers, but if he refers to the uranium mine which has been the subject of considerable press comment, then that is quite a separate matter.
My Lords, I should like to ask the Minister whether on 27th October, when there is to be this discussion, Her Majesty's Government, with the others, will seek to raise the question of political prisoners? Is he aware that there are 53 political prisoners in Robins Island and very many others under detention?
My Lords, the visit later this month, to which I referred, will be headed by the United Nations and not by Her Majesty's Government. In fact, it will be led by Mr. Urquhart who is the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. British views on the question of political prisoners in Namibia are well known to the South African Government, and indeed to the Namibian authorities.