HC Deb 25 January 1966 vol 723 cc1-9
2. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what instructions he or the Governor of Rhodesia have now given for the payment of interest due on Rhodesian public debt in this country.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Arthur Bottomley)

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer of 14th December to the Question asked by the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). I would add that the Governor does not by himself possess the necessary authority in Rhodesian law to order the payment to be made of interest due on the Rhodesian public debt.

Mr. Turton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it would appear from the debate of 11th December that he has this responsibility? Is not this the first occasion on which a Secretary of State has connived at a default on Government stocks?

Mr. Bottomley

I have not that responsibility. The responsibility rests with the Governor, and he alone is not the lawful Government of Rhodesia.

4. Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what information he has on the state of unemployment in Southern Rhodesia.

Mr. Bottomley

In present circumstances, information is incomplete. Rhodesian organisations are themselves reported to be arranging special studies to assess the extent of unemployment.

Such measures as the establishment of a national advisory scheme to help employers hit by sanctions, the setting up of advisory panels to guide employers in such measures as diversification, pooling imports, sending staff on leave and other recommendations, go to show that unemployment is increasing, and will continue to increase.

Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the tremendous dangers inherent in unemployment among both black and white people? Will he keep himself fully informed of the details of the situation and strive to find a solution?

Mr. Bottomley

Yes, indeed, that is the desire of us all, to try to find a solution to this problem. On the question of unemployment, that is not caused by the present Government; it is the making of the Rhodesian rebel régime.

6. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will make a further statement on Rhodesia.

Mr. Bottomley

I would ask the hon. Member to await the statement which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is proposing to make after Questions.

Mr. Wall

Have not the Government received recommendations that the time is ripe for negotiations? In view of the rising costs of this dispute to the British taxpayer and the loss of markets in the whole of Southern Africa, will the right hon. Gentleman now open negotiations through the Governor with Mr. Smith?

Mr. Bottomley

If the hon. Member catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, he will perhaps have an opportunity of putting that question to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

12. Mr. Lomas

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he is aware that Rhodesian students at present studying or training in this country are liable to ill-treatment by the illegal régime of Rhodesia when they return home; and what provision he is making to protect them.

Mr. Bottomley

I am not aware of any evidence that Rhodesian students returning home from this country have been ill-treated merely because they have studied here.

Mr. Lomas

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the fear of ill-treatment was strongly expressed to me by Rhodesian students at present at the Huddersfield Training College when I spoke to them some weeks ago? Is he in a position to inform the House what steps the Government intend to take to assist those students who are at present suffering great financial difficulties as a direct result of the illegal declaration of independence in Rhodesia?

Mr. Bottomley

While the British Government have general responsibility for Rhodesia, I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate that I cannot in any way be responsible for the actions of Mr. Smith's illegal régime.

13. Mr. Lomas

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what is the position of the wife of a Rhodesian student who desires to join her husband in Great Britain and is unable to obtain a valid passport.

Mr. Bottomley

Entry into the United Kingdom would not be refused merely because the travel document held was not regarded as valid. I shall be circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement of the present passport arrangements.

Mr. Lomas

While I am grateful for that reply, may I ask if it is possible for the Minister now to say if the statement will provide for the issue of United Kingdom passports in exceptional cases such as the one mentioned in my Question?

Mr. Bottomley

In respect of this applicant and others admission or otherwise would not be affected by any kind of passport which was carried. If there were held a pre-U.D.I. Rhodesian passport no exception would be taken and she would be permitted to come into this country.

Following is the statement: In general the passport facilities granted to persons known to be active supporters of the illegal régime, whether such persons are Rhodesian citizens, United Kingdom citizens or dual citizens, are confined to documentation for their return to Rhodesia, though exceptions may be made in compassionate cases. Persons not falling into the category of active supporters of the illegal régime but hitherto travelling on Rhodesian passports issued before 11th November, 1965, are treated more liberally. If their Rhodesian passports expire, they are provided on application with United Kingdom passports, valid in the first instance for six months. The question of further validity will be decided in the light of developments towards the end of that period. So long as their pre-I.D.I. Rhodesian passports remain current, however, the period of validity is not reduced and they are not normally replaced by United Kingdom passports. These Rhodesian passports, having been issued by the Governor in the name of Her Majesty, are fully recognised for the travel of Rhodesian citizens and of dual United Kingdom-Rhodesian citizens by Her Majesty's Government and most other Governments. Should any dual citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and of Rhodesia particularly wish, however, to have United Kingdom passports in exchange for their Rhodesian passports, they may exceptionally be given United Kingdom passports valid for six months, provided they sign declarations to the effect that they do not require these passports for the purpose of furthering or assisting the objectives of the illegal régime, and that they are loyal to Her Majesty The Queen. Documents purporting to be passports issued by the illegal régime are not recognised by Her Majesty's Government or by most other countries. Earlier passports purported to have been renewed by the illegal régime are thereby invalidated. Such documents and passports should be surrendered to H.M. Consuls, immigration officers or other appropriate officials, and application should be made to United Kingdom officials for suitable replacement passports or other travel documents.
16. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how many persons are known to be under some form of detention for political reasons in Rhodesia, giving the figures for Europeans and Africans, respectively.

Mr. Bottomley

I regret that I have no accurate figures.

18. Mrs. Shirley Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what information he has as to the extent to which crude oil has been landed at Beira, destined for Rhodesia, since Her Majesty's Government announced sanctions on the supply of oil; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bottomley

No crude oil has been landed at Beira since the announcement of the oil embargo.

Mrs. Williams

Is my right hon Friend aware how strongly this bears out the fact that there is now an international support operation for oil sanctions against Rhodesia and how far it goes to show that some members of the Tory Party are in a minority internationally as well as in this House?

Mr. Bottomley

I thank my hon. Friend for her support.

22. Mr. Box

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what instructions he intends giving to British companies operating in Rhodesia regarding the payment of taxes to the illegal government.

Mr. Bottomley

None, Sir.

Mr. Box

Is the Secretary of State aware that a month ago the Prime Minister said that this matter was under urgent review? Is it not quite disgraceful that some two and a half months after U.D.I. British firms paying taxes to the Smith Government should not know whether they are committing treason? Does not this demonstrate once again the utter folly and complete unpreparedness of the Government in regard to their Rhodesian policy?

Mr. Bottomley

There has been no change at all in the Government's policy. The statement made by the Prime Minister at the time remains the same today.

24. Mr. Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what reports he has received from Rhodesia about the audibility of radio reception from Bechuanaland.

Mr. Bottomley

My information is that reception throughout the South of Rhodesia is apparently good. However, I understand that reception is poor in Salisbury, partly due to interference. I am having this looked into as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Fisher

I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman is aware of this, as I am from correspondents there, who inform me that the reception in Salisbury is very poor indeed and that it is very difficult to hear it. As it is probably becoming increasingly important now for our objective to be known by Rhodesians, can the Secretary of State take any steps to improve the reception and increase the volume of these broadcasts?

Mr. Bottomley

I have had an expert team out reviewing the matter. As a result of their considerations, I am fairly confident that we shall be able to improve reception.

Dr. Bray

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the wavelength chosen is only 5 metres away from Radio Harari, which is a broadcasting service to Africans, the signal of which completely swamps any possibility of receiving the B.B.C. in Salisbury?

Mr. Bottomley

This is one of the matters being considered by a member of the team of experts to which I have referred.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Could not all these difficulties have been avoided if, instead of buying an American transmitter, Her Majesty's Government had taken up the offer of the British transmitter which was offered to them by the Marconi Company of Chelmsford last year?

Hon. Members


Mr. Bottomley

Why such a fair and reasonable question should be greeted with jeers by the other side I do not know. We considered this offer very carefully. We would have preferred the British transmitter, but it was not able to do the job required.

Mr. Shinwell

Reverting to the observation made by the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), can my right hon. Friend tell us what is the Tory objective?

28. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what representations he has received from missions and religious bodies in Rhodesia regarding the ban on the remission to Rhodesia of contributions to religious and charitable organisations; and what reply he has sent.

31. Mr. Hugh Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether, in view of recent appeals from Christians in Rhodesia, he will now reconsider the existing ban on payments from this country to missionary societies, Christian missions and educational charities in Rhodesia.

The Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes)

I am certainly aware that the Christian missions, charitable and similar organisations in Rhodesia are experiencing difficulties as a result of Mr. Smith's illegal declaration of independence. Steps have been taken, however, to ensure that such organisations are not prevented from carrying out their work in Rhodesia during the present emergency.

Mr. Goodhart

While welcoming the withdrawal of the complete ban on the missions, may I ask the Minister of State why it is necessary to introduce a jumble of complicated rules to try and restrict payments? Is not it time that the Government dropped their unfortunate economic war on missionaries and crippled African children?

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that that is a very unworthy supplementary question. He knows that the measures which Her Majesty's Government have taken are in all the circumstances very reasonable and there is no doubt that the Christian missions appreciate them. I would inform the House that the general guiding principles are that missions, charitable and similar organisations making remittances of a continuing nature will be allowed normally to remit 75 per cent. of last year's remittances. Once-for-all cash payments up to a limit of £250 will also be permitted.

Mr. Fraser

On a point of order. May I ask why the Secretary of State himself has not seen fit to answer these important Questions which affect hundreds of Christian missions throughout Africa?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is not a point of order.

Mr. Fraser

My supplementary question is simply this: would the Government show the same degree of magnanimity to Christian missions largely looking after black people as they have done to the largely European pensioners in respect of their pensions? Unless they show this it is scandalous.

Mr. Hughes

The arrangements which Her Majesty's Government have made are reasonable and the House will be aware that the views of the Christian churches on the present state of affairs in Rhodesia are well known to hon. Members.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Can I ask the Minister and the Government to think again about this? I do not think that it is satisfactory that only 75 per cent. should be sent. Is there not every reason for allowing the same amount as was sent last year?

Mr. Hughes

The right hon. and learned Gentleman certainly puts his supplementary question in a reasonable way. Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to look at the matter but I repeat that we think that the arrangements made are very reasonable and generous in the circumstances.

Mr. Paget

What is the Government's attitude towards amounts which did not arise last year? I refer particularly to the contribution of Oxfam in sending relief to try to feed children suffering from starvation in the famine areas and whose contribution has been stopped by the British Government

Hon. Members


Mr. Hughes

I am fully aware of the splendid contribution which Oxfam and other organisations have made. I am not aware that the British Government have frustrated the attempts of these organisations. If my hon. and learned Friend will give me the facts I will look into them.

Mr. George Y. Mackie

Is the Minister aware, for instance, that a number of contributions sent through the Presbyterian Mission in Africa are salaries to European missionaries there who are teaching African children? Is he aware that these salaries are already far less than the salaries which these people would receive in this country and that to offer them three-quarters of those salaries when they are away from home living on a subsistence level is quite unreasonable?

Hon. Members


Mr. Hughes

I will certainly bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said. Perhaps he would be good enough to send details to me, which I will look into.

Mr. Fraser

In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

33. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will make a statement on his discussions with Sir Hugh Beadle.

Mr. Bottomley

We have had a series of most useful meetings with Sir Hugh Beadle, but the details of these discussions must remain confidential.

Mr. Turton

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether Sir Hugh Beadle indicated anybody other than Mr. Ian Smith with whom negotiations could be conducted?

Mr. Bottomley

As I have said, obviously these talks must remain confidential.

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