HC Deb 24 January 1967 vol 739 cc1261-3
Q2. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister what official correspondence he has had with Mr. Smith; and if he will make a statement on the Rhodesian situation.

Mr. M. Stewart

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has had no correspondence with Mr. Smith since the talks on H.M.S. "Tiger" and I have nothing to add to the Answer he gave on 19th January to Questions about Rhodesia.—[Vol. 739, c. 648.]

Mr. Wall

As it is now clear that mandatory sanctions, without the cooperation of South Africa and Portugal, will not bring down the Smith Government in the short-term, anyhow, can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the Government's policy with regard to the extension of sanctions to Rhodesia's neighbours and what effect that would have on our economy, for which he is largely responsible?

Mr. Stewart

I do not accept the first premise of that supplementary question. The remainder of it is therefore hypothetical in the highest degree.

Mr. Bellenger

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the Governor is being used for correspondence or oral conversations between the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith?

Mr. Stewart

There has been no correspondence with Mr. Smith since the talks on H.M.S. "Tiger", and, indeed, all previous contacts were under the aegis of the Governor. It is possible at any time for a lawful régime in Rhodesia, if there were a return to legality, to get into touch with this Government.

Mr. Heath

Questions were raised with the First Secretary last week about the activities of the World Health Organisation in Rhodesia. It now appears that that organisation had projects being planned before U.D.I. to deal with malaria control and mother and child care. There was also the question of a medical fellowship at the university. These projects were abandoned at the insistence of the British Government, apparently. Can the First Secretary confirm that that is the case and, if it is, can he not look at the position again? As the British Government are in any case supporting the University of Rhodesia, quite rightly, surely projects of this kind ought to be able to go ahead?

Mr. Stewart

It is not the case that these projects have been abandoned at the insistence of the British Government. Before the illegal declaration of independence, the World Health Organisation proposed to send a malaria eradication team to Rhodesia. After the illegal declaration of independence, the organisation consulted Her Majesty's Government, who said that the team should proceed, and Parliament was so informed. It was at the end of last year that we learned that the World Health Organisation itself had decided that it could not let the team proceed because it saw difficulties about the negotiation of privileges and immunities for its members. That means that, in general, the policy of Her Majesty's Government is that the World Health Organisation should be able to carry out its function, but the fact that there is an unlawful régime in Rhodesia makes it difficult for it to do so. It is there that the responsibility lies.

Mr. Heath

I am grateful to the First Secretary for making the first point. Can he also confirm that, from the point of view of the British Government, there is no objection to the World Health Organisation going ahead with these projects?

Mr. Stewart

There is no objection from our point of view. The organisation itself, unfortunately, has found that the existence of an illegal régime makes it very difficult for it to do so.

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