§ 8. Mr. Peter Morrison
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common- 1048 wealth Affairs if he will pay an official visit to South Africa.
§ 13. Mr. Tebbit
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will pay an official visit to South Africa.
§ Mr. Morrison
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that both President Kaunda and Mr. Vorster have made complimentary remarks about each other's speeches in the last three weeks? Does he agree that if the British Government were now to change their attitude towards South Africa it could well jeopardise the developing relationship between Zambia and South Africa?
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can have heard my reply to the last question, but I would not base too much on the exchange of complimentary speeches, otherwise my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment would have marched through the same lobby as the Shadow Leader of the House last night.
If I thought that it would be of use, I would go anywhere, but I do not think that a visit at this stage would be of any value.
§ Mr. Tebbit
Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that we regret that he will not be going to South Africa in the near future because we see in him signs of learning from such visits—for example, his conversion to British membership of the EEC? If he were to undertake such a visit in the near future, he could visit other countries in Africa and come back and tell us whether he finds the South African régime any less liberal than that of Uganda or of any other tribal and military dictatorship in Africa. Why should he be so particular about picking on South Africa and not on them?
Certainly it is not for me to defend the régime in Uganda, and 1049 I do not do so. But there is the particular problem of apartheid in South Africa, and I think that the hon. Gentleman recognises it. In conjunction with all the other members of the United Nations we have had to take steps to try to change the policy of apartheid which, in my view, is likely to lead to chaos and anarchy in the southern part of Africa and to an extension of Communism in that part of the world. Quite apart from the moral and human issues involved, it is our policy to continue to say to South Africa that if she wants good relations with us, as distinct from businesslike relations, we expect a change in this policy.
§ 12. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on future relations with South Africa.
§ 16. Mr. Mather
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about British relations with South Africa.
Mr. James Callaghan
There is nothing I can add at present to what I said in the House of Commons on 30th October and in my speech at Cardiff on 25th October.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, following the recent visit of British naval forces to South Africa, the South African Government made blatant political capital out of it and sought to get prestige and repectability on the international scene that they did not warrant? Will he assure us that, first of all, the Beira patrol will not be jeopardised as a consequence of the closure of Simonstown and, second, that whatever decision is taken by the Government there will be full acceptance of collective responsibility for that decision?
I can give the assurance about the Beira patrol because the ending of the Simonstown Agreement would not necessarily involve that at all, and the patrol would continue. On the second part of my hon. Friend's question, of course I give every assurance at all times, on all occasions, for all purposes.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
If the right hon. Gentleman really wishes to improve relations with South Africa, would it not be a good idea if he changed the answer that he gave a moment ago and planned to make a visit there, so that he could see for himself what the problems of that country really are? Would it not be a good idea if he took with him some of the 99 of his colleagues on the benches behind him who have signed a critical motion but of whom none, so far as I am aware, have been to that country since they became Members of Parliament?
I can only repeat what I said earlier: at present I do not think that a visit by me to South Africa would be helpful to anyone, so I must reserve the right to go there when I think that it will be most helpful to this country.
§ Mr. Faulds
On a point of order. The hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) is quite wrong in his supposition.
§ Mr. Luard
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the South African Government has every reason to be extremely grateful to this country for her vote to keep South Africa in the United Nations—a vote to which I have no objection? May I express the hope that in undertaking to vote in that way on that issue, the Foreign Secretary may have secured some undertaking from the South African Government about her policies, in particular towards Rhodesia and Namibia, and, perhaps, her own racial policies?
I would not want to give my hon. Friend that impression. No undertakings were sought or received from South Africa. The decision on the vote was taken on entirely different principles. However, I certainly think that South Africa is aware, from the result of the vote, that considerable changes in her policies will be needed during the next 12 months if she is not to face an even more difficult situation when the United Nations meet next time.
§ Mr. Mather
In his consultation with foreign Governments over the ending of the Simonstown Agreement, has the right hon. Gentleman held discussions with the French Government to ascertain in what 1051 way they intend to fill our place in South Africa, particularly in the realms of defence equipment and trade?
I am not aware of any proposal by the French Government to fill our place in South Africa and I have not had any consultations with them.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
As one who has signed the motion to which the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) referred, and who has visited South Africa, may I ask my right hon. Friend, having met many of his staff in South Africa, what information they passed on to him about the likely propaganda use to which the South African Government would put a British naval visit?
With respect, I do not think that I should disclose any advice that I receive from officials. It is for me to take responsibility for the decisions that are made. But as we have now spent a long time on this problem, let me say to the House as a whole that I think that hon. Members will find that the benefits from the Simonstown Agreement, whatever they may be, and the consequences of giving it up, whatever may flow, will not loom very large against the defence review, as a whole, which is being conducted.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in what he said earlier—that our relations with South Africa could be improved by an improvement in their domestic policies, which I hope can soon be brought about—but would he apply the same thinking elsewhere, for example, to our relations with the Soviet Union with reference to their treatment of ethnic minorities such as Jews and Ukrainians within their country? Should we not apply a uniform and comprehensive standard in these matters of human rights?
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman cares to put down a Question about that, I will answer it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—even if his hon. Friends do not wish me to. But this afternoon I shall only repeat what he knows—that answers have been given on this matter more than once by me and my hon. Friends in the past, in which we have drawn the Soviet Government's attention from this Dispatch Box and in 1052 other ways to the difficulties which are caused to an improvement in relations by some of their activities in this direction.