South Africa

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 9 Gorffennaf 1986.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North 12:00, 9 Gorffennaf 1986

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what position Her Majesty's Government are taking towards adopting economic measures against the South African regime.

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

We receive a large volume of correspondence both for and against the imposition of economic sanctions against South Africa. Together with our European and Commonwealth partners, we have already adopted a number of restrictive measures towards South Africa designed to send a strong political signal of the need for fundamental reform, but it remains our view that general economic and trade sanctions would hinder rather than accelerate the process of peaceful change in South Africa, to which we are fully committed.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Is the Minister of State aware that anyone who has the slightest doubt about the Prime Minister's true views on South Africa and the measures required need only read today's interview in The Guardian, in which she expresses the most craven and disgraceful appeasement of apartheid? No doubt the Prime Minister's comments will be noted by Commonwealth leaders. As the Minister of State has expressed quite different views both in the House and on television, is she proud to be arguing such a shoddy case at the Dispatch Box today?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

I have not expressed different views. As an individual I may use different words, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said on Monday, we are seeking exactly the same end and in the same way. If the hon. Gentleman continues to take such a partial view of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's total opposition to apartheid and her repetition of the way in which economic sanctions would harm the black people of South Africa and the front-line states, he is taking a very one-sided and blinkered view of the reality of modern trade and the effect that economic sanctions would have on black people. I ask him to look again at the full facts of the situation.

Photo of Mr Tim Rathbone Mr Tim Rathbone , Lewes

Will my hon. Friend confirm that it is the Government's aim to take all measures necessary to bring pressure to bear on the South African Government to hurry up the process of reform and to carry through extensive reform so that, one hopes, there can still be evolutionary rather than revolutionary reform in that country?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House on 1 July, we are considering certain contingency plans outlined in the June communique following the European Council summit at The Hague. We are looking at positive as well as restrictive measures to bring about the change so urgently needed in South Africa. My hon. Friend has our assurance that that is being fully done.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

The Minister asked us earlier to make a realistic assessment of the situation. Is not a realistic assessment that the South African Government are not willing to negotiate, which is why there is a state of emergency and why the whole of the leadership and the trade union leadership are in prison? The South African people are willing to fight and die for their freedom. That is their only route to success, as it was for the people of Zimbabwe. The question is: which side are we on? If we say in advance of any talks that we are not willing to take either general economic sanctions or even punitive economic sanctions — the whole point of which is to punish and pressurise—does it not mean that we are not on the side of the fight for freedom by the black people of South Africa? That is what the whole world knows, to our shame.

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

The Government are doing, and will continue to do, all those things that are necessary to bring about peaceful change. I warn the hon. Lady that it is all too easy to talk about blanket general economic sanctions without realising their exact effect. It is obvious that many people, such as Chief Buthelezi, but also many others who represent the black communities, are gravely concerned about the effect of sanctions. I know from my discussions with many people, including Mr. Oliver Tambo, that they have no wish to inherit an economic desert, which would be the result of general economic sanctions.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torbay

Did my hon. Friend happen to see a very interesting programme on BBC television on Monday evening—one of its very rare moments of objectivity — called "The Other Side of the Sanctions Equation", which showed quite convincingly that the death rate of young African children in one of the homelands has doubled because of the economic measures already taken? Is that really what Opposition Members want to happen again and again?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

My right hon. Friend draws our attention to a programme which, sadly, I did not see, but to which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred during questions yesterday. Of course we wish to take no measures that will inflict upon black people in South Africa and the other front-line states the sort of future that some unthinking Opposition Members seem to think should happen, without any care for those people —a care which this Government really have.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

If the hon. Lady is genuine in her desire to protect the peoples of black South Africa, will she today come to the Dispatch Box and say, quite simply, that when economic sanctions are imposed this country will give positive economic and political aid to those most in need in the front-line states?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

It would be presumptuous of me to say today what will be in place, whether or not the South African Government take more rapid steps towards the ending of apartheid in the coming weeks. I have already said this afternoon, as the hon. Lady would know if she had been listening, that a further £15 million will be spent over five years—not only £12 million to help non-white South Africans, but £3 million for transport projects in the front-line states. We are giving that aid in addition to another £22 million already announced. The hon. Lady should possess herself in patience for the outcome of the discussions to bring an end to apartheid, through my right hon. and learned Friend's mission.