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Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House, at its rising on Friday 26th May, do adjourn until Tuesday 6th June.-- [Mr. Garel-Jones.]
Mr. John Biffen (Shropshire, North) : I have no wish to contest the motion before the House. However, there could be a case for returning on 6 November since there would be enormous advantages in that. The Government would not have to face the grevious disability of the House sitting during July, which is when most crises arise and most misjudgments are made. We would all have a good chance of escaping to our constituencies and, in the process, we would lose an entire Session of Parliament. I suspect that that is the only way in which the House can slow down the relentless load of legislation which runs to the detriment of good government in this country.
However, I want to use this occasion for the more modest and traditional purpose of raising a constituency matter--the Health Service in north Shropshire. I make this point in the presence of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House because the topic of the two proposed hospital closures --the Oswestry and district hospital and the Newport cottage hospital--is one of ambiguity. On Oswestry and district hospital there is a question of judicial challenge, and the closure of the cottage hospital has not yet been confirmed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health. He has said that he will meet a delegation before reaching a judgment. Therefore, it is appropriate that I should direct my remarks to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. I respectfully request an answer in a letter after due reflection. I also ask that the matter is not referred to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health, for the reasons I have given.
Both hospitals have a great record of service to their local community. Both, by general judgment in Shropshire, perform their task remarkably well and they are served by the inspired work of all the medical staff. It is a classic example of where the judgment of the community is outraged by what is proposed. I have no doubt that part of the difficulty comes from the central underfunding of the Health Service. That is probably the major cause of the proposed closures. There is no doubt that there is a related factor--the judgment of Birmingham regional health authority.
I want to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to a new and developing fact. With the publication of the White Paper, "Working for Patients" we now have the idea of self-governing hospitals. I accept that one cannot draw a neat analogy with the education service, but the development of Whitehall-funded schools is not unlike the proposals for self-governing hospitals.
I wish to see--I believe that it is broad Government policy--a range of self-governing hospitals from the great teaching hospitals to the modest- sized cottage hospitals and all that fall within that spectrum. The hospitals currently under threat because of decisions within the regions should not be snuffed out before having a chance to make their case for self-governing status. It is a modest request but it is highly practical. It was inspired by the fact that so many of the schools that have been granted special Whitehall funding status were confronted by closure
Column 702proposals. This modest request and the emollient answer it seeks would be well received by me and by a range of political opinion in rural Shropshire.
Currently, there is a spasm of interest in the European Community, with the prospect of the elections on 15 June. Many can convulse themselves into believing that there will be a relationship between the fevered discussions at Westminster and Fleet street and the pattern of voting. Such a consideration leads them to believe that, if my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) would bestow his effusive charms as wholeheartedly in support of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister as she so uncritically supported him when he was Prime Minister, it would be a powerful weapon for Tory fortunes. In my judgment, anything we can do to repair our fortunes and give us the initiative in the health debate would do infinitely more than that--even though, as far as I can judge, that does not have the slightest relevance to the Delors package or anything else.
I make this plea in the broadest and most general political sense. If we are to give a good start to the prospect of self-governing hospitals--it is the topic in the White Paper most likely to confer upon us some sense of initiative--there could be nothing better than that prosepct being held out for the two hospitals in my constituency to which I have referred.
It is 40 years since 26,000 British service men participated in British nuclear tests, 14,000 of whom witnessed tests at Monte Bello islands off north-west Australia, Maralinga and Emu in south Australia and Christmas and Malden islands in the Pacific. The Nuclear Tests Veterans Association, of which I am the patron, has been fighting for compensation for years, but so far without success.
I want to direct my remarks to the Prime Minister, although I am glad that the Leader of the House is listening. I have given up hope with the Ministry of Defence, given the deplorable attitude that it has displayed over the years. The Prime Minister claims to have a high regard for service personnel and ex-service men. I do not doubt that for a moment, but she should take a hard look at the way in which the Ministry of Defence is behaving compared with its equivalent in the United States.
In view of the Prime Minister's close friendship with ex-President Reagan, she should compare his utterances about American nuclear test veterans with her own. When signing an Act that provided compensation to American nuclear test veterans one year and two days ago, President Reagan said :
"The Act gives due recognition to the unusual service rendered by Americans who participated in military activities involving exposure to radiation generated by the detonation of atomic explosives. The nation is grateful for their special service, and enactments of (the law) make clear the nation's concern for their continued welfare." In stark and harsh contrast, the Prime Minister said to me : "The cause and effect that he says has been proved has not been proved, and therefore compensation is not appropriate." --[ Official Report, 9 May 1989 ; Vol. 152, c. 723.]
Hon. Members must ask which words and which actions show regard for ex- service personnel. When I
Column 703asked the Ministry of Defence on 16 may what advice it had about the genetic effects of radiation exposure, it said that although there was some evidence that radiation caused genetic defects in animals, there was no "conclusive" evidence of any genetic damage that had been passed on to children of nuclear test veterans. That is how the mind of the Ministry of Defence works. It denies compensation because there is no "conclusive" evidence, but that is rarely, if ever, available. The intelligent and reasonable approach must be to decide on the balance of probabilities. That method has been adopted by the United States but not by Britain, to the shame of Britain and the Government.
The Act signed by President Reagan compensated atomic veterans who were suffering, or who had died, from leukaemia or thyroid cancer, regardless of exposure level. It automatically compensated for cancers of the small intestine, stomach, liver, bile ducts, gall bladder and pancreas, together with lymphomas and multiple myleoma where more than one rem of exposure was established. No cut-off period for the appearance of cancer was established, although all claims must be filed by the end of 1991.
Naturally, the House is the forum for British parliamentarians, but for a few moments I wish to place on record some of the views of United States senators. In a debate on American nuclear test veterans, Senator Daschle of South Dakota said :
"The scientific evidence strongly suggests a link between the exposure and the diseases listed in HR1811. Some say that we lack definitive proof. How long will we wait for that proof? Will we wait until all these veterans are dead? Are we so afraid of making a mistake in favour of the veterans--of extending benefits when they are not deserved--that we are willing to risk making the opposite mistake of denying benefits to deserving veterans?"
Those important questions should be pondered by the Prime Minister.
Senator Rockefeller of West Virginia made an acerbic comment that could be interpreted as an indictment of the Ministry of Defence. He said :
"I really think it is somewhat incredulous that we are even debating compensation to atomic veterans, people who could not be more deserving for 40 years ad nauseam we have studied this problem, spent millions of dollars, US taxpayers' dollars, to do studies, and none for the atomic veterans. I think that is wrong. I think it is time to bring an end to the research and to the injustice and to respond with recognition and compassion to what these people went through in the line of duty at the orders of the US Government in the service that they were constitutionally sworn to obey. We know enough to act."
Those senators were supporting a Bill proposed by Senator Cranston of California, which provided for the payment of compensation for 13 cancers, compared with the payment for none by the Ministry of Defence. Senator Cranston said :
"I believe that this measure is both a compassionate and fiscally responsible response to the serious and continuing needs and concerns of the radiation-exposed veterans and their families. For them it is simple justice. For us, it is a fulfilment of our responsibilities to veterans injured and injured wrongly through service to our country."
Parliament is as proud of its armed forces as the United States Senate is of its service men and women. The difference is that the United States has taken positive, reasonable and compassionate action on behalf of their nuclear test veterans ; we have not. It is paying
Column 704compensation ; we are not. I hope that the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defence and hon. Members will take note and act accordingly.
I make no apology for again raising the issue of drug misuse. As my right hon. Friend knows, I have had an Adjournment debate and have asked several questions about this subject. I am sure that he is aware that what causes me most concern is why money confiscated from drug barons cannot be used by the police in the fight against drugs. I cannot understand why a system that works extremely well in the United States cannot be used in Britain. I remind my right hon. Friend that within the past two months at least £4,300,000 has been taken from the profits of convicted drug offenders. Instead of that money being given to fight the battle against drugs, it goes straight into the Treasury.
I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the leader column in the Daily Mail on Saturday 20 May :
"Two years ago the Metropolitan Police were offered a £16 million reward by the Americans for their help in smashing an international drug ring. They were unable to accept it because of the condition that the money was used in the fight against crime. That was forbidden under the rules of the Home Office, which feared that such an arrangement would result in some forces benefiting more than others.
Yet it seems right that the police should reap some advantage from their successes. A House of Commons Select Committee has now come up with a suggestion. Let the cash go to Bramshill police college, Hampshire, and then the whole force will gain. A model answer to a knotty problem--and with a bit of Thatcherite incentive thrown in." It seems that the Home Affairs Select Committee--the Select Committee to which the leader referred --and both sides of the House greet the idea with approval. Only the Home Office seems to be out of step. I hope that, before the House rises for the recess, my right hon. Friend will give me the good news that the money will be put to good use in battling against the drug barons in the war against drugs.
I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the leader in today's Daily Mail --I am sorry to quote the Daily Mail twice, but it just shows how well-read I am. The leader states :
"This morning we publish an impassioned and authoritative plea for the British Government to back an international ban on the ivory trade. It comes from Richard Leakey, the renowned anthropoligist who has recently been appointed to head Kenya's Wildlife and Conservation Management Department.
At least four African countries, Kenya included, demand that the elephant be listed as one of this globe's most endangered species and hence eligible for complete protection from commercial exploitation. The United States has also joined the campaign. But not Britain. Not yet.
Our Government, the Commons was told at the end of last week, is still thinking about it.
The elephant poachers are not pondering. They are continuing to kill elephants at the rate of 300 a day.
We urge the Prime Minister to procrastinate no longer. Here is an opportunity for her to lead the European Community on an issue of anguished concern to millions of its people."
This matter was raised in business questions on Thursday by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr.
Column 705Banks). I was not altogether happy with the reply by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. The Daily Mail leader said : "The United States has also joined the campaign. But not Britain. Not yet."
Why not? I hope that my right hon. Friend can answer that point before the House rises.
A dog registration scheme is needed as well. There are 6.8 million dogs in Britain and we are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers. I have to say that the more I see of some people, the more I love my dogs. We are told that in 1986 more than 240,000 dogs were officially registered as strays by police in England and Wales. Only about 25 per cent. were claimed back by their owners.
Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down) : I do not know whether there is a great difference between Ulster dogs and English dogs. The Government have introduced a registration scheme for Northern Ireland dogs--Protestant as well as Roman Catholic dogs--but seem to think that a registration scheme in England is not necessary. That shows their lack of knowledge. I fully agree with my hon. Friend's comments.
Sir Fergus Montgomery : My hon. Friend has taken the end of my speech from me. I was going to raise that point. At least 90,000 dogs were destroyed because homes could not be found for them. The total number of dogs, including registered strays, destroyed each year is more than 350,000 --about 1,000 healthy dogs a day.
Despite a great campaign by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are still far too many people who take on a dog without thinking things through. No doubt, at Christmas they think that it is nice to have a cuddly little pet that the children can play with, but after a while they get sick of it--perhaps it does a bit of damage--perhaps it grows up, and then it is just thrown out. Dog abuse has increased to record levels. None of this fits our image as a nation of animal lovers. The RSPCA's figures for 1987 show that there were more than 1,800 convictions for neglect, starvation and permanent chaining. I have never been able to understand people who are cruel to either animals or small children--that is past my comprehension. Unfortunately, it happens, and I am sickened when I read some of those cases in our newspapers.
Part of our problem is the difficulty of identifying a dog's owner. The requirement is that a dog should have a name tag, but people ignore that. The chances are that a dog that is roaming has no collar and therefore no tag. Often caring owners put tags on their dogs and sometimes the tags get lost. If all dogs were registered and an element of that registration required that the dog was identifiable by a permanent tag, tattoo, electronic implant or other suitable method, owners could be identified. Any caring dog owner who has lost his dog knows the agony that is suffered. A few years ago, our labrador strayed and the agony that was felt in our house all the time that it was lost and the relief the next day when we got a telephone call to say that it was safe can be appreciated only by someone who cares about dogs.
I cannot understand why the Government are so loth to act on this important issue. A recent opinion poll showed that amazingly 82 per cent. of the public were in favour of
Column 706taking action. I do not think that many people would support a return to the old dog licence--it cost more to administer than was gained in receipts--but when it was abolished the Government put nothing better in its place. We need a scheme to fund the dog warden service and deter the unthinking, uncaring dog owner.
Registration would assist in identifying the dog and its owner, and indentification is essential if the law is to be enforced and stray dogs returned to their owners. As I said earlier, if the United States can use drug money to fight the drug menace, why cannot we? If in France tattooing is used to identify dogs, in Ireland--I am talking not about Ulster, but about the Republic--silicon implants are used and in the United States technology is widely used, why cannot we do the same?
Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North) : Many of us have some sympathy with my hon. Friend's advocacy of the registration scheme. Will he explain whether he is anxious that such a scheme should be administered by the Government--that is what he seems to be telling the House--or by local authorities? Is there not a dichotomy? Most of the letters that we have received plead for the Government to act. Why should not local authorities take responsibility, as some are doing, by using dog wardens?
Sir Fergus Montgomery : I have very caring hon. Friends. My hon. Friends the Members for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) and for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) have prejudged my comments. I was coming to exactly that point.
An Environment Minister recently saw members of the RSPCA who gathered from the Minister that the Department of the Environment thought that this issue had nothing to do with the Department and was a matter for local authorities.
Sir Fergus Montgomery : I agree ; it is a classic example of passing the buck. The Department seems to believe that local authorities have the power to introduce byelaws. Local authorities are anxious to do what they can--about 200 of them already employ dog wardens--but they find it hard to enforce byelaws without a link between dog and owner. The registration scheme would provide that link.
If this proposal were accepted, it would not necessitate an increase in public expenditure. Implementation of section 37 of the Local Government Act 1988 is all that is required. I remind my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of early-day motion 348, which is supported by all parties and has been signed by about 250 Members. It shows the strength of feeling in the House on this issue. I am sure that hon. Members of all parties could testify that their constituency postbags also show that there is a great deal of public support for this scheme. I hope, therefore, that before the House rises for the spring recess, we shall have a statement on when the Government will ensure that confiscated drug assets are used in the fight against drugs, that we shall know what the Government's response will be to backing an international ban on the ivory trade and that we shall know why the Government are refusing to be more positive in ensuring a dog registration scheme.
Column 707As my hon. Friend the Member for North Down said earlier, a similar scheme operates in Northern Ireland, where it seems to work well. The director of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says :
"Not only are dogs looked after better but fewer are suffering from irresponsible and uncaring dog owners."
I hope that when my right hon. Friend replies, he will be able to explain why the Government are being so intransigent over those three issues.
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East) : I want to raise the issue of ticket touting, which has become a disturbing and disfiguring feature of the music and entertainment industry in the west end of London and now, unhappily, of major sporting events throughout the United Kingdom. The powers of the police in this matter are extremely limited. The police are entitled to arrest a ticket tout for obstruction but, by and large, the tariff of fine imposed by magistrates is about £50 and in the case of a first offender, it may be rather less. Such a fine operates as little disincentive to a ticket tout who may stand to make many hundreds of pounds in an afternoon's work. Ticket touts deface the streets surrounding many theatres and opera houses, and members of the public are frequently deceived as to the true value of the tickets they have purchased. Tourists are a particular target, and the reputation of London's west end theatre suffers as a consequence. In The Times on 11 February 1989, Patrick O'Hanlon reported on an investigation carried out at the instance of Westminster city council. It said : "Victims were most frequently from the United States, Canada and Europe. A couple from Canada paid £80 each to the concierge at their hotel for two tickets for The Phantom of the Opera. The tickets had a face value of £21. The largest example of overcharging uncovered was £130 paid for each of two tickets with a face value of £19 for Les Mise rables, a mark-up of approximately 600 per cent'. The survey confirmed that foreign visitors were the most likely to be overcharged and the report said :
"This has important implications for tourism. Why should tourists pay more for the same product?"
The issue of ticket touts is even more pressing in relation to sport. Wimbledon will soon be upon us and, once again, one of the world's greatest sporting events will be disfigured by ticket touting. People who attended the Calcutta cup match at Twickenham this year will know that to reach their seats in the stadium, it was at times necessary almost to push ticket touts aside bodily. In spite of the best efforts of the Rugby Football Union, it appears that tickets allocated to a school somehow found their way into the hands of others with rather more commercial instincts.
It is in the context of football that the issue of ticket touting requires the most urgent consideration by the House. Witnesses at Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry last week made it plain that the existence of ticket touts and the opportunity to buy tickets at the ground encourage supporters who do not have tickets to attend some football matches. That makes it clear that the activities of ticket touts now have a direct influence on the safety of spectators at major football matches.
Most hon. Members regard ticket touting as morally reprehensible. The Minister of State, Home Office, the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten), in a reply to my question about 10 days ago,
Column 708described the practice as "obnoxious". It is obnoxious that, on the day that Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster opened, ticket touts were selling £30 tickets for the cup final--which was a remarkable display of skill and ability on Saturday--at £250 each. If ever there was a clear example of a willingness by people with no love for or interest in that occasion to exploit the special nature of a sporting occasion, that is it.
There is a brazenness about ticket touts which passes most understanding. One ticket tout told a reporter from the Daily Express, in an article that appeared in the northern edition on Monday 15 May 1989, that he was rather disturbed by the fact that people were exploiting the cup final between Everton and Liverpool. However, he then said :
"Anyway, I can always pull it back a bit by putting even more on the price of Wimbledon tickets."
There is brazenness and an inability to understand how offensive such acts are.
Even some hon. Members claim that ticket touting is merely an exercise in market forces. If that is so, that exercise should be repugnant and obnoxious to anyone with any sensibility. It is now clear that ticket touting may be an important adverse factor in the safety of spectators at football matches. In the evidence heard in the past week by Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry, the link has been clearly proved. As a matter of extreme urgency, we should have a statement from the Government on that before we go off on holiday. 5.36 pm
Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North) : I am delighted to follow the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), because we share a certain affinity and love for sport. I hope that he will remain in his place to hear my few remarks which are on the same subject, although from a different angle. In this wide-ranging debate, I want to talk about a subject of which I may have inadvertently given my right hon. Friend notice in business questions last Thursday--the basis of the Government's attitude to international sport and, in particular, the Government's attitude to sporting relations with South Africa.
As my right hon. Friend will remember, I was somewhat disturbed to learn last Thursday that the three Ministers responsible for sport in England, Wales and Scotland had sent a strongly worded statement to the secretaries of the Rugby Football Union, the Scottish Rugby Union and the Welsh Rugby Union, saying that they should pass on any invitations that might be received from the South African Rugby Board for the forthcoming centenary celebrations on the basis that, as my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport said, should British players accept those invitations, it would have an effect on the future of the Commonwealth games and British competition in sport throughout the world.
It was a sad day when Ministers of the Crown began to take the attitude that players who exercise complete freedom of choice--in this case, they are amateurs who are under no contract of employment and do not have binding business commitments to any employer, as professional sportsmen do- -should be not only discouraged, but almost banned from accepting such invitations, although they are entitled to accept them. Many Conservative Members question the Government's wisdom. The Government advocate, rightly, that we should continue
Column 709our economic ties with South Africa, yet they ban those who want to go to that country to play sport from doing so. Many of us find that argument difficult to understand.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : The hon. Gentleman was good enough to refer to our common interest in sporting matters. However, our views are diametrically opposed on the topic he is raising today. Does not the hon. Gentleman believe that it is legitimate for the Minister for Sport and for the Secretary of State for Scotland to draw to the attention of the Rugby Unions the consequence for other sportsmen and, in particular, those who have aspirations to compete in the Commonwealth Games, if the invitations to which he has referred are taken up by individual rugby players?
Mr. Carlisle : I accept what the hon. Gentleman says about his connection with South Africa. Indeed, he is a man of great sporting prowess himself. The objection that I was making to the move of my hon. Friend was on the basis--as reported by The Daily Telegraph on Thursday--that it
"would strongly discourage taking action that would facilitate sporting contact with South Africa".
Under the Gleneagles agreement, a declaration on sport that was not signed by this Administration or by any previous Conservative Administration, the Government have a commitment without force of law to point out to those sporting authorities the possible effects of such action. However, it is not the business of any Minister of the Crown to try to put any pressure on the players or the sporting bodies of what is still a legitimate occupation. If it were illegal to play sport against South Africa--or to smoke--it would be a different story.
Therefore, in view of his party's history and his own participation in sporting events, I wonder whether the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East believes that the time has come for Governments to interfere in the selection of sportsmen and sportswomen, whatever country they are playing against. This whole question has arisen at a particularly interesting time--
Mr. Menzies Campbell rose --
This whole question has arisen at a particularly interesting time, given that, only 10 days ago, on the Saturday before last, when the England rugby team played against Romania, a country that has been castigated with equal vehemence by members of the royal family, the Prime Minister and hon. Members of all parties, not one voice of protest was heard, either from within the Chamber or from outside. Nothing was heard from those anti- sporting bodies that set themselves up to object to sport with South Africa.
Mr. Campbell rose --
Mr. Carlisle : I shall give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman later, although I must get on. He must accept that many people find it extremely strange that we can--and I believe that we should--play rugby against a country from behind the Iron Curtain of which there has been such recent vilification in the House, with Oppostion
Column 710Members using the phrase "that vile regime", but that not one word of protest against that sporting link was raised either by the hon. Gentleman's party, the Labour party or the Government and the party to which I belong.
Mr. Campbell : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Will he try to distinguish in his own mind, for the benefit of the House, between the actions of the Minister for Sport last week when he wrote to the Rugby Football Union and the actions of his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister towards the British Olympic Association in 1980?
Mr. Carlisle : I am glad that the hon. Gentleman raised that issue before the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) does so, because that will save another intervention. I agree that at that time many Conservative Members felt unhappy, just as my hon. Friend the then Minister for Sport must have felt unhappy, about the objection of the Government of the day, led by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, towards our teams going to Moscow. I have said before and I shall say again that probably the silliest political mistake that I have made was in following my right hon. Friend and my Government colleagues through the Lobby that evening. I have always said that, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point.
On other matters, I am totally behind my hon. Friends who are responsible for sport ; my argument with them is purely on this point, but it is regrettable that they have now aligned themselves to various bodies in the anti-South African brigade which they must find strange bedfellows.
Only an hour or so ago, as I came into the House, I met Mr. Sam Ramsamy who is the general secretary of SANROC, the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee, who is a charming man. He is a South African who has not been near the place for 15 years because he keeps refusing to go there. He runs an organisation that works on the theory that we should not have normal sport in an abnormal society. However, Mr. Ramsamy has found the ground somewhat cut away from him now because the founding father of that organisation, Dr. Dennis Brutus, who has reappeared miraculously from America, and who is a man of far greater stature than Mr. Ramsamy, is now beginning to say that, because of the great advance that has been made in the system of sport in South Africa--in so far as sport can advance within the system of apartheid--we should now be looking towards some form of contact. However, Mr. Ramsamy and SANROC continue to peddle the anti-South African line, being fuelled with funds from Eastern Europe, the World Council of Churches and any organisation that wants to support them. That is why I find it somewhat sad that my hon. Friends almost seem to have seen fit to support their line.
The other people who are affected by this are our friends in the Commonwealth, especially in relation to the Commonwealth games. That was one reason why I found the intervention of the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East so interesting, representing as he does a Scottish constituency. Many people are beginning to say, so be it if--just because British sportsmen and sportswomen choose to exercise what I repeat is their fundamental right of choice to participate in South Africa
Column 711in sports which, in many cases, are not represented in other countries--decide that because of that participation they do not wish to take part in the games themselves.
It was a tragedy that at Edinburgh last year, for all sorts of reasons, including the treatment received by Miss Zola Budd, who is a British citizen and who was accepted legitimately into this country-- [Laughter.] Opposition Member laugh, but I wonder whether they would have laughed if Miss Zola Budd had been black rather than white-- [Hon. Members :-- She would never have got into the country."]--and I wonder what the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) would have said. Be that as it may, the Commonwealth games went ahead and the losers were not those who took part in the wonderful competition and who achieved so much ; the losers were the black African countries. Their support comes from the Commonwealth and from the Commonwealth Secretariat, an office in London run by Sir Sonny Ramphal, who is, of course, a man of certain doubtful parentage from Guyana, on the basis of his attitudes towards the well-being of the Commonwealth and towards South Africa.
If the Commonwealth games can be played only on the basis of looking over one's shoulder the whole time to see whether someone is offending in relation to South Africa, which is a country without any connection with those games, something must be wrong somewhere. Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) rose --
Added to all that, there is the machinery of protest from the United Nations. Only recently the United Nations appointed yet another Sports Commission against Apartheid. Of course, it had certain difficulties in finding members. On 3 October 1988, the first meeting ended in failure because only eight nominations were received from various countries and the commission should have comprised 15 members. Later, however, it was decided to appoint a chairman and a vice-chairman. The representatives came from Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines and the Ukraine. They were noble gentleman in their own way but one begins to question their attitude to and interest in South Africa.
Time and time again, reference is made in this House and elsewhere to the United Nations blacklist, which must have been thought out in the middle of the night by certain people who have what I believe to be an evil intent towards the people of South Africa, whatever the colour of their skin, and especially to those who are sportsmen and women. However, the blacklist was passed by the United Nations and those sportsmen and sportswomen are then vilified wherever they go just because they have exercised their freedom of choice and their right to go to an area or a country where, as I shall explain, they believe that great progress has been made in sport in breaking down the constitution of apartheid.
For the sake of brevity, I shall refer to only two examples. The first refers to rugby which, as many hon. Members know, is almost a religion in South Africa. The South African Rugby Board has made tremendous progress in raising funds, especially in the rural areas, to make absolutely certain that those who play that sport in that country do so on the basis of being free from discrimination on the grounds of "race, colour and ethnic origin" as stated in the Gleneagles agreement. At no club