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House of Commons

Wednesday 24 July 1991

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]


London Underground (Safety Measures) Bill

[Lords] (By Order) Order for Third Reading read.

To be read the Third time on Tuesday 15 October.

King's Cross Railways Bill

(By Order)

Order for consideration, as amended, read.

To be considered on Tuesday 15 October.

East Coast Main Line (Safety) Bill

(By Order) Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [13 May], That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Debate further adjourned till Tuesday 15 October.

King's Cross Railways Bill

Motion made,

That the Promoters of the King's Cross Railways Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;

That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House ;

That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session?

That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read) and, having been amended by the Committee in the present Session, shall be ordered to lie upon the Table ;

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That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;

That these Orders be Standing Order of the House.-- [The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Hon. Members : Object.

British Railways

(No. 3) Bill-- [Lords]


That the Promoters of the British Railways (No. 3) Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office no later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;


That, if that Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session ; Ordered,

That, as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed) ; Ordered, That the Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ; Ordered, That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ; Ordered, That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ; Ordered,

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ; Ordered,

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House-- [The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

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Oral Answers to Questions



1. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to visit Cuba to discuss security in the Caribbean.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones) : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has no plans to do so.

Mr. McAllion : I am sure that the Secretary of State regrets that answer almost as much as I do. Does the Minister of State agree that the only basis for security in the Caribbean is respect for the sovereign independence of all the countries in that area? Will he therefore join me in deploring the US-backed campaign of destabilisation against the Government of Cuba? Will he tell the Americans that their proper role in the Caribbean is not to break international law and undermine legitimate Governments but to show respects for those Governments by entering into constructive dialogues with them on the way forward towards peaceful coexistence?

Mr. Garel-Jones : The United States is not using or threatening to use force against Cuba. In May, President Bush laid down the conditions for improvements in relations in a message to the Cuban community of Miami. He said that Cuba should hold fully free and fair elections under international supervision. I recognise that Fidel Castro and his regime remain a constant attraction to the hon. Gentleman and many of his hon. Friends. After all, he is the last remaining member of what might be called the international Militant Tendency who has not allowed his membership to lapse.

Mr. Forman : Would not one of the best contributions to greater security in the Caribbean--this is a point that my right hon. Friend could easily make were he to visit Cuba--be for the Soviet Union, now that the cold war is over and so-called peaceful coexistence is a thing of the past, to wind down its excessive aid of all kinds to Cuba, which still includes some military assistance?

Mr. Garel-Jones : It will not surprise the House to know that the Soviet Union is reassessing not only its position internally but its relationship with Cuba. Opposition Members should start to do likewise.

Southern Africa

3. Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held recently with other southern African leaders, in addition to the African National Congress, the Pan-Africanist Congress, Inkatha leaders and the President of South Africa.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd) : In recent months I have met President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Dr. Savimbi of

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Angola. During my recent visit to South Africa I met a range of leaders, including some from the Democratic party.

Rev, Martin Smyth : I welcome the conversations that the Secretary of State has been having. However, if he has been meeting a range of leaders, from the ANC to Dr. Savimbi, does he agree that it may be time that Ministers met people such as President Mangope of Bophuthatswana, on the ground that moderate people as well as those who engage in terrorism should be listened to?

Mr. Hurd : I agree that a wide range of opinion is necessary and I have thought about the hon. Gentleman's point. The trouble is that Bophuthatswana is a product of a so-called grand apartheid policy which we have never accepted and it would not be sensible for Ministers to meet its president at a time when that whole policy is being changed.

Sir Peter Blaker : Would my right hon. Friend care to tell the House his reaction to reports that the South African Government have been giving aid to Inkatha at the expense of the ANC?

Mr. Hurd : Like everyone in the House, I am troubled by those reports. This morning I telephoned the South African Foreign Minister and spoke to him for more than half an hour to express our concern. I urged that the South African Government should be clear and open about what had occurred and that for the future they should make it clear that old policies had been discarded and that the policing of the country would be politically impartial and effective. In reply, Mr. Botha assured me that there had been no connivance by the South African Government at violence in the townships originated by Inkatha or anybody else.

Mr. Robert Hughes : Although the Foreign Secretary and I may disagree on many things, does he at least agree that it is absolutely imperative for the peace process to proceed? That being so, will he go even further than his conversation this morning with the South African Foreign Minister and say clearly to President de Klerk that the covert funding of Inkatha and the covert and overt collusion by the police and defence forces in the violence in the townships greatly endanger the peace process and must stop? Will he make it clear that there will be no question of this country or any other lifting sanctions until this process is completely clear?

Mr. Hurd : It is certainly true that there has been a setback to confidence in the process which, as the hon. Gentleman rightly says, must proceed, because there is no alternative. As I have said, it is important for the South African Government to be clear about the past and they must re-establish confidence about the future policing of the country.

Mr. William Powell : My right hon. Friend may be aware that his answer to the supplementary question by the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) will be received with some disappointment in parts of South Africa. Would not my right hon. Friend consider it appropriate for members of his staff in the embassy in Pretoria to talk to Bophuthatswana and the other South African homelands, if only to tell them that their future

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very much depends on the political settlement that must be made in South Africa in due course and that they must join in the process?

Mr. Hurd : I welcome the opportunity to make that clear, but I am not sure that talks are needed to do that. Plainly, the future of the people living in the so-called independent homelands must be considered together with the future of all South Africans.

Mr. Kaufman : Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the revelations that have been admitted and which have caused great perturbation within the South African Government, about their funding of Inkatha, must cast a very worrying light on the good faith of the South African Government in their negotiations with the African National Congress? The Foreign Secretary's response to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) was simply not precise enough. Does not he now agree that it would be folly precipitately to lift sanctions as long as the good faith of the South African Government remains in doubt?

Mr. Hurd : I am sure that we have been right to move on sanctions in the way that we have. We are talking not about the rewarding of this or that party, but about nation-building in the new South Africa. Anyone who has been to the townships, as I did recently, sees what needs to be done ; that can be done only by investment which, in turn, can come only from economic growth. That is as plain as a pikestaff.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the financing of Inkatha. Such funding as has so far been declared and admitted belongs to an earlier stage and was brought to an end in the early part of last year. Much more serious are the allegations of connivance with violence. When I was in South Africa, Mr. Mandela spoke to me with clearly genuine passion on the subject. That is why it is crucial for the South African Government to repeat the assurance that was given to me today that they have not connived at such violence. It is also crucial that the policing of the country should be in a different tradition from that which President de Klerk's Government inherited.

South Africa

4. Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution Britain is making towards encouraging increased educational opportunities for black people in South Africa.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mrs. Lynda Chalker) : Of our growing bilateral aid programme for black South Africans of more than £9 million this year, about 70 per cent. is being spent on initiatives to increase educational opportunities for black people. Those include some 1,200 bursaries for black students attending tertiary courses in Britain and South Africa. We are also running programmes in South Africa to improve the teaching of basic literacy, English, mathematics and science.

Mr. Coombs : Will my right hon. Friend confirm that although the adult literacy rate in South Africa is, at 71 per cent., almost double that in the rest of the African continent and although spending on education for black South Africans has risen by about 30 per cent. per year in

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the past 10 years, compulsory schooling for children in South Africa is still not mandatory? Will Her Majesty's Government press the South African Government on that? What other measures do the Government have to improve the training of black South Africans upon which their economic and educational development depends?

Mrs. Chalker : We regard the education of all South Africans as imperative, particularly those black South Africans who have for so long been denied education. The South African Foreign Minister and I discussed that earlier in the year. We are also increasing the amount of help that we give to the technikons, the technical colleges, because so many young people there need the technical ability to apply the knowledge that they have gained. I particularly praise the Peninsula technikon and the others to which we are giving many bursaries.

Mr. Hain : I welcome the Minister's statement on educational provision, but will she condemn in forthright language the behaviour of South African Cabinet Ministers who have organised millions of pounds of slush money to divide and destroy and to create conflict in the black community and have, with the same objective, promoted shadowy forces within the South African defence force and the peace force? Does she agree that President de Klerk's reputation as a man of credibility and honour has been destroyed by that shadowy episode?

Mrs. Chalker : We have no reason to believe that President de Klerk is not entirely serious and direct in carrying out his promised reforms. There is no doubt that he has to tackle a legacy of apartheid. He has to obtain the agreement of all parties on a new constitution. On the particular matters that the hon. Gentleman raises, I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said other than to say that there is an urgent need to help black South Africans with investment for their education and jobs--and that we shall do.

Mr. Speaker : I remind hon. Members that this question is about educational opportunities.

Mrs. Ann Winterton : Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the major stumbling blocks to members of the black communities taking up educational opportunities is the fact that they have to be taught and have to learn in three different languages--initially, quite properly, in their mother tongue and then in Afrikaans and English? Will she use all her influence to ensure that English, being an international language, is treated as the main language in South Africa? Will she further ensure that we give all the technical help that we can towards education so that members of the black communities can use that technical knowledge in assisting the future of their country?

Mrs. Chalker : As my hon. Friend will be aware, I cannot insist on what is taught, but, as all our help is for basic literacy and for the teaching of English, mathematics and science, as I said in the main answer, she can be assured that, in total co-operation with the South African Government, we are doing our best to enhance the teaching of English from the earliest possible age, because that is the language which South Africans, black and white, will need in the international world of the future. My hon. Friend will have heard what I said about technical education in answer to an earlier question.

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Mr. Grocott : Does not the Minister understand that what is fundamentally required in South Africa is not any number of well-meaning and well-intentioned developments for the social system, but the right of black people to vote? That is what the demand has been for the last quarter of a century. Any statement about apartheid being at an end is meaningless until they have that opportunity.

Mrs. Chalker : As you reminded us, Mr. Speaker, this question is about education. Anybody who has seen the lack of education facilities in the townships will know why we believe that education is absolutely crucial. Of course, the next stage is constitutional talks and we shall do all that we can to foster them.

Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe

5. Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the forthcoming CSCE conference in Moscow on the human dimension.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hogg) : We plan to send a delegation to the CSCE conference in Moscoon the human dimension, subject to developments in the Soviet Union between now and September. Participation in the conference would enable us to press for further improvements in the human rights issues that cause us concern.

Mr. Atkinson : As the conference is less than seven weeks away, will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that he has received cast-iron assurances from the Soviet authorities that representatives of the international human rights organisations and other non-governmental organisations will enjoy the same access to this conference as they did in Copenhagen last year? Is he aware of recent worrying reports that several established Soviet human rights organisations have been told that they will not have access to the conference?

Mr. Hogg : I cannot give my hon. Friend the confirmation that he seeks, but, like him, I attach considerable importance to the openness of the conference. It is very important that NGOs should have same free access to the conference and to the delegates as they had in Paris and Copenhagen. We shall continue to press the Soviet Government on that point and to monitor their response.

Dr. Kim Howells : Does the Minister agree that there is no more important human dimension to our relationship with the Soviet Union and the newly democratised countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary than ensuring some political stability, which will derive from economic stability and from the changes that we all hope will be made sooner rather than later? Does he further agree that more needs to be done to ensure that the Russians are able to buy the food surpluses of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia and that by helping the Soviets we shall solve many problems at one stroke?

Mr. Hogg : I certainly accept that we shall not achieve long-lasting political reform in any of those countries, especially in the Soviet Union, without sustainable economic improvement. One cannot speak of western countries placing large sums of money in, for example, the

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Soviet Union. We have a role in integrating the Soviet Union into the western economy, in transferring information and technical know-how and in encouraging investment. But we must be certain that the Soviet Union not only intends to carry out the economic restructuring that is necessary but is in a position to do so.

Sir Michael Marshall : In the work of the CSCE on human rights, will my hon. and learned Friend assure me that he will continue to watch closely the development of the CSCE parliamentary assembly and its relationship with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which has much expertise on human rights?

Mr. Hogg : I agree with my hon. Friend and I can give that commitment.

Mr. Robertson : In forming a judgment on human rights in the Soviet Union, does the Minister accept that legal civil rights are an important test--but only one test--of human rights in that country? Equally important are people's ability to vote in elections and the construction of a parliamentary process and of lasting democratic institutions. In that context, will the Minister explain why the valuable initiative that was launched by the Foreign Secretary more than a year ago to create a foundation that would allow the British political parties to work with and help the new democracies in the Soviet Union and central and eastern Europe has achieved absolutely nothing? Many other countries have been successfully involving themselves, to their great benefit.

Mr. Hogg : We have put much work into the creation of the institution that the hon. Gentleman has in mind. Indeed, we have a fairly elegant creation of our own in mind. There is a little more work to be done to it. I look forward to being in a position to reveal it, but if Opposition Members suppose that they will have public moneys to dish out to their friends they have another think coming.

Mrs. Currie : Am I right in thinking that, as the economy of the Soviet Union goes into substantial collapse, two features of that country are still intact? One is the red army and the other is the KGB, which seems to be spawning clones in other republics in the Soviet Union. Now that the central Government is much weaker, can my hon. and learned Friend guide us as to who is in charge of those institutions and whose finger will be on the nuclear button in the 1990s?

Mr. Hogg : We are seeing a fundamental transition of power in the Soviet Union. Over the next 10 years or so, there will be a complete change in the shape of that country. I should be surprised if all the constituent republics remain within the union. I am sure that much power will be devolved to the republics. That will inevitably dilute the authority and power of the KGB and the red army.

British Virgin Islands

6. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had any recent discussions with representatives of the British Virgin Islands.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd) : I

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had discussions with the Honourable Lavity Stoutt, Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands, when he visited London in March 1991 and also when I visited the BVI between 20 and 22 May.

Mr. Bennett : Will the Minister confirm that there was no consultation with the elected representatives about the appointment of the new governor? Is that the right way for the Government to behave?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Consultation took place with the locally elected representatives. I know the governor-designate, Mr. Peter Penfold, well. He has a supreme qualification for that appointment, in that he is personally committed to and fond of the Virgin Islands and is committed to their welfare and progress. I hope that he receives a warm reception when he goes to the islands.

Kurdish Leader

7. Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to meet Mr. Talabani.

Mr. Hurd : We remain in close touch with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership. I have no plans to meet Mr. Talabani at present, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister hopes to meet him later this month.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : When Ministers meet Mr. Talabani, will they make it clear that the only reason why London and Washington are considering partially raising sanctions is that the western powers have failed miserably to fund properly UNICEF's programmes of humanitarian relief in Iraq under resolution 688? Instead of partially raising those sanctions, would not it be far better to defreeze Iraq's multi-billion dollar assets in the west and use those resources to fund Iraq's requirements for humanitarian relief?

Mr. Hurd : That is a highly complicated question, as the hon. Gentleman knows. There are many claims on the assets. The point that we are trying to tackle arises from the reports of Prince Sadruddin and others about shortages of food and medicines in Iraq. There are no sanctions on sending to Iraq, through the sanctions committee, medicines or food for humanitarian purposes, but the question is how they should be paid for. If we can devise--it is still an "if"--a scheme by which a limited amount of oil revenue can be spent and the proceeds fully devoted to that purpose, that is worth considering.

Mr. Bellingham : When my right hon. Friend meets Mr. Talabani, will he remind him that, had it not been for the decisiveness shown by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and by my right hon. Friend, the allies' humanitarian aid effort would not have got off the ground? Obviously, that aid has saved thousands of lives. What aid is going to the Kurds to help them to rebuild villages in their territory?

Mr. Hurd : A lot of help is going through the United Nations to the Kurds in the north of Iraq. We have not ended our efforts to reassure them. As my hon. Friend knows, a small allied rapid reaction force remains in Turkey. Yesterday, I had discussions in Ankara with President Ozal about that matter and I am satisfied that the arrangements for that force, with Turkish participation, are well in hand.

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Mr. Winnick : Was President Bush absolutely right when he said that the international community's quarrel is with the criminal dictator who rules Iraq, not with the people? Is not it essential to try as much as possible to give aid and assistance so that millions of people do not suffer even more? What effective steps can be taken so that the partial lifting of sanctions helps the people of Iraq rather than the criminal dictator's war machine? As long as Saddam Hussein remains in power he will present a great danger to the neighbouring states.

Mr. Hurd : The answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, which is a valid one, is to devise a scheme--if we can--that ensures that the total of any proceeds from a limited sale of oil goes to purposes approved by the United Nations and that it is not left to the whim or discretion of the Baghdad regime.

South Africa

8. Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government proposes to take to assist towards progress in achieving democracy on a non-racial basis in South Africa.

Mr. Hurd : We will continue to encourage all parties to begin talks on a new constitution for South Africa as soon as possible. We are helping the black opposition parties to take part in shaping the new democracy.

Mr. Hughes : I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Recalling what he has already said this afternoon--that a movement towards democracy in South Africa has to be underpinned by an expansion in its economy--does he agree that if sanctions against South Africa are to be progressively lifted and if the country is to have access to international funds, the time available to the South African Government is not extensive--indeed, it is limited? It depends on what they do inside their country whether the international community continues to have faith that the South African Government will produce the democracy that we all want.

Mr. Hurd : I agree. What has happened so far is that the legal pillars of apartheid have been abolished. What now has to happen is multi- party constitutional talks to move towards a democratic constitution on the basis of one man one vote. At the same time, South Africans have to begin building a new nation and coping with the legacy of apartheid and all the poverty that went with it. That is the argument for investment, for economic growth and for wellwishers towards black South Africans encouraging, from now on, the building of a new nation--instead of thinking of new punitive measures.

Mr. Tony Banks : Does not everything revolve around achieving one person one vote in South Africa? Will the Foreign Secretary admit that until universal suffrage is achieved in South Africa and blacks have the vote there can be no question of dropping sanctions or of admitting South Africa to the civilised community of nations?

Mr. Hurd : I disagree. One man one vote is the basis on which state President de Klerk is proceeding--that is the purpose of the constitutional talks--but saying that there should be no investment and no growth between now and then would mean that on the day when there is one man

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one vote in South Africa the country will be impoverished way beyond what is necessary. It is now and not then that we and the South African Government should start rebuilding South Africa.

Sir George Gardiner : Will any aid that the Government give to any party or racial group in South Africa be made conditional on that party or group remaining part of the constitutional talks to achieve democracy in that country?

Mr. Hurd : Certainly, the help that we give in the political process is designed to equip those whom we are helping to take part in the democratic process. That is the whole purpose of it.

Mr. Anderson : The Foreign Secretary has recently travelled in South Africa. If he had opened his ears he would surely have heard that the effectiveness of any contribution that we can make to democracy-building has been much undermined because of the British Government's total identification with the white minority Government. Will he now seek to reduce some of that considerable damage to British interests, first by consulting the representatives of the majority in South Africa and, secondly, by ensuring that Britain does not take the lead in the EEC and in the Commonwealth in the destruction of sanctions?

Mr. Hurd : I sometimes wonder why nice people like the hon. Gentleman persist in living in such a time warp where South Africa is concerned. He can have no conception of what Mr. Mandela and other ANC leaders have told me and many others about the British aid programme in South Africa which, at £9.5 million, makes us the biggest donor of the lot. The money is overwhelmingly devoted to helping young people, especially in the townships. I have been warmly thanked for that. Of course, we consult the ANC about where it should go and when the ANC told us that it was time to relax the sporting sanction against cricket, we went along with it and helped it to achieve that.

Mr. Colvin : Does my right hon. Friend agree that as he attaches so much importance to these constitutional talks, it is extremely important that the state of Bophuthatswana participates in those talks, whatever he may think of the status of that state? Surely, if he wants to see what South Africa may be like after reaching the free society of non-racial democracies, he has to go no further than Bophuthatswana, which has been free of apartheid for many years.

Mr. Hurd : I do not think that many people would accept that Bophuthatswana is the model for the future of South Africa. I have no disrespect for its leader and there is nothing personal in this, but, for the reasons that I have already given, I do not believe that it would be right to enter into conversations with him.

Dalai Lama

9. Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now meet the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so.

Mr. Eastham : May I express my appreciation to the two diplomats who visited the Drapchi prison in Tibet to see 89

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political prisoners? As the Chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs has recommended that we recognise the Dalai Lama as a marker for peace, democracy and human rights, conditions which could hardly be said to exist in China at present, why do not the Government change their policy?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We, too, are grateful to the two British diplomats who visited Tibet in July. They visited the prison in question, but were unable to meet any prisoners. More generally, they commented that there was severe resentment among Tibetans about the presence of Chinese, but there were no obvious signs of tension on the streets of Lhasa. Of course, we raise the subject of human rights with the Chinese at every possible opportunity. For example, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State emphasised our concern to the Chinese Foreign Minister and the general secretary on a visit to China in April. However, the Dalai Lama has no plans to visit Britain at present so the hon. Gentleman's question is hypothetical.

Mr. Adley : While the cultural revolution throughout China in the 1970s was quite ghastly, does my hon. Friend recognise that the few of us who have recently been to Tibet--I can see only one of them in the Chamber now--saw no sign of tension in the streets of Lhasa? Furthermore, contradictory to the propaganda put out by the Dalai Lama, there was visible and open observation of the Buddhist religion on every street corner. Therefore, will my hon. Friend continue to rely on the advice from our embassy in Peking about the best way to deal with these sensitive matters?

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