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Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Hastings and Rye): Will my right hon. Friend find some time soon for a debate on education, so that we can explore the refusal of the East Sussex Liberals to fund a teachers' pay award in full, when there is plenty of money in the budget to cover it, while at the same time they are frightening governors, teachers and parents into signing a petition demanding more taxpayers' money?
Mr. Edward O'Hara (Knowsley, South): Perhaps I may turn that into a cross-party call for an education debate, in the light of Government policy initiatives that emerged recently. Before Christmas, there was a much trumpeted and much welcomed, if belated, Government commitment to new money for nursery education. Last week, the Secretary of State for Education advised local authorities to fund the gap in their budgets by taking money out of pre-school education.
This week, a cessation of funding for the reading recovery scheme was announced, just at the time that the scheme is demonstrating its success in improving literary standards in schools. It is important--
Madam Speaker: Order. Perhaps the Whips ought to arrange seminars on how to put business questions, which are not meant to provide an opportunity for hon. Members to make statements first on their point of view. Their purpose is to ask why the business of the House cannot be changed to allow debate on a certain issue. Hon. Members are taking far too long to explain themselves.
Mr. Newton: A variety of important matters merit the attention of the House. I set down a number of them for debate next week, and at present I am not able to satisfy the request of the hon. Gentleman and of my hon. Friend for a debate on a different subject.
[ That this House notes the honourable Member for Leicester West, as Chairman of the Employment Select Committee, is interviewing leading industrialists and businessmen on their remuneration packages whilst at the same time offering these people his services on how to improve their public speaking and presentational skills; further notes that other services offered by the honourable Member for Leicester West include advice on making people redundant and serving on the Remuneration Committee of Ladbroke plc which awarded the Chairman of that company a salary of £583,000 per annum--£108,000 per annum more than the Chairman of British Gas plc--and in addition awarded five directors of the company 1.3 million share options worth £2.3 million; believes that these activities represent a conflict of
Column 474interest with his current position as Chairman of the Employment Select Committee; and calls on him to resign immediately. ] During the passage of trade union legislation, the Department of Employment received a letter from Ladrokes calling for the abolition of wages councils. Is the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Janner), who serves as a board director, opposed to abolition?
Mr. Newton: I saw a number of references in the press during the week to the position of the hon. and learned Gentleman who is Chairman of the Employment Select Committee. People will form their own views on that matter, which ultimately must be one for the hon. Gentleman's judgment of what is proper under the rules of the House.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington): May we debate next week the document "Open Government: Code of Practice on Access to Government Information"? I presume that the Leader of the House has read that document, so can he say whether all parliamentary answers given by Ministers meet the criteria in that code of practice?
Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam): Will my right hon. Friend consider a debate on local government spending? An issue of great importance to my Sutton constituents, who suffer under the yoke of a Liberal-controlled local authority, is that that authority plans to spend £150,000 on a new bus route, which is completely unpopular with local residents and will wreck their peace and quiet. They do not want that bus route, but want the money spent on social services and helping the elderly.
Mr. Newton: That sounds like a good example of the many local authorities which say that they do not have money to spend for purposes that the public want, but which spend money for purposes that the public do not want.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): May we have a statement on the privatisation of utilities? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, when the Tory Government privatised rain, it resulted in water board chiefs lining their pockets? We now know that an 83-year-old disabled ex-miner is being asked by a water board to pay £11.75 to have a tap washer fitted.
Mr. Newton: All those issues have been extensively ventilated over a long period, and no doubt some will be further ventilated in the first two days of next week, when the House debates the two Bills that I mentioned. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to make his point then.
Mr. Gary Streeter (Plymouth, Sutton): May we debate next week the serious issues arising from early-day motion 763, so that the House may decide whether to refer that matter to the Nolan committee for an assessment of the position of a Select Committee Chairman, when such a glaring conflict of interest has arisen?
Column 475Mr. Newton: My hon. Friend has raised an entirely legitimate point. I do not think that I can add to what I said about the rules of the House and the necessity both for the Chairman and for any Committee concerned to make a judgment about the application of those rules.
Mr. John Austin-Walker (Woolwich): Having heard what both the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister have said about the tragic death of Malcolm Murray, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the position. Next week, there will be written answers that will provide sufficient information for the House to take a view. In the light of the statement made today by the new Minister with responsibilities for the citizens charter--
"I find it astonishing that there was nowhere else in London where he could have been taken to. This just goes to show the need for a proper range of facilities within a reasonable distance"-- will the Leader of the House find time to arrange a debate, so that the Secretary of State for Health can answer questions about an appalling tragedy in London?
Mr. Newton: I cannot add to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and later I myself have said about the matter. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health is due to answer questions on Tuesday next.
Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley): Will my right hon. Friend find time next week to enable us to discuss the prison regime? I shall then have an opportunity to give my full support to the military-style boot camps that are so popular in the United States. Although we have become extremely tough on criminals, the debate for which I ask would reinforce to my constituents that we shall become tougher still on criminals. With the drilling, marching and forced running in all weathers that takes place with criminals in boot camps in the United States, reoffending has been cut from 60 per cent. to 13 per cent. We should have such a regime in this country as soon as possible.
Mr. Newton: I shall bring my hon. Friend's comments to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. I cannot promise an opportunity for an early debate on prison matters. As I have said on several occasions, they may fall to be considered when we have the results of some of the inquiries that are taking place.
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham): Will the Leader of the House provide time for an early debate on a Government announcement today that will have a serious impact on passenger transport in South Yorkshire? The Under- Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs has reversed--through a press release and not in a statement in the House--the recommendation of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission that would prevent the Mainline bus company in South Yorkshire from operating in the way it wants.
The decision flies in the face of what is called for by the local chamber of commerce, local organisations and Members in the area. It will mean more bus congestion and more pollution. Above all, it may threaten an employee share ownership company. Everyone in South Yorkshire believes that the decision has been sneaked out through a press release to stab in the front a successful and thriving company that is owned by its employees.
Column 476hon. Gentleman. I shall bring his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friends the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for Transport.
Mr. David Shaw (Dover): Will my right hon. Friend advise me whether we should be having a debate on, or a Select Committee investigation into, the number of Labour Members who are benefiting from share option schemes, the ways in which those Members are benefiting, and whether the benefiting goes from the very bottom to the very top of the Labour party?
Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley): Will the Leader of the House arrange a debate next week on the current state of political parties in Britain? When I arrived home in my constituency on Friday last, I found the following statement in the local newspaper:
"Top Tory quits over sleaze."
One of my constituents, Councillor Roy Newman, was the vice-chair of the Rother Valley constituency party. He has resigned because he believes that the party has lost its way, that leadership does not exist, that it is riddled with sleaze, and that, at the same time, the poor are becoming poorer while the rich are getting richer. I would like to express my constituent's thoughts as soon as possible.
Mr. Newton: I have already made reference to the debate next Wednesday on local government in Birmingham, in which one or two somewhat different perspectives on some of these matters may emerge. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman can work in any relevant remarks while remaining in order, but he might like to try.
Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere): May I support the call for a debate on education, which would unable us to debate assisted places, which is of great interest to hundreds of families in my constituency? In spite of cynical window dressing and talk of co-operation between the private and public sector, the Labour party proposes to abolish those assisted places, to the disadvantage of hundreds of low-income families in my constituency.
Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley): As the Leader of the House has been helpful in giving us a debate on the Commonwealth, I shall be equally helpful and suggest a debate next week on state funding of political parties.
In view of the report in today's edition of the Daily Record , which said that Tory party treasurer, Lord Hambro, returned from a fund-raising trip to Hong Kong empty-handed, the Tory party is in need of some assistance. I want to know why or how it is able to get a £14 million overdraft from the Royal Bank of Scotland, the chairman of which is Lord Younger of Prestwick--it does not have any collateral, does not own its
Column 477headquarters, and has no basis on which to get that loan--when some of my constituents cannot even get a loan of a few hundred quid from the Royal Bank?
Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow): May I remind my right hon. Friend of the conversation that he and I had a week last Friday and the letter that I subsequently wrote to him on 27 February concerning the establishment of the meat hygiene service, which is due to become operational on 1 April this year? Does my right hon. Friend consider it appropriate for the House to debate those matters, in the light of the fact that that new service will have a budget of £50 million? Because the House does not sit tomorrow, however, it will not be possible to give sufficient notice of the establishment of that service, and the necessary statutory instruments will not be able to be laid within the prescribed time. Does my right hon. Friend feel, as I do, that the House should be able to debate those important matters, not least because the approval of the House has already been assumed and staff have been appointed to that new service, offices have been taken on all around the country, and the whole industry is expecting it to be operational on 1 April, yet it has not technically been approved by the House?
Mr. Newton: I remember my conversation with my hon. Friend. I also have a copy of the letter and the fairly voluminous enclosures he sent me. I have not yet had the result of my inquiries on the points he raised, but I will of course come back to him as soon as possible.
Column 478urging a debate on early-day motion 763? The House has debated conflicts of interests of hon. Members before, but there can have been few greater conflicts of interest than that of the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) in his dual role of Chairman of the Employment Select Committee and principal of an employment consultancy that gives advice on how to make people redundant.
Mr. Newton: My hon. Friend's remarks, coming after those made earlier, do indicate some concern about those matters. I hope that that will be reflected on by the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I cannot say more than I have already said.
Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr): When the Leader of the House responded to the question of his hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw), who made an unwarranted smear on every Labour Member of Parliament but did not name anybody, he then tied in next week's debate on Birmingham with that smear.
Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Minister responding to next week's debate to come and tell us about the Tory leader of a council in the midlands who, it has recently been disclosed, has a prison record, and a Tory mayor in the midlands who was recently in gaol for rigging the electoral system? That is what we do not want in a proper debate in the House. We want to debate public probity and finances. I ask the Leader of the House to ensure that the debate is on a proper level and not the level, he indicated in his answer to the hon. Member for Dover.
Mr. Newton: The hon. Gentleman may wish to take part in the debate on Wednesday, and I am sure that it will be approached with proper seriousness by my right hon. and hon. Friends. But since, as the hon. Gentleman knows, I have considerable regard for him and I am frankly sorry to have upset him, I make it clear that I certainly intended, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Dover intended, no slur on him or any particular Member of Parliament.
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Yesterday, in the course of an exchange during the debate on the prevention and suppression of terrorism reported at column 373 of the Official Report , the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), having quoted me, went on to say: "Of course at that time he was not so contaminated with IRA/Sinn Fein".
My hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) sought to have the hon. Gentleman withdraw that comment, and Madam Deputy Speaker said:
"I think it was just about within the bounds of the way that we deal with things here".--[ Official Report , 8 March 1995; Vol. 256, c. 373.]
I find that a strange statement, for a number of reasons. In the seven years that I had the honour to represent my party on Northern Ireland matters, at no time, in any way whatever, did I have any dealings with the IRA or provisional Sinn Fein, unlike Her Majesty's Government. Such a comment about an appointed spokesman of the Labour party reflected also on two former leaders of my party and upon the fact that what I was advocating were the principles established by the Labour party conference and the national executive committee of the Labour party. They have been accused of being contaminated by IRA/Sinn Fein.
What is within the bounds of what we are allowed to say in the House? Membership of the IRA, a proscribed organisation, is subject to a period of imprisonment of up to 10 years. To address a meeting of three or more people soliciting support for or advocating the aims of the IRA
Column 480is also a punishable offence, in gaol or otherwise. That I am accused of having been involved in, and that was within the bounds accepted by Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not think that we can accept that.
Finally, with regard to etiquette of the House, that attack was made on me without any forewarning. I have written to the hon. Gentleman today telling him that I intended to make this statement, and, had he been in his place, I would have taken this opportunity to set out his record and responsibility for the many unhappinesses that have happened in Northern Ireland during the past 25 years.
Madam Speaker: Let me say at once, and far from the first time, that I deprecate very strongly indeed the use in debate of words which reflect on the probity of other Members. In that context, I have looked at the exchanges in the Official Report to which the hon. Member refers. I conclude that the phrase to which he objects was not so disorderly as to demand its immediate withdrawal. Nevertheless, for all that, I deprecate most strongly its use, and I repeat my general plea for good temper and moderation as characteristics of parliamentary language.
I say to all Members who participate in our debates, in terms that I think the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) may take note of, that we should remember the injunction of St. Paul to the Philippians:
"Let your moderation be known to all men."
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) is an experienced Member of the House, and he does not need my advice on the courses of action open to him. I hope that he will feel that I have dealt with the matter, although perhaps not in a way that is entirely satisfactory to him, in a sensitive manner. I appreciate all the work that he has done over the years on Northern Ireland, as do many of us in the House.
Order for Second Reading read.
More than 30 years ago, Hendrik Verwoerd took South Africa out of the Commonwealth--exited before being pushed--because of the apartheid policies of the then South Africa; so the return of South Africa to the Commonwealth last year is a cause for celebration in all Commonwealth countries.
The intervening 34 years were dark years for South Africa--years of isolation. It was isolated from the west because it offended human and democratic values, and isolated in Africa because of its treatment of Africans and others. But South Africa was not forgotten; we knew that change must come. Change has come, and there has been a special sense of joy throughout the Commonwealth at South Africa's decision to return to the family of the Commonwealth.
The main purpose of the Bill is to modify existing legislation to place South Africa on an equal footing with other Commonwealth countries. It involves purely technical amendments to a number of Acts in order to apply them to South Africa; those amendments are set out in detail in the schedule to the Bill. The immigration and electoral implications of South Africa's return to the Commonwealth have been dealt with separately by an Order in Council made in June last year, which added South Africa to the list of Commonwealth countries included in schedule 3 to the British Nationality Act 1981.
We are determined to do all we can to support the reconstruction of post- apartheid South Africa. Immediately after the South African elections last year, Britain committed a total of £100 million of aid to South Africa. We gave support to the reconstruction and development programme-- support welcomed by South Africa.
Welcoming my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to South Africa last year, President Mandela made it clear that
"we in South Africa, and I refer both to my government and the people as a whole, are particularly thankful for the commitment shown by your government to help us deal comprehensively with the legacy of apartheid".
The Prime Minister and President Mandela have agreed the areas of focus for our bilateral aid. They are in education, health, supporting good governance, including local government, encouraging the development of business and enterprise, and support for agriculture. Our assistance to South Africa is driven by the needs of the South African people.
We have offered help with the arrangements for the local elections in October this year, and with the regional integration of the South African police service. We have also offered co-operation in the fight against drug trafficking. About a third of our aid funds for South Africa are currently spent on education. Our assistance is intended to increase access for disadvantaged South
Column 482Africans to education and training opportunities. We have a clear commitment to supporting South Africa through our aid budget. To succeed, however, South Africa needs more than aid; it needs investment and trade. The United Kingdom is the largest overseas investor in South Africa: our investments have an estimated book value of £2 billion, and a market value estimated at between £8 billion and £10 billion. In July last year, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade led a party of British business men to South Africa, and launched a trade and investment campaign called "Opportunity South Africa"--a campaign to include seminars, trade fairs and further high-level missions to promote investment in South Africa.
Funds will come from both private and public sectors. There will be support for small businesses, and exchanges between UK industry and South African postgraduate students. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade announced that an additional £1 billion would be available in ECGD cover.
My right hon. Friend also announced a British investment promotion scheme to encourage more small and medium-sized UK companies to invest in South Africa by providing grants towards the cost of pre-investment feasibility studies and the training of local employees. One part of the campaign, for example, is the Soweto skills initiative. Young entrepreneurs from Soweto will come to Britain to gain management experience with British companies. Forty trainees are coming to Britain this year; six have already arrived. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, on his visit to South Africa last September, took with him a further team of senior business men. During his visit, he and President Mandela signed an investment promotion and protection agreement, which is aimed at encouraging investment by British companies in South Africa. In January, a full-scale trade promotion campaign for this year was launched, called "Britain means business". The campaign will include two high-profile commercial events in South Africa during the year. First, immediately following Her Majesty the Queen's state visit later this month, a series of seminars will be held in Cape Town: they will cover invisibles, education and health care. At the same time, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade will be in South Africa, accompanied by a team of senior United Kingdom business people, to meet South African Ministers and business people to discuss urban regeneration, airport development, and electricity distribution to ensure a guaranteed supply of electricity to the townships.
The transition to a democratic society which is no longer based on the principle of racial discrimination requires a sound economic and financial basis. We are determined to do all we can to support investment in projects and people in South Africa.
There is a steady strengthening of relations between Britain and South Africa, and that is warmly welcomed on both sides. At the end of next week, Her Majesty the Queen, the Head of the Commonwealth, will pay a state visit to South Africa, the first such visit for nearly 50 years. That visit, which I know is eagerly awaited in South Africa, will set the seal on the revival of an old and mutually beneficial friendship between our two countries.
Column 483South Africa and its people have triumphed over division and racial injustice. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister concluded in his speech to Parliament in Cape Town:
"South Africa has come out of the storm and into the calm, out of isolation into fellowship, out of division into unity".
South Africa is forging a single, non-racial, democratic nation at peace with itself. That is a formidable challenge for the years ahead. The road ahead will have dangers, but South Africans have already travelled the greater distance on their journey. They have the full support of the British Government and the British people as they work towards the goal they have set themselves of regeneration and reconstruction. South Africa's re-entry to the Commonwealth, her coming home to where she belongs, should also provide a stimulus for the Commonwealth family of one third of the world's nations. The emergence of the new South Africa is a particular cause for rejoicing here and across the Commonwealth. I commend the Bill to the House.
Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): I confess that it is quite a novel experience for me to support without hesitation the Second Reading of a Government Bill whose brief text reflects a historic event--the return of a multiracial South Africa to the family of the Commonwealth.
On 20 July last year at a service in Westminster Abbey, South Africa was welcomed back into the Commonwealth. It was fitting that on a day of such celebration the congregation was addressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man who somehow managed to endure the darkest days of apartheid without losing either his spirit or his smile.
Archbishop Tutu compared the event with the tale of the prodigal son. He said that South Africa had left the Commonwealth in 1961 and had squandered her riches during the years of apartheid, but that the international struggle and the pressure of her people had finally brought the country back to its senses. He added:
"like a prodigal she has returned home".
The Commonwealth which South Africa left consisted of only 11 nations. Now its 51st member, South Africa, can look forward to a range of benefits, including wider trading opportunities, which will benefit South Africa and other countries. Nigeria, Malaysia and India are among those countries which have sent trade delegations to South Africa in the past year, and they have all had an increase in trade. South Africa's emphasis on regional co-operation as part of its foreign policy is in marked contrast to the policies that were pursued under apartheid. It will certainly assist in bringing stability to southern Africa as a whole, thus benefiting its Commonwealth neighbours in the region. On the level of co-operation between peoples, we shall now have the pleasure of South Africa's participation in the Commonwealth games, which are traditionally known as the friendly games.
For those reasons among many others we rejoice in South Africa's return to the Commonwealth. That means, of course, that there is no longer an ambassador at South Africa house. The new high commissioner, Mendi Msimang, is the former African National Congress representative in the United Kingdom. He has spent a
Column 484considerable amount of his time over the years standing in the street outside South Africa house in the company of thousands of other people. I am sure that all hon. Members will wish to welcome him to his new position.
In May, just three months before that service at Westminster Abbey, I had the privilege to witness, along with other hon. Members, the first free election in South Africa's history. That was a truly remarkable event. It was a tremendous experience to be there. We watched in awe as long queues of patient voters waited for hours, often in hot and cramped conditions, without any opportunity even to have a drink of water, and determined to express their collective relief, enthusiasm and expectation at the end of apartheid. That was a defining moment in South Africa's history.
That was my second visit to South Africa. My first, as a journalist, was in 1975. The country I then visited was different. I witnessed hatred, intolerance and immorality. I saw poverty of staggering proportions in what is still one of the richest countries in the world. I talked to black people in the homelands who watched their children die from measles because they could not afford the vaccine to treat the measles. I saw hospitals in which the surgeon had to send instruments 30 miles down the road to be sterilised. I saw women scratching a living from the soil, forcibly parted from their husbands, who had to stay in the towns. That was the reality of homeland life in South Africa.
At the same time, however, I saw courage and fortitude. I visited the Kwazulu legislative assembly, where black person after black person went to the microphone to declare that they were prepared to die for their freedom. That courage, as well as the humanity and extraordinary lack of bitterness among so many black South Africans, are the key to the changes taking place in South Africa today. It is just five years since President Nelson Mandela was released from prison. The intervening years have brought changes so vast and so irreversible that the South Africa of old seems to belong to a different age. Despite the centuries of oppression, and against the expectations of even the most optimistic forecasts, a sense of unity and progress has emerged among enemies to transform our ideas of what is possible in politics.
We salute the forbearance and vision of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Thabo Mbeki and their colleagues. We pay tribute to Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Joe Slovo and others, including the many thousands of nameless South Africans of all colours who helped to fight the evils of racism.
Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North): While the hon. Lady is giving congratulations and salutations to those people, would she find room--which she may have planned to do later in her speech--to salute the courage of F.W. de Klerk, who, in some cases, has stood out almost as a pariah in his own community? He took a step that was alien to many members of his party and the white community. He should perhaps be equally congratulated by the hon. Lady as she gives her salutations.
Mrs. Clwyd: I am pleased to add my congratulations to President de Klerk. The reality that he recognised was the mark of a true statesman. I wish that the hon. Gentleman had played such an honourable part in the many debates that have taken place in the House over the
Column 485years. We remember his role during the years when so many other people were pointing out the evils of apartheid and fighting those evils in the House.
Mr. Carlisle: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Lady perhaps impugns or, indeed, questions my honour in this place. In criticising the honour of another hon. Member, was she was within parliamentary procedure on the conduct of debates? She did mention the word "honour" in relation to my attitude to debates.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris): As I heard the hon. Lady, she did not say that the hon. Gentleman was dishonourable. She questioned the contribution that he had made. On balance, there has probably been a fair debate, but I hope that no comment of an adverse nature to any hon. Member will be made. Hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber hold strong views. The Bill has clearly united all hon. Members. I hope that the debate can continue in that context.
Mrs. Clwyd: We are all encouraged by wider developments in the region. The past year has seen successful democratic elections in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Botswana, together with the restoration of democracy in Lesotho and the signing of the Angolan peace agreement. Those events give us cause for optimism that real progress will be made in South Africa. At the same time, the fragility of the peace in Angola serves as a reminder that we must also be wary.
Labour Members are proud of the role that we played in the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. My hon. Friends the Members for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) and for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) took positions of leadership in the Anti-Apartheid Movement, which mobilised thousands of committed people in that struggle. My hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor) also took an active role in that campaign. I should also like to pay tribute to the role of Bishop Trevor Huddlestone.
The Commonwealth played a proud part. The apartheid regime engaged in the systematic use of armed forces and economic destabilisation against majority-ruled states in southern Africa. It backed terrorism elsewhere, yet the Commonwealth Heads of Government remained steadfast in their support for the liberation forces in South Africa.
In 1986, the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group produced a report supporting sanctions against the apartheid regime. Membership of that group included a former Conservative Prime Minister of Australia and a former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, who had considerable economic interests in South Africa as chairman of the Standard Chartered bank.
Unfortunately, our Government ignored that report. For a long time, they refused contact with members of the African National Congress, whom they regarded as terrorists. Despite the intransigence of Baroness Thatcher's Government, the Commonwealth continued to play an active role in the ending of apartheid, right up until the final days of that hated regime.