Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Press Conference at Vancouver Commonwealth Summit

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Editorial comments:

Around 1600-1700 local time; relayed live to Britain around midnight.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 6321
Themes: Industry, Monetary policy, Trade, Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Commonwealth (general), Commonwealth (Rhodesia-Zimbabwe), Commonwealth (South Africa), Defence (Falklands), Terrorism, Executive, Law & order, British policy towards South Africa

Prime Minister

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I will make a comparatively brief opening statement.

This has been my fifth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and I am grateful to the Canadian Government for hosting it and for making such excellent arrangements.

We have done some useful and productive work. I had in mind, for instance, our Declaration on Trade and Agriculture, which reaffirms the Commonwealth determination to resist protectionism and to make a success of the new GATT round of multilateral trade negotiations; also our Statement on Distance Learning, that is learning from television and video, which is an area where there is a great deal of scope for Commonwealth nations to help each other, but inevitably, attention has focussed on two main issues, South Africa and Fiji and I will say a word about both of them.

First, Fiji: I think we were all very saddened by the events in Fiji. We have always had a Fijian representative at our meetings and he has always played a valuable part. Fiji has made a very great contribution in such areas as international peace-keeping under the United Nations, and Fiji's decision to break the link with the Crown was finally reached in the course of our meeting. [end p1]

Under the Commonwealth conventions, when a country which has recognised the Queen as Head of State becomes a republic, it has to reapply for membership of the Commonwealth. Of course, there is nothing very extraordinary in a republic being a member of the Commonwealth—there are twenty-six of them. Nor, for that matter, a military regime—there are four of them who are members of the Commonwealth.

But I think that most of us—and this certainly applies to Britain—wanted to find a way to keep open the option of Commonwealth membership for Fiji and that is in effect what we were able to do. We hope that over the coming months an acceptable arrangement will be found in Fiji which preserves their country's tradition for democracy and enables it to make a successful application for Commonwealth membership.

We are certainly ready to offer help and advice to make that possible and, of course, such advice may come best from Fiji's neighbours in the Pacific and in South East Asia. So we have avoided hasty action and reached what I said in my opening speech I hoped would be our decision, namely not to turn our backs on a country at its moment of greatest need. I think this is a good decision and Britain certainly played quite a leading part in securing it.

Then, South Africa: As you know, there is no difference between any of the countries present at the Commonwealth on the need to get rid of apartheid. The difference comes in ways of how to do it. [end p2]

You will all have read the Statement which has been issued and although it is long it does not in fact contain a single additional measure or sanction against South Africa. So far as Britain is concerned, we believe that sanctions would only harden attitudes rather than promote progress, and I would quote you a comment from a very respected figure, Alan Paton, author of “Cry, The Beloved Country” , when he said: “A second and lesser reason for the recent election result in South Africa was the ill-advised sanctions campaign of the West” (the first one of course was security—the second the ill advised sanctions campaign of the West). That view has been echoed by Helen Suzman in articles which she has written.

More widely, I take some encouragement from the growing realisation on the part of many Commonwealth countries first, that the change in South Africa will be a long drawn-out process; and second, that the momentum for change must come within South Africa. I think that is a positive change.

I am not surprised that some countries now realise the practical difficulties for themselves of sanctions. At the time of the London meeting, we thought that some of them would find it hard or impossible to undertake the measures which they had agreed, so I think I would sum it up by saying that while many countries inevitably remain bound by their earlier statements and commitments to sanctions, the real importance of the Statement which we have agreed this time is the implicit recognition in it that further progress cannot be made down that path. [end p3]

We have also agreed on the importance of aid to the front-line states and to Mozambique and here, of course, Britain is doing more, I think, than any other Commonwealth country. You may say that we are a richer country—and we are—but we are using it to do more.

The details are in the little booklet which I have which I think you have seen and which Sir Geoffrey Howe is very conveniently carrying. It is all here. If you have not got it, we would love you to have a copy and would like you to read it very carefully. The details are there, but it totals something like one billion United States dollars over the past five years. That is aid to the Southern African countries.

I spoke in my opening speech of the need for tolerance of different viewpoints of the Commonwealth. I think our meeting which has just finished shows that this does exist, even if sensitivities do sometimes come to the surface.

It has been a good meeting—if an undramatic one—which has underlined the continued value of the Commonwealth to all its members. [end p4]

Nicholas Ashford (The Independent)

Prime Minister, we are told that during the discussion on South Africa you have argued that apartheid was more likely to crumble as a result of economic growth rather than as a result of external economic pressures.

If one looks back at the recent history of South Africa, during a period of unprecedented growth during the 1970s there was no internal reform to speak of in South Africa yet in the last two or three years, when pressures have started to build up, we have seen a number of significant changes and reforms.

Does this not suggest that economic growth entrenches rather than undermines apartheid?

Prime Minister

No, it does not. What it emphasises is that there has been, I believe, a change of mind and of heart within South Africa. That has come at a time also of economic expansion. It has come at a time when a number of companies—quite a large number of them British, others South African—have been very forward in their thinking. They have set up black South African unions, as you know full well, and they have been very active.

Let me therefore read you what Helen Suzman said recently in an article: “Reducing the South African economy to economic wasteland would lead not to a non-racial democracy, but to more oppression and misery. [end p5] “There is no instant solution which will transform the South African scene. It is economic progress which led to the ending of job reservation, recognition of black trade unions and the abolition of the pass laws. This is the real power base for black advancement.”

So I think it is a combination of a change of heart in South Africa and also a realisation in the companies that they need trade unions, but added to that, something else: expansion is meaning training of more skilled black South Africans, more graduates and more managers and payment on a basis of rate for the job. That is good.

Clyde Sanger (The Economist)

In your interview with Adam Boulton last night—and I am quoting your words—when you were asked to differentiate between yourself and the other leaders, you said: “They believe in the violence which the African National Congress practises. I have never believed in violence, never.”

I wonder, would you explain the difference between the African National Congress who after seventy years of trying by peaceful means to gain their birthright have turned in part to violent means, and yourself in using violent means to regain the Falkland Islands? [end p6]

Prime Minister

I am amazed you should even need to ask the question, because its answer is so obvious.

The Falkland Islands, which are British, were invaded by a foreign power. The people on the Falkland Islands are all British. They were there before there was anyone else there. There was no indigenous population, so both territory and people who wished to remain British were invaded. So of course, we went to regain the territory. That it is quite different from a white or black violent guerrilla movement, totally different.

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to explain that difference.

Narinda Mohan (…   . INDIA)

Prime Minister, your approach and views on sanctions to eliminate apartheid and to bring change have not been accepted by your Commonwealth colleagues and also by US Congress. Britain has been singled out more or less, at least in the Commonwealth.

Madam Prime Minister, do you feel discouraged because your logic has not been accepted? And there is a propaganda in part of the British press that Britain should leave the Commonwealth. How do you react to this propaganda, Madam?

Prime Minister

No, I do not feel isolated. I do not feel discouraged. In fact, I find more recognition of the view which I adhered to. [end p7]

If you look carefully at the communique, you will observe three things:

first, that sanctions were put on at Nassau;

second, that further sanctions were undertaken at London;

third, that things have got worse in the eyes of those who drafted the communique, in the last year.

That is not an argument for the efficacy of sanctions—it is an argument for their inefficacy inasfar as dismantling apartheid is concerned, if that is what they believe.

Secondly, I really do not think that there is any point in pursuing Britain leaving the Commonwealth. It would not be the Commonwealth without Britain, and may I point out that though many many may criticise our stand on sanctions, many many many are very grateful and even say so, for the amount we give to Commonwealth countries which, as I have indicated, is greater than that given by any other country, and now and then it is so very nice when some people recognise that fact.

John Dickie (The Daily Mail)

At Nassau, on your return from Lyford Cay, I recall that you said that you had changed position, admittedly just a little, if I recall your little sign.

This time, by all accounts from your well-informed spokesmen and the Foreign Office spokesmen too, you apparently have not changed your position. Two points then: [end p8]

Does that mean that you did not believe one word of the arguments given to you for further sanctions?

Or two, was it was because you felt some of the people speaking about sanctions were hypocrites as far as their own sanctions?

Prime Minister

You always put separate tram-lines for the answers and neither of the tram-lines are quite correct. Let us just go through it quickly.

The first sanctions that were ever applied were sanctions on arms which we have fully agreed—I think there was no difference between the sides of the House on this—should be put on, because you do not supply arms to a regime which is operating oppression. That was in 1977 and we adhere to that strictly. I believe that some arms get through, but you never know the means by which this happens. That we adhered to absolutely strictly.

The second imposition of sanctions really was at Nassau when the language we were using was this: that members of the Commonwealth wished to send a signal to the government of South Africa of their disapproval—not only disapproval of the apartheid system but that they thought it should be dismantled and the speed of dismantlement should be accelerated. We also sent an Eminent Persons Group. That was a signal to the government of South Africa and therefore we did a number of things which, quite right, were a signal. [end p9]

We also did further things—I am not quite sure whether it was in that communique or the London one—by not importing steel, for example, from South Africa.

Now, when it came to further things like not importing agricultural produce and not importing other things, first, insofar as those worked on the economy of South Africa—some of them would have had damaging effects on the economy—does not mean that they would have had any effect on apartheid. This, I think, is where people get muddled. It can have a very damaging effect on the economy if they work, but that does not mean they will have any effect on dismantling apartheid. It could be quite the reverse.

But secondly, insofar as they did work on the economy, they would work, in fact, by putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work. That in a country where you have no social security, would mean adding deprivation and starvation to the problems they already have, and the fact is that even though some black South African countries might not like it, one million people from other African countries choose to go to work in South Africa because they get better jobs there and better pay, and return and remit their money home.

So, first the mandatory arms embargo we adhere to.

Second, the signal sanctions we have done.

Third, I have not been prepared to go to sanctions which would throw considerable numbers of people out of work in South Africa. I do not in fact find that a barometer of morality—quite the reverse. [end p10]

(Asian Pacific Times, Vancouver)

You mentioned Fiji's contribution to the Commonwealth by the peace-keeping forces.

Now that Fiji is no longer a member of the Commonwealth, will the Fijian soldiers presently involved in peace-keeping duties be retained or sent home?

Secondly, you also mentioned the door being open for Fiji to rejoin. Is there any minimum criteria you would expect the government to meet before they would be allowed to rejoin?

Prime Minister

Fiji's position as one of the suppliers of forces to United Nations does not depend in any way on her position as a member of the Commonwealth. As a member of the United Nations, she offered forces in a peace-keeping role and, as you know, they are effective. Her position with regard to the Commonwealth does not have any affect on that.

With regard to keeping open the possibility of an application, as you know, every member of the Commonwealth would have to agree to that application and I think that the kind of criteria that they would agree would be criteria for a return to democracy and a proper role for all of the people in Fiji in government. It is not for us to decide precisely the constitutional structure for that. There are, as we have occasion to know, many [end p11] many different constitutional structures within the Commonwealth and, of course, there are some at the moment which only have military governments, but obviously that would not do for a reapplication.

Joseph Brusek (Foreign Language Press, Toronto)

First, I would like to say that I feel that your policy is excellent and very wise. On the other hand, I would like to know whether the Heads of Government were discussing the Soviet presence and interference in the matters of the Commonwealth. South Africa is extremely important from a military point of view and they have strategic minerals and, of course, the Soviet would like to grab it if they can.

We have 35,000 Cubans in Angola; there are advisers in Botswana—about sixteen in the Soviet embassy, military. There is money, there are advisers, there are explosives, there are guns, so what is the Commonwealth going to do to eliminate the Soviet interference in these affairs in order to protect the security of the western world?

Prime Minister

Thank you very much. I was fortunate, in that I saw your question to Mr. Mulroney and therefore got the hang of it then!

Yes, you are quite right. There is a very considerable Soviet influence throughout Africa. There are main Cuban forces, as you pointed out, in Angola, but I understand that there are [end p12] Cuban people or forces or advisers in something like twelve other countries in Africa and also there are of course East German advisers and, of course, as you know, a considerable number of the ANC leaders are communists.

It was with that in view and because Samora Machel of Mozambique had been so helpful to the Government which I have been privileged to lead on bringing Zimbabwe to independence, that we did try to help him very much in his needs in Mozambique—his needs for food, his needs for technical help, and now we have allocated some £50 million to help Mozambique and, as you heard from Mr. Mulroney, we are both going to help to build the new railway line so that Zimbabwe will be able to get her goods out more easily through Maputo.

So we have done quite a bit to help Mozambique to have very considerable links with the West as well as with the Soviet Union.

We also help Zimbabwe on security matters and in training her armed forces and a number of people from Mozambique as well.

Our aid also to countries in Africa is considerable and we think this is the best way to counter the Soviet propaganda, but you know, it seems to me more and more that countries of Africa and elsewhere know that once they get the Soviets in they can never get them out. Of course, they could not say that of the British colonial system—they did get it out. It was much better to have us than anyone else. [end p13]


Mrs Thatcher, you have explained to us why you are opposed to sanctions and why you feel they would not have any effect on apartheid, but in your opening statement, you also made the remark that there now seemed to be an implicit recognition that further progress cannot be made along that path and you were referring to the other Commonwealth leaders. Since you said just now that you watched the previous Press Conference, you will have heard different sentiments expressed by Mr Mulroney. I am just wondering on what you base that view—that conclusion?

Prime Minister

First, I do not think sanctions—certainly did not work in Rhodesia; what they did was to strengthen the economy of Rhodesia because it then started to turn to produce all kinds of things which it had not produced before. Secondly, will you please have a look at the coastline of South Africa and see how you could possibly have any blockade to enforce sanctions on South Africa. There would be no possible reason of doing it. So I think that even if you did put on sanctions, they would not work.

Thirdly, I think that if they did work, they would have a [end p14] damaging effect on the economy. That I do not believe would bring about a transition in apartheid on the part of the present Government of South Africa. I agree with Helen Suzman that it would increase their resistance to the requisite change and I think, therefore, that the change is more likely to be brought about through peaceful means and through the ways which we have indicated and through the help which we also give. We have got at the moment about £20 million specially for black South African citizens for education in Britain or elsewhere.


Why do you attribute to the other Commonwealth leaders the implicit recognition that further progress along the sanctions road would not work?

Prime Minister

Because in fact, as you see in the communique, there is no proposal for further sanctions actually there. They could not get further sanctions agreed by all members of the Commonwealth. Now if you cannot, if they say “Yes they are absolutely vital, but we are not going to put any extra on” , it does seem to me pretty telling, but also, in the speeches that were made—and this was a much sort of easier conference, if I might say so, than either Nassau or the more limited one at London—and there were far more speeches made understanding that change has to come from within South Africa, that it is in fact happening, that there is, I think, a change of attitude on the part of most South Africans, and that while some made an automatic connection between the imposition of sanctions and the dismantlement of apartheid, that was by no means made by all of [end p15] them.

Question (Ron Santana, India Broad News Service)

Prime Minister, by becoming more inward looking, is Britain shrinking from its moral responsibility to take leadership in solving the problems which it originally created through colonialism?

Prime Minister

No, Britain is certainly not shrinking from its responsibility. She is taking a very positive approach to the dismantlement of apartheid; an approach which is much more likely to bring it about than the reverse. You will of course recall from your history that there was a Boer war in which we fought the Boers in South Africa, that in an act of magnanimity we eventually handed over the whole of South Africa to those whom we had fought, that at the time we handed it over, we did not of course have a full constitutionalised settlement of the kind we would have had much later, but at the time we handed over, certainly the Cape coloureds had a vote and there was no such thing as apartheid. Apartheid came much later, I think with Verwoerd and it was at that time which South Africa ceased to be a Monarchy and became a Republic and that was the change which brought about her exclusion from the Commonwealth.

Question (Alan Merrydew BCTV News)

Prime Minister, what is your response to the very strong criticism by some other Heads of Government of what they characterise as a barrage of misinformation and disinformation by your press briefing officers? [end p16]

Secondly, what response do you have to a reported ANC statement that they will target British firms in South Africa?

Prime Minister

First, I have heard the allegations. I have not heard any single person say that the figures which were given to you, which were not British Government figures but official IMF trade statistic figures, were inaccurate. And of course they would not say they were inaccurate because that would be criticising the IMF official trade statistic figures, so please therefore be honourable and drop the allegation. There is, as far as I am aware, no other allegation.

Of course we are very efficient at briefing. We have been at every other Conference. I think what has happened is that some people have not liked the message and therefore they have gone for the messenger. I think that is very very wrong.

We just have a rule at home that you do not attack civil servants, especially in their absence, you just do not attack them and let me stand up for mine. They are first class and they have done a first class job for people in this hall and I hope you will recognise it in the customary way.

Yes, I did hear someone big enough to do just that: recognise the excellent work which is done.

Question (Cathay Television Vancouver)

Mrs Thatcher, in regards to South Africa you said that the momentum for change must come from within a country itself. Are you implying that Britain favours policy as giving financial assistance to African National Congress organisations as such? [end p17]

Prime Minister

Just before you, I just remembered I did not answer the second part of the previous question put to me about the ANC, when the ANC says that they will target British companies. This shows what a typical terrorist organisation it is. I fought terrorism all my life and if more people fought it, and we were all more successful, we should not have it and I hope that everyone in this hall will think it is right to go on fighting terrorism. They will if they believe in democracy.

Can you start again?


Well I just quoted what you said when you said that with regards to South Africa, the momentum for change must come from within the country itself. I just wonder whether you imply that Britain would give financial assistance to organisations such as ANC? In other words I do not really know what you mean by giving the momentum of change must come from within.

Prime Minister

But the momentum for change is going faster. If you look at the things which have happened over the last two or three years, like some people in South Africa, I think that apartheid is breaking down, largely through two things:

first, through the enlightened companies and secondly through a number of people who have been working for the dismantlement of apartheid in South Africa for a very long time, and also because of the quite clear expression of opinion of all other countries in the world that apartheid is a totally repugnant system and must go. I [end p18] think that people in South Africa realise that as a matter of practice but also realise that it is wrong and what the problem is therefore is managing the change in a non-violent manner.

Now the law against mixed marriages has been repealed, the pass laws have been repealed, job reservation has gone, the influx laws have gone. One thing after another has happened. One had hope soon that the Group Areas Act would go. It is steadily being eroded at the moment but most of us hope that it will go. So gradually change is coming about. One would like it to be faster. I thought myself that the Eminent Persons Group did an excellent job with their negotiating concept. I thought that is the way in which lies hope in the future.

But I think, as Alan Paton said, the approach of some Western countries on sanctions did not accelerate the change but unfortunately had the effect of retarding it during the last year and I hope that soon it will speed up again. I will have nothing to do with any organisation that practices violence. I have never seen anyone from ANC or the PLO or the IRA and would not do so. Nor will we have any truck with any of the organisations; we never negotiate with hostage taking or anything like that. But please, I hope you will fight terrorism and violence and not in fact embrace it.


Prime Minister, you say Britain says sanctions are counterproductive in that they will hit the blacks in South Africa and you then say that Britain sees it better to assist blacks in areas such as education and training so they will be better, you know, able to take part in the shaping of their country's destiny. Should we take [end p19] it then that your view of blacks in South Africa, black South Africans, as ill-equipped educationally and lacking in training to take part in the governing of their country now and not in the future?

And secondly, don't you think that British efforts should be directed at the white education system in South Africa to make them learn to take men as equal irrespective of colour?

Prime Minister

No, what we are trying to do is to enlarge the educational opportunities—it may be in technical education, it may be in the arts or humanites—enlarge the educational opportunities open to black South Africans. Last year, I think, at Nassau, I quoted some of the figures. I think I can remember some of them. There are in fact more black South Africans who matriculate now than white. As you know there are an enormous number of black graduates. But the opportunities open to as many as want them are not as great as either they or we would wish because their numbers are so great, that we are trying to enlarge the opportunities by making that sum of money available and places in our universities or technical colleges. It is not, I assure you, just to train for Government. I do not know of any university training for Government. It is to train either in the humanities, or in the sciences, or in the technical—whichever they want—or in the professions. It is enlarging opportunities and that is what we are trying to do. Yes, there are some but we in fact can give more and thus give those people some hope, give them an education that they might otherwise not be able to get in anything like sufficient quantity. There is no sinister motive with it. It [end p20] is just to do with precisely what I said.

Question (Editor … India)

There are two very small points but not to hurt you at all. The one is the main focus in this conference was on South Africa. Now you and your colleagues might have been discussing here …   . and ultimately we find that either they could not make you agree.

Prime Minister

None of us can hear.


Britain is the only country which has dissent and not the other countries.

Prime Minister

We are the only country that dissents, yes. What follows from that?


The question is that South Africa is well flourishing under your bulldog(?) umbrella without estimating what the remaining part of the African countries are and you are not in favour of any sanctions or very limited sanctions. There lies a question whether you still feel to have a supremacy over all the Commonwealth countries which have been …   .

Now the problem of terrorism which we find is spreading through all the countries, including my country, India, I think the important focus in the Conference should have been on the activities of terrorism and the base of terrorism which are also in your country; how to curb them and what the countries should have done. These are vital questions. [end p21]

Prime Minister

Well I have not got the second one yet. Sir Geoffrey HoweSir Geoffrey heard your second one. I got your first one.

No, we do not have supremacy in the Commonwealth. Of course we do not. We are just like any other member. We do have considerable resources. We give aid on a substantial scale to those—whether they criticise us or not, and they do. We give aid because their people need it and we give aid as a duty and partly as history and so although I may be heavily criticised by Mr Mugabe or Kenneth Kaunda, we have British forces in Zimbabwe—at their invitation—training their army. We give substantial aid. If Kenneth Kaunda agrees to an IMF programme, we will write off his £52 million loan. We have already written off something like a billion pounds of loan of other Commonwealth countries which they are not going to repay. But we do write it off on the basis that they do not carry on in the economic unwisdom that they have followed but that they get IMF programmes.

We give help to countries with their transport so that they will not be so reliant on South Africa. We give aid, we write off bad debts, we give aid to considerable extent and we help with training and we do that and we go on doing it. Whether they criticise us or not and some of them are quietly very grateful for it; others do not have perhaps the same public expression of opinion.

Now what about the other thing? We fight terrorism. You are talking about terrorism. We fight terrorism wherever it occurs. We have no truck with them, we make no deals at all. We do [end p22] everything we can to cooperate with other countries to fight terrorism. Was that not the question?


No, I say that some terrorists have the base in your country. In …   . in London. My idea was …

Prime Minister

Sikhs have been up before our courts for specific charges and been found guilty and imprisoned. As you know, a Government in my country is not the prosecuting authority. In Britain we take the view, our rule of law takes the view that the rule of law is separate and the moment that Governments can decide who shall be prosecuted for criminal charges then that is really an end of freedom. So the prosecuting authorities are the Director of Public Prosecutions.

What we are always concerned with—and I say to people—if you have got any evidence please lay it before the Director of Public Prosecutions because we are as anxious as anyone that those who are guilty should be found guilty in the courts. But you are found guilty, not by accusation, but by evidence and before a jury. Some have been found guilty and some have been locked up because they have been found guilty and sentenced and if anyone has any evidence, please lay it before the DPP.

Question (Robert Morden, Financial Times)

I would like to go back to the economic arguments which you employed to justify your position on sanctions, particularly the one about the need for the development of the South African economy if political change is going to be effective in that country. [end p23]

Now in the closing years of this century, economic development is likely to come mostly in the high tech industries—a development which I think you favour. High tech industries are less labour intensive than traditional industries. How, in that case, are all the millions of black workers who need to find jobs in South Africa going to find jobs in industries which are less labour intensive?

Prime Minister

Well, they would be even less likely to find jobs if you had economic recession than if you get economic expansion. There is no way you can provide for 25 million black South Africans on the level you wish to provide which is the same as everyone else unless you get economic expansion. Someone has to create the wealth before it can be distributed. So however valid your argument may be on high tech, you are not going to get jobs, you are not going to get education, you are not going to get health unless you get economic expansion but high tech is not the only thing.

Most high tech is used not in production of high tech but in modernising other industries—yes certainly in modernising other industries—you do in fact tend to get industries which are less labour intensive and that is why many industries have gone far more to services: services of one kind or another. But education and of course nursing and medicine are typical examples of services. But you look at the colossal resources in South Africa, yes, you will use high tech to develop them. If you are not going to both develop your agriculture, if you are not going to produce other goods and services—they vary enormously: your textiles, your making up [end p24] garments tends to be labour intensive, making the basic textile is not. You have certain labour intensive industries, certain not. But in the end historically—you invited me to look historically—high technology, new technology—whatever sort—its first effect has been to reduce jobs.

Its second effect has been to increase jobs. The argument you are using was used at the beginning of the century when so many people employed on agriculture: what were they going to do with the advent of the tractor? What were they going to do with the advent of the combine harvester? They were not to foresee that technology would create an enormous number of jobs in cars, in aeroplanes, even in television itself so of course, technology in the end will increase the number of jobs because it increases the number of products and there is no way in which you can provide a good education, a good background, a good housing for people unless you get substantial economic expansion and that I think is most generally realised.


In view of what you have just said about the ANC, is that a signal to Sir Geoffrey that he is to have no further talks with the ANC? But what baffles me is how you can propose to go back and say, because the Commonwealth has not agreed to specific measures, therefore to that extent your point has carried weight when in fact the three paragraphs, the three relevant paragraphs in the communique talk about intensifying and widening sanctions and setting up a process whereby this is to happen including the Foreign Minister's Conference and specifically mentioning the need to look [end p25] into the way in which the international finance market operates in South Africa as a specific measure, so I do not see how you can claim that there has been no movement forward in terms of the sanctions process.

Prime Minister

But there are not any specific sanctions. I mean sanctions have to be specific. You cannot even say whether they work, if you do not know what they are, nor of course have the list of sanctions approved in London, not by myself but by some of the others, been fully implemented. I said at the time that I did not think they could be, because I said when I think you get back home you will find that they are just not practicable and that you just have to live next door to this country and that if you implement those, the very worst effect will be first on your own country and then on those whom you are trying to help. Sanctions have to be explicit if the people who believe in them can begin to operate them. Financial sanctions; we have no Government to Government loans. There are no Government to Government loans from Britain to South Africa.

There are of course commercial bank loans. I must tell you that I do not interfere with the judgement of commercial banks—and quite rightly. There have been times when I have been asked to suggest to commercial banks that I thought it would be wise if they lent to certain projects in certain countries; I will not do it. It would take upon me an intolerable burden of judgement which I should not make. It is they who are dealing with the money of their depositors they who must make those judgments. It is the institutions which must make their judgements: the insurance [end p26] institutions and the pension institutions; they are not creatures of Government.

We, as you know, have no exchange control. Those are not creatures of Government. I do not think that many insurance or pensions institutions would put money in South Africa at the moment and I would think that many commercial banks would hesitate because of the political position in South Africa, because they know that it is unstable. That is a judgement of the market place. It is not a financial sanction which Governments can or do impose. The only things that Governments can say is—or say effectively—is “No, we shall not have any central bank loans from one central bank of one country to another” . But we do not. What was your first question?


Whether Sir Geoffrey will have further talks with the ANC in the future in view of your …

Prime Minister

Sir Geoffrey HoweSir Geoffrey, from time to time, sees organisations in his capacity when we are President of Europe. It is in that capacity that they are customarily seen.


I am sorry, that is not correct Prime Minister. He saw him in his capacity as Foreign Minister when he received Mr Oliver Tambo at the Foreign Office in London.

Prime Minister

Yes, at the time when he was President of the European Economic Community. Someone else saw the PLO at the same basis.