HC Deb 26 July 1960 vol 627 cc1533-63

3.20 a.m.

Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)

As we continue our debate, a desperately serious situation is developing in Southern Rhodesia. At 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, we heard that in Bulawayo a crowd of 7,000 Africans refused to disperse when called upon to do so by the police and there was a not developing. In fact, violence was used by the police against the crowd. In fact, we understand that a police spokesman said that the situation was developing into a military operation.

Then, just about an hour ago, we heard that the prosecutors were working in shifts applying for remands, because 250 people were appearing before the Bulawayo magistrates' court. and that many of these Africans who appeared had bruises on their faces and were obviously suffering from violence as a result of police action. We also understand that at 10 p.m. on Tuesday the death roll in Bulawayo alone had reached nine.

This series of incidents in Bulawayo over the last 24 hours is not an isolated event. It arises because of the actions of the Southern Rhodesian Government going back over many years. Last year, in February, a state of emergency was announced, and many leaders of the then prominent African National Congress were arrested and thrown into prison without trial. Subsequently, the Southern Rhodesian Government introduced legislation which gave it tremendous powers of repression over the African people in Southern Rhodesia.

Now we have seen in the last few weeks action being taken by the Southern Rhodesian Government against the National Democratic Party, which represents the wishes of the overwhelming mass of the African people in that country, as well as having many European members within its ranks. It is not a racialist party. It is a party which has European supporters and sympathisers as well as African.

It is well known on both sides of this House that the leaders of the National Democratic Party are moderate men. Indeed, the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) said on 3rd June in a debate in this House that everyone had been im- pressed by the calibre of the members of the party who had been here engaged in discussions with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. We also understand that the Prime Minister himself, when he was in Rhodesia on his African tour, met many of the leaders of these political organisations and was very impressed by their calibre.

These men are now being thrown into prison by the action of the Southern Rhodesian Government. We are concerned in this, and when I say "we" I am not talking only of this side of the House, for I know that this is something which concerns hon. Members on both sides. Back benchers on both sides are disturbed by events in Southern Rhodesia and want Her Majesty's Government to take some action to prevent the situation becoming more serious.

We are concerned about the Colony of Southern Rhodesia. It is not an independent dominion. The British Government still have reserve powers which, in these circumstances, need to be exercised to prevent the situation from becoming worse. We are also concerned because, on the initiative of the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, there were constitutional discussions with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.

It so happens that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia did not make any progress at all in his efforts to secure the removal of the protective clauses in the Constitution. That, I am glad to say, was revealed by the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in the debate on 3rd June. We appreciate that Her Majesty's Government have been taking an excellent line in this matter. They have refused to allow this concession demanded by Sir Edgar Whitehead to be allowed and during the period when this question of the Reserve Powers in the Constitution was being discussed, the Secretary of State, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, entered into consultations with the leaders of the National Democratic Party.

Leaders of the N.D.P. were met by the Secretary of State and their representations were listened to very courteously, so the United Kingdom Government have established a direct relationship with the National Democratic Party in Southern Rhodesia, and it is only right and proper that they should do that because we in Britain are the protecting Power over the two-and-a-half million Africans in Southern Rhodesia who look to the United Kingdom to protect them against the actions of a white dictatorship in their midst. So we are very much involved in this situation. We are involved because we have the power over the Constitution and because we have entered into this direct negotiation with the leaders of the N.D.P. who have now been thrown into prison by the Southern Rhodesian Government.

We now have a most eloquent appeal, given yesterday, by leaders of the two biggest political parties in Southern Rhodesia, the National Democratic Party, representing almost all the Africans in the territory, and the Central Africa Party, representing Africans and European supporters and represented by a former Prime Minister, Mr. Garfield Todd. These leaders have issued a statement which they sent yesterday, 26th July, to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. If the House will bear with me I will read it in full because it is an important and historic document: For some years we have pleaded with our Governments to extend the franchise so that we might enjoy political stability in Central Africa. The United Federal Party governments, however, have chosen to play politics with the even more reactionary Dominion Party and have paid scant attention to the voice of eight millions of voteless people. When protests have been made our Governments have used the pretext of maintaining law and order to stamp out criticism and dissent, and have not hesitated even to use their military might to do this. Government policies are now maintained by force of arms and are directly responsible far the present unrest. Ranged against the great mass of our people are two hundred thousand whites, with police and army and air force: Four per cent. of our population, in the name of civilization, have ranged themselves against the great body of people of our country, refusing liberty, denying justice and flouting the lessons of history. It is imperative that Her Majesty's Government accept the responsibility for taking immediate action to establish a new and democratic regime in Central Africa. At present Britain is supporting an undemocratic and unjust form of government which, if left to itself, must soon disintegrate, causing widespread suffering to all sections of our people. If Britain finds herself unwilling to intervene decisively in this situation within her Colonial sphere, a situation in which eighty thousand voters are permitted to govern eight million by military might, then Her Majesty's Government must state this clearly and now. Those people who are now protesting against their Governments in Central Africa will then know that they must depend on their own strength to gain liberty. We recognise that eventually this would lead to intervention by the United Nations Organisation but that there would be much regrettable and unnecessary suffering before this happened. We pray that Her Majesty's Government, justly proud of having, in recent years brought some five hundred million people to freedom, will not flinch from the task of upsetting the present régime and of guiding and assisting the establishment of democratic rule by the people of our land. Because of our deep concern to see harmony between the races and justice and opportunity for all citizens, we ask…

  1. 1. That an immediate statement be made to the effect that Her Majesty's Government will intervene in the affairs of Central Africa to establish democratic governments so that the will of the people is implemented.
  2. 2. That the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia be set aside and a democratic order substituted for it.
  3. 3. That Her Majesty's Government come to immediate agreement with the Federal Government that no troops from the Union of South Africa will be called upon, or permitted to intervene in Central Africa. If South African troops were to be used in Central Africa, it is doubtful if there would be a healing of wounds in the next twenty years.
  4. 4. That, following an immediate statement of intent to set aside the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, adequate armed forces should be made available from the United Kingdom to ensure that changes in government are made peacefully. It must be recognised that should British troops be sent to Southern Rhodesia to support the present Government against the people of the country, the prestige of Her Majesty's Government would be so damaged that it would be extremely difficult for Britain to assist in any later attempts to establish a democratic régime.
  5. 5. That all necessary measures be taken to bring each of the territories to self-government within the next five years and that elections at the point of self-government should be based upon a universal adult franchise.
  6. 6. That immediate moves should be made to transfer powers from the Federal Government to the States. Concurrently with these changes the three territories should be given equal control over what remains of the Federal machine, which should then become the servant of the territories and no longer their master."
I apologise for the length of this document, but it was important that it should be read in full. It is signed by Mr. Enoch Dumbutshena, Mr. Paul Mushonga and Mr. Joshua Nkomo, of the National Democratic Party, and Mr. Garfield Todd on behalf of the Central Africa Party.

It must be unprecedented for a former Prime Minister to lend his hand to an appeal of this description and, therefore, we cannot disregard it or brush it aside. It is a serious appeal and the responsible men who have signed and who support it are aware of the fact that there are now only two possible alternatives in Central Africa. Eventually, the Africans will be running the affairs of Central Africa. Everybody knows that. The only question is how they are to reach that point.

Are they to reach it by peaceful developments which establish friendly relations between members of all racial communities, or are they going to reach that point by violence, bloodshed, disorder, repression which can only engender bitter racial feelings and probably bring a situation in Central Africa similar to that in the Congo, by which we are all absolutely appalled? Those are the alternatives.

It so happens that Britain can exercise a decisive influence in the affairs of Southern Rhodesia. We know the opinion of the House on racial matters and military dictatorship in Africa. We have already recorded it, because on 8th April, 1960, the House unanimously agreed to a Motion condemning apartheid in South Africa and went on to record that the House, …restates its firm belief that peace and tranquillity in South Africa can only be secured in the long run on the basis of freedom and equality and a full respect for the inherent dignity and humanity of all men."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th April, 1960; Vol. 621, c. 774.] This is a matter which does not divide but unites the House, because not a single voice was raised against that Motion. It united us on 8th April and I think that it unites us tonight, and not only in relation to South Africa. It should also unite us in relation to the situation in Southern Rhodesia where racialist policies have been pursued for many years and where the Southern Rhodesian Government of Sir Edgar Whitehead, not a Government ruling by consent but with the support of only a tiny minority of the population, is now using military power—witness the statement of the police spokesman yesterday—in order to suppress the people of that territory.

The British Government can act. Our plea tonight is that they should act, and act decisively. We ask that Her Majesty's Government should use their authority to suspend the Southern Rhodesia Constitution so that we can secure peace and good order in that territory and provide a situation in which both races can work together towards a democratic franchise which can give rise to a Government which can rule by consent.

At the moment the Government do not have the consent of the African people. They are overwhelmingly against the Government. The Government do not even have the consent of the European minority. The European minority is less than 10 per cent. of the population, but the Government do not have even the support of that minority.

At the last election the Dominion Opposition Party received more first preference votes than the United Federal Party. The United Federal Party won the election by having a system of transferable votes which gave it a small majority in the Assembly, although it did not have a majority of votes. Since that election the support for the United Federal Party has ebbed away, and now the Dominion Party is gaining in strength every week from that small European population. Sir Edgar Whitehead knows only too well that the Dominion Party has been winning many of his supporters.

The Dominion Party has been coming out with clear statements opposing the policies of the United Federal Party. I have here a copy of the Rhodesia Herald of 29th June. The headline is "Federation a Failure," and there is a policy statement by the Dominion Party. It says: Federation in its present form has failed… and it goes on to condemn U.F.P. policies. The Dominion Party now has the support of probably the majority of the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia if an election takes place at this time. In those circumstances, when the Government are acting without the consent of the people, when they are using their military power to suppress the aspirations of the people, and are shooting the people down when they demonstrate against the arrest of their leaders, surely the time has come for the Government to act, and the action which they should take is to suspend the Constitution because the situation is so serious.

The Government may say that the situation is not serious enough to take such a drastic step as suspending the Constitution. May I remind the Government that in October, 1953, they took such action in regard to British Guiana. The White Paper, Cmd. 8980 says: The conduct of Ministers showed no concern for the true welfare a the Colony and threatened its promise as an orderly state; it had seriously endangered the economic life of the country and had set it on the road to collapse. That is the situation in Southern Rhodesia today. The Ministers have shown no true regard for the welfare of the Colony.

Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)


Mr. Stonehouse

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has been to Southern Rhodesia. If he had, he would know how desperate is the poverty of Africans in Southern Rhodesia; how they are denied access to 53 per cent. of the land, which is reserved for loss than one-tenth of the population; and how in the townships they live in overcrowded reserves. They are not allowed to live in the so-called European areas, and the average wage of an African is only £6 10s. a month. I would be interested to know if the hon. Gentleman could live on that wage.

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Nottingham, West)

I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman said, but I hope that he will not spoil his moderate speech by overstating the case. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, who is a considerable authority on these matters, will agree that while by British standards African standards of living may be low in Southern Rhodesia. they nevertheless compare very favourably with those in most other parts of Africa.

Mr. Stonehouse

I am grateful to the hon. Member for raising that point. Of course, it is a valid point, but the point which I am trying to demonstrate is that if poverty is to be combated—and it does exist—the Africans who have been moved off the African areas by the land consolidation schemes have to be found employment in the towns. If the situa- tion is to be solved, there must be further industrialisation.

By the action which the Ministers are taking at the moment it will be impossible for the products of that industrialisation to be sold in the territories further north. The African States will, of course, refuse to accept those products coming from a country whose regime they detest. And as is well known in financial circles in Salisbury, it has become increasingly difficult for the Governments of Central Africa to raise loans in the international market because the confidence of the world in the Federation, and in Southern Rhodesia in particular, is not very great.

I submit, therefore, that the point made in relation to British Guiana in 1953 applies with equal validity to the situation in Southern Rhodesia today. If we read further into the White Paper, we see that the Ministers in British Guiana were accused of spreading racial hatred. That is the situation in Southern Rhodesia today where the actions of the Government are not bringing the races together but are separating them.

There are many white settlers in Central Africa, and I am privileged to include many of them among my friends. They want to secure a real understanding with the Africans, the sort of understanding which has been achieved in Tanganyika, but the actions of the Government of Sir Edgar Whitehead are making that very difficult indeed. Indeed, the actions of Sir Edgar Whitehead's Government are putting the lives of some 200,000 Europeans in jeopardy.

Reading further into the White Paper, we see that one of the points made against the Ministers in British Guiana was that they used threats of violence. In Southern Rhodesia the Government are not using just threats of violence but actual violence against the Africans. The leaders of the N.D.P. have been locked up and their followers who have been demonstrating asking for their release have been bashed about by the police. As we heard on the news tonight, they are appearing in the magistrates' court in Bulawayo with bruises, and nine have been shot. This violence and intimidation on the part of the Government are far more serious than the alleged actions of Ministers in British Guiana in 1953.

Mr. Gower

In making this comparison, would the hon. Gentleman draw no distinctions between the Constitution in British Guiana, which was in its experimental and early stages, and Southern Rhodesia where, in practice, there has been self-government for nearly forty years?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He is helping my case. In British Guiana there was a Constitution based on universal adult suffrage. Therefore, the Government, even if they had been behaving incorrectly, had had the consent and support of the people as expressed at the General Election. That is not the position in Southern Rhodesia where, as the hon. Gentleman will know, high qualifications have to be possessed before anyone can let on to the electoral roll. That ensures that the tiny electorate of some 50,000 can elect the Government. And the 30 members of the Southern Rhodesia Legislative Assembly are all white and always have been, although the European population has never been over 10 per cent. of the total population. I am grateful to the hon. Member. He has strengthened my point.

The relationship between the Government in Southern Rhodesia and in British Guiana is very similar. Southern Rhodesia is not an independent territory but is subject to the overriding control of the United Kingdom. The point which Mr. Garfield Todd makes is that in the last few years he has tried through every possible constitutional means in Southern Rhodesia to influence tae situation and to progress towards sanity. He has found, however, that the Southern Rhodesian Government are not prepared to make any concessions to enable the will of the people, both white and black, to be properly expressed. So he is making what he appreciates is the list constitutional appeal to the British Government who have the ultimate authority in this repect. We have to pay attention to a former Prime Minister when he makes a plea of that description.

May I finally read the justification of the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, now Lord Chandos. On 22nd October, 1953, he said: The proposal to suspend the Constitution which Her Majesty's Government are putting forward is indeed a grave step. Viewed in any light, it is a setback to the principle upon which all political parties in this House are agreed, namely, that our colonial policy should be directed towards giving the peoples in the Colonial Territories an increasing responsibility for the management of their own affairs. But if it be true—and it is true—that in all parts of the House we are firmly and finally committed to this policy, we must be prepared to take risks in carrying it out."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd October, 1953; Vol. 518, c. [...]159.] That was the Colonial Secretary's justification for action in British Guiana. It could be the justification of the present Government for action in Southern Rhodesia.

On that occasion, the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, now the Prime Minister, said that the first issue involved was whether the home Government have produced evidence of a danger in British Guiana so serious as to justify the measures which were taken to meet it. The second is whether those measures were taken prudently and efficiently so as to minimise the loss of life and property and the risk of violence. The third, perhaps underlying it all and almost the most important of all, is whether the Government in the United Kingdom have the right and the duty, even at the cost of the temporary suspension of the democratic Constitution to prevent its reality from being undermined from the misuse of its form. These are really the problems."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd October, 1953: Vol. 518, c. 2268–9.] If what the present Prime Minister said was relevant to the situation then, the same arguments could be justified in relation to the situation in Southern Rhodesia today.

In December of the same year we had a speech from the then Colonial Secretary, and also by Mr. Henry Hopkinson, now Lord Colyton. We do not always agree with this spokesman of the Conservative Party, but what he said on that occasion was true, and it is true in relation to Southern Rhodesia today. He said: A climate must be prepared in which democracy will work and flourish…Intimidation which existed before the constitution was suspended, and which exists now, must be suppressed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1953: Vol. 521, c. 1757.] I apologise to the House for keeping hon. Members so long at the early hour, but the situation in Southern Rhodesia is desperate. It calls for action. The overwhelming mass of the people in Southern Rhodesia, the Africans, are looking to Britain to protect them against that a white, military dictatorship. There are also probably hundreds, maybe even thousands, of European settlers, ex-constituents of all of us who sit in the Chamber this morning, who are also looking to us to take some action to prevent disaster overtaking Southern Rhodesia. We can act; we are asking the Government to act in order that justice, liberty and, eventually, democracy may be secured in Southern Rhodesia.

3.51 a.m.

Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)

I feel that I owe an apology to the House for taking up time at this hour of the morning, but the subject raised by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stone-house) is of such importance that I think it right that it should be fully discussed, and all the more because I have general sympathy with the points raised by the hon. Member, although as he will realise, I cannot go with him all the way in what he is asking the Government to do.

I agree with him that the situation in Southern Rhodesia is one which must seriously concern the House. Although, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) pointed out, it has been a self-governing Colony for nearly forty years, we have not abdicated our final responsibility for it and, until we do so, we remain seized of these obligations and any amount of argument about it being a self-governing Colony cannot remove that. Whether we agree with Sir Edgar Whitehead or not, the obligation remains on us to [take responsibility for this situation in which nine people have been killed and many have been arrested. This is not a matter we can let go by without consideration.

I shall not traverse the broad canvas covered by the hon. Member. He probably knows it far better than I do, but I want to speak on this particular incident arising out of the arrest of three leaders of the National Democratic Party of Southern Rhodesia. We have not had in this House, or, as I understand, anywhere, a satisfactory explanation of why those men were arrested at the time when they were in fact in negotiation with the British Colonial Office. I do not know if my right hon. Friend can give an explanation this morning. We know that he is in a very difficult position.

This is an internal matter for the Government of Southern Rhodesia, but nevertheless because we retain these obligations in regard to the situation in Southern Rhodesia, we in this House have a right to know why these men were arrested and why it was thought necessary at this time when discussions were going on about the future of the country, and when we were awaiting the Report of the Monckton Commission, to take action of this kind. Was it because the security of the Southern Rhodesian Government was threatened? If so, how was it threatened? What were they doing to cause their arrest? That is an explanation to which I think we are entitled.

Until we get an explanation it is very difficult for us to condone the subsequent actions of the Southern Rhodesian Government. It is perfectly possible to excuse, although I am not a person to condone violence, or to say it can be justified; nevertheless, it is possible to understand the actions of the Africans in Bulawayo. Naturally they are concened at the course of events which has taken place, which has led to the publication tonight of the documents which the hon. Member read.

I understand, of course, that the document is not one for which the hon. Member can take any responsibility—that is for the people concerned. Where I think I part company from the hon. Member is in some of the conclusions he drew from it. If I remember rightly—I have not got a copy with me, but the hon. Member did me the courtesy of showing me one before this debate—it makes specific reference to the possibility of South African troops intervening in the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia.

If this is true it is a matter of the utmost seriousness for this House. But is it true? I do not know. I should like to know whether the Southern Rhodesian Government have contemplated an appeal for help to the Government of the Union of South Africa. If they have, then I hope that my right hon. Friend will convey to the Government of Southern Rhodesia what I feel is almost the unanimous view of the House—that we should view such a step with the strongest disapproval, to put it mildly.

But I hope that it is not true, because it would be the greatest misfortune for Southern Rhodesia if the very desperate slate of affairs in the Union were in some way to be connected with the self-governing Colony of Rhodesia. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give an assurance on this point. In the contacts which I have with the Colony I have heard nothing to suggest that such a step is possible, but it may be. I think it unlikely, but I should like some assurance about it from my right hon. Friend. One of my hon. Friends says that such a step is very unlikely, and I agree with him, but it is possible and therefore we need to be reassured.

A fundamental point on which I part company from the hon. Member for Wednesbury is the action which Her Majesty's Government should now take. I think that the situation is serious, but the suspension of a constitution which has been in force for forty years is so drastic that I regard it as possibly the ultimate sanction which any Government could impose. The hon. Member very cleverly quoted the example of British Guiana, but there is a great difference between suspending the constitution of British Guiana and the suspension which he proposes here. I was not in the House at the time, nor was he, but I was an active member of the Conservative Party, and as a foreign correspondent I had to cover some of the conferences which arose out of these events in British Guiana.

I did not like what happened, but I was prepared to accept it because everybody knew at the time that when normal constitutional government was restored in British Guiana, the situation would be very much the same as it was before the constitution was suspended. On the contrary, everybody knows that if the constitution of Southern Rhodesia is suspended, that will be the end of an experiment in racial partnership in Central Africa. It may have been a hopeless experiment from the start, but I believed in it, as did many others. Things could never be the same again. I see that the hon. Member for Wednesbury disagrees and I respect the sincerity of his views, as I hope he respects mine.

In Central Africa we have tried to build a racial partnership. So far it has not been very successful, but I am not prepared to abandon all hope that it will work. There are still possibilities; they are becoming remote, but they still exist. If we suspend the constitution those possibilities will be destroyed and we shall face a situation in which the only alternative is some kind of racial policy. This is a very serious point which needs to be considered before we take the step which the hon. Member asks the Government to take. We must ask ourselves in all seriousness, Is any alternative step available?"

We know that at the time that these gentlemen were arrested they were in the process of talks with the Colonial Office. It is also common knowledge that Sir Edgar Whitehead had earlier said that at some time later this year there should be a conference of all interested parties with a view to a revision of the constitution of Southern Rhodesia.

I suggest that a last attempt should be made, however unfortunate the circumstances may be, to see whether agreement is possible on this point. The Government should call a conference specifically on Southern Rhodesia, without waiting for the Report of the Monckton Commission; they should announce now that they will call such a conference at which all the interested parties will be represented. These will include the United Federal Party, the Dominion Party, the National Democratic Party and any other party which obviously has an interest. As a prerequisite, the leaders of the National Democratic Party now in prison would have to be released to take part in such a conference. I would accept that as perfectly reasonable. Such a conference should take place in London, far removed from the difficulties and bitterness which have now arisen in Southern Rhodesia, on the lines of the Conference now meeting to discuss Nyasaland, to see whether an agreement cannot be worked out. I have not abandoned hope, and I hope that the House has not abandoned hope, of reaching some sort of settlement for Central Africa.

I said that I would be brief but, possibly, I have exceeded the time limit I tried to impose upon myself. Having disagreed with the hon. Member for Wednesbury on the course he proposes, I agree absolutely with him that this is a matter of great concern to this House. The hon. Member cited the Resolution passed by the House on the policies of the South African Government. We cannot condemn the actions of a Government for which we are not responsible and remain indifferent to the actions of a Government for which, in any sense, we are responsible.

Almost exactly a year ago, in the dying hours of the last Parliament, on a similar Motion on the corresponding Bill last year, we had a debate on the tragedy of the Hola camp. In that debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) made a speech which will be remembered by all who were present. My hon. Friend said: We must be consistent with ourselves everywhere. All Government, all influence of man upon man, rests upon opinion. What we can do in Africa, where we still govern and where we no longer govern, depends upon the opinion which is entertained on the way in which this country acts and the way in which Englishmen act. We cannot, we dare not, in Africa of all places, fall below our own highest standards in the acceptance of responsibility."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th July, 1959; Vol. 610, c. 237.] It is those last words which are the important part.

We have a responsibility here. We must accept it. Whether we agree or disagree on the methods to be adapted, let there be no doubt that the responsibility rests on this House, and let us accept it in the spirit that my hon. Friend suggested a year ago.

4.3 a.m.

Mrs. Judith Hart (Lanark)

First, I welcome the enlightenment and understanding which the speech of the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) has shown. I should like to explore one of the avenues that it opened up, one in which a difference was expressed but, I think, falsely expressed. The difference exists in the concept that was put before us that in exercising our responsibility towards the people of Southern Rhodesia, by accepting the suggestion of the suspension of the Constitution, we should be ending any hopes of racial partnership in Southern Rhodesia. I think that the reverse is true.

Let me take hon. Members opposite with me in considering the essential ingredients of the present crisis. We accept that there is a crisis. Most of us agree that the crisis must be accepted as our responsibility. There have been the disturbances in Bulawayo and the bloodshed which took place there recently and which threatens to take place again if the pattern of events that is followed in Southern Rhodesia is similar to the pattern of events elsewhere in Africa.

There is also the inevitable reaction, which is bound to be a strong one, from the independent African States. We shall have Nigeria, Ghana, Tanganyika and other important elements of African opinion reacting strongly and vigorously against what will inevitably seem to them to be the incipient emergence of another Sharpeville. This is important not only as regards Southern Rhodesia but for the future of the whole Continent of Africa, and, indeed, world peace. We must recognise that Africa is standing on the brink of real war. We must not regard it merely as a colonial or Commonwealth issue, but as a real issue of peace or war.

There are, furthermore, the difficulties that clearly will exist in Southern Rhodesia in the next three or four months with the ban on political meetings and the difficulties that will exist in making any further attempts to spread the participation of Africans in the electoral roll in Southern Rhodesia and in conveying to them and enabling them to discuss, for example, the conclusions of the Monckton Report when, eventually, they become known. These are very real considerations. One can make no further progress in Southern Rhodesia so long as this atmosphere persists, so long a suppression of free political thought and activity is still continuing.

That is the one most urgent factor in the situation. There is another, and that is equally important, and ought not to be under-estimated. It is the reaction of the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia to recent events in the Congo. I think we have got to recognise that the degree of enlightenment shown by the hon. Gentlemen opposite in their approach to this whole problem is understandably not shared by the European settlers in Rhodesia itself. They are thrown into a state of panic by recent events in Africa, particularly in the Congo, and it is not surprising that, in view of that, the Southern Rhodesian Government are making this apparent attempt to show they feel concern even more strongly than they do about the need to prevent any possible African rising against the Whites of Southern Rhodesia.

Indeed I received a letter this morning from a constituent of mine whose bother is at the moment in Africa—in Kenya, not Southern Rhodesia—and I want to read a couple of sentences from the letter. It says this: Macmillan's wind of change' speech has let loose forces that he cannot control, and the Belgian Government by its Congo behaviour has accelerated the return to primitive Africa. Yet these wretched Conservatives— I quote this in no party sense, and in all seriousness— sitting in the smug security of Westminster are prepared to sacrifice us in Kenya to satisfy some unreasonable sentiment. Don't they realise that by their stupidity they are playing the Communist game? In fact I look on quite a large proportion of them as being fellow travellers. Hon. Members laugh. I think it is very funny, too, but we have got to realise the difference in attitude between those of us who can look through the historical perspective at events in Africa, at events in Southern Rhodesia, for our point of view of responsibility for coloured and write people in Africa, and the attitude and point of view of the settlers out there who are thrown into a state of complete panic, who can no longer regard what is going on around them with any degree of objectivity or detachment. We have get to realise that there are bound to be profound differences.

It is important to realise that, because there is going to be pretty violent opposition to any suggestion that the responsibility of the British Government to wards ensuring the development towards real democracy in Southern Rhodesia should be exercised in the near future much more strongly. If the suggestion which we have just heard being made by the hon. Member for Gravesend is accepted by the Government, as I thank it will be, if indeed the Government are not able straight away, as I wish they would, to suspend the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia and take the action which is necessary, there is bound to be tremendous opposition to this from Europeans in Southern Rhodesia, and from official representatives, too.

It is worth noticing that in recent months the High Commissioner for the Federation has been making quite clear what his point of view is on the matters which are to be reported on by the Monckton Commission. In Scotland, the Church of Scotland has been seriously concerned with the fact that Sir Gilbert Rennie has been going round Scotland talking to presbyteries, speaking in public, at political meetings, in favour of the point of view of political issues which are entirely the responsibility of the British people. We can expect that kind of opposition to be exercised further by responsible people in Southern Rhodesia.

I would just end on this note, because I, too, want to be as brief as I can, as many other people have important things to say on this and other matters, even at this early hour of the morning. The issue before us seems to me to be terribly grim and in its essence very simple. It is not whether we go forward to racial partnership or abandon it. Of course we go forward to that partnership, but we do it only by ensuring that progress is allowed to continue. We have to make up our minds whether we take steps to change the situation radically in Southern Rhodesia, whether we change and influence the course of history in Africa, or whether we allow Southern Rhodesia to face what will inevitably be years of bitter suppression.

That is the choice before us. We have to try to convince the settlers of Southern Rhodesia that they cannot hope to solve the problems of their part of Africa by reviving old-fashioned 19th century ideas that one can kill political ideals with a gun. That cannot work. We know that it cannot work.

It is vitally important that the Government should take immediate action. It is not only important to the Africans in Southern Rhodesia, and not only important to European's in Southern Rhodesia, although it is probably their only way out, but it is important to the whole future of Africa. It is important to the future of Britain and to the future of the Commonwealth, because we shall be judged not on resolutions that we pass in this House on events in Sharpeville and South Africa but by what we do in a crisis which is our responsibility. I hope that both sides of the House will be able so firmly and vigorously to impress their point of view on the Government that we shall see the action which we are urging tonight being taken very early.

4.12 a.m.

Mr. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

I do not propose to deliver the speech which I had prepared. I have taken that decision because of the speech of the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) who has indicated that on both sides of the House there is an understanding of the seriousness of the present position in Southern Rhodesia.

I should not have thought of suggesting that the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia should be suspended had it not been for the statement which has been issued today jointly by Mr. Garfield Todd, the ex-Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, representing progressive Europeans in that territory, and the National Democratic Party of Southern Rhodesia which undoubtedly represents the majority of African opinion. When a statement of that kind is published by the leader of the liberal Europeans and the Africans it is something of which the House cannot possibly fail to take notice.

I agree, however, with the hon. Member for Gravesend that the suspension of the Constitution should be regarded as a last measure and that if there are alternatives to be found we should be seeking for them. It is possible that the proposal made by the hon. Member for Gravesend might be acceptable on one condition: namely, that the political prisoners who are now in the gaols of Southern Rhodesia should be liberated. There are the 43 men who have been in prison or detention for 16 months without trial, the 200 men who have been imprisoned in Salisbury, and the hundreds now who are being imprisoned in Bulawayo. If there is to be any chance of a constitutional conference representing the National Democratic Party and the Central African Party, the condition must be that before that conference is held these men shall be released.

For 16 months men have been in prison who have never been brought to public trial. Now three leaders of the National Democratic Party, for whom there is the utmost respect in Southern Rhodesia—they are regarded as moderate leaders—have been arrested. The situation has even developed to the point where the vice-president of the Central African Party, the president of which is Mr. Garfield Todd, an ex-European Prime Minister, has also been arrested. In these circumstances, unless these releases from prison take place, the House has no right to expect either the National Democratic Party or the Central African Party in Southern Rhodesia to engage in constitutional discussions.

Mr. Peter Emery (Reading)

Did the hon. Member say that Mr. Garfield Todd had been arrested, because that is what I understood him to say? That is not so.

Mr. Brockway

No, I did not say so.

Mr. Emery

I think the hon. Member should make the point clear.

Mr. Brockway

I said that the vice-president of the Central African Party, of which Mr. Garfield Todd is the president, has been arrested. Everyone who knows the vice-president knows that he is not only a man of character but a man whose whole influence has been exerted towards a solution of this problem on inter-racial lines. He feels himself so deeply against any methods of violence that even in these recent conflicts in Bulawayo he has been exerting his influence in that way.

I say to the House and particularly to the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations that if the solution which is suggested by the hon. Member for Gravesend is to be acceptable, one of the pre-conditions of any constitutional conference including the National Democratic Party and the Central African Party must be that the men who are now detained without trial and the men who have now been arrested shall be released. Do that, and we may get an atmosphere in Southern Rhodesia in which the proposal of the hon. Member for Gravesend would prove acceptable. I earnestly plead with the Minister of State to use his influence to bringing about that solution.

4.18 a.m.

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Nottingham, West)

I wish briefly to speak in support of the general approach made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk). It is clear that there is now a serious situation in Southern Rhodesia. For many years it has rightly been the proud claim of Southern Rhodesia's Government that nobody has been killed in civil disorder in that country since 1896. That is a record which would compare favourably with almost every other country in the world. But, tragically, that can never be said again.

Like many other hon. Members, I have met Mr. Stanlake Samkange and Mr. Takawira. I should be very surprised indeed, although I realise that I may be wrong, if those two men were involved in anything which in this country would be regarded as subversive or violent. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State may be able to shed some light upon that.

I do not deny the necessity for the restoration of order as quickly as possible in Southern Rhodesia. I do not think that any progress can be made until that has been done, and I am sure that everyone in the House will support the Southern Rhodesian Government in any necessary steps which they must take to achieve that end. I do not think that we should at this time urge Her Majesty's Government to suspend the Southern Rhodesian Constitution. The immediate effect of such action would be to provoke a very major crisis, and, perhaps, to create the very situation which we want to avoid—that of driving Southern Rhodesia into the arms of the Union of South Africa.

I strongly support what my hon. Friend said about the extreme undesirability of South African troops being permitted to enter Southern Rhodesia in any circumstances whatsoever. I am sure that if the Southern Rhodesian Govern-Inuit were to ask for British troops to be sent Her Majesty's Government would comply with that request. If this should, unhappily, prove to be necessary, then it is very important indeed that those troops should not appear merely to be bolstering the existing regime. Nothing could be more damaging to our influence in the whole of Central Africa than that.

I would very much like to see the British Government summoning a conference for Southern Rhodesia similar to that held for Kenya and that now being held for Nyasaland; a conference at which all sections of the people of all races in Southern Rhodesia would be represented. It is essential that Her Majesty's Government should now take a political initiative in Southern Rhodesia. For too long the Southern Rhodesian Government have been preaching partnership and practising apartheid. It is sheer hypocrisy for us to continue to turn a blind eye to that fact.

I believe that there is still a real chance of partnership working, but it can work only with our encouragement and, if necessary, our intervention. There must be very much more rapid and practical progress towards the implementation of the policy of partnership to which the politicians out there are all committed.

4.24 a.m.

Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)

We have been delighted on this side of the House to get the support of Members opposite in their general approach to the problem of Southern Rhodesia today. This is the second time that we have debated this subject in a short time. Last time we discussed the affairs of Southern Rhodesia we did our best to urge on Her Majesty's Government the desirability of impressing upon the Southern Rhodesian Government the need for consultation, for discussion, with leaders of African opinion in that country about the possibilities of constitutional advance.

We pointed out that there was to be a constitutional conference for Nyasaland, and asked why there should not also be a constitutional conference for Southern Rhodesia, and why it was not possible to bring to London leaders of African opinion in Southern Rhodesia, just as we were bringing' to London leaders of African opinion in Nyasaland, and sit around the table with the present Government and try to arrive at an agreed solution for some degree of constitutional advance.

We were delighted when the Africans were eventually invited. We met them. I met them myself. The very men now in prison were having tea with me in the House of Commons only a few weeks ago. They seemed to be as moderate-minded men as I have ever met among African political leaders, men who expressed objectives not in the slightest degree unreasonable, men who had ideas of the rate of 'progress that could be achieved which were not hasty or intemperate, but reasonable. Therefore, we were deeply shocked on Wednesday last week when we read of their arrest. We would have liked to raise the matter in the House straight away, but the rules of order prevented it. I did say outside the House as soon as I was able to do so that we on this side regarded these arrests with very grave misgivings indeed, that we feared they might become a provocation to the kind of violent action which, on both sides, we would deplore, and unfortunately precisely that has happened.

Some of our newspapers appear to be representing to their readers just now that the arrests are the consequence of the riots. Surely, it is the other way round. The public meetings whose repression led to riots began as a protest against the arrest of these men with no reason given and no explanation assigned.

We meet tonight after all these events with our feelings that unnecessary action, again perhaps inspired by narrow political motives, was taken by the Government of Southern Rhodesia, and the feelings we have about this have been confirmed by the remarkable statement issued by Mr. Garfield Todd as well as by African political leaders. As my hon. Friend, the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) said, it is a most historic occasion when a Former Prime Minister of a country like that can come into this country and issue such a statement.

I hope we are going to hear tonight from the Minister of State that he intends to see Mr. Garfield Todd as soon as possible—today, perhaps—and discuss with him the statement he has made and all the implications, and ask him what information he has about the seriousness of the situation and what proposals he has for a modification of that situation.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman must be in considerable difficulty tonight because it was only about ten hours ago that the statement was issued. He cannot have had much time to discuss it with his political chief, and we may even wonder if he knows who his political chief is at the present time. The Government cannot seriously have considered this difficult and awkward situation because the Government are in process of unscrambling, de-scrambling, or re-scrambling. We do not know what sort of Government we have at this moment.

Mr. Ross

We know that.

Mr. Marquand

I should say we do not know how the Government are constituted at the moment. What I hope we shall hear tonight is that at the earliest possible opportunity there will be a serious consideration by the Government of the statement issued by Mr. Garfield Todd, and that an early opportunity will be taken to see him. That is absolutely important. I hope the Minister will be able to tell us that not later than Thursday we shall have a further statement of the Government's attitude.

4.30 a.m.

The Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)

I am not sure at this point of time whether we are engaged in this debate at an abnormally early or abnormally late hour. I hope that hon. Members will allow me to intervene now to try to deal with some of the points which have been raised, and to do so at no great length, because I know there are several hon. Members with important matters to raise before the House rises.

I think the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) was arguing a certain part of his case under a misconception. My noble Friend has not been engaged in discussions, in any normal sense of the word, with any representatives of the National Democratic Party of Southern Rhodesia about a constitutional change or anything else. It is perfectly true that, as is perfectly right and proper, he has had an opportunity of meeting some who were present in London—as did the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand)—when they were here, as he would meet anyone who came here and who occupied a position in the public life of a country with which we were concerned. But to regard that as discussions or negotiations would be entirely misrepresenting the position of my noble Friend in this matter. Therefore, a good deal of the hon. Gentleman's argument falls to the ground.

There is another fact which the House may like to have recalled to its notice. It is that the franchise of Southern Rhodesia, which has come under some criticism, is that which was introduced by Mr. Garfield Todd himself when he was Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. As I remember the arguments at the time, he regarded it as a liberal franchise in the circumstances of Southern Rhodesia's development. It is certainly the franchise upon which the present Government of Southern Rhodesia was elected.

I noted another misconception by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon when he complained that we seemed to have reached a stage when it was not possible for the House to debate the problems of Commonwealth countries, although we could continue to debate those of foreign countries. The right hon. Gentleman did not get that proposition in perspective. As I understand it, speeches can be, and are, made in the House on any subject under the sun, but Ministers can be called to account in these matters only if they are responsible. The Government of the United Kingdom are not responsible for any of the policies or actions of the independent countries of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, Ministers are in no way accountable for anything that those countries do.

Similarly, where powers of self-government have been handed over to a fully constituted Government by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Ministers are not accountable for the actions of those governments, except in so far as specific powers are reserved to the Government of the United Kingdom, or to a United Kingdom Minister advising the Sovereign at any particular time.

Mr. Stonehouse rose

Mr. Alport

I have only a certain amount of time. If the hon. Member will let me finish my argument, he might find that I clear up the issue which he wishes to raise.

Matters relating to law and order or internal security in Southern Rhodesia are matters for the Government of that country, who are accountable to the Parliament elected in that country with whatever franchise may be appertaining at the time. Southern Rhodesia has had internal self-government since 1923—thirty to forty years—and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. Tapsell) said, it has had an outstanding record of freedom from civil disturbances, until these recent unhappy events. Decisions and actions in regard to the maintenance of law and order or internal security are for the Government of Southern Rhodesia and are matters for which Ministers in the United Kingdom are not accountable.

Indeed, any explanation with regard to the arrest of the men, to which reference has been made in this debate, is a matter for the Government of Southern Rhodesia to make when and if they think it appropriate. As a matter of fact, I think that it is common knowledge through the Press that the individuals concerned have been released on bail, and the matter is therefore sub judice. Therefore, even if it were my responsibility, or the responsibility of the Department in which I serve, it would be wrong for me to comment on that particular matter at the present time.

Mr. Stonehouse

Before the right hon. Gentleman finishes with his fascinating point about misconceptions, will he agree with one fundamental fact in regard to this situation, namely, that because of the protective clauses in the Southern Rhodesia Constitution, the 2½ million Africans regard the United Kingdom Government as the protecting power?

Mr. Alport

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to continue my argument, I think the position will become as clear as I physically am able to make it at this time in the morning.

It is, of course, possible for the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to argue that there should be some reversal in the long-established principle which United Kingdom Governments of all complexions have followed and which is aimed at seeking continually to devolve power to local communities to have responsibility for their own affairs. Or they may argue, equally, that even though this power is devolved, the United Kingdom should seek to regain it by whatever means lies within their power. But I hope that that argument will not commend itself to the House, and I think, from the speeches that I have heard, that only a very small minority of hon. Members find an argument on those lines acceptable to them, because, quite apart from anything else, it would be impracticable for us to attempt to do so.

Those of us who have been involved in the problems of Africa during these recent years have, I think, come to the conclusion, or should have done, that the fundamental problem of Africa is the maintenance of law and stability. That is an interest common to all races who regard any part of Africa as their home, because with a breakdown of law and stability all races are bound to suffer. Whatever may be the other lessons which the recent events in the Congo have taught us, it is surely that the apparatus of ordered administration is of even more importance in Africa than anywhere else, because without it social and economic progress of the peoples there would be impossible, and the need for that social and economic progress is more important perhaps in Africa than anywhere else at the present time.

It is, therefore, the responsibility of any Government concerned in African affairs to ensure that ordered administration is maintained. In the case of Southern Rhodesia that responsibility rests with the Government of Southern Rhodesia—

Mr. Stonehouse

It is not being carried out.

Mr. Alport

—and they are entitled, in their task, to look for support to people of all races who live in that land, and I frankly have little doubt that that support will be forthcoming.

As far the United Kingdom is concerned, our responsibilities in respect of Southern Rhodesia are limited by a Constitution which has been given to it by the Parliament of this country to certain reserve powers which relate to legisla- tion, and these responsibilities have been carried out in the terms of that Constitution by successive Secretaries of State over the last 30 or 40 years.

In addition, we have certain powers respecting amendment to the Constitutution, and in so far as there are any discussions between the Government of Southern Rhodesia and that of the United Kingdom, those discussions concern one point, namely, the exercise of those powers with regard to the amendment of the Constitution which are still reserved to the United Kingdom.

As the House knows, in November, 1959, and subsequently in April, 1960, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia came to the United Kingdom to discuss certain matters relating to the future Constitution of Southern Rhodesia. He is just as entitled to do so as any other Prime Minister of any other Colony or dependent territory of Great Britain, and any decisions which may be reached as a result of any particular set of constitutional talks are for the United Kingdom to make in the light of the responsibilities which remain to it.

I would remind the House, if I may, of the statement which I made in relation to these talks on 9th May, when I said: The United Kingdom Government stated that their ability to accept a scheme which would reduce or withdraw the powers vested in the Secretary of State in relation to the Southern Rhodesia Constitution would depend on whether arrangements could be devised and agreed by both Governments which would provide effective alternative safeguards, particularly in respect of discriminatory legislation and land rights, and in respect of amendment of the Constitution."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1960; Vol. 623, c. 31.] That was the position then and that is the position at the present time. It is true that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has indicated to us that he would like to have further talks this year, possibly in September, but no decision in regard to these constitutional talks has as yet been taken either with regard to their timing or their nature. But I think that I have, however, made it perfectly clear—and this brings me to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Graveend (Mr. Kirk)—following the statement made by the Prime Minister in February, and on other occasions, that if any decision were made with regard to any change in the present Constitution of Southern Rhodesia full weight would be given to the interests of the African inhabitants of the Colony. I have no shadow of doubt in my own mind that the Prime Minister and Government of Southern Rhodesia are just as alive as we are, as has been shown by the speeches made this evening, to the importance of paying proper regard to the representative views of the African population in any changes which are made.

Mr. Stonehouse

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is the responsibility of the United Kingdom to ensure that African interests are protected, and will he please answer the question, how are those interests to be ascertained? Will the Africans be directly consulted and, in particular, will the right hon Gentleman allow a constitutional conference to be called at which the Africans will be represented through their political parties?

Mr. Alport

I have already said, and it has been made clear on previous occasions, as far as any decisions which may be made with regard to any constitutional changes are concerned, proper regard will be paid to the Africans.

Mr. Stonehouse

But how?

Mr. Alport

When my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State was asked, he explained that that was a matter which would be decided when the time comes for this discussion or conference, or whatever it may be, to be given effect. But it is not possible at the present moment to say precisely what the machinery will be for this, except, as I have already sail, that I am quite sure that the Government of Southern Rhodesia, just as we are, are alive to the importance of ensuring that the representative views of the Africans are ascertained and known by that time.

Mr. Brockway

By putting them in gaol.

Mr. Alport

I have endeavoured to set out as clearly as I can the attitude of Her Majesty's Government in the present situation. We have had a suggestion from my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend, supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West, with regard to a constitutional conference. The constitutional conference which may take place is one to which I have referred and no doubt all the views expressed in this debate and the discussions which will continue will be borne in mind if that conference is held.

I now want to turn to the document to which reference has already been made, the document bearing four signatures, including those of Mr. Joshua Nkomo and Mr. Garfield Todd, which was delivered to my noble Friend the Secretary of State this afternoon. I understand that it has also been the subject of a Press conference. It appears to us, as I think it will appear to the House, to be a request by the four signatories for intervention by force by the United Kingdom with the object of abrogating the Southern Rhodesian Constitution and overthrowing the present Southern Rhodesian Government. It further appears to invite Her Majesty's Government to abrogate the Federation Constitution as well.

In these circumstances, when there is a proper stress being put on the importance of constitutional behaviour by Governments, I find it difficult to believe that those who presented it—although it is true that Mr. Garfield Todd was at one time Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia—could have fully understood the implications in respect of Southern Rhodesia and the United Kingdom of the request which apparently they have made. I should have thought that nothing could have done a greater disservice to Southern Rhodesia in particular and the Federation in general at this juncture than the publication of a document which cannot in any way assist the restoration of stability and tranquillity in this territory and which represents a negation of long established constitutional practice in the United Kingdom.

The hon. Member for Wednesbury is quite wrong in drawing a parallel between the present differences in Southern Rhodesia and those in British Guiana. In fact, British Guiana was never a self-governing Colony and Southern Rhodesia has been a self-governing Colony for over a generation. What is more, we have the Monckton Commission in the process of finishing its work in considering the future of the Federation, which will provide us with calm and wise advice on the future pattern of that political unity formed by the Federation. At the same time, my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary is engaged in important and obviously difficult negotiations with respect to the future of one of the territories from which we have every hope that there will be a fruitful outcome for Nyasaland.

Surely this is a time when the Government should observe the principles of constitutional behaviour in all matters which they are endeavouring to maintain and expand in the Commonwealth, and anyone advising us or pressing us to the contrary would be acting contrary to the best interests of the people not only in Africa but in the United Kingdom. Certainly it is along established lines of constitutional progress that Her Majesty's Government are concerned to proceed in this matter and I believe in that we shall have the support of hon. Members and of the general public here and overseas.

Mr. Marquand

Will the Minister answer my question? He has referred to the document signed by Mr. Garfield Todd as "seeming to say" this and "seeming to say" that. Will he find out whether that is really what the signatories mean by inviting Mr. Garfield Todd to come and see him?

Mr. Stonehouse

Will the Minister also see the other signatories as well?

Mr. Alport

I have noted what the right hon. Gentleman said. I cannot give an undertaking at the moment. When the right hon. Gentleman has considered the document carefully, as we have, I do not think he will regard it as representing wise and calm advice with regard to the future of Southern Rhodesia.