§ Motion made, and Question proposed That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Redmayne.]
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. lain Macleod)
When, yesterday, following my statement in the House, we discussed the constitutional proposals for Northern Rhodesia there was a general desire for an urgent and early debate which the Leader of the Opposition said he hoped would be of a constructive and exploratory character, and I think that we all also felt, on both sides, that the gravity of the situation was such that we wanted to choose our words very carefully indeed in commenting upon the Government's proposals.
Of course, the news that has come today, none of it unexpected to the Government, both of the rejection of the plan by Sir Roy Welensky and of the resignation of some members of the United Federal Party Ministers in Northern Rhodesia, obviously underlines the gravity of the situation and makes it all the more important that we —I, in particular—should choose our words carefully today.
Yesterday, I said that when the House had had an opportunity of studying the White Paper it would see quite clearly how far apart the points of view were and have remained. Indeed, it would have been easy to have used stronger words and to have said that the points of view were irreconcilable. That is the word which was actually used by Sir John Moffat, when he spoke at a Press conference yesterday at Lusaka and said:All the opportunities for a co-operative, peaceful period of evolution are there in the new Constitution if the Northern Rhodesian people like to take them. But if one race is determined to cause trouble, that period of peaceful evolution will not be possible, and the blame will rest on those who cause trouble. In my opinion, the new Constitution is a remarkably successful compromise between irreconcilable outlooks.Now I believe that this is the hope and, at the same time, the challenge of the plans that we put before the House, and when one finds oneself, as I have often 513 done in my present job, and in my previous job, in the position of having to judge somehow between two points of view which seem impossible to bring together, it is not, of course, always wise to take the middle course; but it is not always wrong to do so, either.
In one sentence, the heart of the case which I should like to put, and put briefly because I know that many hon. Members will wish to speak, is that in this situation what the Government have done is right and is sound. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) yesterday drew attention, quite rightly, to what is said in the Monckton Report. I am sure that he is right in saying that what is said in that Report was a major factor in the minds of African thinkers in thinking that that conveyed the intention of Her Majesty's Government to grant in specifically racial terms a majority in the Legislative Council.
I think that we should put on record precisely what the Monckton Commission said, because it dealt with this matter only in passing. It said:Most of us do not wish to make any precise suggestions which might embarrass these negotiations, but we are content to reoommend that there should be an African majority in the Legislature and an unofficial majority in the Executive Council so constituted as to reflect the composition of the Legislature. Some of us feel that the time has not yet come for an African majority in the Legislature. Others feel that there should be an African majority in the Executive Council as well as in the Legislature.I admire very greatly the Monckton Report and I believe that it is an invaluable contribution to the thinking of those who have to try to clarify the position of these three Territories. But I have always thought, both here and in their wider extension of thought to the conception of parity within the Federation, and a parity within parity for Northern Rhodesia, that the one criticism that can fairly be levelled against that is that it was purely a racial approach. For that reason I believe, as I said yesterday, that one of the dissenting notes is more wisely argued than the majority recommendation itself.
The position of Her Majesty's Government, therefore, was this. If we had thought it right to go for a racial vote—and I believe that it is a false analogy with Nyasaland to suggest that we should —we should have to decide whether we 514 were to have about 45 elected members in the proportions 22–22, 23–21, or 21–23. But if one were to seek to find, as we did, right from my first speech on 19th December, a non-racial approach to this problem one could not at the same time build an assured racial majority into the structure. I believe, therefore, that the method of election of the national seats is and will prove to be, under criticism, the best method that one can find for ensuring that, at the same time, one has a substantial increase in the number of Africans on the Legislative Council and one is encouraging a non-racial approach that will cut across the monolithic blocks of the two rolls.
I want to deal with the criticisms that the suggestions put forward yesterday are vague and incomplete. First, I think that we would all agree, on reflection—and hon. Members passed from this point quickly yesterday—that it is not possible, in London, for the delimitation of constituencies and allied matters to be discussed in conference. After all, we do not do that here. We may have a Representation of the People Bill, but the work is done by a Boundary Commission. In exactly the same way, in every constitutional conference that I can remember and certainly in every one on Colonial Territories over which I have presided, these matters have been left either to working parties or to the Governor, with advice, in the territory concerned.
Secondly, I am asked why I went into some detail, as the White Paper does, on the lower roll and gave only an outline of the thinking on the upper roll, although it is made clear that there will be changes in the upper roll and the added footnote shows approximately the extent of these changes as far as they affect the African vote. I will give the House the reason exactly as I gave it to the conference and the House will have to judge whether it is a good or a bad reason.
I said, "In the end, these matters must be for submission by the Governor to-myself, but I think it right because all the parties that are most concerned with the representation of the lower roll are here at Lancaster House to give you in some detail what I think the approach might be to the lower roll. But I will only give that thinking in outline as far as the upper roll is concerned, because two-thirds 515 of those who form the Legislative Council are not here and between them they represent the two parties perhaps with particular influence and interest in the upper roll".
I said, "If this position had been reversed and the European parties had been alone attending and the African parties had not, I would have gone into detail on the upper roll and only have sketched my reasons for advance on the lower".
The third point on which criticism is made is that this considerable extension of the lower roll may result in the swamping of that roll by persons who do not measure up to the standard required for the franchise. In the first place, the relative sizes of the two rolls are unimportant as far as elections for the national seats are concerned. Indeed, it has been suggested that a boycott might be effective in this field. As anyone who has had time to study the matter will have clearly seen, the only effect of a boycott would be to make certain that one's opponent was returned.
But among the categories which we have added to the lower roll are, in my view, precisely the sort of people who are responsible people and on whom the running of the country, particularly at local level, so much depends—councillors, native authorities, headmen and ex-Service men. All these are categories which I should have thought everybody would gladly see added to the franchise, even though for these categories they are literate for the purpose of filling a form in the vernacular rather than in English.
I should like to restate briefly the position of the relationship between Her Majesty's Government and the Federal Government on the subject of constitutional advance in the Northern Territories. First, there is a clear obligation on us to consult. It is laid down in the 1953 White Paper and, obviously, as I said earlier, to consult implies to take into account the representations that are made. Secondly, the decision in these matters is for Her Majesty's Government, and I cannot put this in clearer words than were used by my noble Friend Lord Chandos, as he now is, when he was the Secretary of State for the Colonies in this House.
516 My noble Friend said:I cannot repeat often enough what I have said in this House before, that the Federal Constitution gives the Federal Government no power either to retard or to accelerate the political advancement of Africans in any of the constituent Territories; no power to interfere with the Territorial Governments on this matter. I am thinking particularly, of course, of the two Northern Territories."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th July, 1953; Vol. 518, c. 901–2.]As for the position of the United Federal Party in Northern Rhodesia, in my view it made a profound mistake by not attending the resumed conference in London, particularly so soon after they had been so critical of African leaders who had not attended the Federal Conference. Nevertheless, it is of great importance in the talks that the Governor will have in Lusaka that he should be able, if people are willing to meet him, to get the points of view of all people. I hope very much that the United Federal Party in Northern Rhodesia will, on those terms, consult with the Governor so that the final recommendations that he puts to me will be as widely representative as possible of thinking in that territory.
There were two particular points raised yesterday during the attempts to suggest that we should have an immediate debate under Standing Order No. 9, with which I should like to deal now. First, the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East said that there might be plans to arrest African political leaders on their return to the territory. Let me say categorically that there is no truth in that. There is no justification for the suggestion that any of those who have attended the constitutional talks in London are in danger of arrest on their return to Lusaka or are likely to incur such danger so long, of course, as they do not by subsequent actions place themselves in jeopardy of the law.
§ Mr. Macleod
It means that I cannot give a guarantee for the conduct of people in the future. Nobody could possibly expect me to go beyond that.
The other point was raised by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who referred to Press reports to the effect that units of Britain's Strategic Reserve were being prepared to fly to Lusaka to help the Federal Government to deal with trouble arising 517 from the imposition of the Constitution. I should like to assure her and the House that that report was incorrect.
I wonder whether, as we discuss this matter, we can see whether the differences between us are really as wide as we may think. I remember very well a speech by the Leader of the Opposition, one of the first speeches to which I listened about fifteen months ago after I had become Secretary of State for the Colonies. He urged, on 27th October, 1959, that there should be an early and substantial extension of the franchise in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. These are his words:there must at least be such an extension as will give Nyasaland a majority of African representatives in the Legislature and in Northern Rhodesia—and these are modest requests—at least parity between Africans and Europeans." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th October, 1959; Vol. 612. c. 62.]The Leader of the Opposition was of course, urging that these discussions should take place before the Federal Conference was called. But, in fact, one of the conferences took place before the Federal Conference was called and the other was held concurrently with it. On the basis of those words, I find it hard to believe that there is really a great gulf between us in the approach that we wish to see to the two Northern Territories of the Federation.
At all times when one has to study Colonial Territory problems there are those—these are the faint hearts—who look for a course in which there is no risk. There is no such course. There is no safety for us in any particular course. Every course that one can put forward is fraught with danger, including the one that I am recommending to the House now.
When I spoke a few weeks ago, at the Central Hall, to a great gathering of young people who were absorbed in and thrilled with the problems of Africa, as I am, I said that the Secretary of State for the Colonies every day, and sometimes a dozen times a day, had to walk this tightrope of decision. There is risk always in whatever he does. In Her Majesty's Government we have had no illusions about the fierceness of the reaction that would come from the policies that we have thought right to put forward.
518 Nevertheless, the position must surely be that, however the tides of criticism, comment and even abuse may ebb and flow, there is only one thing that Her Majesty's Government can do, and that is to remember their responsibilities to all men of all races in that territory, to put forward their policies and, having done that, to hold steadfast on course. That is what we have done, and that is what we propose to do.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
Those cheers must certainly encourage the Colonial Secretary, but I think that he would be even more encouraged if he could hear the echoes of them coming back from Lusaka.
I divide this problem sharply into two parts. One is the Government's handling of it, and the other is the merits of the proposal which the Colonial Secretary is putting forward. Whatever may be said about the merits of the Colonial Secretary's case, there can be no argument that on the manner of its presentation he and the Prime Minister between them have managed to discourage and offend every single one of the major parties attending or not attending the conference.
It is all very well to do good, but it ought as well to look as though one is doing good. If the Colonial Secretary really wants blessings and hosannas to fall upon him, he ought at least to get the encouragement of those who are to benefit from the blessings that he is intending to confer. It seems to me that the Government are open to very considerable criticism. If, as the Colonial Secretary says, his policy is right, he has not been able to get any support for it from any major quarter. This is, therefore, the first complaint that I would bring against the Government.
The Colonial Secretary said that he wondered whether the gulf between him self and us was as wide as is made out. I have not been conscious of any gulf over the last eighteen months. Indeed. I would tell him that the gulf between himself and myself is much less than the gulf between himself and his right hon Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). I am not here this afternoon, nor was I standing at this 519 Dispatch Box yesterday—nor have I been all the way through this sequence of events on the development of either the Federal Conference or the Northern Rhodesia Conference—to attack what I have understood to be—and what I hope I may still understand to be—the Colonial Secretary's basic ideas on this problem.
All say that they favour non-racial franchises and non-racial elections. It is like the blessed word "Mesopotamia". The United Federal Party says it, the United National Independence Party says it, the African National Congress says it, and the Central African Liberal Party says it. We all say that we are non-racial now. It is like the phrase, "We are all Socialists now", though I appreciate that there are a lot of different interpretations of that. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Mr. Speaker, I forgot. I wish to withdraw that last remark. I had forgotten that we have now entered a new phase of Tory philosophy.
Nevertheless, the Colonial Secretary might ask himself why it is that he has gat every single one of the major parties attending these conferences up against him. I think that the reason is this. He was believed to be in favour of an African majority. I emphasise "believed to be". How this misunderstanding came about is quite easy to see. The Monckton Commission—the Colonial Secretary has read the appropriate paragraph, paragraph 111 recommended that there should be an African majority. I do not think that it is being unfair to the right hon. Gentleman to say that in the months that have passed since the publication of the Report he has done nothing to discourage that view. Indeed, many people who have seen him have come away believing that that view represented his own.
Perhaps it did not, but if there has been misunderstanding, then he is responsible for it. If he never intended that there should be an African majority, he should have taken a much earlier opportunity than he did to try to show those people who were putting the idea forward that Monckton and he were not in agreement. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that he proves his case by putting in the White Paper the full text of the speech he made at the opening of the 520 conference. This is what he said in that speech:The means by which this might be achieved"—that is, the development of a non-racial approach—will be for the Conference to consider, as will also be the kind of balance of representation enjoyed by the main communities in the Legislature, e.g. whether at this next stage we should move into arrangements which will produce in practice something like equal numbers of Europeans and non-European members in the Legislative Council, or something short of that, or something going a little beyond it.The right hon. Gentleman was certainly backing his horses all possible ways at once. Is it not correct, none the less, that his very anxiety to include this speech in the White Paper is, in itself, evidence that he feels it necessary to deny these very widespread rumours and the widespread belief that he has, up to now, been encouraging a belief in an African majority? If such a belief had not been widespread there would have been no point in putting this long speech into the White Paper.
The right hon. Gentleman has brought a great many troubles upon his own shoulders in this matter, quite apart from the invaluable assistance which he has had from his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I would not care to leave the Prime Minister out of the reckoning. The 96 Government back benchers who are critical of him are another problem for the Colonial Secretary.
The Prime Minister's rôle in this has been even more curious than that of the Colonial Secretary, because the Prime Minister labours under a persistent disadvantage in the Central African Federation. The Europeans there do not trust him. It is as simple as that. They believed that he had given an assurance to Sir Roy Welensky that the Monckton Commission would not be able to consider the question of secession. It was for that reason that the Labour Party stayed out of the Commission. We thought that we had read the Prime Minister's verbiage correctly. So did Sir Roy Welensky. Sir Roy believes that he was taken in on that occasion. He does not intend that the Prime Minister shall catch him twice. There is a Derbyshire miners' saying which Sir Roy Welensky, with his well-known bluntness, may consider applicable. It is, "Never let your bottom be kicked by the same boot twice".
521 That is the basis of Sir Roy's approach to this problem. If Members opposite want to know what standing the Prime Minister has over there, they can gauge it from the phrase which is in current circulation. It is called "Doing a Macmillan". In Central African parlance, "Doing a Macmillan" is interpreted like this, "I did not say it; if I did, I did not mean it; and in either case I was misreported".
Sir Roy Welensky has summed it up. The Prime Minister has gone through the phases of "MacWonder", then "Mac-Tarnish", and now Sir Roy Welensky calls him "MacJellybones". We shall not get a solution to this problem until it is clearly understood, both by Africans and by Europeans, that the British Government are speaking with one voice and know their mind.
Part of the trouble from which the party opposite is suffering at the present time is that it has a split mind on colonial questions, particularly about relations between black and white. That is why the Colonial Secretary, in the middle of the most delicate and difficult negotiations, was not only publicly insulted by Sir Roy Welensky, but stabbed in the back by 96 of his own back benchers.
I differentiate sharply between the conduct of these negotiations and the substance of what the right hon. Gentleman is doing. I now come to that part of his proposals. Yesterday, he pulled me up when I asked whether these proposals meant an African majority. He was right in doing so, but I was using shorthand and it is a little difficult, when asking supplementary questions, to rephrase interrogatively what one has written. The question I put was not what I meant to say.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman and I mean the same things. I did not understand the proposals in the White Paper, and I will rephrase my question. What the people out there want to know, and what we want to know, is: are his electoral proposals intended to ensure that a majority of the voters get the Members of Parliament they want and not, conversely, that a minority of voters elect the Members? That is the point.
I have done some arithmetic, as far as I can understand the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. I ask the House to 522 accept that arithmetic for the time being —at least until it has a chance to get at it. Take a constituency of 5,000, with 1,000 European voters and 4,000 African. My conclusion from the Colonial Secretary's proposals is that, in that constituency, it would be possible for a European standing against an African to be elected with 1,301 votes, and for an African with 3,700 votes to be declared the defeated candidate. This is because the right hon. Gentleman says that we must take the percentage cast on each roll and divide it by two.
I can see the skilfulness of it, but I am bound to say that if the effect of his skilfulness is to lead to a position in which the candidate with two or three times the number of votes cast for the man who comes second is declared defeated, then his Constitution will not stand up very long, no matter what percentage he produces.
This is not yet a non-racial election. By introducing the device of the percentage, the right hon. Gentleman is offsetting the tremendous numerical advantage Africans will have in most of the constituencies. He may not want to do that, but I would far sooner that he did it by reserved seats for Africans or Europeans than by pretending that a racial franchise is non-racial.
If the right hon. Gentleman does that, he will depart from the concept of democracy and democratic practice which we want to inculcate. The Africans think that it is all rigged. They think that it is all "phoney".
§ Mr. Callaghan
Maybe it is, but I do not wish to attack his bona fides on this. I am sure, however, that he is in error if his percentages and his franchise are to lead to the sort of result which I have outlined—and I believe that the illustration I gave is an accurate one.
§ Mr. Macleod
I agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said. The approach will be the one he outlines, but there is a grave disadvantage in it in that reserve seats would automatically bring a purely racial element into it. I am prepared to admit that there is also a considerable disadvantage in the approach I put forward, in that it means equalising the voting powers of the rolls that are, in 523 total, unequal. But I believe that the second disadvantage is smaller than the first. That is the point at issue between us.
§ Mr. Callaghan
That may be so. It is for the House to judge on this matter of whether it is a basic point or rather one of approach. But I say that when the right hon. Gentleman is finished with this House he has to account for himself to the Africans and Europeans. I cannot see the people out there for long accepting a Constitution in which the candidate who gets more votes is not the successful candidate because the Colonial Secretary takes the percentages and divides by two. He takes a percentage and divides by two. I leave the point there.
I come now to one or two matters that I welcome in the White Paper. First, I welcome the substantial increase in the African electorate from 7,000 to 70,000. That is quite a substantial jump, although we must not forget it is still small in relation to the overwhelming Northern Rhodesian African population. However, it is a substantial increase. New categories have been brought into the fran[...]thise that should have been brought in a long time ago. I am glad to find them there now. With the one most welcome reduction in the qualifications for which the Colonial Secretary is asking, they are more in line with those required in Nyasaland than they were before.
The Colonial Secretary will have to fill out this sketch much more carefully before it can be called a plan, and I would ask him to consider doing it in London. In view of the present temper in Northern Rhodesia, I do not believe that there is much likelihood that this sketch can be transformed into a successful working plan there. I believe that in the atmosphere of London, where people are away from substantial pressures, there is a much better chance of doing this job than there is out there.
The Colonial Secretary said that he had not disclosed the details of the upper roll because two-thirds of the parties were absent from the conference. Why were they absent? Why were they not there? Because, as the Colonial Secretary said, they boycotted the conference. Supposing, when he gets back to Lusaka. the boycott goes on, is the Governor then to disclose the details of the upper roll to those who do attend the conference?
§ Mr. Callaghan
That is a great reassurance and it should go on record that if the United Federal Party boycott the conference in Lusaka then the Governor is empowered to disclose the details of the upper roll and, presumably, to negotiate about it with those attending the conference. That is as I understand the position and the Colonial Secretary nods his assent.
If that is the case, I would like publicly to say what I have already said privately this morning, to Mr. Kenneth Kaunda, that he should go to this conference and continue these negotiations. If any words of mine carry any weight at all in Northern Rhodesia—and they carry far less weight than some hon. Gentlemen opposite sometimes pretend—I hope that the parties which Mr. Kenneth Kaunda leads will give him authority to go into these negotiations and not follow the example of the United Federal Party. I believe that that would be the best thing in the interests of the people there.
We should all recognise the malevolent influence of the Federal Government in these discussions. It has been best summed up by Sir Arthur Benson who, I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite, was the Governor of Northern Rhodesia who immediately preceded the present Governor Sir Evelyn Hone. He retired only last year after several years as Governor of Northern Rhodesia. In a letter which he wrote to The Times on Monday—and I ask hon. Members to listen with great care, because it sums up my own view which I have endeavoured, obviously unsuccessfully, to put for several years, he says:It is the Federal Government (not the concept of federation) for its actions, its omissions. and its repeated declarations of intention, which all Northern Rhodesian Africans fear, arid, therefore, hate.Those are not my words, but the words of a Governor of Northern Rhodesia who has only recently retired from fulfilling his mission.
Sir Arthur Benson continues by saying that the Africans…will reject any North Rhodesian Constitution which does not give them the casting vote on the question of secession.But it is the British Government which they blame for their increasing despair.525 They blame the Government, Sir Arthur Benson says, for not standing up to the dictates of Sir Roy Welensky. He continues:Hence the vast support which African nationalist leaders command, and hence—and hence only—are those leaders supported when they demand independence. 'Britain has abdicated: we won't be ruled by Salisbury'.When will hon. Gentlemen opposite understand this? How many times has it to be said? This is a basic factor in this situation and until it is realised by the 96, as I believe it has been recognised by the Colonial Secretary, we will continue to get into these constant troubles.
Sir Roy Welensky is making moves today. What is the position about troops? Territorials have been called up. Unless there is a coup d'état, they can only be used if the Governor calls upon them. However, I do not trust the Federal authorities in this matter. Territorial troops were called up without the consent of the Governor. He was told after they had been called up. Are Her Majesty's Government endeavouring to make sure that Federal troops will not be used once again in advance of any request from the Governor?
The Federal Government have only themselves to blame if these suspicions are aroused. I put to the Colonial Secretary and the House what Mr. Kenneth Kaunda said to me, "I disagree profoundly with the Colonial Secretary that Federal troops have a calming and sobering influence on the people of Northern Rhodesia. They do not, because when they see Federal troops marching around the territory they say"—as Sir Arthur Benson says "the British Government have abdicated and we must defend ourselves."
This is a very serious consequence of calling up the troops and I ask the Colonial Secretary to give us an assurance that the British Government will seek the clearest understanding from Sir Roy Welensky that he will not use these troops until the British Government ask him to use them. I hope that they will not do so. There is plenty of time for a reply. I do not press for it, but I believe that assurance must be given.
It is not our desire, on this side of the House, to vote on the Adjournment tonight. T would dearly like to vote 526 against the Government's handling of the situation, because I believe that if we did vote there might be many hon. Gentlemen opposite who would follow us into the Lobby, whatever they think about the merits. At any rate, their hearts would be there even though their feet were tramping elsewhere. But I do not wish to do that. I do not want the Federal Government to get any comfort out of this debate and I would like the message to go out from the House of Commons to the Federal Government, quite simply, that the House of Commons will be united in resisting any attempt by Sir Roy Welensky or by his Government to take over the constitutional responsibilities of the British Government. If 'the British Government resist that, as they must, then they will have our support.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary believes in multiracial partnership and federation. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) opposes federation. It is, therefore, natural that on this problem his view and mine differ considerably. In the course of his speech he made what I thought was a brutal, savage and completely unjustified attack on the position of the Prime Minister in Central Africa. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which Prime Minister?"] The British Prime Minister.
The hon. Member went on to say that we overestimated the amount of weight that he—the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East—carried in Central Africa, but I can tell him that in the course of the fourteen days during which I was there with Members of his own party—and if I am speaking untruthfully I hope that they will challenge my statement, if they are in the House—whenever I met representatives of organised labour they told me that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East would talk to organised labour only if it had a black skin; that he had been rude, and that they bitterly resented the fact that those people who had formerly been his colleagues got no help or support from him when they went out there.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to say that if he believes 527 it. I would merely repudiate it completely. I would only say that I went out there with a combined Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Delegation, and that one of my colleagues was a Government Whip and another the present Minister of Power. I hope that they will help me in my repudiation of the allegation that I was personally rude to or ignored any white trade unionists.
It is true that we all had a difficult passage with a group of European mineworkers. I am not unique in that. The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) and the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) were also with me at the time, and I hope that they will all agree that we endeavoured to fulfil our programme as completely as we could, and that we met everybody with courtesy and endeavoured to listen to the points of view.
§ Mr. Turton
I have repeated what was said to me out there for one reason: the hon. Members for Cardiff, South East, made an unjustified attack on the Prime Minister's standing in Central Africa. If the hon. Member went out there he would find that he was not welcome in the company of any European trade unionist.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
I was one of those who were with the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) out there, and I can only say that my understanding of this incident was that a group of European mineworkers complained that they had visited the House of Commons in London and had not been able to meet my hon. Friend. It is only fair to make the point that I found a number of Europeans in the Federation who were not ardent supporters of my hon. Friend, but I could in no way be associated with the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman that is the general view of European trade unionists out there.
§ Mr. Turton
The hon. Member has confirmed what I said. That shows the unwisdom of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, in trying to blacken the Prime Minister's name in Central Africa.
§ Mr. Turton
I will give way to anybody who was in Central Africa with me and who can either challenge or confirm my account of what happened out there. I have already given way to one such Member.
I believe in multi-racial partnership and federation. In the last few weeks my one concern has been to see that Her Majesty's Government kept steadfast to their course, as my right hon. Friend said in his speech they were trying to do. I therefore asked him, on 7th February, whether his view of the principles for Northern Rhodesian Constitutional Conference was the same as that put forward in the 1958 White Paper. He replied that my supplementary question did not permit of the answer "Yes" or "No".
Yesterday I put the same question to him, when he said:…the heart of the matter, which is the national balance, I regard as being entirely in line with the principles behind the 1958 proposals."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 21st February, 1961; Vol. 635, c. 329.]That was not my question. I asked whether the Government's policy was consistent with the 1958 constitutional proposals. If we are to get the confidence of all sides in this matter it is vital that we should pursue a consistent policy. We must show that we are working to principles laid down before.
That is why I want to ask my right hon. Friend a few questions regarding the 1958 White Paper in relation to the present position. I wish to quote from that White Paper—which is Cmnd. 530. In Part IV, paragraph 19, relating to the principles of constitutional change, it says:All parties are agreed that the new constitution must win the confidence of all the peoples of Northern Rhodesia; the basic lines of constitutional advance now to be settled"—this was in 1958—should, therefore, be durable, and not subject to drastic change every few years.I want to put to my right hon. Friend a question which was yesterday addressed to him by his predecessor, who is now in another place. Why was it necessary, after two years, to change this constitution? What was the new factor that made him break the principle laid down in paragraph 19?
529 My second question relates to paragraph 20, which says:The franchise must, therefore, be one which will give the vote to those who are contributing to the wealth and welfare of the country and who are capable of exercising it with judgment and public spirit.Those words have a particular meaning. They were the result of Sir Robert Tredgold's Report on the Franchise Commission, from which I shall quote. I want to read the substance of the proposals there set out because they are very important in the light of the present situation in Africa.
When Lord Boyd of Merton settled the 1958 constitutional proposals he was acting on the advice contained in Sir Robert Tredgold's Report of the Franchise Commission. Page 4 of that Report contains these words:In some countries the extension of the franchise to people who were incapable of exercising it with judgment, or who lacked the necessary political tradition, has led to the breakdown of popular government. There is much evidence of the danger on the one part of power falling into the hands of political bosses, and, on the other, of the growth of a multiplicity of warring factions that find it impossible to unite in sufficient strength to form an efficient administration. Indeed, there is good reason to think that Fascism, and similar totalitarian systems, are a reaction from popular government carried beyond the point when the majority of the voters are worthy of the privilege of voting. We are entirely satisfied that a country is amply justified in making an endeavour to confine the franchise to those of its inhabitants who are capable of exercising it with reason, judgment and public spirit.In view of the fact that the franchise was settled on that basis only two years ago, will my right hon. Friend state whether he thinks that this extension, which has been so hurriedly proposed, is consistent with that principle?
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that Germany and Italy are two countries which are not suitable for the full use of the democratic franchise?
§ Mr. Turton
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear what I was reading. I was reading the Report by Sir Robert Tredgold of the Franchise Commission on which this 1958 proposal was hung. That was the reason for it. If we are to be consistent with 1958, I was asking my right hon. Friend whether he was still following up Sir Robert Tredgold's advice that was given three years ago. 530 My right hon. Friend will remember that in the 1958 White Paper it was said that the lower roll franchise was to be temporary, whereas the upper roll was to be permanent. The idea was that the advancement of the whole community would lead eventually to a common roll. Am I to understand that that is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government? The White Paper issued yesterday is strangely silent on that point.
My last question on this point deals with the whole problem of what I call multi-racial voting.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Is not Sir Robert Tredgold, whom the right hon. Gentleman has been quoting, the gentleman who resigned in protest at the totalitarian behaviour of the Federal Government?
§ Mr. Turton
He is, and that is why I think it is important to people like myself, who met Sir Robert Tredgold and who have a high opinion of his judgment. I consider that his authority should carry weight in the House of Commons and that all who have met him believe him to be a man of sound judgment on these matters. That is why I put that question and gave the House such a long quotation from his Report.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
Does my right hon. Friend agree that Sir Robert Tredgold resigned because of the action of the Southern Rhodesian Government?
§ Mr. Turton
I do not want to get involved in that.
My last point concerns the Constitution. As I see it, the 1958 Constitution, the Lennox-Boyd Constitution, had 18 constituencies where the voters on both rolls voted for the candidates. In other words, there were 18 multi-racial seats. In addition, there were four seats for which only one roll voted. We could say that there were four racial seats and 18 multi-racial seats.
In this Constitution there are 15 national seats which, as voted upon by both rolls, we can call multi-racial, but there are 30 seats that will be voted for only by one roll. Surely the whole principle of 18 out of the 22 voted on by the two rolls has been entirely changed when one finds 30 out of 45 being voted on by the single roll. That is my great accusation against this White Paper.
531 I can see a great case for altering the 1958 proposals to the extent of increasing the number of constituencies in the rural areas, so keeping on the framework of the 1958 White Paper, and giving more multi-racial seats in certain parts of the country where the Europeans are few and the Africans are many. It is clear that in those parts of the country there would as a result be far more African representatives on the Legislative Council. That is one of the things I am as anxious to achieve as is my right hon. Friend, but it must be in accordance with the constitutional principles laid down as recently as two years ago.
When hon. Members from both sides of the House and I were in Southern Rhodesia—
§ Mr. Turton
I will give the hon. Gentleman the list later. I can tell him who went out. I know that many hon. Members want to speak and I will be as short as possible. Let me make my speech, and after it we can talk it all over.
We are concerned that in Southern Rhodesia there was no African representative on the Territorial Legislative Council. We are concerned that there was no African Minister. Thanks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, that disability appeared to be removed by his skill in negotiating a complete change, and he placed the Southern Rhodesian Territorial Government on the same pattern or plan of multi-racial voting that we had under the Lennox-Boyd Constitution in Northern Rhodesia.
That has now been repudiated by Mr. Nkomo. I ask my right hon. Friend what prospects there are for the implementation of that agreement to change the Southern Rhodesian Territorial Government basis to a multi-racial plan. But I also want to ask why, at the moment when we are changing Southern Rhodesia from the old uni-racial plan to this multi-racial two-roll plan, we are doing the opposite in Northern Rhodesia?
I do not like these numbers 15, 15, and 15. I think that it is most important that we in the House of Commons, even though we may not all agree with federation, 532 should try to get the position where African votes for European and European votes for African. No hon. Member believes in the colour bar or in racial discrimination. What we ought to try to do is to bring the educated African up to take full responsibility, to break down racial divisions, and to stimulate the growth of parties in the country. It would have been far better if we had some provision for two-member constituencies where two candidates could be put up, one African and one European. One of the defects of this, shall I call it, "Murray-fields" Plan—all blacks, all whites and all greys—is that one cannot get the two-member constituency. In that case, if one can extend the 15 multi-racial constituencies up to, say, 20, and reduce the number of the others accordingly it would be a nearer approach to the Lennox-Boyd plan.
I ask my right hon. Friend to consider the revision of the plan on those lines. As was the case with most of the speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, I think we all feel that we ought to be restrained in what we say at the present time. I do not believe that the leaders of either side whom I met in Central Africa want to see law and order disturbed in Northern Rhodesia. I believe that if we in this House exercise restraint, and have good sense, good sense will prevail in Northern Rhodesia.
I am worried about this plan. It has neither won the confidence of the Africans nor of any substantial body of Europeans. We have to remember what this House often forgets, that in Northern Rhodesia there are two African parties which do not believe in federation. There are two European parties which do not believe in federation, and there is only one party, the United Federal Party, which contains both Africans and Europeans who believe in federation. That is the difficult problem we are facing.
If we are to make this multi-racial settlement a success—and I believe that so much in Africa depends on our ability to make it a success—I beg my right hon. Friends to take back this White Paper, to remodel it and to discuss it where it should be discussed, in Northern Rhodesia, and not, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East suggested, in London. By doing that I believe that 533 they will engender greater hope for the races in Central Africa to live and work together in unity.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has said he is greatly concerned that federation should succeed. I should have thought it was almost unanimously agreed that federation will certainly not succeed unless, first, the Africans have some confidence in their future and, secondly, that constitutional progress is made in the three territories concerned with federation. If the Government take back this scheme and stop the proposed advance, such as it is—it is small enough—this would certainly be the death blow to any chance of federation.
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by defending the Prime Minister with a loyalty proper from an hon. Member on that side of the House. The fact is that, whether he likes it or not, Sir Roy Welensky has made clear that in his view the Prime Minister misled him. This is not something thought up by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). It is something which Sir Roy Welensky has said, and when the Prime Minister gave a further explanation and said that no member of the Monckton Commission had questioned the Commission's right to discuss contracting out Sir Roy denied that, too. He said it had been raised by his representatives with the Commission.
The right hon. Gentleman then asked what had happened to divert the Government from the course laid down two or three years ago. One thing has happened. The Prime Minister went to South Africa and said that the wind of change was blowing. Either the right hon. Gentleman meant something by that or he did not. The Africans thought that he did mean something, and they are expecting, therefore, that a change should take place and rather more quickly than was contemplated three or four years ago.
To me, the Colonial Secretary seems to be reaping the whirlwind. He is suffering from the Government, saying one thing and meaning another, or saying one thing and doing nothing whatever about it. Now in Africa something is expected from their words, and they are not find- 534 ing it so easy to skate off by using phrases which they do not mean to put into practice. I believe that the Africans would be well advised to try to work the proposal which has been put forward by the Colonial Secretary. But, if they are to be expected to do that, we must have some clarification on one or two points It has been said that we should not say anything in this House which is liable to exacerbate the situation. I wish that could be said rather more forcibly to Sir Roy Welensky. This restraint which is always urged upon us does not seem to have got as far as Salisbury. I think that a little plain speaking will not do much harm.
The first point is there must be some consistency throughout Africa. We should treat African aspirations as a whole throughout the continent. They look on the continent as one and their progress as one united advance. What can be done in, say, Nyasaland cannot be said to be impossible, say, in Northern Rhodesia simply because of the will white minority. Secondly, I think it is extremely difficult to understand the complicated and vague proposals in the White Paper. The proposed constitution is worthy of the Abbé Sieyès. It requires mathematical calculations. These proposals are put before the Africans who are said to be simple people with no long experience of a constitution such as exists in London. Surely what the African want to know is what their effect is likely to be. Does it mean that a majority of black Africans are to elect a majority in the Legislature? That is the fundamental point, and there is no skating past 'that question. Of course, the Secretary of State cannot say how they will vote, but will their votes, however they are cast, be decisive?
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Does not the hon. Gentleman think it a little patronising to generalise about the Africans as if they were one lump with one point of view?
§ Mr. Grimond
Of course not. I only say that for my part I thought the constitution a little difficult to understand and that there might be some Africans who would not be able to understand it. I do not think I am being patronising, what I said simply seems to me to be true.
The Colonial Secretary has made play with the fact that he wants a non-racial 535 approach, but who started racialism? Who began the racial approach? It was not the Africans. When we are told that the Africans—
§ Mr. Grimond
It was not Lloyd George. He was Welsh, admittedly. But there is a certain amount to be said for letting the Welsh have their say, because if we do not they will have it anyway—
§ Mr. Grimond
I should have thought it is hardly for the Europeans, in view of their history in this century, to set themselves up as the only people who know how to run their own affairs. It surprises me—looking back on what was done in Russia and Nazi Germany in this century—that Europeans should be so convinced that they are the people who are the only mature races in the world who can run a democratic system. That does not seem to be borne out when one looks at recent history.
Who boycotted these talks? It was not the Africans. What a row there would have been if the Africans had boycotted them as the Europeans did. If this is a mature approach to politics, it is not what would have been considered a mature approach had it been taken by the Africans.
We have to face the fact that if there is racial feeling, that racial feeling is the fault of the Europeans and they can hardly blame the Africans for being particularly chary about a non-racial approach, if in practice it means that a small racial minority is to exercise influence out of proportion to its numbers.
I am not saying that minorities should not be protected. As a Liberal, it is not for me to adopt that point of view. I am entirely in favour of minorities being protected. They have a great part to play. Ultimately, the African must take power in his own country, but in his own interests he would be well advised to make it possible for Europeans, certainly in the economic and political spheres, to play a part too. If that is what the right hon. Gentleman means by a non-racial approach it is right and proper and self-evident, 536 and it is what we must do. But it depends on accepting that there is a black African majority and that power in the sense of being able to elect a majority whether that majority is black or white must pass rapidly to the black Africans.
Many of us have been alarmed by the reaction of Sir Roy Welensky and the calling up of troops. Attention has been drawn by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, to what was said in the Monckton Commission's Report about the effect of sending in white Federal troops to keep order in any of the constituent territories. I hope the Government will make quite clear that if troops are to be called in it is done on the instigation of the Governor and no one else and that these troops should be under his command and not under the command of anyone else and should not come from Southern Rhodesia.
As has been said, the real debate today is not between this side and that side, but an internal debate on the other side of the House. There is no question, too, that this Motion signed by ninety members of the Conservative Party was intended to stop the course on which the Government, we hope, was embarking. It could have had no other purpose. I should have thought that in the middle of negotiations to put down such a Motion deliberately intended to make these negotiations more difficult was an act with which I certainly disagreed and that it was a rash act by any standards whatever.
I sometimes feel that there are two standards in politics, the standard which this side of the House is expected to accept, and accepted for years over Cyprus when negotiations went on, and there is the standard which the other side of the House accepts, which means that at any moment they may stab the Government in the back if they do not like it. There are also, I think, two standards growing up in the world, and if what is now being done by Sir Roy Welensky was done by any black African it would be said that either he was simply blowing off steam, which he may be, and I hope he is, or that he is in fact preaching disloyalty and suicide. That is the truth of the matter.
Sir Roy Welensky has to live in a country of which the majority is black 537 and find a place for his white friends, but he will not do so by attempting to stop the British Government from going forward with a scheme which is the absolute minimum that can be accepted. I do not believe that after the language which he has himself used in the last few days such words will come as a shock to him. I believe that in this country what I would call the reasonable central body of opinion has on this occasion to be tough. We are sometimes accused of being a soft centre, but on this occasion we have to be the hard centre. We have to say things which I agree the Colonial Secretary could not say. We have to ensure that some plain speaking is done, and that it is done before this situation has drifted into the hands of extremists.
I want these further negotiations to succeed if that is possible, and I still believe that the Colonial Secretary can regain the confidence of the Africans if he makes it perfectly clear that in a very short time, with adequate protection for the minorities—because, after all, the Governor will still have his powers and none of these proposals affects the Executive Council but only the Legislative Council—that on the Legislative Council there will be a majority of people who are the Black Africans. Then, I think, these proposals may still succeed. But they will only succeed if we are fair between one community and another and are not diverted by hard words or threats from Central Africa itself.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
As a member of the Monckton Commission, I have not previously taken part in any controversial discussions with regard to the question of the Federation or its component parts. It was always understood that we would not do so as members unless and until it became unavoidable. It was also understood, I think, that the time would come when it was the duty of any member of the Commission who is also a Member of Parliament to speak frankly and fearlessly. I feel that today it is a case of speak now or forever hold your peace.
In this debate very little has been said, except, of course, by my right hon. Friend who emphasised it, by subsequent speakers about the gravity of the present 538 position. I feel that we ought to recognise it in this House today. It is not a question of a party squabble. We are far above that today, or we should be. Today, not only is there a deadlock in a great Conference dealing with the future of a territory for which we are responsible, on which there are genuine differences of opinion in this House and, in some respects, maybe serious differences. There is much more than that. There is—let us face it frankly—the real danger of actual strife and bloodshed between black and white in Africa and Rhodesia. Gravest of all, there is a virtual certainty if we do not take steps to avoid it, of a head-on collision between Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Government of the Federation.
Surely, in the face of those dangers, it is time for us to close our ranks, to abandon all our prejudices, if we can, and certainly to abandon some of the personalities which may be at the back of some of the things that have happened in recent weeks.
§ Mr. Donnelly
The right hon. and learned Member referred to the Commonwealth Government. It is not a Commonwealth Government in the fullest sense. We ought to be clear about that, because it is very important.
§ Sir L. Heald
I regard that as a rather legalistic point. It may be said, when I say that, that it must indeed be one. I would suggest that in these circumstances we have to try to do two things. First, we have to see what we can agree upon, and not what we have to disagree upon, in principle. Secondly, we have to see how far the present proposals carry this into effect and what suggestions we can make for improving their effect. I believe that it could be agreed that the statement which was made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the opening of the Northern Rhodesian Conference stated principles which we all ought to be able to accept. In that I believe he has the overwhelming support of hon. Members on this side of the House and also the support of a very large 539 number of hon. Members, although I am not entitled to speak with direct knowledge of it, on the other side of the House. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) certainly gave that impression in his speech, although, perhaps, he did it not altogether in the most graceful way.
If the result of this debate could be to make it clear that we are determined on certain principles, I believe that would have a great effect, not only in this country but throughout Africa and the Commonwealth and throughout the world, because we must remember that it is not only we in this country who regard a matter of this kind as grave: it must be a matter of great concern to anyone who thinks in any part of the world.
Let us see if we can state certain principles, which are stated actually in the Monckton Report, and which, I believe. will not be seriously disputed by anyone. Some people have said that the Monckton Report has been overtaken by events and is now irrelevant. Indeed, with Hibernian humour the Daily Express recently said that it had been consigned to the waste paper basket even before it had been printed, which seemed to be a rather wonderful thing.
If we look at the Report we find in it—I believe I am right in saying this—certain principles which we could all accept. The first is that the United Kingdom Parliament has the paramount and unescapable duty of caring for the future of the Federation and of Northern Rhodesia. As a matter of constitutional law Northern Rhodesia is a Protectorate. It is actually not even British soil as a Protectorate. The responsibility for its future must be discharged by the British Government and not either from or by Salisbury, in whatever sense one uses the word "Salisbury"
Secondly, to break up the Federationat this crucial moment in the history of Africa wouldbean admission that there is no hope of survival for any multi-racial society on the African continent and that differences of colour and race are irreconcilable.Those are the words of the Monckton Commission's Report, and I believe they would be generally agreed. Third, the Federation must itselfrest on a general willingness to accept it.540 Law and order must be maintained, but it is out of the question to rely permanently on the force of arms in order to maintain it. No constitution can work without good will, and unless the races concerned genuinely wish to make it succeed and are prepared for this purpose not onlyto meet each other's point of viewbut actuallyto make sacrifices".That again is stated in the Report, and I ask the House to accept it.
Next, in Northern Rhodesia today two things are essential if we are to overcome the opposition to Federation and the fear of domination from the South. The first is a transfer of certain functions from the Central Government to the Northern Rhodesian Government, and the second a substantial increase in African political representation. Again, does anyone really dispute those things? They are what the Secretary of State said in the White Paper. But so far no one on either side from the extreme point of view has shown any willingness to make any sacrifice or to make any compromise. No one will doubt that that is true of the African extremists. We all know that. They demanded "one man one vote" and the Monckton Commission, as one finds in Chapter 12 on page 79, expressly rejected that and said that in its view the Westminster model was not suitable for a country like Northern Rhodesia at the present time.
What of the other extreme? There is a point here which I feel has not had nearly sufficient attention. The United Federal Party decided to boycott the Northern Rhodesian Conference because there was a proposal to give the Africans increased political representation. That has not been appreciated, but it is a vitally important point. Hon. Members will find it in Command Paper 1295 on page 4. After having set out the principles I have just stated, this is what the White Paper says:The United Federal Party representatives challenged the view that there was any justification either for a substantial increase in the number of Africans in the Legislative Council, or for an extension of the franchise.That is why they boycotted it, not because they thought that too much was being given to the Africans, but because they said they should have nothing at all given to them. How is it possible to 541 negotiate with people who adopt that view? On the same page it is said:The Dominion Party took the general line that a substantial increase of African representation in legislature and an extension of the franchise would imply a departure from the policy of non-racialism, partnership and evolutionary advancement.In other words, it took the view that the policy was that in no circumstances should there be any African political advance. In those circumstances one begins to see—if one looks at it fairly and wants to see—what the position of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary was. He found himself between these two extremes. One wonders sometimes if the old saying, "Blessed are the peacemakers" is not almost in a sense cynical at times, because they are not often blessed in politics.
Let us see where matters stand on that point. We cannot compromise on the principles I have stated. If any hon. Member thinks we could, I hope very much that when his time comes—as it will in a very few moments—he will explain which of those principles I have endeavoured to state he disagrees with and why he disagrees with them. They are stated by the Secretary of State in the White Paper in language which admits of no doubt.
I want to deal with only one matter more and I do not wish to occupy more time of the House. This is a thing which I think ought to be said. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has been the subject of a most violent propaganda campaign. It is very strongly resented by hon. Members—I should like to say all hon. Members on this side of the House, and I hope I can say so. It is neither fair nor true to accuse him of "selling out". That is perfectly clear now. I believe it is the duty of all decent people to agree that that suggestion is not to be maintained.
This tremendous wave of propaganda has been a rather unusual thing in our political methods here. It has even extended to The Times newspaper, not through anything The Times has done I am sure, but by the material supplied to it. I regret to say that there appears in that newspaper today a grossly misleading account of a party meeting which took place in private last night. The names of only two hon. Members who spoke are given. They both represent a particular 542 point of view and no indication is given that anyone spoke to the contrary effect at all. I do not mind in the least if it is said that this is a betrayal of confidence for, after all, things have gone beyond that now, but it should be stated that those two hon. Members did not find that their views were accepted by the majority of the party.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall that on the ticker-tape machine the Exchange Telegraph Company put out a report exactly to the opposite sense? It only reported those who spoke in favour of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
§ Sir L. Heald
No, I am afraid I do not regard The Times as cancelled out by the ticker-tape. I have still sufficient respect for it. The other is not intended to be a considered description but simply a "flash". No one knows that more than my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). To crown it all, the indication was given by The Times report that the most important speech and that to which the most attention was paid was that of one hon. Member, the noble Lord who represents Beaverbrook—I beg pardon, Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lamb-ton), I should say. I am not saying anything adverse whatever to the hon. Member. He was here a few moments ago. I regret that he is not here now, but I am not saying anything against him.
§ Sir L. Heald
There is nothing to warn him about. I am not saying anything hostile to him, and I have not said anything hostile so far as I know. I said that there was this statement that his, in effect, was the outstanding speech. whereas those present at the meeting will know that there were a large number of speeches made which received at least as much attention and approval as his did. It is necessary, in the interests of political decency, that these things should be said. During the past few weeks my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has been subject to one of the greatest strains that 543 any man could have. Let him be attacked and criticised fairly, but do let us stop this sniping.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
It is true that everyone on both sides of the House wants to see a satisfactory conclusion to the very unhappy state of affairs existing in the Federation at present. On the other hand, many of the difficulties with which we are faced at present and many of the difficulties which face the Federation at present are the direct result, not of particular policies of Her Majesty's Government, but of the fact that nobody in the Federation knew what the policies of Her Majesty's Government were.
I feel very strongly that one of the biggest problems in the Federation is that it is more dangerous that people should not know what the future is than that they should know about a particular type of future. It is more dangerous for there to be a situation in which both sides think that they can emerge victorious than for there to be a clear statement of which side has emerged victorious.
It is complete self-delusion and utterly stupid to suggest that it is possible to have a non-racial approach to this problem. We delude ourselves, but we delude nobody outside the House. There is an overwhelming majority of black Africans within Northern Rhodesia. There is a tiny minority of Europeans. Whether one thinks that the black African can do as good a job as the European or not is completely immaterial. He will govern Northern Rhodesia and the rest of the territories within the Central African Federation come what may. This is quite inevitable.
It is a great pity that for such a long time the impression has been given, certainly to some extreme European sections, that there was a possibility that a British Parliament might be prepared to abrogate its responsibilities in Central Africa and allow certain sections of the European population to hold power by force for all time. I do not think that this is a possibility. It is about time that it was said quite clearly.
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) made a point relating to my hon. Friend the Member for 544 Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). I certainly would not presume to speak on my hon. Friend's behalf or answer for him, but it is fair and reasonable that the point should be clarified as I saw it. As I understand it, what happened was that a number of European mine workers in the European Mine Workers' Union complained that on one occasion they had been to Westminster and had wanted to see my hon. Friend, but had been unable to see him.
The position with regard to my hon. Friend's standing within Northern Rhodesia and other parts of the Federation was that he had the overwhelming confidence of the Africans in Northern Rhodesia, who are not unimportant in terms of numbers, if for no other reason. He also had the confidence of a number of Europeans. His views were certainly very much opposed by a large number of Europeans, but that was inevitable. The position of the Secretary of State is rather different.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Will my hon. Friend allow me to add to what he has said? I was present at Westminster on the occasion to which he refers. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) met the leaders of the European mine workers and apologised to them, explaining that he had to attend a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet. I, deputising for him, spent two hours with the leaders of the white mine workers.
§ Mr. Marsh
I am glad that my hon. Friend has made that point, because I never heard what happened at this end. However, I was able to make my own assessment of the confidence the Secretary of State enjoyed in the Central African Federation. Everywhere we went the Secretary of State was denigrated by almost every European we met. For example, the attitude of members of the United Federal Party was certainly that of biting the hand which in their view was not feeding them. Indeed, there was a great deal of opposition to the Secretary of State.
I do not think that mattered, because I felt very strongly that, although the right hon. Gentleman was pursuing policies which were unpopular with influential people in that part of the world and were certainly unpopular with a large 545 section of his own supporters, they were policies in which he believed and which had, I thought, the overwhelming support of the majority of both sides of the House of Commons. Because of that the right hon. Gentleman enjoyed a great deal more support among the Africans in the Central African Federation than most other members of the party opposite.
However—I say this with much regret —the position now is that the right hon. Gentleman has the confidence of no one in the Central African Federation. There is a strong feeling that the views he expresses today are not the views which he held some months ago. No one will ever know if that is true. No one will ever be able to find out. There had been a very widespread view on the part of all people in Northern Rhodesia—whether it was expressed depended on who one was speaking to—that the right hon. Gentleman was converted, believed in the idea of a substantial increase in African representation in the legislative body, and was prepared to accept the principle of African self-government in Northern Rhodesia within the very near future.
All sorts of things have been said. That view was so strongly held that I heard many criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman from all sorts of people. It was suggested that he was, through other channels, deliberately informing sections of African opinion that he was "on their side" and had decided to support their proposals to some extent. I repeat the point I made at the beginning of my speech, that the worst possible thing for the territory is that there should continue to be a lack of stability and a lack of knowledge about what the future will be.
The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) made a very important point. It is essential that Her Majesty's Government make certain facts quite clear. They should make it quite clear that the responsibility for that part of the world rests with the House of Commons and cannot be dodged. Europeans in Northern Rhodesia obviously have strong feelings about this. Their homes are there. They live there. Their future is there. Despite that, and no matter what views are expressed outside the House of Commons, the Government should make it clear that at no stage will the African 546 people or anybody else in the Central African Federation lose the protection of the House of Commons. Many Africans within the Federation are not opposed to federation as such as on economic theory. They do not believe that Central Africa would be better off without federation. What they believe is that the present negotiations are a prelude to a manœuvre to remove from them the protection of the British Government.
§ Mr. Albert Roberts (Normanton)
My hon. Friend will surely agree that the Federation is not by any means a theory.
§ Mr. Marsh
I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said, but I believe that for practical purposes the Federation is at present a theory. There cannot be a factual political federation in Central Africa unless the active co-operation of all sections is enjoyed. The active cooperation of 300,000 out of 8 million is not much use. I should like to see federation as a flourishing factual thing.
§ Mr. Marsh
If my hon. Friend succeeds in catching the eye of the Chair, he will be able to make his point in a speech. I do not believe that it is sensible to talk in terms of a multi-racial federation and the ideals of partnership and at the same time have a discussion in the House of Commons as to who sends which troops to keep the peace. This is not partnership. I should like to see it. No one wants to see people fighting each other in a country in which both sides have to live, but it is fatal to go on pretending that some of the problems do not exist and to talk in terms of partnership, of equals, when the facts of the matter are that they are not equals.
The European within the Federation in recent years has made enormous strides. He has done enormous things in the field of education for the Africans. He has done a great deal in terms of African welfare, but he has done it too late. I am glad that he has done it, and I am not criticising him because he has done it too late. However bitter the reality, it is too late. The time has gone. It is a great pity, but it is a fact, none the less.
Firstly, I think we should make it quite clear that responsibility will always rest in this country and in this Parliament. 547 Secondly, I think we should make it quite clear that we believe that Northern Rhodesia will be governed by black Africans within a period of years in the foreseeable future. If we do not do this the only way in which we shall maintain peace in Northern Rhodesia is by sheer force of arms.
§ Mr. Marsh
I do not want to get drawn into a party political issue on this matter. We have made mistakes elsewhere, and I think that we are in danger of making another series of them. If we do not make it quite clear that Africans will govern this part of the world, then what part we have in Africa we shall lose. If Mr. Kaunda is disowned by his own people I am in no doubt that his successor will be a much more difficult man to deal with than Mr. Kaunda. It is in our interest to maintain the confidence of these people.
It is said, of course, that one can only run a country with an educated electorate. I suppose that that is true, but the tragedy here was that many of the arguments being advanced were the same as those advanced in the middle forties over India. There are Members in this House who were elected on votes cast by electors of Great Britain who could not speak, read or write the English language.
§ Mr. Marsh
It is frequently said, indeed, of other parts of Africa that the government of affairs in those areas which are now in the hands of Africans followed a long foundation of British and Western rule and governmental direction, but that this does not exist in Central Africa. People may well argue about this, but I believe that there is a large body of responsible African opinion that does not want to throw away the European Civil Service, that does not want to break its contact with this country, but unless we show by our policy that we support these people they 548 will be forced to throw overboard the very thing that will enable them to have a fair and reasonable Government. We must make it quite clear, which it is not at the moment, that the rule of law in British possessions applies to all people regardless of the colour of their skins.
Reference was made to the European Mineworkers' Union. It is a pity that the rule of law is not in operation at the present time. I think that it has broken down in many parts of the Federation. That is not true in terms of Northern Rhodesia. But those of us who have met the European Mineworkers' Union heard speeches from its members and remarks sincerely put forward which I believe—and many others will agree with me—would have landed the African politicians in gaol. I heard and other hon. Members who were with me heard what members of the Mineworkers' Union said, that in some circumstances they would be prepared to fight. We were told that they had weapons and firearms.
I can understand this sort of thing. It always happens in a situation of this kind, but it is tragic. Neither side should say that sort of thing. One side can say it and get away with it, but the other cannot. We must bend over backwards to make it clear what our position is on this. What about the future? It is essential that there should be a majority of African representation in the Northern Rhodesia Legislature. Nothing other than that would be acceptable to anyone.
What appears to have happened is that Sir Roy Welensky came along and said, "We are not prepared to co-operate on this. The United Federal Party refuses to co-operate on the basis of this kind of settlement," and that therefore the Government produced some sort of elaborate fiddle to work their way out. Many of these people may not be able to read and write, but I think that we should make a great mistake if we underestimated their political interest. I have been in few countries where politics have played such a perpetual part in everyone's life.
These people want a situation which gives them either an African majority now or the obvious guarantee of an African majority in the very near future, with probable safeguards, with the right of veto possibly in the Governor's hands, 549 and all sorts of other things. This arrangement has not done that. It would be a great help if when winding up the debate the Government spokesman stated quite clearly what are Her Majesty's Government's proposals for the future of this territory without attempting to have all sorts of clever franchises that really take an awful lot of reading but add up to the fact that African self-Government is a long way away at the present time.
This is a beautiful country with enormous natural resources and one in which people can live together and have a great future. It is a country which can contribute a great deal to the peace of the world and to this country in particular. But it is a country which is ill served by the sort of spineless jelliness that we have had from Her Majesty's Government. The Government ought really to make it quite clear where they intend to go and, having done that, they ought to keep on that course even if the captain wants to interfere.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
Before I come to my main point, I, as another member of the Parliamentary delegation which visited Northern Rhodesia, wish to add one more thing to the dispute between my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) about what the European mine workers said. I think that my right hon. Friend will recollect that he saw them in two separate delegations and. therefore, I cannot confirm or deny what he said to them. But I remember that the Rhodesian railwaymen, whom he saw a few days previously, made the point that they, unfortunately, had not been able to see the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East when he was in the Federation.
There may have been a perfectly good reason for this. The hon. Gentleman may not have had the time. I know how tightly schedules are arranged when Members of Parliament visit countries like that. That was the complaint they made and that, possibly, is where the misunderstanding has arisen. The hon. Member may have since seen the representatives of that union, if they have been over here, or he may see them on another occasion.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Does the hon. Member think that he is doing any good by making that kind of remark about a delegation of 1957? Is he sure that there are not people in Central Africa who may be saying that he did not attempt to meet them during his recent visit?
§ Mr. Russell
I am not as important as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, but I thought that it was worth mentioning my recollection of what took place. I did not do so in any way to condemn the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. I said that he may have had perfectly good reasons.
When the Lord Boyd of Merton negotiated the 1958 Constitution, he had one definite advantage over my right hon. Friend the present Colonial Secretary in that he was able to obtain the agreements of the Governments concerned about the terms and bringing into operation of that constitution. I am only sorry that my right hon. Friend has not had a similar success with this Constitution.
One of the things which worries me most is the widespread criticism of my right hon. Friend among nearly all the Europeans whom we met, as the hon. Member f OT Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) also observed. It was most disturbing. It was a criticism which did not apply to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, nor to my right hon. Friend's predecessor, nor to my right hon. Friend himself in any other Colonial Territory of which I know. Nor does it apply to my right hon. Friend in other walks of life with which he has been concerned since he became one of Her Majesty's Ministers. I can only hope that in the days that lie ahead, whatever may happen to this constitution or to its terms or to the plans which my right hon. Friend has made, he will overcome that criticism and regain the confidence which he has unfortunately lost, because we all wish him well in all Colonial Territories.
The second depressing fact which I have found in the Federation was that all development seemed to have come to a complete standstill because of political uncertainty. I suppose that that is unavoidable until a decision is made about the Federation's future. But what the three territories need most is stability. In the two Protectorates there must be 551 an end of intimidation and I hope that it will be one of the first tasks of my right hon. Friend to make certain that intimidation is stopped, as far as that is humanly possible.
I hope that the time is not far distant when my right hon. Friend will be able to state with firmness that, as part of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, the Federation is to continue. I believe that federation is the only successful future for these three territories. It has done much good in the past seven years and it is a tragedy that so much promising development should have come to a complete standstill. I hope that the time will soon come when we will be able to put an end to that uncertainly so as to allow the economic future of the Federation to continue as successfully as it has developed in the past.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Does the hon. Member agree with the Monckton Commission that the Federation should continue only with the consent of the inhabitants?
§ Mr. Russell
No. With respect to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), I do not necessarily agree with that, because it is very difficult to take the opinions of all the African inhabitants, as the hon. Member knows. I hope that the hon. Member is not one of those who imagine that all the Africans speak with one voice. There must be an enormous number who do not understand the issue and still others who, because of intimidation, are frightened to give their views.
I support the plea of my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Mal-ton to my right hon. Friend to reconsider the number of nationally elected members. I am concerned about this departure in degree—I cannot make up my mind whether it is a departure in principle—from the non-racial basis of the 1958 Constitution. I would like the number of nationally elected members to be increased so that that balance could be restored to some extent.
I hope that this Constitution will have some term of permanence. It is only two or two and a half years since the Lennox-Boyd Constitution was brought into being, and from its wording it 552 appeared that it was meant to last about ten years. It was a very good Constitution, but it now appears to have gone by the board and we have this new plan of my right hon. Friend. Let us hope that it will bring some stability and will last for some time, because I do not believe that it will be in the interests of Northern Rhodesia, Africans or Europeans, that there should be an African majority in that territory for some considerable time to come.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)
It is with some hesitancy that I venture to take part in this debate, because I do not profess to be an expert on colonial matters. But I have visited Northern Rhodesia only recently and I have sensed the tension out there and suffered the cross-fire of both black and white during our discussions.
It is interesting to note that four of the six speakers in our debate today were members of that last delegation. It is pleasant to note that fresh voices are being heard in the Commons Chamber on colonial matters, for this subject has long been the monopoly of a minority—naturally so, because only a few of us have gone to the Colonies at the express invitation of bodies, which I do not run down—such as the chiefs, or organised parties, or sponsored by newspapers.
§ Mr. Mason
If the hon. Member wants to be critical about this delegation which went to Central Africa and of which I was a member, let me tell him that I have no regrets whatsoever. "Voice and Vision" acted as agents for the Federal Government, of which Sir Roy Welensky is the Prime Minister, so that we went at his invitation. The people who usually gibe and sneer at invitations of this kind are either those who have the wealth to travel the world on their own or people who accept invitations from small parts of the world which are usually very left of centre.
§ Sir G. Nicholson
I assure the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) that I was only attempting a feeble joke. He spoke of new voices, and I was only expressing the hope that there would also be new vision.
§ Mr. Mason
It was a feeble joke.
I want to talk about Northern Rhodesia, because that and not the Federation is what the debate is about. I agree with the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) that the Federation has done good work, and it is up to the House of Commons to work more in unison to get the Federation going from this standstill which is due to political instability, for which the Colonial Secretary has been largely responsible.
On this issue, the Colonial Secretary has blundered terribly. First, he has let down the whites on the basis of the 1958 White Paper and the whites believe that his attitude is a departure from the original concept of a non-racial political approach in which the political parties would have been obliged to seek support from both races. He has introduced a constitution in which there are to be fifteen black, fifteen white and fifteen national representatives whose colour at the moment is unknown. That in itself is to emphasise racial discrimination and segregation and in itself is a departure from the principles laid down in the 1958 White Paper.
The right hon. Gentleman suggested that one party might boycott the elections and said that naturally that party's opponents would then win the fifteen national seats, but he ought to know that there is already a problem in the Federation because many black African parties are advising their supporters to boycott many measures introduced by the Federal Government in Northern Rhodesia. It is common practice now, and it may happen again on this issue.
Apart from letting down the whites on the understanding of the 1958 White Paper, the right hon. Gentleman is now letting down the black Africans, too. He has referred to the speech he made in the Central Hall to the African students —growth of freedom for the African people—but he did not realise to what extent his words here being reported in Rhodesia. "Votes before stomachs" was the headline in Rhodesia.
He immediately excites the feelings of the blacks; when they come prepared to talk at the conference they are sufficiently excited to anticipate a majority in the Legislative Council. He lets them down, too. He also introduces greater segregation. He proposes repre- 554 sentation by fifteen blacks, fifteen whites and fifteen unknowns. He further complicates the franchise qualifications, and the Africans themselves have no idea of the composition of the fifteen unknowns.
He has blundered by delaying. His right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary was in Southern Rhodesia when we were touring the Federation. He did an extremely good job because, during those talks, he pleased the African groups by giving them a noticeable increase immediately in an enlarged Legislative Assembly. Only one party disagreed with what happened in Southern Rhodesia, and that was the Dominion Party.
Hon. Members should know how near the Dominion Party is to being elected in Southern Rhodesia, and what its policy is. It is the white Fascist Party of Central Africa, and if its members get in they intend to rule, because they believe in white supremacy. They will make Sir Roy Welenksy look like a Communist, so Left will he be compared with Harper, who leads the Dominion Party.
The Commonwealth Secretary did an extremely good job in getting unity—apart from this white Fascist group. The Africans were pleased at the time, and Mr. Nkomo, leader of the National Democratic Party, was satisfied with the arrangements. But when the Colonial Secretary blundered with his delay the African voices started to swell in the National Democratic Party in Southern Rhodesia. They said, "We are not satisfied with the agreement reached." They have challenged the results. The Colonial Secretary has that on his shoulders, too.
Why should he introduce such a complicated voting formula? Surely he accepts the fact that (a) all people are not ready for the vote in Northern Rhodesia, and (b) the one thing lacking is education. How will the Africans fully understand this complicated system of voting for blacks, whites and unknowns when even hon. Members are not conversant with and cannot understand this system? In any case, anyone who knows anything about African affairs knows that these high and lower rolls or (A) and (3) rolls are always suspect. The blacks suspect them of being weighted against themselves. Psychologically, separate rolls make the Africans feel inferior.
555 The Colonial Secretary should introduce a common roll. I am not satisfied that the African, particularly in Rhodesia, is ready for "one man, one vote." I do not believe in single voting, because that tends to imply that the majority of the electorate is illiterate; that there is a non-thinking population. The tendency then is to create the impression that the Westminster model cannot be transplanted anywhere in Africa and that one is left with the extremes of having either a "Congo" or a dictatorship as there is in Ghana.
The Colonial Secretary should be working hard on a middle course. He may think that he is doing that, but he has heightened tension in Northern Rhodesia by making both sides angry, not only at himself—that would be all right—but at each other. The blacks accuse the whites of seeking special favours and of secret dealing, while the whites are disgusted by proposals that are a departure from the principles of the 1958 White Paper.
The Commonwealth Secretary should inform the House tonight just what are the prospects of the Lusaka meeting taking place. He never gave any indication of that in his statement, nor did we get any indication at the outset of this debate. What are the chances of a further meeting at Lusaka or here in London? What sort of timetable has he in mind? In other words, how long is this period of tension to last? The House should be told first how long the white people are to be left on tenterhooks, and to what extent the black Africans are to be encouraged by this unknown quantity of the extra fifteen seats in Northern Rhodesia.
I agree with the comment that has already been made that, undoubtedly, the black African will rule not only Northern Rhodesia but the whole of Central Africa, but, if peace is to be maintained, the Colonial Secretary in this White Paper should have given the black Africans a clearly and easily seen advance. They do not want complications.
As a matter of psychology, the Africans want immediately to see that an advance has been made. That advance needs to be based on the 1958 principle, because the blacks accept it 556 and the whites respect it. This problem of non-racialism means to the whites that the blacks will advance on merit, but the blacks accept it because to them it means that there is to be no discrimination—[An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] People can say "Nonsense", but that is how I see it—
§ Mr. Mason
If the Colonial Secretary had wanted to make a proposal that would give a greater guarantee of peace in Northern Rhodesia than does this proposal, the advance for the Africans should have been made easily seen by gradually introducing a common roll for blacks and whites, lowering the qualifications and guaranteeing the blacks representation in the Legislative Assembly. As it is, this complicated formula leads the black Africans to believe that there is a swindle.
If that proposal were made, the black Africans would realise that now they were at parity, power was in the offing, and that if power was in the offing they had a job to do. That would have done more to soften nationalistic feelings than anything else. Instead, the Colonial Secretary—with this White Paper, with the blundering that has taken place in the conduct of the talks and with the delay that has spoilt the relations that existed between the Commonwealth Secretary and the Southern Rhodesian people—has enraged the whites and misled the blacks. On his shoulders alone must rest the ultimate consequences.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Aitken (Bury St. Edmunds)
I hope that the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) will forgive me if I do not follow very closely some of the very interesting points he made. I hope, too, that he will intervene very often in Colonial and Commonwealth debates. As one of th6se who signed a certain well-drafted Motion, I must confess that I was exceedingly relieved when I read the White Paper, because it seemed to me that 'the undertaking it contains was that although there could possibly be an African majority there will, at the same time, be maintained the principle of the non-racial approach by which the political parties are obliged to seek support from both races.
557 The question now is: where do we go from here? I do not think that any of us who know these countries, and have taken some interest in these matters, can fail to realise that the troubles and difficulties that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary has been facing in the last few weeks are comparable to a women's institute picnic with what is to follow.
It seems to me that this major task of delineating the constituencies and assigning exact qualifications for the franchise where not yet defined may well produce an African majority for the Northern Rhodesian Legislature. I confess that I should not be unduly alarmed at that because, as the Guardian said today it is quite evident that we have come to a watershed. If the African people do not realise that the waters of political progress are bound to broaden from now on for the Africans in both Northern and Southern Rhodesia, they are very unrealistic indeed.
I think that everyone more or less accepts that the Africans must have greater participation in the government of these countries. It is accepted in Southern Rhodesia all right, and I think that everyone accepts it in Northern Rhodesia; but, as the Monckton Report points out, and as hon. Members have reminded us, there must, by the very nature of Africa and Africans, be a qualitative franchise for a long time to come. For this reason, it is natural enough for those who see the opportunities for political opportunity which could exist in a "one man, one vote" Westminster system to object very strenuously to the limitations of the franchise. The acceptance or rejection of this limitation of the franchise is the key to the whole future of Central Africa.
We must be prepared to accept, first, that for years to come there must be a restricted franchise. Secondly, we must accept that not only will we have a multiracial or non-racial legislative system, but we must do everything we can, Southern Rhodesians, Northern Rhodesians, and the British Government, to remove the miserable little pinpricks which do so much harm, the little racial irritants which probably do far more damage than any major constitutional revisions, changes, actions or reactions. 558 I hope that this, once we get over the conference, will be accepted by all.
I believe that the Europeans could learn a very effective lesson as to their future rôle from what has happened in two Commonwealth countries, South Africa and Canada. I admit that the situation is not comparable, but it is to some extent parallel. In South Africa, the British minority has been singularly ineffective as a political force simply because the British in that country have taken no part in politics. They have never thrown themselves into the affairs of the country and the political dynamism of South Africa has come from the Afrikaners.
In Canada, the opposite has occurred. The minority there, the French Canadians, from the very beginning of federation saw to it, with their very considerable voting power—probably about one-third of the nation—that no Government could gain power in Canada —except the present one—without some French-Canadian support. That was the position which existed in Canada from the early days of federation, and no Government could have carried on if the minority of French Canadians ever walked out. There is surely an object lesson here for European minorities in Central Africa.
Race relations in Central Africa, in both Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia, have only recently been really bad. I ask myself how that came about. Undoubtedly, partly through political activities of, as Sir Roy Welensky calls it, vicious African nationalism. I believe that it also was in part the failure of the Federal Government to set about doing a lot of little things to make the principle of partnership more of a reality. Why was it that one of the first Acts of Parliament which the Federal Government introduced was an Act restricting the import of second-hand clothing from the Congo? They probably did it on grounds of hygiene, but the net effect of that apparently harmless little piece of legislation was to convince the people of Northern and Southern Rhodesia that the Federation was a failure because the first act of the Government was a move to prevent them becoming like Europeans.
Why was it another early legislative act of the Federal Government to put a duty on maize? Very logical and very useful from the economic point of view, 559 no doubt it was, in order to stimulate home production, but, politically, it gave the Africans the impression that one of the first desires of the Federal Government was to increase the cost of their food.
Her Majesty's Government have two very difficult things to do. They have to persuade the Africans to accept this new Constitution for Northern Rhodesia. They have to persuade them that even if does not give them a majority in the Legislature, even if it does not give them the number of Ministers they would like in the Executive, the course is set. The opportunity for an ever-broadening African representation is confirmed, it is there, and it is bound to grow as time goes on, and the time can be greatly telescoped if the Africans choose to take advantage of their educational opportunities and do their best to attain qualifications for the franchise.
For the Europeans, the task is much more difficult. The British Government must face the fact that the majority of the people in Southern Rhodesia and in Northern Rhodesia are not fools and the reactionaries they have been made out to be. They are dominated by a fantastic political situation where a small party of the extreme Right very nearly holds a balance of power and the party in office has to keep its eye cocked on that Dominion Party. How my right hon. Friends the Colonial Secretary and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will get over that, I do not know.
If the Africans do not accept the Constitution, and the Federation breaks down, we shall have to send a lot of troops out there to keep order. I would much rather see a couple of divisions of school teachers, technicians and agricultural experts, etc., being sent out to teach the Africans and stimulate their progress towards self-government. That is the kind of division which ought to go to keep law and order, not the military kind, and it would be a great deal cheaper, too.
I hope that my right hon. Friend is not unduly discouraged by the criticisms, because, as he himself said not long ago, if a man is being shot at by both sides he is probably about right. To change the metaphor, when a man is shooting 560 rapids in a canoe the only safe way is to stay between waves of the turbulent white water and to follow the tongue of the water, as it is called.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I make one comment about what the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) said about Canada. The most important single fact in the political history of Canada is that the younger Pitt induced this House of Commons, in 1791, to enfranchise the French Canadians on a fully equal footing with the British there. This was repeated in the new Constitution which was passed by the House in 1847.
I wish to speak of the immediate and the long-term dangers of the present crisis. The Colonial Secretary said that the present moment was one of great tension and great gravity in Africa. President de Gaulle and M. Bourguiba are about to meet. Peace in Algeria hangs in the balance. M. Tsombe is hurling defiance at the Security Council. The Belgian delegate is making reservations in the Security Council—reservations which I do not understand, but which, in the light of the events of recent months, have a sinister ring—about the Council's resolutions. Peace in the Congo hangs in the balance.
The situation in one country inevitably affects the situation in other countries. I do not desire to rake over the burning embers of the past, but what happened in Cyprus, as anybody in touch with France well knows, had a tragic effect on what has happened in Algeria. If the Europeans in the Rhodesias are involved in bloodshed, it may have a still more disastrous effect in the Congo and in Algeria today.
There are all too serious grounds for fearing that the Europeans in the Rhodesias may soon be involved in violence. Sir Roy Welensky and his colleagues have shown by deeds in Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia in recent months that they are not afraid of using violence. They have defied the British Government and, if I understand Sir Roy's speech aright, have declared that they will impose their own policy by their own armed force. That means that the basic issue in this debate is: what is the policy of Sir Roy Welensky and his 561 colleagues? It is, and has been for many years, the creation of a fully self-governing dominion in which power is retained in the hands of the European minority.
I say that it is and has been for many years their policy, but I go back only twelve years. In 1949, when I was at the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Southern Rhodesian Government sent a delegation of Ministers to ask us to grant them federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), who was then at the Colonial Office, and I had discussions with them. It became quite plain that what they wanted was Dominion status at once, with full power in the hands of the European minority of 160,000, as it then was, amid a population of 6½ million Africans.
When our conversations were ended, I told the delegates that we were prepared to discuss the matter further with them, which we did in the succeeding year, but I pointed out that, as then advised, we thought that the difficulties inherent in federation were very great. I pointed outthe obligations of the United Kingdom Government to the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the differing constitutional status of the three territories, and the present objection of the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to political integration."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December. 1949; Vol 470, c. 2885.]As I have said, it became quite plain in the course of our conversations that what the Ministers wanted was federal union with full Dominion status. The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) has shown that that is still what Sir Roy Welensky and his colleagues want today. That policy can be imposed only by force of arms.
I conclude by quoting the words of two wise men for whom I had the privilege of working long ago.
Lord Lugard was one of the greatest of our colonial administrators and one of the creators of the Mandate system of the League of Nations. He warned us that we must never put native massesat the mercy of an immigrant minority".I last saw General Smuts, for whom I worked at the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919, when he came here very shortly before his death, and after he had been beaten by the Nationalist Party in the general elections in the Union. The last 562 words which he said to me were these: "If the Nationalists go on as they have begun in the Union, it will end in bloodshed, and if there is bloodshed it will not be the blacks who will leave Africa". I hope that his words will be remembered in London, Lusaka and Salisbury today.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) said that the basic issue in this debate is the policy of Sir Roy Welensky and his Government. I venture to differ from him. The basic issue is, or should be: what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government and what is the policy of this House? Viewed from that standpoint, I cannot help feeling that this has been a very disappointing debate. I came to the House feeling wretched and unhappy that an ill omen was hanging over this country and the Rhodesias. So far, I have heard nothing to lighten that feeling.
I wonder whether I am being too pessimistic by putting this to the House. We face two terrible possibilities—pray God they are not probabilities—in the Rhodesias. One is a sort of Boston tea party, an open quarrel with our own kith and kin, ordinary decent people, taking a view which each of us probably would take if we lived there—do not let us forget that—but with incalculably evil effects on the developments of the Commonwealth as a whole, and on our relations with Africans and Europeans in the rest of Africa.
Another possibility, not mutually exclusive to the former, is something on the lines of a Rhodesian Sharpeville. We talk about possible breakdowns in law and order in the Rhodesias as if it meant a few cracked heads, a quarrel in Eaton Square outside the Belgian Embassy, or something like that. If there were large-scale rioting in Harare or in the Copper-belt, hundreds of lives might be lost. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hypothetical."] The hon. Gentleman says that it is hypothetical. Of course it is. All danger is hypothetical.
I am left with the same sort of feeling which I had in debates in this House in 1938 and 1939—different in dimension but the same in nature. I do not believe that the House has faced up to the great challenge being presented to us. This 563 has not been a realistic debate from that point of view.
I do not think that it has been a realistic debate from another point of view. Hon. Members have ridden their own hobby horses. They have given samples and extracts from their own experiences and views. Most of them were fully entitled to do so, and they were wise and interesting remarks. But they have not faced this question: what are we to do if we reject the policy of the Government and of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies? It may well be of course, that every possible policy is doomed to disaster, disappointment and failure. What the Government are doing, in particular my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, is carrying out a very delicate tightrope performance. I think that we all agree with that. To change the metaphor, my right hon. Friend is wending his way between reefs and rocks and dangerous currents almost without precedent in history.
While my right hon. Friend is doing this tightrope performance, is there any point in pulling at his coat-tails and jerking the rope? What would happen if the House turned against the Colonial Secretary and the Government? Would not we land ourselves with the worst of all possible worlds? I say with great humility, and not intending to lecture the House, that the prime duty of the House is to secure unity within this House and country, clarity in the face of Africa and the world, and determination to press through without hesitation what we believe is the best policy.
The odd thing is that there is not a great difference of view in the House. I can speak only for my own party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I should say that I can speak only of my own party. In so doing, I say that, in my judgment, 95 per cent. of my party are wholeheartedly behind the Government's policy. The minority is represented by my hon. Friends who feel very strongly, deeply and sincerly—I do not doubt that —that the policy of the Government is leading inevitably to disaster and, therefore, that it should be reversed.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
May I correct my hon. Friend's arithmetic? There are 365, or thereabouts, Tories and there are 97 names to the Motion on the Order 564 Paper. That is a majority of three to one, not 95 per cent.
§ Sir G. Nicholson
I appeal to my noble Friend and his colleagues to have the courage to go into the Division Lobby against the Government if they feel strongly enough. They will find that they have not 97 supporters. They will not have 47; they will not have 27. They may have 17. I know the way in which some of these names were secured. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend knows quite well what I mean by that.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
What does that remark mean? My hon. Friend said that I would know; but I do not know.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) addressed what appeared to be a confidential remark to his hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson). Is not the House entitled to know what it was, since the hon. Member for Farnham gave way?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
If an hon. Member wishes to speak, he should address the Chair.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is purely up to the hon. Member whether he wishes to repeat his remarks or not.
§ Sir G. Nicholson
I am not imputing any insincerity to people. When people feel very deeply about a subject they often unintentionally mislead those whom they are asking to help them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Mislead?"] I am sorry if I have led the House on to the wrong tracks. I suggest that this is one of the most serious and gravest moments in our country's history and that we should unite and not allow a debate of this sort to develop. We do not want to score party, personal or political points. If we fail, history will judge us as having betrayed the cause of this country, the cause of the Commonwealth and the cause of Africa.
§ Mr. Snow
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It was my understanding, though I may have misunderstood, that the hon. Member for Farnham said that he knew how certain support for the opposition viewpoint among hon. Members on the Government benches had been obtained. Is not the House entitled to know precisely what he means by that remark?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) does not have to explain any remark. He can say what he likes.
§ Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to impute base motives to his fellow Members?
§ Sir G. Nicholson
I am not imputing base motives. The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) started by saying that he had 97 hon. Members with him. I contradicted him. Many of those concerned put their names to the Motion under a false impression.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Then will my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) explain why they have not removed their names from the Order Paper?
§ Sir G. Nicholson
This will be judged when there is a Division if my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South and his colleagues have the courage to come out in their true colours.
I leave it there, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I promised to sit down at a quarter past six, and I shall do so. I appeal to the House to remember what is at stake, not only for us but for other people.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
The future of Rhodesia is on the brink of disaster. One thing that has been 566 revealed in this debate today is that the future of Rhodesia has become a matter of party brawling within the Conservative Party. This is a most regrettable state of affairs. It is undermining the security and the future of the people in Central Africa, including the European minorities.
Today the European minorities in Central Africa, in Northern Rhodesia in particular, are looking to this country to give them leadership and guidance. They are looking to Her Majesty's Ministers to give the guidance which they cannot now obtain from Sir Roy Welensky. I beg the Secretaries of State responsible to give a clear assurance to the European minorities in Central Africa as to the future policy to be pursued by them. They are not going to be able to give the guarantees which the European minorities in Central Africa need if they continue with the equivocations which we have encountered so far in the speech by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and in the White Paper which has been distributed.
I believe that the future of the white minorities in Central Africa will be better secured if the Government come out quite clearly now on the basis of advance towards genuine democracy for Northern Rhodesia and not on the basis of equivocation which, quite frankly, borders on hypocrisy. We are told that the approach is being made towards a non-racial solution. I ask hon. Members very carefully to read the two remarkable editorials which appeared in The Times yesterday and today. The fact is that, although some people talk in terms of partnership and non-racial democracy, what Sir Roy Welensky and the United Federal Party want is white domination—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and the basis of the 1958 Constitution for Northern Rhodesia was, in fact, white domination in Northern Rhodesia. That was why my hon. Friends and I divided against that Constitution and why the Labour Opposition attacked the Constitution as being a fake and a fraud.
I should like to congratulate the Colonial Secretary on the measures which he is bringing before the House if he is sincere in his intention to allow a greater number of people in Northern Rhodesia to participate in the election 567 of the Legislative Council. What I should like to make clear is (this. I am mot concerned about the number of Africans in the Legislative Council if those Africans are not to be elected by the majority of the population. I do not wish Africans to sit in the Legislative Council with European votes. That would be an utter fraud. That is why I was one of those who were very strongly opposing the 1958 proposals, because, in fact, most of the Africans sitting in the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia today are elected almost wholly with European votes, and that is not the sort of Constitution which will succeed in Northern Rhodesia. The basis of a successful Constitution must be a wide franchise with a majority of the population participating in the use of a vote.
The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) referred to the example of Canada and spoke of the French Canadians being one-third of the population there. Did he realise that the European minority in Northern Rhodesia which hitherto has had most of the political power constitutes only 3 per cent. of the population? It is absolute lunacy to be handing over more political power to that European minority even though we may use the words "non-racial democracy", "partnership", and so on, which, of course, the Africans regard as absolute hypocrisy.
This is not only lunacy for the Africans; it is also undermining the security of the Europeans themselves. I am interested in the future of the Africans in Central Africa just as much as I am interested in the future of the Africans living in that part of the continent, and I know that there are many European settlers who are today supporting the proposals of the National Democratic Party in Southern Rhodesia as they support the proposals of the United National Independence Party in Northern Rhodesia, because they recognise that their future can be secured only on the basis of equality and real friendship with the African majority.
If hon. Members opposite want to see an example of successful non-racial equality in operation, I invite them to go to Tanganyika on one of their visits 568 to the Central African Federation. In Tanganyika proposals have been put into operation with the maximum possible accord between all races living in that country. There has not been a build-up of franchise qualifications to exclude most of the African population. The vote was given in the first election to people in Tanganyika who have incomes of £150 a year or more, with the result that, although the majority in the first Legislative Council elected in Tanganyika was two-thirds non-African, because the franchise qualifications were low, the people elected to the Legislative Council had the confidence of the overwhelming mass of the population. That is, I think, the solution which we want in Northern Rhodesia, not a balancing between the racial composition of the Legislative Council but a realistic approach to the franchise qualification.
I therefore propose that the Colonial Secretary should look again at his proposals, and come back with a common roll, with a franchise qualification of about £150 a year income, and abolish the higher roll which, I think, in the circumstances in Northern Rhodesia today is a foolish proposal.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
The hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) said he was very disappointed by this debate. I do not share his disappointment. I think that this debate has been very well worth while, and I am not thinking especially of the interesting disclosure of the different points of view of hon. Members opposite, though I am sure they will forgive us that quiet piece of enjoyment when we see them arguing with each other on these matters.
§ Sir G. Nicholson
We have more opportunities of doing it than the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Perhaps if I may use the word "parity" in this connection it would be appropriate.
However, I do not think anybody who knew anything about the subject or the circumstances would possibly claim that the task confronting the Colonial Secretary in trying to achieve an agreement on constitutional advance in Northern Rhodesia was an easy one. It is quite 569 clear that he was faced with extremely different points of view, and I think it is quite foolish to speak as if there was some easy and simple solution for everybody to have accepted and agreed to.
I also think that he was right, to begin with at any rate, to seek to reach agreement, always, of course, on the assumption that the kind of proposals which might have secured agreement were also acceptable to Her Majesty's Government, but having said that, I want to make plain something else. If, in fact, it proves impossible to reach agreement, as it so far has, Her Majesty's Government have an absolutely clear responsibility for deciding what should be done about this franchise and for carrying it through.
I welcome what the Colonial Secretary said, in particular about the fact that the Federal Government have a right to be consulted on the extension of the franchise in Northern Rhodesia, but nothing more. They have no right at all to determine or, beyond consultation, to influence the situation. I was glad, too, that the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) spoke in such weighty terms on the same theme. There have been suspicions, rather strong suspicions, in many quarters, British as well as African, that in these last few weeks the kind of pressures being put upon the British Government by the Federal Government have far exceeded what we normally understand by the word "consultations".
It is significant that nobody in the whole of this debate, not even some of the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the Government side, have said that they supported the point of view of the United Federal Party. Nobody has said that there should be no extension of the franchise whatever. Nobody has underlined or indicated agreement with the phrase in the White Paper which describes the point of view of that party. We are all agreed that there must be an extension, and I do not think that any of us doubt that it must come very soon if there is to be any hope whatever—if, indeed, hope still remains—of saving the Federation and if there is to be much hope of preventing very serious disorder in Northern Rhodesia.
How far, then, should we go? The Colonial Secretary quoted something that I said in 1959, and it is quite true that both on that occasion and in major 570 debates on Central Africa earlier in the year I expressed the view that the very minimum that ought to be conceded was an African majority for Nyasaland in the Legislature and at least parity in Northern Rhodesia. I must say quite frankly that the wind of change is blowing very fast nowadays in Africa. And I do not believe, if I were asked today if that were all that was necessary, that I could say it was. I think that if it had been done at once in 1959, it might have been just possible to get away with it, but I do not think it is possible any longer. I do not think it will be acceptable to the Africans, for two reasons. First, the Monckton Commission Report, as my hon. Friend pointed out, has had a very big influence, as it was intended to have, on this situation. That was the whole idea of appointing the Monckton Commission—that it would influence opinion in Africa. Though it might not have had quite the influence which was intended, there has certainly been that effect.
There have been other developments —the constitutional changes in Kenya and in Tanganyika, the emergence to full independence of other African countries. We cannot ignore all these, but we say to the Colonial Secretary that we for our part have been with him all the way in these progressive changes for which he has been largely responsible in the other African Colonies. We have noticed since he became Colonial Secretary a very distinot improvement in these matters. It is our desire that he should continue on the same lines as before, because we believe that is best for Africa, and, indeed, the only way to avoid very serious trouble.
An awful lot of nonsense is spoken about whether or not a franchise is racial. We may say, I suppose, that it is a nonracial franchise if there is a common roll, but if the common roll is based on a very limited franchise which, in fact, allows only Europeans to vote, then it is a racial franchise. Equally, let me say at once, the Colonial Secretary would be entitled to say that if the franchise were universal and if there were an overwhelming African majority in the population, it could be described as racial. There would, of course, be a difference, because the second arrangement would be in accordance with our 571 democratic traditions and the first would not, but we could certainly say that both were racial. Therefore, I think it is rather foolish to speak about racial franchises or constitutions without discussing exactly what we mean in detail.
If I may now say a few thing about the specific proposals, there is one thing which I do not myself oppose. I think there may be something to be said, when we are to have this third national roll or national sector, as it were, for requiring a certain minimum percentage of both communities to vote for a successful candidate. I would not rule that out now if we really wish to get some kind of cross-voting. I agree that there is a lot in what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stone-house) when he said that it was a complete mockery of the situation to have Africans solely dependent on Europeans for votes. That would obviously be ridiculous, but to say, for instance, that whoever is returned on this particular roll had to have a minimum of 10 or 5 per cent, or whatever it may be, with Europeans dependent on Africans or Africans on Europeans to that extent, is not a thing that we should entirely reject.
Having said that I must add this. I think there are three great difficulties about this proposal. Firstly, it is appallingly complex. Precisely because it is complex it is going to be misrepresented whatever Ministers may feel about it, and if it is misrepresented in present circumstances that could be very dangerous.
Secondly, as my hon. Friend pointed out, this process of averaging out the votes is really something which surely must stick in the throat of anybody who believes in democracy. How can we seriously justify a man who has a very substantially larger vote than another suddenly finding himself below a man who has got much less? I think that the Colonial Secretary will have to think again about that idea.
Here is another objection. Although it is claimed that this idea of a national role is meant to get away from a racial basis I cannot see how we shall avoid voters voting very largely according to colour because it will be in their interests to give those of their own colour the maximum vote. The only way to avoid 572 that is really to have reserved places. If we have reserved places as in Tanganyika, for instance, and as in Kenya, then we shall have Europeans dependent upon African votes. It is true that we then provide for a certain limited number of seats—for a minority of Europeans in this case. I can imagine that the Colonial Secretary may not like it, but we do get, what seems to me far more important, the idea that people vote for persons of different colour. I would ask that the Tanganyika experiment, which I should have thought by far the most successful case of multi-racial voting, ought to be considered for Northern Rhodesia in spite of the fact that the proportion of Europeans there is higher than it is in Tanganyika.
That is all I want to say about the substance of the proposals, and on that, as my hon. Friend said, although we are critical we do not want to say much more because these negotiations will still be going on. But I must confess that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend in criticising the way in which these negotiations have been handled. It is undeniable—we all know—that we are in the position where the Government's proposals have been rejected by both sides—one might say all sides, except the Liberal Party which happens peculiarly to benefit from them. This is really a deplorable situation, to have lost the support both of the Africans and of the Whites. There seems to me little doubt that we have the worst of all worlds.
Why has the Colonial Secretary lost the support of the Africans? He may say, "It is because I would not agree to their own desire for, if one likes, one man one vote", or, if it is absolutely explicit, "a clear African majority". Of course, I do not doubt that the latter point at least played some part in their attitude. Yet in previous cases the Colonial Secretary has been very successful. On every occasion when he has been handling problems of this sort he has been able to retain the confidence of the Africans, as he did over the Kenya negotiations. I think there is something else, and I think that the something else which has really produced this deplorable result has been the intervention of the Federal Government and the way in which they were handled by the British Government.
573 After all, here we have a situation in which a conference has been called for the discussion of constitutional advances in Northern Rhodesia. It meets before Christmas. It does not, admittedly, make very much progress, but that is often the case at the beginning of such conferences. It then adjourns. It then comes back, and on the very first day of its resumption it is announced that the United Federal Party and the Dominion Party are both boycotting the conference. I could not help thinking at that time how very different the reception of the British Government of this action of the United Federal Party was from their reaction to the occasion when the African delegates in December walked out of the Federal Conference. It is a very different story. Then they were told in no uncertain terms that they were misbehaving. It was announced indeed the very next day, if I remember rightly, that the Constitutional Conference on Northern Rhodesia would be suspended. This was to teach them a lesson.
Indeed, Sir Edgar Whitehead said that the postponement of the territorial talks was designed to teachextreme racialistic African leaders a salutary lesson which was long overdue.The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations said rather more calmly, but still in a fairly offensive manner, thatthose African leaders who have remained may well achieve more by calm discussion round the conference table than those who have walked out will achieve by striking attitudes in front of the television cameras."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th December. 1960; Vol. 632, c. 216.]That was not the way Mr. Greenfield was spoken to. That was not the way Sir Roy Welensky was spoken to. This kind of unequal treatment between the two races and the different parties is, I am sure, one of the reasons for the loss of confidence by the Africans in the Colonial Secretary and the Government.
The third reason why I think there has been a collapse is really this, that the whole handling of our relations with the Federal Government, and with Sir Roy Welensky in particular, over a long period has, in my view, been quite wrong. This goes back, I must say at once, long before the present Minister was Colonial Secretary. We can only explain this really in terms of the whole of the last 574 seven or eight years, the long story of the introduction of federation and the repeated actions of the Tory Government at that time, always on the side of the Federal Government and against the Africans. I need not repeat all this. It is all set out in the Monckton Report, and if there is one thing we should have learned by now it is that particular lesson.
But more than that, while they gave way I think far too frequently over the years to Sir Roy Welensky and his colleagues they also managed from time to time to be too clever. This, I think, particularly applies to the Prime Minister. I hold no brief for Sir Roy Welensky, and I am going to say some things about him in a moment, but I must say that I have a lot of sympathy with him in the way he was treated on the question of the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission. It is undeniable that he was deceived on this matter. He has himself said repeatedly that he had the assurance from the Prime Minister that the question of secession would not be covered by the Report. I do not doubt that he believed that absolutely sincerely.
The trouble is that the Prime Minister was trying to be too clever, trying to say one thing to one lot of people and another thing to another lot of people. One gets caught out in the end if one does that too frequently.
Incidentally, let me say on behalf of my hon. Friend who was attacked because he referred to the Prime Minister's reputation in Africa that this phrase which he used was not something which he invented himself. This is something which appeared in the East African Review. I am going to read it:In recent letters from friends in the Federation the expression 'do a Macmillan on us' has appeared several times. Now I see that it has been used in the Federal Assembly by Mr. C. W. Dupont, M.P. for Fort Victoria. In explanation he said that he meant: 'We never meant what we said; and if we did, we did not say it; and if we did, we were misreported.'That was not my hon. Friend. Witty and entertaining as he is, he did not think of this. It was a Member of Parliament in Rhodesia who was unquestionably reflecting the feelings there, and that attitude of first of all giving way and then trying to be clever has landed us in an even worse position with Sir Roy Welensky and his colleagues than 575 we should have been in if we had been honest and straightforward with them from the start.
At the same time, having said that, I am bound to add that I consider that the speeches of Sir Roy Welensky in the last few days have been deplorable. I cannot see what good these rash and intemperate statements can do in present circumstances. Neither did I like—and I do not think that any of us did—the call-up of Federal territorials without first consulting the Government. We know perfectly well that it was done first and that the Governor was then asked, "Will you agree?"
Not only was this the kind of action which if there were proper relations between the British Government and the Federal Government could not conceivably happen without full consultation with Her Majesty's Ministers but, as the Colonial Secretary knows very well, the use of Federal troops in these circumstances is very liable to aggravate the position precisely because they are the troops of the Federal Government. I agree with what an hon. Member opposite said—that if, as I sincerely trust will not be the case, there are disorders which require any kind of military action against anybody, it would be far more satisfactory for British troops to be used than it would be for troops under the control of the Federal Government.
If there is to be restraint, and I think that this debate has been conducted on the whole with remarkable restraint, there must be restraint all round. There must be restraint in Rhodesia so far as Sir Roy Welensky is concerned and also on the part of some hon. Members opposite are concerned. I do not wish to interfere with their arguments and quarrels—[Laughter.]—I have never invited hon. Members opposite to interfere in ours. I do not propose to interfere with theirs, but I will say all the same that it is immensely important that in present circumstances the attacks which the Colonial Secretary has had to face from the right wing of his party should not lead Sir Roy Welensky and his friends to imagine that there is not a fundamental agreement on our side—and I put that at its most modest—for a very substantial advance in the franchise in Northern Rhodesia. The trouble with 576 these things is that they give a false impression which can be dangerous overseas.
Let us not forget that our object here is to try ultimately to bring about full democracy in Northern Rhodesia. We know that that will take a little time. We know that it must involve an acceptance by the white minority themselves of an African State which will be under the control of the African people. We believe that the white minority have an important part to play there, but they must accept the fact that we must get over this hump or past this watershed—whatever the metaphor may be—and that with the pace of events moving as it is in Africa, the time has long since gone when white supremacy can possibly be a viable policy.
The danger which must be borne in mind all the time is the undermining of the position of the present African leaders. We are fortunate in having in Northern Rhodesia, and for that matter in Southern Rhodesia, men of moderate opinion. Let us help them to carry their people with them.
Finally, let us not forget that what happens in Rhodesia will have wide repercussions elsewhere. This is not a matter that can be confined to a few hundred or a few thousand square miles of African territory. It will have the greatest possible bearing on the cold war. Let the Government stand firm on the principles of the Monckton Report. Let them not be browbeaten either by noble Lords below the Gangway or by Sir Roy Welensky and his friends.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has not given me quite as much time as I expected and, therefore, I shall not be able to deal with all the points to which I should have liked to reply.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman very much that this has been a most valuable debate. I think that every hon. Member will agree that it has shown a very wide measure of support for the proposals for Northern Rhodesia of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary and the Government. I hope that that is the message which will go out clearly from here to all the peoples of Rhodesia.
577 We agree with the right hon. Gentleman that, in view of the disagreement between the races, the decision and the responsibility for what is to be done now rests fairly and squarely upon Her Majesty's Government; and I assure him that we will give careful consideration to the suggestions that he made about the franchise.
All parties of both races proclaim that what they want is a truly non-racial political system in which people of all races can play their part and make their contribution. I agree with a certain amount of what the right hon. Gentleman said about a non-racial approach to politics. Everybody has a different idea of what he means by non-racial. At any rate, we have taken them all at their word and we have put forward a plan which is specially designed to encourage moderate parties which have a multiracial appeal.
None the less, our plan has been rejected—perhaps for the reasons outlined by the right hon. Gentleman—by almost all parties, and by both races. By one side we are labelled as jelly-boned cowards for kow-towing to the African extremists, and, by the other side, we are accused of betraying the Africans and selling them down the river.
The Leader of the Opposition deplores the fact that our plan has been rejected by both races. I am not sure that he is right about that. The fact that it has been rejected by both races does not necessarily mean that it is a bad plan. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that if one of the two communities had given this plan an unqualified blessing that might well have been the kiss of death.
It is interesting to see the reasons that are being given by both sides. On the African side, Mr. Nkumbula explained to the Daily Herald why he rejected the plan. He said, very frankly:We cannot possibly hope to get a majority out of this White Paper.On the other side, Sir Roy Welensky made it perfectly clear that he opposes the plan because it does not provide a built-in majority of European electors on the upper roll. We may be old-fashioned, but we believe that in a parliamentary election it is appropriate that there should be some element of uncertainty. Sir Roy 578 claims that his party has a multi-racial appeal. If it has, this plan will give him the opportunity to prove it. It is a heaven-sent gift for any party which can command the support of moderate opinion among both races.
On their side, the Africans constantly assert that they do not believe in racialism. They say that they do not want to frighten away the Europeans and that they recognise that they need their co-operation. This plan offers to the African parties an encouragement to develop policies that will give confidence to the European community.
If each of the main political parties persists in thinking in purely racial terms, it is certain that neither of them will win a majority. In that case, they must not be surprised if the balance of political power in the Legislature passes into the hands of some middle-of-the-way group —what I might describe as a group of Jo Grimonds. We might not welcome an arrangement of that kind here, but in a country which is passing through a critical transition a political system which necessitates a measure of compromise between the parties is not necessarily a bad thing.
I was asked about law and order. The responsibility for internal law and order rests with the Government of each of the three territories; and so long as those territories remain dependencies of the United Kingdom we cannot divest ourselves of the ultimate responsibility for them. Under the Federal Constitution, however, the responsibility for defence as distinct from law and order rests with the Federal Government and they consequently control all the armed forces of the Federation.
Should there be civil disturbances of any kind, it is the police force of the territory concerned which has to deal with it in the first place. If it is beyond the power of the police to do so, it is open to the Government of the territory to call upon the armed forces of the Federation to come to the aid of the civil Power. I emphasise, however, that when performing police duties of this kind, the troops, whatever they may be, whether they come from the Federation or from Britain, will operate wholly under the directions of the civil Government of the territory concerned.
579 We have heard a lot in the last few weeks about the need to keep government in responsible hands. The threatening speeches by the African leaders, in which they have hinted at something worse than Mau Mau, were quite unpardonable and are evidence of political irresponsibility. The faults, however, have not been all on one side. Sir Roy Welensky rightly fears that the Federation would be endangered by an over-quick political advance for the Africans. That is quite true. But the same applies also to over-slowness.
I have a good deal of admiration for the sturdy, fighting qualities of Sir Roy Welensky. He is undoubtedly the dominant European figure in Rhodesia. He is the one man who could, if he wished, provide national leadership, but I have been very disappointed by some of the things which he has been saying in the last few days.
I do not in the least mind his truculent remarks about the British Government—we can take it. What has disturbed me is the general tone in which he has spoken of the racial problem. Some of the things he has said, and the way he has said them, are bound to deepen distrust between Africans and Europeans and to raise the political temperature at a time when it must, surely, be the duty of all responsible men to try to create calm and confidence.
There is no good concealing the fact that Europeans have, in the years gone by, missed many opportunities to encourage a genuine multi-racial outlook among the Africans. It must also he admitted that any efforts that have been made on the European side to encourage sincere political co-operation have received from the Africans a very disappointing response. There may still be just time to make good past mistakes and omissions on both sides. The purpose of the new plan is to offer to all the peoples of Northern Rhodesia a chance to develop a political system in which they can work honourably together for the common future of their country. I appeal to them, to all Rhodesians, of all races, to make the most of this chance, for it may well be the last chance they will have.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.