§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, after the first "law" to insert:other than the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, and the Visiting Forces Act, 1952".I am glad to see that, as the result of pressure which some of us put on the Government at a late hour on Monday, they decided that it was better that we should continue discussion on this Bill today. As a result, we now have the pleasure of the presence of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who, apparently, was otherwise engaged on the last occasion. I do not complain about that; I merely say that it is nice to have him with us today.
There is a number, although not very many, of South African Army and, I think, Air Force personnel training in this country. They come under the Visiting Forces Act, 1952. We are told that they are training for a number of different tasks, but principally as parachutists. In answer to a Question on 30th March, 1960, the Secretary of State for Air said:About 30 officers and 60 airmen of the South African Air Force have received training in Royal Air Force establishments during the past five years. None is receiving training at present."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1960; Vol. 620, c.142.]We were told by the Secretary of State for War, on 9th November last year, thatDuring the past year seven South African officers and three other ranks have attended Army courses in the United Kingdom and British Army of the Rhine, in addition to those who are being trained at the Royal Air Force Parachute School…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1960; Vol. 629, c.56.]Those men are being trained for some purpose and it is interesting to consider what that purpose might be. It might be for the assistance which South 1399 Africans would give in the event of a global war. It is understandable that they might give assistance in that way, but apparently that is not the case, because Mr. Erasmus, the former South African Minister of Defence, said in Pretoria, on 2nd December:The most important thing remaining for the South African defence force in the foreseeable future is to guard against subversive activities and terrorism of the kind that has arisen in Algeria…That means that these men are being trained for that purpose and if any confirmation of that is needed, it was given by Mr. Fouche, the present South African Minister of Defence, who said:In the past, when the rôle of the South African forces was mainly to give support to South Africa's allies…certain conditions and considerations prevailed. Today, apparently, the situation is different and that is not the main rôle of the South African forces. Their main rôle is assisting the police in keeping law and order in South Africa.
It is not right that these men should be trained in this country and should be given the protection of the Visiting Forecs Act if they are to be engaged in activities of that kind when they return and if the training which they get here is to be used for that purpose.
We therefore feel that the Bill should be amended so that the Visiting Forces Act does not apply to South Africa. We hope that the Minister will explain to us a little more how many South African forces are training here, what they are doing, what protection is given to them, and whether he will consider not applying that Act to them. This is a perfectly simple Amendment and would cause the right hon. Gentleman no difficulty and it could be done without the Commonwealth Relations Office having to undergo all the travail and trouble of pursuing facts about South Africa which it ought to have known before, but which it did not know, as we discovered the other night. I hope that the Secretary of State will tell us what he can do to help in this very difficult situation.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Bernard Braine)
It might be helpful to the Committee if I say something about the 1400 two Acts which the Amendment mentions. The first is the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, and the second is the Visiting Forces Act, 1952. The purpose of the first is to apply British Service discipline to indidividual members of Commonwealth forces serving with British Services, or with British Service establishments. At present, there are only 33 members of South African forces here on training courses, or for other purposes, and it is desirable that British military codes of discipline should continue to apply to them.
Earlier in our discussions, reference was made to paratroopers training here. There are no South African paratroopers now under training in this country and we have not made arrangements to take any more. The Act also makes useful provision for dealing with powers of command and discipline when Commonwealth units are serving together at sea, for instance.
The Visiting Forces Act, 1952, repealed some parts of the 1933 Act, but purposely left the provisions to which I have just referred. That Act deals with the problem of forces, as opposed to individuals, when visiting this country. It is not affected by the Bill, because, like the British Nationality Act, it mentions Commonwealth countries by name and not by reference to membership of the Commonwealth. It also refers to foreign countries, if designated for that purpose by Order in Council.
As the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) reminded the Committee, we have defence arrangements with South Africa which we entered because they were mutually advantageous to us, and to our allies in N.A.T.O. Those arrangements, like all other arrangements which we have made with South Africa, will have to be reviewed, always bearing in mind the need to safeguard central British interests. I can say that that review has already begun.
My right hon. Friend is fully seized of the right hon. Gentleman's point of view, but to withdraw the application of the 1933 code would be to prejudge the result of the review upon which we are now engaged, which would not be advisable in this case any more than in 1401 all the other matters, of which many are contentious. They will have to be reviewed and are, therefore, covered by the Bill. For those reasons, I earnestly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see fit to withdraw the Amendment.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
We have recently had a series of speeches from Ministers of the Union of South Africa, warning of the danger and difficulties in South Africa and insisting upon the strengthening of military forces to deal with internal problems within South Africa, or, as one Minister put it, problems which might arise from invasions such as that which has taken place from the Congo into Angola.
If difficulties of that kind arise, there will be conflicts between the Government and the African population of the Union, or with African supporters from outside the territory. I would like an assurance that during the year of standstill any treaty which we have with the Union will not be used to strengthen the forces of the Union in any internal struggle with the African people.
I appreciate that my second point is more difficult and that, in some senses, I shall be speaking for myself rather than for the whole of my party. We are in a dilemma in the whole problem of defence in the Continent of Africa. The Under-Secretary said that our military arrangements with the Union Government were of mutual benefit and of value to N.A.T.O. But we must balance any military advantages against the reluctance of the African people of those territories to be involved in military commitments of that kind. The sweep of opinion in the Continent of Africa is towards neutralism and to be free from N.A.T.O. and from Western commitments.
We must be careful, even in the case of the Union of South Africa, to judge between the advantage of any military arrangements there and the degree of resistance which those arrangements will arouse in the majority of the population in South Africa, which is now disfranchised, but which is fundamentally opposed, as are other African peoples, to being committed to military arrangements which may be of value to us and to N.A.T.O., but against the tide of opinion in Africa.
1402 To the Secretary of State, now on the Front Bench, to whom I would say a word of welcome back from his mission to Sierra Leone, I say that we must be very careful indeed, in any defence arrangements which are made with the Union of South Africa, to ensure that they do not have the effect opposite to that intended and actually weaken our position.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
There must be very few hon. Members in the Committee, though I see one or two faces dotted about in one place or another, who were here in this Chamber and actually spoke when the original Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act—Bill, as it then was—was discussed here in 1933. I was one of those, and I remember the feelings which were expressed then about the proposal that some special treatment should be afforded to visiting forces from the Commonwealth. The whole atmosphere then was that the Commonwealth was at that time acting and was likely to act in the foreseeable future with one mind in dealing with its military forces, and for that reason special provisions, privileges—call them what you will—were introduced and were generally acceptable.
It is a very different situation today with regard to South Africa. We have heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) how the purposes for which the South African forces are likely to be used have been stated by Ministers in South Africa. I suppose that nobody would think that this Committee would approve of giving support to the forces of South Africa which were to be used primarily, if not entirely, for the purposes stated by those South African Ministers. That brings into effect now a situation totally different from the situation which was ruling at the time when the original Bill was introduced.
I appreciate the point which was made by the Joint Under-Secretary of State that these two Acts, the 1933 Act and the 1952 Act, are in different classes in that the former one would be affected by the Bill whereas the second would not, but I submit to the right hon. Gentleman, who may be replying finally upon this matter, that it is exceedingly important that we should do nothing at all in this Committee which would seek 1403 to give support to the policies which are being carried out in South Africa by the South African Nationalist Government.
Since the hon. Gentleman is right that the 1952 Act is not within the purview of the Bill, I submit to the Minister that he should consider taking the first Act out of the purview of the Bill, because I am sure that he will agree that it is important that we should do right in this matter—that we should do it demonstrably, and that the whole of Africa should see that we are determined to take every step we can to dissociate ourselves, in a perfectly friendly manner, from the policies of apartheid which are being carried out by the Nationalist Government of South Africa.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
In a few words I, too, support what has been said from this side of the Committee. I do not think that public opinion in this country would take very kindly to any facilities being provided by the United Kingdom to the Armed Forces of the Union of South Africa in any way, particularly in view of the fact that Ministers have made clear in the Union during the past few weeks that their forces are to be used mainly for internal order, which is tantamount to saying that they intend to use military might to the full to suppress the three-quarters of the population which is opposed to apartheid.
The opinion of the British public on this issue—and this concerns both sides of this Committee, in which, upon this, there is no division—is very strong indeed, and we want a clear assurance from the Secretary of State that there will be no question of any assistance being given to South African defence forces in these circumstances.
There is a further question which I should like to have clarified, and it refers to the position of the High Commission Territories and the defence arrangements with the Union. Are we to understand that the review, which the Joint Undersecretary of State has already told us will be carried out, includes a review of the radar and other defence arrangements in Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland?
I ask the Minister specifically whether we shall make clear to the Union authorities 1404 that no transit facilities across Bechuanaland will be allow to Union troops travelling to the mandated area of the South-West where the Union authorities, in defiance of the United Nations, are carrying out the policies of apartheid. I am sure both sides of the Committee condemn the activities in which they are engaged. They do use facilities through Bechuanaland to move their troops into that mandated territory. I hope that when he replies to this short debate the Secretary of State will make it quite clear that those facilities will no longer be allowed.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
I want, first, to clear up with the Government the point raised by the Joint Under-Secretary of State and raised again by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). That is the question of the 1952 Act. The Under-Secretary of State said that the 1952 Act did not come into the purview of the Bill.
The hon. Gentleman keeps saying to us that sort of thing about this, that or the other Act, and it seems to me that he is in a complete muddle about the application of the Bill. We felt this during the earlier proceedings of the Committee on the Bill, when we got no satisfaction whatever from him about the Nationality Acts. We hope that now, since he has been reinforced by his right hon. Friend, we can get at least this matter clear, because it is important as a matter of order, apart from any other considerations.
This Clause says quite plainly thatall existing law which operates as law of, or of any part of, the United Kingdom shall, unless provision to the contrary is made by an authority having power to alter that law, have the same operation in relation to the Republic of South Africa…as it would have had…if the Union had not become a Republic and had continued to be a member of the Commonwealth.That means that the Bill applies to all law of the United Kingdom Parliament which deals with the relationships between this country and the Union of South Africa, so we are perfectly entitled to raise these matters and discuss them thoroughly. I think that the hon. Gentleman was trying to draw a distinction between those Acts of the United Kingdom which would automatically lapse if the Bill were not passed and other Acts, 1405 but all those Acts come within the purview of the Bill and we are fully entitled to ask questions about them.
I hope that the Secretary of State will go a great deal further than did the Under-Secretary, to whom we are grateful for giving hon. Members some of the factual background material to this Act, but that explanation did not take into account the reason for our tabling this Amendment. The main reason for our tabling it is to obtain from the Government assurances concerning their behaviour on defence arrangements between this country and the Union of South Africa during the standstill period. We received no such assurances from the Under-Secretary, and thus we are seeking them from the Secretary of State.
Some of the points on which we are seeking clarification have already been made by my hon. Friends. The Undersecretary has stated that there are no paratroopers from South Africa at present receiving training in Britain, but, he told us, there were 33 South African Service men here. Can the Secretary of State give a clearer indication of how these 33 Service men are being employed, so that we can make up our minds whether their employment involves the kind of help that we should or should not be giving? My hon. Friends and I draw a sharp distinction between the kind of defence co-operation which is right for the time being, and the type of co-operation that would be considered to be normal between the two countries and in our joint interest.
My hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Mr. Brockway) expressed his own view on this subject, and I agree with him that when the final form of government in South Africa becomes more democratic, we shall have to discuss with the Union Government, in the light of their policies, what defence arrangements can be arrived at between our two countries. It may be that a Union Government of the future may have a neutralist policy. If that happens, we will have to respect their view and operate from the standpoint that neutralist countries in Africa and Asia have an important rôle to play in preserving the peace of the world. In the meantime, we are entitled to know what 1406 defence arrangements will be made with the Government of the Union of South Africa.
We are equally entitled to know, and to be assured, that, whatever form of defence co-operation takes place, that co-operation will not lead to Britain helping the Union Government to forward their own police policies. We require a firm assurance from the Government that during the standstill period—however long it may last—there will be no training offered in this country to any South African forces that would result in that training being used for internal policies of apartheid being imposed by military force.
We also require assurances that during this period of standstill no military supplies will be provided to South Africa if there is the slightest chance of those supplies being used for similar military purposes. On the Second Reading of the Bill, I question the Government on this specific point. I asked them to make sure that in the event of violence breaking out during this standstill period, it could not possibly be said that British military supplies were being used by the South African Government to enforce their policies by means of military power.
A further point arises, and this was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse). We want a firm assurance that the British Government will not, during the standstill period, offer transit facilities to South African forces through the High Commission Territories to reach the mandated territory of South-West Africa. In this connection, I must draw the Government's attention to what seems to be an astonishing Section of the 1933 Act. The Section may have been understandable at the time the Act was passed, but in present-day circumstances it requires attention by the Government.
I refer to Section 6, in which paragraph (a) says that visiting forces under the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, shall applyin relation to any territory in respect of which a mandate on behalf of the League of Nations is being exercised by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom as if that territory were for the time being a colony;The implication of that provision is very serious in relation to the whole position of South-West Africa at the present time. Hon. Members on both sides of the 1407 Committee hold the view that South-West Africa is a United Nations mandated territory, that the Union of South Africa is in breach of its mandate there, and that the Union has annexed the territory in defiance of the request of the United Nations.
My hon. Friends and I have over a long period been seeking that the British Government should take a more active rôle in the United Nations to ensure that South Africa's annexation of South-West Africa should not be recognised. Yet we find in the Act of 1933, in respect of defence arrangements, a statutory provision that Her Majesty's Government shall treat South-West Africa as though it were part of the territory of the Union of South Africa. In view of that, we want Her Majesty's Government's comments on that Section of the 1933 Act. If the Government say that it is impossible to amend the present Bill to give the assurances we require, they must make it clear that, during the standstill period, there will be no transit facilities offered to the Union of South Africa to use military force in the mandated territory of South West Africa in support of the Union Government's policy of apartheid.
I must make it clear that, on this point, we require from the Government more than just a legalistic explanation of the position. We want details of the Government's proposals. My hon. Friends and I accept, in all these Amendments, the position adopted by the Secretary of State in his speech during the Second Reading of the Bill—the position that South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth cannot mean that relationships will remain as they were previously, or that it will appear that South Africa is still a member.
My hon. Friends and I fear that the period of negotiation may be misunderstood in other parts of the Commonwealth, and by non-Commonwealth countries, to mean that there is not to be a definite change in our relationship with South Africa. It is important not only that the Government should make a change, but that they should show, openly, that a change is being made. During this period of negotiation, the issues of defence should receive special attention, and the least the Government can do in the circumstances 1408 is to give the assurances that we are seeking.
On one issue, we are adamant, that during the standstill period the British Government will not provide the kind of defence co-operation that might lead to the military imposition of the policies of apartheid.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) referred to my absence on Monday night. I was, in fact in an aeroplane somewhere over the Sahara—and that accounts for my absence from the House. I am glad, however, to have this opportunity of taking part in the resumed debate on the Bill.
Various hon. Members have raised a number of points and I will try to deal with them as best I can. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) raised the question of the application of the Bill to the 1952 Act, and complained that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary was "muddle-minded" about this matter. I can assure hon. Members that the Parliamentary Secretary was perfectly correct in what he said. The Bill does not affect the application of the 1952 Act. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) wish to intervene?
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
I thank the Minister for giving the explanation he gave about his absence, which is perfectly acceptable.
We were interested to find how many important Acts were not affected by the Bill. That seems to throw some light on the lack of necessity for having a twelvemonths standstill period.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not know whether the hon. Lady was present during my speech on Second Reading. I then gave a list of a considerable number of Acts which were affected and which would cease to have effect on 31st May in respect of South Africa if the Bill were not passed. I know that hon. Members opposite do not like this, but I made it clear that the Bill is a fairly pedestrian affair and does not deal with some of the main issues of policy which interested hon. Members. They have been very ingenious in managing to speak on these 1409 matters, but they are not directly connected with the Bill.
The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that Acts applying to South Africa which would cease to apply on 31st May will continue to apply for a period of one year while we are considering the issues involved. Any Act which refers to South Africa by name, and which applies to South Africa by reason of the fact that South Africa is mentioned in it by name, will not cease to have effect because South Africa becomes a Republic, or leaves the Commonwealth. Those Acts, therefore, will continue in force after 31st May unless some action is taken by the House of Commons to repeal or amend them.
Matters covered by these Acts and other Measures will be within the scope of our general review of policy in relation to South Africa, but no legislation is needed at this stage. At the end of the standstill period, which is more likely to be less than a year, the Government will introduce legislation which will cover not only the matters with which this Bill is concerned, but all matters where a change in the law is desirable. At the moment, we are concerned only with holding the position in respect of those Acts of Parliament which will cease to have effect if we do not take this action at the moment.
§ Mr. Brockway
Our difficulty is that in his speech on Second Reading the right hon. Gentleman gave a list of Acts which would be affected by the Bill. We then took the view that they were pedestrian, but we have found in the course of discussion that a considerable number of other Acts are affected. We find now that one of the defence Acts comes under the Bill. We find that the Fugitive Offenders Act comes under it and that statutory powers for arrangements for Imperial Preference come under it. When we find that the Bill covers all these matters we find that it goes very much wider than the pedestrian steps which the right hon. Gentleman took.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not think that any great issues of policy arise. I hope that I shall be forgiven by the Chair if I try to elucidate the position. This might be helpful. We could have tried in these few weeks to make up our minds about all the numerous issues raised by these various Acts and have tried to 1410 rush through some legislation, but I do not think that we could have done a very satisfactory job. Consultations are involved with South Africa on reciprocal rights and relations, and we would have had to have consultations with a great many territories which are affected. As a practical step, it would not have been sensible to try to rush things through.
Another method would have been to pick and choose. To say, "This we want to change. We will settle on that and this and leave the others for discussion." I think that that would have been an untidy arrangement. We took the view that we should have a blanket arrangement which would ensure a standstill on all legislation affecting South Africa while we had a look at the whole picture and then presented to Parliament a Bill incorporating all the changes that seemed necessary. Whatever the view taken about the issues involved, the Amendment now before the Committee would mean picking out this or that item.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that we ought to get on, but if it is an important point I will give way.
The question of transit through High Commission Territories is obviously not affected at the moment. There is no firm commitment of any kind, but we are interested in transit through South African territory just as the South Africans are interested in transit through ours. There are no radar instruments in the High Commission Territories and, therefore, that point does not arise.
I quite understand the point raised by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) about feelings on the question of Africa and defence agreements, but I think that there is a realisation awakening in Africa that some of these arrangements are perhaps to the advantage not only of countries outside Africa, but of countries in Africa itself. It is in the nature of things that the fact that there are defence agreements discourages other countries from interfering or threatening to interfere in African affairs.
The defence agreements comprise one of the relationships with South Africa which will be included within the scope 1411 of the review, but it would be very difficult to come to any conclusions about that in a hurry. All our defensive arrangements with South Africa are of mutual benefit. They are of benefit to us as well as to South Africa, and to South Africa as well as to us, and I doubt whether we will want to brush all these things lightly aside.
There is no police training going on in this country for the South African police. The hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) said that few hon. Members were present in 1933 when the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act was passed. I thought that the hon. and learned Member was about to refer to 1909 when the South Africa Act was passed. I think that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) who introduced that into the House.
The purpose of the Visiting Forces Act is to apply British Service discipline to individual members of Commonwealth forces serving with British forces or in British Service establishments in this country. As long as there are these people serving with or attached to our military establishments here, it is very much in our interests that they should be under a proper code of military discipline. As has been said, there are about 33 members of the South African forces here on training courses and it is desirable that they should be under the same discipline as others have been hitherto.
I have dealt as far as I could with most of the points raised, but all these matters will be included in the review which we are undertaking and we do not think that it would be right or sensible to try to prejudge aspects of that review in advance.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
On this side of the Committee, we have recognised, in respect of trade, that an agreement fairly negotiated between two parties to their mutual advantage would not be one to which we would object. Our attitude on defence matters is precisely the same. We readily concede that a defence agreement entered into with the Union of South Africa after it has become an independent country, provided that this is 1412 clearly to our advantage as well as to South Africa's and is well and thoroughly negotiated with an eye to the advantage to this country and without regard to internal circumstances in South Africa, might be necessary. As my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) said when introducing the Amendment, we can just conceive circumstances of what he called a global war in which wider and more general interests than those of racial segregation might have to prevail.
Having said that, I am still very disappointed that the Minister did not go further to meet the point of view which we have expressed. The subject has been debated very moderately and quietly with no extravagant or absurd suggestions. When we have questioned them in the past about various occurrences in South Africa, the Government have frequently said that certain matters are the internal affair of South Africa. In defence matters we do not want to be mixed up in internal affairs in South Africa.
Unhappily, we cannot prevent the South African Government from repressing their own population if they wish to do so, but we can make a definite and clear statement that we shall not help to do that in any way. We are bound to raise the question when we realise that in the acts of repression which were deplored on both sides of the House, which took place at Sharpeville and Langa, military equipment manufactured in this country was used.
We blame nobody for that, because it had been supplied before any threat of that kind was apparent, but surely it is reasonable and sensible, now that we know the situation in South Africa and that such incidents of civil war—because they are no less than that—may take place, for the right hon. Gentleman to say that there will be non-intervention on our part. Non-intervention is a phrase with rather unhappy associations, but why should it not be used in this case?
We are bound to refer to these matters not merely because they occurred at the time of Sharpeville and Langa, but because there are reports in South African newspapers about new developments. Referring to the new Defence 1413 Bill which was introduced there, the Johannesburg Star of 25th February said:It facilitates the swift call-up of the defence forces either for war or, what is the obvious intention, the prevention or suppression of internal disorder.That was in a South African newspaper. We all knew clearly that the purpose of the new Defence Act was suppression. We know that trouble has been going on in Pondoland. The people of Transkei have passed a resolution in their council demanding independence. That might well lead to civil war in Transkei.
We have the possibility of this within the period of a year, and we are asking that no fresh British equipment should be sent in that period and no assistance given to South African troops who may be engaged in civil war in Transkei or Pondoland or elsewhere by training people in this country. That is all that we are asking.
We are certainly not asking—at any rate, that was not my purpose in putting my name to the Amendment—that no defence agreement should be negotiated. As we said many times during the earlier stages of the Bill, we want negotiations. All we ask for is a more forthcoming statement from the right hon. Gentleman that he intends to see that the fears which have been expressed on this side of the Committee are completely met. Let him say, "You need have no fears of this kind. It is not our intention in any way to support South Africa in repressive activities. We realise that the whole of the British people would dislike that intensely. We ourselves dislike it very much and we have no intention whatever of helping them". Cannot we have such an assurance? The one word "Yes" would do to that kind of approach to the problem.
§ Mr. Dugdale
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that no more paratroopers are coming to this country, which is a very important assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, to leave out from "shall" to "have" in line 13.
The Amendment proposes to leave out the following words: 1414unless provision to the contrary is made by an authority having power to alter that law".I want to ask my right hon. Friend some questions about this somewhat unusual form of words. Subsection (1) provides, as we discussed on the last Amendment, for a standstill on all existing United Kingdom law. It goes on to say that there shall be this standstill unless some "authority having power to alter that law" provides otherwise.
In United Kingdom law I have found no authority and no precedent for this form of words, which is highly unusual. After all, we pass a law in the House and often we repeal a law, and Ministers introduce Amendments or Motions for repeal, but the authority is with Parliament. In this case, we are not saying that Parliament shall change the law, but that it shall be done by some authority having this power "to alter that law". We should not leave this part of the Bill without clear assurance that there is nothing in this form of words which in any way diminishes the responsibility or authority of Parliament.
There have been two precedents for this very unhappy tragedy of South Africa's forced withdrawal from the Commonwealth. The first is the Burma Independence Act, 1947. In that Act we dealt with preferences, which are very different from statute law, and there was a provision that the Act should be amended in due course by an Order in Council. In that Act we made specific provision that Parliament would have the power to pray against such an Order in Council. In that Act, which dealt not with statute law, as does this Bill, but with preferences, Parliament's position was preserved.
The nearest analogy to this form of words is to be found in the Ireland Act, 1949. There, a form of words not unlike this is used to deal not with a problem of United Kingdom law, with which we are dealing in subsection (1), but with the law in Colonies, Protectorates or Trust Territories, such as we are dealing with in subsection (3). But in that case we have not quite this form of words, because in Section 3 (2) of the Ireland Act, 1949, the words were "until"—not "unless"—provision to the contrary is made by Parliament or by some other authority having power in that behalf.1415 That was a provision dealing, first, not with United Kingdom law as we deal with it here; not with the countermanding of Parliament's authority, as we are here; but with subordinate territories, putting a time limit on the effect of that Ireland Act, 1949, if that subordinate territory wished later to make a change.
The effect of these words must be directed not to subsection (1) of this Bill, but to subsection (3), which deals with the subordinate territories. If I am wrong, this part of what I am saying is beyond the point, but I think that it must have that effect. If that is so, there are two problems here. There is the problem of a territory which has a Constitution, which does not require the authority of Parliament to change that part of the Constitution. If that is so, surely it is far better for us not to deal with that in the Bill, but if, by its Constitution, it has the force of authority to act without the necessity for Parliament, it is quite clearly outside the Bill.
If, on the other hand, it is a territory that requires the assent of an Act of Parliament to any decision which it takes, then I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that that ought to come back to Parliament before that territory counter-orders a standstill Order which Parliament is making. If I am right in this hazard that this Bill does not mean what it says, as drafted, these wordsunless provision to the contraryhave got out of their context and ought not to be in subsection (1), but ought to be in subsection (3).
I suggest that both require drafting amendment before they are passed. Further, the word ought not to be "unless", but "until", as in the case of the Northern Ireland Act. I have some doubts myself whether we in Parliament, in a matter like this, should hand over our authority, with which we are empowered, completely.
When the Minister is replying, I should like him to try to explain how he envisages this Clause to work. I have a feeling that it would be much better that it should be given a calm and dispassionate period of thirteen months during which both sides, with the best will in the world, should try to make the 1416 most harmonious end to this unhappy tragedy. After all, the people who are affected by this Measure, as my right hon. Friend mentioned in the Second Reading debate, are people for whom all of us on both sides of this Committee have a great affection. They are men whose whole personal lives will be adrift until these problems are finally settled, and if they are not settled their lives will be jeopardised. They are the doctors, the dentists and all other professional men—the key men—and they are the very men who so dislike apartheid.
We want this calm and dispassionate approach to the problem, and I think that it would be very unfortunate if words such as these which I am seeking to delete proved to be one of the ways in which these professional men felt that, under the authority of Parliament, they were being treated in different parts of the country differently at different times.
For these reasons, I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider these words very carefully. This is a Bill of constitutional importance, and it appears to me that many people who read this phrase which I have read out will misunderstand its purpose. It may well be that in some parts of my interpretaion of it I myself have misunderstood it. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend will consider carefully this form of words, and that, if he finds some of the implications which I have mentioned, will withdraw the phrase or alter it at a later stage.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am interested that my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) should have had his attention drawn to this phrase in the Bill, because when I first read the Bill, as drafted, I, also, was a little uncertain about this phrase; and I did not allow it to go into the Bill until I was fully satisfied that it was necessary and proper.
My right hon. Friend has asked for an assurance that these words do not involve any derogation of the authority or status of Parliament. That was just the point about which I was concerned. I can assure my right hon. Friend that that is, in fact, so; I give him the assurance for which he asks, and I will explain why. He said that this is a somewhat unusual form of words, and that there 1417 was no precedent for them. Though he seems to have done a certain amount of research on the subject, he did not go so far as to look at the Acts passed on India, Pakistan and Ghana becoming Republics. All these Acts contained precisely this phrase, and for reasons which I will explain.
This Bill applies to all laws, Orders in Council, Regulations and other law-making instruments of the United Kingdom and all British Colonies, Protectorates and Trust Territories. This phrase is mainly concerned, as my right hon. Friend himself recognised, not with laws which have effect here in this country primarily, but with laws which have effect in overseas territories. In the case of laws, as distinct from Orders in Council Regulations, and so forth, the authority referred to in the words proposed to be left out would normally be the legislature or other law-making authority of the dependent territory concerned. In the case of Orders in Council or other instruments, the authority would be the Queen in Council, or a Governor in Council, as the case may be, or any authority empowered to make Orders and Regulations.
The words which it is proposed to leave out have been inserted to allow dependent territories to modify the provisions of the Bill in respect of laws—and this is the point I want to emphasise—which are within their own legislative competence. Considering that some of these territories have reached an advanced stage of self-government, we think that it is constitutionally right and proper to leave them this discretion.
That is the explanation which I can give to my right hon. Friend, and I hope that with that assurance he will be content not to press the Amendment.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
There is one outstanding point which I should like to raise. My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) asked whether, assuming that this provision is appropriate at all, it is appropriately placed in subsection (1), which deals with existing law which operates in any part of the United Kingdom. Subsection (3) applies to the Colonies and Protectorates, but, of course, according to the ordinary canons of construction, if this provision is in subsection (1) we have to find some 1418 application for it within the actual ambit of that subsection; that is to say, so far as it relates to the law of the United Kingdom.
If there is no application as far as it relates to the law of the United Kingdom as distinct from the Colonies—and that is what I apprehend my right hon. Friend's answer to mean—it would seem that in subsection (1) there is no effect of these words and the phrase should not be placed in subsection (1).
I know that these matters are a little technical. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton would not wish to press our right hon. Friend to give a definitive answer to this point now from the point of view of the drafting and whether the phrase is correctly placed in that subsection. However, in the light of what has been said and of the expert advice that he is in a position to obtain, perhaps he could consider that.
§ Mr. Sandys
Even if my right hon. Friend does not press me, I should like to give an answer now. What I said earlier was that, in the main, I do not say it is absolutely 100 per cent., this phrase will, in practice, apply only to laws of independent territories. I do not think that there is any derogation of the authority of Parliament in doing what we have done in the Bill. It is what we do in regard to the United Kingdom. When Parliament passes a law which gives a power to some other authority—possibly to the Queen in Council or to the Minister by Regulation—to bring the application of that Act in part or in whole to an end or to modify it in any way. There is no reason why we should then seek to take away from the Queen in Council, for example, the powers to amend the Act which were given by Parliament after due consideration.
This is the effect. We are leaving as far as possible intact the Act as passed by Parliament. If Parliament thought it right to leave that discretion to some other law-making authority, whether the Queen in Council or to some colonial authority, we see no particular reason why we should in this Measure alter that provision.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu
I feel a great deal of sympathy for what has been said by the right hon. Member for Thirk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and the right hon. 1419 and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). The answer which the Secretary of State has given was, I believe, intended to satisfy them, but I wonder whether it really satisfies them on the question of derogation from the rights of Parliament.
The Secretary of State explained that if Parliament has given power to an inferior authority to Parliament to legislate in a given case there is no reason why the same authority should not be allowed to amend its legislation at a subsequent date. But surely that is not the point. The point is that we are legislating in this Bill. It is the Bill which causes a standstill to come into operation which would be effected by the subservient authority if it were permitted to amend legislation at a later stage.
§ Mr. Sandys
If we did what the hon. and learned Member has suggested we would not be producing a standstill. The standstill does not mean that everything has to go on for a year. It means that everything will be exactly the same as if South Africa had not left the Commonwealth. If an Act which exists today provides that an authority outside Parliament has power to amend that Act, then the standstill should leave the position as it is, namely, leave that power to amend. Otherwise, it would not be a standstill, but an amendment of the Act. It would retain the Act in force in a different form. I think that when the hon. and learned Member considers that further he will see that it is a sound argument.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Turton
Could my right hon. Friend explain how an Order in Council could be amended without coming to Parliament?
§ Mr. Sandys
There are all sorts of powers, as my right hon. Friend knows, given by Parliament for action to be taken by Order in Council or Regulations in regard to many matters. Whether the Order has to be laid on the Table does not affect this Bill as we have it before Parliament today. We do not say, in the Bill, that if there is the provision that such an Order must be laid on the Table of the House that is amended. All we are doing is to keep everything as it is today with such powers of amendment as exist today for a period of a year.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
What my right hon. Friend is saying is that if there is an Order in Council or Statutory Instrument subject to a defined degree of Parliamentary procedure that defined degree of Parliamentary procedure will still operate no more and no less in accordance with his interpretation of the meaning of the subsection?
§ Mr. Sandys
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu
I hope that I am not being unduly obtuse, but surely the Bill provides a standstill, in certain instances, on laws brought into operation by authorities subservient to this House. If those subservient authorities are allowed to alter their laws after we have said that there will be a standstill it is a derogation from the powers of this House.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not think that we want to pursue this matter very much. I tried to make it clear. We are no longer saying that no law in South Africa shall be changed for a year, but that those laws shall not cease automatically to have effect by reason of South Africa leaving the Commonwealth. I do not know that there is one, but suppose there were a law which said that until 1st September, 1961, South African citizens should have certain rights. This Bill would not extend the application of that Act for another nine months after that. That Act would come to an end on 1st September, 1961, as already provided. This is not a standstill in the sense that we are rigidly extending everything for one year.
What we are doing is to see that laws do not automatically cease to have effect by reason of South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth on 31st May. I hope that hon. Members will consider this, but perhaps we need not discuss it further now.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
The Secretary of State may be right in saying that we have pursued this matter long enough, but I am not satisfied that we are very near to the quarry. For all I know, the legal gentlemen of the Privy Council, or the legal gentlemen who have had such long experience—longer than the rest of us—of this particular subject for legislation may understand it, but with every respect to the rest of my colleagues present, I should make a 1421 heavy bet against every one of them understanding it. I do not believe that this matter has been understood. I believe it to be the duty of Ministers to make sure that it is understood before they ask us to leave it.
No doubt my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is right about his precedents, but, again with respect to the draftsmen, for all I know to the contrary, this form of words:unless provision to the contrary is made by an authority having power to alter that law,"—that is to say, a provision in the passive and a negative provision—may be inevitable, but ordinary hon. Members should always be suspicious of provisos in that sort of form. We have been given ample reason for supposing that competent lawyers may find the proviso unintelligible. It seems that from the point of view of the Committee in general this is an unintelligible proviso. I think that my right hon. Friend ought to give us some assurance that this will be fully considered. I think, quite honestly, that we ought to have present on the Report stage a Law Officer whom we can cross-examine on this point.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee on this, but, like the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn), I now find the matter much more incomprehensible than I had judged it to be before the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) moved his Amendment.
The Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, is full of provisions for Her Majesty, by Order in Council, doing a wide variety of things, such as giving exemptions from impositions under the Naval Discipline Act and the Army Act, and making arrangements for the relationships of visiting forces to the civil power and for the relationship of the Act to the Colonies. Is it possible, under the provisions of this Bill, for changes to be made in the operation of that Act—which is relevant to our discussions—without coming before the House of Commons? I would like an assurance about that.
Another point mentioned by the Secretary of State puzzled me. He said that if enactments relating to Britain and South Africa expired during the next twelve months, their date of expiry 1422 would not be affected by the Bill. Reading the Bill in one way, that seems to be so, but reading it in another way, it seems that all existing law is extended for one year from 31st May, 1961. We need legal clarification on that point.
§ Mrs. Castle
May I add to the general confusion by asking the Secretary of State how his explanation of this sentence in subsection (1) fits in with the exceptions listed in subsection (3)? I understand that dependent territories have provisions in their own laws affecting their relationships with South Africa, and that it is within their competence to amend those provisions. The purpose of this sentence in subsection (1), to which attention has been drawn, is to continue to reserve to them that competence, but would not that be invalidated by subsection (3), which appears arbitrarily to apply to these territories the continuation of the existing relationships between them and South Africa?
The Secretary of State may say that subsection (1) merely continues the status quo, namely, the power of these territories, if that power already exists, to amend their own relationships with South Africa. If that is so, why is subsection (3) in the Bill? I hope that my obscurity is no worse than anyone else's, but it would help if he could throw some light on the matter.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not want to anticipate the debate on subsection (3), to which various amendments have been tabled, but the subsections of this Clause should be read together.
I must confess that I do not like the wording of this Bill, and I said so to my advisers. Personally, I would have rewritten the whole thing, but for the fact that it follows exactly the precedents of earlier laws dealing with the same problem, and it is a bad principle for Parliament to pass laws dealing with the same matter in the same way but using different words on different occasions. That is the only reason that I can give for this Bill being so difficult, but I am told that the lawyers understand it very well. I have studied it, and am satisfied that it means what we all want it to mean.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) sought clarification on one point. He is not correct in saying that this Bill keeps all laws 1423 which apply to South Africa unchanged for one year. Subsection (1) says that during this period of one year everything shall remain as though South Africa had not left the Commonwealth and had not become a Republic. If, as I have already mentioned, some legislation is due automatically to come to an end during that year, it will come to an end, and nothing will affect that.
§ Mr. Turton
My right hon. Friend is so disarming when he says that he does not like his own Bill that I am tempted to help him in every way that I can, but I must confess that I do not really think that he has met the points I made in moving the Amendment. Like the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), I still do not understand some of the points involved. I do not understand why this form of words is not in subsection (3) rather than in subsection (1). I hope that this short debate will give my right hon. Friend the opportunity to mull over it before the next stage of the Bill comes. I hope that he will then produce a Bill which he likes a little bit better. In that hope, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I beg to move, in page 1, line 19, at the end to insert:Provided that any enactment or statutory instrument in force or coming into force in the United Kingdom, being an enactment or statutory instrument which authorises or empowers trustees to invest in stock issued by a government shall no longer have effect in relation to stock issued after the passing of this Act by the Republic of South Africa.This Amendment aims at removing a facility which the South African Government enjoy at present as a member of the Commonwealth but which they would not have were South Africa a foreign country. The facility can be removed simply and without any difficulty or complications. I see no reason why it should not be removed.
The facility is that they can borrow money more cheaply than if South African loans were not considered to be trustee stock. South African loans are considered as trustee stock and, as a result, trustees can take them up and invest money held by them on trust in South African stock. The number of people, therefore, who can and want to invest 1424 in South African stock is greater than it would be otherwise.
If this class of stock were wiped off the trustee list, no persons holding trust funds would be able to invest in South African stock. That means, as I have said, that the South African Government would be unable from now onwards to borrow money comparatively cheaply—and if this Amendment is not passed they might well use this next year to borrow large sums. I would certainly advise them to do so, and any sensible financier would borrow large sums at the lower rate of interest which he will probably be able to have during this coming year if my Amendment is not accepted.
I do not propose to touch past trustee stock. If people have, in the past, invested in South African stock, and they still hold that stock, it will remain as trustee stock if my Amendment is accepted. The proposal is that, in future, no South African Government should be able to borrow money with the advantage of coming under the Trustee Act, 1925, which is the Act that allows South Africa stock to be trustee stock.
As we all know, the Government of South Africa are very sensitive about their financial position. At one time they found that large sums of money were being withdrawn after Sharpeville and after the general feeling of horror which South African action aroused. They were considerably shaken by this withdrawal. If not, perhaps, the Government, certainly many of the most powerful financiers in South Africa were shaken.
My Amendment, if accepted, would do a great deal of good in bringing to the notice of the South African people that, by their own volition, they are no longer to be considered part of the Commonwealth, by showing them what this means in terms of borrowing money. I hope, therefore, that it will be possible to have in this Bill a Clause saying that the Consolidation Act shall no longer apply to South Africa. I see no difficulty in that. It would appear to be a simple operation. I hope that the Secretary of State will consider it. He has said that the object of the Bill is simple and straightforward. It deals mainly with simple matters, legislative matters, many of which could have been perfectly easily changed had the right hon. Gentleman 1425 so desired to do, such as the Dentists Act and others. I hope that he will look on this as something in that category which could be left out of his standstill legislation and, as a result, the people of South Africa, the financiers of South Africa, will realise what it means for South Africa to leave the Commonwealth.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
I should like to support the idea behind the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), but not for the reasons he stated. At present, the House of Commons is considering the Trustee Investment's Bill, which will considerably widen the powers of trustees. It may well be a desirable thing that the list of narrower-range trustee securities as defined in that Bill should be small. Therefore I think that the proposal advanced by the right hon. Gentleman is quite attractive, but I do not think it at all attractive in the context of this Bill.
I wish to support his idea, but not his method. I think that he might well achieve his object by moving an Amendment to the Trustee Investments Bill, which would have the same financial effect, but without this rather peculiar moralising effect which the right hon. Gentlemen has suggested.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
I share the view expressed by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells) that this is not the Bill in which to make such an Amendment. An Amendment of this kind could be moved during the Committee stage of the Trustees Investments Bill, which is now being considered, if certain hon. Members—and I am not one of them—feel that such a change should be made.
As I have said before, and as I hope all hon. Members know, opinion is acutely divided in South Africa. The decision to set up a republic was passed by an extremely narrow majority; there is a substantial volume of opinion there against apartheid. I look forward to the day when South Africa will come back to the Commonwealth. Therefore, I do not want to put anything into a Bill which appears to make that contingency more remote. In my view, this Amendment would be regarded as an additional 1426 slap in the eye for our friends in the Union who want, if they can, to remain as near as possible to the old country.
As I understand it, South Africa will remain in the sterling area, which is something we should bear in mind before introducing such prohibitions against investment, not by ordinary investors, or speculators, but by trustees. They know their job as well as anybody. Under the Trustee Investments Bill trustees will to a certain extent be confined in what they can do which is one of the objections to that Bill. I do not want to go into the matter now, but all sorts of regulations are laid down in the Bill which many trustees will find difficult to understand without legal assistance. For that reason alone I think that if an Amendment of this kind is to be made it should be made in that Bill. It would be quite wrong to add a provision to this Bill which some people might consider an insult.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I wish to speak in a similar vein to the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall). With respect to the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), I think that to accept this Amendment would be a hasty and ill-advised step. This Bill is described asa standstill Measure designed to maintain unchanged the laws governing the relationship between the United Kingdom (and dependencies) and South Africa for a period of one year…Yet, by moving this Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman is choosing to make a significant change very hastily.
As I suggested in a speech on an earlier Amendment, I think we should use the standstill period to ponder very carefully on the relationship between this country and South Africa in these new circumstances. It would be most unwise for use to decide at once what that relationship should be. I do not wish to be unfair to the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, but the whole tone of his approach to this problem seems to indicate that he wishes to treat the Union of South Africa worse than any country in the world. He wishes to behave towards the Union in a different way from the attitude of this country to any other country in the world.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I said that I wanted to treat South Africa as a foreign country. 1427 South Africa has elected to be a foreign country, and I wish to treat her as a foreign country.
§ Mr. Gower
With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, that is what I do not want to do. South Africa is not a foreign country. There are a million or more people in South Africa who are British by descent. If that means nothing to the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, I hope that it means something to hon. Members on this side of the Committee and also to hon. Members opposite. I believe that it means something to the right hon. Member for Colne Valley, as he has shown by the speeches which he has made on the subject.
I wish to make clear to the right hon. Member for West Bromwich that I am not suggesting that any of us who take the line I am now taking wish to forget certain aspects of South African policy in recent years. But are not there many other countries in the world whose policies might have been objected to by this country at some period in history? Are not there many countries in the world whose policies, to such a fortunate democratic country as this, would prove objectionable?
As was said by the right hon. Member for Colne Valley, the decision to leave the Commonwealth was taken by a very small majority and it may not prove an irrevocable decision. It may be that the policies of the South African Government which have led to this result may not commend themselves to the European population in South Africa in the future. But if we wish to make those policies attractive to people of European descent in South Africa, surely the best way to do so would be to take this hasty and seemingly bitter action. If we wish to force the people of South Africa behind their Government, we could do it in no better way than that which the right hon. Gentleman suggests by his Amendment, which I hope on reflection he will decide not to press. It might have most unfortunate consequences which the right hon. Gentleman would not like.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham South)
During the Committee stage discussions on this Bill on Monday, I noticed that 1428 in most of the speeches from hon. Members opposite there emerged this same mood of self-deprecation and self-condemnation about the South African situation as has been expressed by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower).
Let us remind ourselves that it was not this country which expelled South Africa from the Commonwealth. It was the South African Government who of their own volition decided to break the links with the Crown and declare themselves a Republic against the indignant protests of the million-and-a-half people who took the contrary view and whose views have been ridden roughshod over by the Nationalist Government who have relentlessly pursued a line of policy completely insensitive to the point of view of those people and without any kind of suspicion of conciliation towards that admittedly strong point of view. In fact, during the fiercest period of the application of harsh emergency laws some of the leaders of that point of view were incarcerated for many months without trial.
When it came to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, there was no lack of conciliation on the part of the British Government. Indeed, for months, even for years, some of us have had occasion to castigate Her Majesty's Government for providing a shield and shelter for South Africa at the United Nations. Time and again Motions were tabled from this side of the House condemning the Government for their policy, and for the British Government to be condemned now for bitterness and severity in this matter seems to me a most grotesque form of penance, uncalled for by the situation. The South African Government have deliberately taken this course, and they cannot now have their cake politically inside South Africa—bitter as the taste will prove to be as the months go by—and eat it.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are doing less than justice to their Government in this matter. Happily, for once, I am glad to find myself in support of the Government. The attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite will give no aid and comfort to those who are resisting these extreme Nationalist apartheid policies in South Africa. On the contrary, we well know that the majority of South Africans who take an anti-apartheid point of view 1429 have been delighted by the action of the British Government, and delighted by the consequences of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in so far as they have brought the South African Government face to face with the inevitable consequences of their policies which have so gravely outraged the common law of the Commonwealth, its binding force, or what ought to be its binding force, and it is high time that this mood of self-depreciation and self-abuse stopped.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I would not have intervened had it not been for the rather extraordinary observations of the hon. and learned Member. He twice charged my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) with what he called self-deprecation, which I took to be a verbal slip for self-depreciation.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
It was not a verbal slip.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
Then the hon. and learned Gentleman used a word inapt to describe what was his apparent meaning. Further, in the course of his observations it appeared that it was the Government whom he associated with my hon. Friend's strictures about taking up a bitter and vindictive attitude. But it was not the Government who were the target of my hon. Friend's proper criticism. It was the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), and it is within the recollection of those who have taken part in these proceedings that his consistent attitude has been, if not vindictive—I do not want to use any harsh words—at any rate to put on the Notice Paper Amendments seeking to increase the severity to the Union of the consequences of its withdrawal.
As the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South said, it is true that the withdrawal followed from the South African Government's own motion, but in the light of the known facts it is also clear that they proposed to withdraw because they felt that they were compelled to do so. What we are concerned with in this Bill is simply this standstill arrangement to allow us, as my hon. Friend properly said, to think out what our attitude should be, not in haste, but in regard to the effect on our country, the effect on the Commonwealth as a whole, 1430 and the effect on the Union of South Africa particularly because it contains so many people to whom the doctrine of apartheid is also repugnant and who, if their wishes had been followed, would have remained in their previous relationship with the Commonwealth and would not have wished South Africa to become a Republic, in which case, of course, the matter would never have come before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
The hon. and learned Member for West Ham, North, with less logic than one would expect from such an ornament of the legal profession, suggests that we should treat a country worse by reason of the fact that there is a substantial minority opposed to the opinions which one does not like.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
I am not suggesting that they should be treated worse. I am suggesting that they should be treated as a foreign power. That is all. No more, and no less.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am referring to the observations in the earlier part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech when he pointed out that there was this substantial minority against becoming a republic, and he appeared, at any rate to me, to pray that in aid as a reason why we should now be more severe towards the Union of South Africa. With respect, the logical deduction would have been precisely the opposite.
If there are—and we know there are—a large minority of people there who would not wish to be a republic and who would not wish to follow the racial policies of which we disapprove, surely that would be a reason for not seeking to heap Pelion on Ossa, not trying to make more severe the measures in regard to South Africa. It was that which I felt was so illogical, and uncharacteristically so, in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and it is a point of view which should not commend itself either to the good sense or to the humanity of the Committee.
§ Mr. Braine
I must resist the temptation to follow the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) down the path of political argument and denunciation which he followed. I must do so in this context because the right 1431 hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) and my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) in a reasoned, calm, and sensible way, counselled us to be cautious.
It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I said something about the present position which the Bill should preserve—subject, of course, to any enactments which we may pass in the next few months.
Under the Trustee Act, 1925, those trustees who do not have wider powers under the instruments setting up their trusts may invest in securities issued by Commonwealth or Colonial Governments, provided that these are registered under the Colonial Stock Acts, and the conditions laid down by the United Kingdom Treasury are observed. Down the years the South African Government have observed these conditions, and their stocks are therefore a permissible investment for trustees under the 1925 Act.
The effect of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment would be to take South African Government stocks out of the reach of trustees unless their trust instruments give them wider powers of investment than are provided under the 1925 Act.
§ Mr. Dugdale
The Amendment refers to future stock and not to past stock. That is the important point.
§ Mr. Braine
It was clear from the right hon. Gentleman's speech that he did not really understand the delicacy of the position. What I am endeavouring to do is to describe to the Committee—and many hon. Members understand this already—what exactly is involved in the Amendment. The effect of the Amendment will be to take South African Government stocks out of the reach of trustees unless their trust instruments give them wider powers of investment than are provided under the 1925 Act.
The whole purpose of the Bill which we are now considering is to provide a maximum period of twelve months within which we can consider the very many detailed legislative provisions made necessary by South Africa ceasing to be a member of the Commonwealth. That objective is not going to be reached if we insert specific provisions in the Bill, 1432 as the right hon. Gentleman is now asking us to do, excluding particular items of legislation from its scope. We see no advantage in that whatsoever. In fact, we should be doing precisely what it is the object of the Bill to avoid doing, namely, making up our minds on particular items without an adequate period for consideration both of these items themselves and of how they fit together in the wider picture.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells) reminded us, hon. Members will be aware that there is a Trustee Investments Bill now in Standing Committee upstairs. I understand that it has twelve Clauses, and I am informed that the Standing Committee has reached Clause 6. This Trustee Investments Bill radically reforms the whole law relating to investments by trustees. I am advised that if the Bill were enacted by 31st May, which is extremely unlikely, the present Bill would apply; that is to say, whatever the Trustee Investments Bill provides would have the force of law as far as South Africa is concerned up to 31st May, 1962. But if, as appears much more likely, the other Bill is not passed before 31st May, then the present Bill will not apply to it. I can say that, in that event, the Government will consider introducing an Amendment which will bring the Trustee Investments Bill under the umbrella of this Bill.
I do not know and thus cannot say what eventually will be decided in respect of South African Government stocks, whether they will be allowed to continue to be eligible for investment by trustees or whether they will be excluded from the field of securities in which trustees, whose powers are governed by legislation, may invest. I cannot say, and I do not believe that it will be wise for the Committee to try to reach any final conclusion this afternoon. In fact, the advice of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley, of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Barry was sound, and I commend it to the Committee.
It will be wise to leave the matter to be dealt with when we consider the permanent legislation which will be required to deal with the whole body of law before the end of the standstill period. In 1433 the meantime, I have no doubt that hon. Members serving on the Standing Committee upstairs, my right hon. Friend and all those present in this Committee will take due note of what has been said. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, having gathered the sense of the Committee in the way in which I have certainly gathered it, will feel that it would be right to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Marquand
I think that a good deal of the earlier debate on this Amendment was very much misconceived by some hon. Members who seemed to forget that the trustee Acts are put on the Statute Book by Parliament to safeguard the interests of trusts in this country. They talk about a slap in the eye for our friends in the Union, but the real danger, if no amendment in the law is made, is that South Africa will be able to borrow money from trustees in this country. The beneficiaries of trusts in this country might be very badly used by the trustees investing in South African stocks which, obviously, in the present state of South Africa cannot be a very sound investment when there are rumours of rebellion and demands for independence inside the territory and when a defence Act is being passed shortly for the purpose of what is called maintaining law and order, but which really means suppressing the natural desire of human beings to express themselves and to demand their human rights.
Surely South African Government stock is hardly a suitable stock in which we could accept responsibility for advising trustees in this country to place money intended for the beneficiaries of those trusts. It seemed to me, therefore, that much of the argument was all at sea. Hon. Members seemed to think that, in some way, we were trying to injure the interests of someone in South Africa. Not at all. My right hon. Friend's Amendment is directed to the purpose of trying to help and safeguard the interests of beneficiaries of trusts in this country.
I think that the Under-Secretary of State has cleared up the matter very considerably by what he has said. He indicated that it might well be that those considering the Trustee Investments Bill in Committee at present ought to have regard to the danger that the South African Government might now in their very difficult financial position seek to 1434 issue stocks and to invite applications from trustees in this country for stocks which really are very unsafe investments.
At the moment, South Africa is undoubtedly in severe economic difficulties, as everyone knows who reads the financial Press at all. The suggestion made by the Under-Secretary of State, as I understand it, is that the appropriate instrument for making an alteration to safeguard the interests of the beneficiaries of trusts in this country would be the Trustee Investments Bill and that the place to put that forward would be in the Committee which is now considering it, where the value of South African trustee stocks issued after South Africa becomes a Republic could be thoroughly assessed in comparison with other stocks.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I do not quite understand this. Supposing that the Trustee Investments Bill now in Committee were altered in order to leave out South African Government stock if it came into operation before this consolidation Act about which I am speaking has been altered, in other words, while the standstill Bill is law, can we be certain that any alteration made under the Trustee Investments Bill will really become a law?
§ Mr. Marquand
I need hardly tell my right hon. Friend that I am unable to answer that question. I must rely on the Government, who have their legal advisers available to them to give the proper answer to that question.
I was about to conclude by suggesting to my right hon. Friend that he should press for some clarification that this would be the way out. I am all in sympathy with his purpose of protecting the beneficiaries of trust in this country and of trustees in this country from being misled into investing in stocks whose future is very much in doubt. I am all in favour of and have sympathy with what my right hon. Friend has said, but I would ask him seriously to consider, and perhaps to press for further clarification, whether this is the appropriate point at which to achieve our aim.
§ Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)
Did not I hear the Under-Secretary of State say that the Government were proposing to put down an Amendment to the Trustee Investments Bill on Report, or later on?
§ Mr. Marquand
As in Committee we can all speak as often as we like, may I suggest to my hon. Friend that he can address his question to the Under-Secretary of State in that Committee?
§ Mr. Bowles
I happen to be the Chairman of the Committee dealing with the Bill, but I am not in a position to make a report to this Committee on where we are with it. I thought that I heard the Under-Secretary of State say that the Government were going to put down an Amendment to the Trustee Investments Bill either on Report or when the Bill goes to another place.
§ Mr. Braine
The point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Maid-stone (Mr. J. Wells) and I said that we would consider introducing an Amendment which would bring the Trustee Investments Bill under the umbrella of this
§ Bill. I feel that there is no need to go beyond that, because, after all, the answer to the point which the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) was making is that in any case the House, ultimately, will have an opportunity for dealing with the matter in the consolidated measure that we must introduce before the end of the standstill period. It would be unwise for us to tie our hands here this, afternoon. The general sense of what has been said by the Committee has been understood by my right hon. Friend and myself.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 183, Noes 264.1439
|Division No. 155.]||AYES||[5.31 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mackie, John|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Gourlay, Harry||McLeavy, Frank|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Grey, Charles||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Awbery, Stan||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Gunter, Ray||Mapp, Charles|
|Benson, Sir George||Hamilton, William (west Fife)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Blyton, William||Hannan, William||Marsh, Richard|
|Boardman, H.||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mason, Roy|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hayman, F. H.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Boyden, James||Healey, Denis||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Brookway, A. Fenner||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Millan, Bruce|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Milne, Edward J.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Monslow, Walter|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hilton, A. V.||Moody, A. S.|
|Callaghan, James||Holman, Percy||Morris, John|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Houghton, Douglas||Mort, D. L.|
|Chapman, Donald||Howell, Charles A. (B'ham, Perry Bar)||Moyle, Arthur|
|Colliok, Percy||Howell, Denis (B'ham, Small Heath)||Neal, Harold|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hoy, James H.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Owen, Will|
|Darling, George||Hunter, A. E.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Peart, Frederick|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Pentland, Norman|
|Deer, George||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Prentice, R. E.|
|Dempsey, James||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Diamond, John||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Probert, Arthur|
|Dodds, Norman||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Driberg, Tom||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Randall, Harry|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Rankin, John|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Kelley, Richard||Redhead, E. C.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Kenyon, Clifford||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Edwards, walter (Stepney)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Robertson, J. (Paisley)|
|Evans, Albert||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Finch, Harold||Lipton, Marcus||Ross, William|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Logan, David||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Forman, J. C.||Loughlin, Charles||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Short, Edward|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||McCann, John||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||MacColl, James||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|George, LadyMeganLloyd (Crmrthn)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Ginsburg, David||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Willey, Frederick|
|Small, William||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Williams, Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Timmons, John||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Tomney, Frank||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Warbey, William||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Weitzman, David||Woof, Robert|
|Swingler, Stephen||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Sylvester, George||White, Mrs. Eirene||Zilliacus, K.|
|Symonds, J. B.||Whitlock, William|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wilkins, W. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Lawson and Mr. Rogers.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Farr, John||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fell, Anthony||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Allason, James||Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Fisher, Nigel||Longden, Gilbert|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Foster, John||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Barber, Anthony||Freeth, Denzil||McAdden, Stephen|
|Barlow, Sir John||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia|
|Barter, John||Gammans, Lady||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Gardner, Edward||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Glover, Sir Douglas||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Bell, Ronald||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maddan, Martin|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Goodhart, Philip||Maginnis, John E.|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Goodhew, Victor||Maitland, Sir John|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Gough, Frederick||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Bidgood, John C.||Gower, Raymond||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Grant, Rt. Hon. William||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Green, Alan||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Marten, Neil|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Grimond, J.||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Bossom, Clive||Grimston, Sir Robert||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mawby, Ray|
|Box, Donald||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Braine, Bernard||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Brewis, John||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mills, Stratton|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col-SirWalter||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Brown, Alan, (Tottenham)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Morrison, John|
|Bullard, Denys||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Burden, F. A.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hendry, Forbes||Noble, Michael|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hiley, Joseph||Nugent, Sir Richard|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hobson, John||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hocking, Philip N.||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Holland, Philip||Partridge, E.|
|Clarke, Brig, Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hollingworth, John||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Hopkins, Alan||Peel, John|
|Cole, Norman||Hornby, R. P.||Percival, Ian|
|Collard, Richard||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Peyton, John|
|Cooke, Robert||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cordle, John||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Costain, A. P.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Pitman, I. J.|
|Coulson, J. M.||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pott, Percivall|
|Critchley, Julian||Iremonger, T. L.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Jackson, John||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Cunningham, Knox||James, David||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jennings, J. C.||Pym, Francis|
|Dance, James||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Doughty, Charles||Joseph, Sir Keith||Rees, Hugh|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Renton, David|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Eden, John||Kirk, Peter||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kitson, Timothy||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Langford-Holt, J.||Roots, William|
|Emery, Peter||Leather, E. H. C.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leavey, J. A.||Russell, Ronald|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lilley, F. J. P.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Lindsay, Martin||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Seymour, Leslie|
|Sharples, Richard||Teeling, William||Walker, Peter|
|Shaw, M.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Shepherd, William||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Smithers, Peter||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Whitelaw, William|
|Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Turner, Colin||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Speir, Rupert||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Stevens, Geoffrey||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wise, A. R.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Vane, W. M. F.||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Sumner, Donald (Orpington)||Vickers, Miss Joan||Woollam, John|
|Talbot, John E.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis||Worsley, Marcus|
|Tapsell, Peter||Wade, Donald||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Walder, David||Mr. Gibson-Watt and|
|Mr. Gordon Campbell.|
§ Mrs. Castle
I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, after "Kingdom", to insert:only with the consent of the Legislative Assembly or other duly constituted authority of Southern Rhodesia or any colony, protectorate or United Kingdom trust territory".This Amendment is a very reasonable one, as I think the Secretary of State will agree. It provides that any existing arrangements between Colonies and Protectorates on the one hand and the Union of South Africa on the other should not be continued, as a result of this Measure, without their consent. I am heartened in moving the Amendment because the Secretary of State, in the debate on 24th April, when dealing with the problems that arise from the exodus of South Africa from the Commonwealth, said:These matters will not only need to be studied here in London, but will have to be fully discussed with the Government of the Union. Colonial Governments will also be affected, and will need to be consulted."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1961; Vol. 639, c.103.]The Amendment would give statutory effect to that obligation.
It is a little difficult to move the Amendment, because it is difficult to understand what the subsection means. I hope that the Secretary of State will throw a great are of light on it. I am not clear about its scope. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is clearer about it than I am, because its obscurity is enhanced by the obscurity of subsection (2), which says that:'existing law' means any Act of Parliament or other enactment or instrument whatsoever, and any rule of law…Perhaps some of our legal colleagues can help us in this matter, but I am at a loss to understand what is meant by "any rule of law". This definition of 1440 "existing law" means that the statutory or other relationships between the Colonies, Protectorates and United Kingdom Trust Territories on the one hand and the Union of South Africa on the other will be continued by the unilateral act of this House and will commit those territories to the continuance of relationships which, in view of South Africa's exodus from the Commonwealth, they may no longer wish to continue.
Does the subsection include all the defence arrangements or trade agreements concluded between these Colonies and Protectorates and the Union of South Africa? If it does, is it not quite wrong that this provision should be continued for twelve months in the new situation following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, unless those territories give their consent to such continuance? As the Secretary of State said earlier, in reply to the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), the House always recognises that our dependent territories pass laws which are within their competence to pass and which may deal with some of the matters which are before us this afternoon, and also recognises their right to amend those laws, and presumably to alter those relationships, even if the House wishes to continue the direct relationships which exist between the United Kingdom and the Union of South Africa.
I was interested to hear the Secretary of State make this point because, when I put my name to the Amendment, I had very much in mind the fact that when I was a delegate to the United Nations Assembly on behalf of the 1441 Labour Government in 1949 I had the job, in Committee 3 of the General Assembly, of putting our Government's point of view on certain important Conventions which were before that Committee. I remember in particular the work I had to do on the Convention on Prostitution—one with which this country was in sympathy but which, in the end, we refused to sign because we could not get the other United Nations delegates to let us include what was called the Colonial Application Clause, the purpose of which is to make it clear that, even in the case of dependent non-self-governing territories of our Commonwealth, we have always taken the line that although they are not independent or even completely self-governing they are none the less on the road to self-government, and that it has always been a point of policy of United Kingdom Governments to give them as great a freedom of decision as possible on matters affecting their internal affairs.
Part of the Colonial Application Clause which we moved, and which we could not get the majority of the General Assembly to accept, ran as follows:Each party to this Convention agrees to take as soon as possible the necessary steps to extend the application of this Convention to such Territories"—that is, those for whose international relationships we remain responsible—subject where necessary for constitutional reasons to the consent of the Governments of such Territories".We had a very long discussion in the General Assembly, trying to point out to the rest of the members that this was not an attempt by the United Kingdom Government to evade their obligations but rather an insistence on the principle, which was of very great importance to us, that it was not right to commit these countries by our acts in fields which might be considered to lie within their domestic jurisdiction and choice.
It therefore seems to me that this present Amendment is very much in keeping with that tradition, and with the spirit of the Colonial Application Clause. It would clearly be intolerable if, by the passing of this Bill, the House of Commons were to impose upon newly self-governing countries like Tanganyika, or even on non-self-governing countries like Kenya and Uganda, the continuance 1442 of existing relationships with South Africa which they might wish to change now that South Africa is no longer a member of the Commonwealth.
That might be a point of considerable substance. We know that one of the decisive factors leading to South Africa's exit from the Commonwealth was the very clear and emphatic stand taken by Mr. Julius Nyerere, newly the Prime Minister of Tanganyika, who, before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference met, made it quite clear that if South Africa were to continue to be a member of the Commonwealth, Tanganyika, on reaching independence, would very seriously have to consider whether she could remain in it.
That shows that the territories referred to in the subsection may have very strong individual approaches to this new situation, and it would clearly be contrary to all our traditions in our relationships with them to impose this standstill upon them. The Secretary of State may say—and here we get into the deep waters of the obscurity we have endured in regard to an earlier Amendment—that the mysterious wording in subsection (1)…unless provision to the contrary is made by an authority having power to alter that law…covers this point, because he has explained to his right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton that this sentence was inserted in order to allow dependent territories to amend provisions in laws within their own competence.
If that is so, however, surely subsection (1), as it stands, contradicts subsection (3). There is a very alarming obscurity in the Bill as it stands—a Bill of which the Secretary of State himself has said that he does not at all like the wording. I would suggest to him that if he cannot give some assurance rather more clear in its terms and comforting in its substance than that which he gave on subsection (1), we must clarify the position by including the words suggested in the Amendment.
At the very least, there can be no harm in it if the sentence in subsection (1) means what the right hon. Gentleman earlier told us it did mean. My Amendment has, at least, the virtue of being put in simple and clear language. For that reason, I hope that the Secretary of 1443 State will be in sympathy with its purpose and, being in sympathy with it, will put everyone's fears and suspicions a rest by accepting it.
§ Mr. Gower
The Committee will agree that this Amendment could be of great importance to the territories which the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) has in mind. As the hon. Lady will agree, she has in mind, predominantly and almost entirely, the Protectorates, Colonies and Trust Territories in the Continent of Africa, and I should have thought that the effect of incorporating these words could be most undesirable.
The purpose of this Measure, according to the Explanatory Memorandum, is…to maintain unchanged the laws governing the relationship between the United Kingdom…and South Africa…I hope that either my right hon. Friend ox my hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that if we do not pass this temporary provision Bill then upon the coming into being of the South African Republic there would be no relationship between this country and South Africa, or between the Colonies and Protectorates in South Africa and the Union, other than that of foreign countries.
The hon. Lady will have noticed that in our previous discussions there has been on both sides an awareness that the new relationship between this country and South Africa cannot be easily settled. Many speakers have said that we should ponder and consider that relationship with great care before arriving at lasting and final decisions. With great respect, I should have thought that even greater care should be taken in deciding the ultimate relationship between our Protectorates and Colonies in Africa and the Union.
The hon. Lady will be aware that the relationship between some of these Colonial Territories and Protectorates and the Union is a very peculiar one, a very delicate one. The nationals or inhabitants of the Protectorates habitually go to the Union in search of employment. She may think that to be undesirable. She may think it much more desirable that they should not do so. The fact remains that they have done so for a very long time, and continue to do so, and that if the possibility of their 1444 moving easily into the Union were withheld it could inflict great harm upon those people themselves. It could be most injurious to their standard of living.
This movement is not confined to the Protectorates—to the people in places like Swaziland. It extends even to people in Nyasaland, who sometimes go right into the heart of the Union to find temporary employment. I therefore respectfully submit that where there is such an involved and delicate relationship as this, we need just as long—if not longer—for our consideration of what relationship should subsist between those territories and the Union as we do to consider the relationships between this country and the Union.
I believe that in matters of law it has usually been the prerogative of the United Kingdom Parliament to retain conduct of foreign affairs, at any rate until the country attains self-governing status. In other words, though a country may in its administration and institutions be self-governing, until it attains all the powers of self-government the power of entering into relationships with other countries, and so on, has always constitutionally been retained in the United Kingdom Parliament.
That is even more the case when we consider territories which the Bill describes as being Protectorates or Trust Territories. In those cases, very obviously, the duty to make arrangements for diplomatic representation, to enter into treaties and so on with foreign countries rests very firmly upon this Government—
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mrs. Castle
Is not the hon. Gentleman overlooking the fact that the subsection deals with existing laws which operate as the laws of those territories?
§ Mr. Gower
But those laws differ in the way in which they have been enacted according to the territory in which they apply. In some cases they have been passed merely by the edict of a governor representing this country in the territory. In other cases they have been enacted by a partially representative assembly and confirmed by the Governor under prerogative powers. In other cases they have been passed, as in Southern Rhodesia, by a Government who have 1445 virtually enjoyed self-government since 1923 but in respect of whose foreign affairs this Parliament has retained ultimate responsibility. Thus, there is a great variety of legal enactments passed in different ways in these territories.
Nevertheless, in matters of foreign affairs and diplomatic representation the relationship between these territories and the Union of South Africa, which will, in effect, be a foreign country, will obviously continue to remain firmly the responsibility of this Parliament until those territories themselves attain self-government.
In supplementation of my earlier remarks, I should have thought that, constitutionally, the Amendment would be not merely undesirable but contrary to our whole constitutional background and our rules of law. I hope that, on reflection, the hon. Lady will feel that the Amendment—no doubt she had very good intentions—could effect very great harm indeed, and not least to those territories to which she has referred and probably, above all, to the people of the Protectorates and Trust Territories themselves.
§ Mr. Brockway
Before I direct myself to the argument to which I have just listened with interest, I should like to say a word to the Secretary of State. I hope very much that he will say that the Government accept the Amendment. My hope springs from his attitude and speeches while he has been in Sierra Leone. Those speeches have been welcomed very sincerely by all hon. Members. The particular speech which seemed to me to have a direct effect upon the Amendment was the one in which he dealt with defence arrangements for Sierra Leone. It was very Liberal, very democratic and very generous. He told Sierra Leone "We do not want to impose on you any defence arrangements. If there are to be any defence arrangements between us, it must be through the spontaneous good will of the people of Sierra Leone; it must be by their consent and agreement." That speech, which I so much welcomed, represents the spirit of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle).
As I understand it, the Clause arises from the fact that not only are there 1446 treaties between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Union of South Africa, but Her Majesty's Government in their capacity as a colonial Power have also involved the Colonial Territories, Trust Territories and Protectorates in treaties and arrangements with the Union of South Africa, and the Clause provides that these treaties and arrangements, so far as they affect the Colonies, Protectorates and Trust Territories, shall apply to them as well as to the United Kingdom and South Africa.
My hon. Friend's Amendment suggests that in the case of the Colonial Territories the Bill should not apply except with the consent of the legislatures of those territories. The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) has argued that that would be harmful to the territories themselves and that it would be a precedent which would be tearing up constitutional law as we have known it, because even self-governing territories do not control their foreign affairs.
I want to look at some of the Colonial Territories in relation to the Bill. I do not think that our consideration should be limited to the territories which are in the Continent of Africa, but I will deal first of all with those territories.
Yesterday Tanganyika obtained the status of full self-government. Mr. Julius Nyerere, who was its Chief Minister, became recognised as Prime Minister. As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn has said, the opinion expressed by Mr. Nyerere in relation to South Africa had a considerable influence on the decision which was reached at the Prime Ministers' Conference which led to the withdrawal of the Union of South Africa from the Commonwealth. Before the end of this year Tanganyika will be an independent territory. Yet here we are today, with Tanganyika yesterday becoming fully self-governing and in December becoming absolutely independent, saying in this Bill that any treaties which affect Tanganyika in relation to the Union of South Africa shall continue to have the power of law for a maximum of a year, whatever the opinion of the legislature and the Prime Minister and whatever, in December, the independent Government of Tanganyika may decide. That is an absolutely impossible attitude for us to adopt if we pay any attention to democratic principles.
1447 Let us look at the West Indies. They become independent next year. They have shown that they take as strong a view about apartheid in the Union of South Africa as Tanganyika does. Yet here is this Parliament, which recognises the right of Jamaica to self-government under Prime Minister Norman Manley, which recognises the rights of Trinidad and so on, and which says, "Next year you become completely independent and a part of the Commonwealth", nevertheless saying, despite their dislike of South Africa and their resolutions supporting the idea of an economic boycott of South Africa, "We are going to carry in the British House of Commons a Measure which means that for one year your country must maintain any treaties and arrangements relating to South Africa which were imposed before you had self-government".
§ Mr. Gower
Will the hon. Gentleman address himself to the territories whose nationals go to South Africa to find work? That is the nub of the problem.
§ Mr. Brockway
I have an Amendment dealing with Nyasaland which very directly affects that matter.
I do not wish to detain the Committee too long. I will merely say that the arguments which I have advanced in the case of Tanganyika in Africa and Jamaica in the Caribbean apply also to Singapore in Asia. It was the Government of Malaya who took the initiative a year ago on this issue in the Prime Ministers' Conference—and, if anything, the Government of Singapore is more to the Left than the Government of Malaya. That very fact indicates that as Singapore is moving towards its independence, it would regard almost as an insult that this Parliament should say that treaties and arrangements should continue to operate between it and the Union of South Africa when the Union of South Africa has been excluded from the Commonwealth.
I take the next group of territories—I am trying to be brief—which seem to be directly affected. They are the High Commission Territories—Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland. I think that all of us rejoice that during this last year Basutoland has established a Legislature and Bechuanaland is going to do so. The relationship of these territories on 1448 the edge of South Africa, in one case surrounded by South African territory, to South Africa itself, is of first importance—perhaps of greater importance than the relationship of any territory.
I say to the House that when we think of that relationship and the uncertainties of these territories, the uncertainties indicated in the Second Reading debate as to whether our representative in the Union is to be an Ambassador or not or will be a High Commissioner for those territories—when we consider all the difficulties, surely we are right in saying that before this Parliament lays it down that treaties or arrangements covering these territories shall have a standstill of one year, their Legislatures should, in the first instance, be consulted.
Finally, I deal with a third group of territories—territories which include Nyasaland, to which the hon. Member for Barry has referred, a group of territories which already have African majorities. From Nyasaland large numbers of Nyasas go to the Union of South Africa. Again I say that their legislatures should have the right to decide. Their legislatures are very closely affected. The very fact that so many in Nyasaland are employed in the Union of South Africa strengthens the view that the legislature of Nyasaland should have the opportunity to declare its views upon these matters.
I end on the constitutional argument which the hon. Member has put forward with force. I recognise it. I believe that what we have to recognise is that the tempo of events in the Continent of Africa and the Colonial Territories today is so great that if we put up legal barriers to their expression and to democracy, if we say in the House that we have the right to lay down what is good for them without consultation with their legislatures, we shall find that they will sweep past us and we shall not be able to control them.
For these reasons, if the hon. Member for Barry will forgive me, I reject the arguments he put forward, and I hope very much that the Committee will accept the Amendment.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I want to make one observation and I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) for not being in the 1449 Chamber when he began his speech. I had another engagement which I had to keep. As I understood it, some of his arguments were based on the fact that Singapore and other parts of the Commonwealth may presently achieve independence. They would not come under the Bill. Surely, it applies only to the state of the law as it will be at 31st May, 1961. Therefore, if I may say so with great respect, some of the arguments which my hon. Friend so powerfully adduced would not apply. When he replies, perhaps the Minister will deal with that point because it is a real one that is worrying many people.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I hope that the Minister, when he replies, will accept the Amendment or will say that he is willing to accept something very much like it if he wishes to rewrite it from the point of view of its legal wording. We are optimistic that he will give a sympathetic response because of his answer to his right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) at an earlier stage, when he indicated that one reason for the somewhat peculiar form of words in subsection (1) was to give the maximum amount of flexibility and a loose rein to the Colonial Territories which had achieved varying degrees of self-government. We very much welcome that comment from him, despite our doubts about the legal position of the phrase. We welcome it because, if I may say so to the right hon. Gentleman, it seems to be very much in harmony with some of the things he has been saying since he came to his present office. We welcome the emphasis which he has put on consultation with various parts of the Commonwealth and it is in that spirit that this Amendment is moved from this side of the Committee.
I plead with hon. Members opposite to give this Amendment a warmer welcome than it has had from the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). In general, the doubts which have come from the other side of the Committee about our Amendments have been about the effect that they would have on South African opinion. We have been told that some of our Amendments were vindictive or an unnecessary slap in the face for South Africa. No one can say that about this Amendment. Whether it is inserted or not, it is hardly likely to be 1450 considered offensive or otherwise to the Union of South Africa.
If the Amendment were not to be accepted, or if it were not to be made plain that the sense of the Amendment was included in the terms of the Bill, it would be a slap in the face for the Colonial Territories for which we are responsible and on whose good relations we very much depend. It is very important, I think, that this Amendment, or something like it, should be included in the Bill in the interests of good relations with the Colonial Territories, some of which are now very close to full independence.
Hon. Members opposite should recognise that in some of these territories feelings about the racial policies of the present South African Government go even deeper than the feeling which exists in the House of Commons. The Committee will remember the embarrassment which was caused when certain leading politicians from British Guiana who were over here for constitutional conferences became involved in incidents in London in connection with anti-apartheid demonstrations outside South Africa House. It was a vivid indication of the strength of feeling which exists on this issue in most of the Colonial Territories. We who desire good relations with these Colonial Territories in their advance towards self-government should take full account of it.
Reference has been made by hon. Members to the position in Tanganyika. It is perhaps the model held up these days of peaceful progress towards democratic independence. Mr. Julius Nyerere is one of the most respected of African nationalist leaders. The Committee will remember the very powerful intervention which he made in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, although he was not himself a member of it. I think that the Secretary of State might very well admit privately, if not publicly, that one of the most powerful arguments advanced during the discussions at that Conference was not delivered inside Lancaster House but was made in an article written by Mr. Nyerere in the Observer during the course of it.
I will remind the Secretary of State of the view of the new Prime Minister of Tanganyika about our relationships and the relationships of his country to the 1451 Union of South Africa. This is what he said:The apartheid policies now being practised in the Union of South Africa are a daily affront to this belief in individual human dignity. They are also a constantly reiterated insult to our own dignity as Africans, about which we cannot be expected to remain indifferent and which could inflame our own passions if not otherwise dealt with.Mr. Nyerere went on to say—I ask the Committee to heed these words—If we are to succeed in building up a good society in our country"—the whole House of Commons wishes that effort to succeed—we must therefore make our detestation of the South African system apparent in every action. The Tanganyika Government cannot afford to have any relations with the South African Government, and it must, within the bounds of international law, lend support to those who struggle against the system of apartheid".That is a very clear indication of the kind of view held in Tanganyika, and I think that in this case Mr. Nyerere may well be taken to be speaking for leaders of nationalist opinion in many countries among our dependent Colonies.
My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) referred to the West Indies. Many of the individual territories of the West Indies have a very high degree of internal self-government, and the West Indies Federation, as we all know, is moving very close to full independence. We should do nothing in the House of Commons which would make that passage to full independence any more difficult. It is well known that many of the West Indian Governments take a much stronger view about economic relations with the Union of South Africa than we do in this country. On the whole, opinion in this country in regard to a boycott of South African goods in that this is a matter for the conscience of the individual shopper. In the West Indies there have been official boycotts carried on with Government support, boycotts which have had a very noticeable effect on trade between the Union of South Africa and the West Indies. I saw figures recently which showed that trade had dropped, I think, by about one-fifth during the first eight months of last year.
One should consider also the position of countries like Malta and Singapore. Purely from the point of view of the self-interest of Her Majesty's Government, I 1452 should have thought that they had enough difficulties in Malta without taking action in this country in relation to Malta's trading relations with South Africa which might inflame nationalist opinion there. The same is true of Singapore, having regard to the many difficulties of the Singapore Government in achieving a stable form of self-government there.
The argument of the hon. Member for Barry was that Her Majesty's Government ought for the time being to retain power here to dictate to the Colonial Governments and to make sure that their policies conformed with the wishes of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Gower
What I was suggesting was that in regard to the relationships between those territories and the Union there was an even greater case for having time to consider such difficult questions than there was in regard to our relationships with South Africa. That is all I said.
§ Mr. Thomson
I shall come to that point in the hon. Member's argument in a moment. If he examines the record in due course, he will see, I think, that he plainly indicated that he regarded is as desirable that Her Majesty's Government should retain the power to dictate to these Colonial Governments and make them conform with the legislative desires of Her Majesty's Government during the present period.
§ Mr. Gower
No. All I said was that for constitutional reasons that was bound to be the case because, once South Africa left the Commonwealth, the prerogative power in regard to foreign affairs, and so on, would rest firmly on Her Majesty's Government for all territories except those which are self-governing.
§ Mr. Thomson
It was precisely that point in the hon. Member's argument which I wanted to meet because I felt that in some ways my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough conceded a strength to that point in his argument which it did not really have. It is true, of course, that in the final resort, until full independence, Her Majesty's Government retain residuary powers in respect of the foreign relations of Colonial Territories. Nevertheless, I think that the hon. Member may not be aware of the degree to which several 1453 Colonial Territories have so advanced towards self-government that they have taken over a certain amount of responsibility for their own foreign relations.
I mentioned earlier the West Indies. One of the powers vested in the present Federal Government of the West Indies Federation, with their limited degree of independence, is, in fact, a substantial measure of responsibility for foreign relations. This has given rise to one of the difficulties in dealing with the problem of United States bases in the West Indies during the last few months. Further, Her Majesty's Government's proposals for constitutional advance in Malta included, as I recall them, a condominium between Her Majesty's Government and the Maltese Government over both defence and external relations. In practice, we in this country have conceded a very marked degree of responsibility for external relations to several Colonial Territories approaching independence.
It would be most unfortunate if the effect of the Bill, in the somewhat difficult circumstances which give rise to it, were that Her Majesty's Government turned the wheels backwards in relation to the territories we are considering. It is very important that we carry the Colonial Territories with us during the period of negotiations. To do so may cause embarrassment from time to time, but I think that the Secretary of State might feel that, in some cases, if the Colonial Territories take a line different from ours in regard to immediate relationships with the Union of South Africa that might strengthen the Government's hands in their negotiations with the Union of South Africa.
In any case, I think it is important in these discussions to remember our own interests in this country. Sometimes in the debates which have taken place certain hon. Members opposite have been so suspicious of our motives on this side that they have been inclined to put the interests of the South African Government before the real interests of this country.
In this case, the real interests of this country lie in maintaining the closest and best possible relations with our own Colonial Territories in advancing them smoothly towards self-government as quickly as may be. There is a real 1454 danger that, because of the complications of our present relationships with South Africa, something might happen which would inflame relationships between Britain and, say, the West Indies or Tanganyika over the South African issue. It is in order to avoid that danger that we have put down the Amendment. We attach a great deal of weight to it, and we hope that the Secretary of State will give it his sympathetic consideration.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys
The hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said that she was not clear what subsection (3) means. Without using legal language, I would say that, in general terms, it means that the Bill applies to all colonial laws with the exception of laws which can be amended by the Legislature of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland or the Legislature of Southern Rhodesia. The hon. Lady also said that she thought that subsection (1) contradicted subsection (3) and that subsection (3) contradicted subsection (1). That is not the case. The effect of subsection (3) is to apply subsection (1), with its qualifying words which we discussed earlier, to colonial and other dependent territories. Therefore, subsection (3) cannot contradict subsection (1). All that it does is to apply subsection (1) to colonial and dependent territories.
That is also my answer to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), who said that we were dictating to Colonial Territories. We are not dictating. We discussed at some length this curious phrase which was the subject of an Amendment by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton).
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I was not accusing the right hon. Gentleman of dictating. I hope that he will live up to his reputation for not dictating. I was dealing with what I thought were the arguments of his hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower).
§ Mr. Sandys
I understood the hon. Gentleman to mean that, if the Bill were not amended in the sense that he asks, it would have the effect of dictating to the Colonial Territories what their attitude towards South Africa should be. That was the argument I was seeking to 1455 answer. If that was not what he intended, I will not pursue the point any further.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) and the hon. Member for Dundee, East referred to the position in Tanganyika. However, they referred to it only as an example, but a very topical example, for the simple reason that Tanganyika will become independent during this 12 months' standstill period. The hon. Members' arguments were answered to some extent by the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall), who explained quite correctly, that United Kingdom laws do not apply to territories which have achieved independence. To put it more correctly, perhaps, I would say that, while United Kingdom laws will continue to apply to countries which have achieved independence, they are free to amend those laws. There is an arrangement for continuity. Laws which are already in existence do not disappear overnight. The moment a country achieves independence it is no longer subject to legislation by this Parlament in Westminster, and therefore it can amend any laws which have been passed and which apply to it before its independence.
My hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) was helpful in the explanation which he gave about the general constitutional position. I think that he clarified a number of points which had been raised earlier.
§ Mr. Brockway
If the right hon. Gentleman has left Tanganyika—
§ Mr. Sandys
I have not. I was about to deal with some of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I made it clear that, under subsection (1), Tanganyika will have power to amend its own domestic laws.
§ Mr. Brockway
§ Mr. Sandys
No; now. Any other Colonial Territory will also have power to amend its own domestic laws. We discussed this provision earlier. What we are concerned with is laws passed by the United Kingdom Parliament which have effect in overseas territories.
My attention has been drawn to the fact that hon. Members have referred to Singapore. The Bill does not apply to 1456 Singapore because it is no longer a Colony. I think that that deals with that point.
The only point which requires explanation concerns the application of United Kingdom laws to overseas territories. Any domestic laws of overseas territorities can be amended by the law-making body which made the laws. That has been made clear earlier in the debate. The purpose of subsection (3) is to make clear that the standstill arrangement applies to all laws, orders, and so forth, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the dependent overseas territories—subject to what I have already said, namely, that those who have made the laws can amend them. But it will apply to them in the first place. This is a matter of convenience, because some of these territories have Legislatures which are not planning to meet for a number of months. There would be a curious situation if the law lapsed and was then brought into effect again in September, or some such date. We should have a great deal of confusion.
There are, however, certain exceptions which are specified in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (3). I summarised them a moment ago in explaining the general meaning of the subsection to the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn.
I do not understand the purpose which led the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) and his hon. Friends to table, not only this Amendment, but the following three Amendments to leave out paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). They do not seem to be consistent with one another. I expected the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn to explain the reason for the Amendments. They would deny to the authorities in Rhodesia and Nyasaland the right to decide that the standstill arrangements should not apply, not only to the United Kingdom laws, but to their own domestic laws. The Amendment which has been moved does not seem to be in keeping with the other three Amendments.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
May I clear up the apparent inconsistency for the right hon. Gentleman? We tabled the last three Amendments in order to discover what was the legal position. Frankly, 1457 we did not understand it and we were seeking information. They are not, in a sense, related to the political arguments attached to the Amendment which we are discussing.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am glad to hear that. In view of that explanation, I hope that the last three Amendments will not be moved.
§ Mr. Thomson indicated assent.
§ Mr. Sandys
I will not pursue that point.
The effect of the Amendment is to give to an independent territory the right to decide that the Bill in its entirety, including the United Kingdom laws, should not apply to it. There has been a certain amount of discussion about the status and position of this Parliament and its right to legislate. It seems to me that it would be wholly contrary to constitutional usage to provide that an Act of Parliament which applies to a dependent territory shall not come into force except with the consent of that territory. It would be a completely revolutionary departure from the practice which has been adopted in the past, and I am sure that a change of that kind should not be effected merely in a rather haphazard way, as the result of an Amendment to a subsection of a Bill of this kind.
From our earlier debate I do not believe that it would be the general wish of the Committee to make a constitutional change of that kind. This suggestion was strongly resisted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton from this side and by the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) from the party opposite.
As I have explained in connection with the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton, we are allowing colonial authorities discretion to decide whether they wish not to apply the standstill to all or any of their own domestic laws and regulations. The effect of the Bill will be to apply the standstill to them until such time as they decide—as they will have the right to do—to alter that, and to pass a law in their territories which will have the effect of nullifying the standstill. In this event, in so far as their laws would not 1458 apply to South Africa after she leaves the Commonwealth, from the time that the new law is passed in the Colonial Territories concerned, their domestic laws and regulations would cease to apply to South Africa.
On the other hand, we are not, and rightly not, giving these Colonial Territories discretion to decide not to apply the standstill to United Kingdom laws which extend to them. Great confusion and uncertainty would be created if United Kingdom laws such as the Merchant Shipping Act, which defines the status of British ships all over the world, were to have effect in some of our dependent territories and not in others. I hope that, with the explanation which I have given, hon. Members opposite will feel that what we are doing is reasonable and that we are not trying to dictate to these territories overseas and that in the circumstances hon. Members opposite will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. Marquand
The Committee is grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation. He said earlier that he did not like his own Bill very much. We now see why. It is strangely drafted in parts and I hope we may be forgiven for not having been able clearly to understand precisely what was meant by some of this language. That was why we put down, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) explained, three Amendments which were intended only to be probing Amendments to try to elucidate the mystery.
The right hon. Gentleman's assurance about the right of these various territories to continue to amend and alter their own laws if they so wish is, to my mind, quite satisfactory. I hope we may take it that during the period of the year, the right hon. Gentleman will, whenever the necessity may arise or wherever it may seem to be useful and helpful, consult these independent or semi-independent countries of the Commonwealth and keep closely in touch with them during the course of negotiations, so that those negotiations may be carried out in a spirit which would be satisfactory to them as well. In all the circumstances, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) would be well advised not to press the Amendment.
§ Mrs. Castle
In view of the Secretary of State's explanation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Marquand
At an earlier stage in our deliberations, I gave notice that on this Motion I would raise again a question which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) on a specific Amendment. I had the idea—I may have been wrong—that, possibly, my hon. Friend cause the Under-Secretary of State a little by surprise when at that point he raised the question of one of the laws which is affected by the Bill, namely, the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881. That is a Statute which provides, in effect, for extradition processes between States of the Commonwealth.
Nobody has any objection to extradition processes as such. From time to time, there are criminals who escape from one State to another, and on application by the State in which they are alleged to have committed their crime they may be sent back to be tried according to the laws of their own country. This applies between us and most countries in the world, but the Fugitive Offenders Act applies to our relationships in this respect of the law of extradition with Commonwealth countries.
I am no expert, but, as far as I can judge, in itself the law appears to be quite reasonable; but the Order in Council made in 1913 applying the Act of 1881 specifically to Southern Africa has caused considerable embarrassment, as I know from experience of negotiations from time to time with the right hon. Gentleman. The special arrangements in regard to Southern Africa lay down provisions for the return of "natives born south of the Sahara" and make what are literally discriminatory arrangements. I will not attempt now to go into all the detail about this. I suggest, however, that these matters clearly have to be reviewed. They are already antiquated and out of date and in the new situation where South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth, new extradition procedures of some kind will clearly have to be arranged and the objectionable 1460 features in the 1913 Order in Council should surely be removed. In our view, the simple way—
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. F. Blackburn)
I am sorry to interrupt, but I hope that we will not have a debate on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," and a repetition of that debate on Third Reading, because the whole of the Bill is really contained in Clause 1. I thought that it would be for the benefit of the Committee if I were to make that point now.
§ Mr. Marquand
Yes, Mr. Blackburn. I am well aware that when we come to Third Reading, we will be confined entirely to what is within the Bill.
§ The Temporary Chairman
We are also confined now entirely to what is in the Bill, because the Bill is simply Clause 1.
§ Mr. Marquand
I am sorry not to have taken the point more quickly. I appreciate that we are concerned here with what is in the Bill and with one of the major features of it. If I may pursue discussion regarding the Fugitive Offenders Act, which is definitely affected by the Bill, I have no desire to take up the time of the House when we reach Third Reading.
As long as the present law regarding fugitive offenders remains, we were assured by the Under-Secretary of State the other night that, where Her Majesty has responsibility, it will be administered as hitherto: that is to say, it will be administered in the High Commission Territories on the previous practice of a continued refusal to return political offenders if a request for their return has been made by the Union of South Africa.
What we are somewhat anxious about is how far that refusal can be maintained without any alteration in the 1913 Order in Council in respect to the offences laid down under the Prevention of Communism Act in South Africa. In general, the Under-Secretary of State gave us reassurances which went a long way to allay our anxieties, but he did sound, if I may say so, so well satisfied with the existing administration of the law, the existing treatment of cases when they go before the courts of the High Commission Territories, that we could not help 1461 wondering whether the Government's intention in the negotiations is to secure some radical alteration.
It is all very well to say that no anxiety need be caused, that in these last 18 months or so the law has been carefully administered, that no one has been guilty or accused of a political offence, that if anyone were in jeopardy or danger there could be an appeal to the courts. This is an opportunity when the Government are entering into new negotiations to see that that law is brought up to date and that these peculiar provisions for special treatment for what are called "natives" should now disappear. There should be, surely, in these matters, no discrimination at all between persons of different race. There should be and can be an Act governing extradition, but it should no longer be discriminatory or appear to be discriminatory in any way between persons of different race and colour. Is that the general objective of the Government in the negotiations they are entering into?
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman did give some assurances about another and a hard look at the provisions of the Nationality Act. I hope that that examination will be directed in some way to alleviating the position of any refugees who may leave South Africa and who may come to this country. We do not want in any way to encourage a flood of refugees into the High Commission Territories or into the United Kingdom, but there have been numbers of refugees, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and we have approached him from time to time on behalf of some of them. We may have to do so again. We trust that we may take it that, though there is no desire to encourage a new wave of refugees, if events should turn out so unfortunately that more refugees come, they will be treated inside the High Commission Territories with the utmost care and attention, that every effort will be made to succour them and relieve them from their distress, and that no obstacle will be placed in their way if they can find their way out of the High Commission Territories into Tanganyika or the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
I share my right hon. Friend's anxiety about the effect the Clause has on continuing in force the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881. 1462 Obviously we do not want to put any difficulties in the way of the extradition from the High Commission Territories of real criminals who manage to escape there from South Africa, but as the law now stands it can enable the South African Government to apply to the High Commission Territories for the apprehension and return of a fugitive from South Africa to the High Commission Territories on the ground, for instance, of the commission of various offences against the apartheid laws.
The test is the commission of an offence punishable by up to 13 months' imprisonment or more, and some of those laws carry penalties of that kind and, indeed, more severe penalties than that. Thus the offence of high treason is within the ambit of the Fugitive Offenders Act, quite apart from the South African legislation which my right hon. Friend has referred to.
It is perfectly true, as the Joint Undersecretary of State said on Monday night, that the courts of the High Commission Territories have taken a rather tough view about these applications from South Africa and have made very good use indeed of the powers and grounds for refusal which exist in Section 19 of the Fugitive Offenders Act, but it is by no means certain that the courts will always be able to do so. It is right to emphasise that it is a matter for the courts and it is not, therefore, possible for directions to be given to the courts as to how they should perform their duties.
I should have thought that there was a good case, at any rate during this interim period, for resolving the difficulty by amending the 1913 Order in Council which applied the Fugitive Offenders Act to the High Commission Territories, so that it shall not apply to any political offence or to treason, and so that for there to be any backing of a warrant for a fugitive offender the offence must be both an offence in the territory from which the offender has run and in the territory to which he has run. That would exclude the apartheid laws from the ambit of this machinery of a kind of extradition.
As the Fugitive Offenders Act now stands—and it is to be extended in force for a period of up to one year—there is no need for the offence in question to 1463 be against the law in the two territories, namely, South Africa and the High Commission Territories, and it is quite enough that the offence is an offence against the law of South Africa alone.
I have reason to think that power to amend the Order in Council as I have suggested flows from Section 17 of the Fugitive Offenders Act, and that the amendment would be a not very difficult or complicated piece of machinery to bring into force. It would put beyond a peradventure the question that any political refugee who has escaped to the High Commission Territories shall be immune there from the risk of extradition. The effect of the kind of Order in Council amendment which I have suggested would be to bring the law on fugitive offenders between the Union of South Africa and the High Commission Territories into line with the Extradition Act, 1870, for foreign countries.
This is not a fanciful or a frivolous matter, but a matter causing a great deal of concern to the political refugees who are now in the High Commission Territories. I hope that the Government will be able to give sympathetic consideration to this suggestion.
§ Mr. J. Wells
I want only to ask my right hon. Friend one very simple, straightforward question of a rather parochial nature. Can he please give us some assurance about the position of British civil servants who are South African citizens, South African nationals, who are proud of their nationality and who are at the same time anxious to continue their employment in the British Civil Service? I am aware of a number of such people. I know it is only a very small number, but they are most anxious to have an assurance that their employment will be continued and that they will not have to renounce their nationality of which they are extremely proud.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys
I have listened with a good deal of sympathy to the points made, with great restraint, about the Fugitive Offenders Act, and I can give the House a general assurance that while I do not think that there is any cause for anxiety at the moment we recognise that this is essentially one of those matters which will have to be looked at carefully, and I have no doubt that some 1464 different arrangement will have to be made. Exactly what form it will take, I cannot say. It may take the form of a more normal extradition treaty between two countries. I am sure the Committee will realise that it would be intolerable to allow all arrangements for extradition to lapse between territories which have no policed boundaries of any kind. Naturally, to do that would be a gift to criminals. Whatever views we hold about apartheid, we certainly would not wish to allow a free movement of that kind, without any possibility of attaching people who commit genuine crimes.
On the other hand, it is no one's wish to see the British system of law courts become an instrument for applying racial policies with which we are all in complete disagreement. That has not happened in the past, and I see no reason why during the standstill there should be any change in the procedure or in the effect of existing laws.
My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells) raised a different question on which I can give some assurance which I hope will be reasonably satisfactory to him. But I would prefer my hon. Friend to put down a Question, when I should be happy to give him a considered answer. I am anxious not to raise a new issue at this stage, which is, of course, outside the scope of the Bill, and if I attempted to discuss the matter I should no doubt be called to order. I hope hon. Members will realise that if this point is not answered in considerable detail, any comment I make would not be useful to those whose careers and positions are affected.
So far as Clause 1 is concerned—and Clause 1 represents the whole Bill—the purpose of it is simply what it says, to keep things as they are while we examine all the issues and consider what changes, if any, need to be made in these various laws. This Bill has no political significance or policy content. It is purely an administrative Measure to win time during which we can consider what should be the policies which should govern these various measures which will be affected by South Africa's leaving the Commonwealth.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.1465
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Preamble agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
Everything that should be said about this Bill has already been said and this is, as we have been reminded, a short Bill. I welcome the Measure and, although it has not been drafted in the form which the Secretary of State would have liked, it will achieve the purpose we have in mind. Hon. Members on this side of the House have moved a number of Amendments affecting legitimate fears on various aspects of the Bill, and I trust that those fears have now been allayed.
Some hon. Members will remember Field Marshal Smuts, and it is a great tragedy for South Africa that he, and many other statesmen like him and who fought as he did, have passed away. We hope that in the years to come other statesmen of his calibre will appear on the scene.
As I have said in our earlier discussions on the Bill, the present Government will not remain in power indefinnitely, and we sincerely hope that the policies which they now follow will also pass away. I hope the Bill, and the negotiations which will follow it when it becomes an Act, will go some way towards South Africa re-entering the Commonwealth. While we all regret the need for this Measure, we realise its importance, and we look forward to the time when the old feeling of friendship and community that has existed for so many years between our two countries will be renewed. If we in this House can do anything to hasten that time, that will be the desire of all hon. Members.
I cannot forget that South Africa is becoming a Republic by a very narrow margin and that 55,000 makes all the difference between that country leaving the Commonwealth and remaining in it, and I am positive that a substantial number of people in South Africa dislike the Union Government's present policy as much as we in this country dislike it. Let us remember that South Africa is 1466 not and can never be regarded as a foreign country, since many of her people are of British birth. Many of them still look to Britain as being their home, and I hope that in the years to come, as circumstances change, South Africa will return to the Commonwealth, for the Commonwealth is the greatest thing the world has ever seen.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
It would be wrong if the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) were not echoed from this side of the House. As the right hon. Gentleman said, South Africa can never be looked upon as being a foreign country. For 300 years there has been co-operation between our two countries and that cannot be lightly cast aside by what some people think were fallacious acts of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
Many bonds join our countries—bonds of trade, sentiment, investment, defence and a general overlapping of interests, and the majority of hon. Members look forward to the moment when South Africa will re-enter the Commonwealth. In looking forward to that time, we urge the Government to heal any outstanding wounds and to curb any bitterness that may have existed. That is a more positive task than that of setting asunder, which we are doing today.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Braine
We have already had a wide discussion on the Bill, both on Second Reading and at the Committee stage, and I propose to confine myself merely to observing that this is a simple Measure designed for a specific and limited purpose, the form of which follows precedents with which the House is familiar.
The effect of the Bill is simply that certain United Kingdom laws should continue to apply for a maximum of twelve months in relation to South Africa, even after she leaves the Commonwealth. The Government feel that they must have time, not merely to look at the whole body of law affected, but to take stock of the whole position regarding our future relations with the Republic of South Africa. The reason for the Bill was put in a nutshell by my right hon. Friend a moment ago. It is "to win time".
1467 I can assure the House that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues will reach their decisions as soon as they possibly can. As has been made clear repeatedly in the course of the debate, it is not just a question of deciding upon consequential alterations to our laws. Some of the other changes which we wish to make will most certainly involve the South African Government and it may well be that when the two Governments have come to agreement legislation will also be necessary in South Africa. These are matters which are not solely under our control and we cannot forecast precisely how long discussions upon them should take.
I must emphasise, too, that we should not ignore the fact that in all this the rights and interests of individuals in this country and in South Africa are liable to be affected. It is surely unthinkable that people in this country or in the High Commission Territories or elsewhere in territories under our jurisdiction should be prejudiced or disadvantaged by our terminating the existing provisions without proper consideration.
My right hon. Friend has taken careful note of the views expressed in the debate, including, if I may delicately venture the observation, some which are only indirectly concerned with the content of the Bill. I should also like to express on behalf of my right hon. Friend and myself our appreciation to the House of the constructive and helpful way in which it has facilitated the passage of the Bill. May I say that although this has been described as a standstill Bill that does not mean that we are standing still. Rather, I would 1468 say, as in the words of Sir Francis Bacon in his famous essay on "Despatch":We do but stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner.which is, perhaps, the appropriate note upon which to end our discussion.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Marquand
I shall fulfil entirely the undertaking which I gave the Chairman of our Committee that I would not prolong the proceedings at this stage. The Joint Under-Secretary has said quite rightly that the Bill is to provide for a period of study and negotiation. The Secretary of State will have the responsibility of making those studies and entering those negotiations. I am sure that in doing so he will have an eye to the interests and well-being of the vast majority of South African subjects. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will bear ever in mind what their situation is and what their best interests require.
At the same time, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will exercise during the course of the negotiations not only the patience which we have seen him exhibit at other times but the firmness and the realistic approach to difficult problems of which he is capable. I am sure that he will enter into the negotiations, which we on this side of the House agree are necessary though we are sorry that they are to take quite so long, in the spirit not of the old Commonwealth or of dominion over palm and pine but of the new Commonwealth which he is now helping to create.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.