§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
When so many controversial and complicated issues are forcing themselves on the attention of the House, there is a great temptation to let sleeping dogs lie. But in colonial affairs, at any rate, if we wait until violence leaves us no alternative but action, there is a real danger that the solution of our problems will become more difficult, and, moreover, we shall give those who desire action by Her Majesty's Government a strong incentive to start violence in order to obtain it. For these reasons I make no apology for raising the question of Her Majesty's Government's policy on Southern Rhodesia at this time.
I think that Mr. Nkomo's speech, as reported in today's newspapers, underlines the great importance of Her Majesty's Government making their intentions on Southern Rhodesia clearer than they have done so far. Whether we like it or not, there will be mounting pressure from the United Nations on Her Majesty's Government on this issue. Whether or not right hon, and hon. Gentlemen agree on the desirability or even the legality of the recent discussions in the General Assembly, I do not believe that any hon. Member can feel happy about the results of the debate. The recent debate ended with a vote of 73 to 1 against the present policies of Her Majesty's Government. The only member of the United Nations which voted against the General Assembly resolution was South Africa. Moreover, the only member of the United Nations which joined Britain in refusing to participate in the vote was Portugal.
I do not believe that the First Secretary of State can feel happy about a situation in which this sort of thing is 45 possible. Nor do I think that he can ignore, or does ignore, the fact that every member of the Commonwealth foam Africa and Asia united against the United Kingdom in the voting at the end of the debate.
I believe that the result of this debate shows that the survival of the Commonwealth itself in Africa and Asia may depend on Her Majesty's Government making rapid progress in meeting the reasonable demands of the African population of Southern Rhodesia. I do not for one moment want to suggest that no progress has been made in Southern Rhodesia in recent years. I have paid tribute before, as have many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, to the personal successes of Sir Edgar Whitehead in reducing social discrimination against Africans in the territory of which he is Prime Minister. He deserves great praise for this, and I hope that he sticks to his promise to repeal the Land Apportionment Act if he should win a majority in the next election in Southern Rhodesia.
But the whole history of British colonial policy shows that a reduction in social discrimination is no substitute for political advance, but that, on the contrary, a reduction in purely social discrimination can only feed the demand for political equality. It is in this respect that the present Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, which the House ratified a few months ago, has been proved to be quite inadequate. Indeed, events in the nine months since we debated the Southern Rhodesian Constitution last November have shown that all the complaints of Her Majesty's Opposition were fully justified.
The Africans who were given the opportunity of expressing their view rejected it by something like 1,000 to 1. The best proof of the inadequacy of the present Constitution is the fact that, although Sir Edgar Whitehead undertook that between 50,000 and 60.000 Africans would register on the lower roll for a vote in the elections to be held on the Constitution, in fact nearly nine months later there have not yet been 10,000 African registrations. I believe that this in itself proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the existing Constitution is totally inadequate to meet the minimum needs of reasonable Africans in the territory.
46 In addition, the application form which Africans are expected to read and fill in (before applying for the vote is one of the most complicated Government documents which it has ever been my misfortune to read. I cannot understand how Her Majesty's Government could expect a large registration, even if there had been good will. One of the major criticisms of British policy in the Central African Federation in recent years has been that we cannot possibly hope to get the Africans to cherish democracy if we present democracy to them in such a complicated, hypocritical and dishonest form.
It was argued by Her Majesty's Government last November that the abdication of some of our remaining powers was justified by the adoption of a Declaration of Rights in the new Southern Rhodesian Constitution. But a Declaration of Rights, like progress in the social field, both of which we welcome, is no substitute for the vote. An earlier Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, no less a person than Mr. Garfield Todd, giving evidence before the United Nations Special Committee on Colonialism, showed in detail the other day how every right defined in this Declaration of Rights is being violated at this moment in practice under repressive legislation whose whole and sole purpose is to preserve the domination of the European minority in Southern Rhodesia. Examples of such legislation are the Unlawful Organisations Act, the Vagrancy Act, the Preventive Detention Act, and the Law and Order Maintenance Act, over which the Chief Justice of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Robert Tredgold, resigned. Recently, an African was fined two months' pay for calling a police reservist a girl guide, because police reservists in Southern Rhodesia wear blue uniforms.
Whatever the European population in Southern Rhodesia may feel about the present situation, there is no doubt that for the African majority living in the territory Southern Rhodesia is now a repressive police State in which the normal democratic rights which we enjoy in this country are denied to nine-tenths of the population.
§ Mr. Healey
If the hon. Gentleman disagrees with me, I ask him simply to read the texts of the Acts which I have just mentioned and to look at the way in which they have been applied in the last few years. I shall come to some examples of that in a few minutes.
Moreover, all the advances which have been made in Southern Rhodesia in recent years, which we applaud, could be upset under the existing Constitution after the next election by a two-thirds majority, which need not contain one member of the Legislature who is a native born African.
Is it surprising that in this situation there is mounting despair among the Africans in Southern Rhodesia and that their leader, Mr. Joshua Nkomo, can make such a speech, which, in many respects I deplore, as he is reported to have made yesterday according to today's British newspapers? The Africans in Southern Rhodesia can see far less advanced African peoples all over that Continent completely independent now—Ghana, Nigeria, Sierre Leone, Tanganyika, with Uganda achieving complete independence in October. Even in the other territories of the Central African Federation the African population already enjoys political rights far in advance of those in Southern Rhodesia.
The First Secretary of State boasted in a speech he made at the Savoy Hotel on 10th July that African education in Southern Rhodesia was more advanced than anywhere else on the African Continent. If this is the case—I see no reason to doubt it—why is the African in Southern Rhodesia politically inferior to the African in every other State on the African Continent? It is no good ignoring the fact that events in Southern Rhodesia are bound to be increasingly influenced in the months and years ahead by the visible spectacle of African political advance in other territories, of the Federation as well as of the Continent, and the feeling of despair that no prospect of such advance lies before the African in Southern Rhodesia, for the simple reason that Her Majesty's Government have given the European poulation effective control over the pace of African advance.
There is no doubt that violence could break out in Southern Rhodesia at any moment. We all know that it did break 48 out in 1959. There is no doubt that, if the Africans did use violence in the next few weeks or months to press their case, they would be crushed with little effort by the powerful army of the Federation and by a police force which is stronger than the police force of any other African State.
There can equally be no doubt that if the Africans in Southern Rhodesia do take to violence to achieve their ends, although they may be crushed this year, as the Algerians were crushed by France when they rose in 1946, the final outcome of the story will no longer remain in doubt. The final tragedy can be foreseen; the slow slide of this territory into the same sort of catastrophe as now faces Algeria, and also faces the territory of South Africa to the south—a situation in which, in the long run, the economic ruin and physical death of the European population becomes certain.
I believe that the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia are slowly coming to realise this. However much they regret or resent the direction of the wind of change, they cannot avoid recognising its existence and, in the end, bowing to its force. But it is all too obvious at the moment that the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia cannot yet bring themselves to make the necessary adjustments in the political situation unless some effective persuasion is added to the course of events.
One of the most dangerous and disturbing aspects of the present Southern Rhodesia situation is the almost total breakdown of contacts between leaders of the European minority—notably Sir Edgar Whitehead—and the leaders of the African majority—notably Mr. Joshua Nkomo. I believe that, even at this late date, it is still possible for Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to exercise a powerful and decisive influence for political advance in this territory.
We all know that Her Majesty's Government are maintaining in this House and in the United Nations Assembly that they no longer have any real power to influence what happens in Southern Rhodesia but, when speaking for Her Majesty's Government in the Assembly debate the other day, Sir Patrick Dean, the United Kingdom delegate, stressed that the First Secretary was 49 now, as he said, charged with responsibility in this regard, and needed time for further study of these highly complex problems and their inter-relation with one another. It is impossible for the Government to ask for time to take a useful initiative in this respect and simultaneously deny that they have any right or authority to take such an initiative.
In my opinion, the juridical arguments deployed by Sir Patrick Dean in that debate are not persuasive. After all, Her Majesty's Government have twice recently suspended the Constitutions of dependent territories—British Guiana and Grenada—because they regarded that events in those territories were not proceeding as they should.
What is far more important and, I believe, nearer the truth, is that Her Majesty's Government, whatever their political or juridical rights, no longer have the physical power to impose a solution on the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia by force. However much we may deplore the fact that Her Majesty's Government's defence policy in recent years and the deployment of Her Majesty's Forces have brought this about, we must face the fact that it is highly doubtful whether Her Majesty's Government could physically impose on the European population a change in the existing Southern Rhodesia Constitution if the European population decided to take arms against them.
But that is not the real issue. In the first place, I believe that the European population in Southern Rhodesia knows for certain that it would have no future in Africa whatever if it were to take up arms against Her Majesty's Government and if, in consequence, it were to be expelled—as it certainly would be —from the Commonwealth. In the second place, I believe that Her Majesty's Government, and the neighbouring territories, have very powerful economic weapons of persuasion in their control. Mr. Garfield Todd, speaking in the United Nations Assembly the other day, estimated the public debt of Southern Rhodesia at about £300 million.
There is no doubt whatever that if, as most of us believe, the Federation breaks up politically, the standard of life of the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia will depend absolutely, first, 50 on economic assistance from Her Majesty's Government and, secondly, on economic co-operation with the richer territory of Northern Rhodesia, which many of us feel confident is likely to become independent under an African majority Government within the next year or two.
Her Majesty's Government must now make it clear that further financial aid to Southern Rhodesia will depend on political advance for the Africans in that territory. Quite apart from all political reasons for taking this view, I believe that any economic assistance to a Southern Rhodesia which was moving inevitably towards race conflict and apartheid, would be so much money down the drain; the only basis on which investment is likely to be profitable there in future is a basis in which the whole people of Southern Rhodesia are moving towards representative government, in which a 90 per cent. African majority sees its numerical superiority reflected in the Legislature.
It is inevitable that, as time passes, these economic factors will make themselves felt, but what many of us on this side fear is that unless Her Majesty's Government take some action in the next few months the whole future of that territory may be prejudiced by an outbreak of violence, and the most important single task facing Her Majesty's Government in this case is to give the Africans in Southern Rhodesia some hope of political advance in future—a hope which, at the present time, rightly or not, they do not have or feel.
I greatly regretted that the First Secretary, in his speech at the Savoy Hotel, instead of giving the Africans this hope, pandered to the illusions of the Europeans. He must himself recognise that, whatever he intended by that speech, it was politically a disaster, because the immediate and direct result was the refusal of the main African party in Northern Rhodesia and the main African party in Southern Rhodesia to cooperate with the excellent and enlightened team of advisers which the First Secretary of State had sent there to examine the situation.
I know that the High Commissioner of the Central African Federation, in the newsheet produced on his behalf by "Voice & Vision," described the First 51 Secretary's speech on that occasion as plain and unambiguous; words which, I imagine, the right hon. Gentleman has not always found applied to all the speeches he has made on all issues in the course of his political career. I prefer to believe that there was some ambiguity in the words quoted by the High Commissioner with such delight, and that, in particular, the First Secretary meant it When he said that our ideal was that the races should live together and that one race should not lord it over the other.
If we take that as our first ideal, and if the right hon. Gentleman really believes that, how can he support a situation in which 10 per cent. of the population has nearly 80 per cent. of the seats? It is really quite impossible to justify the existing Constitution, even in terms of the principles which the First Secretary of State laid down for himself in his speech at the Savoy Hotel the other day. If he really believes what he says, he must say something else as well, namely, that he accepts parity between the races as his immediate aim in Southern Rhodesia and that he will take all possible steps towards it.
I do not deny that the room for manoeuvre of the First Secretary is severely limited. I do not deny, either, that some of his main bargaining weapons may not become fully effective until some time has passed. But there are three steps which he can take immediately, or at least before the autumn, and certainly long before the elections now postponed until next March take place.
My first proposal is this. I suggest that he should make a declaration that Her Majesty's Government will agree to no further reduction in their responsibility for the affairs of Southern Rhodesia until representative government has been achieved in that territory. If he made such a declaration it would have three good effects. First, it would help to restore the confidence of the African population in Southern Rhodesia in the British Government's determination to fulfil its responsibilities for their welfare. Secondly, it would warn the European population of Southern Rhodesia that they will not get independence by voting for extremist parties in the next election.
52 Thirdly, it would have a good effect on all the parties in Southern Rhodesia by persuading them that the only path towards independence, which all of them in one form or another desire, is to work together for greater democracy and for more representation of the Africans in the territory. I hope that he will consider this suggestion, even if he is not prepared to pronounce on it immediately.
The second step I propose is a small one which, I suggest, the right hon. Gentleman should take. He should try to bring the leader of the European minority, Sir Edgar Whitehead, and the leader of the African majority, Mr. Joshua Nkomo, together to discuss the constitutional problems of the territory. As I said earlier, one of the most dangerous aspects of the problem now is the almost total breakdown of contact between the leaders of the two communities—a breakdown which is partly the result of temperamental incompatibilities on both sides which, I think, could lead to disaster unless Her Majesty's Government can find some means of overcoming it. I know that the First Secretary is extremely skilled in finding excuses for bringing people together and I am sure that if he wished he could contrive some means of at least beginning a dialogue between the communities in Southern Rhodesia and that this would help to avoid the catastrophe we all fear.
My third suggestion is this. The right hon. Gentleman should ask Sir Edgar Whitehead to release those African political leaders who are still living in restriction in Southern Rhodesia. I believe that there are only a handful of them but they include some of the most respected, important and, indeed, moderate of the Africans in the Territory. They were arrested more than three years ago, no public charge has ever been brought against them and their cases have been reviewed by a secret tribunal, the decision of which is not subject to appeal or review.
The former Secretary of the African National Congress, Mr. Nyandoro, is suffering from a serious spinal injury for which he refuses to accept treatment from a doctor sent to treat him by the Southern Rhodesian authorities. He is not even allowed to visit his own doctor, who is living 270 miles away in another 53 part of the territory. He wants to visit the United Kingdom and we would be happy if the First Secretary could contrive to persuade the Southern Rhodesia Government to allow him to take treatment in this country. However, I am sure that the real answer to this problem is to release these men, all of whom have now been in detention for more than three years without a public charge or trial. Many of them are known personally and respected by hon. Members of this House. The real answer is for the First Secretary to use his great influence with the local authorities to secure their release. Nothing would do more to give the Africans hope than for Her Majesty's Government to show these men that they have not been forgotten and that we are still concerned for their future.
I know that there are some hon. Members opposite who are simply looking for the quickest way by which Britain can disengage herself from her remaining responsibilities in the Commonwealth overseas so that she may turn to other fields of endeavour. I have never believed that the First Secretary belongs to that group of his party. I believe that he accepts, as we do, that Her Majesty's Government have a grave responsibility for what happens in Southern Rhodesia—a responsibility which has its sources in law but which is, fundamentally, a political and moral responsibility.
If we fail to fulfil our responsibilities in the next few months we shall strike a heavy blow at our reputation in the world. We shall strike a heavy blow at the survival of the Commonwealth in Africa and Asia. I know that the views of the European minority in Southern Rhodesia, who have contributed so much in the past to the economic advance of the territory weigh heavily with hon. Members opposite. But I ask them to look honestly at what has happened in recent years in Algeria and in South Africa and what will surely happen in Southern Rhodesia unless there is a basic change of trend in the attitude of the Europeans in that territory.
I firmly believe that the only way by which the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia can hope to survive as a community or as individuals is to accept the rights of the African majority to govern 54 themselves. I believe that there is still time for Her Majesty's Government and for the European population of Southern Rhodesia to accept the implications of this fact. But there is not very much time, and I appeal to the First Secretary to use his maximum influence in the immediate future to secure some action by the Government of Southern Rhodesia to this end.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Humphry Berkeley (Lancaster)
I share the concern of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) about the position in Southern Rhodesia. Indeed, having fairly recently returned from a visit to the Central African Federation, my impression is that conditions are by far the most dangerous in Southern Rhodesia compared with the other two territories. I share, unhappily, the hon. Member's view that it is all too possible that there will be in the next few months an outbreak of violence, the consequences of which cannot be foreseen, unless some intervention takes place on the part of Her Majesty's Government.
Nor can I feel in the least happy that Britain, whose record of granting independence to Colonial Territories has been unrivalled hitherto, should be placed in the dock at the United Nations, and getting support only from South Africa and, to a limited degree, Portugal. From the appearance of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell), I think that he had better intervene before he blows up.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
I did not intend to blow up. I was merely wondering whether my hon. Friend was referring to the recent debates at the United Nations on Southern Rhodesia. If he was, I think he could not have fully read the reports of those debates because, as far as I can remember, almost every European country—certainly New Zealand, Canada and, I think, the United States—gave their support to us. My hon. Friend must, therefore, be slightly mistaken.
§ Mr. Berkeley
I think that my hon. Friend must know perfectly well that I was referring to that debate, and he must also be aware that the only country that voted against the resolution that was carried was, in fact, the Republic of South Africa. A number of our 55 friends both in Europe and in the Commonwealth were as anxious as they could be not to embarrass us and abstained. I also understand that certain Commonwealth countries, including Canada, Australia and Now Zealand, have now warned this country that in the event of this issue reappearing at the United Nations they will be unable to go so far even as abstaining. This, I think, is cold comfort so far as we are concerned, whatever the legal niceties and proprieties may be.
I should like to say a few words about this legal position. It seems to me to be very much a position which we have created for ourselves. After all, it was the British Government of 1923 who created this most extraordinary anomaly of a self-governing country which is not independent and for whose internal affairs we are apparently in no way answerable. I know of no other country where this peculiar situation persists. However, even though Southern Rhodesia has been given full internal self-government, we must have the constitutional right—I am not talking about Whether we can do it in practice— to suspend its constitution.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East mentioned two cases where this had been done in recent years, in British Guiana and Grenada. I should like to mention a third which may be even more relevant, and that is Newfoundland in 1934. Newfoundland was created a Dominion in 1917. but, owing to certain financial difficulties in which the Government of Newfoundland found themselves, a commission was set up, and, as a result, constitutional government was suspended and the government of the territory was undertaken and carried on by a commission. This was after Newfoundland had received Dominion status— that is to say, Dominion status as interpreted before the Statute of Westminster in 1926. That was certainly a degree of independence beyond the state to which Southern Rhodesia has now arrived. Therefore, my judgment would be that whatever may be the practical possibilities of altering the Constitution, theoretically we have the right to suspend the Constitution. Therefore, theoretically if we can suspend, we can also substitute.
56 Sir Patrick Dean, who made a most able defence of an extremely difficult case in his speech at the United Nations, put forward the argument that we were unable to intervene in Southern Rhodesia, and he based the whole force of his argument on the granting of internal self-government to Southern Rhodesia in 1923. This argument cannot logically be sustained, because we did intervene in the constitutional arrangements for Southern Rhodesia in 1961. We sent out our Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations who spent some time there negotiating with Sir Edgar Whitehead and the African leaders.
If we have had no power since 1923 to make any alterations or any suggestions to the Southern Rhodesian Government, I wonder what the Commonwealth Secretary was doing while he was there. In fact, he was trading our reserve powers as they then were for certain alterations in the Constitution. I have no hesitation in saying that I would have wished that the Commonwealth Secretary in 1961 had struck a somewhat tougher bargain. The Commonwealth Secretary is a tough man and I think there was an occasion for his toughness to have been displayed.
So far as world opinion is concerned, we really find ourselves in the worst of all possible worlds. We are generally held by the outside world to be responsible for what is going on in Southern Rhodesia. We have publicly, but to the outside world somewhat un-convincingly, established the fact that we are not responsible. At the same time, apparently, we feel inhibited from criticising the actions of the Southern Rhodesian Government. We seem to be far worse off in this state than we would be with an independent Commonwealth country. For example, our Government did not disguise their dismay at the Indian attack on Goa. Yet in this instance we are disclaiming all responsibility. We are judged, in fact, to be responsible, yet we do not hold ourselves free to disapprove of the developments in Southern Rhodesia. It seems to me that this places us in a very weak and difficult position.
I have read the United Nations resolution, and, whatever improprieties there may be in the passing of that resolution or in the manner in which the 57 subject was brought up, on the whole I should have thought that it was not too inaccurate or too offensive a statement of the position in Southern Rhodesia at the present time. I wonder whether I might, in parenthesis, say—there is no Foreign Office representative here—that I hope that our representative, on other occasions, will not take the rather childish and undignified attitude of walking out at the end of a debate. It is quite possible for us to make our view clear. We have done so. and it seems to me that it is for other less sophisticated countries to behave in this petulant way.
I should like to say a few words about the Constitution itself. It is perfectly true, and we should recognise, that the Constitution provides for a degree of African representation, which of course, was unknown in the previous constitution. We shall see at least 15, and possibly 16 or 17, black faces in the Southern Rhodesian Parliament after the election, but I hope that hon. Members will not be confused into thinking that a black face necessarily denotes a representative member of Parliament. After all, it would be possible for the Governor or the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia to nominate 15 Africans to sit in the Parliament, and one might go to the Parliament and see a large number of black faces and assume that this was a representative Parliament. It is the representative character of these 15 Africans which I wish to discuss for a short time.
When this Constitution was first promulgated, Sir Edgar Whitehead said that in his view about 60,000 Africans would be eligible to vote on the lower roll. As the hon. Member for Leeds, East has said, so far substantially fewer than 10,000 have, in fact, registered. We have now heard from the leader of the "Build a Nation" campaign in Southern Rhodesia that it is the calculation of his organisation that only just over 30,000 Africans would be eligible to register if every single one of them went along to do so. Thus, we see here 15 lower roll African seats the Members for which are to be elected by approximately 1 per cent. of the African population in Southern Rhodesia.
58 If we were to have an election in this country in which 1 per cent. of the population voted, there might be a rather bizarre result. It would depend, of course, on which 1 per cent. was chosen. What has always seemed to me to be a fundamental point in this Constitution is that those on the lower roll are limited to electing 15 members. Therefore, one ought to have as wide a franchise on the lower roll as could be arrived at. There is no question of the lower roll swamping Parliament. The lower roll is restricted to 15 members.
The First Sceretary of State will be aware that, under the arrangements which are made for any possible alteration of the Constitution, there is a reference back to all racial elements of the population. If there is an attempt to alter the Constitution, every African who has had a primary education qualifies for a vote. I do not understand why the qualification to vote in the referendum, which is a fairly wide one, should not be the same as the qualification to vote in a general election.
During the past few years, we have heard a variety of speeches in which the Southern Rhodesian Government have been praised, rightly, I think, for their determined effort to dispense as rapidly as possible with racial discrimination and for the considerable amount of money which is being spent on African education.
As regards racial discrimination, I was happy to find that, alter an interval of only two years, there had been a remarkable change in attitude. There are still pin-pricks there. There is still discrimination. In particular, I hope, as the hon. Member for Leeds, East hopes, that the Land Apportionment Act will be repealed as soon as possible. Education, I suggest, its another crucial factor. It seems to me that the Southern Rhodesian Government have hitherto failed in that they have concentrated all on giving as wide a primary education as possible, whereas, if one compares the number of secondary schools in Southern Rhodesia with the number in Kenya or Tanganyika, one finds, I fear, that Southern Rhodesia lags far behind.
Moreover, if one compares the number of university places in the Federal University in Salisbury with the number 59 of university places available to Africans in Kenya, Tanganyika or Uganda, again the picture is a very sad one. This must have an effect. The whole object of secondary education and further education is to provide the kind of leaders who will be necessary in politics, the Civil Service and the Armed Forces.
I turn now to some suggestions which the hon. Member for Leeds, East made. Somehow, I fed, we must disentangle ourselves from the position in which, although we say that we are not responsible for what happens in Southern Rhodesia, we are universally held to be so, and, from the position in the United Nations in which we find ourselves forced to defend the present situation. I believe that it would be appropriate for Her Majesty's Government, if further pressure arises, to make a public declaration that we would wish to see the African franchise in Southern Rhodesia substantially broadened, saying that, unhappily, owing to the constitutional position, we ace unable to give instructions to the Southern Rhodesian Government to do this. I feel that a clear declaration of our desires in this respect should not be ruled out, particularly since, had we responsibility for the territory, it is inconceivable that we should not now take these steps.
Secondly, I echo and add support to what the hon. Gentleman said about the economic weapon. I understand that the Southern Rhodesian Government have made application to our Government here for financial help for development programmes. I think that it would be quite proper for us to indicate that economic add must depend on satisfactory political advance. I hope that my right hon. Friend the First Secretary will not rule out this kind of approach.
We are often told that Sir Edgar Whitehead himself might like to see further political advance in Southern Rhodesia but, of course, that if he were to say so he would lose the election. Let us not forget that, if Sir Edgar Whitehead's position could be reinforced by African support, he could afford to lose a certain amount of support from Right-wing and reactionary Europeans. If we can get the African nationalists to contest the elections in Southern Rhodesia, there will be 15 Members at 60 least upon whom the Southern Rhodesian Government could rely for an element of support when they follow enlightened and progressive policies. This is something which, I believe, we should not overlook.
It is frequently said that we must keep power in Southern Rhodesia in civilised hands because Africans are not ready-some say that they will never be ready— for Parliamentary democracy. I wonder whether we reflect enough on the fact that only twenty years ago it would have been a plausible argument to say that Europeans were not suited to Parliamentary government either. In 1939, there were Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Falangist Spain, there were military dictatorships in Poland, Hungary, Roumania and Greece, and a Right-wing dictatorship in Portugal. All these regimes were of a far more brutal and authoritarian kind than anything yet seen on the Continent of Africa. Therefore, I do not think that we need despair of Parliamentary institutions working in Africa. Indeed, in such countries as Sierra Leone they seem to be working very well at present.
The tragedy of the present situation not only in the Federation, but in Southern Rhodesia in particular, is that it is here that Britain's prestige is at stake. Unless we can do something in Southern Rhodesia, we shall be pursuing totally contradictory policies in adjacent territories on the same continent. How can one possibly justify giving one man one vote in Tanganyika and Uganda and giving representative government in Nyasaland while still restricting the African franchise on the lower roll in Southern Rhodesia to 1 per cent. of the African population?
Of course, the Africans say, "The only reason you are doing this is the presence of 200,000 whites in our midst". I do not think that we should be unduly surprised at that, because what other conclusion could they possibly arrive at? It therefore seems to me that we must make every effort to induce Sir Edgar Whitehead and his Government to look again at this Constitution.
I think that we all understand the problems, and we all applaud such progress as has been made, but, unless some decisive action is taken to broaden 61 African representation I believe that we shall be in immense difficulties in Southern Rhodesia. These we must avoid, and I am sure that the wisdom and experience of the First Secretary of State can be brought to bear to prevent them.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I wish to intervene for a few moments for the same reason which, I gather, prompted the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley) to speak. He has been out to the Central Federation and has seen something of what is happening there. I have done the same. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman went under the same auspices as I did.
§ Mr. Berkeley indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I went there under the auspices of the Federal Government. I only wish that it had been possible for our own Government to arrange for more Members of the House of Commons to go out there to see what is happening so that we might take a much greater interest in this country than is taken, judging by the small attendance in the House this afternoon.
It is the Opposition's duty to raise matters of this nature from time to time. All I ask is that, in debating this subject we be very careful of the sort of language which we use. I was a little surprised at the hon. Member for Lancaster talking in terms of possible revolution. We all know that revolution is possible in many of these emerging territories, but, in view of all the responsibilities which we in this House have, should not we do our utmost to dampen down that spirit and try to get something more positive? Surely our main interest is the people in these countries and not some of the politicians in them whose bona fides I doubt.
I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) when he compares Southern Rhodesia to a police State. I prefer to point out, which my hon. Friend has done, some of the difficulties to draw attention to the lack of progress on the part of successive Governments in Southern Rhodesia. To compare Southern Rhodesia with Algeria and even with South Africa is not putting the matter in its proper perspective. What has happened 62 in Algeria has not been entirely the fault of the French Government. Although an agreement has been reached between the French Metropolitan Government and the indigenous Government in Algeria they are already at each other's throats, and there may be civil war there.
Is that what we want in Southern Rhodesia? If it is not possible to get the whole loaf, as I do not believe it is, should not we try to get some of the loaf, as we seem to have done in the Constitution which was agreed by the African national leaders and which is to form the basis on which the elections will be fought in March. I recognise that it may not be all that we desire. I often wonder whether the "one man one vote" principle out there is really democracy as we understand it. But here we have a Constitution which has been agreed between African nationalist leaders and Her Majesty's Government. Should not we encourage the elections in March to be held on the basis of it?
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East that if 60,000 Africans are eligible to be placed on the lower roll the authorities there and, so far as they are able, Her Majesty's Government should take every possible step, as we in this country do through our electoral registers, to ensure that every eligible African is on the roll. Perhaps when the First Secretary of State speaks he will be able to tell us how far Her Majesty's Government can help in that direction. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East that, if they can help, they should certainly do so.
I believe that the debate in the United Nations was a mistake. In my opinion, it has not contributed one iota to improving either the lot of the people in Southern Rhodesia or towards some sort of successful government as a result of the election which is to take place. It is not sufficient for the hon. Member for Lancaster to talk about suspending the Constitution. That is something which this Parliament, whatever party is in power, should do its utmost to avoid. We should try to ensure that that agreed Constitution works. Of course, we know that it will not be ideal. For very many years we in the Labour Party have proclaimed our opposition to some of the 63 inequalities of our Constitution, but we have fought in a constitutional way, and we won power with that Constitution— in fact, sometimes in spite of it. Therefore, if there is to be responsible and democratic government in that part of the world, let us make a start somewhere.
The United Nations debate has caused far more intransigence among the Africans and far more bitterness among the white population, who, if they are to stay there and contribute to the economic prosperity of that country, should have a say in the Government of that country and should have some guarantee of their rights, which are definite and legal. Anyone who has been to Salisbury, which, seventy years ago, was a jungle, knows that it has not been built on the efforts of the Africans. The energy and economic infiltration, if I may so call it, of the white population has contributed to the building of that very prosperous city. Let us keep and improve on that prosperity.
If the Africans come into government, as they will do one of these days, they will need the co-operation of white settlers there. They will need more European capital in their country. All that I ask is that, instead of exacerbating differences which sometimes manifest themselves in most irresponsible ways out there, we in this House should do our utmost to promote the feeling of a background which will give confidence not only to the Africans but to the white population who have made their homes there and who are prepared to go on doing their best to contribute to its well-being for their own benefit and for the benefit of the Africans.
I should like to quote something which I read this morning. It concerns Kenya, which is further forward constitutionally than Southern Rhodesia. This is what Mr. Mboya, an African, said in the Legislative Council on 18th July:This Government"—that is, the Kenya Government—at the moment is a grant-aided one with hardly any money. It is safe to say we are a bankrupt country except for the generosity of Her Majesty's Government.But not all the generosity of Her Majesty's Government, the generosity subscribed by British taxpayers, will 64 keep Southern Rhodesia afloat and maintain its present improved prosperity. Much of it will have to come through private funds.
Private funds will certainly not remain in that country or be further injected into it if there is not the confidence which, I am glad to see, was expressed by Mr. Ngala, whose speech was that of a responsible politician. I am glad to quote it to the House. He said:The future of Kenya as a democratic country very much depends on the success of the more reasonable political leaders in the country in achieving their target …I strongly believe that moderate politicians pulling together here"—he was talking about Kenya—can come out on top in the end, but any moderates mixed up with extremists"—to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East probably referred in his closing words—in a party in this crucial stage are doing a grave disservice to the sort of Kenya we want after independence. What they are doing"—that is, the extremists to whom my hon. Friend probably referred—is giving an opportunity for the Communists to come out on top.It is because I do not want to see Communists on top there or anywhere in Africa that I appeal to all hon. Members, on both sides, when they discuss this matter and voice legitimate grievances, to put them in a form which will ensure that there will be a progression, which will not come about in five minutes but will take longer than that, so that we get a Government in Southern Rhodesia which, if it does not represent all the people in exact proportions as we should like it to do, will, nevertheless, ensure progress in that country so that all are able to enjoy it. If we can get that, debates like this in the House of Commons are well worth while.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
My right hon. Friend has explained with great care and eloquence why democracy does not require universal suffrage and how the interests of a democracy in some countries might be better served without it and by the domination of a group of interested and expert people. In those circumstances, will my right hon. Friend explain exactly what is his quarrel with the Communists?
§ Mr. Bellenger
I have not explained in precisely those terms. My hon. Friend is very adept at turning arguments. What I was saying—and I hope that the House understood me—was that democracy takes all shapes and forms. There is a nominal democracy in Ghana, but I would not call it democracy.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
I agree with almost every word that the right hon. Member for Basset-law (Mr. Bellenger) said and it is a pleasure to say so. It seemed to me that the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) based much of his argument on two false analogies. The first is, in broad terms, that because a situation would be undemocratic in this country, therefore it is undemocratic in Central Africa, in Southern Rhodesia. The second was to compare the attitude of white Southern Rhodesians with their opposite numbers, if one may so call them that, in Algeria. The idea of non-racialism is a creation of the white Southern Rhodesians. What of the O.A.S.? Does the hon. Member seriously believe that the comparison holds water? I do not.
§ Mr. Healey
I was comparing the situation in Rhodesia now with the situation in Algeria as I knew it during the war and during the first rising there in 1946. The O.A.S. came later. What I am suggesting—I firmly believe it—is that unless there is a basic change in the attitude of the white population in Southern Rhodesia, as, tragically, there was not in Algeria in 1946, Southern Rhodesia is likely to follow that bloody pattern.
§ Mr. Hastings
I am sure that the hon. Member holds his view sincerely, but it does not in any way alter my argument. Never in Algeria did the white population resolve a plan to compare in any way with non-racialism as it is being actively advocated by the white Southern Rhodesians.
Before I pass to my few remarks, I should like to refer to one point in the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley), with most of which, I regret to say, I did not agree. I am, however, happy that there was one point on which I did. My hon. Friend 66 referred to education for Africans in Southern Rhodesia and said that it was a pity that in the higher echelons of education—that is, secondary education —the record was not as good as it was at primary level.
As I am sure my hon. Friend knows as well as, if not better than, I do, this is an argument which often takes place among those most closely concerned in Salisbury. When I was out there, I found that there was a considerable pull both ways. The demand for education among African people, of all sections of the population, especially of recent years, has grown to such an extent that it is difficult to resist the pressure. This is one of the reasons why the Southern Rhodesians have adopted what they call the pyramid rather than the column. I agree with my hon. Friend that had they adopted the column structure—that is, to broaden secondary education—they would be on the way to producing leaders more quickly. This is probably what should, in the circumstances and given the limitations, be done.
The chief dangers to the peaceful evolution of non-racialism in Southern Rhodesia seem to me to be twofold, but neither of the reasons that I shall put forward has yet been dwelt upon at any length. The first is a Jack of development capital and the second is the constant pressure upon Southern Rhodesia by the United Nations, or, rather, by a group of Afro-Asian countries using the United Nations as their instrument. So much depends upon capital investment; the advance of African education and opportunity for Africans, upon which depends also the pace of change.
Despite the difficulties, strangely enough, the economic situation out there has remained remarkably stable. In 1961, agricultural production expanded and mineral output was a record. Nevertheless, there has been a considerable decline in new capital investment. The reason which is so often given for this decline—at least, this is what I heard both when I was out there and subsequently—is political instability. But surely a measure of instability, at least by our rather staid standards, is inevitable in Africa. This continent is on the move. Tension and change are things which we should get accustomed to living with in Africa.
67 It is no exaggeration to say that, given all the difficulties, there are two dazzling prospects for investment in Southern Rhodesia. The first is what might be termed the break-through to the African market. The second is the probability that as Africa develops generally, Southern Rhodesia, with her vast natural resources, cam become the industrial hub of the entire continent.
The development of the African market is another way of describing an increase in African purchasing power, or, if you like, an increase in African commercial opportunity. There are encouraging trends and it is worth mentioning one or two figures. There are, for example, over £5 million of African savings in the Post Office Savings Bank, in building societies and in commercial banks in Southern Rhodesia today, and there are over 350,000 African savings accounts, a figure which is increasing at the rate of 4,000 a month. That is not, however, the whole of the story. African capital in Southern Rhodesia has been estimated at about £62 million and this too is increasing at something like £3 million annually. This is a step in the right direction. What is even more important—and it was referred to in the latest Barclays Bank Survey—is the increase in applications by Africans to start retail businesses.
I make a plea, however, for support out there for the courageous fight by Mr. Abrahamson, the Labour Minister, for increased wages for African workers. This it seems to me, quite apart from moral grounds, is only common sense. The Government must try to increase the standard of living and the purchasing power of the African. There have been advances recently, but they could go further. When the idea of property, in our terms, and profit becomes general among Africans and when there is a general demand for consumer durables and goods comparable to those in a European market, the whole picture might well change, and there could be a rich reward for those with the courage and vision to invest today in Southern Rhodesia.
Happily, there are those who see it that way. I was much encouraged to read of the latest negotiations for a new £4½ million steel plant at Bukwe between 68 the Rhodesian Iron and Steel Corporation and Kawasaki, a Japanese consortium. Incidentally, the House may be interested to know that trade between Japan and Southern Rhodesia has increased from something like £153,000 in 1954 to £7 million today. Therefore, it is plain the Japanese do not take the gloomy view which, unhappily, some of our own industrialists seem to of the prospects there.
There are many very favourable signs A mission of German bankers which went to Northern Rhodesia recently, reported that despite political difficulty there was every prospect of the country developing economically. If that is true of Northern Rhodesia, it is doubly true of Southern Rhodesia. At the recent trade fair at Bulawayo the Germans were much in evidence. The French and Italians were there for the first time, and Danish capital is coming in.
It is, perhaps, an unfortunate commentary that the Japanese should be showing us the way in a country which we created. I wonder what Cecil Rhodes would say if he were alive today and could reflect on the rather timorous attitude of some of our own industrialists. Of course, there are notable exceptions; the great African groups and others from this country and the United States. Rovers have just started a factory out there and an Anglo-American concern, Cheeseborough Pond has recently set up plant, but much more needs to be done.
I now turn to another form of investment which outweighs all the capital in the world by a great deal in my view, and that is people. I was much struck by what I read the other day about an American initiative known as "Operation Crossroads". This is a privately sponsored initiative by which about 300 young Americans, doctors and students, are to spend a period in the Federation and in Southern Rhodesia building schools, recreation centres and clinics and working with the Africans.
This seems to me to be a thoroughly worthwhile operation and something which could well be undertaken perhaps with the help of the Department of Technical Co-operation—incidentally, to digress for a moment, what an extremely unimaginative title that is for work of such great importance—or independently 69 of it. We could surely carry out the same kind of thing and on a very much more ambitious scale. Nothing but good will and understanding would result. But more important, there might, as a result of it, be an immigration of young people again into Southern Rhodesia which will be welcome on all grounds.
I read in The Times survey of public opinion the other day that there was a feeling of pointlessness about life among our youth. I have not had examples of that myself, but it may be true. If it is, then perhaps it will be worth while for some of our young people to consider Southern Rhodesia. When I was there I found the exact opposite, a feeling of stimulus and excitement with the non-racial experiment.
I turn to the second of the main dangers that I outlined, that of the United Nations. The threat here is twofold. First, there is the menace of a further outbreak of violence in Katanga. If it happens—and there is a mass of evidence that this has been, and perhaps still is being considered by the United Nations and the United States as a possible course of action—the reaction in Southern Rhodesia would be immediate and full of serious consequence. Seen from Salisbury, the chaos that might result in Katanga would spill over, very easily, because of the tribal situation, into Northern Rhodesia and towards the Zambesi.
I believe that we should be foolish to imagine that the Southern Rhodesians would be willing to contemplate that passively. Furthermore, the present precarious and vital political balance among the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia might well be upset as a result. So, for the sake of the Colony, I say to my right hon. Friend that we must prevent a recurrence of this folly. It is not enough to disapprove; we should marshall all the powers of sanction that we command, and if the matter is brought to the Security Council we should have the courage to use the veto.
To turn for a moment to the gratuitous resolution by the United Nations after the Report of the Committee of Seventeen, my right hon. Friend dealt forcefully and well with that in the speech which he made at the Savoy not long ago, which has been alluded to already, 70 when, as he said, he told the United Nations a few home-truths about Southern Rhodesia, and added:You will find a record which is unequalled in Africa, and which no one in the United Nations has a right to criticise at the present time.And I agree with him. There is no question of United Nations' interference with this Constitution now or at any other time. And, I would say, there should be no question of change in the franchise before the elections.
Uncertainty has bedevilled the situation enough already and to change again now would be to ensure, as the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw made so clear, that captital would drain out of the country in a flood instead of a trickle. These pressures must be countered. They stem from a far more dangerous form of racialism than any prejudice which may still exist in certain quarters among the white people in Southern Rhodesia.
If these twin problems are overcome, I have confidence in the future of Southern Rhodesia. It is an awe-inspiring experiment. I see no reason why, with understanding and encouragement, it should not succeed. I saw in the Press that the United States Consul-General, a new appointment, said on arrival in Salisbury the other day:My wife was born in Louisana and I in Arkansas, and this is why we do not come to tell the Federation how to solve its problems.Those were welcome words and, if I may say so with respect, a welcome change. We need understanding not only from our own people, but from our friends as well.
So long as Sir Edgar Whitehead is at the head of the United Federal Party there is always the chance of a working compromise. Indeed, if it were not for the chronic divisions which exist within Zapu at the moment and the pressures there are from the Rhodesian front and the Dominion Party upon Sir Edgar a compromise might well be possible before the elections take place.
Of course, there will always be argument about timing. That is what we are engaged in this afternoon. But to those who complain about a steady hand over to an African majority, I say: of course the Europeans are a dominant class. Their domination is still 71 virtually complete. But are they not the first dominant class in all history which has decided voluntarily to hand over its power to compatriots of another race. And is this not a decision of great dignity and immense courage and something of which we—we their kinsmen— have a right to be proud, rather than to carp and criticise?
"One man, one vote" in Central Africa and Southern Rhodesia is manifest nonsense. Anything near it is. In conclusion, I would cite the judgment of no less a thinker than Solon of Athens, one of the founders of democracy as we know it, who was once asked what, in his wisdom, he believed to be the best form of government for the people. He replied, "For what people and at what time?" Those in this House and outside it who dogmatise about the political solution in Southern Rhodesia would do well to reflect on Solon's words.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
With a great deal of what the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) has said about economic development in Southern Rhodesia I find myself in agreement, but I must right at the outset make a protest against his use of certain words because this is exactly the equivalent of the use of words, though in another sense, by the Communists. It may foe that democracy is not a suitable form of government for Southern Rhodesia, but it is no good pretending that a form of government which gives one man ten votes and another none is democracy. There may be another and a better form of government than democracy. Equally, it may be that we should have some new form of racial State in Southern Rhodesia, but a State in which one part of the citizens, simply because they are all of one colour, take to themselves a great many privileges and the major political power is not an example of multiracialism but of racialism.
§ Mr. Hastings
What is a complete democracy? Is democracy complete in this country—where murderers do not have votes and where people who are registered as insane do not have votes? It is a question of degree.
§ Mr. Grimond
If the hon. Gentleman really does not see any difference between denying votes to murderers —and, I believe, to peers, too, for that matter—and denying it to a very large section of the population, a majority of the population, all I can say is that if and when the Government bring in a Measure by which all Conservatives have one vote and all Labour and Liberal people have ten votes we will support them.
All I am saying is that he should clarify the argument to make it respectable. If he had said, "I do not agree with democracy in Southern Rhodesia. I think they are not fit for democracy and they should have a form of paternal Government"—which has been tried with varying degrees of success—one could say that that could be a respectable form of arrangement in many ways. Equally, if he had said, "I think this should be a racial State. I think the whites are superior, they are better educated and have a right to rule the country", that would be logical and reasonable. But to say that this is a very interesting experiment in non-racialism and it is not racial is to do exactly what the Communists do, if I may say so, and it is to use the words used by Communist representatives at the United Nations, who use them in exactly the opposite sense.
However, as I said, with a lot of what the hon. Gentleman had to say about the development of the country at least economically I can agree, but if we are going to be able to develop this country economically it must have political stability. When it comes to that question I find myself in agreement with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley) and in more or less total disagreement with both the speakers who followed him.
I should have thought that we had had this story before. We have had it in Ireland; we have had it in Cyprus. The one way to get an extreme Government is to deny the moderate elements in the country what they consider to be their legitimate rights. I can understand denying them the rights if we do not think them right, but everybody in this House does think that they are right. Everybody in this House believes in some form of democracy, genuine 73 democracy. There may be a form of presidential democracy, but we cannot have a form of democracy which weights the whole democratic system in one way, in the way it is weighted in Southern Rhodesia. If we had denied a scheme of presidential democracy or presidential Government, or if we had some form of authoritarian Government, we could seek to pass that on, but we keep on telling the world that the form of democracy we believe in is Parliamentary democracy based on universal suffrage. And then we say that that, of course, is not to be taken seriously by Africans.
Another point made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lancaster, and which cannot be made too often, is that in fact when we have a State in which there are only black Africans we have no difficulty in giving them one vote par head. The difficulty arises only when we have a white minority. Do not lot us be hypocritical about it. This is a perfectly good reason for the difficulty, but it is the reason, and it is no good pretending that there is any other reason. It has not arisen, for instance, in Tanganyika or Ghana or Nigeria. It is because there is a white minority, and that is the difficulty, and I accept this difficulty, and I think it is a genuine difficulty, and it is a genuine difficulty because the whites are racialists. I dare say that Africans are racialist, too, but the difficulty arises because the whites are racialists, and I believe myself that the whites are very ill advised to move so slowly. I think all history shows that not only can they not support themselves in their own conscience, but they cannot support themselves by force of arms, either.
§ Mr. Grimond
It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to deplore revolution and for the House to talk of revolution, but when we have a situation where they have no alternative but to use force we are going to get force.
If we look at history we see the very laudable attempts to give people self-government, and the one thing which has made it difficult has been delaying handing over that power too long, with the result that we got the use of force. And 74 then the British Government have given way. Again and again they have been forced to give way in the face of force when they would not give way in the face of reason.
This is exactly the situation which we have to beware of in Southern Rhodesia, and the tragedy in Southern Rhodesia will be that it will be wholly unnecessary. They have made progress. They have had extremely little trouble until 1959. It is a State with great possibilities, and there again I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lancaster that there is a great responsibility on this House to see, as far as it is in our power to see, that this history continues.
Of late there have been signs that things will not be quite so satisfactory as they have been. There are, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said, I think seven people who have been kept in prison without trial from 1959. I do not think that that is a situation this House can be complacent about. There have been signs of violence, and now we have their efforts to raise their grievances at the United Nations.
I would agree that the British have a far more satisfactory record of colonial administration than the United Nations because the United Nations has not got our experience, but I would ask the hon. Gentleman who resents the fact that they have raised their grievances at the United Nations, what else could they do? The great majority of people in Southern Rhodesia have no other outlet, and they take this matter to the United Nations. I would have thought, considering the way in which most nations in the world have behaved, that the behaviour of the African and Asian countries at the United Nations has been creditable.
I am not saying it has been logical or defencible on every ground, but again, as the hon. Member for Lancaster pointed out, if we think of the conduct of white nations in our lifetime and compare it with the conduct of some of those supposedly less educated and less advanced nations of Africa and Asia we see that theirs is not too bad. They have still to intern several millions of people in concentration camps; they have still to set up Fascist conditions of anything 75 like the intensity of those of Germany, or which the Communists have set up in Russia, and we ourselves, at the time of Suez, were not too careful about our international behaviour. Therefore I do not think that it is really either honest or wise of this country to object too much to people who have, I think most people would agree, a genuine grievance taking it to the United Nations instead of resorting to force, and that is in fact what the Southern Rhodesians have done.
What we ought to do is to examine this to see what we can do. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Lancaster pointed out that we are in a very invidious position when we are held responsible for internal security in the country and when we really have no means of enforcing our will, and, indeed, the constitutional position is obscure.
I still believe that there should be a clear expression from this country of its hope that the progress towards a genuine form of democracy will continue at a rather more speedy pace, an expression from this House that non-racialism will be interpreted in its normal sense as meaning the dismantlement of those bars which still exist against the coloured races—I give credit for the fact that a great deal has been done to remove them, but they have not gone as fax as I should like—and an expression from this House that, while it may not be possible to have Parliamentary democracy in our model in Southern Rhodesia at once, there is nevertheless a clear understanding in the world about the broad principles of democracy and we should expect it to be respected in Southern Rhodesia. That would be valuable.
I also believe that it is no good deluding ourselves that anything will make up for it. I do not think it is any good telling people "You will be rich. Never mind about political liberty." We exist because we do mind about political liberties. If those people did not mind about them, it would be our business to toll them that they ought to mind about them, and we should also tell them that consumer goods are not enough. Also, it is no good telling people that in the course of time little problems like putting people into prison 76 without trial will be abandoned. There are people now in prison without trial. The one doctrine that we have been spreading over the world is that everybody should mind about that, and should mind now. That is the British message to Africa, Asia and all our dependencies. It is no good our turning round at this late date and saying, "Refrigerators will do as well."
I personally am by no means pessimistic about the future of Southern Rhodesia, but I believe that in the last year or two there have been signs that, as in all cases of this nature, the way to get a changeover to the democratic system, to get a settlement and to get a safe position for the white settlers is not to delay matters but to expedite them.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)
I found myself very much in agreement with the remarks of the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) and the wise rebuke which he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley).
Like many other hon. Members, I have been on an official delegation to Southern Rhodesia, and I have also paid private visits there. I want to draw attention to two aspects of the human side of the problem, because I feel that it is important that the Government, which I believe is so well and wisely and progressively led by Sir Edgar Whitehead, should be given encouragement for the people of that country from this House. It should be shown that we are not nagging at them all the time about what they are doing. After all, we are politicians, and, if nothing else, humanitarians.
I am worried whether the African population of Africa as a whole are being adequately and well fed. By the aid of science they are living longer, and they are increasing rapidly in numbers. As I see it, whatever the industrial development in an African country, we shall still have as many living off the land in 15 or 20 years' time as today. I think it is right that the world should know of the great lead that Southern Rhodesia has given to Africans who live off the land. Southern Rhodesia was the first to have an aerial survey, and it was the first country to get Africans 77 settled with proper title to five acres of their own ground.
To my mind, that is the only way that agriculture in such places can be developed. It is important that those who own the land shall be able to pass it on to their sons and know that it cannot be fragmented again. In that way they will gradually grow more than they need for their own requirements and will be able to sell it as a cash crop. Unless we can get such agricultural development not only in Southern Rhodesia but in other parts of Africa, we shall have a great deal of malnutrition continuing throughout Africa for many years.
Consequently, a great deal of high praise should go to Sir Edgar White-head's Government and in particular to one of his Ministers. On the industrial side, one has already been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). I refer to Mr. Quinton, the Minister in charge of native affairs. Anyone who has talked to him knows how forward-looking he is.
I believe that a great deal more is needed, and I should like any money which comes from world banks and elsewhere for development to go into the training of field officers and the use of fertilisers. Southern Rhodesia has a very fine agricultural research college, the Henderson College, but most of the research done there is for the benefit of European farmers, and I hope it will be more widespread in the future. On this side, I do not believe that the present Government can be faulted.
Turning for a moment to the business side, one has there European businesses, both big and small. Tribute has been paid to the way they have developed the country. I remind the House of my experience when I visited a large organisation and saw its canteen. I was told that they had to have seven different tables for their African workers because they belonged to different tribes and would not sit and eat together. So often we in this House forget the differences among the Africans themselves, their tribal and religious differences. They are not just one. This is what worries me so often in dealing with these problems.
One off the most gratifying afternoons I had in Southern Rhodesia was at 78 Bulawayo when I met a number of African tradesmen at a tea party. They were normal types—a grocer, a tailor, a garage proprietor and so on. They had very much the same problems as small traders in our country. I asked how they paid for their goods, whether they gave credit and whether their trade was going up. What is so sad is that when there have been unrests it is these very successful Africans, whom we look upon as the backbone of the future, that the mob has attacked, trying to destroy their houses and shops. We should do all we can to encourage a Government which is trying to build up order slowly and to build up a section of the Africans as responsible citizens.
I was a little alarmed when the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) kept on saying that Sir Edgar White-head had little or no contact with Mr. Nkomo, the leader of the Africans. Much has been said about "one man, one vote", though I do not know whether Mr. Nkomo was elected to the leadership of the Africans on that basis. I am sure that Sir Edgar Whitehead has a great deal of contact with responsible Africans. Much as "one man, one vote" may foe an ideal, there are long processes towards it, and I do not think it is right if it leads immediately to a dictatorship. We want to see built up a community of Africans who have some stake and some property and who are responsible citizens and potential leaders for the future for those whose conditions are not so good.
I deplore those in this House who say that nothing is left but force. To my mind, if we threaten that, it is inevitable that Southern Rhodesia might well opt out to join South Africa, and I do not think we should like that. If that happened, the state of many of the Africans would be far worse than it is under their present Government. Therefore, I, for one, feel grateful to Sir Edgar Whitehead and his Government for the advances that have taken place. I believe that they should be encouraged, that they should feel that they have friends in this country and that we understand their great problems—which are many—and that we believe that they are trying to face them as responsible politicians and statesmen.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
I agree very much with what the hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) said about the need for improvement and giving encouragement to the growth of African agriculture. In discussing the development of African countries generally, both Africans and people here often forget that Africa is primarily an agricultural continent and that development of these new methods is immensely important. But the evidence from Africa has been that if we wish African agriculturists, brought up in the traditional way of life, to change their methods, this can only be done by a Government in which they have confidence and which they believe is genuinely representative.
In country after country during nationalist agitation, the efforts by the colonial agricultural officers to introduce new methods were rejected, but when the newly independent Government came into office the same methods which had been treated as colonialist plots during dependence were carried through because the Government had the confidence of the people who elected them. Therefore, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes to see the kind of agricultural progress which Southern Rhodesia needs, it can only be done on the basis of a much more representative form of Government than there is at the moment.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman disputed with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) about Sir Edgar Whitehead's lack of contact with African nationalist leaders. My impression was the same as that of my hon. Friend, and one of the tragedies—I am not apportioning blame—is the lack of communication between the political leaders of the various races in Southern Rhodesia. I will quote for the hon. and gallant Member's benefit what Sir Edgar Whitehead himself said in Parliament in Southern Rhodesia on 26th June. It was very revealing. Sir Edgar said:Outside of officials I would say there are not more than about 50 Europeans today who make a regular practice of travelling into the African areas and townships at frequent intervals and discussing the problems with the people there on a basis of complete equality.That was a devastating statement for the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia 80 to make about his own country and is at any rate an answer to the somewhat rosy picture of a multi-racial community painted by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings).
I intervene in this debate because I have very recently visited the Central African Federation and have seen some-think of what is going on there, however little. I visited both Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia and what struck me were the tremendous differences in atmosphere. Since the democratic elections in Nyasaland, a new atmosphere has been created—a new feeling of cooperation between Africans, Europeans and Asians, between politicians, civil servants and businessmen.
Of course, there are still individual acts of intolerance by both Africans and Europeans, but the whole atmosphere of Nyasaland has been transformed. I was there with a number of other people who had not been in Central Africa before and knew little about it. It was difficult to describe to them the kind of atmosphere associated with Nyasaland only a year or two ago When there was a state of emergency. The coming of representative Government to Nyasaland has not solved the problems, which are still appalling, but it has created an entirely new atmosphere and has given a much better chance of tackling those problems effectively.
The atmosphere in Southern Rhodesia, however, was in sharp contrast. It was one not of co-operation but of suppression, of mutual suspicion, of mounting tension. I straight away pay tribute, as others have done, to Sir Edgar White-head for his courage in seeking to remove various forms of racial discrimination, and for his political courage in putting forward the repeal of the Land Apportionment Act and all the other legislation which discriminates in terms of urban development.
But my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East is perfectly right in saying that to carry through the abolition of racial discrimination by itself, without accompanying it by changes in the holding of political power, really does no good at all. Indeed, Sir Edgar is throwing away the tremendous advantages which he might enjoy by his proposals for the repeal of these discriminatory 81 Acts by refusing to change the constitution in the direction of a really democratic basis.
The evidence of this is the fact that, at the very time that he is seeking to persuade his public opinion that it ought to repeal measures like the Land Apportionment Act, he is also having to propose new amendments to toughen the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. I found myself profoundly disturbed by the degree of the repressive measures in operation in Southern Rhodesia today, at a time when there is no state of emergency and things are comparatively peaceful.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East has mentioned the people detained at Gokwe. They include some of the most notable leaders of the African Nationalist movement, and they have been detained for three and a half years. An editorial in the Guardian the other day drew attention to this fact and said it was a disgrace that these men should still be suffering restriction without trial.
I understand from my information that Sir Edgar Whitehead himself would in many ways be agreeable to seeing them brought out of restriction, but that there are elements in the public services in Southern Rhodesia which make difficulties about it. This is a case where a decisive intervention by the First Secretary of State—he can do it privately if he likes, so long as the results are right —might well be the means of getting these people freed.
Secondly, there are the activities of the police in the present situation. When political assemblies take place, the police are always present in very considerable numbers—and they carry arms. Anyone who has attended African political meetings knows how long they can go on. I have no doubt that the police get weary of it, but their way of relieving the boredom is to raise their rifles and taking casual sightings on members of the audience. No doubt nothing serious is meant but we can all understand how provocative such actions in a political meeting can be and how they raise the risk of such incidents as we have had in the past.
Again, the police also have the right now to interfere with speech. If they hear sentences which they believe are 82 seditious, they do not wait for the speech to be completed, nor do they lay evidence of the speech before the prosecuting authorities, which is the normal method; instead, they march on the platform in the middle of the speech and take the speaker away. That recently happened to Mr. Takawira, external affairs secretary of Z.A.P.U., whose case is now the subject of an appeal. One cannot imagine anything more provocative and more deserving of the description of police state which my hon. Friend gave it.
I heard of one incident when a leading American businessman, with prospective big investment in Southern Rhodesia, went to dinner with the editor of an African paper, a well-respected and moderate African. The American wanted to meet some African nationalist politicians. The dinner party was considerably enlivened by a police invasion in the middle of it and most of the evening was spent in his host being interrogated by the police, who suspected that there was an illegal meeting taking place privately. If chat sort of thing does not deserve to be described as the action of a police state, what does?
A disturbing case is being investigated by Mr. Justice Lewis. Stones were thrown through the window of an African house and a masked figure was discovered outside and arrested. It was found that he was a European member of the C.I.D. I do not know the results of the investigation, but there are a great number of disturbing incidents of that kind in Southern Rhodesia at the moment.
One should say in fairness that the judiciary has acted with great independence in these matters and that there has been a succession of adverse decisions against the police. This is no doubt one of the reasons why Sir Edgar Whitehead feels compelled to toughen the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. I ask the First Secretary of State to use his good offices in this matter.
I am told that over the years the police have enjoyed a good reputation and that it is only now, because they are having what amounts to very severe political pressure put upon them by the European minority, that they have got themselves into this situation. One hears stories that if there were to be 83 any O.A.S. type of resistance by the European community it might very well come from inside the police force. I hope that that is not so and that something can be done to reverse this situation before it becomes too late.
I am sure that the only real way in which a much more hopeful situation can be created in Southern Rhodesia is to bring about a much more liberal constitution than the one that was agreed at the conference in the early part of 1961. I think there are strong reasons for urging the Southern Rhodesian Government that it should accept and propose changes in the constitution. The elections are now being postponed until March next year. This means that if the elections were to take place the constitution under which they would be fought will be more than two years old. With the pace of events in Africa as a whole, and, in particular, the changed circumstances in Central Africa over a much more recent period, it is fair to argue that the 1961 constitution has been completely overtaken by events and that there is now a strong and reasonable case for having a new constitution before an election occurs.
In any case, the 1961 constitution was put before this House and also before the electorate in Southern Rhodesia on the basis of a gross miscalculation of what it actually meant in terms of the sharing out of political power. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East mentioned that we in this House understood that this proposal of 15 seats meant the enfranchisement of between 50,000 and 60,000 Africans. Now, the hon. Member for Lancaster says that officials in Southern Rhodesia ace saying that the maximum roll on this basis will probably be about 35,000 or 36,000. In addition, there has been a new census in Southern Rhodesia, which shows that the African population of Southern Rhodesia is a great deal greater than had been thought earlier.
So, in fact, the present constitution will offer the Africans a great deal less than we believed when we passed the necessary legislation through this House. The present arrangements are immensely complicated. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East has quoted the form one has to fill in, and I have looked at 84 one of the more simplified posters displayed in the post offices urging the Africans to register to vote. There, they have produced a series of questions in two columns side by side, and they say to the Africans, "If you can answer 'Yes' to three of the questions on the left and to one of the questions on the right, you will probably be entitled to vote." I am perpetually puzzled that people who are considered too immature for the "one man one vote" principle should be considered capable of tackling a voting system which would baffle any ordinary voter in this country.
I do not wish to take up much more time of the House, which wants to hear what the First Secretary has to say, but I wish to tell him that my impression from the conversations I had in Central Africa, particularly with some of the Nationalist leaders, is that they are anxious to be conciliatory. I believe, and I say this on my own authority, that they will accept an honourable compromise if it were offered them in terms of an advance on present constitution. I think one also has to add that, although they are conciliatory, they also feel pretty desperate, and that was the background to the kind of speech which we had from Mr. Joshua Nkomo at the weekend.
I find it rather humiliating to realise the degree to which the Africans feel deserted by the people in this country, and I think that if the British Government feel embarrassed by the approach made to the United Nations, the answer is that if there had been a more adequate constitutional advance in 1961, the African Nationalists would not have felt that they had to go to the United Nations.
I believe that the First Secretary's job is to try to use his influence to produce a much more liberal constitution. I do not under-estimate the difficulties of his task. I think that he has been left with perhaps the most difficult colonial problem in the whole Commonwealth. He has to ride a tightrope, and move fast enough in order to prevent the Africans resorting to direct action through a feeling of despair, but gradually enough to prevent the Europeans taking fright and resorting to unconstitutional methods of their own.
85 The impression with which I came back was that Sir Edgar Whitehead can be persuaded to make the necessary changes. He has already gone a considerable distance on the social front, and if pressed on the political front, I think he will be willing to give way. I think he can go down in history, if he wishes, as somebody willing, however late, to make the necessary concessions to create a democratic government in Southern Rhodesia and provide an opportunity for economic advance for those Europeans who have a great stake there. The only alternative is to persist in trying to bold an utterly impossible position in an African Continent moving in an headlong advance towards independence.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ The First Secretary of State (Mr. R. A. Butler)
This debate has, to some extent, answered itself. There have been speeches from both sides of the House. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley), was more in tone with that of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who opened the debate, than those of some of my hon. Friends on this side. So that one cannot say that we have not heard every point of view on this very difficult subject.
I should like to endorse some observations of the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). It is most important to have regard to the language we use, not to exaggerate and not to make out that things are going to be more difficult than they are likely to be. Therefore, I hope that the message that will go to Southern Rhodesia from this debate is that this debate has been initiated by the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends with a view to being helpful and not to make things more difficult. If that is the spirit in which the debate is accepted, let us hope that it may have a useful effect.
One also ought to endorse what the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw said about Southern Rhodesia not being a police State. I think that is a grave exaggeration, and I should not like to stand at this Box without repudiating that statement and saying that I think it is an exaggeration.
§ Mr. Healey
Would the right hon. Gentleman at least accept that this was 86 the view of the Chief Justice of Southern Rhodesia himself, who resigned two years ago, because of one of the Acts of which we complain?
§ Mr. Butler
Everybody has the highest regard for the Chief Justice, whom I have met on several occasions. We all know his liberal-minded approach to this question, and I would not wish to bring him into this debate, but to leave him to act and speak on his own, with the respect which he deserves. I am sure that all sides of the House respect Sir Robert Tredgold for his influence and all that he has said and done, and what influence he can bring to bear.
§ Mr. Butler
I do not accept that it is a police State, and I do not propose to give way to the hon. Gentleman.
So much for the wisdom of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, which I thought we must follow up. He also pointed out that the Constitution had been agreed, and I shall be mentioning that in my speech, but, before I go any further, I ought, in particular, to refer to the contrast drawn about the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government for this or that part of the world. I must remind the House that the responsibility for the internal affairs of the territory was delegated by Parliament as long ago as 1923, and since then, Southern Rhodesia has been a self-governing Colony. Even the reserved powers retained for Her Majesty's Government under the present Constitution —or "old" Constitution, as it is called— were not invoked. Therefore, there are limits beyond which I cannot go in answering the debate. However, I will give the House all the information I can and do my best to indicate that I have listened to all the constructive suggestions made, even if I cannot answer all of them at the Box this afternoon.
Several references have been made to the debate in the General Assembly. Her Majesty's Government will always heed and pay attention to the United Nations and its resolutions. This was a serious debate, as has been said, but we must continue to make apparent the exact constitutional degree of responsibility which we have in this matter. I was 87 asked why we did not put into effect the United Nations resolution in respect of Southern Rhodesia. For reasons which I have stated, we have made it plain that we regard this resolution as ultra vires and unacceptable. That is why we took no part in voting on the resolution. In passing, I must draw the attention of the House to certain features of the resolution which are either impracticable or untimely.
The resolution is impracticable because it calls upon us to convene another constitutional conference. This we have no power to do without the agreement of the Southern Rhodesian Government. The resolution is untimely because this new Constitution was drawn up last year with the approval of all the parties, except the Dominion Party—that is the party on the Right—as a compromise arrangement which should be given a fair trial, and this it should be given. Our information is that the Southern Rhodesian Government does not want to rescind the Constitution but wishes to make it work.
The resolution also calls for the removal of racial discriminatory legislation. This has already been done or is in process of being swept away. I am glad that several acknowledgements have been made this afternoon to the achievements of Sir Edgar Whitehead in this respect. Speaking as lately as 17th July, he said:… it is necessary and vital that we repeal the Land Apportionment Act and racial discrimination.He added:Africans have got to feel they belong".Now I come to the Constitution itself. When the Constitution was passed, the following passage occurred in the Constitutional Conference Report to which all except one European party, the Dominion Party, subscribed:Having regard to these widely held views and aspirations it was not surprising that no group was able to secure the agreement of the Conference to the particular system it favoured. Nevertheless, while maintaining their respective positions, all groups (with the exception of the representatives of the Dominion Party) considered that the scheme … should be introduced.That was in 1961.
There have been several references to recent developments in Southern 88 Rhodesia. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), also in the spirit which has been shown by many speakers in the debate, paid tribute to development in Southern Rhodesia, but he said that in the last few years there had been signs of things going either the wrong way, or the other way. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) said that we should take pride in the fact that the European majority, a dominant section of racial interest, should have taken the steps it did by agreeing to the new Constitution.
I think that, however much we may criticise this Constitution, we should recognise that it represents a very big change in Southern Rhodesian attitudes and a considerable advance for the Africans. What is at stake in this debate and what was discussed so freely before the audience of the world at the United Nations is whether it goes far enough. We should all agree—and this is my answer to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland—that it was a very notable advance and was later endorsed by a referendum. It is one of the few oases in history in which a race described as dominant, although not dominant in numbers, has itself decreed that there should be changes which, I believe, in the course of years will be found to be almost revolutionary.
So we proceed from that basis and not from a basis like Algeria. I take care to say with all responsibility that I hope that we shall not draw parallels with any country, Algeria in particular, because there is a spirit in Southern Rhodesia of which great advantage can be taken. There is a multi-racial experiment in Southern Rhodesia which deserves the support and, indeed, the admiration of the House.
I do not intend to dwell on all aspects of the Constitution because my predecessors have discussed it at length. It is incredibly complicated and I sympathise very much about the forms which the hon. Member for Leeds, East waved to show me their complexity and to show what an African, for example, is obliged to understand before he is even able to take up a vote.
It is not the case that fifteen "B"-roll seats are the only seats which can be won by Africans. Secondly, what has 89 been very much misunderstood in studying the Constitution is the effect of the "B"-roll votes on the "A"-roll seats. The "B"-roll vote can influence "A"-roll elections up to one quarter of the "A"-roll vote. If there are two "A"-roll contenders, namely, Europeans, it may be that it is only the one who courts the African vote who will be elected. Therefore, it is perfectly possible for more than fifteen seats to be won, or at any rate influenced, by the Africans. The franchise arrangements were designed to encourage a multi-racial approach in politics, but they also have the effect, as things have developed, of making the Assembly sensitive to the changing character of the electorate. That is why I think that Mr. Nkomo and his party would be well advised to fight the elections.
What I must confess to the House as disappointing is the number of registrations. I studied these when I was in Southern Rhodesia and I watched with some interest the progress with which registration was taking place. There are only some 12,000 on the register at present, but I gather that they are continuing to come in at the rate of 300 to 500 a week. So far as I am concerned, this is the only good point about the postponement of the election, because it will enable more registration to take place up to a level which is more reasonable. I notice the earnest desire of Sir Edgar Whitehead and his administration and those who work with him in the "Build the Nation" campaign and everybody else to see as many as possible registered.
What is not realised by the United Nations, or by the House in the debates which have taken place so far, is that the Constitution contains within itself provision for change, and not in any regressive way. Any attempt to deprive Africans of the political advancement— small as some people may think it to be —under this Constitution will fail unless the Africans themselves approve such a course in a referendum in which all four racial groups have voted separately. On the other hand, a widening of the franchise can be performed comparatively easily by a two-thirds majority and I give the House this quotation about the future from Sir Edgar Whitehead himself speaking at a Press conference on 19th June when he said: 90I have always visualised that, as circumstances change, so the people of this country will decide to change their Constitution, as provided in the Constitution.If we are to look with hope on the future, we must have some regard to the educational and financial considerations upon which the franchise was based. The hon. Member for Leeds, East was bind enough to refer to a speech of mine in which I referred to education. I do not think that it has been sufficiently realised what a great drive forward in education has been made in Southern Rhodesia. Sir Edgar Whitehead said the other day that 95 per cent. of the African children attended the first five years of primary school. That is a considerable achievement, root only in terms of expenditure, which is gravely burdening the Southern Rhodesian Budget, but also of dedication.
What has now to be done is to increase the percentages and the scale, particularly in secondary education. That is appreciated and that is why the Southern Rhodesian Government is so anxious about the budgetary provision for education when it looks at what will be meant by adding to this very considerable primary understructure the necessary secondary superstructure without which this will not have the great meaning we intend it to have. The Southern Rhodesian Government are as aware of the desirability of this as anyone in this House.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire referred to financial matters. I only refer to this because I am looking at the prosperity angle to see, for example, how many Africans can get on the "A"-roll as things develop. The truth is that things have been developing towards greater prosperity. The gross domestic product has risen from about £173 million in 1954 to about £296 million in 1961, and during this period the average earnings of Africans increased by over half as much again. The Southern Rhodesian Government are hoping to make the minimum industrial wage double what it was in May 1960; they are the first to recognise that this is still not nearly high enough. I am glad that one hon. Gentleman referred to Mr. Abrahamson, the Minister of Labour, than whom I think there is no more efficient Minister in Southern Rhodesia.
91 Her Majesty's Government want to give Southern Rhodesia all the help that they can, subject to the absolutely clear constitutional and legal position, which it is no good under-estimating because it has behind it the sanction of operation since 1923, and therefore all the more force of legal opinion behind it. If it had been introduced a year or two ago, it would have been easier to ignore, but we must face the facts as we know them.
Southern Rhodesia is going through a particularly difficult period, economically, and we are anxious, therefore, that the great progress in education and rural development to which she has set her hand and upon which African advancement and well being so greatly depends should not be jeopardised. We have already offered Southern Rhodesia a £355,000 loan from the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds to assist in maintaining African educational progress, and we are at the moment sympathetically considering other ways in which we might help. Southern Rhodesia has put herself ahead of most other African countries educationally, but in a country like this real progress can come only from co-operation between the races.
Fortunately, we have recently had a long and complete speech from Sir Edgar Whitehead. In the budget debate he said this on the subject of racial co-operation:… if there is any attempt made to reestablish white supremacy, to re-establish distinctions wholly on the ground of colour and for no other reason, then we are bound and doomed to fail. All the difference between success and failure in our venture will depend on how honest and sincere we are in carrying out the principles we preach …That was said only a few days ago by the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. I was therefore glad to be able to read it to the House in case hon. Members had not seen it in the Press. I was also glad to know that Sir Edgar said that he was not satisfied that there was enough contact between the races. If this is the position, and if we respect the constitutional position that arises between Her Majesty's Government and Southern Rhodesia, I come to the three questions put by the hon. Member for Leeds, East who asked what I could do.
92 The hon. Gentleman's second question relates strictly to what I have been saying, namely, whether influence could be brought to bear to bring Sir Edgar and Mr. Nkomo together. Any influence that can legitimately be brought to bear in that direction will be. They are already in touch, and I think that they know and respect each other. Anything that can be done by conversations between them will, I am sure, be achieved.
In his first question the hon. Gentleman asked that no further reduction in British responsibility should be undertaken unless certain advances were made in representative Government. I shall have to examine the position juridically. I see no reason why I should not examine it, but I cannot give any further answer to it today.
On the question of the detainees or restrictees—which I believe is the correct phrase because they are kept at Gokwe in a large area where they have comparative liberty of life and no guards— I should like to refer to the case of George Nyandoro. I took care to obtain information about this before answering this debate. With regard to the slipped disc from which he is suffering, I understand that he has now specifically nominated a South African surgeon from whom he is willing to receive treatment. The Southern Rhodesian authorities will allow him to travel to South Africa for the operation if he can get clearance from the South African Government. That is his choice, and that is the provision of the Southern Rhodesian authorities. He seemed not very inclined to consult a Federal doctor. The word "Federal" is very often a naughty word, but I should like to pay tribute to the standard of the doctors and their knowledge of medicine in the area known as the Federation, which one always has to describe with great care. Nevertheless, he has made up his mind, and I hope that this will mean that he will get relief from his disability.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East referred to a speech that I made on 10th July. While that speech does not come entirely under the umbrella of this debate, as the hon. Gentleman mentioned it I should like to say this in regard to it, and in regard to any reactions which there may have been among African leaders or anybody else. The 93 hon. Gentleman was kindly in his reference and interpretation, and I should like to follow it by saying that on 10th July I had no intention of giving the impression that any final decisions had been reached. I adhere to the general statement that I made in the House on 8th May, to which I stuck throughout my tour of Central Africa, and to which I stick now.
My advisers have reached the area of Central Africa and have started their tour. I think that it will be a thousand pities if those who are passionately interested, as the African leaders are, in their own future and in the future of the country they love, are not willing to meat my advisers and give them their views so that when they return I can have a dispassionate view. I repeat now that no final decisions have been made, and that therefore they are perfectly at liberty to see the advisers and give their opinions so that I can sort them out at leisure. It is too difficult a subject to rush into or make decisions on without great reflection. The fact that the hon. Gentleman referred to this had given me the opportunity of saying that.
The Southern Rhodesians are out to achieve a non-racial society. Without external pressures bearing down on them I believe that they will achieve this. That is why I have been concerned about the tone of the United Nations debates. I do not doubt the sincerity of many of the countries taking part in them, or the sincerity of their observations. I met the Foreign Minister of Nigeria and several others who took part in the debate and no one could possibly doubt their sincerity or their great knowledge of this complex problem which astounds me after the amount of time and thought that I have given to it. But there are some, particularly the Communist bloc, who see in this subject a magnificent opportunity for causing trouble.
For countries who do not know Central Africa and have no contact with it and no contact with those who live there, there is the danger of falling into the trap of over-simplification of the problem. Account must be taken in Southern Rhodesia not only of the fact that there is what is called a European minority, but that a special form of experiment, the multi-racial one, is being 94 worked out. I am so keen to see the African parties taking part in the elections that my main fear is that the United Nations resolution can do real harm in hardening attitudes, in encouraging intransigence, and in widening the gap between the races. I hope that this debate, on the other hand, while taking account of the difficulties and the effort that will be needed to surmount them, will do something to forward rather than hold back a great experiment.