§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
In calling the next Amendment, in page 7, line 1, I should like to make clear that the Amendment in page 7, line 2, at end insert:Provided that no such person as aforesaid shall be liable to be returned to South Africa if the offence in respect of which the warrant or provisional warrant has been endorsed or issued is one of a political character or if he prove to the satisfaction of the police magistrate or the court before whom he is brought on habeas corpus, or to the Secretary of State, that the requisition for his surrender has in fact 1614 been made with a view to try or punish him for an offence of a political character.in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) has not been selected but can be adequately discussed with this Amendment.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Peter Thomas)
I beg to move, in page 7, line 1, after "snail", to insert:unless the offence is not an offence under the law of the country or territory in which the warrant was so endorsed or issued".During our discussions of the Bill in Committee, hon. Members on both sides expressed concern over the possibility that even during the short transitional period to which this provision of the Bill applies there might be a case in which the return of an alleged offender might be requested for an offence which was not an offence in the territory which was being asked to surrender the fugitive. Hon. Members opposite referred particularly to offences against legislation involving racial discrimination, and an Amendment was tabled by the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells) to exclude such offences from the provisions of paragraph 1 of the Third Schedule. It is fair to say that it was evident from the discussion in Committee that what the Committee in general was concerned about was the disparity between offences in South Africa and offences in the High Commission Territories.
I think that the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North would agree that the Amendment which he proposed did not entirely meet the point and it had some defects from the point of view of drafting. In view of the concern expressed by the Committee, with which we on this side sympathise, I undertook to put forward a more suitable Amendment on Report. This is that Amendment, and I think that it adequately covers the fears that hon. Members expressed in Committee. I hope, therefore, that the House will approve of it.
I gather that we can discuss the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) which has not been selected, and perhaps I can assist the hon. and learned Member on the matter. This is a starred Amendment, and I have not had a great 1615 deal of time to study it in detail. It appears to me that what the hon. and learned Member bas done is to take his Amendment practically straight out of the Extradition Act, 1870, but I understand that the principle behind it is that no alleged offender should be returned if the offence could be considered to be a political offence within the meaning of "political offence" in the 1870 Act.
§ Mr. D. Foot
§ Mr. Thomas
The Government are just as anxious as the hon. and learned Member, and indeed most hon. Members, that no one should be surrendered to South Africa under the Fugitive Offenders Act if there is a genuine doubt whether it would be unjust and unfair that he should stand his trial there. The only question is whether there is any such cause for anxiety. In our view, the safeguards which are contained at the moment in Section 10 of Part I and Section 19 of Part II of the Fugitive Offenders Act give all the guarantees that are necessary. In the past there has been no question of anyone being returned for a political offence or, indeed, an offence involving racial discrimination, as I mentioned in Committee, but to meet the misgivings expressed in Committee I have moved the Amendment, which I hope will be accepted by the House.
I should have thought that the Amendment contains all the safeguards that are necessary. Even in the unlikely event in the next nine weeks—for that is all it is—of a case arising to which the Government Amendment would not apply, the accused person, in a proper case, would be able to claim the benefit of Section 19 of Part II of the 1870 Act. I have considered this matter and if there genuinely is cause for anxiety I can say that the Government certainly accept the principle behind the Amendment.
The hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that even if the Amendment had been selected, I could not have accepted it. It might be appropriate for an extradition Act but it would not be appropriate under the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881. The differences are minor, and I make no issue on that.
But I accept the spirit of the Amendment and I am therefore able to save him the burden of making another 1616 speech. He has made a very thoughtful and effective speech already today. I will undertake to introduce another Amendment when this matter is being considered in another place which will meet the purpose and spirit behind his Amendment.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. D. Foot
I wish to thank the Under-Secretary of State for the way in which he has met my Amendment in advance. He has relieved me of the burden of inflicting another speech on the House, and perhaps I should content myself with one or two sentences.
The law is different according to whether the person sought to be extradited comes from a Commonwealth country or from a foreign country. If it is a foreign country the matter is governed by the Extradition Act. If it is a Commonwealth country it is governed by the Fugitive Offenders Act. The provisions are not quite the same. It is true that there are very valuable safeguards against someone being unjustly returned to a Commonwealth country, but this specific provision protecting the political offender does not appear in the Fugitive Offenders Act. This difference was remarked upon only a few weeks ago in a case which was heard in the House of Lords, with which the hon. Member is no doubt familiar, and in which it was sought to repatriate alleged offenders to Cyprus. It therefore seems to me that the provisions in the Extradition Act go rather further even than those in the Fugitive Offenders Act.
Within a few weeks the Extradition Act will apply between this country and South Africa. It would be rather an anomalous situation if a warrant were issued in respect of someone who would be entitled to the protection given in the Extradition Act within a matter of weeks or days but who would be denied it simply because at the moment the proceedings happen to go before a magistrates' court. For that reason I put down the Amendment, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for the way in which he has met it.
§ Mr. W. Wells
I rise only to thank the Under-Secretary of State for carrying out the undertaking which he gave in Committee when I moved the two 1617 Amendments to which he referred. The Amendment on the Order Paper appears to deal with the situation quite adequately, except in relation to the political offences, as to which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) put down his Amendment. This is a gap because of the difference between the Extradition Act and the Fugitive Offenders Act, and I feel that it would be very unsatisfactory, for the same reasons as I urged in Committee in relation to the other group of offences, to rely on Sections 10 and 19 of the Fugitive Offenders Act alone in this matter. I am glad that the Under-Secretary of State has given an undertaking to introduce an Amendment at another stage.
§ Mr. Brockway
We are so vigorously opposed to many of the proposals in the Bill that it is a pleasure to welcome the concessions which have been made. In Committee the Minister promised that he would introduce the Amendment which he has moved. He will remember that in Committee I made the point about the difference between the Fugitive Offenders Act and the Extradition Act and that I then said that if he would consult the Commonwealth Relations Office he would find that in recent months this difficulty had arisen in relation to political offences about certain refugees. It was only because I was asked in a confidential way during that period not to make it public that I did not refer to the matter in more definite terms, but it is exactly the point which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) has raised of the difference between the Extradition Act and the Fugitive Offenders Act.
I welcome the concession which has been made and I welcome still more the promise that when the Bill is sent to another place a further Amendment will be introduced.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The House should congratulate my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) on his suggestion and the Government on being a great deal more co-operative than they have been in other parts of the Bill.
When he is considering this question again in another place, I hope that the Minister will consider whether it is 1618 necessary in his draft to use the double negative which is so appalling to non-lawyers—Unless the offence is not an offence".I hope that he will find it possible to say,If the offence is an offence".If he can do so, I am sure that the non-lawyers will be very grateful.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. P. Thomas
I beg to move, in page 8, line 13, at the end to insert:and the power of Her Majesty to revoke or vary Orders in Council under the said Act and under section four of the Solicitors' Act, 1957, shall include power to revoke or vary the Order of 1919 so far as continued in force by this paragraph.I hope that this will not be a very contentious Amendment. The House will have noticed the Orders which are mentioned in paragraph 5 (2) of the Third Schedule. Under the third of those Orders—the Order dated 6th May (S.R. & O. 1938 No. 495)—a South African attorney who seeks admission as a solicitor in England and Wales must passthe final examination in law and the examination in trust accounts and bookkeeping for applicants for admission in England.I am told that new regulations have been made by the Law Society since the introduction of the Bill, under which the present examinations will be replaced on 1st January, 1963, by newly-designed examinations. The present examinations which a South African attorney has to pass to be admitted as a solicitor here will not be identifiable among the examinations to be held in future. Paragraph 5 of the Third Schedule is intended to enable South African attorneys to be admitted here if they have already taken overt steps to make clear their intention, and I am sure that the House agrees that it would be unfortunate if, as a result of the Law Society modernising the form of its examinations, some South Africans who are intended to benefit by the provisions of paragraph 5 were not able to do so.
Some South Africans may be able to pass the present examinations before the end of the year, but if there are any South African attorneys who have recently started to qualify they will not be able to pass those examinations in time. The Amendment is accordingly 1619 designed to preserve the power further to amend the Order of 1919 as continued by paragraph 5, so as to provide that a South African attorney who passes the appropriate parts of the new examination qualifies for admission as a solicitor in England.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. P. Thomas
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
First I should like to say that this has been an interesting Bill and our deliberations have been very thorough. I should like to congratulate hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House on the way in which they have dealt not only thoroughly but expeditiously with what indeed is quite a complicated Bill. We have tried to meet the wishes of hon. Members in many particulars. Some Amendments have been made in accordance with representations, and I think that as a consequence the Bill has been improved.
In the course of our deliberations it has become clear that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have, probably not surprisingly, looked at the Bill from a point of view different from that of the Government. That was not because we take a different standpoint about the South African Government's racial policies—in fact those who have cared to remind themselves of our statements on this issue in the past know that there is very little difference in our views about these policies—but it is rather because the Opposition have regarded the Bill as a statement of political policy. To some extent they clearly have wished to use it as an instrument to give effect to a policy aimed primarily at helping the people opposed to apartheid and not helping, if I may put it that way, the Government that applies it.
We regard the Bill differently. We do not see it as a declaration or instrument of political opinion. It is not intended to be that, and it is not that. Its purpose is to regulate the application of United Kingdom law as it applies to South Africa. It seeks to regulate it in such a way that those human and material interests which it seems right to preserve are preserved. But it preserves them only so far as it is possible to do so without allowing South Africa, as a 1620 Government, a country or a people to continue enjoying either indefinitely or in full measure those benefits of Commonwealth membership which are exclusive to members of the Commonwealth.
This difference in approach lies behind many—indeed, I think all—of the Amendments which we have not felt able to accept among those proposed by the Opposition. It explains also why we have not felt able to accept some proposed by right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House.
Some of the most debated provisions—and in public certainly the most discussed—have been those on nationality. I think it is right to say that not just in this House but outside there have been one or two misunderstandings about the provisions of the Bill, and it may be of assistance if I take this opportunity to try to clear up one or two of those misconceptions.
First, I should like to make it clear that the fact that we have not felt able to agree to any suggestions for widening the scope of the transitional nationality concessions does not mean that we are insensible to the feelings which have inspired them. I am sure that I speak for the House when I say that we feel sympathy towards those individuals in South Africa who value the Commonwealth link that has now been broken and who may regret the loss of their British nationality. Indeed, it is because we feel this sympathy that we have made the transitional provisions in the First Schedule.
In forming those concessions, we have had to bear in mind two cardinal principles: first, that it would be wrong to treat the citizens of South Africa better than Commonwealth citizens, and, secondly, that the provisions are in fact a special exception to the normal principles which we must retain in our nationality law and such an exception can be justified only as a temporary measure.
It has been suggested in some quarters and on both sides of the House that we should have widened the qualifications for registration. But that would have given South African citizens privileges possessed by no Commonwealth citizens. What we have done in the Bill 1621 is merely to extend to South African citizens for a fixed period after 30th May, 1962, the same privileges in relation to registration under the British Nationality Act that they enjoyed before that date and that they enjoyed along with all other Commonwealth citizens.
It has also been suggested that we should remove the time limit altogether. To do that would be to create a perpetual anomaly. After all, as a result of this Bill South African citizens who have no other source of British nationality will be aliens, and we could not indefinitely ignore the fact that for aliens naturalisation and not registration is the normal avenue to the citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. We have already gone a long way in allowing them the privilege of registration for three-and-a-half years with a potential further five years' grace for those whose eligibility for registration depends on completing a qualifying period of residence or service.
There has, I think, also been some misunderstanding about the reason why we have not given this period of grace to South Africans registering on grounds of descent. close connection with and intention to reside in the United Kingdom and Colonies: that is, those applying under Section 12 (6) of the British Nationality Act. I should like again to make it clear that this is not because we consider them less deserving of sympathy but simply because in their case there is no qualifying period of residence or service. They do not therefore need that extra time.
There has also, I think, been some misunderstanding about the qualifications for declaring an intent eventually to apply for registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies under the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of the First Schedule. It may be of some assistance if I try to clarify this again. Up to the end of 1965, any South African citizen who will not be able to complete his qualifying period of registration before that date may secure for himself the necessary time in which to get qualified by giving notice at any time before the end of 1965 of his intention to apply for registration. At the time of giving the notice, he must be either ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom or a Colony or a Protectorate, 1622 or in any Crown service, or serving under an international organisation of which the United Kingdom Government is a member, or in the employment of a society, company or body of persons established in the United Kingdom, a Colony or a Protectorate.
There is no precise definition of the phrase "ordinarily resident". Whether or not a person is ordinarily resident can be determined only by reference to the full circumstances of his own case. But, roughly speaking, a person is ordinarily resident in the country in which he makes his home. It is not impossible, therefore, that a person might become ordinarily resident virtually on the first day on which he takes up his residence, although of course it would not generally be possible to establish this except in the light of subsequent events. One could think of many instances. It is quite clear that when a man goes into a house he is ordinarily resident in that house—possibly someone coming from South Africa who has bought a house to retire to. That is a good example, but much depends on the circumstances of the particular case.
There is, therefore, no specific period for which a person must have been in residence or in qualifying service before he is eligible to declare his intention to apply for registration. In fact, so far as Crown service or the other types of service are concerned, he could declare his intention on the first day of entering the service. The main thing is that before he can actually apply for registration he must have completed the qualifying period under the British Nationality Act and as far as this is concerned, it makes no difference at what point in the qualifying period notice of intention may happen to have been given. That qualifying period will be five years if the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, as at present drafted, becomes law.
Some individuals may be allowed to register after a shorter period than this, but this is at the discretion of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary if there are special circumstances in the case. It may well be that many people will be able to complete the qualifying period within a year or two of making their declaration of intention. If so, they can apply for registration then. But everyone will have five years from the moment 1623 of declaring their intention in which to apply. After that, they will be too late.
These provisions for nationality are complicated and people who are interested, and in particular people who are affected by these provisions, are obviously anxious to understand them. I hope, therefore, that what I have said may help to clear up some of the misunderstanding and also to demonstrate that, although we must draw the line somewhere, in this Bill we have drawn it fairly
Perhaps it might be of assistance if I mention briefly a further concession which we have decided to accord South African citizens. As was explained during the Second Reading debate in response to a point raised by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), South Africans entering this country after 30th May next will be subject to the Aliens Order. We have decided, however, that, for a transitional period lasting until the end of this year, they should be exempted from any obligation to which they might otherwise be subject under the police registration provisions of the Order.
In other respects, they will, of course, be subject to the normal requirements of the Aliens control and will have to obtain leave to land from an immigration officer on arrival. But we felt that it would help to soften the impact of their change of status under United Kingdom law if they were excused for a limited period from compliance with the registration procedure.
The exemption will be conferred by a statutory direction which will, in due course, be made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary under the Aliens Order. The ultimate position will be that any South African citizen in this country on 1st January, 1963, whose permitted stay is at that date subject to a time limit, will become liable to register with the police either on the 1st January, 1963 or, if a visitor, at the expiry of three months from the date of arrival in this country, whichever is the later.
South African citizens already here on 31st May, 1962, will not, so long as they remain in this country, become subject to any such time limit. It follow that these people will remain 1624 free from any obligation to register with the police as long as they remain in this country.
§ Mr. Brockway
Again I welcome that concession, but I should not like to make a final comment on it until I have seen the OFFICIAL REPORT of what the hon. Gentleman has said, because this is a complicated subject. The difficulty in giving these powers to immigration officers lies in the distinction they will draw between one immigrant and another. This will become more complicated now that we have the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. I do not say this in a bad spirit, but there will be an inevitable tendency of prejudice against South African immigrants who are coloured, as opposed to those who are of the white race. Will some instructions be given to the immigration officers on this matter? I say this without any racial spirit, but one knows that these things do happen. I ask for some assurance that instructions will be given to immigration officials.
§ Mr. Thomas
My hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, Home Office, tells me that instructions have been given, and that immigration officers have not only received them but that they do not exercise discrimination. I am rather sorry that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough introduced that note. My hon. and learned Friend tells me that this matter was dealt with in the White Paper. I see the point put by the hon. Member, but any fears he may have had have been, I hope, allayed by the fact that the immigration officers have already received their instructions in the matter.
I do not propose to take more of the House's time in discussing in detail other provisions in the Bill or the other provisions in the Bill or the other Amendments that have been made. Many of them are merely the technical tying up of loose ends. The Amendments made to the provisions on merchant shipping certificates of competence and to the provisions for solicitors are particular cases in point. The Amendment made to the provisions on the indication of origin of goods is slightly more, but not much more, than a technical change.
1625 Other Amendments have been made to meet misgivings expressed by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. These include the change to the reference to South-West Africa so as to refer to it as the Mandated Territory of South-West Africa, and the addition to the provision concerning fugitive offenders so as to exclude from its operation offences which are not offences in the territory from which the return of the offender is requested. The other Amendment I have mentioned will be moved at a later stage, and I cannot refer to that on Third Reading.
As I have said, I think that the Bill is now a better Bill, and I hope that it will commend itself to the House as a reasonable compromise between all the conflicting interests and points of view which have had to be taken into account in our sad task of deciding how our legislation should now bear on South Africa and its citizens.
I hope that the House will give the Bill a Third Reading.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The Joint Under-Secretary of State performed a service by clarifying the position under the nationality Clauses of the Bill. Some of his statement gave a liberal interpretation to its provisions which was certainly welcome on this side of the House. He began by congratulating both sides on a pointed, keen and expeditious approach to the Bill in Committee and on Second Reading.
I wish that I could have felt that our talents and qualities in this direction had had a better harvest, but, with a few exceptions, the Bill today is just as bad as it was on Second Reading. We did Our best in Committee to persuade the Government to accept a number of Amendments which would have removed some serious and objectionable features from the Bill, and on one or two small points we had success. But, in general, we still have the same objections to the Bill as we had on Second Reading.
Today we welcome the concession on the question of fugitive offenders, and the hon. Gentleman also referred to the very small Amendment he made on the subject of the position of South-West Africa. That Amendment did not go as far as we wanted it to. It was an admission of guilt without an explanation of 1626 sin. I think that we were amply justified in our very strong attack on the Government on Second Reading for this misunderstanding of the position of South-West Africa in relation to the Bill.
§ Mr. P. Thomas
The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) is not being very fair when he says that it was an admission of guilt. The Amendment on South-West Africa was put forward purely to meet the fears expressed by hon. Members opposite. In Committee I said over and over again that it was not necessary, and that is still our view, but in order to allay the fears of hon. Members opposite, we amended the Bill in that way.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Perhaps it was a little ungenerous of me to voice publicly what was my private suspicion. I do not suggest that the Government had any intention of altering the status of South-West Africa in terms of the Bill, but what we were worried about was that consciously or otherwise they were opening themselves to serious misunderstanding about the way they treated South-West Africa under the Bill. The Government have to watch their step in this matter in view of their record on South-West Africa at the United Nations and elsewhere in recent months and over the last year or two.
The theme of the Minister's speech was that there were two different approaches to the Bill. That of the Government was that this was an entirely non-political matter whereas, he said, the Opposition considered it in a political context. That is true and fair, and I insist that the trouble with the Bill is that we cannot isolate it from its political contacts. We cannot pretend that it is a political matter of lawyers tidying up a few odds and ends as a result of South Africa's decision to leave the Commonwealth. By its very nature the whole subject is full of difficult political and psychological features. The Government have blundered into the Bill and it is inevitably a political Bill and its political effects are bad.
The Minister said that giving nationality privileges in these circumstances was wrong. We have here a strange paradox. Here is the Minister saying that it is wrong to give nationality privileges under the Bill, because South Africa has left the Commonwealth, 1627 while the Opposition are saying that it is wrong to give privileges of Commonwealth Preference and the sugar subsidy to the South African Government.
Yet there is a distinction between the effect of Clause 1 on the individual and the real genuine human tragedies which can ensue, and the subsidy of £2.7 million to the sugar growers of South Africa because the Government refuse to let the South African Government carry the can for South Africa's transitional economic difficulties. There is a great difference of approach and we would say that while in principle Clause 1 is right, in practice it will mean extending a privilege not to all South Africans, but only to those who can make use of Clause 1 and who can register. In practice, there is a section of the South African people who will not be able to take advantage of Clause 1 and who are precisely the people whom we most want to help and who are most morally entitled to our help in the situation in which they find themselves. These are the people who never wanted to leave the Commonwealth, who have opposed apartheid and who might not be able to use the provisions of Clause 1. That is why we tried to amend it and that is why we regret that the Government found it impossible to accept our Amendments to it.
The basic trouble with the Bill is that the Union of South Africa no longer pays the Commonwealth subscription but continues to use the club rooms free. That is the state of play. The Bill shows that the people in South Africa who were afraid of leaving the Commonwealth because of the political and economic effects of leaving have been proved wrong by the British Government, while those in the Union who argued that the bother and loss of leaving it was nothing like as great as the pro-Commonwealth people were saying have been proved right by the British Government. That is a very bad precedent, apart from anything else. By cheapening the Commonwealth idea in this way, the Government have created a dangerous precedent.
We hope that no member of the Commonwealth will be so misguided as to leave the Commonwealth; but, supposing that another country does, are we to assume that the Government will do the 1628 same thing again? To take an extreme case, let us assume that a member of the Commonwealth goes Communist and leaves the Commonwealth. We hope and believe that that will never happen, but will the Government then maintain Commonwealth Preference for that country? Will back benchers opposite insist that such a country should continue to enjoy not only Commonwealth Preference, but a sugar subsidy of £2.7 million? I cannot think that this is the right way to go about it. The Government are wrong to grant these concessions to South Africa of all nations.
Discussion has ranged around how valuable these preferences are. It is our view that these preferences do not in practice amount to very much from the economic point of view, but politically and as a symbol they are of considerable importance. I do not need to repeat the figures quoted by many of my hon. Friends in Committee to show how very small these preferences are. They were described by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which said:The preferences given to British goods in South Africa are so small and confined to so narrow a range of goods that their entire abolition would have negligible effects, save perhaps in some branches of trade in electrical goods.We object that they are nevertheless still a symbol of Commonwealth membership and we feel that the Government are blind to these political and psychological factors which are of considerable importance.
One new thing Which emerged in Committee was that these preferences would not outlast the signature of the Rome Treaty by the United Kingdom, if that took place. We were told by the Lord Privy Seal and the Minister quite plainly and, in a way, quite casually that they were not going to negotiate with the Six on behalf of South Africa. That is satisfactory to us. They said that the South African Government completely understood that membership of the Rome Treaty and the Common Market would not be compatible with many of these preferences.
It was a queer paradox to see the Government arguing on the one hand how important these preferences were and how they must be maintained at all costs in the interests of South Africa and British importers, while, on the other, when considering them in the context of 1629 the Common Market, casualty and lightly saying that they would all disappear if we signed the Rome Treaty. We are not advocating economic pressure and sanctions against the Union, but there is no reason why a country which has left the Commonwealth of its own accord should enjoy these privileges.
I regard as the worst feature of the Bill the fact that we are to continue in practice to pay £2.7 million of the sugar subsidy to the Union. In Committee when we discussed this issue we had no answer from the Government which satisfied us in the slightest. The Government said that we must not cause undue hardship in Natal and other sugar growing areas of the Union by suddenly cutting the price of their sugar from £44 to £20 a ton. The Minister said that that would be wrong. His words were:The agreement … gives them time to adjust themselves to the new situation and to develop alternative markets for their sugar."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 13th March, 1962; c. 113.]That is what our £27 million will do.
We on this side of the House agree that something needs to be done to prevent extreme hardship to the sugar producing interests. What we wonder is which Government are responsible for this. Is the helping of these sugar producers through their transitional difficulties the responsibility of the British Government, or the responsibility of the Union Government? Surely common sense suggests that the Union Government, who took the decision to leave the Commonwealth, and in whose territory the sugar producers operate, must have known in advance the consequences of their action on the sugar industry and they should see these people through their transitional difficulties, and not the British taxpayer and British consumer. The Government's attitude that this is our responsibility seems to me to need a good deal more argument in support of it than we heard in Committee.
We say that we should not sugar the pill for South Africa leaving the Commonwealth. We have a responsibility in connection with Swaziland, which is still a member of the Commonwealth, and Swaziland will suffer under the sugar arrangements laid down in the Bill. 1630 Swaziland will suffer because she will get not £45 a ton as all the other members of the Sugar Conference will get, but only £35 15s. Moreover, she will get this help not until 1969 as other Commonwealth members of the Sugar Agreement will, but only until 1966.
Why should this Bill penalise Swaziland? Why should she be penalised because South Africa has left the Commonwealth? Under this Bill South Africa is being treated better than a foreign country, which we find anomalous, and Swaziland is being treated worse than a Commonwealth country. This must be wrong, and I think we all agree that the proper thing to do is to discriminate between South Africa, which is not in the Commonwealth, and Swaziland which is.
That must be the right approach, and the Government are going to accept it not now, but in 1966, when they will have to decide what to do. In that year the Government will have to consider their obligations to Swaziland, and it is as certain as anything can be that the Government will find that they will have to help Swaziland, and have no obligation or need to help South Africa. Therefore, in 1966 they will do what they ought to do now. They will discriminate in favour of Swaziland against other countries of the world, including the Union of South Africa. Why cannot we face today the problem that we will have to face in 1966? Why cannot we treat Swaziland now in the way that I believe we shall treat her in 1966?
We found the Bill bad enough when we looked at it in Committee, but I go back to what I said at the beginning, and say that the principle and broad context of the Bill are basically wrong. The Government said that they did not mean this Bill to be political; that it was just an administrative or legislative matter. But of course it is not, and it reflects the unsatisfactory attitude and policy towards the Union of South Africa which the Government have shown in other matters in recent years.
It would not be in order to discuss the question raised successfully enough by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), namely, the dual representation that we have in Pretoria, nor, I think, the question of diplomatic representation which 1631 was something I raised during the Second Reading debate, and about which I still feel strongly. These are straws in the wind and they add up to a wrong attitude on the part of the Government to the whole question of our relations with the Union.
We have given her a specially privileged position. I do not believe that this is in accordance with the wishes of British people. I do not think that this is the attitude which should be adopted by British people in the present state of world affairs. I do not think that it is an exaggeration to describe the Bill as a great victory for South African diplomacy. I think that Dr. Verwoerd's Government have got that for which they hoped. They have not concealed their joy over the Bill. I think that the Bill reassures and consolidates the forces of apartheid, and it should never be passed by this House.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
I congratulate the Government on introducing this Bill, which I think makes the best of a difficult and bad situation following the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I welcome also the sensible arrangement in the Bill whereby South Africa remains within the sterling area and is able to receive and give the mutual benefits of inclusion within the Commonwealth trading area.
During our discussions in Committee I felt that many hon. Gentlemen opposite thought in their heart of hearts—and I believe that one or two hon. Gentlemen who are not here today in fact said so—that South Africa should still receive the benefits of membership of the Commonwealth club. But what really staggered me—and I am sorry that no Members of the Liberal Party are present today—was that the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who played a fairly prominent part in our deliberations upstairs, said:… I face quite frankly the logical conclusion of what I am advocating. I should like to see a token economic embargo put on South Africa."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 15th March, 1962; c. 192.]That is an extraordinary statement from a Member of the Liberal Party—the advocates and apostles of free trade.
1632 Too often Members of Parliament, especially Members of the Liberal Party, tend to make these airy statements knowing that they will never have the opportunity of putting into practice what they preach. They do not perhaps realise what would follow from what they advocate. What would happen if an economic embargo were placed on South Africa? The hon. Member for Devon, North must know that we have a favourable balance of trade with the Union of South Africa of about £50 million per annum. Is this how the Liberal Party would go about improving our national economic situation?
The hon. Gentleman also knows that our total export trade to the Union runs at about £154 million a year. What would the hon. Gentleman say to workers in the electrical industries who found themselves out of a job because we had to face the closure of a substantial market in the Union of South Africa? That is what would happen if we followed to its logical conclusion the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman. We would be faced with the difficulty of finding fresh markets for over £150 million worth of British exports. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, who said in a far more able way than I could ever hope to do that the existing arrangements should continue.
The South African sugar producers ought to have the benefits of the new arrangements negotiated between the Minister of Agriculture and the South African Sugar Board, which lasts until 1966. As my hon. Friend said, it will give those producers a few years' breathing space in which to adjust themselves and to make new marketing arrangements. They are going to suffer a considerable blow, in that the guaranteed price of £45 a ton which they will receive under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement has been slashed to £35 15s. a ton, in comparison with the price which members of the Commonwealth will receive in the future.
In Committee, several determined attempts were made by the Opposition to deny South Africa this benefit. It was said by hon. Members opposite that if we were to help South African sugar producers we should be helping the Nationalist Party to remain in office and to continue to enforce its appalling policy of apartheid. Natal, where all South 1633 African sugar is grown, has sixteen Members of Parliament, of whom fourteen belong to the United Party—all dedicated to the overthrow of the Nationalist Government and, consequently, their wicked policies of apartheid.
§ Mr. Brockway
Does the hon. Member say that the United Party has declared against apartheid?
§ Mr. Farr
What I emphatically do say is that the United Party in South Africa is dedicated to oppose apartheid as practised by Dr. Verwoerd and his colleagues at the moment.
§ Mr. Brockway
But not to oppose the principle.
§ Mr. Farr
If we were not to give this concession to the South African sugar industry it would mean that that industry in Natal would have to find a vast new market for its sugar, a task which would be almost impossible. To cripple the sugar industry and deprive it of the limited benefits that it will receive under the Bill would admittedly strike a blow at the Nationalist Government, but to the one united group of people opposed to the Nationalist Government's policy, such an action by our Government would mean the death knell of their economic hopes for the future, and for remaining an Opposition stronghold in the centre of a very dark country.
Although I welcome the Bill, I am not sure that the future of the High Commission Territories has been made clear. Their future should be left in no doubt. They must be protected by this country. They must remain under the protection and guidance of Britain alone, and as soon as they are able and fit to achieve independence it must be granted to them at their request, perhaps with our own guarantee. There must be no chance of the High Commission Territories ever being harnessed to the dreadful yoke of apartheid and to all that the Nationalist Government's policy means in South Africa.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Will the hon. Member say how he squares chose admirable sentiments with the proposal to give the Swaziland sugar producers a price substantially below what they are entitled to as continuing members of the Commonwealth?
§ Mr. Farr
The hon. Member should note that, for the first time, this agreement gives the Swaziland sugar producers a guaranteed market in the Union.
The Government should emphasise that there is no threat of one of the High Commission Territories being absorbed into the Union, as, apparently, the old mandated territory of South-West Africa has been. I should probably be out of order in going in any detail into this matter at the moment, but it seems to me that, somehow or other, South-West Africa—which I visited on a number of occasions a few years ago—has more or less disappeared off the map as an independent territory. The Government must give us some assurance that the future of the High Commission Territories will not follow the direction in which South-West Africa appears to have gone.
§ Mr. P. Thomas
I can assure my hon. Friend that there is no question of that—and there never has been. I should not like his remarks to be held to indicate in any way that there is reason for fear on the part of the High Commission Territories. We have made it abundantly clear that our responsibility to them remains, and that they will not be absorbed into South Africa.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
Will the Minister make it clear that in saying what he has just said he is not implying that we should accept what has happened in South-West Africa? That situation must be righted in some way, in the early future.
§ Mr. Farr
I, too, feel some discomfort about this matter, and I agree with most of what the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) has said. In response to my hon. Friend, who intervened first, I can say that I thank him warmly for all that he has said. I have nothing else to say except to thank and congratulate the Government on making a good effort at solving a difficult problem.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
We regret the introduction of this Bill, on the grounds so admirably stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). The Government have met 1635 us on a few points. By far the most important of the Amendments that they have given us is that in page 7 line 1, concerning the double negative, namely:unless the offence is not an offence under the law of the country or territory in which the warrant was so endorsed or issued".in connection with the question of extradition of people from territories under British control back to the Republic. I want to draw attention to the kind of offences which exist under South African law, which are not offences in territories under the rule or protection of Her Majesty the Queen.
I want to go briefly over some of the legislation now in force under the administration of the Nationalist Government. Under the Unlawful Organisations Act, every political organisation except the Liberal Party, the United Party, the Nationalist Party and the Progressive Party has been forbidden. Under that Act the African National Congress has been banned. Under that Act the ban has just been renewed for another five years. Under that Act Chief Luthuli was banished—that is to say, confined to his village of Groutville—and forbidden to attend meetings or speak or write in any way. He was allowed to go to Oslo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize, but he was not allowed to stop in England even for a day to speak or to meet people here, or to stop on his way back. He had to return immediately to South Africa, or he would not have been able to return at all.
A case has recently occurred which, in principle, is in my view as important as that of Chief Luthuli. I refer to the case of Mrs. Mary Turok, who has just been charged under this Act because she belongs to a body known as the Congress of Democrats. It is not a political party, but it is opposed to apartheid. She has been obliged to surrender her passport, and will no doubt be sent to prison—for no other crime than that of holding a political opinion.
There is the Group Areas Act, apartheid applied to areas of residence. The Nationalists say that this is not apartheid but is "national reconstruction." In fact it means the forcible removal of coloured people from areas which are defined as "White". Under this Act they are trying to move Indians 1636 from Johannesburg where they have lived, many of them in affluent circumstances, to twenty miles outside. Under this Act they are moving coloured people from parts of Capetown which for 300 years have had coloured populations.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is driving me very hard in relation to the rules of order on Third Reading. I understand that it is quite all right to say that, as we have amended the Bill on Report, to give instances of the class of offences which we have avoided including, but I think that in dealing with the painful instances the right hon. Gentleman has given he is going a little too far.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I shall try to keep in order, Mr. Speaker. I was about to mention, and perhaps you will allow me to mention, the Separate Universities Act, which the Africans bitterly resent, the Bantu Education Act and the Immorality Act, the profound and despicable immorality of which has shocked the opinion of the world. Punishments under the last-named Act are up to seven years imprisonment and lashes. I was about to call attention to the fact that behind this monstrous legislation there is the no less pernicious Criminal Law Amendment Act, enacted in 1959 or thereabouts, under which it is an offence punishable by imprisonment simply to protest against any part of the law. The police have very great powers to arrest people and to detain them for many days, without preferring a charge against them or allowing them legal advice. It would be intolerable if anyone were sent back to the Republic because of offences against such legislation as that.
In the course of our debate we have urged upon the Government that they should make arrangements—we wanted Clauses in the Bill—to ensure that no arms should be supplied to the Republic by this country if those arms could be used in internal disputes. We greatly regretted the action of Her Majesty's Government in sending arms to Portugal which could be used in Angola. Norway stopped that and we wish that our Government had done the same. The same principle applies to South Africa.
I call the attention of the Government to the desperate situation which is now 1637 arising in the Republic. The Budget for 1962–63 was introduced the other day. It included an enormous increase in taxation for the forces and the armed police. The Minister of Defence said:This is a Budget of national security … defence is at once its dominant theme and its ultimate justification.Defence against whom? Against the African people of the Republic. There is a very able political commentator who writes in the South African Sunday Times, Mr. Stanley Uys. He said that defence expenditure has been rising steadily since the Nationalists came to power. In 1948–49 it was about £10 million. Today it is £60 million. Defence expenditure has multiplied six times—
§ Mr. Speaker
I very much dislike having to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman again, but could he explain to me how this is all related to any provision contained in this Bill? That has to be my yardstick.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I consider that this Bill is in fact being taken by the Liberals of South Africa and by Africans in South Africa as condoning the policy of apartheid. That is the argument I am trying to support. I am trying to show how disastrous the policy of apartheid is and what a very grave—
§ Mr. Speaker
I could follow all that, but there is a limit to what I am allowed by the House to allow on Third Reading. It must be related to the contents of the Bill—the provisions now in the Bill.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker.
The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) referred to suggestions made in Standing Committee about an economic boycott. I there explained at length—I think that the Under-Secretary will remember—what I felt about an economic boycott. I believe it may perhaps be the only practical alternative to a blood bath which is now being prepared. If I had been able to explain further what is happening, I think the House would have seen how grave this is. I do not now argue the matter of an economic boycott, nor do I urge it, but I say that Liberals of South Africa have considered that the continuance of the trade preferences, the sugar subsidies and other provisions of this Bill mean that the Government are refraining from condemning apartheid.
§ Mr. Farr
The right hon. Member keep referring to the Liberals of South Africa. So that I may place proper weight on the expression, will he say exactly what is the percentage of the population they represent?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
It means a very considerable part, a very important part, of British and Afrikaans, European population. It means leaders of the Bantu people like Chief Luthuli and it means some Members of Parliament of the Progressive Party—not yet many, but I trust and believe they will increase in numbers. I believe that Liberal opinion in South Africa, both Bantu and European, is the hope of the future. It is the duty of this House to do everything we can to encourage them.
I quote a witness well known to this House, a man who knows South Africa extremely well, who has been there frequently in recent years and who has stated this point in extremely moderate words. I mean Sir Stephen King Hall, who wrote from South Africa the other day:Politically-minded South Africans and their European sympathisers, i.e., members of the Liberal and Progressive parties, are mostly depressed by the British Government's decision to allow the Republic to continue to enjoy Commonwealth preferences.I was told yesterday by someone just back from the Republic, one who has fought against apartheid, that the Bill has set back the cause of Chief Luthuli's A.N.C., the organisation of people who believe in the partnership of all the citizens of the Republic of whatever race. They believe that the Bill will help the Pan-African movement, who hold that Africans must rely upon themselves alone. I view the future in South Africa with very grave concern. I believe that only the power of world opinion can prevent disaster there. I hope the British people will play their part in building up that world opinion. I much regret that this Bill will in no way help.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) started his speech with an attack on the Nationalist Government of South Africa and described the legislation for which they have been responsible in recent years. I fully support him in that attack. I thought however, that he went much too far and 1639 was utterly wrong in suggesting that anything in this Bill condones apartheid or the actions of the Nationalist Government.
Preceding stages on this Bill have illustrated that both sides of the House are united in condemning the racial policy of the Nationalist Government. It is that racial policy which has made the Bill necessary because, if it had not been for apartheid, South Africa would still be in the Commonwealth. It was only because her Government could not measure up to the minimum standard required by Commonwealth members that they had to leave this great free society of ours.
I appreciate that hon. Members opposite would like to use the Bill to punish the Nationalist Government for their sins. I would go quite a long way with them if it were possible, but I do not believe it is possible. I do mot believe that such suggestions as have been made about ending the preference on fruit and other articles could have much effect. If they had an effect, it would be upon the poorer sections of the population—the 80 per cent. of the population who are non-European and are opposed to the present Government. Also, as my hon. Friend pointed out, the effect would fall mainly on the 40 per cent. of the European population, namely, the English-speaking South Africans who control the sugar industry in Natal. By that kind of action, which was advocated dining the Committee stage, we should probably increase support for the Nationalist Government rather than achieve the result we desire, which is to help the Opposition parties in South Africa.
On the other hand, I should be equally opposed to the suggestion made by some hon. Members on this side of the House during the Second Reading debate and in Committee that the Irish solution should be adopted as far as citizenship is concerned. The Irish solution is, I hope, only for Ireland. It can mainly be argued on geographical grounds which cannot be applied to South Africa. It would be wrong and contrary to the intention of the Bill to give South Africans the privileges of Commonwealth membership at a time when they are outside the Commonwealth.
1640 I believe that certain effects of the Bill may have very interesting repercussions in the Republic. There are about 300,000 persons in the Union who are English by birth or by descent who do not, because of their nationality, vote in South African elections. I believe that this Bill and the changes of citizenship it introduces may well lead the Nationalist Government in South Africa to introduce further changes for their own people which may cause the 300,000 who constitute 10 per cent. of the European population to take South African nationality and then to exercise their right to vote at future elections.
Therefore. I believe, contrary to what one hon. Member has said, that the Bill encourages the Progressive Party. I have a letter from the only Member of Parliament representing the Progressive Party in the present House of Assembly in Capetown. I also believe the Bill encourages the United Party. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) suggested that the United Party was not opposed to apartheid. I have its latest policy statement, which is considerably stronger than in the past when one could, I must admit, criticise its lack of direction, and this statement covers the whole new concept of a race federation. I must not pursue that subject, but it is roughly based on the solution reached in Cyprus, where there were racial problems between Greeks and Turks. I feel that one must acquit the United Party of any desire to continue apartheid and the policies of the Nationalist Government.
§ Mr. Brockway
Did the hon. Gentleman say that he had a letter from the one Progressive Member of Parliament welcoming the Bill and the maintenance of preference, the sugar agreement and other things?
§ Mr. Wall
I said that I had a letter. It is from Mrs. Suzeman. I wrote to ask her for criticism of the Bill. Her criticisms are few and far between. I would not say that they are happy about it, but they do not condemn it in any way. There is no evidence to support the suggestion that the Bill will make things better for the Nationalist Government and supports apartheid. The position is exactly the opposite.
§ Mr. Brockway
Would the hon. Gentleman read the letter?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
We should all like to know about it.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
There is the benefit to be derived from obtaining British nationality, and I have no doubt that that is the part of the Bill which Mrs. Suzeman is applauding. But surely there is no support for the sugar agreement and preferences.
§ Mr. Wall
As far as I can see, sugar is not mentioned in the letter, nor is preference. The letter relates entirely to details of citizenship. It appears that in general they are quite happy about the provisions of the Bill. I did not say that the letter was in support of the Bill. I said that there was certainly no question of objecting to the Bill or in any way going along with the allegation made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the Bill supports apartheid. I believe that in general the Bill will help the Progressive Party rather than hinder it, and the Bill is welcomed by the United Party.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
If the hon. Gentleman were a Minister, as I have no doubt he will be one day, he would be bound by the rules of the House that, having quoted from a document, he should lay it on the Table. Having aroused our anticipation by referring to the letter, does he not think that he should read it to us?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am somewhat anxious about Chat in relation to the rules on Third Reading.
§ Mr. Wall
To look at the other main provision, that on Commonwealth Preferences, it seems to me that it would be cutting off our nose to spite our face to end Commonwealth Preference when one realises that we have a stake of £900 million invested in South Africa, that is, about 58 per cent. of the foreign investment in that country. This is quite apart from the question of British exports to the Republic and the importance of gold and diamonds to the 1642 London market. I do not believe that the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman would have any appreciable effect as a gesture. I believe that it would inevitably bring the South Africans together behind their present Government and do nothing to help those who oppose the present South African Government, such as the Liberals, the Progressive Party and the United Party.
It is clear that the Bill breaks the last links—even if they could have been called links—between the Republic and the High Commission Territories. It is clear, as it has been for several years past, that there is no question at any time of allowing the High Commission Territories to form part of the Bantustan concept of the present Government of the Republic.
§ Mr. Farr
I raised the question with the Joint Under-Secretary a moment ago, and he gave an answer which fully reassured me at that time. But I would refer to a booklet published by the South Africa Information Service in Pretoria, dated May, 1961, some two months after the Prime Ministers' Conference of that year, in which it says that legal provision was made in the South Africa Act for the eventual transfer of the High Commission Territories to South Africa. I wonder whether my hon. Friend could explain how that fits in with what he said.
§ Mr. Speaker
We are now inviting an intervention upon an intervention, which brings utter confusion.
§ Mr. Wall
I am not sure what the position is with regard to the intervention and hope I may follow it by saying that that was a condition of the Act in operation but it was rejected very decisively during the Prime Ministership of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and has been rejected by Governments ever since. But perhaps my right hon. Friend will deal with that subject when he replies to the debate.
It seems to me that the High Commission Territories must now stand on their own with the help of this country. Therefore, it is of enormous importance to us to make them shop windows for British democracy in Africa and show 1643 that white races and coloured races can work together as they do in these Territories of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland.
I was delighted at the Amendment tabled today by my right hon. Friend which guarantees political refuge to people who come to these territories and guarantees that they cannot be sent back to the Republic of South Africa unless they have committed a crime against the law as we understand it. In other words, the position in regard to a political crime will be as has been customary throughout our history—that such people will find political refuge in British protected territories.
The question of the two hats worn by our Ambassador, if I may put in that way, has come up at previous stages of the Bill. I accept that there are good arguments for allowing the Ambassador also to be the High Commissioner for the Territories, but I put this point to my right hon. Friend. The Ambassador is the Queen's representative in the High Commission Territories. There are also Resident Commissioners. In addition—I am thinking particularly of Basutoland—there is the Paramount Chief who embodies the spirit of the Basuto nation and to whom all people look second only to the Monarch. I suggest that it could be arranged for the Paramount Chief to be in his own country Her Majesty's representative under the general direction of the High Commissioner, and the Resident Commissioner the head of administration. That would be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but I know that it is a suggestion which will come up in the future, and I hope that it will be given careful consideration.
On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend said that the Bill was a balance between sentiment and reality. I believe this to be true and that it will not disrupt the relations which we have with the people of South Africa. It is essential that we keep good relations with the people of all races in South Africa. I believe that the shock of leaving the Commonwealth, the shock of the loss of Commonwealth citizenship and the growing isolation of South Africa in the eyes of the world may lead to a change, by which I mean a constitutional change rather than a revolution on the lines 1644 prophesied, wrongly, I hope, by the right hon. Member for Derby, South. We are at one on both sides of the House in wishing to create conditions which will lead to the return of one of the foundation members of the Commonwealth, and I believe that the Bill will assist us in that objective.
§ 7.22 p.m.
Mr. John Dogdale (West Bromwich)
The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) spoke of a shock, but what we on this side of the House complain about is that the Bill cushions any shock which there may be, and, more particularly, it produces a very satisfactory economic cushion. We feel that it does not shock South Africa nearly enough.
The hon. Gentleman interested many hon. Members by referring to parts of a letter he had received from Mrs. Suzzman. I have the greatest respect for that lady. I know her personally, and I find it very difficult to believe that, if she were asked specifically whether she thought that a Bill which gave preferences and a sugar subsidy to South African goods was a good Bill, she would answer "Yes". I do not know whether she was asked that specific question. I should very much like to know whether she was asked and what her answer was.
The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) said that it would be wrong to put an embargo on South African goods. Nobody suggests that such a thing should be done. There has been an anti-apartheid campaign, and those of us who supported it said that there should be an embargo on South African goods, but that is not what we are discussing on this Bill. We are discussing whether special facilities should be granted to South Africa which are not granted to other foreign countries. This is quite a separate issue and has nothing to do with an embargo.
The hon. Member for Harborough and the hon. Member for Haltemprice said that the United Party is opposed to apartheid. The hon. Member for Harborough qualified that by saying that he was referring to apartheid of the Verwoerd variety. That is a very peculiar distinction. I know that the United Party does not oppose apartheid of other varieties. I do not believe that the United Party is a strong bulwark against 1645 apartheid and a strong influence in favour of equality of the races in South Africa. I wish that I could, but I fear that I cannot.
§ Mr. Farr
I think that the difference probably lies in this. It is, at least, a difference which the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate. Different forms of apartheid are practised just as different forms of Socialism are practised by hon. Members opposite. It is really all a matter of degree, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman appreciates.
§ Mr. Dugdale
It may well be a matter of degree, but when I think of the different forms of Conservatism as practised by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, I see that the differences are very great. It is not only a matter of degree but of substance in many cases.
§ Mr. Wall
Like the right hon. Gentleman, I should much prefer to support the Progressive Party rather than the United Party, but will he not agree that the United Party is the only effective opposition and the only possible alternative Government for South Africa as it is today?
§ Mr. Dugdale
That is the tragedy. I think that at present that is so, and that is what I regard as so unfortunate. There is no large party which is an alternative Government and which is truly opposed to apartheid and stands for equality of the races. I am sorry that it should be so, but I have to agree with the hon. Gentleman on that.
The Under-Secretary of State said that the difference between the two sides of the House are considerable. I am glad that he recognises this, because they are fundamental differences. The hon. Gentleman is not right in saying that the Government by their Amendments in Committee and on Report have produced satisfactory compromises for everybody. They introduced an Amendment of great help this afternoon, the one dealing with fugitive political offenders, but, by and large, they have stuck to their original Bill, certainly in its economic provisions.
We on this side regard this as a thoroughly bad Bill. For my part, I say that it is an offence to the Commonwealth, and I say that advisedly. The Commonwealth stands for certain things 1646 in which we all believe, and, in particular, it stands for equality of the races. South Africa has definitely said that she does not stand for these things in which all the rest of the Commonwealth believes. The Government are saying by the Bill that, although South Africa does not stand for these things, although she feels so strongly about it that she decided to leave the Commonwealth, we should not make any difference in economic matters between South Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth. "You are very good fellows really", say the Government, "and although, because you have left the Commonwealth, we have to tidy things up and make some small amendments, basically we wish you to remain economically in the Commonwealth"—which is the most important point from South Africa's point of view.
The people who will suffer most will probably be those who are most pro-British in South Africa, the people who will suffer the effects of the alterations in the nationality Acts. The people who will suffer the least will be the business people of South Africa, those who will receive the sugar subsidies and the preferences. If we really feel that South Africa has offended all Commonwealth ideas and has left the Commonwealth on that account, these people should not receive the benefits which they are being given today.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) told us that there will be preference on £30 million worth of fruit—quite a big preference on quite a large category of South Africa's exports. It is very unfortunate that we should give to South Africa that preference which we do not give to other countries with which we are far more in sympathy. If we are to give preferences to South Africa, why not a preference, for instance, to the Scandinavian countries or to America? Why not give preferences to the United States? We are far more in sympathy with the United States than we are with South Africa. If there is an argument for giving preferences to South Africa, there is an argument for giving them to the United States. Almost any country in the world is as worthy or more worthy to receive preferences, yet we put South 1647 Africa on a pedestal and give her preferences which will be of great advantage to her. Why?
Moreover, the sugar subsidy will cost our taxpayers something—another most unfortunate feature of this whole business. Why cannot we buy more sugar from the West Indies even if it does hurt South Africa? We have done enough harm to the West Indies already by the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. Why not buy more sugar from the West Indies rather than from South Africa?
How Dr. Verwoerd must laugh. He has been able to flout the Commonwealth and leave it but he has all the economic advantages which he would have had by remaining in it, and that is what means most to him. He is not concerned with political advantage, nor with the idea of nationality, nor with the sufferings of the people who will lose their rights. He is not concerned with that at all. He is concerned simply about economic rights and economic actions and so far as they are concerned he loses nothing whatever by leaving the Commonwealth. That seems to me to be a disastrous state of affairs, and something which must condemn this Bill.
One matter which has been referred to is the question of the change from High Commissioner to Ambassador. What difference does it make? I cannot for the life of me see what difference there can be, except that it will mean that South Africa will now come under the Foreign Office rather than the Commonwealth Relations Office. What difference is there, in fact? What difference will it make to Dr. Verwoerd whether he is dealing with a High Commissioner or with an Ambassador? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will explain to us the loss which Dr. Verwoerd will suffer by having lost a High Commissioner and gained an Ambassador. Frankly, I do not see what difference it will make.
I should like to ask a question about the duties of the Ambassador. This has often been said before, and I make no apology for repeating it. I think that it is most unfortunate that the Ambassador, whoever he is—and I have the greatest respect for the present Ambassador—should have to have this dual rôle in looking after both his ambassadorial 1648 duties in Pretoria and the welfare of the Protectorates. It was bad enough when he was High Commissioner. There might have been some reason for it then, but there is absolutely no reason at all for this arrangement now. Yet this is apparently to be the position. I do not say that provision can be made in this Bill, but the Government should announce that there will be some form of change in the arrangements by which the Protectorates can be run by somebody who is concerned with the welfare of the Protectorates, rather than by somebody who is principally concerned—indeed, it is his duty—to keep on good terms with the Government to which he is accredited—the South African Government—and who cannot therefore make the Protectorates his main concern.
It has been said that the Protectorates should be our shop window, and I entirely agree that they should be, because they have not been in the past, and, today, their educational facilities and other services are very far from what they should be. I know that some improvement has been made, but it is a very small improvement, compared with what is necessary, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will support any efforts we on this side of the House make to try to improve these facilities—educational facilities, social services generally and the whole economic basis of the country—because at present, in many cases, they are economically far behind the Union itself. It is very unfortunate that it should be so, but now that minerals are being found there and there are likely to be further developments, I think that the economic situation will improve considerably, and, as a result, the Protectorates will get the social services which they so very badly need.
The hon. Gentleman, and indeed the Minister himself, said, and I was very glad he did, that we intend to keep the Protectorates. He repeated that again today, but I wonder if Dr. Verwoerd really believes it. I have talked to Dr. Verwoerd on this subject, and I was staggered by his attitude. Talking about apartheid, he said, "We want to have a lot of little African countries, and, of course, included among them will naturally be Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland. Of course, we assume that. It is the whole basis of our assumption 1649 that these will be the African countries—the African parts of our two-section nation." I said to him. "Do you really mean that these are to become independent countries, and have representatives at the United Nations?" He replied, "Yes, certainly, they will be." It is extraordinary that he should have these ideas, which are such obvious nonsense. In what way can Basutoland be represented at the United Nations as an independent country? That is his understanding, and if that is what he hopes to achieve, every time the Under-Secretary or the Lord Privy Seal says that we do not intend to give up these Protectorates, that will, at least, be one thing which will disabuse him of that idea. I hope that they will say it as often as possible. They cannot say it too often for me or for anyone on this side of the House.
In conclusion, I say that this is a bad Bill and that it is deliberately condoning the action of South Africa. I am glad that we are opposing it tonight, and, personally, I hope that when there is a Labour Government, we shall repeal the Act.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)
Twice in his speech the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) referred to this Bill as a bad Bill. This seems to me, after having attended all stages of the Bill, to have been the attitude of the Opposition all through, in trying on emotional grounds to label us on the Government side as approving of the racial policies of the South African Government. None of us do, and that has been repeatedly said both from the Front Bench and from the back benches on this side of the House.
Why must we have this Bill in this Session? It is perfectly well-known that it is because South Africa has left the Commonwealth. This has produced a situation which has never arisen before, and if the Opposition had been in power they would have had to have a Bill to deal with all these various matters that have arisen.
I raised a number of points in regard to citizenship and trade on Second Reading, and I was very grateful to my right hon. Friend, both through correspondence and during the Committee stage, for the way he reassured me and 1650 others on these points. I am particularly glad that we are safeguarding the interests of the people in Swaziland, particularly those working in agricultural pursuits. I will not pursue that point further, but I have been there, and I know that they are a very kindly, peaceful people. It would have been utterly wrong if we had not undertaken to help them in their trade, particularly with oranges, which I mentioned earlier, and their sugar.
I came into the Chamber in the middle of the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), who was referring to liberal opinion in South Africa. When it really came down to the point and the right hon. Gentleman was questioned on it, it appeared that he did not know how many members of the Progressive Party are at present in the South African Parliament. I nearly corrected him, but I was very grateful that I did not, because the right hon. Gentleman was in due course corrected by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), who has great knowledge of African affairs, and who properly told him that, however much we may regret it, there is only one at the present time.
§ Mr. Brockway
May I remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there was an extraordinary Progressive vote in a whole series of constituencies. Everyone agrees that the most marked feature of these elections in South Africa was this very remarkable Progressive Party vote.
§ Sir H. Harrison
I quite agree. I knew many of those who were formerly Members of Parliament and founded the Progressive Party and I, like the hon. Gentleman, regret their disappearance, but it is usually best to be factually correct.
It seems to me, after listening to the discussion, that Members of both parties opposite have done more to consolidate opinion behind the South African Government rather than to help the people whom we on this side want, through a proper legal process of elections, eventually to form a more liberal type of Government.
I should like to mention a point which was made when we were talking about the economic situation in Committee by 1651 the only Liberal Member of the Committee, the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who quite clearly stated his party view when he said:I should like to see complete economic boycott, because I think that is the only way in which we can bring South Africa to its senses without bloodshed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Standing Committee A, 15th March, 1962; c. 192.]I hope that the people of this country will realise that if that policy was carried out it would mean a loss of trade of about £150 million a year, with the loss of work for many of our businesses managements, employees and so on throughout the whole of the country. This policy would mean that a great many more people would be out of work.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is perhaps aware that moderate leaders, such as Chief Luthuli, have asked for a boycott because they quite sincerely believe that that is the only way to avoid bloodshed.
§ Sir H. Harrison
This is a matter of opinion. I realise that the hon. Member for Devon, North said that he hoped that South Africa would be brought to its senses without bloodshed. I do not think that that will be necessary. In view of the unemployment, hunger, and so on, that there is in South Africa, that sort of boycott is much more likely to bring bloodshed than the development on economic lines in which we are helping them, and, as the people earn more money, they are more likely to play a part in influencing the present South African Government. As I say, that is a matter of opinion on which the hon. Member for Devon, North and I differ.
I welcome the Bill. If there is to be a Division, as the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) suggested, I shall go very willingly into the Lobby to support it. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has had a difficult subject to deal with. In a relatively short Bill he has dealt with the points which any Government would have had to deal with on South Africa leaving the Commonwealth. As I say, I shall support the Bill in the Lobby tonight, and I hope that all my hon. Friends will do the same.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Brockway
This Bill arises from the decision of the Government of the Union of South Africa to withdraw from the Commonwealth following criticism at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I was one of those who, before the Prime Ministers' Conference met, did not support the view that the Union Government should be expelled from the Commonwealth. I took that view because I am against expulsions in principle—not in an immediate sense, but as a matter of political philosophy. It is a negative attitude, and I do not believe that it has effective results.
I urged that the best method of asserting the principle of racial equality within the Commonwealth was for the Prime Ministers' Conference to adopt a statement of principle, a statement of belief in racial equality, and that, after the Conference had adopted a statement of principle of that character, it would be for the Government of the Union or any other Governments in the Commonwealth to decide whether in such circumstances they should remain within the Commonwealth. That more positive and constructive method was not followed. But, as a result of the very severe criticism by other Governments of the Government of the Union of South Africa on grounds of discrimination and segregation, they withdrew from the Commonwealth.
If we are honest, I think we must all admit that it is not the Government of the Republic of South Africa, as it is now known, nor the white population of the Republic, which alone practise racial segregation and discrimination. It is a part of the practice of almost every community of mixed races, and we must be very careful not to adopt an attitude of self-righteousness towards the white populations in the Republic of South Africa.
There is, however, one distinction between the Government of the Republic and other Governments. All of us are a little ashamed of practising race discrimination and race segregation. Whenever Governments within our Commonwealth have been criticised for practising those things, they have always been on the defensive. They have excused themselves. The difference in the case of the Government of the Republic is this. 1653 They boast of it. It is their religion and philosophy. They stand for those things, and the majority of whites in the Republic would stand for them if they were alone in the world. The Government of the Republic believe that it is a God-given principle, that there is an essential difference between the white person and the coloured person. Because they believe in it, they practise apartheid, racial discrimination and racial segregation.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) has left the Chamber. I intervened in his speech because he said that the views of the United Party in the Union of South Africa on this issue were far more progressive than those of the Nationalist Party. Even the hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) suggested the same thing and produced the last programme of the United Party, saying that it spoke in favour of the policy of federation. But what policy of federation? It is the policy of the segregation of races, of having one area in South Africa which should be occupied by the Africans, another occupied by the Asians, another occupied by the coloured people, another perhaps in which they were all together, but separate from the whites, a society of federation of the coloured and white populations segregated separately.
§ Mr. Wall
The hon. Gentleman will recall that his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) mentioned a lot of laws introduced by the present Government. I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that the United Party stands for the repeal of all those laws—the Bantu Education Act, the Separate Universities Act, the Immorality Act, and so on.
§ Mr. Brockway
The United Party does not wish to repeal all of them by any means. But there is this difference between the Nationalist Party and the United Party in South Africa. The Nationalist Party stands for the policy of apartheid with tears, whereas the United Party stands for the policy of apartheid without tears. They both accept and boast of the principle of apartheid. It is part of the religion of both parties. It is also 1654 the distinction between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and every other Government in the world. They are proud of it. It is their philosophy; it is their religion. It is for that reason, and that reason only, that South Africa is today outside the Commonwealth.
I hope that the day will come when the Republic of South Africa comes back in the Commonwealth. Those of us who take the view which I am expressing now have the utmost sympathy with, and, indeed, the utmost admiration of, those of the white races in South Africa who are standing against the policy of apartheid with such courage.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think that one can go too far into the politics of South Africa on the Third Reading of this Bill. I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman related his remarks to his attitude to the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Brockway
Perhaps my introduction is taking rather a long time.
As a consequence of the policy of apartheid and the withdrawal of the Government of the Union of South Africa from the Commonwealth, we have this Bill. What I was seeking to argue was that it is because of the policy of apartheid and the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth that we have a Bill which was introduced by words similar to those which the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations first uttered in this House on 22nd March, 1961. He was so emphatic about them that he repeated them in the House, quoting himself, on 24th April, 1961. Because of apartheid, because the Republic had withdrawn from the Commonwealth as a result of the criticism of it, he used these words:We must be careful not to destroy the value of Commonwealth membership by giving to those who are not members all the privileges of those who are."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 24th April, 1961: Vol. 639. c. 105.]
§ Mr. Brockway
Yes. I am glad that the Lord Privy Seal emphasises the word "all", because that will emphasise my next point.
1655 I served on the Standing Committee. There were only two logical persons on that Committee. One was the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), to whom reference has been made. The other was a Conservative whose name I know very well but whose constituency name I cannot remember, and so I cannot refer to him. He is a Conservative, perhaps, for whom I have more admiration than for any hon. Member on the opposite side. When one of our spokesmen quoted certain words from the Bow Group pamphlet—It would be greatly to our discredit if we are seen to continue mutually advantageous economic arrangements created prior to the 1961 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, nor would it be in our interests to do so—that Conservative Member rose and said that he was the author of the words Ah, yes, I remember—it was the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley). He and the hon. Member for Devon, North were the only two logical Members of that Committee.
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Member will remember that my hon. Friend said in his intervention that the reason why he would act as he did was because he was allowing his heart to govern his head.
§ Mr. Brockway
Good. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman would allow his heart to govern his head a little more than it does. One of the things which is wrong with this House of Commons and with British policy is that it is so much concerned about the head and so little concerned about the heart. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that carefully.
The hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham and the hon. Member for Devon, North voted against the concessions which we asked for human beings in South Africa. They took the view that they should be treated as foreigners. The hon. Member for Devon, North, with whom I am very friendly, thought that we had sacrificed the principle of making South Africa a foreign country because we wanted concessions made to the people of South Africa. Therefore, we were in complete accord with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations when he used the word "all", which the Lord Privy Seal has emphasised. We do not want all the privileges taken away, because we are human 1656 beings and because we act according to terms of the heart.
The Lord Privy Seal will know, because he was in the Committee sometimes, that we stood for international human rights for persons, and particularly for the great majority of the population of the Republic of South Africa—the 8 million who are outlawed, who have no vote and who, therefore, had no responsibility for the decision about leaving the Commonwealth. We pleaded in the Committee, as we have pleaded now in the House, that they should be regarded as political refugees in such a way that they would not be condemned by the action of the white minority in the Republic of South Africa.
I regard it as quite characteristic of the party opposite that its members would penalise human beings on personal rights, but that when it comes to material things, to goods and to vested interests, when it comes to sugar interests or to Imperial preference, the Government make concessions.
I wish that the hon. Member for Harborough were here, because he talked about the sugar planters of Natal, how they were British and how they did not want South Africa to leave the Commonwealth. Yes, they are British—members of the United Party, plantation owners. They are much more reactionary than the British in the industrialised centres of Witwatersrand and Johannesburg. They have the planter mentality. Yes, they want South Africa to remain in the Commonwealth, but their treatment of their own sugar workers is typical of the planters and plantation owners in any part of Africa today. The British industrialists are far more radical than those planters in Natal. Certainly, we on this side will not respond to any pleas which are made that their sugar interests should be defended.
The next thing I want to say about the appeasement of the sugar interests in South Africa is this. We all know the tears that have been shed from the benches opposite about Swaziland. Does the House know what the proportion of Swaziland sugar is to the sugar of the Republic of South Africa? It is one-eighth.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
My hon. Friend is being over-generous. It is one-twelfth.
§ Mr. Brockway
I thank my hon. Friend. It is 8 per cent. The sugar from Swaziland, will not benefit under the Bill. If it were treated as though it were in the Commonwealth, it would get a larger donation towards it than it will get under the Bill.
Under the Bill, there has been compromise. The Commonwealth countries are to get £45 a ton and South Africa is to get £35 a ton; that is to say, Swaziland will get less than if it were treated as being in the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
It is in the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Brockway
Yes, but it is not to get the Commonwealth rate of £45. It is to get the South African rate of £35 a ton, against the world market average price of £25 a ton. It has been urged upon us that it would be difficult to differentiate. Does anyone mean that the cases of sugar from Swaziland could not be marked "Produced in Swaziland"? Does anyone mean that the sugar from Swaziland exported to countries outside Africa could not go through Mozambique? Only a few miles away there is a Mozambique port, and there is no reason at all why exports of sugar should go through South Africa.
Then there is the point about preferences. It has been made so strongly here that I do not think I need emphasise it much now, but, if one has got to look at the reaction of the Nationalists to this Bill, of the apartheid practisers in South Africa, let us look at the comments of the Nationalist papers in South Africa as soon as the terms of this Bill were announced. Oh, the relief, the joy, the feeling that they would not have to suffer at all because they had left the Commonwealth ! The Imperial Preferences were to be maintained.
I am proud of our party because it is going to oppose this Bill. I am proud of the attitude of our party on the whole of the South African question. I am proud of the attitude our party in declaring for racial equality in the unmistakable way it is doing.
When this Bill is passed by this House it will be a reflection of the fact that the Republic of South Africa is outside the Commonwealth, but the Commonwealth countries, whose criticism led to 1658 South Africa going out, will see in this Bill an effort by the Government and by the party opposite to appease South Africa and to make it easier for her as a consequence of the decision the Commonwealth has reached. I hope that this party, and not only this party but all who believe in the principle of racial equality, will vote strongly against this Bill.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
One hon. Member speaking earlier in the debate from the Conservative benches complained that the Opposition's attitude to this Bill suggested that the Conservatives approved of apartheid. We have never from this side suggested any such thing. What we do object to is that the terms of this Bill tend to give the impression to the world as a whole, particularly the uncommitted countries of the world, that this Government are prepared to make concessions to Dr. Verwoerd's régime which is so repugnant to world opinion.
I think it is striking that on the Third Reading of this extremely important Bill raising this world-wide issue of the attitude towards a country practising apartheid there is not one Member on the Conservative back benches. Oh, yes, there is one Conservative back bencher to be seen. There is a formidable Treasury Bench; and there is only one silenced Parliamentary Private Secretary; but there is not another Conservative Member of Parliament—apart from the hon. Member below the Gangway, who has now brought himself properly inside the House.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
Six to one.
§ Mr. Thomson
It is 600 per cent. more than the representation on the other side. I do not want to be unfair, so I take note of what hour of the evening it is.
However, it does show that on the real issues which are raised by this Bill—not the problem of the legal relationships between this country and South Africa, but the real issues which are raised by this Bill—there are feelings 1659 of passion and of principle on this side of the House and considerable apathy and indifference on the other side. I think this represents the real difference which has been shown during the debates on the Bill. The Minister showed it very fairly and clearly in opening the debate when he said that the debates had shown this difference of attitude, that the Government regarded this Bill solely as one for the regulation of the legal relationships between the two countries now that South Africa was outside the Commonwealth, whereas we of the Opposition regarded this Bill as a matter involving the whole political strategy of this country. I think it is true, and I think that the Opposition's attitude is the right attitude and the wise attitude for a country like Britain.
In this Bill the Government have made a very big mistake of judgment. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) that there was and is a case for South Africa continuing to be in the Commonwealth if the consent of the newer Commonwealth countries could have been obtained for it; there is certainly a case for South Africa to be out of the Commonwealth in the sense that that gives the Commonwealth a clearer and more coherent framework of principle on this great issue of racial prejudice. I cannot see any case at all for doing as the Government are doing by this Bill and operating on the basis that although South Africa is out of the Commonwealth legally it is to continue to have most of the more important economic benefits of continuing to remain in the Commonwealth. Politically this gives Britain the worst of all possible worlds, and it gives the present South African Government, Dr. Verwoerd's Government, the best of all worlds.
Dr. Verwoerd's rather fervent prophecies at the time South Africa left the Commonwealth have been proved thoroughly correct in the text of this Bill. He expressed the hope that although South Africa had left the Commonwealth it would make no real difference to South Africa's relations with this country as the central country of the Commonwealth, and it is a fact that what Dr. Verwoerd said then has turned out to be true. I really think the Government 1660 have made a very great error in approaching this problem in the narrow, legalistic way they have.
It is true, of course, that behind the Government's statements that here they are simply regulating the relationships between two foreign countries there does lie this feeling that in doing so they are operating in the economic interests of this country and also of some sections of the people in South Africa whom the Government apparently feel we ought to make special efforts to help, although even here the Government are quite wrong, certainly in the balance of the matter. The economic benefits of this country from continuing the system of preferences with the Union of South Africa are pretty limited. My right hon. Friend and colleague the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) said this very clearly in Committee on the Bill, and I hope he will make it clear again when he winds up the debate for oar side tonight. The economic value of the preferences is a very limited one, but the political liability of failing to show in this Bill what our attitude is to South Africa in the community of nations is, I think, a very considerable one.
An hon. Member spoke earlier about the sugar producers in Natal and said that this country ought to give them a concession because they were the English-speaking Liberals in South Africa, they were supporters of the United Party, and that it was sensible political strategy by this country to give support to these groups in South Africa. He said they were utterly opposed—I think that was his initial phrase—to apartheid. When he was challenged on this by one of my hon. Friends he modified this a little and eventually ended up by saying, "Well, there are degrees of apartheid."
This goes to the heart of the difference in attitude between the two sides of this House on this question. Apartheid is not in fact one of those things about which one can have degrees of difference. Apartheid is one of those basic issues of principle, like, say, capital punishment, on which one has to take one's stand on one side or the other. One is wholly against racial prejudice or, if one is not, one is giving oneself over to the other side. I well remember that when capital punishment was debated somebody said 1661 of capital punishment, "We really ought to treat this in our traditional English way of compromise", as though the really sensible approach was to hang every second person: let us be moderate about it. That is really the moral position of the United Party in South African politics. To suggest that we should make a big effort from this country and spend British taxpayers' money here in trying to support the United Party elements in South African politics is a misjudged view of the kind of priorities required in giving economic help.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough pointed out, this economic help to the sugar producers of Natal is being given at the expense of the sugar producers of Swaziland, one of the countries that remain inside the Commonwealth, for which both sides of the House feel we have a very special responsibility. The hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) said that we were giving a great deal of help to Swaziland by the arrangements under the Bill to provide a guaranteed market for its sugar producers in the Republic of South Africa.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that the sugar price for the Natal producers was being slashed from £45 to £35 a ton. It is the sugar producers of Swaziland, of our Commonwealth, who are being "helped" in the word of the hon. and gallant Member for Eye by having their sugar price slashed from £45 to £35, and it is no answer for the Government to say that this is more than compensated for by the granting of a more assured market for Swaziland sugar in the Republic of South Africa.
Surely it would be far better for arrangements to be made for the Swaziland sugar producers to have their guaranteed market not in the Republic of South Africa but in the Commonwealth, as full members of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and enjoy the full price that the other Commonwealth sugar producers obtain. If Swaziland had been given the opportunity to build up its sugar production to the maximum of its capacity to take up some of the slack left by the South African withdrawal from the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, it could easily have had this benefit. Although I agree with 1662 my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough that there are physical difficulties about this, I do not accept that they are unanswerable. If the Government had had their priorities right, they would have concentrated their aid on Swaziland and would not have sacrificed the interests of Swaziland to give temporary help to the sugar producers of Natal.
The debate has shown that there is still some doubt about the position of the High Commission Territories. We were puzzled in Committee that there was no definite mention in the text of the Bill of the repeal of the 1911 Act. We had repeated assurances from the Government, which we very much welcomed, that in their view the Act has lapsed and therefore the arrangement in that Act that one day these High Commission Territories might become part of the territory of South Africa has itself completely lapsed. But the Government have failed to show us that they have been able to obtain any sort of consent from the South African Government to this proposition. One hon. Member opposite intervened in this debate with the interesting information that in an official publication of the South African Government, since South Africa left the Commonwealth, the Government are repeating this concept that the High Commission Territories are part of South Africa.
This Bill is not a Bill that results from what amounts to general agreement on a variety of subjects between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of South Africa. It represents a process of negotiation which one might almost call the creating of a treaty; and it is clear that the Government have failed in this process of negotiation to obtain, as a quid pro quo for the considerable concessions they made, an open and clear assurance from the Government of South Africa that they have completely given up all claims to these High Commission Territories.
If the Government had obtained this assurance they might have been in a stronger position to justify some of the concessions made, but we are left with the feeling that, although from our point of view the 1911 Act has lapsed and we have international law on our side, from the South African point of view the High Commission Territories are what they 1663 regard as their territories. When one looks at South Africa's contempt for law in South-West Africa one has no sort of confidence in the kind of bargain that the Government have obtained on this subject.
The Government's whole attitude towards the High Commission Territories throughout the proceedings on the Bill has begun from the wrong end. Basically, the Government have taken up the attitude that we were in a weak position in relation to the High Commission Territories and South Africa. This was a Foreign Office view rather than a Colonial Office view. I am glad to see a representative of the Colonial Office present in this debate. It would have been better if the Colonial Office had been suitably represented by him in Committee. As a matter of sensible negotiating, and as a matter of fact, our position in the High Commission Territories in relation to South Africa is a good deal stronger than was made out, and a good deal stronger than the South Africans make out.
It is true that until we build up their economic strength they are dependent upon South Africa for providing them with jobs. Equally, South Africa is very dependent on the High Commission Territories for labour. It is true that the High Commission Territories, as part of a customs union, are vulnerable in relation to South Africa, but it is equally true that if there were any difficulties about this and we were to say that the High Commission Territories are to be tariff-free areas, this would create vast problems for South Africa. Our position is not only morally unanswerable but in practice is stronger than the Government have made out in the course of our debates on the Bill.
I come back to my main point that it is really wrong to see this Bill simply as a legal Bill setting out the pattern of the relationship between this country and a former Commonwealth country. The Bill is part of one of the great world dramas of our times. It has to be seen against the context of the ideological struggle in the world in which there are a large number of uncommitted coloured nations with deep suspicions of the motives of former colonialist 1664 Powers—suspicions understandably very difficult for us properly to allay.
In this struggle for the minds of men and women in the uncommitted countries it is very important that when we have a Measure like this we should realise how it looks through the eyes of the new coloured nations and the suppressed peoples, including the suppressed majority in the Union of South Africa. It would have been wiser for the Government to tackle the Bill from an approach like that. It is desperately important that the British Government should be seen at all stages in world affairs to be thoroughly opposed to the kind of racial policies for which Dr. Verwoerd's régime stands.
One of the benefits of South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth has been that Her Majesty's Government have felt freer to take a firmer stand about this. We welcome the changed attitude of the Government on some of the questions at the United Nations. For instance, the Government supported the United Nations resolution which condemned apartheid as reprehensible and repugnant to human dignity and urged separate and collective action by member States to bring it to an end. That is the sort of attitude the Government ought to have followed up in the Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) talked about his distinguished South African fellow Nobel Prize winner, Chief Luthuli, who said in his Oslo peace oration:The Nobel award is a democratic declaration of solidarity with those who fight to widen the area of liberty in my part of the world. As such, it is the sort of gesture which gives me and the millions who think as I do tremenduos encouragement.Nobody can say that the Bill, as the Government have drafted it, is a democratic declaration of solidarity with those who fight to widen the area of liberty in South Africa. Nobody can say that it gives the kind of encouragement that the great majority of Africans in South Africa are looking for from countries like this. The Bill ought to have done that. It is because it fails to do that that we are so firmly opposed to it.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. William Wells (Walsall, North)
It is difficult to avoid an element of monotony in a debate in which most of 1665 the speeches come from one side. During the debate I have been watching the Government Front Bench and have felt that those occupying it must be taking their Lenten exercises with commendable seriousness, missing their dinner to listen to condemnations in which they stand without any support.
Now that the Liberal Party is so strongly represented in this debate—two members of the Liberal Party are present—I am encouraged to think that the House will have the benefit of hearing an authoritative statement about the Liberal tradition and position in relation to the Bill. When one considers what the history of the Liberal Party has been in relation to South Africa one can only suppose that the graves of Rosebery, Haldane and Campbell-Bannerman are the scene of considerable ferment tonight.
It would be surprising if such an event as the departure of South Africa from the Commonwealth had not given rise to serious problems and if those problems had not been reflected in legislation before the House. But a curious feature about the Bill has been that at each stage of the discussion even the most detailed point has given rise to an argument on principle. In the Committee Stage we had a debate about postal rates which showed how wide were the differences between the parties in their approach to the Bill.
The Bill deals with two main problems. One problem is the economic transition of South Africa from being a member of the Commonwealth to a position in which she is no longer such. The other is that of individuals in South Africa who are losing, in some respects at once but in other respects by degrees, a status which they have long enjoyed.
The attitude of this side of the House to those problems is as follows. In relation to economics, the Commonwealth and the importance of the maintenance of the Commonwealth tie are transcendent, so that if a country chooses to leave the Commonwealth it must accept as a consequence the loss of the privileges of membership. If it is said that to deprive the Republic of South Africa of the privileges of membership of the Commonwealth is also to inflict injury on ourselves, that is an argument which 1666 deserves examination, of course, but the question that we should ask ourselves is: Even if, upon examination, it proved to be sound, would it justify our continuing the privileges of membership for a State which is no longer within the society?
No argument put forward from the other side of the House sustains the conclusion that any serious damage would be done to our economy if we treated the Republic of South Africa on the same basis as any other State outside the Commonwealth. We know about the electrical goods industry and the importance of British investments in South Africa, but we come up against this question: is the fundamental tie which holds the Commonwealth together merely an economic one or primarily a political one which has, of course, most important economic consequences?
The view that has been taken from the other side of the House is the nakedly material one that the importance of this matter is purely economic. If, on the whole, it seems a good thing in the interest of those in this country who have economic commitments with South Africa to maintain preferences, that is the end of the matter. Trade follows the flag and if the flag is hauled down still let us keep all the trade that we can. That is not a view that we can accept on this side of the House. We do not believe that it is sound politics. We do not even believe that it is sound economics, because in the long run a country which has allowed itself to be governed in such a way as South Africa has been, will not maintain economic ties with this country, for a moment beyond the time that it conceives it to be in its immediate interests to do so.
When it comes to subsidising an industry in South Africa on the grounds that otherwise some dislocation will be caused to certain economic interests there—to put it in possibly a crude but, nevertheless, I think, not unjustifiable way, my constituents are paying charges on their prescriptions on the Health Service in order to maintain the price of sugar in Natal—this is really something which cannot be justified by any argument whatever.
§ Mr. Heath
I have been following the hon. Gentleman's arguments with close interest because he posed the question: what is it that holds the Commonwealth together? Is it political ties purely or economic arrangements that may have political consequences? He did not indicate what his own conclusion was on that.
§ Mr. Wells
I am flattered by the right hon. Gentleman's interest in my views on this matter. For what it is worth, I would say that this is not a question that admits of any easy or single answer. Primarily, it is a question of having certain ties, some of them political, some of them of ideas, and of building a society which wants to strengthen itself by helping its members. Once a community has withdrawn from that society, then the reason for maintaining the economic privileges of membership entirely disappears, and it cheapens the whole conception of the Commonwealth merely to treat Commonwealth preferences as matters which have economic significance but nothing more.
Now I come to that part of the Bill which deals with the civic rights inside the Commonwealth of South African citizens. What is the view of hon. Members opposite on this matter? It seems to me that they have treated this question with not quite the degree of seriousness it deserves. I do not mean by that that they have treated it frivolously; of course not. But they have not treated it as a question of quite the tragic import that it has.
It was many years ago that a Conservative Government, by their forward policy in South Africa, exposed the British inhabitants there to the hostility of the Boers. One would have thought that, now that those British inhabitants together with the African inhabitants, are exposed to a nakedly Boer rule—for that is what it is—the Government would have concerned themselves, as far as it was possible to do so, to assure the British inhabitants of the Union that we still regard them as being part of ourselves, able to come to us as Commonwealth citizens whenever, with all the uncertainties that prevail in South Africa, circumstances should make it seem compelling to them that they should do so.
In conclusion, I wish to ask one question. In the Committee stage, and again 1668 on Report, the Government have shown themselves, I am happy to say, liberal in their approach to the questions arising from the extradition and the treatment of fugitive offenders. On Second Reading, the Joint Under-Secretary of State said that a treaty was in process of negotiation by which, after 31st May, the relations of this country to South Africa over the extradition of offenders would be regulated. What progress is being made with that treaty?
Are the Government taking every step they can to ensure that the offences covered by the extradition treaty, the offences for which offenders will in future be extraditable, are the offences which are covered now, with the Amendments which the Government have accepted or are later to include, and no other offences? In other words, will the extradition treaty exclude political offences and exclude the special apartheid legislation which is now in force in South Africa?
§ Mr. P. Thomas
The extradition treaty will follow the provisions of the Extradition Act, 1870, which excludes political offences and also offences which are not offences in this country.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
During the election in South Africa to decide whether South Africa was to remain in the Commonwealth, or, as Dr. Verwoerd wished, to leave the Commonwealth, our friends in South Africa were putting before the electors what they considered to be the fact that if they voted for Dr. Verwoerd and the Republic of South Africa, they would lose two great economic benefits, namely, the preference benefit and the sugar benefit. I know of no other real economic benefit which there was in being a member of the Commonwealth. The others were ties of blood and friendship with the British part of South Africa. The Boer part led by Dr. Verwoerd has never shown much friendship towards the people of this country. In 1908, after the defeat of the Boers, the great Liberal Party under Campbell-Bannerman passed the Union of South Africa Act, one of the greatest and most magnanimous Acts which this Parliament has ever enacted. What we are now seeing is the burial of that Act.
1669 Last year, our friends in South Africa were pointing out from the hustings that the penalty of leaving the Commonwealth would be the loss of those economic benefits. Dr. Verwoerd was telling them that they would lose nothing. They have been proved wrong and he has been proved right. I could hardly believe my eyes when I first read the Bill and saw that the Government proposed to leave South Africa with the benefits of Commonwealth Preference. South Africa had decided to go out of the Commonwealth and to cease to be a member of the family and a member of the club, and yet it was to have all the benefits of the family and all the economic benefits of membership of the club.
It was said in Committee that we were being vindictive. We were not being vindictive. We are sorry that the present situation exists in South Africa. We should have preferred a friendly South Africa participating in the principles of democracy and racial equality, but that South Africa no longer exists. One of the factors that might have induced the electors of South Africa to come back into the Commonwealth is the fact that they would regain Commonwealth Preference. But if one can have all the benefits of the club without paying the subscription and without being a member, why come back to the club?
We were not being vindictive. Many of us have friends and relations in South Africa. It was a sorry day when they were no longer members of the Commonwealth. When one turns to paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Second Schedule and sees there the benefits of membership of the Commonwealth being specifically given to the Verwoerd Government of South Africa, one can only express pain.
In fact, it is rather worse than that. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. Thomson) pointed out in Committee that paragraph 5 gave a benefit to South Africa, and at the same time reduced the benefit to one of our partners, one of our Colonial Territories, Swaziland. Before the Union broke away the benefit to Swaziland and to South Africa under the Sugar Agreement was £45 a ton. This is now to be reduced to £35 15s. a ton, and for some 1670 reason which I have never understood, the producers in Swaziland, which is still in the Commonwealth, are to have their subsidy reduced to the level paid to the South African producers in Natal and elsewhere.
When I made my calculations, I felt sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East was wrong; that he had got his arithmetic wrong, and the Bill would give more benefit to someone who stayed in the Commonwealth; that it was an addition to Swaziland and a deduction from South Africa. My hon. Friend said that he too had some doubts about it. He could hardly believe what he saw, and he asked the Joint Under-Secretary of State to deal with the point.
I expressed doubts about this reduction of the subsidy to a Colonial Territory, and felt certain that a mistake had been made in the arithmetic. We were, however, not given an answer, so the figure must be right; that the people of Swaziland are to get £35 15s. per ton instead of £45 which was paid before South Africa took herself out of the Commonwealth. For some reason which I still fail to understand, the subsidy in respect of sugar produced in Swaziland is to be reduced. I cannot understand it, and I never will. I suppose that there is some explanation why the producers in Swaziland should suffer a reduction in the subsidy, and I hope the Lord Privy Seal will tell us what it is.
It has been said, "Oh, well, most of the sugar is produced in Natal, and most people there are British. We are maintaining the sugar industry of Natal by allowing South Africa to retain the benefits of Commonwealth membership under paragraph 5 of the Second Schedule". I may be misinformed, and if I am the Lord Privy Seal will correct me, but I understand that there is not a single United Party, Progressive Party or Liberal Party Member for the whole of Natal in the Union Government. Natal returned 100 per cent. Verwoerd members. If they voted to leave the Commonwealth, as I understand they did by a large majority, they should be prepared to pay the penalty.
South Africa continues to enjoy the benefit of Commonwealth Preference, which amounts to a large sum. In 1958 the value of the Preference to South 1671 Africa was £5,340,000, and the value of the Preference enjoyed by this country in South Africa was £1½ million. In 1960 the value to South Africa was about £6½ million.
We all regret that South Africa has left the Commonwealth, but our regret is tempered so long as the South African Government pursue their disgraceful apartheid policies. We want them to abandon those policies and to come back into the Commonwealth, but while they remain outside it they should not be allowed to take advantage of the benefits of membership.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I must apologise to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and to the House, for having missed the earlier part of the debate. I was detained on the type of business upstairs which all Members have to undertake from time to time. I understand that there has been a certain demand for a Liberal speaker. I find that very flattering, and I want to comply gracefully with the general wish that the Liberal voice should be heard. On this Bill it has been heard a good deal. I have been studying the proceedings in Committee. Taking into account the fact that there was only one Liberal Member in that Committee he seems to have played a very active part. In addition, I put the broad Liberal point of view during the Second Reading debate.
I do not propose to traverse that ground again. I then made it clear that we regarded the Bill as having wide political as well as economic implications. We cannot divorce our view of South Africa from the knowledge we have of what goes on in that country. We cannot treat South Africa as another Burma. We must examine the reasons which led her to leave the Commonwealth, and bear in mind the fact that the way in which we treat her will have considerable repercussions all over Africa.
The few remarks that I shall make will be directed to the subject of sugar. That is a subject upon which Mr. Gladstone once electrified the House of Commons, chiefly by calling it "shugger". I understand that one reason which has led the Government to feel 1672 that they must make special arrangements for the Natal sugar growers is that they do not wish to cause hardship by suddenly removing the guarantees and the markets to which those growers were accustomed under the agreement.
My comment on that is that I have no wish to penalise or victimise the people of South Africa. As I said on Second Reading, I think we should treat them no better and no worse than the people of other countries with whom we carry on trade, but, if there were to be hardship owing to the termination of these agreements, we should make quite clear that the primary duty for dealing with that hardship rests on the Government of South Africa and not on the Government of Great Britain.
I believe that the Government of South Africa have done something about this. I am told that the price of white sugar on the domestic market in South Africa is now £41 6s. 8d. a ton retail, an increase in price of £3 10s., and that this is specifically designed to help them over what might be a difficult period. What we are concerned about is the position of sugar growers in Swaziland. To them we have a far greater obligation than to the sugar growers in Natal. I am also told, and this seems to have been confirmed by the proceedings in Committee, that up to 1964, the quota for Swaziland will be 80,000 tons and that Swaziland sugar will be treated as part of the general South African production. I think I am right in saying that after that the quota is to be fixed at 8¼ per cent. of the South African figure and that will be a total tonnage of about 85,000 tons.
I am advised, looking at the future of the sugar industry in general, that under the sort of arrangements envisaged in the Bill the present growers of the Swaziland sugar industry must expect to be held to that sort of figure. There is potentially a large over-production of sugar in South Africa. Unless they greatly increase their markets under the present arrangements, there seems little chance that Swaziland growers will be able to increase their percentage. This is a most serious matter. It has been suggested to me that if we were prepared to raise the Swaziland quota to 120,000 tons at £45 a ton that would bring in an income of £5,400,000 to Swaziland, 1673 money very badly needed in the territory. I am told that one can grow fifty tons to the acre in Swaziland as against thirty-five tons an acre in Natal and that potentially Swaziland is a more economic area in which to grow sugar than South Africa.
It is also true that recently refining machinery has been sent out and erected in Swaziland by a Glasgow firm. There is no reason why refining and making sugar in Swaziland should not be greatly increased. A question I wish to ask the Government concerns what I am told is the Mhlumi company. I should like the attention of the Government Front Bench and I should like the Government's views on it. They have never heard of it. I understand that 40 per cent. of it is owned by C.D.C., but the Government do not know. This is very surprising. Is it really the case?
§ Mr. Strachey
I can tell the right hon. Member.
§ Mr. Grimond
It is most encouraging to find that at least one former Under-Secretary keeps up with these affairs. I hope that the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) will confirm that this company is a linchpin of the sugar industry in Swaziland.
§ Mr. Strachey
§ Mr. Grimond
I understand that that is correct. I understand that 60 per cent. of the firm is owned by interests other than the C.D.C. I want some information about them. I want to know—although I doubt whether I shall be told—what those interests are. Are they not South African interests? I think that the Government should look again very carefully at the possibility of increasing sugar growing in Swaziland and at the possibility of distinguishing between South African sugar and Swaziland sugar, which I am told is not an impossible task. They should also look at the present set-up for the handling and refining of Swaziland sugar to make sure that it is in the interests of that country and that the South Africans do not have so much say in the question of Swaziland sugar as to make the position unsatisfactory for the people there.
This is the main point which I wanted to make. I regard the sugar provisions of the Bill as one of its worst features. 1674 There are other features troubling those of us who feel that South Africa should be treated no better than and no worse than any other country with whom we have no special relations in the Commonwealth, but I think that the question of sugar, which the Government are bound to look again in 1966, is important. Will the Government consider what can be done before that date? I very much regret that they have not grasped this problem now and have not done more for Swaziland sugar producers when, after all, they are bound to do something further in the matter within the next four or five years.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I find this a very uncomfortable debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) pointed out the difficulty of being other than self-righteous on the matter. I want to make it clear that I feel no self-righteousness about it at all. I object to chucking people out, and I always feel uncomfortable when I see it being done, but I feel still more uncomfortable when somebody resigns from an organisation of which I am a member because he says that my principles are too rigid for him to stay in with me—and that appears to be the attitude which the South African Government have adopted in this matter. Let it be made quite plain that they were not thrown out. They felt, after the last Prime Ministers' Conference, that they were in company in which they found it very difficult to endure hearing the principles which the rest of those present advanced.
I want to express tonight my sympathy with the many friends I have in the more liberal elements of the Dutch Reformed Church, because I have sometimes heard it said that the cause of all this trouble is the attitude of the Dutch Reformed Church. In fact, there are many liberal elements in the Dutch Reformed Church. The great Remonstrant movement in Holland itself is an historic expression of liberalism in its interpretation of Scripture and in other things. The curious thing is that it appears to be the Fundamentalist section of the Dutch Reformed Church which has created this difficulty. I cannot understand why they should object to the view which we adopt about apartheid, for if they accept literally the words of the New Testament 1675 they cannot ignore the first great statement of Christianity to the Gentiles when St. Paul said on Mars' Hill,God that made the world and all things therein … hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.To my mind that is a fundamental statement of Christianity which at least ought to bind all Fundamentalists.
§ Mr. Norman Dodds (Erith and Crayford)
Does not my right hon. Friend think that that should also apply to the gypsies in Britain, and does he not think that we should start at home before we start overseas?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. That is too wide for Third Reading.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. There are limits to the Third Reading debate, and I think that gypsies are outside it.
§ Mr. Ede
I regret that my hon. Friend should have led me astray without being rebuked himself, but I will deal with him on some other occasion.
Let us make quite plain that we have not expelled South Africa. We are sorry to see her go. We regret that she feels uncomfortable in our company, but we cannot alter our attitude to fundamental human affairs merely to be in line with her.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Strachey
I take the House back to the speech with which the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs recommended the Bill to the House on Third Reading. It was, as always from the hon. Gentleman, a most pleasant speech, but it was a very short speech and a remarkable one in this respect, that it dealt entirely and exclusively with Clause 1, the nationality Clause, without mention of the other two Clauses and their Schedules which deal with the economic provisions, the sugar subsidy and the all-important matter of Commonwealth Preferences. To say the least, that was a remarkable omission.
I am not altogether surprised that the hon. Gentleman should concentrate exclusively on the nationality Clause. It 1676 is very much the best part of the Bill. It is not perfect—we sought to enlarge it—but, so far as it goes, it is unobjectionable. The objectionable parts of the Bill, the economic Clauses, the hon. Gentleman totally ignored. He is quite familiar with them and spoke at length about them in Committee. His extraordinary omission takes very far indeed the principle of which he spoke, the principle of regarding the Bill as a legal tidying-up Measure to put the position right after the resignation of South Africa from the Commonwealth, without consideration for its profound economic and political consequences. That is the principle which not only the hon. Gentleman but the Lord Privy Seal and almost every official Government speaker has advanced, that on the major part of the Bill the less said the better; but we cannot let them get away with it.
Four issues arise. There is the nationality issue. We discussed this in Committee and on Report, and I need not say much more about it. There is the position of South-West Africa. There is the question of the sugar subsidy and the question of Commonwealth Preferences. I shall say something about each.
On the South-West Africa issue, I say at once that the Bill as we have it on Third Reading tonight is slightly better than the Measure which was presented to us. The Government have made a very small and inadequate concession, but it is something that, whenever the Bill refers, as it does in several places in the Schedules, to South-West Africa, the words now are "the mandated territory of South-West Africa". That gives some recognition of the special and very different legal status of South-West Africa vis-à-vis South Africa, but we are far from satisfied with that concession.
The fact is—I must repeat this to the Lord Privy Seal, though he disagrees with me about it—that the Bill treats South-West Africa exactly as though it were a part of the Republic of South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman has convinced me, though my conviction was very reluctant, that, for the practical purposes of the Bill, this is probably necessary. I see the overwhelming practical difficulties of having a separate Bill, as I suggested initially, on South-West Africa. I see, quite frankly, that because 1677 of the de facto annexation of South-West Africa by the Republic of South Africa, which is what has happened, it may be necessary, for example, in Clause 1 of the Bill to treat persons of South African nationality living in South-West Africa as if they ware living in South Africa. I see that it may be necessary to treat goods coming from South-West Africa in the same way as, under this Bill, for good or ill, we are to treat goods coming from South Africa.
But if that is so, it is all the more necessary, because by the de facto recognition, which inevitably it is, these two territories have become for practical purposes almost one—it seems to me that it is ten times more necessary—to make it absolutely clear that we are not recognising in any way the de facto annexation of this mandated territory by the South Africa Republic, that we repudiate the statements of the South African Prime Minister that these two countries have become one, and that we fully maintain the international status and integrity of South-West Africa. I am glad that we have got the Lord Privy Seal to say that that is his view, and that is an advance, but, again, we do not think it is nearly enough. We on this side in the Committee sought to put a declaratory Clause into the Bill making that clear. I would have thought that was far the better way.
I can understand that, if the Government's policy were the opposite to what it is, if the Government's policy in Africa as a whole had been a policy of attempting to maintain white supremacy, as it is practised in South Africa, then, naturally, they would not have needed to worry about this, but I am thankful to say that the Government's policy is not that. I readily admit this, and I am very glad indeed of it. It is far more enlightened than that, but what the Government in this Bill cannot, apparently, be brought to see is that the policy of Her Majesty's Government must not only be enlightened and seem to be enlightened, but must also be seen to be enlightened by the whole of the African nations.
We cannot be too careful not to fall into the errors into which this Bill seems to fall. Let me be quite frank here. I think that the Africans of the new African nations, ex-members of the 1678 Commonwealth and others, are extremely suspicious. They are very often morbidly suspicious in this matter, and that is a fact we have to face. There are historical reasons for it, goodness knows, and if we do not want to spoil our very fine record throughout Africa, we ought not to do the harm by omission which this Bill does in failing to make clear in the Statute itself, as seems to us the fact, that we do not for a moment admit that South-West Africa has been integrated into and absorbed by South Africa.
The Lord Privy Seal, in answering me here, accused me, because I deployed these arguments on Second Reading, of doing immense harm, since he said we were giving the impression that we were doing this in the rest of Africa. With respect, that does not seem to me at all a good argument. The right hon. Gentleman is saying that if only we on this side of the House, or in the Committee, had not mentioned it, he would have got away with this without anyone noticing it. Indeed, he would not. In any case, we have mentioned it, rightly and inevitably, because it is a fact. Since it has been discussed in this House, we can record our deep regret that it has not been put right, as it so easily could have been, by including, not necessarily the declaratory Clause which I suggested, but one of that type which could be put in the Bill and quoted for ever afterwards.
After all, this South-West Africa issue will come up time and again in the United Nations, and it is of the utmost importance that the British Government have a Clause in black and white in the Bill to the effect that this was a practical measure which we had to take to regulate our relations with the South African Republic, but making it clear that we were not admitting for a moment the de facto annexation of South-West Africa. We deeply regret that what I can only call the wooden insensitiveness of the Government prevented them from doing that.
I come to the quite different but second major issue in the Bill, namely, the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, of which the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has just spoken. I think that this concerns by far the most extraordinary Clause and Schedule of the Bill. It extends this year the subsidised 1679 price which the British consumer pays for the sugar for the sake of the Commonwealth sugar producers to the South African crop, or to that part of it which we buy. When we mentioned the flagrant impropriety of extending an important Commonwealth agreement to non-Commonwealth producers, we were told by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in an interjection in my speech on Second Reading, that this was for the benefit of Swaziland. Swaziland was prayed in aid and we were told, in effect, "We have to extend the subsidised price to South African sugar, or we will terribly damage the sugar producers in our Protectorate of Swaziland. Surely we do not want to do that".
We were rather impressed by that argument and, therefore in Committee we sought to amend the Bill—not to leave out this sugar provision altogether, but to add the simple proviso that we would pay the subsidised price—in this case it would have been the full Commonwealth subsidised price—provided that a certificate of origin was produced stating that the sugar was produced in Swaziland—in other words, produced within the Commonwealth. If that proviso had been accepted, we should have been glad to agree to this part of the Bill.
We were greatly surprised when the Government refused our proposal altogether. By refusing it, what was left of their argument that they had to do this for the sake of Swaziland? They never even claimed that it was impossible to distinguish between Swaziland sugar and South African sugar. Of course it is easy to do so. If we pay the price with the certificate of origin, the Swaziland producers will put their certificate of origin on the bags quickly enough. Therefore, it seems to us that the Government's argument goes by the board.
As we went into this matter more deeply—I do not pretend that I realised this at the beginning of our deliberations—it became much worse, because we discovered that the agreement with the South African and Swaziland producers, who were lumped together in the agreement, was not for the full Commonwealth price—usually between £42 and £45 a ton—but for £10 a ton less; and, more important still, it would end altogether 1680 in four years' time. Therefore, far from these arrangements benefiting the Swaziland producers, they will penalise them as against all other Commonwealth producers in two important ways. They will penalise them immediately by giving them £10 a ton less than any other Commonwealth producer, and four years hence—we have been told nothing to the contrary by the Government—they will be penalised by being excluded altogether from the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. This is what the Government call helping Swaziland. It is the exact reverse. This arises from the frightful mistake of lumping Swaziland and South African sugar all together in one, because up to now they have always been regarded as the same. With the leaving of the Commonwealth by South Africa, they ought not to be regarded as the same in future.
The Under-Secretary was driven back on the extraordinary argument that all this had to be done for the preservation for the Swaziland sugar producers of the South African market, which, he said, was the natural market for Swaziland sugar. The Leader of the Liberal Party was on to this point. What is this natural market for Swaziland sugar? South Africa already has a heavy sugar surplus. My information is that of this year's crop, no less than 40 per cent. of the cane has had to be left uncut in the fields because of the size of the surplus. Why tell the Swaziland producers to sell in a market which is grossly overstocked with the native-produced sugar? It is economic illiteracy to say that this is the market for the Swaziland sugar producers. Therefore, the sugar provisions of the Bill seem to us to be misconceived and misguided in the extreme.
Like the Leader of the Liberal Party, I have sympathy with the Natal producers, who, through no fault of the British Government, but through the fault of their own Government, found themselves excluded from the Commonwealth and facing a sharp drop in the price which they could get for their sugar. Something ought to be done for them. The responsibility for this, however, rests squarely on the head of the South African Government and not the British Government. As the right hon. Gentleman has just said, the South African Government has begun to help them and to subsidise them, no doubt 1681 quite rightly. Therefore, if we had made it clear that this could not be an obligation upon us and that our help must go to the producers who remained in the Common wealth—the Swaziland producers—the Natal producers, no doubt, would have been looked after by their own Government and they would not have been—they would otherwise, I agree—slaughtered by the appalling drop, which this year would have been a halving, in the price of their sugar. Therefore, the Government have struck an extremely bad bargain, to put it no higher, with the South African Government in the treatment of the Natal producers, who are simply the responsibility of the South African Government.
What is, surely, the biggest issue of the Bill is the continuance of Commonwealth Preferences in general, of which the sugar agreement is merely a special case. I should like to examine for a moment the arguments which, at various stages of the Bill, various Ministers, various spokesmen of the Government and various hon. Members opposite have put forward in rebuttal of our simple case that it is not a good thing in principle or unless special reasons can be adduced for the privileges of Commonwealth membership to be continued to non-Commonwealth members.
Hon. Members—several of them—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), for example—accused us, and me in particular, of vindictivaness, because we did not think it right that this privilege of Preferences should be continued. That, of course, inevitably, made us refer to the favoured club question, to the members of a club, the Commonwealth club, and the fact that we could not think it vindictive to say that a member who, for whatever reason, had resigned should not continue to enjoy the privileges of club membership. There might be a special case, of course, as in the case of Ireland, which has been mentioned, why they should be continued, but very special reasons, surely, would have to be given, and, after all, it would be a question of why the member had resigned. After all, this is something which we should have to take into account.
If the member had resigned because he could not stand the faces—the colour of the faces, to be frank—of his fellow 1682 members, well, then, we should be specially careful about showing him special favours, and there would be nothing vindictive at all in refusing to do so and in treating him no worse, certainly, but no better than another non-member of the club. Therefore, I cannot for one moment admit this argument of vindictiveness when we say that South Africa in future, in these essential measures of Commonwealth Preference, should be treated like any other foreign country, no better and no worse. That was the first argument.
The second argument which was adduced very freely by hon. and right hon. Members opposite was that it would be thoroughly bad for this country, for our trade, if we ended the Commonwealth Preference to South Africa. It was pointed out that we had a substantial trade of £147 million last year, 1961, to South Africa, and it was suggested that we were jeopardising the whole, or a great part, of this substantial export trade. That made us go into the question of what the actual economic effect on this country—and it is quite right, of course, that we should take that into most careful account—would be. It has not been an easy task to get exactly an account of what the Commonwealth Preferences on British exports to South Africa really are, but I have here a list of them, and they are a good deal different, I think, from what a great many Members of the House and of the Standing Committee may have thought them.
In this total of £147 million of British exports to South Africa, there is industrial machinery which accounts for £35 million. South Africa gives us a Preference of only 3 per cent. on that. It is not by any means high. Road vehicles—motor cars—were mentioned, and in the Committee we were told that those Members who sit for constituencies like Coventry were jeopardising their workers' wages when we suggested that this Preference should be ended. So we looked up road vehicles, which account for £20 million of our export trade to South Africa, and we found that there is no Preference on road vehicles at all, so there would be no effect whatever on those exports if Preference were ended.
The most substantial item is electrical machinery at £17 million, and on that there is a Preference of between 5 per 1683 cent. and 8 per cent. That is really the most considerable, but it is a small part of our total exports—only £17 million out of £147 million—and the Preference even there is not high. Chemicals account for £13 million, at 3 per cent.; textiles and fibres, £12 million at 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. according to items; and all others £36 million and various percentages of Preference, but all under 3 per cent. Therefore, we say that this argument that we should be ruining the export trade of this country if we ended the Commonwealth Preferences to South Africa simply would not hold water. In the terms of the actual volume of goods affected by any appreciable height of preference it is very much smaller than it is usually represented to be.
§ Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
The figures affect about half our export trade to South Africa.
§ Mr. Strachey
They make up the whole. I took the £147 million and broke it down into these categories.
§ Mr. Russell
Surely that is of great value to us.
§ Mr. Strachey
There is about 3 per cent. Preference on these items—which is the point I am making—and it is a very much smaller rate of Preference than it is usually suposed. On some of the items, such as road vehicles, there is no Preference at all. That is the simple point that I was making. It cannot be maintained for one moment that we should be dealing a dreadful blow at the country's export trade.
This means also that we should not be putting much pressure on South Africa in ending the Preferences, because the Preferences we give to South Africa are only a little more substantial. They are about 10 per cent. on the £55 million of goods that she sends to us. It is perfectly true, and I accept it at once, that the trade between this country and South Africa probably would not be greatly affected one way or another. Therefore, we should not be putting great pressure on the South African Government.
On my part, I have never considered that to be the object. It is simply that the Preference should end when the country goes out of the Commonwealth, and goes out for these particular reasons, 1684 above all. I do not accept the arguments of the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who has argued that it would be some kind of boycott if we put pressure on the South African Government. It would not be anything of the sort. It is simply that we ought not to give this special privilege to South Africa. We are arguing no more than but no less than that.
I now come to the argument which the Lord Privy Seal used with his habitual ingenuity in debate. Quoting my predecessor, Mr. Marquand, when he spoke from these benches a year ago, the right hon. Gentleman said, "You yourselves said that we should have to have a trade agreement with South Africa." I fully accept that. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say, "These Preferences are a trade agreement. Why disturb them? Simply leave them as they are. They are as good a trade agreement as any, are they not? Why substitute another?" The whole point is that these are preferential trade agreements and they are Preferences which are called Commonwealth Preferences and therefore are quite inappropriate to a non-member of the Commonwealth, unless there are some very special reasons as in the case of Ireland. Therefore, we cannot agree that a Preference to a foreign country, and to this foreign country in particular, can be justified unless there is a very special argument which the Government so far have quite failed to produce.
Then we came to perhaps the most curious situation and admission after this argument that it would be ruinous, or at any rate extremely injurious, to British trade and to the British export trade in particular if these Preferences were ended. I put the point to the Government and asked, "What happens with your negotiations with the Common Market? After all, we understand that you are asking for special consideration for Commonwealth Preference. The Lord Privy Seal is doing so in Brussels. But how will you justify a special Preference for a foreign country? Surely that will be something which it will be almost impossible in the negotiations with the Six to justify."
Surprisingly enough, we had the answer from the Joint Under-Secretary: "We shall not, of course, do anything 1685 of the sort. We shall not attempt to justify this. If we find"—as the Government certainly will—"that these Preferences for a foreign country are quite incompatible with signing the Treaty of Rome, then we shall, of course, let them go."
Those are the things which we were told are so valuable that we must not dream of letting them go. In one breath we are told that they are extremely important for our export trade, and in the next breath we are told that eighteen months hence we will let them go quite easily if they conflict with the Treaty of Rome. We find that the Government have been having it very much both ways.
I now come to a set of arguments which I thought were the worst that the Government put forward. The Joint Under-Secretary summed up the matter when we debated the Clause in Committee. It amounted to saying that we could not, or should not, end these Preferences because it was necessary, for two reasons which he gave, to do what I can only describe as appeasing the South African Government.
First of all, the Joint Under-Secretary raised what I can only call the sterling area bogy. He said, in effect, "If we offend the South African Government, and this would offend them, they will leave the sterling area. That will be terrible. It will affect our whole gold import."
That is an argument which ought not to be put forward. It would take far too long to go into the economic argument, but I believe there is very little force in it. Our gold import from South Africa is just the same as any other import from South Africa. The South Africans do not send us their gold free. We have to pay for it with our exports to South Africa or, by triangular trade, to other parts of the world.
It is, of course, true that we pay for it in sterling. That argument had force when sterling was an unconvertible currency. But now that it is, in effect, a convertible currency, I cannot see that paying for the gold import from South Africa in sterling, which the South Africans can readily convert into dollars if they wish to do so at any moment, is any different in effect from paying in 1686 dollars. Now that, for good or ill—I am very doubtful of it—sterling has been made convertible, I do not believe there is anything at all in the sterling area bogy argument.
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Nottingham, West)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the very fact that the gold mines are in a country which is a member of the sterling area adds strength to to the sterling area?
§ Mr. Strachey
That is exactly what I am suggesting is no longer true. As soon as one has made one's currency convertible—one's foreign sterling holding is now convertible—I believe that not to be true at all. It may just give one a nice feeling, but that is about all.
The second argument is a still more serious one. The Joint Under-Secretary said that, in effect, we must appease the South African Government because if we do not do so they will take it out of the High Commission Territories. That is a very dangerous argument for us to use. I was very glad when the Joint Under-Secretary made a strong declaration earlier this afternoon of the Government's intention to maintain the High Commission Territories. We must protect their interests and their integrity, but I simply do not believe that this can be done in the long run by appeasing the South African Government. We must do what we think is right in regard to the South African Government and at the same time protect the interests and integrity of the High Commission Territories.
None of us knows what the future holds, but all of us must apprehend the future in South Africa. A time must, I fear, come when we shall have to choose between offending the South African Government and offending the rest of the Commonwealth, or the rest of the world for that matter. I am glad to say that the Government have, in effect, chosen the rest of the Commonwealth. But this is incompatible with the appeasement of the South African Government.
After all, the Prime Minister himself has alluded to the policies of the South African Government as tragically conceived, perverse and abhorrent. When the Prime Minister has used language as strong as that—I am very glad that he 1687 did; I honour him for having done so—one cannot go on as if nothing had happened. One cannot go on and pass a Bill which one claims is politically neutral, has no effect, is simply a clearing-up Measure and merely regulates the new situation with South Africa outside the Commonwealth. For all these reasons, we deeply deplore the Bill and ask the House to reject it.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Heath
Those who were members of the Standing Committee which considered this Bill will, I think, agree with me that the discussions which we had in Committee and the debates in which we took part were of a high level and of extraordinary interest. Having listened to a good many of the debates in Standing Committee, I certainly felt that myself.
There were a number of issues, which the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) has mentioned tonight, on which we had full and frank debates and on which two points of view were very clearly expressed. I do not tonight, in winding up this debate, Which has been, I think, of equal interest, propose to go over the whole of that ground again, but I should like to deal with some of the points raised by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West and other hon. Members.
As the right hon. Gentleman said in his concluding remarks, the background to this Bill and to all our debates is the withdrawal of the Republic of South Africa from the Commonwealth because of its racial policies. One thing that is in common between the two sides of the House is the general and deep abhorrence of the racial policies which are carried out in the Republic of South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in this House. They were also echoed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in the same debate. Everyone in the House will recollect my right hon. Friend's "wind of change" speech in South Africa itself, in which he made very clear the views of Her Majesty's Government. Those views have often been repeated in the United Nations itself. So there 1688 should be no doubt about the views of Her Majesty's Government and of hon. Members on this side of the House on this matter, which we hold in common with the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), who spoke earlier in the debate, very fairly made the point that he did not in any way doubt the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards apartheid and the racial policies of South Africa. He then went on to say that he thought that certain aspects of the Bill brought this into doubt. This is where we differ from him and his right hon. and hon. Friends. We differ profoundly because we do not believe that this Bill does that.
Reference has been made to the statement my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations made in March, 1961, and which I repeated myself on Second Reading. This was:… we must be careful not to destroy the value of Commonwealth membership by giving to those who are not members all the privileges of those who are.I also included in my Second Reading speech what has not been so often mentioned in the debates on this Bill. This was part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who amplified this theme a great deal. He said:As a matter of general principle, we have somehow to steer away from the two extremes. We do not want it to be supposed in the world as a whole, or in the Commonwealth, that it makes no difference at all whether a country is in the Commonwealth or not. We have to avoid that, but, equally, we do not needlessly wish to damage the interests of the people of South Africa. We have already said … that we are deeply concerned about our relations with them. It would be foolish to do anything vindictive which would antagonise opinion in South Africa and possibly postpone the day when it may return to the Commonwealth."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd March, 1961; Vol. 637, c. 454 and 517.]
§ Mr. Strachey
§ Mr. Heath
We agree about that, and the endeavour of the Government has been to strike the balance emphasised by the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, the differences between us are on whether we have been successful in striking that balance or not, and I hope that tonight we may judge the Bill from 1689 that point of view without any doubts as to the attitude of both sides of the House towards the racial policies of South Africa.
This has, from the point of view of the Opposition, been a debate very largely about economic matters. This surprised me. I was first surprised by the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) when he discarded all the other aspects of Commonwealth membership which South Africa has lost as a result of leaving. This was why I put a question a little later to the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells), who took a very prominent part in our discussions in Standing Committee. I asked the hon. and learned Gentleman what he thought were the ties binding the Commonwealth together.
The hon. and learned Member immediately made an attempt to define a very difficult point but he was not entirely clear. I believe that the Commonwealth is not held together only by economic ties, or even mainly or primarily by economic ties. I believe that it is held together by a very large number of other ties—constitutional, through the Crown as Queen or Head of the Commonwealth; political, in divers different ways; and by the personal ties which exist between the peoples and professional societies and in many other ways.
In addition to that, if the Commonwealth means anything at all, if it has a status, then it means something to the world. It means something in the United Nations, and to a large number of countries who are not members of the Commonwealth. If that is so—and I hope that the House will believe that it is—then all that has been lost to South Africa by leaving the Commonwealth. I believe that South Africans themselves feel that very much indeed, because it has led to the isolation of South Africa from Commonwealth affairs and from world affairs as a whole, which has made a very great impact on them. I believe that to be of prime importance in the background to this Bill.
The Union has lost all constitutional ties with the Commonwealth. It has gone out of all Commonwealth organisations. It no longer takes part in any of their discussions. It does not receive information or take part in the consultations which are the lifeblood, day by 1690 day, of the Commonwealth. What is more, it has lost the prestige and the status, of a family nature, of being a member of the Commonwealth as a whole. That I believe to be a very great loss indeed to South Africa, and so do many South Africans. That then, is the background to the Bill, and it has to be taken into account when we are striking the balance of what is to happen now that South Africa has left the Commonwealth.
We have had many detailed discussions about citizenship and its different aspects. It is a very technical and complicated matter, and on this, too, we had to strike a balance. Some would have liked the provisions to go on for much longer, while others thought that they should have ended sooner. The Government had to strike a balance.
Our position towards South-West Africa right from the beginning has been that the Bill does not and cannot alter the status of the mandated territory of South-West Africa. The right hon. Gentleman said that we were making a number of practical arrangements, and that is true, but the practical arrangements arise in the first instance from the nature of the mandate given to South Africa. It is because of the administrative connections with South Africa as the administering Power of the mandate that these practical arrangements had to be made in the first instance, and, therefore, removed by the Bill now that South Africa has left the Commonwealth.
Our view is that of the International Court—and I say so again publicly—that the conditions of the mandate could be changed only by the United Nations. The United Nations has made no change in the mandate, and therefore it remains. We have made drafting Amendments to the Bill in order to meet the view of the Opposition that the details of the Schedule should be absolutely clear, but our view is that the status of the mandated territory of South-West Africa remains as it was. It is interesting that, as far as I know, there has been no challenge to that view anywhere else in the world, either in the United Nations, or in other countries. No one has challenged the fact that the Bill does not in any way alter the status, or imply 1691 an alteration in the status, of South-West Africa.
The right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party and many others asked about the Sugar Agreement. I do not think that there is anybody who listened to the debates in Committee who would not agree that this is a somewhat complicated problem, and I fear that even now there is considerable misunderstanding about this agreement. I will try to deal with some of these misapprehensions. The suggestions which have been put forward have been largely concerned with the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and have been based on the premise that if we had not made this fresh arrangement, Swaziland could, in its own right, become a member of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.
Swaziland has never had membership in the past and has always operated through South Africa. It would, therefore, have to have membership anew. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, there are substantial surpluses of sugar in the world. There are Commonwealth countries already waiting in the queue to become members of the Sugar Agreement. There are some members of the Commonwealth in the Agreement who are already trying to increase their quotas. It is against the background of those two facts that one has to weigh whether an alternative solution would have been for Swaziland to try to secure membership of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. It is quite obvious that we had to make an arrangement for the immediate future, for four years.
The right hon. Gentleman asked, as there were surpluses in South Africa, what chance Swaziland had there. This is a guaranteed agreement to Swaziland for 72,000 tons and even though South Africa has a surplus itself, Swaziland will be able to dispose of that amount. Secondly, at the moment, Swaziland cannot meet that amount of sugar, is not producing up to the 72,000 tons of which it could dispose in South Africa through this agreement. The third thing is that this agreement gives Swaziland what it has never had before, which is a factor for growth, an increase in the amount which it can sell as a guaranteed amount 1692 to South Africa. All these things are justification for this fresh arrangement which has been made for Swaziland.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Can the right hon. Gentleman say why the agreement cuts down by nearly £10 per ton the amount paid for Swaziland sugar exported?
§ Mr. Heath
It is affected by this because it is still part of the South African arrangement, which it always has been.
§ Mr. Mayhew
§ Mr. Heath
Because of the terms of the arrangement, under which South Africa is prepared to take 72,000 tons guaranteed.
The other factor is that if Swaziland had become a member of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement she would not have got an arrangement for her full quota. No other Commonwealth country has an arrangement for a full quota, and it is because Swaziland is able to dispose of its full crop that this is a very good arrangement for Swaziland.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party said that he was advised that if the figure went up to 120,000 or 130,000 tons this would give Swaziland the money required for other developments. This is no doubt true, but the fact is that Swaziland cannot meet its quota of 72,000 tons, and as it takes four or five years for sugar to develop, there is little or no possibility, that it will meet that quota in the next four or five years, let alone go to the figure which the right hon. Gentleman suggested would solve its problem—120,000 or 130,000 tons.
This is a good arrangement for Swaziland. It would be able to get a better price only if it was in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and getting rid of its full quota at the Commonwealth price. That is something which no other Commonwealth country gets, and there is no reason to believe that Swaziland would be able to get it even if she could get into the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. In those circumstances, I urge on the House that this is a good agreement in which Swaziland takes part.
§ Mr. Strachey
I believe that South Africa exports 150,000 tons of sugar to this country. We are proposing that 1693 South Africa should go out of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement because she has left the Commonwealth. Surely, therefore, there would be no difficulty in accommodating less than 70,000 tons of Swaziland sugar in the country, and there would still be capacity available for Jamaica and other Commonwealth countries. They surely could have no objection to such a proposal?
§ Mr. Heath
There are two factors about that. First, as I have said, there are other Commonwealth countries waiting to come into the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and waiting to increase their quotas. The second factor, which is economic, and which I think hitherto the right hon. Gentleman has ignored, is that large amounts of South African sugar would be unloaded on other markets, including Commonwealth markets. Other Commonwealth countries take the view that this is a thing which ought not to be allowed to happen suddenly. That is why a further agreement was made for this period.
§ Mr. Grimond
I am interested in the figures. This factor for growth interests me. Is it not the case that there is no likelihood whatever of Swaziland being able to look forward to the time when she needs more than about 72,000 or 80,000 tons of sugar? As the right hon. Gentleman said, it takes four years for sugar to develop. What encouragement will we give her to expand her industry?
§ Mr. Heath
That is a separate question, about the economy of Swaziland in the future. There is a capacity for growth, and there is a facility for growth in the contract, from 8 per cent. to 8½ per cent.
The last point that I want to correct—apart from the pronunciation of the right hon. Gentleman, because the word mhlumi is pronounced "schlume"—is that we have not said that the end of this period of four years is to be the end of these arrangements for Swaziland, and Swaziland is to be left without any proper economic arrangements. We have said that at the end of this period further alternative arrangements will have to be made.
Perhaps I might add a word or two about preferences. First, may I refer to the position about arrangements with South Africa and the negotiations with 1694 the European Economic Community. In my speech in Paris, on 10th October, I did not ask for special arrangements for Commonwealth Preferences. I asked for special arrangements for members of the Commonwealth, That is the distinction between this arrangement—which is a bilateral arrangement between ourselves and South Africa—and the rest of the arrangements within the Commonwealth on which we are negotiating at the moment. If these negotiations are concluded successfully, this bilateral agreement, like other bilateral agreements, will have to be re-examined in the context of those negotiations. That is fully understood by South Africa and has been known by South Africa since the beginning of the negotiations.
On the general question of preferences, the argument was set out again by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West. I want to say something about the position of the other Commonwealth countries. I believe it was the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) who said that he thought the economic arrangements in the Bill condoned apartheid and were offensive to the Commonwealth. Throughout these debates, I have constantly asked right hon. and hon. Members opposite to produce evidence of the offence taken in Commonwealth countries about this Bill. I have never, on any occasion, been given any evidence from a Commonwealth Government of offence being taken to the Bill or criticism being made of it. The plain fact is that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have been taking offence, in the name of other Commonwealth countries, which is not justified.
As for preferences—in Australia there have never been preferences with South Africa, but the Australians have said that they do not intend to disturb any existing trade arrangements with South Africa. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is not changing its preferences. New Zealand has a two-way preference, and the New Zealand Government are continuing to give contractual preferences to South Africa. Canada also has a two-way preference agreement with South Africa, and I understand that that is not being disturbed.
None of the other Commonwealth countries have preferential arrangements 1695 with South Africa. African countries do not have preferential arrangements with South Africa or with ourselves, except for Sierre Leone. Other Commonwealth countries with preferences are continuing the policy which we are adopting, including Canada and New Zealand.
The Liberal Party, through its spokesman in Committee, recommended the imposition of a complete embargo on trade with South Africa. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West and a number of hon. Members opposite disagreed with that suggestion. They said that they were quite prepared to have a trade agreement with South Africa. Every trade agreement which is bilateral is a preferential arrangement, because we are favouring the country with which we make the agreement and are also favouring ourselves. That being the case, the right hon. Member for Dundee, West is really objecting to maintaining the existing arrangement—a Commonwealth one—because of its name, and not because of a point of principle. We have reached arrangements with Burma and Eire, and the right hon. Gentleman does not object
§ to them. What he objects to is retaining our arrangement with South Africa because of its apartheid policy. That is not a view which we can support.
§ I therefore urge the House to give the Bill a Third Reading. It has been a difficult matter to strike a balance over all these subjects, but I think that fair-minded people, looking at the Bill, will believe that we have achieved that. Press opinion has often been cited on both sides. The fact remains that many people would agree with the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that it was a great tragedy when South Africa left the Commonwealth. The tragedy lay in the racial policies South Africa was following. It was a tragedy also that a country should have reached the stage when it left the Commonwealth. What we have tried to do is to produce a Bill which is fair to individuals in South Africa and fair to the Commonwealth as a whole.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 201, Noes 140.1697
|Division No. 138.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Curran, Charles||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Allason, James||Currie, G. B. H.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Arbuthnot, John||Dance, James||Hobson, Sir John|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||de Ferranti, Basil||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Holland, Philip|
|Balniel, Lord||Drayeon, G. B.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.|
|Barber, Anthony||du Cann, Edward||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)|
|Barter, John||Duncan, Sir James||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Batsford, Brian||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Errington, Sir Eric||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Bell, Ronald||Farr, John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Finlay, Graeme||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Fisher, Nigel||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Forrest, George||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Biffen, John||Foster, John||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Bishop, F. P.||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Kimball, Marcus|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Freeth, Denzil||Kirk, Peter|
|Bossom, Clive||Gammans, Lady||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Box, Donald||Gilmour, Sir John||Leavey, J. A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Glover, Sir Douglas||Leburn, Gilmour|
|Braine, Bernard||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Brooman-White, R.||Goodhart, Philip||Lindsay, Sir Martin|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Goodhew, Victor||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Gough, Frederick||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Buck, Antony||Gower, Raymond||McAdden, Stephen|
|Bullard, Denys||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||McLaren, Martin|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs.)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McLean, Nell (Inverness)|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Macphereon, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd.)||Maddan, Martin|
|Collard, Richard||Hastings, Stephen||Maginnis, John E.|
|Corfield, F. V.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Marshall, Douglas|
|Costain, A. P.||Heath, Rt. Hon Edward||Marten, Neil|
|Coulson, Michael||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Renton, David||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Mills, Stratton||Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn't & S'th'ld)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Miscampbell, N,||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Roots, William||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Russell, Ronald||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Noble, Michael||St. Clair, M.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Scott-Hopkins, James||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Sharples, Richard||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Shaw, M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Shepherd, William||Walder, David|
|Page, John (Harrow, West)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & chiswick)||Walker, Peter|
|Panned, Norman (Kirkdale)||Smithers, Peter||Wall, Patrick|
|Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Peel, John||Speir, Rupert||Webster, David|
|Pilkington, Sir Richard||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Pitman, Sir James||Stodart, J. A.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Pitt, Miss Edith||Studholme, Sir Henry||Wise, A. R.|
|Pott, Percivall||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tapsell, Peter||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Pym, Francis||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Woollam, John|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Temple, John M.||Worsley, Marcus|
|Ramsden, James||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rees, Hugh||Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Abse, Leo||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Monslow, Walter|
|Ainsley, William||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Moody, A. S.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hannan, William||Moyle, Arthur|
|Beaney, Alan||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Phillp (Derby, S.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hayman, F. H.||Oram, A. E.|
|Bence, Cyril||Healey, Denis||Owen, Will|
|Benson, Sir George||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Padley, W. E.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hilton, A. V.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Harper, Joseph||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(Leics, S. W.)||Holman, Percy||Parker, John|
|Bowles, Frank||Holt, Arthur||Parkin, B. T.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Houghton, Douglas||Prentice, R. E.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hughes, Emyrs (S. Ayrshire)||Probert, Arthur|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hunter, A. E.||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Randall, Harry|
|Chapman, Donald||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Rankin, John|
|Cliffe, Michael||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Reid, William|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Cronin, John||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Ross, William|
|Darling, George||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Short, Edward|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kelley, Richard||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kenyon, Clifford||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Deer, George||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Delargy, Hugh||King, Dr. Horace||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Dodds, Norman||Lawson, George||Steele, Thomas|
|Driberg, Tom||Ledger, Ron||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Stonehouse, John|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Stones, William|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mahon, Dr. J. Dickson||Symonds, J. B.|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||MacColl, James||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Evans, Albert||McInnes, James||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fitch, Alan||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Wade, Donald|
|Fletcher, Eric||McLeavy, Frank||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Warbey, William|
|Forman, J. C.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Weitzman, David|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mallaileu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Ginsburg, David||Manuel, Archie C.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Marsh, Richard||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mason, Roy||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Grey, Charles||Mayhew, Christopher||Woof, Robert|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Millan, Bruce||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gunter, Ray||Milne, Edward||Mr. Ifor Davies and Mr. McCann.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mitchison, G. R.|
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.