§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
According to the announcement of this week's business, today was to have been the second day of a foreign affairs debate in which we should have reviewed the world situation. [HON. MEMBERS: "It still is."] I had much that I wanted to say not only about the Far East but also, in particular, about Europe, a subject on which I have not addressed the House for nearly three years. However, since then a most important event has occurred. The Government announced last Friday evening, after the House had risen, the imposition of an oil embargo on Rhodesia. The First Secretary very courteously informed me of the Government's intentions at six o'clock, before the announcement was made. Of course there was no consultation about this action, but I was grateful to him for his courtesy. The Prime Minister gave the House more details of the embargo yesterday.
Following the imposition of the oil embargo, we on this side of the House believe that we have reached the position where both the House and the country must immediately take stock of the situation. The limit of economic measures to be taken by this country and by a number of other major Powers has now been reached——
§ Mr. Heath
If the hon. Gentleman looks at the list of economic measures, he will find that to be true.
Any further step, therefore, can be only the use of force, which is abhorrent to us on this side of the House and, I believe, to many hon. Members in all parts of the House. [Interruption.]—I am sorry that the use of force should not be abhorrent to anybody—or the resolution of the present situation by peaceful means, about which, I say to the Prime Minister, all too little so far has been said by him or the Government.
It was for this reason, and because we believe that we have reached this situation just before the House rises for the Recess, that the Opposition last night placed a Motion on Rhodesia on the Order Paper with a request through the 1883 usual channels that it should be debated today. This is a vital Motion dealing with the use of British forces by the Government and with the process of reconciliation in order to find a solution to this tragic situation before it escalates to disaster.
The Government, for their part, quite rightly have placed their own Amendment to that Motion on the Order Paper. This Amendment illustrates the difference which now, alas, exists between the Government and the Opposition, because the Amendment calls on the House to support the Government "in all measures", without qualification, which must, of course, include the use of British forces as the Government decide—[Interruption.]—to secure the return to legal rule. There can be absolutely no doubt about the meaning of these words. Of course they mean that Her Majesty's Government could use force and that that could escalate into war. That we on this side of the House cannot and will not support.
I am astonished that the Government should refuse to debate a Motion and an Amendment of such importance at such a critical time but should continue with a general debate, especially as one of these two days is an Opposition day. I must tell the Prime Minister that I thoroughly deplore his decision not to debate this Motion and the Amendment. I realise perfectly well that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to report on his visit to Washington——
§ Mr. Heath
—but he could have done that in any case. We asked the right hon. Gentleman yesterday to make that report and to open the debate. Or he could have done it by making a statement this afternoon. This is the most important single problem affecting the British and Rhodesian people at this moment, and it is a matter for the greatest regret that Her Majesty's Government should not have debated this Motion and Amendment today.
I propose, therefore, to devote the whole of my speech to the urgent and critical question of the Rhodesian problem. I do so because I want there to 1884 be no misunderstanding about the position we have reached or about the future. I detect that some hon. Gentlemen opposite, now that they have reached the brink after these economic measures, are beginning to realise what is involved.
I want, first, to discuss the objective of British policy—we must be clear about this in order to have a criterion by which we can judge each of the Government's measures and the actions they have taken or proposed; it is over the objective of British policy that some differences have now begun to appear. I want, secondly, to consider the methods the Government have so far pursued to achieve this objectice, and I want, thereafter, to examine the question of the use of force. Finally, I will discuss how this question can be resolved.
I come, first, to the objective of British policy, and in my view—and I think there may be agreement in the House about this—it must be to secure the return of Rhodesia to constitutional legality. Not only must it be our objective; we must constantly make it plain to the people of Rhodesia that we here in Britain want this to happen. We want them to be in partnership with us again and within the Commonwealth.
Our position can be summarised very briefly. We as a Government and as an Opposition were opposed to a unilateral declaration of independence. We did our best to dissuade Mr. Smith from seizing independence illegally. When he did so, we condemned it. We are opposed to permanent minority rule. We are opposed to apartheid and to measures which have the aspects of a police State. We believe that the progress towards majority rule must continue, but we also recognise that it must take time before there can be full responsible majority Government. I believe that there is now a growing recognition of this fact in this House as well as among the African leaders, both inside and outside Rhodesia. Indeed, one of the tragic aspects of this situation was the belief that only two courses were open to those taking part; illegal independence or immediate African majority rule. And in this country there are, alas, some who believe this also. From our point of view, this was certainly never the case. There was always the middle way of continuing steadily 1885 along the path of constitutional development, and I believe that this middle way must constantly and clearly be shown to be always there.
There are some who say, "Why speak of the task of persuading the people of Rhodesia?" I do this quite deliberately. I do not know, and I am sure that the Prime Minister does not know, how many Africans support the present régime because they fear intimidation from African majority rule. The Prime Minister has himself spoken of such intimidation. There is a task to be done here as well, and I believe that it is right to speak of the Rhodesian people as a whole, of all races.
I want now to speak of the difference of objective which seems to be appearing between the two sides of the House. In the Prime Minister's statement of 10th December I believe that he moved into a dangerous position. [Interruption.] I believe so for this reason. He is now equating the return of Rhodesia to legal rule—on which both sides of the House can be agreed—with the objective of toppling Mr. Smith and his entire régime. This is t very dangerous position for the Prime Minister and the Government to be in, and I will explain why, because I shall sustain this argument for some time in my speech and I want to examine how it has occurred. On 23rd November the Prime Minister used words which I have quoted already in the House. He said:… as soon as the people of Rhodesia"—that was his phrase—are prepared to return to constitutional paths, as soon as the Governor feels that there is an opportunity of, perhaps, forming a Government among those who will act in a constitutional manner"—that was without qualification—we would want to deal with those people, without any recrimination or any rancour about the past …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 258.]That was entirely without qualification. They were the words which were chosen by the Lord Chancellor to quote in another place on 7th December. Indeed, the Lord Chancellor went further and said that it was open to Mr. Smith now to put before the Government any proposals and that these proposals would be most carefully considered by the Government. Again, that was said without qualification. There was no qualification about the 1886 mechanics of it. However, on the same night the Commonwealth Secretary said:… we cannot deal with Smith in any way—because he is not a man to be trusted."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 385.]Everyone realised that there was a conflict here. I have every sympathy with the Commonwealth Secretary, because he was called upon suddenly to answer an Adjournment debate and obviously he had not had time to prepare himself. He did not at that time wish to deal in detail with the subject of the B.P. tanker, and I recognise his difficulties. But his remarks included that phrase, which I believe was unwise.
The Prime Minister made his statement about this on 10th December. He could have adhered to his original statement and the Lord Chancellor's amplification of it and expressed his regrets about the Commonwealth Secretary's remarks, but he did not do so. He went back on both statements, and, indeed, went much further than the Commonwealth Secretary, for he said:We cannot negotiate with these men, nor can they be trusted, after the return to constitutional rule, with the task of leading Rhodesia in the paths of freedom and racial harmony."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 771.][Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite will see later and will be able to consider just what this means. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister went on to say that he would discuss only the mechanics of constitutional rule. Last night on television he went even further than that.
What the Prime Minister has done, therefore—either to shield the Commonwealth Secretary or as a deliberate act of policy—is to insist on the complete, absolute, and unconditional surrender of everybody in the present illegal régime in Rhodesia and, further, to exclude them from any part in the future of Rhodesia.
One may ask how he proposes to do this. Does this mean that in any constitutional settlement there must he a clause which specifically excludes those men? What happens if, after a constitutional return, the people of Rhodesia themselves want these men to play some part, or to elect them? This, therefore, is an absolutely untenable position. But what is important at the moment is that, 1887 far from persuading the members of the régime—one, or some, or any of them—to change their minds and their policies—which, surely, is part of the objective of the return to legal constitutional development—this can only reinforce their determination at all costs to retain power, come what may. This is the change of objective that has taken place between the two sides of this House as a result of the Prime Minister's second statement qualifying the arrangements he is prepared to make to reach a solution.
I will express our anxieties very clearly on this point to the Prime Minister. What he has done in this way is to commit all his personal prestige and the prestige of the Government as a whole, to use the current phrase of some hon. Members opposite, to toppling the Smith régime, and there lies the real danger—[Interruption.] Yes, and for this reason. The Prime Minister will be under constant pressure—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. This is a grave debate. Neither side will help its case, or Parliament, by merely shouting.
§ Mr. Heath
The Prime Minister will be under constant pressure—as, indeed, one can hear from the support on that side of the House—to go further and further to achieve this new objective, and the danger is that he will be tempted into adventures to achieve this. I must tell him that we on this side are determined to do all we can to prevent actions by the Government being determined by questions of personalities rather than by policies which we believe to be wise.
I wish now to turn to the methods that have so far been used to bring about the return to legality. They are economic and financial. We have supported these measures which the Government have taken—[Interruption.] We have supported them, though for some of my hon. Friends it has meant heartsearching as to whether these measures would help or hinder the purpose that I have described as the objective of British policy.
I believe that we have been right on this side to support what the Government have done in order to try to bring about a change of policy in Rhodesia itself. We have been right in the national interest. I believe that we have been 1888 right in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. We have realised the impact of Mr. Smith's action on Africa, and on all the developing countries. We have taken this into account, and we have recognised the dangers that are inherent in this situation—which, in fact, we always pointed out forcibly to Mr. Smith. We are determined that the economic measures that have been taken should be given every opportunity of working, and I want to say something a little later about the time it takes for economic measures to work.
But I must tell the Prime Minister this, also; that in the timing of some of the measures he has taken in the economic field particularly—not the first batch, but the second batch, and, again, those in Washington last Friday—he has given the impression that he has succumbed to the heavy pressures to which he has been subjected, and this can only raise further anxieties about the pressures to which he will be subjected in the future. [Interruption.] The reason why it raises anxieties is that the other pressure to which he will be subjected is the pressure to use force.
I must also say that the way in which the measures have been introduced has indicated that the Government have not, in fact, any clearly-thought-out or balanced plan for dealing with these measures in the present situation. The ban on the payment of pensions was a very clear illustration of this—a ban which the Chancellor of the Exchequer quite rightly withdrew.
I want to turn to the oil embargo itself as the latest of the economic measures. It is the measure of all the measures so far taken which calls for the deepest consideration. It is supported by the United States, by the members of the Commonwealth, by France and Italy, and, I read today—perhaps the Prime Minister will confirm this later—by the Netherlands and by some other countries. It can, therefore, I believe, have an effect on Rhodesia in the same way as other economic measures. I believe that this is effective in the same way as some of the other measures that have been taken are effective on Rhodesia and the Rhodesian economy, and in the same way as are the other economic and financial measures on the régime in Rhodesia. But 1889 there are three major fears which are in the minds of all hon. Members about this action.
The first fear concerns Zambia. The Order, of course, has led to further escalation, and the question is whether the needs of Zambia can be met by other means and whether the Government's contingency plan is adequate. We should like to hear more about this. Those who saw in The Times today the photograph of the airfield at Lusaka after the oil-carrying aircraft had landed on it must have anxieties about the capacity of the air supply for Zambia's total needs. The Government will indeed have been reckless if they have imposed an embargo without being able to ensure the satisfaction of Zambia's needs in this way.
The second anxiety is that the oil embargo will not only affect the economy of Rhodesia but will make the maintenance of law and order impossible and lead to a complete breakdown there. I accept what the Prime Minister said yesterday about the arrangements that have been made for distribution to hospitals and other hardship cases, but there is this second anxiety that the imposition of an oil sanction will lead to the breakdown of the economy in Rhodesia, and also of law and order.
We on this side do not want to see the economy of Rhodesia reduced to chaos. We believe that that would be wrong, so that it is important now that there should he emphasised again—now that this oil embargo is being imposed—the vital need to keep in touch with the régime in Rhodesia and to show clearly the alternative way back to legality in order that the situation should not be reached in which the economy or law and order is reduced to chaos, or to anything near it. The effects of these economic measures are bound to take time, and I would emphasise again to the Prime Minister that it is essential that there should be discussions in Rhodesia before there is any question of wrecking the economy, or of law and order breaking down.
The third and deep anxiety is that this Order—[Interruption.] I have already said that it is essential that the Government should find means of keeping the channels of communication open either 1890 with the régime or with anyone outside the régime—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) rose—
§ Mr. Heath
—in order to prevent the situation arising, at the moment when the Government are proposing even more drastic economic measures, in which the economy and law and order are reduced to chaos.
The third and deep anxiety is that the Order will lead to the use of force which will itself escalate. This has always been the question in connection with oil and any oil embargo throughout modern history. I know that some hon. Members believe that an oil embargo must inevitably lead to force, because the oil embargo itself will be ineffective. I do not myself share that view. I do not believe that the imposition of an oil embargo automatically leads to the use of force.
I want to make this absolutely plain, because I believe that it is the crux and that it is at the heart of the whole matter. It does not automatically lead to force, any more than the imposition of any other economic measures justifies or leads to the use of force. That does not follow. But what others believe, inside the House and out, is that the Prime Minister is prepared to use force to carry out the oil embargo. That is not a question of automatically; they believe that the Prime Minister himself would be prepared so to do, and I am putting this to him quite bluntly. Yesterday the Prime Minister would give the House no assurances on this point. He was asked by his hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) about a blockade of Beira. The Prime Minister replied:this is quite hypothetical at the moment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th December 1965; Vol. 722, c. 1696.]We in the House, about to break for nearly five weeks recess, are not concerned only with the moment. We are concerned with the future. It is this with which we are vitally concerned today, and that is why we ought to be debating the Motion and the Amendment.
We have discussed the use of force in the Rhodesian situation on an earlier 1891 occasion. On 1st December the Prime Minister said this:If that did mean a limited operation we should be prepared to undertake that operation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December 1965; Vol. 721, c. 1440.]The Prime Minister must know that in Rhodesia today, in present circumstances, no operation around Kariba could remain a limited operation.
On 6th December in the Daily Mirror, replying to the article of 3rd December, the Prime Minister said this:We have made it clear time and time again that we shall not invade Rhodesia or get into a military clash on or over Rhodesian soil with forces controlled by the illegal Smith régime.That is quite contradictory of the fact that the Prime Minister was prepared to undertake a limited operation if it arose. It is precisely what the Prime Minister had not said time and time again, that he would not get involvedin a military clash on or over Rhodesian soil with forces controlled by the illegal Smith régime.So the House is entitled to wonder which of these two choices it should make. This is why we have tabled our Motion clearly and explicitly denying the use of force to the Government, because we believe that force can solve nothing in this crisis.
§ The Prime Minister
I agree. Force can solve nothing in this crisis. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I have twice met him and twice explained what I meant in relation to Kariba to him. He knows that if I were to spell out publicly what I said to him men's lives would be at risk. He knows the answer. Is he still going to press this argument, or does he want me to say publicly what I have said to him privately?
§ Mr. Heath
That is what he has not been prepared to give. If the Prime Minister is prepared to give it, there is 1892 no need for him in his Amendment to demand authority from the House "to all measures".
A blockade—this was mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) yesterday—will produce dangers of conflict with troops of other Powers and then pressure to extend a blockade to the whole of Southern Africa. In Rhodesia any use of force will mean conflict between Europeans and Europeans, Europeans and Africans, and, with a divided nationalist movement, between Africans and Africans. Therefore, we are categorically opposed to it.
The Prime Minister has frequently stated that he wants a quick solution. I beg of him to get this out of his mind, because it is the desire to get a quick solution which can lead to other policies, including the use of force, which would not be justifiable or tenable. Economic measures cannot work as quickly as he sometimes seems to think. There may not be a quick solution to this problem. Certainly the creation of economic chaos, the breakdown of law and order, or military chaos, is no solution.
But the Prime Minister calls for support for "all" measures. This, I repeat, we cannot and will not accept. The line here is absolutely firmly drawn. I do not believe that the line is drawn on the oil Order on which the United States, the Commonwealth and our N.A.T.O. allies are co-operating. I do not believe that that is where we draw the line. I do believe that the line is drawn at using force in connection with it. I believe that that is an absolutely clear line. That is set out in our Motion.
Some may ask, as a newspaper does today, why the difference between the economic and the military? There are many obvious differences, but one I want to emphasise is that the economic measures which the Government are taking remain always under the Government's full control and can be changed at any time. Once force is used to support those economic measures, then no one can tell where that is going to lead or what the consequences of it would be. It is for this reason that I strongly advise my right hon. and hon. Friends that it is not on the economic measure of the oil embargo Order that 1893 we should oppose the Government to-night. It is on the use of force for which they ask authority and about which the Prime Minister gave us no assurances today and there are no assurances in the Amendment he has tabled.
I believe, too, that the people of Britain support this view. They are seeing the economic measures being taken. They are much to the distaste and dislike of many people in this country, but they regard them as necessary. But they are not prepared to see these measures backed up by the use of force. I must tell the Prime Minister that if the Government attempt to do this while the House is in recess, we shall, of course, demand the recall of Parliament and we shall do everything in our power within the Parliamentary system to prevent him using force in these circumstances.
The other matter on which it is apparent——
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) knows that there is only one way to ask questions.
§ Mr. Shinwell
A point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the past your predecessors have always encouraged the cut and thrust of debate. All I want to do is to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman what he means.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Like my predecessors, I encourage the cut and thrust of debate and wish to hear it; but the cut and thrust of debate has never meant continuously asking questions from a seated position.
§ Mr. Heath
I now want to turn to the fourth and final part of my remarks about Rhodesia, and that is on the question of how this situation can be resolved. I have already dealt with the limitations which the Prime Minister has placed on those with whom he is prepared to deal. We believe that this is wrong, because what is the object of the whole operation except to get people to change their minds and their attitudes? If Mr. Smith 1894 ever had any illusions about the action which would be taken against an illegal régime, he and his colleagues can certainly be under no illusions now, nor can their supporters.
In this situation it is important that the door should be kept open and not slammed, as the Prime Minister has done. It is surely somewhat ironical that in every other corner of the globe right hon. and hon. Members opposite are now and always have been wanting to talk in situations of difficulty with whoever is involved in the dispute. Today they are in the Far East. Yet here is the one situation in which they exclude that entirely.
In their Amendment the Government suggest that, as the proposals last put forward in the negotiations were rejected, that is the end of the matter as far as Mr. Smith is concerned. That need not be so. If the Government's purpose is working out and people are changing their minds and attitudes, then surely there is a possibility that this situation, too, will change, even if it has not done so already. What is necessary is that the Government's own proposals should be spelled out clearly. If they believe that amendments are necessary to the 1961 Constitution, let them specify them. [HON. MEMBERS: "They have"]. With great respect, they have not.
It is the unknown which prevents progress in this situation. I believe that it was wrong, and I said so at the time, that the Prime Minister should speak at all about direct rule, even for a short time. This may be a tidy Whitehall solution for starting all over again, but few in Rhodesia, not even those of moderate opinion who are lamentably few, will believe that direct rule, once started, is very quickly going to be brought to an end. Nobody will believe that.
The important thing now is constantly to make plain that while these economic measures are being taken, which the Prime Minister himself suggested must be abhorrent to all of us, we seek at the same time reconciliation and are prepared to take steps towards it with all those in Rhodesia who are prepared genuinely to respond.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) suggested in his Glasgow speech the basis on which this might be 1895 done. I do not propose to go over this in detail. My right hon. Friend set out the principles of the 1961 Constitution, moving on to majority rule, and educational advances. The Prime Minister himself, in his last offer to Mr. Smith and the Rhodesians, suggested that the Government would help with financing educational advance. We said that we should also back this if it were done. It is no good the Prime Minister saying that it was turned down then. The point is whether there are going to be constructive developments in Rhodesia. I would add—because one of the objections was that if Africans were educated there would not be a standard of employment for them—that we should go further and perhaps offer help with industrial development to Rhodesia to meet that point as well.
§ The Prime Minister
The objection taken by Prime Minister Smith was not that there would be no economic jobs for them. The objection stated was that to press on with African education would be to give Africans votes. That was why he was against it.
§ Mr. Heath
Yes, the B roll. This is not an occasion for getting into the details of the argument about the last negotiations. It is a time for discussing what might be possible in the changed circumstances in which the present measures are to take effect. If the Prime Minister would turn his mind to the future instead of constantly to the past we might make progress. The Prime Minister has developed a habit of declaring that everything depends on the illegal régime, and of course that was created by Mr. Smith and his colleagues. At the same time great responsibility rests on Her Mejesty's Government and on all of us in the House not to stand aside but to take positive steps.
The Prime Minister must not underestimate the depth of feeling which exists in Rhodesia today, and I hope that he is under no illusions about the difficulties which we are facing there. If we want to find a resolution of this situation and 1896 if this tragedy is not to end in disaster, the Prime Minister must follow a twofold policy in which the details of active reconciliation are put just as prominantly and constantly as the economic measures and sanctions. If the Prime Minister wants the House to have more information he should consider again the proposal for senior Members of the House to visit Rhodesia, when possible, and report back here. This could be constructive and psychologically helpful. I believe that it would be right for the Prime Minister to reconsider this suggestion.
I think that the people of this country long to see an end to this division between Britain and Rhodesia and a settlement on an honourable basis which will ensure that the rights of all races are secured in Rhodesia. I believe that when the time comes when people in Rhodesia are prepared to return to constitutional legality the attitude of the Government, the Prime Minister and his colleagues should be that long ago defined by Burke, thatMagnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom …".Returning to the Opposition Motion and the Government's Amendment, I have described the differences in objective which I now fear have developed between the two sides of the House, and the differences over the means of reaching a solution to this problem. But above all it would be unfortunate, indeed it would be deplorable, if there were differences between the two sides over the use of force. Here, far from giving us assurances, the Government's Amendment asks for a blank cheque. It is on this that we must challenge the Government tonight.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
On a point of order. We are now discussing the Motion to adjourn. Although he has been using arguments supporting his Motion, surely the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) is not in order now to bring into the debate, and thereby try to fasten on to hon. Members who themselves do not support force or want to support it, that if they vote for the Adjournment tonight they are voting for force.
§ Mr. Heath
I appreciate the position of the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw 1897 (Mr. Bellenger). I do not wish in any way to be unfair to him or others on his side who feel like him. I am quoting the Motion on the Order Paper and the Government's Amendment. If the Government had agreed to debate these the right hon. Gentleman would have had an opportunity of showing his views in the Division Lobby tonight.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
On a point of order. Is not it the case that we are now debating a Motion for the adjournment? We are certainly not debating either the Motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition or the Government's Amendment. Which are we debating, that Motion and Amendment, or that the House do no adjourn?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman asks me what we are debating. We are debating whether the House shall adjourn. Nothing has happened so far in the speech of the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) that is out of order.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
On a point of order. The right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) has constantly referred to the fact that we shall he voting tonight and demonstrating whether we support the Motion or the Amendment which we are not debating. Can it be made clear that the vote tonight is not on either the Motion or the Amendment but on the Adjournment and nothing else?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
On a point of order. I should like to put the point the other way. The only Question before the House is whether the House adjourns or does not adjourn. There may be a variety of arguments for or against either proposition, but is it in order to invite the House to decide that Question by reference to arguments which would be appropriate only if the other Motion and the Amendment to it were being debated?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is surely a third way of putting exactly the alleged point of order which is not a point of order.
§ Mr. Heath
Not only did the Leader of the House, who is not here at the moment, say at ten o'clock last night that the Motion and the Amendment would be entirely in order for discussion today, but 1898 he also said that there could be a Division at ten o'clock upon the Motion. But the interruptions we are suffering from the benches opposite indicate very clearly why the Government did not wish to debate either of them.
I believe that this is a vital debate before the House rises for the Recess. I remind the House and the Commonwealth that we on this side have supported the economic and financial measures which the Government have taken. I wish again to advise my right hon. and hon. Friends, as firmly as I can, that we should not challenge the Government tonight on the oil embargo Order. But I must state quite categorically, as we say in our Motion, that we cannot support the use of force. It is here that we firmly draw the line. As the Government have refused to debate the Motion and the Amendment, then it is on the Adjournment that we must divide the House tonight.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
In view of the opening and closing words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, I must just refer to the procedural tangle in which the House was in danger of finding itself last night. For several weeks, there has been pressure for a two-day foreign affairs debate, the more urgent because we did not debate foreign affairs during the debate on the Address and it is, therefore, more than five months since the last foreign affairs debate. The general view of the House—we have had many consultations about it—was that the two-day debate should be after and not before my visit to Washington.
Following your Ruling yesterday, Mr. Speaker, that Rhodesia as well as foreign affairs could be debated in the two-day Adjournment debate, I thought that the House seemed content to continue with the arrangements we had made. That was the position after the right hon. Gentleman raised his point of order at 3.30 yesterday afternoon. But then the Opposition tabled a Motion on Rhodesia, the Motion to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, covering what was, in fact, the lowest common denominator of agreement on Rhodesia within the Opposition. That Motion does not deal with the principal issues and the issues of principle which ought to be covered in 1899 any discussion of Rhodesia or in any declaration by this House, nor does it recognise that these statements are read outside and on a selective basis in Rhodesia.
Of course, if the Opposition Motion had been a Motion of censure—I challenged the right hon. Gentleman a fortnight ago to table one—a Motion calling in question the Government's handling of this infinitely difficult problem, as I am sure he will agree, then the Government would have felt it necessary to interfere with the Parliamentary programme of debate in order to resolve the matter. But this Motion was no Motion of censure. It was deliberately drawn to avoid being a Motion of censure. In fact, as the right hon. Gentleman said, we tabled an appropriate Amendment, and I shall deal with all the issues, but we did not feel that it would be right or appropriate to interfere with the rights of hon. Members who have been waiting for months to debate foreign affairs, some of whom yesterday were waiting to get in today. We felt that it would not be right to say at 10 o'clock last night, "You will not have an opportunity to do so because we propose to change the business in order to deal with the right hon. Gentleman's Motion", the more so as those who want to debate Rhodesia may still do so today and those who want to debate foreign affairs can stick to the original arrangement.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition chose, as was well within his rights, to devote the whole of his speech to Rhodesia. I shall come to those points later. At this stage, I say only that it seemed to me that his speech was more concerned with the passions behind him than with the problems in front of him. I sometimes wish that the right hon. Gentleman would look at the problem which we face in Rhodesia as what it is, a grave moral problem—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—yes, it is—a world problem and a very dangerous world problem, and not think that he can deal with the whole thing as though it were a point of order at the Tory Party conference or a meeting of the 1922 Committee. However, I was glad of one thing he said more than once, when he expressed his utter repugnance to the use of force at all for settling 1900 disputes of this kind. I agree with him. That was the Chief Whip at the time of Suez who used his very considerable expertise—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."]—it is not, and it was not cheap in terms of lives in the Suez operation. The right hon. Gentleman used his expertise then to keep his party together in support of Suez, which is more than he has done in keeping his party together on Rhodesia, and we now know, on the admission of the parties to that dispute, including the then Prime Minister, thet the whole thing was a collusive put-up job and this House was misled by the right hon. Gentleman himself.
I have referred to the fact that he dealt exclusively with Rhodesia in his speech. I shall come back to that in the second part of my own, but the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not follow him entirely, but turn first to some vital issues of foreign affairs and then later pick up some of the points which he made.
On the broad issues of international affairs, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary yesterday dealt with many of the questions troubling hon. Members in all parts of the House—Vietnam, disarmament, non-proliferation. relations with the Soviet Union, and relations with Europe. Other right hon. and hon. Members on both sides stressed a number of other issues, some of them including the situation in the Middle East referred to by the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) when he wound up last night, and I hope that these will be dealt with by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, at the end of the debate. But it was the desire of right hon. Members opposite, expressed more than once, that I should give the House a report on my visit to Washington and to Ottawa, and on this I propose to concentrate before turning to Rhodesia.
Perhaps I might just refer to another forthcoming visit on which the right hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) yesterday produced some uncharacteristically negative observations. He is usually very positive in his speeches, but yesterday the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that it would be wrong for me to visit Moscow in the near future. Obviously, the timing of discussions of this kind is always debatable, and some right hon. 1901 Members opposite have expressed regret that I have not been to Moscow already. However, I have most carefully studied the exchanges between my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and Soviet Ministers on his visit to Moscow at the end of November, and I have had the benefit of a continuing exchange of messages with Mr. Kosygin since last spring. In the light of these exchanges, and having regard to some of the vitally urgent questions which, I think, now require discussion, I have accepted an invitation from the Soviet Government to spend some days in the Soviet capital in February, from 21st to 24th February.
Now, my visit to Washington. I shall not at this point deal with the part of the talks with the President which dealt with Rhodesia, because I shall come to that matter later. It was, obviously topical and urgent, but I assure the House that our talks in Washington about Rhodesia formed only a very small part, not the main part in any sense, of our discussions.
The main subject of our discussions in Washington related to the defence review. As the House knows, for many months we have been undertaking a thorough and searching review of our defence programme, defence expenditure, defence rôles and commitments, the deployment of our forces and the arming of our forces. We started from the proposition not only that our forces were overstretched in relation to the commitments which they might have to meet but that the commitments themselves required review both in their totality and in relation to one another. Of course, any Government who are really reviewing defence policy after a period of time will find an accumulation of commitments, some, perhaps all, of which were accepted rightly and relevantly against different strategic situations, but they then find themselves involved in meeting particular roles which are, perhaps, less urgent than when they were undertaken. Then again there is the choice of individual weapons, which has greatly exercised the minds of hon. Members in all parts of the House and which is very often closely related to the kind of commitments which we keep in our programme or which we reject.
Arising from the Defence Review, the total cost of our Defence effort by 1970 1902 must be brought to a figure within the economic capacity of the nation. This requires ruthless pruning, not only in terms of weapons but in terms of the commitments that we have inherited, many of which, perhaps all, were right to be undertaken at the time they were taken on.
We believe that, within such a programme, we can get a realistic and effective defence policy—effective in terms of the job that has to be done and in terms of cost. In the past few weeks, we have completed the first stage of our work. We have identified the operations and the costs and have begun to form some idea of the priorities.
It was right and proper that, at this time, we should discuss these problems with our allies in the United States and in the Commonwealth, not with the idea of giving them any power of decision on our defence expenditure or priorities but in order to hear their ideas about the roles and commitments that we should be undertaking, having regard to the fact that, not only in Europe but all over the world, Britain's defence policy must be constructed on the basis of interdependence and collective security and not on unilateral, costly "go it alone" policies. But, of course, the final decision must be with Her Majesty's Government and the House of Commons.
During my Washington talks, I outlined the options facing us, the nature of the choices and priorities. I think that the American leaders with whom I discussed the question felt that our approach was realistic and related to the kind of world we are living in and which we must expect to be living in in the 1970s. The details are to be further examined when my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary visit Washington. They will discuss all these questions in detail and in depth with their opposite numbers and we shall also have early discussions with Australia and New Zealand about British defence policy in the Far East. This will give time for the Government's decisions, when taken, to be incorporated in the Defence White Paper to be published when the time comes next year.
Perhaps I should repeat what I said at Question Time. I had no discussion in Washington about weapons, whether aircraft or naval weapons or any other 1903 type of weapons system. We dealt with commitments and their relation to overall foreign policy. We reviewed every part of the world in which Britain has a defence rôle.
In our European rôle, we do not contemplate any substantial change unless an international agreement between East and West makes it possible to agree on the reduction of forces both East and West of the Iron Curtain on the basis of an agreed phased withdrawal. Again, there could be changes in N.A.T.O. strategy leading to changes in our deployment in Europe, although, once again, as I have said many times, we do not envisage any substantial unilateral changes in our deployment in N.A.T.O. —only those changes which are agreed within the alliance.
In considering the other areas—the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Far East—it would be wrong now, with so many decisions to be taken, for me to go into detail. But I think that I should say that there was complete agreement in Washington with the British Government's decision to continue to maintain a world-wide defence rôle, particularly to fulfil those commitments which, for reasons of history, geography, Commonwealth association and the like, we, and virtually we alone, are best fitted to undertake.
Equally, it was recognised that this rôle has to be exercised within an overall ceiling of cost, both financial and in terms of real resources allocated to the purpose. Taking the east of Suez rôle as a whole, there was a lively recognition on both sides that we could fulfil the kind of rôle I think that it is our duty to fulfil only on the basis of inter-dependence with our allies and by burden sharing in terms both of commitment and cost.
Turning to commitments as a whole, two points should be made—and I am glad that they are widely and wisely recognised by the American Administration. First, the burden of watching Western interests in other parts of the world is very unfairly shared. Mr. McNamara was right, at the N.A.T.O. Conference last week, to seek to interest other European nations, whose preoccupations with Europe are pressing and 1904 recognised, in looking outwards to some of the problems we and other nations face in Africa and Asia.
Secondly, we are making a costly contribution to the defence of Europe. In terms of cost as a proportion of gross national product, we are carrying the heaviest burden of European defence, at any rate as far as costs across the foreign exchanges are concerned. If we are to maintain any European rôle and at the same time defend Western interests in a much wider area, our Western allies and partners have to be prepared to share these costs on a more widespread basis. This idea is fully realised in Washington.
I must also refer to the problem of the strengthening of N.A.T.O., especially the nuclear side, which has dominated our foreign policy debates for many years. I think that we are beginning to move towards a rational solution. I felt this last week. The right hon. Member for Bedford had some good natured fun at our expense about the question of the A.N.F. It is not normally the funniest of subjects but he managed to get some fun out of it.
It would be churlish of me to point out—but I will do so nevertheless—that, in the last 12 months, we have begun to inject some sense into this subject whereas the Government of which he was a member was split from top to bottom as to whether Britain should or should not support the idea of a mixed manned force. Even since they have been in Opposition, we have had disagreement between successive Front Bench speakers on the subject.
For reasons that I know that the right hon. Gentleman understands very well, little progress has been made this year on the A.N.F. proposal and even less on the mixed manned force. However, now we begin to make progress. We have always made it clear that we would reject any solution which would involve the proliferation of nuclear striking power, whether in the form of a crude addition of more fingers on the nuclear trigger or in any other form conferring nuclear power where none exists today. We have made that plain. However, I am still not clear as to where the Opposition stand on this. I hope that they will tell us in some future foreign affairs debate.
I have never felt that the original M.L.F. proposal was proliferatory and 1905 have argued that point of view fairly hard in Moscow. But whatever arguments there may be about that, one of the distinctive features of our A.N.F. proposal was the clear inclusion of specific guarantees against proliferation and the acquisition by non-nuclear Powers of nuclear weapons. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has clearly and realistically indicated the importance of proceeding on lines which must not inhibit the conclusion of a worldwide treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons. This will continue to guide our actions and the part we play in inter-allied discussions.
In the Washington talks, we did not attempt to solve this problem because N.A.T.O. has already charted the future course of discussions on a basis that all of us feel to be realistic and designed to make progress. In particular, I hope that we have now got away from the idea which right hon. and hon. Members opposite have suffered from as much as we and which has dominated the thinking of so many people—that we here or our friends in America are the people best fitted to say exactly what Germany, for example, or Italy or any other non-nuclear power wants.
Too many people have been saying that the Germans want a certain thing and that the only way to buy them off is to pursue one certain course or another. Now, in N.A.T.O., we have the situation where we shall find out from the non-nuclear Powers exactly what their position is instead of having to guess. Thus we can get the basis of dealing with the problem—and in doing so we shall be guided by considerations going beyond the requirements of N.A.T.O. alone.
Now I wish to deal with Vietnam. On the basic issues presented by the war, I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said yesterday and nothing to subtract. No one in this House, in any part of it, will under-rate the dangers of a continuance of this fighting. First, the war is above all a tragedy for the people of Vietnam. Peace has been a stranger to their country for a generation. Secondly, as long as the war continues, there is continuing danger—some would say a growing danger—that what is at present a local war could escalate into a major war in Asia or something even worse.
1906 Thirdly, we must face the fact that the fighting has up to now cast a shadow over the whole conduct of international relations. The hopes of a year or two ago that we could make a reality of coexistence between East and West, believing profoundly that our two systems of Government could move closer together, have been set back because, over the past year, Vietnam has been the cause of division not only between East and West but of competitive division within the Communist world itself. As a result of all this, there is deep feeling in the House not only on this side, but on both sides of the House, deep feeling in the country and deep feeling in the United States, too, about the dangers which we are facing, particularly the dangers of escalation.
What I want to suggest, with the greatest respect, to those who have identified themselves in the House with the Vietnam question is this: I welcome their deep concern, just as I always have, but I resent any suggestion that they feel any more strongly about this question than I do, or than my right hon. Friend does. One thing I am absolutely satisfied about after my talks last week is that, while President Johnson is quite clear about the duty which he feels lies on his own country to resist Communist infiltration and aggression, he is as anxious and as determined as any hon. Member in the House of Commons to get the talks to the conference table on a basis designed to bring the fighting to a speedy conclusion and to find an honourable, just and permanent solution to the Vietnam problem within the ambit of the 1954 and 1962 Agreements.
I have studied a long record of pronouncements, not all of which have been quoted in the House, in which the President himself and the Secretary of State and others have committed themselves, generally or in specific instances, to a willingness to negotiate on this question. As my right hon. Friend said yesterday, there has not been—not yet anyway—a corresponding willingness on the part of others who are fighting in Vietnam. I shall not weary the House with the whole record of instances—the resolution of the 17 uncommitted nations, the Gordon Walker mission, the proposed U Thant mission, the proposed Commonwealth Peace Mission, the visit of my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the 1907 Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance and the rest. [Laughter.] Those are not things to titter about. We have never had a suggestion from right hon. Gentlement opposite about how this question could be resolved, just a little bit of bar humour on the subject; very funny and we will join in the laughter, but this is a tragic war. It is a war which carries with it a very grave danger of escalation and we should like to think that either they back what we are doing, or can suggest alternatives. Humour is not enough in this situation.
We are conscious of our duty as one of the co-chairmen under the Geneva Agreement, and throughout this year my right hon. Friend has been pressing and pressing his Soviet counterpart to call a conference under the aegis of that agreement, so far without success. We are going to go on pressing. We shall examine every possibility of mounting a new initiative which could lead to negotiation. I know that this may not be fully acceptable to some right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because in the summer they seemed very concerned to suggest that it was wrong for us to take any initiative which might lead to rebuffs. If we are not prepared to risk rebuffs, we shall not get peace in Vietnam. The road to peace in Vietnam may well mean a whole succession of rebuffs, disappointments and snubs and there may be one or two hon. Members opposite who think to make capital out of each, but that will not deter us.
Right hon. Gentlemen opposite last summer showed in their insistence that we must proceed through well-defined diplomatic channels that they ignored the unique difficulty of this problem, and the unique difficulty of this problem is that neither Russia nor any other country with whom we are in diplomatic communication has so far been able or willing to try and turn the key, the key which is to be found in Hanoi and only in Hanoi. That is why unusual unconventional and sometimes devious methods, even methods considered humorous, may have to be used to open that door. But we shall not hesitate to go on trying to get that door open, because until we do there will be no peace in Vietnam.
Having been to Washington, I now know that I have the fullest support of 1908 the President of the United States who, in a public statement in my presence in Washington on Friday last, at the time of the Christmas tree ceremony, described and welcomed Britain's peace rôle in the Vietnam context and said that any initiative which we were able to take—any initiative which we were able to take—would find a ready response in the Government of the United States. In the summer when we took initiatives—the Commonwealth Peace Mission, the visits of my hon. Friend, and others—right hon. Gentlemen opposite chided us, because, they said, this would be unacceptable to the United States. They got their reply shortly afterwards when the President praised the efforts which we were making in both cases. I want them to understand now that we now have his solid support in any initiative which we can take. He has his duty to do and he feels that duty very strongly and no one is in any doubt about that, but at the same time it is quite wrong to suggest that he is not as keen to get a peaceful and honourable settlement in Vietnam as any hon. Member on either side of the House.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to make his hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary sound heroic, but has not any Government of this country a responsibility for seeing that when any member of the Government goes abroad as an envoy he is likely to be received with some sort of courtesy? There are established ways of ensuring this.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, Sir, and we can stick on that, or ensure that nobody goes there who is not wearing striped pants and a black coat and be absolutely certain that we shall not get rebuffed, but at the end of the day we will not get peace either.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Will my right hon. Friend say whether he discussed with the President of the United States a question which has been very widely discussed in the Press of this country and the United States, the possibility of the intensification of the bombing in North Vietnam and its extension to fresh areas, plus the possibility of the United States sending considerably larger numbers of troops to Vietnam itself? Did 1909 he discuss that question with the President and was consideration given to the influence which such actions might have on the possibility of getting going negotiations with Hanoi?
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, Sir. We discussed all those problems and, as I told the House before, we have always made it clear that there are some escalations of the bombing which we could not support, including bombing of the major cities in North Vietnam. Of course, it is no good approaching these problems on the basis which says that the United States should do this and stop doing that unilaterally. It is for us to be able to get some corresponding willingness on the other side. We are then prepared to put to the United States that the Americans should take or not take any particular course of action, as was suggested by the Commonwealth Peace Mission.
§ Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)
But surely Australia and New Zealand are making a military contribution to the war in Vietnam.
§ The Prime Minister
They have made a contribution. The hon. Gentleman seems to think that we cannot have a voice in this matter because we have not. I hope that he will leave it to President Johnson to make his representations. He does it with even more authority than the hon. Gentleman. It is not for any hon. Member to tell us where our duty lies in the matter of supplying the war in Vietnam with troops. Of course Australia and New Zealand have troops there but the President of the United States understands our very special rôle as co-chairman under the Geneva Agreement. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that with that rôle we have a very special responsibility for peace and a very special responsibility not to be involved in fighting in Vietnam.
The House will understand that these subjects which I have mentioned—the Defence Review, N.A.T.O., the problem of the spread of nuclear weapons and the special problems which we face in Africa—naturally formed only part of very thorough and searching talks which I had with the President last week. It is difficult in setting out the position in each of them to give any concept of the brisk, crisp, comradely and fruitful nature of 1910 our discussions on every single point which we covered. I doubt whether relations between our two countries have been closer and more frank and marked by clearer understanding, even when we did not agree—and, of course, there are important issues on which it is well known that we do not agree than probably at any time since the Second World War.—[An HON. MEMBER: "Such as?"] I do not think that we agree on the admission of Communist China to the United Nations, as we have made very plain in the past. I hope that no one will under-rate the importance of this not only for Britain and America, but for world understanding and world peace. A great deal of this improvement has resulted from frankness and from realism and from ridding our relationships of nostalgic pretence and pretence of independent weapons when the Americans knew perfectly well that those weapons were not independent.
I have dealt specially with my talks in Washington—I wish that there were time to give an account of my valuable and interesting talks in Ottawa as well—to the exclusion of a broader discussion of the problems of world affairs generally, the subject which we are supposed to be debating today. I feel that it would not be right to weary the House by going over the same ground so fully covered by my right hon. Friend yesterday.
I should now like to turn from this brief review of the Washington visit, which I think the House wanted me to make, to the issue of Rhodesia which was opened up by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I agree with him that it is important to have a clear statement of principles about our approach to the Rhodesian situation. I cannot say that we have had this from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. What we have had is a series of the things which he is not prepared to support and I will come to each of those in a moment. I would agree with a lot of what the right hon. Gentleman said, for example, with his statement of the need for a return to constitutional rule, for progress to majority rule, his rejection of apartheid methods, by which I understood him to refer to that one of the five principles which refers to, for example, the Land Apportionment Act 1911 and things of that kind. What he is saying will be very abhorrent to the present régime in Rhodesia, and I am glad he said it. He also referred to the methods which he said have the aspect of police State methods. It would have been simpler if he had said "under a police State", because I think that that is what he meant. He rightly spoke of the African fears of intimidation, though he referred only to that fear of intimidation by certain nationalist extremists. He must realise that no African today can speak freely, because of the fear of intimidation by the police. He knows that perfectly well, and I think it is right to mention the considerable fear that many Africans have.
He was abundantly right when he said that many Rhodesians have deluded themselves by thinking that it was a simple choice between two alternatives, either of an illegal independence on the one hand or of African majority rule the day after tomorrow on the other. I agree with him. The whole course of our negotiations was designed to show that there was a constructive constitutional alternative if it had been taken. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I went to great lengths in Rhodesia to make a statement trying to persuade the people that there was not this simple choice, that there were other choices and that what was needed was patience and time and the dismissal of fear on all these things. But it is very difficult to get these things across in a country where there is such a perverted system of communications. One of the things which I want to say in all seriousness to the right hon. Gentleman after his speech today, and to other hon. Gentlemen, is that it is terribly important for everyone who addresses himself to this subject in this House to recognise the effect that our speeches, our actions or our inaction, can have in a country where there is this highly selective form of amplification of what is said. The right hon. Gentleman knows this to be true.
One of the biggest problems we had in our negotiations, was the hope which turned out to be false, by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, that there was going to be a major political revolution in this country, that at the time of the Conservative Party conference the noble Lord, Lord Salisbury, and those who supported him, 1912 were going to get the upper hand. I know this for a fact, and anyone who has been to Rhodesia knows this for a fact. They thought, when the voice rang forth from an hon. or right hon. Member below the Gangway, that this was the voice of Britain or the voice of the Conservative Party.
We know what weight to attach to these voices but in Rhodesia they do not and I think that I am right in saying, particularly since the illegal declaration, that the selection and biased use of their broadcasting, sound radio and television, has been to amplify, beyond anw reasonable measure, the voices of those who have criticised the British Government's policy, and to suppress, almost totally, the voices of those who have expressed, on both sides of the House, support for the policy, which up to now has had fairly general national support.
I want to say to those hon. Gentlemen who write to me from time to time most courteously—and to those who do not—about their intentions to visit Rhodesia, that I hope they will recognise that if they go, maybe on some journalistic assignment, to get every point of view and all the rest, they have a very heavy responsibility to express not their own personal views, not the views which they may find to be acceptable to those with whom they talk, but the views that have been expressed by this House as a whole.
I still believe, despite the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman who sought to try and whip up an artificial feeling of division on the Rhodesian question this afternoon, that there is, broadly, a very great basis for unity and agreement on the Rhodesian question. The right hon. Gentleman has anxieties, and I am going to deal with these later. I understand them, and I understand his feelings about them. I think that he is wrong to take them as the basis for the kind of speech he made and the kind of action he is taking, but I understand his difficulty. He has been through an extremely difficult time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] We have only had to handle the problem—he has had to handle his party.
There were occasions, I am bound to confess, when I felt that he was going to yield to the temptation to try to get some minor point to cause a diversion between the two parties and then rough it 1913 up in the country on this issue. It is to his honour and his credit that, even though he has found many of our measures repugnant when we have announced them, after due consideration and discussion with his colleagues, he has felt able to support them.
I should like to set out the principles on which I hope we could all agree before we go any further in this matter. The first thing is to ask whether we all accept that we cannot in any circumstances tolerate this illegal action, whether we can all assert that this Parliament, and this Parliament alone, has the power to grant independence and to lay down conditions for that grant of independence. I think that the right hon. Gentleman has expressed himself clearly on this point and I hope that all hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree with that as a proposition. This means that we have to take every measure in our power that we think right and proper to bring this illegal action to an end. I hope that we all agree about this.
This raises the next question—what means do we consider right? We have ruled out the use of military force for ending the situation in Rhodesia. I have said this time and time again, and I said it in Rhodesia before the illegal declaration. I said it to Mr. Smith, although there were some who felt that I had weakened our position by doing so, and that I ought to have said that we were prepared to use military force, or to have left him in doubt. I know that many people thought this, particularly in Africa. Because I thought it right to be utterly frank on this, as on other things—[Interruption.]—I am one of the very few Ministers who has ever published every exchange they have had in this, every exchange, even when they were meant to he private discussions. With Mr. Smith's permission, we started to prepare them, even before the illegal declaration, and I published every exchange. Hon. Gentlemen have gon through them with a microscope, trying to find something wrong. I stand by everything I have said. I should say that Mr. Smith said that if my predecessors had been as frank with him as we had—these were his words—then this problem would not have been left to us.
I will stand by what I said to him on that occasion and I have said this 1914 before. I said that my immediate predecessor had been as completely frank on this issue as I had. It is all on the record. He was as frank on that occasion as I have been. There may have been others—[Interruption.]—I tell the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) that if there is one subject on which all Rhodesians, agree, it is on him. At any rate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) was utterly frank. I said to Mr. Smith that if some of our predecessors had been as frank as he and I, the problem would have come to a head earlier. I think that it is fair to say that.
I was saying, when I was interrupted, that we have been utterly frank to Mr. Smith and everyone else in Rhodesia and said, since the illegal declaration, that we ruled out military force. This has caused great feeling in African States, and I think that right hon. Gentlemen completely discount the importance of that view. The Africans say, "You used force against African Colonies such as Kenya when there was trouble or illegal action. Why do you not do it today?". They say, "Is it colour prejudice? Do you use force only against the black men and not against the white men?" Another question is "Is it because the Rhodesians are your own kith and kin?". The Africans have kith and kin in Rhodesia, too—twenty times as many as we have. These are the question which people are asking, and they have to be answered.
May I tell the House what our answer has been. I said this in the United Nations last week. The first point relates to the history of Rhodesia, which many of our African friends do not understand. Rhodesia is a Colony, but it has been a substantially self-governing Colony for more than 40 years. In the course of this time, uniquely among all Colonies in history, it has developed its own armed forces, which means that it could resist any form of attack and invasion and that the use of military force against Rhodesia would not be like these other acts. It would not be a case of arresting a subversive individual. It would mean a bloody war—and probably a bloody war turning into a bloody civil war. This must be realised, and I keep telling it to our friends in Africa.
1915 I have said repeatedly that we do not believe that military force is the right answer to settle this constitutional problem. This is why I cannot understand—perhaps I can, but I do not think that it is to his credit—why the Leader of the Opposition worked himself up into such a passion this afternoon pretending that he invented the idea that we should not use force to solve the Rhodesian problem. If I am on record on one question above all others before and since the illegal declaration, it is that we are opposed to the use of military force for settling this constitutional question.
§ Mr. Heath rose——
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman did not give way very much and I have a lot of ground to cover. I will deal with some of the points which the right hon. Gentleman made. If I do not deal with them before I sit down, I will give way to him then. I do not want to waste his time and that of the House by giving way now.
Another reason why we are against the use of military force—and I have had to explain this to the top military representatives from Zambia this morning—is this. One of the by-products of trying to solve the problem by unconstitutional methods might be that there would be grave and lasting damage done to essential installations. I am thinking particularly of Kariba. If we were to invade Rhodesia to procure the end of the illegal régime, one of the earliest casualties could be the switching station and probably the generators, and possibly even—I hope not—the dam itself.
These are the reasons why we have ruled out military force throughout, and I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was so deafened by the noise behind him that he did not hear what we have been saying from this side of the House.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
Since I have to wind up the debate, I should like to be clear about this. On "Panorama" last night the Prime Minister was asked:Are you prepared to blockade the port of Beira in Portuguese Mozambique?His answer was:Well, there are a number of measures, aren't there? A lot depends on what kind of 1916 seepage or leakage we have to face. It may well be the United Nations would decide to take action under Chapter VII.Will the right hon. Gentleman support that?
§ The Prime Minister
I was going to come to the Beira problem. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to deal with it in my own way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I intend to deal with it. But the right hon. Gentleman must recognise that at this point in my remarks I was speaking about those who had advocated the use of military force for unseating the illegal Government in Rhodesia. That is not what we are talking about. The question of any form of force to make the oil sanction more effective is entirely different. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am going to deal with it. But no one could suggest that a naval blockade of Beira is the same thing as an invasion with military force. I agree that this point is important. Let us look at it when we come to it in a reasonable part of our discussion.
Because I have said that we are not prepared to use military force to settle the constitutional issue in Rhodesia—and I have just spelled out the dangers of doing so—we have applied successively deepening economic sanctions, and the test which we have had to consider at every point was whether these sanctions would be effective in bringing the illegal régime to an end.
At the beginning, there were semantic discussions about the word "punitive", and for a time we wondered whether those who made so much of this meant that they would have any sanctions as long as they were not effective. That was the point made by the Leader of the Liberal Party. The right hon. Member for Bexley, who now, rightly, says that he supported us on sanctions right along the road, must remember that at the beginning he was fighting very hard with his own conscience about whether he could support a tobacco sanction, which was a very long time ago and a very much smaller part of the problem. But I agree that he has come with us right along the road of economic sanctions.
I believe that these sanctions will be effective. There is already considerable economic dislocation, especially monetary dislocation, externally and internally, partly due to our measures and partly due 1917 to some of Rhodesia's own measures which she introduced both on and after independence. I will not try to predict this afternoon how long this régime can last with these economic difficulties, but I say again that the sooner this problem is solved the better.
We want a quick solution, and I was very worried when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition warned me against trying to seek a quick solution. I cannot imagine why he adduced this argument this afternoon. He said that an attempt to get a quick solution was likely to lead to the use of military force. I must tell him that if we do not get a quick solution it is much more likely to lead to force being applied externally—not by us but by others—and in conditions which will present this country with a most appalling dilemma. I want the right hon. Gentleman to recognise the world dangers which we are facing when he makes speeches of that kind.
§ Mr. Heath
I recognise the world dangers fully, but what the Prime Minister does not appear to realise is that economic measures take time to work. When we have reached the limit of economic measures, we cannot produce a quick solution. We must wait for them to work. Realising the difficulties on Rhodesia, one knows that it must take time before opinions change. If the Prime Minister keeps pressing for a quick solution he may get into a brash adventure which he may regret.
§ The Prime Minister
I am not taking anything about rash adventures from the right hon. Gentleman. I have made that clear.
Of course, I recognise that this will take time. I am being pressed by every Commonwealth country in Africa to say how long this will take. They ask, "Why do not you use military force?" None of us can say how long these measures will take to have effect. I hope that they will be quick in their effect. The quicker they are in being successful, the greater our chance—and it will not be easy—of escaping measures taken by other nations that we shall be powerless to stop which might lead to the use of military force in conditions which none of us in the House could contemplate with any degree of coolness.
1918 But the additional reasons why I say that we want these measures to be quickly effective is, first, that the hardship will be less than if there were a long, drawn out agony of slow-working sanctions; secondly, it will be much easier to reconstruct the economy when Rhodesia has returned to constitutional rule and we could cut off the economic sanctions very quickly—as quickly as we imposed them; thirdly, the more quickly a solution is reached the less bitterness there will be and, therefore, the greater the opportunity of creating the multi-racial harmony on which we all agree and on which any permanent solution of the Rhodesian problem must depend. As I have said, the quicker the solution, the less danger there is of grave external action.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition referred to oil sanctions. I do not think that there is much more I need say about this than I said yesterday. In our view, these measures are necessary to deny the munitions of rebellion to the Smith régime and to speed the day of the return of constitutional methods. Of course, this action is repugnant to every one of us in the House, but I believe that it is essential in a wider sense, because if we had not taken these measures we would by now have been faced with sweeping mandatory international measures which might have produced irrevocable consequences on a continental, if not on a wider, scale.
I have been asked about the oil embargo and Kariba. I said yesterday—and this is our position—that we believe that this oil embargo will be effective. I think that it is quite wrong for people to assume that it will break down. There are possibilities. I mentioned "spivs" in international trade. They might have to be dealt with. It is possible, although I hope that it is not likely, that Angola might ship oil around the Cape to Beira for putting through the pipeline. I said yesterday that if that happens we shall have to consider this problem. There is more than one way of dealing with it.
We might take legal action, for example, to close the pipeline. I hope that this is a way in which we could do it, by making it illegal for that pipeline to be used as far as it is on Rhodesian soil. That is one possibility. [Interruption.] We want the oil sanctions 1919 to be effective, do we not, all of us? I do not think that any of us would want to go through all the agonies which we have gone through in imposing our part of it if we are to be quite calm about some other people breaking the embargo and breaking the law of Rhodesia as it has been since last week.
I hope, therefore, that there will not be the seepage or leakage which was referred to in the quotation from my broadcast last night. If there is, we shall have to decide how it must be handled, and it will be decided internationally. Certainly, we have no intention of imposing a naval blockade round Beira, and we never have had. I do not know whether that is the fear that the right hon. Gentleman had. We have not considered this. If the embargo fails, it will fail because it is not sufficiently international and multi-lateral. The House can be quite certain that it would then be raised at the United Nations, and not by us. If there is a decision under Chapter VII in which it is suggested that a couple of frigates be placed outside Beira to stop oil tankers going through, this is what will happen, and it will happen by international decision. We do not ourselves propose to seek such a resolution. We certainly do not propose to take individual unilateral action to blockade Beira.
We are dealing with a hypothetical situation, but right hon. and hon. Members opposite entirely misconceive the whole feeling in Africa and in the United Nations if they think that in the event of such a seepage nothing would be done about it. It would happen, and it would happen under Chapter VII, which would be mandatory on all countries. I do not believe that it would be a particularly notable use of force in the sense of bloodshed such as a military force against Rhodesia would have been. I believe that it would be one of the simpler operations. But we do not seek it, and we shall not seek to promote it.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South) rose——
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice) rose——
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
Since the United Nations is precluded by its Charter from 1920 taking any action in relation to this matter, how could it possibly be mandatory on all countries?
§ The Prime Minister
The hon. Member has tried this before from the back benches. He is deluding himself. He can go to the United Nations and do his legal hairsplitting there. He would have a pretty thin time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]
The United Nations is not precluded from using the Charter or from Charger VII decisions. Chapter VII applies possibly to economic, possibly to military action. It is a question of whether it is Article 41 or 42. The hon. Member can go on shaking his head, but even more distinguished lawyers than himself in every country in the world take a different view. However, he has made his point.
§ The Prime Minister
I do not speak for South Africa. I cannot forecast what its attitude will be. I would feel that South Africa would behave with great prudence and caution in all this matter concerning Rhodesia. South Africa has not recognised the illegal régime. I agree that South Africa is placed in a very difficult situation.
I do not think that we would help by trying to examine the arguments that might be going through the minds of the South African Government. When, however, the hon. Member says what he has done, I think that there will be a fear in many places in South Africa that if they were to frustrate this limited embargo there would be growing pressure in the United Nations for widening the embargo. That might be a reason for continuing with very great caution. I hope that the hon. Member will not say anything that will put South Africa in a more difficult position concerning this matter.
Turning to the question of Kariba, the right hon. Gentleman upset me a little when he was talking about the question of the cut-off of Kariban power. He knows the tremendous passion with which, for example, President Kaunda, a very 1921 good friend of this country and of right hon. Members opposite, approaches the question of Kariba. All the arguments about Javelins and about troops centre around the question of Kariba. President Kaunda is terribly concerned lest, for one reason or another, the Smith régime should cut off the Kariba power from Zambia, which would mean the most tremendous and most dreadful interference of Zambia's economic position, industrial production and the rest, and would have a serious effect, indeed, on us in this country.
So far, we have not reached agreement with the President of Zambia on the stationing of British troops for defensive purposes there, simply because we ourselves have refused to agree that those troops should be deployed south of the Zambesi or could be sent in to take over the Kariba Dam, the power station and the rest and defend them. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will not underrate the passion that this subject arouses in the heart of President Kaunda and his colleagues in the Zambian Cabinet. Certainly none of us, I think, would want to stand idly by if that power were cut off. It is a vital British interest as well as a vital Zambian interest. We have seen right hon. Gentlemen opposite rush in to protect what was felt to be a vital British interest at the wrong place and at the wrong time, which caused us months of economic difficulty in this country and years of political difficulty thereafter.
I am surprised if right hon. and hon. Members opposite take the view that we would not do anything in the Kariban situation if that power were cut off. They are the great believers in the deterrent, but the deterrent must be credible. That is why their deterrent never was. This is a deterrent. That was why the right hon. Gentleman was never himself a credible independent deterrent. That is why nobody believed him. [Interruption.] If he interrupts from a sitting position, he will get a reply. I am trying to deal with a serious situation and the need for a deterrent against any irresponsible person in Rhodesia.
I am not thinking all the time of Mr. Smith. They are people around him who are a great deal more irresponsible than he is, and there are some highly irresponsible and Fascist types among 1922 his police and his own forces—not, thank heaven, at the top. It is important for them to realise that if they irresponsibly cut off power from Zambia we cannot leave that situation where it is. We cannot.
The Leader of the Opposition knew exactly what we have in mind, because I have told him. It is irresponsible of him to go on pretending that he does not know and for the right hon. Gentleman to try to find what he thinks is a contradiction between what I said in the House and what I said in the Daily Mirror. He knows that there is no contradiction. I challenge him to say whether, in our discussions, he has ever pointed out that there was a contradiction or whether he accepted what I said. He knows that for me to spell out in full would be dangerous and irresponsible. I hope that on consideration he will recognise that what has been explained to him about how we could make this deterrent effective is something which should be kept in conversation between him and me. When he has accepted it, he should not come to the House and pretend that he does not understand what I was talking about.
§ Mr. Heath
The Prime Minister knows full well that this matter has not been discussed with him since his statement in the House about Kariba. What he did not do, as I said in my speech, was to limit himself in his statement in the House to what he has said to me. I specifically said that I did not ask for any explanation in the House. What I asked for was the assurance that the Prime Minister would not use troops in a limited operation, but he did not give that assurance.
§ The Prime Minister
It was explained to the Leader of the Opposition on the day before the statement was made in the House. It was explained to him in a telephonic conversation which we had the day after—the Friday—before he recorded his broadcast. He will very well remember what I said on that occasion. I think that on reflection he will agree that it is a pity that we have to bring this up. He is raising some dangerous issues. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will reflect again that both my statements are reconcilable and effective, but it would be wrong to spell 1923 it out further. If not, I would be glad to have a further discussion with him and, if we cannot satisfy one another, for one of us to make a statement in the House. But I imagine that he will be satisfied and it is very wrong to go on pressing it.
There was one suggestion that he made on the same day, and that was that we should ask Sir Robert Menzies to intervene in our negotiations with Mr. Smith to see whether there could be some kind of solution to the Kariba problem. I expressed my reasons for saying that it would be wrong to ask him to do it. But the right hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware that a very high-powered representative of the International Bank, which has a real stake in the Kariba Dam and the whole operation, has in the past few days been in Salisbury and Lusaka trying to bring about an arrangement for the quarantining of the dam on an agreed basis. I cannot say whether that would involve British or Commonwealth troops, but, if it could be worked out, we would be prepared to send troops across the Zambesi for the purpose, because it would be part of an agreed and unopposed operation, and I do not think that any hon. Member could object to that. But so far we have not had anything that looks like an all-clear on the point.
In winding up, I want to emphasise once again, because I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman has taken she point on board, the world nature of the problem. It is not a local difficulty in a little rural district council. Time and time again it has been discussed as though it was purely a matter within Rhodesia or between Britain and Rhodesia. All the time, right from 12th November, the day after the illegal declaration, I have mentioned the dangers that we are facing. Yesterday I warned the House that if we had not taken this oil action under the powers given to the Government by Parliament, we would have had the same policy forced upon us by a mandatory United Nations resolution, with, as I have said, all the dangers then of escalation from mandatory economic and military sanctions.
We may argue about the question of military force. All of us are against the 1924 use of military force, but I believe that those who oppose oil sanctions are more likely to bring about military force than those who support them.
I must warn the House—especially those who think of this in narrow constitutional or negotiation terms, still more any there may be who think of it in terms of intra-party manoeuvres—that within weeks now, despite the oil sanctions, we may find ourselves faced with grave international action, with all the consequences that can follow.
I hope, therefore, that the House will agree that there has been no alternative to the successive measures that we have followed. Certainly at no stage have we had alternatives suggested from the benches opposite. Sometimes voices have been raised in anger from back bench and Front Bench, and I understand that. But when there has been the suggestion that we have gone too far with any particular economic sanction, there has never been any appreciation of the world problems that we face. I think that too often they attack the form and not the central issue of policy involved.
I stress, therefore, that it is our responsibility, and we have taken that responsibility. Nevertheless we cannot protect ourselves from the tremendous passions which I saw at the United Nations last week and which others have seen. This is a world problem. It is also, as I have said, a moral problem. As I said at the United Nations last week to those who stayed to listen, quoting from Dante,The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who are neutral in a moral crisis.That is, I hope, something that every right hon. and hon. Gentleman here will think about before deciding his final attitude on the question.
Finally, like the right hon. Gentleman, I want to refer to the question of what he called a negotiation. I said yesterday how much we agreed with the proposals made by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) in his speech last Monday. But, when all is said and done, everything that he suggested was at the very centre of our negotiations with Mr. Smith's Government. There is no reason for not saying what he said, and I agree 1925 with a great deal of it, but the five principles on which we were negotiating were the principles that his Government had followed. We have throughout these negotiations kept this common approach across the Floor of the House. The five principles have gone on for very many years, long before the change in Government. Mr. Smith made this point to me. But I must remind the House that every one of those points suggested by the right hon. Gentleman was flatly rejected by Mr. Smith throughout the negotiations.
Guaranteed progress to majority rule: yes, we are all agreed upon that. It is a cardinal point with all of us. But Mr. Smith blandly announced that he was proposing to destroy those parts of the 1961 Constitution which provided for B roll seats, and he said frankly that he would do that to delay the day of majority rule. That cannot be called guaranteed or impeded, and it was the subject of long drawn out discussions between by right hon. Friend and my right hon. and learned Friend with Mr. Lardner Burke and others on this question.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to Mr. Smith's willingness to create a million more votes on the B roll. Yes, that is true, but no more seats. He did not offer to take on a single extra African on the A roll, which is what matters. All he promised us was that if it looked likely that more Africans would be on the A roll, then B roll seats would disappear and he would get rid of them.
Those who devised the 1961 Constitution had never taken the precaution of entrenching these provisions, and I do not blame them. Day after day in our negotiations—and it is all on record—Mr. Smith and his colleagues flatly refused any provision that would have safeguarded the Constitution in writing. He rejected a blocking third. He was prepared to give us a so-called blocking proportion provided it was made up of his stooges. He was prepared to increase African representation, provided that they were his chiefs who were appointed, every man Jack of them paid by him and everyone of them totally responsive to what Mr. Smith tells them to think. I had the chance of evaluating them when I met them—charming and courteous, asserting their hereditary right to rule in terms which would never be asserted by any 1926 hon. or noble Member of either House here. Totally unaware of the meaning of many of the constitutional questions that I addressed to them, they asserted their right to speak for 4 million Africans. I was cheered at one point when they said that they would oppose illegal action by the Smith Government. I was correspondingly disappointed when after the illegal declaration they expressed their full support for Mr. Smith's action.
When the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire talks about incorporating the necessary constitutional amendments either in the Constitution or in a treaty, I support him. That is exactly what we set out to achieve. But we soon found that the treaty suggestion was no more than a time-wasting manoeuvre on Mr. Smith's part timed to put the responsibility for a break on us. As Mr. Smith and his colleagues agreed, what matters is not whether it is a treaty or a constitutional amendment. It is not the vehicle in which the changes are made that matters, but the content of the changes. On every one of the content points, such as the blocking third, the entrenching and the safeguarding provisions, they were utterly obdurate. They were obdurate because they were determined men utterly resolved on one proposition, and that was that we should not seek majority rule in Rhodesia in their lifetime. It was as simple as that, and it became clear that that was why the negotiations broke down.
The right hon. Gentleman suggested an imaginative proposal when he was leader of his Government, and he has repeated it many times since and so have we, and that is the need for a great African education programme. But, as the record of our meetings shows, when we asked Mr. Smith if he was prepared to speed African education for the purpose of using those constitutional clauses which provided for political enfranchisement as education proceeds, he not only made it clear that he would not do so, but he and his colleagues said that if education meant too fast a rate of enfranchisement, they would slow up the programme.
When I went to Salisbury I took with me a Minister specially for the purpose of discussing a massive programme of educational advance. He was wasting his time. I was wasting time by taking him. It was the last thing they wanted. Indeed, 1927 after the illegal break, one of Mr. Smith's Ministers poured scorn on the idea of taking a Minister there for the purpose of discussing African educational advance if it could have this effect of increasing the number—
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
Is the Prime Minister aware that these generous proposals to help with education in Rhodesia made by my right hon. Friend when he was Prime Minister, and which the right hon. Gentleman has repeated, were not in fact ever explained to the Rhodesian electorate? Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that, in view of the censorship, every means, including the new broadcasting station, will be used to make it quite clear to the electorate in Rhodesia what is the constructive alternative to the illegal path which they are now following?
§ The Prime Minister
I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I give him the assurance that it will be done. I know that he pressed this very hard, and indeed I believe that if Mr. Winston Field had continued in office he would have made a reality of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. We followed it and tried to support it, but I agree that the people of Rhodesia as a whole have never been told the whole story of what the right hon. Gentleman tried to do, and what we tried to do in fulfilling this programme. Let us by all means support the proposition laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. I do, but we will never get this from Mr. Smith and his colleagues.
This raises the whole question of the 1961 Constitution. I apologise for going on for longer than I meant to, but I have had to make two speeches this afternoon, as we have two debates in one. My colleagues and I never thought that the 1961 Constitution was either perfect or appropriate. We voted against it. So did Mr. Smith, but for opposite reasons. But, at any rate, let me concede that it was devised in good faith in the hope of providing a constitution which men of good will could work. I believe that the then Government here, and the then Government in Rhodesia, meant what they said when they enshrined, even though they did not entrench, clauses designed 1928 to provide a gradual but unimpeded movement towards majority rule. I believe that it was not entrenched because they trusted the then Government to carry out the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution. I believe that the then Rhodesian Government would have made a reality of the 1961 Constitution, but not Mr. Smith's colleagues.
This is one reason why there is no solution to this problem based on resuming with Mr. Smith and his colleagues the negotiations which he broke off. We did not break them off, he did. Quite apart from the repugnance, which I hope we all share, about negotiating with the illegal régime, the very idea that it would be successful, that we could ask the rest of the world to reverse the policies they carried out at our request, that we could ask other countries to hold their hand while we parley with Mr. Smith and his colleagues, is the product of the most woolly-minded thinking that I have come across.
The House will have noticed that I have sometimes drawn distinctions between Mr. Smith and some of his colleagues. Despite my disappointments, I still feel that I was right. In Salisbury in one of our frank talks, I told him that I thought he was a natural leader of his own people, but I could not understand why he was surrounded by such a bunch of thugs. He took both parts of this proposition extremely well. I believe that he could have averted this declaration to which, on my information, he was opposed, if he had had the courage to go to the Governor and ask his leave to form a more broadly based Government. I believe that there was a real chance of that.
I hope that no one will suggest that we negotiated with him the terms of ending illegality. His Government have made it clear that they are only interested in terms which will give them the substance of what they have taken by illegal action, while we for our part have to provide the form of constitional rectitude. There may be, though I doubt it, some hon. Members who would be prepared to negotiate with a burglar on the basis that they would allow him to retain his illegal gains, provided that they did not stay illegal, by changing a theft into a gift. This is what negotiation on Mr. Smith's terms would mean.
1929 It would make a mockery of centuries of constitutional action and law in this country. It would isolate us in the world and make us the laughing stock of world opinion. But that is the proposition which some hon. Gentlemen, and I think even right hon. Gentlemen, are putting forward to us at this time. Equally I say to them as earnestly as I can, now that we have seen how far Mr. Smith and his colleagues are prepared to go in twisting and perverting the 1961 Constitution, in a sense in which it was never meant, in turning it into a police State, by the trickery of a pre-U.D.I. declaration of emergency—and this was trickery and there were lies about it—by every device they could think of aimed at obstructing the safeguarded positions, when hon. Members consider this, I hope that they will feel that we cannot entrust the future of Rhodesia to these men or to this régime.
Finally, I would set out our proposals for restoring constitutional rule. The Governor has a standing authority to talk to anyone in Rhodesia who can provide the means of a return to constitutional rule. The British Government have authorised him to discuss even with the illegal régime the mechanism by which Rhodesia can be returned to constitutional rule. There are a lot of detailed points on the mechanism, including—and this is very important—the transfer of the armed forces and the police to the Governor's authority, and also a number of other administrative matters which will be handled more smoothly if there are discussions.
What we cannot do is to barter all these questions against fresh demands from Mr. Smith and his colleagues. Illegal action has totally altered the situation. We cannot wipe out the past five weeks and all that has happened in the world and go back to the morning of that telephone call, because we now know the quality of the men with whom we are dealing. I still had hopes before that call, but their action, particularly in the matter of censorship, the police State and in other ways, has created conditions in Rhodesia which make it impossible—even if on other grounds it may be possible—for these men to lead Rhodesia to independence based on multi-racial harmony. Without that multi-racial harmony there cannot be any future for Rhodesia.
1930 The Governor can give to Mr. Smith or to any other Rhodesian the assurances that we have given at various times about the fears which still obsess them. For example, the danger they feel that a return to constitutional rule will be followed within days or weeks or months by majority rule. We have given assurances about that. If Mr. Smith were to say, "We will agree to end the illegal régime, provided we have an assurance that it will not mean one man one vote tomorrow", and then stand down, the Governor is authorised to give him or anyone else that assurance. What he cannot do is to barter the constitutional position in this country and in Rhodesia against any kind of return to the sort of negotiations that we had before.
We believe that the time has come to set up more clearly for the use of the Governor our ideas for the future following the return to constitutional rule, and the terms on which he can be authorised to enter into discussion with representative leaders of Rhodesian opinion. We are in communication with him, though communications are inevitably limited and cannot obviously be perfect. I am proposing, therefore, to ensure not only that the Governor knows more fully what is in the mind of the Government here, but that we know more of what is in his mind.
Hon. Members have suggested that the Governor might come to London. There could be great advantages in this, though hon. Members will realise some of the possible difficulties and dangers. He may find that Government House had been taken away when he went back, but I would hope that that would not happen. I do not want to go further with this point today, except to say that I believe the Governor, when he enters into discussions in Rhodesia—and I can see signs that these discussions could emerge—should be able to do so after the fullest possible interchange of views between him and the Government here in London.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
May I ask whether it will be possible for Rhodesia to return to constitutional rule on the basis of the 1961 Constitution as a first step?
§ The Prime Minister
I was going to say a word about that. Although the right hon. Gentleman did riot suggest an 1931 unamended 1961 Constitution, he referred to the need for changes, and heaven knows we can all see the need for changes. I think that the great problem is the fear which has obsessed many of Mr. Smith's followers, though not I believe a majority, even of his present limited and unrepresentative electorate, because he has never attempted, either by referendum or in the election, to secure a mandate for the action he took.
I set out to allay these fears in a public statement which I made in Salisbury. I think that a copy of it is in the Library of the House, and I used these words again at the United Nations. I said that there need be no fears about this question. I think that this illegal action will come to an end only when the hardships and inconvenience resulting from the economic measures which have been taken—that is which Mr. Smith has taken—begin to loom larger in the minds of the Rhodesian people than the fears they feel—genuine fears, though unjustified—about the consequences of a return to constitutional rule.
We have said, and we mean, that once constitutional rule returns we shall immediately act to reverse the economic measures that we have taken—this can be done quickly—and approach the problem of reconstruction not in any punitive or backward looking spirit, but constructively. But every week that passes increases the dangers, and I hope that Rhodesians will respond quickly to what we have in mind.
We believe it will be necessary—we cannot be sure yet—to have a period of direct rule. None of us can forecast how this unhappy incident will end. It may end in dislocation and chaos. I trust and pray that it will not end as it could, in disorder or bloodshed. But I believe that it will be necessary for a period—and this may be one of the surest ways of reassuring those who are afraid of a speedy move towards majority rule—to have direct rule under the Governor with the widest possible advice available to him from Rhodesian leaders representing different sections of opinion and different races. We would hope to proceed as quickly as possible to areturn to constitutional government, on the basis of the 1961 Constitution, with whatever amendments are now seen to be needed 1932 to safeguard that constitution against misuse.
I believe that there will have to be effective means of ascertaining the views of the Rhodesian people as a whole before we make any changes in the 1961 Constitution. We must get the views of the Rhodesian people as a whole—to use the phrase enshrined in the fifth principle—as to what amendments and changes are needed to guarantee unimpeded and sure progress to majority rule. Whether this would be by a constitutional conference or a Royal Commission with wide powers must be a matter for consultation at the time. But I am certain that the whole House will insist on adequate safeguards, including the assurance to the House for a period that this House should decide what guarantees are necessary to protect human rights, and what safeguards are necessary to protect the rights of individual races, African or European.
I realise that there is bound to be anxiety from one side or another about the steps that we have taken, are taking, and may have to take. I do not believe that a British Government have ever had to face a problem so complicated or so apparently insoluble. I have to use a mixed metaphor to explain how this problem strikes me. What we are trying to do is to go straight down the middle of the road in a four-dimensional situation. There is the dimension of Rhodesian opinion—and that is not uncomplicated the dimension of public opinion in Britain, and that is not entirely uncomplicated the dimension of the Commonwealth and the strong views that our Commonwealth colleagues have and the dimension of world opinion, as expressed particularly in the United Nations, where it can take the form of a mandatory and possibly dangerous resolution.
Somewhere among all the pressures we hope that the right answer will be found, and I think that I can say with confidence that it will be found some way between the demands of the O.A.U. and those of perhaps the Monday Club. This gives a pretty broad choice. We must expect to be criticised and attacked in Africa and elsewhere, and we will take this criticism so long as we respect the motives and sincerity of those attacking us. But at the end of the day we must do what is right in this situation. I was comforted 1933 by rereading some words of Abraham Lincoln which, although I quoted them in the United Nations, I make no apologies for repeating in this House before I sit down:I will do the very best I can, the very best I know how. And I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me now won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.I think that the number of angels who are prepared to swear I am right is diminishing at present, but when hon. and right hon. Members opposite decide how to vote tonight I hope that they will also decide what they are voting about. I believe that I have answered every point raised by the right hon. Gentleman. He was seeking, by raising points about wording, to suggest that we are asking for a mandate from this House to use military force. We are not asking for that mandate. He fears that we plan a British naval blockade of Beira, but we do not. He fears that we are not prepared to enter into negotiations with those who can bring peaceful constitutional rule to Rhodesia. We are prepared.
If the right hon. Gentleman votes against us tonight, he will confirm some of our suspicions that his actions are dictated not by considerations of what is required to solve this problem but by considerations of a misconceived approach to Conservative Party unity.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I found myself in agreement with a great deal of what the Prime Minister said until he came to his penultimate paragraph. He then seemed to imply that the policy of this country in respect of Rhodesia should be dictated by the pressure of various opinions and not by the conviction of the British people about what they think this country ought to do. In my opinion the problem of Rhodesia is primarily a moral one. The world looks to Britain to see whether it has any moral views on the matter, and not to see whether Britain can reconcile different pressures.
Important as is Rhodesia, before I return to it I want to say something about Vietnam and Europe. I regard Vietnam as the most dangerous conflict in the world today. I want to ask only two ques- 1934 tions about it. First, when the Government talk about finding a settlement based on the Geneva proposals, do they mean that they are prepared to accept the division of Vietnam? The Geneva proposals looked to a unified Vietnam. If the Government accept the division of that country, do they hope to obtain guarantees about the maintenance of the frontier, and do they intend to couple this with a demand that troops should leave both North and South Vietnam?
Secondly, when the Prime Minister said that the Government could not support the Americans in the bombing of—I believe he said—major cities, does he mean that the Government are opposed to bombing civilian targets in Vietnam? This is a matter of great importance.
The Americans should be pressed on two points. First, they cannot expect unqualified support from their allies unless they consult them about their policies at a much earlier stage than they have been doing over Vietnam. Secondly, what is the long-term policy of the Americans in the Far East? Do they hope to reach a position of stability such as has been reached in Europe? If so, what is it to be built on. Is it hoped to build it on India, Australia and Japan? Japan is a vital factor for stability in the Far East today.
As for Europe, I was greatly impressed by the conversion to the idea of a Common Market which ran through the Chamber yesterday. We had the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), the architect of the alternative to the Common Market, saying that we must enter it and accept all the political implications. I hope that at the next election the Conservative Party will not only refrain from sending round speakers attacking the Liberals who suggest entering the Common Market but will go so far as to say something about it in their own election addresses.
The Government seem still to be tied to the five principles. The House should be clear whether they are in fact tied to them. If they are, it makes it quite impossible to go into the only type of Europe worth going into, which is a Europe of the Communities.
I now return to the subject of Rhodesia. I have never heard more devious reasons advanced in this House for a vote than 1935 were advanced by the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon. We have heard a great deal lately about "non-events". This evening we are going to have a vote on a Motion and an Amendment which are both out of order in this debate, and on a supposition which the Conservative Party knows to be untrue. Does the Conservative Party believe that this Government are keen to use force? Of course they do not. Yet they will allow it to be said all over Rhodesia tomorrow—this will be the effect of the vote tonight—that they are convinced that the British Government are planning an invasion and the use of force in Southern Rhodesia. This is the contribution of the so-called responsible party. This is the party which responds to appeals for national unity. They will allow a statement to go out in which they have no belief.
Of course, the vote tonight will not be about Rhodesia: it will be about the internal affairs of the Conservative Party. It is a device for covering up their total disintegration and disagreement on this issue. They have said that they approve of sanctions and that they support oil sanctions. Very well, having gone through this Amendment with a microscope, they have discovered one small point on which it is possible for them to unite and oppose the Government. They oppose the words "all measures". Apparently, if the Amendment had said:All measures so far brought forward",they would have accepted it and there would have been no vote.
In that situation, it is wholly irresponsible to allow it to go out to Rhodesians tonight that the Conservative Party is convinced that the Government are determined to use force. The Prime Minister has fallen over backwards to throw out lifelines to the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition cannot ask for the time without the Prime Minister patting him on the head and saying, "A very statesmanlike intervention." This is a hypocritical performance which we have gone through today.
The Leader of the Opposition said that we are faced with a police State in Rhodesia. Who is in charge of that police State? Mr. Smith and his colleagues. Yet we are told that they, poor people, did not really understand that the 1936 British Government did not intend to introduce total African suffrage at once. Of course they understood.
It is well know that they have no intention whatever of allowing an African majority in their lifetime. Therefore, it is no good starting negotiations again with Mr. Smith, and still less so with many members of his Cabinet. The sooner the House is possessed of that fact the better. Perhaps hon. Members read the colour supplement of the Daily Telegraph three or four weeks ago. The Daily Telegraph is not a journal renowned for its radical and dangerous opinions. It sent two journalists to speak to Southern Rhodesians, and they went to see one husband and wife who were recommended to them by Mr. Smith's information office.
These people said:Blacks are responsible for all the trouble in the world. Blacks, blacks, blacks, I'd shoot the lot.Let us not delude ourselves. Of course, not all Rhodesians believe this, but a number do, and some who believe it are in the Government of Mr. Smith. The same journalists reported:Virulent contempt for the African is now the height of fashion.Hon. Members may also have seen a circular air-mail letter which was sent to some people in this country. It proves that double-talk is certainly not confined to the Communists. It says:The nation must decide its future in the world.Precious little chance the black majority of tha nation have in deciding their future in the world. It talks of "all the free nations of Africa." Precious little freedom Mr. Smith has guaranteed to the blacks in Rhodesia. It talks of "a just stand" and finally, of course, it talks of "our kith and kin". Apart from the obvious fact that large numbers of white Rhodesians are not our kith and kin at all, what would people say if the Germans announced that as they must support their kith and kin, they must support the Nazis? How far is the doctrine of kith and kin to be taken? It is a reflection on the people who claim that the British that they are harming the traditions of this country in carrying out the measures which we have in Southern Rhodesia. The fact that they are our kith and kin makes 1937 it all the more disgraceful that they should do so.
Therefore, I and my hon. Friends will support the Government. We shall not look through a magnifying glass at every tiny error which they might have made. We shall not try to curry some favour with the electorate by riding two horses at once and we shall not subordinate what should be the needs of this country to the needs of party. Of course, faults can be found with the Government. I would say that their contingency planning for U.D.I. was not as complete as it should have been and, candidly, I think that the Prime Minister went too far in ruling out the use of force in any circumstances.
We should probe the question of force a little further. Force can mean many things. The imposition of sanctions might be said to be a form of force, as it will cause hardship to many people. If we had sent out a small body of armed men to protect the Governor and they had been attacked, would that have been the use of force? If the men had been unarmed and had been attacked by Rhodesians, would that have been the use of force? I would ask the Conservative Party, since they are now converted to pacifism rather late in the day, what they mean. Do they mean that if this had been a black rebel Government would there have been an outcry from the Conservatives against the possible use of force? We have never had it up to now.
Do they mean that, if the Governor were threatened, they would be totally against the use of force? If Zambia were invaded, would they be against force? If there were an uprising in Rhodesia and chaos resulted, would they be against the use of force? This is a strange and new doctrine of Conservatism.
There may still be occasions when this country must reluctantly move to use force. I should deplore it, because I hope that we can settle this matter without force, but I would also say that the Prime Minister was unwise to suggest at one point that the only time it would be justified was if our economic interests were threatened by the blowing up of the Kariba Dam. There might be greater issues than that. There might be, as the 1938 Prime Minister indicated, a worldwide rising of opinion against the régime in Rhodesia so strong that force will be used by someone. The right hon. Gentleman went too far. If there is any question about who is prepared to use force, we are told that Mr. Smith has mined the Kariba Dam himself. This would surely show no great reluctance on his part to use force, if we had not already seen what he has done in the enforcement of a police State.
Let us now consider the United Nations. If we can settle this matter by ourselves so much the better, but I have detected in some announcements by the Government a strange antipathy to United Nations intervention of any sort. The Labour Party used to be great upholders of the United Nations. Oil sanctions could be made multilateral through the United Nations. In his last speech on this subject the Prime Minister ended with what was meant to be a terrible threat—that we might see a Red Army in blue berets. It would not be entirely unhopeful for peace if some Communist countries provided a contingent to a United Nations force.
I do not say that this is the right situation in which to begin, but if we are to bring Communist countries into any worldwide organisation, they must be allowed to put on blue berets. They would then learn some of the difficulties in carrying responsibilities like our own in Africa.
In turning to the remarks of the Prime Minister about the future, while I agree that a return to direct rule is inevitable, is the right hon. Gentleman calculating the means to carry it out? Although we may say that we treat everybody in Rhodesia equally, there are bound to be people who feel extremely bitterly and it may be that the Governor will need increased support from this country. Are we planning to provide it?
I would like to hear more about, for example, definite proposals concerning African education because we will have to face a large grant for this purpose. I would like the Prime Minister to be more specific about the guarantees to be offered to the white Rhodesians and others in regard to their pensions. This is a matter which has caused great anxiety, and it may be that this country 1939 will have to shoulder some of the responsibility. Otherwise the opposition to majority rule will remain as strong as it is now.
The solution to this problem seems to be that the British nation should show itself to be strong, united and consistent in its policy of solving this matter by sanctions and, at the same time, be prepared to explore all the avenues which may be open in Southern Rhodesia to people of more sensible and humane outlook. We should make it clear, time and again, that there is no question of handing over to a black majority at once and that reasonable terms and guarantees will be given to the white people in regard to their future. But majority rule must come.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, this is something more than a question which can be nicely balanced between different sections of opinion here or elsewhere. It has been said time and again that one of the most important issues for this and the next generation is the relationship of the black and white races. It is exactly that issue with which we are confronted in Rhodesia, and anybody who believes that this is a dominant issue should be extremely careful about giving the impression that this country is prepared to mete out one law and take one line of action for the whites and a totally different one for the blacks.
I believe that the Western world should be at pains to see how much belief it has in all this talk about democracy. And for people who admit that this is a police State to then say that it is a mild one, and a white one, is not good enough. We should protest about Ghana and police States wherever they are. Nevertheless, this is a police State for which we are responsible. That is the difference between this and anywhere else. We claim to stand for human values in the world. I am not so much concerned about world opinion or about African opinion. In the end, I am concerned about the good name of this country.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I find myself in a dilemma. I am profoundly doubtful whether it is any use for any hon. Member to make a speech 1940 today concerning subjects other than that of Rhodesia. I propose to say only this about Rhodesia I warmly agree with the remarks of the Leader of the Liberal Party at the beginning of his speech about the vote tonight. I appeal to the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), for whom I have a high personal regard, to call off the Division with which he has threatened his party and the House.
I raise matters other than Rhodesia because I hope to suggest how we might in future avoid the dilemma in which hon. Members like myself find themselves today. I wish to speak about a theme on which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary—who is, happily for him, not in his place at the moment—has heard me speak before, a theme on which, I hope, there will be agreement in various quarters of the House. It is about the share which the House of Commons now has in formulating the foreign policy which the Government pursue.
Nobody doubts that the issues which we have discussed today and yesterday—Vietnam Malaysia Santo Domingo South Arabia and the Yemen the overriding issue of world peace and war—are incomparably more important than most of the matters which we have de bated since October, 1964. Nobody values more than I do what the Government have done in home affairs. No one thinks more highly than I do of the Government's programme for the present Session. The achievement of that programme will be of great benefit to the people of this country. But everything that the Government may have accomplished by October, 1966, would be dust in the balance against the losses which we would sustain if we were engaged in even a minor war, while the likely outcome of a wider conflict might be the obliteration of our people for good and all. I will not labour the point. It only needs to be stated to be obvious to all.
Democracy in Britain means government by Ministers who are responsible to this House, Ministers who must defend their actions and explain their reasons for them before the House. They are Ministers who are advised by civil servants, but who must share their decision-making with the hon. Members 1941 of this House. Democracy means government by Parliamentary Question and by public Parliamentary debate. The League of Nations and the United Nations were created to extend that system into the conduct of international affairs. They were created to end the secret diplomacy of the past, to bring out the merits of international disputes before the public opinion of the world, and to render it possible for world opinion, based on world law, to become the decisive factor in the working of the community of States.
How has this democracy worked in the House of Commons and the United Nations in recent times? It is not so long since Foreign Office Questions came first on the Order Paper on every Monday and every Wednesday of every Parliamentary week. It was a valuable arrangement, in an epoch of ever-closer international co-operation and ever-greater dangers from the arms race and war. Today we do not hear the Foreign Secretary answering Questions twice a week but once in six weeks, and even then he cannot answer all the Questions which hon. Members seek to ask him.
Crises happen, vital Government decisions are made and it is so long before they come up at Question Time to be answered by the Foreign Secretary that they are almost forgotten.
It is even less satisfactory with Parliamentary debates. Momentous events have come and gone and we have been locked in silence. In October, 1964, it was obvious that Vietnam was the most important question in the world; that it vitally affected British interests that the whole future of relations between Asia and the West was at stake; that further fighting would only make a settlement harder to achieve; that world opinion should be mobilized; and, above all, that British opinion—which has special influence in the United States and in Asia—should be mobilised to seek to bring the conflict to an end.
All that was obvious in October, 1964, but we had no debate on Vietnam before Christmas of that year. After we reassembled, in February, 1965, we learned that U Thant had been negotiating for a settlement and had made great progress with Hanoi. We knew, alas, that, so far from accepting his proposals, the United States had made a very dangerous 1942 escalation of the war by starting large-scale and systematic bombing of North Vietnam. In spite of those grave events, of such sinister significance for us in Britain, we had no debate until 1st April. Then, in just one day, we covered the whole range of world affairs.
On 27th April there came the United States occupation of San Domingo. I shared, and still share, the opinion of Mr. Halyard Lange, for 20 years the Foreign Minister of Norway, who said in the N.A.T.O. meeting in London in May this year that the San Domingo challenge to the United Nations was even more dangerous to its future than the Vietnam war itself.
Let me give three verdicts—three American verdicts—on the events in San Domingo. On 4th May—within a week of the occupation—the New York Times said in an editorial:In the absence of anything more menacing than the names of a few Communist activists, it would he disastrous to let fear of another 'Cuba' become the excuse for employing our military might to prop up a right-wing dictatorship.A little later, the Christian Science Monitor wrote:A typical Latin American observer said that the United States rescued the militarists from defeat after they (the militarists) had admitted that they could no longer keep control. The United States, said this observer, supplied and financed the militarists, fought with them, confined Caamano to a narrow area, and gave the militarists leaders time to prepare an assault on the so-called rebels".Those are the two most respected organs of the Press in the United States, and they were writing on the basis of day-to-day reports which their able and experienced reporters were sending from the spot. Their combined witness is decisive about the purpose of the intervention which the C.I.A. inspired, and about the wholly lamentable result which it produced.
Three months later they were confirmed by the highest authority in the United States. The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs conducted a full inquiry into the whole Dominican operation. It heard all the witnesses and every point of view—the Pentagon, the State Department, the C.I.A., and all the rest. At the end of the inquiry the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Fulbright, made the following statement of the committee's conclusions.
1943 He said that the occupation of San Domingo was illegal, a flagrant violation of the charter and of the Statute of the O.A.S. He said that no American lives had been lost before the landing of the U.S. Marines. He told us that the San Domingo line would make his country… the enemy of all revolutions and the ally of unpopular and corrupt military oligarchies.He made it clear that the invasion was a squalid plot—the last of many in other peoples' countries—by the C.I.A.
It was our Foreign Secretary who brought that squalid plot to failure. Three weeks after the invasion, he told our delegate in the Security Council that the authority of the United Nations must be upheld, and a real cease-fire applied. Our delegate accordingly moved a resolution, and subsequently accepted a French redraft. The United States representative—the hapless Adlai Stevenson, whose end we all so deeply deplore—was instructed to oppose us, and to urge that the whole thing should be left to the Organisation of American States. He was beaten in the Security Council by ten votes to nil.
Aroused by that sensational defeat, President Johnson sent new orders to the United States Generals in San Domingo. He told them to stop helping the Fascist military junta to establish a real ceasefire, and to work for a return to democratic constitutional Government in the Dominican republic. There have been great difficulties since that decision was made. In recent weeks it seemed that progress towards fair and democratic elections was being achieved. But only this morning the newspapers have a report of the murderous attack on Colonel Caamano, the leader of the democrats—an attack in which his principal assistant was killed.
Before President Johnson gave his new instructions, more than 3,000 Dominicans had lost their lives 26 United States soldiers had been killed and 150 had been wounded destruction had been wrought, hatreds had been bred, which will imperil the whole future of the democratic Government which we all hope will be set up. Above all, this episode was dangerous, as Mr. Halyard Lange said, because it was a flagrant challenge to the binding 1944 force of the Charter of the United Nations.
In my submission, this House should have had an immediate debate on this important matter. I tried to get a debate, but I failed. I had hoped that such a debate would have led to an immediate debate in the Security Council, with our Foreign Secretary taking part, and standing up for the Charter of the United Nations. I believe, on the basis of a fairly long experience in these matters, that if that debate had happened, it might have led to a swift and satisfactory result for the Dominican Republic. At least we should have given the principles of democracy and of the Charter a chance to work. But we had no debate till 19th July, and then we covered the whole of world affairs.
I add only one further illustration of the case I am seeking to make. All this autumn it has been plain that the Vietnam war was growing more dangerous week by week. It has been plain that there were unresolved confusions about the readiness of one side or the other to come to conference. It has been plain that the word "unconditional" was being used with different meanings by different people. All this was of crucial importance, and it was all eminently suitable for Parliamentary debate.
We were promised a day on the Address—it was put off. We were promised two days a little later. In the end, we have our debate in the Christmas week—originally on a one-line Whip. It is after the Prime Minister's visit to the United Nations. It is supposed to cover, and for many months ahead to dispose of, the whole range of world affairs. Yet the Opposition are told that they can use up this debate by their Motion and the Government's Amendment on Rhodesia.
I believe that this system gives this House of Commons no proper share in the formulation of British foreign policy, or in the consideration of the problems which week by week arise. I believe that we should have far more debates on foreign affairs. I believe that we should have them on each new crisis as it occurs. I believe that each should be confined to a single issue, so that a coherent discussion can take place. I believe that what I now propose is certainly required by the importance of the international developments of today. I believe that it would be far more satisfactory to hon. 1945 Members of all parties, and even to the Government themselves.
Having said all that I want to say on that subject, I only add a few words about the speech made by the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) at the end of yesterday's debate. At the beginning of his oration he said:Obviously the purpose of any foreign policy must be to achieve a universal system of law and justice that is working and enforceable.After that impeccable sentiment, he went on to say:… there is no possibility of that at the present moment. There is no prospect in the forseeable future of a comprehensive and effective system of international law."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th December, 1965 Vol. 722, c. 1817.]He then launched into a discussion of power politics, which was as nihilistic as it was confused.
Of course, it should not surprise us that such a sentiment should come from Opposition Front Bench leaders. It was 30 years ago last week that a Tory Government made the Hoare-Laval Agreement 30 years since they betrayed the Abyssinians and the election pledges on which they had newly come to power 30 years since they thereby destroyed the League of Nations and brought the Second World War. Have they forgotten the words of Sir Winston Churchill who, speaking of Abyssinia and attacking the Tory Government in 1938, said of them:They exploited and discredited the vast institution of the League of Nations …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 5th October, 1938 Vol. 339, c. 366.]Have they forgotten that he wrote to Lord Cecil in 1944:This war could easily have been prevented, if the League of Nations had been used with courage and loyalty by the associated nations",meaning that the Tory Government should have given the lead?
Now, as I understand him, the right hon. Member for Barnet says, "Forget the Charter; that is all unrealistic nonsense appropriate to some distant, happier age. Forget the Charter, power is what matters; tighten and strengthen the military groupings, although we know the other side will do the same; let the arms race escalate to still more lunatic levels than it has reached today."
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
I cannot make out which right hon. Gentle- 1946 man the right hon. Gentleman is now referring to. Is it my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) who made this speech?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
As I understand it, the right hon. Gentleman's constituency is Barnet. I mean the right hon. Gentleman who wound up the debate last night. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, whose opinion I respect, will read in HANSARD what the right hon. Gentleman said. He said—I say it again——
§ Lord Balniel (Hertford)
The right hon. Gentleman is making a sustained attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling). Has he notified my right hon. Friend that he intended to raise this matter?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
In fact I did not do that because I was not at all certain that I was going to speak and I did not want to keep the right hon. Gentleman in the Chamber if I did not, especially as my introduction was very long. I hope that the right hon. Member for Barnet will read what I have said and that we shall have other opportunities, if I succeed in my main contention, of dealing with the matter very soon. If I understood the right hon. Gentleman—I ask the noble Lord to read his words—he said, "Forget the Charter do not try to settle disputes by law and justice; stick to the ancient maxim, 'My ally right or wrong'", the formula that leads to world-wide war.
We all recognise that the binding force of the Charter has been undermined by many events. We remember how Stalin challenged it in the early days; we remember Iran, Greece, Czechoslovakia, the Berlin blockade, Korea. The United Nations came through that challenge, and in its first 10 years it stopped wars and settled disputes in many countries.
Then, alas, there came Suez. If the U.N. does fall into the international anarchy which the right hon. Gentleman described, we shall know where the deadly work of sabotage began. But let the right hon. Gentleman reflect on the following facts. Of course the Charter is undermined by such events as Suez, the Bay of Pigs, or San Domingo. But it was in the name of Charter law that the General Assembly halted France and Britain over Suez and made them bring their troops away. It was in the name of 1947 Charter law that the Foreign Secretary stopped the C.I.A.'s plot and the United States generals in San Domingo. It was in the name of Charter law that a truce was accepted by India and Pakistan not long ago.
The issue of world law or power politics is still in the balance; and a speech like that of the right hon. Gentleman yesterday afternoon does ill service to mankind. But happily the right hon. Gentleman and his party are not in power. Those who remember the pledges of the two world wars, those who believe that the peoples of all continents are longing for law and justice, will rejoice that Britain stands today behind the Charter, as the Prime Minister said so nobly in New York a week ago.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
I remember that Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, whose grasp of history was, I think, rather stronger than that which the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) displayed this afternoon, said that it was the policy of the Labour Party to carry out the old Benthamite maxim of the greatest happiness to the greatest number. The record of the Labour Party—the present Administration—since it became responsible for the affairs of Central Africa some fourteen months ago makes it very difficult to argue that the greatest happiness is being advanced by the policies the Labour Government are putting forward.
We see, as a result of the oil sanctions now introduced, that the somewhat fragile economy of Zambia is now under grave pressure and the inevitable countermeasures taken by the Smith régime of increasing the charge for coal to Zambia will certainly increase the pressure on Zambia's economy still further. We see the Malawi Government of Dr. Banda faced with the severe economic threat which would follow from unemployment in Rhodesia itself and the possible repatriation of the many workers from Malawi who earn their subsistence and support their families in Malawi by the wages they earn in Rhodesia.
It is the deliberate policy of this Government to increase the economic pressure and suffering both of the white community in Rhodesia and inevitably of the African community as well, because 1948 the effects of oil rationing and the effects of a slow-down in the economy will be felt first and foremost by the African population in Rhodesia. It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to increase that pressure still further.
I cannot myself believe that this by itself is a correct approach. I regret that only four of the 84 minutes the Prime Minister took to address the House were spent discussing the possibility of reconciliation and that those 4 minutes were spent on mumblings largely into the Dispatch Box. There was one reference which the right hon. Gentleman made which I found interesting during this brief affair, when he suggested that in fact a period of direct rule was a form of guarantee and that there would not after a reconciliation be an over-swift hand-over to independent African majority rule. If independence under present terms is unacceptable, one course which we might follow is the possibility of saying to the Rhodesians as a whole that the alternative is for Britain to stay in Rhodesia for a very long time and to say that we would continue our presence there, with guarantees for law and order and respect for property for a considerable period after the workings of the 1961 Constitution had brought an African Government had come into power. I believe that the time has some for us in this country to say that when we return to Rhodesia we will stay there for a long time and that we will afford a guarantee as it were, for the medium future of that country.
Those on the benches opposite who are most keen to see the use of pressure on Rhodesia, extending even to force, are almost invariably those who wish to see us adopting in other parts of the world a policy not of unilateral independence but of unilateral surrender. Certainly many of those hon. Members opposite who are loudest in attacks on Rhodesia and the Smith régime are just those who wish to see a complete end to any defence against Communism in Vietnam.
I have recently returned from Saigon. A few days after my return I took part in a broadcast with the General Secretary of the National Association of Local Government Officers, which is an important organisation in my constituency, because about 800 members of N.A.L.G.O. are employed in the Greater London 1949 borough of Bromley. In the course of the first nine months of this year in South Vietnam, 450 local government officers have been murdered by the Vietcong. We are facing a campaign not only of the big battalions but also of murder. When the Vietcong rebellion began in the early 1960s the rate of individual murder ran at more than 15 a day, and always the local administration and local government officers were the prime targets.
This poses considerable problems for us and the Government, as well as for the unfortunate people of South Vietnam because, quite rightly, our Government believe in advocating a policy of negotiation between the two sides. They believe that there should be negotiations leading to a cease-fire. Heaven knows it is difficult enough to negotiate a cease-fire even in a conventional type of war when the territory is clearly held by one side or another and there are fixed lines of battle, but in South Vietnam today one has to try not only to bring about a cease-fire between the big battalions but also, if there is to be any reality in the position, to brine about a cease-murder. This will be a difficult proposition. After all their talk of sponsoring negotiations, I do not believe that this Government have any idea how negotiations for a cease-murder can be conducted, but I think that in the course of the next few months this Government will be faced with some very hard choices in that part of the world.
We heard the Prime Minister saying this afternoon that we could not consider sending troops to South Vietnam because we were co-chairmen under the 1954 Geneva Agreements, but I think that it is inevitable that as the pressure on the Americans mounts—and at the moment they are losing in one day as many men as we are losing in the confrontation struggle with Indonesia in a year—their request for help will become rather more insistent. I understand that there has been lying on the table for some months a request for help with medical supplies for refugees from the Vietcong. There seems to have been a considerable delay in meeting that request. We hear that there is a mission in Saigon at the moment studying how best we can afford medical assistance to South Vietnam. I hope that when it is received the mission's report will be acted upon promptly. I certainly 1950 do not object to the sending of field ambulances to help in the situation there.
Again I think that this is only a beginning. The Prime Minister this afternoon began to skirt round the question of the future establishment of joint forces east of Suez. There is quite a lot to be said for this, but we should be perfectly clear about one point. But let us be clear that, if a joint American-British-Australian-New Zealand force is formed east of Suez, it will mean quite squarely that our soldiers will have to go into the struggle in South Vietnam.
I should like to see greater co-operation between the United States and ourselves in this part of the world, but I turn now to one field in which Anglo-American co-operation has fallen down badly in recent months. I refer to weapon procurement. We heard this afternoon of the one order which we had obtained from the Saudi Arabians in the teeth of considerable opposition from the United States. We know that American methods of arms salesmanship are very tough. I do not think that there is much point either in deploring this or in saying that American salesmen should pull their punches; nor do I think that they are likely to do so. But, as the Plowden Committee pointed out a few days ago, we face a situation in which our aircraft, computer and communications industries are likely, as a result of American expenditure on weapon development, to become increasingly dominated by the Americans.
What can we do? The Plowden Committee has talked about close co-operation with Europe in this field, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), in a report to Western European Union, has emphasised the value and importance to the industries of all Europe of European co-operation in defence matters. I am sure that we must develop quickly along this road, and it happens to be one road which at the moment offers more fruitful room for co-operation than any other. Now, when the Common Market is split between President de Gaulle and the other partners, because President de Gaulle himself is obsessed by the fear of American industry taking over the advanced technologies of Europe, this is one field in which he, in co-operation with his Common Market partners and ourselves, is likely to co-operate to advance towards 1951 what I have always felt to be the desirable end, that is, a European defence procurement agency. In opening the debate yesterday, the Foreign Secretary poured cold water on our developing relations with the Continent of Europe, but, in our view, this is an issue of paramount importance.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I shall make only a short reference to what the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) has just said about the Vietnam situation. I understood him to advocate British military intervention in the Vietnam conflict.
§ Mr. Hynd
Not military intervention?—I am very glad to hear it, because I thought that that was what he was proposing. I should myself have taken what the Prime Minister said today as the basis accepted by all parties in the House of our attitude towards the Vietnam conflict, with certain reservations. As my right hon. Friend said, we are co-chairman of the Geneva Conference. The situation in the conflict at present, so far as one can judge from reports in the Press and elsewhere, is that (a) the Vietminh are basing their demands for a settlement on the Geneva Conference conception, that is, free elections throughout Vietnam and the reunification of the country, and (b) the Americans, too, are now accepting the Geneva Conference principles as the basis for a satisfactory settlement. Therefore, if the co-chairman were to become involved in the hostilities or directly associated with the American military effort in Vietnam, this would be the biggest blunder we could possibly commit. If there is to be any prospect of a negotiated settlement in that territory, it must come, at the beginning, on the basis of discussion on the Geneva proposals and we must, therefore, keep ourselves ready to act in that capacity.
The second point I make about the Vietnam conflict—I do not want to develop it too far—I put in the form of a question. What is the position of the United States at this stage? We all know the history of the American attitude and actions in this conflict. At the beginning, they made clear that they were in the conflict (a) to defend a democratic Gov- 1952 ernment and democratic principles in South Vietnam; (b) to prevent the spread of Chinese Communism or Communism in general in that area; and (c) to prevent, through the check of Communist expansion there, the spread of Communism throughout the Far East, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.
Since then, however, the United States, having earlier refused to negotiate at all, is now prepared to negotiate on the basis of the Geneva agreements and, as the Geneva agreements provide for free elections throughout Vietnam and the reunifiaction of that country, and it is generally accepted as probable that such free elections would result in a Communist Government being elected, there seems to be little left in the American effort to defend democracy in that country.
I believe that the Americans realise that they are now in a dilemma, a dilemma rather similar, though it has developed on a much greater scale, to the dilemma in which they found themselves over Dominica. They went into Dominica with a few troops for a specified and justified objective, those few troops rapidly became a vast army, and they were rescued from their situation in Dominica very largely—if I may say so, this is considerably to our credit—by diplomatic interventions made by our own Government. Their dilemma in the Vietnam situation has not been resolved, but it is becoming clearer and clearer that the Americans would like it to be solved on the basis of a negotiated settlement.
What worries me about the Vietnam situation is what has worried me in many of these situations, such as the Dominican situation, in which the Americans have been involved. It is not that American intentions or principles are wrong but the interpretation of the situations into which the Americans get themselves in intervening on behalf of those principles. One is worried about the conflict of interests or influences within the American Government, where power is curiously dispersed. Sometimes it seems that the President himself is not clearly aware of what is happening until it has happened. I am worried about the misinterpretations of what the Americans consider to be their mission—to defend democracy and check Communism.
1953 Mr. Dean Rusk made a curious statement in August to the Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, for example, he quoted from Pravda to the effect that national liberation upsurges in Latin America were largely due, as everyone was aware, to the activities of the Communist parties. I welcome the forthcoming visits of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State to Latin America. They will find that what Mr. Rusk said is absolute nonsense. It is just not true. Where are these Communist States and upsurges in Latin America? In Mexico? At the beginning of the Mexican Revolution the United States denounced it as Communist. Now it welcomes Mexico as being the greatest example of democracy south of the United States in the American continent.
Or in the model democracy of Costa Rica? the one country in the world which has abolished its army and military forces. Who was it who overthrew Jimenez in Venezuela? Was Betancourt a Communist? Was Guatemala Communist? Was the American intervention there useful on behalf of democracy? Was it a Communist party which destroyed Trujillo in Dominica? Where are all these Communist upsurges?
Panama, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Salvador and Colombia are democracies. Others are under military dictatorships which overthrew democratic Governments. The fact is, as Mr. Rusk must know, that there is not a single case, with the exception of Cuba, in all Latin America where a Communist action or revolt has succeeded or where the Communists have won a single democratic election. It is disturbing that the Americans should look at South America in this light. However, we know the attitude within America that regards anything from President Johnson's "Medicare" scheme to our own national health service or the nationalisation of an industry by some Latin American State as sheer "Communism."
I have grave suspicions sometimes about where the United States is going. It should therefore be our purpose to try to bring an end to the Vietnam conflict through negotiation and I cannot understand why we do not try to utilise the United Nations to a greater extent. It is clear that the Vietcong has shown no signs 1954 of responding so far to representations made by various British Ministers and other emissaries, by the 17 uncommitted nations, by India, by Canada or by the Commonwealth Mission. But we have not really invoked United Nations intervention.
Is there any reason why the United Nations should not make a call for an end to the bombing and the terrorism, for a peace conference to be convened either through the Geneva group or through the United Nations itself. Since there is no apparent purpose in the Americans carrying this burden themselves any more, is there any reason why the U.N. should not replace the American troops by an effective U.N. force?
Of course, the U.N. is only the instrument of its members—and we are a member. I believe that perhaps our Government have been a little too reserved in not expressing concern—not necessarily denouncing the United States—publicly at the development of the war in Vietnam and some of the actions which have taken place on the American as well as on the other side. I believe that there are occasions when a public statement made on the international platform can have very considerable effect.
When the Foreign Secretary goes to South America he will find, as anyone who has toured the area has found, that it was not the British diplomatic intervention in Dominica—one of the biggest contributory factors to the temporary settlement—which created enthusiasm throughout South America, but the public declaration of President de Gaulle denouncing American policy, although that was the only contribution that he made. This is a fact of political life that we must not ignore.
Now I want to deal with the Rhodesia problem. The House is in a curious situation. Tonight we shall vote on the Motion for Adjournment, but the Chair has indicated that nevertheless it is in order for right hon. and hon. Members who are voting for or against the Motion to do so for quite another purpose. I will be voting for the Government as an expression of my regret that they have not done a bit more about the reunification of Europe!
We are voting on the Motion for the Adjournment, but with reference to a 1955 Motion and an Amendment which are not before the House. According to the Leader of the Opposition we are voting, in terms of the Motion, for or against the use of force in Rhodesia in any form. But the Prime Minister has categorically repeated the assurance that he has given before that it is not the Government's intention to use force in any form. So what is it that the Opposition are to vote on?
We are aware of the dilemma of the Leader of the Opposition. He himself has claimed, and the Prime Minister has given him credit for it, that he has not opposed sanctions. Yet he has protested at each one introduced. He protested against the tobacco embargo, the extension of the trade embargo, the financial measures, and the oil embargo even before it was imposed. He talked about these being punitive sanctions. Today we are told that they are all accepted by the Opposition as necessary in the situation but we know, as the Press knows, what the situation has been in the Conservative Party in the last two or three days.
The right hon. Gentleman and other right hon. Gentlemen have faced the opposition of the Monday Club to each specific proposal. We have watched the balancing act of the Leader of the Opposition over the last two or three weeks and the climax has been reached with the Motion signed by 100 or 150 hon. Members opposite, led by the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery).
So tonight we find the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition having to perform his final balancing act in this situation. He accepts all the sanctions but opposes and will vote against what is not proposed. He claims that it is his opinion that the Government should continue to maintain contacts with the régime. Which régime? Does he mean the illegal régime of Mr. Smith which he himself has called illegal? Does he reject the Government's position that the only régime is the Governor? If he does not, he must recognise that we are maintaining contact with the Governor when he talks of maintaining contact with "the régime". He should be prepared to state clearly what he means.
Finally, to my astonishment the Leader of the Opposition protested against the 1956 Prime Minister bringing a "detail" into the speech. It turned out that the detail was his reference to African constitutional rights. That is not a detail. That is the issue. The issue of Rhodesia is not that of the British industrial interest in the copper belt. It is not specifically a British issue. It is an issue of the conflict between black and white. It is an issue concerning the constitutional rights of 4 million of our citizens in Rhodesia. It is an issue concerning the rights of the black population in a territory for which the British Government are responsible. Therefore, I hope that everyone in this country will understand the proper concern which has been shown by the Organisation for African Unity about this issue.
I agree with a great deal, and probably all, that was said by the Leader of the Liberal Party. This is not purely a British matter. At an earlier stage of our debates, I was afraid that the Prime Minister was too much emphasising that this was peculiarly a British matter which must be kept in British hands. I am glad to know that he is now emphasising the world nature of the problem and the world nature of the situation with which it is facing us.
The challenge which has been made by Mr. Smith and his friends is not a challenge to this country. It is only a challenge to this country in so far as it challenges our constitutional position, but that is not serious. After all, we are all agreed in all parties that, given the restoration of constitutional government, or if there had been no break in constitutional government, our purpose was to leave Rhodesia and to let it become entirely independent. The challenge to our constitutional position is therefore completely unimportant.
What Mr. Smith has challenged is the whole of black Africa. What he has challenged is the right of the black citizens of that continent to proper consitutional advance, in or out of the confines of a British territory for which we for the moment have constitutional responsibility.
The African States have asked that we in Great Britain who claim to be responsible for this territory should take such steps as are necessary to ensure—not just hope for—the end of this development of apartheid by the illegal Smith régime. Is this what we are doing? In all humility 1957 I accept that I am not as fully informed as the Prime Minister or other members of the Cabinet who are directly concerned about the effect of sanctions. I do not know whether the influences inside and outside Rhodesia which may be working for the success of sanctions and the success of the present policy will be able to succeed, but from the information available to the ordinary back bencher it does not seem to me that we are taking any steps which will ensure—not just give the hope—that this attempt to spread apartheid further throughout Africa and to oppress many millions more of our black African citizens will not succeed.
Our troops have been sent to Zambia, but not to interfere with Rhodesia. They are not to provide protection for African subjects against the illegal police State measures being taken in our territory. Our troops must not set foot on British territory. Those are the instructions. Why, then, are they there? I have been a little disturbed by my interpretation of what the Prime Minister has said on this subject. He has strongly suggested that they are there only to prevent the African States, who are obviously the people mostly concerned and whose constitutional rights are threatened, from taking unilateral action, or to prevent the United Nations from interfering.
This may be very desirable and possible, but it is difficult to understand why in a situation of this kind we should be seeking to prevent intervention against the Smith régime which operates on our territory against our black subjects. I find it difficult to understand why we should not go direct to the United Nations and say that we are not able to handle this problem ourselves, that we are not capable of it, or not courageous enough, or too wise, to try to intervene by force to bring the situation to an end. If it is our territory and we are unable to face up to the responsibility for that territory, I find it difficult to understand how we can claim that it must remain our sole responsibility.
I entirely endorse what the Leader of the Liberal Party said about blue berets. What is the objection to Russians in blue berets? I would have thought that that would be something which would be universally welcomed throughout the democratic world. The whole of Government policy, and I thought Opposition policy, 1958 is to work towards the creation of a United Nations peace force which would take the place of unilateral national military intervention anywhere. If we are to have a United Nations police force, it is surely better that all members of the United Nations should be taking part in it than that we should continue the cold war within the U.N. and have only Eastern or Western police in particular territories.
§ Mr. Humphry Berkeley (Lancaster)
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware of the amount of subversion taking place in Africa at the present time by the Russians and Chinese? If he is, does he think that Russian troops in whatever uniform should intervene in Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Hynd
If the United Nations does not intervene in a situation of this kind and the only country which claims the right to intervene does not intervene, that is to create a situation in Africa which would be the best gift to the Communist agents and the Communist agitators in that continent which they could wish to have. The fact that the situation seems to have reached deadlock and that no one can do anything about it and that Britain will not allow anybody else to intervene and that Smith is getting away with it while the African nations are rising in their indignation is surely meat to them. What a wonderful opportunity this is for the Communist agitators! What would be the objection to having a proper proportion of Russian troops within an international body under United Nations command to deal with a temporary situation of that kind? If we cannot accept this kind of possibility, we can forget any idea of an effective international United Nations police force.
§ Sir Hamar Nicholls
Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that if he had his blue beret multi-nation force, the reaction in South Africa might lead to the complication which he says he is trying to avoid?
§ Mr. Hynd
That might well be, but that would be a matter for South Africa which would then be challenging the whole world, and I doubt whether South Africa would be prepared to face up to that. We must make up our minds whether we believe in a United Nations police force or whether in this democratic country we are to insist on the exclusion 1959 of the United Nations from all such situations and to continue on the road of unilateral national interventions by the more powerful States.
§ Mr. William Yates
The hon. Gentleman must also take into account that during the Hungarian troubles we were not allowed to intervene in Hungary. He must try to be more realistic.
§ Mr. Hynd
That is precisely my point. That is what we have all been doing until now. I am suggesting that if we can now establish a proper United Nations force, there is less possibility of a Hungarian kind of situation in future. One cannot have it both ways. Either one asks for a United Nations peace force or one says that it is not possible or it is too dangerous. I am saying that if this cannot be handled by Britain, if it is a world concern, then it is a responsibility of the United Nations, whether we like it or not. I am not saying that the Government should at this stage take this step, because I am not aware of all the facts. But if it is the fact that we have not been able to deal with this situation, I cannot see how one can exclude the United Nations. If the United Nations is brought in it is difficult to see why we should be worried about the nationality of one of the sections of the United Nations forces.
The present state of the Commonwealth has been raised. It is an unhappy thing and certainly a new manifestation that, when one of our African territories is faced with a situation when there is a confrontation betwen black and white, Commonwealth countries in Africa, which include the area in dispute, have sought to consult with other African countries rather than consult within the Commonwealth. These African States within the Commonwealth have ranged themselves with other African States outside the Commonwealth in order to reach a decision.
It seems strange that the Commonwealth was directly by-passed, not only in the negotiations, but to the point where now many of our Commonwealth partners are breaking relations with this country because we are taking no steps to intervene in the Rhodesian situation on their behalf. This must raise the question of what is the Commonwealth to 1960 these African countries, and whether we ought not to begin to review the Commonwealth in its present conception in order to replace it by something much more effective so that we can determine what are our mutual responsibilities.
I hope that Her Majesty's Government will note some of the points I have made, and I hope that the Commonwealth question will be sorted out as a result of these discussions and this crisis. I hope that by the utilisation of whatever powers we have at our disposal, the policy of the Government, which I support, will succeed. But if it does not succeed, how can we continue to claim that this is specifically a British interest and rule out the intervention of the United Nations?
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
I have given an undertaking that I shall speak for no more than about 10 minutes, so I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the remarks he has made. For the same reason I shall not be speaking about Rhodesia. I should like to say a few words about the Commonwealth. I find that I have a considerable emotional reluctance to say what I am going to say, and I appreciate that it may not be acceptable to a number of people, but, I believe that, as one studies the realities of the Commonwealth today, one comes more and more to the conclusion that we are dealing with a myth. Although the preservation of a myth is not necessarily damaging in itself, it can be dangerous if it ever encourages one to formulate policies on the basis of a nonexistent premise.
The breaking of diplomatic relations by a number of African members is the most recent example of an increasingly paradoxical situation. Looking back one can see that the physical pain of the loss of Empire was much smaller than the psychological pain. At the time of the United Kingdom negotiations to enter the Common Market much was said about the need to forge the Commonwealth into a cohesive force and attempts were made to do this. They failed and the Commonwealth has remained divided and impotent as an organised and united body. It is internally weak because of the manifold clashes of interest within it, 1961 and it has been most seriously undermined when it did not prove itself to be an effective force for peace.
Recent examples of this failure can be seen in the clash between India and Pakistan, in the total failure of the attempts by the Prime Minister to convene a Commonwealth peace mission in Vietnam, in the refusal of Ceylon to support India in respect of a flagrant act of aggression carried out by China against India. The severance of diplomatic relations is the most blatant example because, although of course it can be argued that Britain is just another member of the Commonwealth and that there can be relations between other members of the Commonwealth without Britain, the truth is that the only relations which actually do matter are those between individual members of the Commonwealth and Britain. Thereto e, it makes no sense at all to sever relations with this country and yet to remain in the Commonwealth.
My remarks are not caused by hostility towards the African countries concerned. I have considerable sympathy for the position in which President Nyerere of Tanzania found himself, and I hope that the aid programme for Tanzania will not be cut, and that we shall fully maintain the technicians required to administer it. Britain should not take any dramatic initiative to end the Commonwealth, but on the other hand, I believe that we should not strive, acrobatically, to keep within the Commonwealth members who find themselves happier outside it and wish to preserve indefinitely something which, as a cohesive force, is becoming increasingly a figment of the imagination.
Deep historic and I believe unbreakable relations with Australia, New Zealand and Canada would be affirmed by bilateral treaties. So would our relations with India and Pakistan, and I believe, that, whatever roots there are in our relations with these countries, they owe their depth not to joint membership of the Commonwealth, but to history, shared in peace and war; to the traditions of the Indian Army and the Indian Civil Service; and of course to economic interests which are still very real and live today. Bilateral agreements will also preserve our relations with the most recent members of the Commonwealth. The danger of preserving myths is that they can hamper the development and fulfil- 1962 ment of policies which are right and essential.
Britain's place is in Europe and it is to achieve this end that we should set our plans and our energies. One of the first things we should do is to look into the alignment of policies prior to our eventual membership of E.E.C. The Brussels Commission has, until the present deadlock developed, believed that Britain could not enter the Community until 1968, when the Customs Union would be complete, a common policy in operation and the three committees fused. I believe that it is wrong for us to try to wait until the end of the de Gaullist era. We must start putting forward practical suggestions now. I shall mention some of these later.
I should like to refer to the possibility that the result of the French elections may conceivably alter General de Gaulle's attitude. He may be far more willing to see Britain in Europe soon, looking upon Britain as at least in part an ally and a supporter of his own views on the future development of Europe. It may be extremely difficult for the Gaullists to win the parliamentary election in 1967 and the General may well consider the possibility of a total reversal within France of the policies he advocates and the assumption by France of a strongly federalist position. We must be ready to seize any opportunity which arises, and which may arise earlier than we believe, to take the initiative because only by being a member of the European Economic Community shall we be able to shape the future development of the Community.
In technology, the costs of industries like the aircraft, missile, communications and computer industries have increased dramatically so that a single European nation State cannot bear them alone. Such industries, with their enormous overheads, depend on the public buyer, and, given the scale of the United States Federal Administration spending, we cannot hope to compete successfully by ourselves. Unless co-operation with Europe is established on a realistic basis the alternative may have to be the regrettable destruction of these key industries, not only in Europe, but in the United Kingdom.
This view has met with considerable approval and sympathy from President de Gaulle who has been very quick to 1963 grasp the scale problem of European States, and with the French anxiety over the cost of delivery systems for the force de frappe they increasingly realise how much they need technological expertise to preserve independence from the United States. We must accept that, with France, technological co-operation will be one of the keys, and perhaps the key, to our entry into the E.E.C.
Some of the practical proposals which we could carry out straight away prior to entry would be the abolition of the surcharge as soon as possible; to abolish the road haulage licensing system so as to make it easier for continental hauliers to operate here; to harmonise standards and measurements; to sign the European Declaration of Human Rights; to realign the steel industry pricing policy as under the E.C.S.C. and to create, as my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) said earlier, some kind of agency which would formulate a purchasing programme and award contracts for defence purchases.
May I say a few words about the defence situation and N.A.T.O.? I believe that the crucial task from our point of view is to support the United States effort to establish multilateral nuclear co-operation—a trend which will also give us additional impetus in our rapprochement wtih Europe. The McNamara recommendations for a consultative committee allowing for German participation in a form which may even be acceptable to the Russians offers the best opportunity ever for solving the problem of German participation in nuclear strategic planning. I hope that the Government will be more active in taking initiatives to back the McNamara recommendations. It is regrettable that they have played such a passive role so far. I do not believe that there is vast pressure in Germany demanding actual German possession of hardware. A scheme which would allow for real participation in nuclear planning would very probably satisfy Germany's aspirations and requirements.
Turning to N.A.T.O., it is always important to bear in mind that the maintenance of the Western military alliance and Western military strength is essential not only to prevent any possible Communist attack in future but to enable 1964 us to pursue policies of co-operation and reconciliation with Eastern Europe. The objectives of N.A.T.O. are defensive, but it is important that there should never be any uncertainty on the Soviet side about the West's determination to protect its interests. With this basic reality unequivocally established, it should become increasingly possible to take economic initiatives in Eastern Europe.
I see a great deal to commend in some of the suggestions and recommendations which have been made on the need to formulate a joint all-European economic development plan, including the creation of a special fund to finance East-West trade and common European investment projects. Western policy must continue to reckon with persistent Soviet hostility, but also with the possibility of a favourable Soviet evolution.
In conclusion, I wish to say a word about Vietnam. It would be extremely important if Britain could make some token participation in the shape of an ambulance field unit, as was mentioned earlier in a debate. The United States is looking for, and badly needs, gestures of support, and a concrete sign of British involvement would be very welcome. It would be useful from the point of view of Anglo-American relations, and it would be right, because it is as well not to forget that in Vietnam the United States is representing the Western Alliance.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)
I shall not attempt to follow the analysis of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) of President de Gaulle and the Common Market. In a debate of this kind, in which time is so important and when many hon. Members want to speak, to do so would broaden my argument far too much. Therefore, I know that the hon. Gentleman will understand if I do not follow him into that realm.
I want to confine my remarks to what was said by the Prime Minister this afternoon and the Foreign Secretary yesterday. I was very sorry that the Prime Minister had nothing to add to or subtract from the Foreign Secretary's statement yesterday. Many of us felt very disappointed about the way in which the Foreign Secretary presented the situation as he saw it. We hoped that the 1965 Prime Minister would give us positive ideas about the Labour Party's attitude in international affairs and a much wider report of his discussions with the American President. However, we were denied this, and we regretted it very much.
One had the impression, in listen-to the Prime Minister in his almost adulation of the Americans and the policy which they are pursuing in foreign affairs, that we were on the verge of going in for a massive American loan. I hope that this is not so, but this is the kind of impression which one had when listening to the platitudes about the present international situation and the British participation in it. However, I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend said about Rhodesia. My disagreement with him and the Foreign Secretary is essentially on the question of international relationships outside the African Continent.
Yesterday the Foreign Secretary referred to the question of technical skill and primitive politics in the world. In his summing up he gave a graphic description of the situation. This is one of the great dilemmas of the world. Scientists and engineers have combined brilliantly to present to the world nuclear weapons, inter-continental missiles, and so on, but in so doing they have created a world of entirely new concept and dimensions. In this way, they have far outstripped the thinking of world politicians. We now find that there is an ever-increasing gap between scientists and engineers, who create these new dimensions in the world, and politicians, who flounder about behind them searching and groping for an idea and understanding of how they may use the ideas which are presented to them by the scientists.
One of the things that politicians have done in post-war years has been absolutely to misuse this power which has been presented to them. In world politics in post-war years, the person who has misused that power more than anyone else in the world was the former United States Secretary of State, the late Foster Dulles. Not only was he the architect and author of the current military and political strategy which is now being pursued in the world, but he is the hidden influence behind the debate which has 1966 been taking place here during the past two days.
When we try to analyse current American theory, the question of the nuclear umbrella and what they believe to be a cold war stalemate, one can easily appreciate the dangers that are involved if we pursue the policy which is being advocated by the American Administration. They are now saying—and this was the original argument of Foster Dulles—that by providing the umbrella or the nuclear shield, it was possible within that so-called protection of nuclear weapons to use conventional weapons for permissible small wars. Foster Dulles described this as the art of brinkmanship. We have seen two tragic and outstanding examples—Korea and Vietnam —of how the Americans interpret this nuclear umbrella.
They have gone further than that and said that their whole purpose and function in the world is to contain Communism by military means to bring about political isolation and, at the same time, to practise military containment. This particularly applies to China. It is saddening to have heard within the last few days leading members of the American Administration outline their ideas concerning the containment of China. This was what saddened me most in the statement of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, because it seemed to me to be extremely limited and to be riddled with the disease of anti-Communism. Unless the Foreign Secretary can get away from this narrow concept of world politics, there is not much hope for any expansion of British influence in world affairs.
It was significant yesterday that the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) deliberately excluded China from the whole of his speech. He said that the future of international developments would depend on the ability of this country, together with America, to reach out in friendship towards the Soviet Union so that these three great Powers could dictate the pattern of world events. It was significant that he did not at any time mention China in that development. We assume, therefore, that both the foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Barnet are agreed about this and that they accept the premise, which is practised at present by Americans, of excluding China politically and 1967 containing China militarily. This again was a great regret.
This is the first opportunity that we have had to examine the British role in the recent United Nations debate on the admission of China. Our Government stand condemned for their behaviour in that debate at the United Nations. We have said often that we honestly believe that China should be admitted to the United Nations and we have exercised our vote in that direction. We were one of the 47 nations which voted to that effect. Afterwards, however, Britain started to face both ways, because instead of pursuing the logic of saying that China should be admitted to the United Nations, Britain then supported the American procedural motion which required that no less than two-thirds of the members must support the motion before it could be carried in the Assembly. This, therefore, was a situation in which Britain once again faced both ways on this issue and showed the kind of hypocrisy which we have seen in our international ideas and relationships concerning China.
Before turning to Vietnam, I should like to comment on the contribution to the debate yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). My hon. Friend gave us a verbal textbook, a brilliant survey of the relationships between Indonesia and Malaysia. This in itself showed complete understanding of the developments that had taken place. It was not surprising, therefore, when the right hon. Member for Barnet said that my hon. Friend had made a strange speech. Even hon. Friends of mine on this side said that it was strange, and the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) described it as a very strange speech. Why is it so strange? Is it because they did not understand what it was all about that hon. Members did not recognise its truth and understanding? Time will prove that my hon. Friend has contributed a great deal to our understanding of that part of the world.
I want to take up the question of developments in that area and to engage, perhaps, in a little crystal gazing about events there. I well remember that the United States went into Vietnam with what it described as the domino theory. 1968 Because of that, the Americans argued, they rejected the 1954 Agreement. Something else which is occurring at present, however, is the economic necessity of the nations in South-East Asia to pursue the domino theory effectively. What they were frightened of and what the United States considered to be its motivation for going into Vietnam will take place in any event because of economic necessity.
I am convinced that Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia will become one entity in the economic sense before long and that they will integrate their economies and stay under Communist leadership. I do not think there is any doubt that this is the future pattern of events in that part of the world along the peninsula.
Another interesting development that will take place, also by reason of the same economic forces, is the economic integration of the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, which for the very same reasons will finish up with Communist leadership forming a Communist commonwealth which ultimately will become completely integrated in the whole area of South-East Asia.
I say that because there are signs already beginning to seep through so far as Malaysia is concerned, and it does not need a great deal of prediction to understand what will be the result once 95 per cent. of the world demand for rubber is met by synthetic means. Malaysia's exports are mainly dependent upon rubber, and one can understand that within the next 10 years the whole economy of that part of the world will be undergoing fundamental changes. Therefore, I believe in quite the opposite of the Americans' pursuance of the domino theory. Because economic considerations have been avoided in South-East Asia, those measures will create the domino theory and bring about the economic integration of the whole area.
A great deal was also said on Vietnam, and the Foreign Secretary went to some length to say that both sides should be heard. I hope that my hon. Friend who is to reply to the debate will give us an answer to one very important question. If the Foreign Secretary was sincere in saying that he wanted both sides of the case heard, could he tell us why he instructed the Home Secretary to refuse 1969 visas to the four Vietnamese women who wanted to come to this country at the invitation of many Members of the House? If the Foreign Secretary wanted to be honest and sincere, could he give an answer to that, because here was an opportunity of putting the other side of the coin and allowing those four women to come; but we find that the Home Secretary was instructed by the Foreign Office riot to grant visas, as a result of which these women were left in Paris and not allowed to enter the country. So much of the Foreign Secretary's sincerity in saying that he wants to listen to both sides of the question.
Every hon. Member who has contributed to the debate so far has agreed that there is no military solution to the Vietnam struggle. But there is another dangerous fact, which is that possibly the United States see no political solution and, because of that, may provoke China deliberately. Military experts have already said that United States strategy could shift in such a way that the only answer would be either to extend the bombing beyond Hanoi or to move in something like 200,000 troops, in which case they would find that as part of their strategy of occupation they would also have to move troops into Laos and Cambodia and have an extension of the struggle in that way.
Whatever decision they took, both are absolutely dangerous in themselves. The danger of escalation which has been referred to often is a real one and very much with us. Our ideas and our contribution towards a peaceful solution should be directed to doing what we can to persuade the American President not to think in terms of policies of that kind.
What is often forgotten is why the Americans are there. During the debate, both the Foreign Secretary and Members on the Front Bench opposite have referred to the invitations by the South Vietnamese Government—a non-existent factor at the time. Nevertheless, what is forgotten is that American troops are in South Vietnam because of their fundamental disagreement with the 1954 Geneva Agreement. At that time, the Americans said that they could not in any circumstances accept an agreement of that kind because it called for free elections. The Americans said at the time, "We know 1970 what would happen. Ho Chi Minh would become President of a unified Vietnam", and therefore that was totally unacceptable to the American Government and they opposed it. From then on they moved forces into South Vietnam. That is why they are there.
We now have the curious argument put forward that the basis for negotiations could be the 1954 Agreement. It means that the wheel has turned a complete circle. That was the basic reason why the Americans went there in the first place, so it is hardly likely that the Americans will contemplate negotiating on the 1954 Agreement. President Johnson himself said on 25th March:We have said many times that we seek no more than a return to the 1954 Agreement.I could continue with a string of quotations to the effect that it is the intention of the Americans to stay in Vietnam and in no circumstances, unless they are given long-term guarantees which are not possible at the moment about the maintenance of the South Vietnam Government, would they consider leaving South Vietnam for one moment. They have spelt out quite deliberately that it is their intention to stay there.
If that is the basis upon which the Americans stand at the moment, they cannot possibly accept the Geneva Agreement which calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops and for free elections to take place following the unification of the country. So why this hypocrisy of talking in terms of what is a non-starter and a very unreal situation?
Those are some of the ideas that we have discussed during the debate, and I hope that we will get something like clear leadership about the future.
May I finish with a quotation from the Daily Mirror of 15th December? It said:The prospects of American military victory without a world war involving China are positively nil. Why not face it and bury pride instead of the human race?It went on to detail the whole situation in Vietnam as it saw it. I think that that is the most simple and brutally frank summing up of the Vietnam situation that I have read recently. I do not know which newspapers President Johnson reads, but I sincerely hope that he will start to take the Daily Mirror.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
After listening to the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson), I do not think that it can lie in the mouths of the party opposite to accuse the party on this side of being divided.
I am sorry that he was disappointed in the speech of his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary yesterday, because I thought that it was one of the best speeches I had heard for a long time. That is possibly why it disappointed the hon. Gentleman. His anti-Americanism, like that of his Friends round him below the Gangway, appears to blind him altogether to the realities of China.
I agree with him about China and the United Nations, but is he completely oblivious of the fact that the Government in Peking is the one Government who have stated that peaceful coexistence is not possible? I wonder if he has read the latest epigram of Mao Tse-tung, which says that war is blessed because it brings peace. I recommend him to study these things a little more before he condemns the Americans for what they are trying to do for the Western alliance.
There are many aspects of foreign affairs on which I would like to touch tonight, but I should be abusing the privilege of having caught your eye, Mr. Speaker, if I talked about more than one, and that is Rhodesia.
My main object in intervening in the debate is to appeal for a continuation of national unity in fulfilling a task which is our responsibility and ours alone. That means understanding and forbearance from both sides.
As I have said before, there are three parties involved in the situation, clearly, and each has a distinctly different aim. There is, first, the illegal Government in Rhodesia, whose aim is indefinite white supremacy, and we need not kid ourselves that it is anything else. Secondly, there is Her Majesty's Government, whose aim is gradual majority rule. That, after all, as everyone in Rhodesia must have known, has been the aim of successive British Governments for a very long time, and that was the ultimate objective of the 1961 Constitution to which all parties in Rhodesia agreed.
1972 The third party is the United Nations whose aim is one man, one vote tomorrow.
That is not the aim of any party in this House, and if I might digress for a moment, the United Nations Organisation had better get that clear. But I fear that the collective wisdom of the United Nations cares very little for the happiness of the African in the bush. If his country is "free" that is enough. What totalitarian tryanny, what total abolition of any kind of rule of law and of all human rights, what murder and famine and pillage, as for example in Zanzibar, may follow, is nobody's business, and certainly not theirs. And if that is the attitude of any of our Commonwealth partners, then I am afraid that we shall have to part company with them, and here I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters).
It may be difficult to define what the Commonwealth stands for, not necessarily Parliamentary Government on the West-minister model, though certainly for the rule of law and respect for elementary human rights, but it should certainly stand against everything that is being perpetrated, for example by the Nkrumah régime in Ghana, and the breath-taking impudence of the Ghanaian representative, and other representatives from non-Commonwealth African countries, lecturing this country, or even Rhodesia, on freedom and on the rule of law will not have escaped the notice of hon. Members.
The United Nations merely earns the contempt of all reasonable men of goodwill by the selective criteria which it adopts for visiting its wrath upon erring nations. No sanctions are even suggested to try to redeem the agony of Hungary, the martyrdom of Tibet, the appalling massacres in Zanzibar or Ruanda or the Sudan; but let a country be too weak to offer resistence, or, like Britain, be the perpetual Aunt Sally for the abuse and vituperation of small countries which she has created, and rightly or wrongly, continues to succour, then it is another matter.
To return to the three distinct aims for Rhodesia's future, surely there can be no question which of them we should support? Most of us in this House I think agreed at the outset of this sorry business, first, that U.D.I. was an illegal act because only the British Parliament 1973 can grant sovereign independence to Rhodesia. Secondly, that in the Prime Minister's words in this House on 11th November,It would be … unworthy of this House, to allow this challenge … to go unanswered." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 356.]Indeed, were we to do so, we should invite economic and perhaps military action by others.
There, of course, lies the true significance of this, in itself, comparatively insignificant event. A handful of men have illegally seized the power to rule a small country, and event which has happened scores of times in Europe, in Asia, and in Latin America, without any one batting an eyelid. But the difference here is that the rulers are of a different race and colour from the ruled, and in the present state of African and world opinion it might easily be the spark which ignited the whole continent in an inter-racial holocaust. That is what makes Mr. Smith's action so irresponsible, and I do not think that all his many supporters in this country fully understand that.
The third proposition upon which I thought most of us were agreed was that this challenge must be "answered" by certain sanctions, of which the Rhodesians were clearly warned by both the late Conservative Administration and by Her Majesty's present Government. The fourth proposition was that such sanctions should not include the use of force.
If, which I doubt, any of my hon. and right hon. Friends do not agree with the second and third of those propositions, I would respectfully commend to their notice a passage from the leading article in last Sunday's Times which read as follows:In all honesty they … should ask themselves what it is they want: if it is ineffective sanctions, then why not come straight out and say that Mr. Smith's illegalities should be forthwith forgotten and forgiven—with all the consequences for the Commonwealth and Britain's position in the world that this would entail.But I think that so far most of us are agreed, and that was why I regretted the Motion recently put on the Order Paper by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and 120 of my hon. Friends, not so much for what it says, but because it gives the impression to the world outside that there is no unity of purpose in this House. And now we 1974 have my right hon. Friend's decision to vote tonight. Not all in this House, and very few outside it, know what a Motion to adjourn this House means. It will almost certainly be taken as being a Motion of censure on the Government's Rhodesian policy.
So far as I am concerned, I have heard my right hon. Friend's speech in opening this debate, and I am fully reassured. He made it quite clear that, up to now, and short of force, Her Majesty's Opposition have supported the Government's Rhodesian policy. But who outside the House, and who inside Rhodesia, will read what my right hon. Friend has said? I much regret that a vote should be taken tonight, and if it is, I shall feel justified in voting against the Government only because of my right bon. Friend's speech, and because of the words of the Government's Amendment to my right hon. Friend's Motion on Rhodesia which asks us to express our full support forall measures designed to secure a return to legal rule …I am afraid that I could never vote for that.
There are a dozen issues of domestic policy on which we can and must fight the Prime Minister with every weapon we have. I do not feel that his handling of the Rhodesian situation so far merits censure. I say "so far" advisedly because of the words of the Amendment. I for one could not approve, and as was made abundantly clear by my right hon. Friend, this party could never approve the use of force, and though it may be illogical to exclude force, human affairs cannot invariably be ruled by logic.
I could not agree to military sanctions because, apart from the expense and the enormous logistic difficulties—which could, I suppose-, be overcome if necessary—it would be asking too much of the loyalty of Her Majesty's Forces, and because the British people as a whole would not stomach it. It is true that the Liberal Party is baying for bloodshed, and that the Left-wing Socialist pacifists are as usual eager to egg others on to face bullets fired in anger if it is for something which they like, or against something which they do not like, but most people in this country would find the use of force against our kith and kin, if I may coin a phrase, abhorrent. But short of force, I hope that we shall 1975 maintain unity of purpose in this House on this business.
I can never forget the Suez crisis. Whether it was right or wrong for us to have done what we then did is arguable. What is, to my mind, certain is that, having done it, we should have carried it through to a successful finish. That we did not succeed in doing this was due, I think, mainly to the fact that the then Labour and Liberal Oppositions opposed what we were trying to do. I believe that that had a far more damaging, and in the end fatal, effect on what we were trying to do than anything threatened by Russia, or by the United Nations, or even by the United States.
That is why I believe that my right hon. Friends have been right to put national unity first in this fateful affair in which the nation's honour and credit are so deeply and irrevocably involved. That is why I hope we shall maintain that support. It is our responsibility, and we must see it through together. National unity means, first and foremost, unity in this House.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
My agreement with the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) lies in the fact that we would both choose the same thing if we had the choice. But in this world there are many places and many occasions where we have no choice. Rhodesia, today, is one. When we have no choice it is a question whether we make the best or the worst of a bad job. That U.D.I. is a bad job and an unnecessary job—a criminal job, if one likes to put it that way—we would all agree. The question is: within the power and the means available to us shall we make it a better job or a worse job? That is my approach to this problem.
When U.D.I. was first proclaimed we confined ourselves broadly to what may be termed consequential sanctions, and with those I could find myself in agreement. The essence of those consequential sanctions was that they were, and clearly appeared to be, the consequences of Mr. Smith's action—and they were pretty severe consequences. The advantage of being a member of the Commonwealth for a new and developing nation is very large. Commonwealth preference is a 1976 very valuable thing. But even more valuable is access to the development capital and short-term capital which is necessary to finance trade, which is so important for that sort of country.
I believe that those consequential sanctions might well have succeeded if they had been given a chance to work. If people in Rhodesia had found how inconvenient this rather unnecessarily-seized independence was in practice—if they had found how difficult it was to obtain finance to carry on their trade, to dispose of their tobacco and to deal with the products of their new light industries which were not competitive without preference—these disadvantages would have clearly been ascribed to Mr. Smith, who was manifestly and clearly responsible for them.
But they have not been given a chance to work; they have been prematurely escalated by sanctions for which nobody in Rhodesia blames Mr. Smith. Nobody blames him for the financial sanctions and the abortive stopping of pensions, still less for the oil sanctions and the withholding of a shipment of oil already belonging to Rhodesia. All this is blamed not on Mr. Smith but on us. So, instead of the original sanctions working against the illegal régime the new sanctions have worked for it. Nobody has any real doubt that the strength of the Rhodesia Front today is vastly greater than it was on the day that U.D.I. was declared.
§ Mr. Paget
I have a good many sources of information here, and in my opinion it is very much a minority view. It may be the view of the Minister of State, but he has been in Zambia and not in Rhodesia.
Why did we prematurely escalate the original sanctions? We cannot blame Mr. Smith for this. His action in proclaiming U.D.I. was both a folly and a crime. But since U.D.I. he has left the Governor in his residence. He has not interfered with the judges, and he has refrained from taking many actions which most people expected him to take. His attitude has been restrained.
What has been responsible for the escalation? The pressure of the African States, Just what do they threaten? The 1977 Prime Minister said that we should not imagine that if we took no action nobody else would. He said that we should have a mandatory resolution in the United Nations. But we cannot have a mandatory resolution in the United Nations unless we consent to it. The organisation of the United Nations provides that action cannot be taken without the consent of all the permanent members of the Security Council.
My right hon. Friend threatens us with Russians wearing blue berets, but no Russians can wear blue berets or form a United Nations force unless we consent. No action can be taken unless we consent to it. The Prime Minister must not behave like an over-passionate girl running in terror from the prospect of her own consent. It just will not wash.
What else have we had. We have had the performance at Addis Ababa—the withdrawal of recognition. I should have thought that this was evidence of the impotence of the African States. Let us see just who has withdrawn recognition. There is Tanzania, whose President we had to rescue from his own troops only about a year ago. There is Ghana—and the hon. Member has dealt with that. The most appalling case of all is the Sudan. When we think what the Northern Arabs of the Sudan are doing to their black Africans we realise that it makes Dr. Verwoerd appear to be a patriarchal and beneficial protector. What has happened there has been appalling.
These are the people who are withholding recognition from us. How do we treat their irresponsible folly? We continue to give them aid. It seems an odd contrast to the manner in which we treat the irresponsible folly of the White Rhodesians. We are told that these are people who will set Africa on fire. I do not think that Dr. Banda was exaggerating when he said that all the forces that black Africa could put upon the Zambesi could be dispersed by a platoon of Mr. Smith's army.
What have their follies forced us to do? First, we have imposed financial sanctions which amount to this: in order to restrain and to deprive the illegal Government of Rhodesia of between £9 million and £14 million we excuse them from a liability to pay £26 million a year. For all the evasions of my hon. and learned Friend the Financial Secretary, 1978 that is a liability which we shall have to take on. We have clearly got to pay it. We are the Government of Rhodesia. We have taken their reserves, we have taken their bank, we are that Government and we have to pay its debts: we shall not avoid it. This is a bite which is painful to the biter.
I do not think that oil sanctions will hurt or even cause any serious inconvenience to Rhodesia. That is equally so, even if we blockade Beira, for the simple reason that oil is available to the Union, the pipeline has gone through to Johannesburg and that has released the tanker fleet which previously brought the oil to Johannesburg. Of course, Johannesburg requires vastly more oil than the whole of Rhodesia, and that tanker fleet is available to take the oil north. The oil is going through, and it is not all that expensive—it has been worked out.
The Rhodesian Government do not expect that anything, even in the nature of petrol rationing, will be necessary. At any rate, that movement of oil is immensely cheaper than the one in which we have involved ourselves. The airlift which burns more oil than it carries, to runways which are not fit to receive it, is a good deal to maintain. In the background of all this there is copper. If we cannot get Zambian copper, which depends—apart from anything else, like transport—on Rhodesian coal, this will add £300 million to £500 million as an adverse item to our balance of trade, which will undo more than all our efforts since we became the Government have achieved.
If we are to deliver a few more bites like this, I am put in mind of the old morality poem which ended:The man recovered from the bite: it was the dog that died.Why is the Prime Minister doing this? After all, whatever else anybody may have accused him of, it is not foolishness. I must express real and serious alarm that, when sanctions so plainly futile as these are being run through, they are only run through as the next step. The next step after that and the only available step is war—not just naval war, not just blockade of Beira. When we see these millions being spent on development of communications to Zambia, we must wonder whether they are just for this absurd oil lift. I am deeply worried about the direction we are taking.
1979 I believe, as I told the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, that we have reached the point at which we have either to fight or negotiate. When I say negotiate, I mean negotiate with power. One cannot negotiate—there is no point in negotiating—with someone who has no power. The people with power are the Rhodesia Front. It may not be all the Rhodesia Front, negotiation may divide the Rhodesia Front, but negotiation must take place with that power organisation. No other negotiation has any reality. When my hon. Friends beg us to negotiate with the Vietcong rebels, I find it difficult to understand why they should hold up their hands in horror at the idea of negotiating with the Rhodesians.
First, what should be the basis of those negotiations? We have had repeated, almost parrot fashion, "The return to constitutional rule". This quite plainly is not available. The bitterness which has been built up now means that a re-acceptance of the authority of the British Government is unconditional surrender. Every instinct of patriotism in Rhodesia from everyone, including the enemies of Mr. Smith, is roused against that. To do that we should have to use armed force.
We can no more impose the authority of this Government on Rhodesia without force than we could impose it on South Africa in 1901. That is not negotiation. I believe not only that that is not available but that it is not desirable. We should consider for a moment. What was the position of the constitutionality to which we are being asked to return? Under that constitutionality we had had, since 1923, unrestrained minority rule with no interference from this country. Since 1931, the Land Apportionment Act has been in force, confining the vast majority to comparatively limited areas. Since even before the Smith régime, we had the Law and Order Act, with detainees kept in concentration camps—the badges of a police State.
We should remember that the whole basis of the Prime Minister's negotiations was the acceptance of all these things. It was the assurance that minority rule would not be interfered with, that land would not be interfered with, that the power to impose restrictions would not 1980 be interfered with. All that existed, and I see no real advantage in returning to it.
What we must try to ensure is something else—some new dispensation which may provide a fitting guarantee for the rule of law, for African advance in the sense that Africans as they qualify are registered, that the rules are not changed during the game and which will provide that the Africans have access to education.
I entirely agree that all these things were refused during the negotiations of the Prime Minister. They may go on being refused, but, as long as it does not involve subjection to Her Majesty's Government here, this matter may be negotiated. What I do not think can ever be negotiated now without defeat is subjection to Her Majesty's Government, and therefore we may have to find a new form of dominion status. Perhaps in that new form the Governor will be appointed by the Queen, perhaps on the advice of a committee of the Privy Council, drawn, say, from Prime Ministers within the Commonwealth, not including Her Majesty's Government, with the Governor having power, as guardian of the entrenched clauses, to control, say, African education and so on.
We must remember that the Smith Government are today facing a very grim situation. I do not believe that we could or should assume that they will necessarily go on rejecting the things which they have regrettably rejected in the recent negotiations. At any rate, we should look for the opportunity and try to find out the position, because the alternative is destruction by force of arms. We are speaking of a fragile economy, and the great majority of African people, after five years of drought, are living on the edge of starvation. Victory here means famine and destruction.
If we were to make peace on such terms, on terms of destruction, we would make a desert. We would then have the appalling job of beginning again with what is said to be direct rule, having destroyed the means of rule because what we have now is not ordinary colonial rule. It is Rhodesia's own kind of rule, with its own civil service and so on. That would all have gone and we would have before us a still utterly dissatisfied Africa which was still demanding one man, one vote, tomorrow.
1981 It is immensely urgent that we realise the necessity of negotiating this matter because of the very horrible alternative. Having said that, I will only add that when we come to vote for the Adjournment of the House tonight that vote could be understood in many different ways. From my point of view, let nobody understand my vote as being an expression of confidence in my Government's conduct of the Rhodesian problem.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Sir Alexander Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
We have just listened to a striking speech from the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). I only wish that the Prime Minister had been here to hear it.
I have always believed in a bipartisan approach to external affairs and that the Opposition, unless there is a fundamental disagreement, should do all it can to support the Government of the day. Equally, the Government should accept that if there are genuine doubts it is the duty of the Opposition to express those doubts.
I have only once criticised the Government of the day on foreign policy, at any rate in this Chamber, and that was a Conservative Government for their Suez policy. I was opposed to the use of force then, and I am opposed to it now. I am deeply apprehensive that the dangerous consequences of carrying out the embargo on oil may result in our sliding, step by step, into a position in which we will have to use force. I am glad that we on this side of the House are opposing any form of force to obtain a settlement of this dispute.
It is surprising that a Labour Government cannot accept the Motion. I am sure that that would equally astonish some former Labour leaders and, perhaps, many Labour supporters in the country. I have found the Prime Minister's recent statements disturbing. He said yesterday that he did not contemplate a military blockade at this stage because, he said, he believed that the measures would be effective. However, on 1st November the right hon. Gentleman said something more definite:It is our view that these measures will be effective … we have no other measures in contemplation …."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 635.]1982 The Prime Minister has moved a very long way in a very short time. It is very difficult to have great confidence that what he says today is what he will do tomorrow.
Why did this miscalculation occur? Was it just a mistake? We all, even Prime Ministers, make mistakes, and the House is always sympathetic to a confession of a mistake. But we have not had that explanation—
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
The hon. Member has said that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has acted too quickly, but could he refer to the fact that the last censure Motion was directed to the fact that he had gone too slowly? We therefore have had an argument all the time about whether my right hon. Friend has been slow or fast. My right hon. Friend consulted the President of the United States, and he got agreement. Was not that good enough?
§ Sir A. Spearman
Why was there this drastic change? Before I was interrupted, I asked whether it was a miscalculation or whether he was pushed by the African States, some of which would not cooperate, as the Foreign Secretary told us yesterday. It would be very unwise as a result of this sort of pressure to do in December what he was not willing to do in November.
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton is not the only hon. Member on the opposite side of the Chamber who thinks that. I will quote, without comment, what I saw written by a Labour Member in the Daily Mirror on 16th December. He stated:If they"—that is, the O.A.U.—are so barmy and ungrateful that they start blackmailing us when we have a difficult problem like Rhodesia on our hands, they had better go and be done with it. They won't harm us, only themselves.I do not necessarily associate myself with those views, but the quotation shows that they are held on the other side of the House.
Sanctions are a very bad device. They are rarely effective. They impoverish all concerned and generally embitter. It is a terrible confession of failure that the nations have not been able to devise a better machinery for settling their disputes, but I accept that the world being 1983 not as we would like it but as it is there are times when we must have sanctions.
What I do not accept is the theory that very sharp sanctions are necessarily shorter and, therefore, less painful. I believe that very severe sanctions are a challenge that unites the moderates and the extremists. We all know that when we are angry we make sacrifices, so we get resistance when what we want is compliance. If the moderates are shown that the policy they are supporting does not pay, that there is something to be gained by being reasonable and a lot to lose by being obstinate, I suggest enthusiasm turns to hesitation, and hesitation to opposition to the policy they have supported. In high temper most of us are prepared to cut off our nose to spite our face, but when tempers cool down most of us feel hate feeling uncomfortable and losing money.
I believe that our aim should be to persuade white Rhodesia on the lines of my right hon. Friend's Glasgow speech and—and this is where I shall not get support from the other side—I believe that we should make the first move. That is much easier for a great country, particularly if it knows that it is in the right, and much more difficult for a small country, particularly if it suspects that it is in the wrong.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition spoke today of a possibility of its becoming a question of prestige to topple Mr. Smith. I think it would be a disaster if prestige were to become a factor in this matter. I suppose politicians, even the humblest of us, have all got a streak of vanity, even if we are not always aware of it. Perhaps it is appropriate in this debate to quote the only words I know by Cecil Rhodes:Beware of vanity. You can make your book with roguery, but vanity is incalculable. It will always let you down.I want to make a suggestion, very diffidently, but one which it seems to me could not do any harm and it might conceivably do good. I suggest that a leading member of the Government—the Lord Chancellor is the one who comes to mind—should go to Rhodesia with a leading Opposition Front Bench spokesman. They should go to report to the Prime Minister and report to my right hon. Friend. These Privy Councillors 1984 would not go to negotiate but possibly to pave the way for negotiations. I do not speak like this out of sympathy for the Smith régime. I speak out of very deep anxiety about the very dangerous situation we are getting into.
The Times had an impressive article last week which I expect most hon. Members read. The last sentence said:Sanctions will prove either an impotent or a terrible weapon—no one knows which.I want to see the Smith régime bent so that it could be reshaped in different form. I do not want to see it cracked so that there is a dangerous vacuum. It may well be that after long and bitter struggle the Smith régime will be utterly crushed. In that case it may be that the Government will think that they have triumphed, but I think they will utterly fail and the price will be confusion, violence and bloodshed.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)
I am particularly glad to have the opportunity of speaking in this my first foreign affairs debate, even though only briefly. It gives me the opportunity to redress a little a certain imbalance which might have appeared on these benches over recent weeks. Regular readers of HANSARD, if there are any, might be tempted to judge the opinions of the Parliamentary Labour Party from the Questions and interventions on foreign affairs tabled and made from time to time.
I speak with no authority whatever on this subject. Perhaps this is not altogether a bad thing. Noted authorities on any subject are often the prisoners of their own published opinions or perhaps the victims of their congealed prejudices. At least I have a certain freedom.
I am speaking to counteract the impression that might have been conveyed by those I have come to think of as—I hope that they do not mind the term; I do not see any of them here at the moment—my cash register friends. I call them that because one has only to mention the subject of Vietnam in the Chamber and, like pressing the button on a cash register, they immediately jump up in their places. I do not intend this as a joke. I have great respect for their sincerity and diligence. However, the number of interventions made or the 1985 length of time one speaks on subjects like this is no indication of the depth of one's feelings or of one's concern about the terrible problem of Vietnam.
I am one of the silent supporters of the Government on these benches. Perhaps hon. Members on the back benches opposite, who spent a few years in Government, will appreciate some of the voluntary restraints that are imposed on back benchers on this side. But I have been able to be, as most of us have been on this side of the House, a silent supporter of the Government in their conduct of foreign affairs, particularly in relation to Vietnam, because of our confidence, which has been borne out by their repeated and genuine initiatives, in my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, and because of their preference for action rather than for the attitudes which so often they have been asked to adopt.
As I said earlier, I claim no depth of knowledge or authority in foreign affairs, but I have always been bewildered to know what advantage would result from the British Government's dissociation from the United States in this affair. Surely there is no indication whatever that if a British Government was to do a Pontius Pilate act of washing their hands of this association with America and demanding unilateral action on their part, without a similar condemnation of the North, this would influence in the least the authorities in Hanoi or persuade them in any way to become more ready to accept negotiation.
The price of making this empty but in some quarters popular gesture would have been the destruction of the confidence which exists between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States. Because our Government have firmly turned their back on and resisted this pressure, we now see that Her Majesty's Government are still in a position of being able to play a leading part in perhaps bringing the United States to the conference table over Vietnam. As for Hanoi, that can be no responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. That is a task which must be left to others.
After spending most of two days in the Chamber hoping to catch the eye of the Chair it is with a real sense of de- 1986 privation that I disregard the other copious notes which I have prepared, but the usual channels have indicated that the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) hopes to be called shortly by the Chair and I should hate to deprive him of that opportunity.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
The whole House will sympathise with the plight of the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) and will hope that on another occasion we shall have a chance to hear him at greater length. I have risen at this time because the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has to answer in effect a two-day debate, because his Front Bench did not see fit to put up a Front Bench speaker to answer the foreign affairs debate last night. The whole House will be very sorry that the Foreign Secretary has to be absent through illness on this second day of the debate. I know that all of us on both sides of the House wish him a speedy recovery from his painful illness.
Yesterday we had from the right hon. Gentleman an example of clear and lucid reasoning which would have been hard to match on the subject of the future of the free peoples of Asia. This is a matter which stirs up considerable controversy on different sides of the House but the right hon. Gentleman approached this problem with a sense of realism. There will be no settlement in Vietnam—and this is something which I would have said to the Prime Minister if he had been here—until, first, the Soviet Union is persuaded to exercise influence in that respect, and, second, until there is an agreement to cease fire, to meet round the table, and to replace the sense of security which American power now gives to South Vietnam with an actual police force which is effective on the ground. That can be the only solution to this problem.
The House will be grateful, as I am, for the account which the Prime Minister gave today of his talks with President Johnson. It is always gratifying when two allies talk together in harmony, and the alliance of Great Britain and America means a great deal for the future of the free world. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he and the President talked 1987 of many things, of United Kingdom defence expenditure, for instance, which, said the Prime Minister, must be within our economic capacity. I notice that he did not speak of £2,000 million at 1964 prices. I shall be surprised if we hear much more of that. He talked about pruning British commitments all over the world, but he did not say which. He talked about sharing with the United States the expense of our policy east of Suez and N.A.T.O. expenses in Europe, but he did not say, and he could not say, what extra amounts the United States would he willing to pay or the Europeans would be willing to bear.
The right hon. Gentleman said one thing which was probably welcomed in all parts of the House. He told us that he and President Johnson had taken the preliminary steps for burying both the M.L.F. and the A.N.F. and for substituting for both a different conception, that is Mr. McNamara's conception of a committee of N.A.T.O. on which the non-nuclear Powers would have increasing influence in the preparation of N.A.T.O. strategy. I welcome this. It is, so to speak, the child of a parent which I introduced in Athens four years ago when we set up the N.A.T.O. Nuclear Committee for this very purpose. I am glad, therefore, of this development.
I am glad, also, that the Prime Minister is to go to Moscow in February. That date will give the necessary time for the preparation of a mission of this kind, unlike what happened to some missions which have set out in recent months and years. I put it to the Minister of State—perhaps he will convey this to the Prime Minister—that the two most important subjects on the agenda will probably be, first, the non-dissemination treaty, which, I think, ought to be attainable if the McNamara Committee proposal is accepted by the N.A.T.O. allies, and, second, the solution of the Vietnam problem. I repeat that no solution there is possible unless the United Kingdom Government persuade the Russian Government to lend their good offices to that effect.
The debate has ranged over a number of subjects, but, in order to give the hon. Gentleman plenty of time, I shall turn now to what has been the main subject, or, at least, the subject uppermost in 1988 the minds of most hon. Members, namely, Rhodesia. No one who has anything to do with the political evolution of Central Africa over the years and, more lately, with the transition of Rhodesia to independence, can fail to recognise the acute dilemmas which the situation presents to a British Parliament and British Government, dilemmas made infinitely greater, of course, when there has been a failure of statesmanship to find an agreed settlement. The failure to find an agreed settlement rears the ugly spectacle of the division of the Continent of Africa by race. This is the trouble which the House of Commons and people far afield must face today.
There was one opportunity in past years, which happened when I was Commonwealth Secretary, to put the future of Central Africa on a multiracial basis for a considerable time and, possibly, for good. I have always thought that the political structure of this part of Africa must be multi-racial. If it is not, there will be a solution born of racial intolerance, either from the European angle or from the African.
I remember at that time arguing—incidentally with members of the present Government—that the three territories of the Federation were inter-dependent economically. Everything we said at that time is illustrated every hour of every day now. I argued that unity of the three territories was the only way in which we could be certain of diluting the racial problem, because if we did not corner it in one territory—Southern Rhodesia—it was likely that the problem would be insoluble.
At that time, I asked the Monckton Commission to go out and report. It brought back a multi-racial solution signed by a number of prominent Africans. I say now to right hon. and hon. Members opposite who are so apt to be critical of us and who sometimes accuse us of thinking in terms of racial policies, that the Socialist Party then refused to serve on the Commission, refused to accept the conclusions of the Report and above all refused to recognise the issues for Britain in the future involved in that failure to accept the Report. The party opposite could not see the signs which were so clearly written then and which have so starkly reared in the House today. I do not quote that 1989 experience just to say that I was responsible for the Monckton Commission but to point out that it was very nearly the last if not the last chance in which a multi-racial solution could be found in that part of Africa.
I have done all in my power ever since then to sustain a national policy on the future of the independence of Southern Rhodesia. I know what it is when there is some division between the parties on a matter of this importance. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition felt likewise and so did all my colleagues. Therefore, in these past few weeks, we have leaned over backwards in trying to assist the Government to follow a national policy. We have been accused up and down the country of tagging along in the wake of the Government but that is a political risk I am willing to accept in the national interest.
But we could do this only so long as the objectives of British policy were broadly agreed between Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Opposition and so long as they were seen broadly to coincide. But if a duty lay on the Opposition to assist the Government—stretching even our consciences in a number of cases—so, too, in this matter of unity there is a duty on the Government. Unity is something at which two must play.
Last week in Scotland I found it necessary to give the first warning because felt that the Government's policy in recent weeks had become totally negative and that they had given no thought at all in recent weeks to the necessity for conciliation. I felt that all the policies they have followed in recent weeks—and it is of recent weeks that I am talking—were bringing the country gradually to a point of no return in two respects.
First, I felt that if the Government's policy were pursued to the ultimate end there would be no future for multiracialism, a split between Africans and Europeans in Rhodesia and a breach between Britain and Rhodesia which could no longer be bridged.
Mr. Eric Heller (Liverpool, Walton)
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
The hon. Member is entitled to his opinion but I can claim that at least I know something about this problem.
1990 For some time we have been able to follow a joint approach and that joint approach was based on the Prime Minister's statements and the Prime Minister's answers to Questions early in November. I summarise them as we understand them, and I hope that I shall summarise them fairly. These were the objectives: to give the Rhodesians an opportunity for a change of heart; to enable Rhodesians to return by a change of heart to a constitutional relationship with Britain; and to enable Rhodesians to resume the search for independence for Rhodesia based in the beginning on the 1961 Constitution, thus placing them back within the law. I think that that is a fair summary. Penalties there were and the penalties were harsh, but I ask the House to remember that they were penalties which the Rhodesians brought on themselves by rupturing their relations with Britain and their relations with the Commonwealth.
Those penalties, with which I and my hon. Friends felt bound to agree, were accompanied by many statements from the Prime Minister at that time that the penalties were specifically not designed to break Rhodesia's economy and to force Rhodesia into a state of social chaos and disruption. I rejoiced in this for this reason, that so long as this was so there was an escape route for decent, ordinary Rhodesians, because they could use the escape route with honour and without loss of pride.
Certainly as I listened in the House in those days to the right hon. Gentleman's statements, all over the Houee there were nods of approval, because it seemed to me, and I think that it seemed to very many hon. Members at that time, that to make the lives of Europeans and African, friend and foe of Mr. Smith alike, intolerable was a policy likely to harden the Rhodesians' support for Mr. Smith and to place the nation under siege, for when a nation is under siege, it rallies to its elected leaders whether it likes them or not. Certainly it would be a poor prelude to conciliation.
But under pressure—and this is the refrain which is bound to go through the speech which I have to make tonight—the Prime Minister changed his mind and with his mind his policy. He applied a trade embargo and oil sanctions with the 1991 current declaration that it was the intention to bring chaos to the Rhodesian economy. That has been one of the troubles—the parallel statements—and even the Foreign Secretary, the mildest of people and the kindest of men, yesterday used the word "crushing" Rhodesia.
I do not know whether the Prime Minister quite yet understands what he has done to the Rhodesians in this change of policy and change of mind and change of face. They now feel that they are in for a siege and it is useless for hon. Members to say that this will be a quick and easy thing. If they do, they do not know the Rhodesians, because to them now—not a few weeks ago, but now—the future after the kind of sanctions which have been applied holds only one of two alternatives. The first is return to colonial rule and the second is a precipitate rush to African majority rule tomorrow. I must tell the House from my knowledge of Rhodesians that they will go down in ruins rather than accept either of those propositions.
That is why it is vital—and I give that overworked word its precise meaning for once—that there should be a third alternative to put before the Rhodesian people, and that third alternative must be a positive proposal on which independence can be based within the law. Every right hon. and hon. Member in the House sees the arguments which the Prime Minister deploys, recommending a quick kill as being the most humane. The statistics are given to him and he judges that the statistics will produce a quick kill. He is given the advice of many businessmen and bankers who hold the same opinion. I have no doubt whatever that he has concluded that the sanctions ought to work. The question I would like to ask is, at what price?
The bitterness and the hate and the defiance already engendered in Rhodesia passes belief. The Prime Minister must do more than add up the statistics and hope for a quick kill. It is the duty of a statesman to sense the spirit and heart of a people and to know what happens if that heart is broken. If the heart of the people of Rhodesia is broken, then what will happen in Africa? [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Africans?"] I have said that no fault will be found in 1992 the rest of my speech in what I have to say about the Africans and their rights.
Of course we must taken the African reactions into our calculations. The Prime Minister has been perfectly right to do this all along and to be very careful of them. He has been right, in weighing up the balance, always to consider the reaction of the Africans in the Commonwealth countries, but there is a right way to satisfy the African nations and there is a wrong way. The right way is to provide in such proposals as the Government may make for the future Constitution of Rhodesia for a certainty that the Africans will have majority rule in the country.
The wrong way to deal with the Africans is to tag along behind those extremists who want force. When force is demanded, as it certainly will be, what I am afraid of is that the British Government will then be able to find no logical reason for resisting it because—[Interruption.] That is the basis of the warning which my right hon. Friend expressed earlier on behalf of our party. I must say to the Prime Minister that every time he has made a proposition to this House and every time that we have felt that it was a firm proposition, it has turned out that he has left a loophole. Before he came into the Chamber just now I was saying that we had understood from him that there were to be no vindictive sanctions, and then that sanctions were not to be directed to break Rhodesia's economy. But there was a loophole and he put on a trade embargo, of which he had at first seemed to give no sign. The trade embargo came along, but there was no sign of oil sanctions. Then he left the loophole and they came later, even although an international study as to the efficiency of oil sanctions had not been completed or published.
Now, when oil sanctions have come along, he has left a loophole for force. It is not as big as we thought it might be at the beginning of the day. But he has left a loophole for force under international action. He has said categorically, in spite of the wording of the Amendment to the Resolution which we put down on the Paper, that Britain will not use force in Rhodesia and that Britain will not blockade the port of Beira or anywhere else.
§ The Prime Minister indicated assent.1993
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I am glad to have the right hon. Gentleman's confirmation. He did suggest that somehow, if it seemed to be the consensus of opinion in the United Nations, Britain might be compelled to adopt the policy of force along with other countries. How could that happen? The right hon. Gentleman must refresh his memory of the Charter. It is impossible for a mandatory resolution to be passed urging Britain to apply sanctions unless it is passed under Article VII and by the Security Council, of which Britain is a member, and where Britain has a veto. I will not ask him today whether in such circumstances he would apply the veto. Obviously he could not answer at this time. But the suggestion that there can be, by some extraordinary method of consensus of opinion, a mandatory resolution passed against Britain's will is simply not the case.
§ The Prime Minister
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He knows all the arguments about the veto; and, of course, he knows that if the veto were applied it would be the end of the Commonwealth as we know it. On the other hand, he met Sir Abubakar last week, who is the most restrained of Africans. The right hon. Gentleman knows what he feels on this question. But, veto or not, he must know—and if he had been with me in New York he would know—that if the matter were transferred from the Security Council to the General Assembly there would be an overwhelming majority for these measures. I hope to support him and everyone in the House who wants to stop extreme measures by the United Nations. I cannot guarantee that they will not happen, and this is one reason why we have introduced the oil sanction.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
The Prime Minister has made one speech—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have got the point, but the Prime Minister has not. The point is that whatever the Assembly does is not mandatory. The only point that I am making is that the right hon. Gentleman cannot sit on that bench and suggest to the House and country that, by some process of which the British Government are not aware and by which the British Government might be caught against their will, some sanctions could be applied, because it is not possible. The 1994 British Government have control of this situation in accordance with Article 2(7) of the Charter, as the Prime Minister knows. If Chapter VII is invoked, surely neither Portugal nor South Africa can conceivably be guilty of a breach of the peace or an act of agression. The Prime Minister made suggestions today about sanctions and the possible implication of the United Kingdom in a United Nations force which simply do not hold water. He has therefore left a loophole.
United Nations military operations directed against Portugal, a N.A.T.O. ally, and against South Africa, which would need a vast military operation to patrol her coast, are so dangerous that we must now lay down—
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I will help the Prime Minister. Tonight we shall lay down a marker to show how dangerous force is and tell the right hon. Gentleman that we would not support him if he tried to introduce it.
I want to turn to the question of conciliation and a negotiated settlement.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
The hon. Gentleman says that that is a change, but he may have noticed that I was the first person to propose conciliation when not one member of the Government Front Bench said a word in favour of it. I hope to keep the temperature down.
I turn to conciliation and a negotiated settlement. I believe that there is complete uncertainty in Rhodesia as to the basis on which it might return to legality. I cannot say that the speeches of the Prime Minister have made the position much clearer.
I will start, to please the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) in particular, with two propositions which must precede any proposal for conciliation. The first is this. Majority rule for the Africans must be certain. That is the proposition which I make in response to the hon. Gentleman's earlier interruption. The second proposition is this: when it arrives, it must be responsible. The question before all Governments in the past and before this House is whether those two propositions are reconcilable in a constitution. I believe that they are.
1995 Majority rule, when it arrives, will be closely hinged with two things—the economic advance of Rhodesia, and education and training in Rhodesia. There is a relationship between both of those and the vote.
I put the ingredients of a settlement in the following order. We should begin with the 1961 Constitution and keep it in existence, because it provides for the principle of uninterrupted progress towards majority rule. It contains many other wise provisions, too. It is, therefore, better to keep it as the basis of the law of Rhodesia unless a better constitution can be divined. The 1961 Constitution has its defects but, because it is always difficult to deal piecemeal with constitutions, I want to keep alive the idea of a parallel and a complementary treaty.
To stop up the loopholes which at present might allow a recession in the Africans' rights, I have two particular loopholes in mind: the possibility of altering the numbers of the constituencies on both the A and B rolls, and an alteration, too, in the educational qualification. I see value in the treaty. Reading the conversation between the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith, I cannot quite accept that Mr. Smith was responsible for turning this down entirely. The Prime Minister did not seem to me to like this very much at the time either.
Then there must be a body to adjudicate, and this should be spelt out with much more definition than hitherto. That body, I suggest, should be the Privy Council. It should be acceptable for the reason that it is part and parcel of the constitutional machinery and it operates in the relations between the United Kingdom Government and independent members of the Commonwealth. That is the virtue of the proposal for the Privy Council being the arbiter in any disputes in this matter.
On that basis, the Africans would be expected to work the Constitution and, equally, certainly to take part in the Government and in the administrative machinery. The kernel of the matter, however, is this. There are two qualifications for the vote, the property and monetary qualification—economic expansion of the country will, I think, look 1996 after that—and the educational qualification.
If I were conducting the negotiations, the programme of education which I would propose would not be one which made education, the secondary schools and the universities a factory for votes and voters. That is not the idea. The scheme for educational advance must not imply any lowering of standards of education.
There is, however, convincing evidence that steady, unfettered, increasing progress in secondary and university education, in which the opportunities for European and African are equal, could be attainable. The Prime Minister has said that Mr. Smith rejects this idea. All I can say is that when I, with Mr. Winston Field, was working on a joint programme for education, we had not got this to a completed stage. If it is completed now, it should be put before the people of Rhodesia, because they have not had a chance to see it. If they did, it would be irresistible, because the huge majority of decent Rhodesians wish to see the African educated in their country.
There are two remaining questions. One is the consent of the people of Rhodesia. If the Africans co-operate in government, there would be no need for formal machinery to register their consent. But I have never accepted the idea that machinery is impossible to devise to assess the feeling in Rhodesia and even in the tribal areas. We did it in Swaziland, and I recommend the Government to look at the Swaziland pattern.
Secondly, with whom should we consult and when? On this, we must take the Governor's advice. I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say today that the Governor had been instructed to look for opportunities. This has been lacking hitherto and I hope that it is right. We look forward to hearing more of that from the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister may say that all I have said has been embraced within the five principles. I would describe the difference that I have with him in this way. The five principles are written and defined difficulties, and they define them very well. What I have been trying to do is to give definition to a solution, which is rather different.
1997 In all our minds the debate which we are having on the wide problems of Rhodesia is connected inevitably with the debate on the Order which will follow dealing with oil sanctions.
§ The Prime Minister
I agree with everything that the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) has said in the last 10 minutes. I agree with every word. On Swaziland, the educational programme, the co-operation of the Africans, and the Privy Council point—on all those things I fully agree with him. I have pressed all of them, and every one was rejected by Mr. Smith originally. I agree that what the right hon. Gentleman is saying is the way to the future, but he must not think that it can be negotiated with the present régime.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
The Prime Minister has commended the last 10 minutes that he has heard of my speech. I wish that he had heard the first 10 minutes. Perhaps he will not like the last minute quite as much, but at any rate I have got some point of agreement and contact with him.
I was saying that I was trying to give definition to a solution.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I am trying to help the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, if his right hon. Friend will allow me to do it. The Government have had to be prodded, jolted and prodded again and it is our duty to keep up the process——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have already called the right hon. Member's attention to the fact that he must not keep interrupting from a sedentary position.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I want to conclude. I was saying that in this matter the question of the oil Order which follows is naturally very much in our minds, and in a crisis of international proportions each of us must think with great care before he acts.
I can give only my own conclusion after the debate. The Prime Minister was, we thought, asking for a blank cheque on the use of force. [Interruption.] We had every excuse to believe 1998 that when we read the Amendment. I am not yet satisfied that the Prime Minister has eliminated international force and his support for it, which he hinted, at any rate, might happen.
I believe that the Government's policies generally have brought Rhodesia to a situation which is a dead end and in which there is now no room for political manœuvre. The processes of conciliation are urgent, but in fact they have been absent until, at any rate, the Prime Minister made his speech today, and I hope that something will follow.
I shall give my vote tonight, therefore, on a much wider front than oil sanctions covering the trend in recent Government policy which, as I said earlier, has brought us to the point of no return between African and European and between Rhodesia and Britain. It would be easy to vote against the oil sanction. I think that it was ill-conceived, as all the Government's policies lately have been.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
If the right hon. Gentleman will restrain himself for only a quarter of a minute——
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I am asking the right hon. Gentleman to do what the House wants for one moment, and that is to allow me to conclude my speech. I am saying that it would be easy to vote against oil sanctions. I think that the Government's policies have been ill-conceived, but I want to make sure that the message which goes out from this House tonight, and in particular from these benches—[Interruption.]—the Prime Minister is behaving like a schoolboy who is unable to contain himself. Neither the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), nor the mutterings of the Prime Minister—[Interruption.]
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I shall try to provide one of them in one sentence. I do not know which it is. I think it is thrust. The message, and the only message, that I want to go out from 1999 the benches behind me, is a message in favour of conciliation, because that is still the answer to this problem for civilised people.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. George Thomson)
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) for sitting down as he promised at 9.25 p.m., because, as he said, I have to try to make two speeches to his one. The reason for this is not the fault of this side, as the right hon. Gentleman indicated, but is due to the activities of the Opposition during the later part of yesterday evening, which left the House with no alternative but the present rather untidy procedure. I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman also for his good wishes to my right hon. Friend, who apologises to the House for not being here for the second day of the foreign affairs debate, for reasons which everyone knows and sympathises with.
The right hon. Gentleman quoted my right hon. Friend's speech as an example of how the Government's attitude had become more immoderate. He accused my right hon. Friend of saying in his speech yesterday that we wished to crush Rhodesia. I think that that was the phrase the right hon. Gentleman used. In fact, what my right hon. Friend said, with his customary precision, was that it was the policy of Her Majesty's Government to crush the rebellion. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will acknowledge the correction.
§ Mr. Thomson
I am not sure what else one can do with a rebellion but seek to crush it, and I shall come back to this in a moment.
Before I deal with Rhodesia, I should like to comment briefly on some of the main themes in this foreign affairs debate. There has been a great deal of discussion about the dangers inherent in the Vietnam situation. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), and a number of other hon. Members, asked for clarity in the tangled tale of the attitude 2000 of the Vietnamese authorities to peace offers, and since a good deal of confusion has been created about the initiative by U Thant, and subsequently described by the late Adlai Stevenson, it ought to be said plainly to the House that these events related to a period more than a year ago, before Her Majesty's present Government were in office, and before President Johnson had won his first election after succeeding the late President Kennedy.
Whatever happened in the past, we have to face the dangerous problems of the present. The facts remain that again and again and again during recent months the Americans have reiterated their willingness to talk, but the North Vietnamese so far have refused. Now we have a new version of the same story that is adding to the confusion in the House among those who are seeking some peaceful way out of the dangers of the Vietnamese war. Italian emissaries believed that they had a favourable message to bring from Hanoi. The Americans explored it privately, as they did on the previous occasion. The story this time leaked out, and this time again the Hanoi Government have denied suggestions that they had probed about negotiations and have described the whole story as "sheer groundless fabrication".
I have only three comments to make on this. First, I do not see how anyone reading the text of Mr. Dean Rusk's letter can call it other than a reasonable and serious search for negotiation. Secondly, the premature leak of which my right hon. and learned Friend rightly complained did not come from the American State Department. We cannot rule out the possibility that it came from someone concerned in the original message. Thirdly, and what is important, when its existence became public the Americans published their message and reiterated their readiness to talk. The North Vietnamese, on the other hand, denied that the message existed, and denounced the idea that they should talk.
I am genuinely puzzled that some of my hon. Friends, whose devotion to peace is deep, should, in relation to a question in which nobody can be dogmatic about the answers, attack the side willing to talk and defend those who use such language—as was used on this occasion—as "a peace hoax". I can only add that 2001 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has come back from his talks with President Johnson ready, as ever, to do all he can as Head of this Government—which is one of the co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference—to seize any new opportunity that offers to try to avert the dangers which are inherent in this situation.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone) rose——
§ Mr. Thomson
I am sorry, but I cannot give way. I have a lot of ground to cover, and I have two speeches to make.
The right hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) and others asked for the Government's reaction to Mr. Rusk's reported request, at the N.A.T.O. Conference in Paris last week, for medical aid in Vietnam. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has pointed out, we have already sent a distinguished medical representative to Vietnam to see what could he done. We did this well before Mr. Rusk's appeal to N.A.T.O. countries.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It should be clear to the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) that the Minister is not giving way to him.
§ Mr. Thomson
Perhaps I may finish this point about Vietnam, and then I will gladly give way to my hon. Friend. I am in some difficulty because I am trying to answer two separate sets of questions.
This year we have given priority to medical aid and have sent 20 mobile anaesthetic machines to Vietnam. We know that these have been greatly valued and put to immediate use in provincial hospitals. More will be sent. Now, following upon the report and recommendations of the distinguished expert who visited Vietnam, we are pushing ahead with efforts to assemble and dispatch a paediatric team to work in the Saigon children's hospital.
We also hope to contribute in other directions, for example, by establishing a vocational teacher training school near Saigon.
§ Mr. Mendelson
Can my hon. Friend tell the House whether the Government have pursued the proposal coming from the South Vietnamese Liberation Front for an armistice at least on Christmas Day? 2002 Before the Prime Minister's visit the hon. Member said that the Government supported this. Can he say whether the President of the United States agrees, and has he seen the appeal made by the head of the Roman Catholic Church that this might be the beginning of further armistice negotiations?
§ Mr. Thomson
Yes—my right hon. Friend discussed this proposal with the President in Washington. As my hon. Friend knows, I welcomed it in the House at Question Time about a week ago. We have carefully noted the appeal referred to by my hon. Friend. I have nothing to add at this point, but my lion. Friend can rest content in knowing that we are pursuing this in every way.
The other main theme on the foreign affairs side was Britain's rôle East of Suez. This controversy does not run along party political lines. It cuts across all three political parties—even the Liberal Party—and this is as it should be, because it is, at bottom, an argument about Britain's future rôle in world affairs and also an argument about what part the West as a whole should play in the developments amongst the emergent nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This is one of the most important international issues today. It is right that there should be a radical examination of the relationship, economic, political and military, between the developed countries of the world and the emerging countries. It is inevitable that there should be sharp differences of opinion about how this relationship should develop and how Britain, in particular, should adapt herself to the revolutionary changes which are taking place in what is nowadays known as the Third World.
We cannot be dogmatic about the solutions in facing these problems, but we can be reasonably dogmatic about some things. A starting point for this argument is that, whatever military role Britain attempts to play in world affairs, it must be brought within our economic resources. This is what the Government are seeking to do in the Defence Review. The Prime Minister has given the House a full account of his talks on this subject with President Johnson. Some hon. Members opposite are inclined to look suspiciously at our determination to reduce our defence expenditure and see 2003 this as a weakening of our world influence. This is the complete reverse of the truth.
Nothing weakens one's real influence in world affairs than to aspire to a rôle beyond one's real resources. Nothing is more disastrous than to accept commitments beyond one's ability to fulfil them——
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham) rose——
§ Mrs. Kerr rose——
§ Mr. Thomson
I apologise to my hon. Friend, but I have too much to cover in the time.
Nor is it simply enough to say that we can afford the present proportion of our national income which we spend on defence, as some hon. Members opposite have been inclined to do during the debate. What we spend has to stand comparison with other countries in Europe, not only as a matter of justice but as a matter of sheer economic necessity. If we have to accept a burden disproportionate to that of our friends and competitors, our own economic competitiveness is weakened—and our military political strength is, in the end, a direct reflection of our economic strength.
There is a big difference between pruning a tree to promote growth in the forest and cutting the tree down. The Defence Review target is £2,000 million, which is still a good deal of money: I am sure that many of my hon. Friends feel that it is too much money. It will require tough decisions and ruthless application of the new techniques of cost effectiveness to reach this target. But that £2,000 million still represents a powerful defence force which, deployed wisely, can be a strong force for peace.
However, I wish that we would all stop talking—I say this with due respect to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—about east of Suez. We should talk instead about total peace, because this is what the argument is about. "East of Suez" has a latter day, Kipling ring about it and calls to mind a nostalgic looking over one's shoulder 2004 to the rôles of glory which have gone from us. Those of us who believe that Britain has an important rôle to play along with others outside Europe do so because of our urgent sense of the dangers of the present and future and not out of any longing to go back to the past. We are concerned to discover what contribution Britain can make, within the sharp limitations imposed on us by our own economic resources, to keeping the peace wherever it is threatened.
It seems to be forgotten these days that peace is indivisible. We have become rather complacent about the degree of détente which we have managed to achieve in the world between the countries of the Atlantic Alliance and the countries of the Warsaw Pact——
§ Mr. Thomson
I am sorry. I refused, on grounds of time, to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Anne Kerr) and, in that circumstance, I must refuse to give way to the right hon. Gentleman.
We must also face the fact that the most immediate threats to peace in the world are in Asia and Africa today and not in Europe. Therefore, it is simply not enough to bring about a balance of forces with Eastern and Western Europe, and reduce the danger of war there, unless we can create a similar balance in the Middle East and the Far East. Of course, completely different conditions exist in these areas from those which existed in post-war Europe, when N.A.T.O. was created. In Asia and Africa are the great problems of economic poverty and political instability. Inevitable suspicion is left behind between the new nations and the former colonial powers.
There is the over-shadowing presence of China, the most populous nation on earth, the most continuously civilised country in the world, a country with a tradition of domination of great land areas of the Far East and now a country which adds to its ancient imperial history a Communist ideology which, unlike the Communism of the West, still believes in the inevitability of a third world war.
These are dramatic differences from the conditions in Europe. How is peace 2005 to be preserved? What is Britain's best contribution? How can we, to use the language of the right hon. Member for Bedford, avoid a collision course with China and achieve the peaceful co-existence we now have with Russia?
There are those who argue that we ought to cease seeking to play any important rôle in the Indo-Pacific area. They appear to argue that we should seek our future in what amounts to a European isolationism. The right hon. Member for Bedford said plainly—and the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said equally plainly—that a British military presence was required in the Indian Ocean. But the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who is hiding coyly on the end of the Opposition Front Bench, argued powerfully recently that a Western military presence in the area creates more problems than it solves. His argument, apparently, is that Chinese-Soviet rivalry, together with the indigenous forces of nationalism, would create a sufficient balance to preserve the peace of the world. Whether or not the right hon. Gentleman is right, would it not seem that many Asian democracies would have gone down and many Asian countries would have lost the right freely 10 determine their own future for themselves?
For this reason we on this side of the House believe that there is a rôle for Britain to play on a global basis, and it is this that we are tackling in our discussions about the future shape of our defence forces in the Defence Review.
I must go on from here to the Rhodesian part of the debate. What I have been saying about the importance of Britain's rôle in the world as a whole is directly relevant to the main theme of the debate, certainly from the benches opposite.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds) rose——
§ Mr. Thomson
I am sorry. I cannot give way.
What I have been saying is relevant to our policies for ending the Rhodesian rebellion, for Britain's rôle in the Indo-Pacific area, for example, links directly with what has been happening in Africa in recent weeks. We have seen our Javelins go, at the request of President 2006 Kaunda, to help Zambia. We have seen the "Eagle" aircraft carrier standing by, and R.A.F. Britannias transporting oil to help Zambia. All these things can be done only because we have a defence presence on a global basis.
It cannot be said too strongly that what is ultimately at stake over Rhodesia is Britain's rôle in world affairs. It was this central point which the right hon. Gentleman, with his great experience of these matters, seemed to miss from his argument. If we were to follow the course which he charted it would, in the end, result in a serious diminution of the kind of influence we can bring to bear in Africa and Asia and in the other emergent countries of the world.
If the one or two hon. Members in the House who feel that we should come to terms with Smith were to have their way and if 200,000 Europeans in Central Africa, the population of a moderate English city, were to defy the 55 million population of Great Britain—this in a world where racialism is one of the great moral and political issues—it would destroy our influence in the world for a generation. This is the reality we face and the kind of difficulty which my right hon. Friend and the Government must tackle.
I know that hon. Gentlemen who take that view about the Smith regime do not remotely represent the House of Commons, but the efforts of the Leader of the Opposition to hold his troops together is likely to obscure that fact from the outside world. Fortunately, the rest of the world has, I think, been becoming increasingly aware of our determination here to bring this rebellion to an end and to restore peaceful progress to majority rule. Oil sanctions are an important element in creating that conviction of determination both inside and outside Rhodesia.
The right hon. Gentleman complained that we had gradually changed our position on this matter and that each time we had taken a decision there was a loophole for the next stage, but the behaviour of the Opposition has been one of constantly opposing each decision as it was taken, then coming to accept it, and going on to oppose the next decision. I do not think that we should be too critical of each other on this matter. We are facing an unprecedented position and one that is always changing.
2007 The test we have applied to oil sanctions is whether they are likely to make an effective contribution, along with other economic measures, to making those who have supported or acquiesced in the rebellion feel that it is better to return to lawful paths. Given the American assurance of support which the Prime Minister obtained in Washington, Her Majesty's Government were convinced that this was the right course to take.
The decision was not taken to appease African pressures, as was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman but because we believed that it was the right decision in Britain's interests in the present circumstances. We did it not because of but despite some of the extraordinary forms of protest that have been employed against us. I ignore the African delegates who walked out of the General Assembly —anyone who is accustomed to speaking here and seeing the exodus from this Chamber to the Tea Room is not likely to be put off by that sort of thing. But to use the weapon of breach of diplomatic relations as a weapon of protest seems particularly short-sighted. This is the very time when channels of communication between ourselves and African countries are particularly needed.
Perhaps the saddest, pettiest and most irrelevant of the protests was the move led by Ghana at the United Nations to kill the British initiative for a serious and constructive study of methods for the peaceful settlement of disputes. We had done an immense amount of preparatory work, and my noble Friend, Lord Caradon, had introduced it in a most eloquent speech in the United Nations not many days previously. Then came this quite stupid act of political passion, which I feel should not go unrecorded——
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
My hon. Friend has referred to Ghana. Will he take the opportunity of correcting the unfortunate misstatement by the Foreign Secretary yesterday that Ghana was still importing tobacco from Rhodesia? This is quite untrue. None has been imported for three years.
§ Mr. Thomson
Inquiries have been made, and I am sorry to say that my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) has been misinformed by the 2008 Ghana authorities. The last external trade statistics for Ghana, published in 1964, show that in that year Ghana imported nearly £100,000 worth of goods from Rhodesia, mainly tobacco. We have made most careful inquiries, and there is no indication that the Ghanians have since taken any legislative or administrative action to cut off these imports.
What I am anxious to say to the House is that neither the passions of some Africans—which we understand—nor the prejudices of some hon. Members will divert us from our course. As quickly as is possible, with careful thought, without rancour or vindictiveness, with no thought of personal victory or of scoring a triumph, Her Majesty's Government seek only a return to legality in Rhodesia.
I emphasise again that there is no chance for Britain to play a long-term rôle for peace in Africa and Asia unless we can decisively defeat this rebellion. The behaviour of the Opposition during this two-day debate represents a curious and, I think, a dangerous contradiction. They spent the first day of the debate supporting and urging a British rôle outside of Europe, but spent the second day urging on the House a course which makes nonsense of the first half of the debate. It would in fact seriously destroy our chances of exercising a future influence in the new countries of the world. If the terms of the Motion as the Leader of the Opposition explained them were to be accepted, I am bound to say that from our experience of world reactions to the Rhodesian rebellion the course that he urges would only aggravate the present dangers and would damage our overseas influence.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman, even at this stage, to think again before dividing the House. The most important passage in his speech was not in fact his arguments about the Motion that he put on the Order Paper yesterday. It was his announcement that the Opposition would support the Government over the oil embargoes later tonight. I know that this cannot have been an easy decision for the right hon. Gentleman to take. He spelled out in his speech some of the real risks and dangers associated with an oil embargo. I can only tell him that the Government are as keenly aware of these as he is, but there are even graver 2009 risks to the possibility of a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia if we did not decide to go for an oil embargo when, as we now know, we have international support for it.
I tell hon. Members who have expressed concern during the debate that both before and since the United Nations resolution calling for an oil embargo we have been engaged in painstaking studies of its feasibility. The right hon. Gentleman was wrong in thinking that there had been a call for an international study of this that had not yet come forward. We wanted this, but the United Nations would not accept it in the resolution, so we were forced to take the initiative ourselves. However, in taking the initiative we have had invaluable help from the United States in the inquiries which went on beforehand, which culminated in the President's offer of support to the Prime Minister during his visit to Washington.
This is the real, concrete and difficult decision that the Government have had to take this week in the light of the developments in relation to the Rhodesian rebellion. I think that this is the real issue before the House tonight, rather than the hypothetical questions which the right hon. Gentleman has put up in his Motion about blockades, the use of force, and so on. We know the reasons of internal party politics that led to this. Parties on both sides of the House face these problems from time to time. I am not making a great thing of that.
The Leader of the Opposition has, however, had during the Prime Minister's speech clear assurances in regard to both the use of force and the question of the blockade. The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire in fact conceded this, though he seemed to feel that even at this stage they had not gone far enough. I hope that even at this late hour the Leader of the Opposition will feel able to advise his party that there is now no need to take the very grave step of voting against the Government and breaking national unity over the handling of the Rhodesian crisis.
I do not argue that the Opposition have an obligation to maintain national unity if they have a genuine conviction that the Government have done something fundamentally wrong, but this is not remotely the sort of situation facing 2010 the House of Commons tonight. The Prime Minister indicated in his speech earlier today the Government's willingness to talk, through the Governor, to those who are willing to bring the rebellion to an end. The right hon. Gentleman who wound up talked about the need for a third alternative. Again and again my right hon. Friend has sought to spell out, both for the House and for public opinion in Rhodesia, exactly the kind of third alternative that we see. He has described the path by which Rhodesia can return to unimpeded constitutional progress to majority rule.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire made some very constructive suggestions in this field. They were not exactly the same points that my right hon. Friend had advanced, but there are many uncertainties in the future course of events here and nobody can be sure exactly how things will develop. I must say that I did not think that the differences between what my right hon. Friend said at the beginning of this afternoon and what the right hon. Gentleman spelled out a few moments ago would justify the very grave decision of dividing the House.
I repeat that I hope that the Opposition will still put what is right for Britain before what is right in terms of their own internal party politics. I feel sure that there are a great many hon. Members opposite who do not feel in their hearts tonight that it is the right thing to go into the Division Lobbies. I would like to say, as solemnly as I can and in knowledge of some of the developments that surround this decision, that it would be a bad moment to divide the House of Commons.
The right hon. Gentleman quoted that great Conservative Edmund Burke a little earlier in the day. I have here my own quotation from him, and I commend it to the right hon. Gentleman. Mr. Speaker, it comes from a speech in the debate on the Gracious Speech made by Edmund Burke in 1784. He said this:If, therefore, in the arduous affairs recommended to us our proceedings should be ill adapted, feeble and ineffectual, if no relief should be given to any of the natives unjustly dispossessed of their rights, jurisdiction and properties, we stand acquitted to our honour and to our conscience, who have reluctantly seen the weightiest interests of our country and the policy and character of this renowned 2011 nation rendered contemptible in the eyes of the world.Whatever the Opposition decide to do tonight, the Government are determined to pursue to the best of their judgment the course which they believe to be right. They will continue to do so, undeflected by any pressures either domestic or international. What is at stake here is Britain's whole future world rôle, and it is far too grave for any other course to be followed.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)
The House will undoubtedly divide tonight, but it will divide not on any particular question that divides the two sides of the House but, when we are adjourning for four or five weeks, as a strong warning to the Government not to gallop their fences. Do not let us forget that although we are dealing with an undesirable rebellion in Rhodesia we are dealing with our own kith and kin. If that be an expression which the Foreign Secretary does not like, we are dealing with people who talk the same language as ourselves. If we are not prepared to talk with them the situation will go from bad to worse.
I shall not vote tonight, if there be a vote, upon oil sanctions against Rhodesia. I think that the Rhodesians have brought a great deal of their own troubles upon themselves. They were unwise and stupid to take this totally unnecessary step of making a U.D.I., and they have brought the consequences entirely upon them-
§ selves. But do not let us go too far against people of our own race, our own kith. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Are not they? If hon. Members think that they are not, let me correct them entirely.
§ Let me ask whether if hon. Members were living 6,000 miles away and saw the countries to the north of them, which have dealt with one man, one vote and have added subsequently the word "once", they would not feel, if not entirely in favour of the Rhodesian Front, at any rate a sense of fear that what was happening to the north of them might happen to them. That is what we have to remember in the House tonight.
§ In the vote which I hope we shall have in a minute or two—and I assure the Chief Whip that I shall sit down in 90 seconds—we shall be saying, "We will support you in the action you have taken but do not during the Recess try to go galloping on in matters which may lead to somebody, whoever it may be, shooting and leading to trouble. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sorry if hon. Members opposite have so little interest in——
§ Mr. William Whitelaw (Penrith and The Border) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That this House do now adjourn:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 272, Noes 299.2017
|Division No. 15.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Cooke, Robert|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Cooper, A. E.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Braine, Bernard||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Brewis, John||Cordle, John|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Brinton, Sir Tatton||Corfield, F. V.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Costain, A. P.|
|Astor, John||Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Crawley, Aidan|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Bryan, Paul||Crowder, F. P.|
|Balniel, Lord||Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Cunningham, Sir Knox|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Buck, Antony||Curran, Charles|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bullus, Sir Eric||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Batsford, Brian||Burden, F. A.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Dance, James|
|Bell, Ronald||Buxton, Ronald||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Campbell, Gordon||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Carlisle, Mark||Dean, Paul|
|Bitten, John||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cary, Sir Robert||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Bingham, R. M.||Channon, H. P. G.||Dodds-Parker, Douglas|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Chataway, Christopher||Doughty, Charles|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Chichester-Clark, R.||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec|
|Blaker, Peter||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Box, Donald||Cole, Norman||Eden, Sir John|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kershaw, Anthony||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Kilfedder, James A.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Emery, Peter||Kimball, Marcus||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Errington, Sir Eric||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Kirk, Peter||Roots, William|
|Fell, Anthony||Kitson, Timothy||Royle, Anthony|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lagden, Godfrey||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Lambton, Viscount||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Foster, Sir John||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Sharples, Richard|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shepherd, William|
|Gammans, Lady||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Gardner, Edward||Longden, Gilbert||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Loveys, W. H.||Smith, John|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||MacArthur, Ian||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Speir, Sir Rupert|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Stainton, Keith|
|Goodhart, Philip||McMaster, Stanley||Stodart, Anthony|
|Goodhew, Victor||McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Gower, Raymond||Maddan, W. F. M.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Grant, Anthony||Maginnis, John E.||Talbot, John E.|
|Grant-Fen-is, R.||Maitland, Sir John||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Grieve, Percy||Maude, Angus||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Teeling, Sir William|
|Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Mawby, Ray||Temple, John M.|
|Gurden, Harold||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)|
|Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Miscampbell, Norman||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mitchell, David||Tliney, John (Wavertree)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Monro, Hector||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||More, Jasper||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Morgan, W. G.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hastings, Stephen||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Hawkins, Paul||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Hay, John||Murton, Oscar||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Heath, Rt, Hn. Edward||Neave, Airey||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Hendry, Forbes Higgins, Terence L.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Higgins, Forbes||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wall, Patrick|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Walters, Dennis|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Onslow, Cranley||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Webster, David|
|Hopkins, Alan||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hordern, Peter||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Whitelaw, William|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Peel, John||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Percival, Ian||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Peyton, John||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth||Wise, A. R.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pitt, Dame Edith||Wood, Rt. Hn. Christopher|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Jennings, J. C.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Prior, J. M. L||Wylie, N. R|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Jopling, Michael||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Younger, Hn. George|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rees-Davies||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Mr. McLaren and Mr. Pym|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Abse, Leo||Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Albu, Austen||Bessell, Peter||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Binns, John||Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Bishop, E. S.||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)|
|Allen, Scholefleld (Crewe)||Blackburn, F.||Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Buchanan, Richard|
|Atkinson, Norman||Boardman, H.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Boston, Terence||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Bagier, Gordon A.T.||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James|
|Barnett, Joel||Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S.W.)||Carmichael, Neil|
|Beaney, Alan||Boyden, James||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara|
|Bence, Cyril||Bradley, Tom||Chapman, Donald|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Coleman, Donald|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)|
|Cronin, John||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Parker, John|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R, H. S.||Jackson, Colin||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Janner, Sir Barnett||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Darling, George||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pentland, Norman|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Johnson, Russell (Inverness)||Probert, Arthur|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Dell, Edmund||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Randall, Harry|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rankin, John|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Redhead, Edward|
|Doig, Peter||Kelley, Richard||Rees, Merlyn|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Kenyon, Clifford||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Driberg, Tom||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Richard, Ivor|
|Dunn, James A.||Lawson, George||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Ledger, Ron||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K.(St. Pancras, N.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Rose, Paul B.|
|English, Michael||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Ennals, David||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Rowland, Christopher|
|Ensor, David||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lipton, Marcus||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Lomas, Kenneth||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Loughlin, Charles||Short, Rt. Hn. E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||MrBride Neil||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||McCann, J.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||MacColl James||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||MacDermot, Niall||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Floud, Bernard||McInnes, James||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Foley, Maurice||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Small, William|
|Ford, Ben||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Snow, Julian|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackie, John (Enfield. E.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||McLeavy, Frank||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Garrett, W. E.||MacMillan, Malcolm||Stonehouse, John|
|Garrow, Alex||MacPherson, Malcolm||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Stross, SirBarnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Swain, Thomas|
|Gregory, Arnold||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Crey, Charles||Manuel, Archie||Symonds, J. B.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mapp, Charles||Taverne, Dick|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Marsh, Richard||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Griffiths, Will (M'chester, Exchange)||Mason, Roy||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mathew, Robert||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mellish, Robert||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hale, Leslie||Mendelson, J. J.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mikardo, Ian||Tinn, James|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Millan, Bruce||Tuck, Raphael|
|Hamling, William (Woowich, W.)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Urwin, T. W.|
|Hannan, William||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Harper, Joseph||Molloy, William||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Monslow, Walter||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wallace, George|
|Hazell, Bert||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Watkins, Tudqr|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Sheflield P k)||Weitzman, David|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Murray, Albert||Wellbeloved, James|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Newens, Stan||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Whitlock, William|
|Holman, Percy||Norwood, Christopher||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hooson, H. E.||Oakes, Gordon||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Horner, John||Ogden, Eric||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||O'Malley, Brian||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Orbach, Maurice||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Orme, Stanley||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Howie, W.||Oswald, Thomas||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hoy, James||Owen, Will||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Padley, Walter||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Wyatt, Woodrow||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Winterbottom, R. E.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)||Mr. Sydney Irving and|
|Woof, Robert||Zilliacus, K.||Mr. George Rogers.|