§ 3.52 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)
I beg to move,That the Southern Rhodesia Constitution Order 1965, dated 16th November 1965, made by Her Majesty in Council under the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th November, be approved.When the House debated the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965, last week, hon. Members will remember that on behalf of the Government I undertook that Orders in Council made in exercise of the powers conferred by that Act would be brought before the House for approval as required by Section 2(5) of the Enabling Act as soon as possible, and I hope the House may think that by doing so today the Government have acted with due expedition and faithfully carried out the undertaking that I gave.
The first and undoubtedly the most important of the series of Orders in Council which the House will be considering is the Southern Rhodesia Constitution Order, 1965, which is made under Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act. Its primary purpose is to make certain amendments in the provisions of the Southern Rhodesian Constitution of 1961, which, I need hardly remind the House, is still the legal and only valid Constitution for Rhodesia, notwithstanding the illegal régime's attempt to replace it, notwithstanding the illegal declaration of independence, and notwithstanding the pretended grant by the illegal régime of a new Constitution.
As the House will, I think, know, there has been a demand from some quarters in this House and elsewhere that, in view of the illegal declaration of indepedence, the 1961 Constitution should be wholly suspended. While I appreciate that the 1961 Constitution has been distorted and abused by the illegal régime, nevertheless wholly to suspend the 1961 Constitution is not, in the Government's view, the right course to take. Indeed, as the House will recollect, we did not ask for powers to do this, for there are certain important parts of the 1961 Constitution which must be left as they are.
There are, for example, the provisions relating to the powers and authority of 523 the Governor. There is Chapter V, dealing with the courts and the judiciary. There is the all-important Declaration, or Bill, of Rights embodied in Chapter VI of the Constitution, now so ruthlessly disregarded in Rhodesia. There is also Chapter VII, establishing the Constitution Council and prescribing its function in regard to the enforcement of the Bill of Rights. All these parts of the Constitution are left unamended by the Order save in so far as they are necessarily affected by the particular provisions which I shall mention in a moment.
On the other hand, there are other parts of the 1961 Constitution which we thought it very desirable to amend, or rather to suspend, and here I would emphasise the word "suspend", because in fact, as the House will see, three Sections of the Order, Sections 3, 4 and 5, begin with the wordsSo long as this section is in operation—This emphasises the point that we are not now by this Order attempting to abrogate the 1961 Constitution.
But there are certain provisions which cannot be left alone in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. For instance, the Legislative Assembly in Rhodesia is composed, in the vast majority, of members of the Rhodesian Front, Mr. Smith's party, the party which has led Rhodesia into rebellion and is attempting to overthrow the lawful authority of this Parliament and this Government. The Order in Council therefore, in Section 3, invalidates in advance any laws which that Assembly may attempt to pass and any other business which it may transact. The gap has been filled in by enabling Her Majesty to legislate for Rhodesia by Order in Council.
Then, in the executive field, the Order makes such provision as seems proper to enable loyal authorities to continue to function. It frees the Governor from his constitutional obligation to act in accordance with the advice of Ministers. It empowers the United Kingdom Government to exercise, or control the exercise of, various functions of officers and authorities of the Government of Rhodesia. The Order does not impose any duty on the United Kingdom Government to exercise any particular functions in any particular case. The question whether and how they should act is left 524 to be decided by considerations of what is practicable, and what is right and helpful, in the circumstances of each case. I shall say a little more about this in a moment.
Perhaps in speaking generally at this stage I should mention now another object of the Order, namely, the declaration which it contains as to the validity of the new Constitution which Mr. Smith and his colleagues purported to grant to Southern Rhodesia on 11th November. This new so-called Constitution, as the House will recollect, was created simply in the name of Mr. Smith and his colleagues in the Ministry before that Ministry was dismissed. It was, of course, done without any shred of legal authority and was wholly invalid. Indeed, I doubt whether there is any precedent in the whole history of constitution-making, at least in recent times, for this fantastic and impudent action, whereby a group of a dozen men, without even pretending to act with the authority or the approval of the people of their country, purport to grant a complete new Constitution to that country.
However that may be, it may be as well to declare expressly that that action is void. To summarise the matter generally, the main purpose of this Constitution Order, therefore, is to make the minimum temporary amendments which are called for by the actions of the illegal régime and to give Her Majesty's Government the powers which may be required as a result of that illegality.
Perhaps I should also tell the House of another important purpose which has prompted the making of this Order. It is to enable Her Majesty's Government to keep under their own hand the necessary constitutional powers in Rhodesia and thus to enable them to resist any attempt to set up an alternative Government. It is a remarkable fact that in 1963 the Rhodesian Government themselves took powers to prevent any such attempt. The Rhodesian Government and Parliament passed the Preservation of Constitutional Government Act in that year. This states, among other things, thatAny person who is a resident of Southern Rhodesia and who, either within or outside Southern Rhodesia—(a) organises or sets up or helps to organise or set up, or advocates, urges or suggests 525 the organisation or setting up of, any group or body with a view to that group or body—Having heard those words, the House may think that that is precisely what the Rhodesian ex-Ministers have done.
… shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years.
- (i) overthrowing or attempting to overthrow the Government by unconstitutional means; or
- (ii) taking over or attempting to take over the Government of Southern Rhodesia by unconstitutional means or usurping the functions of government in Southern Rhodesia,
One of the Government's objects is to keep in their hands the necessary constitutional powers in Rhodesia and thus in enable them to counter attempts to set up alternative Governments. The Government have made it clear in the Security Council and elsewhere that they consider the Rhodesian problem to be our responsibility, and we want to keep control of events. If some group were independently to try to set up an alternative Government outside Rhodesia, such action, however well-intentioned it might be, would in our opinion be bound to lead to uncertainty, confusion, and dissipation of effort. It would thus militate against the achievement of what must be the common objective, namely, the displacement of the present illegal régime in Rhodesia.
Accordingly, this Order in Council, which confers powers to make laws for Rhodesia by further Orders in Council, and confers executive powers upon a Secretary of State, provides the means for making it clear that the responsibility, and the powers, as and when they may be effectively exercised, are ours.
I now turn to the scrutiny of the Order, Section by Section. It involves a certain amount of technicality, and I ask the forgiveness of the House in dealing with it. Section 1 deals with technical matters of citation, interpretation, and commencement. Hon. and right hon. Members will see that most of the provisions of the Order came into operation on 18th November—that is, the day after the Order was laid before Parliament, but Section 2, which deals with the invalidity of the purported new Constitution of Rhodesia, and Section 3, which is concerned with the Rhodesian Legislature and legislative powers, came 526 into operation on 16th November, as soon as the Order was made, and were deemed to have had effect from 11th November—the date of the illegal declaration.
As I explained when moving the Second Reading of the Bill, this limited measure of retrospection is necessary to establish beyond doubt, and as soon as possible, that the purported Constitution of the illegal régime is, and always has been, invalid, and that anything which the Legislative Assembly may attempt to do in furtherance of the illegal declaration of independence will be equally invalid.
Section 2 is declaratory of the invalidity of the new Constitution. It has been thought expedient to make express reference to that, lest there should be any doubt about the total nullity of the so-called 1965 Constitution. Section 3 deals with the Rhodesian Legislature, and with legislative powers. Under Section 6 of the 1961 Constitution the Legislature of Rhodesia consists of Her Majesty—who, for such purposes as the giving of Assent to Bills, is represented by the Governor—and the Legislative Assembly, but the Legislative Assembly is at present dominated by members of the Rhodesia Front, who have shown themselves by their illegality and rebellion to be unfit to exercise legislative functions.
Section 3(1,a) prohibits for the time being the making of laws by the Legislature and the transaction of any other business by the Legislative Assembly. It also forbids the holding of elections to the Assembly and any steps, such as the delimitation of constituencies, in connection with such elections. As these matters are dealt with in Chapters II and III of the 1961 Constitution it is necessary that those chapters should be made to have effect subject to the provisions of this Order, and Section 3(1,a) so states.
Section 3(1,b) gives the Secretary of State power to prorogue the Legislative Assembly. Under Section 34 of the 1961 Constitution this power is vested in the Governor, and the Governor still retains it today. But, as the House will appreciate, it is not very difficult to envisage circumstances in which—we hope that this will not arise—the Governor might be unable to exercise the power. Therefore, Her Majesty's Government have thought it prudent to enable the Secretary 527 of State to take the necessary action to prorogue the Assembly, should that prove expedient.
I now turn to Section 3(1,c), which has given some concern to the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments and about which we may hear something in the course of this debate.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman clear up one point about prorogation? How is it possible to prorogue an Assembly which is not summoned? Can he prorogue it without its having had any meetings?
§ The Attorney-General
I should have thought that it was possible to prorogue an assembly which had not been summoned. The assembly would be in existence and the power of prorogation is capable of being exercised. I can see no difficulty in that respect.
I was about to deal with Section 3(1,c)—I have referred to "Sections" during my speech. I have observed that there has been some criticism of the use of the word "Section" as distinct from "Article" but my information is that, in Orders in Council establishing or amending a constitution, it is more usual to use the nomenclature "Sections", and that is the language adopted by the Order.
Turning to matters of greater substance than the merely linguistic, I will now deal with Section 3(1,c). The Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, 1961, establishes a legislature, consisting of Her Majesty and a Legislative Assembly, which has power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia, including laws having extra-territorial operation. In exercise of the power specified in Section 2(2,a) of the Act for suspending, amending, revoking or adding to any of the provisions of the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, 1961, Her Majesty in Council considered it necessary or expedient, in consequence of the illegal declaration of independence, to suspend the operation of that legislature. As I have said, the provision effecting this is in Section 3(1,a) of the Order.
If nothing more had been done, this would have left Southern Rhodesia with no legitimate legislative body. Her Majesty in Council therefore considered 528 it necessary or expedient to set up some authority in place of the suspended legislature and with the same power to make laws for Southern Rhodesia. Section 3(1,c) of the Order seeks to do this, the relevant authority being Her Majesty herself in Council. Orders in Council made under Section 3(1,c) are therefore the exact equivalent of laws made in ordinary circumstances by the Rhodesian legislature.
They are not on the same footing as Orders made directly under Section 2 of the enabling Act and have a much more limited scope, in that they can operate only as part of the law of Southern Rhodesia. As the House will see, the provision is that, so long as this Section is in operation, Her Majesty in Council may make laws for the peace, etc., of Southern Rhodesia. Orders made directly under the enabling Act, on the other hand, can operate as part of the law of the United Kingdom and, within the limits imposed by the proviso to Section 4(2) of the enabling Act, of overseas dependencies, and can also amend Acts of Parliament.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that, if Her Majesty exercises her authority under Section 3(1,c) of the Order, she will have to do so by an Order in Council, and that that Order in Council could affect the laws of this country as well as of Southern Rhodesia?
§ The Attorney-General
No, that is not so. The powers under Section 3(1,c) relate entirely to Southern Rhodesia and operate only as part of the law of Southern Rhodesia—[An HON. MEMBER: "Extra-territorial?"] Yes, the extraterritorial effect of ordinary Southern Rhodesian legislation. Otherwise, they have no effect, as I understand it, upon the law of this country——
§ Mr. Graham Page
I am sorry. I put my question in two parts, and I am afraid that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not answered the first part, about whether Her Majesty in Council would have to exercise her right by an Order in Council.
§ The Attorney-General
Yes, that is so. It would need an Order in Council, but, as I shall indicate in a moment, that will not involve the procedure of affirmative 529 approval. Indeed, this can be seen from the provisions of Section 3(4) of the Order.
The purpose of section 3(2) of the Order is to make it clear that Orders in Council made under Section 3(1,c) can authorise subordinate legislation such as Governor's Regulations and can confer duties on persons without Rhodesia as well as within. This action reflects the substitution of legislation by Orders in Council for legislation by the Rhodesia legislature under the Constitution. Subsection 3(2) does no more than place Her Majesty in Council in the position of the legislature. Just as, under the 1961 Constitution, the legislature could delegate law-making powers and could give extra-territorial application to its laws, Her Majesty in Council may similarly provide by virtue of subsection (2).
Subsection (3) is purely interpretative. It provides that references in the Constitution and in other Rhodesian laws to a law of the legislature of Southern Rhodesia or an Act of that Legislature shall be construed as including reference to Orders in Council made under Section 3(1,c) of this Order.
I come now to Section 3(4), which deals directly with the point which the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) put to me. It is in these terms:Orders in Council made under subsection (1)(c) of this section shall, for the purposes of Statutory Instruments Act, 1946(a), be statutory instruments within the meaning of that Act and shall be laid before Parliament after being made.This does not mean that Orders in Council made under Section 3(1,c) require the affirmative approval of Parliament within the specified period of 28 days, as is the case with Orders in Council made directly under the enabling Act itself.
As the House is aware, laws of Southern Rhodesia's legislature are not subject to scrutiny by this Parliament and the Southern Rhodesia Act, the enabling Act, does not require that Orders in Council made under this Order—the "grandchildren" of this Act, to which the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) and the right hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) referred during the debate on the Bill—should be laid before Parliament.
530 But Her Majesty feels that it is right that Orders made by Her Majesty in Council, in substitution for the Southern Rhodesia legislature, for the peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia should be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. Section 3(4) so provides. I hope that that explanation has satisfied the anxieties of the Select Committee.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
The Attorney-General has quite properly stated that these Orders in Council will not be subject to affirmative Resolution of the House. He further told us, quite properly, that they will be laid before the House under Section 4 of the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946. Would he make it clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that although they will be laid before the House, not only will they not be subject to Parliamentary control by the affirmative procedure, they will not be subject to Parliamentary control by the so-called negative procedure, by Prayers of annulment?
§ The Attorney-General
That is quite accurate. It arises out of the special circumstances in that Her Majesty in Council is standing, so to speak, in the shoes of the Rhodesian legislature and the position will be rather more in the sphere of Parliamentary control than the old arrangement used to be. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right in pointing to the limitations of Parliamentary control but, of course, there will remain the usual Parliamentary opportunities and occasions for calling attention to or criticising the Government in respect of Orders which are made under Section 3(1,c).
I come to subsection (5) of Section 3. This provides that the Section shall come into operation from 11th November, 1965. I have given an explanation of that.
Section 4 deals with executive powers. Section 4(1,a) provides that for the time being the executive authority of Southern Rhodesia may be exercised on Her Majesty's behalf by the Secretary of State. Under Section 42 of the 1961 Constitution this executive authority may be exercised on Her Majesty's behalfby the Governor or such other persons as may be authorised in that behalf by the Governor or by any law of the legislature.That remains the law today, and accordingly this Order in no way modifies the 531 executive authority of the Governor or his delegate nor does it impose any duty on the Secretary of State. What the Order does is to provide the Secretary of State with a concurrent authority so that he may have the legal power, as and when he deems it expedient to exercise that power, to take such executive action as may be appropriate.
Section 4(1b) suspends the Sections of the Rhodesia Constitution which provide for the Ministerial system. As a result the Governor is, for instance, no longer required to appoint Ministers. Section 4(1c) is designed to make it clear that, following the dismissal of the Rhodesian Ministers and the suspension of the Ministerial system to which I have just referred, the Governor is relieved of any obligation to seek, and act in accordance with, the advice of Ministers in the exercise of his various functions. This is so stated in Section 4(1c).
Section 4(1d) enables the filling of another gap left by the dismissal of Ministers and the suspension of the Ministerial system. Many of the executive functions of the Government of Southern Rhodesia are vested by the constitution, or by laws made in accordance with the constitution, in a Minister, Deputy Minister or Parliamentary Secretary. This paragraph permits a Secretary of State to exercise such functions. Section 4(1e) permits a Secretary of State to take over and exercise, or to prohibit or restrict the exercise of, the functions vested by the constitution or other law in an officer or authority of the Government of Southern Rhodesia. For this purpose, as the House will see, by reason of Section 4(4) of the Order, the Governor is to be regarded as an officer of that Government.
This provision therefore enables the Secretary of State not only to ensure the discharge of functions where the relevant office is vacant and cannot lawfully be filled but also in appropriate cases to act instead of an officer or authority of the Rhodesian Government. The House will see that the power is merely permissive and that there is no obligation to exercise it. I am able to assure the House that it is not intended that the Secretary of State should use the power where it is not likely to be both effective and useful.
532 The House may also care to know that it was under this power that the Secretary of State made last Friday the Revocation of Censorship Order in which he exercised the power of the Governor to revoke the Dissemination of Information Regulations and the Censorship of Publications Order which had been made under the Emergency Powers Act of Southern Rhodesia. It is not at present proposed that the Secretary of State should, in the exercise of the power conferred on him by this Section, embark on any large-scale revocation or amendment of Orders and Regulations made by the lawful Government of Rhodesia, but Her Majesty's Government considered that these provisions under the Emergency Powers Act and the use which has been made of them by the illegal Government strike at the very roots of free speech and free discussion in the Press and could no longer be allowed to remain as part of the law of Rhodesia.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Would the Attorney-General clarify a point for me? As I read Section 42 of the Constitution, the "any other persons" referred to would definitely act in a subordinate position to the Governor. Would not Section 4(4) of this Order change that position very considerably and create a situation in which the Governor might be subordinate to the Secretary of State? Is there any precedent for that?
§ The Attorney-General
I do not think that it will have that effect. The power of the Governor under Section 42 of the Constitution remains. The executive authority is vested in him. But he, being an officer within the meaning of the word "officer" in Section 4(1,e) of the Order, is an officer whose functions may be exercised by the Secretary of State. As I have endeavoured to explain, the powers of the Secretary of State will, so to speak, be co-terminous with his and will be exercised in circumstances in which the Governor may be unable to exercise functions. I do not think that it in any way undermines the Governor's authority. On the contrary, it provides for a situation in which the Governor's authority and functions are incapable of being exercised. I have been looking in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's direction more than once during my observations, 533 because of his interest in the matter, and I can assure him that the Order is a taking of powers with a reservation as to the circumstances in which the powers are to be exercised. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will recall that he emphasised that point strongly and eloquently in his speech on the enabling Bill.
I was dealing with section 4(2) of the Order. That exempts a Secretary of State in exercising the powers of a Minister or other officer of authority of the Government of Southern Rhodesia from having to undertake the same process of consultation as would be binding on that Minister. That is necessary in case a Secretary of State cannot communicate with the person Dr in case that person is himself actively participating in the rebellion. Section 4(3) is self-explanatory, while Section 4(4) provides that, for the purposes of the Order, the Governor is, as have said, to be regarded as an officer of the Government.
§ Mr. Iremonger
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman leaves Section 4, would he explain how the appointment of judges comes into all this?
§ The Attorney-General
The judges are appointed under the terms of the Constitution. That matter is dealt with in Section 51 of the Constitution. The provisions for the appointment of chief justices also appear in that Section. It is an appointment by the Governor and, similarly, the provision of Section 51(3) states:The puisne judges of the High Court shall be persons qualified for appointment under the provisions of subsection (3) of Section 50 and shall be appointed by the Governor, on the advice of the Prime Minister and with the agreement of the Chief Justice, by instrument wider the public seal.We have eliminated from the Constitution the necessity for the Governor to consult with the Prime Minister and, accordingly, he would do so if the situation arose without such advice, although undoubtedly he would seek the agreement of the Chief Justice, whose gallant sustenance of the rule of law the House has already commended and admired.
§ Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)
I appreciate that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is being as fair as he possibly can on this matter. If I have 534 followed his explanation aright, does it mean that by Order in Council the Secretary of State is taking the place of the Legislative Assembly of the last 42 years of Southern Rhodesia and that all the laws made there in the last 42 years stand, until otherwise altered by an Order in Council, one of which the Government have already put forward and more of which may come forward? Since these matters must be communicated to the judges there, how are these matters disseminated to the people of Rhodesia so that they may know the state of the law as established by this House?
§ The Attorney-General
I am grateful to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for that question. Endeavours are being made to disseminate the Orders in Council and the Orders which are made by the Secretary of State. There is reason to believe that those Orders are reaching the hands of those who will have to exercise jurisdiction in regard to them. Despite the censorship, discussions and B.B.C. broadcasts are quite effective methods and, of course, the judges will need to have the Instruments in their hands. Perhaps all I can usefully and helpfully say now is that maybe they already have them.
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
The Attorney-General said that judges can now be appointed by the Governor under the Public Seal. Has the Governor physically got access to the Public Seal, or is that kept in an office by one of the illegal Ministers?
§ The Attorney-General
I am afraid that I would need notice of that question. The answer is probably that he has no access to the Public Seal. That is why the Secretary of State is given power in this Order to exercise the functions of the Governor by Order without the Secretary of State's signature. That is one of the reasons for the Order; that for reasons of this kind the Governor may not be in a position to exercise his functions.
I have just been handed a document and I see that what I said about the judicature needs correction, in that there was apparently a Constitution (Amendment) Act in 1964 which altered the method of appointment. I should have asked for notice of the question. However, I am sure that the House will 535 appreciate that any misleading was inadvertent. There were different provisions for the appointment of judges and if the hon. Gentleman will examine with me later those provisions he will see that it still requires the approval of the Governor—that it is in substance the Governor who makes the appointment—but whether, under the new provisions, there is an express requirement to consult with the Prime Minister and seek the advice of the Chief Justice, I will have to see when I have another opportunity to look at the 1964 Amendments. As I understand the position, no new judges are capable of being appointed in Rhodesia, save by the authority of the Governor or, I take it, in view of this Order, the Secretary of State exercising his powers should the Governor be unable to do so.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North-West)
I ask this question as a layman in these matters because I wish to understand the position. Am I right in assuming that the actions of the so-called illegal Ministers at the moment would mean that if any of them came to this country they would be subject to arrest for the kind of action being taken?
§ The Attorney-General
We went into that matter in the debate a week or 10 days ago and I do not think, with respect, that it arises directly under the terms of the Order before us. The answer is somewhat elaborate, it would depend on the circumstances and on the nature of what they had done, where it was done and so on. It involves a number of considerations and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman realises that in my office it would be indeed improper for me to express a view on any particular case as to whether the person concerned is a traitor or merely liable to 20 years imprisonment under his own legislation, which is, perhaps, the simpler method of approach than the elaborate, somewhat complex and rather medieval language of the treason laws.
I was dealing with the provisions of Section 5 of the Order relating to public expenditure. Section 113(3) of the Constitution, as amended by Section 15 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1965, regulates the manner in which moneys may be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Southern Rhodesia. The effect is that no moneys may be 536 so withdrawn except to meet expenditure that is being charged on the Fund by the Constitution or by some law of the Legislature or where those moneys have been voted by the Legislature. Section 5 of the Order permits moneys to be issued on the authority of a warrant issued by a Secretary of State or by the Governor in pursuance of instructions from Her Majesty through a Secretary of State.
Finally, Section 6 is purely declaratory. It is designed to scotch any argument that prohibitions and restrictions imposed by or under section 3(1a) or Section 4(1e) are merely directory and that things done in neglect or defiance of them are nevertheless validly done.
I thank the House——
§ Mr. Graham Page
I wonder whether the right hon. and learned Attorney-General can explain the use of the word "law" in the first line. It seems a rather peculiar use of the word. One could appreciate the use of "purported law". Does this Order really say that, for example, any law passed by this House is to be null and void? Had the phrase "purported law" been used in regard to any laws of the Southern Rhodesian Legislature one might have accepted it, but this seems rather wide in the present context.
§ The Attorney-General
I suppose that, in prudence, it might have been possible to say "any purported law", but I think that the Section is clear enough—that any law made, business transacted, step taken or function exercised in contravention of any prohibition is void and of no effect. I think that, as it stands, the wording is perfectly accurate and correct, and I do not think that to put the word "law" in inverted commas, or to include the adjective "purported", would make the position clearer. I say that with all due respect to the hon. Gentleman.
I was about to——
§ Mrs. Joyce Butler (Wood Green)
Before my right hon. and learned Friend leaves this Order altogether, can he answer a very urgent and practical question? What steps are being taken to trace British nationals in Rhodesia, like Mr. Leo Baron who was detained two hours after U.D.I. was declared, and whose friends are very concerned about him? Can we be given any idea where he is, or what has happened to him?
§ The Attorney-General
I am not sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether that question comes directly within the terms of this Order, but if my hon. Friend is successful in catching your eye later, he may be able to deal with the matter.
I am grateful for the forbearance of the House in my endeavour to explain the provisions of the Order, which I now ask the House to approve.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
It would nut be appropriate—indeed, it would be out of order—to try to turn a debate on the Order into a general debate on the Rhodesian situation, but before we approve the Order—and we agree that an Order is necessary—we are entitled to ask certain questions about the use to which it will be put. It may be only a machinery matter, but people do not make machines without some idea of how they intend them to work.
Up to now, I think, most of us have agreed about certain matters; that the declaration of independence was illegal and unconstitutional, and that certain consequences must flow from that. We also agree that force should be ruled out, in the terms indicated by the Prime Minister; and that the purpose of our sanctions is not to coerce but to bring about a situation in which a settlement of the Rhodesian problem will be possible, as the Prime Minister seemed to indicate towards the end of his answers yesterday. Meanwhile, we think that an Order is necessary to deal with the Southern Rhodesia constitution. I think that we accept the declaration under Section 3(1,a). We also agree that it creates a legislative gap, and that steps must be taken to close that gap. I do not think that the Governor's residual powers under the 1961 Constitution would have been sufficient to have closed that legislative gap. I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman there.
The Attorney-General, in his very careful exposition of the Order, for which we are grateful, indicated the general purpose of the Government's actions, but we are more interested to know how the Government will try to operate the Order. How do they envisage the Government of Rhodesia actually being carried on? I hope that they do not intend issuing a whole lot of laws applying to Rhodesia which they are in no 538 position to enforce—or, indeed, to promulgate. Although the Attorney-General indicated that there might be some means of getting through, the Government might not be able to promulgate them in Rhodesia.
Although we feel that it would be really making a nonsense of ourselves if we were to make laws that could not possibly be enforced, there are some practical matters which must be dealt with. An example of the kind of practical matter that arises is the handling of appeals to the Privy Council. The illegal authorities in Southern Rhodesia are apparently willing, according to the constitution they proclaimed, that appeals pending should go before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Who is to be allowed to appear? Who is to give instructions on the side of the Rhodesian government? To whom are the decisions to be transmitted? Who will carry out the decisions?
That leads me to another point. While we must maintain the de jure position, we must also have certain de facto working arrangements. This is not just a matter of convenience, but a matter of maintaining ways in which some influence may be brought to bear on Rhodesians.
A major point that is clearly worrying some of my hon. Friends is: how do the Government propose to see that Parliamentary control is retained over the actions they take under this Order?
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
Before he leaves the question of de facto arrangements, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that the British Government here should enter into some sort of arrangement with the illegal régime in Rhodesia? If so, what scope would it have, what would it cover, and so on? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer that question?
§ Mr. Lloyd
No. I think that the Government must indicate how they will deal with the practical problems, but some arrangements will have to be made if these appeals are to be heard. If the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) suggests that appeals pending should not come to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, that is one thing, but, if they are to come, some arrangements must be made, and it is 539 really for the Government to indicate what their thoughts are on that aspect.
I was just coming to the question of Parliamentary control over the actions taken by the Government under this Order. With respect, I do not think that the Attorney-General's explanation is quite good enough; that because laws dealing with these matters might have been passed by the Rhodesian Legislature and we in this House had no right to scrutinise those laws, it is therefore right for the Government here, the Secretary of State, to act without any scrutiny; that because, under the Order, self-government in Southern Rhodesia has been legally ended or, at least, suspended, that because the legislative processes there are ended or suspended, rule by the Executive here should be substituted without any scrutiny.
Using, without prejudice, the word "section", under Section 3(1,c) it is true that Orders have to be laid before Parliament after being made but, as the learned Attorney-General pointed out, there is no provision for discussion under either the affirmative or the negative procedure. That is not satisfactory. But it goes even further because, under Section 3(2), the power to make laws can be conferred on persons and authorities—for example, a Secretary of State—but such laws need not even be laid before Parliament. This is a very important point. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider seriously the wisdom of laying an amending Order dealing with the point.
§ The Attorney-General
The right hon. and learned Member said that this procedure would elminate Parliamentary scrutiny. With respect, it does not do that. It is quite true that it does not involve the affirmative and negative procedure, but the Orders will be scrutinised and Parliament has other remedies apart from the formal procedures relating to affirmative and negative Resolutions.
§ Mr. Lloyd
In practice there is very careful work done by hon. Members from both sides of this House in scrutinising these Instruments—very valuable work for which I do not think they are sometimes sufficiently thanked—but that is not the same as an opportunity for debate in this House. There are considerable 540 difficulties about getting these matters ventilated. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to think again about that point.
My point about the laws is that they are not even subject to scrutiny by that Committee. There is no scrutiny, I understand, of laws made under Section 3(2), by which powers to make laws can be conferred on persons and authorities. I think the Secretary of State is himself the person principally concerned.
I ask the Attorney-General to think about the possibility of an amending Order. That has been done already on a point which I raised earlier with the President of the Board of Trade in relation to tobacco in transit. We put the point and an amending Order has been made. It is perfectly possible, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to do so, to try to deal with this matter in that way. There should be provision for Parliamentary control in the form of some right to debate what is done. For example, the censorship law was made on 19th November as an executive act by the Secretary of State under Section 4(1,e). That does not even come under the scrutiny of the Stautory Instruments Committee. I do not think that satisfactory.
Another point which I am afraid has not been cleared up to my satisfaction is the position of the Governor and the Secretary of State. What powers will the Governor in practice exercise, and how will he exercise them? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the powers of the Secretary of State would be coterminous with those of the Governor. Will the powers of the Governor be cotermious with those of the Secretary of State. It would appear under Section 4(1,d) and 4(1,e) that certain powers are given to the Secretary of State I wonder whether it is intentional that the same powers should not be given to the Governor, or are they given to the Governor? If that is not so, why not?
I have no doubt that my hon. and right hon. Friends will have other points to make. I press two points again. This is repatriation by the Government of all executive and legislative functions of government, leaving only judicial functions still to be exercised out there. This is a process—it certainly is not our fault—which bristles with practical difficulties. It can only be a temporary 541 expedient, and we want the fullest possible information of how it is to be operated and a further assurance of Parliamentary control.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The Attorney-General has my unbounded admiration. I have the greatest admiration for his quality. He can blind me with legalism at any moment. Therefore, I have listened extremely carefully to what he said today and I was interested in his statement at the beginning of his speech. This Order, he said, is the most important of the Orders the Government are presenting to the House on this question and therefore we should debate it fairly fully. Maybe the debates on other Orders will be more abbreviated, but this Order is the first presented and therefore is bound to raise some very wide questions.
The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), although he said that these Orders deal with machinery matters and although he spoke only briefly, posed some very important questions. In his first remarks he said that it was agreed in the House that force should not be used except in the circumstances described by the Prime Minister. Whether that is the case or not, presumably it is a matter for consideration at least. He said that we would agree not to take measures to coerce the illegal Government of Southern Rhodesia. That is a gloss put on the situation by some, but it certainly is not a proposition with which I agree. I think it quite absurd to suggest that we should take sanctions against a country which would not coerce it, or suspend a country's constitution without any purpose of seeking to coerce it. It may be said that these are matters of semantics, but I think they are paramount questions.
The right hon. and learned Member also said that what we have to consider is how all the proposals in this Order, which after all affect the whole government of Southern Rhodesia, are to operate. That is a very important question indeed. It raises questions of how the government of Southern Rhodesia is to be carried on in the months ahead. This House has assumed responsibility for the government of Southern Rhodesia. That is what we did in the Enabling Act passed on Monday of last week. What we are 542 doing under this Order is to make that even more specific. So these are very important matters.
I am not criticising the right hon. and learned Member for making a short speech. No one is criticised in this House on those grounds, but I do not think that anyone should regard what we are doing as in any way trivial. This is the first opportunity we have had of discussing how the government of Rhodesia is to proceed. Under this Order we are taking a measure of extreme importance. Among other actions we are suspending the Parliament in Southern Rhodesia. That is a very far-reaching action. To suspend the authority of the Parliament is quite a right thing to do. I am not dissenting from the Government's action, but no one should blind himself to the important consequences of such measures.
It is said in the paragraph to which my right hon. and learned Friend gave some consideration—in Section 3(1,c):Her Majesty in Council may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia, including laws having extra-territorial operation.These are extremely wide powers. No one should be in any doubt, whatever they may have thought after the debate on Monday of last week and the debate we are having today, about the extremely extensive powers and responsibility we are taking for the welfare of all the people in Southern Rhodesia. I believe it is the duty of this House to debate these matters extremely carefully and to try to remove as many doubts and questions about what is the situation there as we can.
Many doubts are provoked by the questions that arose yesterday directly affecting the situation which we are discussing now and the statement made by Her Majesty's Opposition yesterday on precisely this subject. I expected the right hon. and learned Gentleman to refer to that. I think we should certainly get the matter as clear as we can from the Government because two events have occurred on this particular point since we passed the enabling Act last week. First on the question of a constitution, there was the resolution passed in the Security Council.
Clause 7 of the Security Council's resolution published in The Times on Monday calls upon the United Kingdom Government, as the working of the Constitution of 1961 has broken down, to 543 take immediate measures in order to allow the people of Southern Rhodesia to determine their own future consistent with the objectives of the General Assembly resolution 1514. Her Majesty's Government voted for the resolution, I think rightly, and presumably they accept the proposition that the 1961 Constitution has broken down, and this Order is being put before the House partly because of their acceptance of the fact that that Constitution has broken down.
I agree that the Constitution has broken down, but a peculiar situation is arising about it. I think it is evident to most of us that the 1961 Constitution has broken down. Although the Government have proposed an Order for dealing with the situation, we had a statement issued last night by Her Majesty's Opposition which referred directly to this question.
It said:The objective of British policy towards Rhodesia should be to enable that country to return to the path of constitutional Government as a first step towards independence within the Commonwealth. In this connection, and with reference to operative Paragraph 7 of the United Nations Security Council resolutionwhich I have just quotedthe British Government should make it plain that the 1961 constitution stands, together with the offers relating to independence made during the recent negotiations.I can understand some hon. Members apparently accepting the view that the British Government should declare that the 1961 Constitution stands. That is what the Opposition are asking for, although they have not asked for it in this debate. This is what they issued their statement about. Is that the position of the House and the position of the Government, or not? I am certainly opposed to the proposition that the 1961 Constitution should stand or that the British Government should make a declaration to that effect. It would be a most dangerous statement for them to make.
I can understand the reasons, although I disagree with them, why the Opposition made that statement last night. I think that they issued it because they have the idea that there may eventually, after a few weeks or a few months, be a situation arising when fresh negotiations will 544 take place between Her Majesty's Government and the illegal Government of Southern Rhodesia in which the British Government will be able to say that the 1961 Constitution still stands. I believe that the Opposition have made this proposal because they think that such a declaration by the Government now would assist the purposes of such negotiations at that time. I think that is why they made the statement, and I think that they should say so in the House if that is what they are after.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Does the hon. Gentleman disagree with what the Prime Minister said in column 259 of the OFFICIAL REPORT yesterday?
§ Mr. Foot
I will come to the Prime Minister in a moment. I will deal with the right hon. and learned Gentleman first. I will deal first with the Opposition's proposition and the logical deductions to be made from it. I put it as carefully as I can. I am trying to understand why they said what they did. I do not think that I have misrepresented them in any way. They are asking that the British Government should make a declaration saying that the 1961 Constitution stands. If they had thought that the Prime Minister had dealt with the matter sufficienly yesterday there would not have been any purpose in the Opposition issuing such a statement last night. If they were completely satisfied with the Prime Minister's statement on the subject, it would not have been necessary to have had a two-hour debate in the shadow Cabinet and to have taken the extraordinary step of issuing this special statement. The right hon. and learned Gentleman need not think that I am as simple as all that.
The Opposition are making the proposal, as I understand it, to further the possibility of some kind of negotiations at a later date. I understand it for that purpose, but I disagree with the purpose. I believe that it would be absolutely wrong for the British Government to envisage any such purpose, not only because I do not believe that we should treat with the illegal Government of Southern Rhodesia in any circumstances but also because I believe that it would be extremely dangerous. It might be an incitement to bloodshed in Southern Rhodesia. Suppose the statement were to be circulated 545 throughout Southern Rhodesia that, following a statement from the Opposition, the British Government had issued a statement saying that they stood for the 1961 Constitution, I believe that, so far from that being an act of pacification in Southern Rhodesia, it would be a provocation to violence, because there are large numbers, probably the overwhelming majority, of people in Southern Rhodesia who are not prepared to return to that Constitution, not prepared to return to the situation where Mr. Smith and his friends had almost almighty power to do whatever they wanted in Southern Rhodesia.
The Attorney-General, with some mockery, recited to us the measure which the Southern Rhodesian Government had passed a few years ago for the preservation of order—the Preservation of Constitutional Government Act, 1963, which was designed to prevent any alternative Government of any sort being established or set up in any form in Southern Rhodesia. Anybody who dared to do so would be liable to 20 years' imprisonment. This is just one of the many measures taken by the Southern Rhodesian Government to establish their dictatorial power over Southern Rhodesia, and they did it under the 1961 Constitution. Therefore, when hon. Members say that a declaration should be made that we stand by the 1961 Constitution, I see that as a demand that we should stand by a Constitution which enables people to impose conditions of dictatorship on the citizens of Southern Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
The hon. Gentleman is attempting to reduce this to very simple terms. Cannot he see that in this Order we are actually legislating to change the law to one which can for the time being conceivably be applied in the territory? On the other hand, we have the state of affairs that the people of the territory willy-nilly have to live under another system of law applied by the existing Government of that territory. Can he not see that if one makes conditions such as those which he is now proposing we shall surely drive those who support the illegal Government into an even more intransigent attitude?
§ Mr. Foot
I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying. I thought I had mentioned this before. I understand the 546 reasons why people make the proposition—I must offer reasons why I think it is most improper and dangerous—that we should offer this undertaking to the illegal Government of Mr. Smith. That is what the Opposition invited the British Government and the British people to do by their statement last night. They asked us to lay down prior conditions. The first condition is that the British Government stand by the 1961 Constitution. The second is that the British Government should make a declaration that we abide by all the conceivable conditions or offers which the Prime Minister made in the course of his negotiations with Mr. Ian Smith prior to 11th November. They ask that the British Government should make it plain that the 1961 Constitution stands, together with the offers relating to independence made during the recent negotiations.
Some of those proposals, I understand, were made in order to stop a unilateral declaration of independence. I can understand it for that reason, even though I might disagree with some of it, but the idea that every offer or concession which was proposed or suggested by the Prime Minister during the whole course of those negotiations should now be put forward as something which is absolutely binding on the present Government of this country is a shocking proposition. That was the proposition made by the Oposition yesterday. So here we have a most extraordinary situation in which within a couple of weeks of this act of rebellion we have the official Opposition taking special steps to emphasise not the measures which should be taken to deal with the rebellion but the absolute concessions or conditions which should be offered to the illegal Government.
The statement did not say a word about how the shadow Cabinet wants to bring the rebellion to an end. It merely said that right hon. Gentlemen hoped that the objective of British policy would be to establish the conditions whereby Rhodesia could return to constitutional Government. They did not suggest measures whereby this could be secured but did agree that all the proposals and concessions previously made should still be available to Mr. Smith and his friends.
That is a dangerous proposition because, first, it would be wrong to treat with an illegal Government and, 547 secondly—and this is something that this House and the Opposition in particular have tended to do—we must not neglect the interests and feelings of the overwhelming majority of the Rhodesian people. Suppose it were to get through to the people of Rhodesia that this House proposed, on the very first day we discussed the Rhodesian Constitution, that, even although we were passing an Order for abolishing part of the Constitution, we were making it clear at the same time that we stood by the 1961 Constitution.
That, I say, would be an act almost of incitement to violence. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must acquaint themselves with the fact that the 1961 Constitution enabled the Government of Rhodesia to lock up all the representative leaders of African opinion and to keep them in restrictive detention without trial. When the judges said that such restriction was illegal, that same Government were able, under their own laws, to put those people back into detention again. It is no good right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite being shocked when I say these things about re-establishing the 1961 Constitution. That Constitution, whatever right hon. and hon. Members on either side may think of it today, is regarded by the vast majority of Rhodesians as one which enabled the most fearful oppressions to be imposed upon them. For anyone in this country to say that we stand by that Constitution is an insult to the vast majority of the people for whom we have taken responsibility. I never thought the Constitution much good at the time. Nor did my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, for he voted against it.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
But it is the very Constitution which the Prime Minister, at a very late hour, in his 6.30 a.m. telephone conversation with Mr. Smith, said that he was prepared to accept or recommend to this House if the Royal Commission were able to prove that it was acceptable.
§ Mr. Foot
I am aware of the situation. The fact is that it is a bigger provocation to say, after the 11th November and a declaration of independence, that we return to the Constitution than it was before. But even before then, many of us in this House were very 548 dubious about proposals made to Mr. Smith. I am myself concerned that our proposals went too far. But because my right hon. Friend made these offers does not mean to say that either I or the House are for ever bound by them. I have never heard of negotiations on that basis. Indeed, my right hon. Friend has never subscribed to negotiation on the basis of saying to Mr. Smith, "We hope that you will behave legally and will make offers to help enable you to do so"—indeed, going further in making propositions for preventing bloodshed, which I am sure was the primary objective of my right hon. Friend—and then at the end, when Mr. Smith says, "I reject all your offers, I repudiate your propositions and I will not negotiate, for I am determined to commit an act of rebellion", saying that all these concessions and offers should remain.
That is a derisory proposition. I remind the House, however, that it has been put forward deliberately by Her Majesty's Opposition and without the slightest consideration for the effect such a move would have on millions of Africans. It is high time that this House remembered its responsibilities to the vast majority of the people of Rhodesia, for whom we have taken direct responsibility.
But not only the African population is concerned. I want to know from the Government—and indeed from the Opposition who are, however, being rather coy today—what is their answer to the position of another loyal citizen of the Crown, Miss Judith Todd. What do the Government say about her position? I should like to read to the House—I dare say that hon. Members have read it but I feel that it should be read out in this Chamber—an extract from a letter she wrote to the Prime Minister.
Miss Todd has taken a very courageous action. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Apparently some hon. Members do not think so. Perhaps if I read her letter they might be enlightened a little. She wrote:I hereby swear my loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Majesty's Government, and the Government of Southern Rhodesia, which is presently vested in Sir Humphrey Gibbs. As is my right, I am returning to my family and my country—the British colony of Southern Rhodesia where I was born.549 She is kith and kin as well; hon. Members opposite should remember that.As a British subject I pray that Her Majesty's Government will afford me protection if for any reason I am arrested, apprehended, restricted, or in any other way denied freedom of rights afforded to me by the 1961 constitutional Bill of Rights of Southern Rhodesia and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. I further pray Her Majesty's Government most earnestly that my fellow citizens who are demonstrating their opposition to the régime of Mr. Smith and at great personal cost, be afforded the same protection and justice I ask for myself.What is the answer? We are asked to pass a Measure wherebyHer Majesty in Council may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia…Surely one part of that is to ensure that a loyal citizen like Miss Todd should be protected.
I made my views clear in the House a week ago and I support the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when quoting what was said once by Sir Winston Churchill—that we must go to all necessary lengths to ensure that we can carry out the obligations the Government have taken upon themselves. That, in my opinion, would rule out any question of negotiations with Mr. Smith's Government. It would rule out any question of making manoeuvres now in order to approach that situation.
There are many other measures that we should take and no doubt they will be discussed on other Orders. We should welcome the decisions made at the United Nations and the measures proposed and give them wholehearted support. We should give wholehearted support to other loyal citizens of the British Commonwealth—for example, President Kaunda of Zambia, who has made an appeal to Her Majesty's Government. When we have taken some of those measures, we then may be in a better position to carry out the Orders that the Government are asking the House to approve.
I believe that we and this country are embarking upon a very much more serious affair than some people seem to imagine. It is one of the most serious developrnents since 1945. The Prime Minister talked the other day about the need for sustaining and maintaining the British Commonwealth. I want to see it maintained—but we cannot have both 550 the British Commonwealth and Mr. Smith's régime. We have to have one or the other. We have to choose. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will have to choose. All of us will have to choose which we want—whether we want the British Commonwealth, or to sustain Mr. Smith's Government in Southern Rhodesia.
Some hon. Gentlemen opposite would prefer to choose Mr. Ian Smith's Government, but the overwhelming majority of the people of the country would make the other choice, however difficult that might be. They would be right, because if we choose to sustain Mr. Ian Smith's Government, or reopen negotiations with it, as the official Opposition statement of last night implied we should, the British Commonwealth would be torn to tatters. We have to make up our minds about this. If in a few months' time Mr. Smith's Government is still in power in Southern Rhodesia, the British Commonwealth will come to an end. All our influence in Africa will come to an end, and our power to state a view on these great questions will be gravely impaired. For all those reasons, it is a matter of great importance what the House does today and how it deals with the issue.
The Attorney-General came to the House with a proposition for stamping out a rebellion with a Statutory Instrument. That cannot be done. Very severe economic measures will have to be taken to deal with it. We will have to back the Order which the House is now being asked to approve with economic measures and, conceivably, in certain circumstances with military measures, too. Personally, I believe that the stakes are so high that we should be prepared to face those consequences. If we are not prepared to face those consequences—the most severe economic sanctions for a period perhaps, but the possibility that later we may have to use military force—we would better never to have started on the enterprise.
There are some hon. Gentlemen opposite who say that we should never have started on the enterprise. Why did they start? Why did the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) start on it last Monday? He did not take the chance to vote against the then Enabling Bill under which this Constitution is 551 to be put through, and so he did start on the enterprise. I said then that he should make up his mind. He was one of a number of hon. Members opposite who were prepared to do it and they and the right hon. Gentleman could have done it. He could have done it in the House of Commons instead of Caxton Hall. He would be better to do it here tonight. It would be much better for the country if we got these things clear. If the right hon. Gentleman does not want to deal with the situation and carry it through to the end, it is better that he should depart.
The error which the Government have made throughout these proceedings—and I could understand it much more before 11th November, but it has been more serious since the rebellion of 11th November, although I understand that the purpose was to sustain national unity so far as possible in order to dissuade Mr. Smith from ever making a unilateral declaration of independence—was since then to sustain national unity and agreement with the Opposition, particularly when they were making propositions such as they made last night, at the expense of our reputation in Africa, and the United Nations. This is the fatal choice. The Government must screw their courage to the sticking place and go through with the proposition which they have made to the country and to the House, the proposition that we are to take responsibility for all the people in Southern Rhodesia, for their lives, their properties, their liberties. That is what we have done.
People talk about liberty. The right hon. Member for Preston, North dared to talk about freedom or liberty in this connection. Abraham Lincoln answered him exactly 100 years ago when he said, "The wolf and the sheep have very different definitions of liberty, especially when the sheep happens to be a black one". We are responsible for protecting the liberties of all the people in Southern Rhodesia. We have taken this charge upon ourselves. We take it further with this Order, and if we do not discharge it to the maximum of our abilities, we will disgrace ourselves utterly before history.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
It is always agreeable to be called 552 immediately after the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). It ensures that at any rate one starts in a wakeful and receptive atmosphere in the House. Like others of my hon. and right hon. Friends, I would not be disposed to exaggerate the area of agreement which I feel with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Gentleman on this or any other occasion, and I imagine that he would be at one with us in that. But there are certain things which he said with which I found myself in agreement, although I want later to come in a more controversial vein to deal a little with what he said about the 1961 Constitution.
However, I want first to emphasise the area of agreement. The hon. Gentleman started by saying that we here today were doing something of great importance and that it was vital that this proposal by the Executive should be closely scrutinised by the House. With those propositions I wholeheartedly concur. I concur for two main reasons. First, it is clearly the duty of the House to give special attention and vigilant scrutiny, to any matters falling within the constitutional sphere, because that is the prime duty of the House. Secondly, any measures, such as this and the Enabling Act which gave rise to it, which are wide in scope and absolute in character and passed at periods of deep emotion and some passion, deserve especially close scrutiny, because it is the common and continuing experience of Parliament that such absolute powers sometimes continue in effect, and often in unexpected and unpredictable directions, long after the passion is spent and the emotion is past.
We have a striking and typical illustration of this within the context of the very matters with which we are now dealing, the context of the powers under which the prohibition of Rhodesian tobacco has been imposed. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirmed the week before last, the action to prohibit Rhodesia tobacco is taken under the powers of the Import, Export and Customs Powers Defence Act, 1939. Those were general powers passed at a time of crisis and passed, of course, to safeguard this country against the perils which were then awaiting us.
What hon. Member, by any process of prophecy or divination, could imagine 553 that in less than 30 years those very powers given for such a different purpose were to be invoked to coerce the wills and damage the economy of those then hastening to the aid of this country in its hour of need? [Interruption.] Is there some dissent from that proposition? From what part of that proposition is there dissent? Is it said that they were not hastening to our aid? Is it said that it was foreseen by some hon. Members that these powers would be so used? Is that the point to be made? If so, let any hon. Member who cares to do so stand up in his place and make it.
It is a paradoxical circumstance that we are later this evening to debate some Orders in Council which, unlike this, are of rather marginal importance, dealing with fugitive offenders and the like, but that this great action, the prime action, to date at any rate, in the assault upon the economy of Rhodesia has been taken without a single syllable of debate in the House. I am bound to say that it is a matter of regret to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House did not respond to my invitation, last Thursday, to provide as he could well have done, a debate on that subject, taken on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I remember the time, a year or two ago, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was the leader of a group in his party which stood by the continuation, the preservation, of the Commonwealth as against any other organisation. I take it that that is still his view? He has just enunciated a constitutional and democratic doctrine for which he expects to have the full support of every Member of this House, and he has it. I should like to know whether he thinks that it is a constitutional and democratic doctrine applicable only in Great Britain or whether it is applicable in Rhodesia too. If it is applicable in Rhodesia, what recommendation is he making to the Government to see that these propositions are made active and effective in Southern Rhodesia in the light of—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Roderic Bowen)
Order. The hon. Gentleman must try to keep his interventions to a limited period. He is now making a speech.
§ Mr. Silverman
I have only a few more words to say. What action would the right hon. and learned Gentleman recommend to the Government to make these principles effective against a group of people in Rhodesia, which under the 1961 Constitution was entitled to negate them?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I always welcome his interventions in speeches which I am venturing to submit to the House, and seek to deal with them as best I can. I would say in answer to him that so far as this present speech is concerned I propose to deal, as I must, with the Order in Council which we have before us. Of course I think that these constitutional proprieties should be followed, not only here but in Rhodesia and not only in Rhodesia but everywhere. I am a friend to the rule of law and Parliamentary democracy not only here or in Rhodesia, but everywhere. This House, as the cradle of these cherished institutions, has a great duty so to conduct itself that it can teach by its example and inspire others to follow.
I want to come to what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale was saying about the 1961 Constitution. There is no doubt about how this matter stands, in spite of the length of time that the hon. Gentleman so eloquently consumed with regard to it. We start from this position—the 1961 Constitution does stand. The hon. Gentleman need not take that from me or my right hon. and learned Friend. He may take it—perhaps he will not, because the hon. Gentleman is an idiosyncratic supporter of the Government—from the Prime Minister. The hon. Gentleman has given so much time to the perusal of the statement of my right hon. Friends in The Times that he did not seem to have got around to a close and careful study of the statement of the Prime Minister in the OFFICIAL REPORT. It is all there. If the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to refresh his memory, the Prime Minister says, in col. 250 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 23rd November:For this purpose, the 1961 Constitution remains in being …subject of course, as he said, to the Amendments which the House has been 555 asked to make. Does the hon. Gentleman draw any distinction between the word "stand" and the words "remains in being"? The hon. Gentleman referred to semantics. It would be a very semantic differentiation.
§ Mr. David Ennals (Dover) rose——
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am always very willing to give way, subject always to the passage of time and the desire of other hon. Members to speak. I had addressed a point to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale. He is not an hon. Gentleman noted for his reticence in debate; he is not an hon. Gentleman, with all his long and distinguished Parliamentary experience, his gladiatorial expertise, if I may put it in that way, who normally has to rely upon succour and support from other hon. Members. If the hon. Gentleman seeks to come to the support of the silent Ajax, I will give way.
§ Mr. Ennals
I was not coming to the support of my hon. Friend at all. I was wishing to draw the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention to the statement made by the Prime Minister, of which he quoted only a part. I would refer him to col. 259 of the same OFFICIAL REPORT, in which he referred to:… forming a government among those who will act in a constitutional manner.The Prime Minister went on:… on the basis of a settlement in Rhodesia, starting from the 1961 constitution with such amendments as, I think, the whole House would agree to be necessary to give effect to the five principles …I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would agree that that is very different from the 1961 Constitution?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I was going to refer further to that statement of the Prime Minister. In col. 248 he said:This certainly does not mean we have abrogated it.That is the Constitution of 1961. The Prime Minister went on:It remains the law in Rhodesia, together with the new laws made last week under the powers created by the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965. While we have power to revoke or amend sections of that Constitution, we have said we have no present intention of revoking it as a whole, and I cannot at this stage foresee 556 circumstances in which we would do so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 248, 250 and 259.]A very clear exposition indeed. Maybe the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale does not agree with it? I should not be surprised at that. He does not always, after all, honour the Prime Minister and the Government with his agreement. The hon. Gentleman is, as the House knows and delights in, a most eminent and successful journalist. There was another eminent and perhaps even more successful journalist, Lord Northcliffe, who observed:Dog bites man, not news; man bites dog, news.The hon. Gentleman criticises the Government, not news; if he were to support the Government then that would be news indeed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] So, we get the Prime Minister, the Government, and presumably—it is not for me to speculate on these matters—hon. Gentlemen opposite, agreeing with the proposition that the 1961 Constitution stands, or remains in being. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale, never afraid of a minority position, and quite rightly so, never afraid of isolation from his friends on those benches, stands up to say that the 1961 Constitution either is at an end or ought to be. I was not quite sure, even at the end of his speech which proposition he was advancing.
It is right that this House should consider this Order in Council from two main viewpoints. The first is as to its viability. It is no good Parliament legislating an intention if it cannot see its way to its implementation. The second viewpoint is to ensure that there is no unnecessary or undesirable derogation from constitutional principles. Though, in all the circumstances of this case, the House may be minded to give this Order a passage without a Division, nevertheless it should apply its mind to these matters. In looking first at viability, we have to have regard to the fact that legality is not the only test which one has to apply in these matters. It was not the only test 200 years ago. If it had been, it would be Lord North and King George III whom history would say were right and Burke and Washington who were wrong. We have to look not only at the letter of the law but at the climate of the times and at the viability of the actions which we take.
557 As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) said, it is no good this House taking power to govern Rhodesia from Whitehall unless we see our way to do so and know that we can. We have to face the fact that in so far as we are seeking, no doubt reluctantly, to govern Rhodesia from Whitehall, a country separated from this country by thousands of miles and by two generations of virtual self-government, we are putting the clock back. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Of course we are. We are seeking to impose a colonial form of government—not even to retain one which existed but to impose it anew. We are faced with the difficulty that our whole effort of recent years has been directed to dismantling the apparatus of colonial administration. Can we therefore confidently hope, let alone be sure, that while we are relaxing colonial forms or government where they have been in operation, we can successfully impose them on a reluctant recipient where they have not been in operation? Therefore, the viability of this enterprise must continue to be in doubt, even assuming its constitutional propriety.
May I look at the second of the constitutional aspects? The effect of this Order, although it does not revoke the 1961 Constitution, is very radical indeed. Section 3 of the Order transfers the law-making functions of the elected Rhodesian Parliament, not to the Parliament of this country, but to the Executive of this country. The Executive in the United Kingdom is given legislative power in Rhodesia, untramelled by Parliamentary control here in Westminster. That is now admitted, following my intervention in the speech of the Attorney-General.
Laying before Parliament under Section 4 of the Stautory Instruments Act, 1946, is merely for the information of Parliament. It does nothing to ensure Parliamentary control. The Attorney-General said that there are Parliamentary opportunities. The House will know that Statutory Instruments either come within one or other of the accepted degrees of Parliamentary control, by the affirmative or negative Resolution procedure, or else are free, for all practical purposes, from Parliamentary control altogether. Section 3 of this Order substitutes the Executive of this country for the Legislature of Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman say, after his analysis of the Order, whether he thinks that the 1961 Constitution stands?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I will answer that straight away without waiting for the analysis. The 1961 Constitution stands as amended. This is what I said at the beginning. If the hon. Gentleman paid as much attention to the laws of the country as he does to its literature, he would know that that is not an unusual situation.
Section 4 of the Order revokes the Sections of the 1961 Constitution which embody the constitutional doctrine of the responsibility of the Executive to Parliament, again, on the face of it, the very ark of the covenant in our constitutional arrangements. Section 4 revokes Section 43 of the Constitution which enacts that Ministers must be members of the Legislature, thereby ensuring Ministerial responsibility to Parliament. It revokes Section 45 dealing with the appointment of a Prime Minister and the dissolution of Parliament.
Of course, it can be said that if there are no Ministers in Rhodesia there can be no question of the advice of Ministers. That is correct in law. But what is the position in regard to the Parliament in Rhodesia, to the Legislative Assembly there, which has been validly elected, as I understand it, under the 1961 Constitution? Do the Government propose—and I hope that they will answer this—to seek to govern in defiance of the Rhodesian Parliament should that Parliament, in spite of exhortations and an attempt at economic coercion, stand firm in support of Mr. Smith and his colleagues? Or will the Governor, on instructions from the Secretary of State, attempt to prorogue Parliament, as he is given power to do, or even to dissolve it? If he is going to do that, we go a long way back in our history since the Executive last dissolved Parliament in the teeth of the wishes of that Parliament. The occasion is chronicled in the panels and pictures in this building with consequences which we know and which made this House the cradle of Parliamentary institutions throughout the world.
This point was raised in debate. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who is not now 559 in his place, asked the Government whether they were going to dissolve the Rhodesian Parliament. I think that he wanted them to do so. But, whatever he wanted, he did not get an answer. The Solicitor-General answered that debate. He even referred to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery. But he did not answer that question. Therefore, not having had an answer then, perhaps we can have an answer today. Is the Parliament in Rhodesia to be dissolved? If so, what sort of Government is there then to be, on what basis and under whose auspices and supervision? Or is the Governor to be charged with the difficult task of trying to govern without Parliament and without any local civil service? If so, I echo the question of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral: how are all these things to be done?
May I summarise the view which I have sought respectfully to put before the House? I concede that some Order is necessary, because where there is a vacuum there has to be some effort to fill it. But the Order does not fill it. The Order may change the nature of the vacuum, if one can do that—and I am no scientist—but it does not fill the vacuum. There will still be a vacuum in Rhodesia in matters of government and administration when this Order is passed.
Therefore, although this Order will be passed by the House, no doubt without a Division, I have these misgivings in my heart, and it would be wrong if I did not attempt to give voice to them. I entertain doubts on these two grounds—doubts as to viability, assuming it to be constitutionally appropriate, and doubts as to constitutional propriety, assuming it to be viable. At best, this seems to be a classic instance of Beelzebub casting out Beelzebub. Of course, Mr. Smith and his colleagues have acted illegally, foolishly and wrongly. But we, as the House of Commons in Westminster, have to ask ourselves whether that justifies us in taking steps of doubtful constitutional propriety without the very closest scrutiny and examination.
For myself, I would go back, even now, to first principles. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale quoted Abraham Lincoln. I go back 100 years earlier 560 to those enduring truths embodied and enshrined in the great speeches which Mr. Burke made on conciliation with the American Colonies when, as the House will recall, they were clearly acting illegally and, no doubt, in a way which was most exasperating to the Government of the day. In those circumstances, Burke said this:Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom".I believe that those words are as true today as when they were spoken 200 years ago.
Even at this late hour, I should like to see magnanimity, reason and conciliation on both sides, here and in Salisbury. I should like to see these things prevail over obduracy, prejudice and coercion. Otherwise, if both sides remain fixed in obduracy, there are dark and dangerous days ahead for the Commonwealth.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) was good enough in his intervention to refer to my interest in the Commonwealth. As I think the House knows, I am indeed one who has built much on the contribution that a multi-racial Commonwealth can make to the world in the second half of the twentieth century. I by no means despair of it, although some of the omens today are dark around us.
I believe that it is possible for us to provide the bridge that the world needs between the old countries and the new, the rich and the poor, the white and the coloured, the established and the emergent. It is in our power to do these things. Our power to do these things will, however, be weakened if we are not able to solve by processes of reason and conciliation this difficult and dangerous problem that besets us today.
If we cannot do it by those means, obduracy and hate will take the place of reason and magnanimity. That would be most harmful and prejudicial to the interests of Rhodesia, of this country and of the Commonwealth as a whole; and our emollient capacity in a troubled world may crumble broken in the dust.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) that the virtue of magnanimity should be found in this situation. It 561 seems to me, however, that the people who are entitled to our magnanimity and our consideration in this matter are not so much the illegal Government of Mr. Smith and his colleagues, but the Africans who remain in restriction and who have lost their liberty for many a long, weary year.
Surely, when we consider the position of this country, it is a little out of balance if we concern ourselves exclusively with the minority Government and fail to concern ourselves properly with the mass of the people. If we are over-tender towards Mr. Smith and his régime, if we pray in aid his sincerity, if we are kinder, more considerate and more understanding towards Mr. Smith and his colleagues than we should be in similar circumstances when the Government were not of the same skin-colour as ourselves, if we pray in aid Mr. Smith's excellent war record and say that this is a reason why we should have a more special and tender regard towards this régime, we are saying something which we shall not be able to substantiate.
No doubt, many hon. Members, on both sides, had a gallant record during the war, but if they break the law they nevertheless have to face the consequences. When they come before the judge, they may offer as mitigation their good record, but, nevertheless, they will have to suffer the penalty the same as anyone else. I remind hon. Members, that more indigenous Africans served in His Majesty's Forces during the war than did white Rhodesians. Therefore, if we are to talk about that sort of thing, it can operate on either side. It is not a very effective argument.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
I fully agree that the sacrifice of the Rhodesians in two world wars was a sacrifice of all races in Rhodesia. Would not the hon. Member agree, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government, having assumed responsibility, as the Order indicates, for the Government of Rhodesia, failed to lay any wreath on the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday in honour of the dead of all races of Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Jenkins
No doubt, Her Majesty's Government will answer for their actions in that respect. I will not go into that, because I am not a member of the Government.
562 The Government are willing the means through the Order and they must also will the end. It has been properly said by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East that it is not sufficient merely to introduce an Order. One has to see through the consequences of that Order. We cannot decide to take authority without considering how effect will be given to the Orders and to the powers and responsibilities which the House now takes upon itself. It is necessary, in other words, to see through to the end of the road. I have rather a suspicion that in this matter Her Majesty's Government are failing to do just that. Perhaps they are being a little bit Micawberish about it, proceeding on a day-to-day basis and rather hoping that something will turn up. That is not a very good way of going on.
The single contribution which I wish to make to the debate is to suggest that a half-hearted approach to the problem may be the worst possible approach in the end. If we wish to avoid riot, bloodshed and loss of life, the right way to deal with the problem may well be to grasp the nettle quickly in the early stages rather than to allow the Smith régime to establish itself and risk the possibility of full-scale war later.
§ Mr. Jenkins
That is precisely the point which I intend to make.
I should like first, however, to draw the attention of the House to the recommendations, not of the United Nations but of the British United Nations Association, to which hon. Members on both sides belong, in this regard. On this specific point, the recommendation of the United Nations Association is thatHer Majesty's Government should invite the United Nations to approve the stationing of an international force in Zambia, in order to protect international assets, act as a stabilising influence in the area, and to be available for immediate intervention should there be a breakdown of law and order in Rhodesia.That stand is one which I recommend Her Majesty's Government to adopt, and during the reply I should like to hear what the Government intend to do about it. When an Order is presented, it is legitimate to ask what means will be 563 used to put it into effect. The Government have a duty to tell us. Is this within the range of their thinking?
It might be said that the United Nations Association, being a purely English organisation, has, perhaps, little experience of what goes on in Rhodesia. In case that should be said, I should like to draw attention to what is said by the missionaries who work in Rhodesia. They say:We believe that the aim of British action must be, as restated by successive British Governments, 'to bring remaining British territories to independence on the basis of democratic government and the principle of universal adult suffrage'.They go on to say:The responsibility of the British Government is to adopt those measures which will achieve this aim in Rhodesia in the shortest possible time and with the least suffering. The worst course of all would be to end up by accepting de facto white minority rule in Salisbury.I greatly fear that this is precisely what the policies advocated by the Opposition would lead to, and if the Government are betrayed, by natural reluctance to take firm, resolute action in the early stages, into accepting the idea that the 1961 Constitution can be the basis for government in Rhodesia, then I think they will make a very grave and serious mistake.
I said I was going to make a short speech and to make one single point. This is it. I urge the Government, in replying to this debate, to say: "In bringing out this Order we are not only concerned with the principles, we are not merely concerned to say that we in this country take over the Government of Rhodesia, but we are also going to create for ourselves the means of giving effect to that Government in Rhodesia itself."
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) has put the House in his debt not because he made a short speech but because he made a single point and made it very well. I am sorry to say I completely disagree with him. I regard this as essentially a family quarrel, and I shall resist to the uttermost any intervention by foreign forces under no matter what ægis, whether that of the United Nations or anybody else.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
The hon. Gentleman has not understood my point. My point was that British troops should be used in these circumstances because I believe with President Kaunda that it is only by the deployment of British troops at an early stage that the possibility of a race war can be averted.
§ Sir G. Nicholson
I am sorry if I misunderstood the hon. Member. I still find myself in disagreement with him because I think we should resist to the uttermost the employment of force. The only condition for the employment even of British troops in Rhodesia would be if there were an invitation from Rhodesia to restore order there.
The one bright spot in the discussions we have had here on this difficult question is the evident sincerity of all those taking part. I would not accuse any Member of this House, however much I may disagree with him, of holding anything but genuine views.
I was particularly struck by the eloquent speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir. D. Walker-Smith), and I deeply regret that I hold other views. He made a most eloquent appeal for magnanimity and he quoted Burke. It reminds me of Mr. Isaac Foot 30 years ago, the father of two brilliant Members now in this House, a man who always carried about with him in his pocket a book with dozens and dozens of quotations from Burke. I once asked him what he would do if I quoted from Burke to controvert some quotation he made. He replied—of course he was pulling my leg—that he would say, "Let the hon. Gentleman continue the quotation" when I should be stumped, and he would imply that the next few words controverted what I had said.
There is an old Latin saying, Coelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currant, which, being translated, means that British national characteristics remain the same under the Southern Cross as under the Great Bear and the Pole Star. By this I mean that we must of course make every effort to understand the white Rhodesian point of view. It is very easy. It is just as easy to put oneself in the position of the black African and see it from his point of view. The whole pathos of African politics today is that 565 it is so easy to understand why everyone behaves as they do. But we must distinguish between what is done and the people who do it.
It is essentially an evil thing which is being created in Rhodesia. It is a police State, a repressive police State which is bound to become more and more repressive because it rules against the will of the great majority of the people. Can anybody here really be certain that it will not become more repressive? Can anybody be sure that there will not be bloodshed and strife over the next few months? These are the sort of questions to which we should address ourselves.
It follows there must be a police State in Rhodesia because Mr. Smith and his colleagues are dedicated to a political philosophy which is based upon the determination to retain indefinitely domination by a small section of the population. They are perfectly sincere in that, for that is what they believe in, and given that, a police State with increasing repressiveness is inevitable.
I am sorry to have to say it, but I think they never meant to negotiate. I do not believe they can bring themselves to contemplate development towards ultimate majority rule. The people they represent believe, and they themselves probably believe, that the only alternative to U.D.I. is one man, one vote the very next morning.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
My hon. Friend has made a charge—I think it is the first time it has been made authoritatively—that they did not intend to negotiate. Does he not agree that the Prime Minister has paid testimony to the sincerity of Mr. Smith? To suggest that the men negotiating with him hypocritically did not mean what they were talking about in the discussions is not in keeping with the high standards of this House.
§ Sir G. Nicholson
I do not know why my hon. Friend rebukes me for falling away from the high standards of this House. It has never been said to me before. I have said that I pay full tribute to the sincerity of Mr. Smith and his colleagues. But I am perfectly certain they never meant to make any real concession. That is not to say that they were not perfectly sincere. If one 566 reads through the documents connected with these negotiations it becomes clear as daylight that there was no intention on their part to abandon their position. I do not see how they could. I do not see how anybody can conceivably give way on any useful or valuable point if they are resolved to resist the gradual emergence of a multi-racial State with a black majority in a reasonable time. I do not see how they could do otherwise. I am not blaming them for that and I am not impugning their sincerity. But how could they possibly do it?
Holding these views, I ask this, can we ever negotiate with a police State? Has it ever been done successfully in the past? I was in the House through most of the 'thirties, and presumably I share the burden of the guilt attributed to appeasement. I voted for Munich. I would do so again in similar circumstances. I share, I suppose, the alleged burden of guilt for that. I have known all this happen in the past. The years roll by and I find myself again, as it were, in the 'thirties. We were asked to be sympathetic to the German point of view—defeated in a great war, not in the field, but by political subversion behind the line, the loss of colonies, etcetera. People had great sympathy with them. Their view was understandable. There was a great deal more reason for appeasing Germany then than there is for appeasing the present illegal Government of Rhodesia today. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] A great deal more reason. After all, the police State in Germany had the good will of the majority of the population. That is why I say there was a good deal more reason for appeasement then. Can anybody say—I should like to hear any hon. Member get up and say—that the rule of the present illegal Government in Southern Rhodesia has the support of even one-third or one-quarter—even a tenth—of the population of Southern Rhodesia?
§ Sir G. Nicholson
My right hon. and learned Friend says we do not know. We do not know, but I think we can be pretty certain. This is appeasement on the part of my hon. and right hon. Friends. Do not let us call it by any other name.
§ Mr. Goodhew
Does my hon. Friend not see that there is equally a danger of appeasing the Afro-Asian group in the United Nations?
§ Sir G. Nicholson
Of course there is, and I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I said I am entirely opposed to foreign intervention, that this is a family quarrel. I could not agree more. One can never reach a compromise with people who have resisted every sort of attempt to influence them along the lines of bringing forward the African population over a period of 15, 25, or even 50 years, and ultimately contemplating an African Government in Southern Rhodesia. History is against it. I do not believe that one can appease a police state, because they cannot allow it.
It is an ugly thought and, as I have already said, I dislike my conclusions intensely. One cannot appease a police State, because it cannot make concessions. It may be brittle or it may not be brittle, but it is certainly monolithic and it cannot yield.
I therefore reject completely the doctrine held by so many of my right hon. and hon. Friends that, in the long run, Mr. Smith will be there in the end and we shall have to negotiate with him, and therefore we should not make things too difficult. I believe that that is wishful thinking, and it is most dangerous thinking. I reject that doctrine utterly.
My second group of questions is not, can we negotiate with a police State but, in view of our history, our traditions, and our principles, can we possibly recognise anything like the present regimé in Southern Rhodesia—and again I do not speak of the men, but of the idea—unless it changes its mind completely? Is it in keeping with what we all believe in?
I have been in Parliament for very many years, and I have seen the gradual development of the British Empire into the British Commonwealth of Nations. I have been intensely proud of the record of the British Empire, particularly in India, but I never heard of laws in India preventing the indigenous inhabitants from owning land. I never heard of regulations like those already in existence in Southern Rhodesia, which are likely to become more repressive.
568 I do not believe that it is right that we should any longer shut our eyes to the fact that appeasement is a non-starter. There is always room for appeasement and compromise in the early stages of negotiations. The Prime Minister bent over backwards in his desire to reach an accommodation and a settlement. But those days have passed.
There was plenty of talk of appeasement in the House in the 1930s, but that was blown sky high when war broke out. We now have a grave state of tension with Rhodesia, but, thank heaven, we are not at war. However, I do not believe that it is possible to go on saying that Mr. Smith will remain and we shall have to negotiate with him at the end of the day.
This is an evil thing that is happening. A police State is growing in the Commonwealth. People may say, what about Ghana or Tanzania? But when we recognised the independence of Ghana it was not a police State. I look forward to the day when Ghana again becomes a democracy, because the people of Ghana are essentially democratic. It is wishful thinking to believe that we can ever reach an accommodation with people who think in their own minds that it is possible to retain indefinitely a minority domination in Southern Rhodesia.
Appeasement is a bad thing. It is bred by good intent out of paralysis of the will. I beg the House and the country not to lose its head and start hating Mr. Smith and his colleagues but to face these elementary facts. If we are to be true to ourselves, our traditions and our ideals, we have to say outright that what is happening in Southern Rhodesia is evil.
I am reminded of these words by Shakespeare:This above all,—To thine ownself be true;And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man.I believe that in the next six months or so the views that I have expressed will become truisms. The sooner they are recognised as such the better.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
If I may say so, the speech that we have just listened to from the hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) is one to which I was extremely sympathetic, and not only because it was delivered with 569 such grace and elegance by someone who knows the position far better than I do, but because it also went to the heart of the problem and swept away some of the mists which have surrounded it in the last two weeks.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) raised a number of problems and e Tressed some legal doubts. Among other things, he said: "Look at the implementation of this. What are we trying to do? Look at the viability and not only at the legality." He said that we were flying in the face of history, because the Government were trying to impose a colonial régime on Southern Rhodesia. He said that it was a culpable thing to wish by the Order and by the Enabling Act to take the administration of Southern Rhodesia into our hands in Westminster rather than leave it in the hands of the illegal régime in Salisbury.
The answer is clear, and I hope that the House accepts it once and for all. What we are trying to do and what I am sure the House will do today is to govern Southern Rhodesia on the basis of certain principles which enshrine basic human rights. What the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia is trying to do is govern that part of the world with the interests of white minority in mind, with more and more legalised repression being brought in by the police State that they have created.
The other point that the right hon. and learned Gentleman made was that he asked us to treat the illegal régime with magnanimity, with reason and with conciliation. But how does one reason with a man who does not want to be reasoned with? How does one conciliate the person who does not want conciliation? How is one magnanimous with a régime with which it is not even possible to get a dialogue going at the present time, let alone create a genuine agreement and compromise?
The only basis upon which we can arrive at any kind of settlement with the present régime is not one of conciliation and reason, but by surrender and abdication, and that we are not prepared to do. It may be that there is a genuine clash of principle on both sides, but if principles are involved, they make settlement more difficult and not less.
570 Before I leave the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I must say that I am getting rather tired of the obscene analogy which is being used between the present situation in Salisbury and the situation in 1776 in the United States of America. If one looks at the Declaration of Rights and the Constitution of the United States, it starts off with a few words to the effect that all men are created equal. Whereas it is true to say that at the time they signed that in 1776 most of them owned slaves, I am happy to say that in America at any rate that they have moved some way away from slavery. It is high time that that analogy was dropped once and for all.
§ Sir Henry Studholme (Tavistock)
The hon. Gentleman referred to the American Constitution and made reference to all men being created equal. He cited that as part of his argument for saying that there is no similarity with the situation in Salisbury. Would he not agree that the Americans have been slow since those days in implementing that part of their Constitution?
§ Mr. Richard
However slow they were until 1865 they fought a very bloody civil war on that principle, and in the last 100 years they seem to have moved quickly and tried very hard.
May I turn to the issues in this matter? It seems to me that in this sort of debate it is worth reminding ourselves of what the respective positions are.
We cannot decide whether abrogating the 1961 Constitution and seeking to impose direct rule from Whitehall is right unless we look first at the history of the negotiations and the reason for the unilateral declaration of independence. It is only by deciding whether we were right, before U.D.I., to take up the position that we did, that we can decide whether we are right to do what we are seeking to do today.
I should like to remind the House of the five principles on which the British Government took their stand in the negotiations. It is occasionally worth while reminding ourselves of the principles which the Government advocated in this whole affair. We said, in principle, that the principle of unimpeded progress towards majority rule already enshrined 571 in the 1961 Constitution would have to be maintained and guaranteed. Was this so wrong? Do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite dissent from that principle?
We said further than there would have to be guarantees against regressive amendments of the Constitution, that there would have to be immediate improvements in the political status of the African population, that there would have to be progress towards ending racial discrimination, and, finally, that the British Government would need to be satisfied that the basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
Does the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) and those who think like him consider that those principles were wrong? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take part in this debate and answer these questions, because they are of fundamental importance. Does he think that the five principles on which the Government negotiated were wrong? Does he think that we were right to hold out for gradual advancement towards majority rule? Does he think we were right to hold out for progress towards ending racial discrimination? Does he think that we were right to hold out for the other principles which we enunciated? If we were wrong, I think we are entitled to be told by the right hon. Member for Preston, North where we were wrong, how we were wrong, and why we were wrong, and what he would put in their place.
The basis of those five points was that Britain had a responsibility to see that Rhodesia advanced to independence constitutionally. That was the first principle. The second was that independence was to be on the basis of an eventual advancement towards majority rule. Were these two principles wrong? Was it wrong to take our stand on our responsibility for what happened in Rhodesia, and also wrong that we should say that one of the cardinal principles on which we were taking our stand was that independence should only be on the basis of eventual advancement towards majority rule?
In other words, was it wrong to say openly that we held our responsibility to 572 be to ensure eventual majority rule, eventual democratic institutions, and eventual full democracy in Rhodesia? Of course we were thoroughly right to do so. If we were not, I should be interested to hear where we were wrong.
If we were right on those points, the next question is whether the declaration of U.D.I. has changed that responsibility and abrogated that aim. Has the fact, and only the fact, of a U.D.I. by a rebel régime in Rhodesia somehow or other removed from Britain, removed from Parliament, the responsibility to look at the affairs of Rhodesia? Has the fact of U.D.I. changed and abrogated the principle that we adopted when we said that there should be gradual advancement towards majority rule? Are things so different now that we are faced with U.D.I. that we are now released from those burdens? If we are, why are we now released from them even though they were so much in our minds before?
If anything, the declaration of U.D.I. has made our responsibilities not lesser but greater, because we are faced with a much more dangerous and difficult situation than we were when we were merely negotiating on constitutional matters with a properly constituted régime.
The African is worse off now after the declaration of U.D.I. than he was before. His leaders are still in prison. One knows not how they are being treated. One knew precious little before, but occasionally one saw some reference to this in the Press of Salisbury about it. His parties are outlawed. His papers are censored. His life is more controlled as a result of U.D.I., not less, and if the principles which I have enunciated were right, and it was right for us to hold those principles, the fact of the U.D.I. has made our responsibility greater and not less.
Is the fact of a gradual implementation of a police State in Rhodesia now of no concern to us, merely because of an illegal act of rebellion by the former Rhodesian Government? I hope not, and I hope that the House will ponder long before it feels that those responsibilities are discharged by this illegal act.
The question, therefore, resolves itself into how we can discharge those responsibilities. Do we discharge them as the right hon. Member for Preston, North and other like-minded hon. Gentlemen 573 opposite proposed, by doing nothing? Do we just shelve our responsibility and say that we had this responsibility before U.D.I., but, faced as we are with the fact of a rebellion in Salisbury, we no longer need look at those responsibilities, we no longer need to try to solve the difficulties? Is this the attitude that we should take in this House?
If it is, it is worth while examining why it is proposed that we should say it. I suppose the main reason that would be advocated is that there may be some comfort for Britain in doing nothing, because in that event troublesome and hard decisions will not have to be taken, we will not have possible economic difficulties, we might not eventually have to admit and accept that some part of our military capability might be committed in that part of the world. We then leave African affairs in Rhodesia to the Rhodesian Front. We need not bother with it. But does just doing nothing discharge our responsibilities to that part of the world? If we had those responsibilities, which I assume all hon. Members accepted because they seemed to accept the five principles on which these negotiations were conducted, the fact of U.D.I. has not altered them.
Do we then discharge them by leaving 4 million Africans to the tender mercies of 210,000 white people in Rhodesia? I do not believe that we do, for one reason. If one looks at the way in which the illegal régime is behaving in Salisbury, one gets no encouragement as to an eventual advancement towards majority rule in that part of the world. If we do nothing, we do not discharge our responsibilities there; we ignore them. It means that we are running away from the problem.
It seems to me that the principle on which we shall be taking our stand, and which is enshrined in this Order and in the Enabling Act is that we should do everything in our power as a Government to reverse their U.D.I., and to restore constitutional Government on the basis of the five principles. How do we do it, and it may be said that this is the 64,000-dollar question. How do we reverse the U.D.I. and restore constitutional Government in Rhodesia?
I should have thought that negotiations now were a complete non-starter. One cannot negotiate with a régime which is 574 unreasonable, which is bigoted, which is entrenched, and, perhaps most important of all on this issue, which is clearly an openly racialist régime?
The next question is, if we could negotiate with that régime, should we? I agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). It is almost impossible for me to envisage a situation arising in the near future in which the British Government would have to negotiate openly with the perpetrators of what on any view of the matter is an illegal rebellion.
Will sanctions work? I hope that they will, but my comment about them is that if they are to be used, obviously the quicker they are used the better it will be. The quicker they are used the more effective they are likely to be, and thus the quicker one can get over this unhappy period in Rhodesia's history and get back to constitutional rule. I think that sugar, tobacco and also oil, should be included in the list of sanctions if this is found to be practicable.
I beg hon. Gentlemen opposite to think about this. If we have the responsibilities about which I have been trying to talk, and if they have to be discharged and we do not discharge them by acquiescence in this illegal régime, the next step must be that we as a nation should do everything in our power to overturn that régime and to restore constitutional Government to Rhodesia.
I propose now to say a few words about the use of force. I think that at some stage the Government must face this question. If sanctions fail, do we then acquiesce in the continuance of an illegal régime in Salisbury? In other words, can we then say, "We have done all we can economically. We can do no more. We are not prepared to co-operate with other nations who might decide that they want to use force"? One possible answer to the question, is indeed "Do nothing, if sanctions fail".
The other alternative is to stand aside and watch when other nations use force, perhaps through the United Nations. If the Smith régime is in being in, say, nine months' time—if it succeeds in entrenching itself and riding out the economic sanctions—I still do not believe that the other African nations, or the Afro-Asian bloc, and other nations will 575 sit down and acquiesce in the continuing existence of the illegal régime.
If, at some stage or another, bloodshed were to ensue in Southern Rhodesia, it would be difficult for us to remain completely aloof. The possibility of the use of force by Britain can therefore not be ruled out entirely. One cannot say that in no circumstances would we ever be prepared to use force in this part of the world.
§ Mr. Iremonger
Can the hon. Member say how he would answer this question: let us suppose that in these circumstances we do use British troops; would we be using them in support of an invading force of African, Czechoslovak and whatnot contingents, or to defend Her Majesty's realm against the invasion?
§ Mr. Richard
The hon. Member is posing a question which I cannot answer unless I am in a position to crystal-gaze about six or nine months into the future. If he can tell me what the position will be in this part of Africa then I may be able to answer his question, because then it will make sense. All that he is doing at the moment is putting a question to me on a hypothetical set of facts, which do not exist.
Our policy, and the principle upon which we should operate, must therefore be to take as strong and vigorous measures as the Government think will be effective. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) that what we voted for on Monday and what we are voting for tonight are all necessary measures. It is important that everybody should recognise this. We are not merely voting for some economic sanctions which will not harm us very much, but for all necesary measures to overturn this illegal régime and put down the rebellion.
A week ago the right hon. Member for Preston, North said, among other things, that there was no issue of principle here, or that no principles were involved; there were merely interests. I can appreciate the right hon. Gentleman, in his frame of mind, drawing a distinction between principles and interests, but I put to him three principles which seem to me to be involved. First, when a police régime has been established in part of the British Commonwealth, does not he think that a 576 principle is involved upon which this country ought to act? Is he saying that since that régime has been established we should do nothing?
The second principle is that we are being asked to acquiesce, as the last act of decolonisation by this country, in the handing over, virtually to totalitarian rule in the foreseeable future, of 4 million citizens of the Commonwealth who happen to be black to 210,000 citizens of the Commonwealth who happen to be white. Does not he think that a principle is involved there?
The third principle is that the whole concept of a multi-racial Commonwealth is involved. If the illegal régime in Salisbury gets away with this, heaven alone knows what effect it may have upon the rest of the Commonwealth, and particularly upon the African nations, some of whom are groping their way towards nationhood. Of course they have not enshrined democratic principles to the extent that we would like, but does not the right hon. Gentleman think that a principle is at stake here, and not merely an economic interest?
What we on this side are trying to do in Rhodesia is to help create a genuine multi-racial State in which everybody eventually has a right to vote, and has a say in the way in which he is governed. Does not the right hon. Gentleman believe that what the Smith régime is trying to do is to fly in the face of that principle and to entrench white minority rule in that part of the world?
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
I am sure that the hon. Member would not wish to misrepresent me. I want him to try to take cognisance of this point: when I said that there was no issue of principle at stake I went on to illustrate my point by saying that the Prime Minister had made it clear to Mr. Smith that he was quite prepared to acquiesce in the continuance of the 1961 Constitution without independence. That would have meant, according to most calculations, that there would have been no advance towards majority rule certainly over the the next 15 years and some would say as long as over the next 50 years.
§ Mr. Richard
The answer is to be found in the Blue Book. The Government were saying, in the whole of these 577 negotiations, "We know that you are asking for independence. We are not prepared to give you indepedence unless we can establish that the basis for that independence is a gradual advancement towards African majority rule or, alternatively, you can prove to us that the 1961 Constitution is acceptable to the majority of the African people." As for the second alternative, if this was such a good Constitution I can never understand why the Rhodesian Government, as it then was, did not accept the challenge and put it to the Rhodesian people. They could have accepted a Royal Commission, and the details could have been hammered out in a spirit of good will.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman,—because he is the person to whom we should be addressing this question—to face these facts and to ask himself whether he does not genuinely believe that principles are involved which go to the real root of the existence and the continuance of a multi-racial Commonwealth. I believe that these principles are involved, and it is because I believe this that I am glad that the Government are introducing this Order.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
I have listened with extreme envy to all the speeches which have preceded mine. The alacrity with which hon. Members participate in this debate, the confidence with which they recommend some courses, and the even greater confidence with which they damn others, are to me topics of great envy.
I find no pleasure in this. I find no certainty. For days and weeks and months, and even years, I have not thought there was any certainly right course for British policy in Africa and, in particular, in Rhodesia. Now today, how anyone here dares to exercise his prejudices, on either side, or to exercise his politically vaticinatory powers and tell us about what is the overwhelming feeling of the people in this country or what the overwhelming feeling of the black people in Rhodesia is, and this sort of thing, I find extremely surprising.
I hope that the House will forgive me one minute of autobiography. Since I failed to be a scholar and set out 578 unsuccessfully to become a politician I have always tried to be a law unto myself, in the proper sense. In particular, I have always tried to enforce against myself a kind of Queen Anne rule where blood is concerned. By the Queen Anne rule Private Members of this House are estopped from causing or recommending expenditure of Her Majesty's Financial resources. I have always thought that there should be an almost irrebuttable presumption by all private Members against advising, recommending, or in any way inducing any step towards bloodshed.
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
I am not going to explain what happened before the war to the hon. and learned Gentleman. This is not the proper occasion, and this kind of chi-iking is not suitable here and now. I do not wish to sound pompous. The greatest affairs are now our responsibility. Everybody who has spoken before me spoke of responsibility, responsibility, responsibility, over and over again. The Attorney-General did it very much, without very evident sense of the burdens: practically everybody has till now, with the two curious exceptions of the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) who has just addressed us and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot).
They made one point with which I agreed. They said that they could not understand the Attorney-General's argument that, because the course of events had now placed this House, the Members of this House, where the members of the Rhodesian house ought to be—in control of Statute law in that territory—they did not see how this could be supposed to diminish our responsibility: they would have thought that it would increase our responsibility; and, by heaven, it does. However they did not go on from that to deduce anything relevant to the debate. With respect to you and to the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I assume that everything which has been said this evening has been relevant to the debate, but I must say that the assumption has been stretched from time to time. I came into the Chamber meaning to limit myself strictly to the terms of the document before us and of the Statute on which it 579 depends and the relation between the two.
Meanwhile, we have had a debate of the utmost width on—I was going to say policy matters—but mostly on matters of prejudice and the sort of silly myth of the hereditary oppositionist. We have had this stuff at immense length. However, those hon. Members did not go on to the point, in answer to the Attorney-General, that this surely is a reason that this House and the Members of this House—this is not an occasion mainly for Front Benchers and Leaders of the House and Chief Whips—should have every opportunity to consider the exact words and the exact powers involved in these documents, for whose use we must all answer.
We had some short consideration of that sort from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) and we had some from the Attorney-General. We did not have very much and I must say to the Attorney-General—of course, Attorneys are always accused of being legalistic, which is a very foolish accusation—he did stick to legal concepts and legal language, I think, throughout, but he did not say anything about the legal difficulties which other people have had. I ventured on an earlier occasion to ask him some legal questions about the relationship between this sort of document and the Statute which we were then passing and, on that occasion, he had no reply for me and I thought, possibly, it was because the technique of this subject to this generation is a new one, the little I know of it is out of date and, no doubt, wrongly remembered partly; and I said to myself, "I must have put my questions without enough clarity for it to be reasonable for me to expect an answer".
At any rate I did not get an answer and I think that hon. Members opposite who are so anxious for severity, whose passion for liberty and fondness for peace drive them to be continually drawing metaphoric swords and waving them in the face of anyone they could accuse—they of all people—of breach of allegiance and rebellion and treason: all very difficult words, as I am sure the Attorney-General would explain to them in private if they consulted him, but not words which, in their mouths, can be said to mean very much. They should dig up 580 Oliver Cromwell, they should dig up Charles James Fox, they should dig up—what is the name of the staymaker from Thetford—dig him up. Those are the chaps whom they should dig up and to whom they should tell this important new truth about the necessity for legality and the importance of allegiance and how the horridest of crimes and the worst of all are rebellion and treason. Their abhorrence of these things should not be used only to hearten themselves to exacerbate disagreements, enmities, between Her Majesty's Government and a British Government overseas or a black population overseas, either or both.
I should like now to remind the Attorney-General of some of the specific questions which have been suggested to him before and to say that I hope that we may get some answers to them. One of them is not in the document before us, but it is a phrase of which I should like to remind him. It is the phrase "as appears to her" in the Statute, line 10 on the first page, line 26 on the first page, line 3 on the second page and somewhere else I think. "As appears to her". What do the legal advisers of Her Majesty's Government now at this date assume to be the effect of those words? I will not try to explain to the Attorney-General who no doubt looked them up and knows them much better than I do—the legal cases involved during the war, those of Liversedge, and Bayer, and I have forgotten the other names. I expect that I misunderstood them then and I certainly do not have them clear in my head now. But he will remember that the House thought that it had left the executive with too much power. I think that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) was in on this a bit, though I am not sure, very much to his credit: I was not suggesting the contrary. The House thought that it had got a concession out of the executive by sticking in the word "reason" somewhere.
They thought that that would make this more of an objective test and not simply a purely subjective one, which the words "as appears to her", might seem to mean and that thereby they would bring back the authority of the courts to at least some questions of ultra vires under delegated legislation. That is what the House thought it did, but it proved, 581 I think in the Liversedge case, that the higher court decided that we did not, and the executive had scored off us.
This is the sort of matter—if our hearts are really bleeding for our responsibility for the things we ought to answer for and for the things we ought to denounce other people for doing, if our hearts are really bleeding for our responsibility to the inhabitants of Rhodesia—which ought to be pressed. I hope that I shall have assistance from below the Gangway.
Another word about which I wanted to speak was the word "scrutiny". Here, I address myself most particularly—inceed, I did so last time—to the Attorney-General. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne again may remember the story of these enabling Acts and of the Instruments under them. I remember vaguely and to some extent and there were various of them. I think that I am right in saying that there was one in December, 1945, which was passed by the then Socialist Government and passed, as all but Socialists thought, with an illegitimate desire to use constitutional aggressions upon the people's representatives which had been tolerated for war purposes to control industry, commerce, wages, conditions of work. That is what all but Socialists thought of that Statute.
But in that Statute, to do the then Labour Government justice, they were compelled by this sort of nagging by other more able people than me, they were compelled to do something. What did they do? The sop they gave for continuing what, in peacetime, we might have thought powers of a police State—to use delegated legislation about all the economic behaviour of their subjects—and they compounded that by giving, not wholly, for the first time, a chance of keeping an eye on and even doing something about the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and so on of Statutory Instruments.
This is very important in a constitution-authorising paper because the number of generations which may be involved is much greater in such a constitutional paper. There what we are talking about is what this House is going to purport to do by Statutory Instruments and by other instruments issuing from Statutory Instruments in order to produce legislation in Rhodesia, which legislation, again, will produce delegated and sub-delegated 582 and sub-sub-delegated powers for doing things. I hope that I have made this clear.
I hope, again, that those whose hearts bleed about their responsibilities to the persons, the men and women, the two-legged, two-eyed creatures on Rhodesian territory, will see that though this may appear a dry-as-dust point, it is nevertheless a point which ought to have been taken up sooner and which still they ought to do what they can about.
There is a good deal else on the same lines which I ought to say. I have spoken longer than I meant to speak and much wider than I meant to speak, and I do not like to put all the blame on evil communications having corrupted my good manners. But I think that that is the bulk and the nub of what I thought I ought to say—and did not think that anybody else was likely to say. Let me finish with a quotation from Sir Stafford Cripps, not one of the authorities I most cherish but still a man of some authority and widely cherished on the other side of the House. I have quoted some of these words before.What is the minimum of special regulation which will accomplish the legitimate purpose of protecting the country against its enemies?He assumed that was the only purpose which would legitimise powers of this sort. I think that he was right. He thought that it was the duty of private Members of the House to see that the executive did not take more than the absolute minimum amount of that sort of power.
I think that now we are probably too late in the day and too late in the century to do much about it. We are too late in the twentieth century, into which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have been so eager to drag us—though why they think the twentieth century is more capable of dictating eternal truths than any other, I do not know. I quite see that it is more capable of adding to my convenience or inconvenience or to that of anybody else in the Chamber, but why they think it more capable of dictating eternal truths than any other century, I do not know.
I beg right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, first of all to think that possibly they may be mistaken, if they will forgive me for stealing from one of their treasuries; and secondly to believe that 583 the granting by private Members of this House to the Executive of more authority than can be shown by the Executive to be necessary to the safety of the Realm—again I am using one of their favourite words—is a sort of treason.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ennals (Dover)
I should like without hesitation to be associated with any move which would drag the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) into the 20th century. I should also like to say without hesitation that my heart does bleed for the conditions of many people in Rhodesia. It is not just that my heart bleeds for those Africans who are denied their freedom, those who are held in detention and those who do not see where the future lies; my heart also bleeds for the European community and for those liberal elements within the European community who want to see an interracial community and who are now faced with a terrible dilemma as to whether they are to support an illegal régime or whether they are to remain loyal to the Crown—and if they remain loyal to the Crown, what action is expected of them.
I want to support to the full the Government's decision to come before the House asking for these powers to be transferred temporarily—and we all hope that it will be only temporary—to give the House and Ministers of the Crown authority for deciding on the future in Rhodesia. They were bound to do so in view of the illegal decision taken, unhappily, by Mr. Smith and his supporters. We should not only be unwise to underestimate the significance of the powers which we have taken—and I do not think that we have underestimated them; we should be wrong to underestimate the gravity of the situation which these powers are designed to meet. I feel that some right hon. and hon. Members do underestimate it.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred yesterday, as he has done on other occasions, to the challenge to our multi-racial Commonwealth if we fail in the task to which we have set our hands. I cannot see how our multi-racial Commonwealth could stand. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has also said that if we failed in our task, then our ability to influence the course of events in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America 584 and in many other parts of the world would be gravely reduced.
But I also believe that the challenge is primarily to our own treasured principles, our belief in democracy, and our belief in helping those territories for which we have had a responsibility over the years to move forward towards majority rule. I believe that this is a challenge which must face every one of us individually as we look at the issue in Rhodesia and at the powers which we are now asked to take.
I fail to understand how some hon. and right hon. Members opposite seem to take these issues so lightly. They seem to say, "Of course there has been an illegal act. Mr. Smith was wrong. But we should be very unwise to take measures which might lead to changing the course of events." I believe that the House cannot be neutral on these issues. There was a letter signed by 26 right hon. and hon. Gentlemen which appeared in the columns of The Times today, with some parts of which I agree but which said in one sentence,The object of this letter is not to apportion blame, for clearly the faults are not all on one side.I do not know whether this is a suggestion that the principal blame for the tragic events falls on Her Majesty's Government or whether the responsibility principally falls on the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the carrying out of their duties. As has been said from the other side of the House, everything was done to prevent this tragedy.
We must apportion blame. If we do not do so, we know that the world does. If there are right hon. and hon. Gentlemen here who feel that they should not apportion blame, then I believe that they are failing in their responsibilities.
It has been argued in the House this evening that the 1961 Constitution must remain. Quotations were given, out of their context I fear, from statements made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the speech which he made yesterday. I drew attention in an intervention to a statement which he made, and I repeat it. He was referring to an eventual resettlement—on the basis of a resettlement in Rhodesia, starting from the 1961 constitution with such 585 amendments as, I think, the whole House would agree to be necessary to give effect to the five principles. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 259.]I hold that even though the 1961 Constitution may, in its letter, have enshrined those five principles, in its application it did not do so and that, therefore, Her Majesty's Government and the Prime Minister were right to say that when we restore the position, as we all wish to see happen, in Rhodesia, it cannot simply be based on the 1961 Constitution unadulterated.
Clearly, the human rights enshrined in the Declaration have to be protected, but have not been protected, the increasing opportunity for African participation must be guaranteed, but it did not come about, the opportunity for consultation which was enshrined there has not taken place, and so we could go on.
I am glad that there is not to be a Division tonight. I welcome the fact that the Opposition is supporting the decision of Her Majesty's Government to bring this Order forward and that hon. Gentlemen opposite are giving that support in this important task of ensuring national unity on this issue. However, I wish that they would support the Government in bringing forward these powers with the clear intent that the Government should use them, for anything less, I believe, is inadequate to the situation.
The Government must also be prepared to use their powers. This is not a legal charade in which we are involved. We are here taking powers that we may have to use if we are to carry through our purpose.
§ Mr. Ennals
Consciously this House is deciding to give these powers to the Executive, and I am glad that it is doing so. I agree with the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday, when he said:… I hope hon. Members and right hon. Members will recognise that action which is speedily effective will do less lasting damage to Rhodesia's economy, and to the possibility of a reasonable settlement, than pressures which are long drawn out and inflict a continuing 586 agony on Rhodesia".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 249.]Our measures must be effective. They must not shrink from taking the action which is required so that our aim can be carried through. I naturally hope that all the economic measures being taken will be effective, but in the end if we are forced to use other measures we must not shirk from doing so to achieve the task to which we have set our hands.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
Would the hon. Gentleman include military intervention in that?
§ Mr. Ennals
I agree entirely with the position taken by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who is extremely anxious that military intervention should not be used and who said that military intervention might have to be used if it were called for to deal with a challenge to law and order.
The most important message which I believe should go out, not only to Mr. Smith and his illegal supporters but to all the people of Rhodesia, is that Her Majesty's Government and this House are determined that all the measures which are required will be taken. If we do not use our powers this would be a betrayal of the honourable and courageous position taken by the Governor, it would be a betrayal of the Chief Justice and the judges, of the Africans and of the liberal European elements in Rhodesia. I believe, therefore, that not only are these powers required but that they will have to be used to carry out our aim.
What is our aim? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that it is to return Rhodesia to legal Government. I believe that it is more than that; that it is to bring, in the course of time, as soon as possible, to Rhodesia full independence with powers fully shared with all sections of the population. It is not simply to return to a position of legality. It is to return to a situation in Rhodesia where we can move forward towards real independence and freedom for all. This is not merely a legal task but a moral task in which we cannot contemplate failure.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Humphry Berkeley (Lancaster)
I hope that the right hon. and learned 587 Gentleman the Attorney-General will not think me discourteous if I say that there was an Alice in Wonderland quality about his speech today. That is not to say that it was not delivered to the House with his customary urbanity and skill. However, we must recognise, as has been said by several previous speakers, that we are talking about measures which cannot yet be enforced and that none of us yet knows how and when they will be enforced.
Nevertheless, we are discussing under this Order, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) pointed out, at least a theoretical repatriation of power from Rhodesia to this country. The fact that we are discussing that at least enables us to inject a certain reality into our discussions which has hitherto sometimes been absent.
I hope that we can now blow sky high the quite fallacious argument which has been put forward, both in the House and in the Press, that there is a valid and clear distinction between consequential sanctions and punitive sanctions. It is my judgment that there are no consequential sanctions whatsoever which follow the action which Mr. Smith perpetrated on 11th November. Anybody who talks about the automatic consequences being the loss of Imperial preference or any other Commonwealth arrangements is doing so under the fallacious assumption that we in this country are giving de jure recognition to Mr. Smith's Government. That is not the case. So far as I know, not one hon. Member believes that Mr. Smith is now the validly appointed Prime Minister of Rhodesia or that Rhodesia, by its U.D.I., has validly attained sovereign independence, still less has left the Commonwealth.
There are, therefore, no consequential sanctions of any kind which apply—that is, unless people are prepared to give recognition of an act which all of us believe to be illegal. It is important to begin by realising that all these sanctions, by their nature, are punitive. None of these sanctions flows automatically from any action which has been taken. They all involve some penalty against Rhodesia. All of them are, therefore, punitive. I hope that we can get this 588 clear in our minds, because so long as these wholly fictional differences are maintained, the longer is this mental confusion likely to persist.
It seems, therefore, that the only sensible word to use to describe these sanctions is "effective" and I believe that it would be right to accept any economic measures which prove to be effective, enforceable and quick. They are the three criteria we should adopt.
Before coming to some detailed observations about the measure we are discussing, I will make some general points. I hope that we can all agree that we all wish to see legal rule restored in Rhodesia under the Governor. I hope that there is no hon. Member who would prefer to see the illegal Government of Mr. Smith prevail. This is my hope; we must see how the debate goes.
If we are united in our desire to see legal rule under the Governor restored, I believe that all the measures we have been discussing last week and today fall into perspective. All I would say about an oil sanction is that it would have to fall within the criteria I have given; it would have to be shown to be effective, to be enforceable and to be speedy. If a feasibility research study could prove that this step came within those criteria, we would not be wrong to take it. Equally, we would be wrong at present to take up a decisive position for or against this sanction without having applied the criteria that I believe should be applied to all sanctions.
I want now to refer to the Governor, and particularly to his present somewhat exposed position. Here I must introduce a partisan note, and speak of the predicament in which the Governor finds himself as a result of the actions or lack of actions of Her Majesty's Government. I cannot understand why instructions were issued to civil servants in Rhodesia by Her Majesty's Government telling them that it was their duty to remain at their posts. In my judgment, the instructions to be given to civil servants, particularly to Army officers and police officers, should have been that it was their duty to remain loyal to the Governor, and I think that once this principle was compromised—and it was compromised by the instructions of Her Majesty's Government—the position of the civil 589 servants in Rhodesia became intolerable, and the cruel dilemma to which the Prime Minister referred became even more cruel.
When the Prime Minister made his first statement, he referred to two, as I thought, rather far-fetched cases by way of illustration of what a civil servant ought to do. He referred to the case of a civil servant in the Ministry of Health ordering bandages. He then referred to someone in either the police force or the Army who was told to go out and shoot Africans. One can well see that there is a clear line of distinction as to what a civil servant should do in those extreme circumstances.
What the Prime Minister did not say, and what he ought to have said as a matter of duty both to this House and to those people who are faced with this dilemma in Rhodesia, is what is the correct action for a police officer to take who has been given a restriction order signed by the illegal Minister of the Interior. Is he meant to arrest the person concerned, or not? What is the position of the permanent head of the Prime Minister's office—is he meant to go on serving the illegal Prime Minister, or not? What is the position of an Army commander who might be ordered to remove the Governor from Government House by force? Is he to carry out that order, or not? I have given this Government as much support as I think possible, but I consider that there has been a very clear dereliction of duty on their part in regard to the instructions to public servants in Rhodesia, Even now it may not be too late to put that right.
The Government ought to have told the Civil Service to remain loyal to the Governor. Equally, they should have made it absolutely clear from the afternoon when the U.D.I. was announced that the British Government were prepared to stand by in financial terms both as to the pensions and the actual salaries, and the positions these civil servants were holding. It seems to me that the Government were putting a very high price on loyalty if they expected civil servants to he able to take this agonising decision without the full support of Her Majesty's Government—and that full support they were entitled to receive.
590 My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) is not in the Chamber at the moment, but perhaps I may say something in his absence about the 1961 Constitution. The suspension of the Constitution and the dissolution of a colonial Parliament is not really quite the revolutionary step that my right hon. and learned Friend suggested. We do not have to go back 300 years. In fact, in the last 15 years, two colonial Parliaments have been dissolved against their wishes; the Parliament of Malta, which is now, fortunately, a sovereign independent country, and the Parliament of British Guiana, which, fortunately, will achieve full independence within the Commonwealth next year——
§ Mr. Berkeley
Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to comment. I know something about it. I know Malta quite well, and one of my distinguished predecessors as Member for Lancaster was Prime Minister of Malta in 1927, which is 38 years ago. Malta had had a period of full internal self-government for something like 30 years at the time when its Constitution was revoked and its Parliament dissolved. So there is at least as much comparison in this as there is between any two territories in different parts of the world in different stages of constitutional advance.
I hope that the Government—and, even more, my own Front Bench—will not feel too wedded to this 1961 Constitution, because there are difficulties in it. I have described many of those difficulties in the course of debates in this House in recent years, but I will mention just two or three now. Let us all agree, as I think we can, that the 1961 Constitution is entirely deficient in its provision for human rights. It is not sufficiently precise 591 about the pace at which majority rule is likely to be achieved. My right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) just now said that it might be 15 years or 50 years, so there is a lack of precision about the Constitution, even if it were not amended retrogressively.
But the really unsatisfactory part of the Constitution in its internal aspects is that the representation on the A roll or the B roll can be altered as a result of the decision of a two-thirds majority of the Rhodesian Parliament. There are 50 A roll and 15 B roll members. Therefore, a vote of the A-roll members could be invoked to double the number of A-roll seats from 50 to 100 and to halve or substantially reduce the number of B-roll seats. This would be possible, perfectly legally, without any general election, without any referendum, and without any reference to the Constitutional Council. Without any reference to Her Majesty's Government in this country, this would be possible under the 1961 Constitution. It is precisely because there were these serious inadequacies in the Constitution that both my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) and the Prime Minister over a three-year period have refused to grant independence to Rhodesia unconditionally under the Constitution.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
My hon. Friend has described the legal possibilities. Was not an undertaking given to sign a treaty that they would not do that?
§ Mr. Berkeley
A treaty of guarantee was an interesting possibility, but it never in fact came to fruition. So far as I know, agreement was never reached between the Rhodesian Government and the British Government about a treaty of guarantee.
The only comment I make about a treaty of guarantee is that I visited a year ago the small stricken island of Cyprus, where there was a treaty of guarantee. I saw the way in which President Makarios had completely scrapped the Constitution and the Turkish minority were living without any legal rights whatever. This happened in a country where there was a treaty of 592 guarantee and in a territory where there was a substantial number of British military forces in the Sovereign Base Areas. If the British Government were unable to intervene in Cyprus where they had military forces on the spot to attempt to enforce a treaty of guarantee, how could they possibly intervene in a territory 4,000 miles away if such a treaty were broken? The treaty, of course, must depend on good faith. What faith could we have in a Government who were in fact already threatening illegal action to secure their ends? I believe the answer is, "None".
I have described what I think are the internal defects—I put it like that—of the 1961 Constitution, but there is an even more powerful argument against it. The 1961 Constitution in effect gave us responsibility over Rhodesia but no power. This has been the inherent difficulty in every negotiation we have had with the Rhodesian Government. We have been held accountable by the United Nations. We have been held accountable by world opinion. We were theoretically accountable, yet we were unable under the 1961 Constitution—even though it may have been carried out to the letter—to implement its spirit.
Let us try to envisage circumstances in which negotiations might start. Let us assume that as a result of economic sanctions there were a substantial number of moderates who went to the Governor. Let us suppose that by some swift process of change in public opinion they became able to form a Government and said to the British Government, "We deeply regret the U.D.I. which has taken place. We want to revert to the 1961 Constitution and we are prepared to drop the issue of independence". If we allowed them to work the 1961 Constitution in the letter, but perhaps not in the spirit, it might take 50 years or so to bring about majority rule. The British Government would find themselves completely powerless to act in those circumstances.
The last thing I want the British Government to do in the event of U.D.I. being brought to an end is to revert to a position of responsibility without power, which was the position which paralysed our two countries for the last four years, ever since the Constitution came into being. I think that we can use the 1961 Constitution as a base, but obviously there will have to be a method by which 593 we shall give a blocking third of seats to the Africans and also we must increase the franchise on the lower roll. This must be done. We shall have to implement progress towards higher educational advance for the Africans for which both Governments, Labour and Conservative, have fought in the last three years.
We cannot revert to the anomalous position which existed in the past of having a fully internally self-governing Colony in whose future and administration Britain had no part. If we are assuming for ourselves the sole and Solemn responsibility of trying to bring about reconciliation in Rhodesia, of trying to maintain control of Rhodesia, I beg the Government not to agree when U.D.I. comes to an end to abandon British control in favour of full internal self-government. I believe that independence for Rhodesia cannot come tomorrow. Probably it cannot come for five years and perhaps not even for ten years, but during that period Britain has to assume the colonial responsibilities she has assumed and faithfully discharged elsewhere. I cannot believe that a country which governed a quarter of the world's population less than 20 years ago has lost the will to discharge her responsibilities in her one remaining Colony of size in the event of U.D.I. being brought to an end.
I say to the Government and to my own Front Bench that if we can bring this to an end and if we are determined—as I think we are—to keep the United Nations out and also to see that irresponsible Africans do not assume power ire Rhodesia tomorrow, the guiding hand of Britain will be needed for five or ten years. For this we must have power, and colonial rule is the only answer in my view to this almost intractable problem.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
It is with some trepidation that I follow the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley). I have heard him speak in this House on two occasions on the great problems we have before us and I say quite sincerely that my admiration for his stand and his abilities grows each day. We have heard a serious and well-balanced speech in relation to the very serious problem we are facing.
594 The hon. Member made the point that we ought not to be wedded to the 1961 Constitution. I wish to draw the attention of the House to a letter that was sent by the Conference of Missionary Societies in Great Britain and Ireland to the Prime Minister, to the Leader of the Opposition, to the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) and to the former Leader of the Opposition. That letter makes this very point in relation to the 1961 Constitution. It says:The Christian Council Consultation in Salisbury, which has already been quoted, had the following criticism to make of the 1961 Constitution, which makes it clear how right Her Majesty's Government has been in refusing to accept it as a basis for the granting of independence:—There are a number of other points with which I will not bore the House, but it is a formidable list. This comes from the Church authorities who have direct knowledge and experience inside Rhodesia of the operation of the 1961 Constitution. Therefore, I agree with the hon. Member for Lancaster that when we are discussing the matter at the end of the rebellion—that is what it is—and talking in terms of independence ultimately for Rhodesia, there will be no question of our being wedded to the 1961 Constitution.
- (a) It does not sufficiently limit the power of the Executive.
- (b) It does not sufficiently protect individual rights and liberties.
- (c) It leaves power in the hands of the minority for an indefinite period without the consent of the majority.
- (d) The franchise provisions of the Constitution are not accepted by the majority.
- (e) There are two separate rolls giving unequal value to the vote.
- (f) It is possible to increase the number of A roll seats at the expense of the number of B roll seats by a two-thirds majority of the Legislative Assembly."
I want to make one or two other points in relation to some of the remarks made in the debate by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). Apparently he and I have only one thing in common. I was born in Hertford, and he is the Member of Parliament for Hertford. After listening to his speech, I am clear that we are poles apart in our thinking on the question of Rhodesia. He said that if we pursued the policy which we were pursuing at the moment, we should be in danger of destroying the bridges between 595 ourselves and the Commonwealth. If we pursue his policy there will be no bridges at all between ourselves and the Commonwealth, for they will be utterly and completely destroyed, and Britain will find herself not only in isolation in the Commonwealth but equally in isolation in the United Nations and the world. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) that we have to make a choice. Either we believe in the Commonwealth of Nations which has been built up over the years, or we accept white minority racialist rule in Southern Rhodesia. That is the choice that we have to make.
There has been a certain amount of bridge building going on, in my view, in other directions. The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East made a contribution towards that bridge building today. It is, unfortunately, a measure of bridge building in support of Mr. Smith's illegal régime. An hon. Friend of mine quoted from The Times. There was a letter in The Times signed by a number of hon. Members opposite in which they made the point:The object of this letter is not to apportion blame, for clearly the faults are not all on one side, but to appeal for a new approach to be made as a matter of urgency.What new approaches—approaches to Mr. Smith, perhaps discussions with him, to accept the fact that he is there in office and to have some discussions with him to make a settlement? Either this is an illegal régime acting against the British Government, against the Queen and against law and order, or it is not.
Those hon. Members must be asked precisely where they stand and where they are going. Apart from a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite who have stood steadfast, there has been a wholesale backsliding on the Opposition benches in relation to Rhodesia. There ought not to be any backsliding, because the Blue Book published last week indicated clearly in the correspondence between the then British Government and the then Southern Rhodesian Government that the Southern Rhodesian Government were warned of the consequences that would follow an illegal declaration of independence. Consequently we must watch carefully the bridge building that is going on in this direction.
596 Apparently, the same hon. Gentlemen are very worried about the word "treason". They say that it is wrong to use the word "treason" although Mr. Smith's illegal Government are in rebellion. What are Mr. Smith's illegal Government doing then? Are they being treasonable, or are they not? Are they in a state of rebellion, or are they not? Those hon. Gentlemen should tell us. They should have the courage to do so. But they have not come here today. I have watched for the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery). Where is he? Would he have made the same sort of inflammatory speech as he made the other night? Where are those hon. Gentlemen? Perhaps they think that the Measures are not too bad anyway, and that maybe they ought not to oppose them and that later on when we have measures such as oil sanctions they will really begin to fight. They must explain exactly where they stand over this.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East also said that we should be conciliatory and remember the words of Burke in relation to the rebellion in North America. The Declaration of Independence in North America began with the words:All men are equal.I do not remember that being in the unilateral declaration of independence from Rhodesia. Indeed, it seems to me that the attitude there is that all men are unequal, especially if one is a coloured man.
§ Mr. Heffer
That may well be so in relation to a number of them, but it was not true of all of them. I do not want to go into the history of the United States at that particular moment, but, whether they were slave owners or not at that particular time, they clearly made a declaration, and two or three generations later they again fought the battle out, and it is still being fought out in the United States today.
§ Mr. Stan Newens (Epping) rose——597
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I did not intervene earlier, as I did not want to appear to protect the hon. Gentleman. But he must not fight the American War of Independence all over again, even if requested to do so.
§ Mr. Heffer
I am trying not to fight that war, Mr. Speaker. It is being fought n another place by people with a great deal of courage.
What are we going to do about this? This was the essence of the speech by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral. On this point I thoroughly agree with him. It is useless for us to pass tonight legislation of the kind that we are discussing unless we can implement it. Otherwise we are wasting our time. All that we should do would be to make ourselves utterly and completely ridiculous. That is a valid point. A valid point was also made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East when he asked, "Is it viable?" Well, is it? What are we going to do about it? Having passed this Order unanimously in the House tonight, how are we going to carry it out? One point in the legislation makes it clear that the Governor will be an officer of the Government. He will need protection. He should have had more protection than he has had up to now. The point is whether he will have it in future. How are we to give it to him? That is the 64,000-dollar question.
I put it to those who say that in no circumstance should we use force that they are not being realistic because force does not necessarily mean direct military intervention. It does not mean an airlift of our troops to Rhodesia—although in the past we have not hesitated to have such an operation. We were quick to use farce at Suez and we recently used force when the Constitution was dismantled in Aden and troops were called in. Force is being used elsewhere and surely we cannot allow ourselves to be regarded as hypocrites because, while we are ready to use force against Arabs or British Guianese or others of different coloured skins, we are not willing to use it against white people.
Of course we must go out of our way to avoid the direct use of military force, but if the sanctions are to be applied effectively, especially once the oil sanctions are in operation, then to make them 598 effective we must be prepared to use a measure of force. My answer here is that we do not have to intervene directly but that we can make certain that there is an effective military and naval blockade to ensure that the oil is not transported into Southern Rhodesia. That is the use of force without direct military intervention.
We do not need to use bullets to shoot down Rhodesians, but there may well come a time when we will have to consider intervention with a number of our troops and we should not shrink from it. To say that does not make one a warmonger and it is not to say that this is the only way out of the problem. But it is saying that, in order to maintain constitutional law and order, in order to make certain that we bring the Smith régime effectively to a quick end and in order that, within five or ten years, there may be an independent Government based upon majority rule in Rhodesia, we may have to be prepared to use military force of some sort or other.
In discussing this very grave problem we must at all times take a thoroughly responsible attitude—and responsibility means for us that there cannot be any truck with the illegal Government of Smith. There must be protection for the people in Rhodesia who remain loyal to the Queen, to the Constitution and to the Governor, who is the head of the legal Government of Rhodesia and must be fully protected in every way, just as those who are prepared to declare their loyalty now or who, while at the moment supporting Smith, declare their allegiance again to this country in the future must be prepared.
We must accept our responsibilities. If we fail to act with courage, with conviction, with strength and with vigour, then we shall see the end of our Commonwealth and we shall find ourselves isolated. That will be the saddest day for future multi-racial relations throughout the world.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
If speeches from the benches opposite and from this bench fail to have any effect upon the thinking of the Conservative Party, may I commend to the Conservative Party the speeches of the 599 hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) and the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley), both of which were admirable for the courage and for the intellectual honesty with which they took their thinking to its logical conclusions.
Without re-fighting the American War of Independence, may I say that I hope that we shall have no more of the sickening business of in some way linking up this illegal rebellion with the American Declaration of Independence. When I heard the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) I felt that he was in some way commending Mr. Smith for his misappropriation of the American Declaration of Independence which Mr. Smith took upon himself to republish albeit in a somewhat whitened form. The similarity of Mr. Smith is not with George Washington, who sought to extend the right of men to rule themselves. It is with Lord North and George III who sought to fly in the face of current political developments.
I want to say something about the 1961 Constitution. I think it is true that it can be revoked in any particular. The authority is Section 2(2a) of the Southern Rhodesia Act. But I think it is an academic point. The value of the 1961 Constitution is that it is by force of it that the judges are capable and to their credit are prepared to enforce and apply the existing laws.
Its defect, however, is that it could not by the remotest stretch of imagination form the basis for negotiations when the rebellion comes to an end. It was, after all, under that Constitution that much of the repressive legislation was placed on the Statute Book long before U.D.I. and that men were detained for long periods without trial. Thus the significance of the 1961 Constitution is that it gives some code of law for judges to follow but could never politically form the basis for re-negotiations.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East asked whether or not this Statutory Instrument was viable. I think that this was the most relevant question that has been asked and the answer surely is that it depends upon our strength of national purpose, which partly turns upon the attitude of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition—assuming 600 that the Opposition intend to be loyal to Her Majesty.
The Opposition have very great responsibility in contributing towards the effectiveness of this Statutory Instrument and the others which we shall shortly be discussing. I must say that there have been occasions, as Edmund Burke has been referred to, when I have been reminded of another of his dicta—that great empires and little men go ill together.
Far too often in these debates on Rhodesia we have been regaled with the small change of small thinking. Consequential sanctions but not effective; persuasive measures but not coercive; a matter of international significance but only national responsibility; sugar, yes, but tobacco, no; rebellion, yes, but nothing harmful to put it down.
Whether we are to compromise with an act of rebellion and whether this Statutory Instrument will be effective depends as much upon the will of the Opposition as on the actions of the Government. I say only one word of slight criticism of Her Majesty's Government—that I think that, through a very proper desire to maintain national unity, the Prime Minister has run the risk of not being as firm and as effective as the conscience of the nation demands. The Opposition did a lot of contingency planning when they were in power and I have a strong suspicion that in their present attitude they are departing from much which they were themselves prepared to do when they were in power and which they would now be doing. Therefore, we want a little more loyalty from Her Majesty's Opposition.
It has been asked whether we would use force. Unfortunately, I regret the speech in Nigeria of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. I do not think that force should be ruled out. I know that the right hon. Gentleman very properly wanted to try to prevent the risk of an African uprising.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Arthur Bottomley)
Perhaps I can explain that what I said in Nigeria was that Britain had never used force to impose a constitution upon a Colony and did not intend to do so in the case of Rhodesia. I did not say that force was ruled out in any circumstances.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Obviously, I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says. I think that he would agree, however, that unfortunately the impression which was given, and it was certainly my impression, was that it was ruled out ab initio.
It is perfectly true that we have never used force to impose a constitution, but vie have very often been prepared to use force in order to restore law and order, order to put down a régime which tried to overthrow a constitution—in British Guiana and Malta—right the way back in our colonial history.
Personally, I have an aversion to the use of force. That was one of the reasons why so many hon. Members were so bitterly opposed to Suez in 1956. We know that in the Tory Party there is a very strong pacifist element; there always has been. The miracle is how often the Tories have found it possible to overcome it. They overcame it when law and order were to be maintained in Jordan, in Kuwait, in Aden, in British Guiana, in Kenya, in Uganda, in Cyprus, in Tanzania and even, as they thought fit, in Egypt.
Nobody wants to use force, but why are certain hon. Members saying that it is out of the question? Is it because we are spending only £2,000 million a year on defence; because we are only an independent nuclear Power, because we can put only 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 troops to the defence of Malaya; because we have only three brigades in Germany and two brigades in Britain; because they believe fundamentally that we do not have the forces at our disposal? If so, that is a very grave reflection on the rundown of our Armed Forces after 13 years of rule by the Tory brigadiers and the others who were responsible. Or is it because of some pacifist elements in the Tory Party? Is this the new look? Or is it because they do not believe that there are principles at stake here which are worth enforcing? If that is the reason, let them be honest and say so and we shall know where they stand.
§ Sir Tatton Brinton (Kidderminster)
the hon. Gentleman appears to be blaming the Conservatives for being against the use of force. Has the use of force been advocated by Ministers? Why does not the hon. Gentleman address some remarks to them when they have the power of decision?
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am not certain how long the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton) has been unfortunate enough to be present in the Chamber while I have been speaking.
§ Mr. Thorpe
In that case the hon. Gentleman will have heard the criticism which I sought to make of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and will no doubt recollect the right hon. Gentleman's reply and the reply which I then made to the right hon. Gentleman. If those exchanges have not yet penetrated, the hon. Gentleman will be able to read them in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow.
From the military point of view, it would be a fantastic position if this country were incapable of putting down the rebellion of a population the size of that of Portsmouth: for this country with its tremendous imperial past and its present Commonwealth tradition. I believe that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) was right and that we must first try to make this Statutory Instrument effective by bringing down the rebel régime by the use of sanctions. Those who are averse to using force must surely, therefore, if they are logical and deplore the rebellion, be the first to want to use peaceful means, means which do not shed blood.
That is why I think that we may well have to have a naval blockade in order to have complete, or almost complete, oil sanctions. If Portugal and South Africa were to fly in the face of such a world boycott, they, too, would have to be subjected to these measures, for there are no half-measures in this matter. If that fails, we may well have to station troops in Zambia which would be a very useful focal point for any of the present Rhodesian forces who wish to remain loyal to the Crown. That should have been done long before. I do not minimise the unpleasantness and I do not minimise the possibilities that before this is out we shall have to use force. Therefore, anyone who has a weak stomach should logically vote against this Statutory Instrument and logically should have opposed the enabling Act.
There are two other matters which I wish to mention shortly. The Attorney-General referred to the powers of the 603 Secretary of State and of the Governor as being conterminous or, if I might suggest it, concurrent. But the Governor is a symbol, a rallying point, but in practice he has no power now and we have to recognise that as a fact. That is why in the present position his present posture in Salisbury is all the more courageous and all the more commendable, but the mere fact that the Secretary of State had to sign the Order invalidating the purported censorship in itself is an indication of the lack of power of the Governor and the fact that power now resides in the House of Commons.
What we are seeking to do is to suspend Parliament in Rhodesia and to take upon ourselves responsibility for direct rule, and we must realise that. If we are to take on that obligation, there can be no half-hearted approach. We have to see this through to the end. When that régime is brought down, which I hope will be done by economic means, which I accept may well have to be faced with other measures, from which I do not exclude force, I think that there will have to be direct rule and I agree with the hon. Member for Lancaster that it will probably have to be Governor's rule with a Governor's Council appointed on the recommendation of Her Majesty and that some of the council may well have to come from this country for a period of at least a year to 18 months before we can even think of negotiating a constitution which all parties can accept.
Therefore, I hope that the Government will not lose heart. There are many principles at stake and if we fail in the trust which we owe to the 4 million people of all races in Rhodesia and if we allow this rebellion to succeed, then we shall not only lose the respect of the world, but, what is much worse, we shall lose our own self-respect.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Not even at the height of our imperial and maritime power did we claim the right to impose a naval blockade upon the neighbours of a rebellious Colony. It would be an action of international lawlessness which would, I should have thought, put all order into contempt.
§ Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman take the view, in international 604 law, that a blockade in peaceful tunes is lawful or not?
§ Mr. Paget
I would say that in international law, a blockade in times of peace is wholly illegal, and certainly nothing could be more thoroughly established, as I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows. I will also confess immediately to being one of those people who lack the stomach necessary to introduce armed force and to make a war where there is an existing order, even if it be an illegitimate order, and to turn that order into a chaos of the Congo type. I regard this sort of talk as very irresponsible nonsense.
What I am primarily concerned with is the position of Africans in Rhodesia. They live very much upon the edge of famine. There have been five years of drought, and there are no food reserves in the African reserve areas. Put the Southern Rhodesian economy into unemployment and the immediate effect is a movement into the reserves of the unemployed whom one has created. Right away there is panic because there is no food there. Within a tribal society it is the children who are hurt. The Africans are very kind to children, but, none the less, the very necessity of tribal survival means that adults must be kept alive. So one sees those ghastly distended stomachs belonging to little children. I have seen that too often to be prepared to deliberately create such conditions.
Nor do I urge the Government that that is the sort of thing into which one should be pushed by the indignation of the Afro-Asian bloc. Our responsibility, and it is our responsibility, is to those people in the reserves. A very reactionary friend of mine once said to me: "The trouble with you, Reggie, and your sans-culottes comrades, is that you are incapable of seeing a perfectly classic Marxian class situation unrolling in front of you. That is what is occurring in Africa today. A new class is arising, which for the purposes of description I will call the 'Wogs with trousers'. They care passionately, wherever they may be, about class. They are intensely class-conscious. But their indifference about what happens to the 'Wog without trousers' is practically absolute". Little as I care for that expression, there is a certain horrible truth about it. We are responsible for the trouserless Africans in the reserves and 605 if we push the Southern Rhodesian economy into unemployment it is those African children in the reserves who are going to suffer.
This is where I wish to lay emphasis. I am no great believer in sanctions. The only effect they can have, in so far as they are successful, apart from the suffering which they would impose on the Africans, is to impose a siege economy on the white Rhodesian. In a siege, a wartime type of economy, a police State is accepted. In the war we accepted what was, substantially, a police State because we were under siege conditions. In those conditions that sort of hardship is acceptable. We will find that if and in so far as we create siege conditions in Rhodesia, the white population there will adhere more and more tightly to the Smith régime. It is only by removing that sort of pressure that one provides the opportunity for an opposition to arise and reduce the acceptability, to their own people, of a police State.
Neither the white Rhodesians nor anybody else has a police State as a matter of choice. It is something which will only be accepted so long as sufficient pressure is maintained to keep it on. I have been critical of the Prime Minister in this matter. I believe that principles were conceded long ago when we allowed the Rhodesian party to take power. I am on record at the time as having said so. If one allows a party pledged to independence to take power one must accept the independence when it comes, because one has no other option. One can stop it taking power—[An HON. MEMBER: "How?"]—by taking the kind of measures we are taking now, before it had power. One could have cancelled the Constitution, one could have instructed the Governor to rule, one could have given one's orders to Army and police, one could have done those sort of things before these men were in the saddle, but after allowing them three years in the saddle to do what they have said they were going to do, what they were returned to do, and what they were established to do, it is no longer practical politics.
§ Sir T. Brinton
The hon. and learned Gentleman will surely recall that in the election which brought Mr. Smith to power, the Rhodesian Front specifically 606 denied that U.D.I. was an issue at all. The Government of this country at that time had no grounds to assume that that was not a true statement.
§ Mr. Paget
The Rhodesian Front said, "We will get independence without having to declare it unilaterally." It said that from an election point of view, but it made it perfectly plain that if it was wrong in that it would take U.D.I. That was the whole basis on which the General Election was conducted—"We are going to get it one way or another. We believe we will get it by agreement, by negotiation, but if not, we are going to take it."
In the present negotiations, and this all comes out in the Blue Book, we agreed independence. We have agreed to the practice of independence. We gave an undertaking that we would not exercise our right of veto, as we have not done before. We had the Law and Order Enforcement Act before us and we were prepared to accept that. There was the last Order which I should have thought removed every kind of personal right as effectively as anything could. In the final telephone conversation even that was accepted so long as U.D.I. was not made.
It was only the symbol which remained, and I think that it was a great mistake to blow up the importance of that symbol until it became a thing of such emotive force in the rest of the world. But since then there has been reason greatly to praise the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary for what was done at the United Nations. When they have returned here they have done their utmost to keep war and famine away from Rhodesia, and I believe that to be a good and right objective. They have made it quite clear that we would not take armed force to Rhodesia and that we would not permit anybody else to do so. I am sure that that is right and that it is the will of the overwhelming majority of people.
The Prime Minister made it clear that we would not act on our own in connection with sanctions and that we would not go in for any sanctions which the rest of the world did not support. I do not like sanctions, but since in the atmosphere of the world we have to have them, I am prepared, if the worst comes to the worst, to accept them on the basis 607 that South Africa is the pacemaker. That is about what the undertaking comes to.
But now that, in this Measure, we give ourselves a completely open hand to negotiate by keeping a Governor and a Constitution in being, retaining all the powers to negotiate with anybody, including Mr. Smith's régime, which will come within the shape of that Constitution which throughout the negotiations we have demonstrated is a Constitution which no reasonable Rhodesian minority need disagree with, I feel that we have done all that we can to get over the problem without war or disaster. It is a horrible situation to have got into. The most we can do is to do our best not to make what is bad even worse, and I believe that that is what we are doing.
§ The Clerk at the Table informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. SPEAKER from the remainder of this day's Sitting.
§ Whereupon Sir SAMUEL STOREY, The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS, took the Chair as DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Sir Tatton Brinton (Kidderminster)
I have listened to virtually the whole of the debate, and it seems to me that a number of speakers have tended far too greatly to enlarge the divisions which are bound to exist on a subject such as this.
Members of the extreme Left have tended to attack the Opposition and hon. Members of the extreme Right have sometimes attacked members of the Treasury Bench. It is my conviction that in the middle, and spanning either side of the party division, there are many people who are virtually at one about what should be done in Rhodesia. Those people believe, as I believe, that U.D.I. was a rebellion, an illegal act, which, looked at from our point of view, must be combated by all reasonable means in our power. I believe further that, even looked at from the point of view of those Rhodesians who support U.D.I., they must be ultimately heading for a disaster which may well lead to bloodshed in the long run, even if U.D.I. were made to stick. It is therefore our duty to deal with the situation as best we can.
Thus far the great majority of Members are agreed. What we are arguing about, 608 to a great extent, is what are the effective measures open to us. I believe that the measures which the Government have laid before us go as far as they can reasonably be expected to go and that they are, in the main, supported by most hon. Members; certainly they are supported by me.
There has been some argument about the question of negotiating in future with Rhodesia. I point out to some Members who have made rather passionate speeches about the impossibility of dealing with the Smith régime that Mr. Smith is not Rhodesia. There are quite a lot of other people there, both politicians and others, who might conceivably be open to negotiation in future. Let us not forget that before U.D.I. the great majority of churchmen, the Press, businessmen and lawyers were flatly against U.D.I. Have all those people now changed their minds? I do not believe that they have. They may at the moment be silenced by political events, but they are still there. Such people are among the leaders of any community. We must in future construct some framework by which these people in Rhodesia can be contacted.
We could make a great mistake. I do not think that the Government will make it. I think that they will keep open to the Rhodesian people a clear view of what they would be prepared to accept as a basis for negotiation. If they do that, they will be wise. That message must be got over to the sensible people still in Rhodesia as the basis on which they can take action.
I wonder how many people thought, being wise after the event, what the closing stages of the last war might have been—we have had many wrong analogies on this matter; let us have one nearer the point—if instead of the allies insisting on unconditional surrender they had said to the German people, particularly in July, 1944, "This and this and this are our demands. Are you prepared to agree to them?". Had the allies been able to agree on any such proposal—probably they could not, but that is another question—by how many months might the war have been shortened and how many lives might have been saved?
We should always have clearly in mind in a situation of this kind what we are trying to achieve and let the other side 609 know it because we can then appeal to those people who may be approached on that basis; and they will not necessarily be Mr. Smith or his Ministers. For goodness sake keep a line open to the people who are with us in Rhodesia, because there must be many of them—perhaps not a majority—in immensely influential positions.
The hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) appeared to follow certain of the more extreme hon. Members on the Government benches in being keen to use force in Rhodesia. But I understood him to say later that, first, we must try all measures short of force. I agree with him in that, and I believe that the Government agree with him. Why is it that today there are laid before the House measures which relate not to force but to sanctions? Why are so many hon. Members keen to flourish the sword and anxious to open the purple testament of bleeding war?
The first one to fire off was the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) who, I had always understood, held basically a rather pacifist point of view. Yet he was demanding force. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He was, and so were many other hon. Members. I have made a note to the effect that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) came as close to demanding force as was possible. I do not know why these hon. Members are so keen that force should be used in Rhodesia. We have not yet exhausted all possibilities of economic pressure and, above all, we have not had time to see the moral effect of the measures which we are taking or of the Orders which we are asked to approve.
We ought not to underestimate the ultimate build-up of the moral effect of our united disapproval. That is the note on which I should like to close. The unity of this House and our general determination to express our disapproval in terms of such measures as we can command must in itself have an effect; and the more united that disapproval is, the more likely it is to call forth an answering response, which is all that we can seek at the moment, in Rhodesia among those who may ultimately turn upon the Smith Government, show them the door, take over and be prepared to 610 negotiate with us on the basis of the policies and the philosophies which both parties, in Government and out, have always followed concerning Rhodesia.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)
I suggest to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton) that we on this side have at least as much personal experience of the use of force as hon. Members opposite and that if any of us seem to suggest that this is a logical step that must be considered, we do not do it lightly. I hope that that will be the impression that we succeed in conveying.
My intervention will be almost as brief as that of the hon. Member for Kidderminster. It may seem incredible that at this late time, after all the statements that have been made on Rhodesia, all the questions that have been put, all the answers which have been given and all the discussion that has taken place, there is still one aspect which has received little attention. I seldom venture into debates on foreign or colonial affairs, but this feature stands out like a sore thumb, possibly because I stand back from those debates.
Occasionally during the debate, reference has been made to the fact that there are 4 million dark-coloured Africans in Rhodesia. Generally, however, it has been only a passing reference. In the main, the debate seems to have been about what the British Government are doing, what the United Nations are doing, what the South African Government or other people are doing or what the Smith régime may be doing. We seem tacitly to have assumed that the 4 million Africans, under great stress and strain, will sit still and do nothing. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has pointed out some of the pressures that will come upon them.
It so happened that on 11th November I was fortunate enough to be invited to a meeting in this House to which representatives of one of the African national organisations in this countryZ.A.N.U.—were invited. It was the first time I had ever met them. One of the things that they were keen to do and 611 intended to do was to set up a Government in exile in any country near to Rhodesia that would be host to them.
Several of the statements by the British Government have made it clear that the only legal Government now in Rhodesia is the British Government. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General replies to the debate, I hope that he will direct attention to the steps that are being taken to contact the African organisations, which are quite well organised and which have at their disposal probably more trained minds than the Government of Ghana or Zambia or many other African nations had when they first became independent, and what the British Government will do to try to hold down this force, on the one hand, while their own efforts follow their course, on the other hand.
It might seem strange to raise this suggestion at this late stage, but if my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, in replying to the debate, can give me any information on this aspect, it is vitally important. While we are talking about what we are doing and what the Smith régime are doing, it is difficult to estimate what might happen when the 4 million Africans of whom I have spoken are organised. If they were to decide that they wanted to take an active part in the dispute, we would be in serious trouble.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
I wish I could be certain that the collective wisdom, the collective honesty and the collective sincerity of the House of Commons would produce a peaceful and just solution to this great problem. I have among my friends several Rhodesians, both black and white, whom I have entertained together in my house only 300 yards from here. I have sat throughout the last fortnight listening to all these speeches that have been made on this problem and I have had the feeling of enduring an unending nightmare in which reality seldom entered into the words spoken. Out of all the thousands of words there have, however, been one or two notable exceptions, one of them the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who has tried to face the reality of the situation and what we are doing.
612 It seems to me that in world affairs today there are times when the truth is stood on its head and the world applauds. It is extraordinary that during the past few days prohibition of dealings in tobacco and sugar with Rhodesia has been introduced without debate in this House under legislation which originated for the purpose of preventing trading with the King's enemies of that time. It is not the Rhodesians who are the Queen's enemies in Africa today. The Queen's enemies in Africa today are the Communist agencies, whose one aim out there is to produce chaos and, therefore, to overthrow British interests and influence. We as a House of Commons are in danger of doing their work for them.
I cannot help wondering how we have allowed ourselves to come so far, still talking thousands of words and never really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or understanding what was at the end of the road on which we are setting out. We have been told that there are to be changes to the 1961 Constitution. The Prime Minister yesterday appeared to change his stand on three issues. One was that originally one had thought that the 1961 Constitution could be accepted by Parliament here if it was proved to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia. It now seems, however, that this is to be changed before we can talk about a negotiated settlement.
The Prime Minister told us that he accepted the intentions of the United Nations for a complete embargo on trade, including oil, which is a change of stance after his earlier statements suggesting that there would not be punitive or coercive sanctions. He also made it clear that he had moved from the previous Government's position and his own earlier position of stating that this was a matter for Great Britain in the United Nations and now accepting that it was a matter of world concern and voting for the United Nations resolution. Those are big and important changes which must cause concern to the Rhodesians who have been waiting for a lifeline to be thrown from this country.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Did not my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister make it clear that the original position still stood but 613 that the situation was altered immediately Mr. Smith declared that his country was independent? If that was to be accepted as the case, Britain ceased to have a special responsibility and it then became a matter of world responsibility. What my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has succeded in doing in New York has been to persuade the United Nations that this is a rebellion and not a declaration of independence which is valid and that, therefore, it is still a British responsibility, To that extent, the danger which has been suggested has been staved off.
§ Mr. Goodhew
That I understand. Once we have departed from the principle of not voting on these matters, however, and we have accepted that it is a matter for the United Nations to vote upon, and we have voted with other nations on it, this again I see as the slippery slope down which one can slide a considerable distance.
On the question of the Constitution, I think the prospect of changes in it is one which will cause great anxiety amongst the Europeans in Rhodesia. They have always feared that what would hap-fen eventually in any negotiations would be that we should insist upon a more rapid path to majority rule, and they have quite naturally feared, I believe, that the party opposite would be likely to do this, because when the party opposite was in Opposition it voted solidly against the 1961 Constitution, and, indeed, speeches from hon. Members opposite were calling for one man one vote.
Who knows what effect this had on the African nationalists whom we were trying to persuade to participate in this Constitution? All that is water under the bridge, but since that was the attitude and the policy of the party opposite in Opposition it is not surprising that today European Rhodesians are anxious about the motives.
That is why it is vital that the Prime Minister should make clear at the earliest opportunity what changes in the Constitution he is asking for as a basis on which to reopen negotiations with whatever Government are in power at the time. I think that, above all, there is a need for confidence amongst the Europeans as well as the Africans in any future negotiations which take place, and that we should do our best not to alienate these people still 614 further. Sabre rattling in this House, I fear, is only too likely to do just that—force them further and further away from our viewpoint and force them further behind Mr. Smith.
If these actions which have been taken in this House in somewhat swift reaction to the declaration of independence do not produce—and I do not believe they will produce—an early change in the Rhodesian Government, one has to face what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton has told us is the consequence of passing the measures before the House, and of some which have been passed without coming before us, and that is that not only will there be a tendency for Mr. Smith and his colleagues to toughen up repressive measures to control the country, not only will there be chaos where there is now order, but there will be misery and suffering amongst the 4 million Africans who have been referred to before today and who are supposed to be the object of our anxiety and those whom we are supposed to be protecting.
I cannot see that this itself can be regarded as anything but an ingredient for a violent and bloody end to the régime. Therefore, I am most concerned that we shall just go endlessly down this road on which we have set out, assuming that all will be well in the end. Like the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton, I have my doubts as to that.
I have my doubts, as I have said, about the rightness of changing stance in the United Nations. Surely there is bound to be further pressure from them—not only from the Afro-Asian bloc, but the Communist bloc joins in, too, because it knows it is making trouble for us. If, therefore, their pressure has resulted in a change of stance by the Government, when the Prime Minister explains to this House that he has had to take these measures to prevent others, is not this, too, inclining them to believe that they can turn the screw a little bit tighter when they feel impatient because they see sanctions are not having effect; and will they not say to the Government, "You must do more. You must be tougher. You must use force"?
So I say that the prospect of deliberately producing this sort of chaos in Rhodesia is one which I cannot accept. 615 I hope, therefore, that the Government are going to try now to throw out a lifeline to Rhodesia, even if it is to Mr. Smith. It is no good people being vindictive about this.
If there is further pressure from the United Nations I would remind the Government that there have been 175 resolutions aimed at India on the subject of Kashmir in the last 18 years and that India has not carried out the wishes of the United Nations, but India is still there. Therefore, it seems surprising to me that Great Britain should feel that she must of necessity bend to the will of the United Nations if the Government of the day believe it is not correct to do so.
I cannot help feeling that the Government have shifted their ground on the question of sanctions in changing from the original undertaking not to impose coercive or penal ones and now should talk about a complete trading embargo, including oil.
If there is pressure on Rhodesia in the United Nations, it is the duty of the British Government to protect Rhodesia from it, because it is the people of Rhodesia as a whole who matter. We say in the Act that we have passed that Rhodesia is still one of Britain's dominions and that the Government in Whitehall is the Government in Rhodesia. If that is so, we should be protecting Rhodesia from outside pressure and we should be prepared to do it the whole way.
In the meantime, I am quite certain about one thing only, because there is so much uncertainty here. The vital thing is to keep the lines open. If we are going to insist that Mr. Smith cannot be dealt with by us and that we are prepared to wait until he disappears miraculously from the scene. I foresee great trouble and tragedy ahead. The Government must be prepared to go to the Rhodesians, through the Governor, and tell them what plans they have for constitutional changes so that they may find some way of meeting together, because that is our only hope of getting out of one of the most tragic and unpleasant episodes that I have known during my time in the House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, having sat through the past fortnight, I can tell you that I 616 have done so with a sickness of heart and mind which I hope I shall never have to experience in the House again.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
All of us in the House are deeply concerned about the effect upon the people of Rhodesia of the actions that have been taking place over the last few weeks. We are also concerned about their effect upon Britain's position, not only in Africa but in the world. These are matters of very grave concern to all of us, and I accept that the hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) is as greatly concerned about the interests of this country and our influence in Africa and the world as we are on this side.
What amazes me is that for years, even at the time of the Federation, Mr. Smith and Prime Ministers before him have known that there are people whom I would not describe as enemies of the Queen but as competitors in the world of commerce and politics, not only from behind the Iron Curtain but among many of our own friends, who legitimately compete for markets in Africa, notably the Americans. I have been to Rhodesia myself, and everyone with influence and power in Salisbury has always known that.
The greatest factor leading up to the danger of a decline of British influence in Africa is any action which can afford opportunities to our competitors in politics and economics. British influence in Africa will be finished if Britain fails to protect Rhodesia. It must be remembered that Rhodesia has 220,000 White Rhodesians and 4¼ million coloured Rhodesians, but they are all Rhodesians. Together they constitute Rhodesia, and the world will measure Britain's influence and ability to protect Rhodesia from the standpoint of our protecting all the citizens of Rhodesia.
I feel rather sick when I am told that anything we do to try and crush the rebellion will worsen our position in the world and that, apart from ourselves, the only people who will suffer are the coloured Rhodesians. If I lived in Salisbury in the privileged position in which many very good Rhodesians live, I would issue a message that as far as I am concerned if I employ any coloured labour, I will do the best that I can to protect 617 them as well as myself from the effects of any world action to break down that rebellion. In fact, what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that if any hardship is to be suffered by Rhodesia, which is row governed by a white minority, the whites there will see to it that the principal victims are the coloured people. To me that is a reflection on our kith and kin who are now governing in Rhodesia, but that is what the hon. Gentleman and many other hon. Members are saying.
§ Mr. Goodhew
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. I have said that we will inflict misery and suffering on the 4 million Africans for whose protection we are responsible. The imposition of sanctions is bound to affect them as well as the others, but it is bound to affect them first, because it is the poorest people who suffer first in these circumstances. This is inevitable.
§ Mr. Bence
The logic of that is that the responsibility which rested on us to protect these unfortunate 4¼ million coloured Rhodesians has now been removed from us by Mr. Smith's action, and has been taken over by himself and his Government. It is now their responsibility to protect these unfortunate people, but the hon. Gentleman does not believe that they will do so. He believes that Mr. Smith and his colleagues will visit oh these coloured people the worst hardships of the action that has been taken by countries which are determined to crush this rebellion.
§ Mr. Goodhew
Surely the position is that slowly but steadily we are going to bring Rhodesia to her knees economically, if we are to succeed at all in doing what has been said during the last fortnight. If we bring her to her knees economically, with the best will in the world there will not be employment for the people who are now employed there, and I am thinking also of people from Zambia and Malawi.
§ Mr. Bence
That brings me to my next point. If we follow the logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument and the arguments which have been advanced in this House during the last two or three weeks, it means that if a rebellion is of such a nature that in attempting to crush it one 618 causes suffering to the people in that country, the rebellion must be permitted to proceed and one must do nothing about it.
If we feel that if we do not do anything about the rebellion other nations might take some action, what do we do then? Most of us have had to take as many agonising decisions as the hon. Gentleman has, but I made up my mind very quickly that if action was to be taken to maintain British influence and to show that we were still a great nation of integrity, I would prefer Britain to take strong and firm action against any revolt which intended to create a tyrannical position rather than abdicate our responsibilities and allow the matter to be dealt with by other nations through the United Nations. I think that my right hon. Friend was right in making sure that this Parliament would give the British Government the responsibility and duty of looking after the 4½ million coloured people in Rhodesia whom we believe will be completely ignored by the Smith Government.
The hon. Gentleman talked about sabre rattling. Those who have been here during times such as Suez and other events are surprised at the use of this extraordinary expression. I have always objected to sabre rattling. I do not want to see British forces employed in wars in Africa or anywhere else. I have always advocated disarmament and the reduction of British forces. I am getting on a bit now, but this is the first time in my life that I have heard the Establishment in this country—and I presume the hon. Gentleman regards himself as being a spokesman for the Establishment, whatever that might be—the Conservative Party, which I suppose is the party of the ancient Establishment, retreat from or disclaim any duty or right to rattle the sabre or to use it.
Surely nations have always rattled the sabre when there has been a revolt. Many people have suggested that the British Government should do nothing, or do something only if it has no effect. I have listened to broadcasts and speeches, and I have read newspapers, and I have come to the conclusion that the Opposition is divided into two groups, one of which says, "Take the strongest action you can, but if it endangers anyone in Rhodesia do not do it", and the other 619 which says, "Do not take any action at all. You cannot crush Smith now that he is in power. You cannot do anything about it. You cannot land troops there, and in any case you have renounced the use of force and the rattling of the sabre."
I have carried out some researches into the subject and have found that this is the first time in history that a British Government have refused to rattle the sabre when there has been a revolt.
§ Mr. Bence
I had forgotten that there have been periods when the Liberals governed the country. The hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) referred to the "bloody end to the régime". I had better be careful or I shall be pulled up by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who reminded me of Gladstone and Majuba—but most rebellions against the British Crown have ended up in bloodshed.
I do not think that it will happen that way on this occasion, if we obtain united Parliamentary support for the moderate policies that my right hon. Friend is pursuing. Damage is being done to the prospects of a peaceful solution of the problem by the equivocation of the Opposition. I am sorry for this, because I know that many hon. Members opposite resent the action of the Smith Government. As the hon. Member for St. Albans said, there are forces at work which are seeking to drive British interests out of Africa, and I believe that Mr. Smith and the group behind him—many of them emigrés from the Union of South Africa—are helping them.
I do not think that Mr. Smith is acting out of malice, but he is misguided and mistaken. If anyone is doing anything to harm British interests in Africa it is the Smith Government and not this Parliament. But equivocation may well help to destroy our prospects, and my right hon. Friend will not be to blame. We must remember the statement in the Blue Book, attributing to Mr. Smith the remark that "We do not believe in majority government and will do all we can to frustrate it". It was well known that Mr. Smith said that.
620 I am not arguing for immediate majority rule in Rhodesia. No one is arguing for that. The 1961 Constitution does not provide for it.
§ Mr. Goodhew
As I mentioned in my speech, when the Labour Party was in Opposition it was demanding one man, one vote. That is why it voted against the 1961 Constitution.
§ Mr. Bence
Anyone who knows the British Parliament also knows that on both sides of the House there are individuals who make speeches expressing their own points of view. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said things this afternoon which I hope will not be quoted in Salisbury. I hope that it will not be taken that my hon. Friends and I are supporting him. We are certainly not.
It is easy for hon. Members to quote selected speeches from one side of the House or the other. When I came into the House in 1951, one of the first things I did—there had been a change of Government, we were now the Opposition, after six years, and the Conservatives, under the leadership of Sir Winston Churchill, were the Government—was to look up various volumes of HANSARD. I discovered that, in nine cases out of ten, the same speeches were made from different sides of the House.
I spent about two years in this exercise and I found it all very difficult to understand. I readily agree that when one is in Government and recognises one's responsibilities one has an opportunity to take, not a different point of view, but perhaps a little less stringent attitude to certain problems——
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire South)
That is all very interesting and we have all enjoyed it, but the hon. Member has not said why the party opposite—not individuals—voted against the 1961 Constitution.
§ Mr. Bence
Because the problem developing then arose out of the collapse of the Federation. My party was against federation because it had been imposed on the three States and they did not accept it. The 1961 Constitution for Southern Rhodesia laid down some things to which we objected. I remember that we objected to some African nominations to the Legislature. However, 621 we did not object to the Consultation as a whole. It is quite an old tactic—I do not complain about it—which the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) has used. I am certain that we did not object to the objectives of the Constitution. We objected to certain parts of it, just as the party opposite object very often not to the whole of a Measure but to certain parts of it and such speeches are sometimes quoted as representing objections to the whole Measure.
§ Mr. Goodhew
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Prime Minister himself claimed the other day that he had voted against the 1961 Constitution. He said that Mr. Smith had done the same and suggested that this was one thing which they had in common. This is a matter of history, according to the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
My hon. Friend will remember that, with many of us, he voted against the composition of the A and B rolls, the arithmetic of the franchise.
§ Mr. Bence
Yes—the coloured nominations to the Legislature. I have forgotten the details. However, that does not alter the case which I am making.
The hon. Member for St. Albans spoke about a bloody end to this régime. As I have pointed out—I am sure hon. Members will agree with me—such régimes often end that way. Even if they were sustained, bloodshed was usually the consequence. No hon. Member wants to see bloodshed as the result of crushing this revolt. We must recognise the world 622 as it is, the relation of nation States to each other as it is, when an action is taken and is accepted by all—by one's friends, one's allies and the international organisations of which one is a part.
In Rhodesia we have seen an illegal action. If we are to sustain our multiracial Commonwealth and our influence in the world, and the faith which other countries have in us, then if we set out on the path of sanctions we must recognise that the ultimate sanction is the final instrument of law—the use of force in one form or another. In one's own country the final instrument is the policeman. We cannot baulk this issue. If we want to save British influence in Africa and in the world, we must follow this path to its logical conclusion.
I hope that the result will be achieved by further negotiations and by the Smith Government withdrawing from its position, and without any other force being called in to help. I hope that we can do it in our own sovereign rights, as we are entitled to do, and I believe that we are doing our best to achieve it. If we are to do this, as I believe we can, both sides of the House must wholeheartedly support the Government.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
Connoisseurs of the House of Commons know that we owe a genuine tribute to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), because we know that when the House gets thin and speakers on this side of the House start to outnumber speakers on the Government side of the House, the usual channels go into the tea room, search around and find the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am paying him a tribute. I am saying that he never fails not only to come forward but to make a speech of great fluency, eloquence and very considerable relevance.
§ Mr. Iremonger
I accept that from the hon. Member. In any case, it was obvious that even if the speech was impromptu, the subject had been a matter of great concern and prolonged 623 thought for him, as it has been for every hon. Member.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) struck exactly the right note, hopefully, as they say in the United States, in opening the debate, when he asked a number of shrewd and penetrating questions on the practical aspects and application of the Order. I hope that he will receive answers from the Government in due course. He was right and wise to express the hope that the whole debate would be conducted on that technical level. But I am afraid it is evident that he has been disappointed in that hope, because it is asking too much of hon. Members who so far have been able to say nothing through all these debates which we have had to ask that they should not use the debate on this technical Order as an opportunity for some soul-searching and examination of the profound questions which underly the application of the Order.
My right hon. and learned Friend has already expressed his general view, as has my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. They have both so far supported the Government's policies. I want to make it quite clear to the House, bluntly and frankly, that I support them in that. The support which my right hon. Friends have given to the Government's policy so far has been generally acceptable to the country—even on Monday evenings in most places. I have received a letter from a constituent which I hope the House will excuse my reading because it expresses something of which we should be aware. It comes from a Congregational minister—not a person, I should have thought, who was very closely involved in party politics. He writes:Concerned at continuing reports of possible disagreement over Government actions in connection with the Rhodesian crisis, I want you to know that here at least are two of your constituents who agree with the policy and support the actions taken so far. We are anxious that this matter should remain above the realm of party politics and that all parties should continue to strive together for eventual majority rule in Rhodesia.I am not all that terribly sympathetic towards the views of people who seem to imagine that everything can be taken out of party politics because, certainly on important matters, there is usually more than one view. It is foolish for there 624 to be more than two views, and it is important that those two should be vigorously expressed. I replied to that letter:I think it wrong or childish for the two parties to disagree simply for the sake of disagreement, but, on the other hand, I think it equally wrong to acquiesce in policies which one believes to be mistaken simply for the sake of maintaining a pretence at national unity.I hope that my right hon. Friends will temper our support with criticism where necessary and that the differences which we on this side of the House express will really be differences on matters of principle and not merely nagging and quibbling little points in order to give the appearance of opposition and curry favour with people whose support, certainly in this matter, would seem to be a very doubtful asset. We know what the issue is and what it is about. I hope that we will not pretend to be on the side of the right while making much of pettifogging criticism and picking on some detail which enables us to disagree on a small item, little more than punctuation.
I have heard it said that there is not a matter of principle involved here, but I rather think that there is. I may be naïve, but on the very lowest, most personal and simple level I might point out that I took the oath of allegiance at the Box when I took my seat in the House. That is the matter of principle involved in the attitude which I take to my Parliamentary duties in the context of that oath.
I should have thought, to narrow it a little more, down to the question of the principles of political parties, that it has historically been a principle of the Conservative Party that we should have some concern for constitutionality. It seems that a fundamental constitutional principle is involved here.
However, there are other matters of principle which exist, and they are best brought out by examining the division of opinion in the broadest possible terms. If there is a division of opinion in the country—and there cannot be any fundamental division of opinion in the House on this issue because when it came to the crunch no hon. Member voted against the Enabling Bill—it can be expressed as being broadly between those who want constitutional Government under the 625 Crown restored in Rhodesia, effectively and as soon as possible, guaranteeing steady progress towards majority rule, and those who feel in their hearts—and few besides Mr. Colin Jordan actually say it—ghat they want Mr. Smith to win.
When people say, "Three cheers for Mr. Smith!" they are demonstrating—and this is the matter of principle that divides those who have the two views—support for an act of rebellion. And I do not think that the nature of that act can be blurred by talk about there being faults on both sides. Whatever faults there may have been on the part of both parties in the United Kingdom, over a long time and culminating in this situation, I do not think that there has been any fault of thought or word or deed on our side that is seriously comparable in gravity with an act of rebellion such as that committed by Mr. Smith.
Those who say, "Three cheers for Mr. Smith!" are voicing support for what seems to me to be an essentially un-British, repressive and coercive régime, the whole impetus and bias of which runs counter, I should have thought—and I do not want to be pompous or sanctimonious—to our national character, kith and kin notwithstanding, and to the policy of successive British Governments. It runs counter to the policy of Mr. Macmillan and of my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), to go back not so very far—policies put before, and accepted with every semblance of enthusiasm by, the House of Commons, to say nothing of successive Conservative Party Conferences.
I am not sure that I think it anything less than a matter of principle to express support for a régime which recommends a visiting journalist, through the agency of its official Information Office, to visit a certain family which will give him an insight into the attitude of Rhodesians in Rhodesia, with the result that the journalist finds that the philosophy expressed by those recommended people is, "These blacks are responsible for all the trouble in the world. It's blacks, blacks, blacks. I'd shoot the lot". It seems to me that a matter of principle is involved there.
I do not think that this attitude is typical of Rhodesians. I know that it is not typical of Lord Malvern, whom no 626 one would call a longhaired Left-winger. I notice with great interest what he said in The Times, and I think that hon. Members opposite, who might well have thought that they were not great friends of Lord Malvern when he was Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, would be very glad, in the light of what he has said, to have him now.
It is obviously not the view of the former Chief Justice of Rhodesia, who refused to administer the latest coercive Act—I forget what it is called; I can hardly put my tongue round the name of it—the Law and Order Act, or some hypocritical thing like that. At any rate, it is not the Chief Justice's view. He resigned and refused to have anything to do with it.
I do not know, but I believe from what I am told by people who certainly have better first-hand evidence than I, that it is not the view of the legal profession in general in Rhodesia. We know that it is certainly not the view of the churches, because on this matter they have been more politically articulate than any other responsible body in Rhodesia. It is not the view of the senior people in the teaching profession, and it is not the view of those in the most responsible and powerful posts in finance, industry and commerce.
One therefore believes and hopes, albeit recognising that there is here a matter of principle, that the view expressed by the recommended interviewees for the Sunday Telegraph is a grotesque aberration. All the same, this is the view of the people who put in power the present principal administrators in the country in the persons of Mr. Smith's illegal Government.
People who say, "Three cheers for Mr. Smith" are demonstrating support for a false idea that the only alternative to Mr. Smith, the abyss from which Mr. Smith is holding back white Rhodesia and the Christian values of our civilisation which he is supporting, is a Congo type of independence.
I think it tragic that the appalling inadequacy, for which we must all take some blame, and the demonstrable viciousness of African politicians in Southern Rhodesia should be as it is. Anyone who saw on successive occasions Southern Rhodesian Africans giving their 627 views on the political solution of present problems must have had a very sobering experience. Any enthusiasm they might have had for the early handing over of Government to those people, I should have thought, would have been tempered by what they saw.
If I have rightly drawn the great divide, let me frankly say, if hon. Members find it difficult to deduce it, what side I am on. I am with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I am with the whole House of Commons as demonstrated by the allegiance they have made by oath. I do not want Mr. Smith to win, most certainly I do not. That is not to say that I do not want Her Majesty's Government, the Crown, the United Kingdom to come to terms with Rhodesians and white Rhodesians at that—I do. I believe that the restoration of constitutional government in Southern Rhodesia, assuming that measures taken can and do succeed, cannot be achieved in any other way than by coming to terms with Rhodesian people.
Unless the United Kingdom is to undertake armed conquest—I think somehow that is not going to be "on"—or unless someone else does it for us—which is not by any means so uncertain an eventuality—unless something frightful like that happens, the initiative has got to come from, or the will has got at least to exist in, responsible anti-Smith patriots with whom we can treat in Southern Rhodesia. But I hope that no hon. Member is deluded into romantic notions that there is some sort of parallel here with the American War of Independence and that magnanimity is any word for the appeasement of Smith and the men behind him. It is very easy to say that this rebellion is wrapped up in the Union Jack. Apartheid is wrapped up in the Bible, but it is the negation of the doctrine of charity, compassion and love which is the centre and heart and sole importance of the New Testament. Those who speak of magnanimity with Mr. Smith in mind might reflect that George III and Lord North, if they were to have compromised with Washington, would not have been compromising with something, even in the context of their time, essentially evil, as my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) said, something profoundly 628 offensive to friends and to allies and to the British Commonwealth.
Let us be clear what this something evil is. I will put it in the most objective terms that I can muster. What is offensive, evil and objectionable is the permanent establishment of rule without consent by a minority people over a majority people of alien culture. It does not seem to be possible, anyway, for an alien culture to be indefinitely imposed upon another. I do not know why it is that way, but it just seems to be so. Something goes wrong. There is some short circuit in the process of human sympathy which means that one simply cannot rule indefinitely a people of a totally alien culture. Nobody has ever seemed to manage to do it.
That is the tragedy of the Union of South Africa. That is why they have drifted the way they have. I do not think they are necessarily evil men. They have come to the inevitable impasse which every people come to when they have to maintain dominance over other people. If any one wanted the classic Marxian situation—I do not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget); it is not the difference between wogs with trousers on, as he so eloquently put it, and those without—it is to be found in the Union of South Africa. It consists in the difference between those who have economic, social and political power and those who have not, when those classes are absolutely permanently distinguishable from one another by some mark which everyone can recognise, and in this case it happens to be pigmentation of the skin. Of course it is the classic Marxian situation. I do not think that there is a single Conservative hon. Member in the House with any independence of mind, who, if he were born in the Union of South Africa and had the wit and courage to learn to read and found "Das Kapital", would not say to himself, "This is it". I am sorry that this is a thing of tragedy which eats into the lives of good and decent men whom I think it would be very wrong to be too sanctimonious in censuring. It is a tragedy which does not happen to us. We are fortunate.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
My hon. Friend referred to Burke's statement about magnanimity in politics. I think that his 629 observation was perhaps, in part anyway, directed at me as I ventured to quote that and said that magnanimity was still a good quality in these sort of matters. I made it clear. I said that Mr. Smith's Government had acted illegally, wrongly and foolishly. But my hon. Friend says that there is no parallel at all with what Mr. Burke was saying two centuries ago, and gave his reasons. Is he aware—I am sure he must be—from his researches that one of the points taken against Mr. Burke by supporters of the Government in 1775 and 1776 was that the American colonists of those days were practising slavery in the United States?
§ Mr. Iremonger
I think that my right hon. and learned Friend has not been in the House when this has been debated.
§ Mr. Iremonger
I think it is a very good debating point, but the answer to it is perfectly fair and perfectly true. Nobody defends the slave trade, in spite of the peculiar sanctimoniousness that we all bring to bear on history, but I really do not think that the evil of those who were slave owners in the American colonies tainted the whole conception of independence which they were demanding for themselves, as a Government dedicated to certain propositions, in the same way as the philosophy of the Smith Government taints the independence which they are trying to get from the Crown now.
It is a matter of opinion, of moral judgment, and I may well be wrong. But I hope that I would not have found it too difficult to see the point that Burke was making. I hope that I would not have found it too difficult to support his suggestion that there might have been a possibility of coming to terms with Washington with honour. I find it rather difficult, however, to stomach the thought of coming to terms with Mr. Smith.
None the less, I think that one must come to terms with Rhodesia. So, although I say that we must not treat with the men in rebellion, and that to do so would be a betrayal of those who oppose them—loyal patriots who resist and resent Smith and are our kith and kin as well, if one must have it—and who 630 look to this House and to the Government to support them in such efforts as they can make in a modern police state. We must make contact with the opponents of the Smith régime.
As has been rightly said, we got into this mess by not having powers such as we are taking now from 1923 onwards while at the same time taking responsibility for the possibility that things might go wrong as they have. It is very much easier to blame from hindsight, however, than it would have been to prevent by foresight. But now we have to decide how far we are to go.
Obviously, we are going to go the whole way, limited only by consideration of practicability, with sanctions—and the more effective the better. I do not think that there is anything in this quibble about whether or not they are punitive. The point about sanctions not being punitive is that they should not be punitive in their motivation but that they should be punitive in their effect otherwise they will not be effective.
If we are to say, "We know that these sanctions will not succeed but they will hurt, so let us impose them", that is punitive and silly and we should not do it. But if we say that sanctions must be effective and that we are sorry but they will have to hurt because they must be punitive in order to be effective, then the punitive element does not seem to me to make them unacceptable.
If sanctions fail, what are we to do? At this stage it is dangerous to start talking about force—yes or no, what kind and who by. I do not think that it can be ruled out, however, because, as I have said, the initiative may not come from us. The whole question is too hypothetical. The circumstances are too difficult to conceive. But it would be foolish to say to the illegal government in Rhodesia that one thing they can be quite certain about is that there will never be any danger, in the last resort, of force being brought to bear on them.
As I have said, I do not think armed conquest is on in the situation we have at present. But there will be violence of one kind or another, from one source or another, and we should be careful at this stage as to what our reaction may have to be.
631 I end as I began. I believe that wrong has prevailed in Rhodesia. I believe that my right hon. Friends are right in supporting the Government in opposing that wrong, and I believe that this broad unity of purpose is in accord with the mood of the country. While remaining watchful and critical, I believe that we should leave this country, Rhodesia and the world in no doubt of where we stand on this side of the House. We may be critical of the Government and naturally we must look at everything they do with our usual constructive unfriendliness, but all the same, while we may not say "Three cheers for the Government", we are certainly not saying "Three cheers for Mr. Smith".
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
I hope that it will not sound presumptuous of me to say that the debate has been intensely interesting, intensely informative and marked by great sincerity. I hope that the fact that I want to address myself directly to the Order on a rather technical point will not lower the tone of the debate. The very fact that this has been a wide-ranging debate supports the case which I want to make against one or two parts of the Order.
My challenging the Order is because I want to preserve the right of the House to debate this subject in full as developments proceed and as changes come about and the situation develops and it is necessary for the Government in this country to take action. As it stands, the Order may well cheat the House of its right to debate and to criticise the acts of the Executive.
It is of great importance that the House should see that the Order, No. 1952 of 1965, is within the powers of the Executive as they were given by the Act recently passed, the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965. I say that it is of the greatest importance, because the Order sets up a new Government and Constitution, which, we hope, will eventually affect millions of people in Rhodesia. It is also of great importance because the whole basis of what the House and the Government have been doing about Rhodesia over the past few weeks has been aimed at upholding the rule of law, and we should be meticulous 632 about seeing that we ourselves maintain the rule of law.
Section 2(3) of the Act gives power to make the Order. It says:An Order in Council under this section may make or authorise the making of such incidental, supplemental and consequential provisions as appear to Her Majesty to be expedient for the purposes of the Order …With an Order in Council of this nature it is necessary to have an affirmative Resolution passed by both Houses within 28 days of the Order being made, so that the Order must come before the House for debate. The exercise of the power in Section 2(3) is this Order.
If I may call them Articles of the Order and Sections of the Act in order to distinguish them; Article 3(1,c) of the Order says:Her Majesty in Council may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia, including laws having extraterritorial operation.This is permission for a grandchild. The parent is the Act and the Order before us is the child and Article 3(1,c) gives permission for a grandchild, but gives permission for the grandchild to be born in secret. This is because the next few lines of the Order read:Orders in Council made under subsection (1,c) of this section may confer powers (including the power to make laws) …This is going one generation further. It is all right when we are at the grandchild stage and making the Order under Article 3(1,c) because that will be made by Her Majesty in Council by Order in Council and, on the advice of her Ministers, the discretion will be exercised, as required by the Act itself, to see whether there is an unconstitutional act upon which the Order is based.
Turning to Article 3(2), with the creation of the great-grandchild, the Order goes beyond the powers given by the Act. This Article may be needed for setting up some new legislative body to take the place of the Legislature in Rhodesia, but the Act itself did not permit this sub-sub-delegation of legislation. When it is necessary to do that the Government should come before the House with an Order under the main Act. This would be an Order requiring an affirmative Resolution within 28 days, instead of the Government doing it merely by laying the Order before the House.
633 Article 3(2) is therefore ultra vires the power given to the Government under the Act. If I am wrong, and I do not think that I am wrong on the legal aspect of this, it is certainly cheating the House of something which was expected in the debates when we were passing the Bill into an Act. We certainly expected that Orders of this nature would come before the House on an affirmative Resolution and not merely be laid on the Table with-cut any Parliamentary procedure at all, either affirmative or negative, to sanction it. I hope that the right hon. and learned Attorney-General will produce another Statutory Instrument deleting the words, "may confer powers (including the powers to make laws)" in Article 3(2). That would put the matter right and remedy my first Constitutional objection to this Order.
My second objection comes through Article 3(1,c) and it is that that Article is not limited as is required by the Act itself. When one looks at the Act for the power to make these Orders and sub-Orders and sub-sub-Orders, one sees the phrase in each case, in each subsection of the Actas appears to Her"—that, Her Majesty, of course—to be necessary or expedient",in consequence of any unconstitutional action taken therein. The power to make an Order under Section 2(1) of the Act must have that condition precedent, art unconstitutional action taken in Southern Rhodesia. The same is true in Section 2(2). The words appear once more:as appears to Her to be necessary or expedient".Her Majesty must find a condition precedent before making an Order. The words appear again in Section 2(3). They do not appear in Article 3(1,c) of the Order. That Article is again ultra vires the power given under the Act.
My third objection relates to the same Article, Article 3(1,c). Anything done under that Article will, as the right hon. and learned Attorney-General confirmed in his opening speech, have to be done by Order in Council. It will be an Order in Council which is authorised and relies entirely for its existence and validity upon the Order before us now which, in turn, depends for its existence upon Sections 2 634 and 3 of the Act. As the child Order before us now is under a Section of the parent Act, so also the grandchild born under Section 1(3,c) has its origin under the Act and is an Order in Council under the Act. For the Order to say that such a sub-delegation Order can merely be laid on the Table and not come within the provisions of the Act by a 28 day affirmative Resolution is outside the powers given to the Executive by the Act.
Those are three technical objections, but they have a very real meaning. In every case they empower the Executive to make Orders of the greatest importance which set up an entirely new Constitution for Rhodesia and an entirely new Government for Rhodesia and have extraterritorial effects on people outside Rhodesia and their property outside Rhodesia. This Order purports to authorise Her Majesty in Council, first, to make an Order authorising some unknown person, some unelected person, it may be some unappointed person, to create laws, a Constitution and a Government for Rhodesia. We shall merely have the Order thrown on the Table, take it or leave, it, with no debate.
This is not the right way to bring about an alteration in the Constitution of Rhodesia, and it is not the right way to treat the House. I hope that the Attorney-General will give us the assurance that if any of these Orders are brought in before he amends the Order before us tonight he will bring them in under the Act with the 28 day affirmative Resolution and will not try to bring them in without debate.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)
The fortunate fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) was called to speak before me has saved me making a very similar speech, but which, I frankly confess, would not have been nearly as clear in its application or detail as his. Therefore, I shall be able to content myself with a very few remarks, including endorsement of every word that my hon. Friend said.
I wish to refer to only one aspect of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger), namely, the criticism of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for 635 Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), who, I think, and I hope that every hon. Member on both sides of the House thinks, made one of the very few truly constructive speeches that we have heard throughout these debates. I have been longing to hear someone from either side of the House getting away from the purely negative attitude about what we can do to repair the breach which has occurred between our countries.
§ Mr. Iremonger
I am entirely in agreement with my hon. Friend and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) on the desirability of making a bridge. But let not one side of the bridge be built on the sand of rebellion.
§ Sir F. Bennett
My hon. Friend has merely taken the opportunity to renew his eloquence, but he has made no different point from the one to which I was referring. I have not criticised him. The only criticism which I made, after listening to him with great attention and without interruption, was that I did not think that his criticisms of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East were fair. My right hon. and learned Friend made an excellent speech about what needs to be done in this context.
There has been more than a little byplay between my colleagues on comparisons with the American rebellion and the nobility of their motives. We want to be a little less sanctimonious about this. I have no excuse to offer for what Mr. Smith has done. I made that perfectly clear on the last occasion that I addressed the House. His was an absolutely unlawful act which should never have occurred. It was an extremely stupid and wrong act. Having said that, I do not think that we want to gloss over too much the purity of the motives of those who rebelled in the 1700s. For we know that the spark which set off the tinder in those days was the unpleasant taxes levied against the rich merchants in Boston. Just because 200 years have passed, do not let us gloss over this. We have heard too a little bit about the slave population there and I have been to the trouble of taking out the racial statistics. Admittedly the ratio was not 12 to 1. If, however, one adds 636 the entirely unrepresented Red Indians plus the slaves, one finds that the whites were not in the majority in that part of the world. We do not want to sanctify those revolutionaries, the rich merchants of Boston, any more than what Mr. Smith has done now. We want a little less of this cant.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North said that he was unable to stomach the idea of coming to terms with Mr. Smith. I have gone through just the same things and learnt my lesson. I never wanted to come to terms with Archbishop Makarios. We have all had that feeling at times, but in the end we have to do it. I do not want to go into more invidious names, but there are in the Commonwealth people whose ethical and political conduct is not that much superior to Mr. Smith, but we have welcomed them back into the fold and entertained them at Buckingham Palace. We have made deals with people whom we have described here as thugs, and we will have to do so again.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
Would not the hon. Member agree that the gentlemen to whom he is referring were representative of the majority of the people in their country? When Mr. Smith represents the majority of Rhodesian people, perhaps the hon. Member's argument will bear examination.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I do not want to argue about exact mathematics, but, as between majorities and minorities, there is a substantial minority in Cyprus belonging to the Turkish community who would not regard Archbishop Makarios as representative of their point of view. To proceed on the basis that a 51 per cent. representation gives unlimited rights of tyranny is not what we want.
My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby has made a point concerning Section 3(1,c) of the Order which requires a serious answer. When all of us supported the Enabling Bill without a Division, we certainly were given an undertaking that there would be an opportunity to debate the Orders. I should think that everyone would regard it as rather a cheat if now a form of Order—it has been called a grandchild, but I can think of a ruder word—that could be born under the Act or under an Order could be made without reference to this House. Serious explanation is required, 637 because the House has been very much misled into supporting the Enabling Bill, whereas we might have taken a different view if we had known that a whole series of other Orders could be made under an Order without reference to the House. One reason why we did not oppose the enabling Bill was because we were given to understand that there would be an opportunity to debate every Order relating to this situation.
The debate has ranged widely and I want to make only two other points. Those of us who feel serious doubts about the whole progress of events concerning Rhodesia must not be thought to be in support of what has happened out there. There has been a regrettable tendency in certain quarters—I do not say in general—to think that everybody who is doubtful about our Government's attitude to what is happening in Rhodesia has, in some sort of way, some secret support for Mr. Smith. That is not so in the case of the great majority of my hon. Friends.
We all have, however, a conscientious right to be doubtful about the measures that are proposed to rectify the situation and the precise methods which the Government are pursuing. Although, obviously, I have no love for the present Government, nevertheless I do not want them to be humiliated. I do not want this country or this House of Commons to be humiliated. If we proceed upon our present path, we are running a serious risk of humiliation.
I do not think the present measures proposed by the Government will bring the Rhodesian Government down, and I do not believe that this country is prepared to use the only measure which we could be certain would, which would be military force on a very considerable scale. I believe that in several months' time we shall be in exactly the same position as we are now as we sit here debating tonight, and that we shall not have achieved anything except the humiliation of this House, of the party opposite, and of the country as a whole. I hope that hon. and right hon. Members opposite realise the risks which are involved in this.
§ Mr. Ennals
Would not the hon. Member agree that one of the best ways of ensuring that the situation which he has 638 described as that which will happen—that Mr. Smith is still there in some months from now—is to say what he has done earlier in his speech, that he expects this will happen and that we shall have to come to terms?
§ Sir F. Bennett
If the hon. Member really thinks it is the duty of an hon. Member of this House deliberately to connive at something in which he does not believe and does not believe will happen he has a different interpretation from mine of what an hon. Member's duties are. I believe, however, that it is one of the duties of an hon. Member to say what he thinks is right or wrong, and I do not believe that we do make it a better policy by not saying whether we think it is right or wrong. There are hon. Members opposite who have not hesitated to say they thought a policy was wrong, either of this party or even of their own. However, I do not want to get mixed up in party politics tonight.
The other reason why some of us have very grave doubts about the policies which we have before us is that we do not believe we have any right to be quite as smug as some of us are being. I have taken the trouble to check up on some of the actual figures of the people who will get hurt by these policies, and badly hurt.
The white settlers may be rather worse off, they may lose a certain amount of fat off their bones, but are hon. and right hon. Members opposite aware of the fact, for instance, that 90 per cent. of all the workers who are going to be planting—or not planting—the tobacco crop next spring are citizens of Malawi or of the Portuguese colonies or of Zambia? These will be the people who will get the sack. The people who own the tobacco farms may have to tighten their belts, and may in due course of time be painfully aware that they took U.D.I., but the people who are to be reduced to a hare subsistence level by the actions coldly, callously, calculatedly taken by this House are the citizens of countries neighbouring Rhodesia.
It may be that hon. and right hon. Members opposite are so sure of the purity of their actions that they do not worry about this. I do feel extremely worried about it, and that is why I have addressed the House this evening.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
I do not propose to detain the House very long, and I apologise for intervening without having heard all the speeches today, but I did sit through both the other occasions without success in catching the eye of the Chair.
We are asked to approve this Order in Council. I think enough has been said already to make it unnecessary for me to emphasise that we are assuming unto ourselves by it a power and an authority which we are practically powerless to discharge. Nevertheless, the action by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, illegal as it was, gives us virtually no choice but to assume the powers which this Order gives us. But the fact that it does not put us in the position effectively to discharge our responsibilities means, surely, that it is a position which we take not only with regret but regarding it as a thoroughly temporary position which we ought not to be in any longer than is necessary.
From that one leads on to the question how we are to change the situation in Rhodesia honourably and to meet our responsibilities to all the peoples there. This is where I want quite briefly to introduce a note, which I have not heard sounded as yet. There seems to be some debate going on as to whether there is a principle at stake. The reason why I do not regard a principle as being at stake is that I think most of us are anxious to discover what is the expedient way to bring about a satisfactory solution to Rhodesia, and to that extent it is expediency which must govern our thoughts. I do not myself believe that ruthless, whole hog sanctions will produce a change in Rhodesia.
I had no hesitation in supporting the proposals of the Government, nor have I now, largely because it was Britain and only Britain that was involved. I do not want to develop that point, because it is one which may arise later this evening but one fact is clear. So long as we are concerned with withholding goods coming from Rhodesia to us, we are in quite a different position from the one that we are in if we attempt to withhold goods going from us or from any other country to Rhodesia. I am very sorry that the visit to the United Nations has introduced an international element into a situation 640 which I would have hoped would be kept solely a British one.
Whether or not we can bring about a change at the other end, I cannot help thinking that many people who disapprove of Mr. Smith's ideas and his handling of responsibilities at that end fear that Britain will insist upon majority rule in an unreasonable short time, perhaps even as short a time as two years. Speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite lend great colour to the view in Rhodesia that that might happen. The only way that we shall get moderate opinion to risk the consequences of challenging the Administration there is to make it quite clear that we are willing to give them a reasonable period in which to adjust themselves to the time when majority rule shall prevail.
§ Sir S. Summers
I hear the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) ask "How long?" I would not hesitate to say 10 years, and if the representatives of the African population think, as they have already indicated, that that is far too long, in the circumstances we should get on without their agreement.
§ Mr. Walden
The hon. Member will be aware that Mr. Smith has already said, as have many of his supporters, "Not in my lifetime" in reference to African majority rule.
§ Sir S. Summers
Precisely, and I am anxious that other people, knowing that we would give them 10 years, might come forward instead of Mr. Smith. I want that proposition put across and the notion completely ruled out that we in Britain are going to insist on as short a time as two years—I hope by the Government, but certainly by the Opposition.
The kernel of the problem is what is to be the time lag to enable Rhodesians as they are now governed to adjust themselves to majority rule. Little attention has been paid to what that period shall be. If the period that is thought necessary from a common sense point of view happens to be too long a period to suit those Africans now in prison, we shall just have to get on without their acquiescence.
641 I hope that the question of the time lag will be given very considerable prominence in the thoughts of all those who are seeking to build a bridge to enable better relations to exist than those which all of us deplore and which exist at the present time.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Mrs. Shirley Williams (Hitchin)
I shall not detain the House too long, but I feel bound to make one or two comments on the speeches that we have just heard.
I wonder if I might take up, first of all, the point made by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers)? One of the reasons why many people on both sides of the House find it difficult to take seriously any possibility of a move towards what is sometimes called responsible majority government within any foreseeable time under the present régime, even before it became an illegal one, is that at the present time there are only 86 Africans in the sixth forms, as we would call them, of African secondary schools. Only a few months ago the then legal Government of Mr. Smith made it quite clear that they could not further support Africans taking up positions in the sixth forms of otherwise European private schools, even though those Africans were welcome in the schools, because this was felt to be rushing the creation of multiracialism.
I do not believe that anybody who has been looking at what has been happening in Rhodesia in the last few years could possibly deny that the advance towards responsible Government was continually decelerating, and that far from our moving to a position where this was envisaged within 10 to 15 years, we were moving to a position where, like the Greek Calends it seemed something that would never come.
I believe that had U.D.I. been declared by Mr. Smith before the last General Election right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would today have been laying these same Orders before the House, and tint they would have been doing so with possibly greater support from their own side than is now the case. They would have been doing it because they would have had no alternative but to do it in the face of the illegal declaration of independence. I say that because it is 642 clear that this action leaves no alternative open to the United Kingdom; that it would not be possible to respond with less than these Orders, and most hon. Members know this to be the case.
Let us consider for a moment the position that was taken up by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in office. Let us remember the consistent courage of the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) in indicating to the Government of Southern Rhodesia, both under Mr. Winston Field and subsequently under Mr. Smith, that he could not accede to their wish for independence because of what he described as a wholly unrepresentative franchise. We should take note of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) who, when he was Prime Minister, made the same point time and again to the then Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and his predecessors.
We should take note of the position taken up by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod) when he was Colonial Secretary, when he said:We are faced now with the last and great challenge in East and Central Africa—the multiracial societies. Africa is now full of examples of the tragedy of going too fast in some areas and of going too slow in others. It is this which is above all a challenge to our statesmanship."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th July, 1961; Vol. 645, c. 267–8.]It is interesting to note that only a short time after that the leading article in the Spectator of 24th July, 1964, said:It would be fatal for Britain to encourage Whitehead, Welensky, et al to believe that the 1961 Constitution can last. That way bloodshed lies.The position taken up by both right hon. Gentlemen opposite and by newspapers which normally support them is a position which has led many of us on this side of the House to regard with great respect those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have consistently supported Her Majesty's Government in the Orders that they now feel obliged to make against the illegal régime in Salisbury; but, by the same token, it makes us feel something less than respect for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who, because they are in Opposition now, feel that they can take a rather different position from that which I feel they would have taken in Government.
643 There are perhaps just two points that I would make before sitting down. The first is that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said time and again that he wants, as far as possible, to try to keep Rhodesia as a British responsibility, but it would be unrealistic for us to suppose that we can keep Rhodesia as a purely British interest because the world has moved a long way from the position outlined by the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett). It simply is not possible to keep an explosive, racial situation isolated and insulated from movements of world opinion, and from the fierce, aggressive senses of inferiority and superiority that bedevil the world today.
Nobody who seriously thinks about the situation in Rhodesia can believe for a moment that the rest of Africa will simply sit there and permit this illegal régime to survive and survive and survive, thereby to prove that an unrepresentative Government and, what is more—and this is crucial—government by a racial minority which has no intention of sharing its responsibilities with the majority, can find a permanent and peaceful solution in a world as involved and as passionate as ours is.
Therefore, I beg hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to think of two things. The first is our responsibility to those Europeans both inside and outside Rhodesia who are loyal to Her Majesty's Government. I underline the word "outside" because of the extremely useful contribution made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) when he referred to the 200,000 Europeans who live under African Governments in Africa today, and the fate that they may encounter if it became believed widely in Africa that they would not be willing to accept representative Government.
Although many Governments in Africa have their faults and shortcomings—although they are sometimes corrupt and inefficient—generally speaking they are not marked by racial feeling or by the racial persecution of the minorities in their midst. Today, Europeans are teaching in the universities of Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, and are working in African Civil Services as voluntary workers and so forth. As far as I know, except in 644 the situation where order totally breaks down, as in the Congo, it has not been a characteristic of African society to be marked by extreme racial attitudes or by racial persecution.
In referring to their loyalty, I want to quote from a letter which has just reached me from Rhodesia. It comes from somebody who is not involved in politics and whose sympathies in this country do not lie on my side of the House. It comes from somebody who holds a senior position in Rhodesia. The House will understand why I feel unable to give his name. He writes:I see from today's censored Press—South African papers … are not allowed in—that we are to have a distinguished visitor next month in the form of Sir Oswald Mosley. I presume that he will get the red carpet denied Harold Wilson.Whilst virtually everyone with whom I mix was totally opposed to a U.D.I.—conscious of the economic … troubles it would bring, I doubt if anyone fully expected the Police State tactics now on us. Let us accept an emergency requires emergency measures but it is an appalling state of affairs to be subjected to a Goebellsian state of affairs and possibly to the 'knock on the door' as one may be held or restricted without public Press announcement.That is the fear of one senior European today living in Rhodesia, and his letter was sent only a day or two ago.
We have a responsibility also towards responsible Africans in other parts of that continent. Those of us on both sides of the House who have met men like Kenneth Kaunda or the Prime Minister of Nigeria know that there is in Africa at the moment a considerable tug-of-war going on between the extremists and the men who believe that they can oppose racialism and find some way between the extremists among the African nationalists of the new type and the European nationalists of the old type; men who believe that they can create within their societies a genuine solution to racial clashes between black peoples and white peoples.
Without a doubt, one of these men is the President of Zambia, a man whose record since the achievement of independence has been one of trying to live in amity not only with this country but with the European and American world. Unless we show ourselves capable of undertaking our responsibilities; unless we show ourselves capable of that same 645 breadth of vision and breadth of purpose that makes us stand up for the things in which we have always believed—democracy, the rule of law, something which transcends pigmentation, as the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) said in a speech marked throughout by his sense of humanity for people of all races—how can we ask moderate leaders of opinion in Africa to do the same thing?
It is because we cannot maintain the Rhodesian situation as a purely British interest, without bringing in the whole of Africa, and eventually all the coloured peoples in the world, that I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to give the deepest possible thought to anything which might for one moment be thought to show that his country and this Parliament has less than a full sense of what is now incumbent upon us.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Commander Sir Peter Agnew (Worcestershire, South)
The hon. Lady the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) has given the House a reasoned and thoughful speech, though I do not necessarily agree with everything she said. Generally, one thing revealed by the debates which we have had on Rhodesia —this is really the third general debate—is that the views expressed to some extent cut across party lines. I want to offer my most humble counsel to my fellow Members, that the more extreme are the expressions used, the greater becomes the difficulty in arriving at a solution to the difficult problems with which, as a House and a Parliament, we are confronted.
It does not help to describe Rhodesia today as a police State. Indeed, it seems utterly illogical to use that description of a country which, only four years ago, received the 1961 Constitution. There may have been objections to it from hon. Members opposite at the time, but we should remember that it was agreed to in the first instance by those who are now the African national leaders in Southern Rhodesia. Nor does it help to talk about restoring freedom to the Africans in Rhodesia. The freedoms referred to have 'Infer been enjoyed by Africans in that country. When the white European people colonised Rhodesia, the first thing they did was stop one group of Africans being intolerant of Africans of other races. 646 That was their task and they carried it out.
The hope that a measure of broad national unity could be maintained has been somewhat weakened since the beginning of these Rhodesia debates by events at the United Nations. The United Nations is a very different body today from what it was when the idea was conceived during the stresses of war by Sir Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt. Today—this ought to be said —the United Nations is apt to come to its decisions actuated not by a cold judgment upon the merits of issues brought before it, but rather as a result sometimes, I am sorry to say, of prejudices brought about by considerations of geography, colour and possibly even of creed.
This is profoundly regrettable. This is why I regret very much that it appears that the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government have handed over to the United Nations some of their own responsibility—the British responsibility—for solving this problem. I know very well that Her Majesty's Government have said that the reason they do this is that the United Nations ought to be able to pass its own judgment upon these matters. But I believe that juridically the United Nations has no locus at all inside what is a British possession. It is contrary to the terms of the Charter that it should seek to decide what is to happen inside Rhodesia.
Although we are passing this very important Order, the constitutional Order, there is a feeling, largely held on these benches and to some extent, a lesser extent, held on the benches opposite, that the hand which will direct what is to be written into the Orders in implementing them will be not the hand of Her Majesty's Government but the hand of the United Nations. My fear is that the United Nations, sooner rather than later, will take as a method of achieving the objective which we all have of restoring lawful constitutional government inside Rhodesia a method which will first destroy the Rhodesian civilisation. I therefore think that we must be doubly careful lest we assent to any action which will have the effect of bringing Rhodesia to her knees and doing what the Prime Minister said in the first Rhodesian debate that he would not do—introduce punitive sanctions.
647 This is a British problem and in the end it will be solved by the methods which Britain has always used—and that is, after a time, to talk to those who appear to be in charge of the dissident, troublesome and rebellious country with which the mother country has to deal. If we act in that spirit then we have a chance of arriving at a solution by which Rhodesia can again join the comity of countries which owe allegiance to British rule, and it can then earn, and I hope attain, the independence for which it has waited for so long.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
When the Attorney-General introduced the Order he dealt in fascinating detail with its provisions and the effect which he thought it would have, but, apart from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page), who dealt with the dangerous constitutional questions arising out of the Order, the debate has tended to become a more general debate on the political and constitutional problems of Rhodesia. This is easy to understand, because for all practical purposes passing this Order has as much relevance to what happens in Rhodesia as an order dealing with traffic control in Peking would have if it were passed by the legislative assembly in Formosa. We do not have the means to bring this Order into effect.
When the Enabling Bill was passed last week a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House were worried about the constitutional implications. Passing this Order should have confirmed those fears clearly and absolutely, because under the Enabling Act we gave power to the Government to do what they saw fit to do with people or things in Southern Rhodesia. It is clear that in this Order we have a further extension of such delegated legislation.
The Attorney-General indicated that the Orders which would be issued under Section 3(1,c) of this Order would be of a different kind from those issued under Section 2(2) of the principal Act. On the other hand, it was not clear precisely where the division will occur; what items will come under Section 3(1,c) and what major items will come under Section 2(2). This should be clarified.
648 The powers under Section 3(1,c) of the Order are very wide indeed. They give the Government power to make laws for Southern Rhodesia, although we do not know precisely who will apply them. It is obvious that there must be a real clarification of these matters and that we must be told how far the Government intend to go. It is not hypothetical or meaningless to ask these questions, because the Government will have this power and will be able to use it without seeking the approval of Parliament. They will merely have to report the information to Parliament. I am intensely worried about Section 3(2) of the Order, which refers to powers being given in certain circumstances to persons or authorities. Precisely which persons or authorities have the Government in mind? Are they thinking in terms of a provisional government of people who are at present responsible in Southern Rhodesia?
The real problem was hit on in the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) when he said that we in Parliament have a right to know precisely what are the constitutional aims of the Government before we are asked to pass the Order. We must remember that by this measure we are being asked to do away with the old constitutional arrangements. We are, therefore, entitled to know precisely what constitutional ideas the Government have in mind for the future of Southern Rhodesia. This has not been made clear by the Government at any time.
If the Government want the support of the civil servants in Southern Rhodesia and the other important elements there it is essential that they now make it clear just what kind of constitutional set-up they favour in the event of Mr. Smith's Government crumbling, falling or disappearing in some other way. Do they suggest, for example, that we should go back, even on a temporary basis, to the 1961 Constitution? One would not think that from the speeches made from the benches opposite. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), for example, made it clear that he would not accept such a course. At least five other hon. Gentlemen opposite have made it plain that they would not accept the 1961 Constitution as a basis for a re-established 649 régime in Rhodesia. Or are the Government in favour of the amended Constitution? Although the Government have indicated that changes might have to he made in certain circumstances, the situation remains vague. We are not sure whether acceleration would be required and, if necessary, to what degree it might be necessary.
§ Mrs. Shirley Williams
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the number of occasions on which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have held Ministerial posts have said that the 1961 Constitution cannot be regarded as a satisfactory basis for independence?
§ Mr. Taylor
I am also aware of the statement issued last night by the Tory Party. It certainly clarified the position and represented a more realistic approach to the problem. I suggest, however, that we have had no indication whatever of what the Government have in mind.
As far as I can see, there are three alternatives; the 1961 Constitution, the 196l Constitution as amended, or majority rule now. We are entitled, before we are asked to pass the Order—which does away with the old system—to know precisely what the Government have in mind in the event of a new régime taking over in Rhodesia. Unless they make quite clear how they intend to operate this, they cannot hope to get the support of anyone in Southern Rhodesia.
Secondly, once the Government have established their constitutional aim, they must make it very clear how they intend to bring this about. Are they accepting 650 a policy of punitive and penal sanctions? Do they consider the possibility of armed intervention in establishing this position? We have not had the information that we are entitled to have before we finish with this Order.
Precisely what is the Government's attitude to the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia, to the members of that régime and of the Legislature at present sitting there? Will the Government turn their minds completely from any question of any members of the Rhodesian Front or any members of the present administration there taking part in any future legislative assembly that might be set up? We must have an indication of the Government's view.
The Government have failed to give a clear indication on any of these three major points, and this has led me to the conclusion that as long as we have the present Government in power it is difficult to see how we can arrive at an acceptable solution in Southern Rhodesia. All we had from the Attorney-General was a detailed and negative approach. He pointed out that the present Government in Rhodesia was illegal and that the aim of this Order was to produce a legal position. He said that we were doing away with certain elements of the previous Constitution, and declaring null and void any action of the Legislature there. If they are to find a way out of this present difficulty, the Government must establish their aims and methods. Unless they do that, they cannot expect help or cooperation from the progressive and moderate elements in Southern Rhodesia.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
Any one who has listened to this debate, and I have listened to most of it, must have been deeply impressed by the high standard of speeches from every quarter. Throughout the debate, the standard has been one of the highest I have known. Every hon. Member has tried to approach with honesty and straightforwardness the incredible difficulty that faces this country in the problems of its constitutional relations, and its practical and political relations, with the colony of Rhodesia. We are, in fact, discussing only the Constitution Order at this stage, and I think that it has received attention and opposition only from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) and the powerful opposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) who, after all, is Chairman of the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments, without whose help and advice this House is now considering this particular Statutory Instrument.
I never thought that I should survive to see the day when my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) would find themselves in agreement, but I must add my agreement to theirs. Every one who has listened to the debate must agree that they are both right when they say that this Order is of vital importance. We are doing something that, as far as I recollect, has never before been attempted on this scale. We are repatriating to this country the legislative powers and executive powers of a self-governing colony of the Crown. This is wholly unusual.
We are certainly trying to take powers over Rhodesia which have never before been exercised in this country. Every hon. Member remembers that from 1889 to 1923 both the legislative and the executive powers were vested in authorities in South Africa—first, the British South African Company—and that the Crown only exercised suzerainty and remote control. Since 1923 both the legislative and executive power in relation to this territory have been exercised in Rhodesia. Now for the first time we are proposing to remove these two vital powers back 652 to this country and to govern Rhodesia from Whitehall, or at least to have the power to do so and to legislate in this Parliament of Westminster. It is against this background that the importance of the Constitution Order we are considering can be seen.
§ Sir S. Summers
When my right hon. and learned Friend says that we have the power to do so, does he mean that we have the authority to do so?
§ Sir J. Hobson
No. The Constitution Order vests in the Executive powers which are permissive only. It permits the Executive to use powers—there is no duty—it is only a permissive removal of powers to Whitehall. The legislative power is handed to the Executive in the United Kingdom and not to this House. It is on this point that I must join issue with the Attorney-General. I simply cannot understand the arguments he put forward that because when Rhodesia had a self-governing Constitution and could pass its laws by an elected Parliament and this Parliament had nothing whatever to do with those laws, when we abolish the Parliament in Rhodesia ergo this Parliament should still have nothing to do with those new laws made in this country. It seems a completely illogical argument.
This debate, as has already been said, shows quite perfectly plainly how immensely important it is that both Houses of Parliament in this country should retain control over the delegated legislation affecting Rhodesia. It may not be in the immediate future that there is anything very important which the Government intend to do; it may be that they intend only to repeal censorship Orders and take other minor steps because they know that in the immediate future they cannot do anything very important about legislating for Rhodesia, but when the moment comes when great questions of policy are being decided between this country and Rhodesia then may well be the moment when the form of control proposed here will make all the difference between solving and not solving the difficulty in Rhodesia.
For this reason, this House surely ought to maintain control, not only over the children Orders we are considering, but over the grandchildren and great-grandchildren Orders which will be made by 653 the Executive in this country. Section 3(1,c) of the Constitution Order gives Her Majesty's Government power to advise Her Majesty to make Orders in Council affectingthe peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia.First, I repeat the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby. Is this power not subject, and ought it not to be subject, to the limitations which are imposed by the Act itself, namely that the power should be used only when it appears to Her Majesty to be necessary or expedient as a consequence of any unconstitutional action taken there? The power as expressed in the Order seems to be wholly unlimited to legislate about anything at all even though it has not tie remotest connection with any unconstitutional action taken. I am sure that this is wrong and ultra vires the Act itself.
I hope that the Government, or the Minister of State who is to reply, will be able to tell the House that, having reconsidered the matter, they will arrange that Orders in Council made under section 3(1,c) will not only be laid on the Table of this House, but will be subject to negative procedure. Of course I follow the argument of the Attorney-General that there are all the usual constitutional methods of dealing with a Statutory Instrument which is not subject to the affirmative or negative procedure. An hon. Member may ask a Question and perhaps, if he is lucky enough, he can have a half-hour's debate on the Adjournment or he can put down a Motion. But —and this is where we come to the real crunch—how do we get a Motion which is above the line and becomes part of the Orders of the Day so that it can be discussed? Anyone who has spent even a minimum amount of time in this House knows of the difficulties of praying against an Order and that the opportunities open to ordinary backbench Members to discuss it are very few indeed.
I would have hoped that the Government would not think they were giving very much away in principle if they were to say that the new legislation which they are prepared to create for Rhodesia should be subject to negative Resolution. They can do this by laying an amending Order to the present Order in Council. 654 They will see from the tone of the speeches today that hon. Members are not anxious to make niggling points against small Orders that are unimportant but we should certainly retain the right to pray against Orders which are of importance and which, under the Order as at present laid, will not give us an opportunity to object.
There is a small point which is perhaps worth mentioning, concerning the "great grandchildren". These are the rules or laws which can be made under sub-subdelegated authority. The Attorney-General had, I think, in mind all the Governor's Orders. They will not have been laid before this House. Curiously enough, by the effect of section 3(3) of the Order, they do not appear to become part of the law of Rhodesia because it is stated thatReferences in the Constitution … in Southern Rhodesia to a law of the Legislature … shall be construed as including references to an Order in Council made under subsection (1)(c) of this section.But it does not include rules made by sub-sub-delegated legislative power and it is a little odd that even the section itself does not seem to provide that this subsub-delegated legislation should become part of the law of Rhodesia. But if, as I suspect, it is the intention that it should become part of the law of Rhodesia, it should at least be laid before this House if not also subject to negative Resolution.
There is another point about the problem of the exercise of this legislative power. It is all very well our having Orders in Council laid in this country and their being laid on the Table of this House. It is all very well for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say, "Well, they may already have got into the hands of the judge". In the immediate situation that is perhaps good enough. But if we are to legislate in future for the whole of the people of Rhodesia, do not they need to know what the laws we are making—laws which they must obey—are and what has to be observed and what alterations are being made?
This brings us back to the point that, although we are willing to grant these powers to the Government, we hope that they will exercise legislative powers only in a situation in which it is a reality for them to do so and not in order 655 to provide themselves with a fiction of the law which they can use for argumentative or political purposes.
If they are intending to proceed constitutionally—and I accept that they are —surely it is necessary to ensure that, if we legislate in this country by Order in Council or any other means, the people of Rhodesia are made aware of the alterations that have been made in their law and their obligation to observe it and not merely that they have been secretly conveyed into the hands of a judge without the litigant knowing what alterations in law have taken place.
So much for the difficulty of legislative powers and the anxieties we feel on the lack of Parliamentary control now that we are repatriating the legislative power to this country.
On the executive powers, we recognise that it may well be necessary to make provision for the future, that if there should be no representative of the Crown at all in Rhodesia some executive powers may have to be exercised in this country. But is the form of the Constitution Order right? Have we not now got duplicated executive powers with the executive authority in Rhodesia?
If one looks at Section 5, one finds very careful provision made for the relationship between the Secretary of State and the Governor, each of whom may act, but the provision is important for coordinating their action. But Section 4 gives them both permissive powers to act. The executive powers of the Crown in Rhodesia are still retained by the Governor while additional permissive powers are given to the Secretary of State. No provision at all, however, is made under this Section for the Governor or the Secretary of State to act in conjunction with each other.
It may be that as time goes on this can be worked out. But we are doing something that I have never seen before, namely giving two separate authorities the power, each to act separately, as the executive authority. Again, how far is this House going to be able to control the action of the Executive, either in Rhodesia or in this country? There being no legislature in Rhodesia this House, and the other 656 House, will have the obligation, not only to consider the executive action or the Government in this country in relation to Rhodesia, but the action of the executive authority, as it exists in Rhodesia. One of the difficulties may be illustrated by the censorship Order.
I am grateful for the Attorney-General making this available to me when I asked for it at the beginning of today's debate. I had endeavoured to get it from the Vote Office; I had sought it from other sources, but it was not available. Here is a matter of executive action by the Secretary of State, perfectly within the lawful powers that we are granting by this Order, under Section 4(1,e), and yet Members of this House are unable to obtain, and do not have at their disposal, the details of the action that has been taken.
This is a problem which I hope the Government will look at. I know that they are perfectly willing, and not endeavouring to secrete these matters, but it is necessary for them to recollect that if they are being given these untramelled powers by this House they must keep the House informed of what they are doing and how they are doing it.
I am sure that the House wants to hear what the Minister of State has to say in answer to the questions of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). This is much more important. We are doing no more at this moment than passing an Instrument. We are placing powers in the hands of the Executive in this country which they can use and which it becomes their responsibility to use. If one takes powers one takes responsibilities, and the responsibility for the exercise of these powers is something that will rest, fairly and squarely, on the shoulders of the Government. We will, as they would, expect them to consider their responsibility and accountability for the way in which these powers are exercised.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes)
This has been a wide-ranging and searching debate on the Constitution Order, and it is right that it should be so because, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) has just said, this is a vitally important Order, and it is proper 657 that the House should have the opportunity to discuss it in great detail. I think that the House will agree that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has dealt with most of the legal points raised in considerable detail. This will be seen when his speech is read in HANSARD.
I will deal with some of the questions raised by the right hon. and learned! Gentleman the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). His first question was as to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Many appeals from Rhodesia are now pending and it will be for the Judicial Committee to decide if, and how, these should proceed, and how they should be dealt with. If the advice of tie Law Officers is invited by the Board, I have no reason to doubt that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will give such assistance as he is able.
On the question of the enforcement of Privy Council decisions, the carrying into effect of the decisions of the Privy Council is the function of the courts of law in Rhodesia. We have every reason to suppose that they will carry out this function, but if for any reason the courts later cease to function, we shall have to reconsider the position.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman raised the question of repatriation of powers to the United Kingdom. It is not correct to say that the Order repatriates all legislative and executive powers to the United Kingdom if that means that there is nobody left in Southern Rhodesia who can exercise them. Executive powers vested in officers or authorities who are still lawfully functioning may still be exercised by them. This has been made clear throughout. The same is true of subordinate legislative powers vested in them—for example, to make regulations. All that has been given to the United Kingdom Government is, first, the plenary power to make laws vested in the legislature; secondly, powers vested in Ministers; and thirdly, other executive powers on a concurrent basis.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman raised the question, which was repeated by the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington, of the Parliamentary scrutiny of things done under Orders in Council made under 658 Section 3(1,c). In connection with things done under this Section, these could be, first, laws or, secondly, executive acts. Laws could only be made subject to Parliamentary approval if they were made in this country. In most cases, however. they would be made by authorities in Southern Rhodesia—for example, Governor's regulations. It would be impracticable, perhaps impossible, to subject these to the machinery of our own Statutory Instruments Act. Executive acts—for example, the granting of licences—are intrinsically difficult to subject to Parliamentary approval. If they are done by officers or authorities in Rhodesia itself, the impracticability becomes even greater.
Then there is the second point in relation to things done by the Secretary of State under other provisions. These are all essentially executive acts, although in some cases they could take the form of making subordinate legislation, as in the case of the Revocation of Censorship Order, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just mentioned. It would be virtually impossible to devise procedure for Parliamentary scrutiny which would fit all.
§ Mr. Graham Page
Is the hon. Gentleman really referring to Section 3(1,c)? It states thatHer Majesty in Council may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia".If Her Majesty does something in Council, it has to be by Order in Council. These cannot be the mere executive acts carried out in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Hughes
Of course, they are Orders in Council effectinglaws for the … good government of Southern Rhodesia".There is no question about that.
As to the Revocation of Censorship Order, to which the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Learnington referred, I am sorry that it was rather late in the day when it was handed to him, but I should like to point out, for the information of the House, that it was published in the London Gazette yesterday. That was on the first possible day.
§ Mr. Graham Page
The hon. Gentleman cannot ride off the question like that. The Order states that Her Majesty 659 carries out something in Council—that is, by Order in Council. This must surely come before the House in some form. It comes before it under this Section as being laid on the Table. But if Her Majesty then makes an Order in Council transferring powers to someone else to make a further Order under Section 3(2). there is no Parliamentary procedure. That is what we complained about. These are not executive acts in Rhodesia. That is making laws by Order in Council made in this country.
§ Mr. Hughes
Perhaps the hon. Member will refer to Section 3(4), which clarifies the position. It states thatOrders in Council made under subsection (1)(c) of this section shall, for the purposes of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946, be statutory instruments within the meaning of that Act and shall be laid before Parliament after being made.That is the position. I must ask the hon. Member to study this more carefully.
§ Mr. Graham Page rose——
§ Mr. Hughes
I agree that it is extremely complicated, and I am sorry if I have not made it perfectly clear. I am anxious to be as helpful as I can. I am quite certain that if the hon. Member will read the Attorney-General's speech he will see that this was fully explained by my right hon. and learned Friend when he opened the debate.
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
It really is too impudent to tell us now that we are to study this question. I asked this question on Second Reading of the Enabling Bill. The Attorney-General rode off on the ground that he was so unfamiliar with this kind of legislation he did not understand the question. I raised it again at 6 o'clock this afternoon. It has been raised by my right hon. and learned Friend on the Front Bench. It was raised quite recently—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page), and it has been—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—perfectly plain that the Treasury Bench has not understood the point at all. It is horrible that they should get away with it now at this hour of the night.
§ The Attorney-General
I do not know whether I may be permitted to intervene 660 in the course of an intervention? If my hon. Friend will allow me? The position is perfectly clear. Section 3(1,c) of the enabling Order confers a plenitude of legislative power on Her Majesty in Council including the power to delegate, and there is abundant authority, in the Privy Council and elsewhere, for the proposition that the words providing forlaws for the peace, order and good governmentof a territory confer a plenitude of legistive power including the power to delegate. The position is really explained very clearly, if the right hon. Gentleman had listened to me with his customary care when I opened this debate.
§ Sir J. Hobson rose——
§ Sir J. Hobson
I am sorry to return to it, but the Attorney-General, on Second Reading, when asked about this, said all Orders—all Orders—would be laid before the House. He gave that undertaking, I so understood. As I understand it—perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—we are now not going to have any control over Section 3(1,c) Orders and we are not even going to see sub-delegated legislation under Section 3(2). If that is not the position perhaps we can be told.
§ Mr. Hughes
The right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that Section 3(1,c) Orders will be subject to scrutiny. This point was made perfectly clear by my right hon. and learned Friend when he opened the debate.
May I turn—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] —I am seeking to answer a series of questions as fully as possible.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
But surely the hon. Gentleman is not going to deny the House the answer to the very fair question put as to the effect in regard to sub-delegated legislation, that is to say, where an Order in Council delegates? Does he then agree that not only is there no Parliamentary control, but there is no information of Parliament—in the sense of Orders being laid before Parliament under Section 4 of the Statutory Instruments Act? Is that the position?
§ Mr. Hughes
May I make this explanation in reply to the question which was 661 put by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) and which is now being repeated? What my right hon. and learned Friend said in his speech at the beginning of the debate was that the Order gives to Her Majesty in Council the plentitude of legislative power which the Rhodesian Legislature enjoyed under the 1961 Act. That includes power to delegate, and is covered by the provisions of Sections 2(1) and 2(2) of the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965.
Strictly speaking, Section 3(2) of the Order is unnecessary, since it is probably covered by Section 3(1,c). But it is thought desirable to put it beyond doubt that an Order in Council under Section 3(1,c) can, first of all, authorise subordinate legislation, for example, Governor's regulations, and, secondly, operate so as to confer powers and duties on persons outside Rhodesia as well as within it so long as they purport to operate only as part of the law of Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen) rose——
§ Mr. Hughes
The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral asked another question about the powers of the Governor, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has asked me to clarify one point. By a slip of the tongue, he used the word "co-terminous" instead of the word "concurrent". The powers of the Secretary of State are not co-terminous with those of the Governor. They are concurrent in certain respects; fir example, the exercise of executive authority on behalf of Her Majesty. The Secretary of State is given the power to exercise any of the Governor's functions it that becomes necessary; for example, if the Governor cannot exercise them himself. But the Secretary of State is given powers to exercise Ministers' powers, which the Governor is not given by the Order.
Then the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington has just asked me two questions. The first referred again to legislation under Section 3(1,c).
Laws under Section 3(1,c) of the Order have to comply with the requirements of Section 2(1) of the Act, since a subordinate law cannot validly exceed the powers of the parent law. But it is theoretic ally possible that Orders in 662 Council made under Section 3(1,c) might not be directly related to the illegal declaration of independence or its immediate consequences. The direct result of the I.D.I. was the suspension of the only legislature that had full legislative competence for Rhodesia, and it was therefore clearly necessary to set up another legislature in its place. Though we cannot be sure that all laws made under Section 3(1,c) will necessarily be directly aimed at combating the I.D.I., we can be sure that the need for such laws to be made by Her Majesty in Council will be that, as a result of the I.D.I., there is no other authority capable of making them.
In practice, we would not make laws under Section 3(1,c) unless they were either aimed at combating the I.D.I., or necessary to fill a gap that was caused by the I.D.I. which we cannot leave unfilled. In practice, therefore, every law that is made under Section 3(1,c) of the Order will fall squarely within Section 2(1) of the Act.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman then asked a question about Section 3(3) of the Order. Briefly, the point is that the 1961 Constitution—and certain other laws—attaches certain consequences and qualities to things done by Acts of the Rhodesian Legislature but not to things done by subordinate legislation. Section 3(3) merely equates Orders under Section 3(1,c) with Acts of the Rhodesian Legislature for this purpose.
The provisions in question all relate to important things like the remuneration of the judges, the disposal of tribal land, and so on. The policy behind them is that these matters are so important that only Acts and not subordinate legislation are competent to deal with them. Our Order deliberately conforms with that policy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler) asked me about Mr. Leo Baron. My right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary has already made a statement about Mr. Baron in a Written Answer to a Parliamentary Question today, when he said thathis latest information is that Mr. Baron is in Que Que prison. We will naturally do what is possible to safeguard the rights of individuals and it is the objective of British Government policy to secure a full return to the rule of law which will ensure the safety of those who live in Rhodesia.663 I hope to be able to see Mr. Baron's brother tomorrow and to hear what he has to say about his brother's present position.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) referred to the seriousness of the course upon which we are set. The Government are in no doubt whatsoever about that. We are taking a series of measures, and they are the result of the illegal act committed by Mr. Smith and his colleagues on 11th November. We believe that they will have the desired effect, which is to bring about a resumption of constitutional Government in Southern Rhodesia, and that as quickly as possible.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister I think answered my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale and also the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) when he spoke in the House yesterday. The quotation to which I refer is in column 250 of HANSARD, and I think it answers fully the queries which were raised at some length by the hon. Gentleman. My right hon. Friend said:Finally, I repeat our aims for Rhodesia. They are as speedily as possible to turn Rhodesia back into constitutional channels, and to do this constructively, without recrimination. When the Governor is able to report that the people of Rhodesia are willing and able to work on constitutional paths, we are prepared to work together with their leaders to make a new start. For this purpose, the 1961 Constitution remains in being, though the House will realise the need for those amendments which are required to prevent its perversion and misuse, such as we have seen in the last fortnight, and those amendments, too, which are needed to give effect to the five principles to which all parties in this House have subscribed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 250.]The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) asked about the prorogation and dissolution of the Legislative Assembly. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General opened the debate, I think he made it quite clear that the Smith party, which after all represents the vast majority of the Assembly, is behind this rebellion, and we are therefore right to have rendered the acts of the Legislative Assembly invalid. Whether it will be desirable for the Secretary of State to use his power to prorogue or dissolve it 664 we cannot say, as it has not yet met, but this will be decided in the light of events.
We have heard a number of very impressive speeches today, not only from this side of the House, but from that side. I thought that the hon. Members for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson), Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) and Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) made memorable speeches. What they made clear was that on 11th November an illegal act was committed by the Smith régime in Southern Rhodesia, and I think we should recall, time and again, that the final preparations for that act were well laid long in advance. Successive British Governments had repeatedly warned the perpetrators that certain consequences would follow an illegal seizure of independence.
Apart from our public statements on 27th October, 1964, and again on 29th April of this year, hon. Members will have noticed that during his talks with Mr. Smith on 8th October the Prime Minister explicitly said:It was a dangerous illusion to think that the situation could be contained within the borders of Rhodesia whether or not there was violence in the country itself,but deliberately Mr. Smith and his colleagues chose to ignore these repeated warnings. I think it is worth saying again that no Government could have done more than Her Majesty's Government, and no man could have done more than the Prime Minister, to seek a just solution to this problem. Indeed, we have been criticised for going too far, but, realising what would result, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister felt it his duty to do all that was humanly possible to avert the disaster of an illegal declaration of independence and to try to keep Rhodesia on constitutional paths which would lead to an acceptable solution.
At the end of this debate it is worth asking, "Why did the Government fail to achieve an acceptable solution?" This is a question that some hon. Members opposite might ask. It is now, unhappily, all too clear, as the hon. Member for Farnham said, that it was because a small group of men had determined long since and at all costs that they would preserve white domination in Southern Rhodesia for as far ahead as they could see. Indeed, during the Prime Minister's visit to Salisbury Mr. Smith said that it was important that they should retain the right to amend the composition of the 665 Legislature in order to be able to modify the number of B-roll seats. That is why the negotiations failed.
There was certainly no lack of patience, and certainly no lack of sincerity on the part of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the British Government, or, indeed, on the part of his predecessor— the Prime Minister in the previous Administration. This, shorn of its debating points about this detail or that, is what the debate is about; it is another chapter—and an important one—in the struggle between reaction and progress.
Virtually the whole world is united in believing that the present régime in Rhodesia is guilty of illegality against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the people of Rhodesia—the people for whom (hey purport to govern—and that measures must be taken against the guilty régime in order, as both sides of the House have consistently accepted, that the constitutional development of Rhodes a may conform to the principle of unimpeded progress towards majority rule, so that independence may be granted on a basis which is accepted by the people as a whole. This has always been our policy, and it was the policy of the party opposite when it was in office.
There are a few hon. Members who do not share this view. The plain truth is that there are a few hon. Members in this House—I do not know their number —who would like Her Majesty's Government to do nothing at all. The line they would like to take is, "The Smith régime have done this thing. Let bygones be bygones and let us return to business as usual." That seems to be a reasonably fair expression of what these hon. Members feel. I put it to the House that this would be a monstrous and unforgivable thing for the British Parliament to do. Let me remind hon. Members opposite of what the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), then Commonwealth Secretary, wrote in a letter to Mr. Winston Field, then Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. He said:If Southern Rhodesia were to be offered independence on a basis which was unacceptable to Commonwealth opinion, not only would Southern Rhodesia's application for membership certainly be rejected, but the unity of the Commonwealth itself might be seriously threatened. The first is a prospect which I know you would be most reluctant to contemplate. The second is a risk which we would be most unwilling to take.666 By "we" he meant not only his Government but hon. Members in Opposition as well.
It has also been advanced as an argument for doing nothing that the measures we are now taking will bring suffering to Africans in Rhodesia. But who is responsible for that? If it happens the responsibility must rest with those who did the crime. No protest has come from Africans, so far as I am aware, about the Government's measures—not from Mr. Gondo, the Leader of the Opposition or his colleagues, and not from the Nationalist Parties. There has been no protest from the Rhodesia Churches, of any denomination.
There have been states of emergency in Rhodesia for the last 18 months, except for one week last May, but even without emergencies it is possible to restrict people for five years to camps in hot, remote parts of the country, where they cannot earn a living to support their families. Hundreds of Africans have received this treatment, without charge, without trial, and without a right of appeal to any independent body. It is possible to hang people for a wide range of offences, falling far short of murder or even injury to others—even for throwing a stone at a train. Alexander Mashawira was beaten to death in a police cell during interrogation. Three British police officers who returned to Britain recently told how they were trained to provoke African crowds deliberately in order to put them down by a show of force. African newspapers have been systematically banned, and men who spoke out against Mr. Smith's brand of Western Christian civilisation have been imprisoned for spreading alarm and despondency in Rhodesia.
What would Mr. Burke have said about this? We have heard a lot about him in this debate, but we can imagine what he would have said about the present state of affairs in Rhodesia. This adds up to a thoroughly consistent and calculated attempt to suppress all popular African political movements. Yet Mr. Smith and his colleagues have the effrontery to suggest that only the Africans are guilty of intimidation.
But now they have gone much further. During the week before the U.D.I., and clearly in preparation for it, they assumed and are now exercising the power to arrest 667 and detain without warrant, without charge, without trial, on suspicion, to control access to any area, to place people under house arrest, to forbid civil servants to leave their work, to dismiss chiefs, to seize vehicles, to establish cordons and road blocks, to ban people from any area, to ban and destroy any publication, to censor news, to control and censor broadcasting——
§ Mr. Hughes
—I have given way sufficiently—to ban meetings of more than three people, to censor letters and telegrams, to tap and, apparently, cut off telephones. All this can be done without reference to a court of justice.
We should, as dispassionately as possible, realise what is going on—
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles rose——
§ Mr. Hughes
—in a territory for which, as Members of the House, we are responsible.
I ask whether this is Western Christian civilisation. As the hon. Member for Farnham said so well, the shadow of the police State looms over Rhodesia. Freedom of speech is suppressed. Why is freedom of speech suppressed? Why is the Rhodesia Herald so full of blanks, if Mr. Smith and his régime are so certain of the justice of their cause? The new so-called Constitution, which reproduces on paper some of the safeguards contained in the 1961 Constitution, like the Declaration of Rights, nevertheless purports to give to Mr. Smith and his so-called cabinet the power to amend any part of the new Constitution within six months to such extent as they think necessary.
This is the system of Government which Mr. Smith has called an "enlightened democracy". I am sure that an overwhelming number of hon. Members will agree that the rule of law must be restored in Rhodesia, this rebellion must be destroyed and the illegal régime brought down. The trusteeship of Rhodesia, which we have never fully relinquished, demands this of us, and our policy and our consciences——
§ Mr. Hughes
—insist that Rhodesia must be restored to constitutional paths. The measures in these Orders are designed to achieve this end. If we do not quell this rebellion, we shall answer for it at the bar of history.
§ Mr. Ian Percival (Southport) rose——
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Edward Short) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question he now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly and agreed to.
That the Southern Rhodesia Constitution Order 1965, dated 16th November, 1965, made by Her Majesty in Council under the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th November, be approved.