§ 4.6 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Herbert Bowden)
beg to move,That this House endorses the decision of Her Majesty's Government to accept the Working Document worked out by the Prime Minister and Mr. Ian Smith on 3rd December, deplores its rejection by the illegal régime; in Rhodesia, and supports the decision of Her Majesty's Government now to implement the undertakings given in the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Communiqué.We have patiently listened to many speeches over the last year about the history of the present dispute, and I do not wish to weary the House unduly on this particular aspect of the matter. Nevertheless, the present problem goes hack over many years, during which time Britain has had the responsibility for Rhodesia, but without power. Since 1923, when Rhodesia formally became a Colony, while we have had certain constitutional powers connected with that country, we have had no civil servants, nor have we had an Army, on the spot. This is fundamentally different from the position in other Colonies.
Under the 1961 Constitution, which was never considered to be an independence Constitution—this was a view clearly expressed by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) and others—our practical powers were curtailed and the terms of this Constitution rested upon the belief that, in the hands of responsible men, the provisions, such as those concerning the Bill of Rights and the Constitutional Council, would ensure that Rhodesia would go forward in peace and stability. In saying this it must be borne in mind that legally, whatever the convention, the British Parliament—this Parliament—remained, and, indeed, still remains, constitutionally supreme.
It is for this reason that the Government and their predecessors made absolutely clear that any assumption of independence without the authority of this Parliament would be illegal and would be likely to have the most serious consequences. This was spelled out very clearly by our predecessors as well as by ourselves. The break-up of the Federation of what was then Nyasaland, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, led, 1372 and perhaps naturally led, to considerable pressure from Southern Rhodesia for her independence.
Because Southern Rhodesia was governed by a minority of her people, successive British Governments endeavoured to reach agreement with the Rhodesians on a Constitution which could be commended to her people as appropriate for independence and which would honourably comply with the principles which have always guided us. For over two years negotiations went on with the former Conservative Administration and ourselves to find the basis for a Constitution which would enshrine the principles, and clearly enshrine the principles, laid down by Britain. In this regard no efforts whatever were spared by British Ministers of either Administration.
The present Government, like their Conservative predecessor, made every effort to ensure that the Rhodesian leaders were fully aware of the consequences of seizing illegal independence. However, on 11th November, 1965, Mr. Smith, who was at that time the legal Prime Minister of Rhodesia, did, in fact, declare illegal independence. Despite many warnings from succesive British Governments, this illegal independence was declared in complete defiance of the British Crown and Parliament.
Mr. Smith had no clear mandate from his electorate, let alone from the people of Rhodesia as a whole, for such action. Should anyone seek to argue—and I have heard this argument-that the illegal seizure of independence was based on the popular will, then our answer could only be that this was, in fact, never tested. Thus, the British Government, on 11th November, 1965, were faced with an unprecedented situation. The House will know that the Prime Minister, my predecessor as Commonwealth Secretary, and the Attorney General, very clearly indicated to the House at the time the steps that would then have to be taken.
The House well knows the future action which we, and nearly every country in the world, took during the course of that year. As soon as I.D.I. took place, all the consequences of which Mr. Smith had been warned at the time, took effect. First, the Queen dismissed the Rhodesian Ministers. Secondly, the 1373 Declaration of Independence was denounced as illegal and invalid. Thirdly, sanctions were immediately applied and then progressively intensified. Fourthly, Britain reported the situation at once to the United Nations. Since that time no Government in the world has recognised the régime, and virtually all countries have co-operated in sanctions against them.
It is perhaps worth reminding the House, and the world outside, what Rhodesia is really like today under the illegal régime. The Governor, who is the Queen's representative, has remained at his post—despite the humiliation and the indignity which he has had to face at the hands of Mr. Smith and his colleagues. Sir Humphrey and Lady Gibbs, whom I now have the honour to know very intimately, deserve the highest praise from us all for their courage and loyalty during this very difficult year.
One of the first acts taken by the illegal régime was pettily to steal the Governor's car and to cut off his telephone. Today, a "stooge" governor rides around in the stolen car, but the telephone was reconnected when the talks started. It was most encouraging to the Governor, and, I hope, to us all, when, a few days ago, on 11th November, the anniversary of the illegal declaration of independence, over 3,000 loyal Rhodesians queued up outside Government House to sign the Governor's book—some of them members of the Armed Forces, some of them members of the British South African Police, who clearly stated they were members, and who, in fact, turned up in uniform.
Rhodesia today has, of course, a very tight newspaper censorship. How tight can best be demonstrated by the front page of the Rhodesia Herald on the day following the arrival of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and myself, which was almost a complete blank page. I commented to Mr. Smith that from my photograph, and that of my right hon Friend the Attorney-General and the Governor of Rhodesia, it would appear that we were rather pale on that occasion. Mr. Smith said, "I am very sorry about that".
This tight censorship continues. It may not perhaps be appreciated, but it is absolutely true, when I tell the House that even Church magazines have to be 1374 submitted for censorship. There are over 400 people in detention, most of them Africans serving a period of up to five years' detention, and this without charge or trial. I would not pretend for one moment that there has not been some intimidation and some burning, but what is equally certain is that of that 400 a large percentage are there simply because of their political opinions.
In the late 'thirties people in Central Europe became familiar with "a knock on the door at night". That is a reality and is happening in African townships in Rhodesia today. No political meetings may be held without police permission and approval. No African family in the townships is allowed a visitor to stay for even one night without police permission. It is a further offence, and I quote,to expose people holding public office to ridicule.[Laughter.] Some hon. Members in this House would be in great difficulty. Nevertheless, it is an offence in Rhodesia today.
The Land Apportionment Act means segregation. One hears continually of schools for African children, many of them organised by sympathetic white Rhodesians, being closed down and, in a case, quoted last week in the newspapers, rased by bulldozers simply because they were not situated in the right place. This régime, whose own judges have pronounced their actions to be illegal, have strictly controlled their own television and radio programmes and jammed broadcasts from outside. The so-called 1965 Constitution, which, of course, is an illegal one, gives the Rhodesian Front power to amend any part of the Constitution whether it is entrenched or not.
The House will recall that during the summer the so-called talks about talks took place at official level without any progress being made. These talks were exhaustive and related mainly to constitutional detail. In early September the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference met in London, and although this Commonwealth meeting had many other important matters to discuss, its main preoccupation for the greater part of its time was naturally that of Rhodesia.
The Prime Minister reported to the House on 18th October that this was one 1375 of the most difficult of Commonwealth conferences. The House will have read the communiqué issued at the end of the Conference, and from this it will be seen that the British Government was under very great pressure, not only from the radically-minded members of the Commonwealth, but, in fact, from nearly every one of our Commonwealth partners. Nevertheless, we stuck firmly to the views we had previously taken. We made it clear, as we repeatedly told the House, that we were opposed to the use of force in order to bring about a constitutional solution. We also made it clear that the sanctions weapon, if it were allowed to get out of hand, would have an incalculable effect on the British and, indeed, on the whole world economy.
Hon. Members will also notice that the British Government were not prepared to accept that a new and tougher phase should be entered into until the illegal régime had been given a further chance to take those necessary steps which would lead to a restoration of constitutional legal government in Rhodesia.
Our Commonwealth colleagues at the conference were, naturally, incensed that a small white minority, in numbers about the size of an average provincial town in Britain, should get away with this illegal act, and were seeking to make subject some four and a quarter million Africans. Many of our Commonwealth colleagues found it difficult to understand why Britain persistently refused to use force to end the rebellion. I know that some of my hon. Friends hold the view that force should have been used at that time, but I would remind them that the results could easily be incalculable Many of our Commonwealth colleagues in attendance at the conference clearly stated that there should be no independence before majority rule was established in Rhodesia.
The British Government were firm in their view that we should at least try once more to get a Constitution on which independence could be granted if it was found to be acceptable to Rhodesian opinion as a whole. The Prime Ministers' conference agreed that we should try again before the end of this current year to get the illegal régime to return to legality and the acceptance of the six principles which had been laid down. This Constitution would have to 1376 give unimpeded progress to majority rule, with sufficient guarantees that this current situation could not arise again.
Following upon the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference, the British Government decided to inquire whether a visit from myself to Salisbury for discussions with the Smith régime would be likely to be helpful. This visit was, in fact, acceptable to the régime, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and myself, with officials, visited Salisbury in September. We held a number of meetings with Mr. Smith in Government House, and one in the dining-room at police headquarters. We did this for protocol reasons, and we thought it not unreasonable. Mr. Smith and I had one or two private talks with a view to clearing the air before meetings at official level.
From the very outset of the first official meeting it became absolutely clear to me that the régime were not prepared to discuss a return to legality until, to use their own words, they saw what the constitutional arrangements they would be expected to accept were likely to be. Personally, I did not regard this as unreasonable, but, nevertheless, insisted that we should, at the same series of meetings, discuss the return to legality.
While these meetings made some progress, the régime insisted on a braking mechanism, the effect of which would be that when the Africans on the "A" roll reached parity with the Europeans on the "A" roll, the Rhodesian Government of the day should have the right to add additional European constituencies, and so delay advancement to majority rule. Mr. Smith described this, and these are his own words, as "his braking mechanism". In a subsequent discussion with me, he felt that the position could be met equally, from his point of view, if, as the Africans gained an "A" roll seat, an additional "A" roll European seat could be phased-in up to a total of 15. This, of course, meant that the Africans would have to win 16 "A" roll seats before gaining one. This series of talks in September ended on the exchange of a document setting out the differences between us.
About a fortnight ago I felt it worth while to go out to Salisbury again to see whether there was any change in the position because of the deadline promise made to the Prime Ministers' 1377 conference, which deadline was now drawing near. At this meeting, at first, there was little change, but I had a glimmer of hope during the last hour of the meeting when Mr. Smith agreed that he would entrench the whole of Chapter III, which was, of course, the main bone of contention earlier, and was, in fact, what he described as his braking mechanism. He said, in addition, that he was now prepared to consider the return to legality. We again exchanged between us a piece of paper and I returned to London to report to my colleagues. The meeting abroad H.M.S. "Tiger", last weekend, arose, therefore, out of my visit to Salisbury a fortnight ago.
I now turn to the proposals for an independence Constitution and for a return to legality which are contained in the working document which was produced in H.M.S. "Tiger". I would add here that the document in front of the House at the moment in the White Paper is the working document produced in H.M.S. "Tiger". It is the current situation, and takes a precedence over all the earlier discussions we had.
We believe that the document now in front of the House would have fully satisfied the six principles and provided the guarantees which all hon. Members would have wished to see. We believe, too, that the proposals set out in the document would have been perfectly fair and would in no way have been vindictive. The more reasonable members of the Rhodesia Front would, I hoped, have found that these proposals provided an honourable future for Rhodesia in which all her people could have played a constructive part. The document is produced as Annex B of the White Paper, and while I realise clearly that constitutional points are sometimes difficult to understand at first glance, I hope that the House will bear with me while I deal with them.
The House will see that instead of the present 50 "A" roll and 15 "B" roll seats the Legislative Assembly would have been rearranged to provide for 33 "A" roll seats, 17 "B" roll seats and 17 European reserved seats. The increase of the "B" roll from 15 to 17 would have assured the Africans of what is known as a blocking quarter. Had 1378 there been any effort to change any of the entrenched clauses it could have been blocked by the Africans. At the same time, by the introduction of the European reserved seats, the Europeans also would be permanently assured of a blocking quarter when the Africans gained a majority. The delimitation arrangements and the retention of cross voting, together with the extension of the "B" roll franchise to Africans over the age of 30 would have satisfied the third of the six principles. The House will recall that this principle required the Africans to be given a means of immediate political advance.
All this, and this is always the unknown quantity, assumes that Africans would take part in political activities, would register, and would vote. This is something which we sincerely hoped would happen if Rhodesia was given a fresh start with a Constitution found to be acceptable to the people of the country as a whole, which is Principle 5. Unimpeded progress to majority rule would be assured by the arrangements for adequate blocking mechanisms governing the amendment of the vital areas of the Constitution—the entrenched clauses, which we insisted on to meet the requirements of the principles.
The proposed Senate, which we discussed at an earlier meeting and which was acceptable to the Rhodesians, was to comprise 12 Europeans, eight elected Africans and six Chiefs and would have voted with the Lower House—the Legislative Assembly—on amendments of the specially entrenched provisions of the Constitution to alter which, as I have said, would require a vote of at least three-quarters of the total membership of both Houses. In other words, if any amendment had been repugnant to the Africans, or to the Europeans when there is an African majority, the blocking powers guaranteed could have been used to prevent it.
Additionally, there was to have been a system of appeal to a Constitutional Commission against such amendments. Even from this, a further right of appeal lay to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and I discussed with Mr. Smith on H.M.S. "Tiger" the number of Privy Councillors in Rhodesia available to form part of the Judicial Committee if it were 1379 necessary. Therefore, the House will see that our second principle—guarantees against retrogressive amendment to the Constitution—would also have been fully met. To give effect to the fourth principle, a Royal Commission would have been set up to make recommendations on the problem of racial discrimination and in particular of land apportionment.
Such a Constitution, which, we must remember, would have been commended to the people of Rhodesia as a whole as an independence Constitution, fully satisfied the six principles. Mr. Smith was persuaded by the Prime Minister and myself, after many hours of discussion, to move forward on the question of entrenching the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly. As hon. Members recognise, that was a matter of absolutely key importance. Up to that point, Mr. Smith had all along been attempting to keep power almost indefinitely in the hands of a minority by his braking mechanism, which I have already described. The position of Mr. Smith and his colleague, Mr. Howman, on this matter, on H.M.S. "Tiger", when they agreed to entrench paragraph 37 of Chapter III, was, therefore, an advance. But, unfortunately, in our final talk before Mr. Smith left H.M.S. "Tiger", he still came back to that point, which would seem to indicate that he was still unhappy with the proposed changes.
I wish to make it absolutely clear that when the prior discussions took place at official level to work out the details of our visit to H.M.S. "Tiger", it was clearly understood, certainly on our side and, I hope, on the other side, that both the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith would attend that meeting with full authority to settle. However, it became apparent very quickly after the beginning of our talks that Mr. Smith was not prepared to reach agreement without further reference to his colleagues. Mr. Smith said that one or two new points had cropped up; and that is not unreasonable. One or two new things were, in fact, mentioned, and to meet him on this we placed signalling facilities at his disposal, and we even made an offer that if he wished some of his colleagues could be flown to meet him at Luanda or some other place, so that urgent discussions could take place between them. 1380 But he still insisted that when we finished our work on the document he would have to take it back to Salisbury and discuss it there with the other members of his régime. This was despite the fact that we were clearly under the impression that he could, if he wished, settle when he came there.
I suggested to Mr. Smith at that stage that if he had to take the document back he could perhaps agree, when we had finished our work on the document—and there was still a little work to do—to tell us whether he could or could not commend it to his colleagues. His reply was that he did not think that an unreasonable request, and that he would advise us before he left the ship if he could do that. Within the last 20 minutes before he was due to leave H.M.S. "Tiger" his answer to that question, which I regarded as a straight question, was rather mysterious. He said to me and my colleagues, "I must think about it, because I cannot yet convince myself." That did not strike me at the moment as being the action of a particularly strong man, which we have always understood him to be.
It is extremely difficult, in a speech of this sort, and without going into a great mass of detail, to try to convey an impression of the atmosphere of the talks. But I would like just to deal with one point which is very much in my mind because of some of the propaganda which has emanated from Salisbury within the past 24 hours. When we were considering the interim Government to be led by Mr. Smith, which would, under our proposals, be in existence for the short period of four months before an election was held, we got down to absolute detail. We got down to such detail as even to discuss with him the names of Europeans and Africans who would form the added members of what would then be a legal Rhodesian Government.
There were six of us present at the talks—my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and myself, Mr. Smith and Mr. Howman, and the Governor and the Chief Justice of Rhodesia. I was under the impression, when we began those talks, that Mr. Smith's so-called Cabinet comprised 10 members, but he corrected me and said that there were 13. On being asked how many he would need for the interim Government for four months his answer was, "Twelve".
1381 We had already discussed the addition of five non-Rhodesia Front members and, therefore, by a simple matter of subtraction, he was prepared to ask six of his present colleagues to stand down. He said in reply to a question that he did not find that difficult. The Press this morning reports the names of certain people we discussed with Mr. Smith. Strangely enough, it does not include one name of the five people who he agreed with us might be approached to take on this public duty for a period of four months.
I had a list of European and African people who would be sufficiently public spirited to do this work had they been approached—they had not been approached—and we agreed and went through it talking about each individual name. I had biographical details and I was corrected by Mr. Smith and Mr. Howman on many of them.
We reached a position in which we had three Europeans and two Africans, but I have no intention now or at any other time of telling the House or anyone else the names of those five gentlemen. They do not know that their names have been mentiond. They have not been invited to do the work and if I mentioned their names they might easily find themselves in detention tomorrow.
§ Mr. Bowden
After our discussion the names of the five gentlemen chosen, three Europeans and two Africans were typed out on a piece of paper which I handed to the Governor, because it would have been his duty. I would assume that as the discussions went on Mr. Smith and Mr. Howman were doing precisely as I was—taking a note. What must be remembered is that those five names were agreed, and if that operation had been carried out they would have been invited by the Governor. That is why the names were handed to the Governor. [Interruption..] I find it a little difficult when one sees right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite sneering when one refers to the Governor of Rhodesia.
I want now to deal with some of the comments and criticisms—
§ Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. 1382 When the right hon. Gentleman says that any hon. Member on this side was sneering about the Governor, it is a gross and unfair insinuation, and I ask that he withdraw.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
The right hon. Gentleman is responsible for the statements he makes to the House and I cannot at this point ask him to withdraw.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Perhaps you were not aware that we were watching and we saw the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) and the hon. Member for—
§ Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not disgraceful for the hon. Gentleman to say that? [HON. MEMBERS: "It is true."] I am raising a point of order with Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was laughing at the earlier remark made by the Minister, and I certainly did not and would not—it is unreasonable and improper for the hon. Gentleman to suggest otherwise—sneer at the Governor, who has carried on under very great difficulties.
§ Mr. Bowden
If it would help the House, I will accept that the sneers were directed to me and not to the Governor.
I want now to deal with some of the comments and criticisms which have already emerged from Salisbury. The real character of the regime in control in Rhodesia today is demonstrated pretty clearly by the dishonest Press statement which they issued yesterday. Most hon. Members will have seen it. The statement has been extensively quoted in the British Press this morning as though reflecting the regime's views on the possible settlement contained in the document signed on board H.M.S. "Tiger". In effect, however, the Press statement is related entirely to the position which had been reached in the exploratory discussions in the middle of October, up to 15th October. The further discussion a fortnight ago which I held in Salisbury and the discussion on H.M.S. "Tiger" superseded that. We both moved some way 1383 since then—let us accept the facts—but the regime is still fighting the battle of 15th October.
The statement says, for example, that the British proposals stipulated that there would be a permanent right for British troops to be based on Rhodesian soil. The document which Mr. Smith took back from "Tiger" did not impose any such condition. It says that no time limit is set for the interim government. The document clearly lays down a period of four months for the interim government, provided that the testing of opinion in Rhodesia as a whole has been completed in that period.
On the constitutional proposals, the document issued from Salisbury yesterday has no relevance whatever to the final constitutional arrangements which were evolved on H.M.S. "Tiger" and which, in his own statement on Monday night, Mr. Smith at that time said he accepted. The Press statement said that the regime could not accept that there should be any limitation upon the Rhodesian Parliament to determine the number of constituencies. So, despite the "Tiger" document, we are back again to paragraph 37 of Chapter III, where we started months and months ago. The Press statement says that the regime sees no reason whatever for increasing the number of "B" roll seats, whereas last weekend Mr. Smith agreed that the "B" roll seats should be increased from 15 to 17.
The Press statement says that the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council would be inconsistent with sovereignty. As I have already said, last weekend Mr. Smith accepted a right of appeal on constitutional matters to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and we discussed the number of Privy Councillors in Rhodesia.
The statement of yesterday gives a clear indication of where the régime stand in a vital respect. During the course of the exploratory discussions, the British Government asked Mr. Smith whether it was still his position that the testing of opinion under principle 5 must take place before there had been a return to constitutional government and legality. He has now made clear, as a result of yesterday's statement from Salisbury, that that is still his position. 1384 How could a Royal Commission conduct a fair test with the illegal régime in existence, with its censorship, with its detention, with its ban on political discussion? What would the world think of us if we agreed to that? What do Her Majesty's Opposition think of it?
In rejecting our proposals, Mr. Smith has taken exception to the powers of the Governor during the interim Administration. Here again, what are the facts? There was no question in these proposals—hon. Members can read the document for themselves—of direct rule or rule from Whitehall. The Governor is himself a Rhodesian and his advisers and the members of the Administration would all have been Rhodesians. I see no colonial rule, I see no Whitehall rule in this at all. Further, once Mr. Smith had returned to legality, and until the new Constitution had been approved by the people of Rhodesia, the Government of Rhodesia during that interim period would have carried on under the 1961 Constitution, suitably amended.
The new broad-based Government would have had full executive authority under that Constitution. All its members would have been agreed with Mr. Smith, and the Government would have been headed by Mr. Smith. The Governor would have acted on the advice of those Ministers in all matters of administration. I cannot for the life of me see what is offensive to Mr. Smith in these proposals, because they are already all provided in the 1961 Constitution which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) produced.
§ Mr. Duncan Sandys (Streatham)
On a point of clarification, the right hon. Gentleman has said that the new broad-based Government during the interim period would have full executive power under the 1961 Constitution. Did that include control of the police, which is a very important Government function?
§ Mr. Bowden
I am coming to the question of the armed forces and the police. In addition, under that Constitution, the Governor was already head of the armed forces and the police.
§ Mr. Bowden
It is the right hon. Gentleman's own Constitution, if he says that he intended it only to be nominal. 1385 So there is nothing new about that and no reason at all to take offence at returning control of the armed forces to the Governor.
The only thing that was new in the proposal was the creation of a Defence and Security Council to advise the Governor in the discharge of responsibility for law and order. This Defence and Security Council would comprise six members, five of whom would be Rhodesians and one of whom would be a representative of the British High Commission, and this during the interim period of four months.
In all this welter of criticism of our proposals, what constructive suggestions has Mr. Smith made? One appears in the Press this morning. He suggests now a high-powered unbiased Commission to assess public opinion on the constitutional proposals. But this is no different from his original suggestion that the fifth principle test as to whether the new Constitution was acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole should take place before the return to legality. I have already pointed out that such a test carried out under the present conditions in Rhodesia could never be accepted as a fair and impartial test of Rhodesian opinion. We must ask ourselves: would Africans be able, or even allowed, to speak freely in these circumstances? Are the detainees going to speak freely in front of their warders?
Mr. Smith has now made it abundantly clear by his insistence on retaining his power during the test that, even if the test went against him, he would not accept its verdict. In answer to a direct question put to him in the "Tiger", whether, in these circumstances, he would have a second unilateral declaration of independence, he said, "I would have no alternative". Any test of opinion before a return to legality would be an absolute mockery of our fifth principle.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
The right hon. Gentleman is making a very important statement about the proposed interim period of four months. Can he confirm that, if the document were accepted by the Smith Government, the Governor would be in a position to receive no instructions at all from this Government?
§ Mr. Bowden
It would have required, in the first instance, an Order from this House enabling the Governor to dismiss the Government and to form an interim Government for the period of four months.
§ Mr. Wall
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way again. This is an important matter. Is it correct that, during the four months' interim period, the Governor would have ruled with a new Government? During the period, would he receive any instructions from the British Government or Parliament, or would he act only on the advice of Rhodesian Ministers?
§ Mr. Bowden
The only instructions he would receive would be on the actual formation of the Government, which, in our view, would have included 12 Ministers—seven from the Rhodesian Front and the five others I have mentioned. This was agreed with Mr. Smith.
There has been a mistaken impression that the economic measures taken after the unilateral declaration of independence were ineffective. I have heard this so often that I would like briefly to deal with the situation. The Rhodesia Act, 1965, empowered the Government to make Orders over a wide range of subjects, and particularly with regard to economic sanctions. As a result, we took a number of economic measures.
We placed an almost complete ban on exports and imports between the United Kingdom and Rhodesia, the exceptions being essential items of a humanitarian character. The United Nations was informed of the position and of the actions the Government had taken. The immediate result was that, on 12th November, 1965, the Security Council, in Resolution No. 216, condemned the unilateral declaration of independence and called upon all States not to recognise the illegal régime and to refrain from rendering any assistance whatever to it.
The United Nations Resolution No. 217, of 20th November, 1965—eight days later—called on all States to do their utmost to break off economic relations with Southern Rhodesia, including an embargo on oil and petroleum products. The régime itself has admitted that, in the first half of the year following U.D.I., its exports were 17 per cent. below the 1387 1965 level and this figure excluded tobacco.
It has been widely reported in the Press—and it has not been denied in Salisbury—that the tobacco embargo is proving extremely effective, and it is likely that Rhodesia's exports are now running at a rate not much above half of the 1965 figure. Very recently, farmers' organisations have passed resolutions in Rhodesia critical of the régime and there is a widening rift between the farmers and the merchants. The farmers are getting restive about the strict credit controls and high prices of agricultural machinery. I spoke to a number of them when we were there in September. The motor industry has been particularly hard hit and production has been cut by about two-thirds. Assembly plants are likely to run out of components by February or March.
European emigration is rising and the drift of highly qualified workers is causing particular concern to the régime. Support of sanctions by countries outside Southern Africa has, on the whole, been encouraging and, by and large, has been effective. We estimate that the existing sanctions, the voluntary sanctions, have reduced Rhodesia's exports from an annual figure of £143 million to about £80 million.
The conclusion is inescapable. Our present sanctions are having a considerable effect despite the fact that there are some breaches in the sanctions wall which will now have to be closed. We are now ready, given the full support of the Commonwealth members at the United Nations, to propose in the Security Council a resolution providing for effective and selective mandatory economic sanctions against Rhodesia. The precise form of the resolution and the commodities to be included are under discussion with Commonwealth countries.
In deciding the formula of mandatory sanctions, we have had in mind the following considerations—that they should cause the maximum economic damage to the illegal régime, subject to the need to safeguard the economic interests of neighbouring Commonwealth countries, such as Zambia, Malawi and Botswana, and, of course, that we reserve our position over any proposal which may involve direct economic confrontation with third 1388 parties. Our draft resolution will obviously have to cover the commodities we have already specified as prohibited exports from Rhodesia by Order in Council and we shall be considering what other items should be included in our selective sanctions. Obvious candidates are copper, asbestos and meat.
As the House will be aware, there is considerable pressure for action to stop the oil leakages. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it clear that action must not be allowed to develop into confrontation, either economic or military, with the whole of Southern Africa. We shall be discussing with our Commonwealth colleagues at the United Nations how best the wishes of our Commonwealth partners with regard to an oil sanction can be met.
As the existing United Kingdom embargos on trade have resulted in a virtual cessation of Britain's trade with Rhodesia, mandatory sanctions will not involve the United Kingdom in any appreciable additional costs. I should, however, make it clear that, in going to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions, we are not abdicating responsibility for Rhodesia. Nor are we transferring responsibility for the Rhodesian problem to that organisation. This is simply a continuation of the steps we took last year at the United Nations.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to assist the House in these two respects? Can he give the House particulars of which countries have passed legislation so far to restrict the importation of Rhodesian exports similar to our own Orders-in-Council? Secondly, can he say what proportion of the 17 per cent. diminution of Rhodesian exports is attributable to exports to this country?
§ Mr. Bowden
Some countries are unable to prevent their importers from importing Rhodesian products without legislation. Mandatory sanctions will give them that authority. There are a number of examples of countries which have been taking exports from Rhodesia, although their Governments have wished otherwise, because of lack of legislation which, under mandatory sanctions, those Governments can now introduce.
1389 On the second point raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the loss in a full year of British exports to Rhodesia is estimated at approximately £35 million.
§ Mr. Reginald Freeson (Willesden, East)
My right hon. Friend says that it is the Government's intention not to seek confrontation with South Africa, and I will not query that at the moment. But it is, in fact, understood that most of the oil seepage into Rhodesia is from the north rather than from South Africa. Is it the Government's intentions to take measures to prevent this seepage?
§ Mr. Bowden
I think that we should leave this stage to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who is discussing it in New York. We appreciate and understand that some of the oil is coming through Mozambique, but we should leave this stage for the discussions going on now in New York.
So much for sanctions. I turn again to the events of the last few days. Some hon. Members opposite may take the line that, with agreement reached on the Constitution, we are now allowing the whole business to break down because we rigidly insist on a few technicalities relating to the return to legality. That is a line which we have heard and which we shall hear again during the next two days. We are told that these are points purely of procedure or protocol which we should not allow to stand in the way of a settlement with the Rhodesian régime.
I want to meet this argument fairly and squarely. The procedure for the return to legality is not a matter of protocol or irrelevant trivia. It is a basic question of principle. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could accept that it is anything else. We in the Commonwealth have insisted on this procedure for the return to legality in order to provide some sort of guarantee that Mr. Smith and his colleagues will carry out sincerely and honestly any constitutional agreement which we would make with them.
For the first time in recent history, we were proposing to grant independence to a minority Government, a Government who, by their illegal declaration of independence, have seriously shaken world faith in their trustworthiness. Therefore, it does not seem to be asking too much 1390 in those circumstances that we should have some guarantee in future of their good behaviour. It does not seem to be asking too much as an earnest of their good faith that Mr. Smith should return to legality, should make his Government a national Government and vest certain powers in the hands of the Governor—and all this to be for a temporary period of four months. Otherwise, we would not be justified in handing over to him responsibility for seeing that 4 million Africans enjoy normal political and democratic rights and the unimpeded progress towards majority rule which they must have.
§ Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)
The Prime Minister had a triumph in gaining acceptance of the six principles. Why should we not have had a period of negotiation for the return to legality and not a timetable which stopped at 10 o'clock?
§ Mr. Bowden
I made it clear that, despite the fact that we were given to understand on H.M.S. "Tiger" that there was agreement on the procedural points, when Mr. Smith was about to leave us he came back again to the question of entrenchment in Chapter III.
On the subject of a timetable and further negotiation, this matter has been going on for a very long time, for 12 months. In our efforts in September to hold the Commonwealth together, it was absolutely necessary to give a firm assurance that we would endeavour to settle the problem quickly.
One way in which Mr. Smith could prove me to be wrong, if he so wished, about the assertion, made in other parts of the House and by himself, that he accepts the constitutional points but not the return to legality would be to introduce now into his own illegal 1965 Constitution, through his own illegal machinery, the necessary amendments to give effect to the constitutional agreement which we reached on H.M.S. "Tiger". He says that he accepts the constitutional agreement. He says that he accepts the six principles. He could now implement them if he so wished. This would be a test of good faith over the next few months.
Let Mr. Smith introduce the Senate and the blocking mechanism and immediate African advancement. Let us 1391 see whether he really believes in progress and majority rule.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
If Mr. Smith did what my right hon. Friend is suggesting, what would be the response from Her Majesty's Government?
§ Mr. Bowden
Let us first see what action Mr. Smith proposes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I can give an absolute assurance that we would treat this matter very seriously indeed, but we would have to see what action Mr. Smith took.
We have now reached the end of another chapter in this unfortunate, this tragic, story. I put the blame squarely on Mr. Smith and his colleagues. The settlement which we offered to them on H.M.S. "Tiger" was as favourable as any British Government could have offered to him after all that has happened, short of a complete sell-out.
We bent over backwards to make things easy for him. We met him on point after point after point. Within an hour of the final discussion of the constitutional points which formed the basis of this document, Mr. Smith brought forward three amendments, each of which we accepted. We bent over backwards. We conceded points to him which, while within the six principles and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué, would probably be condemned by some of our Commonwealth colleagues, and I have no doubt that some of my hon. Friends may condemn us for them, also.
Yet, despite this, he rejected the offer. We were prepared to see Mr. Smith, as the acknowledged leader of the majority of Europeans in Rhodesia, as Prime Minister of an interim Government. We were prepared to allow him to keep at least seven of his Cabinet colleagues in the interim Administration. We would not have boggled at or fallen out about a figure of 14 instead of 12, or 10 instead of 12. We were prepared to see elections in four months, which would probably have returned his party to power—we do not know. All we asked was that if we gave him all this we should have some assurance that he would then genuinely and honestly work the constitutional proposals which we had agreed with him and 1392 honestly work for swift and unimpeded progress to majority rule. All this he rejected.
Everyone in Salisbury told me when I was there in September that if Mr. Smith went to the country and said that the British had made him an offer which he proposed for the good of Rhodesia to accept, then the bulk of Europeans in Rhodesia would have followed him without question, and his own extremists would have been powerless to do anything to stop him. I put this to Mr. Smith myself on at least three separate occasions. I appealed to him to use his personal authority, his prestige, to do what was right and what he knew to be best for his country.
We discussed the possibility of "ditching" his Right wing and taking only his moderates into the broad-based Government. We were as frank with each other as that. He told me on at least one occasion that at least 30 of his people were an embarrassment to him. [Laughter.] Tomorrow night's Division will probably show that to be true of Her Majesty's Opposition.
When it came to the point, he was unable to grasp the opportunity to set his own party and Rhodesia on the road to moderation. All our experience has shown that Mr. Smith takes decisions only when fixing a deadline, only when right up against it. It was right for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference to give him one more chance before the end of this year, but the future of Rhodesia and of the whole of Southern Africa is at stake.
Those of us who know Rhodesia know that there are many loyal and liberally-minded Rhodesians. They must now make their voices heard before it is too late. They have all got to stand up and be counted. What a tragedy it would be if, in his endeavours to save the totalitarian Rhodesian Front from splitting itself to pieces, Mr. Smith succeeded only in destroying Rhodesia.
Many right hon. and hon. Members opposite hold Her Majesty's commission, many of them gallantly and with great distinction. I therefore urge them to think very deeply before going into the Lobby tomorrow night in support of the Rhodesian rebel régime.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Barnet) rose—
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)
On a point of order. I did not wish to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but I have not quite so much hesitancy in interrupting the right hon. Gentleman. Are we not this afternoon discussing, not the affairs of a country called "Rhodesia", but the affairs of a British Colony called "Southern Rhodesia", and is not this White Paper wrongly titled?
§ Mr. Maudling
Everyone in the House today approaches this debate with a very heavy heart. This is without doubt the last of our great Imperial problems, the last and always in prospect the toughest; a problem which could become for us what Algeria was for France. Success in solving this problem would have crowned our history of Empire and of transition from Empire to Commonwealth, a history of which, with all its blemishes and mistakes, we are all very proud in this House.
On the other hand, failure will bring much that is already constructed tumbling down along with it. These are the issues about which we are concerned today. It is all the more bitter that the breakdown has come when hopes were so high, when success was within "hailing distance". In this atmosphere, I intend to devote myself to the issues as plainly and directly as I can.
May I just say one word to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs about his last remark. I feel that on reflection he may think it unwise. [Interruption.] He will accept that all hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House will vote at the end of this debate on the basis of what they believe to be right for this country and for the people of Rhodesia, and for nothing else. On that basis, I turn to the question—
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston-upon Hull, West) rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
I will not give way at this early stage. I am sorry. I want to turn to the action proposed by Her Majesty's Government, of taking this matter to the United Nations and asking 1394 for mandatory sanctions. I and my colleagues believe this to be wrong. We are opposed to it for the clear reason that we believe it will do harm, not good, by adding a new dimension of danger to the situation and by hardening opposition to any possible solution.
There are four clear reasons for this, which I will spell out, because it is the issue which the Government are now proposing and for which they are asking our approval, upon which I wish to concentrate. Our first reason is that once the Government have gone to the United Nations it will not be possible to maintain British control of the situation. Secondly, even if this were possible, mandatory sanctions would not be effective without South African co-operation, and this co-operation would not be forthcoming.
Thirdly, there would clearly be a danger, of which the Prime Minister is acutely aware, of this escalating into a confrontation against Southern Africa as a whole, and the consequences of this, politically and economically, for the whole Western world are incalculable.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I must ask the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) not to make interruptions from a sedentary position.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman can intervene only if the right hon. Gentleman has given way, and he has not done so.
§ Mr. Manuel
On a point of order. I accept your Ruling, of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that you will apply it equally on both sides of the House.
§ Mr. Maudling
I am trying to deal with these issues with the seriousness which I believe the House thinks that they deserve, and I intend to set out, first, our objections to the course proposed by the Government, and secondly, the alternative which commends itself to us. I hope that the House will listen to what I have to say.
1395 The fourth reason why we believe the Government's action to be wrong is because it brings into effect paragraph 10(a) and 10(b) of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Communiqué, which, in effect, demand from now on unconditional surrender and which give up any attempt to find an agreed solution. These are our four reasons, and because we intend to take the serious step of opposing the Government on this matter I want to explain precisely what lies behind these reasons.
How can this be kept under the control of the British Government once reference has been made to the United Nations? There are very clear dangers. They are, first, that an attempt will be made to extend the mandatory sanctions to commodities that the British Government are not proposing, and second, that an attempt will be made to extend them to countries which the British Government do not wish to include. The other danger arises from the question: once mandatory sanctions have been imposed, will it be within the decision of the British Government alone to decide when they should be lifted? I do not believe that this will be so.
Will the Prime Minister give a clear answer on the first point, because it is of the utmost importance? Will he make it absolutely clear, in advance, that the Government will use their power of veto to prevent any extension of mandatory sanctions, either in commodity or in country, beyond what they are proposing? If he is not prepared to declare that the Government will use this veto, then it cannot conceivably be said that the Government are retaining control over the march of events. This is of fundamental importance.
Secondly, I want to ask how we can ensure that the time of removal of sanctions lies within our hands. How can we prevent a situation arising when, an agreement having been reached with the Smith régime, other members of the Security Council, not being satisfied with it, are not prepared to remove the mandatory sanctions? In theory, it might be possible to do this by having the initial resolution imposing the sanctions limited either in time or by some objective test.
Does the Prime Minister really think that this can be done? Does he really 1396 think that he can confine the resolution imposing the sanctions to some definite time or base it upon an objective test? If he cannot do that, then clearly it will not be within the power of the British Government alone, without the approval of the Security Council, to bring sanctions to an end. For this reason, I maintain that, by going to the United Nations and asking for these mandatory sanctions, the British Government are losing control of an essentially British problem.
My next point relates to the effect of these sanctions. I do not think that they will be effective without the co-operation of South Africa. It is difficult to be certain about the effects of sanctions to date. No one knows exactly how much the exports of Southern Rhodesia have been cut down. This is quite clear from the estimates given by the Government, which were wildly wrong. They totally over-estimated the initial effects of sanctions. On the other hand, I accept that making sanctions mandatory will have some additional effect upon Rhodesia's exports, but the effects will be very small and very slow.
In order to make these mandatory sanctions effective, it is not only a question of a resolution in the United Nations, but a question of enacting legislation in many countries, as the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs said. How long will it take for these countries to pass that legislation? Can the Government be certain that in the United States, for example, legislation will be passed by Congress? What happens in important countries not members of the United Nations? All that we can be certain of is that, although making sanctions mandatory will have some effect upon the exports of Rhodesia, it will be much smaller and much later than the Government imagine, and its political effect will be precisely nil. If these mandatory sanctions are put on, the life of Rhodesia will continue, even if exports are cut back severely.
Rhodesian exports were very high before U.D.I. because her economy was expanding rapidly. She can withstand a very severe cut-back in her imports, and is doing so. She can largely feed herself and provide many things from her own resources which up to now she has been importing, and she can draw 1397 for supplies of many kinds on neighbouring countries. Over a long period mandatory sanctions would cause hardship, especially, incidentally, to the African population; but it will be a long time, and it will not produce political change among a people now threatened with unconditional surrender. The Government must be absolutely clear on that.
The only way to break the Rhodesian economy—and this is now the Government's objective—is by the co-operation of South Africa, especially in the matter of vital oil imports. I think that it is absolutely clear that this co-operation will not be forthcoming. I went to South Africa recently. I saw Mr. Vorster and asked for his view on this. He made it absolutely clear, as he has made it clear in public, that, from the point of view of South Africa, maintaining the principle of regular trade with her neighbours is to them of fundamental importance. It is clear that co-operation will not be forthcoming from the South Africa Government for reasons which they believe to be fundamental to their interests.
Co-operation from South Africa is even less likely now, because she has, as one can see, an immense interest in ensuring that mandatory sanctions do not bring down the Government of Rhodesia, since they realise perfectly well that if once this weapon is fired and is successful it will be turned on them next time.
Therefore, it seems to me that the pressure for widening the attack and for bringing mandatory sanctions to bear against the whole of Southern Africa would grow rapidly, presenting the Prime Minister with a dilemma of the most terrible kind, namely, either that he will accept that his mandatory sanctions are useless, or will yield to the pressure to bring himself and this country into that confrontation with Southern Africa which he is so strenuously denying.
§ Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South) rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
I want to finish this part of my speech.
I deal, finally, with the threat in paragraphs 10(a) and 10(b) of the Communiqué. It is, I think, clear from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Communi- 1398 qué that once mandatory sanctions are sought and the Government join in sponsoring them in the United Nations the British Government will withdraw all previous proposals for a constitutional settlement which have been made. In particular, they will not thereafter be prepared to submit to the British Parliament any settlement which involves independence before majority rule. This cannot be right. What was right yesterday cannot become wrong tomorrow.
If it is a fact that from now on there is no prospect of a settlement with independence before majority rule, it is for people in Rhodesia a fight to the finish. Let us face that. I must warn the Prime Minister that loyal and Liberal Rhodesians to whom the Commonwealth Secreary referred, people whom he knows and I know, people of independent stature who might well have been admirable members of a broad-based Government told me when I was in Salisbury why they disapprove of U.D.I. and disagree with the Rhodesia Front. But they said, "We believe as Rhodesians that once you talk about direct rule and bring in the United Nations with mandatory sanctions we will all join Smith and fight to the end". This is what they think.
§ Mr. James Johnson
Earlier the right hon. Gentleman compared the situation in Algeria with that in Rhodesia. In Algeria it was a fight to the finish. There was opposition to de Gaulle and to those who supported the Government of the day. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman follow his logic in our difficulties with Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Maudling
I intend to develop my alternative as to how the situation should be handled. I have been giving four reasons which seem to me substantial and which I hope the Government will consider. I have set out the four reasons why we on this side of the House believe that going to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions will make the situation worse, not better, and can do infinite damage to this country and many other countries in the Western world. It is for that very good reason that we shall oppose the Government in the Lobbies on this question.
§ Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)
When the right hon. 1399 Gentleman was drawing up his balance sheet in this fashion, he might have included the fact that if the Government proceeded in the way that he recommends it would destroy the Commonwealth. Is he prepared to face that?
§ Mr. Maudling
I fear that the procedure which the Government are adopting may destroy many things of great value to the House and this country. [HON MEMBERS: "Answer."] I shall come to that, because it is—[Interruption.] That is a silly remark. As I have said, I shall explain how we believe that this problem can be solved within the terms of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Communiqué without recourse to mandatory sanctions.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
The right hon. Gentleman cannot run away from this question. He said that this was a new dimension of danger. He must know that if we had not, after the most terrific struggle at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference three months ago, given Mr. Smith a last chance to return to constitutional rule, the situation would have got totally out of our hands in the United Nations in September. We should have been powerless to prevent it and the Commonwealth would have broken up. Will the right hon. Gentleman now say that we were wrong to fight for that last chance and that we were wrong to give the pledges which we did? Is he saying that we should break the obligations which we have given to the Commonwealth?
§ Mr. Maudling
That is the Prime Minister's judgment of what would have happened. Our judgment is what is now proposed will be disastrous for the Commonwealth and for the Western world, and that there is a way of tackling this problem different from the way which the Prime Minister suggests which is consistent with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Communiqué. That is what I want to address myself to.
Before I come to the alternative, I wish to deal with the present situation, because a good deal of clarification is needed. We want to see clearly how we have got into this situation before we can be certain how best we can get out of it. Obviously this is not the occasion for a 1400 lengthy analysis of responsibility, but some things should be said.
To me it seems clear that the initial blame lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Smith for his action in declaring independence—an action of historic unwisdom, the consequences of which are unfolding all the time; an action which from the start we on these benches have opposed, as we have opposed and criticised violently many of his other actions, such as his treatment of the Governor, his Press censorship, which is totally repugnant and, I am afraid, effectively preventing many people, if not the majority of people, in Rhodesia from fully appreciating the true facts of the situation.
§ Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)rose——
§ Mr. Maudling
No; I have given way too much.
In the last few days, Mr. Smith, by refusing to bring independents into his Government, has given the impression of being more concerned with the Rhodesia Front than with Rhodesia. I think that he has shown a disappointing lack of strength and determination to exert his undoubted influence in his country in the last 48 hours. Let us be clear: I believe that that is where part of the blame lies. But I am also clear that blame lies on the Prime Minister and his colleagues for their conduct of these affairs in recent months. I will give examples: their total misjudgment, both of the effect of economic measures and of the strength of Mr. Smith's position in Rhodesia——
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) rose——
§ Mr. Maudling
I am sorry, I cannot give way; by Ministers' use of language which appeared to make negotiation with Mr. Smith impossible when it was obvious all the time that it would have to come about; the talk of direct rule, which did immense harm in Rhodesia to the prospects of a settlement; and finally, the technique of the ultimatum, which is not the right technique to handle a problem of this kind with people like the people of Rhodesia. [An HON. MEMBER: "Answer the Prime Minister's question."] I will if hon. Members opposite will keep quiet and listen. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."]
1401 Whatever the cause of the present situation, we have to face the fact that it is quite astonishing that so much agreement should have been reached on the Constitution. Very few people would have thought only a short while ago that so much agreement could be reached on the Constitution. It is, therefore, all the more tragic that when the Constitution, which is to last indefinitely, has been agreed, there should be a breakdown on the arrangements for a few weeks of transitional period.
Both the British Government and Mr. Smith have made contributions to this agreement, Her Majesty's Government by accepting a very long time for the achievement of majority rule—I do not know how long they calculated; it might be 20 years or more under the proposals —and by accepting the idea of a European blocking quarter. Mr. Smith has abandoned the braking mechanism, I am glad to know; he has accepted the idea of a treaty, and he has accepted the idea of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. When so much agreement has been reached, is it not all the more tragic and incomprehensible that there should have been a breakdown on the mechanism of transition?
§ Mr. Whitaker
When the right hon. Gentleman condemns the régime and supports the Governor, does he not agree that it is all the more lamentable and contemptible that some of his colleagues on a visit to Rhodesia paid obsequies to Mr. Dupont?
§ Mr. Maudling
Even if that were true, it would not be a contribution to this serious debate.
It is not easy to be clear what is the exact position about the proposals for interim rule which are set out in the White Paper, and the Secretary of State's speech this afternoon made it no clearer. Certainly the propaganda emanating from Salisbury is a very long way indeed from the terms of the White Paper. Equally, the terms of the White Paper are a little way from the impression given by the Prime Minister and given this afternoon by the Commonwealth Secretary.
We want to know clearly whether the Amendments to the 1961 Constitution referred to in the White Paper are amendments of major importance. The impres- 1402 sion that we were given this afternoon was that they were not. I think that they are. If they are of major importance, let us be told. If, however, they are only of minor importance why make them a sticking point for the whole future of Southern Africa? Which is it? The Prime Minister must be sure which it is.
I hope that if the Prime Minister knows he will tell us the facts, because there are two points on which the House would require information: first, about the selection and position of Ministers in the interim Government, and secondly—this was touched upon only this afternoon by the Commonwealth Secretary—the extent to which the Governor would be a constitutional or an executive Governor. This is a fundamental point.
As to Ministers, the White Paper states that the Government would be appointed by the Governor in his discretion, but we heard that it had been agreed beforehand on H.M.S. "Tiger", and I believe that it was said by the Prime Minister in his broadcast last night that Mr. Smith could have left Gibraltar as Prime Minister-designate of Rhodesia authorised to form a broad-based Government. Was it for Mr. Smith to form the Government, or was it in the Governor's discretion?
§ The Prime Minister
I could wait until tomorrow to deal with this, but it might save a lot of time in debate if I deal with it now. The position was that we reached interim agreement on H.M.S. "Tiger" about the names of the members of the Government who would be added. We also had discussion about some of those who would be subtracted. The phrase about the discretion of the Governor means that he would appoint a Government on which informal agreement would have been reached between us on H.M.S. "Tiger", and the names of the members of the Government would have been those agreed between Mr. Smith and ourselves before he left the ship.
That was the only point of discretion involved. The Governor would have had no executive authority. That would have been within the hands of the legal 1961 Constitution Government. If there were a dissolution of Parliament, it would be exactly the same as with any other dissolution of Parliament. The position about the dissolution of Parliament was 1403 that we asked Mr. Smith whether he wanted it and we would be guided by his decision.
§ Mr. Maudling
I am glad that the Prime Minister has cleared up that point about the appointment of Ministers. It sounds a rather strange use of the word "discretion" in the White Paper.
The second point is the position of the Governor. We must know more clearly because this is the point, according to Mr. Smith at least, on which things broke down. To what extent will the Governor act as a constitutional Governor on the advice of his Ministers? The White Paper states that he will do thisexcept in those cases where he is empowered to act in his own discretion".We want to know what those cases are. Does this apply to defence and to the police?
Paragraph 14 of the White Paper states that the Governor will be advised by a Defence and Security Council. Does this mean that he will be constitutionally advised or not? This is the Prime Minister's dilemma. He may try to cover up the fact that he is departing from the idea of direct rule which he talked about in the Prime Minister's Communiqué, but the Governor has either executive authority or purely constitutional authority. Which is it?
We must be clear about this. If the Governor has executive authority, it is right to say that direct control of the forces has been returned to this country. If he does not have executive authority, if he merely takes the advice of his Ministers, what is the purpose of all this farrago?
I come now to what I suggest can be done and what would be a better way of tackling this problem now than the method which the Government are proposing.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
Before the right hon. Gentleman comes to that, may I ask him a question. Will he tell us whether he regards the matters on which there has been a breakdown as of minor or major significance? Would he agree that what Mr. Smith has refused to do is to call off the rebellion, reinstate the Governor, dismantle the police State and empty the concentration 1404 camps? Does the right hon. Gentleman regard this as minor?
§ Mr. Maudling
That is not a statement of Mr. Smith's position in any sense at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "The right hon. Gentleman cannot answer."] The position is that there is agreement—[Interruption.] I am sorry that the Prime Minister has sympathy for me. I have sympathy for a man who may lead this country into one of the greatest disasters in its history.
§ The Prime Minister
I am sorry only for the right hon. Gentleman, in view of his own great record in colonial affairs, that he is now having to answer a question from the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) and to speak as though he has been reduced to an apologist and a spokesman for Mr. Smith.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Langstone)
On a point of order. Is there any way, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in which the House can protect itself against the contemptuous arrogance of the Prime Minister?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
That is not a point of order. It would be better to allow the debate to proceed.
§ Mr. Maudling rose——
§ Mr. Maudling
I have made it clear in what I said earlier that I place the primary blame for this situation clearly on Mr. Smith's act of unilateral declaration of independence. That is not an apology in any sense whatever.
What I have endeavoured to do so far is to point out what seem to be the inevitable perils of the course chosen by the Government, and now I want to suggest what alternatives they should pursue.
As the House knows, there is this remarkable agreement on what the Constitution should be, and surely the Government, Mr. Smith, the Opposition, and all concerned profoundly hope that this proposed Constitution will commend itself to the people of Rhodesia? This must be our hope, because this would solve the problem. I cannot see any other solution to it at the moment.
1405 The only outstanding question is the reference of the proposed Constitution to public opinion in Rhodesia under Principle 5. If approval could be given, legal independence could be achieved in permanency. This is what we all want to see. The only valid reason for insisting on rigid conditions in this brief interim period is to ensure that the Royal Commission can do its work of carrying out Principle 5 and ensuring what public opinion really is. I am certain that both sides of the House, and certainly the Governor, would dearly like to see the Royal Commission in a position to do this and to declare that the Constitution as proposed is acceptable, and so solve the problem which threatens our country so grievously.
It is right to lay stress on the importance of the Royal Commission being able to do its work, but I think that it is perhaps fair to point out that what the Prime Minister fears is that there may be undue pressure brought to bear by the régime on people in Rhodesia to accept a Constitution which the right hon. Gentleman himself thinks is fair and right. I agree that there should not be undue pressure, but let us see what it might be.
Apart from the need for the Royal Commission to be able to make its inquiries effectively, there is clearly a fear on both sides of what the position would be if the Royal Commission's Report was negative, if it said that public opinion did not accept this. If that were so, the British Government would have abandoned their sanctions, and it would be very hard to reinstate them, as the Prime Minister emphasised.
On the other hand, Mr. Smith in those circumstances would virtually have thrown in his entire hand and be helpless. I am looking at the realities. This, I think, is why at the present moment the position is stuck as it is. I suggest that this can be met in this way: First, by appointing a Royal Commission straightaway, a Royal Commission of men of independence and standing. Such people are still available, even in this cynical modern world, as the Prime Minister knows, because he wants a Royal Commission. Appoint it now, and if it is to operate, clearly paragraph 15 of the White Paper must be carried out. Censorship must be removed, there must be normal political 1406 activities, and there must be an impartial judicial tribunal to examine individual cases. None of these things, to my knowledge, has Mr. Smith ever repudiated. All these conditions in paragraph 15 are laid down. That is my answer to the hon. Member for Devon, North.
Thirdly, let the members of the Royal Commission be the judge of whether they can carry out their appointed tasks, but let it be made clear that if they say that their efforts are impeded, if they say that they cannot carry through their task, that they cannot properly test opinion in Rhodesia, the offer falls to the ground. Surely it is right to give this body of responsible men the task of testing opinion to try to bring out the result which we all want, agreement on the Constitution? If they are satisfied that they can do it in conditions as they find them, let it be so. Mr. Smith would have to recognise the legal authority of the Governor, I do not think that he should be pressed in these circumstances to accept those elements of direct rule which he thinks exist in the White Paper, and which, if they do not exist, clearly should create no obstacle.
Finally, I think that the British Government should not in any way depart from the present level of economic sanctions which they are imposing on Rhodesia.
This is my proposal, put forward seriously, as an attempt to find a way out of what is a tragic situation—to appoint a Royal Commission, to ensure that censorship is removed, that all the other things in paragraph 15 are attained, that Mr. Smith accepts the constitutional authority of the Governor, and at the same time sanctions to be continued at the present level. Therefore neither side will prejudice its position, and a chance will exist to solve this problem.
I beg the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite earnestly and sincerely to recognise the dangers which our country is facing. Let us not turn down any solution which offers any prospects of success. This will be consistent with the Commonwealth communiqué, because it is wholly consistent with the six principles. The Prime Minister said earlier that the Constitution which is being proposed, which is being put to the people of Rhodesia, is wholly consistent with the six principles. This is a way of finding 1407 a solution. It may not suit the constitutional niceties, but it is a practical way of finding what everyone in this country wants to see, namely, a solution to this problem—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East):
On a point of order. Hon. Members on this side of the House want to hear both Front Bench speakers. We listened in silence to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs. We would be much obliged if we could also hear my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West):
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House how his proposals can be carried out on the terms which he has enunciated under a régime which not long ago imprisoned such people as Garfield Todd, and how there can be a free expression of political opinion when one is not allowed—and the right hon. Gentleman has said so—under an illegal régime?
§ Mr. Maudling
I explained clearly that that is covered by carrying out paragraph 15 of the White Paper which, to my knowledge, Mr. Smith has not repudiated.
I have put my proposals before the House. I have explained why we on this side believe with considerable intensity that the course being pursued by the Government is wrong. I have tried to outline what to my mind, though not a perfect solution, is a way out of a tragic situation. This is no time for personal recriminations or exercises in saving face. It is a stark choice between agreement and disaster, and a solution can be found. The verdict of history will lie heavy on anyone who by reason either of timidity or false pride allows prejudice or faction or excessive regard to constitutional niceties to condemn the people of Britain and Rhodesia alike to a long dark night of struggle and anguish.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)
The right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) has drawn an analogy with Algeria and France. It 1408 seems that he wishes to support that analogy by emulating the O.A.S. and the extremists in France who tried to sabotage de Gaulle when he was trying to impose a peaceful settlement on Algeria.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the position with regard to sanctions and said that we have to keep this as a domestic British concern, but if we do not go to the United Nations and ask for the imposition of sanctions, other people will, and it is therefore imperative that the Government take action.
Perhaps the key to the result of the Prime Minister's negotiations with Ian Smith lies in a small paragraph which has been tucked away in the documents relating to the negotiations between the United Kingdom Government and the Southern Rhodesian Government, which took place partly during the period of office of the former Conservative Government. At the foot of page 72 of the Report of these negotiations Mr. Smith admitted thatHe must make it clear that the Government party in Rhodesia did not believe in majority rule. They accepted that the 1961 Constitution would eventually bring it about; but they would not take any action to hasten this process.It is fundamentally because the Smith rebel régime is not willing to countenance majority rule within a reasonable time that the negotiations are doomed to failure. It is not a question of bridging a minor gap; it is a question of a fundamental unwillingness on the part of the Smith régime over a long period to accept the inevitability of African rule. No man could have gone further—some would say that he has gone too far already—than the Prime Minister to meet the viewpoint of the Rhodesian rebel régime. To say, as the Leader of the Opposition did only the other night:It would be a matter of the utmost regret if the dire consequences which are to follow which the Prime Minister has foretold were to come about as a result of differences about the return to legality…".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1063.]is to ignore the underlying differences which these formulae are intended to cover.
Without real guarantees by Southern Rhodesia there can be no honourable settlement, short of a Munich-type piece of paper which could be torn to shreds 1409 by the Rhodesian régime in years to come, just as guarantees were torn to shreds by the South African Government and their predecessor, Adolf Hitler That Ian Smith has never genuinely accepted the reality of the possibilities of majority rule was illustrated as far back as 7th June, 1964, when, in a speech in Bulawayo, he said:As long as even the thread of an apron string attaches us to the British Government African Nationalist politicians will continue to go to London and press Britain to exert influence on our affairs. That is one reason why we cannot relinquish our pursuit of independence.I wonder why hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite place any credence in the good faith of Mr. Smith during these negotiators. The litmus test of good faith on the part of the Rhodesian régime lies in the fact that only last year they took action with regard to the schooling of African children which made it quite impossible for the majority of Africans to obtain an education. They refused the genuine offers made by this Government to help African advancement. According to the Conference of Missionary Societies, the Land Apportionment Act was recently used to order both Anglican and Catholic secondary boarding schools not to enrol African pupils.
I want to deal primarily with the policy of sanctions, but there are one or two points that I want to put to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. First, after the actions of Smith and his friends there can be no question of independence for Rhodesia before majority rule. There can be no going back after this to square one. We have been on the hook long enough, and our patience is not inexhaustible. The Prime Minister went further than many of my hon. Friends would have been prepared to go in trying to meet Smith's demands, but I understand his reasons for this, and there are safeguards in the working document which should not be overlooked. Paragraph 17 makes it clear that an agreed settlement would have to be submitted to the test of acceptability by the people of Rhodesia as a whole, and paragraph 19 states that:The two Governments will also negotiate the terms of a Treatyand discuss the desirability of negotiating a defence agreement.
1410 The latter, to my mind, falls short of the guarantee that I would have liked to see—copper-bottomed or otherwise—because there would be no certainty that a defence agreement would be negotiated, but I am somewhat reassured by the Prime Minister's statement of 5th December that any breach of the Treaty would entitle us to use sanctions andnot necessarily confined to economic sanetions."—[OEFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1057.]I have never before in this House advocated the use of force in Rhodesia—although I believe that the use of force prior to the declaration of independence might well have averted this tragedy without any bloodshed—but I believe that the use of force now is a somewhat different matter. The action of the Smith régime in refusing every reasonable offer made to it in these negotiations has put it beyond the bounds of civilised negotiations and it makes a limited use of force a not unreasonable demand. I include force not only to seal off Rhodesia's lines of communications and the oil flow but also to back up economic sanctions.
Before dealing with the implications of a policy of mandatory sanctions which only the faint-hearted would resist I want to say something about the people whom we are facing in Rhodesia. If the Opposition, for political advantage—although I do not think that they will get political advantage out of it—oppose economic sanctions let them have no doubt what they are supporting in Africa. Let them have no doubt that the result of failure to take action against the Smith régime will mean the polarisation of the world into black and white nations—a polarisation far more dangerous than any previous division on ideological lines. It will mean the breakup of the British Commonwealth.
At no time let use forget the nature of the Rhodesian régime which we are facing. Let us not forget the Land Apportionment Act, which writes in permanent second-class status for the African in Rhodesia. Let us not forget the unbridled censorship of a very courageous and democratic Press. Let us not forget the obstruction of the right to assembly and to free association of the people of Rhodesia. Let us not forget 1411 the philisophy which orders the destruction of African schools and African churches because they happen to be situated in white areas. Let us not forget the restriction and the detention of the real leaders—the genuine leaders—of African opinion in Rhodesia and the sentences of death and imprisonment, some of which are pending, by the members of this illegal régime of people whose only crime is to seek majority and democratic rule. Let us not forget, when we hear talk of kith and kin, that Garfield Todd, missionaries, churchmen and businessmen who oppose Ian Smith are also our kith and kin, and that it is as much for the future of the white Rhodesians as the black Rhodesians that we have to take the most drastic and effective political measures available.
As far as I am concerned this implies immediate mandatory implementation and enforcement of sanctions, and these will have to be imposed by the United Nations. It may be that aid will have to be given to Zambia and other States by the United Nations where they are seriously and adversely affected economically, by this decision to impose political sanctions. Ultimately the success or otherwise of sanctions will depend upon the cooperation and support of the other members of the United Nations. The key may well be the enthusiasm with which the United States of America takes part in any action with regard to sanctions. There are those who say that in any event sanctions will not work.
There is a danger that this will be true if the sanctions are not backed up. Here I refer to the Financial Times of 11th November of this year, referring to the current sanctions, which pointed out thatit is still too early to write them off altogether".Only 40 per cent. of the tobacco crop has been sold, and of this half has gone to South Africa. We know that an increased amount last year went to the United States, who presumably will now join in mandatory sanctions. Co-operation on her part is therefore vital. After a year of sanctions, albeit limited sanctions, Rhodesia's national income has fallen by £35 million, or about 10 per cent., and the country has been put back economically by about two years. Had Zambia also been able to find alternative sources of supply, 1412 these sanctions would have hit harder, because imports from Rhodesia to Zambia were down by only 25 per cent. This is a serious problem, which the United Nations will have to face.
Rhodesian textiles have suffered. Sugar has been adversely affected, as have the motor, agricultural machinery, and spare parts businesses. But no policy of sanctions will be complete without an absolute embargo on oil. This must be backed up, if necessary, by the threat of physical action to prevent a deliberate breach by those States bordering on Rhodesia. It is true that the current supply of oil is not coming principally from South Africa—this has virtually ended for the time being, but it could be introduced in the event of mandatory sanctions on oil. The prime offender is not South Africa but Portugal, since most of Rhodesia's petrol comes in from Mozambique and the oil company involved is the French Total Group. Storage tanks have been built at the railhead at Lourenço Marques. One of the things which we ought, therefore, to be considering is diplomatic pressure, not necessarily on Governments or heads of Governments, but on the oil companies themselves, many of whom are extremely vulnerable to pressure from the British Government.
That sanctions have already had an effect is supported by other sources. The view of the Scotsman of 10th November this year is that the Rhodesian success story is largely artificial. The Guardian on 12th September emphasised this point in saying:Zambia's failure to take a full part in the embargo may be the biggest single reason why the Rhodesian economy has been able to keep its head above water.Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend will give a good deal of attention to the problem of aiding Zambia in the months to come.
Inevitably, however—this is something which people have steered clear of up to now—sanctions and the policy of sanctions will bring us into collision with South Africa. I do not think that we ought to shy away from this. There is no doubt that South Africa is most perturbed about this, because it obviously had some hand in putting pressure on Mr. Ian Smith to negotiate in recent weeks. South Africa can hardly view with relish 1413 the prospect of an additional 4 million Africans within its sphere of influence, when the only compensation would be 200,000 whites in a particularly weak and vulnerable position.
Nor can South Africa relish the idea of a confrontation with the rest of the world, which it might otherwise have avoided, merely for the sake of Rhodesia. But there is a chance—we must recognise it—that it will be politically impossible, as the right hon. Member for Barnet said, for South Africa to allow Mr. Smith and his white supremacist r—gime to be destroyed through the application of sanctions, for fear that sanctions might later be applied to South Africa. It is probable that on this point it is banking, partly because of the attitude of the Opposition, upon our unwillingness to carry sanctions to their ultimate conclusion.
This is why I believe that there must be no room for doubt about our intention. The full rigour of sanctions must be applied from the start; we should not turn the screw and accelerate sanctions slowly. Over a long period, this is the most costly and least effective way. We must start and continue at our toughest. We will also have to be tough on some occasions with our own people: some of the biggest breakers of the British law over Rhodesia have been major British companies, and this is something with which we will have to deal.
We must also be prepared to go to the brink with South Africa. We might take a little courage—hon. Gentlemen opposite might also—from the fact that, when Zambia had its dispute with Rhodesia over the advance payment for railway freight, it was Rhodesia which climbed down in the last analysis. In the same way, I believe, South Africa will not easily risk the destruction of all she has striven to preserve for what she regards as essentially a domestic squabble between Britain and Rhodesia.
Whether we like it or not, and whether or not the South Africans are prepared to climb down, this collision is inevitable in the world as it is today. Whatever it costs to put it to the test, this is something which one day, sooner or later, a British Government will have to face. We have certain economic measures available which could aid us to deal with any diffi- 1414 cult economic situation, but this was dealt with in our debate last week and I will not trespass into that subject.
One reputable correspondent of The Observer considers that South Africa will not be prepared to go to the brink. He points out, what we all know, that it would be our Government's intention, by their selectivity, to try to avoid confrontation with South Africa. But South Africa must realise the risk of escalation if it fails to co-operate. The correspondent concluded that, in the last analysis,…South Africa is ready to swim with Rhodesia; it is not ready to sink with it
§ Mr. Rose
I am certainly aware of my hon. and learned Friend's views. I share a room with him, but not necessarily his views on Rhodesia. I think that my hon. and learned Friend will agree that I have said that there is a possibility that South Africa will not give way and it is not a possibility which I seek to minimise or to gloss over.
My point is that we must have the courage to face this problem and to go to the brink, and, if necessary, over it, because it is inevitable that one day the world will have to face South Africa. It would not be a very opportune moment today, because of the economic difficulties which we face, but we cannot always choose the terrain on which we fight battles which must be fought. This is something which hon. Members opposite should have learned from the days of Munich. We may have to face the South Africans, to use the words of another statesman, very shortly "eyeball to eyeball"…
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
Does my hon. Friend know that, whereas only 5 per cent. of our total exports go to South Africa, 30 per cent. of their total exports come to this country, so that it is not we who should be afraid of South Africa but South Africa which should be afraid of us?
§ Mr. Rose
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his helpful intervention. I know that he has a great deal of experience of what happened at the time of 1415 Munich, even if I was probably only an embryo at the time—[Interruption.]—I was more than a twinkle at that stage.
What of the Opposition and their approach to this issue? Are they again to play the rôle of Chamberlain and the rôle of appeasers, or will they stand up like men, as some of them did in those days, and dissociate themselves from the dishonourable rôle which their leaders are playing at the moment——
§ Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)
As one of those who supported the oil sanctions, perhaps I might say in answer to the point which the hon. Gentleman has just made, that the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) both made it clear that he put blame throughout on Ian Smith and that he did not want to relax in any sense the measures which have been going on. However, he then went on to suggest constructive proposals, which I hope the Government will consider in this debate.
§ Mr. Rose
I am sure that the same sort of right hon. Gentlemen voiced opposition to Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, but they did not take effective action against him. We are not concerned about words but about deeds to bring this rebel Government to heel. For me, the right hon. Gentleman's suggestions are totally inadequate to deal with this problem.
It was the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) who, in 1964, said that Rhodesia would increasingly become a target for subversion, for trade boycotts, air transport bans and other hostile activities. He warned them at that time of the likely consequences and he said that U.D.I. would be generally regarded as an act of open defiance. Both he and the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) behaved honourably at that time.
What I want to know is why now, in Opposition, they are playing a silly, irresponsible and ultimately dangerous game in giving comfort to the rebel régime——
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)
The hon. Gentleman has made a number of times this point about Munich, which I personally think has some relevance, but, 1416 as he mentioned, in the same breath almost, my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) would he not agree that the right hon. Member's record over Munich was second to none?
§ Mr. Rose
I will not dispute that. I said only a moment ago that he behaved very honourably until recently over Rhodesia. His dishonourable—if I may use that word—behaviour with regard to Munich has started only very recently. I am not condemning the right hon. Gentleman for anything he did prior to recent months. I want to know what prompts this peculiar change of attitude.
I wonder if the party opposite feels that it might obtain some curious political advantage by appearing to be on the side of the white settlers in Rhodesia. I repeat the warning which was given in the Economist on 19th November:The Right should take note that Mr. Wilson has gone as far as any British Prime Minister reasonably could—a lot of people will say further—to offer a negotiated settlement to Mr. Smith, but Mr. Smith has spurned it. It is therefore necessary to resort to new measures.Since then the Prime Minister has gone a lot further because of his desire to effect a settlement and leave no stone unturned to achieve a settlement. Yet hon. Gentlemen opposite still display sympathy towards the racialist r—gime in Rhodesia and are far more willing to impute bad faith to my right hon. Friend than they are to impute it to Mr. Smith. The Economist went on the following week to comment:Will the Conservative Party act as it acted in Government and as Mr. Heath, Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Mr. Maudling would act if they were now in Government; or will it, with the exception of an honourable minority, play some silly game?We have seen today that the right hon. Member for Barnet is unfortunately prepared to play that silly game. It is not only a silly game but an extremely dangerous one which, I fear, will eventually lead to the polarisation of the world into black and white and the break-up of the British Commonwealth.
If hon. Gentlemen opposite play that game they will never be forgiven by the British people or by the Commonwealth and the world. If they play that game it is to be hoped that at least some hon. Gentlemen opposite will remember their 1417 party's history, will remember Munich, and will act accordingly by not following their leaders into the Lobby when we vote tomorrow night.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
This is indeed a tragedy. I was glad and impressed to hear the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) say that the responsibility for his tragedy lay solely on the shoulders of Mr. Smith. Not only is it a tragedy for this country and Rhodesia and the people concerned, but it is making it very difficult for Britain to pursue the important matters of putting its economy right and getting into the Common Market.
There is a general lesson which we can learn from this experience. It is that we should give up undertaking commitments which we cannot discharge. I was not in favour of invading Rhodesia, but when I am told that it would be impossible for us to do so, then it indeed seems that the whole cost effectiveness of the British defence policy must be called into question. Some of the very people who now say that it is impossible to settle the Rhodesian situation are the people who are keen to take on large and growing commitments east of Suez. I do not see the logic of Britain failing to solve a matter which concerns a quite small number of people and, at the same time, saying to the world that we will take on ever-larger commitments in the Far East.
We should explore how far there is common ground and I was, therefore, interested in the proposals put forward by the right hon. Member for Barnet. I hope that, at some point during the debate, those proposals will be explained further. As I understand it, the right hon. Gentleman is recommending that the present rebel régime should continue in power in Rhodesia in exactly the same form in which it exists today. I draw his attention to the fact that his right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) is recorded in the Blue Book as having said that the United Kingdom would have to maintain that the declaration—that is, the declaration of illegal independence—had no legal validity, that Her Majesty's Government were not prepared to recognise it and that we would have to emphasise that the Government of 1418 Southern Rhodesia would be in revolt against the Crown.
It is one thing to carry on certain negotiations with a rebel, but it is another to confirm him in his rebellion. If that is what the right hon. Member for Barnet means, then the House should be clear about it because that would be contrary to the position taken by the Conservative Party up to now on this issue and, I should have thought, contrary to the general tenor of Conservative thinking, which is usually in favour of enforcing the law in all its vigour.
The present Leader of the Opposition said in November, 1965:We recognise that it is an illegal Government and that the Government of this country can have no dealings with it."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 539.]Would not this be dealing with it in a very considerable way indeed? It was also the present Leader of the Opposition who stigmatised the Smith régime as a police state. We should, therefore, need some convincing that we should approve of, and put our seal of approval on, the continuation of a police state, even for a matter of months; and I draw the attention of the right hon. Member for Barnet to his own words, when he said, "What was wrong yesterday cannot be right today".
§ Mr. Maudling
The right hon. Gentleman may not have heard me properly. I said that Mr. Smith would, of course, have to accept the constitutional authority of the Governor, that he would have to do away with the police state, as set out in paragraph 15 of the White Paper, and that the only difference between this and the Government's proposal is the removal of this element of direct rule by the Government, which the Prime Minister denies exists.
§ Mr. Grimond
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has made that clear, but the only element of direct rule is that there should be one representative of Her Majesty's Government on the Council which would advise the Government and that the Governor should be reinstated as the nominal head of the police and armed forces. It is to these points that Mr. Smith has taken exception. I see no reason to suppose that he would agree now to this document—which is called a "working paper"— 1419 even if these matters, which may or may not be basic to the situation, could be overcome.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, with the miracle of swift communications, there is no reason why Ian Smith should not reply, before the end of this debate, saying that he accepts, in the letter and spirit, everything proposed by the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling)?
§ Mr. Grimond
I agree, but the curious conduct of the Rhodesian Government since the meeting on H.M.S. "Tiger" shakes one's confidence that they would be bound by any agreement or that they know what they are doing. After all, they have been fairly frank about this, since in the earlier discussions Mr. Smith made it clear that if his Government found that advance towards majority rule was going too fast, they would have no scruple in slowing it up. That appears in the Blue Book. This House must be more convinced than it can be today of the sincerity of Mr. Smith and of his ability to carry his Government with him.
I am not at all clear that the right hon. Member for Barnet has faced the difficulties concerning the Commonwealth. I am not one of those who ever thought that the Commonwealth could be an alternative to the Common Market, like many hon. Members did, including some Conservative hon. Members, I have never set myself up as one who believes that the Commonwealth could be a tightly knit political entity. Nevertheless, it has some importance and the Prime Minister has a point when he says that it would be absurd to destroy the Commonwealth for the sake of placating a quarter of a million people embedded in 4 million Africans in Rhodesia.
I am not clear at this stage, if we were to withdraw from the United Nations and accept the proposals put forward by the right hon. Member for Barnet, that the Commonwealth would accept such a state of affairs. I believe that it would not. I think that the Members of the Commonwealth now consider that our Government are bound by the promise made in the comuniqué of the Commonwealth Agreement. But right hon. Gentlemen opposite are better able to 1420 speak than I am about the probable reaction of the Commonwealth.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
I may deal with this matter tomorrow. Did not the Prime Minister, in accepting the document, accept it on behalf of the Commonwealth?
§ Mr. Grimond
He accepted the document on behalf of the Commonwealth only if Mr. Smith accepted it; but Mr. Smith has not accepted it.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Perhaps I have not made myself clear. Surely the Rhodesian Cabinet has accepted the constitutional proposals in the document.
§ Mr. Grimond
A document is drawn up and it is rejected. But then one side says, "It is not all rejected. We accept most of it. We have a few amendments to it, but we accept most of it. We accept the broad issues, but we do not like various things." This is a technique which can go on for a long time. I am extremely doubtful whether we should embark upon it. I agree, of course, that it is a great step forward that Mr. Smith should have accepted the six principles, but I do not think that it was such a good thing that he should have returned to his country and begun issuing a series of statements which gave me the impression that at any rate the rest of his Government repudiated the whole thing, that he was not strong enough to override them, and that he himself has now rejected this document. However, if he is prepared now to go back on it once again, no doubt this will create a new situation.
At the moment the British Government's policy is that sanctions be made mandatory through the United Nations. The House should look rather closely at what this entails, because we have been through this experience before. The League of Nations attempted to impose sanctions against Italy. What happened? 1421 France and Britain made it quite clear that those sanctions were to be carried up to a point where they would not hurt. They made it quite clear that, if there was any danger of the sanctions escalating to the point at which there might be some hostile reaction from the people involved, they were to be stopped.
This is singularly like the attitude of the British Government today. I should have thought that it was extremely foolish for anyone going into a situation such as this to say in advance what they will not do. I personally hope that we shall not have to use force, but to say in advance that we shall not use force and that in no circumstances do we want to be embroiled in Southern Africa is to tie our hands behind our backs before we start.
What does force mean? We have already got United Nations authority to use force, and we have used it to stop tankers. Force does not mean the invasion of the country involved. It means the effective implementation of the policy of sanctions. If the British Government are serious about sanctions, it is madness for them to say at once, at the very opening stage of the proceedings, "We shall not use force. We shall not hurt anyone who may react".
We know exactly what happened in 1935. The process of sanctions started rather well, because people thought that they were to be enforced. But, when it became apparent that Mr. Hoare and Mr. Laval had no intention of making sanctions effective, the whole thing crumbled like a house built of cards. We were promised by the Government that sanctions would be effective in a matter of months; but they have not been. [An HON. MEMBER: "Weeks."] I am corrected. It was said that sanctions would be effective in weeks, but they have not been. I think that Parliament should have a far firmer assurance from the Government that this time they are determined that sanctions will be effective.
I maintain my view that ineffective sanctions are the worst of every world and that, if we are not prepared to make them effective, it would be much better not to have them and to admit that we are impotent to deal with the Rhodesian situation. Further, have we explored what backing we shall get in imposing sanctions? There are rumours, on the one hand, that America will not back us.
1422 Then there are rumours, on the other hand, that she is pressing us all the time to go further. Is it conceivable that we have had no soundings before we embark on sanctions? Are we going into this with no plans or strategy for the future? I should find it incredible to believe that had it not happened before. I very much hope that we shall be told that we are to receive support in this matter.
Then there is the question of oil. I should have thought that, as in 1935, a decision in relation to oil sanctions is important if it is desired that sanctions are to have a significant effect on Rhodesia's economy. I am at a loss to know whether the British Government are recommending that oil sanctions be enforced. Again, there is the certainty, as there was in 1935, that there will be an outcry from other countries, and there already is one from Zambia, about the penalties they will have to pay because of sanctions. There is provision in Article 50 of the United Nations Charter for assistance to such countries. I hope that we shall invoke that Article.
What there is not under the Charter is any machinery for the carrying out of the policy of sanctions. I wonder whether it should not be suggested to the United Nations that they might send inspectors to such neighbouring countries of Rhodesia as will accept them to see how this policy is working out.
I have very grave fears that, unless the British Government, first, appear to be far more determined to make this policy work than they have been in their policy of sanctions up to now and, secondly, unless they can rally behind this policy a firm body of world opinion, gradually it will disintegrate; gradually trade will begin to move through the sanctions and not only we but the United Nations will suffer very severe loss of prestige.
Let me look for a moment at the difficulties in regard to South Africa. I find it very difficult to believe that Britain should be more frightened of provoking South Africa than South Africa is of provoking the rest of the world. What sort of people are we? We ape the Churchillian attitudes. The Prime Minister goes off in a cruiser as if it were a world-shaking event. But when South Africa says "Shut up", we shut up. Is that really the British Government's 1423 position? If so, they had better take off their "SuperMac" clothes and get back into a much humbler station of life. I cannot understand how the Government can contemplate treading this very dangerous path without facing the realities.
I know that it is now unfashionable to make any great appeal to any morals or principles. I would not do this if the British had not already paid endless tributes to their position in the Commonwealth, to their rôle in running a multiracial society, to their belief in the rule of law, and to their belief in democracy. This is the small talk of British politics. If we intend to talk about this, we must do something to enforce it. If we do not intend to carry these principles into action let us say that we no longer believe in the Commonwealth and that we have no power to enforce the principles on which we are supposed to run our country; and let us pull out of the business at any rate of trying to be a world influence.
Although I may seem extremely critical of the proposals put forward by the right hon. Member for Barnet, I would certainly be in favour of their being fully examined. If, as I suspect, the time for them has passed, and passed, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, because of Mr. Smith's intransigence and folly, and we are now to embark upon this dangerous course, we must be clear of at least one thing. I think that this course is dangerous. I do not say that because I object to the United Nations having to act. I have always thought that this country was a great supporter of the United Nations. I have always understood that the Conservatives were great supporters of the United Nations and have believed that it should be used to settle international differences. I understand that all that we are doing is asking the United Nations to back up what is our policy of sanctions. This does not seem to be unreasonable, but it has certain dangers. If we are to invoke this policy, let us then be clear where we are going and let us be determined in our efforts this time to make our policy a success.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
I am sure that there are many of my hon. Friends who greatly appreciate almost everything that the right hon. Member for 1424 Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said. The right hon. Gentleman spoke for a great number of people who regard themselves as upholders of liberal ideas in this country. I express my gratitude to him for the way he spoke.
Like the right hon. Gentleman, I want to begin by examining the speech made by the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), who had many important considerations to put to the House that I think should be seriously studied. The right hon. Gentleman said, first, that we were dealing with probably the last great imperial problem that this country had to face. I think that this is so. That makes it all the more necessary for the reputation of this country that we should deal with this problem properly, that we should make no mistake. If we were to make a mistake in dealing with this problem we might destroy all the credit which this country has built up over years and generations.
Therefore, we must deal with it with the utmost care. That is why some of us find it so strange that the official Opposition do not appear to abide by the principles which they themselves laid down on this issue and which they laid down so specifically in their discussions with the previous régime. I refer hon. Members to the statements which were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) when he was Commonwealth Secretary in the previous Government. In the message which he sent on 7th December, 1963, to Mr. Winston Field, at that time the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, he said:The present difficulty arises from your desire to secure independence on the basis of a franchise which is incomparably more restricted than that of any other British territory to which independence has hitherto been granted.Although we know that there have been changes in that Constitution, and changes in the proposition that was discussed, in my opinion the changes are not so great, and, indeed, the changes accepted by Mr. Smith, are, in some sense in two directions. Although this indicates that Mr. Smith has in a liberal sense made some concessions from the 1961 Constitution—some—it is also true, as my right hon. Friend underlined, that he introduced and insisted upon a braking mechanism which did not exist in the previous Constitution. My right hon. Friend said that 1425 at the end of the discussions on H.M.S. "Tiger"—and this is the point to which the right hon. Gentleman was referring just now—it was not a case of Mr. Smith accepting in their entirety the whole of the constitutional proposals put forward by the Government, but that he withdrew the offer at the last moment and tried to re-insert into those proposals the same braking mechanism to which my right hon. Friend had objected earlier. Therefore, the Conservative Opposition have to explain to the country why they have departed from that first principle.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
It is important to establish this point. I understood, and I think the whole House understood, that Mr. Smith and his Cabinet officially notified the Prime Minister—the Commonwealth Secretary can correct me if I am wrong—that they accepted the constitutional proposals in the document.
§ Mr. Bowden
I will endeavour to explain the position precisely. At the end of the discussions on H.M.S. "Tiger", Mr. Smith said that there were still in his mind three points which he wished to refer to his colleagues. One, that he was still unhappy about the entrenchment of paragraph 37 of section III. So he had returned to his original position. In the statement issued from Salisbury afterwards—after 11 hours' discussion—they did not refer to this particular point but to the other points.
§ Mr. Foot
My right hon. Friend has underlined what I said. The fact remains that at the beginning of all these controversies, when the right hon. Gentleman and his friends were in charge, they said to the Government of Southern Rhodesia, "Here, you are asking us to give you independence on terms which no British territory for generations has had, and we find that most objectionable." I want to know from the official Opposition why they still do not find that to be objectionable.
I come now to the second point referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. He was asked how much weight he put on the possibility of the effects of the acceptance of Mr. Smith's proposals on the future existence of the Commonwealth. He did not answer that question. I should like to know from the official Opposition, before the end of 1426 the debate, how interested they are in the maintenance of the British Commonwealth.
I quote further from the same page of the message sent by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham to Mr. Winston Field, and which was repeated by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I quote from paragraph 6, page 7, of the Blue Book, which says: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 right hon. Gentleman went on to say:The second is a risk which we would be most unwilling to take.This was before Mr. Smith had declared U.D.I., before he had taken the whole series of measures in defiance of the British Crown. This was before he took the measures mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet. They were better reasons then for trusting Mr. Smith, if there were ever any good reasons for trusting him. At that time right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House said, "Oh no, we can't take this action because we think it would threaten the unity of the Commonwealth itself."
If they believed in sustaining the unity of the Commonwealth at that time, we want to know, before the end of the debate, how much weight they place upon it today, because it appears that they have changed their opinion entirely, that they place very little weight on maintaining its unity.
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not think the hon. Gentleman could have heard what I said earlier. The answer is quite simple. We propose that the Constitution that should be put to the test of public opinion is the Constitution which, on the Prime Minister's own evidence, falls entirely within the terms of the Commonwealth Prime Minister's communiqué.
§ Mr. Foot
The right hon. Gentleman must listen to facts. The 1961 Constitution was not so different from the one which is described here. In some respects it was more liberal, and in some respects 1427 it was less liberal. In my opinion the 1961 Constitution should have been abandoned as a working basis for any negotiation after the declaration of U.D.I. That is my opinion. I am talking about what were the commitments of hon. Gentlemen opposite years ago. I want to know why they insisted upon them then, and why they have abandoned them now.
I come now to the new proposals which were made by the right hon. Gentleman, which of course he put forward with his usual skill and appeal. Some of my hon. Friends might be tempted to bite, but it would be extremely dangerous, in my opinion, partly because of the reply that was given by the Leader of the Liberal Party. The right hon. Gentleman is proposing that a Commission should be sent to Rhodesia even though the Government of that country is still in defiance of the Crown —that is one objection—even though there are no guarantees—and I know that the right hon. Gentleman is asking for them—that they will leave aside all the apparatus of the police state.
But that is not the only objection. What would happen at the end of the period? If we were to accept the right hon. Gentleman's proposal, and Mr. Smith were to accept that a Royal Commission should be sent to Rhodesia to operate, even though the Rhodesian régime has not accepted my hon. Friend's proposal to a return to legality, what would be the position at the end? It would be the same position as was described by my right hon. Friend when he discussed this matter with Mr. Smith. If the Commission reported in favour of Mr. Smith, then that would suit him fine; but if the Commission reported against him, he would continue with his unilateral declaration of independence. He would continue with the same course which my right hon. Friend described when he put the case to him directly. We had the answer today. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not listen or even try to deal with the facts. What would we do if the Commission went against Mr. Smith? He said, "I would have no alternative but to declare U.D.I. again".
The whole of this proposal is a monstrous piece of trickery. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he knows as well as I do what would be the effect 1428 of the acceptance of such a proposition on the British Commonwealth. We all know that the Commonwealth was almost within a hair's breadth of being destroyed at the time of the Commonwealth Conference. We know that commitments were entered into by the British Government; that firm pledges were made. The right hon. Gentleman now suggests that those pledges should be thrown overboard, and that we should place our trust in Mr. Smith even though we have had all these indications of his untrustworthiness. Such action by the British Government would cause something much worse than disappointment—it would spread a sense of betrayal throughout the whole Commonwealth.
I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman really intended his proposals seriously, because their acceptance would spread from one end of the Commonwealth to the other a sense that the British Government were not prepared to carry out commitments they had entered into at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I believe that the Government are prepared to carry out those commitments. Indeed, if they are not prepared to carry out the most solemn undertakings that were made to the Commonwealth only a few months ago, they have no right to expect that the Commonwealth should continue. One of the things we are debating in these two days is whether the Commonwealth is to continue to exist. We on this side are in favour of its continuance, and we want to know the opinion of right hon. and hon. Members opposite.
That is why I think that our two-day debate is the most important in this House since Suez. If the Conservative Opposition vote against the Government tomorrow night, they will be touching the same depths they touched at Suez—and in spite of the outward look of dissimilarity, there are many points in their attitude that are very similar to their attitude then. There is the same contempt for human rights, the same total lack of understanding of the rights of the people in Africa, the same restless detestation of the authority of the United Nations, the same disregard for the Commonwealth now that it has become a free institution. That is the outlook Conservatives showed on Suez—the same will be revealed in 1429 these debates if they vote against the Government tomorrow.
I believe, therefore, that these are very serious discussions—
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will answer a very simple question. Does he believe that it would be right for the British Government to vote against the imposition of oil sanctions proposed to the United Nations?
§ Mr. Foot
I will come directly to that point—because I wish also to discuss the future—but since the right hon. Gentleman had made a new proposal to the House I thought it only right that we should seek to examine it. For the reasons I have given, I think that if the Government were to accept the proposals made by the Conservative Opposition for dealing with the problem—proposals that I think have been advanced much more for domestic political reasons than for any real desire on their part—they might gain some votes on that side, but they would certainly lose plenty of votes on this. That is my opinion of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals.
We have now reached a situation in which we have to deal properly with the subject. I agree here with the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton). The Government have now reached a conclusion—though they have reached it very slowly—that they cannot deal with the Smith regime on any basis of trust whatsoever. The Government's good will towards the régime—not exactly their good will, but rather their attempt to solve the problem in an atmosphere of good will—has been betrayed by the Smith régime entirely, and for a reason which many of us on this side have understood from the beginning, and which, I am sure, many members of the Government have understood—the deep-rooted incipient Fascist nature of the regime in Rhodesia. It is a totalitarian Government. The Rhodesian Front was formed for the very purpose of preventing majority rule in Southern Rhodesia.
What the members of that régime have had to do has been to manœuvre to try to prevent the consequences of the situation. They have come forward with one proposal after another, but when we 1430 have got near to agreement each proposal has been abandoned. When the Government have stepped forward to meet them, they have stepped further back. None of their undertakings were ever carried out—even those given by Mr. Smith in H.M.S. "Tiger". As my right hon. Friend has shown today, one undertaking after another have been broken—and broken, in particular, on this essential matter on which the final breakdown took place.
Here the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) has a special responsibility. As the Leader of the Liberal Party has said, the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are today proposing another retreat in favour of Mr. Smith's demands. That is what we think, too. It should be understood that the breakdown is not on some minor matter, on some question of procedure, but specifically on the issue of the application of one of the six principles; the principle that any plan devised must be acceptable to all the Rhodesian people. Mr. Smith has tried to escape from the commitment on that point.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire suggests that we should now send a Commission there even though the illegal régime is still in operation. That is a big retreat from what he said in Government. If he looks at his own Blue Book on the matter he will see that what the British Government were proposing for Rhodesia just over two years ago was a referendum. The right hon. Gentleman himself said that a referendum was the best way to deal with this particular point, and I quite agree. But Mr. Smith would not have it. He has moved from it time and time again. Every time there has been an attempt by this Government or by the previous Government to tie him down, Mr. Smith has wriggled out, because the whole purpose of the régime is to escape from the possibility of majority rule in Southern Rhodesia.
The question is whether we will tolerate it, and whether a British Government think they can survive tolerating it or whether we turn to different methods. I am glad that the British Government have turned to different methods, but I am sorry that they have retreated so far. My 1431 right hon. Friend said that we gave way on point after point. In the earlier discussions there was a proposal that British troops should be put in the country. That was in the earlier document—I am sorry that it has now been taken out.
The Government have made concessions, and I am sure that they made them in good faith, but that makes it all the more discreditable for the official Opposition to pretend that there has been a demand for unconditional surrender. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will apply his mind directly to whether he supports the view enunciated by the right hon. Member for Barnet this afternoon that what had been demanded was unconditional surrender. It was not unconditional surrender at all. It was almost an appeasing offer that was rejected, and the Opposition know it—that is why there is such division between the Opposition Front Bench and the back benches.
I turn briefly to how we are to carry this policy into effect in future. We must be prepared to carry it through to the end. We cannot have the Smith regime surviving and the Commonwealth surviving—it must be one of them. Some of us said this after the unilateral declaration of independence a year ago. We said: "You have to choose. You cannot have both." We now have to choose even more directly. We have to make sanctions effective. We have to make our commitments to the Commonwealth effective, and even before we go on to sanctions there is something else we must do.
In our commitment to the Commonwealth we said that once we had made the offer to Mr. Smith—this last offer—and it was rejected, and if the sanctions proposals are supported by other members of the Commonwealth, we would agree to the proposition which we have applied in all other British territories, that there shall be no grant of independence without majority rule. We are committed to that and I should like the Government to tell us exactly when that commitment starts. In my opinion it should, in honour, start now.
Suppose the Government were to deny that proposition and say to the House and the world, "We only carry out that commitment if we find that the sanctions 1432 are supported in the precise way we desire at the United Nations by all the Commonwealth countries. That is the only way in which our commitments come into effect." If the Government said that, they would be in a very pitiful state, because they would be saying to the world," If some Commonwealth countries do not support us in exactly the way we want, we would be prepared in certain circumstances to grant independence before majority rule."
It would be much better for the Government to try to rally the support in the Commonwealth that they came so near to losing. One of the ways they can do that is by making a declaration in this debate that we accept the principle, which almost all the Commonwealth countries required of us at the Commonwealth Conference, that in the case of Southern Rhodesia, as in all previous cases—except South Africa, which has an ominous inference—there shall be no independence without majority rule. That is the first thing we can do right away and the sooner we do it, the better.
The second course must be to make the sanctions fully effective. I agree with what has already been said by my hon. Friend about that. It is an absurdity if the Government say that they will stop short of oil sanctions. It is an absurdity if they say, "We will not carry this sufficiently far to risk a conflict with South Africa." That might cost the country quite a lot, but we should count the cost, tell the country what it is, and be prepared to pay it. If we do not, we shall dishonour ourselves through all history. We must make sanctions effective now.
When we had the discussions after the declaration of U.D.I. some of us said that we thought that the Government were embarked on a very serious course, but we thought that it was the right one. That is the case. I do not believe that it is possible that we shall see the end of this story, and maybe even the end of the regime in Rhodesia, without a confrontation—to use the horrible word—with South Africa.
South Africa is the place of origin of this bestial doctrine, it is the place where it is preached and it is the Mecca from which these doctrines have been sent throughout the world. The idea that we shall invite South Africa's support to 1433 enable us to carry out our policy in respect of Rhodesia is a piece of sophistication that will never be understood by anybody.
We must go to the United Nations proudly. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will not come with us, but that should not disconcert us. We should say that we have come to the authority which we wish to see more fully established in the world than ever before, that we have no compunction in wanting to see the authority of the United Nations established more widely throughout the world, and that we have come to it to demand that all the countries of the world should come with us in carrying out a policy in defence of human freedom.
That is what we want, and if there are countries that will not come with us we should say, "Very well. We will have to take sanctions against you." If people say, "That will cost you too much money'', I reply that the Government of this country, particularly a Labour Government, cannot reckon the freedom of great masses of African people in terms of £s, shilling and pence. If we did so, I would rather see that Government destroyed than say that to the world.
We must carry through this policy until majority, democratic rule is established in Southern Rhodesia, as we wish to see it established throughout the rest of the world. When we achieve that, it will be a great and proud day in the history of this country and of this Government. That is what we should work for, and if there are people who will not come with us, let them stay behind and preach their racialist doctrines as they will.
Let us go forward and show that a Labour Government in this country can still lead the world.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
The House is always impressed by the sense of urgency and spirit of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), but there is now emerging under his leadership a considerable number of Members who are delighted that the talks have broken down. That is a sinister and dangerous fact in the situation we face today. That position must give embarrassment to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite and 1434 to hon. Members who support the Labour Party. It is now quite clear that there is on that side of the House a considerable body that gives three rousing cheers for the failure of the talks.
§ Mr. James Johnson
That is sheer nonsense. Will the right hon. Gentleman name any speaker on this side of the House, whether in Question Time or otherwise, who has given cause for the statements he is making.
§ Mr. Fraser
I have just listened to the powerful, logical and sincere speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale.
§ Mr. Fraser
It had a logic about it which flowed from that premise.
I hope not to detain the House for long, but I regard this as a very serious debate and one which is made all the more serious by the tragedy of the situation in Rhodesia today. It is a tragedy for which everyone in the House is in some measure responsible. It goes right back to 1923, when the British Government simultaneously declared that in Kenya the interests of the native were paramount and that in Southern Rhodesia a quite different form of constitution was to be imposed. It goes right through the problems of the Central African Federation, and the offer by a previous Labour Government to give independence to Rhodesia in the middle 1940s.
It boils down to the fact that we now have two matters which are incredibly difficult to reconcile: the irresistible argument of principle, if one may call it that, in the mouth of hon. Members like the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, and, on the other hand, the insurmountable facts of history, in that part of the world. We are faced today with a very grave situation which seemed almost to be resolved a few days ago. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is right in saying that the Government's Constitution offer was an advance for Smith's people on the Constitution offered them when we were in office. It is considerably more to the advantage of the Europeans in Rhodesia than was ever offered before. But that is part of the process of history, and part of the history which we ourselves must face.
1435 We must decide in the House what are our paramount interests, and where they lie today. I believe that the paramount interests of the British people have been confused by some of the situations created by the Prime Minister in his own confusion of the concept of sovereignty—whether or not we are sovereign in Southern Rhodesia, and whether in some mysterious way the rest of the Commonwealth can control that sovereignty through conferences.
That has led to a great many of the difficulties. It led to the position in Lagos, where a ridiculous and dangerous situation was created by the promise that rebellion would be ended in three weeks, and by the Prime Minister's other statement that there would be a return to direct rule. All this has led to a most dangerous situation, a situation which need never have arisen if we had been firm, if the Government had been firm throughout that the matter of Rhodesia was a matter for the sovereign power of this country alone. Once that was abandoned, once we said that other people could intervene, immediately all those forces, which, naturally, perhaps, because of their suffering—their imagined suffering or real suffering—are opposed to the interests of this country, inevitably intervened.
When we go to the United Nations, we shall see the unleashing of those forces against our interests. If right hon. and hon. Members believe that the Foreign Secretary can ride the whirlwind at the United Nations, they have another think coming to them.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Leyton)
If the right hon. Gentleman thinks it wrong to consider the possible splitting of the Commonwealth as a result of all this, will he direct his first attacks on his own Front Bench who asserted that principle when in office?
§ Mr. Fraser
I am directing my attack at the moment on the one who bears guilt for the immediate situation in which we find ourselves, that is, the Prime Minister, because of his handling of these negotiations.
It is only right that, before the debate proceeds much further, a simple question should be answered by the Government. What has been the cost of sanctions to 1436 this country up to the present? We have had no specific answer in £s, shillings and pence to that question yet, and I put it again under four heads: first, the direct cost; second, the cost of loss of exports; third, the cost of imports of substitute materials; fourth, the loss of revenue from invisibles. The facts on those matters and others should be put to the British people before they determine what should be done.
§ Mr. Fraser
I shall come to the rise in the price of copper in a moment. Already it has cost this country a great deal of money. I know that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale thinks that these matters are unimportant, but at this stage, when the whole of our economy is teetering and in danger of collapse, as it has been for two years, they must be the paramount interest of our people.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon(York) rose——
§ Mr. Fraser
I am sorry, but I cannot give way. Other hon. Members want to make speeches which, I am sure, will be infinitely better than mine, and I do not want to take too long.
I come now to the situation into which we are moving, the proposal to go forward with two kinds of sanctions, the nature of which has not yet been revealed to the House. Perhaps the details will be revealed by the Prime Minister tomorrow when he addresses us. First, there are to be what are called controlled or limited mandatory sanctions. We do not know precisely what this will mean, but there is grave danger that, if these limited mandatory sanctions, that is to say, sanctions which do not attach to oil, are imposed, the House and the country will face considerable danger. There must be a redefinition of the position of Zambia and of Malawi in regard to these matters.
Let us suppose that the Smith régime, rebellious and illegal though it may be, finds that its patience has become exhausted. The wealth and prosperity of these people is largely agricultural. Let us suppose that they decide that they will cut off the supply of coal to the North.
1437 Let us suppose that they decide that they will not move copper through. I hope that hon. and right hon. Members have considered this possibility and they realise that Britain depends on 250,000 tons of copper, paid for each year in sterling, from the Copper Belt.
Let us suppose that this supply is cut off. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) referred a moment ago to the rise in the price of copper. It has gone up by £40, or perhaps, by as much as £100, over the whole period. It is interesting to note what has happened to the price we have had to pay for the copper we have imported. In the first nine months of this year, we got through 152,000 tons of copper from Zambia costing £53 million. In the first nine months of last year, we got through 186,000 tons, that is, 30,000 tons more, but it cost us £3 million less. Those are significant figures, and I hope their significance is appreciated by those who are watching our economy and who have the employment and livelihood of the people of Britain at heart.
What about the other extension of what could happen at the United Nations? The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would like to see the pushing of sanctions á I'outrance, that is to say, pushing them to control oil supplies, which would mean a confrontation or an economic war with Southern Africa, Portuguese East and West Africa and, of course, the Union. I know that these are matters of trivial account to the hon. Gentleman, and he is carried away by his exuberant enthusiasm for the matter of principle. I am carried away by my fear for the ordinary people of this country. We should be faced by a switching of gold supply to France and to Zurich. We should be faced with the loss of £200 million or £300 million a year of exports, and we should face——
§ Mr. Ivor Richard(Barons Court) rose——
§ Mr. Fraser
Not while I am in full flight. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will stay in his seat for a moment. All right—carry on—I have forgotten what I was about to say.
§ Mr. Richard
I have been listening to the right hon. Gentleman with great in- 1438 terest and, if I may say so, a certain amount of disdain. I understand what he is saying as an argument against something, but will he now tell us what it is an argument for?
§ Mr. Fraser
As the hon. Gentleman deigned to use the word "disdain" to me, I remind him of one of the principles of debate in this place. If the case put forward by the Government can be destroyed—as I think it can be and will be by the people of this country over the next few months—it is the first task of the Opposition to destroy it. The truth of what we say will be shown by what happens when their policy fails in the way we know it will fail. I shall come in a moment to what I believe should be done.
What is intended and proposed by the Government will lead either to the continuation of the expensive farce which has so far cost us, I believe, about £90 million, without any effect, or to economic disaster for this country and in Africa ruination for many of those living in Rhodesia, including the 4 million Africans, and to the building up of a bitterness which will leave its mark on history for scores of years. At the end of it all, nothing will have been achieved. This is the policy on which right hon. and hon. Members opposite are embarked, having failed to see the reason of continuing negotiations.
Having come so far, they should continue to negotiate. A fatal decision was reached at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, first, in the withdrawal of any kind of negotiation after the end of this year and, second, in the insistence on one man, one vote accompanied by a refusal to negotiate further. What my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said today, on the other hand, was not said to win votes from his supporters inside our party. What he said was a genuine contribution to getting out of the impossible morass into which the Government are leading this country.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
I have followed, as has every right hon. and hon. Member over a considerable period, the treatment by the Government of the problem of Rhodesia, and I am bound to say that, from beginning 1439 to end, I can find very little to fault in it. The Government have shown very great patience and restraint. They have not been ungenerous. If it occurred to one's mind at any point that a proposition made by the Government went marginally too far, it could always be said, on analysis, either that it was tactically sound—in a matter which, after all, was intrinsically a bargaining process—or that it was not persisted in to the point where it could obstruct the prospect of a settlement.
The thing that has interested me in this debate is that the critics have not thus far pointed to a single requirement of the British Government which it was unreasonable to ask the Rhodesians to meet, or to the existence of any demand which brought about the breakdown in the attempt to achieve a settlement. It is, over a considerable period of months, a great achievement by the Government that the critics have not been able to point to a single instance of a lapse or requirement which has been the occasion for breaking down the prospects of a settlement.
The second point which has struck me over these recent months—and I attach great importance to it—is that the exercise of trying to restore legality has not been assisted by the Opposition. It was understandable that there should be differences among them. They divided into three parts—as parties and territories sometimes do. But the important thing is that this prevented an appearance of total unity in this country which would have vastly helped the process of dealing with illegality, and it has seemed to me throughout this controversy for a long time that the Opposition carry a great responsibility for that. In addition, it must be borne in mind that utterances in another place, from certain quarters, have not helped.
The problem of Rhodesia has developed at a time when the Tory Party has lost its bearings and really has not known where it stood. All I am suggesting, without venturing to carry my criticism further than this point, is that the fact that the Opposition was divided, that the Tory Party was at this phase in its history disunited for reasons that can be understood, has been of comfort to Mr. Smith.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that there is unanimity in the country on this issue? Does not he think that the division of opinion in this last year in the Opposition probably more accurately represents the opinion in the country than opinion on his side of the House?
§ Mr. Irvine
I am not suggesting that there is not in the country some division of opinion upon a matter of this kind as to what should be done. What I am saying is that it is a grievous pity that the House of Commons was not able to present a united front in its attempt to deal with a case of unquestioned illegality, and I would expect reasonable hon. and right hon. Members opposite to acknowledge that it was an undoubted misfortune for the country that that could not occur.
The Government's burden has been that they have had to aim at satisfying the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference while at the same time keeping open the possibility of a settlement. It was quite a remarkable achievement that they came so near to success as they did. One looks at the proposals for a settlement—which, after all, achieved initialling by Mr. Smith and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—and sees a substantial degree of generosity on the part of the British Government. There was to be no delay or deferment in the making of an Order in Council permitting the appointment of a Prime Minister. That Order, under the terms of the working document, should, it was agreed, be made as soon as possible. As soon as it was made, the Governor was to invite Mr. Smith to head an interim Government.
There is nothing ungenerous about that, whatever may be said. It may be over-generous. It may be incautious. But no right hon. or hon. Member opposite can suggest that this is an ungenerous proposal. It is a way of treating someone who is at the head of an illegal régime that one would not expect from an oppressive or illiberal Administration.
§ Mr. Irvine
It was open to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, if he had less good sense in these matters, to have taken up a dog-in-the-manger attitude. The point I am on is that he did not do that, and here, in the agreed document, is an acceptance of the suggestion that, after the Order in Council, the Governor should invite Mr. Smith to head an interim Government. All I am saying is that this is a generous proposal to make to a rebel, and I believe that it will be recognised as such by the British people.
It is true that, in the working document, the restored Constitutional Government in Rhodesia was to be based on the 1961 Constitution. It would have been hopelessly irrational—and I invite hon. Members opposite to agree with me on this—to suggest otherwise. If there was to be a settlement, if there was to be a basis of agreement, it could only derive in all reason from a constitution legally established.
It is provided in the working document that new elections were to be held not later than four months from the dissolution of the Legislature. That is reasonable and fair enough, and, of course, the period of four months before the new elections had to be subject to the test of acceptability having been completed in the meanwhile. But that was an inescapable restriction upon any proposal under this head. Any possible delay from that cause, from the failure of the proposal to pass the test of acceptability, was surely implicit in the fifth principle, and that was the principle to which Mr. Smith himself has said that he adheres.
That is my view about these rather tragic matters which have lingered so long, absorbing our attention and concern. In the nature of things, a good deal has been going on about which one could not know anything like the whole story. One has had that in mind in one's reflections on the problem.
What I am bound to say in this connection on this historic occasion is that I find it intensely revealing to study what the reaction of the Salisbury regime has been to proposals which have had the generous and reasonable character which I have described. The statement issued in Salisbury is an appalling give-away. It has revealed to people in this country and to students of this matter the nature 1442 of the difficulty which has confronted the Government. It has done that more effectively than anything else which I can imagine.
According to The Times, the Salisbury statement says thatthe proposed interim Government would be the Trojan horse to allow British troops to impose a constitution.We are beginning to learn, are we not, who these people are and what they are like and what their disposition is? The statement says:It would be a Quisling government with a tough British proconsul supported by British troops…That is pretty offensive language, but that is the language employed in the statement authorised in Salisbury.
Of course, there is not a shadow of evidence to support the view that there is any intention by the British Government to do the kind of things to which the statement refers. I fear that this language shows up much more clearly than anything else could have done what we are up against in dealing with the problem of Rhodesia. If anything could be thought of calculated to strengthen the hand of those who are pressing for extreme measures, it is this kind of language.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman say that about the language used by the Prime Minister a year ago?
§ Mr. Irvine
The whole trend of my observations has been to suggest that the Government's handling and my right hon. Friend's handling of this matter has been generous, restrained, cautious and statesmanlike throughout, and that is the contrast which I seek to draw between the Government's proposals and the language and tenor of the statement published in Salisbury.
We are told that the statement was prepared and composed before the Gibraltar talks. Even so—and I think that hon. Members opposite would have difficulty in resisting this conclusion—it is extraordinarily revealing of the state of mind into which the regime in Salisbury has sunk that it should have chosen after the Gibraltar talks to give publicity to such a statement, representing as it does a disposition towards this country and towards 1443 the Government which on any reasonable and fair view is not warranted by the facts.
The Government's policy in this matter has been right throughout. I cannot fault it. It has had the character of patience. The problem has been intensely difficult and now reluctantly—and of course it is done reluctantly—recourse is had to sanctions. I am bound to say that I regard sanctions against an aggressor as a much more appropriate concept than sanctions applied in an attempt to discipline a rebel régime on British territory. I acknowledge that. This is not the occasion, nor would the House wish me, to pursue the reasoning behind that conclusion. I think that sanctions are much more evidently appropriate for the treatment of an aggressor than for the purpose of bringing down an illegal régime inside the Commonwealth.
Be that as it may, the fact that the ideal, the perfect, weapon is not available for the British Government to bring to bear in the new situation cannot be an excuse for taking no action at all. Therefore, I am entirely prepared to support the action now being taken in the United Nations, and I say that without reservation. In the course of his speech, I asked my right hon. Friend—because even at this stage one cannot entirely exclude the possibility of a change of heart on the part of Mr. Smith—what would be the Government's response to an overt readiness to carry out what are the British proposals within the context of the 1965 constitution.
What was in my mind when I put that question was, among other matters, the point made by the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) who regretted very fairly the circumstance that in recent days Mr. Smith had thought far more of the Rhodesian Front than he had thought of Rhodesia. One cannot utterly exclude the possibility of a change of heart, although I fear that it is unlikely. One cannot utterly exclude the possibility of a fundamental split in the governing party in Rhodesia. It was this which led me to put my question to my right hon. Friend, and he gave an answer which was not without importance.
In the situation which exists, let me make it clear that I think that the British Government have handled this difficult 1444 problem admirably from the beginning right up to the present moment. I support the Government in their current action and, with all my right hon. and hon. Friends, trust that the outcome of so much patience and effort may eventually be a solution acceptable to all reasonable men.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
I propose to follow the line of thought of the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) in only one respect. That is not because I would not like to enter into the constitutional problems and implications set out in the working document; but in a debate such as this, when many hon. Members want to speak, perhaps it is better that I confine myself to only one aspect of this important and tragic matter.
For the rest, in language which the hon. and learned Gentleman will readily understand, I must content myself with entering a general traverse to his claim that the Government have conducted this business admirably from the beginning, as he said, or at all. No doubt others will be able to reinforce the case against that surprising and hyperbolic asseveration on his part.
The matter with which I wish to detain the House is in the context of sanctions and the reference to the United Nations. The hon. and learned Gentleman made one short reference to this, and I thought that the best part of his speech was when he said that clearly sanctions were less appropriate in a case such as this than in the restraint of an aggressor.
I go further than that and say that U.N. sanctions are not appropriate in this case at all. In substance, I make these two points which I will develop briefly. First, the situation here is not one within the contemplation of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, and the British Government, in their no doubt understandable anxiety to obtain cooperation for their sanctions policy, have given to the United Nations a jurisdiction which is not appropriate to the circumstances.
Secondly, I say that having done so, the Government have put at risk the power of Britain to control events in what is basically a matter within her own sovereignty. The hon. Gentleman 1445 the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) made references to the authority of the United Nations. If he will forgive my saying so, the references, though enthusiastic, were singularly imprecise. The jurisdiction of the United Nations is bounded and defined by the Charter and the right to impose economic sanctions by members of the United Nations derives from Article 41, and from that alone.
Article 41 and the whole of Chapter VII, dealing with sanctions and punitive measures, can operate only when an appropriate determination has been made under Article 39. As the House knows, Article 39 permits the Security Council to do this on three grounds. In ascending order of gravity they are, first the existence of a threat to peace, secondly a breach of the peace and thirdly an act of aggression.
In regard to the second and third of those matters, no question arises here. No one has ever suggested that there is a breach of the peace or an act of aggression. The jurisdiction of the Security Council to impose economic sanctions rests entirely upon the determination that there is a threat to peace. This determination was made by the Resolution of the United Nations on 9th April last. It was, the House will recall, a British Resolution, arising immediately from an apprehension then felt regarding the Portuguese supply of oil to Rhodesia.
The British Government had already raised this matter with the United Nations in the Security Council in November of last year, on the basis that the situation at that time was one the continuance of which could be a menace to international peace and security. The Resolution adopted the then Foreign Minister's suggestion that this was the position. Therefore as early as this time last year the Government had paved the way for giving jurisdiction to the United Nations for sanctions or the use of force on the basis of the first of the three grounds in Article 39, namely, the existence of a threat to peace.
My submission to the House is that this is not a situation which is contemplated by Article 39. As the House will appreciate, the other two grounds are easily judged. They are matters of fact —a breach of the peace and an act of 1446 aggression. The first ground, which is relevant here, is a matter of interpretation and judgment. Article 39, in its references to determination that a threat to peace exists, on which hinges the whole of the right of the United Nations in regard to the imposition of sanctions and the ultimate use of force, can be understood only against the background, not only of Chapter VII but of Chapter VI.
Chapter VI, as the House will remember, deals with pacific settlements of dispute. Reading these two Chapters together, it is quite clear that two assumptions are made before there can be such a determination under Article 39. They are, first, that there is an unsettled dispute, the parties to which are sovereign States; and, secondly, that both parties to such disputes will be heard by the Security Council in regard to the disputes and that the conciliation procedures of Chapter VI have been exhausted. Clearly that is not this case. It could only be the case if Britain accepted, which she does not, Mr. Smith's claim to be an independent sovereign State.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that clearly this is not the case, but who is the final court of appeal in this matter, the right hon. and learned Gentleman or the Security Council, which is the arbiter of its own rules? If the Security Council has already said that this is the case, how can the right hon. and learned Gentleman now say that clearly it is not?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I have said that since the Resolution of 9th April, the Security Council have assumed jurisdiction on a British initiative and it will retain jurisdiction. What I am saying is that there has been a basic misinterpretation of the Charter by this Government in so referring the matter. For that reason, even if it were that reason alone, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen would be justified in voting against this Motion tomorrow night.
These assumptions to which I refer are supported by the terms of the Charter and by common sense. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will refer to Article 33 it will be seen that it reads:The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security,—1447 and there we see the origin of that phrase—shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies, or arangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.Of course there have to be two parties to a dispute in order to found a determination under Article 39 and they have to be sovereign States.
There has to be some action or dispute outside of a country's own area of sovereignty. A country cannot constitute a threat to peace by what it does within its own borders. Obviously one could not accept that a country should be liable for the imposition of sanction procedure simply because the conduct of its own internal affairs for example, its attitude to the rule of law or democratic government, made other countries so angry that they felt like attacking it or doing something hostile to them. If that were the criterion the United Nations would be very busy indeed in taking action under Chapter VII, involving some of its more prominent members into the bargain. The position is quite different and quite clear. The Charter goes on the basis of excluding from the jurisdiction of the United Nations matters within the domestic jurisdiction of States.
In an ideal world that might well not be so. In an ideal world, one might say that the United Nations should be able to impose the practices of the rule of law and democratic government in all its member States—and very busy it would have to be. But the Charter takes a practical view and has adopted a practical working rule, consonant with the general facts of life. Article 2(7) says:Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII".So we get this position, that member nations are expected to deal, without recourse to the United Nations, with matters in their own area of sovereignty. That is what countries normally do. Some do it well, decently and liberally. Others do it less well, decently and 1448 liberally But they assume the responsibility of dealing with matters in their own area of sovereignty.
The Government have abandoned that principle. They have derogated from their sovereignty. They have not made use of the excepting provisions of the Charter. They have turned their back on the challenge to statesmanship which other countries accept to solve the problems which lie within their jurisdiction. Will that enhance their prestige in the United Nations or the world? I should hardly think so.
The unsuitability of the reference to the United Nations can be seen by referring to its provisions. If the matter were within the jurisdiction of the United Nations, it would only be because Rhodesia was a party to the dispute which gave rise to that jurisdiction. As such, Rhodesia would have been entitled to a hearing and to participate in the discussion in the Security Council even though not a member of the United Nations. The House will find that in Article 32 of the Charter:…any State which is not a Member of the United Nations, if it is a party to a dispute under consideration by the Security Council, shall be invited to participate, without vote, in the discussion relating to the dispute.Rhodesia is not so entitled. Why?—because it is not as a sovereign state a party in dispute, and not being a sovereign state the dispute is excluded from the jurisdiction of the United Nations as being something within Britain's domestic jurisdiction.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland) rose—
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
There are many other Members who wish to speak. I will give way, but I hope that if Mr. Speaker is inclined to cast reproachful glances he will be good enough to cast them at the hon. Member and not at me.
§ Mr. Maclennan
I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way. He has been attempting to urge that the domestic jurisdiction provision of the Charter precludes United Nations consideration of the matter. But the proviso is clear, that Chapter VII questions are not precluded from consideration. At no time has this matter 1449 been considered to be susceptible of treatment by the United Nations save under Chapter VII. This was made clear in the Commonwealth Prime Minister's communiqué.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am less sorry that I gave way to the hon. Gentleman because he has raised an interesting point and I will answer it as shortly as I can. I read out the proviso. In my view, it is clearly to safeguard the application of procedures where there was a determination under the second and third grounds of Article 39. If I am right in my construction, as I think I must be, it cannot apply to this case because a determination on the first ground can arise only when Chapter VI has been brought into operation and that cannot be so where there is no dispute between sovereign states.
The Government, who the hon. and learned Member for Edge Hill said had conducted the whole matter admirably, patently bungled the reference to the United Nations in November, 1965. They do not even know under what Article the initial reference of November, 1965, was purported to have been made. They have not even said clearly whether it was under Chapter VI or Chapter VII. The Prime Minister said that it was not under Chapter VII; he said that it was a compromise. But the Charter does not provide for that.
What happened was this. They made this reference, presumably under Article 35. Perhaps the Secretary of State can tell us. Apparently he cannot tell us. The reference may have been under Article 35. But the curious fact is that if the Prime Minister said that it was not a Chapter VII reference then it must have been a Chapter VI reference. But if hon. Members look at Article 27(3) they will see that on Chapter VI references the party in dispute may not vote. But Britain did vote. Therefore, the only justification of their vote obviously was that Rhodesia was not a party to dispute and so the Article did not apply.
That brings us to the same inescapable point to which all roads lead back. There was not a dispute in that sense of the word because Rhodesia is not a sovereign state and therefore the matter should never have been referred to the United Nations. We are forced to the conclusion that the Government have misinterpreted 1450 and misapplied the Charter and have certainly mishandled the situation. We are left with the consequences. They have now said that they have jurisdiction, and they are unlikely to part with it, one would imagine. In those circumstances, we must face the question of what will happen under Article 41.
I have considerable misgivings about that matter and still greater misgivings about the possible application of Article 42. We are told that there are to be selective mandatory sanctions. But I hope that we shall get some more precise elucidation about the procedures than the Secretary of State gave this afternoon. He made lengthy references to the past, but very sketchy references to the future in his long speech. He told us that the resolution would specify precise commodities, although he did not say what the resolution would be. Presumably the resolution can be amended.
Would the Secretary of State or one of his right hon. Friends tell us this: Would any change in or addition to these commodities involve a fresh resolution under Article 41? Does such a resolution require the concurring votes of the permanent members under Article 27(3)? In other words, is there a power of veto or not? The hon. Lady the Minister of State, Commonwealth Affairs, should take note of these points. The House will expect an answer on them. Would Britain be in a position to veto any unwanted addition? Perhaps we can be told that. Perhaps we can also be told whether they have the power to do so, although I must say that I ask questions relating to the interpretation of the Charter without great confidence having regard to the Government's record in this matter. Will they say whether they think they have the power and, if they have, whether there are any commodities, and, if so, which, in respect of which they would be prepared to use their power of veto?
Article 41 does not prescribe any machinery for the application of economic sanctions. There is no equivalent to the Military Staff Committee, which is prescribed in regard to military sanctions. Is there any such machinery? May we be told that? The enforcement procedures depend on legislative action being taken in each independent state. The Secretary 1451 of State, who was good enough to give way to me during his speech this afternoon, made it clear that there were considerable difficulties in getting legislation passed in the independent member countries of the United Nations. These are very slow and uncertain processes.
The House will have observed what The Times said about that this morning:The difficulty will be to keep Governments in line during a process which is bound to be long—and still more, to keep their nationals in line… Some of these are countries which, over the past year, have given lip service to the boycott of Rhodesian goods, but little more. If that is to change, the United Nations will have to devise means for checking the effectiveness of its measures.What are those means? Has the Foreign Secretary gone with a blueprint to suggest how the methods of enforcement can be improved? I can envisage a situation in which we may be left with the worst of all worlds: no settlement with Rhodesia, and substantial and permanent loss of British trade to nations in the category which The Times has described.
My apprehensions in regard to Article 42 are still graver. Article 42 gives to the Security Council the right to decide to use force if economic sanctions have proved to be inadequate. That is the test in Article 42, that and no more; there is no definition of it, no reference to any reasons for inadequacy.
If what The Times complains about goes on, if there is widespread evasion of sanctions and if there is great delay in enforcing them, sanctions will be inadequate. What will be the position then? Would not Britain be compelled to join in the use of force under Article 42 because other countries had defaulted in the application of economic sanctions and, in so doing, had taken from Britain unto themselves the trade that used to be ours? Is that not a paradoxical situation? Is it not a Gilbertian situation? But is it not a possible situation? May it not even be a probable situation?
What safeguards have we against these matters? [HON. MEMBERS: "The veto."] Of course. The veto would be our one safeguard. Clearly, as a permanent member, Britain has a right of veto under Article 27. Therefore, the questions to which we want answers are simpler. There is no need to ask whether we have the power. We have it. The other ques- 1452 tion is the important one: would the Government use the power? Could they logically use it? That would be their difficulty, whatever their feelings.
Would it not be argued in this way, perhaps, by other members of the Security Council? It could be said that Britain had asked for the economic sanctions and that where economic sanctions are inadequate, the Charter specifies force as the next step under Article 42. How then, might they not say, could Britain use the veto? Those are the dangerous waters into which we are now entering. Anybody with imagination and foresight cannot but feel disturbed at the prospect that lies ahead.
I believe that the reference to the United Nations, as I have sought to show from the text of the Charter, was misconceived in its origin. I believe that it gives rise to the possibility of considerable economic detriment, not only to Rhodesia, but to this country as well and to other friendly nations. I believe that it is fraught with a graver and, it may be, an inescapable hazard for the future.
In the lamentable event of resort to force, there will, I believe, be no victors as between Britain and Rhodesia. Both will lose irreparably thereby. The only beneficiaries——
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham) rose——
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
—of the use of force will be the evil things in the world —extremism, violence, privation and suffering. Those will be the things which will follow from resort to force.
An hon. Member this afternoon said that he believed in force of a limited nature. Those words have been used before, but they have rarely come true. It is quite unrealistic to think that such things can be contained within a narrow compass. We know on high authority that those who take to the sword are liable to perish by the sword. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Suez."] I do not propose at this stage to argue Suez but suppose that hon. Members opposite are right in the view they take. Why should they then repeat what they say was an error made by the Conservative Government? Surely, that would be an unstatesmanlike and illogical approach.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerrrose—
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am sorry. The hon. Lady will understand that I have given way earlier, and I am just finishing and do not want to take up more time.
That is the prospect that opens up before us. But even if sanctions succeed, even if we get round all these hazards and overcome all these difficulties, we still have the unsatisfactory position that only two courses are then open. Either Britain will have to grant immediate independence based on majority rule, for which it is generally agreed that the Rhodesians are not yet ready, although they soon will be. We would be in danger of reproducing a mirror image of the Congo situation. That is something which must give pause to all thinking people.
The other alternative is that if there was to be any waiting period before full independence with majority rule, Britain would have to go back to the exercise of colonial rule from Whitehall. [An HON. MEMBER: "Quite right."] An hon. Member says, "Quite right." That is quite unrealistic after 40 years. We cannot put the clock back. There would be no viable machinery for so doing. Therefore, we get the position that even if sanctions succeed, even if we avoid all these difficulties, we still do not have a satisfactory solution at the end of it.
Surely, those circumstances being so, it would be far wiser, even at this late hour, to take the course which my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) suggested this afternoon and see whether we cannot get a satisfactory settlement which would avoid these difficulties and serve well the future of the Commonwealth.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) referred in one of his phrases to the "highest authority". I remind him that the same highest authority also enjoined us to remember thatInasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.This is really the fundamental moral problem that is before us in this debate.
This is the most dangerous situation which has faced us since Suez. Every- 1454 one who goes into the Lobbies tomorrow night must recognise that whatever course is taken in this situation is fraught with danger. Equally, this is probably the greatest moral issue that has faced us since 1939. I listened with great attention to the words of the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) and also to the words of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East. If, however, their attitude had been typical of the Members of the House of Commons at the time when Hitler invaded Poland, every one of the considerations which they have moved would have moved the House at that stage.
We decided in 1939 that there were other things that were more important in life than the financial considerations of our future actions. Because we believed that there were moral considerations which were important in our deliberations, we led the country towards even the use of violence against what we thought was a common enemy. We succeeded because the House gave a united lead to the country at a moment of real moral dilemma. If the country had not been faced with that united lead from the House, it may be that even in 1939 there would have been a split in the country, and a debility in its will to resist, and I suggest that at this moment we are facing a somewhat similar situation.
I believe that the Government have leaned over backwards to try to accommodate Mr. Smith and to try to reach a settlement. Indeed, they have leaned rather further than I would have wanted. They have leaned so far that I cannot see in this document any copper-bottomed guarantees for unimpeded progress towards majority rule, and what astonishes me is that Mr. Ian Smith did not seize the opportunity at this moment to take his independence on the terms which were offered, and in two, three, or four years, decide to rat on the whole Constitution and get round the entrenched clauses by the use of force. It would seem to me that we would have had no opportunity to intervene at all. But he has not done that. He has been given almost everything that he could have desired, and still he has failed to swallow the gnat, having taken the camel.
Why did he stop at what has been called this last technicality? Surely it 1455 can only be a technicality because he and those who support him were determined that there should never be an agreement, and they simply wanted to break off negotiations at the point which would look best in the eyes of the world?
I was interested last night to read the comment by the Evening Standard's correspondent in Salisbury. He said that the dispute in the Cabinet on Monday morning had taken so long because Mr. Smith wanted the Right-wingers to accept the Constitution, but to break off simply on the method of handover, the method of establishing legality. Why? The answer is that he knew that if he broke off negotiations on the basic conditions of what the Constitution would be like under independence he could have no support in this House, but that if he broke off negotiations on what could be interpreted as a mere technical difference, there would be the inevitable cries from hon. Gentlemen opposite that we should have gone on yet further to prolong the agony in Rhodesia, simply to keep putting off the, in my view, inevitable resort to the United Nations.
There must come a time when hon. Members in this House have to make up their minds about where they stand. We cannot for ever go on with this shilly-shallying about terms and conditions if it is plain, as in my submission it is, that the Rhodesian Cabinet will never accept any settlement which could commend itself to this House. I therefore ask those on the benches opposite who had grave reservations at the time when we were discussing economic sanctions earlier this year to think again about their position. I do not appeal to their military records, as my right hon. Friend did this afternoon. I appeal simply to their consciences. This is a moral issue, and those who go into the Lobby against the Government tomorrow brand themselves as having accepted the inevitable stigma that they were failing at the moment when a moral issue had to be decided. I ask them to reconsider this matter of opposing the Government.
What is it that brought about this final end to negotiations? Was it really simply a technicality? It was that for a period of four months Mr. Ian Smith would still be in control of affairs in Rhodesia. He would 1456 still be the Prime Minister of that country. He would still be the head of a Cabinet in which the majority were Ministers of the present Cabinet. He would have to take into the Cabinet only two African members, who could in any event be outvoted. There would be no British military presence, even in this period of changeover, and during that time he would be subject, really, to no control from this country. As my right hon. Friend made clear this afternoon, there was no intention that the Government in Westminster would be able to dictate to the Government in Rhodesia through the Governor, but simply that they may take a hand in the choice of the five new members of the Cabinet, which in any case had already been agreed. Beyond that there would be no interference in the affairs of Rhodesia, even in this change-over period.
Why did they refuse to take the gnat? Simply, I suggest, because this was a crucial test of their good will. This is the point. It is not a technicality. If we are to trust Ian Smith and his Cabinet to go into independence to rule over the destiny not only of 200,000 Europeans, but of 4 million Africans who owe their future to us, if we are to decide now whether they ought to have this responsibility, we must be shown some earnest of their good faith. All that we asked was that Mr. Smith should give up the outward pretence of independence for four months, and after that he would go into a Constitution which could give him all that anyone could reasonably expect him to get.
During that period up to four months there would be no intervention by the British Government, no presence of military troops, and therefore throughout that period he could always say, "No, I go back on my word, I want another U.D.I." We would have taken off economic sanctions, and it would have been very difficult to put them back again. This is all that we required. We required one little sign that he really meant it when he said that he had the interests of Rhodesia as a whole at heart. If we had been given a sign, there would have been an agreement now, an agreement which I would have had to accept with misgivings, but there would have been an agreement.
Can we really say that this was a mere technicality? Can we go forth to the 1457 country and mislead the electorate into presuming that there was any course other than the one which the Government have decided to take? I do not believe that we can. Indeed, I thought that we should have gone further, and I still think that we should. I believe that this is such an important moral issue that we must be clear that we must win in this fight, and we must win for the future standing of this country.
If we were to do nothing, as some hon. Gentlemen opposite hope we shall, we would lose our standing in the world. I remember in July of this year going to a Conference of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. There were representatives from every nation under the sun, save three. There were present people who held important positions in their countries, in business, in politics, in Government, and in administration, and yet the unanimous view was that there was only one touchstone to our standing in the world, and that was how we handled this problem of Rhodesia. I believe that we may, indeed, suffer grave financial consequences by taking on Southern Africa, but we shall suffer very grave consequences if we fail to do our duty there.
I therefore say to the Government that they have to decide which course will most effectively bring about the result which they require, namely, the downfall of the régime. There seem to be only two. One is the course of mandatory sanctions. It is suggested that they should be selective mandatory sanctions, in order to exclude South Africa, but can they be effective? I doubt it. In my opinion they can be effective only if we take on South Africa. If we take on South Africa, as has been pointed out so many times by hon. Members opposite, we involve ourselves in an economic war which will be gravely damaging to our own economy. We must therefore ask ourselves: is this moral principle worth that cost?
But cannot we also ask ourselves whether there is another way in which we can enforce the sanctions that we have been applying? Is there no way in which we can cut off the lines of communication between South Africa and Rhodesia? Is it not possible at this stage to mount the kind of military force which would be required in order to 1458 see that Rhodesia was sealed off from the outside world? If this is now possible, whatever the cost, should not we weigh that cost against the cost of economic sanctions which might involve South Africa? Is not this a practical alternative which should be considered? I suggest that it might be. If the Government came to the conclusion that in those circumstances military force was more dangerous and more expensive than mandatory sanctions I would accept their conclusion and would be only too willing wholly to endorse this appeal to the United Nations to use mandatory sanctions.
If they were to decide to use force it would please me more if that force was under United Nations supervision. I would prefer that we acted within the scope of the Charter even in using military force. But I leave that as an alternative before the Government. I am convinced that this is an issue which we cannot shirk. This is an issue in respect of which economic considerations are important but not paramount. What is paramount is our whole future position in Africa and, more important, the whole future of the Africans who live in that benighted Continent.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
The hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) has spoken with great candour and sincerity. I ask him, however, not to say, or to believe, that because hon. Members on this side of the House may disagree with him they are devoid of any moral principles in this grave matter. In the early part of his speech he said that this was a very serious situation. When he said that it was perhaps the most serious situation since 1939, I thought that he was saying something rather far-fetched, but later on, as he developed his argument, he made it clear that he was willing to face warlike operations in Southern Africa. At least he has stated his position very frankly and has accepted the dire consequences that this would involve for his constituents, for my constituents, and for us all.
But very terrible would be the consequences for those African people in whose welfare he is particularly interested. He said that the Africans of Rhodesia 1459 look to us and owed their future to us. That sounds all very well, but there has never been a time when the trusteeship of this country for Rhodesia has been effective. The Rhodesian rulers themselves have always been responsible for the welfare of the Africans. When we had those reserve powers in earlier times —including the power to uphold the rights of the Africans—they were never invoked by any British Government, Conservative or Labour. I am speaking of the time before Federation.
When we talk bravely about the Africans of Rhodesia owing their future to us we must remember that it is precious little aid that this House has ever voted for the Africans of Rhodesia. We have probably voted more aid to Yugoslavia than to these people for whom we claim responsibility. The very high standard of living, of education and of conditions of work that have been achieved in Rhodesia—they are not perfect, but for Africa they are very good—[Interruption.] If anyone doubts that, let him study what U.N.E.S.C.O. has to say about the Rhodesian achievement in education. This has been achieved by a very small European community.
I now want to turn to the present and the future. I predict that sooner or later, however unpalatable it may be to some hon. Members, the House will recognise the fact—I am not speaking in terms of jurisprudence—of Rhodesian independence. This fact has been asserted in a judgment of the High Court in Salisbury. The Commonwealth Secretary referred to the High Court. It has never been impugned; its integrity is unassailable. Mr. Justice Evans said that this illegal regime which had seized power in Rhodesia was the de facto Government of Rhodesia. Despite sanctions—or perhaps because of sanctions— Mr. Ian Smith still heads this illegal but very real Government.
The Prime Minister has said many things about Rhodesia. Sometimes they have been contradictory. I do not know whether it was the tossing of the "Tiger" or the fact that his knowledge of Africa is not very deep—I believe that in his one visit to the continent he did not go very far from Government House in Salisbury—but I was astonished to hear 1460 the words he uttered in the House on 5th December, when he said:I feel also that it is not much that we have had to ask the regime in Rhodesia—not to give up anything of value, not to give up independence, because it has no independence, but to give up a titular independence which they and they alone believe in. It is a delusion from which they suffer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 5th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1078.]Any hon. Member—on either side of the House, and whatever his opinions—who has been to Rhodesia recently knows that this independence is a fact and not a delusion. They are in control of the situation and it is our power to influence them which is so pitifully limited at present.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Affairs (Mrs. Judith Hart)
I must correct the hon. Member on two points. First, he will agree that the judgment of the High Court in Salisbury was that the regime might be de facto but it was not de jure. Secondly, in the passage from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's speech which the hon. Member quoted he made it clear that no country in the world has recognised the illegal régime.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I do not know what the hon. Lady was correcting me about. I quoted from the judgment of Mr. Justice Evans that this was an illegal régime and a de facto Government. I said that I was not entering into the de jure aspect of the situation. It is true that it has not been recognised by a single sovereign State—although the retention of certain diplomatic and consular officials in Salisbury could be considered by some people as some sort of recognition. But I do not disagree with anything that the hon. Lady has thought it necessary to put to me.
In Rhodesia, I was informed—and I think that others may have been informed on the same thing; it is very difficult to check—that not only has Mr. Smith, through this period of sanctions, gained in support from the Europeans—and my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) told us how most liberal people would rally to Mr. Smith if there were any question of direct rule—but also that he is gaining African support at the same time. This is very difficult to verify. I am not referring to the opinion of the Indaba about independence, but it is a 1461 reasonable assumption that, because this régime has removed from the townships and the tribal areas the very brutal political terrorism which made the lives of ordinary people wretched, admittedly at the price of one in 10,000 of the population being in detention or restricted——
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
This is the price which has been paid for ending the rule of the bicycle chain and the petrol bomb.
An hon. Member referred to the closing by this régime of churches and schools because they were in the wrong places, but the stuff of politics for the Z.A.P.U. and Z A.N.U. was the burning of churches, schools and clinics. This is why it may be the case that there is a certain increase of African support for Mr. Ian Smith's régime——
§ Mr. Whitaker rose——
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I am only trying to lay before the House certain impressions which I gained in Rhodesia and which I think may interest the House——
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
The hon. Gentleman is telling the House of information given to him in Rhodesia. I was in Salisbury with the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) six years ago with another group of M.P.s and we were assured by members of the dominant party and members of the Salisbury Government that the then Commonwealth Secretary, the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), was, to their certain knowledge, a secret member of the Communist Party and directed from Moscow.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
This is great fun, but I am not sure that it is germane to my argument—[Interruption.] One must weigh up the information which one receives from different sides and try to get the best picture one can.
There is something else of importance here. Hon. Members know of these groups, who are called terrorists by one side and freedom fighters by the other, who infiltrate across the Zambesi. This started before U.D.I., but it has been going on since. Some of these guerrilla fighters have been captured by security 1462 forces who have found on their persons pamphlets by such dignitaries of the Communist world as Mao Tse-Tung and his "Number 2", Marshal Lin-Piao. It was Mao Tse-Tung who said that, in a people's war, one should draw one's soldiers from the peasantry of the country one intends to liberate. The guerrilla groups can then move safely and freely in their own element, like fish in the sea.
What is happening in Rhodesia—this is beyond dispute—is that these subversive groups crossing the Zambesi are having no success whatever. They are not fish in the sea but fish out of water, because the African people of Rhodesia are against them. This is another factor which we must keep in mind. I suggest that there is a degree of African support for the present system in that country——
§ Mr. James Johnson rose——
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
It would be impossible for perhaps a quarter of a million Europeans to hold down this African population if there was no degree of government by consent. These groups are well-armed, well-indoctrinated and well-trained further north in Africa. If the African population really were seething with discontent, I am sure that they would be able to build a basis of revolt, as we have seen in other parts of the world, such as Vietnam——
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that the de facto claim for the validity of the Smith régime which he is making could have been made throughout the last part of the war by Hitler for his rule over the greater part of Europe, at a time when we were appealing to the people subject to that rule to rise in revolt against him? Would he have accepted Hitler's claim to being a validly created de facto Government throughout the years of the war?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I do not think that the parallels—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am trying to answer. The parallels are not at all exact. What I am trying to say is simply that here we have a de facto but illegal régime which is in control of Rhodesia and which has a degree of popular support. It has a state of emergency, but what State in Africa has not a state of emergency——
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
But we are not proposing to have a crusade to destroy every Government in the world which is using repressive power——
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I merely think that it is proper for us to consider the fact of power in Rhodesia today and the very limited ability which we in this House have to influence—alas—what is happening there——
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Would the hon. Gentleman not make an effort to realise that what is being said to him is this—that a Government which manages to maintain a de facto régime on the basis of a denial of all human rights is not making a claim which would be recognised by anybody in the House except himself?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I am making no claims and no moral judgments—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is a moral judgment."] I am merely asserting that this is a de facto régime. Those Powers in the United Nations to which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen are willing to submit the question of this particular illegal regime have, in many cases, Governments far more repressive than anything which has happened in Rhodesia—[An HON. MEMBER: "Canada, Sweden?"]The double standards which apply in the United Nations and have been applied to this question throughout this tragic time are, of course, explained by the fact that the Southern African complex of which Rhodesia is a part is a main target in the struggle in the world today.
Many of the Powers which are now so interested in extending this internal British matter to an all-out war against South Africa are doing so not because they care tuppence about the welfare of anyone in Rhodesia but because—[An HON. MEMBER: "That applies to us."] I am not referring to hon. Gentlemen here but to people and Powers outside this House—the Powers which exploit the difficulties and instability and immaturity of African States. Their target is Southern Africa, because the wealth and 1464 strategic situation of Southern Africa is a crucial fact of power and survival.
As Mao Tse-Tung also said—if I may be permitted another quotation from him—"Once Asia and Africa are separated from the capitalistic centres of Europe, the European continent will completely collapse economically."
§ Several Hon. Membersrose——
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
Although I have given way a good deal, I will not use that as an excuse for speaking at greater length and for using the time which other hon. Members are anxious to have. Our power in this matter is strictly limited. That has been confessed by the Government because they have shuffled off their responsibilities. However, the longer the situation goes on and the longer we delay talking again and trying to reach an honourable solution with these people who hold the power in Rhodesia, the more we shall lose of our trade and influence.
I say that we will lose our influence because some hon. Members have been speaking as though Rhodesia were South Africa. I suggest that some hon. Members are burning to take on both Rhodesia and South Africa, but they should not make the mistake of thinking that they are the same thing. Responsible Government came in Rhodesia because the electors of that country voted in a referendum to remain separate. One need only talk to Europeans in Rhodesia to discover that while they like to take their holidays in South Africa, they do not want to live there. They prefer the British type of institutions which have been developing in Rhodesia and which are endangered, together with all liberal tendencies in that country, by the continuation of economic and psychological warfare against them.
It is distressing for an Englishman in Rhodesia today to find the extent of anti-British sentiment, directed not just against the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and his Administration but now unfortunately against Britain.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene he should rise to his feet to do so. At least I am glad 1465 he shares my sorrow that today in Rhodesia—a country which has been conspicuous in the past for its devotion to Crown and Commonwealth; proved in war and peace—young people are beginning to tear the Union Jack from the corner of the Rhodesian flag and once again the possibility of a republic is being mooted.
When we think of a republic in this connection we may think also of the first U.D.I.—the U.D.I. of the U.S.A. [Interruption.]—and, in this comparison, I am merely saying that in that case the British Parliament also thought that it had the power to dispose of the future of that territory but found that it did not have that power. One of the reasons for the American Revolution was that our predecessors in this House thought that they could reserve all that continent west of the Alleghenies for the native population. It was a good idea, but they were unable to impose their will. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that we shall be able to impose our will in this matter.
Either mandatory sanctions through the United Nations will be a catastrophe, because to make them effective we will drift into a warlike situation—which would be disastrous for the world and certainly for Britain—or they will just be a charade and will only have the effect of making the present rulers of Rhodesia the more determined to assert their position; and extremism there will be given more and more opportunity.
In the matter of the earlier U.D.I., Chatham said:You may ravage but you will not conquer.I believe, and hon. Gentlemen opposite will regret very much, that those words are applicable today.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
hope that the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) will forgive me if I do not follow him into some of his constitutional byways. It seemed that the burden of his speech—as of all his speeches on Rhodesia since the crisis startedw—as that this country and the present Government should make what he pleases to call a de facto illegal régime a de jure legal one, something which my hon. Friends have never been prepared to accept and, I hope, will not accept tonight. 1466 I very much regret that Mr. Ian Smith and his Government thought fit not to accept the considerable concessions made by Her Majesty's Government last weekend. A settlement would clearly have been desirable, and I do not share the feeling of some of my hon. Friends, astonishing though it is, of pleasure at the fact that the negotiations broke down. This is a sad debate. There are difficult 'decisions to be taken. Difficult times clearly face this nation. If they are to be dealt with, with the courage and with the resolution that the decisions demand, the one thing which must happen is that in the House of Commons Her Majesty's Opposition make their position as crystal clear now on this issue as they did some years ago.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) quoted some words which the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) used in December, 1963. I should like to go just one higher and quote from a message dated 20th May, 1964, from the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), to the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, the Hon. Ian Smith, M.P. I am very pleased to see the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) here, because I hope that he will note this phrase. Perhaps somebody on the other side of the House in the course of the next few days will give us the reasons for this compelte change of heart on the part of the Conservative Party.
The right hon. Gentleman who was then Prime Minister wrote to Mr. Ian Smith in these words:Towards the end of your letter you ask me to explain why the British Government is unable to grant independence to Southern Rhodesia.The right hon. Gentleman then went on to quote the message from the right hon. Member for Streatham, which said:The present difficulty arises from your desire to secure independence on the basis of a franchise which is incomparably more restrictive than that of any other British territory to which independence has hitherto been granted.The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire went further. He then wrote these words, and I hope that right hon. and hon. Members opposite realise that it was the Prime Minister of their 1467 Government and of our country who wrote them:Having dealt with the questions in your letter, I want you to know that I fully understand the desire of the people of Southern Rhodesia to achieve early independence. With this in mind I venture to suggest that you might consider the possibility of initiating some new proposal.What was the new proposal? It was this:While not going so far as extreme African opinion in Southern Rhodesia is demanding, you could perhaps offer a sufficient advance to provide the basis for a compromise settlement in which all might be persuaded to acquiesce. I need not tell you that the British Government… will be glad to help in any way they can to bring about a generally acceptable solution.So it would appear that in 1963 and 1964 not only were the then Government not prepared to grant the then Government of Southern Rhodesia independence on the basis of the franchise as it then was, but they themselves were demanding substantial increases in African representation before they would consider it. But we have heard nothing today from the right hon. Member for Barnet as to the necessary increases in African representation which he considers necessary and which his party considers necessary before that independence ought to be granted now.
Not a word have we heard from the right hon. Gentleman. All we have heard from him and all we have heard from his party has been an attack on the Government based, as I understood it, on two main grounds—first, that somehow the Government's conduct in the negotiations was wrong and, secondly, that the decision to go to the United Nations was also wrong. I cannot go into the second point now in any great detail, because of the shortage of time, and also because the right hon. Member for Barnet raised what at first sight seemed rather attractive new proposals. It is therefore only right that one should consider what the right hon. Gentleman said, examine it in the light of past history, and see whether it is in advance on anything which has gone before.
I find the Opposition's attitude tonight thoroughly irritating, for two main reasons, although I realise that it is part of the business of an Opposition to irritate. All of us on this side realise that. I have no doubt that some of my right 1468 hon. and hon. Friends when they were in opposition were equally irritating. I hope that, irritating though they may have been, they had a much greater degree of what the other side would probably be pleased to call "patriotism" than has been shown in some of the things which have come from the other side of the House this evening. It is obviously essential that the Opposition should get off the fence and make their position crystal clear, which they have not done so far.
The right hon. Gentleman attacks us. He says that the imposition of a deadline, an ultimatum, in the course of the negotiations, was wrong. But there was no movement at all until the deadline was imposed. There was no concession from Mr. Smith until what the right hon. Gentleman is pleased to call the ultimatum was delivered. Without the deadline, without the ultimatum, this debate would not be taking place. We would still be in the same position as we were in some months ago. We would still have voluntary sanctions, the Commonwealth would still be crying for mandatory sanctions, and we would be in the position of having to go to the United Nations for those mandatory sanctions without first having had an opportunity to make a last attempt to settle this unfortunate dispute. I suggest that there is precious little in that line of attack.
Secondly, it seems to be argued that we took too much account of Commonwealth opinion in the course of the negotiations. I fail to understand how the right hon. Gentleman can now so disregard the position of the Commonwealth. He is now telling the Government what they ought to do at this stage. Does he not realise the danger which the Commonwealth was in at the time of the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference? Does he not realise the pressures that were upon the Prime Minister at that time?
§ Mr. Maudling rose——
§ Mr. Richard
The right hon. Gentleman has interrupted twice on this already, but on neither occasion did he deal with the point. All he said was that, however inconvenient it might be, his scheme was within the six principles which the Commonwealth had accepted. But does he really believe that, if we go back and 1469 try to negotiate on the basis of his suggestion, there will not be a violent reaction from the Commonwealth? Of course there will be. It will be of the kind that I do not really think the Commonwealth will be in a very strong position to withstand.
§ Mr. Maudling
Could I say once again that what I was suggesting this afternoon was designed to bring about in Rhodesia an independence Constitution of a character which in the view of the Government would be acceptable to the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Richard
But those negotiations have to take place now, at a time when the Commonwealth Prime Ministers have already met, and when there was an agreed Commonwealth communiqué—I think the hon. Gentleman will agree with this—which the Government had to accept or face the break-up of the Commonwealth. We cannot now come along, after the deadline, produce another set of negotiating principles, and expect the Commonwealth not to be placed under a severe strain. Of course, it will be. The hon. Gentleman must surely realise as well as any hon. Member the effect that would have upon the Commonwealth.
The right hon. Gentleman gave the House new suggestions for settling this dispute. What were they? I gathered they were about three in number: first, that Mr. Smith should recognise the Governor; secondly, that the régime should continue; and thirdly, that censorship should be lifted. When the right hon. Gentleman said that censorship should be lifted, the first words which came into my mind were, "What a hope." I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to go away and look again at paragraph 15 of the White Paper and then ask himself whether, in the past two years since Mr. Smith has been running the affairs of this unhappy nation, there has been any indication that he is prepared to lessen restrictions rather than tighten them. I have not yet seen any evidence of the former.
Let us take the three points. The first is that Mr. Smith must recognise the Governor. I ask the right hon. Gentleman—recognise him as what? As the Governor of Rhodesia? The right hon. Gentleman nods his head. I cannot be- 1470 lieve that there could be two Heads of State, even under the Smith régime. If he recognises the Governor as the Governor of Rhodesia, and therefore as the Head of the State of Rhodesia, if such a thing exists, what happens to the poor unfortunate Mr. Dupont? Shall there be two Head of State? Is Mr. Dupont to be sacked? The right hon. Gentleman has to face that point. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman benevolently shaking his head. He said that Mr. Smith must go to the Governor, and recognise him as the Governor. But if that happens, then it follows that Mr. Dupont must go. The right hon. Gentleman also said that illegality must come to an end. But once Mr. Smith recognises the responsibility and authority of the Governor, then his illegal régime must come to an end, and this he is not prepared to accept. It is on this point that the argument, such as it is, becomes so transparent. Mr. Smith has said time and time again in negotiations, and even over the last weekend, that he is not prepared to cease his illegality while the consultation with the Rhodesian people is taking place.
The Prime Minister said on 5th December:…I expressed to Mr. Smith that in these circumstances, if complete agreement had been reached, Mr. Smith, if the Royal Commission reported adversely, might perhaps again illegally declare independence. Nor did Mr. Smith's reply to my expression of anxiety do anything to dispel those suspicions.A little later my right hon. Friend said…he made clear—that if the verdict went against him he would insist on maintaining his present illegal powers indefinitely."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1057–9.]Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously putting forward as a suggestion for the consideration of this House, this Government and the country, that in our negotiations with Rhodesia it is possible to settle the dispute by saying to Smith, "Go to the Governor. Cease being illegal, become a legal régime", when this is the one factor on which the negotiations have so far interminably foundered? It is the one thing that Smith has never been prepared to accept, and I see no evidence which makes me think that there has been any change in Smith's position.
At some stage in this sort of negotiation, there has to be a sticking point. One 1471 can go on arguing and trying to settle an issue for so long, but at some stage one comes up against a fundamental point on which neither party can move. I beg hon. Members opposite to face this, and I earnestly appeal to them to appreciate that the sticking point that any British Government had to come to was a return to legality before a new Constitution could be introduced.
I do not believe that the right hon. Member for Barnet would have done less than has my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He would have insisted—and in my view and the view of my hon. Friends, would rightly have insisted—on a return to legality before any question of a Royal Commission arose. It is for this reason that I must say that the sort of speech we had this afternoon from the Opposition was—and I use the word with regret—squalid. It was unworthy of the Conservative Party, it was unworthy of the right hon. Member for Barnet, it was unworthy of the issue, and it was unworthy of this nation.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)
This is one of those rare debates in which hon. Members are forced to re-examine the basic principles by which they seek to live in public life. We hear a great deal about the six principles which we have all agreed should govern our approach to a Rhodesian settlement. Of no less importance are the principles by which this House of Commons, and each of us as temporary Members of it, choose to govern our own political conduct.
Many of my hon. Friends must share with me certain beliefs by comparison with which party political considerations are as nothing: loyalty to the Crown; respect for the rule of law; belief in the sovereignty of Parliament; the defence of the Realm; and the safeguarding of Britain's honour and integrity in world affairs. Many of us also hold certain other basic beliefs important to us, but which we recognise as being less fundamental. Among these are contempt for racialists, whatever their colour; and a belief that the Commonwealth, despite its problems, is still a worth-while experiment in international affairs deserving of support. These are certainly seven of my own principles. Judged against each and 1472 every one of them, I find the illegal régime in Rhodesia utterly repugnant.
I think that is worth saying, because the attitude of most of us to the details of the problem is inevitably influenced, to some extent, by our basic attitude to the régime. I therefore hope that I shall not be accused of absurd political naivety if I say that simple consideration of right and wrong must still play a part in our affairs.
The details themselves, although of infinite complexity, can be placed under two main headings. First, what is our attitude to be to the long drawn out negotiations with Rhodesia by this Government and its predecessor? Secondly, what is our attitude to be to economic sanctions in general and to the proposed selective mandatory sanctions in particular?
On the first, my view is that British statesmen could not have tried harder to reach an honourable settlement with the Rhodesia Front than have my right hon. Friends when they held responsibility, and their successors in the present Government. Indeed, the terms offered to Mr. Smith by the Prime Minister on H.M.S. "Tiger" went as far, in my view, as any British Government could honourably go, bearing in mind our own traditions and our international obligations and undertakings.
There are those who complain that, having reached agreement on the Constitutional settlement within the terms of the six principles, it is folly to allow negotiations to break down over what is described as "the procedural arrangements". On that, I would say that it is no good signing a treaty unless there are safeguards that it will be honoured. It is absurd to rely on trust where trust does not exist.
We were not ready merely to sign a piece of paper agreeing to ban nuclear tests in the atmosphere. We spent months negotiating about the procedural arrangements for ensuring that the treaty would be observed. Mr. Neville Chamberlain is rightly criticised for not paying sufficient attention to safeguards at the time of Munich.
Many hon. Members who, like myself, have had frank and private conversations with leading members of the Rhodesia Front in Salisbury must surely agree that 1473 it was necessary for the Prime Minister to insist on sensibly guaranteed arrangements for a return to constitutional government. Nor can he be fairly accused, in so doing, of trying to rub Mr. Smith's nose in the dust. Indeed, the proposed procedural arrangements seem to me to have been generous—and to have shown understanding of Mr. Smith's own problems.
Finally, there is the very difficult question of mandatory sanctions. There is all-party support for a policy of sanctions, and the issue is simply whether they are to be made obligatory. I share many of the misgivings about the possible economic dangers to this country of a policy of economic sanctions, misgivings which must be felt in all parts of the House. I am Sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have left his Cabinet colleagues in no doubt on this point and I am sure that the country is in no doubt.
On the other hand, we should not underestimate the impact of sanctions, particularly on Rhodesia's exports. Events on H.M.S. "Tiger" seem to me to confirm that. I do not believe that Mr. Smith and our Prime Minister would have come as close to agreement as it appears that they did if there had been no use of sanctions.
What is the alternative now to going a stage further and seeking mandatory sanctions from the United Nations? This, it seems to me, is the crux of the problem. In the debate today, two possible alternatives seem to have emerged. One was put forward in a very interesting and helpful speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling). I listened with great attention and a great deal of agreement to what he said. I very much hope that we shall have a response from Salisbury indicating that the new proposals which he put to the House meet with a sufficient degree of approval and confidence in Salisbury to enable some further progress to be made.
The other proposal which came forward seemed to me to emerge from a most interesting reply from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs when, in answer to a question from one of his hon. Friends, he said that the Government would look very seriously at any initiative by the 1474 Rhodesian régime to give effect, under its existing illegal 1965 Constitution, to the constitutional arrangements agreed on H.M.S. "Tiger" between the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith. This is interesting for two reasons. One, because it leaves the door open, even at this late hour, for some response from Mr. Smith. Two, because it seeems to me to soften what I have always felt was the least wise section of the 1966 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communique, paragraph 10(a) to which my right hon. Friend referred today. This reads—it is to apply if negotiations break down, as they now have—The British Government will withdraw all previous proposals for a constitutional settlement which have been made; in particular they will not thereafter be prepared to submit to the British Parliament any settlement which involves independence before majority rule".As my right hon. Friend so rightly said, that is tantamount to telling Rhodesian Europeans at this moment that it is a fight to the death. I was, therefore, very glad to hear the Secretary of State say that that is not, in fact, the position and that even at this late stage, if Mr. Smith would start giving effect within his own illegal Constitution to the constitutional arrangements agreed on H.M.S. "Tiger", Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to consider it.
Failing that, failing either the alternative put forward by my right hon. Friend or that suggested by the Secretary of State, it seems to me that the alternatives facing this country remain what they have always been. There have been four possible alternatives throughout: the use of armed force, acceptance of U.D.I. as a fait accompli, continued negotiation with the present permissive degree of sanctions, or mandatory sanctions still under our own control but backed by the authority of the United Nations.
By general consent in this country, the use of armed force and the abandonment of all sense of responsibility for the 4 million Africans in Rhodesia are ruled out as possibilities. Today's debate and tomorrow's vote, if there is one, appear to turn, therefore, on a choice between the other two alternatives, between permissive sanctions as at present and the mandatory sanctions for which the Government are to apply through the United Nations.
1475 I do not, however, believe that this apparent choice of alternatives is a real one. These events are not occurring in a vacuum. The whole world is watching and is deeply interested. It is not seen simply as a Rhodesian problem. Great moral issues are at stake. Indeed, it is in essence, as are most great political issues, a moral question.
The world is waiting to see whether Britain will come down on the side of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the whole of the new Commonwealth, or whether, for economic reasons, we will repudiate our undertakings and so, in effect, give comfort to South Africa, Portugal and the Smith régime.
Those, grossly oversimplified as they are, will be the terms in which the world will judge us. If, after the great lengths to which the Prime Minister has gone to secure a settlement, we now passively accept its rejection and go on exactly as before, talking and applying permissive sanctions only—which would, incidentally, put this country in breach of its pledged word at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference—then I think that the United Nations, led by the Commonwealth, would insist on taking the handling of the Rhodesian problem out of our hands.
I believe that, with all its difficulties and economic dangers, the honouring of our undertaking to the Commonwealth now to seek the support of the United Nations for our policy of selective mandatory economic sanctions against Rhodesia, at our instance, on our terms, and within our control, offers a way of keeping the situation in our hands. It also offers a continuing hope of an ultimately peaceful solution to a deeply tragic situation.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I respect the hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell), who has spoken against his party. I am going to speak against mine, and I hope that he will give me credit for equal sincerity.
The other day the Prime Minister said that this was an illusory, Walter Mitty independence. That was the attitude which I begged him to take a year ago. I warned him at the time, with 1476 my knowledge of Rhodesia, that U.D.I. would certainly happen. I begged him not to play it up but to treat it as an illusory declaration that meant nothing. It did mean nothing. It had no effect. The Rhodesians—and I suggested to my right hon. Friend that he should say this to Mr. Smith—must travel on our passports, must post their letters under our postal authority, must communicate with other countries through us. I said that anything they did outside the Constitution should be treated as illegal and of no effect by their own courts.
Unfortunately, my right hon. Friend did play it up. It is no illusory Walter Mitty thing now. It is a great emotion, an event. Rhodesia is an independent country in its effect and in its emotions. I believe that we made it so.
Let us go back some time, because it is all-important to know what the issue was about. The issue was never about the advancement of the Africans—never. This police state which the Prime Minister constantly denounces is not the state of U.D.I. The police State was under the 1961 Constitution. Whitehead had nearly 4,000 people under detention—Smith has about 400. The police State was there before U.D.I.
Under the 1961 Constitution, quite legally a permanent majority of seats could be assigned to areas reserved for the whites, and the Prime Minister, in his final telephone conversation, promised Smith that, if he would stick to the 1961 Constitution, there would be no interference from the British Government. In other words, my right hon. Friend said to Smith, "You can have your police state. You can hold your minority Government as long as you like as long as you do not embarrass me by declaring U.D.I." It has been an issue of punctilio. It has never been an issue of principle.
When I went to Rhodesia in January, I went because I was tremendously interested in the Africans of Rhodesia, as I have been for twenty years. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Gordon Walker) know that for twenty years I have been fighting the cause of the Africans of Rhodesia. I thought that it was all-important to try to get them their advancement.
1477 I am no great believer in written constitutions. I believe that a written constitution works if it reflects the actual power relationships and does not work if it does not reflect them. I know of no reserve clauses which have ever effectively protected a minority if that minority has not had effective power. It is the social relationships which grow up which matter. Rhodesia will be ruled by Africans when those Africans are effective enough in their education and in their positions in the economy to rule it. At that point they will rule Rhodesia and nobody will be able to prevent them. When they have not reached that point, nobody will be able to impose them.
Therefore, when I talked to Mr. Smith, that was what I aimed at. I said that the first: important thing was education, and I suggested to him, "Your spending on African education is the largest item in your Budget, but it is on primary education. Suppose that we were to spend an equal amount on secondary education and that we did that together with an agency to run African education independent of the Government." He agreed to that as a proposal, provided that it was fitted into a plan for the economic development of Rhodesia, so that the Africans who came through the educational system went straight into jobs for educated people, reserved for them under the economic plan, at the same wages and on a basis of equality with white men with the same education.
This was accepted. He also accepted the entrenchment clauses and the reconsideration of the Land Apportionment Act and the handing over of constituency management and so on to the courts. These were the proposals with which I returned, and I talked about them to the Prime Minister for an hour. He gave me a wonderful hearing, but the breakdown in our conversation was on this same point—that there must be a return to legality, the point of punctilio and not a point of substance.
§ Mr. James Johnson rose——
§ Mr. Paget
I cannot give way. I have a time limit.
The next time I went to Africa, last October, I went largely to ascertain what the South African position was. I got the clearest information. I saw the 1478 Government, bankers and businessmen, and I asked what would happen about mandatory sanctions. It was made absolutely plain to me that on the import sanctions Rhodesia was to have all she wanted. South Africa has built up her oil reserves and by February had three years' supply. She has printed the coupons if she has to ration and has printed coupons for Rhodesia. There is no question about this. There is a complete will, and the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) knows it, for he was there, too.
The second issue is that of exports. If there be a gap—and, after all, one only exports in order to get money and none of the South Africans to whom I spoke thought that there would be a gap —the Rand businessmen are determined to fill it for Rhodesia. I ask hon. Members to consider what a simple task this is. The Rhodesian Budget is about £85 million, which is half the budget of De Beers Consolidated, a single company on the Rand.
I was sitting at a lunch with eight busines men. The gross national product of Rhodesia is £335 million. The men at that table said that the sales of the companies they represented were double the gross national product of Rhodesia. It can be seen that it is not a difficult job for South Africa to support Rhodesia if she is determined to do so. That was the information that I brought back, and it was subsequently confirmed by the South African Government.
I pass now to the events on the "Tiger". To my joy the six principles were agreed. But a condition was imposed. The important thing is to realise how that condition looked in Rhodesia. Journalists on papers of every colour and opinion in Rhodesia all agreed that they could not find one person in Rhodesia who believed that it would have been possible to accept those conditions. No newspaper in Rhodesia could find anyone, liberal or opponent, who thought that it would have been possible for the Rhodesian Government to accept the condition.
§ Mr. Paget
Certainly they had. The details were published. In Rhodesia it looked as if it was to be a Government 1479 appointed by a Governor in his discretion, who will normally act on advice, but who would have command of the Forces. This was in the background of their having been told that they would be submitted to direct rule. They were to surrender their independence indefinitely unless a Commission to be appointed by our Prime Minister decided otherwise.
What has to be realised is that the Prime Minister is not trusted in Rhodesia. [Interruption.] Let us face it, there are a good many places where he is not trusted —Zambia, for instance. The Prime Minister is a very great man but, like David Lloyd George and like Napoleon, he has a remarkable capacity for getting himself distrusted. It may be that he is too clever.
§ Mr. Paget
He has done a lot to make himself distrusted. There have been ultimatums. There is this question of union, suddenly produced out of the hat yesterday. We are told that he suggested union. We have the same question about Malta. The snag was social services. Did it mean free immigration? Are we to pay family allowance for the African families? Half the population is under 16 years of age. Will they get rating equalisation? If not, why not? When one produces this sort of gimmick one gets oneself distrusted.
The result is that the Prime Minister has been distrusted. The great achievement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs was that he got himself trusted. The change in the air that made the new approach possible was entirely due to the effect which my right hon. Friend had in Salisbury. They had found a man whom they could trust. Then came the trouble with the Prime Minister, who was back again on the scene. There was this performance on the "Tiger"—this dash to a warship, this Winston Churchill show. There was this attempt to humiliate, with the Prime Minister in the Admiral's cabin and the visiting Prime Minister in the marine lieutenant's quarters. Of course this created the worst possible atmosphere. The last thing which the Prime Minister said—it was one of these ultimatums—was that there would be no question of Mr. Smith being allowed to 1480 return and consult his Cabinet. Of course he had to do so. Then there was to be a deadline at ten o'clock. That did not apply either. All this builds up to the sense of mistrust which is at the basis of all this.
I beg the Government to face the realities. We cannot say, "We do not trust Mr. Smith". We must look at it from the Rhodesians' points of view. We should not break on a point of prestige, a point which has nothing whatever to do with the African interest. At no point has the African interest been primary. It has all been a question of prestige.
At least let us try the commission. Let us try sending a commission. What is the alternative? Would the alternative improve our relations with the Commonwealth? How do we think that things will work out in the next few months when we are vetoing the Commonwealth's proposals at the United Nations? Do we think that this will work out with the Commonwealth if we allow it to drift on?
We shall have to take action at some point. We shall have to negotiate again. I said this a year ago, and I was hissed at. I said that we should have to negotiate with Smith. I say again that we have to keep on negotiating with Smith, and we shall negotiate. Let a commission composed of men of great authority decide whether the conditions are such that it can do its task. That is Mr. Smith's challenge. Take him up on it. Let us try it. It would make us no worse off. Why would we be worse off? I am not suggesting that the sanctions should be stopped. We should be in the same position if we postponed negotiations for one month, two months or six months.
We still have to negotiate, and I hope that we shall succeed in making the positive approach which I attempted last January—the attempt through education, the attempt through common economic development, the attempt to create the kind of positive conditions which will work. I urge this party to make this final effort. If it is refused, I regret to say that for the first time in 21 years I shall find myself in the other Lobby.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
Many Members have said that this is a sad debate. I think that most of us feel that. It has run more or less on party lines 1481 until the last two speeches. I do not think that there is any political honey in this for any party in this country.
I have always taken the view that U.D.I. was an unnecessary tragedy. When I was in Rhodesia, I told every Rhodesian to whom I spoke, particularly members of the Rhodesian Front, that that was what I thought it was. It was illegal and unnecessary, and would bring great trouble on Rhodesia. I told them that they had to be prepared to share power with African Rhodesians and that they had a great deal of leeway to make up on racial discrimination. I also said that they must realise that the British Parliament retained its responsibility for all Rhodesians.
Therefore, our opposition to this Motion in no way accepts or condones U.D.I. We shall not go into the Lobby in support of the illegal régime. There is no question of the abandonment of the six principles. We oppose the Government's decision to go on 8th or 9th December to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions. That is what we propose to vote against. I shall try to state that point of view without invoking the degree of interruption which my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) received. In this place we ought to be able to make speeches without constant interruption.
Although U.D.I. was wrong, I cannot accept that the Government's handling of the situation has been perfect. The Prime Minister is a very good politician, but there is no man who makes bipartisanship more difficult. Consciously or unconsciously, the Prime Minister has infinite capacity for rubbing up his opponents the wrong way. He certainly did that on Monday and he did it, I thought, in his interventions today.
Without doubt the right hon. Gentleman worked hard for a settlement, and I give him full credit for his efforts, but I also think that the Government have consistently misjudged the situation. In my opinion, they thought last November that they had frightened Mr. Smith out of U.D.I. They thought that sanctions would bring the Rhodesian régime to its knees in a matter of weeks and they thought that an alternative Government was available. The Prime Minister made a basic psychological mistake in using words like "frightened men" of Mr. Smith and his colleagues.
1482 The Prime Minister said on 25th January in this House that he would not negotiate with the illegal régime but he has been negotiating with them. He said in this House on 30th January that he would not have any dealings with them. He has had dealings with them. He told us in February that he thought that the Rhodesians would give in. Then it was February, then March and then after the tobacco auctions, and then at the end of the summer and then in the autumn.
In the immediate past the Prime Minister made another misjudgment in thinking that Mr. Smith could, or would, sell Part II in its present form to his colleagues. The Prime Minister's final misjudgment is about the consequences of the steps which he proposes to take. For a man of his intelligence, it is surprising that he should be consistently wrong about so much.
The Prime Minister has, however, genuinely tried and in one important respect he can claim success. I have always thought that agreement was possible to give effect to the six principles. I said so before U.D.I. I said it in this House after U.D.I. on 12th November, 1965, I said it in Bulawayo and in Salisbury in February and I said it in this House in May. The scheme worked out in the White Paper to deal with the first four and the sixth principles seemed to me to be sound and cleverly constructed. I am a little surprised that there is nothing in the White Paper about education.
Nevertheless, I congratulate right hon. Gentlemen opposite on the way they have worked out what seem to me to be good arrangements to deal with those five principles.
The fifth principle is extremely important. We now begin to realise that the phrases in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué about most Heads of Government thinking that the answer rested in a one-man one-vote referendum are not a very good way of taking opinion in Africa. We realise this when we consider what has happened in many other African countries. I think that the only way is to have a Royal Commission of men of experience who know how Africans make up their minds.
To give an example, I visited an African township just outside Salisbury. 1483 I went with an official who was not a politician. I gather that he profoundly disapproved of U.D.I., but he said that there had been a recent incident when some nationalist youths had tried to beat up the people in the name of freedom. The inhabitants put down road blocks, caught the youths and sent them away.
The official told me that that would not have happened a year before, but he was absolutely sure that if certain people were released from detention the inhabitants of the town would be out in the streets to cheer them because they knew that the alternative was to have a petrol bomb through the window. Reference has been made to men under sentence. I hope that the Rhodesian authorities will not be so foolish as to carry out the sentences, but there have been ghastly incidents of people being killed by petrol bombs coming through the window. That is the difficulty of getting genuine expressions of opinion. The only way to do it is to have a Royal Commission.
Another reason why I thought that Mr. Smith would have difficulty in selling Part II to his colleagues was the extreme vagueness of paragraph 17, concerning the working out of the terms of reference and composition of this Royal Commission. It would be difficult to go further without more precision. Notwithstanding that reservation, I congratulate all those concerned on the results as shown in this White Paper regarding the six principles. It is the result of long and patient effort.
Why is that to be lost, and what should we do about it? I do not contend that Mr. Smith has been right throughout. He was wrong over U.D.I. and over the treatment of the Governor. He was wrong about censorship. He was wrong in not broadening the basis of his Government. He has been timid in dealing with racial discrimination. He has been slow to assert his authority, and I told him this more than once.
From discussions with Mr. Smith and his colleagues, I know how difficult it is to make progress. What, therefore, should happen next? I am convinced that it is wrong to go for mandatory sanctions. During the debate on 12th November I 1484 expressed reservations about sanctions. I agreed that the illegal régime had brought certain economic consequences on itself—loss of preferences, exclusion from the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and so on—but I expressed doubt then about further sanctions, and made three points. I said would they consolidate support behind the régime which they were supposed to weaken? Would they hurt the innocent more than the offenders? I asked whether they would be effective in subduing the opponent.
Let us face it. They have strengthened Mr. Smith's own position, they have hurt Zambia more than Rhodesia, and they have not subdued the opponent. Nevertheless, I accepted that as time went on they would be a persuasive force towards a settlement and that is why I did not oppose them. That is what they are now, although they have been very costly to us. The Prime Minister said that there was a loss of £35 million of exports. I see that The Guardian today mentions a figure of £100 million. They also lost us much good will and created a great deal of bitterness.
The same questions have to be asked about these new proposals for mandatory sanctions. I think that they will strengthen the position of the extremists in Rhodesia. I do not want to see this. This is the sadness of the way in which the hand is being played. It is the extremists who will gain, and the moderates will be silenced. We have been accused of various things today, but this action is the most friendly that the Government could take towards the extremists in Rhodesia.
On the supposition that the sanctions do not escalate, we will carry the loss. There will be countries which will say that their laws do not enable them to forbid their merchants to trade. The United States of America have increased imports of Rhodesian goods this year. Germany is not in the United Nations. Other countries will be cynical and will pay lip-service, and as so often Mr. Osbert Lancaster's cartoon in the Daily Express today was right when it showed a Japanese and a German salesman lifting their hats and saying, "God bless Wilson". There will be continual friction with South Africa and we will lose trade. That is if they do not escalate.
1485 But I do not take that view, and I come to the Prime Minister's final misjudgment, and I link a misjudgment made by my hon. Friend the Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell) earlier on. On 5th December the Prime Minister, talking of his discussions with Commonwealth Prime Ministers, said:…as we said, and they agreed, that this must not be allowed to develop—they understood this—into a confrontation whether economic or military involving the whole of Southern Africa. As the House will join my Commonwealth colleagues in recognising such a confrontation, economic—and economic might lead to military—could have incalculable consequences for Southern and Central Africa going far beyond the issues raised by the Rhodesian problem. Indeed, as I told my Commonwealth colleagues, it could rapidly dwarf the Rhodesian problem, and nothing would ever be the same in Central Africa again, whether in Rhodesia or some of their own States."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1070–1.]I think that the Prime Minister believed that when he said it, but I am not so certain that his Commonwealth colleagues really agreed with it. I think that that is the real issue of the debate.
The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) were in full cry. They want confrontation with Southern Africa Like Samson, they want to pull the temple down, but, unlike him, on the innocent as well as the guilty, but they are logical. I do not believe that what the Prime Minister is proposing can be effective unless there is an economic and a military confrontation with Southern Africa. I believe that that would be disastrous for our economy and for the economies of other countries in Africa, as well as for the defence of the Western World. It would be much more likely than anything else to break up the Commonwealth, and the African Commonwealth. I therefore oppose the Motion.
I do not say that the United Nations will never have a rôle to play in this. The word "never" is a foolish one to use in diplomacy. But to take this decision tomorrow is most unwise. It is on that that we are voting.
We ought, therefore, to turn our thoughts in a different direction. I agree with the criticisms made of paragraph 10(a) of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Communiqué. We ought to 1486 be considering how to get agreement on the way to obtain constitutional Government in Rhodesia, and agree on the method whereby it can be done. If so much could be done in 48 hours on the "Tiger" why not make a further effort? I do not minimise the importance of procedures. There are two points of difficulty, but I feel that if they could have been resolved it might have been possible for the Rhodesian régime to agree upon the whole paper.
I can understand Her Majesty's Government's concern about a second U.D.I. If agreement is not reached about the tasks, and the composition of the "acceptability" Commission, or if its conclusions are adverse to Mr. Smith and he does not accept them, or if there are other difficulties which prevent his accepting them, and if Rhodesia, in the meantime, has replenished its reserves and resources, it may refuse to carry out the agreement so that, in effect, there would be a second U.D.I.
To meet that point, Rhodesia must accept that sanctions will continue until an independence Bill has been through the House. I believe that there must be an interim Government. I hope that the Prime Minister will clarify his idea of the exact functions of the interim Government. At one time, judging by what was said in the paper, I thought that he was giving a degree of direct responsibility to the Governor. He seemed to qualify that today. I hope that he will clear the position up. The Rhodesians are afraid that once the interim Government are in the saddle British troops will be introduced into Rhodesia to enable the United Kingdom to use force. That is the "Trojan horse" to which reference is made in the papers. The answer is that Her Majesty's Government should guarantee that Sir Humphrey Gibbs will remain Governor. I join warmly in the words of tribute that have been paid to him. If he remains as Governor it is absurd for the Rhodesians to talk about a Quisling Government, especially with Mr. Smith as Prime Minister.
Her Majesty's Government should agree not to bring in British troops unless both the Governor and Mr. Smith both ask for them.
If those two points can be dealt with in that way we would be well on the path 1487 to getting agreement on what methods should be used. Those are two suggestions I put forward.
There are other difficulties, but I firmly believe that they can be surmounted. Therefore I beg the Government to think again. I hope that Mr. Smith and his colleagues will do nothing to make the situation more difficult, for example, by declaring a republic.
Let both sides propose some mutually respected intermediary and get to work at once on Part II. Meanwhile, it is utterly wrong and irresponsible to decide that tomorrow, whatever may be right or wrong in the future, without a further effort at agreement, we shall go to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions. It is utterly wrong to break off negotiations, even with an illegal régime, when there is a hope of settlement. The course upon which the Government are embarked is fraught with the gravest dangers. I therefore ask the House to reject the Motion.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Sir Geoffrey de Freitas (Kettering)
I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for the Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) that this is a sad debate. Like all others who have spoken, I have been to Africa and, like many of them, I have lived and worked there. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was responsible for my final step of going to work as a civil servant in Africa. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, and I had to write to him to ask if he would kindly appoint me to the Chiltern Hundreds. He gave me the Manor of Northstead. I make no complaint. It was an office of profit. After having held it with great distinction for four months, receiving no profit, I received a letter from him saying that someone else had it and that I was relieved of the office.
The important thing is that when he wrote to me he added a postscript, which he may remember, saying that he liked West Africa and he hoped that he would have another chance of going out there, when he would learn the high life, which apparently he had not learned on his previous visit. In West Africa, as a Minister in the British Government which had done more than any other to lead the African Colonies to self-government, he and all his colleagues were welcome.
1488 Let me remind the House of the stages of turning the African Empire into a Commonwealth, which came to their final stage when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a member of the Cabinet. The African countries saw this period of our history, the very important period of decolonisation, as an all-party effort, something upon which all parties had agreed.
I was reminded when it was quoted to me—I did not know about it before—that it was a Coalition Government during the war, when we had many other problems on our hands, which put up a Conservative Cabinet Minister to say that the aim of the British Government was self-government for the Colonies. This was in 1943. So over the last 23 years—this is the background of this matter—consecutive Governments — Coalition, Labour and Conservative—have adopted it as their policy and worked towards it.
Getting back to the fundamentals, there has been world-wide admiration—there is no question about it—for the fact that our decolonisation has, on the whole, been much better than that of other European colonial Powers. This is why I am worried by what appears to be the attitude on the Conservative benches today. It appears to me, and I am sure that it will appear to many people in the African Commonwealth, that this House is not united in trying to work above all to preserve this African Commonwealth which has been created from a Colonial Empire.
It is important that we should realise how this seems to people far away. Mr. Harold Macmillan was the first man to use the phrase "wind of change." I was proud indeed to work for him and for the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) who, up to Polling Day 1964, was consistently firm, and consistently right in my opinion, on Rhodesia. It is clear from the White Paper and all the documents which have been published that the then Government had taken a strong and determined line.
At that time the wind of change was blowing very strong indeed. It was blowing from the North into Central Africa and down into the South. At nearly all social occasions in Africa I was drawn into discussion about the future of 1489 Southern Rhodesia. Hon. Members should realise that it is not the same talking about these problems in Britain, because we are worried about other things as well. In Africa it was an obsession, and in those days it was a subject which challenged everything for which Britain stood. They feared that a British Government would one day hand over 4½ million black Africans to the rule of a small minority of whites. Time and again I assured them that no British Government would do that. I said that from my knowledge of the Conservatives and of my political friends, British Ministers could not possibly do that.
Last autumn I was not surprised to learn that most of the Commonwealth leaders at the Conference could not understand why we had not ended the rebellion by force. Reference has been made, in a different context, to Algeria. In Africa it was always quoted to me as an example. However, the conditions applying there, even if we consider them only logistically, were completely different. Nevertheless, it is hard to say that when they see what France did in what seems to black Africans to be a comparable situation. Logistically it is not comparable, but that is what they feel.
As said, it came as no surprise to me when I learned that most of the Commonwealth leaders last autumn could not understand why we had not put down the rebellion by force. I quoted the logistic difficulties to them, but one could not get away from the fact that from the very beginning Her Majesty's Government had undertaken not to use force. Many of my hon. Friends have criticised that, but we must accept it as a declared part of Government policy.
We have turned our Colonial Empire into a self-governing Commonwealth. The least we can do is to keep to the agreement reached at the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I have no inside information, but I believe, from everything I read and hear, that it was extremely difficult to get agreement so charged was the atmosphere and so great were the problems. However, agreement was reached and, whatever we do, we must keep within the terms of that agreement.
I do not think that many right hon. and hon. Members opposite have in any 1490 way been affected by a change in the wind, but I wonder if they realise what is at stake if we want to try to preserve this new Commonwealth. History may tell us that it was silly to have spent 300 years of our national existence chasing all over the world acquiring Colonies. We may have been better employed if we had concentrated on being a European Power. However, that is not the point.
The stage we are at today is that we have created this multi-racial and, in this context, this black African Commonwealth. The average politician there says hard things about us, but they are very new countries and, without being patronising, surely it is our duty to understand that they are young and that they resent the paternal hand. But that will not happen for ever. We have good friends there. To begin with, they speak our language. If we cannot in the long run get our ideas across to them when they speak our language, we do not deserve to get our ideas across.
For the next few years, we face a most difficult period, in which these countries feel for the first time that they have power, especially at the United Nations. If we can succeed by diplomatic skill in getting the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth, especially the African Commonwealth, round the table to make an agreement, we must meticulously follow it, otherwise the years which have gone will have been wasted. I believe that this must above all be a guide to us.
I was distressed when the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) dismissed as frivolous the criticisms which have been made of Members of Parliament who have appeared to give respect to Mr. Dupont. These criticisms are not frivolous, especially when this behaviour has taken place in a continent like Africa where status means a great deal—chief, governor, president, or the Queen's representative. It is important that we should not appear to give credit to and go out of our way to raise the dignity of a man who is really a usurper driving round in a stolen car.
I come to one of the Members of Parliament who has recently visited Rhodesia. I do not quote from any tape recording of a private conversation or anything like that. I do not have one. I do not know 1491 if anybody has. However, anyone can get the B.B.C. monitoring service. I think that it can be obtained from the Library. At any rate, it is easy to get it. One can see a Member of Parliament going there and not only expressing the opinion that he was very grateful that the sanctions had failed——
§ Sir G. de Freitas
The hon. and gallant Member for New Forest (Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre). There was much publicity about this. He also likened the B.B.C. to Lord Haw-Haw. This is going far, because the one thing we know about the B.B.C. is that its service to Rhodesia is a B.B.C. service. It is not a British Government service, because the B.B.C. does not relay Government propaganda to Rhodesia, although that is what this hon. Member appears to corroborate. It is an independent B.B.C. service.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
Has the hon. Gentleman given notice to the hon. and Gallant Member for the New Forest (Sir O. CrosthwaiteEyre) that he was going to make an attack on him?
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I am sorry. It never entered my head that he would not be here. [Interruption.] I hope hon. Members will acquit me of any discourtesy in this matter, because if any hon. Member gets himself so closely involved in a matter such as this I thought it was inevitable——
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I was asked a question by one of my hon. Friends, and I did say the hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
This raises a matter of some general principle. All hon. Members accept what the hon. Gentleman said as to his expectation, and with his customary courtesy and fairness one would acquit him of any impropriety in this matter. But debates in the House go on for about eight hours and it is physically impossible for hon. Members, however interested they might be, to 1492 be here all the time. Perhaps it may be thought appropriate that notice should always be given.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I take the point. It did not occur to me that it was necessary to give him notice, because I had some other quotations from him with which I shall not now weary the House. He got so deeply involved in this matter when he was in Rhodesia that I certainly thought he would be here. However, I should have given him notice.
The point which we should not forget is that if the Rhodesian Government feel so strongly, as they do, about the B.B.C. and say that it is just British Government propaganda, it is merely the people who run a police State trying to keep the inhabitants of that State isolated and insulated from views from outside. They regret outside views and news getting through.
It seems that nearly every hon. Member who has spoken has visited Rhodesia recently. I find it important to recall that as late as 2½ years ago I, too, visited Rhodesia. I went on to South Africa, and the difference encouraged me enormously. There may have been a police State in Rhodesia then, but the fact was that in 1964 I was able to have a social lunch with black Africans as well as white Africans, which was quite impossible in South Africa. My fear is that the Rhodesia Front is driving the two countries together so that they become more and more similar with less and less difference between them.
I do, however, concede one important point, because I am going to talk about Kenya. There are a lot of things that we can learn from Kenya. I concede that during the latter period of the Colonial Administration in Kenya, the British Colonial Government was able to deal with one man who was the acknowledged leader. They may have dealt with him in the wrong way, but they knew that they had to deal with only one man. Mr. Odinga was then extremely loyal to Mr. Kenyatta. There was real loyalty there. When we think of the future of Rhodesia, we must recognise as an enormous problem the division in the African leadership in Rhodesia. There have been social occasions of which both 1493 leaders were present: I have been at a function where as soon as one of them left the other stood by the door and distributed pamphlets attacking him, and the next night the other leader was attacked and we again received pamphlets. It was tragic, but it was a fact.
I want now to turn to Kenya and to quote from a letter written to The Times of 27th October last by the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Jopling). In that letter the hon. Member expressed confidence in the future of Kenya, and referred to a letter in which a number of people, not all British subjects but all of British descent—some Kenyan and some British—had said that opponents of majority rule had nothing to fear.
The hon. Member wrote:I have been very impressed on a recent…visit to Kenya to hear from most of those of British descent whom I met, of their enthusiasm for the way in which Kenya is developing. They expressed to me their pride in being associated with this developing experiment in multiracialism.A large number of them expressed their grave disquiet at the effect of a continuing impasse between Britain and Rhodesia and the refusal of Rhodesia's leaders to move towards majority rule in a more realistic way. They felt that before long this could only lead to deteriorating race relations in Kenya.While things are going well in Kenya, there can be no doubt that they are still at a delicate stage; it would be a tragedy if everything was to be ruined by intransigence farther south.The declaration to which the hon. Member referred was drawn up on 21st October of last year. It was signed by people as distinguished as Lord Delamere, the Speaker of the House, Sir Michael Blundell, a former politician and leaders in politics, leaders in the British community, leaders on the land, leaders in British business and retired senior officers from the Services. They make this point right through: that at the time they feared that Kenya got its independence too quickly. Some others thought that, too. They now sayMost of us had perfectly sincere reservations about the speed with which independence was granted…1494 They now quite definitely say that Kenyatta's Government have kept their pledge to respect the rights of all races, and the bitterness of the past has been largely forgotten in the spirit of Harambee. That is Swahili for "pull together":Racial prejudice is minimal, the rule of law has been preserved. Freedom of religion, speech and of the Press has been generally respected. Law and order has been maintained by a first-class police force under African command.I wonder how many hon. Members saw in the newspapers yesterday or today that President Kenyatta has asked a British general—no racial prejudice there —to be his defence adviser? And how many hon. Members know that the number of Europeans entering Kenya last year was greater than the number leaving?
Of course, there are far fewer white mixed farmers in Kenya, but more white business men are going there and more white teachers—more people to serve the community—because there is no racial prejudice. There is a black Government which even has a white Minister: the Minister of Agriculture.
Multiracialism can work, and it is up to us never to lose sight of that fact in any consideration of the future of Rhodesia. When sanity returns to Rhodesia, let the Rhodesian Front look north to see what has been achieved. What has been achieved is a very simple thing, and it is that so far—and "so far" is the key word—we have been able to have a multiracial community living in peace under black rule.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Mr. McBride.]
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.