Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [7th December]:
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 Ministers' Communiqué.
§ Question again proposed,
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
This debate raises, as many right hon. and hon. Members said yesterday, issues as momentous as any that have ever occupied this House in its history and when, as today, those issues involve human rights, questions of race and, it may be, even the choice between peace and war, emotions will run strong and deep and tensions will be taut. 1588 Every one of us who sits in the House of Commons, which is as human an institution as there is, cannot avoid such things. Even so, I make the plea that, however strongly we feel, I hope we may avoid assumptions or imputations of bad faith in those who may think the opposite to the views we hold.
I was particularly sorry yesterday that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, who is so widely respected by all parties in this House, saw fit to allow himself to say, at the end of his speech, that, should the Opposition go into the Lobby this evening against the Government, they would, in effect, be supporting the rebel régime in Rhodesia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I well understand those cheers, which come from a number of hon. Members opposite.
First of all, the Secretary of State knew, and knows, that this is not true. Secondly, it would be intolerable—and surely I speak for the whole House in this—in circumstances which demand fair political comment, if right hon. and hon. Members who disagreed with the Government of the day, or saw fit to go into the Lobby in opposition to them, were to be accused of being traitors to the Queen.
The mood of the House when the Prime Minister first announced the break-down of talks with Mr. Smith was, that evening, a sense of frustration and defeat. When the leaders of two peoples who speak the same language and enjoy the same religious, cultural and political inheritance, fail to reconcile their differences by negotiation, and remembering that we in this House preach to others that they should never break off negotiations in anger, but should sit around the table until negotiation is complete—[HON. MEMBERS: "Suez."]—and when, as in this case, we have parted with a neighbour and partner in the Commonwealth in so bad a temper that one threatens the other with force—for mandatory sanctions are a form of force—defeat takes on an element of shame. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. [Interruption.] Order. This is a grave debate, on which there are violent differences of opinion. I hope that we can conduct it without too much noise.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Yesterday, towards the end of the debate, I thought 1589 that I sensed a change of mood, a determination that the House would not allow defeat for negotiation and for reason to be final. This afternoon, at the eleventh hour, and even beyond it, I want to try to find a way, if I can, to reconciliation—and that, I hope, would be the mood of every right hon. and hon. Member.
It is right to remind ourselves that the sole reason and purpose why Britain has continued an association, first, with the Central African Federation and, secondly, with Rhodesia is that we wished to create in the centre of the African Continent a multi-racial democratic society and we felt that this would not only be good for the African Continent, but, if we succeeded, would have repercussions far further afield.
I recall to the impatient that the experiment in human relations of trying to integrate one race with another has by no means yet proved to be possible. The division between black and white is not the only colour division in the world. There are Malays and Chinese, Arabs and Jews, Negroes and Indians, between whom feelings run just as high.
But Parliament has felt all the way through the years, one side of the House first and now another side, that to deal with this daunting problem we should proceed and persevere until, in fact, we were able to establish, if it is humanly possible, a multi-racial society in which African and European could live in dignity. Our purpose was and is not to enforce a political system in which "one man, one vote" is established within a rigid timetable, but to entrench in a Constitution the rights of African and European which will provide, as far as it is humanly possible to do so, a life for them which is free, which is just and which is dignified. That is so high a stake that we must not lose patience. Indeed, to lose patience would be a crime.
Another fact basic to an understanding of Rhodesia's future arises because a number of hon. Members have equated Rhodesia with South Africa. Let us admit at once that there are a number of racial practices in Rhodesia which should go, and go soon—racial discrimination. But from the equation of the situation in South Africa with that of Rhodesia some very tragic errors may flow, because there is all the difference in the world between the two.
1590 In Souh Africa apartheid is entrenched. In Rhodesia multi-racialism is entrenched in the Constitution—[Interruption.] If hon. Members are ready to listen, I will justify what I have said. In every Constitution so far agreed between British Governments and Rhodesian Governments, this is true of the 1961 Constitution—it is even true of the 1965 Constitution—the principle of multi-racialism is written into the Constitution. Even—[Interruption.] I know that hon. Members opposite are restless about this, but they have spoken to their own case and I hope that they will listen to the other case, because there is one.
In every case, even in the 1965 Constitution, if an African gains the educational and economic qualifications written into the franchise, that African gains the vote equally with the Europeans. There are too few and the process is too slow, but no one can challenge me when I say that the principle of multi-racialism is written into the Constitution. So far, at least, it has been kept alive.
I stress this because I have an early request to make to the Prime Minister. I hope that he will tell the House that he will not operate paragraph 10(a) of the Commonwealth Ministers' communiqué until all hope is gone. Should, as that paragraph declares, all previous Constitutions be scrapped, and all offers, including the offer which the Prime Minister made to Mr. Smith on H.M.S. "Tiger", be withdrawn, I sincerely believe that multi-racialism in Rhodesia would be given a mortal wound. I hope that in this respect the Prime Minister will stay his hand.
I ask this in particular because central to our whole debate and central, too, to a future settlement in Rhodesia is the fact that the Prime Minister was successful in getting an agreement on constitutional proposals—we had some exchanges in the House about this, but I think that I am accurate in saying that in an official notification to the Prime Minister, Mr. Smith notified that he and his Cabinet accepted the constitutional proposals in the document which was drafted on the "Tiger".
The proposals are a basis for a multiracial Constitution. They were consistent with the six principles. Although they gave independence before majority 1591 rule, they provided unmistakably for uninterrupted progress towards majority rule. They were also consistent with paragraph 3 of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué and they included provision for the abolition of the racialist practices which are a blot on the record of Rhodesia.
I take it that the Prime Minister is satisfied that the proposals which he made are not only within the letter, but within the spirit of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué. That must be so, or he would not otherwise have signed them. We must, therefore, accept them—and, with the leave of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), I do accept them—as providing for a proper basis for a multiracial society in Rhodesia.
After all these years, that was a great prize. I concede, and gladly concede, to the Prime Minister that he won great concessions. This is the constitutional arrangement for which we have all been searching, and on that day on H.M.S. "Tiger", with the message from Mr. Smith's Cabinet that these constitutional proposals were accepted, how was it that they were thrown away in the moment of victory? [HON. MEMBERS: "By whom?"] I am not sure that they have been thrown away. It is very easy to be wise after the event. I confess that if I had been as successful as the Prime Minister in securing the constitutional settlement, I would have separated that from the method of applying it. I think that here a mistake was made.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman and it is only on a question of fact. There was not at any time on the "Tiger" a message from the so-called Cabinet in Salisbury that it accepted the constitutional settlement. When Mr. Smith left the ship he reserved the entire position of the whole document, although, of course, he and I got very close and both of us said that we were prepared to accept it. Since then, as the right hon. Gentleman will have seen, they have gone back on the constitutional settlement.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I am glad that the Prime Minister intervened, be- 1592 cause it is important that we should be clear. I had understood that, after the Prime Minister's return to London, there was a message from Mr. Smith and the Cabinet in Salisbury accepting the constitutional proposals made by the Prime Minister. I think that this is so. I know that the Commonwealth Secretary said yesterday that in some respects Mr. Smith had gone back on the proposals, or that statements had been made in Salisbury that led him to believe that Mr. Smith had gone back on the proposals.
Of course, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have seen all sorts of statements coming out of Salisbury. I, for instance, saw one attributed to Mr. Smith in which he said that if only these constitutional proposals had been in their hands before, there would have been no need for U.D.I. I do not know, any more than the Prime Minister or the right hon. Gentleman knows, how authentic these statements are, but the fact is, as I understood it, that the Prime Minister received in London a message from Mr. Smith and the Cabinet in Salisbury that they accepted the constitutional proposals.
I do not make this point of separating the constitutional proposals from the method of applying them, because I think that the modalities, so-called, were trivial. I do not think that they were trivial at all. On the contrary, I think that the method of handing over power is not only important, but is also complex. I think that no reasonable person could have requested a settlement on this in the limited time available, and that probably the great error that was made at this time was that both of these questions, the constitutional proposals and, if I may so call them, the modalities, had to be settled up against a rigid time limit which had been tied around the Prime Minister's neck at the time of the Prime Ministers' Conference.
It is possible that this mistake led to a genuine misinterpretation of the intentions of the Prime Minister and the British Government. [Interruption.] I shall give my evidence for this, so I would wish that hon. Gentlemen would wait—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. This question is to be thrashed out in debate. We do not want a running commentary.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
It is really genuinely possible that this misinterpretation has led to misunderstanding. Indeed, it is so important that understanding of this matter should be right that I want to ask the Prime Minister some questions. It seems to me that on a point where clarity is vital, clarity, in fact, in missing.
The Commonwealth Secretary said yesterday, in relation to the Governor's powers, that it was Her Majesty's Government's intention, during the period of interim government—and we are dealing solely with that at this moment—that the Governor should act strictly as a constitutional Governor, as he had acted previously under the 1961 Constitution, accepting the advice of the Rhodesian Ministers, accepting advice, in the case of the Defence Council, of Rhodesians, with, I think, the addition of one member of the British High Commission.
I accept this, of course, from the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Secretary, but if I may be allowed to say so, this is not what the document says, or not what the document, at any rate, seems to say—or, putting it in another way, it says two different things in two different places. If the Prime Minister would read the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué with the statement which he himself put out—and he is always rightly saying that this is the document which governs the whole procedure—it is written of the interim period and the functions of the Governor that the executive authority should be vested in the Governor.
It may be that Mr. Smith and his Government are using this as an excuse because they do not like the whole arrangement, but, equally, I think the Prime Minister will see that it could make all the difference to the Rhodesians' reception of the whole document and of the proposals, because if the Governor is to exercise executive authority during this particular period the Governor would then be under the orders of the British Government and bound to take any orders that the British Government might give him.
But if that is not so, and he is acting on the advice of Rhodesians and the convention which ran with the 1961 Constitution was still intact, then every 1594 Rhodesian would know that there would be no interference during this interim period from the British Government. I gather from the way the Prime Minister nods that this is so. I hope that this will be made absolutely clear, because on a reading of the document it is not, I am bound to say, clear at all. In the atmosphere of distrust, which so unhappily prevails at present between Whitehall and Salisbury, the interpretation which the Prime Minister puts on it must be made clear so that the illegal Government of Mr. Smith shall know exactly what is proposed, and so shall the people of Rhodesia.
For instance, I believe that it makes a great deal of difference to the various proposals as to what form the interim government might take. The Prime Minister proposes an interim government more broadly based than Mr. Smith's present Government, and there is a lot to be said for that. That is certainly one way of dealing with the problem and of filling in the gap. It is quite possible that Mr. Smith might take an entirely different view of this proposition if he knew that the Governor was not an executive authority, but was to be a constitutional Governor advised by Rhodesians.
Or it is possible that Mr. Smith, having recognised the constitutional position of the Governor, the scheme proposed yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) might be adopted. On that basis, sanctions would stay on and the Rhodesian Government would remain, while the Royal Commission, which could be set up immediately—tomorrow, if necessary—could proceed at once, making its own rules, to pronounce upon opinion in Rhodesia.
Mr. Smith himself seemed to accept—I cannot say whether he accepted or not, but he seemed to accept in something which he said the day before yesterday—the instrument of the Royal Commission, and it might still be used for these wider purposes.
So vital is the prize of this constitutional settlement in the context of a multiracial future for Rhodesia that it must not founder on a misinterpretation of words, or on rigid protocol. Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister if he will help to clarify this position this afternoon. I 1595 wish to ask the Prime Minister to interpret this beyond dispute. I would hope, if he accepts, that negotiations might be directed again to this more limited field of what have been called the modalities, that it might be possible to ask the Lord Chancellor to help the Rhodesian Government to make order and sense out of this interim machinery for this short interval which the Prime Minister estimates to be about four months, because on the reasonable handling of this four-months' interval the whole future of a multi-racial society in Africa may hang.
Finally, I would like to turn to mandatory sanctions and the reasons, which I consider to be valid, why the Opposition will oppose them in the Lobby tonight. Generally, one must admit that when one comes to the point when mandatory sanctions have to be used, it is a mark of the bankruptcy of statesmanship which we should never admit in a civilised world. [Interruption.] It represents, too—
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that on all the evidence available the decisive reason for there being any movement at all by the Smith régime towards the proposals of Her Majesty's Government was that there was a threat of mandatory sanctions and that there was a deadline?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I would not admit that in these circumstances we should use, or threaten the use of, mandatory sanctions—[Interruption.] I do not know what influence the voluntary sanctions of the past year or so have had on Rhodesia, and I propose to say something about this in a moment.
Let me turn to what I consider to be in this respect the misuse of the Charter of the United Nations. If nations feel entitled to use, to invoke, mandatory sanctions because the Constitution of a country falls short of the standards of democracy that we require, we should be at war with half the world today. Secondly, relating our objections directly to Rhodesia. I would once more recall to the House the purpose of multi-racialism. I remember saying, when first we discussed voluntary sanctions in this House—and I think that this is the answer to the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson)—that 1596 their result would be to drive Rhodesia into South Africa's orbit.
Of mandatory sanctions, I would say that they will do much more, and something much worse. They will make Rhodesia totally economically dependent on South Africa, and will thereby identify South Africa's political system with that of Rhodesia in a way that nothing else could do. When a country is under siege, not even the moderate Rhodesians can afford to threaten or oppose Mr. Smith and his Government. Does anyone in the House intend to push Rhodesia into the arms of South Africa and identify her completely with South Africa's system?
I can understand those who argued yesterday—and a number of hon. Members did so argue, including the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and one or two hon. Members on this side—that if mandatory sanctions were to be applied the place to apply them would be directly to South Africa, where the roots of apartheid lie, and not to a country in which multi-racialism is entrenched in the Constitution. I do not subscribe to this argument. I do not believe that we cure one evil by loosing a greater evil —the evil of war.
But wholesale mandatory sanctions are not the Government's policy. Their policy is selective sanctions. They believe that by applying selective sanctions they can keep control of the United Nations. I wonder whether the Foreign Secretary thinks that today. They will not succeed, and I think that this is a certain prophecy, in keeping control of the United Nations unless they are prepared to veto Afro-Asian resolutions which will be brought forward to apply mandatory sanctions, not only against Rhodesia but against South Africa in respect of oil. This would damage Commonwealth relations to a far greater extent than if the Prime Minister and the Government had kept these matters in British hands.
The Prime Minister knows already that there is a majority in the Commonwealth—
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The right hon. Gentleman talks about keeping the matter in British hands. When he talks about damaging Commonwealth relations, would he not say that he discussed these matters with Commonwealth 1597 Premiers at the previous Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference; that he made commitments to the other Prime Ministers, which, presumably, he wished to carry out? Does he now say that we would not damage Commonwealth relations by breaking pledges made at the Prime Ministers' Conference?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Whatever I might have done at Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conferences, never did I suggest or imply that we in this country would ever agree to mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia, or to mandatory sanctions of which oil sanction was one.
The Prime Minister knows, and the hon. Gentleman knows, that already on the Commonwealth advisory committee on sanctions in this country the majority want oil sanctions. He has also seen the experience of the Foreign Secretary, in New York, during the last day or so. There is only one thing that the Afro-Asian members of the Commonwealth mean by sanctions, and that is sanctions, including oil, directed against South Africa—and enforced.
I therefore hope that before the Foreign Secretary commits Parliament in New York, where he is working under great pressure, the Prime Minister will categorically tell us that if there is resolution on oil sanctions, including a proposal to bring oil sanctions against South Africa, the British Government will use their veto—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The Prime Minister is perfectly entitled to say that he will not do so. I only want to know whether he will or will not do so, because this is something that Parliament is entitled now to know.
A vote for mandatory sanctions, including South Africa, and Portuguese Africa, as it must, is, in effect, a vote which might, which could, which I believe most certainly would, lead us into war at some future date. Therefore, my plea to the Prime Minister and to the House is basically not to accept the defeat of negotiation, which seems to me to have narrowed on to a front which is manageable if further negotiation is undertaken.
I myself have lived too long with this problem not to know these difficulties. I know how hard it is to ask the Prime Minister to exercise even greater patience than he has done, but I do not believe 1598 that he can refuse this to the House, for the stakes, in terms of humanity, are too high.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
With the opening and closing words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) I agree, and all of us agree about the gravity of this subject. He raised a number of important questions of fact and elucidation that I will try to answer. He also summarised the Opposition's case against the Government and why he and others are voting against the Government tonight.
I must correct one point of fact. Sanctions are not proposed because we do not approve of the Rhodesian Constitution, or think that it is not multi-racial enough, but because after every effort we have made, not over a few months but over four or five years, when Rhodesia clearly knew she had to say yes or no, Rhodesia insists on remaining, not in an imperfectly multi-racial condition, but in a state of illegal rebellion, and the United Nations has voted that this is a threat to peace.
Nevertheless, the whole House will recognise that the right hon. Gentleman had the responsibility for some years of dealing with Southern Rhodesia, and that, as Prime Minister, he laid down in the strongest terms the attitude that any British Government must take on the question of illegality; and equally the terms on which any British Government must insist as a condition for independence. The right hon. Gentleman and the then Commonwealth Secretary—who showed the same firmness in these matters—made clear that this Constitution was not—and I repeat the word "not"—an independence Constitution.
The right hon. Gentleman at least knows that on the question of legality, which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen were dismissing as a petty procedural nicety, what we are dealing with here is "a revolt against the Crown and a direct challenge to Crown and Parliament". Those are not my words; they are the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. I will quote—[Interruption.] I have been reading the account of his meeting with Mr. Smith on 7th September, 1599 1964, just before the election, and I quote what he was recorded then as saying to Mr. Smith:He must make it wholly clear to Mr. Smith that, quite apart from the serious economic consequences of such a declaration",—that is I.D.I.—two constitutional results would inevitably follow. In the first place a United Kingdom Government would have to maintain that the declaration had no legal validity and that they were not prepared to recognise it. Second, they would have to emphasise that the Government of Southern Rhodesia would be in revolt against the Crown.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I will not interrupt the Prime Minister, again, unless he provokes me too far. Of course I stand by every word of what he has read out. This is the position not only of myself but of the whole of the Opposition. We have always condemned U.D.I. as illegal. We hold no brief for Mr. Smith, but we want, nevertheless, to see a negotiated settlement.
§ The Prime Minister
I am about to complete the quotation from the right hon. Gentleman and then I will deal with his point.There was no means"—he said—by which that Government could, as they apparently hoped, maintain their allegiance to The Queen. There was no separate Queen of Southern Rhodesia. Her Majesty was Queen of Southern Rhodesia by virtue of being Queen of the United Kingdom and Her other territories (which included Southern Rhodesia). It followed that only United Kingdom Ministers could tender advice to Her on the issue of independence for Southern Rhodesia; and they would be bound to advise Her that She could not accept the position of Queen of a Southern Rhodesia which purported to be independent but would in fact be in revolt against the Crown.Throughout, both parties have spoken in equally strong terms about the insistence, which we have maintained, that if, uniquely, Rhodesia were granted independence on an amended 1961 Constitution, that is in advance of majority rule—and this would be unique in our lifetime—there must be some specific and enforceable guarantees ensuring that there will be steady and unimpeded progress to majority rule. The right hon. Gentleman's Commonwealth Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1600 Streatham (Mr. Sandys), was, in those days, no less emphatic. Earlier in 1964 he warned the then Rhodesian Government about the consequences of I.D.I. I quote his words:International reaction will be sharp and immediate. The issue would be raised at once in the United Nations; and we, of course, would not be able to offer any justification. The whole Commonwealth would be deeply disturbed and the attitude of the newer members would be extremely antagonistic. Commonwealth and foreign Governments, with one or two exceptions, would almost certainly refuse to recognise Southern Rhodesia's independence or to enter into relations with her.In fact, more than a year after I.D.I. no Government in any part of the world has extended recognition. There have been no exceptions. The right hon. Gentleman went on:The African Nationalists in Southern Rhodesia would probably set up a Government in exile, which many countries would recognise.So far this has not happened, as far as I am aware.Thus isolated, Southern Rhodesia would increasingly become a target for subversion, trade boycotts, air transport bans and other hostile activities, organised in other African states. … A unilateral declaration of independence by Southern Rhodesia would not, of course, make Southern Rhodesia legally independent. … The British Government would, therefore, be bound to take the view that this had no legal or constitutional validity." ——
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham) rose——
§ The Prime Minister
—… we should be pressed to regard Southern Rhodesia as being in a state of revolt and to have no official dealings with her Government. … It would be generally regarded as an act of open defiance. Ministers who have accepted office under the present Constitution and who were parties to any such declaration would be acting unconstitutionally and in breach of the obligations they assumed on taking office. Notwithstanding sincere expressions of loyalty to The Queen, it would incontestably involve a direct challenge to the authority of the Crown and Parliament.
§ Mr. Sandys
Was not that rather a good letter? [Laughter.] In that letter I predicted what I thought would happen, and just those things have happened. I have said nothing or done nothing which is inconsistent with that.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, that is what the right hon. Gentleman said then. I wish that he had stuck to that later, because last week and the week before 1601 he was pressing us to, as he said, recognise the realities of the situation, to recognise the illegal independence——
§ Mr. Sandys indicated dissent.
§ The Prime Minister
Tonight when he and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition go into the Lobby against us they are voting against a resolution which deplores—[Interruption.] They are voting against a Motion. They do not vote against individuals. In this House they vote against a Motion. They could have amended this Motion, but they did not seek to do so. They are disagreeing with our Motion which deplores the rejection of the working document. They are backing the illegal régime in rejecting that document. [Interruption.]
Since that document was rejected, we are told, purely because we insist on legality, this means that by their vote they are no longer insisting on legality. It is no good their trying to wriggle out of this one tonight. They are voting against a Motion which endorses the Government's acceptance of the working document—they are against endorsing it. They are voting against a condemnation—[Interruption.] I will tell the right hon. Gentlemen how they could have avoided this. They are voting against the criticism—[An HON. MEMBER: "They are voting against you."] Yes, against me, not against Mr. Smith. Every one of the hon. Gentlemen opposite is more interested in trying to get rid of the legal Government here than the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia. If they had wanted to make their position clear, they could have moved an Amendment to our Motion. Perhaps we will be told tonight why they did not do so.
They could have moved to leave out all of the words of the last part of the Motion relating to mandatory sanctions, if they had wished to oppose mandatory sanctions only. But they have deliberately decided to vote against the whole Resolution and, to that extent, they are voting to endorse the rejection of the working document by Salisbury.
They are not going to get away from this one.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Langstone) rose——1602
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
Order. The hon. Member must sit down unless the Prime Minister gives way.
§ The Prime Minister
I have a lot of ground to cover and I want to reply to the right hon. Gentleman. I am saying that it is not enough for right hon. Gentlemen to say that they regret this act of illegality; to say "Naughty, naughty," to Mr. Smith, because tonight they are going to vote on his side, for rejecting the working document.
§ Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West) rose——
§ The Prime Minister
For the greater part of my speech this afternoon I would like to try to answer some of the basic questions that have emerged in this debate.
The first question which I wish to try to answer is this: whether Mr. Smith has had enough time. Have we been rushing things? Have we become slaves of a timetable which should never have been laid down? Immediately after the illegal declaration all the parties in the House decided that there could be no dealings with the illegal régime. The Leader of the Opposition said it on 12th November last year. I will not quote his words; he remembers them. We all said it. The right hon. Gentleman has never denied it.
In January, however, despite what both he and I had said, I authorised the then Commonwealth Secretary to visit Salisbury—it will be recalled that he was in Lusaka with me on the way back from a visit to Africa—and authorised him, under the auspices of the Governor, to have informal talks with Mr. Smith or any of his colleagues provided this did not involve in any sense recognition of the régime. In the event, when the régime were told about it, they said that he could go there only on conditions which involved recognising them as Ministers; and, therefore, he did not go. I am sure that none of us would have wanted him to go on those conditions.
In February right hon. Members opposite, who had to face some difficulty in making up their minds—we saw this last December when they split three ways—decided that they could best unite on a formula for talks which carried them through the General Eelection in which we were told that they would make Rhodesia 1603 a main election issue. But in March a senior official of the Commonwealth Office was in Salisbury for a fortnight and was authorised to let the régime know, and did do, that he could meet Mr. Smith, but Mr. Smith, who had had his hopes raised as a result of the visits by a number of hon. Members, thought it right to await the result of the General Election in which he actively intervened. In an interview with the Glasgow Herald early in the election Mr. Smith made his partiality clear. His appeal for a vote was not followed.
In April, facing the reality that we had for a long time to come a Government who were determined to stand by the statements of their predecessors, and faced also by our clear determination, shown by the Beira operation, to make sanctions effective, Mr. Smith indicated to the Governor his willingness to engage in talks about a settlement.
From May to August the informal and exploratory talks continued in London and Salisbury. During that period the Rhodesian representatives moved not one inch towards us either on the constitutional issues involved, including the guarantees required for fulfilment of the principles on which we have agreed, or on the issue of a return to constitutional rule. There is abundant evidence that in refusing to make the progress which we hoped they would do they were stiffened by the advice which they were getting from their friends in this country, and their visitors, into the belief that, first, the seamen's strike and then the July economic crisis would drive us into a position of weakness—indeed, even into a coalition.
Indeed, just as talks were resumed for the third time the régime, having already distinguished themselves with certain oppressive acts against academic freedom in the university, made it very difficult to continue any talks by introducing a constitutional amendment designed to give them power to introduce permanent legislation for preventive detention—that is, to detain people without trial, even though no state of emergency existed.
By September, when the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference began, no progress had been made in the 1604 so-called talks about talks. The House knows with what difficulty my right hon. Friend and I, after nine days of agonising debate, secured from our Commonwealth colleagues agreement that we could have time to make one last determined attempt to secure a satisfactory agreement with Mr. Smith. I say "with what difficulty" we got agreement from the Commonwealth to do this—reluctant agreement—because the debate so far has made light of the dangers which we were facing—not just now, but then.
It was "a new dimension of danger", said the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) yesterday, referring to our decision to seek mandatory sanctions at the United Nations. It was not a new dimension; it was a deferred dimension. If we had allowed the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference to break up over Rhodesia without agreement, not only would we have seen the disintegration of the Commonwealth as we know it today—and two years ago no right hon. Gentleman would have allowed that to happen, whatever the cost—but the matter would have been raised in the United Nations by an angry and hostile majority determined to remove the issue from British control, where we have kept it up to now. What the Government has sought to ensure—and we are as determined about this as we have been at any other time—is to keep this matter under control.
We were able not only to produce an agreed Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué but, despite the strong feelings of our colleagues, many of whom wanted us to use force, to secure their acquiescence, however reluctant, to a last series of talks with Mr. Smith. Any hon. Members who had heard the exchanges at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference up to the last minute would have thought this impossible, and a miracle to achieve it. Now they criticise us for a time-table. Our achievement was to defer the problem for three months.
A few days after the Commonwealth Conference my right hon. Friend went to Salisbury where, under the Governor's aegis, he explained to all the Rhodesians whom he met of a very wide range of public opinion the decision of Her Majesty's Government. Despite a formal request to Mr. Smith, he was not allowed 1605 to see Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole, although he saw a number of their supporters. He also had long talks with Mr. Smith and certain of his colleagues. Again there was not one inch of movement either on the constitutional issue or on the question of a return to constitutional rule. Mr. Smith was left in no doubt about the fact that progress must be made within the period of about three months, which the House must agree provided adequate time to anyone who wanted a settlement; three months was long enough.
But all that emerged between my right hon. Friend and Mr. Smith was an agreed statement of the position of the two sides—miles apart, some would say worlds apart, certainly a century apart, in our basic thinking. In October our proposals were clearly set out to Salisbury, and in due course a formal rejection of all the essential points in them was received. However, exchanges continued after that, although time was moving on. Up to a fortnight ago there had been no movement whatsoever on their part on either of the issues.
A fortnight ago the position was this. There was no agreement in sight on the principle of unimpeded progress to majority rule. This was because Mr. Smith still insisted on a braking mechanism, on the right to create new European seats, additional European seats, and on the right to create new constituencies; when in his words he felt that a braking mechanism was necessary as a safeguard:against the premature advent of African rule".He reserved that braking mechanism to operate against the automatic processes of the 1961 Constitution. No Government in this House could have accepted that, I am sure—I hope. He insisted on the right to determine the pace of African advance. His braking mechanism would, we calculate, have delayed for 10 years more compared with the progress inherent in the 1961 Constitution, which of itself was not an independence constitution, and if he were to use the freedom for which he insisted of manipulating constituencies, he could have delayed African advance indefinitely, for ever.
This House was committed—all of us—to guaranteed and unimpeded progress 1606 to majority rule. My right hon. Friend had a lot of difficulty—he did not succeed at that time—in persuading Mr. Smith that a braking mechanism was an impediment to gradual and unimpeded progress towards majority rule. There was no advance on the question of the return to legality. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend, a fortnight ago today, took the initiative in again visiting Salisbury. As I have informed the House, some signs of movement were at last revealed. I think that right hon. Gentlemen opposite display a degree of unparalleled naivety when they refuse to relate this last-minute beginning of movement to the fact that it was the last minute and that the timetable was running out. Mr. Smith began to discuss a basis on which Chapter 3 of the 1961 Constitution could have been entrenched without a braking mechanism. We could have done this six months ago, although he did not go as far as this. But he also said that he was "prepared to consider" a return to the 1961 Constitution, and when my right hon. Friend asked him whether that meant willingness to renounce his purported independence Mr. Smith said, yes, that was what he had meant.
This was little enough of an advance, but the Government decided that they must make a final effort. Accordingly, the Deputy Under Secretary of State was sent to Salisbury last week to invite Mr. Smith and any colleague he chose to meet my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and myself in a final effort to reach agreement on the basis—I ask hon. Members to note this—that both of us would have power to settle at that meeting. I will come presently to what happened in those discussions, but I hope that I have satisfied the House that no charge lies against Her Majesty's Government that they have allowed Mr. Smith inadequate time.
We could have been talking in January or in March. We were talking in April. It was not until 27th November that Mr. Smith began to take the talks seriously. Indeed, the work of both our predecessors and ourselves has gone on for over three years. What the regime has fought for and is fighting for now is the right, not to settle, but to buy time and to procrastinate and not to deal seriously, as I believed that Mr. Smith was coming last week to deal seriously, and in good faith.
1607 Sometimes we have seen them acting in bad faith, such as when we were in Salisbury last year, when they went through the motions of pre-I.D.I. negotiations when we were in Salisbury, when all the time they had legal documents printed bearing the very date of our arrival in Salisbury. They were negotiating with us on how to avoid I.D.I. and already they had documents printed with the date of our arrival in Salisbury, and they declared I.D.I. the following week.
I do not need to repeat what my right hon. Friend said in his compelling speech yesterday about the issues involved in the constitutional settlement. We regarded the agreement reached and set out in the working document last Saturday as an honourable settlement which enshrined in constitutional terms—[Interruption.] I know that the reply from Mr. Smith has come to three hon. Members. It means no more than the situation did a week ago. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen will listen to the facts about what Mr. Smith said to my right hon. Friend and myself last week. They had better stick to the facts now.
§ Mr. Evelyn King (Dorset, South)
On a point of order. I am sitting perfectly quiet on my own bench reading the telegram. There is no reason for an offensive observation of that kind.
§ The Prime Minister
Hon. Members opposite have shouted enough about this. They had now better try to understand the facts about it. This is too important a subject for hon. Members opposite, who have already decided how they will vote tonight, with all that that will mean, to miss the chance of knowing the exact facts about what they are voting. They will get these facts.
We regarded the agreement reached and set out in the working document as an honourable settlement which enshrined in constitutional terms the six principles on which we have all insisted in this House and which provided effective internal and external guarantees of those principles. Because they fulfilled those principles, we could have commended them to the House.
1608 Let me also say that I believe that the concessions we made were generous. Although the 1961 Constitution was not an independence Constitution, in the agreement we turned it into one with only the minimum number of amendments, those mainly designed to entrench the clauses needed to secure unimpeded progress to majority rule and with a further provision necessary to provide adequate external guarantees.
In one respect, however, we provided a major amendment designed to make it more acceptable to European opinion in Rhodesia. It will be remembered that in January I added to the existing five principles a sixth principle, namely,
to ensure that, regardless of race, there was no oppression of majority by minority or of minority by majority".The reason for this was that not only should the Africans for their part, while effective political power was denied to them, have guarantees against any oppression by the politically powerful European minority. It was important also to ensure that equally, after majority rule, the Europeans in the multi-racial Rhodesia for which all of us have been working would have a similar guarantee against any form of oppression by the majority.
That was ensured by the British proposal which we made last weekend, which Mr. Smith accepted, of 17 reserved European seats, reserved to Europeans for all time and entrenched, starting now and persisting up to and after majority rule, which would always give them a constitutional guarantee against unacceptable amendments of the independence constitution. In this respect as well as others, the working document provided a more acceptable constitution from the European point of view than the 1961 Constitution, which had never been drawn up as an independence constitution.
We insisted, however, as our predecessors had done, on some immediate improvement in the political status of the unenfranchised African population even though its effect in terms of seats would not have been immediate. We also added two extra "B"-roll seats to the Lower House; there would have been eight elected Africans as well as six chiefs in the proposed Senate. We provided for and agreed upon universal adult suffrage 1609 for all Africans over the age of 30 and insisted with this new electorate against what Mr. Smith wanted, namely, the continuance of cross voting.
Agreement was reached on the form of the Senate and the means of election of its members, and on entrenched provisions to protect the integrity of the chiefs as members of that Senate. And so we provided—this is something that Mr. Smith was keen to have—for a Constitution including chiefs as well as elected Africans. The House must agree that, while insisting on all points in esserting the integrity of the principles which we have laid down, Her Majesty's Government have approached all these constitutional questions with imagination and, indeed, with generosity.
The House must recognise that nearly three months ago, when my right hon. Friend was engaged in his marathon of talks in Salisbury—this was not all he did—we made it plain that if agreement could not be reached on an amended 1961 Constitution, we were ready to consider any possible alternative. We said that we were ready, within the six principles, to consider any alternative constitution which the Rhodesians wished to put forward, including a number of ideas recently put forward in Salisbury. We were thinking, for example, of the Holderness Constitution, which attracted a great deal of interest in Rhodesia and more widely.
In all of these, Mr. Smith in September showed no interest. We told Mr. Smith that we were willing to agree with him on the composition of a high-level commission of constitutional experts—because there are few types of constitution which have not been considered, or even tried, somewhere in the Commonwealth. That commission would have worked out under Anglo-Rhodesian auspices a new solution to the problem. This suggestion was also rejected.
Following consultations which I had had at the Commonwealth Conference, my right hon. Friend proposed a mission, fact-finding and mediatory, of Commonwealth leaders headed by the Prime Minister of Canada and consisting of other Commonwealth leaders, all of whom ought to have been acceptable to Mr. Smith. This was rejected.
1610 It is a little late now to ask whether we cannot have a high-powered commission. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because we have been discussing these things for four years and it was only as the close of the timetable drew near that we got any movement at all and we got the agreement of last weekend. But the latest offer, which was taken up with such avidity by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, must be judged against the rejection last September of all these proposals. They were rejected while yet there was time, and adequate time, for them to operate.
There was also our proposal, in view of the importance to Rhodesia and Britain of this problem, that given the agreement of the three major parties in this House we would offer them an act of union under which we envisaged that they would have both European and African elected members in this House playing their full part in our affairs, while Rhodesia would enjoy full domestic self-government. I do not underrate the difficulties of this proposal, particularly to any Prime Minister who has had to operate with a majority of three British Members. The House will not, however, deny that an offer of such unprecedented generosity was an indication of the length to which we were prepared to go to solve this problem. But this also was rejected. I do not think that the charges lie against us.
Therefore, time has not been the limiting factor, nor has our willingness to consider—indeed, to put forward on our own initiative—any possible alternative solution to those which have dominated Anglo-Rhodesian relations over the past few years.
I come now to the events of last weekend. There will he many who felt that we were mistaken to make the effort to go and meet Mr. Smith. There will be some who, agreeing with the words that I have quoted from my predecessor about the implications of a revolt against Crown and Parliament, would feel that it was wrong for anyone who holds the responsibilities that we hold to enter into direct contact with those who, under our laws, are in a state of rebellion against the Crown. I felt, nevertheless, that it was right to meet Mr. Smith. Prime Ministers have met rebels before.
1611 Equally, I will defend the proposed terms of settlement under which Mr. Smith could have left H.M.S. "Tiger" as Designate Prime Minister of Rhodesia—and he could have done—though many would have criticised us for giving authority to the Governor to appoint him as Prime Minister of Rhodesia.
My right hon. Friend and I would not have wished to have drawn aside the veil of secrecy which surrounded our talks if it had not been for the monstrous campaign of misrepresentation of what we said and did there which we have had in these last 48 hours and which some right hon. Gentlemen seem only too ready to accept at face value.
First, let me deal with the question of the basis on which the talks were held. We went there with authority to settle and so, he informed us before he came, did Mr. Smith. Yes, he informed us before he came that he had authority to settle.
By Friday evening, we had reached an agreement over a wide part of the field, which anyone ten days earlier would have regarded as miraculous. Then, on Friday evening, as we were prepared to engage on a late-night sitting, he asked that we might adjourn. He indicated that, because we had raised a number of new issues, he felt that he should secure the agreement of his colleagues in Salisbury. What were the new issues? One was the embodiment of the Constitution in a treaty registered with the United Nations, and our own proposal for reserved European seats to protect in all circumstances the European minority.
The idea of a treaty was not exactly a new issue. It had been mentioned by Mr. Smith to Opposition leaders when he was in London in October, 1965, and we discussed it with him in Salisbury immediately afterwards. Our other pro-proposal about reserved seats could only have been welcomed by anyone in Salisbury who wanted an agreement. It was a great concession to the European minority.
It is true also that we proposed a council to advise the Governor on defence and security matters, consisting of five Rhodesians and one British representative, but that in itself was in substitution for our earlier proposal, unacceptable to 1612 him, that he should agree with us a British military presence in Rhodesia. That was not mentioned at any time in our talks last week.
However, I agreed to his proposal that, although we thought that he had power to settle, he should have time to telegraph the facts to his colleagues, and I proposed that we should work out jointly a draft agreement which we would help him to communicate to his colleagues in Salisbury.
But by Saturday lunchtime he decided that that was not enough for him, and he felt that it would be necessary for him to go back and urge personally on his colleagues the acceptance of whatever agreement we reached. This meant that I had to agree that instead of settling on board ship a further period should be allowed for him to persuade his colleagues to accept the agreement. We agreed—and hon. Members may think that we were suckers—that, when we had completed discussions and secured a draft for us both to study, he would study it on his own or with his colleagues and indicate whether he rejected it out of hand or was prepared to take it to Salisbury and commend it to his colleagues. That was the third change from the original position of power to settle.
By Saturday afternoon, not only had we reached full agreement on every detail of the Constitutional settlement, but we had gone through a precisely worded text, which, of course, is available to all hon. Members, covering all aspects of the return to legality. Mr. Smith reserved his position both on the question of timing—whether there would be a return to legality before or after the test of public opinion by a Royal Commission—and on the question of whether or not there should be a broad-based interim Government; that is, a Government more representative of Rhodesian opinion than the Rhodesia Front.
After our discussion on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Smith went away to commune with himself and his colleagues, it being understood that he would either reject the document as being unacceptable and we should break up without agreement, or that he agreed to return to Salisbury and commend it to his colleagues; and he told me that, if he agreed with his colleagues, it would go through, but it would 1613 require his presence to ensure it. It was not until three hours later as he was preparing to get off the ship that we met, and he told me that he was prepared to initial the document as a correct record of our discussions but could not say one way or the other whether he personally would accept it. As my right hon. Friend has said, he needed to convince himself before he could start the process of convincing his colleagues.
The original basis on which we had begun—that of authority to settle—had been weakened now three times: first, that he would telegraph the text; secondly, that he would take it back with his own support and commendation; and, thirdly, that he would just take it back. Nevertheless—and this is another sign of weakness on our part, I suppose—I agreed that he should take it back on that basis without expressing a view about whether it was acceptable to him. But in those changed circumstances, naturally, I reserved the British Government's position as well. As the House knows, Her Majesty's Government accepted the document. That is in the Motion about which we are to vote tonight. Next day, the Rhodesian régime rejected it, we are told, unanimously. That is also in the Motion on which we are to vote tonight.
I would not have wished to go further into these talks in the "Tiger", but I have to do so because of some extraordinary statements in Salisbury purporting to justify rejection of the proposed settlement, by reference not to the "Tiger" document but to the position that we reached in mid-October. The "Tiger" document represented significant movement by both sides. The recent propaganda from Salisbury, in many and major respects, is totally irrelevant in telling not what we agreed in the Tiger but what we ourselves put as an opening bid or a statement of our position in October, on which we have since made many concessions.
The working document, we are now told, though we were not told it on board, is rejected because it demanded direct rule. At no time since informal talks began in May has there been any suggestion by the Government of direct rule from Whitehall or of Governor's rule in Rhodesia. [Interruption.] I will not give way now. I want to deal with 1614 the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman. When I come to the end of this, if I have not dealt with the hon. Gentleman's point, no doubt he will get up.
It is rejected, we are now told, because the Governor would have direct control of the Armed Forces and police. But, under the 1961 Constitution, in all matters of law and order, the Governor acts on the advice of his constitutional Government. The only new element in our proposals as compared with the 1961 Constitution—and this only for the four months between now and an election; the four months period during which the Royal Commission would complete its task of testing Rhodesian opinion—would be that, in law and order matters, the Governor would be required to act not on the advice simply of the responsible Ministers, but on the advice of a newly constituted Defence and Security Council, to include the responsible Ministers, the heads of the Armed Forces, and police, all of them Rhodesians, and one British representative.
We were prepared to accept this proposal in substitution for our earlier suggestion, which some of the distortions from Salisbury now say that we are still demanding, that there should be some form of British military presence in Rhodesia. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that Mr. Smith was in no doubt at all on this issue. He never raised any point on it and he had no criticism of it whatever. There was no suggestion by him in all those 48 hours that this meant direct rule. Governor's rule or some unacceptable derogation from the 1961 Constitution. This is something that they have thought up since he got back to Salisbury. I advise right hon. and hon. Gentlemen not to be taken in by the kind of propaganda now being put out to justify what I am sure they feel may have been an unjustifiable rejection.
What we are demanding is to have one effective British representative on the Governor's Defence and Security Council. Is that not reasonable? To have this degree of British involvement in the maintenance of law and order in Rhodesia during the period when we should be testing Rhodesian opinion, we believe, is essential, particularly, if the Royal Commission is to do its job.
1615 Then again, we are told now in accents which I find impossible to reconcile with those that I heard last weekend, that we, the British Government, are insisting on a dissolution of Parliament and on some form of authoritarian rule for the next four months. That is a complete travesty of the facts, and my right hon. Friend and my right hon. and learned Friend as well as the Governor will stand witness to the fact that it is a travesty.
The proposal to revert to the 1961 Constitution for the interim period assumed that the Rhodesian Parliament would remain in session. Under orders approved by the House, it is in abeyance. Therefore, I asked Mr. Smith whether, if we agreed to constitute it, a Parliament so elected was not likely to cause him some embarrassment as head of the interim administration; for example, by refusing supply or other necessary legislation. His view was that little if any legislation would be required during these four months, and we both agreed that, if necessary, he could, if he found Parliament difficult to handle, recommend to the Governor that Parliament be dissolved. We told him that in that case we would be prepared to use the powers granted under the Southern Rhodesia Act to provide the legislative authority which he needed. This was the position which we put to him.
It was only when we considered the suggestion—which was not made from the British side—that it might be more convenient that the Governor should immediately dissolve Parliament, that we then invited Mr. Smith's view on this proposal. It is in the 1961 Constitution already, which provides for government by the Governor without Parliament during the period of a general election. It would no more involve authoritarian rule in this case than in any other pre-election period under that Constitution, or under our own Constitution when we have no Parliament sitting during a General Election.
We felt that it might be of advantage to him. I indicated to Mr. Smith that I had no strong views on the matter either way—whether there should be dissolution or not—but would be guided by his views. I could not help recalling when I said this to him—as my right hon. Friend said yesterday—that in earlier discussions 1616 he had indicated that an election might be welcome to him for the purpose of easing out "some thirty of his chaps". That is not my phrase.
Hon. Members found this amusing when my right hon. Friend referred to it yesterday. I do not think that they saw the importance of this. If either the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition or I were to welcome a General Election as a means of dropping three-fifths of the hon. Members—or right hon. Members—sitting behind each of us, if either of us had power to do that, it would demonstrate a degree of embarrassment in running a Government or an Opposition. That gives some indication of what Mr. Smith is up against, and in judging this I am not sure that we realise enough what he is up against in Rhodesia.
There are many who say that given an election there may be new groupings, that the Rhodesia Front as we know it might break up, and that the extremists will disappear, and not before time, and the more liberal wing—and I use that phrase in its Rhodesian sense—will join other middle-of-the-road people and there might be a case for saying that Mr. Smith might have wanted a general election for that purpose.
But it was for him to decide, and in our document, when we considered a final draft, we put before him in square brackets the proposals for a dissolution with all that would follow. It was after the discussions with him that we felt it was his preference, which we were prepared to accept, that the square brackets should be removed, and what is now paragraph 11 should, unamended, form part of the document. That disposes of another new Salisbury legend.
I must deal also with the question of the broad based Government, as this is fundamental to this debate
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
As the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) attaches great importance to this question of the position of the Governor, could the Prime Minister clear up one point? The Commonwealth Secretary said yesterday that in rejecting our proposals Mr. Smith had taken objection to the powers of the Governor. I understood him to mean that he took 1617 exception only after he got home to Rhodesia. As I understand the Prime Minister's statement, Mr. Smith understood the powers of the Governor and he took no exception whatever to them when he was discussing the matter on board H.M.S. "Tiger", and these were not the two matters on which he expressed reserve.
§ The Prime Minister
This is the position. I could understand his difficulty, so I wanted to answer it. The point is that the powers of the Governor do not vary in the slightest from the powers under the 1961 Constitution which also referred to discretion. This was fully understood by Mr. Smith. He did not at any time on the ship raise any question of the powers of the Governor, or say that they were unacceptable. He said that there were two points. One was timing and the test of opinion, and the second was the question of the broad based government.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his courtesy in giving way. He referred to a possible use of the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965. Are we to understand that it was contemplated that that Act would remain in force unimpeded throughout the interim period?
§ The Prime Minister
As I have said, sanctions were going to be dismantled as soon as we had reached agreement, and the Southern Rhodesia Act, with the powers which it has, would enable us to make Orders if they were required during the period of reconstruction, for example, if Parliament was not sitting, to give powers to a tribunal. All this would have been done by, with, and through the advice of Mr. Smith's interim Administration. There was never any argument about this. He fully understood it and, as far as I could tell, fully accepted it. He raised no points on it.
When we came to the question of a broad-based Government, we talked to Mr. Smith privately.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The Prime Minister will remember that I raised a point about a statement in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué which said that executive authority was to be vested in the Governor. The Prime Minister is now saying that this is not so.
§ The Prime Minister
I am describing what we said in the "Tiger" document. The position was—and I envisaged this possibility as long ago as last January—that for a certain amount of time executive authority would be vested in the Governor, which I said in the House might be for only a matter of minutes, so the Governor would be the executive authority and would proceed to ask Mr. Smith to become Prime Minister. Mr. Smith had no difficulty or misunderstanding about this, not until he got back to Salisbury, and somebody I think then told him what he ought to say.
§ Mr. Sandys
Could the Prime Minister make clear the position of the Governor in regard to the Armed Forces and the police? The White Paper is not very clear. What I understood from it was that the Governor would have executive authority in regard to the police and the Armed Forces, but that he would consider the advice given to him by an advisory council.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, except that he would have no authority to override the interim Government. There would be this advisory council during this period, which, for the reasons which I have stated, was desirable, but he would not have had any power to override the powers of the interim Government in defence and law and order matters, and Mr. Smith understood this.
I am sorry to go on for so long, but I have given way a number of times, but it is probably important to do so. When we came to the question of a broad-based Government, this was discussed in private, and not in a full session. My right hon. Friend was there. I said that I recognised that it was very difficult, even invidious, involving as it did a discussion about the future of some of Mr. Smith's colleagues. I began by asking him whether, if our agreement went through, he would expect resignations, though I said, "Do not answer that if you do not want to". I and others present got in reply the strong statement that it would not be a question of resignations, but that Mr. Smith would move first and sack the undesirables.
We suggested five additional members for the interim Cabinet. I assume that he would want to increase his existing 1619 Cabinet by two or three. That is, if we asked him to take five more, his Cabinet would be enlarged by less than five, but as my right hon. Friend told the House, and I think that this point was missed yesterday, Mr. Smith said that his Cabinet of 13 should not be increased to 15 or 16, but reduced to 12. I do not know about anyone else, but my arithmetic suggests that in return for five new members which we were insisting on, he was prepared to dispense with six of his existing so-called Ministers. I do not think that it would be helpful this afternoon to name the personalities who might have been involved.
As to those who would have been added to the Cabinet, I only repeat what my right hon. Friend said, that Mr. Smith, no doubt recalling that many are called but few are chosen, has now on Rhodesian television punctiliously named some of those we discussed. It was a long list, but he has equally carefully failed to mention any one of the five on whom he and I agreed. I will observe the same degree of discretion which Mr. Smith has, and not name the five, but all five, European and indeed African, would be regarded by the House as men—most of them well known outside Rhodesia—of the highest standing more than adequate to the task.
If the outcome of the talks in H.M.S. "Tiger" had been different, everything that we said to one another would have remained confidential, but in view of the fantastic misrepresentation by the Rhodesian information services my right hon. Friend and I had to put the House in possession of the truth, and it puts a very different slant on what is coming out of Rhodesia.
After what we have both said, the House may well ask how it has come about that the Mr. Smith with whom we were dealing in H.M.S."Tiger" appeared to be so different from the Mr. Smith who read out in Salisbury the statement last Monday evening, which many of us saw on television.
I find it difficult to answer this. Whatever the evidence to the contrary—and the evidence is substantial—I do not believe that Mr. Smith was talking to us in bad faith. I do not believe that, but there is a lot of evidence to the contrary. I saw that television programme. It was 1620 not the Mr. Smith that I know. His manner, his demeanour, his voice, suggested to me that, whatever I had thought or whatever he had said to me, once he got back to Salisbury he was not his own master. I believe that this is the explanation of the twists and turns when he was on board ship—that he was getting instructions perhaps not entirely disconnected with the fact that Mr. Lardner Burke, to his great surprise, arrived back in Salisbury on Saturday and not on Monday night.
I believe that Mr. Smith's authority with the existing Rhodesian electorate is such that he could have secured acceptance of an agreement which he considered reasonable. Some of my friends will consider me naïve in my interpretation of Mr. Smith, but history has many examples of the honest man who passes the bad penny. But that is not part of the question. The plain fact is that either because Mr. Smith rejected the working document or was overborne—as he should never have allowed himself to be, with the authority that he commands—by men more reactionary and, who knows, more powerful than he, the setttlement we had worked out with such care has been rejected. This is why there is no future in ingenuous proposals for further talks with that régime as at present constituted. Monday proved that the real motivation is that of a group of men insisting at all costs on clinging to power, unrecognised though they are either by their own courts or by any Government in the world.
Tonight this House must proceed to a vote. Tonight we must all be clear what we are voting about. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have suggested that rather than come forward now with mandatory sanctions we should—this is implied in what they are saying—run the risk of the total disintegration of the Commonwealth. They have suggested that we should not, in September, have signed the Commonwealth communiqué. I have told the House that if we had not done so, what the right hon. Member for Barnet described as a new dimension for danger would have operated not in December, but in September, or earlier, and in conditions in which we would have had no hope of controlling or containing it.
1621 It may be that the Leader of the Opposition does not care very much about the future of the Commonwealth—[Interruption.] It may be. He will tell us tonight. I shall tell the House why I say this. He felt that we were wrong to sign that communiqué, though he must have known the consequences if we had not. But he went further than that. Immediately that communiqué was signed he, with his rather endearing posture of instant opposition—[Interruption.] He always rushes in with these things and thinks afterwards—the ink on it was barely dry before he condemned the Communiqué which was signed by the Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore—I will not go through the whole list. I hope he does not think they have all gone mad, even if he thinks we have—in terms widely construed as an invitation to Salisbury to reject the communiqué. I want to quote The Guardian report of his speech. I did not see any denials of its authenticity,he asked his youthful audience how they would react if threatened with an ultimatum of this kind and answered: 'You would tell those who sent it to go to hell'.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley) indicated assent.
§ The Prime Minister
He went on'Any British citizen would'. No people, whether they were acting legally or not would 'knuckle down to crude threats'.That was his comment on the Commonwealth communiqué. He has condemned the 23 members of the Commonwealth in that rejection. He has disregarded entirely what the effect on the Commonwealth would have been if we had not, by a miracle, got agreement on those last three months. Certainly in Salisbury his remarks were taken as one more proof that the Conservatives were ready to break with the Government on the whole issue of Rhodesia.
I must take more seriously the proposal of the right hon. Member for Barnet yesterday, which I know he put forward rather in desperation but in a constructive spirit. The effect of what he was saying yesterday—his final proposal—was that we should fluff the issue which divided Salisbury and London last weekend with a suggestion that an independent commission be now appointed to test in Rhodesia the acceptability of the con- 1622 stitutional settlement which Mr. Smith and we have agreed was reasonable. It is true that there has been some suggestion in Salisbury since Monday that they now insist on holding on to the braking mechanism, but I will rely on what Mr. Smith said to me—he dropped the braking mechanism.
If Salisbury is now turning to the idea of an independent mediator—at the thirteenth hour, having rejected it at the eleventh—we have to recognise that a year ago the mediation of Sir Robert Menzies and other Commonwealth Prime Ministers was rejected. We have to remember that nearly three months ago our other proposal for an independent commission of Commonwealth constitutional experts and our proposal for a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Mission were also rejected.
I never thought that Mr. Smith's acceptance of my invitation to join me for what he has called man-to-man discussion in H.M.S. "Tiger" was just a public relations exercise. There were some who thought that he had come to put us in the wrong if we could not reach agreement, but I do not take that view. But the new proposal put forward by Mr. Smith on Tuesday night—anticipated in a speech of an hon. Member opposite below the Gangway on Monday night; I am not suggesting collusion, but merely that bright minds thought alike—the new proposal is a public relations exercise, and I am amazed that the right hon. Gentleman should have fallen for it. Why, over twelve months, did they reject these proposals and then put it when they know, and they have confirmed to me that they know, that the time for decision has run out?
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin) rose——
§ The Prime Minister
If there is one hon. Member in this House to whom I will not give way on any Rhodesia question it is the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), who has played his unworthy part.
§ Mr. Bessell
On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker, when the Prime Minister makes an attack upon a back bencher, is it not the custom to allow that back bencher the right to reply?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
It is perfectly in order for the 1623 Prime Minister to decide whether or not he will give way.
§ The Prime Minister
If the hon. Member wants to read his telegram he will no doubt try to catch Mr. Speaker's eye and read it out. I am trying to deal with the serious speech made by the right hon. Member for Barnet yesterday. What I am trying to say—[Interruption.] I happen to know the effect on the so-called Government of Rhodesia of some of the visits of hon. Members opposite, including the hon. Member for Bodmin.
What is the proposition? It is a demand that the illegal régime in Salisbury should remain in power while Rhodesian opinion is tested by this new commission. That is what Mr. Smith asks. It is in the telegram. Either this is a new proposal, which he was not suggesting last weekend, even when he took his farewell of us, or the right hon. Gentleman has swallowed the Rhodesian view that the Royal Commission could function against the background of an illegal régime. My right hon. Friend has told the House why this is important. It was implicit in the question put by the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe). There must be free political expression in Rhodesia. Is this possible against a background of a régime whose very existence was described in such compelling terms in the words that I have quoted of my predecessor?
In more practical terms—we are dealing here with what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, as well as the Leader of the Liberal Party and myself have called a police State—would there be the free expression of opinion which this House and the world could accept before the verdict was finally pronounced? A coerced, submissive African population—only too well aware that the penalty of political deviation could well be imprisonment without trial—might find it difficult to express to a Royal Commission of strangers its uninhibited views. They might be thinking of what would happen after the strangers had gone away. This is not my imagination. In most of these villages there are, living among the Africans as Africans, plain-clothes members of the African police, reporting to the police authorities on every sign of political deviation. Hon. Members will not deny 1624 this. They should consider it before they vote tonight. It is not enough for the right hon. Member for Barnet to say that because we have been prepared to join in commending the "Tiger" constitution, that is all that matters. The House will need to know whether the people of Rhodesia are prepared to accept it, and they must be free to say "Yes" or "No" with no thought of the peril in which they place themselves by expressing their views.
I understand that Mr. Smith, of course, offers to lift censorship. I do not know what he needs it for or why any hon. Gentleman supports him in censorship. He would not give up control over the other forms of communication if he did, and he has still insisted that, if the answer is "No", he will remain in his present illegal post. I want to know whether, when the Opposition put this forward, they intend that the illegal régime, condemned in such strong terms by their Leaders when in Government, would then continue if the Royal Commission gave a negative verdict.
If that is so, Rhodesians, under threat of coercion and at risk of their liberty, would be offered a choice between accepting a document or continuing to live under an increasingly oppressive, illegal régime. I grant that this is ingenious. It is an exercise in escapism, but it is more than this. It is a prescription for the destruction of the Commonwealth. Tonight, this House must pronounce, by the simple verdict of "Yes" or "No"—no reasoned Amendment is before us—on almost the most complicated issue which any Government of this country have ever had to face in this century.
Right hon. Gentlemen, when in office, recognised this. I pay tribute to them for doing one thing: they stood firm over Rhodesia. While it is true that they rushed on some constitutional settlements in certain countries where it suited them, they did not seem to be in a hurry to settle Rhodesia. They neatly landed us with that—[Interruption.] They had four years to settle it up to 1964. There will be some in this House—[Interruption.] There was no sense of urgency in settling the Rhodesian question. Rhodesian Ministers and ex-Ministers have said to me that, if they had been dealing with us, they would have known where they 1625 stood and what they could not stand was them—[Interruption.] I am telling the House what they said—Sir Roy Welensky, Mr. Winston Field and Mr. Smith.
In the last two years, we have had to go straight down the middle of the road—I have already apologised for the mixed metaphor—in a multi-dimensional situation. In terms with which we are more familiar in this House, this is a problem involving at least four constituencies, and, some would say, five. There is the Rhodesian constituency, whose complications most of us recognise. This is not a simple problem, which is why I am sorry that many hon. Members have made it more difficult.
There is the British constituency, which also is capable of infinite variation, including the changes from time to time of the Opposition's position, though I think that tonight, at any rate, they are being quite unequivocal. They have never unequivocally supported us—tonight they are unequivocally opposing us.
Then, there is the Commonwealth constituency. Some of us believe that the maintenance of our multi-racial Commonwealth in a world where problems of race and colour—as the right hon. Gentle-main said—are occupying the centre of the stage, is not a matter to be dismissed, as some hon. Gentlemen have been prepared to dismiss it.
Fourth, there is the United Nations constituency, an extrapolation of the Commonwealth problem, with its own complications. On 12th November last year, I had to warn the right hon. Gentleman opposite that his simple formulation took no account of the international dangers against which that British problem, as we regard it, had to be viewed. Let him not forget that there will be others, not members of the United Nations, who may seek to involve themselves without United Nations authority. The danger of Chinese penetration of Africa, about which right hon. Gentlemen used to warn us, will remain and grow as long as this Rhodesian problem continues to fester. I talk of the danger of Chinese intervention; Mr. Smith talks about the growing fact of Chinese intervention.
Right hon. Gentleman will recognise and have said that there is a fifth consti- 1626 tuency—Southern Africa—covering, as well as Rhodesia, Southern Africa and Portugal. For over two years, for over one year since I.D.I., we have had to face the fact that every action we took, however right in one or another constituency, might be disastrous in a fourth or a fifth.
I do not believe that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have considered it in these terms. The right hon. Member for Barnet said he thought that Mr. Smith was more concerned for the Rhodesia Front than for Rhodesia. For over a year now, I have felt, as we have picked our way through this international problem, that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have sometimes been more concerned with the 1922 Committee and the Conservative Party pressures than with the interests of Britain.
Until today we have had an uneasy support from right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Even before I.D.I., they were seeking to suggest that they would not be committed to sanctions if I.D.I. occurred. A year ago, the Leader of the Opposition was shattered at my suggestion that this was a moral issue. He looked surprised when I said it. He himself went on, a month later, to admit that it was a moral issue: this is underlined by today's statement by the British Council of Churches.
I would remind him of this—his recognition that it is a moral issue—before he decides where he will stand, when all of us have to stand up and be counted in the Lobbies tonight. He has claimed to support us throughout on sanctions. Not last December. When the call went to hon. Members then to stand un and be counted, there were some who voted against us, and some hon. Members who voted with us, and the broad-based rump of the Conservative Party sat there in a massive and masterly absention.
I hope that, even now, right hon. Gentlemen will be considering their position. What are they voting on? They are voting against mandatory sanctions. They feel that the issues are such that we ought now to break our obligations to the Commonwealth. They may feel that we ought not to have entered into such obligations—and if this is their attitude, let them say so, because I know that if we had not done it the Commonwealth would have been destroyed.
1627 Perhaps they feel that we should now risk the break-up of the Commonwealth by postponing this issue for many months more. That is what the proposal of the right hon. Member for Barnet means. If this is their position—their position only on mandatory sanctions—they could have moved to leave out the third part, and the third part only, of our Motion. That they did not do so means that they are voting—this must be clear—not only against mandatory sanctions but for the proposition that Her Majesty's Government were wrong to endorse the working document which Mr. Smith and I worked out. They are voting for the proposition that the illegal régime was right to reject that agreement.
It is very important that they recognise this, because if this is their position, if tonight they are going on record as saying that Mr. Smith and his colleagues—or Mr. Smith, overborne by his colleagues—were right and Her Majesty's Government were wrong, they are wrapping round their necks every decision which the illegal régime takes from now on—history will remind them of it—every act of censorship, of oppression or of illegal interference with the judicial process. They could have put down an Amendment, if this is not what they are voting for. Having got themselves into a procedural mess, they had better vote with us.
I ask them to consider—this was a big point of the right hon. Member for Barnet yesterday—that the process over the past generation and more of granting independence to previously subject people and territories is one of the greatest chapters not only in our history, but one of the greatest chapters in world history. The right hon. Gentleman was right. We must not allow this great record to be tarnished—the image which history will accord not only to the British Empire but to the even greater record of the advance from Empire to an independent Commonwealth.
Hon. Gentlemen have their own decision to make. I know how deeply many of them feel. They may vote at their party's call, but as my right hon. Friend yesterday expounded what I.D.I. has meant, some of them will vote with a sense of shame and a shame with 1628 which they will have to live over all the years to come. But let us be clear—no words, only actions, will make this clear—that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are voting for the proposition that we are wrong and the illegal régime is right—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] They did not have to vote against the Resolution; they could have amended it.
After tonight's vote we shall have a most extraordinary situation, in that while no country in the world supports Salisbury, the British Conservative Party does.
§ Mr. Daniel Awdry (Chippenham)
The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in saying that a number of hon. Members are in a very difficult position in making up their minds how to vote on this issue. Will he please, before he sits down, deal with the question of how we shall control the sanctions when we get to the United Nations? He has not dealt with that yet.
§ The Prime Minister
I did deal with it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—on Monday night. I have been in touch with my right hon. Friend this afternoon in New York, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall have a report from my right hon. Friend to put to the House tonight. As for maintaining control, I am sure that the whole House agrees that it is right to leave my right hon. Friend—[Interruption.]—to get on with this important task, and I promise that we will give the House a report before we vote tonight.
§ Mr. Terence L. Higgins (Worthing) rose——
§ The Prime Minister
I have given way a great deal. I do not want to go on for much longer.
I do not underrate the problems of any party leader on either side of the House when we are sometimes faced with centrifugal tendencies. The situation which the House is facing today arises from the right hon. Gentleman's own conception of party leadership. At the Conservative Party conference in October 1965, when Rhodesia was a live issue, before I.D.I., the right hon. Gentleman refused to give the lead required of him, a lead which he could have given, so that, at the end of the day, he could maintain a fictitious unity, a contrived 1629 appearance of the lion lying down with the lamb, the Monday Club with the Bow Group—that what was acceptable to the Marquess of Salisbury was acceptable to Mr. Humphry Berkeley—[Interruption.] I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want to hear this, but they are going to get it. This is why the right hon. Gentleman is in the mess he is in today. The power and leadership of a great party in this democracy of ours means sometimes that there are more important issues than a contrived appearance of party unity; that pressures of ancestral voices and powerful party Members are less important than a betrayal of principle. The same thing happened at this year's Conservative Party conference.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about a great divide over Rhodesia. On what? Is it that we should give more time for yet another time-consuming manoeuvre? If there is a divide today, it is a divide on the question of whether we, for our part, are prepared to see not only the destruction of the Commonwealth, not only the acceptance of a posture of moral isolation in world affairs, but more than that—as right hon. Gentlemen opposite would demand—a posture of conditional surrender to rebellion. If this is the great divide, then let us divide, and let every hon. Member stand up and be counted.
Does not this debate mean that what at Blackpool was only a great divide is now a great alliance—forged between the Conservative Party and those whom they are, by this vote, protecting in Salisbury at this time? They have whipped up their supporters in the Press to the expectation of the greatest confrontation of any international question since Suez. So be it. We accept the challenge.
However, there are differences between this issue and the issue on which we divided 10 years ago. Then Britain, as represented by the Government, rejected the rule of law. Britain today, with its Government, is upholding the rule of law. Then Britain, under its then Government, earned the censure of the world. Today the world is with us and against right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
Yesterday the right hon. Gentleman condemned what he referred to as "an ultimatum". The ultimatum that right 1630 hon. Gentlemen opposite issued—and the Leader of the Opposition, in the rôle of a Chief Whip, whipped his unwilling supporters into line—was an ultimatum that ended in aggressive war and the death of innocent human beings. Their ultimatum led to an illegal act of aggression in pursuit of a supposed national interest. We seek, without bloodshed, to bring an errant British territory back to the comity of the Commonwealth. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite went into the Division Lobbies on the basis of what we know now as one of the most monstrous collusions in world history to deceive the House of Commons, to deceive our country and to deceive our allies.
In the case we are debating tonight, we have accepted the need to publish every exchange, without concealment, and in our record there is no secret treaty of collusion. If they vote tonight it will be for party unity and not for principle. There will be sad hearts among many who will vote. If the leaders of the party opposite call upon the same hon. Members to sacrifice principle to the dictates of party, this will be the most despicable Parliamentary manœuvre in the history of the Conservative Party. [Interruption.] If they do that, then they must accept responsibility for every action of the Salisbury régime from now on. Above all—in our Parliamentary system which, on an issue such as this, ultimately rejects the tepid Laodicean spirit of compromise on the greatest moral issue which Britain has had to face in the post-war world—they must range themselves irrevocably on one side or the other.
It is more than a century ago that the great issue of constitutional legality and racial slavery imperilled the future of a great nation across the Atlantic. The Tory Establishment of those days supported illegality and condoned slavery and racialism. [Interruption.] But there were men, poor men, in Lancashire who suffered deep hardship, privation and near starvation, yet remained firm on what they were able to recognise as a moral issue. [Laughter.] I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that this is not a laughing matter. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot take the truth. They are smiling because they know that it is true. The sacrifice suffered by these people was commemorated in the imperishable 1631 words of Abraham Lincoln's Memorial to the Working Men of Manchester.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are tonight not asked to accept privations for their principles. Nor are we. But it will be on principle—on a moral issue—that we shall divide tonight.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
The Prime Minister has just asked about what we will be voting tonight. I will reply to him clearly. We will be voting about the future of the people of Rhodesia, both of African and European and because I believe that the policy which the right hon. Gentleman has been pursuing will not lead to a peaceful solution and—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
Order. I appeal to hon. Members leaving the Chamber to do so with a little less noise.
§ Mr. Turton
The policy the right hon. Gentleman has been pursuing, and the manner in which he conducted his speech, are not likely to lead to a peaceful conclusion in Rhodesia. That is why I will vote against the Motion tonight.
As I see it, these negotiations broke down as a result of a failure of trust on the part of two men—the Prime Minister towards Mr. Smith and Mr. Smith towards the Prime Minister. These negotiations have been dominated far too much by the confrontation between these two men.
We have agreed on both sides of the House that the only hope of peaceful progress in Central Africa is a Constitution founded on the five principles enunciated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) with the sixth principle, to which none of us takes exception, which was added by the Prime Minister. At last, after two years of negotiation, we have got an agreement on those six principles. If we had had that before 11th November, 1965, the senseless, stupid act of U.D.I. would never have taken place.
Now, what is dividing us from the Government in this situation? The Prime Minister said on Monday that Mr. Smith had made two reservations. The first was on the transitional period. This seems 1632 to be construed by Mr. Smith as a reference to direct colonial rule, which appears specifically in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué. The Prime Minister says that it is a matter of timing.
The second reservation concerns the broadly-based Government. Here, I cannot see how the Prime Minister could possibly have expected Mr. Smith to go home and tell his Cabinet that he intended, with the agreement and selection of the Prime Minister, to dismiss five of its members and to get unanimous approval of such a solution. Suppose that the Prime Minister had been asked by Mr. Smith to dismiss a number of his own Cabinet colleagues. Suppose that he had asked for the dismissal of the hon. Lady the Minister of State, who has had a number of interviews with some of Mr. Smith's enemies. Suppose that he had asked for the dismissal of the Minister of Overseas Development, who has said that he would never deal with Mr. Smith. Suppose that he had asked for the dismissal of the right hon. Lady the Minister of Transport. Suppose that all these were to be the price of an agreement. The Prime Minister would never have secured agreement on such a move.
Having got as far as we did on agreement about a Constitution, and having failed to get a decision on transitional provisions, we must give fresh thought to how the matter should be dealt with. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) made a suggestion, and I was disappointed that the Prime Minister said that this was no time for ingenuous proposals for further negotiations—"no future for ingenuous talks with that régime". I had hoped, from some remarks made yesterday by the Commonwealth Secretary, that there was still a chance not to lose the advantage we have gained from an agreement on a constitutional settlement and to see whether we could get some solution that would avoid what will undoubtedly be a great divide in the Commonwealth, causing great destruction in Rhodesia and, I believe, a great deal of misery in this country.
The Commonwealth Secretary said yesterday that Mr. Smith "could now implement them if he so wished," and added:This would be a test of good faith over the next few months."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1390.]1633 This, I think, is the line of a possible solution at the present time. Here we have acceptance by Mr. Smith and his Cabinet of a Constitution based on the six principles. There is now an opportunity for them to show that they believe that this is the right future and to proceed under their 1965 Constitution to work towards the new, agreed Constitution drafted on the "Tiger."
I ask the Prime Minister to tell us whether he would then agree, if those steps were taken and they moved to the new Constitution, that a Royal Commission should be agreed between those in power in Rhodesia and the British Government to go out there when that Constitution was in force to determine whether it was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. That seems to me to give the greatest hope for the avoidance of what I believe will be a most unsatisfactory course, not for Mr. Smith but for the whole of the people in Africa and the people of this country. I do not believe that the recourse to selective mandatory sanctions is likely to be effective, or without a great deal of damage to the whole economy of Africa and the world.
I do not believe that our responsibility is limited merely to this one point of whether we, after Mr. Smith had made the first steps to accepting the Constitution, should appoint the Royal Commission. I believe that here we have a duty to make it clear, whoever holds power in Rhodesia, that, directly they proceed on the lines of that agreed Constitution, we will make our own sacrifices to put into force an African development and education programme.
We should take our full share in that process if we believe in a multi-racial Commonwealth. If we attack Mr. Smith's illegal régime because it is denying opportunities to Africans, there should be the responsibility on our shoulders to make an offer of £1 for each £1 they put into African secondary education, African development and African smallholding schemes. It is a step like that which would remove the great sense of mistrust between all those living in Rhodesia, African as well as European—that is what this House seldom remembers—and ourselves. Any idea of direct rule from Whitehall is as abhorrent to the Africans as to the Europeans. One of 1634 the great difficulties of the last two years has been that the actions taken by the Prime Minister have driven more and more of the liberal-minded Europeans to feel that they have no other leader for Rhodesia than Mr. Smith.
What is the course the Government propose, and to which we object? It is to take this matter, at a time when they have agreement on the six principles laid down in the Commonwealth communiqué, to the United Nations. Will these be effective sanctions? The Prime Minister was asked directly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) whether they would include oil and he refused to answer. If they include oil, then let us be in no doubt that it will start a war throughout Southern Africa.
Sanctions can never be effective without force. I lived through the time of the Italian-Abyssinian sanctions escapade, and I have become convinced that sanctions without force are useless. That is why my party today opposes the Government's Motion to take the matter to the United Nations at this stage. It is not that we consider the actions of Mr. Smith, still less those of some members of his Government, to be right or wise. In many cases we regard them as wicked. I strongly object—I have kept quiet ever since talks began on Rhodesia—to the action the Smith Government took over matters of censorship and the freedom of the Press.
But we must realise that a great many mistakes have been made in the past over the problem of Rhodesia. When the Federation broke up and Zambia and Malawi got independence, the ordinary people of what was then Southern Rhodesia—not only the politicians—asked "Why cannot we have the independence that the other two have?" Since 1923, and before, they had had virtual independence. Those are the great difficulties, and that is why the problem of the transition is very difficult to solve.
The Prime Minister could have had no hope of success for a plan which meant that six members of Mr. Smith's Cabinet would be turned out. Therefore, I beg the Government to think again before they take an action that will divide Africa and cause mass unemployment not only in Rhodesia, but also in Zambia, Malawi and our own country. I believe that the 1635 Government now have an opportunity, first, to ask Mr. Smith to show by concrete evidence that he is implementing the constitution agreed on the "Tiger"; secondly, to make clear that he is proceeding to make it possible for a Royal Commission to go round Rhodesia without fear of harrassment, and by removal of the censorship of the Press; and, thirdly, for us to make an offer, £ for £, for a great programme of African development and education. If this happened, then there is hope for Central Africa.
Who do the Prime Minister or the Minister of State suggest could today be head of the Government in Rhodesia other than Mr. Smith? There is no one there. Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U. are so divided that they could not suggest a leader. If that is the case, we are very foolish to create anarchy in that country. We should make every endeavour to find a peaceful solution to this most distressing problem.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
We are in an extremely serious situation. I do not know how many hon. Members realise how serious it is, judging from their interventions. Like the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), I have been in the House and have experienced perhaps more serious situations in the 'thirties, such as the aggression of Italy on Abyssinia. I have seen all sorts of emotions raging on both sides of the House.
I only regret tonight that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, with whom I have a good deal of sympathy, should have indulged in what was nothing more than partisan politics at the end of his speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] He is the Prime Minister of this country and, whatever may happen when in opposition, if anybody should speak for England, he should. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did."] I hope that my emotional hon. Friends will at least do me the courtesy of allowing me to put my arguments. I understand their feelings, and have experienced this far more in the 'thirties. If we are to try to settle the matter on an emotional scale only, we are bound to lose, and the consequences for this country and some hon. Members 1636 in their constituencies will be very serious when their constituencies have a chance to say so.
I want to try to put a reasoned case if I can. I understand quite well the frustration my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister must be feeling with Mr. Smith, and I venture to suggest that many hon. Members opposite also feel the same. Listening to my right hon. Friend today, I had the impression from the record of his conversations with Mr. Smith that Mr. Smith is a slippery customer. We have had slippery customers and more serious situations to deal with before.
Only statesmanship can resolve this problem. If statesmanship is to be represented by washing our hands of a problem and placing it on the shoulders of the United Nations, I have no argument. If the solution is to bring Mr. Smith's Government down, I am not sure that that is the right answer. It may even produce chaos in Rhodesia which will lead to the use of British troops—white troops, not black troops—with white troops against white troops. I am appalled at that possibility. I want to explain tonight why, because of that possibility, I cannot see eye to eye with many of my hon. Friends. I must apologise to the House for not being present yesterday because I had a long-standing engagement in my constituency and had to be there. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why has the right hon. Gentleman been called to speak?"] Perhaps that question should be addressed to the Chair.
I have read most of the speeches made yesterday and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party was a very grave warning. He said, in effect, that if mandatory sanctions are authorised, and oil is not included, they will not be effective. A great deal of harm will be caused to the British people and taxpayers, who elect hon. Members to the House and whose interests we are supposed to represent primarily. He also said that harm would be done to the economy of Rhodesia, which, whatever one may say about it, is a flourishing economy and a record for the white race there. It was achieved during a period of 70 years.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford) rose——
§ Mr. Bellenger
I much regret that I cannot give way to my hon. Friend at the 1637 moment. I have only just started. But I shall give way later if my hon. Friend wishes.
§ Mr. Bellenger
The Liberal Party is not represented here at the moment. All that I am saying is on record.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I am not criticising the Liberal Party, or its Leader. There was one Liberal Member who wanted the use of force which, fortunately, the Prime Minister has refused as a method of bringing the Rhodesian Government to heel.
What is the purpose of this exercise? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has not explained it very clearly. What is his ultimate purpose in going to the United Nations to ask for selective mandatory sanctions? What will it achieve, apart from causing a good deal of misery in our country and in Rhodesia? If his purpose is to punish, I am not with him. If his purpose is to achieve a more sensible Government in Rhodesia with whom we can negotiate, there may be something to be said for it.
But I am not at all sure that even mandatory sanctions will produce a better Government. Indeed, judging from what the Prime Minister has told us, it seems that he did have a chance—although it has not turned out that way—of getting an agreement with Mr. Smith to produce a more liberal Government there and so to be able to negotiate on the terms of the working document something which his own Government have approved and which, I think, we in this House also would approve. But my right hon. Friend has not dealt with that problem.
Because I do not believe that the method which the Prime Minister proposes to use, especially without oil sanctions, will produce that result, if that is his purpose, I urge the Government, even at this late hour, to change their direction and have another try. The Prime Minister is quite right when he says that he has tried his best over a long period to reach an agreement with Mr. Smith and the people supporting him in Rhodesia. Whatever we may say about Mr. Smith 1638 and his Government, they were elected by their people, the white people——
§ Mr. Bellenger
—even if they have not got that most desirable end which we all want to achieve, democracy for black and white.
But can we blame the white Rhodesians? Many of them were born there. Many of them fought for this country against Hitler. [An HON. MEMBER: "So did the blacks."] Many of them have turned their eyes to the North and seen the result of one man, one vote in certain other countries, and they have observed the corruption, brutality and more in those countries. Can we wonder——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Hon. Members should listen to opinions which they do not like even if they come from their own benches.
§ Mr. Bellenger
My hon. Friend's intervention prompts me to say, as I have done before, that I am not standing up for the situation in South Africa. I do not believe that there is anyone in the House who does.
Let us concentrate on the realities rather than talk of apartheid in South Africa and the rest. I think that the Prime Minister has shown—certainly the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perth-shire did—that in Rhodesia at present, although there are many undesirable incidents and events there which we would all repudiate, at least there is not the system which obtains in South Africa.
Having cleared the ground, as it were, and tried to establish my bona fides, because—believe it or not—I am just as much concerned as other hon. Members on my own side or any hon. Member opposite to try to achieve a peaceful solution in Rhodesia, I wish to explain that the only division between the Prime Minister and myself is on the method to achieve the end we desire. Because I do not believe that the method chosen is right, and I believe that the Prime Minister, who has shown great statesmanship up to a certain point, has now 1639 dropped below that level, I take issue with him.
I am fortified in the attitude I shall take tonight in not supporting my own Government because I believe that they are wrong in their methods, not because I believe that they are entirely wrong in their aims, although I am not quite clear, from what the Prime Minister has said, what his real aim is in pursuing mandatory sanctions.
If my right hon. Friend's purpose is to get rid of Mr. Smith's Government and put something better in its place, then, I should have thought, instead of going through the dreary year of voluntary sanctions, he might have made a quick cut and gone for the only sanction which can be effective, the oil sanction. My right hon. Friend has explained that he does not want to come into conflict with South Africa, so it cannot be a question of high morals. It is a question of expediency.
I shall now quote one or two comments which have made me wonder whether my right hon. Friend will be successful even in keeping the Commonwealth in being. Let there be no doubt that there are today many in the Commonwealth, the black Commonwealth, who do not bear this country a great deal of good will. There are many who bear us a great amount of ill will. If my right hon. Friend can keep the Commonwealth together on any grounds, well and good, but he can offer us no assurance that his mandatory sanctions, even, perhaps, including oil, will keep the Commonwealth together, though this seems to be his main object.
I ask the House to listen to this report from New York, which appears in the Daily Telegraph today:Chief Adebo, the representative of Nigeria on the Security Council of the United Nations, said today that the Africans were determined to obtain an oil embargo against Rhodesia".Perhaps we shall hear at some stage—the Prime Minister has not yet answered this most important question—whether our representative at New York, the Foreign Secretary, will accede to oil sanctions. If we are not to do that, if our instructions to the Foreign Secretary are not to give way on that point, the House of Commons is entitled to know before the end of this debate.
1640 The Daily Telegraph goes on to report that the Chief said:If Britain does not want it, we must take it out of her hands, for it is a United Nations matter. Selective mandatory sanctions against Rhodesian exports would be useless".That was said by the representative of one of the African States represented on the Security Council. If he believes it, it will be difficult for us to get what the Prime Minister wants, that is, selective mandatory sanctions.
Let us consider the record over the past year. There was published in The Times the other day an interesting article headed, "Guide to Mandatory Sanctions", which gave a list of products and showed what had been happening during the year. Let us note what Zambia has done, Zambia being one of the most vociferous States for the use of force and really important sanctions.
First, automobiles—I ask the House to note this, when we have redundancy in our own motor car industry—Zambia has taken 79 per cent. of her requirements from Rhodesia this year. She has taken 70 per cent. of her coal requirements from Rhodesia, and we all understand why she wants the coal. Zambia has taken 90 per cent. of her soap requirements from Rhodesia.
What are people to think of the bona fides of these countries on which we are supposed to rely for support at the United Nations and on which, presumably, we are to rely when we have mandatory sanctions? Are we quite sure that Zambia will observe the mandatory sanctions? If she does, her whole economy will have gone. Who is to pay? Will the British taxpayer, whom we represent in the House of Commons, be asked to subsidise Zambia by heavy expenditure?
Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) said, "Let us forget about all these issues of money and the cost and so on". Can we do that? Can we go to our constituents and tell them point blank that the effect of what we are to do at the United Nations will be greater unemployment and higher taxation and so on? That would be completely against what I have always understood to be the purpose of a British Member of Parliament.
The U.S.A., which holds a key position, has been buying tobacco and 1641 chrome, and so on, from Rhodesia while our importers have been prevented from doing so. We have the extraordinary position in which Rhodesia can sell to all these different countries which have approved what we have done with voluntary sanctions and who are nevertheless buying from Rhodesia and, no doubt, selling back to us at a nice, added profit. What I am asking for is sanity in the methods which are used.
It may be that I am all wrong.
Those who speak after me will, I hope, tell me where I am wrong and not merely assert that I am.
We have now reached a position which any lawyer will understand quite well. The opposing side has conceded the principles and the next move is to draw up the heads of agreement and consider how to implement them. The Prime Minister, and all credit to him, has got the six principles accepted.
§ Mr. Bellenger
No, I think not.
The Prime Minister told us quite clearly that the six principles were accepted. If I am wrong, I hope that I shall be corrected officially, because I am basing my argument on the view that the six principles, which Britain laid down, have been accepted. Assuming that I am right, where do we go from there? We go to the United Nations to say that the principles are accepted and that it is only the means which have to be adjusted.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Affairs (Mrs. Judith Hart)
It would be a pity if my right hon. Friend continued his argument on a false premise. In fact, the régime first accepted the constitutional proposals put to it on the "Tiger" and then retracted that. The principles are not now accepted. In any case, the insistence of the régime about the question of the return to legality means that the fifth principle would not be operable even if the régime were to accept the constitutional proposals.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Does my hon. Friend say that I am wrong in saying that the 1642 Smith régime has not repudiated the six principles?
§ Mr. Bellenger
That is not what I am putting. We are in a position in which we may be driven willy nilly into a warlike situation, if not war, so surely we can all agree about what words mean. I am asking whether Mr. Smith, in repudiating various other things, has repudiated the six principles which I understood the Prime Minister to say this afternoon were settled.
All I am saying is that if I am right—and it is for the Government to say that I am not—then we must proceed from there by further negotiation. We are to take the matter to the United Nations. Does the House really think that with the United Nations as now constituted we shall have as much chance of reaching a successful conclusion as we would have had with all our powers and whatever influence there may be in Rhodesia? I think that we stand a better chance by not going to the United Nations. I think that the proof of that is the point to which the Prime Minister brought Mr. Smith, on one day or another. Now my right hon. Friend is to use the big stick, and he may be wrong. It will be interesting to see whether the United Nations gives these powers unanimously. After all, Malawi has already asked to be contracted out of part of the mandatory sanctions.
I shall be interested to see whether France, for example, supports us in all this. Let us suppose that France takes up a position of neutrality, as it is called. Is there not a chance that French businessmen will leap in? We shall then have a position in which British businessmen and perhaps American businessmen—although I credit American businessmen with being a great deal slicker than that if they want to get supplies to and from Rhodesia—will not be able to trade with Rhodesia while competitors will.
I have reached my conclusion after considerable thought. I do not agree that 1643 the method which the Government propose to use is right and the most effective and that which will bring the problem to a speedy conclusion. I do not question the Prime Minister's bona fides or his purpose, but because I do not think that it is the right method, and because I think that it may even lead to a dangerous situation which the people of this country would repudiate, I cannot support my right hon. Friend in the Division Lobby tonight.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
The Prime Minister's hysterical speech today was one of the most deplorable to which I have listened in the House of Commons. Never have I heard a speech which fell so far below the level of events. It struck me—if I may borrow one of the Prime Minister's own phrases, as the speech of a frightened man. I think that most of us feel that we are meeting today in an atmosphere of tragedy. We face grave difficulties and dangers in the future. But the Prime Minister said very little about them. In his tortuous speech, he was much more concerned with scoring points.
I shall address myself to a number of specific issues which have been raised during the course of the debate. But I hope that the House will forgive me if, before doing so, I briefly answer the attacks whch have been made on me by the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman has repeatedly accused me, and again today, of abandoning my principles since I left office and of supporting the illegal régime. On Monday, he complained also that my visit to Rhodesia last July had been unhelpful. A fortnight ago, I was accused of siding with Mr. Smith when I pressed for a meeting between him and the Prime Minister. But that one, at any rate, has answered itself.
Before the change of Government, I did my best to discourage a unilateral declaration of independence at the time of the independence of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland when feeling in Salisbury was running very high. I believe that that was a more difficult and more emotional moment in Rhodesia than the period with which the present Government had to deal in 1965.
1644 When U.D.I. occurred last year, I condemned it as illegal and irresponsible. In fact, at a meeting of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society, the most pro-Smith organisation in the country, in the Albert Hall, I did not hesitate to describe U.D.I. as a reckless adventure. I was booed by the audience for saying so. Those are my credentials.
As for my visit to Rhodesia, I think that the Prime Minister has really been rather unfair. When I was in Salisbury, I did all I could to encourage Mr. Smith to agree to a constitutional settlement on the basis of the six principles. On my return, I went to see the Prime Minister and gave him, in writing, an outline of the constitutional settlement which I thought he should aim at. This closely resembled the constitutional arrangements now published in the White Paper.
On the other hand, I have, from the very start—I think that I was one of the first to raise this point—strongly criticised the Prime Minister's insistence on a period of Governor's rule. This always seemed to me to be an unreasonable complication. On my return from Salisbury, I warned the Prime Minister that while Mr. Smith might be willing, for procedural purposes, to return for a short time to the 1961 Constitution, he would not be prepared to take anything on trust.
The fact is that he has no confidence in the right hon. Gentleman; and he is not the only one. Throughout this whole miserable affair the Prime Minister has misled and let down everyone in turn, the Africans—[Interruption.] What about the letter to Dr. Mutesa, during the 1964 elections, in which the Prime Minister wrote:No Government which I lead will ever give independence to Rhodesia except with majority rule".The Prime Minister has let down the Africans, the Europeans, the Commonwealth, Parliament, and the whole British people. Is that disputed? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] If it is disputed, I am quite prepared to publish a charge sheet giving chapter and verse to substantiate my accusations.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
On a point of order. When the right hon. 1645 Gentleman indulges in such challenging statements, and with such an aggressive and arrogant air, with great respect, Mr. Speaker, are you surprised that there are some observations from this side?
§ Mr. James Dickens (Lewisham, West)
Further to that point of order. Has the right hon. Gentleman informed the Prime Minister of this attack?
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that it is well understood that if one is attacked one has the right to reply, and that it is not necessary to give notice to the fellow who has attacked one.
The Commonwealth Secretary, in his speech yesterday, appeared to be surprised that Mr. Smith had told him that he would not give up his illegal independence until he knew the outcome of the Commission's inquiry. But what else could the right hon. Gentleman have expected? After all the confusion and wrangling that occurred over the appointment of the proposed Commission before U.D.I., it is not surprising that Mr. Smith was sceptical. It was unlikely that the Commission would find universal approval for the proposed settlement. It would probably have reported that there were currents of opinion for and against, and the British Government would, in the end, have had to judge whether the extent of the support was sufficient to justify the grant of independence on the basis of the White Paper
Mr. Smith must, naturally, have feared that heavy pressure from African States and threats to leave the Commonwealth might induce the British Government to demand additional safeguards which would be unacceptable to him and which went beyond the White Paper. To ask Mr. Smith, as the man in possession, to give up control without being certain that the agreed settlement would, in fact, be implemented, was quite unrealistic and quite unnecessary. The Prime Minister has argued that public opinion could not have been fairly tested without the ending of U.D.I. I do not believe that to be so. But I do not propose to pursue this point, because I agree with the ideas put forward by my right hon. 1646 Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), yesterday.
Much has been said about the powers of the Governor during the interim period. The Commonwealth Secretary assured us that the Governor's position under the White Paper proposals would be virtually the same as it was under the 1961 Constitution, and that effective executive power would rest with the Rhodesian Ministers. The Commonwealth communiqué and the White Paper make it quite clear that this is not so. They provide that the Governor will himself control the Armed Forces and the police.
But that was not the position under the 1961 Constitution. In his speech yesterday the Commonwealth Secretary—and I quote—said that under the Constitution of 1961… the Governor was already head of the armed forces and the police.He went on to say: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1384–5.]That does not bear any resemblance to the facts. The right hon. Gentleman made much of the fact that the Governor was the Commander-in-Chief. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is true."] It is true that the Governor holds the title of "Commander-in-Chief" in the same way as the Sovereign holds the title of "Commander-in-Chief" in this country; but, of course, it is purely titular, and honorary.
The 1961 Constitution makes it perfectly clear that full executive authority over all matters, including the Armed Forces, is exercised by Ministers. The same applies to the police. The Governor never had any control over the police, who were directly responsible to the appropriate Minister. The White Paper proposal therefore represents the withdrawal of Ministerial responsibility in two of the most important spheres of government.
§ Mr. Sandys
Nobody could be sure that it would last only four months. There could be no guarantee that it would not be longer.
1647 I turn now to sanctions. The original purpose of sanctions, as we understood it, was to induce in Salisbury a readiness to accept a constitutional settlement based on the agreed principles. That objective had been accomplished. A revised Constitution, which satisfies the six principles, has been agreed; and that is a very remarkable achievement. But now the Prime Minister is casting it all away by insisting on a wholly unreasonable and unnecessary act of surrender. The right hon. Gentleman must have gone right out of his mind. He had secured everything that he originally set out to achieve, and now, over a question of procedure and prestige—and I emphasise "prestige"—personal prestige—he hurls everything back into the melting pot, and sends the Foreign Secretary post haste to New York to hand over responsibility to the United Nations.
The decision to ask for mandatory sanctions is the first step along a road that is bound to end in disaster. It is no good the Prime Minister asserting that he is not handing over responsibility to the United Nations. The fact is that, in next to no time, the British Government will lose all control of the situation. Even before the matter has been discussed in the Security Council, a large number of countries, including Commonwealth countries, are protesting that the British proposals are wholly inadequate, and are clamouring for sterner measures.
We know that we cannot afford a trade war with South Africa—the Government have as good as said so. Lord Caradon has said that it would damage our balance of payments to the tune of £300 million a year—and that would mean that we would have to devalue the £. Nor are we prepared to have a shooting war with Rhodesia. It is clear, therefore, that if we embark upon a policy of mandatory sanctions, the pace will soon get too hot for us. Before long, we will have to pull out. We shall then be accused of bad faith. We shall be told that we are perfidious and cowardly. We shall get the worst of every world. We shall hurt ourselves financially, and delay our whole economic recovery. We shall lose the good will and respect of the very countries that we are trying to please, and we shall be no nearer a settlement with Rhodesia.
1648 It may be asked, "What would you do?" I am never afaid to give an answer to that question. I have no doubt at all. I would say to Mr. Smith that we welcome the agreement that has been reached on an independence Constitution based on the six principles; and we now wish to discuss further the possibility of resolving the difference which exists on the procedure for testing opinion. That is the only course that makes any sense, or which holds out any prospect of a solution.
The Prime Minister tried to impute unworthy motives to anyone who voted against him tonight. He said that we would be voting for illegality and rebellion. That is utterly contemptible. He knows quite well the purpose of our vote. It is to condemn the Government's disastrous mishandling of the Rhodesian situation; to register our opposition to mandatory sanctions; and to demand that a further attempt be made to bridge the remaining gap between London and Salisbury before Britain is irrevocably committed to a ruinous and perilous course, which provides no solution whatsoever to the problem of Rhodesia.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker (Leyton)
I am glad to be the first speaker from this side to say that this afternoon we heard from the Prime Minister one of the greatest speeches that has been made on the Floor of this House. I can understand the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) being a little against it—he was, after all, very gravely wounded during the course of that speech.
I listened, as I always do, with great attention to the right hon. Gentleman. There was a time when this Blue Book on the discussions between the Government and the Government of Southern Rhodesia filled me with great admiration for both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) and the right hon. Gentleman—the then Prime Minister and the then Commonwealth and Colonial Secretary. They stood up very staunchly and well in those days, when they did speak for Britain.
There has been a very sad and sorrowful falling off since. Nearly everything 1649 they say—and everything that the right hon. Member for Streatham says—refutes and contradicts what their better selves said in those days, when they were responsible for our affairs, and when they did speak for Britain.
The right hon. Member for Streatham said that he could make out a charge sheet against my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I can assure the right hon. Member that he himself is one of the easiest of men against whom to make a charge sheet. Let me make just one very brief quotation from the Blue Book. On Monday, 7th September, 1964, the then Commonwealth Secretary is recorded in page 28 as saying to Mr. Smith:There must be some answer to the straight question—if the Africans are entitled to vote in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, why should they not be allowed to vote in Southern Rhodesia?Today, the right hon. Gentleman gives a twisted answer to his own straight question.
The right hon. Gentleman has done what has been done by a number of hon. Members opposite, who have started with a condemnation of I.D.I. and have then, for the rest of their speech, gone on to talk about the illegal régime as though it were a perfectly normal, regular Government with whom one should have normal and regular dealings.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke almost literally for Mr. Smith. He said that Mr. Smith could not do this, could not say that, or was right to do something else. He has put himself before us today as a spokesman for Mr. Smith. During the course of my speech I will deal with one or two other points that the right hon. Gentleman made, but, first, I have two things to say about mandatory sanctions that I do not think have been said so far.
My first point is to ask the Government this question: what is the position of non-members of the United Nations such as Germany, Japan and Switzerland, after the Security Council has passed a resolution for mandatory sanctions? Are they bound equally with members? I myself cannot make it out. I have very carefully read the Charter of the United Nations in this connection, and it seems to me somewhat doubtful and ambiguous.
1650 Whether or not they are legally bound, we should use all possible diplomatic pressure—ourselves, the United States and other countries which are directly bound by the vote for mandatory sanctions—to get these non-members to join in and help. Whether or not they have a legal obligation, they have an overwhelming moral obligation, and we should, if necessary, bring world pressure to bear upon them.
My second point on mandatory sanctions concerns Zambia, Malawi and Botswana, which would be particularly heavily hit by mandatory sanctions of almost any kind. I thought that though The Times of 7th December was referring only to Zambia, it was absolutely right when it said that there were two alternatives—either these countries must be partially exempted under Article 50 from the impact of sanctions or their economy must be underpinned to enable them to stand the strain. The second course is the most desirable, but if that be done the cost must be shared by all the countries affected in carrying out mandatory sanctions. I am sure that the Foreign Secretary is, or will be, taking this up at the United Nations.
I want to devote the main part of my speech to the alternative put forward primarily by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling). There was clearly a tactical element in the plan. We must not forget that one of the aims of the other side is to avoid the disastrous three-way split which beset them on the last occasion. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet said that he was trying to find a way out of the Rhodesian problem, I do not think that it was altogether absent from his mind that he was also trying to find a way out of the Conservative problem, too.
There were two strands in the plan put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. These two strands were very different in nature and in the feeling with which they were put forward by the right hon. Gentleman.
The first strand was the attack upon Mr. Smith, stated more roundly and clearly than it has been by any other hon. Gentleman opposite so far during this debate. Not only did he say that the illegal declaration of independence was primarily the cause of the Rhodesian 1651 situation, but he condemned Mr. Smith for refusing, in the last few days to admit moderates to this Cabinet. This was clearly the most heartfelt part of his speech, and it moved me. We felt the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman more so then than in the rest of his speech. This element was lacking in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. This part of the case was designed to attract the Left wing of the party, but it evoked very few cheers from the serried ranks behind the right hon. Gentleman.
The second strand was that the Royal Commission should be sent straightaway. This was designed to attract the Right wing of the party, and was strongly cheered. But the right hon. Gentleman was rather uncomfortable and ill-at-ease, because this second strand is in direct conflict with the first. The demand to send a Royal Commission, without any conditions, is virtually an acceptance of the illegal régime which the right hon. Gentleman had previously been wholeheartedly denouncing. It is to be noticed that the Conservative proposal to send a Royal Commission now is almost identical with the proposal just made by Mr. Smith.
The right hon. Gentleman envisaged, among others, two possibilities. First, the Royal Commission might report that it could not work in the prevailing conditions, or, secondly, that it might produce a negative report. What he did not say, and what is absolutely vital, is that in either case, Mr. Smith could go on with his illegal régime. It is essential that if it should be found that the Rhodesian people do not want independence on Mr. Smith's terms, then the illegal régime should come to an end and not be revived.
The reasons why Mr. Smith has rejected these proposals is not misinterpretation of words, as the right hon. Gentleman for Kinross and West Perth-shire said, nor distrust of the Prime Minister, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham said. I believe that it is his secret fear of what an independent Royal Commission, under the conditions of the working paper, might find out about opinion in Rhodesia.
This so-called solution that has been put before us is, therefore, tantamount to the acceptance of the illegal régime, which 1652 the previous Government said that it would never accept. The proposal put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet is a very grave and serious retreat from the position that used to be maintained by the Conservative Party when it was in office. I say exactly the same thing about the telegram sent by three hon. Gentlemen to Mr. Smith. [An HON. MEMBER: "Honourable?"] Three hon. Members of this House sent a telegram to Mr. Smith. They are making exactly the same missake. Mr. Smith would have it both ways, and in those circumstances any Royal Commission would lose almost the whole of its purpose. If it agreed with Mr. Smith he would say, "O.K., that is fine." If he disagreed with Mr. Smith he would still be able to say the same and carry on with his illegal régime.
§ Mr. Bessell
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the telegram which I and two other hon. Gentlemen sent to Mr. Smith last night. I have had a reply to that telegram, in which Mr. Smith unequivocably undertakes, on behalf of his Government, to abide by the decision of the Royal Commission, and, furthermore, undertakes to implement Article 15 of the working document.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
The hon. Gentleman should read through the Blue Book. There are passages dealing with the discussions which the previous Government had with Mr. Smith, where he says quite plainly that the reason that he could not have that kind of inquiry was that it might go against him.
If the hon. Gentleman is such a naïve idiot as to believe that a man who has all that power, who can put anyone in prison without trial, who can reimpose censorship and direct radio and television, would make possible conditions in which a Royal Commission could work and produce any answer other than that which he wants, well … I am very glad that I gave way, because I wanted the House to hear how stupid these three hon. Members had been.
I return to the case put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet. The Prime Minister brought to our attention the failure of the Opposition to put down an Amendment to the main Motion about mandatory sanctions. What is even odder is that the Opposition have not put 1653 down any Amendment containing the great proposal which they have put before the House. This is very curious when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet tells us how important and how new this is and how it would save the whole situation. How can they expect the House to take the proposal seriously when it has not been formulated into an Amendment?
It is quite clear why such an Amendment has not been made. If it had been put down in words then one would lose the vagueness and ambiguity of the proposal which is designed to save the Opposition from another three-way split. It is tactically better, as they have calculated, just to oppose the Government. No one knows what they are voting for or against. Different people can have different ideas about it.
The most significant part of the plan is the embarrassed silence of those who have advocated it, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet, about the effect of such a plan upon the Commonwealth. The right hon. Gentleman sought refuge from this charge by saying that his proposal was consistent with the six principles agreed to by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. He and a great many other hon. Gentlemen have laid great stress upon the fact that Mr. Smith has accepted the principles. This was said by the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Kinross and West Perth-shire and for Streatham.
I am by no means satisfied that the evidence shows that Mr. Smith did accept them, or that he now accepts them. What is the evidence? He showed signs at the last moment, in "Tiger", of going back on his previous abandonment of the braking mechanism. This is vital to the most important principle of all—unempeded progress towards majority rule.
Mr. Smith was beginning to go back on that and then, literally in the last second of his time in "Tiger" he said that he could not yet convince himself about the merits of the working document. It is very hard to believe that Mr. Smith, returning to the atmosphere of Salisbury unconvinced himself, would fight very hard to get his colleagues to accept the working paper.
Mr. Smith's political record has some relevance. He was Chief Whip in two 1654 Governments there. He overthrew the first one of Sir Roy Welensky and the second one of Sir Edgar Whitehead, because the 1961 Constitution, which they were defending, was too progressive in his eyes. Then Mr. Winston Field became Prime Minister. He agreed with Mr. Smith about the 1961 Constitution being too progressive, but Mr. Smith overthrew Mr. Field because he, too, had become too moderate for him.
All of us can change and improve ourselves, but there is some relevance in the record in politics of a man over a reasonable period. Unless there is very strong evidence to the contrary, this kind of evidence throws grave doubt on whether Mr. Smith has really accepted the six principles. It is certainly convenient for him, and for the Conservative Party, that he should give the impression that he has accepted the principles. It is very easy for him to say that he accepts them when rejecting a working paper which contains them and which both sides have agreed must stand or fall together. As long as he rejects it so that the whole thing falls, he can say thereafter what bits he might or might not have approved according to the tactical advantage of his own party or the Conservative Party in this country.
Nor should we overlook the fact that the day after he said that he accepted the principles Mr. Smith let loose a great barrage of misrepresentation about the working paper which challenged all over again many of the basic principles which right hon. Members opposite and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) say Mr. Smith has accepted.
The Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué does not deal only with the six principles. That was one of the fallacies in the speech of the right hon. Member for Barnet. He had to pretend that for the sake of his argument. The communiqué deals also with the return to legality and contains a clear commitment to mandatory sanctions if there is no settlement by the end of the year. This is not something thought up by the Government. This was absolutely necessary to preserve the unity of the Commonwealth. As it was, as the Prime Minister said the other day, a terrific struggle was needed to preserve this unity.
1655 Therefore, if the Tories vote against mandatory sanctions and the Motion—that is all that they can do if they vote at all, because no proposal of their own is before us—they will vote against the conditions which are necessary for the survival of the Commonwealth and for the tacit acceptance of Mr. Smith's illegal régime, and they will do this for party reasons. Let those who wish to do this vote accordingly. The rest of us will be honoured to be in the other Lobby.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre (New Forest)
After the peroration of the right hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Gordon Walker), it is difficult to come in at the same level and tempo. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman was fair in a number of the things which he said. He said, for instance, that if Members went into the Lobby against the Government they would be rebels and that they could be accused, as was done by the Government Front Bench, of being unworthy to hold Her Majesty's commission.
There are four points which divide the House. The first is whether it is right to go to the United Nations. Secondly, if we go to the United Nations, will the Government be able to control the attitude taken at the United Nations? Thirdly, will they be able, if it becomes possible at some stage, to reach an agreement between Rhodesia and themselves which they could honour without reference to the United Nations? Fourthly—and this is the point—how far does anyone in the Houses realise the terrible dangers of a trade war with South Africa and Portugal?
It may be easy for us in the House to brush those things aside. But I think that there are very few Members on either side of the House who would be ready to enter into a trade war with South Africa. I know that the Prime Minister has said—and let us grant him this—that he would not allow the situation to escalate into that. But the point is that, once he has gone to the Security Council, has he any power whatsoever to stop the escalation or what the Security Council may decide to do? Nobody in the House would have the right to control events once we have 1656 gone to the Security Council. Hon. Members opposite, for one reason or another, may think that it is a good thing, in view of apartheid and the rest of it, that we should have this confrontation.
However, throughout the debate, I have not heard one estimate given by any member of the Government of what that would cost. The only person who was honest was the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), who, if I quote him correctly, said—I have not the quotation direct from HANSARD of what he said—that this was a matter of principle, to hell with the cost and let us get on with it. Would that be a really wise thing to do? Could we afford it?
I wish to come to the matter of sanctions. The hon. Lady the Minister of State, Commonwealth Affairs, has given me notice that when she winds up she will possibly refer to the remarks which I made in Rhodesia. She was good enough to write me a letter. I have said—and I want to repeat it tonight—that nothing could be more silly than a policy of sanctions. Such a policy has never worked, and it never can work. I have never disguised the fact that I am on the side of Rhodesia.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I have a note of it with me and I propose to say it. At the moment, I am speaking purely about sanctions. They have never worked and they never will work.
As hon. Members probably know, I have been out to Rhodesia every year. To have sanctions that work we have to be certain that the people with whom we combine about sanctions work with us. We talk about South Africa, for instance, and Portugal, but they are not the only people who count at the moment. The whole of the motor car industry, for example, in Rhodesia has been taken over by Germany and Japan. They have taken over the whole lot between them.
Hon. Members opposite may say that because of their principles they are willing to take these trade risks, but I want to ask the Government three straight questions. How did it occur that imports of tobacco from Rhodesia increased by 13 per cent. this year? That is a figure which is admitted by the Board of Trade. I am 1657 told that there is a very good reason and that a lot of people like the Imperial Tobacco Company imported tobacco forward and, therefore, are for that reason able to show these figures.
Secondly, I would like equally to know where the asbestos for our main asbestos producing firms is coming from. If the Minister of State, Commonwealth Affairs, is honest, when she replies to the debate she will have to admit that although the asbestos may be shipped from South Africa its origin is Rhodesia.
Thirdly, if we are now talking about sanctions with the United Nations and how the whole thing is to work, why is it that in the Congressional Record twice in the last few weeks it has been said that the Americans are buying Rhodesian chrome'? How does that happen? If it has happened, what protests have the Government made to the United States Government?
§ Mr. Christopher Rowland (Meriden)
Does not the hon. and gallant Member appreciate that that is precisely one of the reasons why the Government are going to the United Nations to prevent the purchase of chrome by the United States? If he has information about asbestos from Rhodesia coming to firms in this country, has he informed the British Government of the full details, which, presumably, it would be his duty to do?
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I have officially informed the Government and have offered to give them full details. If I may say so to the hon. Member, one never wants to disclose details of a firm or a particular deal unless the Government Department concerned wishes to have the information. I have said to the Government that if they want the information they can have it.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
I am anxious to ask the hon. and gallant Member about his earlier statement that he has never disguised the fact that he was on the side of Rhodesia. I have never disguised that I am on the side of Rhodesia, too, but there was some dispute about the interpretation of this. Does the hon. and gallant Member mean that he is on the side of the present régime in Rhodesia? We should be quite clear about this.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I agree that it is as well to make clear which side 1658 one is on. I would put it this way. May I answer without equivocation that I am with the Government who were elected in 1961. For various reasons which I will give later, I still think that by the judgment of the Chief Justice the present Government is the de facto and not the de jure Government. Nobody in this House could argue that we are not dealing with a responsible body. I go further if necessary and simply say that if I am wrong in my argument, I cannot understand why the Prime Minister met Mr. Smith before taking this step.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I will come to that in a moment. I want to talk about sanctions because that is one of the things which has been quoted against me. I said, and I repeat, that I was glad that sanctions had failed. I said it in Rhodesia and I repeat it in this House, for this reason. If sanctions are ineffective, as, I think, everybody admits they are, and if consequently they are tightened up, whether by mandatory or other measures, whom will we hurt? That is the point. We will hurt the one person that the whole House certainly wants to protect, and that is the African. The same position could easily occur in the case of Malawi, where 150,000 Africans could be taken back to that country because, as a result of sanctions and the reduction of the economy, they could not be maintained in Rhodesia.
I warned the Paymaster-General of my intention to refer to him. Whether he chooses to be present is entirely a matter for him. I come now to what I am alleged to have said. As is probably known, I have made one broadcast and one television broadcast in Rhodesia and one broadcast in this country which has been repeated on the Zambian overseas network. In other words, there were four separate broadcasts. The only one available to any hon. Member is the one made on the B.B.C., the number of which is NBE-something or other. I cannot remember offhand the exact number.
The accusation was made against me, and, when I first challenged the Paymaster-General, he was good enough to talk to the Daily Telegraph. I will not quote the whole of the interview, but, 1659 in the course of it, he described what I had said as "scurrilous" and "a disgrace" and that he was far too busy "to be mucking about with Crosthwaite-Eyre".
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
The curious thing is that the right hon. Gentleman had not got a copy of the transcript of that television broadcast. It was not in the Library and it was not available at the B.B.C.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
It was quite impossible for the Paymaster-General to have known what I said on that occasion.
The right hon. Gentleman drew the attention of the House to a certain monitored radio recording that I had made. So that the matter could be put in proper perspective, I asked him if he would put a transcript of my television broadcast in the Library. If an hon. Member is attacked as I was, it is only fair that the Minister who makes the attack should give the hon. Member concerned an opportunity to put his own case on record.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
Because there are only two people who are entitled to put anything into the Library.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I asked the right hon. Gentleman if he would do it, in view of his attack upon me. He refused. Through other sources, I asked whether it was possible for a back bencher to have a document placed in the Library, and I was told that it was not.
I deeply regret that a high-ranking Minister of the Crown should have not seen fit to let the House know both sides of the case, particularly after what he said about me. However, I will leave it at that—
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I believe that the House would like me to say what the Paymaster-General thought necessary to refer to. The reference number is ME/22/88/B/5——
§ Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford) rose——
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sidney Irving)
Order. Obviously the hon. and gallant Member for New Forest (Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre) is not giving way.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
It will be remembered that the words used by the Paymaster-General about my conduct were not of the most soothing or kind nature. He has taken bits out of one of the four broadcasts to which I have referred and used them for his own benefit. Well and good. I would be prepared either here or elsewhere—and I should prefer it to be outside the House—to meet the Paymaster-General and ask him to repeat his accusations, when I should be only too glad to answer them.
He has used one or two words to which I must refer—[Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but this is a matter of honour to me, as I am sure it would be to any other hon. Member.
I was accused of comparing the B.B.C. with Lord Haw-Haw. I think that that was the remark which really upset the right hon. Gentleman. I took the first opportunity of saying that I used the phrase at a time when I was being interviewed as a British publisher and not as a Member of Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am not attempting to hide behind that for one second.
If hon. Members care to look at the transcript, they will find it difficult to justify what the Paymaster-General has thought fit to say. What I said was that Lord Haw-Haw was quite the most unsatisfactory broadcaster to his own nation and that the B.B.C. was being just as ineffective in putting over its propaganda. That is what I said, and I stand by it. If any hon. Member is interested, he will find it in the Library under "Francis-town", in the broadcasts made during May and June of this year, and he can judge for himself.
1661 Many hon. Members opposite believe that Francistown is some sort of offshoot of the B.B.C. May I assure them that it is not. It is run by the D.W.S., which comes straight under the Foreign Office. It is not responsible for its funds to any group in this House, so that the people who are running it——
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
That is the information which I am giving to the House. It is being run by the same group of people who carried out the black propaganda from this country to Germany during the war.
§ Mr. Rowland
The programmes broadcast by Francistown are all B.B.C. programmes. The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) knows this, because he has frequently broadcast from there. The fact that the installation comes from a different financial source is immaterial.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I must take the hon. Gentleman up on that, because there are three separate things about this. First, who runs Francistown? If my information is correct, and it can be checked in the Library, it is the D.W.S. It comes from the Foreign Office. If, secondly, the B.B.C. is providing the material, why is it that so much comes from Zambia?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Hon. Members can intervene only if they have the permission of the hon. Member who has the Floor.
§ Mr. David Steel
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman say where this pamphlet was published, and by whom? I have a copy of it, and I see that it was published in Salisbury by the Smith régime.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
That is true. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh, but 1662 would any Member like to say—if he would well and good—that at 11.15 hours, Speaker James Chikerema, Vice-President of Z.A.P.U.——
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Richard Crossman)
Did I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that the broadcasts were designed by the team which did the black propaganda during the war? Is that what he asserted? If he says that, I can tell him from personal knowledge that it is complete fiction and totally untrue. As he has admitted, the material going out is wholly B.B.C. material, retransmitted from this station. Unless he is asserting that the B.B.C. has been captured by black propagandists who got into the B.B.C., this is a claim which is wilder than James Bond.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
I should like to be very clear about this. If the right hon. Gentleman gives me a categorical assurance that nothing is broadcast over Francistown except B.B.C. information, I will accept it, but I was coming to a second charge. Would the right hon. Gentleman like to answer the first one?
§ Mr. Crossman
I gather that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has modified his charge and is saying that there are two streams coming from this station, one from the B.B.C. and one from a team of black propagandists. If the second exists, it is not being done by Selfon Delmer, if that is the person to whom he is referring.
§ Sir O. Crosthwaite-Eyre
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question. Perhaps I must put it to him again to get the matter straight. Does Francistown come under the B.B.C., or the Foreign Office?
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mrs. Eirene White)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is correct in saying that the physical installation was established by the Diplomatic Wireless Service, but the programmes are under the direction of the B.B.C. and the Foreign Office does not intervene at all.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)
Only two years ago the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod), together with Mr. Garfield Todd, carried a motion in the Oxford Union by 580 votes to 57, and hon. Members on both sides of the House congratulated him on doing so. The terms of the motion were that Rhodesia should not be given independence before she had majority rule.
What has the Rhodesia Front done during the last two years which has made the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues decide to oppose this principle in the Lobby tonight? Is it the introduction of censorship? Is it their blatant deceit of the Governor? Is it their intimidation of academic freedom? Is it the arrests which they have carried out without trial during the intervening two years? If the House will forgive my accent, autre temps, autre Tories. An honourable Tory, Mr. John Grigg, has recently written about the Conservative line on Rhodesia, and said that "it is a miserable and hypocritical compromise as far removed from logic as it is from honour".
The right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), who otherwise has had a very liberal record in colonial matters, was described by this Conservative as taking a line on Rhodesia which was a sickening example of humbug. We heard the right hon. Gentleman yesterday say that as part of his proposals he wishes the present sanctions to be continued. Why, then, did he not have the courage to vote for these sanctions when the matter was debated in the House on 21st December last year? As we heard the right hon. Gentleman outline his proposals, we also might well have asked ourselves why, on the many occasions when he and his colleagues were in charge of colonial affairs, and when there were uprisings in other colonial territories, he ordered troops and a gunboat to be sent to that territory?
The Leader of the Opposition is prepared to support majority rule as long as his actions make it certain that it will not be effective in Rhodesia. We saw him support sanctions until he knew that we intended to make them effective. Or did his change come about at Blackpool 1664 when he apparently abdicated the Tory leadership on the Rhodesia question to Lord Salisbury and the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys)?
During the past week we have seen the humiliating spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition, who has previously supported the United Nations, beginning to attack it because he considers it more popular to do so. Is it small wonder that in a recent opinion poll carried out by the Daily Mail many British people thought that the Leader of the Opposition was, in fact, the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, a country which he himself has described as a police State?
But the reaction of some Conservatives tonight should not. I think, surprise us, in the light of their policy on home affairs, because this matter of principle is the same as that so often adopted by the Conservative Party on home affairs. When there is a conflict, hon. Gentlemen opposite prefer economic privilege for the few, rather than democracy and equal opportunity for everybody.
It is a fact that 25 hon. Gentlemen opposite survive who voted in support of the Government policy on oil sanctions on 21st December last. We on this side of the House will watch with interest to see whether they save the honour of their party tonight in the Lobby, and I for one hope that I will have equal courage to oppose my party on every occasion when I think that it is wrong.
Another hon. Member opposite last night had the effrontery to compare Mr. Smith's rebellion with the American Revolution. It may have escaped his notice that part of George Washington's Declaration of Independence was that all men are born equal and should enjoy equal rights. That is a sentiment to which Mr. Smith conspicuously does not subscribe.
Let us examine the three other arguments that have been advanced in various ways by hon. Members opposite in support of their contention. The first is that Mr. Smith is supported by most Rhodesians: the second is that Africans are not fit to rule, and the third—the real argument—is the economic one.
As to Mr. Smith's being supported by Rhodesians, it is interesting to note that the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) wrote in the Economist that he 1665 considered that 99 per cent. of all Rhodesians support Mr. Smith. That was a remarkable poll to have carried out during a few day's visit to Rhodesia. In the light of this, is it not surprising that Mr. Smith is unwilling to accept a referendum to be carried out by the United Nations? Is it not astonishing that he continues to employ the iniquitous censorship even of Right-wing Rhodesian newspapers and Right-wing Rhodesian parties, such as that of Sir Roy Welensky? It may be that Mr. Smith is intelligent enough to know that he does not enjoy the support of literate Rhodesians.
Secondly, we have heard that the Africans are not fit to take part in governing their own country. Is it not just 10 years since the same people were telling us that the Egyptians could not run the Suez Canal? In fact, there are not only more competent and qualified Africans in Rhodesia than there were in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya when we gave them independence; there are vastly more qualified Africans there than there are in Botswana, to whom the Conservatives were willing to give independence only a few months ago. In fact, there are more graduates among the Africans inside Mr. Smith's concentration camps tonight than there are in the Rhodesia Front Cabinet: so that an immediate transfer to majority rule would increase the calibre and intellectual quality of the Government of the Zimbabwe.
The argument has also been put forward, by hon. Members on both sides of the House, that these people should be denied democracy because they have two nationalist political parties—Z.A.P.U. and Z.A.N.U.—but does not this fact offer a better prospect for democratic government than a one-party rule, which is what hon. Members opposite criticised about Ghana and other countries? Is not the fact that there are two lively and disputatious parties a good portent for the democratic future of the country—an infinitely better one than Smith's one-party police State?
§ Mr. Evelyn King
Does the hon. Gentleman take into account in his argument—and this is one of the things that bothers me most—the fact that when these parties were electioneering, one against another, each murdered 1666 members of the other party, to the tune of double figures? The corpses were left in the street. That is not quite the same as inter-party warfare in Great Britain.
§ Mr. Whitaker
I am sure that everybody in the House deplores violence, but I hope that all hon. Members opposite agree that it is only to be expected when there is censorship and suppression of political rights.
The third, and the real underlying argument of the party opposite relates to the economy of Rhodesia. This argument is exactly the same basis as that which underwrites apartheid. The same arguments were used in this Chamber for preserving the slave trade 150 years ago. It is interesting to note that of the Rhodesian whites, one-quarter have been in the country for less than 10 years; three-quarters have been there for less than 20 years, and a mere one-tenth were born there. These people are really concerned at the thought that their swimming pools and servants will be threatened if they educate the Africans and give them equal opportunity. They are the people who enjoy a 10-course meal in Salisbury hotels tonight for 15s. because they are paying their African farmworkers only £1 a week.
What do those Rhodesian Africans—15,000 of them—who fought for us in the last war feel about the gallant Members opposite tonight? Are these Members saying that they were good enough to risk their lives in a war for Europeans 20 years ago, but they are not good enough to live in the same area as the Europeans, go to the same schools, enjoy the same rights, or eat in the same Salisbury hotels tonight? Are we to sell these people for 30 pieces of silver? In the West Indies, Zambia and Kenya it has been shown that the economy can survive and that non-racialist whites can live quite happily in a nationalist democracy.
I want to quote a few words of Mr. Joshua Nkomo, who, far more than Mr. Smith, represents Rhodesians and who, I hope, will be the next Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. I hope that hon. Members opposite will listen to this because, due to the efforts of their friends in Salisbury, they are not otherwise able to hear his words. He said: 1667As I have stated from time to time, we do not regard the white people in this country as a separate entity, but as part and parcel of the entire community, who are fully entitled to all human and property rights as is any indigenous member of the community. We know that there are many Europeans who were born and bred here and have their homes in this country. These and many others are as good citizens of this country as any indigenous people—but we do not accept the principle of special privileges at the expense of the majority of the people.We do not seek to revenge, dispossess, oppress, dominate or subjugate anybody or any group of people. But rather we seek to establish a just society with opportunities for all, irrespective of colour or creed—based on the freedom of the individual. But there can be no just society where over 95 per cent. of the country's population are denied the basic human rights.Those words make a very eloquent comparison, in their statesmanship, with the ignorant and racist ravings of the Rhodesia Front. Mr. Nkomo has let it be known that he is quite prepared to wait for five or even seven years to see majority rule, because the pace of progress towards this will be in direct proportion to the amount of aid which we—preferably with United Nations—can give the Africans in Zimbabwe. But what we can never do is to allow independence before majority rule. That is why 115 Members of this House signed a Motion to that effect.
That was the mistake we made in regard to South Africa, 60 years ago. Let me use the words of the Prime Minister:We cannot negotiate with these men, nor can they be trusted, after the return to constitutional rule, with the task of leading Rhodesia on the paths of freedom and racial harmony … Mr. Smith, although a private person, is the leader of a great political party there, and certainly his views will be sought. But as to entrusting to them, to that Government or to that Parliament, the conduct of restoration and reconstruction of affairs in Rhodesia—I think this would be absolutely intolerable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT 10th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 776–7.]Besides these words, Mr. Smith has blatantly deceived the Governor over the taking of emergency powers and has deceived Her Majesty's Government by his declaration of independence. He has shown that any undertaking he gives is, unfortunately, not worth the paper it is written on. We have heard the Tories criticising the implications of an ultimatum. Let them remember the very quick and salutary effect that another ultimatum 1668 from the United Nations had on another illegal aggression at the time of Suez. This ended that aggression within 24 hours.
Mr. Smith has shown that whatever his views may be he is a cat's paw of the racialism that he engendered in order to get power. The world Press has blamed him for the break on Monday. Anybody who remembers the last war will realise that appeasement—as at Munich—only increases violence later. The Conservatives have to choose tonight between, on the one hand, loyalty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, the United Nations and democratic principles; and, on the other, racism and Fascist laws. But let us remember, when making that choice, that, in the seventeenth century, our ancestors here did not flinch from implementing democratic principles upon their own kith and kin.
The sharper the sanctions and measures which we can bring about to end this tragedy, the cheaper and shorter they will be in bringing about the inevitable solution. Let us hear tonight no talk of the financial cost of principles. The same arguments were thrown at Wilberforce, in this Chamber, over the freeing of the slaves. Britain has in the past reaped enormous economic advantages from the Commonwealth. Are we now to abdicate every principle upon which the Commonwealth was founded, just because responsibility also has a price?
The ending of our imperial phase and the evolution of the Commonwealth is a unique and proud history. Are we to spoil and end this record with a chapter of ignominy tonight? If this country itself is impotent, let the United Nations solve it, rather than a compromise. The Rhodesian rebellion is a threat to racial tolerance and co-operation not just for the future of Rhodesia, but throughout the whole world. We decide in Rhodesia whether the future history of the world will evolve on lines of colour prejudice or of democratic, multi-racial toleration. Let us tonight be proud in making a sacrifice for such a moral issue.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
There have been many accusations from hon. Members opposite that our party is lending comfort to the Smith régime. I repudiate that and throw it back in their 1669 teeth. It is absolutely untrue and contrary to the facts. Let us look at the facts.
The main aim of the Rhodesian Front in its Unilateral Declaration of Independence just over a year ago was that the white minority should remain in power indefinitely and, for this purpose, should retain unfettered control of the pace of African advance. That action was immediately condemned by all parties in the House. This condemnation has been firmly repeated during the debate by the spokesmen of all parties.
On the positive side also, the House has been absolutely united in supporting the six principles designed as guide posts towards majority rule in Rhodesia. The two most important of those principles are that there shall be uninterrupted progress towards majority rule and that the "British Government would have to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole."
These principles have been accepted by the House as a basis on which Britain should seek to discharge her legal responsibility for Rhodesia and her moral responsibility for 4¼ million Africans, as well as 220,000 white Rhodesians. And now, after the meeting on H.M.S. "Tiger" only a week ago, Mr. Smith and his colleagues have publicly claimed to have accepted these six principles. But they have now rejected the procedure set out in the "Tiger" working document for applying those principles for setting up an independence constitution for Rhodesia and for achieving uninterrupted progress towards majority rule.
Principles are not much use unless you apply them. In this case, the procedure for applying them must contain safeguards, especially in the light of the Rhodesian Front's record of removing successive Prime Ministers whose policy seemed to be moving towards African constitutional advance. As trustees for the 4¼ million Africans, we are bound to seek effective safeguards in the procedure for applying the six principles.
Nevertheless, the temporary acceptance of the six principles and the emergence of the document worked out jointly—with a good deal of give and take on both sides—by Mr. Ian Smith and the Prime 1670 Minister represent, I suggest, an important new factor. I doubt whether Mr. Ian Smith would have signed this paper unless he had hope of getting some support for it in Rhodesia. I believe that this is also the Prime Minister's personal assessment.
Together, the principles and the document present some prospect of what I and many others, I believe, on this side of the House regard as an outline for a satisfactory settlement. It would be wrong, when this degree of progress towards a settlement has been made, to withdraw these new proposals. They are now objected to by the Rhodesian Front. I accept that. But to withdraw them without further attempts at negotiation would be a cardinal error.
I well know that the Government are committed to an agreement made at the Commonwealth Conference. And here I must state—in parenthesis—that I am a strong believer in the useful rôle that the Commonwealth can play in world affairs. And I should hate to be party to any action which would break up this association and Britain's rôle in it.
The condition of full Commonwealth support for selective mandatory sanctions was this:(a) 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 is what worries me about the terms of the Government's Motion.
Surely these conditions are now out of date and wrong in the light, at any rate, of the Prime Minister's own assessment today of what was achieved in his talks on H.M.S. "Tiger".
Surely, the Commonwealth Conference should be reconvened to consider this new factor, before Britain sets off on a real collision course which will bring much hardship to Africa and even here.
It is because I believe that this condition about withdrawing all previous constitutional offers is now out of date and wrong that I shall not vote for this Resolution tonight.
Having said that, I personally would not be against seeking, as a last resort. further United Nations support.
1671 I believe that there should be further negotiations between the Prime Minister and Mr. Ian Smith and that the Commonwealth Conference should be reconvened. If, then, we cannot reach a settlement, we must be prepared to put further economic pressure on the Rhodesian Front. For such economic pressure, I doubt whether there is now any practical alternative to seeking the co-operation of the United Nations, through the Security Council.
I realise that this would be a risky course and would be unlikely to be as effective as its sponsors would hope. But, before this debate ends, I hope that the Government will tell the House exactly how they propose to keep under control the selective mandatory sanctions which they now seek and how they would bring them to an end in the event of a settlement which this House accepted as satisfactory.
At the end of the day, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Britain must discharge its responsibilities to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
Having spent about 20 years working in another part of Africa and having since visited many parts of it, but not Rhodesia, I believe deeply in the rights of Africans to develop their talents to the full and to have a proper share in the decisions affecting their destiny. That belief is shared widely by my hon. Friends. It is nonsense therefore to accuse us of desiring anything otherwise.
But proper opportunities for advance are being denied to Africans in Rhodesia today, and Britain has a responsibility to see that they get those opportunities. Britain cannot stand aside from this duty in Rhodesia nor from playing her rôle in the Commonwealth. We are committed to securing a settlement which will ensure unimpeded progress towards majority rule, progress which in the circumstances of Rhodesia will need to be spread over a number of years. And I say that having some experience of these matters.
Britain is in a dilemma over Rhodesia. We have responsibilities without effective power on the spot. Her Majesty's Government have, rightly in my view, ruled out intervention by force. In these circumstances we have had to seek 1672 to exercise influence through diplomatic channels and economic measures taken from outside. I do not see how, except by sustained economic measures, Britain can hope to influence the policy of the Rhodesia Front. If these economic measures soon need reinforcing we may, in spite of the risks involved, have to seek the co-operation of the Security Council.
But not, in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said earlier, before the Prime Minister has attempted to have further talks with Mr. Smith and not before we have reconvened the Commonwealth Conference.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)
As the House will have gathered during the last few months, I have a particular interest in Africa. I was born there, my parents spent a great part of their lives working for African advance and my sister is now living in Salisbury with her six children. I was there visiting her last July. I can, therefore, claim a somewhat closer concern with this whole sad problem of Southern Rhodesia than most hon. Members. I do not deny that some of the most vocal hon. Gentlemen opposite have a great interest in Rhodesia—a business or financial interest—but I believe that even they would agree that a family interest over-rides that sort of consideration.
All reasonable and certainly all responsible opinion in this House—one might say all "truly honourable" hon. Members—will undoubtedly agree that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has done everything possible during the last few months. He has gone out of his way, some of us might feel that he has gone a little too far, to let the rebel Smith off the hook.
§ Mr. Faulds
My right hon. Friend has gone even further than that. Unfortunately, Smith has not bitten the bait. Some of us were not too happy about the offers that were extended. However, he has turned them down, anyway.
The Prime Minister went to the bounds of the possible in trying to force some sort of acceptable compromise in his 1673 dealings with Smith. One has every sympathy with the opinion of the majority of Commonwealth leaders who say that Smith was not a man with whom a trustworthy agreement could ever have been negotiated; not a man who would ever observe an agreement to which he came. Indeed, this view has been proved in the latest negotiations and recent developments have underlined it.
The men who serve Smith, or whose servant Smith is—we are not quite sure which—are a bunch of racialists. They all suffer from this modern political disease of racialism; this idea of white supremacy. They are men of small competence, as anyone who has discussed their histories in Rhodesia knows. They are men of little, if any intellectual distinction and they have no political morality whatever. My right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary put his finger on it when he commented that when Smith left H.M.S. "Tiger" he, Smith. said, "I cannot convince myself".
That is the secret to why these talks broke down. Smith is not the heroic man of myth that we are told he is—the sort of impression that the popular Press has created. He is really only a little pawn in the hands of men much more wicked and racialist than he is. He is a poor, pitiable creature in the context of Southern Rhodesian politics today.
These were the type of men with whom our Prime Minister did his damndest to reach an agreement. Heartbreaking though this is for all the Africans in Rhodesia, and for those who care about the political future of that part of Africa, these were the men who illegally usurped power and made their little pretence of legality, who established the full apparatus of a police State—apparatus of which many hon. Gentlemen opposite may not be aware—with the incidentals of censorship and detention camps. These were the men who were rightly snubbed by every country in the world, not one of which recognised the Smith régime.
As the Prime Minister said earlier, there was one conspicuous group who rallied to the succour and support of the Smith gang—one group who, in speech after speech and, by inference of their visits, gave the rebels heart and hope that things would work out right for them. 1674 That group of disgraceful and dishonourable men sit scattered on the benches opposite—and among them are not only hon. Members, but right hon. Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] "Cheap" is not a very witty intervention, particularly since what I am saying is the truth.
I have not, by nature or inclination, normally had much sympathy with Conservatives and their, what seems to me, selfish political philosophy. However, I can find it in me to sympathise with the loyal hon. Gentlemen opposite, and there are quite a number of them—[HON. MEMBERS: "Thanks."] We are grateful that they exist—who have resisted the cheap advantage of trying to make party political capital out of what is a grave constitutional issue; this act of rebellion against the Crown. Poor fellows. They must ride in rather rough company.
There are the avowed racialists among them who sit on the benches opposite? There are those with little political comprehension of the realities of the world today. There are also the moronic little midgets who murmur inaudible and witless interventions, such as the one we had two nights ago, when the observation having been made that mandatory sanctions would not work murmured, "Thank God". That luminary of the Chamber, that intellectual star is not in his place tonight. He is not slumped in his usual stupor. It is a pity that I did not tell him that I intended to mention him in my speech. Such men consider that the national interest and the well-being and indeed the future of Britain are of less account than their inbred prejudices and narrow and blinkered political allegiance. Their trouble is that the Tory Party has leaders who, as the Prime Minister said today, are incapable of leading, who are without the guts and who are without the honest candour to face up to any of the problems facing Britain today.
That is the party, after all, which once produced a Churchill. What petty men they have produced in his place. But that is not surprising because, for many years before the war, they preferred petty men to his leadership. They were the ones who spread the primrose path to the last war, and the Tory Party is still led by such political pygmies. One only has to look at the lumber which usually litters the Front Bench opposite. I would not be 1675 surprised to see one or two wandering in with a primrose in their buttonhole.
I would like now to consider the damage done to various interests over the last few months while the rebellion has dragged on. I think that perhaps only my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth leaders know how near the Commonwealth came to disintegration. It is remarkable that people who, by all the accepted rules of history, should be rejecting connection through the Crown, are now those who are keenest on maintaining this strange family relationship which infuses the Commonwealth.
Can we afford to lose all that? Can we afford to lose this unique historical experiment of the Commonwealth in order to placate and keep in place a man, the illegal Government, the little crooked clique who claim to represent Southern Rhodesia? [Laughter.] I would rather see the political demise of Mr. Smith than the break-up of the Commonwealth, although the laughter of hon. Members opposite suggests that they do not agree.
I want to look at the problem in the context of African affairs. The longer the rebellion lasts—and there is no doubt about this, although hon. Members opposite may giggle, as they will—the more we shall alienate the other States of Africa and the more we endanger the existence of the more responsible leaders in our ex-colonial territories. The real tragedy of the situation is that the removal of Smith will almost certainly involve the removal of other and far better men in other States. Other leaders will be pushed out, too. The men who will then control the destinies of other African States will have much less sympathy with the white Western world and certainly with us. The more we seem to protect the pockets of white privilege and sympathise with the settlers, the more inevitable—and this, in a sense, is our decision tonight—we make rejection by the African countries of our democratic experience and ideals.
There is another consideration which might strike a happier and more responsive chord opposite—the commercial consideration. Trade with the countries of black Africa rises every year. I asked a Written Question about this the other day. [Laughter.] We do ask questions, even if written. My hon. Friends will 1676 see what kind of witless intervention we are getting. Our investment and commercial interests in black African countries will rise in the next few years and overtake our interests and investment in the countries of white Southern Africa. This is something hon. Members opposite should consider, because it is their particular kind of interest.
How are we to face the South African Government's decision that they will play no part in mandatory sanctions? Are we willing to take on South Africa in an economic war? On this, we should have some intellectual honesty, a quality which politicians do not normally have in much quantity. Let us by all means, but preferably by economic means, topple white supremacy in South Africa. No one wants that more than I. No one wants more than I to see majority government in South Africa with Nelson Mandela at its head. But let us be honest enough to admit that, in our present economic travail and balance of payments problem, we cannot take the job on.
South Africa has every intention of pumping as much oil as the Southern Rhodesians need to keep the wheels turning and the factories operating. Short of oil sanctions against South Africa—and I hope that the Government will not try to prevent this being included in the package deal—or military action against the supply line with Southern Rhodesia, selective mandatory sanctions against Southern Rhodesia will not work in a period of less than three or four years. Can we afford to maintain sanctions for that long? Can we afford to let the Commonwealth disintegrate in the interim, or let Britain's apparent lack of resolution damage our standing in the world? Can we afford to endanger our trade and investment potential in the whole of a continent hungry for capital and trade? Can we afford all this damage?
There is, after all, a cheaper and a quicker and a much cleaner way of snuffing Smith and his band of political playmates out. [HON. MEMBERS: "Smithfield."] Smithfield would not be a bad place to deal with him. I am talking of military intervention. The impression has been put about, because of political implications, that such an expedition is logistically unmountable. 1677 There are, in fact, two considerations. The first is political—that such an intervention would be electorally unpopular. Exactly the same arguments applied to President de Gaulle's policy towards a similar problem in Algeria.
§ Mr. John Lee (Reading)
Will my hon. Friend take it from me that I advocated military intervention at every meeting in my election campaign and that we still swung my constituency more than the national average?
§ Mr. Faulds
I am willing to accept that there is grave misapprehension about the British people's response to the Government's responsibility towards Southern Rhodesia, but the outcome in Algeria was justified. President de Gaulle got majority rule and snuffed out the incipient civil war.
The second consideration is logistical. If we accept that, logistically, such intervention in Southern Rhodesia is impossible, then it makes nonsense of our whole policy east of Suez. If we can intervene in Asiatic wars, we can live up to our responsibilities in Africa, too. In any case, I prefer to believe the results of a study of the possibility of the use of forces in Southern Rhodesia, published by the Institute of Strategic Studies, rather than to listen to political theories or memories by certain hon. Members. The Institute went into the problem in detail and concluded:In a word, Britain could undoubtedly overthrow Mr. Smith if it became absolutely necessary to do so.I firmly believe that the Government will earn enormous respect for sticking to its principles in face of our economic difficulties as they have done throughout negotiations with Mr. Smith. It will earn admiration not only here, but abroad. I believe that the country will respond to the Government's courage in this time of economic difficulty in rejecting an unacceptable deal with an illegal régime, even if the Opposition will not.
I believe that the Government would enhance their prestige, we would come through our economic straits more speedily, and the atmosphere of international disapproval which now hangs round Britain's head would lighten and clear if the Government faced their responsibilities—they are still our responsibilities and our responsibilities 1678 only—in ending the rebellion in South Africa by firm, and, in the long-term, cheaper and less damaging military action.
We shall have to remove Smith at some stage, whether by economic sanctions or force we shall see. Within the lifetime of every hon. Member—I hope of every hon. Member—we shall see an independent majority Government in Zimbabwe and we shall see the demise, political or physical, of most of the little men in Smith's Cabinet. That cannot come too soon, but it depends on the Government's response, the way the Government handle their responsibilities. I want to see them take whatever action may be necessary, to end the rebellion in Southern Rhodesia.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
I always understood that politics was the art of disagreement, but the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) considers that everybody who disagrees with him, is—I quote some of the words he used—" a racist, stupid, moronic, sunk in stupor".
§ Mr. Wall
I am glad that the hon. Member qualifies those terms. But I wonder why he is so worried and why the Prime Minister with a majority of nearly 100 in the House, should behave almost hysterically today. There is only one reason, and that is that he knows the consequences of going to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions.
The Prime Minister knows that many hon. Gentlemen behind him, like the hon. Member for Smethwick, want the differences between Britain and Rhodesia to escalate. He knows that it will escalate, that that will mean unemployment, and that it will be impossible to fulfil the Labour Party's economic plans, about which they have talked for so long but have not yet managed to introduce. He knows that some hon. Gentlemen behind him want even to take us into war with South Africa for great moral principles, and he knows not only what that will do to his country but to his party. [An HON. MEMBER: "Name them."] The hon. Member for Smethwick was advocating going to war with South Africa.
§ Mr. Faulds
If the hon. Member gets so excited that he cannot take in a previous speaker's points I ask him not to make references to them that are not true.
§ Mr. Wall
Judging by that intervention, the hon. Gentleman presumably admits that he believes that Rhodesia could be defeated, but that it would take a long time and cost a great deal of money and bloodshed. He must have sufficient intelligence to have brought South Africa into his consideration. He must realise that if Rhodesia were invaded by the kind of army he has in mind South Africa would be bound to react.
Let us consider another paper prepared by another society, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which said that a blockade of Southern Africa would need 50 to 60 warships and 300 aeroplanes, would cost £300 million, would have to be followed by an assault which would need 93,000 troops in the initial assault, and that there would be, if I recall aright, about 7,200 casualties on the first day.
That is the course the Government are leading us along, and that is why the Prime Minister was worried today. We have had appeal after appeal from the other side of the House that this is a great moral issue. Of course, it is a moral issue. I do not deny that, but it must be placed in the context of what is possible, indeed, of what is probable.
Is it not morally right that the Belgiums should have given independence to the Congo? Is not the way they did it morally wrong? Did it not bring chaos to all races in the Congo? Was it not morally right that we should give independence to Zanzibar, but was it morally right that it cost 8,000 lives in three nights? It may have been morally right to give independence to Southern 1680 Sudan, but there has been civil war there ever since.
One can make great moral cases, but let us face the facts of life in the imperfect world in which we all live. We must recognise that there has been no British Army, no British civil servant and no British policeman in Rhodesia, not merely not since 1923 but never. Many hon. Gentlemen on the back benches opposite ask that we should introduce these people now, when they know very well that we have not the power to do so.
The main mistake we make is to judge events in Africa from a European background. In his speech yesterday, the Commonwealth Secretary gave a great catalogue of what he called injustices perpetrated by the present Rhodesian régime. We agree that it is wrong to censor the Press anywhere. I also feel that it is stupid to censor the Press in Rhodesia today. But one must remember that all the things that Mr. Smith is doing today have been done at one time or another by a British Government in a British Colony in a state of emergency.
There are occasions when some of these things can be justified. I am not saying that they are necessarily justified in Salisbury today, but it is no good making a blanket condemnation on what is happening in Africa based on standards in Europe.
§ Mr. James Johnson
Is it not a fact that, in our former colonial possessions, we had to put down disorder in given instances and at given times of emergency, whereas what is happening in Southern Rhodesia is a consistent policy over the years, maintained in perpetuity?
§ Mr. Wall
I disagree. Most of these specific measures, such as censorship, were introduced since the emergency, prior to U.D.I., and they were used by us, or, I suppose, to be fair, by the Federal Government, presumably with British backing, during the emergencies in the days of Federation.
What are we supposed to be fighting for? We are so often told that we are fighting for the Africans. Just as my hon. Friends do and as many hon. Members opposite do, I want the Africans to have their full share in the government of Rhodesia or any other country. I want them eventually to become the 1681 predominant race and to have the major share in industry, in social affairs, in economics and in the government of their country. But I want to see this done on a stable basis. It does not benefit any race to create chaotic conditions in which all races suffer. Therefore, it takes time.
I do not believe the stories we have had from the other side of the House that race relations in Rhodesia are very bad. I happen to believe that race relations in Rhodesia today are good.
§ Mr. Wall
All right. I shall not weary the House about it. We shall have to disagree.
To my mind, the best example to prove what I say is this. If the Africans hate the Europeans so much, why does the rural African constantly report freedom fighters coming in over the border so that they are picked up by the security forces? How is it that the average earnings of Africans in Rhodesia today are four times more than in Kenya, eight times more than in Malawi and twelve times more than in Tanzania? I can see the hon. Member for Smethwick saying that that is all very well, but they are the hewers of wood and drawers of water, and the Europeans in Rhodesia will not educate them properly.
In reply to that, if the question of educational standards is raised, I point out that the number of African children educated in Rhodesia is higher almost than in any other country in Africa. If it is then said that this is just primary education, I turn to secondary education. In April, 1966, well after this campaign of sanctions started, the de facto government of Rhodesia announced that the present 25 per cent. of children undergoing secondary education would be increased during the next few years to 37 per cent., and last year 20 new secondary schools were opened, with 13 more this year. This is all since sanctions.
All I am asking is that no one should try to make out that these people are ogres. They are looking at the problem in a context entirely different from ours here in. Britain. Let us at least try to understand the problem, and let us try to eliminate some of the mistrust. I believe that there is a certain amount of common ground on which both sides of the House 1682 can join and from which we can view events in Africa.
§ Mr. David Ensor (Bury and Radcliffe)
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what is the penalty for treason?
§ Mr. Wall
It was dropped very quickly. I think that the Law Officers of the Crown found that it was not a very good argument to pursue.
We must realise, above all, where power lies. It lies at the moment in Rhodesia, and it will lie even more in Rhodesia if we go ahead with the policy of mandatory sanctions and appeal to the United Nations. Many of my friends in Rhodesia do not belong to Mr. Smith's party, but I happen to know that, if Her Majesty's Government go to the United Nations and bring the United Nations into the affair, they will immediately back Mr. Smith. They are bound to do so. They are loyal Rhodesians. They put their country first. They regard Rhodesia as their own country and are prepared to face the rest of the world.
One of my hon. Friends was criticised for referring to the American War of Independence. In this situation, seen through Rhodesian eyes, there is a parallel. The Rhodesians wish to maintain their loyalty to the Crown, just as the Americans did. The Rhodesians have rejected Westminster and said that they do not want to be governed by people 6,000 miles away. So did the Americans in their day. I am not saying that it is necessarily right, but in Rhodesian eyes there is a close parallel between the action of the Rhodesians and the action in America. We seem to be following the same course, because we started an economic war against the Americans—the sanctions of those days—which developed into a military war which we lost because of logistics. I feel that history will repeat itself.
Certainly, today, the Prime Minister gave the best example of Lord North which I have ever seen in the House. I accept that the Europeans in Africa distrust the colonial policies of previous 1683 British Governments in Africa so that the Prime Minister undoubtedly inherited a very difficult situation, and I sincerely congratulate him on having done what nobody succeeded in doing before—getting agreement on the six constitutional principles which are vital for the future independence of Rhodesia, because there must be fair independence for all races.
But the Prime Minister has changed his attitude on a number of occasions and has made some fundamental mistakes. At U.D.I. he started off, like some hon. Members opposite, by talking about traitors and frightened little men. He dropped that pretty quickly and his first reaction was to be very cautious. On 11th November he said:We do not approach this tragic situation in a mood of recrimination.He went on to say:But we do not contemplate … any national action, and may I say any international action, for the purpose of coercing even the illegal Government of Rhodesia into a constitutional posture."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th November. 1965; Vol. 720, c. 359–61.]But, later, the right hon. Gentleman donned the mantle of Lord North and on 10th December—I paraphrase his words from col. 770 of HANSARD—he said. "We will not deal with illegal régimes." Then came the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in Lagos, when he allowed it to be said in the communiqué that the rebellion would be over in weeks rather than months because of the success of the economic sanctions.
Still in the mantle of Lord North, on 25th January the right hon. Gentleman talked about direct colonial rule when U.D.I. ended. That did more damage to the British cause in Africa than anything else, because it united behind Mr. Smith people who had previously been utterly opposed to Mr. Smith. There was then a switch to caution again. In May, talks started; in September, we had the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, and I remember congratulating the Prime Minister from this side of the House on his handling of that conference. But we have to recognise that he was forced into a corner and to make certain statements which, I am sure, he now bitterly regrets.
Now we come to the famous meeting in H.M.S. "Tiger". I want to ask the 1684 hon. Lady the Minister of State about this. Some rather unpleasant stories have been circulating about how Mr. Smith was treated in H.M.S. "Tiger".
§ Mr. Wall
He was discussing with our Prime Minister conditions for a return to normal government for the good of the people of both countries. If the stories are true, it was extremely tactless that he should have been treated with scant courtesy and given a small cabin in which to sleep and that he should not have had any meeting between himself and the Prime Minister except officially. I am not saying that these things are true, but I am repeating them because I would like to hear them denied.
§ Mr. Wall
I would have thought that that was exactly the attitude of Lord North to the leaders of the American Revolution. How stupid it was and how history has condemned Lord North!
I believe that the Prime Minister has a last chance and that if he throws this chance away when he has had great success in getting agreement on the six constitutional points, then history will condemn him almost as much as it condemned Lord North.
May I refer briefly to the constitutional proposals. I do not think that any hon. Member has pointed out the very great concessions which the Rhodesians have made in each one of these constitutional points. Principle 1: unimpeded progress towards majority rule. The British wanted the entrenchment of Chapter III—the whole of Chapter III. They got that entrenchment. The British wanted the "B" roll seats to be increased from 15 to 17. The Rhodesians had been against 1685 this for a long time. The British wanted a blocking third. They got the 17 "B" roll seats, and they got the blocking third.
Principle 2: no retrogression. The British demanded an appeal to external authority. The Rhodesians wanted an appeal to internal authority. They finally conceded an appeal to the Privy Council.
Principle 3: immediate political advance. The "B" roll was increased for all Africans over 30 years of age, and it was done by mutual agreement. The Rhodesians were determined that cross-voting should be abolished, but it was retained.
Principle 4: the elimination of racial discrimination. The Rhodesians conceded not only the Royal Commission but, as I understand it, a Constitutional Council, which was to embrace the pre-1961 legislation—which was an enormous concession—and also a standing commission.
Principle 5: they agreed—and I gather that this agreement has been repeated in a telegram today—on the ending of censorship and the release of detainees.
Finally, Principle 6: no oppression. In my estimation, this is the first time that it has been seriously tackled by a blocking third both ways; the Africans have a blocking third now, and the Europeans would have a blocking third when the Africans have the majority.
I pay a sincere tribute to the Prime Minister's diplomacy in getting as far as this, but it is equally fair to point out that most of the concessions have been made by the Rhodesians to meet these particular points, and now more is called for. This is where we seem to have failed. We have failed because of the background of complete lack of trust, which has been referred to before.
I must again ask the Prime Minister what really is the status of the Governor during this four-month period of interim government? Would he be an executive or a constitutional Governor. If we read the Secretary of State's answers—and I listened to the Prime Minister's answer today—it is still not 100 per cent. clear. I want to be quite certain, and I believe that most of my right hon. and hon. Friends want to be certain, that Salisbury understands what actually is being offered.
§ Mr. John Lee
Would the hon. Gentleman say why he is so afraid of a Governor with executive powers? Is he afraid of the colonial administration which was, after all, constituted for the purpose of bringing forward countries in Africa?
§ Mr. Wall
I will be delighted to explain that. The Rhodesians do not trust the British Government. They may not also have trusted the previous British Government. [Interruption.] All right, the Rhodesians do not trust British Governments, and, therefore, they do not intend to put themselves in a position where they surrender their so-called independence, and are confronted with a Governor who is appointed by the Government of this country and who, if he is an executive Governor, can be told to carry out certain actions.
That is what an executive Governor means. If he is a constitutional Governor if he can act only on the advice of his Rhodesian Ministers, then the situation is quite different, and I believe that Mr. Smith, in that case, would be very foolish to refuse this. This is the absolutely crucial point and, with great respect to the Front Bench opposite, we have not had a really clear answer. I am afraid that from our experience in the past, when we do not have a categorically clear answer to a fundamental question, we find that there is some fudging going on and it may well be that the Rhodesians are right not to trust the Government.
An hon. Member asked whether the Southern Rhodesia Act would still be in force for the four months interim period. The Southern Rhodesia Act confers absolute power on the Governor. If the Governor is not a wholly constitutional Governor, the Government in Salisbury could be told to do things against their own wishes, and this country could dictate policy to Rhodesia. One should remember that there is to be no Parliament in Salisbury. This is absolutely fundamental. This is practically the last moment when the question can be answered. There is some confusion in my mind about the position, but there is also great confusion in this country and in Salisbury. It is quite essential that this point should be cleared up.
On sanctions, I remind the House that the sequence of events in this House a 1687 year ago was that the Government told Parliament that there must be consequential sanctions. Mr. Smith had become a rebel, had committed an illegal act, could not benefit from being a member of the Commonwealth and, therefore, consequential sanctions should be applied. The first thing was that the purchase of tobacco was banned—not by an Act of Parliament passed by this House, but by Order of the Board of Trade. Then we found that 90 per cent. of Rhodesian imports were to be banned.
Then we came to the famous oil ban, which led to the blockade of Beira, which first brought the United Nations into the matter under the first part of Chapter VII. A threat to peace. This is where we used the whip on the smallest of Rhodesia's friends, and I am now very worried that if these mandatory sanctions go wrong, as I think they will, the Government will decide to put pressure on Portugal because they are frightened to put it on South Africa. To do that would be utterly dishonest.
Are we to have a repeat of the programme we had with voluntary sanctions? Is the same thing to happen with mandatory sanctions, with, initially, a sanction on just two or three commodities? Frankly, I believe that the Government will get mandatory sanctions through the Security Council, but I believe also, that the real danger will come in February, when members of the United Nations realise that those sanctions are not very successful, and will want more. They will say, "Oil is still coming in. We must include both South Africa and Portugal." Pressure from the General Assembly will intensify, and the Government will have to use their veto.
What will that do to the Commonwealth? I think that it was last November that, in an exchange with my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), the Prime Minister said, in effect, "If I use the veto, I lose the Commonwealth." There is much truth in that observation. I think that we shall get an exactly similar escalation in the year to come as we did last year. We start with limited sanctions, and increase to oil and we are then forced to include South Africa and Portugal in an economic 1688 blockade. That, as the Daily Express said yesterday, would cost us about £1 million a day in lost trade and invisibles, and that, whatever they themselves may think, would affect the constituents of hon. Members opposite very much indeed.
I have referred briefly to war. I think that if we take this step in the next few days the matter will pass out of our hands, and we will run a very grave danger of war. And what is the purpose? What is the object? All it can do is create complete and utter chaos in Southern Africa, where the economic power of the whole continent lies and on whom the whole prosperity of Africa will eventually depend.
I appeal once more to the Prime Minister to build on what he has already achieved—and it is good, solid achievement. Let us set up a Royal Commission, and start talking. It has been said that Mr. Smith has put the Rhodesia Front before Rhodesia: it could be said in future, if events go as I suspect they will, that the Prime Minister put the unity of the Socialist Party before the good of the nation.
I end by quoting the last sentence of an editorial in yesterday's Daily Telegraph:With such a disastrous prospect ahead, there can be no sense in agreeing upon the end and refusing to negotiate the means.I believe those words to be true. I believe that, unless we are very careful, disaster lies ahead for Great Britain; and that mandatory sanctions by the United Nations will mark the point of no return.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)
This debate will be memorable for the speech of very great force and compelling integrity of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. [Interruption.] Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to have had a very good dinner, but they may like to hear my second assessment which is one of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) yesterday. It was said to me by an hon. Member who is not a Member on this side of the House, that his speech recalled nothing so much as it recalled the speeches of Neville Chamberlain. In my 1689 view, it did a lot to restore the reputation of Neville Chamberlain. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Barnet would have made Neville Chamberlain sound like a Churchill.
I have recently returned from the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Hon. Members opposite have talked about what will happen now that we have taken the issue of sanctions against Rhodesia to the United Nations General Assembly. The fact is that Rhodesia has been an issue at the U.N. for some considerable time. I was with Lord Caradon in the Fourth Committee of the United Nations very recently and one would have had to see and hear the acrimony to which he was exposed in order to believe it. This House owes to Lord Caradon a very sincere tribute for the work that he has done on behalf of our country in extremely trying conditions. In my presence he was frequently accused of prevarication and double-talk. For Lord Caradon to suffer such charges, prompts one to reflect on how much more serious is the charge against people who advocate further delay and in so doing disgrace the name of this country.
The Prime Minister mentioned my city of Manchester and the county of Lancashire when referring to the fact that there this was a great moral issue. He recalled that the cotton workers of my city and of Lancashire were prepared to put a moral issue before their own economic interests during the time of the American Civil War. It is one of the great shortcomings of the Conservative Party that it cannot recognise the British people's capacity to see a moral issue.
Mine has to be one of the briefest interventions in this debate, because of the time available before we hear the concluding speeches. But I must emphasise that if it divides the House tonight, the party opposite is damaging not only itself but also the international reputation of Britain. It has put forward nothing that is constructive, and has had the audacity to talk as if a return to legality were less important than the constitutional settlement. I am satisfied that the people of this country recognise that the return to legality and the constitutional settlement are not only equally important but indissolubly linked. And I am convinced that 1690 they will be deeply disquieted by the speeches which have been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite suggesting that the return to legality is an issue of no importance.
I know from my experience with the British Parliamentary delegation to the current session of the United Nations General Assembly, and from other recent experiences, that there are hon. Members opposite who are gravely troubled about the way in which their party has been led on this issue. I hope that at least some of them will have the courage to come in our Lobby tonight and thus try to show that the Conservative Party is not merely an organised hypocrisy.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
It is indeed true, as almost every speaker has said, that this debate is of immense importance not only for Rhodesia but for our own country, and, I believe, for Parliament. Many would have hoped that it could have been devoted to a careful weighing up of the various policies which can be pursued and of the merits and dangers involved in an attempt to continue the policy of securing a negotiated settlement in Rhodesia.
Instead, to my regret and, I believe, to the regret of many, it has been dominated by almost unmitigated abuse and recrimination, led by the Prime Minister this afternoon. I would hope that, even at this late stage, it might be possible for the House to consider quietly and rationally the issues which are involved.
I wish to start with the fact that, as I said on Monday, I believe the Prime Minister's meeting with Mr. Smith was absolutely right. We had urged him to do this. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), in a speech just before, had again asked him to do it.
The Prime Minister has sometimes remarked on the amicable relationship which exists between himself and Mr. Ian Smith, usually at our expense. He did so again this afternoon. He might care to refer to the Blue Book and the message of 15th December, 1964, from Mr. Smith to the Prime Minister, which reads as follows—[Interruption.] I am grateful to the Prime Minister for coming in. I was just recalling his words about the amicable relationships between himself 1691 and his colleagues and Mr. Smith, whereas, apparently, ours were always unhappy.
The right hon. Gentleman might like to recall the message of 15th December, 1964, from Mr. Ian Smith to himself, which read:It is with regret that I have to record that during the short tenure of office of your Govment in Britain there has been a drastic deterioration in relations between our two Governments.That is the real position concerning relations.
I was saying that the Prime Minister was right to meet Mr. Smith, despite everything that he had said in the past. I wish to emphasise again what I have said, because I stand by every word of it. I have condemned illegal independence, and I still do. I have no sympathies with the Rhodesia Front, and everybody knows that to be true. I have condemned those aspects of a police state so often recalled by the Prime Minister, and I still do. I am opposed to racialism everywhere. I condemned it outright at the beginning of the last General Election and said that I would not have anybody concerned with it in my party, and I still do.
Everybody who has worked with me in the Commonwealth or outside knows that is absolutely true. They know that racialism and any form of persecution or police state is abhorrent to me; and I say this as the Leader of the Conservative Party. No campaign of vilification of me or of the party by the Prime Minister will change that.
I believe that it was right of the Prime Minister to meet Mr. Smith, even though he said that he would not do so. I want, however, to come to the first major essential in this situation. Agreement was reached on a new constitution embodying the six principles. Of course, both sides made concessions, important concessions, I agree, and they were right to do so, but the fact that agreement was reached on this Constitution has, I believe, immense—indeed, overwhelming—importance in this situation. I am glad to see that the Prime Minister acknowledges it.
Mr. Smith said on his return thatthe Rhodesian Government is prepared to accept the constitutional proposals by Mr. Wilson which fulfil the six principles as a basis for a constitution for an independent Rhodesia1692 He is committed to this first important element in the situation—the new Constitution.
The Prime Minister in his statement said:The House will see that the requirements of the six principles have been met in full with effective constitutional and external guarantees."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1056.]I believe that to be true. The Prime Minister repeated it this afternoon. Again, this is a statement of the utmost importance, because it means that it is effective in every way. It does not depend on trust, confidence, people or personalities, but has effective internal and external guarantees.
This means, therefore, that if this Constitution were to be approved in Rhodesia and the election took place afterwards—even if the Rhodesia Front were returned, even if somebody like Mr. Dupont was re-elected, even if the present Prime Minister put Mr. Dupont into his Government—the Prime Minister is satisfied that the internal and external guarantees of this Constitution are sufficient to maintain the six principles. This is a very important point, because it concerns the transition from their present position to independence.
The Prime Minister knows full well that after independence, on the new Constitution, he cannot then influence which party is elected, who is Prime Minister or who is in the Government. And so we see that. if nothing else changes, he is prepared to have the people who are there at the moment again in office as Ministers under a constitution which, he now believes, would be absolutely effective. Surely, this is a major prize to have secured. It is to this that the Prime Minister should hold as firmly as he can, the new legal Constitution which can be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
The second basic essential of the situation is this. The problem is how to carry out the fifth principle. Great progress has been made here as well by the Prime Minister. The acceptance of the Royal Commission and of the impartial tribunal to deal with detainees has not, I understand, been challenged in Salisbury. Paragraph 15 of the working document about Press censorship and normal political 1693 activities has not been challenged either. This, too, is a very considerable achievement by the Prime Minister which is still in existence.
We then come to the third basic essential of the situation. The problem is how to move from illegality, which in no way do we condone, to the new Constitution once it is approved. This is the remaining problem. In my view, there are two ways of doing it. There is, first, the Prime Minister's proposal of, broadly speaking, going back to the 1961 Constitution. This has the advantage of providing a proper background for the work of the Royal Commission and the tribunal.
I say frankly, as my colleagues have said, that I wish that Mr. Smith and his colleagues had accepted this, but they have not. We ought, therefore, to look as coolly as we can to the cause of the breakdown. I believe that fundamentally what still lies at the bottom of the breakdown on this part of the working paper is the suspicion which exists in Salisbury that the British Government would try to intervene in affairs during the interim period under the 1961 Constitution if they went back to it.
I believe that that is the suspicion which exists, and every Press report in Salisbury has dealt with it. It goes back to the Prime Minister's statement of 25th January, in which he outlined an interim stage based on direct rule either by the Governor or from Whitehall. What is more, it was embodied in the Commonwealth Communiqué, in paragraph 8 of which one can find words to the effect that there was to be direct rule by the Governor or responsibility to the Governor of the Armed Forces and also of the Executive.
That was a logical connection on the Government's part between the statement of 25th January and the Commonwealth Communiqu.. But it has also to be taken against the background of the talks between Easter and in the "Tiger". The House has never been given the record of those talks, and I ask the Prime Minister why the House cannot have a White Paper setting out in full all the official exchanges which were made during that time. We had always understood that that was to be in the White Paper. That was why we asked 1694 the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House for proper time to consider the White Paper. We thought that it would be a substantial volume. But the House has not been given those facts.
There is also the point about the proposal for the union. We were not told about that—not even in the Prime Minister's statement on Monday evening. It is rather surprising. It was kept for television on Tuesday night.
We still do not know the details which had been worked out by the Government, if any had been. There was one very important statement by the Commonwealth Secretary yesterday when he said, referring to Salisbury:… 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."—[OFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1382.]That shows the sorts of things which the Government were proposing up to that point and which, therefore, had been discussed by Mr. Smith's colleagues in Salisbury, whereas what was proposed in the "Tiger" was not discussed until the last few hours when he got hack.
I believe that the statement of 25th January on direct rule, the intervening talks with officials and proposals, including proposals for the forces, and then the Commonwealth Communiqué quite specifically talking in the same terms, provide the background to the people discussing this in Salisbury when Mr. Smith got back last Monday.
The Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Secretary have said that what this document says is not really the position, that the Governor was not to have discretion, that he was to do what had been arranged with Mr. Smith, and that there was to be a Defence Council but that he would not have control over the forces. However, that is not what the working paper says. The right hon. Gentleman will have had the experience in Cabinet, as I have, of coming back from negotiations, producing a piece of paper and saying, "What we have agreed is this, and what it means is so and so", to which one's colleagues say, "That may be so, but that is not what your agreement says". That is undoubtedly the position here. I believe, quite genuinely, that this is one of the major causes which have led 1695 to the rejection of Part 2 of the working paper.
It is very important that this part, at any rate, should be dealt with by the Government at the earliest opportunity, and I wish to put one direct question to the hon. Lady, the Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs. On the Prime Minister's authority, will she confirm that, under the interim arrangements proposed in the working paper, it would not be possible for the British Government here in Westminster to give a single order to the Governor or a single instruction to the forces through the Defence Council? If she can give that categorical undertaking, that in itself, once it can be got through to Salisbury, will help clear up this position.
§ The Prime Minister
I gave that undertaking this afternoon. What is more, Mr. Smith knew it and never raised any doubts about that point in the "Tiger".
§ Mr. Heath
With great respect to the Prime Minister, this does not deal with the situation in Salisbury. His assurance is now more specific than it has ever been before, and I believe that it is immensely important. But what is also striking is that, so far as I know, not one moderate person, not one moderate Rhodesian, either in Rhodesia or in this country, has come out in favour of Part II of the working document. This is striking confirmation of the fact that it does not in its present form appeal to the most moderate people in Rhodesia who ought to use their influence.
The point which I do not understand from the Prime Minister is why, having got this amount of agreement, having got the new Constitution agreed, having got the Royal Commission agreed for the fifth principle, having got the tribunal agreed, having got all the action in paragraph 15 of the working paper agreed, and still not challenged in Rhodesia, he is not prepared now to take the further steps to get agreement on the rest. After the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon, after listening to it for an hour and a quarter, it has not emerged why the Prime Minister is not in these circumstances prepared to take further steps to get the agreement.
I know that the Prime Minister feels affronted, and I know full well the diffi- 1696 culties with which he has to deal, but I do not believe that he is justified in refusing to go on seeking a settlement. That is really the crux of this debate, and it is what the vote tonight is about.
The Prime Minister talks about the time limit. The time limit in the Commonwealth Communiqué is the end of the year, 31st December. That is the time limit, not the 7th or 8th December. If he has to send it to the Security Council, it can meet at 12 hours' notice. The Prime Minister mentioned the General Assembly. If he is afraid that it will be vetoed by somebody in the Security Council, let me tell him that the General Assembly cannot mandate. It cannot possibly mandate, because it is not in its authority to do so. It is only in the authority of the Security Council, and therefore he cannot seek mandatory sanctions from the General Assembly. Why, therefore, does he mutter, "General Assembly"? The plain fact is that the time limit is the end of the year, and he still has that time to go.
§ The Prime Minister
I said by the end of the year, before the General Assembly adjourned. It will adjourn next week. This was insisted on by our Commonwealth colleagues.
§ The Prime Minister
This was minuted by the Commonwealth Conference, and it was part of the deal which was done to get that communiqué. It was part of the understanding which we got—[Interruption.] The Commonwealth matters to us in this House. This was part of the understanding which we got under which the Commonwealth agreed to back us not only in mandatory sanctions but in limiting them. Were we wrong to make that arrangement and to give that promise?
§ Mr. Heath
If it was such an honourable arrangement, why was it not in the communiqué? The Prime Minister has done a deal which he did not tell to the British public or to the British Parliament.
The other fact is that if the Prime Minister really believes his argument that 1697 it is the time factor which has brought Mr. Smith to negotiate, why does he not go on, in the time which remains, with further negotiations? I have been against an ultimatum—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Heath
I do not share the Prime Minister's judgment on this. I believe that Mr. Smith moved for other reasons, and one was that he had confidence in the Commonwealth Secretary. I hope that the Commonwealth Secretary will do nothing to impair that confidence in the sort of battle that is going on at the moment.
There are two ways in which the Prime Minister could now move in order that Mr. Smith could go from the present illegal position to one of legality. First, he could try to clear up the question of going back to the 1961 Constitution. I believe that he should make a further attempt to do that. I believe that the Commonwealth Secretary, who has the confidence of Salisbury, should do it, and ought to do it personally. I put this forward as a most sincere and serious suggestion.
The second method is that advocated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet, which is to move from the present illegal position to a legal position when the new Constitution has been accepted under the fifth principle. What are involved here are satisfactory conditions in which the Royal Commission and the tribunal can do their job. This is a point to which the Prime Minister never addressed himself in his speech. My right hon. Friend said that one of the requirements was that Mr. Smith should accept the authority of the Governor—and he twice repeated it—and then the conditions in paragraph 15 of the Working Paper should be put into effect, the Press censorship removed, and so on.
In those conditions, which are in practice no different from what would ensure under the 1961 Constitution, the Royal Commission could get on with its job, and if it decided that the circumstances did not allow it to carry out its job it would report to that effect. The situation then would be that neither the British Government nor Mr. Smith and his colleagues would be in any different posi- 1698 tion. What would have happened would have been an attempt to find proper conditions for the Royal Commission and the tribunal to carry out their tasks.
Why cannot the Commonwealth Secretary explore both points and try to reach a settlement on one basis or the other? This is important, particularly in view of the alternative which the Government are to follow, namely, to go to the United Nations, as they are already doing, to ask for mandatory sanctions. We have never been told in detail the effect of existing sanctions although we can make our calculations. We have been told nothing of what is proposed in the Government's policy for mandatory sanctions—no details of the items, no details of the consequences for Rhodesia, in terms of their balance of payments, and no details about the consequences for this country, not in terms of direct trade but as a result of an increase in world prices of chrome and asbestos, which may cost us another £20 million a year but, if there is a confrontation with Southern Africa, could cost us far more.
The Prime Minister spoke of this as a great moral principle, and of what was going on in the United Nations as a great moral principle. Where is it? We have the great moral principle of mandatory sanctions provided we do not do anything which affects South Africa—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is obviously not giving way. [Interruption.] Order. The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) must contain himself.
§ Several Hon. Members rose——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. If hon. Gentlemen insist on standing, I shall have to ask them to leave the Chamber.
§ Mr. Heath
—sheer hypocrisy of the basest kind.
This wipes the whole of the end of the Prime Minister's speech into insignificance. What is he doing? Saying that 1699 he wants mandatory sanctions, but, of course, will not have a confrontation with Southern Africa, and then goes on to say, in answer to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, "Of course we will have effective sanctions, but no confrontation with Southern Africa." How are these sanctions to be effective when there is no confrontation with Southern Africa? Of course, if they were effective with Southern Africa, the cost to this country could be enormous. The right hon. Gentleman knows this—the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells him almost every day.
Let us hear no more of this hypocritical cant from the Prime Minister——[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Ensor rose——
§ Mr. Ensor rose——
§ Mr. Heath
The Prime Minister did not give way at the end either, and I have little time.
We, therefore, are opposed to mandatory sanctions. We are opposed to them because they cannot be effective in the way in which the Prime Minister is applying them. We are opposed to them because we believe that, if they are effective, they will lead to a confrontation in Southern Africa, possibly leading, as the Prime Minister himself said, to war itself. We are opposed to them because we believe that the Government, with the news from New York, are already sliding into a confrontation and the situation is out of control. And we are opposed to them because we believe that the Government are incapable of keeping control over these matters at the United Nations.
The Government have given no undertaking to use the veto on this case, and until they give a solemn undertaking to use the veto if the United Nations—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—if the United Nations wants to go further than the Prime Minister has promised—until he gives that, he cannot tell the House of Commons that he is keeping control. To do so is just deceiving the House.
The final point about the United Nations is that, once it is in the hands of 1700 the Security Council on the mandatory sanctions, any final settlement with Rhodesia is not in the hands of the British Government but of the Security Council itself. [An HON. MEMBER: "So what?"] Because the Prime Minister has always said that it must remain in British hands—and the hon. Gentleman does not mind.
This means, therefore, that any resolution—[Interruption.] The right hon. Member far Easington (Mr. Shinwell) is taking up the time of the Minister of State. If the Security Council is not prepared to remove mandatory sanctions at the request of the British Government, a decision on any settlement with Rhodesia then lies in the hands of the Security Council, and for that also we are opposed to this Government's action.
The Prime Minister, of course, is in a dilemma—[Laughter.] The great majority of his party have shown in these two days that they have had "a sense of relief"—as one of them put it—that there was not a settlement. The most logical of all, the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), said quite frankly that he wants to see a confrontation with Southern Africa. He is prepared to go to war. He is prepared to see a financial crash in this country and the economy in ruins. He is prepared to see anything in order to try to deal with the Smith régime in Rhodesia.
This is the division between the parties—and what has been the Prime Minister's response? It has been to start a scurrilous attack on all his opponents. What he is now doing is to run a deliberate campaign against the whole of the Conservative Party and its supporters. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may shout, but I will read what hon. Gentlemen opposite already know, reported in The Times today—a newspaper to which the Prime Minister has given his approval:In one of his most significant passages Mr. Wilson said that a tremendous political battle was now opening between the Government and the Opposition. Labour had to show the country that Mr. Heath and the Tories, by opposing sanctions, were aligning themselves with the illegal Rhodesian regime.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Is it not interesting that the man who last weekend went to try to negotiate a settlement today turns on those who urge him to go on doing it?
1701 I will read to the House what Burke said in 1777:I know many have been taught to think that moderation in a case like this is a sort of treason and that all arguments for it are sufficiently answered by railing at rebels and rebellions and by charging all the present or future miseries which we may suffer as the responsibility of our brethren.The Prime Minister might take those words to heart.
The late Aneurin Bevan, for whom I had much admiration, referred to the people of this country as "lower than vermin", and it cost his party dear. The Prime Minister is going to rue the day on which he attacked his political opponents—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."]—and he will long regret——
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Jennie Lee)
On a point of order, Is it correct for the Leader of the Opposition, on an important Parliamentary occasion, to misquote? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] My point of order is that the former hon. Member for Ebbw Vale in fact said that the leadership given by the Tory Party was often lower than vermin, but he never said that the people of Britain were lower than vermin.
§ Several Hon. Members rose——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. [Interruption.] Order. I know that deep feelings have been aroused in both parties, but we have to think of Parliament as well.
§ Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)
On a point of order. Is the Leader of the Opposition intending to talk out this debate?
§ Mr. Heath
When I have been allowed to say what I want to say, I shall sit down.
I want to put two points to the Minister of State. The Government are now committed to wiping out all the previous starts in these negotiations and the chances of moving towards majority rule in Rhodesia. Surely the Government should consult their colleagues in the Commonwealth before they do so.
We are going to vote against this Motion tonight. We are voting against it because the Government refuse—[Interruption.]—the Prime Minister wants to know and he is going to hear—to continue negotiations and to try to get a settlement. We are voting against it because they are demanding mandatory sanctions. We are voting against it because they are losing control at the United Nations. We are voting against it because they will not be able to make a settlement themselves; it will be in the hands of the United Nations itself.
We are opposing this Motion because the Government are wilfully, indeed compulsively, leading this country on a course which can only produce further tragedy for Rhodesia and for Britain.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Affairs (Mrs. Judith Hart)
Tonight, the House has certainly had the experience of hearing from the Leader of the Opposition the constructive, sober speech that was promised. If he asks us what is the moral issue on which the House will vote we are prepared to tell him. It is what right hon. and hon. Members opposite are voting about. Indeed, his whole speech has tended to reinforce the belief of those on this side who take the view that many right hon. and hon. Members opposite tonight are voting for Salisbury against Britain.
1703 I will deal with one or two of the points that the right hon. Gentleman has raised. He will understand that I am not able to deal with all of them, because he has taken up so much time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course the House will have the White Paper that he has asked for. It is already in preparation and the Opposition can have it very soon, giving the whole outlines of the discussions leading up to the events in H.M.S. "Tiger" last weekend.
I now turn to the fundamental question, which is that to which the right hon. Gentleman devoted the greater part of his speech. I am glad that he did, because we must get that issue absolutely clear. That is the issue on which there has been a break-down of discussions with Mr. Smith and the Rhodesian régime. The real issue is that the régime is prepared to abandon illegality only if the test of opinion proves to be favourable to constitutional proposals it has agreed in advance. That is the essence of the thing. It represents a total rejection of the real meaning of the fifth principle. That is what right hon. Gentlemen opposite seem unable to comprehend, even though they were partly responsible for developing the ideas that lie behind the fifth principle.
Mr. Smith makes that point absolutely clear in the terms of his statement of rejection of the document. Perhaps I should take a minute or two to give the House the full text of the régime's reply last Monday evening, because it has been published in bits and pieces, but not as a whole. It went as follows:I have presented to my colleagues the working document embracing your proposals, which I took away with me at the conclusion of our last discussion yesterday. We have given these proposals the most careful and earnest consideration."—here is the point to which right hon. Gentlemen continually draw attention, and rightly—We agree to accept the principal changes which you suggest be made to the 1961 Constitution as a basis for a constitution for independence which will meet the six principles.Mr. Smith went on:While the constitutional outline is acceptable to us it would be irresponsible of us "—namely, the régime—to abandon the 1965 Constitution, under which we are presently working, before we 1704 have assurances, without any shadow of doubt, that your constitutional proposals will be secured to us, instead of some possible Constitution of an unknown nature or a situation in which such a Constitution might eventuate. In our view Her Majesty's Government must carry out their responsibilities for putting their constitutional proposals to the test of opinion of the people of Rhodesia as a whole before we could accept an agreed procedure to move from the 1965 Constitution to the new one. We are unable to accept the procedures which you suggest for the return to legality.Of course, that is it. There the regime crystallises the issue. That it is a fundamental issue is surely self-evident. Let me restate it in its simplest terms. We say that the fifth principle means that the Rhodesian people as a whole have a right to determine their own future. They must, therefore, be free to accept or reject any settlement which is put to them. But the regime says, "We will keep our illegal independence until the Rhodesian people as a whole accept the independence Constitution which meets with our full agreement".
§ Mrs. Hart
If any hon. Member has the slightest shadow of doubt about this and Mr. Smith was very anxious that there should be no shadow of doubt at this end—let me repeat from the message:… it would be irresponsible of us to abandon the 1965 constitution before we have assurances, without any shadow of doubt, that your constitutional proposals will he secured to us instead of some possible constitution of an unknown nature …
§ Mrs. Hart
Do I take it that hon. Members opposite, and right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench—do the right hon. Members for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)—agree with this attitude of the régime? Do they still think that this is a matter of a technicality, a point of prestige? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] That is what they are voting on tonight. They are voting to say that Mr. Smith was right to reject our proposals.
I need not go deeply into the fact that this is, clearly, a major point. Indeed, Mr. Smith himself, on Rhodesia television, said on Tuesday night that the questions at issue on the return to legalityare not minor points; they are major points".1705 On this, at least, we can agree with Mr. Smith. They are major points. But right hon. Gentlemen opposite have suggested to us today and yesterday that what are major points to the Rhodesia Front should be regarded as only minor points by this House of Commons. This is what the right hon. Member for Barnet was saying when he talked of "a breakdown in the mechanism of transition".
This is what my hon. and learned Friend—is he still?—the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) was saying when he spoke of the break having arisen on a point of punctilio, and it is what the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) was saying, when he spoke—this was the worst of all—of a point of prestige, the Prime Minister's prestige. Can he and other right hon. Members so quickly forget what the fifth principle is all about?
I turn now to the three propositions which we are asked to consider tonight, more or less simultaneously, all concerned with more negotiations and centring on a Commission. Yesterday, the right hon. Member for Barnet suggested that a Royal Commission should be sent out to Rhodesia to carry out a test of opinion. Since Monday this week, Mr. Smith has suggested a Commission which would itself decide whether conditions in Rhodesia were such as to allow it to carry out the test of opinion. Then we have had the "dream sequence" telegram—that is the only way to describe it—asking whether Mr. Smith would, in fact, accept a Commission.
In all three cases, the régime insists that the test of opinion be carried out under the régime and that means that it would give up illegal independence only if the people of Rhodesia as a whole say, "Yes". What is to happen if the people of Rhodesia as a whole say, "No"? In a fair test of opinion, carried out under the illegal régime in conditions when the régime has made perfectly clear that it will not give up its illegality, if the answer is "No" what happens then? Do we go on? Do we then introduce mandatory sanctions? Would the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition support them at that point, or is he prepared——
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle) rose——1706
§ Mrs. Hart
If the right hon. Gentleman still holds the belief he claims to hold in the six principles, if, therefore, he believes in the validity and the essentiality of carrying out the fifth principle, and if he accepts the possibility that any constitutional proposals worked out with Mr. Smith may in a fair test of opinion prove to be unacceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, then, if he is to be responsible in this matter, and if he is to lead his party responsibly into the Lobby tonight, he must know what he would do in that situation.
If the right hon. Gentleman holds the view of the six principles that he claims to hold, then, if he wills the end, he must be ready to will the means, or he must allow us to doubt his strength of purpose.
§ Mr. Tapsell rose——
§ Mr. Tapsell
In view of my speech yesterday, I think that I am entitled to ask a question. Will the hon. Lady, on behalf of the Government, repeat in definite terms the half-assurance given by the Secretary of State yesterday that, if the Smith régime, through the illegal 1965 Constitution, gives effect to the constitutional arrangements agreed in H.M.S. "Tiger", the Government will continue negotiations on that basis?
§ Mrs. Hart
The hon. Gentleman made a very courageous speech yesterday, and I am anxious to answer his question. In fact, it is already answered, because Mr. Smith referred to my right hon. Friend's suggestion in Rhodesia today. Again, this fits in with all that I have just said. He said that he was very interested in my right hon. Friend's suggestion, and he went on to say thatas the other half of the agreement made in H.M.S. Tiger was that the British Government would in return acknowledge Rhodesian independence",the two things would be tied together; and then we get on to his interpretation of how independence could be achieved. We are back to the position which I have been outlining.
Our attitude is quite clear. Our attitude is that we can carry out a fair and proper test of opinion of the people of Rhodesia as a whole only under a broad-based Government in conditions in which illegality has already been abandoned, 1707 because we have to take account of the possibility that the people of Rhodesia as a whole may reject the proposals put to them, in which case we would have to work out a set of new proposals. But this could not take place in a situation of illegality. This is the fundamental of the thing.
I want to turn to sanctions—[Interruption.] I was very anxious, but the right hon. Gentleman has deprived me of the opportunity, to quote some of his friends in Salisbury, some of the friends who added one question which we ought to ask before the debate ends tonight, "Where does some of the responsibility for the break-down in the talks lie?". Is it not that some of it lies with some of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who have sustained the Rhodesian régime, who have sustained its morale by appearances on television and radio?
I believe that I am right in saying—I gave him notice that I would mention him tonight and he is probably here—that the noble Lord, the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lamb-ton), who will correct me if I am wrong, when in Salisbury in September, while he called on members of the Rhodesia Front, did not call on either the Governor or our mission.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I can assure the hon. Lady that she is quite wrong. I called on the Governor. He was out.
§ Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)
On a point of order. I distinctly heard an hon. Member opposite refer to my hon. Friend as a traitor. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is."] That has now been endorsed by hon. Members opposite. Surely it is an unparliamentary expression and ought to be withdrawn. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I did not hear the expression. If an hon. Member used that expression, he ought to stand up and withdraw it.
§ Mr. Faulds rose—1708
§ Mr. Faulds
A Member—I do not have the benefit of either his name or his constituency—pointed a finger at me. It was not I who used the word "traitor".
§ Mrs. Hart
Hon. Members opposite were very anxious that tonight I should tell them the full position about sanctions. Clearly, I shall not be able, in the very limited time available to me—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] If I had had my full half hour, they would have had it all. I want to turn directly to one major point about which we undertook to the right hon. Gentleman that we would have something to say tonight—the questions of sanctions on oil exports to Rhodesia, a matter which has been brought forward at several points by hon. Members.
As is known to the House, we had a meeting of the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee on Monday, resumed on Tuesday. Since then, the Foreign Secretary has had further contacts in New York. We have been in close touch with the Foreign Secretary and I can now say this: having consulted very widely and appreciated the strong measure of support which exists for the inclusion of oil in the mandatory sanctions, we will not oppose an amendment in this sense if one is made in acceptable terms.
This is on the basis of the full understanding which, it is clear, also exists among Commonwealth delegations in New York of the importance of not allowing sanctions which escalate into economic confrontation with third countries. So we shall, therefore, be moving into a phase of mandatory sanctions—[Interruption.]—this is the full Commonwealth support which was promised and which we have got—and there should be no doubt as to the extent, because certainly the Rhodesian Press at the moment, and Rhodesian businessmen, are in no doubt about what the Bulawayo Chronicle this morning called the "toughness of the fight that lies ahead". The Bulawayo Chronicle said:The new year will bring austerities that 1966 never knew. It will be a year in which we shall be thrown back increasingly on our own resources".We have tonight been discussing moral issues and economic issues, and on the latter I would only add, in regard to 1709 sanctions, in reply to a question put earlier by an hon. Member opposite, that we are in no doubt at all about our capacity to control the operation that is now at the United Nations—
§ Mrs. Hart
We have discussed this fully in the Commonwealth Conference and we know exactly what is now meant by the full Commonwealth support that we have been promised and which we are, clearly, to have. This is the important factor. This is the thing that matters.
The other thing which has been underlying the debate has been the Commonwealth. I detected in the speeches of many hon. Gentlemen opposite a note of sadness that the wind of change which introduced the new Commonwealth seemed to have blown itself out. It seems, in fact, to have been swept away by a tide of reaction. It is very sad. I do not weep crocodile tears here—lachrimae rerum, the tears of the world. It is the turning point of the party opposite, because it would do Britain nothing but
§ harm—and hon. Members opposite say that they care about Britain—in the eyes of the world if there is to be such an end to the bipartisan approach to the ideals of non-racialism and the rights of man and the common ideals of the new Commonwealth.
§ Tonight, we shall be voting for our belief in non-racialism, for the future of the Commonwealth—and I use the words of one, the hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell) yesterday—for Britain's honour and integrity in the world, and for our belief in democracy and in the human rights of men and women. As for hon. Members opposite, for what principles, for what ideals will they be voting? We shall be voting, also, for the simple proposition that principles should determine politics and that moral issues demand moral decisions.
§ Hon. Members opposite should have no illusions. Their actions tonight will live in history. I think that they will have sad hearts tomorrow.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 353, Noes 244.1713
|Division No. 225.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)|
|Albu, Austen||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Eadie, Alex|
|Alldritt, Walter||Cant, R. B.||Edelman, Maurice|
|Allen, Scholefield||Carmichael, Neil||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Anderson, Donald||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Edwards, William (Merioneth)|
|Archer, Peter||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Ellis, John|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Chapman, Donald||English, Michael|
|Ashley, Jack||Coe, Denis||Ennals, David|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Coleman, Donald||Ensor, David|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Concannon, J. D.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Conlan, Bernard||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)|
|Barnes, Michael||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Faulds, Andrew|
|Barnett, Joel||Crawshaw, Richard||Fernyhough, E.|
|Baxter, William||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Finch, Harold|
|Beaney, Alan||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Bence, Cyril||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Dalyell, Tarn||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgoton)||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Foley, Maurice|
|Birms, John||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Ford, Ben|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Forrester, John|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Fowler, Gerry|
|Booth, Albert||Davies, Ifor (Cower)||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Boston, Terence||Davies, Robert (Cambridge)||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert||de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Boyden, James||Deiargy, Hugh||Gardner, Tony|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Dell, Edmund||Garrett, W. E.|
|Bradley, Tom||Dempsey, James||Garrow, Alex|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Dewar, Donald||Ginsburg, David|
|Brooks, Edwin||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Dickens, James||Gourlay, Harry|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Dobson, Ray||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Doig, Peter||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Donnelly, Desmond||Gregory, Arnold|
|Buchan, Norman||Driberg, Tom||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Buchanan Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Dunn, James A.||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Robinson, Rt.Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mackie, John||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mackintosh, John P.||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Maclennan, Robert||Roebuck, Roy|
|Hamling, William||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Hannan, William||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Rose, Paul|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||MacPherson, Malcolm||Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Ryan, John|
|Hazell, Bert||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Shaw. Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Manuel, Archie||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Henig, Stanley||Mapp, Charles||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Marquand, David||Short, Rt.Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Hilton, W. S.||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Mason, Roy||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Hooley, Frank||Maxwell, Robert||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Mayhew, Christopher||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Horner, John||Mellish, Robert||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mendelson, J. J.||Slater, Joseph|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mikardo, Ian||Small, William|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Millan, Bruce||Snow, Julian|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Howie, W.||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Hoy, James||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Molloy, William||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Moonman, Eric||Stonehouse, John|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Swain, Thomas|
|Hunter, Adam||Morris, Charles R (Openshaw)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Hynd, John||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Taverne, Dick|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Moyle, Roland||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Murray, Albert||Thornton, Ernest|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Newens, Stan||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Tinn, James|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Norwood, Christopher||Tomney, Frank|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras, S.)||Oakes, Gordon||Tuck, Raphael|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Ogden, Eric||Urwin, T. W.|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||O'Malley, Brian||Varley, Eric G.|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Oram, Albert E.||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Orbach, Maurice||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Orme, Stanley||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Oswald, Thomas||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Jones, Rt.Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Wallace, George|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Judd, Frank||Padley, Walter||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Kelley, Richard||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Weitzman, David|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Palmer, Arthur||Wellbeloved, James|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Pardoe, John||Whitaker, Ben|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Park, Trevor||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Whitlock, William|
|Ledger, Ron||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Pavitt, Laurence||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pentland, Norman||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Williams, W, T. (Warrington)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Price, William (Rugby)||Winnick, David|
|Luard, Evan||Probert, Arthur||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Lubbock, Eric||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Randall, Harry||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Rankin, John||Woof, Robert|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Redhead, Edward||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|McBride, Neil||Rees, Merlyn||Yates, Victor|
|McCann, John||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Zilliacus, K.|
|MacColl, James||Richard, Ivor|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McGuire, Michael||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Mr. Lawson and Mr. Grey.|
|McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Baker, W. H. K.||Bell, Ronald|
|Astor, John||Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Batsford, Brian||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Berry, Hn. Anthony|
|Bessell, Peter||Gurden. Harold||Neave, Airey|
|Biffen, John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Nott, John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Blaker, Peter||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Body, Richard||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Braine, Bernard||Hastings, Stephen||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Brewis, John||Hawkins, Paul||Paget, R. T.|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hay, John||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. Sir Walter||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Peel, John|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Percival, Ian|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Heseltine, Michael||Peyton, John|
|Bryan, Paul||Higgins, Terence L.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Hlley, Joseph||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Hill, J. E. B.||Pounder, Rafton|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hirst, Geoffrey||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Burden, F. A.||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Campbell, Gordon||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Carlisle, Mark||Holland, Philip||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hordern, Peter||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hornby, Richard||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hunt, John||Ronton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Clark, Henry||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Clegg, Walter||Iremonger, T. L.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Cooke, Robert||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Cordle, John||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Roots, William|
|Costain, A. P.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jopling, Michael||Royle, Anthony|
|Crawley, Aidan||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Kerby, Capt. Henry||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Crouch, David||Kershaw, Anthony||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kimball, Marcus||Scott, Nicholas|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Sharpies, Richard|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kirk, Peter||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kitson, Timothy||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Dance, James||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Smith, John|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmld, Sir Henry||Lambton, Viscount||Stainton, Keith|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Stodart, Anthony|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Doughty, Charles||Lloyd, Rt.Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Talbot, John E.|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Longden, Gilbert||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Eden, Sir John||Loveys, W. H.||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Teeling, Sir William|
|Errington, Sir Eric||MacArthur, Ian||Temple, John M.|
|Eyre, Reginald||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Farr, John||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Tilney, John|
|Fisher, Nigel||McMaster, Stanley||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||van straubenzee, W. R.|
|Forrest, George||Maddan, Martin||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Fortescue, Tim||Maginnis, John E.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Foster, Sir John||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Fraser, Rt.Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Marten, Neil||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Maude, Angus||Wall, Patrick|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Walters, Dennis|
|Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Mawby, Ray||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Webster, David|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Mills, Straton (Belfast, N.)||Whitelaw, William|
|Glover, Sir Richard||Miscampbell, Norman||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Monro, Hector||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Goodhew, Victor||More, Jasper||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Gower, Raymond||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Grant, Anthony||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Younger, Hn. George|
|Greeham Cooke, R.||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Grieve, Percy||Murton, Oscar||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Mr. R. W. Elliott and Mr Pym.|
§ 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 1714 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 Ministers' Communiqué