HC Deb 19 December 1967 vol 756 cc1095-163

3.36 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

I beg to move, That this House do now adjourn.

I should like to begin, Mr. Speaker, by expressing my appreciation to you for your decision to allow this Motion to be debated this afternoon. All hon. Members must be sensible of the great weight of responsibility which falls upon your shoulders when Motions under Standing Order No. 9 come before you. If I may respectfully say so, your decisions since the new form of the Standing Order was introduced have given badly needed encouragement to back benchers on both sides of the House.

I should like, also, to apologise to the House, not for this debate which I consider necessary, but for the inconvenience which may have been caused to those involved at a difficult period in the Parliamentary year and to all hon. and right hon. Members for the fact that we are to lose several valuable days of the Recess.

During the last week the newspapers have been full of little else but stories and speculations about the South African arms deal. We have had reports and rumours of Cabinet leaks and counter-leaks and of dark doings in the Government Whips' Office. We have had a story of an admirable speech by the Home Secretary to the more youthful hon. Members opposite in which, it was alleged, he voiced some very interesting opinions, not least on the Industrial Expansion Bill; and I certainly hope that in due course he will have the luck to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, when we come to debate the Bill.

We have had a massive Motion, signed by no fewer than 136 hon. Members opposite and alleged to have been inspired by the Prime Minister. We have had the Foreign Secretary descending from the fogs of Brussels to what I might term the fogs of the Cabinet office. We have had violent disagreements reported in the Cabinet and more alleged leaks, but since yesterday, of course, we now know that none of this happened at all, or very little of it. The Prime Minister said so in his statement, but perhaps he will accept that some of us may be forgiven for remaining a little suspicious.

The point I am making is that all this had to do with the South African arms deal. Then, on Thursday last, we had the Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons. Incidentally, I am surprised that the Prime Minister is not present this afternoon [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]. The right hon. Gentleman said to the House last Thursday —and the statement came under the heading "South African (Arms Supplies)"— I will undertake that the House will be given a fuller statement next week."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th December, 1967, Vol, 756, c. 628.] Not surprisingly I, for one, in my innocence, came to the House yesterday expecting that there would be a statement about South Africa, but not at all. Instead of that we got a long, rambling economics statement. In the first paragraph alone there were allusions to industry, trade, agriculture, prices and incomes, almost the whole field was covered, and, finally, he promised a "searching review"—not the first we have had during the last few years—of Government expenditure. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition rightly referred to this as a "blancmange". I suspect that there may be some tin-tacks in the blancmange which may well stick in the throats of those hon. Members opposite who cheered him so vociferously yesterday.

The statement about the arms deal itself was only a paragraph long and was concealed in all this verbiage in the following interesting passage: The review as a whole is being related to what is essential in expenditure here at home, and to what is appropriate at a time when we have been, and are, reassessing Britain's role in the world. This must involve overseas policy. In this connection, the Government have completed their examination of the question of the supply of defence equipment to South Africa.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th December, 1967; Vol. 756, c. 923.] In other words, we shall have to save money abroad and we shall start by passing up a £200 million export order. That is the effect of what the Prime Minister said.

But perhaps the statement was not so much concealing as revealing. Probably what happened during the course of the Cabinet meetings over the last week or so was that the Cabinet was engaged in an examination of the cuts and measures necessary to achieve that "massive swing" in the balance of payments to which the Prime Minister alluded. This examination surely must have involved cuts in the housing programme, the question of maintaining the school-leaving age at 15. In The Times this morning I saw—

Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, when my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) raised a point of order about the nature of this debate, you gave a Ruling. It would appear that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) is going outside the terms of your Ruling.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It would appear so to me, also. I was hoping that the hon. Member would come to his Motion.

Mr. Hastings

With respect, Mr. Speaker, the matters which have been discussed in these last few days are matters of great interest, in the context of this debate, to all on this side of the House. I suggest that probably there cropped up the question of the school- leaving age and also the reimposition of Health Service charges—

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker


Mr. Hastings

Then certain right hon. Members opposite intervened to their credit; the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary, perhaps the Minister of Labour—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where are they?"]—and perhaps the Minister of Defence—I do not see any of them present now—may have intervened and said that these cuts and measures might not have to be so drastic if the balance of payments could be improved by a £200 million sale of equipment to South Africa. Was not that perhaps what happened? But the voice of Labour's moral conscience dictated otherwise.

Now I want briefly to examine this moral issue. South Africa is seen by hon. Members opposite—I am sure quite sincerely—as a tyranny. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] In several respects I be- lieve that they are right. It cannot be denied that they are right—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why comment on it?"]—but so are a host of other Governments strung across the world from the Berlin Wall to the Hong Kong frontier, many of which are treated so obsequiously by the same hon. Members opposite who are quick to condemn South Africa. There is no complaint about trade with those countries.

Without making any excuses for South Africa, any reasonable observer will grant, I think, that she is faced with a gigantic human and social problem in a form never experienced in the world before while the only problem facing the Communist tyranny is how to hold all men permanently in thrall, a problem as old as tyranny itself. The second difference is that South Africa, for all her faults, real and imagined, is our ally. In two world wars she has left her dead where we did and still, in spite of all that has happened since, she is our ally today, whereas the Communist Powers are sworn through historical conviction, by one means or another, however long it may take, to the destruction of everything for which this House of Commons stands. But, that apart, there are glaring inconsistencies in this moral stand.

Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Hastings

I could understand hon. Members opposite better, and right hon. Members of the Government, if they so abhorred the South African Government that they were anxious to withdraw all trade, all aid and comfort, from South Africa regardless of the consequences. If they did so I might wish to emigrate, but I should be forced to admit a crazy logic in that, but it is we who get the aid and comfort to the tune of £55 million surplus on the balance of our trade with South Africa last year alone. What the Government are saying to South Africa is this, "We wish to deny you the right to defend yourselves from external attack or revolution, but apart from that we want to sell you everything we can and we will take your goods in return."

There may be some hon. Members opposite—I hope that we shall hear from them this afternoon—who wish to withdraw trade in the way I have suggested and who would go as far as the institution of a blockade, even to making war on South Africa. If so, I say to them that that would be the end of our position as a trading nation. I would be interested to know how their war and blockade is to be paid for. We would like to hear from them if that is their view. The moral attitude of this Government and of hon. Members on the Left wing of the Labour Party is both inconsistent and highly selective.

I turn to the balance of payments argument, which in our present predicament is, I suggest, probably the most important aspect of this sorry affair. I want to begin by quoting some facts about the South African trade. The value of United Kingdom investments in South Africa today is authoritatively estimated to be £1,000 million and the annual return on these investments is in the region of £60 million. The value of our exports to South Africa has risen from £162 million in 1960 to £243 million in 1966, and then the South Africans were doing their best to hold an inflation. In 1967, to the end of October alone, the value of our exports was £218 million. It is interesting to note also that next year 13 selling missions from United Kingdom chambers of commerce and trade associations were due to visit South Africa.

The argument about this major arms deal is not new. It has been going on now, as many hon. Members on this side at least know, for a year. For a year manufacturers, exporters, the C.B.I., have urged this Government to see reason, but without effect. The famous shopping list for equipment, which is now known at least in broad terms, certainly includes Buccaneer aircraft, Westland helicopters, frigates, anti-aircraft missiles, and originally there were submarines worth £34 million, though we have lost them already. It amounts to between £150 million and £250 million, not to mention the spares and the follow-up which would have gone with it in later years. Until yesterday we had a virtual monopoly of the market' for defence equipment in South Africa.

Now that we have lost it, do not let any hon. Member be under the illusion that we shall get it back. It will be extremely difficult indeed to fight our way back into that market, as, indeed, into others as well.

It is not only defence equipment. By their action, this Government have created such bad blood that we are now in danger of losing many other orders, particularly for capital goods, and certainly orders for major items from the South African Government for public utilities, and so forth.

Here, I want to quote a telegram despatched under yesterday's date. It was sent to the Minister for Technology and a copy to the President of the Board of Trade. It reads as follows: Have today sent telegrams to Sheffield and Glasgow Members of Parliament as follows. After long and expensive engineering and marketing activity Davy-United Sheffield were on the verge of being awarded a £6½ million sterling contract for rolling mill equipment and services for the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation. In fact, the Managing Director was flying out today "— that is, yesterday— to settle details. However, we have just received a message postponing this and indicating that the whole project is to be thrown open again to foreign competition. Every indication this action is due to anger by this important Government-controlled South African customer over arms issue. The contract is urgently necessary to maintain employment at our works in Sheffield and Glasgow and failure to obtain it may force us to close one of them. Trust you will do your utmost to ensure that common sense prevails in Westminster on this arms embargo issue which is doing so much damage to trading relations with Britain's second largest customer. Maurice Fiennes, Chairman Davy-Ashmore Ltd. What have hon. Members opposite who represent Sheffield and Glasgow constituencies to say about that?

Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)


Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)


Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) must decide to whom he is giving way.

Mr. Richard


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman who has the Floor has decided.

Mr. Richard

I am obliged, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hastings


Mr. Speaker

Order. We are wasting time. The hon. Gentleman who has the Floor must decide if he is giving way and to whom he is giving way.

Mr. Hastings

I have tried to make it clear that I am not giving way at this juncture. I have just read a message addressed to every hon. Member who represents a Sheffield or a Glasgow constituency.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Hastings

I will give way if any hon. Member who seeks to intervene is a Member for Sheffield or for Glasgow.

Mr. Mendelson


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire has given way to the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson).

Mr. Mendelson

My constituency lies in Sheffield. I have received a copy of the same telegram. I rise to ask whether the hon. Gentleman has read the whole text of the telegram, because the copy that I have received has a sentence which the hon. Gentleman has left out—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and which says: But if this is a matter of conscience to you then no more will be said about it. Why did not the hon. Gentleman read that sentence?

Mr. Hastings

I have read to the House the full text of the telegram which came into my hands. I find it an extraordinary thing that the hon. Gentleman should apparently treat so lightly a threat to close down one of these major works. What I am asking the hon. Gentleman, and indeed any hon. Gentleman, is what they propose to do about it. Of course, they can go to the factory gates and read homilies on the moral justification and the moral duties of the Labour Party. I am not sure how well that will go down. They can explain how it is a moral duty for these people to lose their jobs. They can explain, perhaps, how it is a moral duty to jeopardise the raising of the school-leaving age in order to deny arms to South Africa. [Interruption.] I cannot help it if hon. Gentlemen do not like this. This is the unpalatable truth. Perhaps they would care to explain to their constituents who are threatened in this way how useful submarines are for crowd control in South Africa.

Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. I am a Sheffield Member of Parliament. I was in South Africa less than a month ago and I saw the work which this company was doing. There were Sheffield citizens working out there and obtaining valuable export orders for Sheffield and this company. This is one example of how a political decision can undermine industrial effort and effort by a company which has won the Queen's Award.

Mr. Hastings

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I think that is a very fair point. Whether they realise it or not, hon. Members opposite who represent Sheffield and Glasgow constituencies will be laughing on the other side of their faces before long, I suspect. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are engaged in a grave and serious debate. I hope that both sides of the House will remember that.

Mr. Hastings

I have suggested to hon. Members opposite that one of the absurdities of this situation is that the equipment about which the argument has arisen could not possibly be used for the purposes to which the Government and hon. Members opposite are objecting. I suggest that when they come to have to explain this decision to the firms and to the people concerned they might like to explain how it can. How useful is an ack-ack missile, for instance, for chasing terrorists in the veldt.

After devaluation only a short time ago, we had the Prime Minister's famous broadcast to the nation, and at the end of his lecture, he said this: We must take with both hands the opportunity that has now been presented to us. Our exporters, our industrial managers, our salesmen—what a chance they have got now. Our workers in every industry, our scientists and engineers "— and so on and so forth. Well, I wonder whether he should perhaps have made it clear that this did not necessarily apply to Hawker Siddeley, to Vickers, to West-land, to Davy-Ashmore, or to the shipyards of Clydebank?

There are 180 industrialists who form the United Kingdom-South Africa Trade Association—and the Prime Minister must know this well—who have been slaving away now for months to protect and build up the British-South African trade and who would have achieved the position of second trading partner this year, without yesterday's decision. Perhaps he should have explained in his homily that it did not necessarily apply to them, either.

Business and trade, as everybody knows, is a matter of confidence. Three weeks ago the world was shocked by the British devaluation, brought about by a steady ebbing of foreign confidence in the capability of this Government. Then, on the very morrow, the world was assured we would increase exports to a massive extent. Only a few days later the Prime Minister passes up a £200 million export order, with incalculable trading results.

What effect does the right hon. Gentleman think this will have? Has he a magic opportunity up his sleeve to replace it with? Does he rate the conscience of the Labour Party in the balance of payments, for instance? I am sure that hon. Gentlemen on the Left wing do not live in the real world at all. They live in a muddled, Marxist haze all of their own, and the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have surrendered to them. I suggest that the Prime Minister is no longer in charge of his Cabinet and that the Cabinet is no longer governing. Hon. Gentlemen of the Left wing of the Labour Party are in charge.

This act of blind and cowardly folly is the last staw. The Government are not fit to rule, and I pray that it will not be long before this tawdry interval in our proud history is over—never to return.

Mr. Speaker

Before I call the next speaker, I would advise the House that so far there are 35 hon. Members wishing to take part in the debate.

4.2 p.m.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

We are here discussing a matter of major moral importance, and this emergency debate has opened in a manner which is more calculated to suit a petty party political wrangle. What we are discussing is whether we should by selling arms do something which we on this side of the House regard as being utterly immoral in the sense that they would be used to support a Government whom we abhor and to support a policy which we find retrograde in the modern world.

What is said against us in this situation is that this will cost us money; and more, may cost some of us votes in the constituencies where these arms are made and orders of this kind can win jobs.

If this is really the question which is being put to me as a supporter of the decision which was announced by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister yesterday, if that is put to me—as a Right-wing supporter of the Government, may I, not in any sense a Left-wing, Marxist, muddle-headed member of this party—answer the hon. Gentleman when he puts this question by saying that, to me, it would be grossly immoral and failing in my duty to my constituents if I did something which is against my moral conscience simply because that will cost me votes in a constituency, or because it will cost us as a country something on our balance of payments.

During the last century, the cotton workers in Lancashire decided they would do without jobs so as to assist those who were fighting for the freedom of the slaves in the United States. We now regard that in our history books as something of which this country can be proud. What we are asked to do is to deny that moral instinct which is at the very root of the British people so that hon. Gentlemen across there may count thirty pieces of silver as some contribution to the balance of payments.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Lyon

No. I am not giving way.

There seem to be three arguments which are being used against the decision which was announced by the Government yesterday. The first is this. Does this moral gesture have any meaning if, in fact, the French are to supply these arms tomorrow, and if, in any case, South Africa will be supplied with the arms, and the only result will be that this country will have lost this valuable arms contract?

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

On a point of order. May I ask your Ruling, Mr. Speaker? Is it in order for an hon. Member to address the hon. Member for Chigwell as "Judas"?

Mr. Speaker

I have always depreciated the passing up to the Chair of words the Chair does not hear, but it is not in order for an hon. Member to call another Member a Judas.

Hon. Members


Mr. Albert Murray (Gravesend)

My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) spoke of 30 pieces of silver, and on that I think that three hon. Members shot up. I must confess that this seemed like a reflex action. Mine was a reflex action, and in that case I withdraw, if the hon. Member wishes.

Mr. Lyon

I was saying that there appear to be three arguments which are being used against the decision. The first is that if we do not supply these arms the French will. It can be no justification of the stand which is being taken by the benches opposite—and we stand against what we conceive to be immoral and wrong—that we should do this action simply because someone else will do it in our stead. If that were true, we ought to say that we should supply heroin or cocaine or any of the other dangerous drugs simply because we know there is merchandising in those drugs, and they are provided in different parts of the world. It might equally be said that we ought to provide arms to certain sensitive areas of the world where we do not supply arms because we know that there are some countries, some named by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) just a moment ago, which supply arms to those sensitive areas for reasons of their own. We do not do so—

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)


Mr. Lyon


Some of these decisions are made because we genuinely believe it is right that arms should not be supplied to those sensitive areas. It cannot, therefore, be any criticism of that policy if other countries are prepared to do so.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd


Mr. Lyon

If France is prepared to go against the decision of the Security Council on this matter, then I conceive that France is the one which ought to be condemned, and not this country because we stand by this hope for international peace and international solidarity. It is because the nations of the world have refused to back the United Nations in its attempt to found proper international relations that the United Nations has been such a weak instrument. If we are to be criticised because others have ratted on the United Nations resolution and we stand by it, there will never be any hope for international peace.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

This is a serious debate. The hon. Gentleman has suggested that it is taking 30 pieces of silver to do this deal with South Africa. Then why do we trade with South Africa at all?

Mr. Lyon

I said that if we did what we conceive to be immoral, it would be. We should be receiving 30 pieces of silver if we did it just for financial advantage. I conceive it to be immoral to supply arms to a Government who will use them either to repress internal subversion from those who are fighting for their freedom, or to defend themselves—against whom? I will try to answer that at the end of my speech, because it is there that the logic of my argument comes. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman can restrain himself for a while, I will try to answer him then.

The second argument used by right hon. and hon. Members opposite is that we need the money and that we ought to sell abroad whatever we can. We make the nuclear weapon, but no one argues that we should sell that to Egypt or Israel simply because, thereby, we should improve our balance of payments position. Everyone in the House and in the country conceives that that is wrong and, therefore, immoral. Within our research establishments, we make germs for germ warfare just in case they are ever desirable as a counter-device or deterrent to any Government threatening us with germ warfare. No one suggests that we should sell that produce abroad simply to improve our balance of payments position, for the very reason that we all conceive that it would be immoral and wrong.

The only reason it has been suggested that we should sell arms to South Africa is because there are some hon. Members, notably on the benches opposite, who do not believe that it is wrong to sell arms to a Government who will use them to put down the black inhabitants of their country. That is really why there is an argument between us, because right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not believe that that would be immoral.

The third argument used against the Government's decision is that, although we should not sell arms for internal repression, these are not arms for internal repression, but are simply for external defence. It is necessary to analyse that argument to see how weak it is.

Against whom is it suggested that the South African Government will be defending themselves? Is it suggested that they require these weapons to defend themselves against China, or Russia? If it is, it ill accords with all the arguments in the House about the logistic reasons why we cannot mount a campaign against Rhodesia. We are told that the nearest base is 2,000 miles away and, therefore, that it would be inconceivable to mount a military operation in those circumstances. Any base for Russia or China is even further away from South Africa. In those circumstances, who really believes that any threat could come from outside Africa itself?

The real reason why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite and the South African Government want us to supply these arms is simply to defend the South Africans against a possible attack from Africa itself. If that is so, we must analyse the motives for suggesting that we should supply the arms.

About three years ago, I remember that there was a similar argument in the country about an arms deal. At that time, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was leader of the Opposition and was attacked vigorously by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite for suggesting that we should not supply frigates to Spain. A Motion was tabled and signed by a great many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire. I wonder how they felt when a Spanish ship fired on an English ship near Gibraltar only a few weeks ago. I wonder how they would feel if the worse came to the worst and the debate going on about the future of Gibraltar were to deteriorate into an open conflict between this country defending Gibraltar's right to maintain its liberty and Spain itself. How, then, could we justify that we had once sold ships to Spain? How could we justify that we had provided the means whereby those who fighting for our cause were being attacked with weapons which we had supplied earlier?

In a situation which might arise in Southern Africa, where these weapons could be used for the defence of South Africa against those who are fighting for the freedom of the African majority in that country, can it be said that we would not be drawn into such a conflict, with all our responsibilities in Southern Africa and with our responsibilities towards the United Nations for the maintenance of peace? Can it not be said that, in such a situation, we might find ourselves using weapons against the weapons which we have supplied to South Africa?

If that be so, the whole argument about whether these are used for external defence or for internal repression loses validity. Even if it had validity, surely it must be accepted that Buccaneers, in particular, could also be used for internal repression?

Mr. Mark Woodnutt (Isle of Wight)

On this sort of hypothesis, is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that we should not supply arms, anything that could be used for the manufacture of arms, or anything that could be used to sustain troops, even food, in case it should be used against us?

Mr. Lyon

This kind of suggestion poses a hypothetical moral problem, of course. I accept that. But, in any kind of situation in the real world, in which I assure the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire we really do live, there are moral dilemmas about any course which is adopted.

The provision of arms clearly is immoral. Whether the provision of food is immoral is highly debatable, and it may be that we shall be involved in a moral dilemma there. But we can be sure that the provision of weapons is immoral and wrong, and it is immoral and wrong even if if they are to be used allegedly for external defence. In the final analysis, some of them, certainly the Buccaneers, can be used for internal repression and for the support ofapartheid against the inhabitants of South Africa.

It has been the object and policy of the South African Government over recent years to divide up the African population in easily manageable Bantu areas which can be policed quite easily by the South African armed forces. One of the ways in which they can do that is by the use of the Buccaneer fighters. It is in this kind of situation that Buccaneers have a rôle to play.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)


Mr. Lyon

No, I will not give way.

Mr. Biggs-Davison


Mr. Lyon

It is also not hypothetical and certainly not inconceivable that these Weapons—

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), who was very sensitive about being called a Judas, shouted "Coward" across the Floor because my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) would not give way. I understand that you do not welcome these matters being taken up with the Chair. If it had come from any other hon. Member, I would have ignored it, but, seeing that the hon. Gentleman is so supersensitive, he should withdraw his remark.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I again deprecate putting to the Chair words which are flung across the Floor. But, again, the word "coward" is out of order, and the hon. Gentleman should withdraw it.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I willingly withdraw the word, Mr. Speaker. Although the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Murray), who applied the other epithet to me, a much more serious epithet, withdrew that word in a most ambiguous way, I unreservedly withdraw the word which I used.

Mr. Lyon

May I close with this argument? It has been suggested that it is inconceivable that the weapons would be used for the repression of those who were fighting for their freedom in Southern Africa. It is only a few weeks since the South Africans invaded Rhodesia in order to repress the freedom fighters who had come in from Zambia, and. at the same time, the South African Prime Minister threatened that, if Zambia gave any assistance to those who were fighting for their freedom in Rhodesia, the South African Government would attack Zambia with aircraft and with bombs.

Can it be said that Buccaneers would have no part to play in such a situation? Can it be said that these weapons, allegedly for external defence, would never be used for external offence?

Mr. Paget


Mr. Lyon

I have given way on several occasions, and, for various reasons, have been delayed in what I have had to say. I have already gone on too long.

It seems to me. as a member of the Labour Party and a Member on this side of the House, absolutely plain that there is here a matter which comes before us rarely, a question on which the issue is clearly written in black and white. When there is an issue of black and white, the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire is always with the white in skin and with the grey in principle. For me, in this situation, I am on the side of those who have decided that it would be immoral and wrong for us to provide arms to South Africa which could have the effect of upholding the atrocious system ofapartheid which everyone in this country ought rightly to deplore.

4.23 p.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

I do not believe that anyone would quarrel with the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) in his enunciation of the principle that no hon. Member can be called upon to vote for a policy which he regards as morally wrong. But it follows equally—I hope that he will agree with me here—that where what is involved is a matter of serious economic importance to this country, those who take the view that the moral issue demands a sacrifice must be absolutely certain that they are right. It is not enough to convince oneself that a moral issue is involved unless one has thoroughly thought out why the particular policy raises a moral issue.

On that matter, I pass straight to the question which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) put to the hon. Gentleman and to which the hon. Gentleman promised to reply in the course of his speech, but which he conspicuously failed to answer. My right hon. and learned Friend asked why we should trade with South Africa at all if the moral issue is that South Africa is so morally perverted that it is wrong to supply her with arms. The hon. Gentleman promised an answer, but he did not give it. If he wishes to give it now, I shall give way.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

I thought that I had dealt with that question after it came again in another interjection. I referred to the question of supplying food —for this purpose, we are talking about trade generally, of course—and I said that the issue in regard to food may not be so clear but the issue in regard to arms is absolutely clear. It was on that basis that I expressed myself as being wholly against providing arms.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That answer is not conspicuous for its clarity, coming from an hon. Member who is, I believe, a learned gentleman. But is he saying that there is at least a doubt as to the morality of any trade with South Africa? If that is the suggestion, although what the hon. Gentleman proposes would, as the Government Front Bench know very well, be economically disastrous for Britain, it is at least—I give him credit for it—a good deal more logical a position than the one which the Government have adopted.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

I hope that this will not become just an altercation between the right hon. Gentleman and myself, but may I make my position perfectly clear? In the situation which faces us and the policy which we ought to adopt towards South Africa, inevitably there are some issues, considered from a moral standpoint, on which there is something to be said on both sides of the argument.

On the issue of arms, in my submission, there is nothing to be said in favour of the argument which is being advanced by the Opposition. It may be true that there is a doubt about the whole issue of trade with South Africa, but there is certainly no doubt about the issue—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot have a second speech by intervention.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

I apologise, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The hon. Gentleman could have answered the question with the monosyllable, "Yes". He has said that there is a doubt as to the morality of all trade with South Africa. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the First Secretary, who will speak from the Government Front Bench, will repudiate that, because it will not be exactly an encouragement to those who respond to Government exhortations to go out and export to this, one of the best markets in the world, if it is thought that the party in power in Britain regards what they are doing as arguably immoral. However, it is at least an argument—I give the hon. Gentleman credit for it—which is more logical than the Government's attitude.

For if the argument is thatapartheid is a wrong and foolish policy—as I believe it to be—it does not follow that there should be any restriction on the export of arms required for the defence of South Africa against external aggression. I concede that, in the case of weapons of war specifically designed for dealing with internal disturbances—teargas, pistols, tommy-guns, and so on—there is a good case for those who take the view that there should be restriction. The House will recall that that is what the previous Government did in practice.

Weapons for dealing with external aggression, however—submarines,frigates, Buccaneer aircraft or anti-aircraft missiles—are completely irrelevant to the purpose of internal repression, but the issue here is relevant nevertheless, as the hon. Gentleman hinted, to the question whether we desire South Africa to be in a position to defend herself against external aggression. Is it the view of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, and, apparently, of the Government, that they would like to see South Africa weakened from that point of view? [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I hear one hon. Gentleman below the Gangway agree. What do Ministers who are applying the policy think will be its effect? Perhaps the First Secretary of State will tell us.

The Government are pursuing a policy —I think that I carry hon. Members below the Gangway with me in this— which would have the effect, if successful, of diminishing South Africa's power to defend herself against aggression. Is that the wish and intention of the Government, as plainly it is the wish and intention of the hon. Member for York? We are entitled to an answer to that.

It is essential for us to be clear that there is an overwhelming distinction between those weapons—and I include the Buccaneer aircraft. If the hon. Gentleman who dealt with that point reflects for a moment he will realise that very fast aircraft are wholly unsuitable for internal repression. To deal with a crowd, one needs a very slow aircraft. Fast and expensive aircraft are hideously inappropriate for that purpose. My complaint relates not to the limited number of weapons that are material to internal repression—the late Government had no quarrel on that—but to the weapons for external defence with which the present order is concerned.

It is at least to the Government's credit that the decision was not apparently arrived at without a good deal of pain and agony. It is plain, whatever the Prime Minister says, that some of the more responsible elements in his Cabinet were against imposing this restriction. It is the universal rule of Cabinet government that a Prime Minister announces that the Cabinet is unanimous only in circumstances in which it is widely known that it is split right through to the bottom.

What is more serious is the impression which the decision will make outside. In the world outside, which, let us never forget, is anxiously watching us since devaluation, people will be quite clear that the Left is in charge, that the Left has won, and that in this respect, as in many others, the Left wing of the Labour Party will see that this country's economy is sacrificed to its prejudices. That will not have a very wholesome effect on the £, nor will it be a good thing at home when people are asked to accept the serious restrictions, cuts and taxes to which the Prime Minister has referred.

People will know that they are worse than they need be because of this rejection of possible exports, and they will resent the cuts and restrictions a great deal more than they would otherwise have done. In this country, people will accept restric- tions when they know that they are necessary, as they did during the war, but they resent them and try to get out of them when, as under the Attlee Government, they know that the restrictions are unnecessary and the result of incompetence. The Prime Minister is creating the same atmosphere this time. The decision was very bad.

None the less, I must deal with the moral and the practical case. If the decision were to be effective, if South Africa were to be deprived of arms by it, there would need to be very serious reflection on the matter. But everybody knows that South Africa will not be deprived of a single weapon as a result of the decision. She will get weapons elsewhere. Therefore, all that we are doing is to deprive ourselves at immense expense—because, whatever else it is, this is not a cheap gesture—of a very valuable market for no practical result.

Let us not underrate the value of this market. Arms sales have two great economic merits. One is that they tend to go on. Once one has sold one's aircraft or ships one gets repeat orders and sells spares. They are also economically very good orders because they involve technical skill and "know-how", which we possess, and relatively little by way of imported raw materials, and are, therefore, extremely good for the balance of payments. It is a very valuable type of trade and this is why the Government, which is so moral, are trying to stimulate arms sales elsewhere and why they have appointed an arms salesman.

The Government that regards South Africa as so immoral that she should be denied arms was priding itself only a short time ago on the sale of Lightnings to Saudi Arabia, not a conspicuously democratic community. The same Government are supplying officers and other ranks of the British Army to support the Sultan of Oman and Muscat, a gentleman who maintains a tyranny of a completely medieval style. They are all right, but apparently South Africa is so wrong that she must be denied these arms. That is selectivity carried to a lunatic point.

Have the Government reflected upon the effect of the decision on South Africa? It is a very wounding insult to a proud people. Are the Government assuming that ordinary trade will go on just as it did? Have not they taken seriously the telegram which my hon. Friend read to the House? Do not the Government take very seriously the fact that they have not exactly created a good selling atmosphere for British goods? What about the gold supply, vital to the sterling area? Is that assured? What about the Simonstown base, never more important than now when the Suez Canal appears to be permanently blocked?

If the Government considered these things, are they satisfied that, having told South Africa that her moral standards are so conspicuously below those of Saudi Arabia and Oman that she cannot receive the arms which they receive, they will get from her the trade, gold and military support, all of which we conspicuously need at present? Are the Government satisfied that they have not done even more damage than the forfeiting of this order?

Sir Dingle Foot (Ipswich)

The right hon. Gentleman has just said that it is wounding to South Africa, a proud people, if we deny them arms for external defence. Why was it not wounding to that proud people when his Government denied them arms for internal repressions?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

There is a clear distinction. We indicated to them with complete frankness that we did not like the policy ofapartheid and, therefore, could not supply arms specifically required for the purpose of enforcing it. That is a logical and sensible attitude. We did not say, "You are so evil a people, so evil a régime, that you are unfitted to receive arms to protect you against external aggression. And in the view of some Government supporters, you are unfit even to have normal trade relations with us." The right hon. and learned Gentleman will see an immense distinction there.

What will the Government do to remedy the great damage to our relations with South Africa and so to our economy? This is, of course, the policy of the Prime Minister. Everybody knows it. He makes a habit of this. He insists on taking a step which is logically quite indefensible and which will do great damage to the country's economy for the sake of appeasing his hon. Friends below the Gangway. It is not the first time that he has done it. He did so very soon after the beginning of his Premiership over the Spanish ships, and so—and this is a rather alarming thought in the context of Simonstown—started off the trouble over Gibraltar. He lost then the chance of considerable orders for our shipyards for many years.

Now, with a certain symmetry, towards the end of his Premiership, he has done the same thing and thrown away orders which would have helped us for many years to come. Therefore, when we come to the next election and posters of the Prime Minister are displayed about the country showing frankness, simple honesty, the pipe, and all the usual props, there should be inscribed under them these words: Was this the face that lost a thousand ships? And ruined the empty shipyards of the Clyde? Sweet Harold, make us bankrupt with thy lips.

4.40 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

It has been argued that this is a question of morals. I shall try to examine the various moral aspects which have been raised. First, there is the question that, if we supply these arms, we should be flying in the face of the United Nations. This was a non-mandatory recommendation. At the time, the British Government distinguished between arms for internal repression and arms for external defence. It is one of a number of non-mandatory recommendations, including a very recent one condemning our undemocratic action in consulting the citizens of Gibraltar about whom they would prefer to be governed by and demanding that we hand over Gibraltar to the semi-Fascist State of Spain. I think that, without any undue breach of morals, we have a certain right to be selective as to such directions of our foreign policy.

Next, we are told that trading in arms —the merchandise of death—is of itself immoral. I move a little this way, but I find it a little difficult to believe that that argument lies in the mouth of a Government who appointed Mr. Raymond Brown as a super-salesman to push our arms sales and who are doing all they can to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East—selling to a slave-owning community dedicated to a war, which it claims to be in existence —a war of an entirely racialist description —to destroy Israel.

The third moral point concernsapartheid which is apparently where one community, a minority, exercises power over a majority which it seeks to develop separately. South Africa is not the only instance. Outer Mongolia and Tibet are two other examples of which we hear less. But if our objection toapartheid is a moral one, why do we confine it to arms? After all, South Africa is our third biggest customer. South Africa is where our gold comes from and only a few weeks ago my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs was in South Africa seeking to improve our relations and to persuade them to assist us in our quarrel with Rhodesia. Once again, we are not in the happiest position to be moral aboutapartheid

Having dealt with the moral aspects, let us look at the economic aspects. The thing which sticks out at once here is that, in a situation in which the credibility of our effort to get out of what, in all conscience, is an awful mess depends upon our seriousness in moving into an export boom, an export expansion, we start that right off by turning down an export contract of £150 million to £200 million. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) said, "This is not real because, before very long, the shipyards and the aircraft industry will be suffering from over-employment." I wish to heaven that I could believe it. Where is this additional demand—the new market—to come from? Who wants it, and where are we finding it.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has made a mistake. I said no such thing.

Mr. Paget

I apologise. I meant my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Barnett). Anyway, it is an argument which I do not think stands up. I do not think that it is serious to say that it is unnecessary to look for export orders because we should not be able to fulfil them. It is not a serious way to deal with our difficulties.

The other argument is that, if we take the trade of South Africa, we shall lose the trade of the black African States. Let us be realistic about this. Africa is divided by the Zambesi River. South of the Zambesi there is trade; north of it there is charity. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] North of the Zambesi there is not a single credit-worthy country.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

What is wrong with charity?

Mr. Paget

I am all in favour of it, but it is not trade and it will not get us out of our difficulties. There is not a Government north of the Zambesi who will not trade with anyone who will give them credit, and that includes Rhodesia. Indeed, that is one of the reasons why sanctions have broken down. Every black African country is trading with Rhodesia, so do not let us kid ourselves that we should lose black African trade because of this.

Now I come to what I regard as by far the most serious question—that of foreign policy—the injury to our own and to world security from this action. To begin with one of the most trifling examples. This decision, of course, means that Rhodesia becomes a republic completely outside our influence. That will happen almost automatically and it will not help the people to whom we owe a trust in Rhodesia, the Rhodesian Africans, that Rhodesia will now be a republic closely linked to South Africa. And how does the Beira blockade operate without Simonstown? So Rhodesia goes.

But there is a more important factor here—France. France—and this will be the effect of the Government's policy— will take our place in South Africa. This suits the French book wonderfully. They are playing for gold and, of course, the increase in the price of gold, the breaking of the dollar, would suit South Africa wonderfully. Here is a natural alliance which is available and one of the first things that will happen is that the gold of South Africa which once automatically came to London will be going to Paris.

But even more important is Simons-town. We have lost one of the entrances to the Indian Ocean—the Suez Canal. The other entrance is controlled by Simonstown and for that purpose we have an alliance with South Africa, an alliance of a naval description to control one of the entrances to the Indian Ocean and our communications with Australia and New Zealand. That will go. The South Africans, having been treated in this kind of way, will not continue with that alliance. We shall find the French in Simonstown instead.

That will be very sticky indeed, because Egypt is rapidly becoming a French client. De Gaulle, who has an Anglo-Saxon phobia, whose desire is to frustrate the Anglo- American Atlantic conception, playing for everything that is against us, will find himself in control not only of the sources of gold, but of both the entrances to the Indian Ocean. This is among the most perilous situations in which it would be possible to place ourselves.

I have dealt with the morals of this and with the economics and with the foreign affairs aspect, but, of course, all these are irrelevant, because what this is really about is party management. The real answer is that the Prime Minister, having made an awful mess of things, is looking for friends. He has needed to do so before. I remember when he was the most reactionary Right-wing Minister in the Attlee Government, with a bonfire of controls which turned our destiny, and then Gaitskell was promoted over his head and there was a matter of principle concerning teeth and spectacles, and the Left was available. He became the leader of the party and the Prime Minister on the pressure of the Left. [An HON. MEMBER: "He did not give you a job."] Yes, he did not give me a job. I was disappointed at the time, but, by God, I have been thankful since.

The Left having put him to office and he having turned out, in fact, to be the most Right-wing Prime Minister since Neville Chamberlain, he now needs the Left again. I happen to have come from a Quaker family and we have a saying, "If thy friend deceive thee once, blame him; if he deceive thee twice, blame thyself."

The Left are nicer people than I am, more believing, more credulous, in fact, naturals for a "con man". Over and over again, they seem to fall for it. They have been screaming about Vietnam during all this period when everything they were elected for has been surrendered. In Vietnam they have neither power nor influence, but that satisfies them.

Now let us look at the skill of the situation. The Prime Minister's skill in this must be recognised. As each action comes he will be in a position to say, "Ah, but this was part of the price of a great principle. My old principle of teeth and spectacles had to go for my new principle of South Africa. Of course, it is the other chaps in the Cabinet who are insisting on this, not me; I am your friend." This will go on all the way through.

For my part, I do not believe it. We have trodden a disastrous road. There has been one trouble with this Government. The trouble can be summed up in one simple word. It is, "Wilson", and I think that we shall not get on decently until he goes.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Sir Derek Walker-Smith.

Mr. Emrys Hushes

On a point of order. Without in any way wishing to influence the Chair, may I point out that up to now we have had three speeches and are now to have a fourth, which will be four Conservative speeches, against one from the Labour benches?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The question of selection is very difficult in a debate like this, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will leave it to the Chair.

4.54 p.m.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has just referred to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) as a Conservative speech. It was certainly a speech of great lucidity and power. I take it that that is what he means by ascribing to it the epithet "Conservative". It was a devastating and penetrating analysis both of the effects of the Government's decision in this matter and the motives which underlie it. This is a decision misconceived and fraught with great economic peril for this country.

I do not believe that the decision was taken on moral grounds. I do not believe that it was taken on economic grounds, nor yet on constitutional or strategic grounds. It was a decision taken solely in order to conciliate the more vociferous and less thoughtful members of the Labour Party. It was a decision taken solely by reference to considerations of party position and personal power.

That is an ugly spectacle, an ugly spectacle which the Prime Minister has characteristically sought to gloss over with a patina of respectability. He has tried to whitewash it with a United Nations resolution; but in this case the whitewash just will not wash. It is not a resolution which obliges the Government to risk bankrupting our already imperilled and diminished economy, not a mandatory decision of the United Nations, not an executive decision of the Security Council which, under the terms of Article 25, member States are bound to agree and to carry out, but merely an exhortation or what the hon. and learned Member for Northampton has called a recommendation.

Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)


Sir D. Walker-Smith

I want to be brief, but I will give way if the hon. Gentleman will be extremely brief.

Mr. Hooley

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is saying that we are doing this because of some minority conspiracy within the House. Is he not aware that 64 nations, including every one of our major allies but one, are operating this arms embargo?

Sir D. Walker-Smith

I am coming to that in a moment. I put this point to the Prime Minister yesterday and at that stage he did not seem to know which were the nations which were not carrying it out.

Let us look first at the resolution and then at the response which it has had. The resolution is not a decision of the Security Council under Article 25. It does not comply with the requirements of Article 27, which require a minimum of seven votes, with the concurring votes of the permanent members, because in the case of this resolution two of the three abstentions were those of two of the permanent members. It is, therefore, not a decision of the Security Council, not mandatory, not unanimous, and not universally abided by. It is simply an exhortation, in the words of the resolution calling upon all States to cease forthwith the sale and shipment to South Africa of arms … I now come to the resolution's reception and how far it has been put into effect, which is the reply to the hon. Member. Of course, the resolution was certain of an acquiescent response from the great majority of member States of the United Nations. They had no trouble in accepting a resolution to cease forthwith supplying arms, and for the best of reasons—they had never started. They did not have the capacity to produce or supply them had they been so minded. For those nations therefore the warm glow of an inexpensive and vicarious virtue; for Britain the icy chill of a downturn of the balance of payments.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)


Sir D. Walker-Smith

I will not give way.

Mr. Faulds


Mr. Deputy Speaker

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is not giving way. I remind hon. Members that there is only a short time for this debate and that many hon. Members want to speak.

Mr. Faulds


Sir D. Walker-Smith

No. It is known perfectly well that I am always willing to give way, but this is a very short debate and I have already given way once. If I were tempted to give way again, it would be to an hon. Member who had been here throughout the debate.

Paragraph 13 of the Resolution requests all member states: … to take such steps as they deem appropriate to persuade the Government of the Republic of South Africa to comply with the present situation. That again is a request, not an injunction, still less a command. Some member nations will take heed of the request, especially those who can take heed of it at no cost to themselves; some will turn a deaf ear, and some of those will get the business from those who hearken to it.

Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)

But we concurred in it.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

The taking of steps that are deemed to be appropriate means that most member nations will just talk while Britain is expected to act and make this economic sacrifice. In other words, South Africa must be persuaded by the United Nations, cost Britain what it may.

Therefore, I say that this non-executive decision, this recommendation, as it is, of the United Nations, puts no obligation on this Government, either legal or moral, to inflict this hurt on the economy and life of Britain.

I submit these two propositions. First Britain should not, and cannot afford to, put the life and economy of Britain in pawn to resolutions of the United Nations of a non-mandatory character, and contrary to the interests of this country. If they do so, then the power of decision in vital matters of British concern passes from Whitehall and Westminster to the lobbies and corridors of the United Nations.

There is another non-mandatory resolution of the United Nations highly relevant in this context. It is that relating to Gibraltar. Are hon. Gentlemen opposite to pay the same slavish obedience to that resolution as they have to the arms resolution? Are they to abandon Gibraltar to Spain, against the express will of the inhabitants, on the same doctrine that they are now saying binds their actions in this matter?

The second proposition is this: Britain cannot afford the luxury of trading only with those nations of whose domestic policies she is able to approve. It has never been our practice to do so. Commerce cannot operate on that basis of nice selectivity.

The staunchly teetotal greengrocer does not refuse to supply the publican and the hotelier, and is not deemed to approve their principles by so doing. Where would it end? Look at the indictment on which the United Nations resolution is based. It criticises the Government of South Africa and urges them to abolish the practice of imprisonment without charge or access to counsel or without the right of prompt trial. It endorses and subscribes to the main conclusions of the group of experts, that all the people of South Africa should be brought into consultation, and should thus be enabled to decide the future of their country at a national level.

I agree with those propositions. I agree with the rule of law and with democratic institutions. But how many of our customers in the world have completely clean hands in regard to the rule of law and democratic institutions? How many of those with whom we trade, with whom we are urged to do more trade, practise a two-party system, different from what we do in this House—one party in power and the other in gaol. Yet there are these countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, with whom the same hon. Members, who are clamouring against the export of arms to South Africa, are urging ever more trade.

There are only two explanations of such an attitude. One is stupidity and the other is hypocrisy, or it could be both. But, when it comes to the Prime Minister, it is not difficult to make a guess.

After all he is very rarely stupid. He is expressing great concern atapartheid in South Africa, and talks of the Security Council. But the separation with which he is really concerned is the separation within the ranks of the Labour Party, and the security with which he is concerned is the security of his own power and position. For all this Britain must pay, in heavy loss of earnings and all the consequential losses which will flow through our economy. Britain will pay with cuts in public expenditure, heavy reductions in housing, hospitals, schools, roads; and some will pay in the bitter coin of unemployment.

The sad thing is that the British people cannot pass on the cost directly to the Government. They can, however, exact a penalty from the Government in due time—exact a penalty that they will be loath to pay, and strip them of the perquisites and privileges of power to which they cling with such shameless tenacity. As soon as the opportunity arises right hon. Gentlemen may be sure that the country will condemn them as justly and as absolutely as we condemn them in this House today.

5.7 p.m.

Mr. Ben Whaitaker (Hampstead)

As we debate here, making party political points on both sides of the House, there lies in a hospital in Cape Town, a South African man fighting for his life after an historic and epoch-making operation. As we discussapartheid, well removed from it, let us for a moment reflect on the human implications of what we are talking about. Let us reflect that if an ancestor of the man fighting for his life tonight in Cape Town—for whom the whole House will undoubtedly wish a speedy and successful recovery—had been coloured, or if the ancestor of the girl who supplied the heart had been coloured,:hat operation would not have taken place.

There would have been no blood transferred between those two bodies. The man would not have been allowed in the hospital, which is for whites only. He would not have been taken there in the ambulance, whatever the risks to his life, because ambulances are reserved exclusively, irrespective of the threat to life, for separate races.

This is the subject about which we are talking tonight and these are the issues. It is because we on this side of the House respect very sincerely those South Africans who are decent, of all races, who are making sacrifices enormously about anything that we are called upon to make, it is because we believe in the decency of these people, that we on this side, and I know some lion. Members opposite who have not yet spoken, feel strongly on this issue. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who? Name them."] I will not embarrass them by mentioning them, but there are hon. Members of the Conservative Party who support us on this issue.

We heard from the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings), who I am surprised to see is not in his place, that one of the excuses for this bloody traffic was that South Africa helped us in the last war. Let us reflect that the majority of those people who made sacrifices for us in the last war were coloured South Africans—

Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Lang-stone)

On a point of order. Those facts are totally incorrect.

Mr. Whitaker

Furthermore, let us reflect—and I will give way to the hon. Gentleman if he would like to deny this fact—that the leader of the present regime in South Africa helped not democracy but the Nazis during the war. He supported Hitler—like Marshal Ky in South Vietnam, who still admires Hitler. Mr. Vorster was interned during the last war for doing so. This is the gentleman to whom Conservative Members said in an early day Motion we should sell arms, praying in aid his record in the last war.

I will not speak long because I know that many other hon. Members wish to speak. During the last war, Britain made sacrifices against her own financial interests. She has done so constantly in her history, and it is one of the reasons why we are proud to be British. This country, as Mr. Macmillan rightly said, recognises the wind of change in Africa. We have finished the imperial role in our history. It may be—and pray God it will be so— that we have a moral role still to play in this world. But a people live by more than bread alone. Over the past few weeks we have constantly debated the economic crisis in this country, but let us not forget that there are more important values than finance in the world.

Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)

We cannot live without it.

Mr. Whitaker

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the standard of living in this country is immeasurably greater than that in most of the rest of the world. When we talk about sacrifices, let us talk in that relative scale.

Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at present an aircraft factory is being constructed in South Africa? A dockyard there is building small naval vessels. Would the hon. Gentleman prevent the Government from selling machine tools and equipment for those two establishments to operate?

Mr. Whitaker

As I understand it, the debate is about arms for South Africa. I do not wish to get out of order. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] If the Opposition would like to use one of their Supply days to debate the concept of any trade with South Africa, we on this side should be ready to debate it.

We believe that on this issue the people believe that any Government, irrespective of party, must show moral leadership to of Britain look to a Government for more than just financial considerations. We a country. The political philosophy of "You have never had it so good" was put squarely before the people of Britain and it was decisively rejected by the same people. We believe that one of the reasons why the Conservative Administration fell was their total preoccupation with material values.

I admit the criticism—and I have said so with all humility—that it is very easy for certain people such as those such as myself living in my constituency to advance moral philosophies when it costs them but little. I have the greatest respect for my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in such places as Rochester, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Southampton, which depends on trade with South Africa, who have joined us in unanimously pressing that this bloody traffic should be finished. I have the deepest respect for those Lancashire trade unionists who yesterday sent a telegram to the Prime Minister congratulating him on the decision of the Cabinet, despite the cost to them. This is a telegram which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire did not read out, although it is printed in today's newspapers.

There was a very similar debate to this in the House in the last century. On that occasion, Wilberforce was told constantly that this country could not afford to end the slave trade. Our ancestors said—I will not say to which party they belonged—that, although they were against slavery on moral grounds and it was a very good Hampstead intellectual cause, the economy of this country, unfortunately, depended on the slave trade and therefore it was not the time, if ever, that anything should be done about it. I sometimes wonder whether some hon. Members opposite would today sell slaves to Saudi Arabia if they thought that it would help our balance of payments.

Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

While the hon. Gentleman is talking about the slave trade, may I ask him whether he has protested against his Government sending arms to Saudi Arabia?

Mr. Whitaker

I and many of my hon. Friends have done so. I should be glad to receive support from hon. Members opposite against our support for the feudal régimes in the Persian Gulf, in particular, which the majority of the Labour Party totally disown.

When we talk about the financial sacrifice which we are being called upon to make on behalf of the nation, let us weigh in the balance the sacrifices made by the South Africans, for example at the time of Sharpeville. Let us put in perspective the odd shillings or £s which is our contribution to a question on which the British Parliament is entirely unanimous, and that is that democracy should come to Southern Africa—a sentiment expressed by Mr. Harold Macmillan himself.

There was a speech made in Trafalgar Square on this issue in I believe 1964, when the Prime Minister, as he now is, said rightly that this bloody traffic is a matter of principle. He said in a television interview that those who did not recognise that it was a matter of principle should get out of public life ". Having made that speech, he has been twice re-elected. I believe that the emphasis on principle, contrasted with the "You have never had it so good" philosophy, was one of the reasons which contributed to our election victory.

What has happened to the South African situation since then? What changes have taken place since this policy was instigated in 1964? Are there any reasons why we should change our policy, because that is what we are being asked to do? We are being asked, not to take a new decision, but to stand on the principle on which we were elected. Three things have happened. First, South African armed forces are tonight occupying territory in Rhodesia for which the British Parliament claims legal responsibility. I understand that this is the first invasion of British territory which has taken place in our history, which the Conservative Party has not asked should be repulsed immediately by sending a gunboat.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Smith recently announced that there are no South African troops on Rhodesian soil?

Mr. Faulds

And he believes it.

Mr. Whitaker

I bow to the hon. Member's "hot line" to Mr. Smith. But I regard statements from such a source as worthless. I have still to hear any Conservative Member protest against the undoubted presence of South African troops on British Rhodesian soil during the last few months. I find this strange.

The second thing which has happened is that South Africa has threatened to bomb Zambia. Thirdly, she is defying the United Nations, including a very strong protest two days ago from the United States, about South West Africa. We should view the arms for which South Africa is asking in the context of the South West African coast line and the threats she has been making to Tanzania, on the East African coast line. It is unrealistic any longer to draw a distinction between internal and external South African arms when we know that civil war is being fought by South African nationalists on one side and the régime on the other inside and outside South Africa's borders.

Finally, I urge that it is in Britain's own self-interest that we maintain this arms embargo. If moral considerations do not appeal to hon. Members opposite, let us turn back to naked self-interest. It is my opinion, for what it is worth, that much the gravest danger facing, not only this nation, but the world is the possibility of a race war. This transcends our previous worry about a world political war.

There are many people in the United States, Canada, in the Commonwealth and among our allies in the United Nations who also have made sacrifices in not supplying arms to South Africa and who look to Britain to uphold the Western principle of democracy and to ensure that the next war, if it comes, is not divided simply according to the colour of a man's skin—whether he be black or white—but between those who believe in democracy, irrespective of whether it is in South Africa, Russia, Cuba or China, and those who do not. For my part, I respect the British people and the British nation too much to believe it of them that they would wish us tonight to sell every principle for which this House has ever stood, whether it is in Southern Africa on this issue or in Rhodesia, simply because a new price has been put upon it.

5.20 p.m.

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker) because towards the end of his speech he touched upon the real issue in this debate. I shall return later in my speech to the question of the future likely conflict in Africa.

Two arguments seem to me to have been put forward to excuse—that is the only word which can be used—the continuation of the sale of arms to South Africa. The first argument is that if we do not do it others will. That is a totally amoral argument and one which, if continued into other walks of life, could produce all sorts of peculiar situations.

The Government could justify setting up a stall in Trafalgar Square or elsewhere to sell drugs to all the addicts who undoubtedly get them to the great profit of certain racketeers. The Government could make a lot of money. They could, I suppose, help the taxation situation by raising a certain amount of revenue in that way. Nobody, however, would suggest that that was the right thing to do simply because, if the Government do not do it, people will find their sources of supply elsewhere. That is an exactly parallel argument.

The other argument is that there are other Governments in the world which we dislike apart from the Government of South Africa; but what distinguishes South Africa from any other country whose régime we dislike, whether of the Right or of the Left, in this or in any other Continent, is that South Africa is the only other country where the whole machinery of government and the whole motivation of the established régime is to keep the vast majority of the population of a different colour as permanently second-class citizens in subjugation. That is the distinction between South Africa and our attitudes to it and our attitude to other countries which, temporarily or for a long time, may have regimes with whose political colour or whose policies we happen to disagree.

I listened with interest to the opening speech by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). It is well known that he and other hon. Members —for example, the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) and the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) —have always been a group within the Conservative Party who, to give them credit, have always had a consistent line on African affairs, whether it was the Central African Federation, Katanga, Rhodesia, or South Africa. They are always consistent. I have always violently disagreed with their views, but I respect them. They hold their views just as sincerely as I hold mine. That was the view which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire put forward today.

What I find disturbing is that we have for the first time today a situation where the Leader of the Opposition is, apparently, to appear in support of that section of the Conservative Party. That is the disturbing trend—

Sir John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)


Mr. Steel

Let me finish. The political significance as I see it of this debate is that the Conservative Party having lost at the last election the former hon. Member for Smethwick, the Leader of the Opposition rushes in, apparently, to take his place.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)

It is, perhaps, scarcely worth commenting on what the hon. Member has said, but it is worth while reminding him that Conservative policy has been consistent over the years. We have supplied arms to South Africa for external defence and used our licensing system to make sure that arms did not go for civil strife. That is what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition will say if the hon. Member has patience to wait.

Sir J. Rodgers


Mr. Steel

I cannot give way again. I have great respect for the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home). He was head of the Government when they supported the two United Nations resolutions of 1963 and 1964, which have been so much discussed. The distinction which must be recognised between the United Nations resolution on that occasion, although it is not mandatory, and the resolution on Gibraltar is that we did not support the resolution on Gibraltar. We supported the resolution concerning South Africa through the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was leader. That resolution referred, among other things, to the sale of military vehicles.

Under the present Government, we have accepted a contract for the sale of four-wheeled military vehicles which was refused by both the United States and Canada. Who is to say whether those vehicles will be used for internal repression or are part of the external defence of South Africa? The United States Government did not share our view. The Canadian Government did not either. Our present Government, however, under the safeguard and letout which the previous Government provided for them, allowed that contract to go through. It is a little late in the day for the Prime Minister to appear as the guardian of our moral principles in this matter.

I am extremely disturbed that the Leader of the Opposition, to whose speech I shall listen with interest and who is one of the sponsors of Human Rights Year, should this afternoon make the speech which he is about to make, apparently, as his first contribution to Human Rights Year.

I want to be very brief. The nub of the argument is that we are losing orders estimated to cost something like £240 million and that that is a serious loss to this country. Of course it is. Do not let the Government try to say to us, however, as I suspect that they will, that if we accept that loss we must accept cuts in other desirable parts of public spending. Let them look instead to the one saving which could be made by scrapping the F111 contract. I shall not develop that theme, because I would be out of order in doing so, but that one contract alone would save more expenditure than the value of the arms contract for South Africa.

Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Bosworth)

Apart from whether the F111 would serve a particularly useful purpose, it is being paid for by offset arms agreements which will lapse if we cease to buy the F111. There is, therefore, no money to be saved by not buying it.

Mr. Steel

I do not accept that. The Minister of Defence has given an answer in the House that the gross cost is over £400 million. He has refused to state the net cost of the aircraft. However, there is no need to go into detailed arithmetical figures. There is a major saving of about £300 million which could be made. We are buying a possibly bad plane and one which we do not need. That is the direction in which the Government should consider their programme of cuts.

Saracen tanks were used at Sharpeville. Were they supplied to the South African Government for external defence purposes? The distinction which was made in accepting the United Nations resolution was entirely artificial. One good thing which the present Government have done was to end that wholly artificial distinction.

If we went forward to sell Buccaneers, they would, presumably, be used from the airport in the Caprivi Strip, 600 miles north of South Africa. Would those aircraft be used for external defence purposes, or would they be used for possible aggression to other parts of Africa north of the Caprivi Strip, as has been threatened by the South African Government, towards Zambia and other countries to the north of Rhodesia?

If we reduce the level of the argument for a short moment to the economic argument only, surely we have to take into account that if we went back on our acceptance of the United Nations resolution we should lose a great deal of goodwill and, therefore, in the future, a great deal of developing trade which we are bound to have with Africa and Asia. If we take that argument and reduce the level to merely balancing the books, let us at least take that into account and recognise that the loss of these contracts when set against the other losses is not all that great.

I believe, however, as the hon. Member for Hampstead said, that the main issue in this debate is what we regard Britain's role to be and how we regard the future development of the African continent. The greatest danger which faces the world is not the spread of the hydrogen bomb, but the growing conflict between rich and poor which, unhappily, coincides with the conflict between white and other colours. That is one of the real issues which faces us.

We are getting ourselves into the position when the South African Government, possibly with Rhodesia and possibly with Portugal and her overseas territories, is developing a system of Government which must inevitably lead either to internal conflict or to conflict between different sections of the African continent, because there is no record in history of a minority being able for an indefinite period to hold down a majority. If that conflict comes, as I believe it will unless these policies change, whose side will we be on? That is the question we should be asking ourselves. There is no doubt in my mind that we must clearly be on the side of the equality of mankind and we must reject the racialist views of the Governments of Southern Africa. That is the real argument against indulging in this traffic.

I was one of a small group of people who sought to see the Foreign Secretary—and he kindly saw us—before this matter became one of public concern. One great myth about objections to any change in policy is that these objections come from a sort of militant Left-wing group in the Labour Party. That delegation included the associate secretary of the International Committee of the British Council of Churches and the chairman of the United Nations Association, a former Conservative Member of this House, and it was led by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal Party. The Motion on the Order Paper was signed by a variety of members of differing views within the Labour Party. Therefore, it is not true to suggest that the only pressure on the Government to stick by their policy comes from a pressure group within the Labour Party. We greatly underestimate the fibre and calibre of the people of this country if we believe that we can go to them and sell them soft soap and talk to them the whole time in purely selfish terms.

The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire in his Motion, is saying that our principles are a luxury that we cannot afford. I sincerely hope that neither the present Government nor the Conservative Party wish to see the country reduced to that state.

5.32 p.m.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate whether hon. Members opposite are speaking sincerely or artificially. The grave paradox tonight is that I hope they have been speaking in an artificial manner. I hope that they do not believe some of the appalling things that they have been saying, because their contributions tonight have done nothing but sully the reputation of the House of Commons.

Not long ago I was in Africa. When we have spoken to people from other climes who have come to this House or when we have gone to their countries, we have always been proud of what this nation stands for. We have always said that we believe in the rule of law, in democracy, in one man one vote, and that we are appalled at all forms of racialism. There was a great opportunity for the Opposition on this issue, if they had a man of courage to lead them, to have allied themselves with the statement of my right hon. Friend and declared that the House of Commons placed itself at the head of the British people in declaring full support of a vitally important principle which can have such grave import on the affairs of mankind in the years to come.

Listening to some of the contributions from hon. Members opposite took me back to some of the things we heard before the war. I will not say that the situation is absolutely analogous. We were told what an insane thing it would be for our miners not to agree to dig coal for Mussolini, and when we objected to steel and scrap iron going to Hamburg because we felt that it would come back in the shape of bombs on the heads of our Cockney colleagues, we were told we were being unrealistic and not facing the facts. However, we were right then and I think we are right today.

One tragedy of this debate is how gruesome the lesson has to be before it penetrates into the minds of Conservatives. This is the really terrible thing that frightens one.

We have heard very little about apartheid tonight from hon. Members opposite. No one has mentioned the word. It is like saying that before the war we never heard of concentration camps or the torment suffered by a man if he happened to have been born a Jew. The same situation applies to the hundreds of thousands in South Africa who did not have the good sense to elect to have completely white parents. Does not this mean anything to right hon. Gentlemen opposite? If so, let them get up and say so. I will give way. Does it mean anything to them?

Sir J. Rodgers


Mr. Molloy

I was talking to those on the Front Bench—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is exercising a selectivity which excludes the hon. Member.

Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Molloy

The hon. Gentleman must not be so keen to demote himself to the Tory Front Bench. Let them get up and say something. They do not need the hon. Member to defend them. Let them get up if they want to—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I hope that hon. Members will not waste any more time. This is a very short debate and a lot of hon. Members still want to take part.

Mr. Molloy

Some of the arguments that we have heard advanced by hon. Members opposite have been of the lowest form of sophistry. I can hardly imagine that some of these points have been meant by those who have uttered them. Indeed, I sincerely hope that the arguments being advanced were not actually to do with apartheid or South Africa but were merely political points to try to damage the Labour Party. I hope that this is true. If it is not—now listen to this, Mr. Deputy Speaker—then the obverse side of the coin is that these semi-apologies, that they do not really agree with apartheid but they are all opposed to it, are phoney. They cannot have it both ways. They must search in their minds where they stand on this matter.

I want to refer to the contribution from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) which I thought was a pretty vulgar attack on the Prime Minister—[Interruption.]—I can understand that being humorous to hon. Members opposite. Anything that is degrading and vulgar is humorous to Conservatives.

I was about to say that my hon. and learned Friend is entitled to his view, but it was regrettable that in the tail end of his speech he should have sunk to such low language in referring to my right hon. Friend. He might have maintained a far better argument in putting forward his view rather than indulging in the sort of stuff he indulged in. He referred to those of us who might be on the Left of the Labour Party. I would answer him by saying that it is not what a lawyer tells me I may do, but what humanity, reason and justice tells me that I ought to do. I hope that my party will always behave in that way.

We have been taunted by hon. Members opposite that we might have some political price to pay for this. I hope that we will have the courage to go through with this argument to the bitter end, because I believe that hon. Members opposite have misjudged the character of the majority of ordinary people in this country. I believe that when they come to examine this matter, when they see what is really involved, they will be proud of the action that this Government and their supporters have taken in their name. We are opposed to the evil of apartheid in heir name. The British people have to say that we were right to do what we have done or that we were not right. I believe that they will say we were right.

Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)

I think it is fair to say that the hon. Gentleman is basing his argument on moral principles. Would he not agree that military strength is built on a strong economic basis? Certainly the Prime Minister has said this. Will he explain to the House the moral distinction between fostering one and not the other.

Mr. Molloy

I did not catch all that the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, because one of my hon. Friends was speaking to me. Perhaps he will repeat the point, and I can then deal with it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that it would be very unfair to the House and to hon. Members waiting to take part in the debate if I were to allow repetition.

Mr. Molloy

I am compelled to apologise to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I did not gather what he was saying.

The quintessence of the argument is the attiude to apartheid. It does not matter about the economic arguments which we have heard from one side of the House or the other. Millions of people all over the world who are coloured or partly coloured will judge the issue on that specific point, rather than on the economic one. [HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Gentleman is wrong."] I am not wrong. I believe this to be true. People all over the world, be they black, or yellow, or white, will judge this issue because they have a self-interest in it. They will make up their minds about who has done the right thing.

I believe that we are doing the right thing for South Africa herself. I believe that we are doing something which will encourage the liberal and decent forces in South Africa to take heart in their efforts to do away with this appalling policy. I think that the House has missed a great opportunity by not being united on this issue, but I am proud of the fact that I sit on the side of the House which is the champion of decency, democracy, and what I believe is the aspiration of all mankind, namely, a sane and decent world.

5.41 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)

There is one aspect of the situation in South Africa which has not been touched on during the debate, and that is that international pressure against that country has so far been entirely counter-productive. I think that hon. Gentlemen opposite are making a mistake if they forget that the white people of South Africa spring from British and Afrikaner stock, two of the toughest races in the world when faced with adversity. When their backs were to the wall, as they were at the time of Sharpeville, through international pressure, they reacted by closing their ranks. They were tough, and they built up their country.

The only result so far of international pressure against South Africa has been to increase her economic growth, and to make her more stable than ever. It has led to increased investment by the Western powers in that country. It has been said that British investment alone is worth more than £1,000 million. This is as much as the total British investment in the rest of the African continent put together, including Nigerian oil.

I also believe that there is less internal pressure in South Africa today than for many years. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have been to South Africa in recent months. I think that they must agree with me when I say that for the first time since the war South Africa, in the person of the new South African Prime Minister, is showing a tendency to look outwards. Under international pressure, South Africa has been forced to look inwards. Now, just because this international pressure has been somewhat relaxed, she is starting to look outwards.

If one compares conditions in South Africa today with the rest of Africa, one realises the degree of stability she enjoys. Since the Government opposite were voted to office there have been no fewer than 17 different revolutions, or coups d'état, in independent African States. Black Africans themselves are now beginning to think. Some of them are already exchanging diplomatic representatives with South Africa, and other independent African countries are prepared to follow their lead. In many cases trade between South Africa and independent African countries is increasing year by year, so all the froth and fury that we heard from the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) does not seem to cut much ice in black Africa itself.

I have always found the Africans to be very realistic and sensible people. They consider the facts of life, and one of the facts of life is that their countries have to trade with South Africa. By trading with her, they will gradually break down the rigours of apartheid. I do not believe that it can be broken down by force, and by international pressure. This can be done only by example, by showing that black and white can live and work together.

This Socialist thinking is out of date. Many hon. Members opposite, especially those on the Left wing, are so blinded by prejudice that they cannot see that there are two sides to the story in Africa today. Some of them even support terrorism, and would like to see bloodshed in South Africa. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker) referred to the terrorist incursion from Zambia, which took place when I was in Rhodesia. Perhaps I might quote a sentence from a communiqué issued in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. It was signed by Robert Chikerema, the Vice-President of the Zimbabwe African People's Union, and by Mr. Tambo, the Deputy President of the African National Congress. The communiqué said that the force was c0omposed of Africans from both these organisations, and referred to them fighting their way to strike at the Boers themselves in South Africa. That was an attempt to invade South Africa itself. In those circumstances, who could blame the South Africans for wanting to send their police officers to Rhodesia before their own frontiers were violated by these terrorists? It seems to me an action which any Government would take, and they had the courtesy to inform Her Majesty's Government at the time.

I turn, now, to the economic points, which I shall put briefly and shall then concern myself rather more with defence. Trade figures between Britain and South Africa, both imports and exports, have been quoted. What has not been said so far is that our exports to South Africa this year compared with last year are up by 12½ per cent., and that imports from South Africa for the comparable period are up by 14 per cent.

I believe that this decision by the Government will be regarded by all South Africans, black and white, as an insult to their country. I believe that it will have serious repercussions on our trade with South Africa. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) quoted a telegram from a large firm in Sheffield. I have had one from a smaller firm in Hull saying the same thing, and I believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite will be flooded with similar telegrams from their constituents, which will bring home to them the foolishness of the Government's decision announced yesterday.

South Africa is one of the best markets in the world for British lorries. What will this decision mean to Oxford and Coventry? What will it mean in respect of textiles in Lancashire, or iron and steel in Wales, Durham and Middlesbrough, or shipping in Southampton? These are facts of life which hon. Gentlemen opposite must consider.

They might also consider that from the mines of South Africa come 70 per cent, of the reserves of the free world's gold supply. What will happen when the gold is no longer sold on the London market, but is sold in Paris? On the day when General de Gaulle has pronounced, as we expect, a veto on our entry into the Common Market, we are handing over to the French, on a plate, our second-best trading market in the world, Southern Africa. We are doing this because the Left wing of the Labour Party has shown the Government that it is in charge. It has also shown the rest of the country that it is in charge. What is much more important, it has shown this to our creditors abroad. What will this look like to the International Monetary Fund? What effect will this have on the £? It is this for which they will have to answer to their constituents during the coming months, and I do not think that in six months' time we will hear from them the same kind of language that we have heard today.

I would like, now, to refer to another matter which has not been touched on in any detail, except by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). It seems almost inevitable now that the Simonstown Agreement will be abrogated. This means that the dockyard will no longer be available to carry out repairs to ships of the Royal Navy. South Africa is one of the most important communication centres for the Royal Navy, and it may no longer be open to us. The lion, and learned Member for Northampton spoke about the importance of the Indian Ocean, and the fact that our enemies already control one route. Now, by our action, we are cutting off our joint control of the second route. What no one has said is that more than 1,000 British ships have been bunkered in South African ports since the closing of the Suez Canal. What will happen if feeling in South Africa is so strong that it forces the South African Government to say that they will not assist our ships? What will that do to the £, and to British trade? I do not expect hon. Members on the back benches to consider these facts, but one is entitled to expect that the Government should consider the dangers in which they are placing this country.

Two years ago, South Africa started in Johannesburg a new infant aircraft industry, the first aircraft-building industry on the African continent. They have also started a shipbuilding industry in Durban. British firms could have been in at the birth of these industries, which will obviously be vitally important to Africa and the world. As a result of the Government's action in the past, in 1964, reinforced by their action yesterday, French firms have taken over the provision of guidance and technical advice to South Africa on aircraft, and the same is likely to happen over shipbuilding. These are the kind of important matters, vital to our whole future, which we have thrown away by this decision.

As so many hon. Gentlemen have said, the decision is pure hypocrisy. One could appreciate the strength of mind of the Government if they said, "South Africa is so evil that we will send no arms and no form of goods. We will not trade with them at all. We will even abrogate and denounce the defence agreement which we have with them." But they have not said one of these things but merely, "We will not supply them with arms, although we know that Italy or France or some other country will do so."

This is a half-hearted way of tackling a problem which will achieve only the worst of every world. We will not raise British credit anywhere in the world by what has happened in this country in the last two days. Certainly, the Government's credit in this country could not have reached a lower level.

This decision will cause unemployment in my constituency. The Government have cancelled the P1154, part of which was to be built in my constituency, and then the final order for naval Buccaneers only a few weeks ago. Now, they have cancelled the follow-up order of 16 Buccaneers for the South African Government. I hope that my Front Bench will make it absolutely clear that Conservative policy on this subject has been consistent throughout. We have always said that we would supply arms for the external defence of South Africa and I hope that they will make it clear that when, in the near future, we are again the Government of this country, we will continue with that policy.

May I sum up what I think the decision of the Government has achieved? First, in South Africa, it will be followed by a growing dislike of Britain and all that is British. It may well be followed by a personal boycott of British goods by South African nationals. It will mean that France will supplant Britain as South Africa's main ally and friend, and it may well mean that South Africa will not only close down Simonstown but may seriously consider impeding the fuelling or bunkering of our ships using her ports.

In addition, it will have a very serious effect on our relations with Rhodesia. I believe that this has marked the end of the road. Rhodesia will now have full South African support and any hope of reaching a compromise with the de facto government of Rhodesia has now been lost because of the Government's foolishness. What is more, this means that Rhodesia, whether she likes it or not—I believe that the majority of her leaders do not want this—will, of necessity, be forced closer and closer to South Africa and to the South African racial policy.

In this country, it will affect our trade and our defence and will have led to a further lack of confidence in the Government, which may again place the £ in danger, and only one man is to blame for all this—the Prime Minister. No one on this side ever thought that he would put the country before his party, but I thought that his skill as a politician was such that he would put the long term interests of his party before short-term gain. This, he has failed to do.

I thought that he would realise the economic implications and would supply certain arms to South Africa and try to reach a compromise with Rhodesia, knowing that this would help the economy by at least £500 million over the next three years. I thought that this was possible. Surely what matters to the Government is the state of the economy of this country in the six or 12 months before the next General Election. Now we know what it is likely to be.

I do not expect back benchers, who are either blinded by prejudice or have not sufficient knowledge to understand what is happening on the African continent, but I do expect the Prime Minister to give a lead. He has now done so and is clearly leading this country to disaster.

5.55 p.m.

Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)

I should like to speak on behalf of all those who signed the early day motion on this issue in congratulating the Government on their stand. In doing so, it would be remiss not to say, in particular, how much we admire the consistent stand of our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on this issue.

Four arguments have been deployed against the Government's decision. The first is that there is somehow a contradiction between indulging in general trade and, at the same time, opposing trade in armaments. I would put only one question to those who say this: do they seriously suggest that it is illogical to feed the delinquent and to be against putting a gun in his hand?

The second point which seems to have been deployed in this debate is the argument that if we do not indulge in this trade, someone else will. This seems to be the most hollow argument of all, because, if logically carried through, it would mean the complete disintegration of social values, leading to complete social anarchy. The advocates of this argument suggest that we should emulate France's example. I see nothing welcome in that suggestion. I was in the Middle East when French planes were attacking the Arabs at the very time that the President of France was claiming his friendship for the Arab people. The whole basis of opportunism in French foreign policy is almost deliberately designed to set back by decades the emergence of the international community to a rational and sane order.

The third argument deployed in this debate is that we can somehow differentiate between arms for internal security and those for external defence. Obviously, arms of any sort indicate a qualitative endorsement of the régime, which is not present in other forms of trade. It is absolutely clear to anyone who knows the first thing about South Africa that for two decades at least the Government there have been carefully zoning the majority African population into townships and reserves which can be dealt with very effectively by armaments used for external defence. We should also all remember that already arms suitable for external defence have been employed by the Rho-desian régime to suppress freedom fighters on British territory fighting for their elementary civil rights.

The fourth argument is that the economic situation is so serious that, despite the soundness of the arguments which I and others may advance, we cannot afford to deny the opportunity presented by this possibility of trade. While, first, we should not overlook the adverse effects on our growing trade in other parts of Africa and Asia of indulging in armaments trade with South Africa, I would put this practical argument to those who take this point of view. Surely it is dubious in an economy like ours which will always be highly vulnerable, to become increasingly dependent on an area which is subject to so much political instability and potential political explosion.

We must see all this in real and meaningful proportions. As others have suggested, the real situation with which we are confronted is the growing gap in the international community between the wealthy nations and the poor nations, a gap which is underlined by race, a gap which presents us with the possibility that we may be entering an era of tension unprecedented even by the former ideological political conflicts which we have known in our time.

If we had taken this step of beginning to trade in arms with the regime of the Republic of South Africa, we would surely have been taking one more step towards a final breach in confidence between the races in the international community.

All hon. Members must remember that we are not arguing, in supporting the Government, that we are doing this because it is, somehow, an act of selfless morality. We are doing it because, in this nuclear age, we are inter-dependent in a very real sense. We cannot afford to ignore conflict and tension in any area of the world because in conflict and tension are the seeds of international warfare. We are following a sound, enlightened policy of self-interest as well as a policy of sound Socialist morality in supporting the Government and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in this decision.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)

The Prime Minister has kindly sent me a note explaining that it will not be possible for him to be here throughout my speech. I accept that and fully appreciate the position.

It is, perhaps, natural that, in a debate such as we have been having, emotions should at times run high and that a large part of the discussion should have been devoted to questions of morality. What we are debating is the Government's decision, announced yesterday, to refuse to sell arms for external defence to South Africa. As far as I know, there is little questioning by the Government that these arms are intended for external defence.

The House has been given very little information by the Government as to what really constituted the request. There have been indications in the Press that it was for three Leander class frigates, four surface vessels, including fleet supply vessels, some eight Shackletons for coastal maritime work and eight Comet Nimrods for the same purpose, 16 Buccaneer aircraft, air defence weapons and an air defence system, associated radar control equipment and coastal radar, amounting, in all, to some £200 million over a number of years.

These are arms for external defence. They are not for dealing with civil disturbances and I think that the Government have not challenged this fact. If one considers the nature of those arms, it is, as many hon. Members have said, difficult to see them being used for dealing with civil disturbances. There are always difficulties about deciding on the margin. The Conservative Administration had to face these problems and they had to use their best judgment in arriving at decisions.

Her Majesty's Government—and this is the second point of agreement to which I move—reconstituted the Simonstown Agreement. These arms for external defence are required primarily for naval defence in the South Atlantic. As a result of the renegotiation of the Simons-town Agreement by Her Majesty's Government, we, of course, use facilities not only in Simonstown, but in other ports in South Africa, and in the event of hostilities, South Africa is Britain's ally. This is the situation deliberately negotiated by Her Majesty's Government with that country, taking into account all the criticisms which hon. Gentlemen opposite have made this afternoon.

When this was renegotiated, the Under Secretary of State for the Navy explained it thus: One important change … is a change in the command structure. Later, he went on: As part of this arrangement, the proposal is that the Chief of the South African Navy will take greater responsibility for the South African area in times at war."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 8th Feb. 1967; Vol. 740, c. 1619.] In other words, South Africa is a more important part of the command structure of Southern Atlantic defence now, under the present Administration, than it was previously.

The position is, therefore, that the Government have deliberately negotiated for South Africa to take over these defence responsibilities—of which they want the benefit for this country, and rightly so—but are flatly refusing to allow South Africa to buy from this country the equipment with which to carry out its responsibilities. They want the job done. They are prepared to go on using the facilities—indeed, they want to—at Simonstown and elsewhere—and, of course, for ships' crews to go ashore in an apartheid country—but they will not allow the purchase of equipment. There is no logic in that, there is no morality in that and there is no question of principle in that.

This is not a case of supplying arms to a country hostile to our own interests. Nor is it a case of being asked to supply arms in an area where there is an international arms race going on, such as the Middle East. Since the war all Governments have refused to sell arms in those circumstances. These are arms for external action by a country which would be our ally in time of war.

In an interesting and, at times, moving speech, the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) asked against whom the South Africans were expected to defend themselves. This is, of course, in the South Atlantic. It is the defence of the sea routes against any enemy which threatens this country and Western Europe, as well as the Commonwealth east of South Africa, including the Indian sub-continent, for which hon. Gentlemen opposite—quite rightly, especially through their own political history—have a deep attachment, respect and regard. This is the purpose of the South Atlantic Command. It has become even more important since the closure of the Suez Canal, and who can foretell when that will be reopened? In any case, for the large tankers and large general cargo ships which are now being built, the Cape will, in future, be the route.

It may, therefore, be the Soviet intention, in case of conflict, to disrupt that route. It is of vital interest to this country and to Europe that it be maintained. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are not prepared to, and, indeed, they say that this country is not able to maintain it on its own. It is becoming less and less able to and, therefore, it is bound to rely on other powers, including South Africa. The Simonstown facilities and the facilities in other ports are essential if those routes are to be maintained open.

We have heard today of the position of France. France is, in many parts of the world, making a commercial, financial and cultural effort of the greatest magnitude. Naturally, France is perfectly entitled to do that; to exert influence in Europe, in the Common Market, in the Middle East following the Israeli-Arab war, in North America, Quebec and in Southern Africa. [Laughter.] I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that this is not to be laughed at. They are doing this both for reasons of commerce, particularly gold, and of defence.

The danger of allowing France to become the permanent supplier of arms to South Africa is that, as part of a deal, she will take the facilities in Simonstown, and there will be an attempt to terminate those facilities which Her Majesty's Government use. I have spoken bluntly because this is a matter of the utmost importance and requires plain speaking.

Let us look at the reasons why Her Majesty's Government took this decision in such circumstances as I have described —with which, I think, the First Secretary will not quarrel. He must realise the dangers. The Prime Minister said that this was a question of principle. What is the principle? After all, there was not unanimity in the Cabinet, so at least we are entitled to examine what principle was at stake. Is the principle that we ought to adhere to all United Nations resolutions? This, surely, cannot be the principle which the First Secretary, a former Foreign Secretary, would put forward? The United Nations resolutions of 1963 and 1964 were not mandatory— that is agreed between both sides of the House. They therefore do not bind us.

But our position is perfectly honourable. At the time of both resolutions, the British representative in the United Nations dissociated himself from any embargo on arms for external defence. This was quite clear. It was also logical, because both resolutions were directed to the question of apartheid internally, and not to questions of South Africa's external defence or position in the South Atlantic. Any British Government are, therefore, entitled not to follow the United Nations resolutions.

If the First Secretary puts forward as a principle that they must all be adhered to, the situation over Gibraltar will become dishonourable and disgraceful. I cannot imagine for one moment that the Government will take that view. They have already described it as disgraceful, and rightly so, and have dissociated themselves from it. So they are fully entitled to dissociate themselves from that part of the resolution of which we gave notice —and, indeed, the whole of it, if they wish. The Conservative position has been consistent throughout. We, when in power, instructed the representative to make that reservation, and we acted on it. That cannot be denied. We have been fully consistent.

What, then, is the next question of principle? Is it that the country should not sell arms to anyone? Some hon. Members below the Gangway have always maintained that. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has maintained it; "merchants of death" is a phrase that is never far from his lips. One can respect that view, but that has not been the position of Her Majesty's Government. As my hon. Friend said, it was this Government who first established a major salesman of arms in this country.

Then, is the principle that we should not sell arms to countries of whose internal affairs the Government disapprove? Let us examine that point. There is the case of Saudi Arabia, in which the sale of arms has been one of the brightest jewels—perhaps the only jewel—in the crown of the Secretary of State for Defence—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] As is well known, he disagrees. Or let us take the case of Portugal. The Government permit the sale of arms to Portugal for external defence. They make no bones about the fact that they disapprove of the internal regimes of both Saudi Arabia and Portugal. So do hon. Members opposite say that there is at stake here any principle that they will not sell arms to any country of whose internal arrangements they disapprove?

Is the principle that of maintaining good relations with the black African countries? We have heard something of this today. It is said to be essential to the maintenance of good relations that this sale should be denied, but I notice that the French Government supply submarines to South Africa. The Italian Government sell Macchi jet trainers to South Africa. They have excellent relations with the whole of black Africa. They do much trade with those countries north of the Zambesi and, in particular, with Zambia and Nigeria. There can, therefore, be no principle here that in order to maintain good relations this sale of arms ought to be denied.

Then there is the argument which, I think, the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) puts forward, that there is to be a race war, that, if so, we must be on the right side, and that this involves stopping this sale of arms. I would say to the hon. Gentleman that everyone in the House has been deeply concerned about apartheid and has found it abhorrent. Many of us have often wondered, and spoken in public— and I did so all through the passage of the South Africa Bill—about how it can be dealt with. I was challenged then by hon. Members opposite on the question of preferences.

I am coming to believe that what the hon. Gentleman and others have been saying no longer corresponds to the facts of the case; and that the black African countries, having achieved their independence, are working more and more with white Africa. I believe that this tendency will continue. They are not thinking any longer in terms of a race war. They are working to bring about change in other ways, and I greatly hope that they succeed in doing so.

Or is it the other principle, that there should be no trade of any kind with South Africa? Perhaps one could respect that view if it were put forward. The Government are not arguing that. South Africa is part of the sterling area, and supplies a great part of the free world's supply of gold. During the course of the South Africa Bill, the then Opposition voted against the retention of preferences for South Africa but, in power, they have maintained them, and benefited from them in their ordinary trade. We draw £57 million a year from South Africa in dividends from over £1,000 million worth of investments there. The Government gladly take advantage of that.

So whatever hon. Members below the Gangway may wish to do, the Government are prepared to go on, to use their words, supporting an apartheid régime of which they disapprove by a vast amount of trade—South Africa being our third best customer and accounting for 5 per cent, of our trade. One can respect hon. Members opposite if they wish to abolish it all, but for the Government to use a principle of this kind is bogus morality. Therefore, having examined each of these cases, I cannot see any principle on which the Government are acting in turning down this order.

The consequences are very considerable. I do not wish to deal with the constituency matters which my hon. and right hon. Friends have raised. I only say that it is now exactly a month since the £ was devalued. Then we were told that there were measures that it was essential to take to make devaluation work—to gain that great increase in exports. The Chancellor had made his decision 14 days earlier—that makes it six weeks in all. By the time we return from the Christmas Recess two and a half months will have gone by since that decision was taken.

The situation during that time has weakened—no one can deny that. The Government, during this period, have announced nothing—not one solitary, specific measure of all those we were told would be brought about—

Mr. Joel Barnet (Heywood and Royton)


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Heath

The only thing the Government have done has been to reject the offer of a firm export order of £200 million.

We have heard that this is a question of principle. Only one principle has ever activated the Prime Minister, and that we have seen demonstrated in the highest possible degree in the last few days. It is the principle of self-preservation at any cost. There were some in the Cabinet who differed from him. I wish they had had the courage to stand up for their views, which they knew to be right. They would have earned the gratitude of the people of the country, if not of all the party opposite. But they put Cabinet unity and the Prime Minister before patriotism. The Government have taken the wrong decision. They have failed entirely to justify it to the House. It is damaging to our national interest in finance, in trade and in defence, and a Conservative Administration will reverse it.

6.19 p.m.

The First Secretary of State (Mr. Michael Stewart)

This debate has been concerned with immediate issues of trade and defence and with facts and figures, and with some of the very greatest issues of world politics and of human affairs. I believe that what we have to do is to see that we set these in the right proportion.

I shall assume throughout my speech —here I shall part company with the last part of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition—that everyone who has spoken in this debate, from either side, has done so with sincerity and with a desire to serve his country and mankind. I think that the issue is far too serious to indulge in imputations of unworthy motives which have played too great a part in some of the speeches. I say, therefore, that this is a question of putting in proportion the different issues, the great world issues and the immediate questions of trade and defence.

Let it be noticed that the decision made by this Government about the sale of arms to South Africa was made three years ago. We are not now debating a new decision by the Government. We are debating a proposition by hon. Members opposite that the policy announced three years ago should now be abandoned and one of the reasons given for that is the present economic state of the country.

On the question of a ban on arms, several hon. Members opposite have tried to argue that there is no real difference in morality or principle between trading in arms and trading in anything else. I wonder whether right hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite really hold that view. Are there any of them who say that we ought not to engage in ordinary trade with Communist countries? I do not suppose there are.

Are there any of them who say that we ought to break with our allies about agreements we have with them restraining the sale not only of arms, but of various kinds of cognate equipment to Communist countries? We all know that this distinction between trade in arms and other trade has been maintained, not only by this Government, but by our predecessors and Governments all over the world. It is well understood, it is a distinction clearly enough drawn, despite occasional borderline cases between general trade and trade in arms. I do not believe, therefore, that the argument can stand up. Certainly, no one opposite who has held responsibility can advance the argument that a ban on arms is in any way the same as an attempt to impose a ban on all trade.

It seems remarkable that the party opposite tries to draw a distinction between arms for internal use and arms for external defence. It is a very tricky distinction to draw, as my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) in a short but effective speech, made clear, a distinction which will be increasingly more difficult to draw. The Opposition stand on that distinction, but then they try to pretend that the much larger, plainer, more obvious distinction between arms, on the one hand, and general trade, on the other, does not exist.

What are the facts about general trade? The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings), who opened the debate, quoted figures of expanding trade with South Africa. So did several other hon. Members, but which side of the argument do they think that leads them to? It has been argued by some that by maintaining our present policy on arms we jeopardise civilian trade with South Africa. Why then, for the last three years, when the ban has been in operation by common consent, has civilian trade gone up and is still going up?

Mr. Hastings

Would the right hon. Gentleman like to explain, or to give some answer to the telegram I read from Sir Maurice Fiennes, about the contract for rolling mill equipment lost as a result of the arms issue?

Mr. Stewart

Yes, I see from one of today's papers that Sir Maurice Fiennes says that the South Africans have given no reason for the postponing of this order. It is purely the hon. Member's own deduction; he makes that perfectly clear. It is interesting to notice that this allegation has been made by several hon. Members opposite, but there has been not a single piece of evidence from South Africa itself of reactions of this kind. If there were I have no doubt at all that hon. Members opposite would have quoted it. They have not done so. However serious—

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles (Winchester)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Stewart

I think not. I have very little time.

It should be clear that there is no real substance in the argument that the whole of our trade with South Africa either is or ought to be jeopardised as a result of this decision taken and operated for the last three years.

We all know that devaluation gives a great opportunity to exporters. I believe that if the goods we can supply to South Africa or anywhere else match or beat our competitors in price, in quality and delivery date, that trade will take place. There is no need, and it would be most imprudent to go out of our way to try, to purchase an additional advantage by abandoning a decision taken three years ago for solid reasons, which I shall develop further, when the House —

Mr. Wyatt

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Stewart

No. There is only limited time for this debate. I have deliberately not asked for very much, but I need what I have.

There were arguments on finance. One thing we should make quite clear. This decision is in no sense in breach of the Simonstown Agreement. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of renegotiation of the Agreement. He was not quite correct about that. There has been no renegotiation of the Agreement. Although there were talks at the time of the removal of the C-in-C and the episode of the frigates, the Agreement has not been renegotiated. It is an Agreement which cannot be denounced legally unilaterally by either side, although either side can ask for renegotiation of it.

Is it suggested that because of something we did three years ago—and the talks which the right hon. Gentleman described as renegotiation occurred after that and South Africa entered into those consultations knowing this was our declared policy which we were carrying out —that we should now be told that because we refuse to reverse this policy at the request of the Opposition, South Africa will denounce the Simonstown Agreement? If hon. Members opposite assert that, again they have not a scrap of evidence for it. There has not been a single reliable source for that assumption. We are told that we are insulting South Africa. Is the proposition seriously made by hon. Members opposite that South Africa proposes unilaterally to denounce this Agreement?

Mr. Ian Lloyd


Mr. Stewart

No I am not giving way.

If that charge were true we should be obliged to ask, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister asked some time ago, what reliance could be placed on this Agreement. If we are to be told that unless our attitude towards United Nations resolutions is satisfactory in South African eyes then we are to lose trade with them—the Simonstown Agreement would go—how far could this line of argument be pressed? If it were urged by hon. Members opposite that their own somewhat unreal distinction between internal and external arms—

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Will the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Stewart


If it were suggested—

Mr. Biggs-Davison


Mr. Stewart


If it were suggested to right hon. Gentlemen opposite that their own fine distinction between internal and external arms was no longer pleasing to the Government of South Africa, and if they did not agree to abandon it the Simonstown Agreement would go or our trade would be jeopardised, would they throw away a distinction on this narrow point of principle on which they alone stand? I counsel the House to consider—

Mr. Biggs-Davison


Mr. Stewart

No, I am not giving way.

It is urged that we should, for immediate reasons of trade or of defence, abandon the policy we have adopted. I counsel to the House the danger of accepting this line of argument: first, because it is not a line of argument that comes from the South African Government themselves, and, secondly, if there were substance in it, it is a line of argument that could in the end oblige this Government, on every matter and on every posture in the United Nations or any international forum, to take the South African line.

Mr. Biggs-Davison


Mr. Stewart


Mr. Biggs-Davison

The right hon. Gentleman is not being fair.

Mr. Stewart

That would not be wise or prudent.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) must contain himself.

Mr. Stewart

I turn, then, to the question of the United Nations Resolutions. Rather unrealistically, the Leader of the Opposition asked me whether it is the Government's position that we would always comply with any U.N. resolution. He knows perfectly well that the answer to that is, "No". A comparison was made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) with Gibraltar. There has been no resolution of the Security Council on Gibraltar and, if on any occasion, there came before the Security Council a resolution on Gibraltar which we did not think right, we could and would, by our power as a permanent member, prevent it from passing. What we would not do is to vote for it first and then produce reasons for not complying with it afterwards.

Sir D. Walker-Smith


Mr. Stewart

No, I shall not give way.

What, then, ought to be one's attitude to a United Nations resolution? It is not mandatory, but it is right for a great Power, particularly one with our history of dealings with the coloured section of mankind, to give the most careful consideration to the expressed opinions in a world forum on one of the greatest of world issues—relations between the white and coloured races.

It is on this point that in my judgment hon. Members opposite have failed to get the issue into proportion and have completely under-estimated how great, how terrible, and, if things go ill, how deadly, an issue this could be. This is why this kind of resolution gets passed at the United Nations. It is perfectly true there are many tyrannies in the world, and it is difficult for any libertarian Government, of whatever complexion within the libertarian range, to know exactly how they should behave on each particular issue towards the many tyrannies of the world. Anyone can produce the trick questions on this. However, although I would hesitate to judge whether tyrannies based on race are more or less wicked than other tyrannies, at the present time in the history of the world they are infinitely more dangerous.

I hold that view for this reason. For two centuries at least the white section of mankind treated the coloured section as instruments for white purposes, sometimes treating them kindly, sometimes treating them cruelly, but always for purposes designed by white nations. It is not forgotten. In this century, in two world wars, we have picked up men from Africa and Asia, brought them halfway across the world, given them infinitely more opportunity of gaining knowledge of what the rest of the world is like than they had ever had before, and trained and equipped them to fight in wars which sprang from white men's quarrels. After all that, we could not expect the world to be the same again. That is why the whole question ferments so intensely.

What we have now to work for is reconciliation. That has been the effort of this Government, and very difficult it sometimes is. One has the experience— I see an hon. Gentleman laughing, but this is quite true—when searching for reconciliation that sometimes one's best endeavours are met with coldness or hostility. I say that we and the other nations of the world which lorded it in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

must accept this as part of the making of a new world. We must go on with the job, difficult as it is, of reconciliation. In that task of reconciliation one's attitude towards apartheid is crucial, because, although in our colonial rule we have often said that for the time being coloured men are not fit to take part in the government of the country, we could always claim that this was to be a matter of time.

The peculiar nature of apartheid is this. It says, first, that white and black must live separately. It says, secondly, that that question—I am putting the case as moderately as possible—of whether they should live separately or not, the greatest question in the whole structure of a state like South Africa, is to be decided exclusively and permanently by white people alone. It is that permanence, that inevitable shutting of the door, that makes it different from all the restrictions or limitations of liberty that have been placed on coloured people before.

At the end of the road of that policy— it may be a road we can travel for a time, but at the end of it lies disaster. I have tried not to use the word "morality". I appeal to the House only for wisdom, for it to realise that to make the wrong decision here would be a disaster to this country far outweighing any immediate economic difficulties.

It has been said—this was one of the less worthy parts of the debate—that the decision was reached to placate certain of my hon. Friends. It has been my task from time to time, as it is the task of all Ministers, to disagree very vigorously with some of my hon. Friends, and I would not hesitate to do that again if I thought that the policy was right. I believe that that is for a Minister to do, but I believe with all my strength that on every issue—morality, ultimate wisdom, and the truest expediency in the long run for this country—our policy was right three years ago and is right now.

Question put, That this House do now adjourn: —

The House divided: Ayes 241, Noes 331.

Division No. 25. AYES [6.39 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) atkins, Humphery(M't'n & M'd'n) Balniel, Lord
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Awdry, Daniel Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Astor, John Baker, W.H.K. Batsford, Brian
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Gurden, Harold Neave, Airey
Bell, Ronald Hall, John (Wycombe) Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Cos. & Fhm) Hail-Davis, A. G. F. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Berry, Hn. Anthony Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Nott, John
Biffen, John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Onslow, Cranley
Biggs-Davison, John Harris, Reader (Heston) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Black, Sir Cyril Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Blaker, Peter Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Boardman, Tom Harvie Anderson, Miss Page, Graham (Crosby)
Body, Richard Hastings, Stephen Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Bossom, Sir Clive Hawkins, Paul Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Hay, John Peel, John
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Percival, Ian
Braine, Bernard Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Peyton, John
Brewis, John Heseltine, Michael Pike, Miss Mervyn
Brinton, Sir Tatton Higgins, Terence L. Pink, R. Bonner
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Hiley, Joseph Pounder, Rafton
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hill, J. E. B. Powell, Rt. Hn. J, Enoch
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bryan, Paul Holland, Philip Prior, J. M. L.
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M) Hordern, Peter Pym, Francis
Buck, Anthony (Colchester) Hornby, Richard Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bullus, Sir Eric Howell, David (Guildford) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Burden, F. A. Hunt, John Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Campbell, Gordon Hutchison, Michael Clark Rees-Davies, W. R.
Carlisle, Mark Iremonger, T, L. Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Cary, Sir Robert Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Ridsdale, Julian
Channon, H. P. G. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Chichester-Clark, R. Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Robson Brown, Sir William
Clark, Henry Jones, Arthur (Northants, S. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Clegg, Walter Jopling, Michael Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Cooke, Robert Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Royle, Anthony
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Kaberry, Sir Donald Russell, Sir Ronald
Cordle, John Kerby, Capt. Henry St. John-Stevas, Norman
Corfield, F. V. Kershaw, Anthony Scott, Nicholas
Costain, A. P. Kimball, Marcus Sharpies, Richard
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Kirk, Peter Silvester, Frederick
Crouch, David Kitson, Timothy Sinclair, Sir George
Crowder, F. P. Knight, Mrs. Jill Smith, John
Cunningham, Sir Knox Lambton, Viscount Stainton, Keith
Currie, G. B. H. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Stodart, Anthony
Dalkeith, Earl of Lane, David Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Dance, James Langford-Holt, Sir John Summers, Sir Spencer
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Scott-Hopkins, James
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Tapsell, Peter
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Digby, Simon Wingfieid Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Aiec Longden, Gilbert Teeling, Sir William
Drayson, G. B. Loveys, W. H. Temple, John M.
Eden, Sir John McAdden, Sir Stephen Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) MacArthur, Ian Tilney, John
Emery, Peter Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Errington, Sir Eric Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain van Straubenzee, W. R.
Eyre, Reginald McMaster, Stanley Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Farr, John Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Vickers, Dame Joan
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maddan, Martin Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Fortescue, Tim Marten, Neil Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Foster, Sir John Maude, Angus Wall, Patrick
Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Walters, Dennis
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. Mawby, Ray Ward, Dame Irene
Gibson-Watt, David Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Weatherill, Bernard
Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Webster, David
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mills, Peter (Torrington) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Glover, Sir Douglas Miscampbell, Norman Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Glyn, Sir Richard Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Monro, Hector Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Goodhart, Philip Montgomery, Fergus Woodnutt, Mark
Goodhew, Victor Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Worsley, Marcus
Gower, Raymond Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Wright, Esmond
Grant, Anthony Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Wylie, N. R.
Gresham Cooke, R. Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Younger, Hn. George
Grieve, Percy Murton, Oscar
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Nabarro, Sir Gerald TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. R. W. Elliott and Mr. Jasper More
Abse, Leo Alldritt, Walter Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)
Albu, Austen Anderson, Donald Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Archer, Peter Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Barnes, Michael Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Lipton, Marcus
Barnett Joel Ford, Ben Lomas, Kenneth
Baxter, William Forrester, John Loughlin, Charles
Beaney, Alan Fowler, Gerry Lubbock, Eric
Bence, Cyril Fraser, John (Norwood) Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Freeson, Reginald Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Bidwell, Sydney Galpern, Sir Myer Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Binns, John Gardner, Tony MacColl, James
Bishop, E. S. Garrett, W. E. MacDermot, Niall
Blackburn, F. Ginsburg, David Macdonald, A. H.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. McGuire, Michael
Booth, Albert Gourlay, Harry McKay, Mrs. Margaret
Boston, Terence Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Boyden, James Gregory, Arnold Mackie, John
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Grey, Charles (Durham) Mackintosh, John P.
Bradley, Tom Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Maclennan, Robert
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Brooks, Edwin Griffiths, Will (Exchange) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. McNamara, J. Kevin
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. MacPherson, Malcolm
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Brown, R. w. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Buchan, Norman Hamling, William Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hannan, William Mapp, Charles
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Harper, Joseph Marks, Kenneth
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hart, Mrs. Judith Mason, Roy
Cant, R. B. Haseldine, Norman Maxwell, Robert
Carmichael, Neil Hattersley, Roy Mayhew, Christopher
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hazell, Bert Mellish, Robert
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mendelson, J. J.
Coe, Denis Heffer, Eric S. Mikardo, Ian
Coleman, Donald Henig, Stanley Millan, Bruce
Concannon, J. D. Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Miller, Dr. M. S.
Conlan, Bernard Hilton, W. S. Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Crawshaw, Richard Hooley, Frank Molloy, William
Cronin, John Horner, John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Morris, John (Aberavon)
Dalyell, Tarn Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Moyle, Roland
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Howie, W. Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Hoy, James Murray, Albert
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire,W.) Huckfield, Leslie Neal, Harold
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Newens, Stan
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E-) Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Norwood, Christopher
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oakes, Gordon
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ogden, Eric
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hunter, Adam O'Malley, Brian
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hynd, John Oram, Albert E.
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Orbach, Maurice
Delargy, Hugh Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Orme, Stanley
Dell, Edmund Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Dempsey, James Janner, Sir Barnett Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Dewar, Donald Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Padley, Walter
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Jeger, George (Goole) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Dickens, James Jeger, Mrs.Lena (H,b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Palmer, Arthur
Dobson, Ray Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Doig, Peter Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Pardoe, John
Dunn, James A. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Park, Trevor
Dunnett, Jack Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Parker. John (Dagenham)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Jones, Rt.Hn.SirElwyn(W.Ham,S.) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Eadie, Alex Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Pavitt, Laurence
Edelman, Maurice Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Judd, Frank Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Kelley, Richard Pentland, Norman
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Kenyon, Clifford Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Ellis, John Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
English, Michael Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Ennals, David Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Ensor, David Lawson, George Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Leadbitter, Ted Price, William (Rugby)
Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen) Ledger, Ron Probert, Arthur
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Faulds, Andrew Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Randall, Harry
Fernyhough, E. Lee, John (Reading) Rankin, John
Finch, Harold Lestor, Miss Joan Rees, Merlyn
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Reynolds, G. W.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Foley, Maurice Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Richard, Ivor
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Steel, David (Roxburgh) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael Whitaker, Ben
Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Stonehouse, John White, Mrs. Eirene
Robertson, John (Paisley) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Whitlock, William
Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Wilkins, W. A.
Rodgers, William (Stockton) Swain, Thomas Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Roebuck, Roy Swingler, Stephen Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Taverne, Dick Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Rose, Paul Thomas, George (Cardiff, W. Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Rose, Rt. Hn. William Thomson, Rt. Hn. George Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Rowlands, E, (Cardiff, N.) Thornton, Ernest Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Ryan, John Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.) Tinn, james Wilson, William (Coventry, s.)
Sheldon, Robert Tommy, Frank Winnick, David
Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Tuck, Raphael Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Shore, Peter (Stepney) Urwin, T. W. Winterbottom, R. E.
Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) Woof, Robert
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Yates, Victor
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Wallace, George
Skeffington, Arthur Watkins, David (Consett) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Small, William Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor) Mr. Eric G. Varley and Mr. Neil McBride.
Snow, Julian Weitzman, David
Spriggs, Leslie Wellbeloved, James
House to meet on Thursday at Eleven o'clock; no Questions to be taken after Twelve o'clock; and at Five o'clock Mr. Speaker to adjourn the House without putting any Question.—[Mr. Crossman.]