HC Deb 21 March 1967 vol 743 cc1418-28
3. Sir F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what is the latest estimate of the total cost of the consequences of Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence to the United Kingdom's economy, including the cost of sanctions, the effect on imports, exports and invisibles, and the military blockade measures off Beira, and extra aid to Zambia but excluding any hypothetical calculation of the effect of changing copper prices.

Mr. Bowden

I have nothing to add to the Answer given to Questions on this subject by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21st February and 16th March, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 7th March.

Sir F. Bennett

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm today whether those Answers to which he referred were intended to be authoritative for all interested parties and not just on a selective basis of consumption as hitherto? Secondly, can he also say whether, in them, account has been taken of increasing consumer resistance to British goods and services throughout Southern Africa as a whole as revealed in the latest Board of Trade figures, and what reason has he for this?

Mr. Bowden

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is extremely difficult to arrive at any firm figure as to the actual costs since the declaration of illegal independence. It depends upon which way one looks at this. One could arrive at a number of figures. It is extremely difficult to get an accurate one. I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that, whatever the figure may be, one cannot measure loyalty and actions against rebellion in monetary terms.

Mr. Paget

Would my right hon. Friend confirm that consumer resistance resulting from our Rhodesian policy is not confined to Southern Africa? It applies also to Australia. If he has any doubt about that, I can provide him with some correspondence. Secondly, can he tell us what, in fact, the increase in the price of copper has cost our balance of payments? Is it more or less than £250 million?

Mr. Bowden

On the second part of my hon. and learned Friend's question, it is impossible to assess the actual difference in the cost, because we do not know what the price of copper would have been had there been no U.D.I. Regarding the first part of his question, I cannot confirm what he asked me.

5. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs why Rhodesia continues to import large quantities of motor car fuel.

The Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. George Thomas)

Because the refinery at Umtali has been out of operation since January, 1966, as a result of sanctions. Rhodesia has been compelled to develop expensive and complicated methods of procuring oil.

Mr. Blaker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) is reported to have said, on 19th February, that the white population in Rhodesia are no longer able to use their cars. Since this is obviously not the case, are the Government satisfied with the accuracy of the information they are getting about conditions inside Rhodesia?

Mr. Thomas

All I know is that there is a very strict petrol rationing scheme in operation in Rhodesia.

7. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the effect of mandatory sanctions on the people of Rhodesia.

9. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what is the latest information available to the Government on the success of mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia.

Mr. Bowden

As my hon. Friend informed the House on 14th February, we expect mandatory sanctions to result in a significant reduction in Rhodesia's export capacity. Mr. Wrathall's statement in the Rhodesian Legislature on 9th February reveals that the régime now accepts that Rhodesia is faced with a long economic siege. Spokesmen of the régime have made many claims about the alleged ineffectiveness of sanctions but there is little doubt that they are now worried about the large quantities of tobacco unsold from last year, the virtual bankruptcy of the sugar industry and the closure of the motor assembly plants due to lack of components.

Mr. Wall

Is the object of sanctions to cause widespread unemployment in Rhodesia and so inspire African unrest? If so, is it not true that so far, in the long term, sanctions have had more effect on the British economy than on the Rhodesian economy?

Mr. Bowden

The object of sanctions, as the hon. Gentleman knows full well, is to bring the Rhodesian régime to an end and make them return to legality. The application of selective mandatory sanctions has taken a little time, because certain countries have had to take legislative procedures which we did not have to take.

Mr. Judd

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most Members of the House regard the Rhodesian issue as one that is fundamental to the credibility of the Government's overall foreign policy, that we constantly look for any evidence that the Government share this conviction, and that we would support any action necessary to make the present economic sanctions policy effective?

Mr. Bowden

Given a little time—and it is not very much more than eight weeks—I think my hon. Friend will be quite happy with the results of selective mandatory sanctions.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that Rhodesia has satisfactorily balanced her payments, notably on invisible account, and is it not a worldwide recognition now that sanctions of all kinds against Rhodesia are a dismal failure?

Mr. Bowden

I am aware of the budget issued by the Rhodesian régime last year, when many figures were conveniently omitted. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is, too, a victim of their own propaganda?

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Would my right hon. Friend tell the House when it is expected that the tobacco sales in Rhodesia will be due, and what prospects he sees, from the information available to him, that they will be able to dispose of the tobacco this year?

Mr. Bowden

The tobacco is already off the stalk and probably on the auction floor, but what has to be borne in mind is that a very high percentage of last year's crop is still unsold.

8. Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government intend to take to assist Rhodesians of all races who desire an early return to legality to enable their country to restore their links with Great Britain and the Commonwealth.

Mr. Bowden

As the Prime Minister made clear on 20th December we wish to secure a settlement of the Rhodesian problem which is just and fair and Her Majesty's Government remain willing to reach such a settlement through discussion and subsequent negotiation with a legal government in Rhodesia. We naturally hope that all Rhodesians will come to realise the sterility of the path upon which the illegal régime is now set and I can assure them that the British Government look forward to the day when the links which have been abused by the present leaders in Rhodesia can be fully restored.

Mr. Molloy

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the Government have leaned over backwards to try to accommodate this illegal régime, that this illegal régime has received constant support from many members of the party opposite, and that it seems to many of us on this side of the House that there has not been enough demonstration by my right hon. Friend and the Government to encourage people who wish to return to the standards of decency to do so? Could they not announce that anyone who wishes to accept the standards of democratic decency, and those standards that were outlined on the "Tiger", will be encouraged to form a Government in Rhodesia?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Long supplementaries mean that someone else fails to get one.

Mr. Bowden

The British Government have no argument at all with Rhodesians as such, but only with the illegal régime, and it is at any time open to any group of individuals to approach the Queen's Governor, who is still in Salisbury, to make approaches to the British Government to end the illegal position that obtains there, after which we can look at the position once more.

11. Mr. Hamling

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now make a statement on the extent of opposition in Rhodesia to the illegal régime.

Mr. Bowden

This cannot be accurately assessed because of the measures of the illegal régime who have sought to suppress all effective opposition. But I believe it to be considerable.

Mr. Hamling

Can my right hon. Friend say why so many self-styled democrats in this House seem to support a one-party régime in Rhodesia?

Mr. Bowden

I am afraid that I cannot be responsible for the consciences of all hon. Members in this House.

Mr. David Steel

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether his office takes any steps to give advice in this respect to Rhodesian citizens who are on visits to this country?

Mr. Bowden

As far as is possible my office makes itself available to any Rhodesian who wishes to come along and talk to us. In fact, these visits are extremely valuable.

12. Mr. Hamling

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the effect of mandatory sanctions on the policy of the illegal régime in Rhodesia; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Bowden

The so-called Minister of Finance, speaking in the Salisbury Legislative Assembly on 9th February, 1967, admitted that our action in persuading the United Nations to impose mandatory sanctions had created a new situation. The holding operation was over and longer term measures had to be taken to secure the future. The régime had therefore reappraised its policies in recognition of the need to maintain the momentum of economic activity in the face of a reduction in export markets which might persist for some time.

Mr. Wrathall went on to say that while much progress had already been made, much more needed to be done if the decline in the gross domestic product was to be halted and economic growth resumed.

Mr. Hamling

As progressive opinion throughout the world supports Her Majesty's Government in this policy, will my right hon. Friend now call upon all sections of this House also to support the Government?

Mr. Bowden

I should like to think that that is the position, but I am not sure that it is at the present moment.

Mr. Whitaker

The suppression of truth by the régime in Rhodesia proves the truth of what my right hon. Friend is saying about the effectiveness of sanctions. Can he say what compliance is being made by Portugal and Iran, and what we are doing about this?

Mr. Bowden

The talks, negotiations, and representations with Portugal and Iran or South Africa are matters for the Foreign Office, and not for me.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many countries have failed to make their report to the Security Council about what measures they have taken under the mandatory sanctions order?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir, I am afraid that I cannot at the present moment.

13. Mr. Luard

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what information he has concerning the present effectiveness of oil sanctions against Rhodesia.

Mr. Bowden

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) on 27th January.

Mr. Luard

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any evidence of an increase in the supply of oil to South Africa and Mozambique over recent months, and whether he will be prepared, if necessary, to control the supply of oil by British companies to these two countries?

Mr. Bowden

The question of oil supplies to Rhodesia is always to the forefront in our consideration of the problem. At the present time, as far as I am aware, they are getting sufficient to maintain their rather strict rationing, but nothing very much in addition, and this oil is costing them a considerable amount of money.

Mr. Crawshaw

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is evidence that the South African Government are constructing large storage facilities near the Rhodesian frontier? Can he assure the House that if there is a breach of the oil sanctions to any great extent we reserve the right to take such steps as we think best?

Mr. Bowden

We always reserve the right to make representations if we see any breaches whatsoever in the sanctions.

16. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what is the police state machinery now operating in Rhodesia.

Mr. George Thomas

The régime has resorted to the device of alleging an emergency in order to justify arbitrary powers which include those of detention and restriction of persons without trial or review, censorship and the dictatorial control of employment. The very existence of these powers, and still more the use made of them, operates to intimidate the population, to stifle criticism and dissent and to create an atmosphere of suspicion and insecurity.

Mr. Wall

May I ask the hon. Gentleman how many people are detained without trial in Aden? Is it not a fact that when the right hon. Gentleman the Commonwealth Secretary was in Australia he compared Mr. Smith's Government with that of Nazi Germany? However much the right hon. Gentleman may disagree with Mr. Smith, is this not a travesty of the truth, and a gross abuse of Australian hospitality?

Mr. Thomas

If the House will be patient, I will just remind the hon. Gentleman of what my right hon. Friend said, and I will do it quickly. He said: Those of you who remember the days of the 'thirties will recall one familiar feature of Nazi Germany, the knock on the door at midnight by the security police followed by arrest and detention without trial. All this is going on in Rhodesia. It is happening to Africans, but I presume that the hon. Gentleman is as concerned about them as he is about white people.

Mr. Wall

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that what is happening in the African townships is an end to the intimidation waged by one African political party against the other, which happened before the U.D.I.?

Mr. Thomas

No, Sir.

Mr. Paget

Can my hon. Friend say whether there is a single country in Africa in which this does not happen?

Mr. Thomas

Yes, Sir.

Hon. Members

Which one?

Mr. Thomas

There are many countries in Africa.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Does not the hon. Gentleman know that a state of emergency in Rhodesia preceded the U.D.I., and that that state of emergency was occasioned by the infiltration of arms and terrorists across the Zambesi? Is he not further aware that there are fewer people detained now than there were before the U.D.I.?

Mr. Thomas

It is as well to get it on the record that His Excellency the Governor signed a state of emergency at the request of the Government the day before, and without being told that they were declaring U.D.I.

26. Sir Knox Cunnningham

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs when he now expects the United Nations mandatory sanctions to bring about a collapse of the Rhodesian economy.

27. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs when he now expects United Nations mandatory sanctions to bring about a collapse of the Rhodesian economy.

Mr. Bowden

I would not accept that our object is to bring about a collapse of the Rhodesian economy. Nor do I propose to make any guess as to when sanctions are likely to achieve our objective. But however long the haul may be we shall continue strictly to enforce sanctions in the firm belief that a stage will be reached when Rhodesians will realise that a return to constitutional rule is the only acceptable answer.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Is it not true that Rhodesia is getting all the oil she needs and that sanctions are hitting the United Kingdom very hard indeed in loss of trade and expenditure? When will this folly cease?

Mr. Bowden

It may be wishful thinking on the hon. and learned Gentleman's part that Rhodesia is getting all the oil she needs. What I have said is that she is getting sufficient to maintain her already strict rationing. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that sanctions are biting very deeply, but we have no desire to destroy the Rhodesian economy; what we have a desire to do is bring them back to the rule of law.

Mr. Goodhew

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that, up to 21st February, about 72 out of the 131 member States of the United Nations and associated agencies had failed to report any action on the implementation of mandatory sanctions? Since it is now abundantly clear that other countries will continue to trade with Rhodesia, what are his proposals now for bringing this rebellion to an end?

Mr. Bowden

The last figure which I saw was that about 50 countries had not replied, but even that was more than a week ago and I should imagine that some others have replied since. The question of replies from these countries on their action to implement selective mandatory sanctions is a matter for the United Nations, but I have no reason to think that the majority will not apply them.

Mr. Bellenger

May I seriously put to my right hon. Friend the fact that, less than 50 years ago, a British Government were able to settle a much more serious revolution in Ireland? Has British statesmanship now ceased to exist?

Mr. Bowden

I am rather staggered that my good friends the Irish should be referred to in the same terms and in the same sentence as the people in Rhodesia who are rebels.

28. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what information he has about the support Zambia is now giving to mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia.

Mr. Bowden

The position of the Zambian Government is set out in their letter of 23rd February to the Secretary General of the United Nations which I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Goodhew

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Zambia, like Great Britain, is suffering much more from this policy of the British Government than Rhodesia is? Does he not think it time that he took a new initiative to bring about a settlement?

Mr. Bowden

I accept that Zambia has been facing an extremely difficult situation as a result of the application of sanctions, but she is complying as far as possible, with our help, with the United Nations resolution.

Mr. Winnick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the whole purpose of these Questions about Rhodesia from the benches opposite is to give support to the illegal régime and that it is now obvious that the Conservative Party in the House is all out—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Question relates to Zambia.

Mr. Woodburn

In view of the fact that so many hon. Gentlemen opposite know how to solve this problem, has my right hon. Friend any objection to their going out and bringing a peaceful solution?

29. Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what new proposals he has for solving the Rhodesian problem.

Mr. Bowden

I have nothing to add to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 20th December or to the replies to subsequent Questions on this subject given by my colleagues and myself.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

Is it not fantastic that one Ministry, the Ministry of Overseas Development, should be trying to build up countries in need, while another Department is trying to bring down Rhodesia's economy?

Mr. Bowden

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would use his good offices to persuade the régime to return to legality, many of his fears would be unfounded.