HC Deb 24 April 1968 vol 763 cc232-44

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if he will make a statement on the resolution which Her Majesty's Government have submitted to the United Nations Security Council on Rhodesia.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)

As the House is aware, our Permanent Representative at the United Nations, my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Caradon, yesterday presented a draft Resolution on Rhodesia to the Security Council. I will circulate the text of that Resolution in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained our general position on these matters to the House in his statement of 14th March and in his speech in the debate on 27th March. The draft Resolution put forward by Lord Caradon follows the lines indicated by the Prime Minister.

The first operative paragraph of our draft Resolution requires all member State of the United Nations and other countries to whom the Resolution applies to place the same prohibitions on trade with Rhodesia as we have applied to our own trade. This paragraph of our draft specifically catches imports of Rhodesian goods even if they are only in transit or in what are called "free ports"; this is designed to block some methods of evading sanctions which experience has shown to be of importance.

The second operative paragraph similarly requires other countries to take measures similar to those which we have been applying through our exchange control system.

The parts of the draft Resolution dealing with travel requires States to deny entry to persons relying on a Rhodesian passport as well as to known sanctions breakers and active supporters of the illegal régime. The main point which I would wish to make here is that many countries would find it impossible to deny entry to their own citizens, and we would not propose to do so except in the closely defined circumstances in the draft Resolution. The House will note that several of these provisions contain exceptions on humanitarian grounds.

The remainder of the draft Resolution is concerned with the implementation of the proposed decisions which I have just described. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is charged with a wider supervisory rôle than under the existing resolution and a Committee of the Council would be set up to evaluate his reports.

As has been made clear on many occasions our objective remains the achievement of a just and honourable solution of the Rhodesia problem. I believe that the adoption of this Resolution by the Security Council will be a valuable and important step to that end.

When a Resolution has been passed by the Security Council Her Majesty's Government will introduce to Parliament any legislation, probably in the form of an Order in Council, required to give effect to it so far as this country is concerned. There will, of course, then, as on previous occasions, be an opportunity for Parliament to express its view on that legislation.

I assure the House that, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in the debate on 27th March, we are …prepared to have talks with any responsible persons in Rhodesia who are prepared to discuss with us a settlement on the basis of our agreed principles—people, that is, who can be trusted beyond the letter of a legal agreement to make these principles effective. We shall be prepared to talk, be it soon or later, when those conditions exist ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1968; Vol. 761, c. 1567.]

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said in the wording of his statement, can he say whether it is the purpose of Her Majesty's Government to induce a moderate frame of mind in Rhodesia, as the Prime Minister declared, so that they may move towards a settlement with this country, or whether it has the vindictive objective of destroying the Rhodesian economy? If it is the latter, do not the Government realise how futile this is so long as the South African and Portuguese supply routes are open? Do the Government realise that if there are any victims they will be African labour, the people we are trying to help?

If the ultimate purpose is to bring Rhodesia back into legal relationship with Britain, can one imagine anything more psychologically stupid than to try to stop people from travelling to and fro? The Government's proposal will, I suppose, have to go forward, but will the right hon. Gentleman at least instruct Lord Caradon to take these travel provisions out of the U.N. Resolution?

Mr. Stewart

To answer the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary, I will not instruct Lord Caradon to take the travel provisions out of the Resolution. On the general issue, there is nothing vindictive about this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If the right hon. Gentleman remembers the policy announced by the Leader of the Opposition he will recall that it was to continue sanctions while negotiations were proceeding, whatever the basis of the negotiations. Is it now to be the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite that they want to continue sanctions, as their Leader said, but that they do not want loopholes in the sanctions to be closed up and do not want other nations to carry out those sanctions in the same manner as we do?

Mr. Faulds

Will my right hon. Friend take cognisance of the fact that a committee of the U.N. has recommended that moral and material support should be given to the Zimbabwe Freedom Fighters? Will he take action along those lines?

Mr. Stewart

That is no part of the proposals which we have put to the U.N.

Mr. Hastings

Is it not certain that these new measures, if adopted, will fail just as utterly as sanctions have failed up to now? Will not the automatic result be to drive white Rhodesians further into their laager and further towards South Africa? Why will not the right hon. Gentleman answer the question asked by my right hon. Friend and accept that those who will suffer in the long run will be the African people, whom he professes to defend?

Mr. Stewart

It is true that the carrying out of a policy of sanctions will involve hardship for all the inhabitants of Rhodesia. This is something we had to take into account when we decided on a policy of sanctions, and I presume that the Leader of the Opposition took it into account when he said he wanted sanctions to continue. I think that in the light of the tone of some of these questions it should be clear exactly where the Opposition stand on this. The Government's view—[HON. MEMBERS: "Resign.]—I will go on when hon. Members are ready. The Government's view—[Interruption.]

Mr. Winnick

It is the Rhodesian Lobby.

Mr. Stewart

The Government's view is that sanctions should continue. That is the official view of the Opposition. In the light of that it is reasonable to put before the Security Council a Resolution which, first, will make sanctions more effective than they are now and, secondly, will impose on other countries the kind of obligation we ourselves are now fulfilling.

Mr. Thorpe

Since this House, without a Division, agreed to the initial application of sanctions by this country, is the Foreign Secretary aware that, apart from those who are so naive as to think that there is any possibility of successful political talks being held with the present men in Salisbury, this move will be welcomed as logical and long-overdue as an extension to bring down the regime which is a threat to the whole multiracial Commonwealth?

Mr. Stewart

One of the reasons for taking this matter to the United Nations was that it is one which affects the whole of mankind and the peace of the world. I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman that anyone who believes in the policy of sanctions at all must regard this as a logical extension of what we have already done.

Mr. Bellenger

May I ask my right hon. Friend what he hopes to achieve by these proposals? Is he aware that one of the principal sufferers if this resolution is carried will be Zambia? If so, do Her Majesty's Government propose to compensate her?

Mr. Stewart

My right hon. Friend will find that in paragraph 6 of the Resolution there is reference to the special position of Zambia and certain other landlocked States. We are aware of that. As to what is to be achieved, on the illegal régime's own figures their exports have already been cut down by one-third. Further, I think that an important result that anyone with the narrowest regard for the economic interests of this country should have is that it will require Governments and businessmen in other countries to observe the same restraints as we already observe.

The third thing which I think one would want to achieve is that, while this may be a long task, I believe that it is of vital importance to make quite clear to the whole world that, however long it takes, the illegal régime in Rhodesia will not get recognition, investment or support, but will continue to attract the hostility and detestation of mankind.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Will not the right hon. Gentleman and the Government recognise the difference between economic sanctions Government-to-Government and the restrictions on individuals that are to be imposed through travel, since it is more important than ever in this situation that the relationships as between individuals should be kept open and communications clear so that better relationships can be evolved?

Mr. Stewart

Broadly speaking, the position on travel will be this: people from Rhodesia who are actually citizens of the United Kingdom, whether in addition to Rhodesian citizenship or citizens of the United Kingdom by itself, will be able to come here unless they are known sanctions-breakers or supporters of the illegal régime. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not know whether hon. Members opposite suggest that known supporters of the régime should have the same freedom of movement as law-abiding citizens. If that is their view I shall be interested to hear it argued on a later occasion at greater length.

People who have only passports issued by the illegal régime would not be able to come here unless, for humanitarian or special reasons, they can show good cause. I must remind hon. Members that, whatever view may be taken of the Rhodesian question, this is a rebellion and there ought to be a return to legality that where a situation like that occurs there are bound to be personal restrictions.

Mr. Orme

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members opposite who have been criticising the lack of effect of the present restrictions should welcome the proposals that Her Majesty's Government have now made? Is he aware that the tobacco growers are showing great restiveness about the Smith régime and that this is an indication that if we step up the sanctions now we can bring this régime to heel?

Mr. Stewart

Yes, what my hon. Friend says about the tobacco growers is certainly true. I agree with him also that one would have expected the party opposite, unanimously I think—some of them do—to regard this as a logical extension of the policy to which officially they are committed.

Mr. Maudling

The right hon. Gentleman has been asked several questions about the purpose of these measures. Can he confirm so that we can be absolutely clear that the Government's intention now is to use these measures, in the words of the Leader of the Liberal Party, to bring down the régime? Is it also clear from what the: Foreign Secretary said that the Government do not contemplate any further negotiations whatever with the present régime, but are solely concerned to bring them down?

Mr. Stewart

That would not be a correct formulation. As has already been made clear on the Question of any further consultations, the Government's position was made quite clear in the passage of the Prime Minister's speech which I quoted and to which I referred. If these measures cause such a movement of opinion in Rhodesia as to make possible consultation within the terms of what the Prime Minister said, so much the better, but if, in Rhodesia, there is nothing but a flat refusal to consider the six principles, then does the right hon. Gentleman or anyone else want the illegal régime to be successful in that defiance?

Mr. Shinwell

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there has been any indication recently by so-called moderate elements in Rhodesia—to use the language of right hon. Gentlemen opposite—or any other element seeking to enter into negotiations with Her Majesty's Government with a view to an honourable settlement on the basis of the six principles? Has there been any such indication? In the absence of any such indication, what alternative is there for Her Majesty's Government than to proceed with the Resolution in the Security Council?

Mr. Stewart

I must agree with my right hon. Friend that there have been no indications of that kind. The illegal executions and the publication of what is called a draft constitution but what is, of course, in law, merely a statement by some private persons, do not encourage one to believe that there is at present a mood of moderation.

Mr. Turton

Before drafting the Resolution did the right hon. Gentleman have any consultations with those countries which are at present evading sanctions? Does he not realise that without their co-operation his policy and he himself are becoming a laughing-stock?

Mr. Stewart

As is usual, indeed almost invariable, in the drafting of any important Resolution for the Security Council there were consultations with practically all those concerned.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

With regard to the continual flouting of the sanctions policy by Portugal, is my right hon. Friend aware that the only reason we have suffered the Portuguese alliance for so long is that Charles II married Catherine of Braganza? Is there any reason whatsoever why we should take his marriage any more seriously than Charles II did?

Mr. Stewart

Much as I admire the terms of my hon. Friend's question I think that they carry it a bit wide of my statement, but on the point of substance we recognise that our Resolution does not envisage—and deliberately does not envisage—a direct and complete confrontation with certain countries in breach of sanctions. I think that to be right, because I have always taken the view that while, in the United Nations, we must do all we can to support the international rule of law, we ought not to advocate or vote for things we know we cannot do. This Resolution in its present form goes as far as we believe at the present stage we can possibly go, but it is a substantial advance on the previous situation and, as I said, I believe it is a valuable step in getting a just and honourable settlement.


If the House is to accept from the right hon. Gentleman that the object of these new, stringent regulations is to persuade the Rhodesians to return to the path of legality, how can that possibly be so by making it difficult for Rhodesians of any kind to visit this country? Is not that policy not only inhumane but politically inept and, in fact, self-defeating? Will not the right hon. Gentleman heed the advice of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) and instruct Lord Caradon to delete the reference to this particular sanction?

Mr. Stewart

No, Sir. As I made clear, the Resolution does not prevent Rhodesians of any kind from visiting this country. I made clear in a previous answer in what circumstances it would or would not be possible for Rhodesians to visit this country. If it were a question of somebody who genuinely and sincerely came here to try to promote a just and honourable settlement within the principles, there is nothing in the Resolution to preclude that.

Mr. Whitaker

First, why were not these minimal measures taken a long time ago? Secondly, if individual companies such as the Portuguese or South African airlines violate the United Nations Resolution, will retaliatory boycotts be introduced at the United Nations?

Mr. Stewart

I must give a negative reply to the last part of that question, in line with the reply I gave just now to my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Ronald Atkins). As to why a Resolution in this form was not introduced earlier, all hon. Members who have experience of the United Nations will know that the process of getting agreement and gradually substituting in the world the rule of law for the mere private wish of each nation is a laborious process. It does not always proceed by logical steps. It has to be handled according to what can be achieved at each stage.

Mr. Fortescue

In his original statement the Foreign Secretary stated—I quote—"We do not propose to deny entry of our own citizens". How can the House believe a word of that when as recently as last February the Government took hasty legislative action to do exactly that in respect of the Kenyan Asians?

Mr. Stewart

The House debated that issue and decided to give support to that Measure, for reasons which were explained at the time. I made it clear in answer to a previous question that people who possess citizenship of the United Kingdom will not be denied entry by virtue of this Resolution, unless they are known sanctions-breakers or supporters of the illegality.

Mr. William Hamilton

Were the views of the members of the Commonwealth either sought or given on the terms of the Resolution? Further, can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he will reject with contempt the advice offered by those with a long record of appeasement, white racialism and anti-United Nations sympathies over the years?

Mr. Stewart

I certainly find coming from some quarters opposite criticism of the Resolution which is evidently based on dislike of international action of any kind through the United Nations and on sympathy with the objects of the rebellion. All I can hope is that those views are not generally shared by the Opposition. There were consultations with many countries, both within and without the Commonwealth, before the Resolution was drafted.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

To put the record straight, I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Opposition voted against the extension of mandatory sanctions. This is a fact which he will find if he looks up the record. We made the proposal that sanctions and U.D.I. should run concurrently, in the context, though, of a negotiation genuinely pursued. This is where the Government are falling down.

Mr. Stewart

The right hon. Gentleman says "a negotiation genuinely pursued". Does he feel that what has recently been said in Rhodesia about a draft constitution gives any support to his hopes that there is a desire to pursue genuine negotiations? Does not he remember, as I have said, that his Leader wanted sanctions to continue? What I find difficult to understand is why, if they really believe that, they object to a Resolution which makes the sanctions more effective and which will require business interests in other countries to be as restrained by them as are business interests in this country.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must move on.

Following is the text of draft Security Council Resolution tabled by the United Kingdom:

THE SECURITY COUNCIL, Recalling and reaffirming its resolutions 216 (1965) of 12th November, 1965, 217 (1965) of 20th November, 1965, 221 (1966) of 9th April, 1966, and 232 (1966) of 16th December, 1966. Noting with great concern that the measures taken so far have failed to bring the rebellion in Southern Rhodesia to an end, Deploring the recent inhuman executions carried out by the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia which have flagrantly affronted the conscience of mankind and have been universally condemned, Reaffirming that, to the extent not superseded in this resolution, the measures provided for in resolutions 217 (1965) of 20th November, 1965, and 232 (1966) of 16th December, 1966, as well as those initiated by member states in implementation of those resolutions, shall continue in effect, Reaffirming its determination that the present situation in Southern Rhodesia constitutes a threat to international peace and security, Acting in accordance with Articles 39 and 41 of the United Nations Charter,

  1. 1. Decides that States members of the United Nations shall prevent:
    1. (A) The import into their territories of all commodities and products originating in Southern Rhodesia and exported therefrom after the date of this resolution (whether or not the commodities or products are for consumption or processing in their territories, whether or not they are imported in bond and whether or not any special legal status with respect to the import of goods is enjoyed by the port or other place where they are imported or stored):
    2. (B) Any activities by their nationals or in their territories which promote or are calculated to promote the export of any commodities or products from Southern Rhodesia: and any dealings by their nationals or in their territories in any commodities or products originating in Southern Rhodesia and exported therefrom after the date of this resolution, including in particular any transfer of funds to Southern Rhodesia for the purposes of such activities or dealings:
    3. (C) The shipment in vessels or aircraft of their registration or under charter to their nationals or the carriage (whether or not in bond) by land transport facilities across their territories of any commodities or products originating in Southern Rhodesia and exported therefrom after the date of this resolution:
    4. (D) The sale or supply by their nationals or from their territories of any commodities or products (whether or not originating in their territories but not including medical supplies, educational equipment, documents, books, periodicals, newspapers, cinematograph films containing only news or other informative or educational matter, television films containing only such matter, other material for cinematograph, television or radio purposes containing only such matter or, in special humanitarian circumstances foodstuffs) to any person or body in Southern Rhodesia or to any other person or body for the purposes of any business carried on in or operated from Southern Rhodesia: and any activities by their nationals or in their territories which promote or are calculated to promote such sale or supply:
    5. (E) The shipment in vessels or aircraft of their registration or under charter to their nationals or the carriage (whether or not in bond) by land transport facilities across their territories of any such commodities or products which are consigned to any person or body in Southern Rhodesia or to any other person or body for the purposes of any business carried on in or operated from Southern Rhodesia.
  2. 2. Decides that states members of the United Nations shall not make available to the illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia or to any commercial, industrial or public utility undertaking in Southern Rhodesia any funds for investment or any other financial or economic resources and shall prevent their nationals and any persons within their territories from making available to the regime or to any such undertaking any such funds or resources and from remitting any other funds to persons or bodies within Southern Rhodesia except payments exclusively for pensions or other humanitarian, educational or information purposes.
  3. 3. Decides that states members of the United Nations shall:
    1. (A) Prevent the entry into their territories, save on exceptional humanitarian grounds, of any person travelling on a Southern Rhodesian passport, regardless of its date of issue, or on a purported passport issued by or on behalf of the illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia:
    2. (B) Take all possible measures to prevent the entry into their territories of persons whom they have reason to believe to be ordinarily resident in Southern Rhodesia and whom they have reason to believe to have furthered or encouraged or to be likely to further or encourage the unlawful actions of the illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia or any activities which are calculated to evade any measures decided upon in this resolution or in resolution 232 (1966) of 16th December, 1966.
  4. 4. Decides that states members of the United Nations shall prevent airline companies constituted in their territories and aircraft of their registration or under charter to their nationals from operating to or from Southern Rhodesia and from linking up with any airline company constituted or aircraft registered in Southern Rhodesia.
  5. 5. Calls upon states members of the United Nations to take all practicable measures to discourage their nationals from emigrating to Southern Rhodesia.
  6. 6. Decides that all states members of the United Nations shall give effect to the decisions set out in operative paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of this Resolution notwithstanding any contract entered into or licence granted before the date of this resolution save that landlocked states of Southern Africa shall be obliged to carry out those decisions only in so far as their position permits.
  7. 7. Calls upon all states members of the United Nations to carry out these decisions of the Security Council in accordance with article 25 of the United Nations Charter, and reminds them that failure or refusal by any of them to do so would constitute a violation of that article.
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  9. 8. Urges, having regard to the principles stated in article 2 of the United Nations Charter, states not members of the United Nations to act in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 1 to 6 of this resolution.
  10. 9. Calls upon states members of the United Nations or of the specialised agencies to report to the Secretary-General by 1st June, 1968, the measures each has taken in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 1 to 6 of this resolution.
  11. 10. Requests the Secretary-General to supervise and report at regular intervals to the Council on the progress of the implementation of resolution 232 (1966) of 16th December, 1966, and of this resolution, the first report to be submitted not later than 1st July, 1968.
  12. 11. Calls upon each state member of the United Nations or of the specialised agencies to report to the Secretary-General the quantity and value of its trade in such commodities or products as may be so indicated.
  13. 12. Requests the Secretary-General to seek from any state member of the United Nations or of the specialised agencies such further information regarding the trade of that state, or regarding any activities that may constitute an evasion of the measures decided upon in this resolution, as he may consider necessary for the proper discharge of his duty to report to the council in pursuance of this resolution.
  14. 13. Calls upon all states members of the United Nations or of the specialised agencies to supply such further information as may be sought by the Secretary-General in pursuance of this resolution.
  15. 14. Decides to establish a committee composed of all members of the Security Council which shall, for the purpose of enabling the council to secure full implementation of resolution 232 (1966) and of this resolution:
    1. (A) Consider the reports made to the Council by the Secretary-General in pursuance of those resolutions:
    2. (B) In consultation as appropriate with the Secretary-General, evaluate the information contained in the Secretary-General's reports (including reports of cases where states have failed to supply information requested by the Secretary-General) and assess its significance for the implementation of those resolutions:
    3. (C) In the light of its consideration of the Secretary-General's reports, advise the Secretary-General with respect to the further exercise of his functions under those resolutions:
    4. (D) Report from time to time to the Council on the discharge of its functions under this paragraph.
  16. 15. Decides to keep this item on its Agenda for further action as appropriate in the light of developments.

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