§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before we move on to the debate on Rhodesia, I must announce that I have selected the Amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition and some of his right hon. Friends but have not selected the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) and some of his hon. Friends.
§ Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
On a point of order. It will not have escaped your attention, Mr. Speaker, that when the Business for today was announced by the Leader of the House last Thursday it was announced as being a debate on Rhodesia which would arise on a Motion for the Adjournment. It will also not have escaped your notice that the right hon. Gentleman has not vouchsafed to us any further Business statement amending that statement last Thursday.
Nevertheless, this morning, for the first time, there appeared under the heading of the Orders of the Day a Motion in the name of the Prime Minister which, for the last few days, has appeared only under the general group of Early Day Motions. In those circumstances, I seek your guidance on two points—first, whether, in your great experience of the House, there are any precedents for a change of Business of this kind by the Government of the day without any notice from the Leader of the House to the House and when the external circumstances have shown no particular change 1544 since Business was announced on the preceding Thursday.
Second, what protection do hon. Members on the back benches on both sides have from having the Business, at possibly great inconvenience to them, changed without any notice until they see the Order Paper on a particular morning? This seems, with respect, to raise the question of what you can do, Mr. Speaker, as the ultimate protector of hon. Members on the back benches on both sides when Business is treated in what is, in my submission, a wholly unprecedented, oppressive and unfair manner.
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct when he says that it had not escaped my notice that there had been a change in the form in which we are to debate the subject of Rhodesia. But any criticism of the change on the Order Paper is something which the right hon. Gentleman must level at other sources than Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker has no control over the way in which Motions and various items of business are placed on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)
Further to that point of order. The trouble which many of us find ourselves in is that this arrangement was cooked up at the last moment between the two Front Benches—that they obviously have a measure of agreement. It is hon. Members on the back benches on both sides who have the right to complain. The main Motion today is a new one, at least technically, in that it appears for the first time without the name of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown). The fact that it is a new Motion makes it an undesirable precedent for the future.
The Amendment in the names of my right hon. Friends, with which I do not quarrel, has also appeared for the first time today. The rest of us, who thought that we were listening to a genuine announcement of Business by the Leader of the House last Thursday, have been totally misled. With very great respect to what you said just now, Mr. Speaker, we can look only to you, because we know from bitter experience that it is useless to look to the Leader of the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
I sincerely hope that whenever necessary back benchers will 1545 appeal to Mr. Speaker to protect them against the tyranny of the two Front Benches, but I am afraid that that does not arise on this day. We are to discuss a matter which, apparently, the whole House wants to discuss. We are concerned at the moment merely about the form which the discussion shall take, and the form is not a matter for Mr. Speaker.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Further to that point of order. Is it not true that for several days—indeed, for several weeks—Her Majesty's Opposition have been demanding a debate on Rhodesia? What are they complaining about now?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that we should now proceed. We have a very grave debate before us. I hope that we shall now come to it and leave procedural matters.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Richard Crossman)
I am aware that, in addressing their remarks to you, Mr. Speaker, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen were really suggesting that an error had been made by the Leader of the House in the Business statement. I will reply to them with the same courtesy which they showed me.
Whether this is a change substantial enough to require a statement is a very nice question which I have carefully considered. With deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I think that I am right in saying that it will make no difference to the scope of the debate. I was aware yesterday that there was a great deal of Private Members' Business and that we did not want a long discussion on this change. If hon. Members opposite would like to have a Business statement now instead of yesterday, I am prepared to discuss it now and to say that the change was made for what in my view would be the convenience of, I agree, the first two speakers, but that it did not justify a Business statement and the kind of discussion which we have on a Business statement.
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
I beg to move, 1546That this House declares its abhorrence of the executions carried out in Rhodesia on 6th March, 1968, on the instructions of the illegal régime in defiance of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy; condemns the action of the illegal régime in denying the reprieved men the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; and condemns the executions as constituting a denial of justice and a grave breach of the rule of law.This debate takes place in the shadow of the illegal executions carried out by the régime in Salisbury. It takes place, too, in the fear of many more such executions which those men have shown that they would not scruple to carry out. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House showed their deep sense of revulsion and abhorrence when the first illegal hangings took place. But the debate takes place, too, against a background of anger and passion among the peoples and Governments of a score of Commonwealth countries and at the United Nations of four times that number, every nation of the developing, emergent world and others besides.
It will be entirely to misconceive some of the great issues which 28 months of illegality and oppression, and now these executions, have focused into the spotlight of the world stage if any of us in the House seek for one moment to disregard the strength of these passions, or if there is any tendency to make light of what these issues and these passions could mean for the future, indeed, for the survival, of the Commonwealth, or for Britain's standing and influence in the world.
The danger is that if we even appear to be condoning illegality and oppression on the ground that those responsible for illegality and oppression have white skins, Britain will be driven further and further in the eyes of the world into an apparent identification with a minority of countries whose actions have been repeatedly condemned by the whole civilised world.
My right hon. Friends and I and many others in the House have pointed out that these men were duly convicted of murder and sentenced by the courts of Rhodesia at a time when Rhodesia was in a state of constitutional legality. We all of us have deplored the resort to force and violence and murder. But, in the eyes of their fellow Africans, these are freedom fighters and we must recognise that—
§ The Prime Minister
—the way they were done to death has transformed them in African eyes into martyrs and not murderers. However deplorable the use of violence and the killing of innocent victims—
§ The Prime Minister
I am sorry; I want to cover a great deal of ground this afternoon. I have been asked to state the Government's position on this matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Words will be spoken today with which hon. Members on the other side will strongly disagree. I hope that we can hear them.
§ The Prime Minister
When I have given more of the Government's position, if points require elucidation, I shall be glad to give way.
However deplorable the use of violence and the killing of innocent victims, it is one of the oldest laws in history that, where there is no democracy to provide for the counting of heads, men denied those rights and brutalised by oppression inevitably turn to violence as what they believe, however wrongly, to be their only way to obtain their rights.
We may, as we have, condemn this latest wave of disruption and violence, but every one of us knew that illegal action, the decision by the then legal Government of Rhodesia by its own action to place itself outside and beyond the law, would inevitably lead to violence. In a far-sighted and very firm warning sent to the then Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys)—and hon. Members will find this in Cmnd. 2807 of November 1965—the right hon. Gentleman warned of intensified subversion if a U.D.I. were taken by the régime. The point was clearly made and made in terms.
We cannot, therefore, discuss this issue today as though it were purely a matter for Britain and a small European minority in Rhodesia. From the earliest phase of this crisis, from the debate which 1548 took place the very day after the illegal declaration of independence, we have stressed—and the House knows—that, whatever Britain's responsibilities—and they are our responsibilities—this issue is one of world concern; and that action and those that have followed have been unequivocally branded by the United Nations as a threat to peace. So they are. [Interruption.]
The House will not easily ignore the warnings of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)—and I remember his similar warning when he was Prime Minister—of the growing Communist infiltration in African countries, an infiltration made more dangerous because of the new emergence of competitive Communism between Russia and China, particularly in Africa, but also more widely. Communism abhors a vacuum and competitive Communism thrives on a vacuum. If, therefore, the only contribution of the House at this time of high and unrestrained passion throughout the Commonwealth is to regard the members of the régime in Rhodesia—[Interruption.]—I shall not respond to the interruptions—
§ The Prime Minister
I said that I would give way when I had said a great deal more than the hon. Gentleman has so far allowed me to say. I want all hon. Members—I hope that they will accept this—to recognise that today we are debating the lives of hundreds of British citizens, white and African, and the liberties of 4 million British citizens, and in that circumstance I refuse to respond to the kind of interruption which some hon. Members think appropriate.
If at this time of high and undeniable passion in the Commonwealth, whatever hon. Members may say, the only contribution of the House is to regard the members of the régime in Rhodesia as though they were an erring rural district council which had fallen foul of the district auditor, or that all that we can debate today is the nice calculations of two seats less or two seats more on the A roll, or if we talk lightly of entrusting absolute power and cloaking it in the garb of legality to men who have not only rejected the rule of law, but have 1549 in these past days openly and provocatively flouted the law as established here and in Rhodesia, if that is to be the tenor of our debate, the House will invite not only the dangers which I have outlined for the Commonwealth and for the United Nations, we shall invite not only the great dangers, which both sides of the House clearly recognise, of an uncontainable conflagration in Southern Africa, with the increased dangers of Communist infiltration, we shall invite from the great majority of the Commonwealth and the United Nations not only their censure, but their contempt, and we shall deserve that contempt.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) knows that the right hon. Gentleman is not giving way at the moment. Mr. Prime Minister.
§ The Prime Minister
I thought that the hon. Gentleman was rising on a point of order; that is why I sat down.
§ The Prime Minister
But if this House debates what has happened in this wider context with a full sense of our responsibilities and in the wider context of a world now dominated, as the Commonwealth is dominated, by problems of race and colour, we for our part—the Government and this House—have the right to ask that in the United Nations, and more widely, whatever the passions and extravagance of language which recent years have evoked, cool counsels should prevail, thereby leading to wise and constructive, and, above all, effective courses of action.
1550 This is the first time since the debate which followed the rejection of the "Tiger" proposals more than 15 months ago that this House has debated Rhodesia. It is right, therefore, that we should seek to take stock and learn the lesson of all that has happened and, despite our own anger and shock at the recent actions of the régime, to see the whole issue in the perspective, not only of the two years and more of illegality, but also of all that has led up to it. I have referred to the warnings given by our predecessors to the then Government of Rhodesia, warnings that were firm and clear and, to any but men obsessed by power-seeking racialism, warnings which would have been compelling. Every action we have taken since U.D.I. has been fully in accordance with these warnings and events have fully borne out how right those warnings were.
If we have had our own disappointments—and I think particularly of the hopes expressed at the Lagos Conference—those disappointments are as nothing to the failure of Mr. Smith to achieve his aim. U.D.I., he said, would be a "nine-days' wonder". [Interruption.] I have referred to that and will do so again. I want hon. Members to address themselves seriously to this. Mr. Smith said that U.D.I. would be "a nine-days' wonder" and his main purpose was to encourage investment from other countries to enable the Rhodesian economy, which had stagnated under the 1961 Constitution, to go forward rapidly. He was confident of widespread recognition by other nations.
As I told him on H.M.S. "Tiger", none of these things has happened. The nine days has lengthened into the weeks and months of which I spoke at Lagos—and rightly spoke on the information available—and has lengthened from weeks and months into years. Not one single country has recognised the régime. Investment capital has virtually dried up. But in a different sense things have not stood still in Rhodesia. Intensified measures of oppression, of the deprivation of freedom without trial, intensified censorship, manipulation of broadcasting evoking the methods of Hitler and Goebbels of a generation ago, although with the added power of television. New measures of racial segregation, new laws driving to a new and intensified form of 1551 apartheid, attempts to dictate to the courts culminating in the flouting of the rule of law by an affidavit from Lardner Burke, self-styled "Minister of Justice", which stated that even if the Rhodesian Appellate Court granted an appeal in these capital cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, he and his hangmen would ignore any decision of the Privy Council and go ahead with their evil purpose.
This is what has happened and, whatever differences there may have been in this House over these past two years, I cannot believe that any single hon. or right hon. Member would for one moment lend the authority of his support to the actions of Lardner Burke in saying that he would not accept the decision of the Privy Council—certainly not any hon. Member who is a member of the Privy Council. The Privy Council has today granted leave to appeal in the main constitutional case. I therefore cannot comment on the decision taken by the Rhodesian courts, nor on the application for an injunction following the Royal decision to grant a reprieve. Regarding the reprieve, I think the House will have noticed with renewed disgust the contemptuous cynicism with which Mr. Smith referred last Saturday to the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and also to the advice tendered by the Commonwealth Secretary, advice subsequently accepted as right by the leaders of all parties in this House, but which Mr. Smith did not accept.
It is right to consider for one moment whether we should set the recent developments in Rhodesia against a test which this House, the whole House, has accepted, the test of the six principles which have been the touchstone of the policies of successive Governments here in Britain. Sometimes we refer to five and sometimes to six principles. Let me remind the House that I added a sixth principle as a reassurance to white settlers about the situation when ultimate majority rule is reached, however long deferred it might be. I repeatedly made it clear that many years are involved before majority rule and years based on achievement and co-operation between the races, not on an arbitrary clock or calendar time.
1552 My proposal blocking European minority which I put forward on "Tiger" was also designed to give effect to this principle so that after majority rule they would still have this protection, Mr. Smith agreed to this on H.M.S. "Tiger", and it has remained as one of the features of the "Tiger" constitution which has not been called into question, as a further guarantee because of the unique history of Rhodesia in our whole record of decolonisation. Because of the way in which that history has made Rhodesia a world issue, I also proposed on "Tiger" that in the permanent constitution after independence and even after majority rule, which, as I said, would not follow until many more years had passed, there should be the safeguard of a continuing right of appeal to the Privy Council as well as the safeguard of enshrining the constitutional agreement in a treaty between our two countries registered at the United Nations.
Clearly, in terms of any permanent settlement to be concluded between Her Majesty's Government and any legal Government of Rhodesia, we must discuss the constitution on the terms of the principles endorsed by two successive Governments and insisted on by Parliament as a condition of any future settlement. This must be recognised; no settlement is legal or has any force or any capability of international recognition which has not been approved by this Parliament, and no British Government could submit proposals for a settlement which failed to honour in spirit as well as in letter the principles we have all approved.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire recently returned from Southern Rhodesia with certain suggestions worked out between him and Mr. Smith on a personal basis. I have said in the House that the right hon. Gentleman's visit was in more ways than one extremely useful. He warned the régime against hopes that had been fostered there of an early election in this country, or indeed against any hopes of what might be the position even at an election held at the normal time. He described hopes which had been irresponsibly engendered about what his own party might do in the near future. He insisted on constitutionality and, above all, insisted on the five 1553 principles. The whole House will endorse the attitude he took in Salisbury.
The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues and many of my right hon. Friends and I are in some difficulty. Because we are in difficulty it places the House in even greater difficulty, in that for reasons which seem good to the right hon. Gentleman—and I understand them—he has not felt able to agree that either of us should give details to the House of the suggestions he brought back. The difficulty for the House, of course, resulting from this is that whereas the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends clearly believe that those suggestions would fulfil the five principles, we, after the most careful study, believe that they would not, and I told him that. Because of these difficulties, and also because the House must be in a position to judge, I propose to say this, but only this.
First, I remind the House of the issues which were raised on my right hon. Friend's visit last November. On 12th December, the Commonwealth Secretary told the House that in his talks with Mr. Smith it had become clear that, since "Tiger", Mr. Smith had moved a long way backwards in certain fundamental respects, and this despite statements in Salisbury immediately after "Tiger" to the effect that the proposed constitution had been acceptable to the régime, though not the proposals for returning to legality.
As my right hon. Friend explained, the first point of departure from the "Tiger" proposals related to an effectively guaranteed blocking minority to prevent constitutional changes which would frustrate the letter and spirit of the agreed terms. In the talks between my right hon. Friend and Mr. Smith, it was clear that my proposal for a Senate—this was the proposal on H.M.S. "Tiger"—with eight elected Africans to ensure a blocking quarter had given way to a proposal by Mr. Smith that the elected Africans in the Senate should be replaced by an equivalent number of hereditary and unrepresentative African chiefs, who are, of course, paid servants of the régime.
The second area in which Mr. Smith had moved a long way back from the "Tiger" constitution related to cross-voting. Mr. Smith once again proposed that it should be abolished. Cross-voting was one of the very important 1554 issues in the Constitution. Hon. Members will note, if they re-read the warnings of the right hon. Member for Streatham when he was Commonwealth Secretary, that he attached the greatest importance to the cross-voting provisions; and so did we on H.M.S. "Tiger". The House will further know not only from my own discussions with Mr. Smith when he was Prime Minister but also from the statements to which I have referred how important cross-voting was and is. When my right hon. Friend was in Salisbury, it was clear that Mr. Smith had turned his back on this proposal.
The third point of departure from the "Tiger" proposals was Mr. Smith's refusal in his discussions with my right hon. Friend to agree to any provision for constitutional appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It was in these circumstances, when he returned to this country, that my right hon. Friend made clear to the House that, while we were prepared to consider any second thoughts, what he had heard in Rhodesia provided no basis for even talking about a settlement.
I come now to the visit of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. I have said that I shall not go into the details of the proposals which he brought back. He has rightly claimed that there has been some movement on the question of the blocking mechanism, but what was suggested to him—I shall not go into details—would not have comprised an effective blocking quarter because it rested on assumptions about the eventual election of Africans under the normal voting procedure, assumptions which we regard as unrealistic.
We have seen only too well what repressive measures, a total ban on freedom of political discussion and censorship of the Press can mean in the hands of determined men; and this could frustrate any assumptions about elections in that situation. I say simply this. If anyone in Rhodesia is prepared to agree to the principle of the blocking mechanism, then I do not understand why they should not accept an effective blocking quarter now. There are many ways of ensuring it without difficulties for them within the proposals which I made for a Senate which would be clothed with a 1555 special right of intervention in constitutional matters. To argue instead for less than a blocking quarter, for a figure which does not add up to a quarter, and to justify this by assumptions about Africans being elected in other ways is, in the Government's view, unrealistic.
The House will have noted the interpretation put by Rhodesian circles on the suggestions discussed with the right hon. Gentleman. In its issue of Monday, 18th March, the correspondent of The Times said:…enough has emerged to make it clear that the two men"—Mr. Smith and the right hon. Gentle-man—concentrated on the problem of fashioning a constitutional device which would give the British an assurance on their first principle of guaranteeing progress towards majority rule, while leaving the present Rhodesian electorate with control over the pace of the progress.This is what is understood in Rhodesia. I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not so understand it, but that is what they understand. But this braking mechanism, to which Rhodesia Front leaders have always reverted, in my experience—they have always gone back to insist on it—invoking as it does the right—and Mr. Smith has frequently insisted on this right—to hold back, to delay, to brake progress towards majority rule by methods of their own choosing, is not only a breach of the first principle, namely, guaranteed and unimpeded progress towards majority rule, but it would be a flagrant breach of the second principle, which provides that there must be guarantees against retrogressive amendment of the Constitution.
This morning I saw another newspaper which claimed, probably rightly, inside information from Rhodesia on this question, and the report interprets the recent talks in these words:They agreed that Mr. Smith would drop his demands for whites to be able to vote on black voters' rolls, and Britain would drop its demand that a bloc of Africans in Parliament would have certain powers of veto.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
There is not a word of truth in that newspaper statement.
§ The Prime Minister
I am delighted to hear that. It was not my interpretation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The 1556 House must decide. I have had enough experience of dealing with Mr. Smith to know what I am talking about in these matters. The House will hear exactly what the facts are. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I have agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that we shall not give details of the figures. [HON. MEMBERS: "Frightened?"] I am certainly not frightened, and neither is the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope that we can leave the two Front Benches to argue this matter out together.
§ The Prime Minister
For reasons which seemed good to the right hon. Gentleman, and which I understand, I do not think that it would help in this or in any situation to go into the figures, but I am entitled, since right hon. Members opposite have said that they think that it provides a basis for a settlement in accordance with the principles, to say why we think that it does not—I have already said that—and to give some more reasons as I go further.
Whatever optimism the right hon. Gentleman felt when he came back—and it was very qualified optimism—is very different from the accounts being spread in Rhodesia to their friends by the Rhodesian régime. I remember from my own experience on "Tiger" and on the experience of others of my right hon. Friends, that one can sometimes get Mr. Smith dangling the chance of an agreement, but he then goes back and is overthrown by his colleagues. I urge the House, therefore, not to be too optimistic. That is why I read out those important statements of what the Rhodesia Front is putting out to The Times and to other newspapers. It is what they themselves are saying in Rhodesia to The Times and to newspapers which have been very friendly to them. I think that the House is entitled to judge these matters if we have to vote tonight. It will have to judge not on what the right hon. Gentleman thinks but on what Mr. Smith and his colleagues think. I agree that the right hon. Gentleman has not himself agreed to it, but that is what they think it means.
On cross-voting, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there has been some advance from the extreme position taken up by Mr. Smith last November, and, 1557 certainly, in other circumstances, this could have been further discussed. But there is still a clear refusal to consider any external safeguard for the constitution such as a right of appeal to the Privy Council. The events of recent weeks have shown how important a right of appeal to the Privy Council is. In all that the régime has done, it has never, so far, gone to such lengths as in its rejection of the rule of law and the authority of the highest court laid down by the Constitution of Rhodesia. There is not an hon. Member who will justify what it has done in that connection.
These actions, therefore, and what is being said to justify them, are, I fear, a pretty brutal commentary on the spirit which the right hon. Gentleman thought he saw on his visit. But more than that. They are a warning. I remind the House that it has been the proposal of successive British Governments, our predecessors and ourselves, to grant Rhodesia independence on the basis of Minority rule—this was offered up to U.D.I.—with only provision for the ultimate achievement of majority rule. This proposal is unique in the history of the conversion of Empire into Commonwealth—unique, at least, in the whole period following the granting of independence to South Africa. There were reasons why successive Governments considered that this exception was appropriate. One main reason was the 40 years of virtually total self-government in Southern Rhodesia since 1923.
But a grant of independence on unique terms of this kind must mean not only that the agreed constitution must be proof against tampering and frustration but also that the men to whom it is to be entrusted must be worthy of that trust. The rejection of the external guarantee of the Privy Council, the continued equivocation on the blocking quarter, but, above all, the events of the past three weeks, have shown that ultimate power in Rhodesia lies today in men to whom we would not entrust any constitution which requires acceptance of the sanctity of the rule of law and of the human rights which have permeated our constitution and all constitutions based on it. These men, after all, were entrusted with the 1961 Constitution. They overturned it. They were entrusted with constitutional safeguards in that Constitution and they were provided with a watch-dog in the form of the Constitu 1558 tional Council, which, as we all know, was manned by sincere and honourable men but with grossly inadequate powers. Even so, in the past few weeks that Constitutional Council has been flouted.
During my talks with him on H.M.S. "Tiger", as the House knows, Mr. Smith admitted to me that he had lied to the Governor a day or two before U.D.I. in order to obtain the grant of emergency powers, when the conditions under the law which had to exist to justify emergency powers did not exist, and when, as Mr. Smith admitted to me and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, his purpose was to secure those powers for U.D.I., a purpose he had denied when the Governor challenged him on this point.
In a wider sense, everything that underlies the rule of law as we know it has been subverted and perverted by these men. Detention without trial, the use of spies and agents provocateurs, and the maintenance of a régime of fear in African villages—on Mr. Smith's own admission to me. The manipulation of broadcasting. The Press censorship—I understand that the Press has not been allowed to publish photographs of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, or for that matter the former Commonwealth Secretary, talking to the Governor. Reports of statements in this House have been selectively printed, under orders of the censorship, and the process of selection has transcended Party alignments in this House. We have all suffered at one time or another—or most of us have. Even reports of their own soi-disant Parliament can be censored. All this constitutes what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in common with the leaders of the other two major parties, has rightly described as a "police State". Therefore, having paid tribute to what the right hon. Gentleman sought to achieve and, to an extent, did achieve in Salisbury, I counsel the House to be wary about accepting optimism as a result of his visit.
So far I have referred only to those principles, those terms of the "Tiger" constitution, which are directly relevant to guaranteed and unimpeded progress to majority rule. But I must remind the House that we have always attached importance—all of us—to the third and fourth principles relating to equality of 1559 rights between Europeans and Africans. On this my predecessor issued a very strong warning four years ago relating to the Land Apportionment Act. The House will be aware of the very grave developments over the past two years in this area of Rhodesian life. In particular, the régime purported to pass a Municipal Amendment Act in 1967, which enables the municipalities to run their parks, places of public recreation, and so on, on racially discriminatory lines. This so-called Act was passed although the Constitutional Council reported that the Measure would derogate from the Declaration of Rights, which is written into the Rhodesian Constitution.
The régime has also indicated that measures will be taken that will bear upon the coloured and Asian communities, which, up to now, have not been subject to the disabilities of the Africans under the Land Apportionment Act, extending them from the Africans to the coloured and Asian communities. This is to be achieved under the Property Owners (Residential Protection) Bill, as it is called, which proposes that residents should be able to petition in such a way as to ensure that an area becomes designated for one race only. That is not all. The régime has been pressing ahead with other discriminatory measures. In the Salisbury area, African families are being broken up today because of the so-called African (Urban Areas) Accommodation and Registration Act, which is now being applied so as to prevent the families of African servants from living in the European residential areas of the capital.
I must also say a word about education. When the right hon. Gentleman was Prime Minister, fighting then, as we have fought, to prevent a U.D.I., he made a generous offer to provide from the British Exchequer substantial sums of money to expand and speed African education so as to advance the date by which Africans could qualify for a vote under the 1961 Constitution. I think that he told the House at the time that that was his policy, and we supported it. The proposal turned out to be singularly uninteresting to the Rhodesian Front Government. In my talks with Mr. Smith before U.D.I. I reverted to it, but he said that he would oppose any deliberate acceleration of educational advance if 1560 it had that effect on the number of Africans qualified to vote. He subsequently told me that he would be more likely to hold back educational development if the Africans looked like getting the vote too fast.
When I went to Salisbury I took my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development, with plans and authority to discuss with the appropriate Rhodesian authorities substantial aid for education. He was frozen out during the talks. They were not interested. After my return from Salisbury, Lardner Burke expressed the Rhodesian attitude in a discussion with my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General in terms even more direct than the words Mr. Smith used in his talks with me.
The régime has sought to make some play with its concern for African education. But its target for full secondary education for African children is far lower than that of other, much poorer, countries to the north of Rhodesia, and the fees in African schools represent a higher percentage of average African earnings than is the case for those in European schools. About 10 times as much is spent by the Administration on educating a European child as on educating an African child, and it has been reliably estimated that the 120,000 African and 5,000 European children who entered primary school in 1966—a ratio of 24 to 1—would produce the same number of university entrants from each race in 13 years' time: the number of entrants would be equal in absolute numbers, even though the disparity in the numbers of school children is 24 to 1.
More recently, hon. Members will have read reports that the régime has ordered European schools to seek the permission of the Ministry of Education, so called, before playing in sports fixtures with nonwhite teams or teams of mixed race. That is a sombre story of the prospects facing the majority of Rhodesian children. These issues are directly contained in the third and fourth principles, to which the House has given its full support.
It is not only a question of opportunity when Africans and Europeans are at school. That certainly means that much natural talent remains untrained, but even trained Africans find great difficulty in obtaining employment in Rhodesia. 1561 Social and other pressures have tended in recent years to reverse the trend which was developing at one time towards the employment of Africans in worthwhile and responsible jobs in Rhodesia. I have met Africans there—and this trend is developing on a much worse scale—qualified accountants who were not allowed to practise and had to do an outdoor job, pushing advertising circulars through letter boxes. This is a very sad comment on the present situation, and one which must be weighed by hon. Members before they decide whether we can trust these men to carry out any principles embodied in a legal settlement.
I come to the decision—
§ The Prime Minister
I shall try to deal with that.
The decision facing the House today is what Britain should now do in the light of 28 months of illegality and of the situation created by the illegal hangings. Whatever decision we take here must be justified not only in Britain but in the world. We have said that Rhodesia is our responsibility. In Commonwealth Conference and in the United Nations this is accepted, although it is then frequently turned against us, with the demand that Britain should solve the problem once and for all by a recourse to force, by a recourse to the police action which they are never slow to remind us was invariably taken whenever Africans or Asians rebelled against the authority of Britain and sought to subvert established British law.
This demand is understandable, and it will be heard with increasing volume at this time. But it is, and always has been, the view of Her Majesty's Government that, whatever the theoretical or legal position, the use of force to impose a constitutional settlement would be wrong.
§ The Prime Minister
The House has been told—[,Interruption.] I hope that hon. Members will treat this subject with the seriousness it deserves. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee) has 1562 asked me why the use of force would be wrong. It is the same question which about 20 Commonwealth Prime Ministers are asking. It is a serious question and deserves an answer, and I am going to answer. It certainly does not deserve the kind of frivolity we have just witnessed.
I have said that we have always taken the view that the use of force to impose a constitutional settlement would be wrong. The House has been told on previous occasions what would be involved, and last Friday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence re-emphasised all that has been said. The House must recognise, as must those who feel that a policy of force would be right, that this would not be a police action or an exercise in counter-subversion. It is no fault of this Government or of our immediate predecessors that, uniquely among non-independent members of the Commonwealth, Rhodesia has had for 40 years her own forces, under the command of the local authorities and heavily permeated by racialist doctrine. At a time when passions run high in Southern Africa, let no one underrate the danger that the use of force would escalate into a conflagration which could spread across the entire continent.
Even if this danger could be averted, there can be little doubt that Britain would find herself confronted by a situation of physical destruction and racial bitterness in Rhodesia which, for years to come, would frustrate the hopes and prospects of the very people we are trying to help.
The other alternative which has been put forward insidiously outside the House, and even sometimes in it, is that we should simply surrender and, by positive act of this House or by abdication, allow independence and sovereignty to pass to a group of men driven on by a racialist ideology whose tenets they uphold by means of oppression and barbarism. The issue today—[Interruption.]—I am giving the House the facts, and every right hon. and hon. Member knows in his heart that they are the facts—is whether we should have what is called negotiations. Before I come to that, let me remind the House of the whole story of our contact with the régime, not only before but since U.D.I.
In January 1966, after the Lagos Conference, I authorised my right hon. Friend 1563 the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley), then the Commonwealth Secretary, to visit Salisbury. He left my aircraft at Lusaka for this purpose. That was two months after U.D.I. He was refused access to Salisbury except under conditions that no right hon. and hon. Member of this House would have asked him to tolerate.
The House will also remember the soundings at official level during the summer of 1966—the so-called "talks about talks". After eight days of debate at the Commonwealth Conference—debate in which feelings ran very high because we were insisting on our right to make a final effort at a settlement with the régime—my noble Friend, Lord Aylestone, then the Commonwealth Secretary, immediately flew to Salisbury. Every proposition he put there was turned down with contempt. There was no disposition even to discuss any settlement based on the principles.
As the time was running out against the Commonwealth and United Nations deadlines, I decided that my noble Friend should go to Salisbury again, however hopeless it looked, and this visit led at the eleventh hour—indeed, later—to a sign of sufficient apparent willingness to move as to justify, it seemed to me, the "Tiger" talks. These talks were held on the clear assurance given by Mr. Smith that he would have power to settle when we got on board ship.
As soon as we got to the discussions, however, he went back on that assurance and said that he could not agree to any settlement without the approval of his colleagues. We agreed that he should seek to get this by telegram. A few hours later, he said that he must take the document back and carry it through in Salisbury. I reluctantly agreed to this provided that, if talks continued on the "Tiger", before he left he should himself either reject the proposals or agree to commend them to his colleagues. He agreed, but finally left the ship refusing to say whether or not he would commend them to his colleagues. The results of our experience of these men, both before and after U.D.I., do not justify any optimism arising from any tactical move on the part of Mr. Smith without any guarantee that he can deliver.
1564 Tonight, from what we have been told, hon. Members must stand up and be counted. I want to make it clear—and here at least I shall, I think, carry the House with me—that Her Majesty's Government will not now or at any time commend to this House a settlement which fails to give effect to the principles which we, from the moment we took office, and right hon. Gentlemen opposite before that, have insisted must be the position. Neither shall we be prepared to agree to any such settlement, purely on the basis of a legal form of words, without satisfactory guarantees about the trust which would be required in the character and integrity of those to whom the fulfilment of the agreement was entrusted.
This was why the "Tiger" settlement which we were prepared to commend to the House not only provided—[Interruption.]—I am trying to say that we cannot trust, even if there were a legal agreement, men like Lardner Burke and Dupont to carry it out. I would be very surprised if right hon. Members opposite were now to subscribe to the doctrine that they could do so after the flouting of the rights of the Privy Council, of which both they and I are members.
I was saying that we must insist both on knowing who we are dealing with and on the letter of the agreement. The "Tiger" settlement we were prepared to commend to the House not only provided for a legal framework for a new Rhodesia, including external guarantees and the procedure for a return to legality, but also required clear and unequivocal action, which Mr. Smith said he was then ready to concede—he told my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and me that he was only too ready to concede it—making it clear beyond doubt that those to whom power was to be entrusted had broken with racialism.
That was our position, and it remains so today. We cannot entrust a document, however carefully legally drafted, to men where trust is required in carrying it out if they are men who have not clearly broken with racialism, and I hope that no hon. Member will propose that we should. I should be amazed to think that anyone would choose to advocate the abandonment of all we have stood for at the very moment when the illegal 1565 regime has openly defied the rights of the courts and the Prerogative of the Crown.
Rejecting the use of force, as I do, rejecting the very thought of surrender, as I do, we are left with a third course, admittedly unsatisfactory and costly, although its cost to us has been greatly exaggerated. This is the use of sanctions. I propose to deal with this before I say where we stand on this.
The sanctions policy was accepted by the House on 12th November, 1965. It was accepted by all three parties. At various times thereafter proposals to tighten sanctions led to controversy, even divisions, but, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition reminded us two or three weeks ago, his party has supported us throughout on sanctions.
Our early hopes that sanctions would make such an impact as rapidly to bring Rhodesia back to constitutionality have been disappointed. But equally so have the boasts of the régime that sanctions would have no effect. On the contrary, they have had and are having a powerful effect, a crippling effect, on important sectors of the Rhodesian economy, most of all on the farming community, which provide the sinews for the Rhodesia Front. It would be unrealistic to begin to claim that this effect on its economy—a very real effect—has had the political consequences either of overthrowing the régime or of achieving a change of heart on its part; or, indeed, of that happening to enough of the régime to make it change its course of action. It would be unrealistic to pretend that this is in sight.
The House knows the difficulties against which sanctions have been operating. Rhodesia has no coastline and the principal routes along which its trade moves lie in countries which, while they do not recognise the régime, have a great deal of sympathy with it. We are frequently told in the House that every nation except Britain is stealing from us the trade we have cut off. This is not true. There have been, and there will be, evasions, some of them based on unscrupulous, under-the-counter deals and falsified certificates of origin, but the amount of trade has fallen off very sharply indeed since the United Nations 15 months ago endorsed a system of man 1566 datory sanctions over a very wide range of commodities. I will not weary the House by giving the figures. Perhaps my hon. Friend will give them later.
Some statements made in the House have attributed a degree of cynicism, even deceit, to other Governments in this matter of sanctions. In fact, so far as the great majority of countries is concerned, swift action has been taken to follow up alleged evasions of the sanctions. One of the biggest difficulties lies in oil, where we had reason to think at the time of the Lagos Conference that the sanctions would be rapidly effective. The Beira pipeline is closed and Umtali has not refined a drop of oil for two and a quarter years. However, both crude oil and refined products still flow freely into Lourenco Marques, and from there some reach Rhodesia. The problem is that Lourenco Marques is the point of entry not only for large parts of Mozambique but also for Botswana, Swaziland and a considerable part of the Northern Transvaal. The House will know of the transport complications where the railway crosses and recrosses the frontier. This has enabled not only the Portuguese and South African authorities but also the oil suppliers using Lourenco Marques to disclaim responsibility for what goes through to Rhodesia.
This whole sanctions problem will have to be tackled with renewed determination and it will be the central issue in many speeches at the United Nations—[Interruption.]—and in the Commonwealth; I trust that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not scoff at that. I do not underrate the difficulties here. I must again tell the House that we have warned our Commonwealth colleagues and all concerned at the United Nations that we cannot accept unwise proposals which would involve a head-on confrontation with South Africa that could rapidly escalate on a scale and in a manner which could do irreparable harm, not only to Rhodesia and South Africa, but to the whole of Southern Africa.
Proposals on these lines do not and cannot provide the answer. But, equally, countries which, against the condemnation of the whole civilised world, continue to frustrate mandatory sanctions agreed upon at the U.N. will place themselves in 1567 increasing difficulty. The Rhodesian régime would be ill-advised to feel that such countries as South Africa and Portugal will thank them for creating and aggravating this situation.
At a time when the U.N. is seized of this matter—[Interruption.] this is an extremely difficult time—it would be wrong for me to go further, except to say this. The House should know that Her Majesty's Government, rejecting the use of force, rejecting proposals designed to extend the use of sanctions beyond Rhodesia on to other countries, are prepared to agree to a tightening and extension of mandatory sanctions so as to block up existing loopholes, to support measures which will ensure that other U.N. Members apply sanctions as rigorously as we have done, and to co-operate in all appropriate measures to bring home to the Rhodesians their isolated position in the world. To this end we shall support comprehensive mandatory sanctions on all trade with Rhodesia, and we shall agree to join in examining other proposals aimed at the effective outlawry of the régime and of all those in Rhodesia who hope to make its continuing existence possible.
We shall therefore go forward at the U.N. on the lines I have just indicated. However, this does not mean that we are not 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. We are not using the word "never", which I think was once used, but there cannot be—
§ Mr. Paget
My right hon. Friend spoke earlier of what he described as contempt for the rule of law. Does he know any instance in history in which a rebel Gov 1568 ernment exercising de facto authority within its area has consented to appeals being brought from that area to the courts of the Power against which it was rebelling?
§ The Prime Minister
My hon. and learned Friend will recognise that, of course, to accept his premise that this is a de facto Government would mean that I would have to give an opinion on the very issue on which the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has this morning allowed an appeal. It would, therefore, be highly improper of me to accept my hon. and learned Friend's premise. I do know that throughout British history no authority, and nobody purporting to exercise such authority, has refused to allow an appeal to the highest court provided under the Constitution. Still less have people who have claimed to be a Government threatened the courts by saying that they would not allow that appeal and would deny the ultimate supreme court, whatever it is, the right of access to all the documents in the case.
§ The Prime Minister
I do not know of any case where a man like Lardner Burke, and this applies throughout British history, has said—
§ The Prime Minister
For the hon. and learned Gentleman to compare Lardner Burke with George Washington reveals what his standards are.
I was dealing with the important intervention of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton. When one has a man who says that whatever the Judicial Committee says he will still go on and hang them, then I believe that there is not an hon. Member in this House who could for a moment defend that.
§ Sir C. Osborne
The Prime Minister said that he would not deal with the men in charge of Rhodesia at the moment, but that he would deal with 1569 honourable men whom he could trust. How can these alternate men emerge? Two months ago I was in Rhodesia—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and I assure the Prime Minister that the more moderate men with whom he wants to deal told me that they could not come forward while sanctions were against them. That being so, how will the right hon. Gentleman be able to deal with the sort of men with whom he wishes to deal?
§ The Prime Minister
They dare not come forward, white or African, as long as a police state is in force. I have just said—and perhaps this will help to answer the hon. Gentleman's question—that we are not using the word "never". I am saying that there cannot be talks with the Lardner Burkes, with the Duponts, with racialists who rejected every settlement proposed before and after U.D.I., including the "Tiger" Constitution—and who have now compounded their record of illegality under the Constitution by this flouting of the rule of law. Nor, in present circumstances, could there be any profit in talking to Mr. Smith. [Interruption.] It is significant that, when the right hon. Gentleman talked to him, he was able to give no guarantee that any proposals he made or endorsed would be more likely to be accepted than those which he took back from the "Tiger".
Hon. Members will have their own views as to whether Mr. Smith—[Interruption.]—so often we have had from Mr. Smith the statement that he is prepared to agree to something, but this has been overthrown by his colleagues—himself is as much a racialist as his most powerful colleagues, or whether he is merely their prisoner and their front man. Whichever it may be, a great deal has changed in the weeks since the right hon. Gentleman was in Salisbury, and we are not going to talk in the shadow of the gallows.
§ The Prime Minister
Neither is there any profit—[Interruption.]—I am very surprised if right hon. Gentlemen really have changed their minds so much on this since they were in office. It was one of the most shocking things which any of us have had to live through.
§ The Prime Minister
I am sorry: I have given way a number of times. Most of the questions which are being put to me I can answer by finishing my speech, because I want to come to something which I have been asked in some of the seated interruptions.
Neither is there any profit in present circumstances in the suggestion which is sometimes advanced by right hon. and hon. Members that for problems which have proved to be problems not of constitutional amendment or of give and take in negotiations but of fundamental truths, of objectives, of principles, even of creed—that a way might be found around these problems by invoking the mediation of a Commonwealth statesman or group of statesmen. This has been rejected by Mr. Smith every time that we have put it forward. We proposed it before U.D.I. My noble Friend the then Commonwealth Secretary put forward in the autumn of 1966 a series of alternative proposals for a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Mission, a Commonwealth Constitutional Mission, a Privy Councillors' Mission from this Parliament, and a Privy Councillor's Mission from the Commonwealth. All of these were rejected with contempt, as were any proposals for Commonwealth participation in the consequential actions arising under "Tiger".
The Governor, to whose courage and steadfastness all of us in the House pay tribute, especially in these past weeks, knows that we shall always be ready to consider the possibility of a settlement on the basis of our agreed principles, which include, of course, the fifth principle, which I have not mentioned today, of acceptability to the people of Rhodesia as a whole—a principle with which the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir A. Douglas-Home) was concerned when in office and, recently, in Salisbury. The House will insist that a settlement which is based ultimately on trust can be made only with people who can be trusted to make it effective. The Governor is there and is authorised to pursue any meaningful development which satisfies these principles and the necessary requirements of trust. If and when, at any time, soon or late, he should so report, that will be the time for decision.
The Governor knows that we have never slammed the door, and neither shall 1571 we slam it—[Hon. Members: "Oh."]—I spent a long time giving the record of what initiatives we have taken. We have never slammed the doors. They were slammed by the rejection of the rule of law and of the Royal Prerogative three weeks ago—and I am sorry to find that hon. Gentlemen from what is supposed to be a constitutional Party, support those who have so openly flouted the rule of law—
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles (Winchester)
On a point of order. As this is a debate on which passions run very high, is it in accordance with the customs or traditions of the House for the Prime Minister of Great Britain to refer to prominent men in other countries, whether he agrees with them or not, in such emotive terms as "racialists"?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
The hon. and gallant Member knows perfectly well that that is not a point of order.
§ The Prime Minister
That is not a point of order but a point of fact, and the people whom I have called racialists would be insulted if I did not think that they were.
This is a debate of very great moment. Whatever the difficulties, however long the haul, we shall discharge our responsibilities. I would deeply regret it if this debate were to end with a Division on party lines, because all of us have to remember, particularly after these past weeks, that in our hands, as I have said, rest hundreds of lives in Rhodesia and the liberties of four million more. Therefore, what we do here and at the United Nations in seeking to restrain understandable passions from taking charge and leading to imprudent or even dangerous courses of action in the Commonwealth or elsewhere; what we do here will have a profound effect on the contribution which we and all of us here can make to the peace of a continent.
In a wider sense, I think that it will be taken as a manifest of this country's determination to accept all the implications of the rôle which, from 1947 on 1572 wards, we here decided, in different parties and successive Governments, that Britain, by helping her dependent territories to an honourable and non-racial independence, should play in reshaping the world community of the future.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
I beg to move, to leave out from House ' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:'while condemning all acts of violence and terrorism, regrets the circumstances under which three Africans were executed in Rhodesia on 6th March, 1968, and calls on Her Majesty's Government to make a further attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement in order to discharge Britain's responsibility to peoples of all races in Rhodesia'.As the Prime Minister has remarked, it is now two and a half years, all but a few days, since the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Rhodesia and, in my judgment, this is the moment to take a cool look at the situation and to make as clear as possible an appraisal of it. When the Government said that they would review the situation after the events of the weekend of 3rd March, many of us hoped that it was this cool appraisal which they would make. So long as this debate was on the Adjournment, there was a possibility, at any rate, of a realistic and constructive debate and of meeting the Prime Minister's wish that there should not be a Division at the end.
But the Prime Minister has chosen to stage this debate on a highly-charged and emotional issue, and to stage it on a Motion which, besides being contentious—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—it omits all mention of the acts of violence leading to the murders of the victims and deals only with the past, and is absolutely negative about the future. That is the reason why it is contentious and why I refused to sign it when the Prime Minister first invited me to do so. We were hoping for a cool, dispassionate appraisal to advise the House. I would only say this about the Prime Minister's speech: on one of the gravest issues facing this country today, the right hon. Gentleman was at his worst.
I want to make only a brief analysis of the situation and offer the House an assessment, and then to discuss the various courses which are now open to the Government. The time is appropriate, not only because of the long period which 1573 has elapsed since U.D.I., but because the exercise of the Queen's Prerogative of Mercy in the case of the Africans sentenced to death has been shown to be completely ineffective.
This has dramatically illuminated the real situation existing between Britain and Rhodesia today. This was clearly pointed out by Lord Caradon in his speech to the Security Council of the United Nations on 19th March, when he said:It has very a bitter experience in recent weeks to live with the hard fact that while my country has constitutional responsibility for Rhodesia so far we have not been able to stop actions so clearly illegal and so brutally inhuman.This reflects very clearly the reality of the situation which Her Majesty's Government are continually refusing to face. The writ of the Queen as advised by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs does not run in Rhodesia, and neither does any decision of Her Majesty's Government in the Parliament at Westminster.
I want to deal with this legal situation from a layman's point of view, but before doing so I want to put one specific question to the Secretary of State about the use of the Queen's Prerogative of Mercy. There will no doubt be much argument in the debate about this, as there has been in Rhodesia, as well as in this country. I want the Secretary of State to answer the specific question: was the Governor asked, before any recommendation was made to Her Majesty the Queen, as to whether or not in all the circumstances then existing he advised a reprieve? Was he asked that question before the Secretary of State made up his mind or gave any advice to Her Majesty? I am not asking whether the Government was in agreement. I wish to know clearly whether the Governor was asked that specific question. I know what the Secretary of State has said in the House. It was not a clear answer to my question, and I would like that answer when the right hon. Gentleman winds up tonight.
I want to make my own position clear on this. Whatever the constitutional argument may be, at the time that Her Majesty exercised her Prerogative of Mercy I personally wished that Mr. Smith and his colleagues would accept 1574 that recommendation, because of all the wider circumstances involved. I therefore regret the circumstances in which the Africans were executed in Salisbury.
The fact that the Queen's Prerogative was not observed in Rhodesia has been condemned here as breaking the rule of law. But what the Prime Minister has not discussed, what nobody has debated here, and what the Attorney-General has given the House no advice upon, is what exactly is the rule of law in Rhodesia today. The Prime Minister said in his speech—the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) was touching very closely on this—that this matter is now sub judice. Very well; let us respect the fact that it is sub judice as a result of today's decision. If it is sub judice, I would suggest that the Prime Minister is already pre-judging the issue in his Motion and in everything he has said in a very heated and intemperate speech.
I do not wish to discuss the issue in detail, for the same reasons, but I want to pose the problem because it has now become a very genuine and serious one. The courts in Rhodesia have come to the conclusion that Mr. Smith's Administration is the de facto Government of Rhodesia. Perhaps after two and a half years this is not surprising. The Prime Minister told the courts right at the beginning, on the day after U.D.I., that they should exercise their own judgment in these matters. He will well remember the statement. It was one in which he advised the police and the judges that they should carry on and should decide for themselves whether the matter was illegal in the course of their duty. That is what the courts have done. In the course of that they have decided that the régime in Rhodesia is the de facto Government.
But they have gone further than that, I find it rather odious that those whom Her Majesty's Government have instructed in this way and have since commended for the way in which they have carried on their duties in the courts should now be repudiated by the Prime Minister and the members of the Government when they reach a decision which is not to the liking of Her Majesty's Government. The courts have since in effect followed the 1965 Constitution of Mr. Smith's régime. That is what the courts 1575 have done—not in the constitutional issue of deciding that Mr. Smith's was the de facto régime, but in the decisions on the murder cases, in which they have in fact followed the 1965 Constitution.
I suggest to the Prime Minister and to the House that it is misleading and serves no purpose in trying to deal with this grave problem to try to personalise this on the basis of one person—Mr. Lardner Burke. The only way in which to deal with this is to look at what the courts themselves have decided. They have now been very clear in their decisions. What is also clear in the action which has been taken by Mr. Smith's régime is that the régime can point to the courts' decisions as justifying it in each of these respects.
This surely poses a very fundamental constitutional issue, because, as I said at Question Time the other day, the clash is no longer one between the British Government and the régime. It is a clash between the British Government and the courts established under the 1961 Constitution in Rhodesia. The problem was posed by one of the judges in the constitutional issue very clearly when he said:This court, however, in my view, sits, if it sits at all, under the sovereign power of the Rhodesian Government, and, for the reasons given in my judgment, must apply the provisions of the 1965 Constitution.He went on to sum it up by saying that the courts here might take one decision and the courts in Rhodesia another:Judged, however, by reference to the legal norm under which each court operates, each would be correct.This is not the judgment of the court. It is the judgment of one judge who posed the problem which can arise and which the Government and the House may in due course have to face.
§ Sir Dingle Foot (Ipswich)
That was said in the course of a minority judgment which did not represent the view of the court.
§ Mr. Heath
That is exactly what I said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I said that I was quoting the remarks of one of the judges. I have been quite clear about the constitutional position, that the judges found that it was a de facto régime and, in making the judicial decisions on the 1576 murders, they have been following the 1965 Constitution. The Government should now recognise this problem which has arisen. We have had to deal with this in other countries. It is because we ourselves as a country are involved in this one that apparently the Government find it impossible even to discuss the issue or to recognise it.
I want to look at British policy over the last two and a half years. The Prime Minister said in the first debate that each action should be judged on its merits. The merits are whether or not it helps Rhodesia to achieve a constitutional position. The purpose of that is to safeguard the rights of all races in Rhodesia and, if possible, achieve a multi-racial state. That is the definition on which each action taken and proposed by the Government should be judged.
The main instrument of the policy has been sanctions—at first voluntary, then mandatory and, as the Prime Minister has just said, now to be extended. How can one appraise this? Sanctions have affected the Rhodesian economy. They have slowed the rate of growth. They can never bring down the Rhodesian economy, for a variety of reasons. First, Rhodesia can house itself, feed itself, clothe itself, light and heat itself. For that reason, the economy can never be brought down. Furthermore, it is becoming more self-sufficient in its own organisation. Thirdly, it will always be supported in the ultimate event by both South Africa and Portugal. For these reasons, the Rhodesian economy can never be brought down. In the course of this, great damage has been done to our position. Let us recognise this in the appraisal. It has cost us probably £200 million on our balance of payments and is very damaging to sterling. [Interruption.] The Government have never been prepared to give us detailed statistics on this. If they want to argue another figure, let them give the detailed statistics. Hon. Members are entitled to say that the cost does not matter, but they must take the cost into the appraisal.
§ Mr. Heath
Yes, for the reasons I am coming to.
It can never bring the Rhodesian economy down. Indeed, that was not 1577 the purpose of those of us on this side of the House, and it never has been. The purpose was to bring about a negotiation, and that can be the only justification for the policy of sanctions which the Government are pursuing.
But there is a positive side to this aspect. Sanctions—and this must be recognised—have stiffened the spirit of Rhodesia and strengthened its resistance. There can be absolutely no doubt about that. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Africans?"] Including most of the Africans. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) must conduct himself properly.
§ Mr. Heath
The Rhodesian spirit has been strengthened because sanctions have failed to achieve what many people thought was the objective of the Prime Minister, and that was to crack the 1578 economy and probably the régime. This, after 2½ years, sanctions have failed to do. The second reason is that other countries are not observing sanctions because they have concluded that the régime is there to stay and, therefore, they are trading with it. These are facts which, however unpleasant they may be, must be recognised if a sensible policy is to be followed.
What about the impact of this policy on the other countries of Africa, particularly in the Commonwealth between Her Majesty's Government and most of the other African countries are almost uniformly bad. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I will say why. Strangely enough, the Government have managed achieve a situaton in which the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith are equally suspect of President Kaunda and every other Africa leader.
§ The Prime Minister
The reason for our difficulties with the Commonwealth is that we, with the support of the right hon. Gentleman, have refused to use force. If we were prepared to use force, which we are not, it would transform the situation, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it.
§ Mr. Heath
The reason is that the Prime Minister told the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference that this matter would be settled in weeks, not months. Other countries formulated their policy on this. People established their personal position on it, and never was a prediction more falsified.
One thing is all-important now in the relationship with the Commonwealth countries, and it is that the Prime Minister and the Government should tell them frankly what the real position is and what policy Her Majesty's Government will pursue.
§ Mr. Heath
If the Prime Minister wishes to follow that policy, let him tell them so frankly. What I am saying is that he should give them a realistic assessment and let them know what it is.
Let us discuss the possibilities before the Government. The first is to carry on their present path in the hope that something will happen but, in fact, seeing no clear way out. They know that the present policy cannot bring down the Rhodesian economy, nor, after two and 1579 a half years, has it toppled the régime. To carry on with the present policy will not achieve the Government's purposes or the purposes which I have described as being the test for each piece of action.
The present policy is damaging to the United Kingdom and to Rhodesia. It is expensive to us, and each fresh incident demonstrates the complete ineffectiveness of British policy and the complete powerlessness of Her Majesty's Government. Thus, it incurs the odium of everybody who is directly or indirectly involved, and it saps the spirit of the British people here and their morale. Surely it must now dawn on the Prime Minister that it is not Mr. Smith who is incurring odium for what happened in Salisbury during the weekend of 3rd March; it is the Prime Minister and his colleagues in Her Majesty's Government and Britain. They are the people incurring the odium because of the ineffectiveness of British policy.
The second policy which the Government can follow is the one which the Prime Minister has indicated but of which he has given us no details—to try to strengthen the present policy of mandatory sanctions. What effect would this have? All it would do is harden Rhodesian spirit further. It would have no effect in other countries. Her Majesty's Government know full well—the Prime Minister reiterated it today—that as long as South Africa remains outside, economic sanctions cannot be effective. Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to blockade South Africa either economically or militarily. If they were prepared to do so, they are incapable of carrying through the operation. The United States certainly would not assist them at a time when they have a major war on their hands. Therefore, it must be faced that as long as South Africa and Portugal are outside this, the economic blockade cannot be made effective and any further United Nations action which the Prime Minister is now suggesting will be futile and will deceive, or attempt to deceive, other African leaders, and they will know it full well.
The third course is to try to settle by the use of force and impose a new constitution. Many hon. Members opposite would like to see this policy carried through. The Prime Minister has always 1580 rejected it. Sometimes there have been doubts about how firmly he was sticking to his statements. I accept that he has never intended to use force to impose a constitutional settlement. The Secretary of State for Defence made this plain last Friday night. [Interruption.] I am dealing with this matter because it has been discussed on the benches opposite and very fully discussed in The Guardian in a leading editorial. I am therefore right to pose it as a possible course of action.
The Secretary of State for Defence has also made it plain that if it were attempted it could not be carried through as a policy. Therefore, the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway and the Press have had their answer. With great respect to the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker), who wrote a letter today, and the Prime Minister, there is no comparable situation—and other African countries know this—when we are still the Government of a country and have forces in situ and dealing with a situation in Rhodesia, where we are not the Government as far as all practical affairs are concerned, and where we do not have forces in situ. There is no comparison whatever.
§ Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)
Are the right hon. Gentleman's objections purely logistic, or because he is a pacifist, or because of the racial composition of the Smith régime? Which is his objection to force?
§ Mr. Heath
My objection is that to try to use force would create chaos and disaster. I said that in the very early debates on Rhodesia. It would lead to civil war between Europeans, between Africans and between all the people in Rhodesia. I noted the Prime Minister's reasons for this, for not going in for the use of force and the invasion of Rhodesia, but I also believe that the Government have not got the power to carry it through.
A fourth possible course of action is to hand the problem over to the United Nations in its entirety, and that one has been discussed, but what would the United Nations be able to do? They would not be able to be effective. If they tried Congo tactics they would produce a Congo situation, and surely nobody in this House wants to see the United Nations creating a Congo situation there.
1581 There is a fifth course, which is, to wash our hands of the whole problem—this also the Prime Minister mentioned—refuse to hand it over to the United Nations and, if the United Nations tried to intervene through the Security Council, to use the British veto against it. That is the fifth course. They would then be entirely on their own. That is a possible solution. I, personally, would greatly regret to see it happen, because Rhodesia would then become a republic, all British influence would be lost, and Rhodesia would move further towards South Africa and apartheid. We should then not have achieved any of our objectives in safeguarding rights in Rhodesia, and therefore I reject this as a possible course.
For all these reasons I come to the one which the Prime Minister has rejected, and that is, to make further attempts at negotiation which—
§ Mr. Heath
—in fact has always been the only Practicable and sensible way of settling this problem. What I condemn the Government for—I do not want to go over the details of past history—is that they have not created the conditions for successful negotiations. I fully agree that they have not always been helped by the situation in Salisbury. In fact both sides have failed to bridge the gulf of suspicion which divides them. That is the hard fact today. What we on this side of the House believe is that the Government ought to begin further attempts at negotiations now.
In my view, the recent negotiations make it even more necessary and more urgent that there should be an attempt to resolve this problem, and everything which the Prime Minister has said today in criticism of the régime makes it more urgent and more necessary to try to resolve this problem. The onus must rest with the Government as the major Power.
The Prime Minister has been saying a very large number of condemnatory things about the régime today. He has just been shouting at me across the Table. On 7th December, 1965, the then Commonwealth. Secretary said that… we cannot deal with Smith in any way because he is not a man to be trusted."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 385.]1582 On 25th January, 1966, the Prime Minister said:Rhodesia's future course cannot be negotiated with the régime which illegally claims to govern the country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 40.]In the summer of 1966, directly after the election, talks were begun by the Prime Minister at official level with the régime. In November, 1966, the then Commonwealth Secretary visited Salisbury in order to carry on talks with the régime. In December 1966, the Prime Minister took the leader of the régime on board H.M.S. "Tiger" to negotiate with him. But then, after the collapse of the "Tiger" talks, on 2nd February, 1967, the Prime Minister said that… it is no good at all entering into discussions with Mr. Smith on this subject … "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1967; Vol. 740. c. 764.]But in June, 1967, he sent Lord Alport to Salisbury to carry on talks with Mr. Smith. In July, 1967, he arranged for talks through the Governor, and in November, 1967, the Commonwealth Secretary himself went to Salisbury to carry on talks with Mr. Smith and the régime. Then we had the weekend of 3rd March, and afterwards the Prime Minister said:After this recent breach of the rule of law, this flouting of the rule of law, I should have thought it quite impossible to talk to the men who have flouted the rule of law in that way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1968; Vol. 760, c. 1620.]Today he has heaped insult upon insult upon them. What can be more humiliating for this country than for the Prime Minister to keep on heaping insults on them and saying it is impossible to talk to the men and then two months go by and he tries to negotiate a settlement?
What we have heard today has been very objectionable from the point of view of trying to get another negotiated settlement going. We do know that the Prime Minister will overturn at a moment's notice any arrangement for further talks in Salisbury with Mr. Smith.
§ The Prime Minister
We have had official talks, and I myself have had talks with Mr. Smith, when we received pretty clear signals that he was prepared to head up a Government not racially based—those were the signals we had—and his own promise, that he ratted on, to get rid of the racialist members of his 1583 régime. We have had that in the past. We have been prepared to have negotiations. Unlike the right hon. Gentleman, we have not been prepared to negotiate a surrender to a police State.
§ Mr. Heath
The Prime Minister knows that is absolutely untrue and completely unworthy of him. What makes us despair of the Prime Minister ever being able to negotiate a settlement is exactly this degree of distortion and deceit which he injects into every speech which he makes in this House on Rhodesia.
My right hon. Friend came back from Salisbury with certain proposals from Mr. Smith to the Prime Minister and the question was whether this provided a basis for further attempts at negotiation. The Commonwealth Secretary mentioned three points to the House, the blocking quarter, an appeal to the Constitutional Commission, and cross-voting. As the Prime Minister has indicated, my right hon. Friend brought back proposals which dealt with each of these points.
What we have always regretted about the Commonwealth Secretary is that he comes back from Salisbury, makes a statement to the House—which they indicated they thought a breach of confidence—and sets out the position as being the final position. It is now quite clear, whatever view the Government may take of the adequacy of the new proposals, that the comments made by the Commonwealth Secretary were not the final position. That is absolutely clear and cannot be denied.
What I put to the Prime Minister and the Government is this, that even though they may take the attitude that the new proposals do not in all respects meet the three requirements, they do provide a basis for further negotiation by the Commonwealth Secretary to try to secure agreement on those requirements, and this is what matters for every negotiation. Time and again we have heard from the Prime Minister in this House that in every other situation he is prepared for negotiations. The House has only to recall Vietnam and the words he has spoken on that to know that, in these circumstances, he is prepared to press every single issue to try to find a way round or to find the answer. What we have never understood is why he will not adopt the same atti 1584 tude to trying to find the solution to the problem of Rhodesia.
The Prime Minister himself has emphasised the five principles, and the object of my right hon. Friend's discussions was to see that the five principles were implemented. Of course, they could be implemented in a variety of ways. The Prime Minister knows that. He has said himself that the Government are prepared to try to find ways of implementing the five principles. Details were brought back by my right hon. Friend.
Sanctions should remain on until the completion of the negotiations, and Mr. Smith's régime should retain their present position, in the same way as Her Majesty's Government do, in their view, in the five principles. Any new or revised constitution should then be put to the people of Rhodesia under the fifth principle by a Royal Commission, as was previously agreed, and the Royal Commission should have the conditions which it wishes, with both sides retaining their present positions.
That is a perfectly tenable negotiating basis—
§ Mr. Heath
The right hon. Gentleman need not be quite so testy about this.
If a constitution is approved and recommended by the Royal Commission, then Rhodesia should move over straight away to the new constitution after it has been approved by the British Parliament. This is what I meant when I said that Rhodesia should move on to a new legality and not an old legality. It is a position which the Prime Minister has always pretended not to understand. It is hopeless to try to force Rhodesia back on to her pre-U.D.I. status. She must move forward to a new legality negotiated between Her Majesty's Government and Mr. Smith's régime, and it must then be put to the people of Rhodesia. If the people of Rhodesia rejected the new constitution, the situation could not be worse than it is at the moment—
§ Mr. Heath
If the constitution is approved, then the Prime Minister has the substantial change in circumstances that he wants to enable him to go to the Commonwealth to call off Nibmar and to the United Nations for the removal of sanctions.
However, I want to say this to him. There are certain favourable factors for negotiations which he would do well not to underestimate. It is true that Rhodesia wants to get rid of sanctions because of the effect that they have been having—[Hon. Members: "Oh"]—which I have stated to the House in my appraisal, if only hon. Gentlemen opposite would listen. Secondly, Rhodesia wants new investment. She is getting some and will always get some from South Africa. Thirdly, a vast number of Rhodesians want a proper relationship with the United Kingdom. There is a fourth favourable factor, which is that South Africa wants to see the problem removed. She will support Rhodesia, but she wants to see the problem removed for a variety of reasons, including the one that she wants to establish better relations on a wider basis with the African countries.
These inducements to negotiation are far stronger than are threats of Soviet intervention, which I must say to the Prime Minister that no one here or in Rhodesia gives the serious attention that he does. Nor do they believe that the action of freedom fighters will be more than an irritation to the Rhodesian Government.
§ Mr. Heath
Those who read the very detailed and carefully prepared articles in The Times recently will have seen a very 1586 full assessment of these movements in Africa, particularly as they affect Rhodesia.
Very well. Let us form our assessment on this basis. I repeat that the inducements to a satisfactory negotiation are there, and it is far better to use those inducements than the threats which we have heard this afternoon from the Prime Minister.
For all those reasons, therefore, we urge Her Majesty's Government to make a further attempt at negotiation, because all the alternatives are worse. The difficulties are undeniably great, but so is the prize, if it can be achieved, for this country, for Rhodesia and for the continent of Africa. No considerations of sectional interest or personal vanity must be allowed to stand in its way.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Dr. David Kerr (Wandsworth, Central)
We listened spellbound to the words of the Leader of the Opposition, that nearly fictitious character in Parliamentary history. His account of the legal implications of what has happened in Rhodesia will have thrilled us all. I am sure, too, that it will have convinced us that, in future, he would be advised to take more dinners in the Middle Temple and fewer at the National Sporting Club. His interpretation of the constitutional position left me, a layman, gasping at the ignorance that one man could display in so short a time.
He went on to ask, most impertinently, for evidence of African views. One notes in passing that he has no difficulty in interpreting the views of Europeans in Rhodesia and of claiming to act as their spokesman. We have noted all this. Above all, some of us are given to wonder what is the new rôle of the Leader of the Opposition who appears to be bent on undermining any type of constitutional advance between this Parliament and the Rhodesian Parliament, if it ever comes into existence as a democratic institution.
I am prepared to hazard a guess about the evidence for which he asks. One of the unfortunate aspects of the recent African tour made by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) was his total failure to meet and acquaint himself with the views of those who hold other than Government views, whether in Rhodesia or in South Africa.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I do not want to waste the time of the House, but I saw the representatives of all races in South Africa. In Rhodesia I met the African members of the Opposition—
§ Dr. Kerr
We are aware that the right hon. Gentleman had conversations with Mr. Matzudu, the Leader of the Opposition in Rhodesia. However, we on this side of the House do not regard him as being a representative of any opposition to the Government's policies. Along with the other chiefs in the Rhodesian Parliament, he is the servant and not the opponent of the Smith régime.
As to the contacts that the right hon. Gentleman may have made in South Africa, I was there shortly after he left and I can only speak with regret of the failure of the South African Press to report any useful contacts and, moreover, to say with the utmost condemnation that the right hon. Gentleman's excursion into the matter of South West Africa was one of the biggest disasters in statesmanship in Africa for many years.
It seems a quite unwarranted intrusion on the potential rights of the International Court of Justice, if it were taken there, and of the United Nations which is now considering the matter. It is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman ventured on to this subject. I can only report to the House that his views on South-West Africa did a great deal of harm to the cause of justice there and gave a great deal of support to the South African Government. That is a matter for great regret.
§ Mr. Faulds
Disgraceful. [Laughter.] Yes, you can giggle, you little girl. It is disgraceful. Go back to Roedean, you little giggler.
§ Dr. Kerr
The occasion is too serious to be dealt with in anything but a responsible manner, and I hope that this will be the case on both sides.
The fact that I have referred to South Africa is not without some significance. While we spotlight Rhodesia, we are failing to recognise the true facts of the situation if we do not appreciate that we are dealing with the growth of South African power.
My right hon. Friend made, I thought, a curious remark about Communism 1588 abhorring a vacuum, but competitive Communism welcoming it. I confess that I did not follow it. In any case, as the Leader of the Opposition said, this is perhaps of less importance. What is of great importance is the growth of South African dominance. South Africa is supplying investment capital to Rhodesia, and South Africa's frontier at the northern border of Rhodesia with Zambia is where we should be looking.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire in a curiously mixed article in the Spectator made one staggering claim. He suggested that if Rhodesia were to become independent as a non-racial State, it would be the first non-racial State in Central Africa. How could he extend so gratuitous an insult to Zambia? Zambia is the first nonracial state in South or Central Africa. It is a great pity that the right hon. Gentleman's voyages of discovery in South Africa did not take him within the borders of Zambia from where he would have been able to report African views to his right hon. Friend.
The feeble suggestions which the Leader of the Opposition has placed before us today as the basis for further action to solve the Rhodesian crisis are already rejected by the African countries in and out of the Commonwealth. I would not put it higher than hazarding a guess about African opinion in Rhodesia, because it is a bit hard to come by. But it is not the slightest bit of use the Leader of the Opposition challenging my right hon. Friend to produce evidence. Let him produce evidence about the views of Africans which he claims to know and to express. We have no confidence in this claim.
On the basis of my recent visit to Africa, I am bound to report despairingly that the African view—a substantial, informed, committed, emotional, but, above all, a moral view—is to repudiate any further hint of negotiation with that group of gangsters in Salisbury who, at best, have been described by my right hon. Friend today as liars and, at slightly less than best, could be justifiably regarded as murderers.
This is the situation in Africa, not Rhodesia. As long as we keep pinpointing the situation in Rhodesia and forget that it is happening in the context of Africa as a whole, we are liable to be misled.
1589 We have heard reports today of the speeches of the Zambian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kamanga, at the United Nations. In discussions with representatives in Zambia, including Mr. Kamanga, I was left in no doubt about their conviction of the need for the use of force. It was not an African; it was a white diplomat, a man of great experience and authority in Zambia, who, in discussing the problem, said to me that in order to regain control of the Rhodesian crisis it would be necessary to regain the levers of power and, to regain the levers of power, there was now no alternative but the use of military force.
As a professional coward, I do not advocate the use of force, but we have gone beyond the point where we can any longer cling to the statement that we will never in any circumstances use force. We can no longer say that. Equally, it is no use my right hon. Friend delineating as he hopefully does, between Lardner Burke or Dupont as the criminals and Ian Smith as the innocent misled by his wicked compatriots. This is not the true situation. The fact is that Ian Smith is as guilty as anybody.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
Have we said that we would never use force? I understood the Prime Minister to have said that given conditions of civil war inside this territory in future we would then intervene. Is this not so?
§ Dr. Kerr
I was coming to this point. The one qalification that we have made about using force was that in the circumstances of the breakdown of law and order we would intervene. The first question which springs so readily to one's lips is: how do we define the breakdown of law and order?
Has not my right hon. Friend been describing precisely that in careful legally defined terms? Can there be any more clear and unobjectionable description of a breakdown of law and order than what we have witnessed over the hanging of the convicted men? I go along with the Leader of the Opposition that they did commit heinous crimes and that they had been found guilty constitutionally. But it is the failure to observe constitutional and legal processes which we are condemning in the Motion put before 1590 the House by my right hon. Friend. By implication, it is precisely that refusal to abide by legal processes which the Leader of the Opposition is condoning in his evidently sincere and deeply felt regret at the deaths of three Africans and the hint of the deaths of many more.
Zambia is in a most delicate position standing, as it does—the nut in the nutcrackers—between the growing affluent prosperity and advance of South African dominance to the South and the developing countries of Africa to the North and East. When my right hon. Friend and the Leader of the Opposition talk about the possibilities of civil war and armed conflict between African and African or European and European as a result of British intervention, they are blinding themselves not merely to the possibility, but to the probability, that precisely those things will happen within the measurable future unless this country accepts the responsibility, which it claims, and takes more urgent, decisive and positive steps to end this totally unacceptable situation.
We talk about the white liberals in Rhodesia. Who are the white liberals in Rhodesia to whom we are expected to look for an alternative Government?
A few weeks ago we were talking of Sir Hugh Beadle—that shabby disgrace to a proud profession. He was regarded as the voice of Rhodesian liberalism. He was rejected. He was, quite properly, thrown out of his cottage in the grounds of the Governor's residence. He should never have been there in the first place.
I want to know why the Rhodesian judges, who have abandoned their legal qualifications by surrendering politically to the régime, are still regarded as being appointed by Her Majesty The Queen. Why have they not been deprived of their warrant?
Where are the liberal white Rhodesians? I know that they exist, because I am in touch with them. But I also know that their opportunities to come together to find a spokesman to represent a liberal point of view are denied them. They are denied by a Rhodesian régime which is hell-bent on following the same disastrous neo-Fascist methods which the South African Government, to my despair, have pursued, and are pursuing, successfully in South Africa.
1591 The fragmentation of the South African liberal Opposition is a matter for us all to consider with concern. The failure to communicate between European and African in South Africa is a matter for us all to consider with anxiety. Is this what we are going to permit to happen in Rhodesia? What kind of negotiations does the right hon. Gentleman expect us to indulge in which could avoid the fate of South Africa, and the Africans in South Africa, and above all, which would satisfy interested African opinion in the developing countries? These are the problems to which the right hon. Gentleman has not provided any answer.
If there is to be an alternative programme, it must be along the lines which my right hon. Friend was commending to us this afternoon, and it must go further. What he said this afternoon does not go far enough. We must make clear that in certain circumstances we may have to face the inevitability of using force. This may happen—and I would regret it as much as anybody in this House—outside the possibility of law and order breaking down. Let us suppose that comprehensive mandatory sanctions, and the isolation of Rhodesian communications, were to lead to the downfall of the Smith régime. What would come in its place? Is there any possibility open to any kind of political organisation to take its place? Clearly there is none. I do not hear a word of dissent to show that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite think otherwise. If there is no alternative Government, what alternative will there be to a British military presence and a British Government of some sort?
One of the most alarming experiences that I had during the last few weeks was to hear not merely the rejection of Britain's offers of help and friendship in Africa, but the suggestion that Britain's motives are now so suspect that the intervention of a British military force in Rhodesia might occasion opposition from the Africans on the suspicion that we were there to protect white interests, and not to defend African progress. This is the most terrible condemnation of our supine attitude over the last two and a half years, whatever the reasons and excuses we may have thought justified to put forward for this action or inaction. This is the difference now from the situa 1592 tion which we faced two and a half years ago when we made the undeniable mistake of saying that we would not use force. It is late, very late, to withdraw that now, but it is still not too late for Britain to rescue herself in Africa.
We have to go beyond that. There must be a clear statement that under no circumstances will we negotiate with Smith, or with any other member of the Rhodesian régime as at present constituted. We must immediately isolate Rhodesia by all methods open to us, all methods short of the use of force. It is still open for us to do much more, and it is a matter of great concern to me and to many of my hon. Friends that there should remain so much more which is still open to us. Why have not we done it long since? Why have we not covered this credibility gap more successfully by turning the screw as hard, and as fast, and as urgently as we possibly could?
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Langstone)
One of the most serious things which would be open to us to do would be to withdraw all medical supplies. Would the hon. Gentleman advocate that?
§ Dr. Kerr
I am aware of the humane calls on medical supplies, and on medical resources. I put it to the hon. Gentleman that if the concern of the Rhodesian régime is to preserve its medical supplies and medical resources, and, above all—and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be with me on this—to extend them equally to the Africans who are not able to enjoy them at the moment, and for whom the hon. Gentleman fails significantly to express so much concern, then all the Rhodesian régime has to do is to return to legality. We do not have to make use of these things. It is not this Government and this Parliament who are rebelling, it is Smith and his friends, and every time somebody comes up with a challenge of that vacuous sort let him bear that in mind.
§ Dr. Kerr
I am giving the answers. Isolate the Rhodesian régime, and conduct a political campaign in this country to make sure that people like the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) are shown up in their support for the Rhodesian Front in the ways they are expressing so agitatedly in this 1593 House. The wind of change has not begun to lift the hem of his dress. We hope that it will still blow a gale.
We need not confine ourselves to a political campaign in this country. We should conduct a political campaign at the United Nations, if for no other reason than to restore Britain's integrity in the eyes of so many member countries. We need a political campaign in those countries which today, despite the assurances of my right hon. Friend, are by implication, if not overtly, accepting sanction busting as a good way of conducting policy by other means. We need, too, to conduct a much more vocal and active programme in this country against those firms and individuals who are known to be guilty of breaking sanctions. This is a programme which we can follow. It would at least convince some of our doubting friends, and justifiably so, that we mean business.
We need, above all, to institute, if we can, immediate defence talks with Zambia, whose position is of the most delicate and dangerous kind. We need to clothe that with sufficient plausibility to assure the Zambian Government that we are not trying to pull a fast one, and merely talking for the sake of talking. We need to show that we mean what we say.
Lastly, I think we have to recognise the dubious position in which this country now finds itself in Africa. This is not the assertion of my private opinion culled from the columns of the Guardian or The Times. It is the result of four weeks in Africa, of talking to Africans, of talking to opposition leaders and of talking to well-informed people. I am left with the profound conviction that if there were a change in the Rhodesian situation Britain would need to seek help from other countries to restore some kind of social structure in a broken down Rhodesia. My view is that we should expect to call upon a group of other countries, possibly through the United Nations, possibly individually, a group made up, if they were willing, of Canada, India, Norway, and a country from the Organisation of African Unity.
The purpose of this consortium would be five-fold. First, it would have the responsibility, which this country might not be able to carry out, of guaranteeing the lives of Africans and Europeans in 1594 Rhodesia. It would have the responsibility of ensuring political freedom for all groups in Rhodesia. It would have the responsibility of maintaining the social structure in that country. More than that, it would have the immediate responsibility of assisting the development of Rhodesia. Lastly, and by no means the least important, it would have the over-riding responsibility of promoting rapid African emancipation. I am appalled that my right hon. Friend can still speak of the need for many years to pass before there can be full African emancipation in Rhodesia. If this does not run counter to the proud history to which we often refer when talking about the way in which we have broken up our Empire and made it into a Commonwealth, I know of nothing which does. There is no need now to talk about many years passing before Rhodesia is emancipated fully.
Time is running out. Britain, let us face it, is despised and rejected, and the attitude which is now prevalent towards Britain and Britons is being extended to Europeans and other whites. We do not have to fool ourselves that racialism prevails only among white races. There are racists of other colours, too, and they derive sustenance, support, and encouragement from racial attitudes expressed by white people in this country. We do not want to promote that. We want to see the development of a non-racial society in Rhodesia.
Above all, Britain's rôle in the future can only be as the bridge between the two worlds of the industrial West and the developing countries. At this moment we are seeing the supports of that bridge being swept away by a tiny régime with a white population no greater than in my borough of Wandsworth. It is holding to ransom one of the richest and one of the most powerful states in the industrial world, Great Britain. I do not want this to continue, but to pretend that inactivity or a little more activity is an alternative to a thorough-going solution to the problem is merely to surrender to an ugly situation.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
I found the speech of the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr) more palatable than that of the Prime Minister. Although he defended the use 1595 of force against Rhodesia, although, though a doctor, he would deny them medical supplies, and although he appeared to contemplate fighting against South Africa, at least he did not treat condemned murderers as if they were freedom fighters. That was the most shameful remark in an absolutely shameful speech by the Prime Minister. I would start by reminding the House—
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. George Thomson)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be fair in his representation of the Prime Minister's speech. The Prime Minister did not describe condemned murderers as freedom fighters—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No one did. What he did was give the House a description of how these condemned murderers seemed to be freedom fighters in the eyes of Africans.
§ Mr. Turton
I have always admired the Secretary of State's intense loyalty to the Government and the Prime Minister. We all heard the Prime Minister and I took a careful note of what he said and it is right, after what he said, that the House should be reminded of the facts of the case.
The facts in the first two appeals were as follows. The deceased, Mr. Oberholtzer, and his wife and small daughter were driving along a road one evening when they reached a road block constructed by the appellants, assisted by at least two others. The deceased got out to see whether he could remove it and so secure a passage. Immediately, he was attacked by the appellants and two others with stones and knives. He received about 16 stab wounds in all, nine of which were in the head and neck and two in the trunk. His skull was fractured in four places, apparently from blows with stones.
The car, in which the deceased's wife and child were, was also attacked. Stones were thrown at it, the windows were smashed, and the deceased's wife was hit in the face with a stone. Petrol bombs were thrown into the vehicle, petrol was thrown over the vehicle and into the face of the deceased's wife. Although dying at the time, the deceased managed to get into the car, start it, and force a way through the road block. In his dying condition, however, he lost control and the 1596 car overturned. The appellants pursued the car and, when they reached it, threw lighted matches into the car in an attempt to set it on fire. Had they succeeded, there is little doubt that the deceased's wife and child would have been burned to death, as the wife was pinned down by the deceased's body.
At this moment, however, a Mr. and Mrs. Martindale arrived on the scene from the opposite direction and the appellants fled. The Martindales succeeded in extricating Mr. and Mrs. Oberholtzer and the child from the car, but by this time Mr. Oberholtzer was dead.
That is the crime which has changed the Government's policies towards negotiation—
§ Mr. Turton
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but instead of a Motion for the Adjournment on which he could have discussed the possibilities of negotiations, we have a Motion directed specifically to these three cases of men who were reprieved. I would ask the House to remember that these cases did not happen after U.D.I. but well before. The men were convicted on 14th December, 1964, and their appeals were heard on 19th March, 1965. In August, before the Commonwealth Secretary was continuing his negotiations, the determination on whether the Royal Prerogative should be exercised was taken and, of the six murderers then under sentence, these three had their appeals for clemency refused, and the other three were granted. I am bringing this out because it is wrong that this country should change its policy because of the failure of the Smith régime exercise the Prerogative.
As I understand it, the Royal Prerogative was, by Article 49 of the 1961 Constitution, expressly delegated to the Governor. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not only answer the questions of my right hon. Friend but will also make it clear how, if the Prerogative was delegated to the Governor, whom we recognise as being Sir Humphrey Gibbs, it could be possible for him to advise Her Majesty on the facts of the case? Would he also tell us—
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
On a point of order. In 1948, one of the 1597 present Speaker's illustrious predecessors ruled at, wherever a colonial Governor was given by this House the right to use the Royal Prerogative to extend mercy to condemned men, there still remained with the Queen a reserve power, upon which her Ministers in this House could exercise their right to advise the Queen.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I remember the Ruling perfectly well; I was here at the time. But what the hon. Gentleman is saying does not involve a point of order.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. I remember the 1948 Ruling. The facts of that case were quite dissimilar to the subject now under debate. It is open to the right hon. Gentleman, in this debate, to pursue the argument which he is putting to the House.
§ Mr. Turton
I am surprised that the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) should wish to prevent expression of the case in opposition to that of the Prime Minister.
I hope that the Secretary of State will not only give this information but will make it clear whether he, before he gave that advice to Her Majesty, had received the observations and recommendations of the trial judge, which were made in this case, I believe, on 19th March, 1965. This is pertinent because, if the Prerogative is to be exercised, those recommendations should be available so as to outline the background of the crime of which these men were guilty—
§ Mr. Paget
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is wrong on a point of fact. The Prerogative is here given not to the Governor of Rhodesia but to the Government of Rhodesia, which takes it right outside the Ruling referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon), which was a colonial Ruling. This is not a colonial one: it is an exact parallel with Canada or Australia.
§ Mr. Turton
I thought that it was delegated, by Article 49 of the 1961 Constitution, to the Governor of Rhodesia, but if the hon. and learned Member has a different point of view, with his knowledge of the law, no doubt he will put it forward.
So that we may know the facts before the end of the debate, I want to raise another point about the Prerogative. I recall that in August, 1947, the late Mr. Creech Jones, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, said:The normal practice of the Secretary of State for the Colonies is not himself to intervene in an individual case and not to advise His Majesty to intervene. There would be most unfortunate results if the Secretary of State followed any other course. First, it would be necessary for him to consider fully the facts of each case and all the considerations which bore upon it. That is a matter of great difficulty in London remote from the scene of the crime …This is one of the difficulties on this issue of the prerogative of mercy because we are remote from the scene of the crime. Here in England, apart from a Sunday excursion to Grosvenor Square and the occasional murder, fortunately violence is rare. In Africa things are very different. Clemency has not been shown in other African countries.
I regret that the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central has not remained in his place for even five minutes following the end of his speech. Perhaps that shows how customs in this House are altering with the passage of time.
I have in mind what happened in Zambia at the time of the Lumpa rising. Our record, for example, when dealing with the Mau Mau rising in Kenya, was very different. One should also consider what happened in Uganda. People are committing organised gang murder. The facts appear so different when looking at them from the quiet of the Commonwealth Relations Office in Whitehall.
While I have never liked the idea of men being executed so long after their crimes were committed, that is not the view held in Africa. Nor is it the view held in the United States. Nevertheless, I cannot believe that that difference is itself a justification for a change of policy in the matter we are discussing.
It is odd that this issue of the prerogative of mercy did not arise on 25th August, when the decision was first made. 1599 Instead, it arose late in March, not on the initiative of somebody in Rhodesia, not on the instructions of the legal advisers of the condemned men, but from a solicitor in London, who made his approach direct to the Commonwealth Secretary. He must bear a great deal of responsibility because he must have known that there was no more likely way of sparking off this great discord between Her Majesty's Government and the Smith régime than the action which he took.
I still believe that there is a possibility of a settlement being reached in this dispute. The Prime Minister said today that he will not negotiate. I wish that he would put that as an issue to the nation at a General Election. The people are worried about this continuing disagreement between Britain and Rhodesia—not that they believe that those in Rhodesia were wise in their illegal declaration of independence. They believe that the Government have acted in a way which is driving Britain and Rhodesia further apart and that we are merely encouraging the extremists, both in Rhodesia and here. This is the main reason for the Prime Minister's change of policy. He now wants to placate the Left wing because of the difficult economic situation. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) went to Central Africa and returned with what appeared to be the possibility of a settlement, the Prime Minister made it impossible for that settlement to proceed.
I notice that when the Commonwealth Secretary gave the results of his mission to Rhodesia he did not make it clear that he had promised the Rhodesian Government that he would take their proposals back and then give them a considered answer. That came out in a speech made by Mr. Smith on 1st February of this year to the Rhodesian Parliament. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give the details of his undertaking arrived at with Mr. Smith and will say whether there should not have been a considered reply from Her Majesty's Government to the proposals on the "Tiger" constitution made by Mr. Smith. It has been alleged that the right hon. Gentleman did not fulfil an undertaking which he gave to the Smith régime.
§ Mr. George Thomson
I will reply to the right hon. Gentleman immediately. I have a high regard for him and I suggest, therefore, that he might do me the credit of accepting my word—this is an old challenge—rather than quote Mr. Smith across the Floor of the House. The undertaking I gave to Mr. Smith was recorded publicly in the communiqué published at the end of our discussions. I gave no undertaking in confidence and I did not break my word to Mr. Smith.
§ Mr. Turton
I assume that the right hon. Gentleman is saying that he gave no undertaking to give a considered reply to certain proposals. This is material, because I believe that a settlement on the lines of the "Tiger" constitution is still possible. I equally believe that it was wrong for the right hon. Gentleman to cut off those negotiations at this point. Although he feels that he has carried out whatever undertakings were given, there appears to have been a misunderstanding between him and Mr. Smith.
§ Mr. George Thomson
If the right hon. Gentleman is telling me that I made an error of judgment in making the statement I did to the House on 12th December and in not seeking to carry on the negotiations, then I accept that as a matter of his judgment, although I disagree with him. But if he is charging me with having broken my word—the charge which Mr. Smith keeps making—then I deny that completely.
§ Mr. Turton
I of course accept the right hon. Gentleman's word and I would indeed regard it as an error of judgment, particularly since I believe that had the negotiations gone on we would have got near to a settlement.
We must try to prevent this issue from going further in the direction of favouring the extremists. There is a basis for an agreement. I have never believed that it could be reached only on the basis of the "Tiger" constitution and I recall that when speaking in a debate on 8th December, 1966, I suggested that any negotiations of this kind must be backed up by a promise on the part of Her Majesty's Government to give a matching contribution for education and development in Rhodesia. This would be valuable not merely because it would be an act of generosity and Christianity on 1601 our part but because it would show that we not only believe in a multi-racial community but are perfectly ready to make sacrifices to achieve that end.
I also believe it would be in itself a way of keeping a continuing hold on the progress in Rhodesia towards a multiracial community. At the moment sanctions have cost us something like £200 million. We should make an offer to Rhodesia that we will put up £25 million a year towards secondary education and development. If the Rhodesians do not accept it, let us see by every means in our power—I condemn the Press censorship in Rhodesia as strongly as any hon. Member on either side of the House—that that fact is known to all in Rhodesia.
I believe this is a solution. It is no good merely giving secondary education; we have to give secondary education and development. What is the good of educating men unless they have jobs? I beg the right hon. Gentleman, for whom I have a great respect, to consider very carefully again the possibility of making an offer on those lines together with continuing negotiation on the five principles. It may be that this venture in the present circumstances, after the Prime Minister's speech, may not succeed, but I think we have to persevere to that end and not drive the Rhodesians to the policy of apartheid which a minority of their present Government want, a minority who have shown that desire by breaking with Mr. Smith so recently.
I beg the Government to think again. I believe the Prime Minister's speech today will have done incalculable harm. I greatly regret that this will, I believe, make the path of peace in Africa harder than it was yesterday.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
If the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Melton (Mr. Turton) had paid a visit to the Library of this House and studied some aspects of British political history, he would not have referred to the freedom fighters in his rather peculiar fashion. He would have discovered that in the year 1916, during the Irish Rebellion many were accused of committing murders on a vast scale but they were subsequently described as freedom fighters and their names are still revered in Southern Ireland because of their activities.
1602 He would also have discovered, if he had been unaware of the fact, that those who executed Charles I were subsequently described as freedom fighters. Men who are forced by circumstances over which they have no control to engage in violence, men who otherwise would be peaceful, ought not to be accused of being murderers but are entitled to some consideration because of the violence that preceded the circumstances which compelled them to act as they did. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, although somewhat venerable, will find a little time to study those aspects of British political history.
Of course we do not condone these murders. Nobody on this side of the House has done other than condemn violence in Rhodesia, but the violence in Rhodesia has not been peculiar to the Africans. The white extremists have been responsible for provoking violence among the Africans. Hon. Members opposite can shake their heads until they fall off, but they will not convince me to the contrary. [An HON. MEMBER: "We would not notice any difference."]
What is the charge against the Prime Minister? The right hon. Gentleman condemned the Prime Minister because of what he said this afternoon, but in my judgment his speech was better than that of the right hon. Gentleman. From experience in this House, I say that the Prime Minister's speech was one of the most realistic ever made in this assembly. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] It was a statement of fact; there was no romance about it. What is more, it was divested—this cannot be said of the speeches of many hon and right hon. Members opposite—of prejudice.
What was the charge levelled against my right hon. Friend by the Leader of the Opposition? The Leader of the Opposition began his speech by indulging in some legal subtleties. I have no doubt that the legal gentry in this House will continue the argument along those lines—whether the Privy Council was justified in expecting that the justiciary in Rhodesia should make application and whether Her Majesty was justified in responding, undoubtedly to a submission by the Government, and because of the circumstances, and suggest a reprieve. These are legal subtleties completely irrelevant and immaterial to what the debate is about.
1603 Let us have no more pretence from hon. Members opposite. There are honourable exceptions, of course, but the majority of hon. Members opposite are in favour of Ian Smith and of the illegal régime. Let there be no mistake about that—[Interruption.]—and never mind about interruptions. They do not matter.
§ Mr. Shinwell
No, I am not giving way. I am not attacking the hon. Member; if I did he would be sorry for himself. I do not want to speak for long, but if I have interruptions I am bound to continue for longer than I intend. Of course hon. Members opposite do not like my language, but it is about time that these things were said in this House.
The Leader of the Opposition charged the Prime Minister—this was the gravamen of his charge—that my right hon. Friend had repeatedly said, "I can't agree with Mr. Smith, but nevertheless I am ready to engage in negotiations with him." The Prime Minister, I am bound to say, is possessed of far more tolerance than I am or than many of my colleagues. He even displayed compassion for Mr. Smith and that is assuming a great deal in the circumstances.
Anyway, how did this trouble begin? Not a word has been said about that this afternoon. It began with Mr. Smith, and no one knows that better than the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) for whom I have the highest regard. I believe—and because i believe it I say it in this Assembly—that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire is anxious, probably desperately anxious, to find a solution for this very intricate problem. I do not condemn him for going to Africa seeking a solution. But one does not find a solution merely by talking as the Leader of the Opposition did today and saying that we must proceed with negotiations. That is just a generalisation. On what basis? So far as many hon. Members opposite are concerned, and a few right hon. Members, too—some neither right nor honourable, if I may say so—there are very few who ought to talk much about this business or about the Commonwealth. The hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), who is the re 1604 presentative of this country at Commonwealth conferences, ought to say very little. But that is another story. I shall come back to it some other time.
What was the charge against the Prime Minister? He sought negotiations. He failed. He wanted legality in Rhodesia. So did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. So did the Leader of the Opposition. I am not sure that the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) did not seek legality in Rhodesia, too. But there are varying interpretations of legality. There is the Tory version, and there is the Labour version. I prefer the Labour version. There is something which ought to be said about some hon. Members opposite—whether it ought to be said or not, I shall say it—and particularly about the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall). If it were not unparliamentary, I should regard him as the British Herr Himmler. That is a correct description—
§ Mr. Shinwell
If it is unparliamentary, I withdraw it. I could use the name Goebbels, or something like that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I have withdrawn. I shall put it another way. The hon. Gentleman is an associate of the extreme Right in Rhodesia. We all know that. Is the hon. Member for Haltemprice concerned about legality in Rhodesia? No. He is in favour of the supremacy of a section of the Europeans in Rhodesia. As for the Africans, what do they matter?
I leave that now because it does not matter much what we say to the other side. Hon. Members opposite are impervious to logic and sound argument. I shall now say something to my hon. Friends for a change, and it is about time it was said. Some of them want to use force. Two years ago, I went to the Commonwealth conference, and no one was subjected to more criticism from the Africans than I was. The hon. Member for Essex, South-East knows that; he was there. They attacked me bitterly. They said that I was the representative of the British Government. I was nothing of the sort. I was merely a delegate from the United Kingdom branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the leader of an all-party delegation. 1605 They said that we must use force, I said that that was nonsense. The British Government were against it.
Now, I find some of my hon. Friends in favour of using force. One of them said to me the other day—I shall not mention his geographical position in the House—that he would be ready to go out and fight. "Really?" I said, "What capacity have you got for fighting?" He said that he had once trained as a parachutist, and I told him that that would not be very much value. But he was ready to go. One remarkable facet of this situation is that most of those who are demanding force want us to reduce our defence expenditure. If I may say so, with all their belligerence and bellicosity, some of them could not knock the skin off a rice pudding.
I have never been a pacifist. I believe in defence—everyone knows I do—although I believe also in a reduction in defence expenditure and want to see our defence forces used primarily and exclusively for our security. The idea of sending a force to Rhodesia to enter into conflict with white Europeans is unmitigated and unadulterated rubbish. The sooner we forget about it the better.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I was not accusing my hon. Friend in particular. It was a general accusation. But I can understand the sentiment which provokes this demand. We feel strongly about these things. Sometimes, I feel strongly about some of the violence which occurs in this country. When I hear of some old lady who has been coshed, I feel that I would like to strangle the person responsible. Sometimes, my mind oscillates on the subject of capital punishment because my sentiments and passions are aroused, and I become almost violent. I hope the House will excuse that piece of autobiography. That is how I feel, and I can understand why some of my hon. Friends think along those lines.
But let us be realistic. We could do something to help Africans in Africa, our coloured friends. We might provide them with arms. Honestly, I should not object. If they want to have a go at the Rhodesians, let them have a go. I should not object to that. I realise that that is 1606 not acceptable here. We are all pacifists, so we do not accept ideas like that. But, whether my suggestion is acceptable or not, that is what will happen one day. This is the danger. It is not a matter of passing resolutions, condemnatory or laudatory of either side. In these conditions in Africa, one fine day there will be a blood bath of the most violent character. That is what apartheid leads to in the long run. It may not happen in my time, but it will happen in the time of many younger Members of this assembly. I deplore it. I regard it not as a possibility, but as a probability, and I deplore it.
I come back to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who has now returned. I do not complain about his absence a little earlier, though I understand that there was a complaint about his absence the other day. While he was out, I had referred to his legal subtleties, the question whether the Privy Council should have been consulted, whether Her Majesty was rightly consulted, and whether everything was done according to legal punctilio. We shall hear a great deal about that after I have spoken, no doubt. I come to the point. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Let us try to find a solution. Let us proceed with negotiations. The Prime Minister has not done enough in the past 2½ years." I have already said that my right hon. Friend has been far too tolerant, too patient, even, perhaps, too resilient. I do not believe that anybody has ever tried harder to find a solution, and I am very unhappy and disturbed that no solution is in sight.
The Leader of the Opposition says, "Let us proceed with negotiations." On what basis? The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the five principles, and I hope that that will be noted. We did not postulate the five principles; they were postulated by the previous Tory Government. I understand what is in the right hon. Gentleman's mind about this—it is a question of how to interpret the five principles. If they are interpreted to satisfy Mr. Smith they will obviously not satisfy the Government, and I wonder whether they would satisfy the right hon. Gentleman. In his view, sanctions have been ineffective and are no longer of much value. The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton said the real loss 1607 to us is about £200 million since the trouble started.
The question is whether we are to allow Mr. Smith to have his own way. That is the issue. There is almost desperate anxiety to find a solution to the problem and end this troublesome affair, which is no good for the Commonwealth, Rhodesia or this country. To let Mr. Smith get his own way means that we shall not get legality in Rhodesia and obtain a fair crack of the whip for the coloured people of Rhodesia, which is, after all, what we are striving for.
When the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire returned from Africa I met him in the Lobby, and it is not disclosing a confidential discussion to say that he was kind enough to tell me that what we need in Africa is a multi-racial situation. He wants that and so do we all, except some hon. Members opposite who do not believe in that philosophy. How are we to get it? I do not believe that an immediate solution is in sight.
Of course, proceed with negotiations, but let it be clearly understood on behalf of this assembly that we do not condone violence in Rhodesia, whoever may be responsible for it, and we are anxious for a multi-racial State in Rhodesia, and even anxious to protect and safeguard the white Europeans there. Some day they may need protection. That is our anxiety. At the same time let us understand that we cannot afford to allow Mr. Smith to have his own way.
Unless we divest ourselves of prejudices on this issue, then the other side prove they are in favour of Mr. Smith. We are in favour of the Prime Minister, all the more so because of the venomous, vicious and despicable attacks made on him in recent months. Nobody has the right to object to criticism in public life, but there is a limit to it, and I warn the other side that if it is allowed to go too far—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—I speak for myself. I indulge in criticism, but I can also recognise ability and high quality even among some right hon. and hon. Members opposite. One hon. Member—I forget his constituency—was nodding his head this way and that. I except him from what I have just said. Criticism is not objectionable. Indeed, it is very 1608 often a correction of the Executive. I indulge in it myself, and rightly so, but there is a limit. If hon. Members opposite believe that they will win the next election and that because of their criticism they will get rid of the Prime Minister, they are making a mistake. They will discover that at the next election.
The right hon. Member for Barnet said—[Interruption.] It is no use interrupting me, because I cannot hear it anyway. The right hon. Member for Barnet is a very amusing character. He would be a very great man if he were not so lazy. Much quality resides in him, but now he has passed it on to industry and finance. That is what right hon. Members opposite do. Immediately they are out of Government they go to jobs in the City.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I just said that in passing, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, I withdraw the remark. The right hon. Gentleman is not looking for a job in the City. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has got it."] The issue tonight is clear. It is between Ian Smith on the other side of the House and Prime Minister on this side; I stand by the Prime Minister.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
The whole House always enjoys the vigour of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), and I am grateful to him for what he said about me. He is able impartially to distribute his blows to friends and foe alike, although I gather that all the rice puddings were on the other side of the House. He also seemed to be rather scathing about the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon. He said that one cannot find a solution just by talking, but I respectfully remind him that one cannot find a solution unless one does talk. Therefore, I was glad to hear him say at the end of his speech that we should proceed with negotiations. I hope that in my few remarks I may be able to show him the way.
I wish that the debate had been on the Adjournment. We could then have had a much more objective debate and, I would have hoped, a very different 1609 speech from that which the Prime Minister delivered. But, the Motion having been put down on the Order Paper, it was inevitable that we should table our Amendment because, although emotions have been stirred and stretched—perfectly properly, because this is a human assembly—by the failure to commute to a life sentence the death penalty for three Africans, that must not blind the House to the fact that there are other issues, involving deep moral judgments, that cannot be separated from a debate on Rhodesia at this time.
They concern, all of them, the ability of Britain to discharge her responsibility to all races in Rhodesia. There are such questions, for example, as what is to be the future of the four million Africans who have to live in that country in the future. Is the goal of a multi-racial State in Central Africa to be abandoned? Is there to be any attempt to embody in the constitution clauses which will enable the Africans to make unimpeded progress on to a common roll with Europeans? Is that all to go?
Above all, are we to abandon any attempt to ensure that this great area of the continent should be a place where people of all races can go about their business in peace? Or are we to acquiesce and do nothing while it becomes a cockpit for guerrilla warfare, while the frontier hardens into an armed barrier on the Zambesi between black African-dominated to the North and white African-dominated to the South? These are the great moral issues and great judgments which the House has to make today.
In my view, the future of peace and war in Africa very largely hangs on whether Britain and Rhodesia can achieve an honourable settlement of their dispute or whether they finally part in anger. The stakes are very high and there is little time left in which to win the prize.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition analysed the situation and the possibilities which lie before this House and the country. We could, as he said, turn the other way and wash our hands of the problem. It looks at though that might be the melancholy result. But let every hon. Member understand that that simply means an end of Britain discharging her responsibilities to anybody.
There are, therefore, two ways, and, it seems to me, only two ways, in which 1610 a solution can be sought to this dispute. There is, first, the Government's line—that is, by pressure exerted through the sanctions we in this country can try to induce a change in the political mood in Rhodesia. I am bound to report to the House that, on the evidence I collected both in Rhodesia and in South Africa from those best placed to know, there is no chance whatever that sanctions can bring about a political change in any foreseeable time-scale—none whatever.
That sanctions are having a certain economic impact is true. All the smaller tobacco farmers are having to switch into other and less profitable crops. Petrol is expensive but one can get as much as one can pay for. The quality of textiles and clothing is lower. Capital investment is not what it was and certainly not what is could be if there were to be a settlement. Import controls have to be maintained by the Government of Rhodesia in order that their budget may be balanced. All that is true.
But neither any one of these nor all together, nor any extension of sanctions which might be devised in the United Nations, can prevent the Rhodesians from making both ends meet economically or can lower the high standard of living which is enjoyed by Europeans in that country. This fact had better be faced by the House.
Finally, of course, South Africa, although intensely unhappy that there is not a settlement, will not allow Rhodesia to collapse. The hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr) is not here, but I say to the Prime Minister that, if he had seen, as I saw in South Africa, the lengths to which Afro-Asian countries go to expand trade with South Africa and the devices they are using to do it, in full knowledge that a proportion of it is going straight to Rhodesia, he would realise how futile the present operations are in the Assembly of the United Nations.
Paradoxically enough, the only useful function which sanctions now have is in the context of a mere negotiated settlement. The majority of Rhodesians—of this I am certain and in this, too, Mr. Smith would acquiesce—feel that the clean way to arrive at agreement is for U.D.I. to run on one hand and for sanctions to run on the other while a settlement is being worked out and while the 1611 opinion is tested; and then, by simultaneous action, sanctions would be dropped, U.D.I. would be dropped and independence on an agreed constitution substituted by an Act of Her Majesty's Government. That is the clean way in which to use sanctions. Unless there is a settlement in the near future, sanctions will be totally useless to produce a political result. On all the evidence, then, I must conclude from what I have learned in Africa that the first of the possible solutions I have mentioned—sanctions—cannot succeed.
I would like to tell the House the nature of my approach to Mr. Smith on the second of the possible courses—a negotiated settlement. I told Mr. Smith that if he was earnestly seeking an agreement he must be prepared to renew negotiations with the present British Government. I said that I was not interested in talking to him about what a Conservative Government might do at some future date. The matter is too urgent and, therefore, I said to him that he must be prepared to negotiate with the present British Government.
I told him that, in my judgment, based on what I had heard in Rhodesia and South Africa and what I knew here, the majority in Rhodesia and Britain thought that the political solution reached on H.M.S. "Tiger" was fair—I refer to the political section of the "Tiger" agreement, not the interim arrangements. I said that therefore we must try to concentrate on trying to eliminate as far as we could the three differences following the "Tiger" talks as they were defined by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs to this House some months ago.
That was my general approach to Mr. Smith. The particular one was that I said that what is known colloquially as the blocking mechanism was the essence of the matter as far as the differences were concerned. I did not see how Parliament as a whole could accept a proposal that entrenching clauses, written into the constitution for the purpose of securing the minimum rights of Africans now and of Europeans later, should be controlled by chiefs. I told him that straight. Therefore, I concluded that my task, as I saw it with him, was to find a formula on these matters in which the 1612 rights of the Africans under the constitution would be genuinely entrenched by what is commonly understood to be a genuine blocking mechanism.
Finally, I said that a member of the Opposition could not negotiate and, therefore, I would like any proposals made by Mr. Smith to be in the form of proposals from him to the present Prime Minister here. Because I had a suspicion that the right hon. Gentleman might not believe Mr. Smith's words, I asked Mr. Smith to take the proposals after we had agreed them to his Cabinet colleagues and to let me know if they agreed them, too. The following morning, I received a message to say that the document was totally acceptable. The proposals were, therefore, in such a form as could be given to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister as proposals from Mr. Smith.
I hope that even those hon. Members who see no virtue in negotiations at all will agree that, in this approach to Mr. Smith, I was scrupulously fair and impartial. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman quoted a certain version of what I might or might not have said to Mr. Smith. I was rather sharp in my reply. I have not seen in any newspaper an accurate or anywhere near accurate account of what the proposals were. That is just as well. In my belief, what I deliberately call the blocking mechanism worked out between Mr. Smith and myself in the presence of the Governor and Sir Hugh Beadle went a very long way to making the blocking mechanism formula satisfactory.
The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to his view. He said—and he is right here—that, to some extent, this depended on certain assumptions and that electoral processes must be gone through before independence becomes a fact.
There is one addition which, had I thought of it, would have made these proposals absolutely cast iron. I have described them as satisfactory, but this would have made them absolutely cast-iron. I do not think, and I have no reason whatever to believe, that I could not have negotiated it then with Mr. Smith and I have absolutely no reason to believe that I could not do so now if so required.
1613 So I think that the blocking mechanism could be made intact. On cross-voting, agreement would be easy. I am not sure about appeal to the Privy Council. I rather think that this would be rejected, but the argument would certainly be worth resuming. It is worth remembering that appeal on these constitutional matters in the Commonwealth is now used by only one Commonwealth country and that is Canada. The rest rely on their own appellate machinery.
§ The Prime Minister
I do not want there to be any misunderstanding about our interchange this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman has just suggested that, because I quoted certain newspapers, I was indicating that that was what I thought the right hon. Gentleman had said in Rhodesia. I know exactly what he said, because he was good enough to inform my right hon. Friend and myself. I am in no doubt about that. I quoted these newspapers to show the brief being put out there as to what the régime thinks it means. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman spoke exactly as he has spoken to the House this evening.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I am obliged to the Prime Minister. I was concerned because I thought that it might have been unfair to a certain newspaper, and no newspaper has got anywhere the mark about the proposals which I made, which were far better than anything I have seen in any newspaper. I hope that the House will forgive me for not disclosing further details, as the Prime Minister did not. I am tempted to do so in order to dispel doubts, but I have seen so many negotiations wrecked by premature disclosure that I would rather withhold details for the moment. These dangers are particularly acute in a small country where politics are personalised, as in Rhodesia. I would be content to say to the Commonwealth Secretary in particular that I believe that if I had had him and the Lord Chancellor with me in Salisbury a fortnight ago, the chances of signing a complete settlement would have been very high. If the hangings had not intervened, the Government could not conceivably have avoided renewing contact with Mr. Smith.
I have not claimed that these proposals would necessarily bring success. I am not entitled to do that. If one is not in charge of the negotiations oneself, one is 1614 not entitled to say that they would succeed. I can say only that I have tried in this matter to help with complete objectivity. I say to the Commonwealth Secretary that if I can assist in any way in future in clarifying these proposals, or carrying them forward, the right hon. Gentleman knows that no party consideration would be involved at all and that I am entirely and disinterestedly at his service.
The Prime Minister's arguments today were all directed to saying that he could not deal with men such as these in the Government of Salisbury today. Many people have said that kind of thing and have had to eat their words. Some hon. Members opposite—and the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central was one—have rather questioned my right or ability to talk about these African affairs. Perhaps I shall be forgiven if I remind them of two other occasions when I have tried to co-operate with the party opposite to find solutions in Africa. The Socialist Party in the House of Commons will remember that it refused to allow Seretse Khama to go back to Africa. It was left to me as Commonwealth Secretary to send him back. I understood that situation and I think that decision was right. There was a second occasion. I invited the right hon. Gentleman the late Mr. Gaitskell to join in the Monckton Commission on Rhodesia. I believe that if the Socialist Party had lent its authority to that Commission at that time, today we might not be facing this situation at all and that racialism would never have been driven into the corner of the Federation in Southern Rhodesia as it has been. The Socialists refused their co-operation. This time the stakes are very much higher and the future is peace or war in Africa. I hope very much that the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite will ponder long and deep before they throw away a third and a final chance.
It is because I profoundly believe, after having talked to Mr. Smith and others in Salisbury, that, on the basis of the proposals I brought forward, negotiations could be reopened, that I myself will find no difficulty whatever in voting for our Amendment, because I believe it embodies the feeling of the great majority of the people in this country and in Rhodesia, too.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I wish to start my brief remarks by saying that many of my hon. Friends will agree with the sentiments of the exordium of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home). I happen to be one of his political opponents who consider that in his brief tenure of office as Prime Minister he rendered considerable service to the nation, his party and the House. I listened to him this afternoon not only with respect but with admiration, and I pay tribute to what he did in Salisbury not long ago.
Nevertheless, it seems to me, as it seemed to me while listening to the Leader of the Opposition, that what right hon. Gentlemen opposite are really asking us to do, both in their Amendment and in their speeches, is to recognise the Smith régime as the Government of Southern Rhodesia, to allow it to go on governing that land and to negotiate with it as such. They ask us to do that in spite of the sad experiences which my right hon. Friends have had with Mr. Smith, in spite of the advance towards apartheid of which the Prime Minister spoke this afternoon. I cannot think that that policy is right. I understood the Leader of the Opposition—I did not take down his words—to say that we must recognise Mr. Smith because the policy of sanctions had failed.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head; I withdraw that allegation. I want to talk about the policy of sanctions, because I regard it as a matter of the highest importance in the conduct of international affairs. Peaceful action, without the use of force, by means of economic, political, social and financial pressure ought to be an instrument of tremendous power in the hands of the international community against any Government that commits aggression.
Many hon. Members opposite have always said that sanctions fail, that sanctions are no good. Many of them said it in October, 1965. I am sorry to think that in the past it has been true that Conservative Governments of this country have helped to make sanctions fail. I remember the 1616 very first case when they ought to have been used, in October, 1931, when Mr. Stimson of the United States proposed sanctions against Japan over Manchuria, and Sir John Simon, speaking for the so-called National Government, slapped him in the face. I remember how over Abyssinia, when the very feeble economic sanctions which were put on against Mussolini might have succeeded, it was a British Foreign Minister who called them off. Up to now, the sanctions against Rhodesia have not failed.
I venture to say that if it had not been for sanctions Smith would have won a total victory, which he has not won. I venture to say that in Rhodesia today there is, among large sections of the people, a very serious situation. About 80 per cent. of the farmers are not only bankrupt, they are irrecoverably bankrupt. They have overdrafts to their bankers that they will never be able to pay. They cannot finance their current operations.
Only yesterday in The Times one could read the statement of Mr. Tim Mitchell, the chairman of the Rhodesian National Farmers' Union, that the situation was catastrophic, that the Government offer of 22d. a lb. for tobacco as a subsidy was ludicrous, that almost none of the farmers would be able to reap their crops, that the Smith régime was "planning chaos". If the farmers are bankrupt, the rural shopkeepers will soon go bankrupt and the African workers will soon be unemployed. The situation is very grave indeed.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire and the Leader of the Opposition both said that other nations who ought to be helping us to apply the sanctions have been expanding their Rhodesian trade. I want to suggest to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State something that he might do to rectify that situation. He ought to go to the Security Council and not suggest what Lord Caradon proposed last week, private consultations about further action which could be taken but instead let him have a public debate. Let him bring the delegates of these other nations to the table to answer for the action of their nationals and their Governments in allowing these disloyal tradings to go on. If he would have it out in public with them, he would find that the Security Council 1617 was an instrument of tremendous power, and he might do very much to make the present sanctions far more effective.
Like my other hon. Friends I want him to do more. I would like him to go to the Security Council and propose that it should make a decision under Article 41 of the Charter that the full sanctions of that Article should now be applied by members of the U.N. It is a very strong Article It says:The Security Council may decide about what measures, not involving the use of armed force, are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the members of the U.N. to apply such measures. These may include a complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other methods of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.Can anyone doubt that if all those measures were taken, if the Universal Postal Union, the Universal Telegraphic Union, refused all communications to Rhodesia, that the difficulties of illegal trade would be very greatly increased? Can we doubt that if there were no aircraft going to Rhodesia, if no one could come out of the country, and they could get no visitors from abroad, that this would not bring tremendous moral pressure upon all the people there, particularly on the Europeans with close connections with this country? I would like my right hon. Friend to propose this measure. He should not say, as was said after the meeting in Lancaster House the other day of the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee, that we might perhaps, accept a Security Council initiative. Let him go and propose it. Let the Council, let the Commonwealth, let the world see that we mean business.
Let him go and propose it himself, with the great authority of his office and with the Cabinet behind him. Then, let him go from the Security Council to the General Assembly, which will very shortly be in session, to discuss a much less important matter—the non-proliferation treaty, which has been gestated for so long in that odd committee in Geneva. Let him go to the General Assembly and let him call on it to endwise the Security Council decision and demand that every one of the members of the United Nations shall carry it out.
1618 There are other things about which I would have liked to speak. We ought certainly to give Zambia all the support that we possibly can. I would like to give it a larger sum than it has been offered—the offer is quite inadequate for its economic needs. If we could enable it to break its trading relations with Rhodesia, what would that mean to Rhodesia now? I would like to see the R.A.F. go back to Zambia. My hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr) was right when he said that we ought to consider defence arrangements in case there is armed attack by South Africa or Rhodesia upon Zambian soil.
In mentioning all these things, I urge upon my right hon. Friend—for whose career I have great admiration and in whose future I place great hope—that at this moment the fate of the Commonwealth is at stake. The Commonwealth may still be the greatest force in international affairs, if all its members stand together for the true principles upon which international peace and order can be built. But if we fail today the Commonwealth will smash; and it will smash if we take the advice tendered to us in the Amendment put down by the Tory Party.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I do not know whether I am right in thinking that this is the first occasion that the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) has addressed the House since his recent illness. I believe that it is. Apart from welcoming him back, we can be in no doubt that he is fully restored to vigour. He has made, if I may respectfully say so, one of the best speeches that I have ever heard him make in this House, with every word of which I find myself in wholehearted agreement.
For that reason I shall be shorter than I would otherwise have been, because the right hon. Gentleman has covered many of the points I would have raised. May I also say, with respect to the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), that his speech has obviously transformed this debate. He has put forward arguments to which the House would wish to give the most careful consideration. He has raised the level of the debate to a much 1619 higher plane than it was on hitherto. We do not know the details, but I would say that if we are merely dealing with a "braking" mechanism, or if we are dealing with a numerical ratio between, for example, the strength of the African representation in the Lower House and in the projected Senate, the unhappy experience suffered by a Liberal Government in regard to South Africa must not be overlooked.
We genuinely believed at the time of granting independence to that country that there was an adequate blocking mechanism. We have lived to see this eroded, and that is why I as a Liberal, realising that we were wrong in the trust that we placed then, want to be doubly sure that it will not happen again. As I say, we are at a disadvantage, in that we do not know the details.
Although I obviously respect the right hon. Gentleman's prognosis as to the likelihood of a successful negotiation, I cannot have enormous hope, in view of the hopes which have been born and which have died within a matter of hours. In view of the "Tiger" talks, in view of the circumstances in which the original declaration of emergency was obtained from the Governor, in view of the sharp move towards repressive legislation and apartheid, and as there are now people resigning in Rhodesia because they think that Mr. Smith is too liberal, I would find it very difficult to be convinced that there was a possibility of a settlement.
All that a blocking mechanism does is to give some guarantee against future repressive legislation. It gives no power to repeal existing repressive legislation. This is something which the present Rhodesia Front has shown no indication that it is prepared to do.
If I commend the speech of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, I did not find that that of the Leader of the Opposition came up to the same standard. The Leader of the Opposition was cast today more in the role of Sir Edward Carson, the only difference being that Sir Edward Carson supported the prospect of a rebellion and the right hon. Gentleman has shown a faint heart in resisting one which has taken place. I thought that the reference to the minority judgment—to the judge 1620 who was in the minority—was a somewhat tendentious way of suggesting that possibly there might be a greater element of legality, something slightly less noxious, in the act of rebellion. No deductions or conclusions were drawn. It was just mentioned in passing. It was not a hit and run. It was a touch and shuffle.
The right hon. Gentleman then told us that sanctions would not work to bring down the régime and that apparently they had even stiffened the African attitude. I wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition regrets that he failed to divide the House when all those lists of sanctions were agreed upon.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman's most devastating criticism of the régime was his statement that we had not always been helped by Salisbury. That was the under-statement of the century. However, we have not been given one reason why, in the right hon. Gentleman's view, talks are now likely to be possible. The only suggestion was that it might be more possible if the Prime Minister were slightly politer in his tone of address. We had the suggestion of a Royal Commission, but this was put up to the Rhodesia Front at the time of the "Tiger" and was rejected. There is no evidence that that proposal would commend itself more to the régime today than it did then.
There have been times in our history—I think particularly of the 1930s—when people were perhaps more optimistic about the chances of successful talks and negotiations, although political realism surely must have indicated that such was not possible.
The right hon. Gentleman said this on 10th December, 1965, and the Prime Minister referred to it in passing:the whole House abhors the aspects of the police State which have been and which are being introduced into Rhodesia today … that is abhorrent to the whole British people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 775.]I hope that those conditions are not less abhorrent to the right hon. Gentleman today than they were then. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman does not now feel able more readily to make terms with those police methods than he did then.
If I make a charge against the Tory Party, it is that on this occasion it is being politically naïve.
1621 Why is the issue of Rhodesia important? I do not think that there is any harm in reminding ourselves of its enormous importance. It is not that this is merely the last of our imperial responsibilities and that the pride and susceptibility of this country would be wounded, although there may be those who have that response. It is that, were there ever to be a Third World War, it would be on the basis of the clash of colour and not of ideology. Of that I am convinced. It would be the black races and the yellow races against the white races. The fact that the white races happen to be economically superior is yet another reason for the distrust which is growing and widening between the two.
In the Commonwealth, for all its imperfections, the political genius of the people of Britain has helped to create the one organisation in the world in which people of every colour, of every creed, from every Continent, can sit down together in terms of complete equality and relative trust. The whole of the Rhodesia rebellion is a direct and fundamental challenge to that principle, because it is based upon the claim of the right of permanent supremacy of a small white minority. That is why it is vital—not for any reasons of pride, but because this is a challenge to the whole basis on which the Commonwealth has been built up—that Britain, which has had a great imperial history, should ensure that this is not a rebellion which is allowed to succeed.
George Washington has been mentioned. The issues in America were quite different. They were people who wanted the right to rule themselves. It was not the right of a small minority to rule the majority of the population. There is no comparison between the two rebellions.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Whether that comment is as pertinent to the contemporary argument as some comments which the hon. and learned Gentleman makes I do not know. If the Indians were in the majority, I deplore the way in which they were almost exterminated and subsequently put into reserves, if that gives the hon. and learned Gentleman any comfort. I now pass on.
1622 If the Tory Party is being naive, I think that the great problem with the Government is that they have for too long been divorced from the realities of the situation. They have for far too long sheltered behind legal technicalities, such as talking about the possibility of an injunction by the Privy Council and the fact that the Government of Rhodesia is clothed in the person of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs. It is this very technicality and divorcement from reality which has been one of the reasons why we have not been more effective in dealing with this situation.
The party of which I have the honour to be a member has backed the Government right along the line, because we believe, as passionately as any right hon. or hon. Member opposite, that this evil régime must be brought down. There is no back sliding on this bench, however unpopular our view may be amongst certain racialists in this country.
There is no doubt that the time has now come to say to the Government that we all know that there was insufficient contingency planning. It was six weeks before a radio was put in the Governor's house. We all know that there was no effective planning of sanctions. We all know that when one Minister took over four months after the oil sanctions began there was a memorandum saying, "Oil sanctions are working effectively". We all know that in 1965 contingency planning was put up to the Prime Minister as to how a small mobile force could have been put in under the control of the Governor. That was rejected. I agree that the use of force is now impractical. Personally, I believe that if there had been 1,500 troops in Zambia, they could have been moved at one hour's notice and put under the Governor's control, and we should not have had U.D.I. If we did have U.D.I., the problem would have been solved in hours.
I also believe that in September, 1966, the destruction of the railway line in the Malvernia Desert, which I accept could have been repaired in days or weeks, could have been done without any risk to life or limb and would have made quite plain to the world our intention to make sanctions work. It would have been a political gesture. I now believe that that is impractical because oil is getting in from many sources and there 1623 is probably 18 months' supply, but I believe that that would have been right at the time.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether he is still in favour of using force against Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Thorpe
The noble Lord was not listening. I said that I believed that in September, 1966, the destruction of the railway line in the Malvernia Desert, which was then the only means by which oil was getting into Rhodesia, would politically have been a convincing act by this Government and this country to prove that we did not intend to see sanctions bust. I do not believe that it is now practical, for the two reasons which I gave: first, there is an 18 months' supply of oil, and, secondly, it is getting in by 11 or 12 different routes.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Since I was referring in the context of September, 1966, only to one railway line in one malaria-infested desert, it follows that my remarks relate to that alone. If this has the unfortunate effect of clearing the record for the Tory Party, I am sorry that it should be given the blinding light of truth.
There is no doubt that sanctions have had an effect on tobacco and on sugar, in particular. But equally there is no doubt that to date they have been a failure in inducing a change of political heart. Anyone who has doubts should read the remarkable article in the Observer on 17th March indicating the nature and extent of the breaches. I want sanctions to be effective. I believe that they can be effective. But if they are not the United Nations will fail just as much as this country will fail. I hope that I am wrong in thinking that the instructions given to Lord Caradon are that he must yield slowly. I should like to see the noble Lord take an initiative rather along the lines suggested by the right hon. Member for Derby, South.
We must now tackle the realities of the situation. I am not sure that the time has not come to end the appointment of the Governor, who has been in an impossible position which he has faced with great dignity and great courage. I am not sure that we should not give up the pretence of having diplomatic mis 1624 sions here in London and in Salisbury. We should admit that we have tried and that to date we have failed and that we are prepared to co-operate far more closely with the United Nations in the application of Article 41, particularly for passports, travel and telecommunications.
There are six major oil-exporting countries in the world. Are we to say that it is impossible for the oil-exporting countries to be faced with a set of alternatives: either supplying oil to 119 or 120 countries, or supplying oil to Rhodesia and those countries which are currently breaching sanctions? I believe that this could be applied commodity by commodity, but particularly with oil. If it cannot be applied, it follows that those who are loudest in their protestations at the United Nations are not willing to back up their protestations with practical action. We should say frankly to them that that is the issue and that that is the challenge to them.
This is the way in which to tackle sanctions. The Prime Minister is right in saying that this country alone cannot economically have a confrontation with South Africa. The trouble is that the Prime Minister, who normally keeps all his options open, has been very careful to tell everyone in Rhodesia in advance what he will not do. But, by the same token, I very much doubt whether South Africa would be prepared to take on economically the 120 nations of the United Nations.
There is one thing which must be said in South Africa's favour—and no one can say that I am an apologist for this régime: South Africa has not yet broken any international law or obligation, save for the question of South West Africa, which is still, in a sense, sub judice and will be referred to the International Court. That might be the first breach. We wait and see.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
The sending of South African troops and police to British territory is a breach of international law and order.
§ Mr. Thorpe
That is a matter of law. I would certainly say that it was a breach of international relations and probably a breach of British sovereignty. Incidentally, I would add to those who say that 1625 there is no breakdown in law and order that it is significant that the forces in Rhodesia today are not thought adequate to deal with the incursions across her frontier by those who come from African and other countries. That is a very significant point.
If the Government enforce sanctions but make it perfectly plain that we can do so only if the nations which are loudest in their protestations are prepared to back their protests with practical embargo action at the United Nations, this régime ultimately will be brought to its senses. If we fail—and it may be that the state of international relations is so fragile that it is not possible to achieve such international co-operation, which would be a tragedy—not only do we fail, but the prospect of a non-racial society in Africa goes and the United Nations will stand condemned.
That is why this is an important matter. That is why it is tragic that the Opposition cannot see it in that light. That is why, although the Government's Motion is a declaration of their feelings about the hangings and cannot be said to be an expression of policy for the future which has been sadly lacking in this debate, my hon. Friends and I will vote with the Government tonight.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I speak in this debate as a member of the British public. I do not profess to be a specialist in African affairs. However, I have been a Member of the House during the conduct of negotiations with the Rhodesian Government.
We are sometimes apt to forget that the origin of this matter was that the Rhodesian Government asked this country, while the Conservative Party was in power, to give it independence. The Conservative Government, following the British tradition, was willing to give Rhodesia independence on condition that she produced a constitution which would provide for unimpeded progress towards majority rule for the Africans.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), who made such a statesmanlike speech today—and he deserves great credit for his approach to the whole problem—was in the position of asking what 1626 guarantees could be given that there would be unimpeded progress towards African rule. Although the Conservative Government, under his guidance, did their best to get guarantees, the situation broke down because no one could find any way of guaranteeing unimpeded progress to African majority rule. It was recognised that the Rhodesian Government might give such a promise and that once they achieved independence they might go back on it and do what they liked.
If Mr. Smith and his Government had not asked for independence to be granted technically by this country, they could have gone on ruling Rhodesia until something interrupted their progress, and this crisis would never have arisen. So the crisis did not arise, as the Leader of the Opposition seems to think, because the present Prime Minister did something to Rhodesia. The crisis arose because the Rhodesian Government could not satisfy the Conservative Government that they had any plan for unimpeded progress towards majority rule, and this present Labour Government inherited this problem and inherited the solution which was put forward by the Conservatives in their time.
It is despicably mean of the Leader of the Opposition to manipulate and twist the facts to pin blame on the Prime Minister. I think it is part of a Tory campaign, which started two years ago, to bring the Prime Minister into disrepute as far as possible, and I really think it is quite wrong to use a crisis of the present kind as a political weapon against the present Government here, even though the present Government may have made mistakes.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire approached this matter in an amicable manner. He went out to Rhodesia and did his best to bring about some solution, to try to get an answer to the problem, which he had when he was in charge of it as a Minister, and that is, to find what guarantees there can be for unimpeded progress to rule by the Africans.
I think we are all inclined to see this matter as one between blacks and whites. We have to realise first of all that a small number of white people running a country like Rhodesia have a terrific problem to educate 4 million Africans. The cost of doing that, and the time necessary for 1627 it, nobody has actually contemplated, and, therefore, as the Prime Minister made clear today, everybody recognises that this is a matter of years. When I was out in Kenya I discussed this with the people there. They realised that because this education had been absent in the past there is not a large number of people in Rhodesia capable at the moment of taking an effective part in government and they realised that it is a process of education. It is quite right that, if any settlement is come to, the British Government must help very greatly in providing means of educating this great nation of Africans.
I was distressed to hear Mr. Smith address a meeting in Rhodesia and practically say that as far as he was concerned it would not be in his lifetime; he practically said that it would be over his dead body that the Africans would come to power and that the white people of Rhodesia must fight to maintain their heritage. Is it suggested that the British Government, this or any other, should condone that, by recognising a Government who refuse even to contemplate unimpeded progress towards majority rule? We must exercise a great deal of common sense about this.
It is also said that there is a problem of negotiation, but some day we will have to negotiate with somebody in Rhodesia. I agree that there is no point in laying down hard and fast rules that we should never negotiate. That means surrendering and giving up the ghost and saying Rhodesia can do what it likes. Therefore, some day there must be negotiation with somebody in Rhodesia if this problem is ever to be settled.
Conservative leaders, a great many of them, and the right hon. Gentleman is the latest of them, have gone to Rhodesia. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, went to Rhodesia, Lord Alport went to Rhodesia, a great many hon. Gentlemen have gone to Rhodesia, and while they all come back and say a settlement could be provided, none of them has come back and shown how it could be provided on the conditions which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire postulated when he was in government and also insisted on when he 1628 was there. Nobody got any satisfaction from Mr. Smith or anybody there until the right hon. Gentleman went on his last visit, and then there was no possibility of agreement.
Some of my hon. Friends suggest that we should use force. When the Kenyan people asked me about this I said that the one problem we faced in this country was to get a settlement which did not make things worse for the people of Rhodesia at the end. If we use force and overcome the whites, what do we leave to the Africans but a desert? We do not want to destroy the economy of Rhodesia. Even people who advocate sanctions are not advocating that we should bring the Smith Regime to its knees and destroy the economy of Rhodesia, because that would be no service to the 4 million Africans who have got to live in Rhodesia.
Therefore, we are trying in the most humane way possible to bring pressure on the so-called Government of Rhodesia to produce some plans which will satisfy not only us but the world—the world, because, after all, America has a stake in this, India has a stake in this, every coloured nation has as much interest in a settlement as we have ourselves. None of the visiting statesmen and none of the visiting Members of Parliament has brought back from the Smith régime any proposal at all which has gone any way to satisfying public opinion in the world that they have a plan for the conduct of Rhodesia in a way which fits with modern moral principles and humanitarian government.
I was surprised that the Leader of the Opposition reproached the Prime Minister for not negotiating and trying to bring about negotiations, and then should sneer at him because he had tried on six occasions to get negotiations with Mr. Smith. As the Prime Minister pointed out, if Mr. Smith and his Government have any proposals to put forward they can go along and consult the Governor, who is a friend of his, and who is as interested in bringing Rhodesia to a position of success as is any other Rhodesian. Why not go to the Governor? If Mr. Smith has any proposition which will satisfy the people as a whole, the whole world will be satisfied.
Does anybody in his senses think that the Prime Minister is not anxious to get the problem solved? We have inherited 1629 a balance of payments problem, we have inherited, on the side, so to speak, the Vietnam issue, and we have inherited Rhodesia. Does anybody think this present Government have not enough problems of their own, without wanting to perpetuate this one? Obviously, the Government are desperately anxious to find a solution to the Rhodesian problem. They have tried all these times, they have asked other people to help, but nobody has come back with a solution, and for the Leader of the Opposition to use this crisis for a party battle and to try to pin something on the Prime Minister is so ridiculous that it does not merit examination.
I am proud of three speeches which we have heard, one by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker), another by the Leader of the Liberal Party, and the other by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. They have put this debate on a dignified basis, and treated it as a serious matter, and not as a political tennis match. l hope that that approach will be continued in this debate and that hon. Members will treat this problem solemnly, with responsibility.
The only alternative to sanctions would be to use force. If one wishes to bring pressure to bear on anyone, one uses force or sanctions. The statesmen of the world have considered the problem of trying to get an enforced peace and international decisions. They have tried to avoid the necessity of war, and they have reached the conclusion that the only way to do it is to bring economic pressure to bear by means of sanctions.
I do not believe that the sanctions are not working. We are told that it has taken two and a half years for them to bite. However, if we had put in an army, how long would that have taken? After all, we put an army into Kuwait to put down a riot, and it was there for nearly 90 years. We put an army into Egypt, and it was there for generations. Our experience has been that it is very easy to land an army somewhere, but it is another matter when it comes to bringing it out.
§ Mr. Woodburn
It took us six years to clear up the mess in Europe. We went in to save Poland. At the end of the day, we had not saved Poland and a whole empire had been destroyed in the process. This idea of sending along a few "policemen" to knock a few heads together does not solve the problem.
It might take far longer than two and a half years to find by force a solution to the Rhodesian problem, especially if we got embroiled with South Africa. There is always the chance that we might fail, and that would not help anyone, including the United Nations. The Africans are keen to make use of force, but it is interesting to note that they have not made much sacrifice to bring down Rhodesia. Dr. Banda, for example, takes the view that it is no good ruining his country to make a gesture against Rhodesia. The Africans are beginning to realise the facts of life. If these two and a half years have done anything at all, they have taught some of the African nations that the problem is not so easy of solution as they at first thought.
However, all these legal matters are beside the point, and people can battle about them for as long as they like. I am not seriously worried about the legal issues surrounding the condemned men. In all rebellions, people are tried, sentenced and executed. It has happened in every colony which has been emancipated. Progress cannot be held up because one or two people lose their lives. On the other hand, it is no good sacrificing thousands of lives for the sake of legal technicalities. Though we are right in condemning Rhodesia for not acting legally in the matter, obviously settlement of the Rhodesian problem cannot be held up on a point of this kind.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
But this is not just a legal technicality. It is a matter of whether Mr. Smith and the Rhodesia Front can be trusted to implement any settlement after power has passed into their hands legally. That is what it is all about.
§ Mr. Woodburn
It may be that my hon. Friend was not here when I started my speech. That was exactly the point that I made at the beginning. It is the point on which negotiations by the previous Government broke down. The question now is how guarantees can be given. In 1631 the long run, once Rhodesia has independence, we shall be as powerless to interfere with them as we are at the moment. There is no settlement of that problem, and I agree that it is the crux of the matter. It is the point on which all negotiations have broken down.
All that I meant was that, whether or not these men appealed to the Privy Council, the problem would have remained. It would be better if the Opposition, instead of trying to blame this Government for Mr. Smith and the problem that they passed on to us, devoted their attention to solving the real problem, which is how to get a settlement in Rhodesia which gives unimpeded progress towards majority rule.
If Mr. Smith and his so-called Government can produce an answer to that question no one in this House will object to Her Majesty's Government reaching agreement with him. However, Mr. Smith and his colleagues have not agreed to any method by which this could be guaranteed to the world. Instead, they get everyone round about them to come here and put up all sorts of pleas to negotiate, as if the blame was ours. But the answer to the problem does not lie here. It lies in Salisbury. If the Salisbury Government went to the Governor tomorrow and said, "We are ready to come to an agreement to guarantee unimpeded progress towards majority rule", the sanctions would be withdrawn and independence would be granted to them legally.
The question lies not here but in Salisbury, and the answer can be decided tomorrow if they show a willingness and anxiety to come to an agreement.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
I can at least agree with one part of the speech by the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). He said that this debate should not be a political tennis match. But whose fault is it that some of it has been reduced to the level of a political tennis match, if it is not the Prime Minister's? If this had been the debate which we expected yesterday, taking place on the Motion for the Adjournment, and if it had been initiated by the Prime Minister in a speech of reasonable moderation—
§ Mr. Bell
I am speaking rather late in the evening, so I will not express my astonishment at that intervention. If it had been, we might have had a useful and constructive debate about where we should go from here. As it was, I am astonished at the moderation of all the succeeding speakers after the start that we were given by the Prime Minister. In particular, the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) was one of the utmost value to anyone who puts a solution to the problems in Africa above scoring party and partisan points.
I want to get on quickly to the main theme of my speech. I am conscious that I am the first hon. Member to be called who is not a Privy Councillor, and it is right that I should try to condense my remarks.
I felt that the phrases used by the Prime Minister and by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) were not conducive to the maintenance of law and order in Central Africa. It is all very well, for example, for the right hon. Member for Easington to say that the men who were hanged were freedom fighters. It is all very well for him to say in one of his effective but careful phrases that they would be regarded by their fellow Africans as freedom fighters. How is one to keep law and order in a country at any time if the impression is created that anyone committing a crime with a political motive is in a different category and ought not to expect the appropriate punishment for the crime? In long retrospect, people may pass judgments of that kind but, for the time being, if society is to keep its fabric intact, it must treat crimes for what they are and not ask whether the motivation was political, or partly political, or what inflamed the passion which caused the crime.
§ Mr. Bell
I had better not, simply in the interests of other hon. Members. [Interruption.] There is always room for a difference of opinion about the merits of an argument.
I fear that the reason why the Early Day Motion was put on the Order Paper 1633 for today was because the Prime Minister wanted to raise the temperature of the debate. I think I know why he wanted to raise it. He wanted to raise it for internal reasons of the party opposite. He is in difficulty with his Left-wing over many other policies—the incomes policy, Vietnam, Commonwealth immigration and other matters—and Rhodesia is the only concession at the moment that he is making to them. This, in part, accounts for the quite astonishing viciousness of his opening speech today, allied to the fact that he is not proposing to give them very much.
We all talk of settlement, and I think that we all want settlement. What I hoped might result from today's debate, and what I hope might still result from it, despite the absurdity of it now, perhaps because of my right hon. Friend's speech, is that it may become possible for the Prime Minister to reach a settlement and commend it successfully to his party. That, as I see it, is the real nature of the operation which faces us all. I do not believe that there is any genuine difficulty in finding a settlement between the Prime Minister and the Government in Salisbury. The fact that my right hon. Friend was able to get so close to it illustrates that.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
Anyone can get a settlement. The question is the terms of the settlement. Will they be acceptable within the six principles by any independent criteria? That is the real issue. The difficulty about the right hon. Gentleman's proposals is that we do not know what the terms would have been. It may be that he could get a settlement on his terms, but would they be acceptable?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I insisted that they must be within the six principles, and in my judgment they are.
§ Mr. Bell
My right hon. Friend has answered that intervention. I was making the single point, which I do not want to go through again, that the valuable contribution of this debate might have been to give a better understanding to certain hon. Members opposite—not all—of the desirability of a settlement, so that it would become acceptable to them, despite their many other differences with the Prime Minister at the present time.
1634 I feel that it is particularly dangerous to stoke up this Rhodesia issue. Africa is to dangerous for party games at the present time. I was very glad that the Prime Minister spoke of the Communist infiltration into Africa, because so often when it is mentioned it is heard with cynicism. But for what other purpose are China and Russia incurring expenditure in Africa and the Indian Ocean? Perhaps if I alone had said it—and it was in my notes to say it anyway—it might have been greeted with scepticism, but because the Prime Minister spoke of the competition that is going on in Africa between those two great States this point may be more acceptable to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
Let those whose bowels yearn for peace in Vietnam and war in Rhodesia reflect that almost every so-called freedom fighter in Africa is trained by one of the Communist Powers and that a fair number—I will not put it higher—of African politicians are in Communist pay—
§ Mr. Bell
I do not know how many. Dar-es-Salaam is recognised and acknowledged to be the headquarters and shop window of Communism in Africa. My judgment on these issues is not moulded by the existence of the Communist menace in Africa, but it should dispose us all to moderation and, above all, to calm.
Some hon. Members have come rushing into this business rather late in the day. I do not believe that they see the matter in true perspective. This "illegality", which is chanted like a refrain, is the least important bit of the problem. Here I disagree with the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn), who said that we should pay no attention to the legal point. I would gladly agree with him that the Prime Minister has based his whole case on illegality. Twice a week at Question Time and in every paragraph of his speech today it was illegality, illegality, the rule of law, and illegality. The whole of his case has been based upon this. Although he bases his case on this it is a trivial part of the whole matter. If we pass an Act in this Parliament we can make anything illegal so that, concerning our domestic discussions, it is illegal. We could make the President and the Government of the United States an illegal régime by an Act 1635 of this Parliament, but it would not get us any further than being rude to the Equator.
The truth is that half the member countries of the United Nations are ruled by illegal régimes. Twenty are based upon revolutions which have taken place in the last four years. Two are based on revolutions against the British Crown. Thirty-seven are minority régimes, and a few are controlled by racial minorities. Only a handful practise any real democracy. None of this worries us. We recognise them all, and recognise them immediately. One can go on, because as a year passes another crop of revolutions comes along and keeps the figures approximately correct. In terms of nations, "illegality" is meaningless.
What Government can trace its true pedigree back through more than two generations I suppose that Britain, with 280 years, is the longest of them all. This insistence on illegality is no more than the Prime Minister's usual technique of trying to put a half-nelson here at home on anyone who dares to challenge him. He hoped to frighten people into silence with words like "treason" and "traitor".
The truth behind it all is that a monstrous and tragic injustice is being perpetrated in the name of all sorts of inapplicable principles. Is is said that Rhodesia must have a multi-racial society, that it must have that mighty quick, and that we in Britain are the best judges of all this. I find that very rich.
We ruled a vast Empire which stretched round the world. We still rule some bits of it, and we have given independence to the rest. Nowhere did we construct, nowhere did we leave behind, a multi-racial society. We ruled beneficently, fairly, and efficiently, but we ruled as an imperial race, and when we left we handed over power to another indigenous race. We never melted into those we ruled. Unlike the Portuguese, or the French, or even, sometimes, the Dutch, we do not mix freely. We are the least miscible people in the world. How strange that we, who have not so much failed as never been interested in a mixed society, should operate sanctions, with warships and aeroplanes, in support of our claim to an expertise which we never showed in action.
1636 But that is not all. If we look through all the proud list of lands that we ruled, we find only one where a British multiracial society spontaneously rooted and grew and prospered, and not by our prescription, but of its own will, and that solitary paragon is Southern Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Bell
I think that the Maoris are rather a trivial minority there.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]—I mean numerically. Where else do we find real democracy in a multi-racial society in Africa, or indeed in the world? Yet, by some visitation of lunacy, we whose judgment on this is almost valueless, are applying sanctions against Rhodesia, whose record is the best.
It is not that I think the Westminster system of democracy is exactly the heaven-sent message of this country to Africa. It has not exactly succeeded where we have exported it, and it is open to question whether precise equality of adult votes will work in Britain, where we have had it for 17 years. This week I am beginning to have more confidence in it, but to impose it by force on this generation in Africa is really preposterous.
If we want a multi-racial society in Africa, there is one absolute and indispensable rule which has to be followed, and that is that we keep the political temperature low. Given a low temperature, a multi-racial experiment can work. Raise the temperature, and we are bound to fail. That is why I regarded the breakdown of Federation as one of the greatest tragedies of the post-war history of Africa.
This is what our debate ought to be about, but unfortunately the Prime Minister put his Motion down, and with reluctance I turn briefly to the immediate matters in it. So long as this foolish and unnecessary squabble lasts, there will be no shortage of incidents to inflame relations between us. I am sorry that we have to spend time discussing the hanging of the three violent and savage criminals whose crimes certainly merited condign punishment.
It is said that the rule of law is outraged. So far as I am concerned, anyone who advances that proposition has 1637 to prove his case very strictly, for on the face of it the rule of law is vindicated when the just sentence of a proper court is carried out. These men were convicted of murder.
§ Mr. Bell
No, before three years. They were convicted of murder under a law and by courts recognised by this country, and the convictions were upheld on appeal. The subsequent delays were due to technical arguments, quite largely at the suit of the convicted men, about the competence of the subsequent régime in Rhodesia to carry out the sentence of the courts. On that I will only say that if the de facto Government of any country is not to carry out proper sentences of proper courts, I cannot see much rule of law surviving.
Some point was made about my right hon. Friend referring to a minority judgment, but I think that he was referring only to it because the phraseology was convenient. It is quite clear that all the judges held that the execution of this sentence was proper. The judgment said:The judgment of all five judges in the 'Constitutional Case' stressed the interests of society in maintaining legal continuity the maintaining and enforcing of law and the punishing of criminals … These judgments in the Constitutional Case' are decisive authority for holding that the present Government"—that is in Rhodesia—has the lawful right to ensure that death sentences properly imposed by this court are carried out.It was clearly held by the judges that the execution of those sentences was lawful. After all, what is the relevant difference between hanging and imprisonment? Each is the execution of a sentence. If we recognise the régime for one, as we have done by commuting, we must recognise it for the other. The judgment goes on to say:Two judges held that the present Government was entitled to do anything which the 1965 Constitution permitted it to do … Two judges decided that the present Government could lawfully do anything which its predecessors could lawfully have done under the 1638 1961 Constitution. A majority of four of the five judges, therefore, held that the present Government could lawfully do anything which its predecessors could lawfully have done.That was the decision of the Court of Appeal of Rhodesia, a court recognised by Her Majesty's Government here as a competent court of jurisdiction, and therefore the execution of those sentences was on the face of it perfectly lawful.
Then it was said, I think by the Prime Minister, that they were denied their right of appeal to the Privy Council. This is what the Motion says. I think that there has been a slip of the pen. There was no right of appeal to the Privy Council. That was explicitly held in the Court of Rhodesia, which applied well-known 'principles of law. What was refused was a stay of yet another four months while the convicted men asked leave of the Privy Council if they might appeal. The Court of Appeal refused that application, and the reasons are set out clearly in the judgment. One may agree or disagree with those reasons, but there is no question of the rule of law not having been observed.
Finally, there is the question of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative in the matter of the reprieves. This again went before the Court of Appeal in Rhodesia, which held quite explicitly that the 1961 Constitution being based not on a prerogative Order in Council here, but on a Statute of the United Kingdom Parliament, in accordance with the accepted authorities exhausted the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by vesting it in the Governor. Where a Statute controls the exercise of the Prerogative, the courts have jurisdiction to consider its scope and the normal decision has been that, where the exercise of the Prerogative was controlled by Statute, that is the total exercise of it which is allowed.
So the Court of Appeal held that there was no residual Prerogative in Her Majesty. Again, one may agree or disagree with that unanimous finding of the Rhodesian court, but this is a court recognised by the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom as administering a jurisdiction on behalf of Her Majesty in Rhodesia. Therefore, everything, at every point, has been lawfully done.
I emphasise this, because the Prime Minister's whole case rested on the illegality. He asked, "How can you talk 1639 with people who behave in this way? How can you trust people who push aside the rule of law?" But he gave no instance of the rule of law having been set aside—
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
The hon. and learned Member is a member of the Bar. If, in this country, the Home Secretary were to send an affidavit to the Court of Appeal to say that he would not respect the judgment of the House of Lords, and if the Court of Appeal were to act on that affidavit, is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that the rule of law would have been preserved in this country?
§ Mr. Bell
That is not what happened. What happened is that a country which had broken away and established a de facto Government said that it would not recognise a court outside that country. Whether that is a valid action or not depends on whether it is a valid de facto Government. But the courts in Rhodesia which we recognise have held that it is a valid de facto Government. I understand that, from today, that is subject to an appeal to the Privy Council and therefore sub judice, but, until today, this was the decision of that valid court. Therefore, everything has been done in accordance with the rule of law and the whole of the Prime Minister's case falls to the ground.
One would be tempted to go into the Prime Minister's selectivity when he talks about the rule of law and sanctions. When I raised objections to the validity of sanctions, as applied against Rhodesia, under Article 2(7) and all the other paragraphs in the United Nations Charter, he got very vexed and talked about legalism. He is not interested in technicalities—they are "barren legalism"—but if he thinks that there is a technicality on his side, he is the greatest champion that we have ever found of the rule of law.
I greatly fear that, on the Rhodesian side, there is legality and on the British Government's side there is illegality. Of course, there must be faults on both sides, but considering the historical background, which everyone knows is the true version of history, and the legal analysis—as the Prime Minister challenged us to do—I must say that the balance of 1640 error lies on the side of the British Government, and that, therefore, it is doubly incumbent upon us to restart negotiations to find a settlement of this totally unnecessary dispute between two parts of the British people. One can only hope that this fratricidal quarrel will soon be solved and that we can return to the amicable relations which are natural to us and which we always enjoyed until about four years ago.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough, East)
There is one thing, apparently, upon which we are all agreed. Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition have all stressed the gravity of this subject. It is my judgment that the way in which this rebellion is ended will determine the future of the Commonwealth and the relations between the West and the non-Communist world, and may even sow the seed of a race war unless it is settled properly.
My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have shown themselves ready to consider any reasonable solution. This must be one, of course, which is compatible with the dignity and aspirations of all the peoples of Rhodesia, which means a settlement which is acceptable to the people as a whole—to all racial groups.
This means that we are firmly committed to the five principles laid down by the predecessors of the 1964 Labour Government. It was my privilege then, to be shadow Commonwealth Secretary, and when Mr. Smith came to London in September, 1964, I went to a dinner party at No. 10 Downing Street. It was a difficult occasion for the then Prime Minister, and indeed for us all, but I credited him for the way he handled that situation. Subsequently, he concluded that he had reached a settlement with Mr. Smith and that only the final communiqué had to be issued. On the point of issue, however, Mr. Smith ran away: he could not be found and he then went back on his word—not for the first or the last time. I would ask the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) what makes him change his mind and think that Mr. Smith will behave differently today?
1641 Mr. Smith perpetuates the myth that successive British Governments have never negotiated in good faith. I can, of course, speak about this with some authority. I said that I had been Shadow Commonwealth Secretary. The then Commonwealth Secretary, the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), cooperated with me and I gave him all the support that I could to see that the five principles were fully met and implemented. I therefore found it easy, when I became Secretary of State, to follow that line.
In due course, after Mr. Smith had agreed that I could meet the African national leaders, the Lord Chancellor and I went out to Rhodesia. Like the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, we, too, got an understanding with Mr. Smith. We did this in good faith, as we thought Mr. Smith had done. But subsequently he retracted. Therefore, Mr. Smith deserves, I think, a rebuke, which I once gave in this House, and which I now recognise was not as Parliamentary as it might have been.
No one has tried harder than the Prime Minister to reach a settlement of this problem If anyone has any doubts, he should read the documents and records of the meetings. They have all bean published in a White Paper so that right hon. and hon. Members may study them. Let those who have any difficulties in understanding the present situation remember that this Parliament controls the Prime Minister and the Government and they are subject to our will. There is no censorship, there is complete freedom of speech, and therefore, what the Prime Minister said is known by all and receives close attention by hon. Members on both sides. Mr. Smith and his friends never have to go through that.
I do not think there is any likelihood of reaching a settlement with Mr. Smith except on his terms. He and his colleagues have made it plain time and again that they will accept no settlement which does not allow them to control the pace of advance of the Africans. This means that the illegal régime would have unchecked control over the pace of African advance; it would make them the judge and jury in their own case. Many of them have vested interests in ensuring that the Africans never govern 1642 Rhodesia and a good many of them have said this quite openly.
How could we trust people like this to work for progress towards African majority rule? The simple issue of principle is whether the Africans will be permitted to exercise a political right which, in time, will give them a chance to enjoy what we have in this country, majority rule. As the Prime Minister said, most of us envisage a period of preparation for African participation in Government. This is all that Mr. Smith has been asked to put in hand and not to impede progress towards majority rule. This he and his friends will not do.
Some say that we should recognise the illegal régime and hand over power. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition got very near to saying that today. That is why he got more cheers from his reactionary supporters than he has ever got before. Those who take the line of least resistance should be reminded—as they have been by the Prime Minister and others—that in that country are all the trappings of a police State. People are detained for lengthy periods without trial, others are given savage sentences for what to us are trivial offences, the Press is heavily censored, radio and television are used exclusively for putting over the propaganda of the Rhodesia Front and academic freedom is contained to prevent freedom of speech. For people to be detained without trial for an indefinite period is not my idea of the British way of life. Nor is it my idea of our way of life to subject people of different colour to humiliation and often to inhuman conditions.
The administration in Rhodesia has entrenched and made more severe the Land Apportionment Act. This was strongly condemned by the Rhodesian Constitutional Council. Much of the land for the Africans has been overworked and overgrazed for years. The areas they occupy are overcrowded. The Prime Minister referred to education in that country and pointed out that 10 times as much money is spent on educating a European child as is spent on educating an African child.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman says, probably correctly, that 10 times more is spent on educating a European child. Can he say what this means in 1643 absolute terms? In other words, is that a higher or lower amount than is spent in this country? Is he therefore suggesting that the standard of education offered to European children in Rhodesia should be dramatically reduced, so making it much lower than the standard applying in Europe generally?
§ Mr. Bottomley
No. I am saying that as a result of this expenditure of 10 times more on European children, African children, instead of getting secondary education, are condemned to primary education. This is deliberately done because it means that the primarily educated are useful only to do the menial jobs which the Europeans want them to do.
§ Mr. Bottomley
Several hon. Members still wish to speak in the debate, so I will not give way.
The African township is often referred to as a model. Like other hon. Members, I have seen it. In some parts as many as 10 people occupy one room. The average income for a European in Rhodesia is £1,300 a year. The African averages £130, and that includes housing, uniform and food. Every European who has the skill and capital deserves congratulations for the enterprise and the effort he has put into it, but his efforts would have been quite profitless had there not been a large reserve of cheap African labour. Shame on those who are prepared to sell out and to shut their eyes to these facts.
I am bound to say that I cannot go along with some of my hon. Friends who advocate the use of force. If force were used there would be chaos, certainly it would result in the destruction of one of the wealthiest areas of Africa. I believe in time Africans would say, "Why was a peaceful attempt not made to get a settlement rather than all our wealth being destroyed for decades to come?". It would not be stretching the matter too far to say that once a conflict started it could develop into another Vietnam.
But I am not one who would rule out force in any circumstances. What we have 1644 to do now is what I have always believed in and always advocated, and that is to apply sanctions fully and effectively. Even with what I consider to be a half-hearted effort, Rhodesian exports are down 36 per cent. and incomes are down 10 per cent. Tobacco, which was the main export, is now a burden on the economy. Recently Mr. Heaurtley, President of the Tobacco Farmers' Union, said that the limit had been reached on sacrifices.
Today we read in the papers that Mr. Mitchell, President of the National Farmers' Union, is also complaining and grumbling about the economic situation. Mr. Perry, President of the Rhodesian Federation of Industries, said something which I shall quote because it is censored in Rhodesia. It should be known as widely as possible everywhere. He said thatthe most significant feature of the economic siege was its increasing intensity. Rhodesia had to discard her traditional economic policy of expanding world markets for her primary produce and its secondary industries. There could be no denying that the result of sanctions had affected all sections of society with varying degrees of hardship and this had tended to stultify overall economic growth.The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire said that starvation would not drive these people to enter negotiations. I think that is true of the true Rhodesian. Let us record that the true Rhodesians are the ones who were born there. It is among them that we find the most liberal elements. We should remember that in 1939 there were 30,000 of them. Today the other 200,000 are substantially men and women who went from this country because they were afraid to face up to the rigours we all had to face as a consequence of the war. The other element is among Afrikaaners who also went out. These are the reactionary elements which are making negotiations difficult. Winston Field was reasonable, and Smith on his own and not a prisoner of this kind of people would be reasonable. He would have got an agreement with the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, the Prime Minister and indeed with the Lord Chancellor and me, if he had been allowed to do so.
There are reports, of course, that sanctions are not working because Italy, France, Germany, Japan and perhaps 1645 some other countries are breaching the United Nations decisions. This is where I think the Security Council should be supported in its application of comprehensive mandatory sanctions. It is right—and I was glad to hear it today—that the Government are to give that support. South Africa and Portugal of course back Rhodesia and help it considerably. Portugal has nearly doubled its trade with Rhodesia from what was going on before. South Africa has said that it would carry on normal trade and South Africans tend to abide by international law and I think they tried to conduct normal trade relations, but the pressures were too strong, and the trade expanded. However, we read in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend that South African industrialists are now saying that too many Rhodesian exports are coming into their country, and they are calling for restrictions on trade with Rhodesia. In any case, South Africa does not want to put itself in a position where its own economy is weakened for a lost cause. Even in the case of South Africa, we may find that there is much more response than we imagine.
Portugal, not so. I hope that the other countries of the world, particularly the Asian and African countries, will put the maximum pressure on Portugal to stop its breaking of sanctions.
What is at stake in Rhodesia? It is not a matter simply of horse trading or minor concessions. We are considering here a great moral question of the widest international importance. Are 4 million Africans to be allowed to have a say in the running of their country, or is a handful of Europeans to rule them for an indefinite period, using increasingly repressive measures to do so? I warned Mr. Smith that he might be able to keep the Africans down for his lifetime but he should consider what would happen to his children as a result of the policy he was pursuing. Eventually the majority will rule. If they are denied peaceful progress to power—here I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)—they will use force. They will have no choice. This is the lesson of history.
For us in this country, it is a matter of honour. We have led the world in bringing peoples of all races and colours 1646 to independence and in helping to create multi-racial societies. This has been the British mission for the past three decades. We cannot allow this mission to be frustrated by a handful of intolerant fanatics, fanatics in a discredited doctrine of white supremacy who live in a world 50 years out of date. I make this appeal to many hon. Members opposite who, I know, share these sentiments with me. If they go into their Division Lobby tonight, it will be an indication to Mr. Smith that he can carry on his policy. If, on the other hand, they refrain or they vote with the Government, that will be the surest way by which the illegal régime in Rhodesia will be brought to an end.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
Many tributes have been paid to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) for his intervention in Rhodesia a few weeks ago. It has opened up the possibility of continuing the pattern of talks which had got so near to success on H.M.S. "Tiger". What we know of my right hon. Friend's talks—it is right that the details should not be revealed while there is still any chance at all of negotiations being resumed—is that of the three major diversions from the pattern agreed in the "Tiger" talks two had been fairly satisfactorily resolved. There remained the third, the question of appeal to the Privy Council.
I am convinced that, with the future of over 4 million Africans and 250,000 Europeans in Rhodesia at issue, it is wrong not to take any opportunity there may be of resuming negotiations which are as near as that to the pattern which the Prime Minister himself regarded as acceptable in the "Tiger" talks and found compatible with the principles accepted by both sides of the House of Commons. That would be turning our backs on perhaps the last opportunity we may have of getting on some sort of terms with the régime in Rhodesia and having some say there. After a settlement we should hope to be able to help in bringing about better relationships between the minority and the Africans and, to offer again to pump money into education and technical services to help get development going again.
1647 What are the alternatives? We can carry on with sanctions. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said today that they should remain, and that was endorsed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. I do not believe that they have been without effect. I think that they are some of the background reasons why the Smith régime is prepared to nibble again at negotiations. It wants outside recognition. It wants capital from outside to begin flowing into Rhodesia again, and it wants to be able to market its goods world-wide and build up its standard of living again.
It is not comfortable to live with sanctions. It can be done, but I believe that the régime would be very glad to obtain recognition and get rid of sanctions. That is an incentive to have another go at negotiations. Otherwise, I do not see why, if it knows it can live through sanctions, it should come again and accept proposals which it knows to be near the pattern already accepted by the Prime Minister on behalf of the British Government. Therefore, I hope that the Minister of State will make one last plea to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs not to slam the door tonight, as the Prime Minister seemed to slam it by the names he called the régime in Rhodesia, and to try to find ways of reopening negotiations.
There are many of us on both sides of the House who abhor the régime and its practices in Rhodesia. There are many of us on this side of the House who hate seeing the growing limitation on African opportunities in Rhodesia. But what are the alternatives to negotiation? Both major parties have ruled out force, and I doubt whether the third party has much force to deploy. If one rules out force, what are the alternatives? They have been argued here today. One can keep on sanctions and one might try—vainly, I believe—to step them up.
The only course that provides real hope before a republic is declared is to resume negotiations. We know that there is a great deal of common ground which has been established and declared after the "Tiger" talks, to be common ground. We know that proposals near to that common ground have been sent to the Prime Minister for consideration in the name of the régime in Rhodesia. It is 1648 very wrong to turn one's back on that. It is a very narrow hope. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire did not put it much higher than that. He said that it was a hope, but it was not an expectation, and he gave this opportunity to the Prime Minister. He had made it by a personal intervention—
§ Sir G. Sinclair
I regret I cannot give way.
I believe that it is right for the Prime Minister to seize the opportunity. If he does not, he will have let down this country and let down the cause of peace in Africa. Otherwise I do not see what course Rhodesia is likely to take other than to slip nearer and nearer to a full system of apartheid, which many of us abhor so much when we see it in other countries to the south.
Let the Prime Minister take this last chance and see whether he cannot resume negotiations, however much he may dislike the régime. Many times we have had to negotiate with people with whom we have fought and, indeed, who have had the blood of our compatriots on their hands. But that is not the point. While there is a hope, and there is only one hope, the right hon. Gentleman should take it and use it. If the Government give no indication that they will try and reopen negotiations on the basis of the chance given to the Prime Minister in this missive from Rhodesia, I am sure that I and many who think like me on this side of the House will vote for our party's Amendment.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)
To anyone with a sense of historical perspective, it is clear that the issue confronting us in Rhodesia is perhaps historically the greatest facing the Government. I hope in the time available to substantiate that claim. I believe that, struggle as we may, we cannot escape from the historical, legal and moral responsibilities which confront every right hon. and hon. Member.
It seems to me that there are two aspects to the Rhodesian crisis. First, there is the immediate situation within Rhodesia. In that situation, we have watched with distress the erosion of civil 1649 rights and the establishment of the machinery of a ruthless police State. A simple reading of history reveals that, in any society where the majority of the people, albeit through articulate minority leadership, becomes aware of the political rights which they are being denied, it is only a matter of time before change comes.
§ Mr. Judd
I cannot give way. There is not enough time.
Where change is resisted, the form of change is usually the most violent. All of us who care for the people of Rhodesia as a whole must see part of our responsibility as saving the white population from the fate it is making inevitable for itself.
The second aspect of the crisis is its symbolical significance in the international community. If there is one fundamental political truth which challenges us all in the international community, it is the growing gap between the privileged minority, to which we belong, and the under-privileged majority—a gap which, underlined by race, may introduce in international politics tensions and passions which will make recent international political developments mild by comparison.
The Government, in their stand on two issues recently, have demonstrated their concern on this front. They resisted a great deal of popular and public pressure, in our economic difficulties, to cut our overseas aid and development programme beyond the impact of devaluation. They also resisted the pressures to sell arms to South Africa. Both these firm stands on principle show the Government's understanding of what is at stake.
Recently, following the hangings, we have not seen a traumatic change in the situation in Rhodesia. They have simply confirmed the deterioration which has taken place. Until the last visit to Rhodesia by the Commonwealth Secretary a certain sad paradox confronted the Government. On the one hand, they wished to embark upon a firm policy of economic sanctions, hoping that this would bring the régime to its senses, but at the same time it was obvious that they wished to avoid doing anything which might finally and irrevocably slam the door on the possibility and prospect of a negotiated settlement.
1650 For many of us on this side of the House there was a sense of relief at our having been freed from this dilemma when the Commonwealth Secretary re turned from his last visit, because we recognised then, as he recognised, that there was no prospect of a settlement with Smith and his régime on the basis of the six principles.
I do not doubt the sincerity of those involved in recent probings in Salisbury, but, as has been said tonight, I fear that in history they may be seen to have been politically naïve, because the fundamental issue which now confronts us is the fundamental issue of trust. Many hon. Members on this side of the House are now convinced that, whatever technical guarantees can be negotiated, there can be no question of a settlement in confidence with Smith, because we fear that any such settlement could be brushed on one side on some trumped up excuse at the first opportunity once we were off the scene.
Taking stock of the situation, I would say that there were three judgments which we could possibly make tonight. First, we could say, if we so wished, that it was hopeless and that Smith had won. This would be an irresponsible desertion of political leadership.
Secondly, we could say that we recognised how much was at stake in terms of our international standing and that we must now play for an honourable defeat. The temptations of that course are much greater than some of us recognise, and it is most important that the Government recognise that to settle for what they believe to be an honourable defeat would be a disastrous trend. It would be disastrous because it would be a transparent decision to the whole international community who would see exactly what we had done. Furthermore, having sought the support of the international community of the United Nations, we might do irreparable damage to the United Nations by having demonstrated, as it were, that it was impossible to cope with this situation.
The final possibility is that we must decide, because of all the issues at stake, that we have to do everything possible to achieve the downfall of the present régime.
§ Mr. Judd
The price of failure would have two parts. First, we would inevitably see an extension of the activities of the freedom fighters, activities which have already commenced in Rhodesia. If we fail by other means, undoubtedly the people who feel passionately about the rights and the political liberties at stake will take the situation increasingly into their own hands.
There were some strange remarks this evening from the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell). I cannot understand how it is possible for us to look at the freedom fighters of Southern Africa in any different way and with any less respect from the way we looked at the resistance movement in France during the war, or at the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956.
§ Mr. Judd
My right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for Defence, speaking in this House on 30th July, 1962, said that there could be no doubt that if the Africans in Southern Rhodesia did take to violence to achieve their ends, although it might be crushed that year, as the Algerians were crushed by France when they rose in 1946, the final outcome of the story would no longer remain in doubt. My right hon. Friend was speaking truthfully on that occasion, with great soundness of judgment, and his remarks are equally applicable at this stage.
The second price of failure will be a devastating lesson for the future prospects of international order. If the international community, combining its activities, is unable to deal effectively with this small country and this puny racialist regime, what hope can there ever be of effective international action to maintain the principles of international order in the international community?
In going forward for practical action at this stage we first have to accept that, whether we like it or not, our credibility is at stake. Our credibility in Britain is at stake and we have to demonstrate to our 1652 own people and the people of the international community, as well as the people of Rhodesia, our sincerity and determination to succeed. If we are to do this we must consider the application of psychological pressures, the cutting of communications and a public education campaign the like of which we have not yet seen.
I welcome the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister this afternoon, because he was at pains to spell out why we were making a stand against the Rhodesian régime, and what was unacceptable about the regime. We need to put a good deal more energy and time into explaining to the world, as well as to the people in Britain, exactly what is abhorrent about the whole standard of the Government in Rhodesia.
In terms of immediate action I suggest that, to demonstrate our earnestness, the Foreign Secretary should go to the United Nations at the earliest possible opportunity. When there he should not wait to respond passively to a suggestion by any other representatives that we should have a policy of compulsory mandatory sanctions. He should put forward the proposal for such sanctions, and to make them effective he should put forward proposals to internationalise the supervision of sanctions and to effectively internationalise, through the International Secretariat of the United Nations, the investigation of sanction-breaking.
We would all be deceiving ourselves if we did not accept that the policy of mandatory international sanctions involves a readiness to police those sanctions effectively. We would also have to embark upon contingency planning for what we were to do as an international community if we achieved our objective, which would be the downfall of the regime. To supplement this action, we should be putting forward proposals on international action to cut communications with the régime, to hamper travel abroad by citizens of Rhodesia and, in a practical sense, we could immediately be considering an international training programme to prepare the Africans to take over responsibility at the first opportunity for the running of the country, when we move away from the present illegal régime.
An essential aspect of this programme must be to demonstrate internationally 1653 our support for Zambia in its exposed position. We ought to reconsider whether it is not possible at this stage to give her support in establishing the Tanzam Railway, instead of putting her into the hands of the Chinese, who are only too happy to exploit tensions in the area. As was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr), we must also investigate defence agreements with Zambia on an international basis.
In all this I know that the sceptics will say that what will undermine any effective international action is the possibility of Portugal and South Africa determining to avoid co-operation in the imposition of compulsory mandatory sanctions. I cannot accept that we and the international community can be held to ransom by Portugal. We could certainly put pressure on that country if we so wished. There is no earthly reason why we should not threaten to boycott imports from Portugal if she refused to co-operate in the policy.
On South Africa itself, I believe that there is not always the need for the despondency and defeatism which are reflected in the House. I believe that in South Africa there is an element of realism and that South Africa has come to the point at which she feels it necessary to support the Rhodesian régime more actively than she did for two years because she feels that the international community is not serious in its intention of dealing effectively with the illegal regime. If we were to demonstrate effective international concern on this issue, there is every reason to believe that some of the political leaders in South Africa would not be anxious to extend their already difficult problems of security by buoying up the illegal régime in that new situation.
We can discuss at great length the legal technicalities of the situation in Rhodesia, but I think that we must remember our profound responsibility before world opinion tonight. We can boil this down into quite human terms which could be understood by the whole electorate in Britain if we so wished. Every citizen in prison without proper trial in Rhodesia, every prisoner executed in defiance of the Queen and the rule of law, every freedom fighter mown down by security 1654 forces, every grieving mother, young widow or orphan, white or black, every innocent civilian killed or maimed, is our responsibility in the House tonight.
More significant still than this, for the future of the international community we have the responsibility of demonstrating our determination that the values of justice, freedom and decency on which our society is based have no racial limitations whatsoever. On the night of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in a broadcast to the nation, said:At this anxious time I hope that no one in Rhodesia will feel that Britain has forgotten them or that we are prepared to yield up the trusteeship which is ours—trusteeship for the welfare of all the peoples of Rhodesia. Whatever the cost to us, we shall honour that trusteeship until we can bring the people of Rhodesia, under God, once again, back to their true allegiance, back to the rule of law, and forward to their true destiny in the family of nations.My right hon. Friend spoke that night for all that is best in British political life. We know perfectly well that, if the will is there, we can succeed. What we are debating tonight is the will.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
The hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) will forgive me if I do not follow him, because I have, it so happens, a slightly different point of view from that which has been expressed on either side tonight and I have only five minutes in which to deploy it.
The Prime Minister has only himself to blame if there is a Division at the end of the debate. He asks us to stand up and be counted on a Motion which expresses abhorrence for the perfectly legal execution of three brutal murderers. I, for one, am not disposed to do that. They were properly convicted of brutal crimes. As we have heard from my right hon. Friend, the delay was due entirely to their being allowed to explore every avenue of appeal. Mr. Lardner Burke was guilty of gross contempt in pronouncing that the sentences would be carried out whatever the appeal court said; but, as he is a member of an illegal Government, why be surprised if he acts illegally? If the Prime Minister was prepared to talk before the hangings, I 1655 can see no reason on earth why he should not talk now.
I expressed my point of view in a letter which the Daily Telegraph was good enough to publish two days ago. I have had an immense number of letters all expressing support for my view. I am afraid that as a result of a typographical error in this morning's leader in the Daily Telegraph I shall have another flood of letters, in which case I shall ask the Daily Telegraph to answer them.
I believe that there are four courses open to this country: first, force; secondly, mandatory sanctions universally applied by the United Nations; thirdly, to renew negotiations; and, fourthly, to let Rhodesia go her own way as an independent State outside the Commonwealth.
I think that only some Liberal and left-wing pacificists advocate force. I think that on every ground it must be ruled out as a practical policy. It would have only one good effect: it might or it might not bring down Mr. Smith; it would certainly bring down Her Majesty's Government. For mandatory sanctions to succeed—and, were they to do so, would the people we are trying to help benefit?—every member of the United Nations would have genuinely to support them and the prolonged blockade of the whole of Southern Africa which would be essential if they were to succeed. I do not believe for a moment that those conditions would be fulfilled, and I therefore trust that Her Majesty's Government will veto any such resolution.
If, then, we cannot achieve our aim by compulsion, will further persuasion achieve it? I am afraid—and this is where I differ from some of my right hon. Friends, and this is the one reservation in the letters in reply to mine—that I have never believed, and I do not believe, that the Rhodesia Front would honour a settlement based on the Six Principles. As the Prime Minister told the House on 20th January, 1967:The tragedy was that whenMr. Smith returned from the "Tiger" talkshe was not able to make effective … the agreement which we had reached because he was under the control of some very strong extremists …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 19th January, 1967; Vol. 739, c. 649.]1656 I believe that, largely due to sanctions, Mr. Smith now has the backing of most moderate opinion, black and white, in Rhodesia. But I would defer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), who has just returned from Rhodesia and who has recently met Rhodesians of all opinions, if he considers that I am being unjust to Rhodesians and that the six principles have some chance of acceptance, not only now, but also after independence when, ex hypothesi, an independent Government could tear them up just as other Governments have done before them.
I would welcome renewed negotiations. But it would mean abandoning sanctions first, in my view, and that Her Majesty's Government has no intention of doing. I am therefore compelled to ask whether the time has come for us to confess failure and let Rhodesia pursue her own path outside the Commonwealth. We are losing valuable trade to foreign competitors who defy the United Nations. We are ruining Zambia. We are encouraging inter-racial war in Africa and, I believe, for no other purpose than to satisfy people here and in New York who will not see, or do not care if they do see, that life for the ordinary man and woman of all races in Rhodesia is more peaceful and prosperous than in most of the so-called freed ex-African colonies and who make no complaint when the rule of law is mocked in their own country.
We are told that we are contemplating handing over British Honduras to Guatemala, the Falkland Islands to the Argentine, and so on. so that it would not be all that bad to hand over the Africans to Mr. Smith. The Commonwealth would break up, but States which wish to remain in it and yet break off relations with its founder member and which do not practise the principles for which it essentially stands, are, in my view, like Rhodesia, better out of it.
We have done our best within the limits of the politically practicable, and we have failed, as we failed, although we went to war to try to succeed, to save Poland from totalitarianism and restore the Baltic States to independence. It is still power which counts in the world, and since we no longer have the power to effect their objectives we have sensibly shed responsibility for them. Were the 1657 Government now to shed further responsibility for Rhodesia and to be big enough to confess defeat I believe they would only be basing themselves on one of the most valuable foundations of policy; that is, common sense.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Barnet)
This is, of course, a very important debate, and many speeches have been made from both sides of the House. I am very well aware that many more hon. Members would have liked to have taken part. For that reason, and because two weighty speeches have already been made from this Front Bench I thought it right this evening to confine myself to a rather brief winding up, in the course of which I intend to do one thing only, and that is crystallise the issues upon which we shall be voting this evening if the Government are not prepared to accept our Amendment, because if they will not accept our Amendment, then vote we must and shall do.
Let me first get one thing out of the way. It has been suggested by more than one speaker, including the right hon. Member the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), that this is a dispute between this side of the House supporting Mr. Smith, and that side supporting the Prime Minister. This is just not true. We have made it clear from this side of the House on more than one occasion from the beginning that we deplored the Unilateral Declaration of Independence as an act of folly which has brought very grave consequences on many peoples, here and in Africa. I myself have said on more than one occasion that I deplored the weakness which Mr. Smith showed after the "Tiger" consultations, and we have all on this side of the House deplored on more than one occasion many of the tendencies in recent legislation in Rhodesia. Let there be no doubt about this. It is on the record. It must not be distorted.
At the same time we condemn the Prime Minister for the mistakes which he has made in this matter. I think his initial mistake was totally to under-estimate the temper of the people in Rhodesia, when he said that sanctions would work in weeks, not months. I do not mention that merely to make a party point, but because it from the start not 1658 only undermined the confidence of other countries in us but also showed a total misunderstanding of the realities of power and development and sentiment in Rhodesia.
Secondly, we thought that the Prime Minister made a great error—and we voted against the Government on this—in referring the matter to the United Nations and asking for mandatory sanctions. We said at the time that to do this would merely consolidate behind Mr. Smith opinion which otherwise might be of a more liberal and progressive character. Every bit of evidence since then has proved how right we were; every bit of evidence has proved that the effect of United Nations sanctions has been to consolidate, absolutely rocklike, behind Mr. Smith a variety of opinion which otherwise would have been quite different.
Our third criticism of the Prime Minister is for embracing the principle of Nibmar. He embraced a principle which, he really must know—I think he has shown he does—if adhered to, would make any settlement totally unnegotiable. These are the three criticisms we make of the Prime Minister.
But this dispute has become too much personalised. We must get away from this. I think that there are many people inside and outside this House who would say that it would be a tragedy if a settlement of this dispute were deferred while two rather insecure men bickered with each other at a distance apart of 5,000 miles. I believe that this is an opinion which is widely held. I say that because I believe it to be true and for no other reason.
I turn now to the Amendment on which we shall vote this evening. There are three elements in it, and those who vote against it are voting against those three elements.
The first condemnsall acts of violence and terrorism".I hope that the whole House condemns them, whether they be acts deplored by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, or whether they be committed by people who come across the frontiers with weapons in their hands and killing in their minds. Is there anyone here in this House who does not deplore those acts of violence and terrorism?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We have had an orderly debate so far. We do not want any acts of violence here.
§ Mr. Maudling
We know the views of the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) and we know now how many of his hon. Friends share them. But the bulk of hon. Members will condemn all acts of violence and terrorism—[Interruption.] The second part—
§ Mr. Maudling
This is a very grave matter. The second part of our Amendmentregrets the circumstances under which three Africans were executed".I regret, as I am sure we all do, the refusal of the appeal to the Privy Council. I regret, as I am sure we all do, that the Prerogative of Mercy was spurned. I also regret the circumstances in which those crimes were committed, because those facts must be borne in mind on both sides of the House. However, I am sure that no one on either side will disagree with our Amendment in regretting those circumstances.
There remains only one point which could possibly divide the House this evening. It is our words where we callon Her Majesty's Government to make a further attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement in order to discharge Britain's responsibility to peoples of all races in Rhodesia.I emphasise again that the only reason for voting against our Amendment could be because the Government do not intend to make any further attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement.
Let us be clear on this. If the Government vote against our Amendment, they are voting against an attempt to make a 1660 negotiated settlement. It is there on the Order Paper, and it cannot be denied.
What are the alternatives to another attempt at negotiation? First, there is force. Practically speaking, I think that that is rejected by everyone. Today, the Prime Minister rejected it, and in the past he has always said that he would not use force to achieve a constitutional settlement. Today, he has gone further and said that he would oppose the use of force by others. He is right in ruling out that alternative.
The other possibility is that we throw in our hands, saying, "We cannot do anything. We have not the power or authority. We will abandon sanctions and let the thing go." That would be abandoning our responsibility. If we throw in our hand, all hope of further negotiations is lost. So I rule out that course as well. Then, perhaps, we could carry on, as the Government may intend, hoping that something will happen. That would be a tragedy, because there are explosive forces building up all the time. One sees accounts of armaments coming into Tanzania. One sees the dangers of the armed division across the Zambesi. Just to sit back and do nothing would be an abrogation of the responsibility of this Parliament and this country.
There remain two other courses. First, to try tougher sanctions, which I suspect is what the Government may have in mind. I believe that this would be a disastrous failure. We have seen that sanctions have not achieved the objective of bringing a political change in Rhodesia. Nor will they. All the evidence shows that sanctions, even if intensified, would only bring a little more suffering—more to the Africans than the Europeans probably—and certainly would not bring about a political change in Rhodesia.
The Prime Minister this afternoon made it absolutely clear that in his judgment—and in this connection I agree with him—to try to push sanctions to the point of destroying the economy of Rhodesia would merely embroil us with the whole of Southern Africa, and this, he rightly said, we cannot afford to, and will not, do. Therefore, it seems to me that any attempt to have total mandatory sanctions is bound to fail and will produce damage rather than progress.
1661 We are left with one course, which is further negotiations—[Interruption.]—I am trying—
§ Mr. Maudling
I am trying very briefly to analyse the alternatives on this essential point of negotiation. I have dealt with four other possibilities, which are before the House. We are saying in our Amendment that there should be further negotiation, and anyone who votes against it is voting against negotiation.
What reasons can the Government give for voting against negotiation? There are two. First, they might say, "We cannot negotiate with Mr. Smith", and, secondly, they might say, "We cannot negotiate because there is no basis."
Let us take the first one. Is this the Prime Minister's argument? Is he really saying that he cannot negotiate with Mr. Smith?
§ The Prime Minister
What I said was that we cannot negotiate with any authorities or purported authorities in Rhodesia until they have broken with racialism.
§ Mr. Maudling
That is not good enough. I ask the Prime Minister: can he or can he not negotiate with Mr. Smith? If he says—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—if he says that he cannot negotiate with Mr. Smith he cannot negotiate at all, because there is no alternative.
§ The Prime Minister
The position is exactly as it was at the time of the "Tiger" talks when Mr. Smith agreed to free himself of being a prisoner of the racialists. We are prepared to deal with anyone who is not a prisoner of the racialists. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that he and his party voted against the whole of that Resolution, including deploring the "Tiger" agreement and supporting the racialist régime for rejecting it.
§ Mr. Maudling
But since the breakdown of the "Tiger" agreement, the Prime Minister has negotiated with Mr. Smith through the Commonwealth Secretary. Has he not? Is he unwilling to 1662 do it now? This is not good enough. It is clear that it is only with the régime that negotiation can take place, because there is no alternative, as the Prime Minister knows perfectly well. The only other argument is to say that no solution is possible. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) has demolished any possible Government argument along that line.
The three outstanding points on the "Tiger" constitution are well known. The fundamental one is the existence of a genuine blocking mechanism, and my right hon. Friend's proposals which he conveyed to the Prime Minister, clearly provided a genuine blocking mechanism. The Prime Minister may not agree. This is a matter of interpretation. It is a matter of negotiation. The Prime Minister said this afternoon that these proposals were useful, that they represented a definite move forward by Mr. Smith. If that is so, why are they not a basis for negotiation? No one, least of all my right hon. Friend is saying that these represent the final answer. What we are saying is that they are a basis for negotiation, and only the most bigoted and irresponsible Prime Minister could resist the opportunity afforded by them.
Let me sum up what we are voting for this evening, and what the Government will be voting against. We are condemning all acts of violence and terrorism. We regret the circumstances under which the Africans were executed. We are saying that the only point on which there is any possible disagreement between the two sides of the House is that we say that this is the time for negotiation. If the Government vote against this, they will be voting against negotiation, and for chaos.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. George Thomson)
I should like to give a reasoned reply to the argument with which the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) ended his speech, namely, the substance of the Opposition Amendment, but before I come to that there is, I think, one initial comment that I should make on it.
I was aware, though I regretted it, that the Opposition wanted to divide against the Government on the right course to 1663 follow at this stage of the Rhodesian rebellion, but I had hoped that they would have been able to put their views as an addendum to the original Early Day Motion which attracted 188 signatures from this side of the House and from the Liberal Party. I had hoped that the House might at least have joined in expressing its abhorrence of the illegal executions. I would have thought that that was the least the Opposition could do under the circumstances. Instead, they have moved to erase the expression of abhorrence and to replace it with a wishy-washy phrase quoted by the right hon. Gentlemanregrets the circumstances under which three Africans were executed …That phrase could mean anything or nothing, and that presumably is exactly what it is supposed to mean. It is all things to all men, so that the right hon. Member for Barnet can go into the same Lobby as the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell).
I shall come to the main part of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, but he asked one direct question which I should like to answer. He asked whether I had sought the Governor's advice on the petitions for mercy. The position when the petitions were submitted was that I had already received an expression of the Governor's views on the desirability of the condemned men seeking the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. The Leader of the Opposition very correctly did not seek to get from me exactly what the Governor's views were. I think it is better that they should remain confidential. It is only that I wish to protect the Governor, not to shelter behind him. When the petitions were subsequently received, I was faced with the duty of deciding what advice to tender on them. I knew the Governor's views, and I hope the House will understand what I mean when I say that it was not necessary to seek them at that point of time, though I kept in continuous consultation with him throughout that weekend.
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) also asked a direct question which I should like to answer. He asked how there could be a Preroga 1664 tive which I could advise the Queen to exercise when the Prerogative had been expressly delegated to the Governor under section 49 of the 1961 Constitution. With respect, I have to tell the right hon. and learned Member that he is wrong about this. Section 49 of the 1961 Constitution is in exactly the same terms as corresponding provisions in other colonial constitutions. It has always been accepted as the law—and here I speak as a layman. It is so stated in Halsbury's Laws of England, and it was stated in the House by one of my distinguished predecessors, Mr. Creech Jones on 11th August, 1947, and it has never been disputed that this still needs a residual Prerogative in Her Majesty's hands to be exercised on the advice of the appropriate United Kingdom Minister—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is obviously not giving way—[Interruption.]—Order. We must let the debate proceed.
§ Mr. Thomson
This is a serious and grave debate. There have been three Front Bench speeches from the Opposition, although the last one was kept short, and I have a lot to say which I will seek to give to the House, if hon. Members will listen to it.
What I want to make clear in the substance of this discussion is that it was not Her Majesty's Government who initiated the present crisis. We did not arrange for the appeals of the condemned men to be heard at the time that they were heard, or for the judgment to be given at the time that it was given or for the decision on the fate of the three men to be taken at the time that it was taken. In deciding that they would ignore the decision of the Privy Council, in dismissing the exercise of the Queen's Prerogative as a political act by the United Kingdom Government and in deciding that the men would hang in spite of it, it was 1665 the régime in Rhodesia, acting deliberately and only after careful thought, which did it.
In his recent broadcast, Mr. Smith said that the support that the hanged men had received from certain Western countries "… has certainly come as a shock." Nothing better illustrates the isolation of the régime from the realities of the world in which they live, their ignorance of the major problems of the century and their insensitiveness to world opinion. Cut off though they are, Mr. Smith and his colleagues must still have known and calculated the effect of their actions on the prospect of a settlement with this country.
It must be baffling to all those of good will in this country—they are on both sides of the House—who deeply and genuinely wish to see a just settlement, that the régime should have acted in this deliberate way at the very time that Mr. Smith had given to the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) the new proposals. I want to come to the speech of the right hon. Member and to draw a sharp distinction between his speech and that of the Leader of the Opposition.
I would like to pay tribute to the disinterested way in which the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire dealt with his visit to Salisbury and to thank him for the offer which he made at the end of his speech of further help if the occasion arises. I therefore want to explain to him why I do not think that this opportunity is available to us in present circumstances—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I feel bound to speculate whether men who have behaved in the way that I have just described the régime as behaving really want a settlement. Mr. Smith and his colleagues are full of professions to want an agreed settlement with Britain for their own internal reasons, but they keep forgetting it and behaving in a way which is wholly contradictory to those professions.
It is striking that, in Mr. Smith's long apologia on Southern Rhodesian television at the weekend—his contribution, in a sense to this debate, as I think it was probably meant—he did not once refer to the visit to Salisbury of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. Nor did he refer once to the 1666 proposals which he himself had given the right hon. Member to bring back here. I think that Mr. Smith's—[Interruption.]—I would have thought that, if these proposals were sincerely meant by Mr. Smith and were to have the weight attached to them that the Opposition are now, in difficult circumstances, seeking to attach to them, it would have been expected that Mr. Smith would at least have made some mention of them in what was a very long speech.
I say this without gladness, because I am as deeply interested as the right hon. Gentleman and anybody else in the House to get a settlement. It would be the most glittering prize that any Commonwealth Secretary of this country could obtain. But Mr. Smith's significant silence is the best evidence that the optimism of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire and his hon. Friends about the possibility of a settlement does not have the foundations on which they seek to rest it.
When the history of the Rhodesia dispute comes to be written, it will show that it has throughout been Her Majesty's Government—successive Governments of this country—who, refusing to abandon their principles, have made efforts to find a way out of the impasse, with a lack of corresponding effort on the Rhodesian side. I am bound to say that I deplore the character of the attacks made in this debate on the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, because nobody in Britain has done more—[Interruption.]—more often—[Interruption.]—and has shown greater ingenuity—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—in seeking a just settlement of the Rhodesia problem.
We in this country have sympathised with the fears of the European minority as well as with the aspirations of the African majority, but all too many of the Europeans in Rhodesia have throughout taken a narrow and parochial view of their own problems. The aim of Her Majesty's Government has always been, and still is, to reach a just and honourable settlement—[HON. MEMBERS: "How?"]—which will, as far as possible, take accounts of the interests of all concerned.
When I went to Salisbury last November I did so in a genuine attempt to see whether grounds for such a settlement existed. My task there, as I explained 1667 to the people I met, both in Rhodesia and the African countries surrounding it, was to find out whether there was some substantial and guaranteed change in the position which would justify us reviewing our policy with our Commonwealth partners. In other words, what was needed before we could hope to make progress was Mr. Smith's agreement to some sort of what I have called in the past "Tiger"-plus. As the House knows, what was put to me were proposals which were "Tiger"-minus on a substantial scale and in fundamental matters.
With respect to the efforts of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire—and I paid tribute to his contribution—the proposals which he recently brought back from Salisbury, although they represented some change, were—and it is important that the House should register this—still definitely "Tiger"minus.
The suggestion of the Opposition appears to be that time is short and that we should seize the opportunity of reaching a settlement with the illegal régime—however bad the terms and however inconsistent they may be with our principles and pledges—before they purport to buttress their so-called independence by proclaiming a republic. This is the line that Mr. Smith has been taking in his pronouncements. We should not fall into his trap.
Of course, a purported declaration of a republic would complicate some of our problems, but there is nothing irrevocable about that. The régime is an illegal one and it would not become more legal by declaring it a republic. If they do so, the declaration will be invalid. Whatever may be thought in Rhodesia, it will not lead to international recognition of the régime or lessen Rhodesia's isolation.
I turn to the action which we propose to take—as the right hon. Member for Barnet put it; the further strengthening of United Nations sanctions against Rhodesia. As the Prime Minister told the House, we are ready to explore, with other countries, the imposing of comprehensive mandatory sanctions on trade with Rhodesia. In deciding the best way to do this, what we shall do is apply the test of what is practical and effective 1668 in terms of increasing the pressures on the illegal régime. [Interruption.] I have always taken the view that sanctions which look attractive but prove impracticable and sanctions which sound attractive in speeches in this House and at the United Nations but prove ineffective in practice only help the illegal regime. I am, therefore, not interested in that sort of thing, particularly—and this point was well made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party—since they reduce the credibility of the United Nations as an institution which we should have very much in mind.
As I told the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee, no other country does more in the field of sanctions than the United Kingdom. I do not claim any special virtue for this. It is Britain's duty to do it. We have a special legal responsibility for the Rhodesian problem, but everyone else has the same moral responsibility as Britain to see that sanctions succeed. There is one simple way in which sanctions could be significantly improved. If the general membership of the United Nations were to apply sanctions and supervise the activities of some of their business firms as well as Britain does, the impact of sanctions would be substantially and significantly increased. On the other hand, so long as the anxiety of Commonwealth countries about sanctions-breaking exist, we seek practical ways to make them effective both for United Nations and for Commonwealth countries.
The Opposition have strongly opposed the extension of sanctions during this debate. I wonder if they have considered that they are only getting themselves more into the posture of protecting Rhodesians from the consequences of the rebellion than protecting British interests. If they are not interested in the United Nations, are they interested in British interests? Britain already applies comprehensive sanctions. If the United Nations makes mandatory sanctions comprehensive, it will help to compel other countries to come up to Britain's level and impose a ban on their own direct exports to Rhodesia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Come off it."] I did not see the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) present during the whole debate. He is one of the hon. Members shouting "Come off it." I am not giving way. He is fond 1669 of asking me questions when I am drawing attention to the fact—
§ Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)
On a point of order. Has the right hon. Gentleman any right on earth to make a statement such as that when I have been present except for the two hours for dinner?
§ Mr. Thomson
I wanted to make a comparatively harmless, and I thought even acceptable, remark to hon. Members opposite that since they complain to me a great deal that we have sacrificed our former export markets in Rhodesia to commercial competitors through sanctions, they might have given us some support when we are proposing arrangements which will remove this disadvantage to our exporters. I am not seeking to argue that comprehensive mandatory sanctions will produce a sudden economic pressure on the régime and will bring about an immediate change in attitudes. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are you doing?"] I will tell the House if hon. Members will be patient for a moment. I think mandatory sanctions will add in a real sense to the impact, and they will bring home to Rhodesia the determination of the international community to see this thing through. They will expose for anyone with eyes to see in Rhodesia that the régime is creating for its country a sterile and stagnant position of isolation.
In that sense the comprehensive mandatory sanctions should add significantly to the psychological pressures in Rhodesia. As the Prime Minister said, Mr. Smith first prophesied that the illegal declaration of independence would be a nine days' wonder. The worthlessness of that boast by Mr. Smith—[Interruption.]—I wish that some people would show some sympathy for this country and a little less sympathy for—[Interruption.] The worthlessness of that boast was quickly exposed. Behind the curtain of his censorship he has been propagating—I saw evidence of this in Rhodesia—the idea that sanctions are a three-year wonder. In a few more months, so the regime's story goes, the world will grow 1670 weary of sanctions, Rhodesia's expansion will be restored, and its recognition will gradually follow. Comprehensive mandatory sanctions will destroy that piece of smug self-deception. They will show that, however long the path of rebellion may be, it leads not to prosperity and recognition but only to a sad and sorry cul-de-sac, an economic dead end.
I think that everyone in the House, sometimes from conflicting points of view, shares deep emotions about what has been happening in Rhodesia over recent weeks and what has happened there over a number of years now. Many of us in the House feel strongly about the hangings which have taken place and those which, we must recognise, may lie ahead. I endorse absolutely what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire said—my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) made the same point—that we must approach this from an overriding concern for what is best for all the peoples of Rhodesia as a whole. It is natural that, in such harrowing circumstances, there should be a passionate desire to do something quickly to end this tragic situation. There is the human feeling which we all share, that, because the Rhodesia problem is so intolerable, there must be some magic or immediate solution to it. But life is not like that, as we all know, both privately and publicly. We often have to put up with evil because we do not have the power to end it quickly. Equally, the fact that we cannot end an evil situation is no argument for acquiescence in it. This is really the point I make to the self-styled realists whom one finds in different quarters of the House.
I shall tell the House plainly and, I am afraid, pretty bluntly what my own assessment of the situation is. It can be summed up in three words—no short cuts. First, there is no short cut inside Rhodesia itself. The European minority there must come to realise that it will never flourish securely so long as its attitude is exclusive. But we cannot, on the evidence of the last year or two, expect that this will be a short process. Equally, as was said by the Prime Minister and by the right hon. Member for Barnet, force is not a short cut to a solution either. I shall not go over the arguments, which, I think, are pretty generally 1671 accepted by an overwhelming majority in the House.
To the handful in the House—I am sorry that the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) is among them—who now advocate surrender, I say that this is a short cut only to dishonour and disaster for Britain. Apart from its sheer immorality, it would have the most serious effects on our interests in many parts of the world. It would be the end of the Commonwealth. It would put in peril the livelihood of many in British communities in emergent nations, communities which are more numerous in total than the European minority in Rhodesia.
The considerations which I have just outlined in relation to a policy of surrender apply in large degree also to the suggestion made in the Opposition Amendment, the suggestion that, despite the illegal hangings behind us and, perhaps, ahead of us, we should set off now to Salisbury to do a deal with those who are responsible for this situation. Both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire and his right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet are former Secretaries of State in the Commonwealth and colonial fields. They must know the realities which the British Government face over these hangings. Indeed, in his earlier public statements at the time of the hangings, the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire appeared to recognise them.
They must know that to seek to negotiate with the régime in a situation which the régime itself, and no one else, has created would do British influence and British interests immense damage throughout the world. Moreover, it would do this at the very moment when the Security Council was drafting its Resolution, wiping out overnight our influence at the United Nations not only on Rhodesia but on a wide range of issues.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker), whom we are all glad to see back in his place and who made a notable speech, was absolutely right when he said that the Conservative Amendment would tear the Commonwealth apart. I can only conclude sadly that the Opposition do not mind tonight if they divide the Com 1672 monwealth so long as they can unite the Conservatives.
I was astonished and shocked by the Leader of the Opposition's speech this afternoon. It was a very different speech from those of his right hon. Friends the Members for Kinross and West Perthshire and Barnet. He said that he did not wish to get heated. It might have been better for him to get a little heated, because the trouble with the right hon. Gentleman is that he never gets heated about the right things. He gets heated about trivialities and misses the main issues. That is the only possible explanation—I am anxious to be charitable—for some of the strange assertions from him today.
The right hon. Gentleman appeared to claim that the African population were largely on Mr. Smith's side in Rhodesia today. What on earth is the meaning of that kind of assertion in what is a police State? And who was one of the earliest to describe it as a police State, before many of the forms of repression which there are today? The right hon. Gentleman himself, in a much more responsible and notable speech than he made this afternoon.
I am sorry to say this, but I think that today we heard from the Leader of the Opposition one of the most appeasement-minded speeches in the House since Munich. Fortunately for the good name of Britain throughout the world, the party opposite is not the Government today. I believe that after reflection the right hon. Gentleman will one day come to feel pretty ashamed of that speech. He argued that we should go ahead and negotiate now, in the situation which I have already described. He added that Britain was powerless, and that sanctions could not succeed. What is he seriously urging us to negotiate about? I listened carefully, and pretty miserably, to his speech. From this side of the House it sounded as though my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was absolutely right and that the Leader of the Opposition and the party opposite, with their Amendment, are urging us to negotiate about surrender to Smith.
§ Mr. Thomson
I do not think that I am being unfair to the right hon. Gentleman. I do not enjoy saying what I am saying to him. I shall give one more example. The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon quoted certain comments with regard to judges. It is a pity, if he felt it necessary to quote one of the minority judgments—and that the most extreme judgment—in favour of the régime, that he did not also refer to the other minority judgment by Mr. Justice Fieldsend, who categorically refused to hold that the régime was a de facto Government. This was merely typical of a number of points in the speech which led me to make the remarks I have made.
I conclude by returning to what the right hon. Member for Kinross and West
§ Perthshire said. I accept that our aim tonight is to decide the best way to discharge our responsibility to all races in Rhodesia. The right hon. Gentleman explained—and I accept his sincerity in the matter—that he believes that it would be in the best interests of the 4 million Africans in Rhodesia to entrust them to Mr. Smith and his present colleagues. I believe that this would be widely and rightly regarded in this country and throughout the world as a betrayal of our obligations to those 4 million Africans. On this basis, which is the essential difference between the points of view of the two sides of the House, we shall be glad to go into the Lobby tonight.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 237, Noes 331.1675
|Division No. 101.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Crowder, F. P.||Hawkins, Paul|
|Allason, Janes (Hemel Hempstead)||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hay, John|
|Astor, John||Currie, G. B. H.||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Awdry, Daniel||Dance, James||Heseltine, Michael|
|Baker, W. H. K.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Balniel, Lord||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Hiley, Joseph|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Batsford, Brian||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Beamish, Col, Sir Tufton||Doughty, Charles||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Bell, Ronald||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Holland, Philip|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Drayson, G. B.||Hordern, Peter|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hornby, Richard|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Eden, Sir John||Howell, David (Guildford)|
|Biffen, John||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hunt, John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Emery, Peter||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Errington, Sir Eric||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Eyre, Reginald||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Blaker, Peter||Farr, John||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Boardman, Tom||Fisher, Nigel||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Body, Richard||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Fortescue, Tim||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Foster, Sir John||Jopling, Michael|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Braine, Bernard||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Brewis, John||Gibson-Watt, David||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Kimball, Marcus|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Glyn, Sir Richard||Kirk, Peter|
|Bryan, Paul||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Kitson, Timothy|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Goodhart, Philip||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Goodhew, Victor||Lamboton, Viscount|
|Burden, F. A.||Gower, Raymond||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Campbell, Gordon||Grant, Anthony||Lane, David|
|Carlisle, Mark||Grant-Ferris, R.||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Gresham Cooke, R.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Grieve, Percy||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut 'nC' dfield)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Gurden, Harold||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Clark, Henry||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Cooke, Robert||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Loveys, W. H.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Cordle, John||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Corfield, F. V.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Costain, A. P.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||McMaster, Stanley|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Crouch, David||Hastings, Stephen||Maddan, Martin|
|Maginnis, John E.||Percival, Ian||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Peyton, John||Tapsell, Peter|
|Marten, Neil||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Pink, R. Bonner||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Mawby, Ray||Pounder, Ratton||Teeling, Sir William|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Temple, John M.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Prior, J. M. L.||Tilney, John|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Pym, Francis||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Quennell, Miss J. M.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Monro, Hector||Ronton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Wall, Patrick|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Ridsdale, Julian||Walters, Dennis|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Robson Brown, Sir William||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Murton, Oscar||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Webster, David|
|Neave, Airey||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Royle, Anthony||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Russell, Sir Ronald||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Nott, John||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Scott, Nicholas||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Scott-Hopkins, James||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Sharples, Richard||Worsley, Marcus|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Wright, Esmond|
|Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Silvester, Frederick||Wylie, N. R.|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Sinclair, Sir George||Younger, Hn. George|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Smith, John|
|Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Stainton, Keith||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Peel, John||Stodart, Anthony||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Mr. Jasper More.|
|Abse, Leo||Conlan, Bernard||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Albu, Austen||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gardner, Tony|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Garrett, W. E.|
|Alldritt, Walter||Crawshaw, Richard||Ginsburg, David|
|Allen, Scholefield||Cronin, John||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.|
|Anderson, Donald||Crosland, Rt, Hn. Anthony||Gourlay, Harry|
|Archer, Peter||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Dalyell, Tam||Gregory, Arnold|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Grey, Charles (Durham)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Barnes, Michael||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Barnett, Joel||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J,|
|Baxter, William||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.|
|Beaney, Alan||Delargy, Hugh||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Bence, Cyril||Dell, Edmund||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Dempsey, James||Hamling, William|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Dewar, Donald||Hannan, William|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Harper, Joseph|
|Binns, John||Dickens, James||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dobson, Ray||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith|
|Blackburn, F,||Doig, Peter||Haseldine, Norman|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Driberg, Tom||Hattersley, Roy|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Dunn, James A.||Hazell, Bert|
|Booth, Albert||Dunnett, Jack||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Boston, Terence||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Eadie, Alex||Henig, Stanley|
|Boyden, James||Edelman, Maurice||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Hilton, W. S.|
|Bradley, Tom||Ellis, John||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||English, Michael||Hooley, Frank|
|Brooks, Edwin||Ennals, David||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Ensor, David||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Howie, W.|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Hoy, James|
|Buchan, Norman||Ewing, Mrs. Winifred||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Faulds, Andrew||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Finch, Harold||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Hunter, Adam|
|Cant, R. B.||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Hynd, John|
|Carmichael, Neil||Foley, Maurice||Irvine, Sir Arthur|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)|
|Chapman, Donald||Ford, Ben||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Coe, Denis||Fowler, Gerry||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Coleman, Donald||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Freeson, Reginald||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P' cras, S.)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Molloy, William||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N 'c' tle-u-Tyne)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Moonman, Eric||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Judd, Frank||Moyle, Roland||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Kelley, Richard||Murray, Albert||Slater, Joseph|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Neal, Harold||Small, William|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Newens, Stan||Snow, Julian|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Lawson, George||Norwood, Christopher||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Oakes, Gordon||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Ledger, Ron||Ogden, Eric||Stewart, Rt. Hn, Michael|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||O'Malley, Brian||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Oram, Albert E.||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Orbach, Maurice||Swain, Thomas|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Orme, Stanley||Swingler, Stephen|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Oswald, Thomas||Symonds, J. B.|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Taverne, Dick|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Padley, Walter||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lipton, Marcus||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Palmer, Arthur||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Luard, Evan||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Tinn, James|
|Lubbock, Eric||Park, Trevor||Tomney, Frank|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Mabon, Dr J. Dickson||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Varley, Eric G.|
|McBride, Neil||Pavitt, Laurence||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|McCann, John||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|MacColl, James||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|MacDermot, Niall||Pentland, Norman||Wallace, George|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|McGuire, Michael||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Weitzman, David|
|McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Price, William (Rugby)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Mackie, John||Probert, Arthur||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Whitlock, William|
|Maclennan, Robert||Randall, Harry||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Rankin, John||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Rees, Merlyn||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Reynolds, G. W.||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Manuel, Archie||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mapp, Charles||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P 'c' as)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Marks, Kenneth||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)||Winnick, David|
|Marquand, David||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Mason, Rt. Hn, Roy||Roebuck, Roy||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Maxwell, Robert||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Woof, Robert|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Rose, Paul||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Yates, Victor|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Ryan, John|
|Millan, Bruce||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Sheldon, Robert||Mr. Charles R. Morris and|
|Mr. Alan Fitch.|
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
That this House declares its abhorrence of the executions carried out in Rhodesia on 6th March, 1968, on the instructions of the illegal régime in defiance of the exercise of
§ the Royal Prerogative of Mercy; condemns the action of the illegal régime in denying the reprieved men the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; and condemns the executions as constituting a denial of justice and a grave breach of the rule of law.