HC Deb 22 October 1968 vol 770 cc1096-229

3.48 p.m.

The Minister without Portfolio (Mr. George Thomson)

The immediate debate today is on the new British proposals for a settlement of the Rhodesian problem contained in Cmd. 3793. It will, of course, be followed by a Motion to approve the draft of an Order in Council renewing Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965. Perhaps it will be sufficient at this stage for me to say that the powers under that Order will continue to be required by Her Majesty's Government for some months ahead, even if Mr. Smith were to agree to our proposals immediately—and there is so far no sign of that.

I have been associated with the discussion of colonial problems in the House for 16 years. I received my baptism of fire in the debate on the original Central African Federation proposals. Whatever else we may disagree about over Rhodesia, I think that there would be general agreement that it has turned out to be Britain's most difficult colonial problem and one which arouses deep and conflicting feelings both in this country and in the world, bound up as it is with one of the world's great moral and political issues—the problem of race.

It is worth pausing a moment to ask why Rhodesia is such a distinctively, intractable problem. The answer may be summed up in one sentence. Britain has responsibility for Rhodesia without power inside Rhodesia. History made Rhodesia a legal and moral British responsibility, but as history has turned out we have been denied the physical power to control events on the ground if there were an open clash of wills between London and Salisbury.

In Rhodesia, Britain has always been, not a toothless bulldog, as the famous gibe had it, but an absentee bulldog. Never during this century, neither before 1923 nor since, have there been soldiers, policemen or public servants in Rhodesia under the control of a Government in London. There has never been direct rule in Rhodesia. It is this fact, so often disregarded, as uncomfortable facts tend to be, that makes Rhodesia a unique problem, not the fact that it contains a minority European community.

Rhodesia is sometimes referred to as Britain's Algeria, but inside Algeria France controlled all the forces of law and order. If Britain had done so in Rhodesia there would never have been a U.D.I., and if one had been attempted the British Government of the day would certainly have put it down. Look at Kenya. It had, and still has, a sizeable European minority. Although a smaller minority than in Rhodesia, it was equally vociferous in its resistance to majority rule at one stage. But our Conservative predecessors, as a Government with power on the ground in Kenya and considerable statesmanship, brought Kenya lo majority rule, and Kenya now gives Africa an example of how a European minority can thrive under a predominantly African Government.

In Rhodesia, successive British Governments, have I believe, shown the necessary statesmanship, but they have not had the necessary power on the ground. When open rebellion finally came, the way Britain could exercise the power that is legally ours was externally, either by invasion—because that is what force means—or by sanctions. We chose the peaceful policy of economic and political pressure.

Whatever the arguments about the past, who can now doubt that if we were to invade to assert our rights the whole of Southern Africa would be plunged into the very major war along racial lines that all our energies have been directed to avoiding? But if we rule out force the alternative policy of economic and political pressure does not, and cannot, make any sense unless, at the same time, we are ready to seek an honourable settlement of the dispute.

I have stated this at somewhat tedious length because I feel that it is a necessary background of reality against which to judge fairly the proposals we put forward as a result of the talks in H.M.S. "Fearless". The proposals stand squarely within the six principles, the foundations of which were laid by the party opposite when it was the Government. Five of the six principles express in formal terms our obligation of trusteeship for the African majority in Rhodesia, and the sixth reflects our obligation to guarantee the future of the European minority.

We have never swerved from the position that the six principles must form the basis of any settlement. At the same time, we have never forgotten that peaceful transition to a prosperous independence must depend on the co-operation of the European minority. It goes without saying that it would be better to have no settlement than to have a dishonourable settlement.

But if we cannot secure a settlement consistent with our principles we must recognise how bleak the alternative is, not for Britain but for Rhodesians of all races, especially for the 4 million Rhodesian Africans who must be particularly in our minds this afternoon. Their present political position, limited as it is, will be put into reverse.

Under stage one of Mr. Smith's proposed constitution the number of directly and popularly elected Africans will drop from 15 to six. There will be an increasing movement in Rhodesia towards the full-blooded apartheid so narrowly defeated, by a minority vote, at the recent Rhodesia Front Congress. There will be increasing economic hardships, especially for the Africans. Rising guerrilla violence will be followed by growing South African involvement in resisting it, and more and more bloodshed and suffering for the Africans.

I must repeat that if we have been seeking a settlement it is not because a settlement is desperately needed by Britain. Where we believe that an honourable settlement is needed is in Rhodesia, particularly by its African population. But it must be an honourable settlement. No Rhodesian African will welcome a settlement unless it embodies the principle of real African advance. I say to those of my hon. Friends who have conscientious doubts about our proposals and who judge them, partly at least, by the opposition that they arouse elsewhere in Africa, that our first obligation is to the Africans inside Rhodesia, not to those outside it.

I remind the House that it must be for the people of Rhodesia as a whole, and the vast majority of the people of Rhodesia—more than 90 per cent.—are African, to decide whether any settlement is in their interests. A test of acceptability under the fifth principle would be paramount, and it would be our job to see that those who conducted the test were experienced and unbiased men.

I do not deny for a moment the inevitable uncertainties of any purely constitutional safeguards not backed up by enforcement power on the ground. But the alternative seems to me to be the certainty of growing repression and apartheid. That is the very difficult moral question to which we must all, with our individual judgments, apply ourselves. In this dark and difficult situation it seemed to us, to Her Majesty's Government, that it was our duty to make a fresh and determined effort to see whether a settlement consistent with our principles could be obtained. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained in his statement included in the White Paper the nature of the proposals that we had put to Mr. Smith and his colleagues. Perhaps I might emphasise, though it should not need emphasising, that they are proposals; there is no question of any agreement at this stage.

Our proposals are honourable. They hold tenaciously to the six principles. Those of my hon. Friends who oppose the proposals may do so on Nibmar grounds. I understand that, though I disagree, and will try to show why. I do not think that my hon. Friends can sustain the proposition that our proposals betray the six principles. Mr. Smith came to "Fearless" on the clear and confirmed understanding that there could be no concessions by us that would undermine or weaken the six principles. We stood firm by them in "Fearless", and I give Mr. Smith notice now that we cannot under any circumstances move from them in the days ahead.

We have made a substantial concession to Mr. Smith as compared with the "Tiger" discussions over the return to legality. As against that, we must not overlook that under the "Tiger" proposals sanctions would have been lifted immediately. Under our present proposals they will continue during the interim period. I do not wish to deny that we have made an important concession, but it is a concession that does not negate any of the principles.

It does, however, add even greater importance to the right conditions for the test of acceptability—proper procedures for the release of detainees, time and opportunity for African leaders to discuss and decide their attitude to the proposals, and a broad-based Government, including Africans, during the interim period while the test is being carried out.

Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)

Did the Government receive assurances from Mr. Smith during the negotiations that the two main nationalist leaders, Mr. Joshua Nkomo and the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, would definitely be released to give advice to their followers on the acceptability of the proposals?

Mr. Thomson

The proposals for dealing with Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole and the many other detainees are laid out in the White Paper. They mark a significant advance on what was agreed in "Tiger". If my hon. Friend examines it, he will discover that the test now to be applied by the judicial tribunal that will include one of our nominees relates purely to the future and does not rule out the release of any detainee because he has had a conviction in the past.

The "Tiger" terms would have ruled out the release of Mr. Sithole, who has served a sentence. Our new proposals do not so rule out his release, and I ask my hon. Friends, particularly those with legal experience, to study the not insignificant differences between the texts of "Tiger" and "Fearless" on this matter.

The basic problem that we discussed on "Fearless" was, however, that of safeguarding the first and second principles—unimpeded progress towards majority rule, combined with safeguards against retrogressive amendments to the constitution. There are two safeguards here—a parliamentary safeguard of a blocking quarter of directly and popularly elected Africans, and an extra parliamentary safeguard of recourse to the Rhodesian Constitutional Council and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

This is not a question of simply standing on legalistic niceties when one introduces the question of safeguards provided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. We are right at the heart of our trusteeship for the largely unfranchised African majority. We have always regarded it as essential that there should be a double safeguard to ensure that there is no tampering with this vital part of the constitution relating to unimpeded African advance. The question of the Judicial Committee cannot be, and ought not to be, isolated. It is part of an interlocking device.

We believe that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the best safeguarding body. It has an outstanding international reputation for impartiality and objectivity. It already has its place in the Rhodesian constitution, and it is utterly free from any political influence of a British Government. But, as we have said in the White Paper, we are ready to discuss and consider alternatives if Mr. Smith desires. I know that a number of hon. Members, on both sides, sometimes from different points of view, have their doubts about the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a particular device, but what we are not ready to concede is that there should be only a single safeguard.

It is not any slight on Rhodesia or on its white population to point out the real danger that, if the prevention of a crucial amendment depends on a small block of votes, pressures of one kind or another, whether private or public, may be brought to bear on some members of the parliamentary minority to persuade them to vote with the majority. If there was a bare "blocking quarter" it would be necessary to secure only one or two such votes to turn the scale.

Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

Did the right hon. Gentleman say that the Government had not closed their mind to alternatives to the Privy Council safeguard?

Mr. Thomson

Yes, Sir. It is in the Prime Minister's statement in the White Paper.

It is for those reasons that an appeals system to an impartial outside body such as the Privy Council would provide an additional safeguard against discriminatory amendment of the constitution. Doubters say that this is no more than a paper safeguard, and I have already said that there can be no certainty about purely constitutional safeguards, but if the Government of the day in Rhodesia should ignore the results of such an appeal by tearing up their constitution for a second time—because that is what they would be doing—they would not only be acting illegally, but would face international reactions which could throw them back into isolation. This is the real deterrent, and it is not to be under-rated. Once the Rhodesian economy is booming again, I believe that the European community will think twice, and more than twice, before they risk return to their present isolation.

Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)

Will my right hon. Friend explain how the Parliament of an independent State can act illegally in this respect?

Mr. Thomson

I was coming to that. I am sure that it is pure coincidence that my hon. Friend is using the main argument which Mr. Smith deploys against us. Mr. Smith, like my hon. Friend, objects to any safeguard which derogates from the sovereignty of Parliament, but I think that I shall carry my hon. Friend with me when I say that in the modern world the sovereignty of Parliament reflects the sovereignty of the people.

So long as the great majority of the people of Rhodesia remain unfranchised it would be contrary to our legal and moral obligations to them to concede unfettered sovereignty to the Parliament of Rhodesia. The existence of such a safeguard would certainly be unusual, but what could be more unusual than for a democratic country like ours to hand over power to 5 per cent. of the population without receiving adequate assurances against the misuse of that power? And if the Rhodesian minority complain of restraints on their independence, what about the majority who are dependent on them?

I do not find the arguments against a Privy Council appeal system very convincing from the Rhodesian side, unless there really is an intention to amend the entrenched clauses of the constitution in the years immediately following independence so as to delay majority rule. We are dealing with a situation which is unique in the lifetime of most of us here, the question of the granting of independence before majority rule. If this is to take place is must be accompanied by unique safeguards; and whatever doubts my hon. Friends may have about this safeguard it is unique. It is unique even in the respect of the South African case, as my hon. Friends will see if they study that.

I recognise that a number of my hon. Friends sincerely take the view that under no circumstances should there be any departure from the principle of no independence before majority rule. As events have developed since "Tiger", I ask them to recognise that they are committing themselves to the view that under no circumstances can there be a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Rhodesian problem. That is the hard truth of the matter.

The Government's position about their pledge to the Commonwealth on Nibmar has not changed. The Prime Minister and I said the same thing to Mr. Smith about it in "Fearless" as I said to Mr. Smith on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in Salisbury last November, that there must be a substantial change of circumstances to justify us going back to our Commonwealth partners on the question of Nibmar. There have, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated, been some significant changes inside Rhodesia itself, both inside and outside the Rhodesia Front Party and within the European business community.

But apart from that, the White Paper contains British proposals for significant positive changes. First, there is an important new programme for African education—up to £100 million over 10 years, of which we would provide half. Apart from its contribution to economic development, this is, of course, closely linked with a responsible extension of the franchise.

Secondly, there is the proposal that the Royal Commission to test the acceptability of any constitution should make such recommendations as it thinks necessary to bring about the maximum registration of qualified African voters. There are at the moment just over 5,000 Africans registered as "B" roll voters. With the proposal taken over from "Tiger" to extend suffrage for the "B" roll to Africans over the age of 30, the potential "B" roll electorate rises to 1 million.

Thridly, there is the proposal for a broad-based interim Government including Africans.

The first two proposals are a positive advance on "Tiger". The third was included in the "Tiger" documents, but was among those things rejected by Mr. Smith after "Tiger". Taken together, these three proposals would themselves represent a significant change to the benefit of the Africans, and would be highly relevant to the question of going back to the Commonwealth over Nimbar. But, of course, this depends on Mr. Smith, and if there is no change of circumstances then, clearly, there can be no review of Nimbar.

Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)

If the right hon. Gentleman has left the question of external guarantees, surely he ought to have explained how the Government envisage external guarantees for which this country is responsible being enforced by this country against the resistance of the Rhodesians after the recognition of independence?

Mr. Thomson

I thought that I had dealt with that as plainly as I could. I recognise the limitations of constitutional guarantees. I said that the real deterrent was that to tear up these guarantees would be a second U.D.I., and would run the risk of a return to all the political and economic isolation which the Rhodesians face now. My view—and it is my own view and I can understand people taking a different judgment—is that the Rhodesian European community would be very reluctant to get themselves back into that position.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

Is not the difference between that situation and the present one that if Rhodesia becomes fully independent the United Nations would not be able to intervene, whereas that organisation can do so at the moment because we have the ultimate responsibility for the conduct of affairs in Rhodesia?

Mr. Thomson

No, Sir. I think that my hon. Friend is wrong in his judgment about that. The United Nations would be able to intervene in whatever way it thought most appropriate.

I ask my hon. Friends who feel doubts about this to recognise the alternative that they are asking the 4 million Africans in Rhodesia to face—a prolonged and indefinite period of increased repression and increased progress towards apartheid. If they feel in their judgment that that is right, I respect them.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)

Can my right hon. Friend tell me whether the Africans have been consulted as to their attitude on this matter?

Mr. Thomson

I said in the earlier part of my speech, and also at Question Time, that the absolutely crucial element of this is its acceptability, so that any proposals put forward can be shown to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.

In his statement to Parliament last Thursday, Mr. Smith appeared to be going back on the radio broadcast he made in Rhodesia the day before. On that occasion he said that apart from the Privy Council question he could reconcile himself to the rest of our proposals. In his statement to Parliament he said that he found the proposal for an interim broad-based Government obnoxious. There are a number of features in any compromise settlement dealing with fundamental issues of this kind which are bound to be unpalatable to both sides. We did not find it easy to agree to the concession that we felt it right to offer in respect of a return to legality, but it seemed to us that for the Rhodesian people as a whole the alternative to a settlement is an even more obnoxious one.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

The right hon. Gentleman has said three times that the alternative to acceptance is apartheid and increased oppression. If that be his view of the likely development does it not undermine his confidence in what the Rhodesia Front would do if it accepted a constitution, when it is expected to do quite the reverse?

Mr. Thomson

I have already given the House my considered reasons for believing that if there were a settlement with these safeguards it would not be overthrown. I cannot go any further with that argument.

We wanted to discuss what Mr. Smith's reaction has been to these proposals. Apart from his views—which I have just described—about a broad-based Government he also appeared, in his parliamentary statement, to be going back to an insistence upon the chiefs being part of a blocking quarter. We have nothing against the chiefs, as such, in African society or in an African Government. We recognise that the chiefs have a rôle to play, and we are content that they should have an important place in the Rhodesian Constitution. But we cannot accept that the efficacy of the blocking quarter should depend upon the support of men who, in the very nature of things, are more likely to defend the existing order than to bring about a new one. It is as if the 19th century House of Lords had been asked to be the guardians of the extension of the popular franchise. Subject to the existence of a genuine blocking quarter of directly and popularly elected Africans, we are ready to consider whatever variation in the composition of the two Houses may be suggested.

As to Mr. Smith's attitude, it is worth recalling that after "Tiger" he accepted the constitutional proposals in "Tiger" and broke on the questions of a return to legality and a broad-based Government. Now we have sought to meet him on the problem of a return to legality, but he appears to be raising obstacles about constitutional proposals. I simply want to warn the House that it is important to recognise them and to take into account the fact that Mr. Smith has a gift for being exceedingly plain about what he will not accept and exceedingly ambiguous about what he will accept. He reminds me a little of Oliver Cromwell, when he was asked what he would substitute for the Episcopalian Church. He said on that occasion, "I can tell you, Sirs, what I would not have, though I cannot what I would."

We do not regard what Mr. Smith has said on the radio or in Parliamentary debate as the final word for us. The present position is that we still await his considered views on our proposals. If he wishes, I am ready to go to Salisbury for further talks, but if such talks take place they will be based squarely on our six principles, just as the "Fearless" talks were.

Meanwhile, whether there is a settlement or not, we need the powers that we will seek later tonight. If there should be a settlement we must still maintain our present stance—until that settlement has been confirmed by the test of acceptability—on the granting of independence. If there is no settlement we must maintain our political and economic pressures until there has been a change of heart in Salisbury. Let there be no mistake; these political and economic pressures have not failed. It is because of them that we are discussing, however cautiously, the possibility of an honourable settlement today.

4.15 p.m.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)

The Minister could not take us very fuch further today than the proposals which are contained in the White Paper although, perhaps, he explained a little more about the Government's thinking and gave us some more of his views about the reactions of Mr. Smith. He was talking perhaps more to his own side on this occasion than across the Floor of the House.

For a long time before the Gibraltar discussions we had been asking for renewed negotiations with Mr. Smith, not just for the sake of talk but because we believed that if each side to the dispute was seen by the other to be making a real effort to understand the difficulties and differences that lay between them on the subject of Rhodesian independence there could be a reconciliation of views.

The right hon. Gentleman was quite right to stress the difficulty of this matter. Rhodesia has an undoubted claim to independence. Almost every unit that is recognised as an entity, certainly in Africa, already has it. Although Britain's power is limited, we have an obligation to try to ensure that there is fair treatment of our former citizens and former subjects. Each side in the dispute has a case, and there is validity in a good deal of it.

The recent meeting in Gibraltar was justified to this extent—that the mood and the atmosphere were in sharp contrast to the situation in the "Tiger". That mood was at once reflected—and the Prime Minister cannot have helped noticing this—in the exchanges across the Floor after he made his statement last week. All that was gain. I hope that we shall not return to the long-range political bombardment which has been such a sterile and distastful feature of recent years and months.

The right hon. Gentleman says that he is willing to return to Rhodesia, and I hope that he will do so. The Rhodesians, in particular, have not got a great deal of experience in international diplomacy. They are a small country, with not many people available for the profession of politics. It is much easier to do close talking to the Rhodesians than to carry on a long range correspondence. Anyone who has dealt with them knows that.

There have been notable changes in the positions of both Governments—positions which had previously been dug in. The Prime Minister noted some of them the other day in respect of Rhodesia. There was the lifting of censorship, and the departure from the Government of Rhodesian Ministers and party leaders openly hostile to a multiracial society. Although sanction would never induce political surrender—nor would they ever destroy the economy of Rhodesia—nevertheless, today, an increasing number of Rhodesians are contrasting the condition of their country as it was, as it is, and as it might be. Therefore, the value of a settlement is increasingly recognised out there.

The British side has made changes. It has admitted, and put on paper, the fact that the processes of the return to legality can be enormously simplified. It has defined the circumstances in which Nibmar could be scrapped. These are being described with reasonable precision. All that, too, is gain, and so, too, I think, is the proposal for a joint programme of education, something with which Mr. Winston Field and I, incidentally, were concerned in 1964, with the proviso—

Mr. Mendelson

What happened to him?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

He lost office, and so did I, greatly to the regret of a great many people.

The proviso was that the scheme for expansion of education should be strictly related to a development programme. That is immensely important. There needs to be a jointly worked out definite development programme for Rhodesia.

Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if there were any bona fides by the Rhodesia Front wishing for African economic development, they would have accepted the right hon. Gentleman's offer of economic aid as long ago as then?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

It would have been accepted, I think, but for the unhappy circumstances which I have described. [Interruption.] I cannot tell. Mr. Winston Field and I had set our officials to work on a. co-operative scheme. That is all I can say. We had got as far as that. I hope that that answers the hon. Member's question.

Predictably so, from the start the kernel of the matter for both countries has been the concern for the electoral rights of Africans today and in the future—how best, in other words, particularly to ensure that the present right of an African to qualify for a common roll vote with a European cannot be either obliterated or eroded in the future. That is the problem, and it is the absolute heart of the problem.

It was on that crucial issue that there had been complete deadlock and total silence and no contact between the Governments from the time of the breakdown of the "Tiger" talks to the time when I was in Salisbury in March this year. It was clear that unless progress could be made to resolve this central issue, not only would there be no agreement, but events were moving in such a way that there was almost bound to be a final break between Rhodesia and Britain. Anyone who had watched the political events in Rhodesia was, I think, bound to come to that conclusion.

Therefore, at that time, I told Mr. Smith that I could not see how an agreement could be made with any British Government unless a Parliamentary mechanism to protect that right of the African was written into the new constitution, as it had been in the Constitution of 1961 and as it is in the Constitution of 1965. The obvious form that that must take was a blocking percentage of votes operated by elected Africans.

It was understood from the start, of course, that Mr. Smith could not conceivably make a commitment to me. That was why I brought back proposals to the Prime Minister. He could not make a commitment to anybody other than the British Government. Entirely without commitment, however, I applied my mind there with him to possible formulae which might be worked out to achieve that end.

I preferred a formula using the Africans on the "B" roll, the Africans elected by Africans on the "A" roll and adding one or two who, on the best advice I could get, were certain to be elected at the first general election after independence before which no legislation could be passed. The Prime Minister, quite properly and fairly, detected a flaw in this, to which I shall come presently.

By that means, however, one could arrive, as the Prime Minister has done by a different means described in the White Paper, at a blocking quarter in a House of 89 at 23 or 23-plus. The Prime Minister pointed out the possible flaw that some of the Africans on whom I had relied to be elected at the first general election might, for one reason or another, not be elected. Therefore, on the whole, I rather prefer the formula which resulted from the Gibraltar talks than I do my own, with, possibly, one qualification. I am sure, however, that no one—and I would include Mr. Smith in this—would have been inclined to run out on this technicality.

The assumption was all the time—and I hope that it still is—that the formula must provide that the elected Africans, if they voted as a block, could block any amendment to an entrenched clause even if the chiefs and the Europeans voted together. This is the essential point.

I was sufficiently sure that Mr. Smith was willing to consider a formula of this kind—there had been no suggestion of this before—to feel justified in so reporting to the Prime Minister and to his right hon. Friend that this fresh opening should be explored and exploited by him and Mr. Smith and that it could lead—I did not put it higher than that—to an agreement. I think that it is reasonable to conclude, although I have not seen him and talked to him, that Lord Goodman, having gone over much the same ground, probably came independently to much the same sort of conclusion.

As I say, having read the White Paper, I think that, on the whole, I prefer the formula that exists now, but there is one factor that is important in a blocking mechanism. In a blocking mechanism one does not want to recreate the kind of situation that exists, for example, in the United Nations, where a veto can destroy a resolution and action or an amendment to a constitution which would be patently beneficial to everbody in the country.

Therefore, in the formula that I was considering, I had favoured the use of Africans elected from the "A" roll because, in the eyes of Mr. Smith and the Rhodesians, and, I think, of most people, those are responsible Africans. The Prime Minister has added something that has made this context valuable. He has added a provision that qualifications for election to the Senate should be higher, if I understand it aright, than the qualifications for the other House. Therefore, although there was this mathematical technical difference, I hope that there was not much difference in approach concerning the blocking quarter.

Anyhow, one way or another, a blocking mechanism ought, I think, to be able to be worked about and applied. I hope that Mr. Smith will co-operate in this exercise, because, I repeat, this is absolutely at the centre of the possibility of an agreement with this country.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

Since the House is listening carefully to the right hon. Gentleman's account about the blocking mechanism, may I ask for his comment on Mr. Smith's statement, a few hours after he had, apparently, agreed to it, that he does not accept a blocking mechanism? Even that protection, apparently, is now to be watered down.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I shall not comment on statements that Mr. Smith is said to have made and has made recently. It is much better that the former Commonwealth Secretary should go to Salisbury and discuss these matters with him and see whether he accepts them. The hon. Member is right. It is possible that Mr. Smith may go back on something that he has been seen to accept. I would rather that the former Commonwealth Secretary went and had conversations with him again about this matter.

There remains one other important question: whether to try to write into the constitution an additional extra guarantee of the clauses which contain these Africans' rights. There are a number of possibilities, of which one is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It is a possibility for this reason. It could be used, if only because it has been used in the past, in this context to pronounce as to whether certain parliamentary actions were or were not consistent with the provisions entrenched in a written constitution. It has been used for this purpose. Those, of course, were the days when the pattern of Westminster democracy was more popular in the world than it is now and was recognised far and wide.

That is no longer so. All constitutional questions are now so invaded with political overtones and prejudice that it is becoming more and more questionable whether this is any longer a function which the Judicial Committee should be asked to perform. It could be worthwhile further exploring its limited use in this respect, as a mark of the confidence—this is the point which the Minister made—between the two countries. Nevertheless, this is a legitimate subject for debate.

It was just because I had these doubts about the use of the Privy Council in this way in modern conditions that, the Prime Minister will remember, before the "Tiger" talks I had put forward the idea of a treaty between the Rhodesian Government and the British Government, guaranteeing the terms which were settled for a number of years. This has one advantage, particularly in these days when patriotism, or nationalism, is so rampant and prominent—that a treaty is the act of an independent, sovereign State. As such, it may have a greater appeal to Rhodesians than the other mechanisms.

This is a possibility, but I am not sure that it is appropriate in present conditions. Of course, the desire of this country to get what the Prime Minister has on previous occasions called "copper-bottomed guarantees" is natural. The precedents which reinforce the desire are not only provided by South Africa. There was the case of Ghana and the Ashanti, in which, I remember we took the greatest trouble to write into the constitution the protection for minorities, and there are many other States in Africa where the constitution laid down the electoral pattern, but where the electoral rules were unilaterally altered at the first possible opportunity.

On the other hand, the reality of modern, post-colonial history teaches the lesson which is all too painfully clear—that, if the entrenched clauses in a constitution are seriously challenged, there are only two courses open to the aggrieved party. One is to do nothing and the other is to employ force. Therefore, I hope that, when the Minister resumes his discussions with Mr. Smith, these safeguards will be represented not only as safeguards against abuse, but also as a mark of trust between the two countries. We cannot use, in parliamentary terms, the words "gentlemen's agreement"—we have, I am afraid, gone far beyond that in these days—but if there were to be a treaty this would be a possible way of dealing with the matter, and possibly more acceptable to Rhodesians.

Sir Dingle Foot (Ipswich)

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the House, if there were a treaty and if there were a breach of the treaty by the Rhodesians, how it would be enforced?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that that is exactly the same problem as we have faced over the last few years. The Government of the day—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] Hon. Members must accept reality, and the reality, to put it plainly, was shown in the case of Ghana and the Ashanti, when we could do nothing and decided to do nothing. This is what we have done in the case of a good many African States—decided to do nothing. The choice is really between doing nothing and the application of force, but I am not saying that there is no value in these things. I agree with the Minister: if we get a safeguard, I believe that this time the Rhodesians will keep it.

There is not a bad rule of diplomacy which I hope both sides will observe. If the Rhodesians can achieve and satisfy the British Government that Nibmar can be scrapped, they will have the one thing which they really want. If the British Government can secure a blocking mechanism, and it is operated by elected Africans, they will have the essential elements of success. It is not a bad rule of diplomacy—this might be applied to both sides in this dispute—that, when the absolute essentials have been gained, it is not wise to try for the moon.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I wanted to ask whether there was any means of enforcing the Privy Council's judgment which was not available to enforce a treaty.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

It is, I think, exactly the same thing. All these safeguarding mechanisms—this is why I enter the caution about going further than the absolute essentials—will come in the end to the same thing—to the choice: does one do nothing or use force?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold)

The proposal for a treaty, which, in fact was supported by the Opposition, not before "Tiger" originally, but before U.D.I.—I remember that that was put forward and the Opposition supported it—is something which was incorporated in "Tiger", and, of course, it was one of the many constitutional alternatives to the Privy Council which we discussed at Gibraltar. The right hon. Gentleman should know that the objections used against that were exactly the same as the one used against the Privy Council.

Further, since the right hon. Gentleman has said two or three times, with all his authority in these matters, that he feels that my right hon. Friend should proceed as early as possible to Salisbury—and this is obviously the next step—I take it that he does not mean to suggest that my right hon. Friend should go before we have had the formal reply from the Rhodesian Front?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Obviously not. Clearly, the Government must receive the formal reply, but I hope that there will not be a written reply to the reply, because personal contact is so much more likely, I believe, to solve these things.

I hope that the Gibraltar discussions can be taken further and I hope that I have said nothing in this debate which will make negotiations more difficult. On this side, we passionately want the Government and the Government negotiators to succeed, and we want to give them every chance of doing so. We shall say nothing which will complicate their task. Therefore, I hope that the Minister, if he goes to Salisbury again—I profoundly hope that he will—will this time be able to come back with the prize of an agreement.

4.36 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough, East)

The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) referred to his own responsibility in the matter of the Rhodesia problem. We have often referred in this House to his responsibility and that of his Government for the economic mess inherited by a Labour Government. We would do well to remember that the Rhodesia problem, too, was handed on to a Labour Government. Nevertheless, if there is to be condemnation, it must be made of successive Governments and Governors, who have always tended to give way to the white supremacists in Rhodesia. My fear is that we are doing this today.

I would give two examples. One is the Law and Maintenance Act. On this, a Chief Justice of Rhodesia, Sir Robert Tredgold, resigned, because he said that it should not be introduced, and Parliament and Government of the day did nothing to give support to Sir Robert Tredgold. As a result of that Act, Mr. Smith has been able to subject the law to politics and his judiciary to the executive.

Then there is the Land Apportionment Act, which was condemned by the Rhodesian Constitutional Council, and and little support was given from the Government to those who protested. Yet that Act enabled Europeans to have fourteen times as much land per head as Africans. They were not allowed to live near their place of work, which meant a long distance to travel and the necessity to meet heavy travelling expenses out of their meagre wages. Therefore, these two Acts enabled Mr. Smith to do the kind of thing that he is doing today and preventing a settlement between this country and Rhodesia.

There are men like Sir Robert Tredgold, Lord Malvern, Mr. Garfield Todd and Mr. Whitehead, who struggled against this kind of domination by a white minority. They were parties to the 1961 Constitution which, in due course, would have given Africans majority rule. The basis of it was no independence before majority rule. I was one of those who thought that the 1961 Constitution did not go far enough to meet the Africans. I did not like it. I was against it at the time.

But if the Africans had worked the constitution once it became law, we would not be in the difficulty that we are today. I am confident that by educational and property qualifications a situation would have been reached in which Africans in Parliament and, I believe, in the Government would have been strong enough to stop Mr. Smith coming through.

It was unfortunate that Mr. Joshua Nkomo initially accepted the proposals to work the constitution and then decided not to do so. Pressures were put on him. I intervened on several occasions, both before becoming Secretary of State and afterwards, to try to get the two conflicting African opinions together, but without success. If the two African nationalist leaders had got together and had worked for the common good, as the African leaders in Zambia and Kenya have done, the Europeans would not have been as frightened as they subsequently were because of the violence committed in Rhodesia, and the Africans would have been accepted today as playing their part in leading Rhodesia to a prosperous future.

Whatever the situation is today—whether it is "Tiger" or "Fearless"—I find myself very diffident about attacking my former colleagues. But I honestly believe that both sets of propositions fall far short of the 1961 Constitution. We opposed that. I cannot in all honesty see how we can accept anything less than the 1961 Constitution. By the responsibilities put upon us, Britain is committed to bringing the peoples of Rhodesia as a whole to a safe independence in which justice and liberty prevail. The way in which the Rhodesian rebellion is brought to an end will certainly determine the future of the Commonwealth. I happen to be one of those who still believe in the Commonwealth. It will affect relations between the West and non-Communist world—and what a feast it will provide for the Communists.

It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with the Prime Minister in trying to get this Rhodesian burden off our hands. Nobody could have worked harder than he did to get an honourable settlement. If anybody has any doubts about that, let him read the White Papers, both before I.D.I. and just after-wards. I was delighted, as a result of the "Tiger" talks, to find that Mr. Smith was so stupid that he could not accept the proposals. But, equally, I was glad when the Prime Minister said to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, "We cannot now possibly settle on anything less than no independence before majority rule and the application of economic sanctions".

That is why Mr. Smith wants a settlement now—because he knows that economic sanctions are beginning to bite. The businessmen in Rhodesia and the farmers earlier in the year were rebelling. Mr. Smith was forced to promise them a big break-through in a short time. It is not coming. The reason for the present disturbances in Rhodesia is not that Mr. Harper and Mr. Smith differ in principle. They both want while supremacy. Mr. Smith is employing tactics whereby he will achieve that objective without having to face the economic consequences.

I hope that we shall continue to say that there should be no independence before majority rule and that there will be the fullest application of economic sanctions. If this is done, Britain will be able to continue to keep her great moral leadership which she has achieved in the world by the way in which she has been able to give liberty and freedom to formerly dependent territories.

I had the privilege of being associated with this movement from the very beginning—the transference of power from this country to India. I hope we shall not do anything which diminishes the standards which we employed then. What I hope we shall be able to record in the case of Britain as a whole—both sides are committed to this—is that we threw off our colonial responsibility in a fashion which found us respect the world over so that we might build a new commonwealth of nations. Otherwise, the Commonwealth will turn its back on us, together with the whole world, except for one or two reactionary friends whom we do not want.

Therefore, I hope that for the sake of Parliament, which is still sovereign and which has been flouted by this rebel, and because of the monarchy—after all, there was an affront to the Queen—there will be no attempt to deal with a man whom I regard as a traitor.

4.46 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) obviously spoke with great conviction and sincerity, and that was the quality which he showed during his time as Commonwealth Secretary. Therefore, we value anything that he has to say on this matter, and it is treated with a good deal of respect, at any rate by those who want to see a real partnership in Central Africa.

I start by repeating what I said when the initial statement was made by the Prime Minister on 15th October. I believe that the whole House and the country want to see an honourable settlement and an end to this dispute, but many of us would prefer to see no settlement rather than a settlement which jettisoned any of the six principles. By that I mean, not that we see the six principles provided for on paper, but that the ultimate solution is such that it will last and it will not be possible for those who have once done a U.D.I, to do it again.

Is "Fearless" the basis for a settlement? Was "Tiger" the basis for a settlement? Why is it that this House demands that there shall be an honourable settlement? I think that the answer is that that alone can guarantee that there will not be a second U.D.I. If there were a second U.D.I. after the British Government had granted independence to the régime, this country could well find itself in the position of defending the régime against the hostility of the whole Continent of Africa and we would be perpetuating the divisions of southern Africa which many of us want to see brought to an end.

For those who regard the issue of Rhodesia merely in economic terms—and there are people who say, "We are in favour of sanctions as long as they are not too expensive"—and to those whom one has to address a purely economic argument, it is fair to say that a very prominent industrialist in this country has estimated the cost of sanctions and the emergency to be £50 million. The trading relations of this country with the rest of Africa represent nearly £450 million worth of imports and just under £300 million worth of exports.

So on purely economic grounds, do not let us think that the economic results of a dishonourable agreement would be something which could be lightly cast aside. But I believe the real reason why we must have a durable settlement is that the honour of this country is at stake and we are the trustees of 4 million people who have virtually no political influence and power. That is why we want an honourable settlement.

I agree that any settlement must be judged by the external and internal guarantees against breach. Sir Roy Welensky, with whom I have disagreed on many issues, but for whom I value a personal friendship, asked the question, "Why don't they trust us? Why is it they are asking for these guarantees?" I do not think this is an occasion to rake over the past, but if there should be any doubt in the minds of the people of Rhodesia—at least the Europeans—why we want guarantees—copper bottomed guarantees—it is on the basis of their past record of breaching agreements which have been entered into.

Some of us remember the fate of the African Affairs Board in 1957. It was set up as a safeguard against discriminatory legislation, and that Board determined that two Measures, the Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Federal Electoral Bill, were directly contrary to the interests of Africans. Unfortunately there was a Government in power in the United Kingdom which substantially agreed. The Tory Government here gave their blessing to these measures. But rather than appeal to the Westminster Parliament one would have hoped that the Federal Government of Rhodesia would have shown their good faith by accepting the view of the Board.

On the 29th October, 1965, when talks took place in Salisbury, Mr. Smith made it perfectly plain—at page 115 of the Blue Book—that if there was a referendum which showed that Africans were opposed to independence on the basis of the 1961 Constitution he would feel entitled to ignore and reject that view. We know again that he made clear on the same occasion—at page 125—that if it was felt that African advancement to independence was too rapid he would feel perfectly entitled to slow down the rate and amend the electoral procedure.

After all, the act of U.D.I. was in itself a tearing up of a constitution which had been agreed. The declaration of an emergency was obtained from the Governor on the express promise that this was not a prelude to U.D.I. Again he admitted on the "Tiger" that if African opinion was against the "Tiger" proposals he would do a second U.D.I, rather than submit to the terms of the "Tiger" Agreement.

He arrived on the "Fearless" not accepting the Six Principles but prepared to discuss them. He has gone back on practically every single principle to which he appeared to consider negotiable. He arrived back in Salisbury only opposed to the Privy Council as the Court of Appeal. Now he is opposed to all external guarantees and to the blocking quarter, unless it is substantially made up of chiefs, and to a broad-based Government which is to take the place of his régime. He has arrived, as it were, with six veils and one by one he has taken them off. Now we see him in his political nakedness. The reason we are determined in this country—I say bluntly—to have copper-bottomed guarantees is that these are men who have torn up agreements in the past. There is no point in mincing words. We must have guarantees that they will not have the power to do so again. That is why we must have exernal guarantees.

Some of us did not like the "Tiger" Agreement and if we did not like the "Tiger" Agreement we like still less the "Fearless" Agreement, because the "Fearless" is a retreat from "Tiger". I want to examine this proposition.

First, there is the previous insistence on a return to legality. In a debate in this House on 7th December, 1966, the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) put forward a proposition that it was unreasonable to insist on this period of direct rule. He said: If they are satisfied that they can do it in conditions as they find them, let it be so. Mr. Smith would have to recognise the legal authority of the Governor, I do not think that he should be pressed in these circumstances to accept those elements of direct rule which he thinks exist in the White Paper, and which, if they do not exist, clearly should create no obstacle."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1406.] The right hon. Gentleman was saying that he did not think there was a case for direct rule to tide over this temporary period of legality.

The Prime Minister on 8th December, 1966, said: My right hon. Friend has told the House why this is important. Ft was implicit in the question put by the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe). There must be free political expression in Rhodesia. Is this possible against a background of a régime whose very existence was described in such compelling terms in the words that I have quoted of my predecessor? "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1623.] Obviously the Prime Minister attached tremendous importance to the return to legality, because he felt that only in those circumstances could there be a genuine testing of opinion on the part of the Africans of whether or not they supported the independence package. But now in "Fearless" that has gone. There is no suggestion that the Governor should have legislative power. There is no suggestion that the armed forces and the police should be his responsibility advised by a security council of which Britain should provide one member. There is no question at all but that Mr. Smith provided he brings in a few Africans can remain in control.

It is true that sanctions would not at this stage be lifted, but the importance which the Prime Minister attaches to a return to legality goes. That alone would create conditions in which opinion could be tested, but it has been swept aside. What the Prime Minister thought were fears then apparently no longer exist. It was a appropriately named ship on which the negotiations took place.

Then we have the position of the detainees. In the Prime Minister's communiqué which was put out in 1966 it was said plainly that all those detained for purely political reasons should be released. Political activity should be constitutional and free from intimidation from any quarter and repressive and discriminatory laws should be repealed. This too is whittled down. In the "Tiger" Agreement, paragraph 15, there were provisions for the release of certain of the detainees. I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. Since I think the "Fearless" proposals are far more restrictive in regard to detainees.

I did not like the "Tiger" position, but the "Fearless" proposals are worse. The position there was that detention and restriction would not be authorised unless the tribunal was satisfied that the persons concerned have committed or incited to acts of intimidation. So there had to be proved an actual act of incitement or intimidation. If that was proved the detainees would continue to be detained. This would have made it difficult to release Nehru, Ghandi or Makarios, or any other comparable Commonwealth Leader coming to London after independence. But in Section 3 of the "Fearless" proposals it does not have to be shown that they have committed an actual offence but merely that, taking into account their past behaviour, they might commit an offence and might be likely to do so in future. So if it is felt that there is a prospective fear, not even necessarily suspected because of the commission of a past offence, then these men may continue to be detained. I do not think the attitude certainly of the Rhodesians who will be two of the three persons who will sit on the tribunal is likely to be a liberal one designed to secure the release of detainees.

First, we have insistence on legality which the Prime Minister regarded as of paramount importance.

The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)

Under the "Tiger" Constitution, as I read it, a previous conviction would have been conclusive of the unsuitability of the detainee for release. Under the proposals of "Fearless" that is not so. If the right hon. Gentleman will study the matter with care I think he will find that is the case.

Mr. Thorpe

I am very much obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. As one would expect, he is wholly correct. What I consider to be such a disgraceful state of affairs is that whereas for a past conviction one could continue to be detained, under the "Fearless" proposals it is possible for a man who has not committed an offence and has been blameless and who may have been locked up under the 90-day procedure without trial or charge to continue in detention if it is thought that he is likely to commit an offence in the future. That is contrary to the principles of English justice. I am sure that that would be the view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. [Interruption.] It may be Rhodesian justice, but it is certainly not British justice.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

Rhodesia is an African country. Can the right hon. Gentleman name a single country in the Continent of Africa where persons are not, regrettably, detained in this way in order that law and order may be preserved? It may be regrettable, but it is a fact.

Mr. Thorpe

The hon. Gentleman should look at the example of Zambia, where there are procedures for bringing charges and hearings. Even if I accept the premise of his argument that every country on the African country has arbitrary detention and powers of arrest without trial or charge—which I do not accept—is he seriously suggesting that this justifies us in this country bringing in the same standards? Are we not trying to prove that the great thing about Rhodesia is that it is possible to build up a multi-racial society? Are we not trying to prove that it is possible for people to have equal civic rights whatever the colour of their skin? Is that not what the whole Commonwealth is about? The hon. Gentleman's point is not the sort of touchstone that I should like accepted for deciding upon policies in this matter.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) that it is arguable whether the Privy Council is the correct body and whether or not there is not some other forum. After all, it is not being asked to decide, like the Supreme Court of the United States, whether a piece of legislation is intra or ultra vires the Constitution. It is being asked to form a political judgment whether or not something discriminates against a particular race. Very often the answer to the question does not lie in a construction of the statute or piece of legislation or regulation but depends upon the way in which it is subsequently applied, and that is not a matter, I suggest, upon which the Privy Council is pre-eminently qualified to adjudicate.

What is again a retreat is that under the "Tiger" proposals there was an appeal to the Privy Council as of right, but under the "Fearless" proposals if a certificate is not obtained from the Commission—whose chairman will no doubt be Sir Hugh Beadle, whose views of the Privy Council are already known—special leave to appeal can be obtained from the Privy Council. I cannot think of a worse way of inviting a head on clash between the Rhodesian authorities and the Privy Council than to allow the Privy Council to grant a special leave to appeal in circumstances in which the quasi-judicial authorities in Rhodesia have refused it. I much prefer the previous position, where there was automatic right of appeal. But the greatest retreat is that if the certificate is refused by the Constitutional Committee and the Judicial Committee grants leave to appeal, that does not stop the piece of alleged discriminatory legislation being enacted. Far from it. It can be introduced. Therefore, this becomes a purely academic move.

Again, there is the question of the blocking quarter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire said that it would be very dangerous if we had a veto. Surely the difference between the United Nations veto, which the Russians use, and which we have, I regret to say, on occasion used, and the blocking quarter is that it is only to be used if that quarter actually discriminates against the African population. If there is a genuine attempt to bring about partnership, even without a veto, is it really wise and responsible for the Government there, in any event, to push through legislation to which the majority of the four million Africans are resolutely opposed? Therefore, I do not believe that the blocking quarter is such a serious matter and comparable to a veto.

But what worries me is that in paragraph 3 of the "Fearless" document appears the statement that the "B" roll franchise should be extended to Africans over 30 who can satisfy the citizenship and residence qualifications. Satisfy whom? The Delimitation Commission? If it says, on a technicality, that 100,000 Africans do not qualify for various technical reasons, is there a right of appeal? I ask this because we are dealing with men who have publicly said that, if necessary, they would slow up the rate of African advancement. Where is there to be an appeal in regard to that?

Mr. Smith on 7th September, 1964, in London, said that if there was independence he thought that 750,000 Africans would probably be put on the "B" roll. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that those who could qualify might be as many as one million. I wonder whether Mr. Smith has given him any ideas of the numbers that he would expect to see on the "B" roll assuming that there was registration and not the boycott that we have seen recently?

The proposals for African education are good. They were initiated by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. Much will turn on the attitude of the Rhodesian authorities. I do not say that it will be decisive, but it will be revealing to see their attitude. However, there is no doubt that on the return to legality, on the copper-bottomed guarantees and on the position of African advancement politically the "Fearless" document is a retreat from the "Tiger" document.

If the Government had these reservations at the time of the "Tiger" meeting, why do they now feel more able to trust the Rhodesian régime? Is it because of its attitude to the Privy Council? It surely cannot be in the light of the hangings. Is it because of the legislation that has been brought in to liberate the African population? Of course not. The Rhodesians are talking, and it is because sanctions are beginning to have an effect. I say bluntly that I do not trust the men who are in control in Rhodesia today, and I believe that we have every right to say that on the basis of past performances. Therefore, are we entitled to take a risk? The right hon. Gentleman says "Yes, of course, there are uncertainties." Are we entitled to face those uncertainties? Are we entitled to take that risk? We are not risking ourselves; we are risking four million Africans.

I believe that there are only two ways of getting copper-bottomed guarantees, either by adhering resolutely to Nibmar or by the stationing of a British sovereign base there. I believe that this matter was raised and discussed on the "Tiger" and, therefore, it is nothing new. However, I do not believe that on the basis of the "Fearless" document we as a House of Commons could put our hands on our heart and say that an honourable settlement has been arrived at and that we have confidence that it will be honoured in the future. There are those who say "What would you do?" I do not know any policy which can guarantee success. I say that straight away. But the fact that one cannot guarantee success is not in itself an excuse for a dishonourable settlement.

I think that we have to look very much more carefully at the question of sanctions. When one considers that oil flows from only ten countries in the world in appreciable quantities, one would think that those countries could be given the option of selling their oil to the 120 countries which, at least on paper, support the United Nations on sanctions or of selling it to Rhodesia and the other one or two countries which breach sanctions. I think I know which selection they would make.

I cannot in my heart bring myself to say that on the basis of this document and these proposals we could have an honourable and lasting settlement. It would be easy and popular to say that at last we can see a light dawning, that at last the Prime Minister can get rid of this problem and the country can get it off its chest. I have been told that when the Munich Agreement was announced in this House many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides rose and cheered. But one man in particular remained steadfastly in his seat. He was the man who occupied the seat I now have the honour to sit in. History showed that Sir Archibald Sinclair was right. There were others as well. The right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) was one of them. They took the view that Munich was neither honourable nor likely to last.

If there is a protest tonight, if there is a view that these are not honourable terms on which this country could discharge its responsibilities for Rhodesia, I and my colleagues will go into the Lobby with that protest. We are dealing with a desperately difficult situation. The good faith of the country is at stake. The future of 4 million Africans and Britain's reputation for non-racialism are at stake. We cannot, simply because it is easy, accept a paper agreement which will be revoked, possibly torn up, within a matter of months.

I dread to think what the attitude of Africans inside and outside Rhodesia would be when faced with an independence settlement of that sort. When Lord Monckton reported, he indicated that the hatred of Federation by the Africans was intense, sincere and pathological. I believe that, after their experience of the régime which has been ruling in Salisbury since U.D.I., the hatred by Africans inside and outside Rhodesia would be such as to turn Southern Africa into a bloodbath. It is for that reason that I believe this to be a bad agreement and I do not want to be a party to a sordid retreat.

5.12 p.m.

Sir Dingle Foot (Ipswich)

Not for the first time I find myself fully in agreement with the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe). I think that I reveal no secret when I say that I was one of those who were very unhappy about the "Tiger" terms, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that these new terms represent a retreat even from "Tiger".

Before I come to the main issues of the debate, I want to make one reference to paragraph 8, about the proposed appeal to the Privy Council. It is desirable that the Government should clear up what is intended. Lord Dilhorne, in a letter to The Times to which I endeavoured to reply a day or two ago, seemed to imagine that the judges would have to undertake a political decision. I endeavoured to point out that they would simply be concerned with a judicial decision.

Where there is a written constitution with entrenched clauses, the courts can and do intervene from time to time and declare a particular measure to be invalid because it contravenes an entrenched clause. This has happened in the United States, in India since independence and throughout the Commonwealth, and it is the sort of task which the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council frequently undertake. But it should be made clear what kind of decision is to be expected from members of the Committee.

Secondly, it is provided in these terms that this form of appeal is to last for 15 years. If there were a grant of independence, it would be 15 years before the appeal could be abolished by the Rhodesian Parliament. But, of course, there may be many other discriminatory or unconstitutional measures than the ones dealt with in paragraph 8.

There was a provision against discriminatory laws in the 1961 Constitution. There is machinery there for an appeal to the Privy Council. Anyone who com- plained under that Constitution that a law was discriminating against him could go to the High Court for redress. If he was not satisfied, he could appeal to the Privy Council. Is it intended or have the Government considered making that form of appeal mandatory for the next 15 years? If Sir Hugh Beadle and his colleagues are to remain in judicial positions in Rhodesia, it makes it more than ever desirable that we should preserve the appeal to the Privy Council in every possible way.

Now I come to the main issue. If Mr. Smith and his colleagues were to accept these proposals, should they be approved by the House of Commons? It has always seemed to me that there has been something extremely artificial and unreal about the negotiations, first, in the "Tiger" and then, in the "Fearless". On the one side of the table we had the representatives of Her Majesty's Government; on the other, Mr. Smith and his associates. Between them, they were attempting on each occasion to settle the future of 4½ million people, the vast majority of whom were wholly unrepresented at those talks.

I do not think that anyone who has studied Rhodesia or been there, as I have, can have any doubt that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole, whatever their differences may be, each represents far more Rhodesians than does Mr. Smith. But no one ever suggested that they should be present in the "Tiger" or in the "Fearless". It is worth recalling in this context that they are not even allowed to be consulted.

On each occasion since 1965 when British Ministers have gone on abortive visits to Salisbury—including Lord Aylestone, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio—they have requested to be allowed to meet the Rhodesian leaders who were either in detention camps or in prison. On each occasion, that request has been refused.

Both the negotiations and the speech of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) proceeded on the assumption that all that needs to be done is to discover a formula acceptable to both London and Salisbury. I believe that to be sheer illusion. There is no formula which would satisfy the racialists of Salisbury and which could honourably be accepted by a British Government.

The right hon. Member for Devon, North used the phrase, "copper-bottomed guarantees". But it is not the nature of the guarantees which is of such concern but by whom they are given. The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire referred to experience in other parts of Africa. Of course it is the simplest thing in the world to tear up constitutional guarantees after independence. One does not even, need to alter the constitution. One needs only proclaim a state of emergency and govern the country under emergency regulations.

I believe that Mr. Smith means precisely what he says—and he has said it many times—that, in Southern Rhodesia, there is to be no majority rule in his lifetime. Probably it will not even be within his child's lifetime either. He has even mentioned 100 years. Great emphasis has been laid on that in the debate but it is not just a question of votes and A and B rolls and blocking quarters. We are concerned with something much wider than that. We are concerned with racial discrimination and a complete denial of human rights.

The discrimination has always been there. My right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio referred to the danger of growing apartheid and quite frequently right hon. and hon. Members opposite say that if we do not agree with the Rhodesians they may go over to apartheid. What do they suppose has been happening in Rhodesia all these years?

May I give the House a personal experience which happened in 1959? I went to Central Africa in order to represent Dr. Banda and his African colleagues before the Devlin Commission. Part of the hearings were held in what was then Nyasaland and is now Malawi. I took with me a colleague from this country and a colleague from Ghana. He was a Ghanian lawyer, a very eminent one; he had the same qualifications to appear as myself; the only difference was that his skin was a different colour.

After a time we had to proceed down to Southern Rhodesia where we could call our witnesses at Bulawayo. When we arrived at Bulawayo no hotel in the city was prepared to admit him. It was with the greatest difficulty that we found him lodgings at all. I had to confer with him, of course, so on the morning after our arrival he came to see me in my private room at the hotel where I was staying. We had been there for about five minutes when the hotel manager telephoned and said, "Mr. Foot, I am informed that you have an African in the room with you. That is something which we never allow." That is just a single instance. I could go on to give one example after another, but I do not wish to take up time.

Mr. Paget

Is it not some evidence of the advance of Rhodesia that nothing remotely like that could happen now?

Sir D. Foot

How wrong can the hon. and learned Member be. Far from that sort of thing having diminished, it has got worse through the years. Take, for example, two Statutes which have been placed upon the Statute under the illegal régime during last year. The Municipal Amendment Act of that year for the first time even in Southern Rhodesia empowers municipalities to prohibit the use of parks, recreational, athletic or sports grounds by members of the race other than that for which they are provided. Even Southern Rhodesia had not reached that point before.

The Property Owners (Residential Protection) Act enables property owners in an area which is predominantly inhabited by one race to petition for the removal from the area of owners or occupiers of another race. Nobody in Rhodesia has any doubt at whom that is aimed. It is aimed against the Asian occupiers in European quarters.

We are not concerned only with racial discrimination. Since 1960 there has been steadily built up the whole apparatus of repression. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) referred to the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act of 1960 and the resignation of the Chief Justice, Sir Robert Tredgold. The House may recall that Sir Robert Tredgold in explaining his resignation said, "This Bill outrages every basic human right." He also referred to it as "savage, mean and dirty."

Since that time every form of free expression has been taken away. Every African political party in turn has been banned. Public meetings have been prohibited. The only newspaper which expressed African news was suppressed in 1964, and the African leaders have been locked up without trial for the past four years.

May I remind the House of a quotation which I used on a previous occasion but which is particularly germane to what we are considering today. It is from a report which was issued not long ago by the Joint International Representatives of the British Council of Churches and the Conference of British Missionary Societies. It was prepared by those who had first-hand knowledge of what was going in Rhodesia and it said: One of the tragedies of Rhodesia is that most Europeans do not know how African fellow citizens have been muzzled and controlled as a result of this Act."— that is, the Law and Order (Maintenance) ActThat is why they react so passionately to any suggestion that Rhodesia is a police state. Yet the facts speak for themselves. In the last six years thousands of Africans have been kept for longer or shorter periods in detention or restriction without trial, some for periods of five years. Some of these were guilty of physical intimidation of their fellows; but the great majority have been treated in this way because of their political vies, because they were known to speak against minority white government and racial segregation, or had previously sought to organise political parties to express their opposition. (The African political parties were banned under the 'Unlawful Organisations Act' of 1962.) Cases are known of re-arrest and detention as many as three times. When arrests are made, it is a common experience for a whole family to be awakened in fright in the early hours of the morning while the police make the arrest, which may lead to a comparatively short period of detention—without even the pretence of questioning—before release. It is difficult not to conclude that this is being used as a method of intimidation of the African elite. All this was happening before U.D.I. That is the record of Mr. Smith and Mr. Lardner-Burke. If we had a settlement on the lines proposed by Her Majesty's Government on "Fearless" it is precisely these same men who would be expected faithfully to carry out the six principles. If anybody really supposes that they will, he is living in the realm of fantasy.

I want to look at two paragraphs in the proposals under the heading "Fourth Principle (Progress Towards Ending Racial Discrimination)" we propose: To give effect to the Fourth Principle, a Commission of the necessary independence and high standing will be set up under existing Rhodesian legislation. The terms of reference of this Commission will be agreed with the British Government, who will be consulted on its composition. It will not have any final word, but it will be consulted. It will be the Commission's task to study and make recommendations on the problems of racial discrimination, including the Land Apportionment Act, and the possibility of extending the competence of the Constitutional Council to embrace pre-1961 legislation. Thereafter a Standing Commission will be appointed to keep the problems of racial discrimination under regular review. In "Tiger" we would have had a Royal Commission which would have been appointed in this country, and the Royal Commission might have had a certain amount of authority, but here we have a body which will have no executive powers whatsoever. That is, I submit, an almost meaningless paragraph, and there is no reason to suppose that this body would have any more influence than the Africans Affairs Board under the Federal Constitution or the Constitutional Commission under the 1961 Constitution in Southern Rhodesia.

Secondly, I mention a matter which was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon North, detention and restriction. The decisions to continue detention will be taken "by a Judge of the Rhodesian High Court", presumably one of the foresworn Judges, one of those who would not even give effect to the Queen's reprieve.

We propose: Cases in which release is not recommended by the Judge will be referred to an impartial judicial tribunal. This will consist of three members, of whom one will be nominated by the Lord Chancellor and two will be Rhodesian nominees. Two will be the nominees of Mr. Smith or Mr. Lardner-Burke. That is a worthless safeguard.

If the agreement is reached, what then? It will then be necessary for Her Majesty's Government to go back to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and to go back to the United Nations. They will have to ask the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to be released from their Nibmar pledge. They will have to ask the United Nations to rescind the resolution which it passed a few months ago. Suppose they do not. Suppose the Prime Ministers will not release us from the pledge. Supposing the United Nations refuse to set aside the resolution. In those circumstances will the Labour Government ignore the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and risk the break-up of the Commonwealth? Will a Labour Government refuse to implement the resolution which they themselves proposed and which was carried at the United Nations a few months ago? If that were done, if n the time of a Labour Government, we were first of all to destroy the Commonwealth, and then to defy the United Nations, it would not only be the greatest irony, it would be one of the greatest tragedies in our history.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

The right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) related to the House a repulsive experience he suffered when he was in Bulawayo in 1959. I would tell him that last week I found in Salisbury that the mixing of the races, in hotels and public places, continues. Although it is true that certain legislation, which I dislike very much, has been passed, that legislation has not so far been brought into effect. [Interruption.] I am referring to the legislation which the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned relating to new powers to be conferred on local authorities for the segregation of the races.

I said that I deplore this kind of legislation but that it has not so far had effect. Contrary impressions are abroad in this country. It is quite extraordinary some of the ideas current about Rhodesia today. For example, I read in a newspaper shortly before my last visit to Central Africa that Africans were no longer allowed to enjoy the sunshine in the public park of Cecil Square in Salisbury. I was able to see for myself that never had there been so many Africans enjoying that lovely park, and very beautifully dressed they were. They were clearly enjoying a high standard of living. That is something of which anyone need not be particularly ashamed. I merely mention it to point out that there are some rather extraordinary impressions abroad about the state of affairs in Rhodesia today.

When it was announced in the Press that the representatives of the two Governments were to meet in H.M.S. "Fearless" it was described as "another ride on the "Tiger". In fact there was much more cooing than snarling at this second meeting, at the Rock. It may be said, however this matter ends, that both Governments have conducted themselves in these latest negotiations with courtesy and dignity, and this, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) pointed out, is a great gain.

If at long last, after three weary and wasted years, the Prime Minister makes an honourable settlement, then I for one—despite the hard things which I have said about him, and the hard things that he has said about me—will not grudge the popularity that he will undoubtedly win in this country, including popularity among the constituents of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have signed the Motion to reject the White Paper.

Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)

Does the hon. Member think that one can use the word "honourable" about such a settlement, when the African people have never been consulted and when African leaders, as far as one can discover by listening and talking to those who have come over here, are totally opposed to this?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

The White Paper contains British proposals for a settlement to which, I understand, the Rhodesian Government has not yet given a considered answer. The Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Commonwealth Secretary have given us to understand that there is room for other suggestions.

What we are all hoping in this House is that out of this will come an honourable settlement. It will then be for the hon. Gentleman, and for us, to judge to what extent the terms are honourable, and it will be for the people of Rhodesia, after the mechanism of consultation is brought into effect, to decide to what extent these are honourable terms.

The strange thing that I found in Rhodesia last week was how little Gibraltar figured in the conversation of ordinary people. They were much more concerned about the drought, about their crops. Too often discussions on the future of Rhodesia have unfortunately dwelt on problems of the ballot and too little on the bellies that have to be filled.

Sometimes we have heard that sanctions have begun to bite. We have heard it in today's debate. This has sometimes given pleasure to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. What this means is that unemployment and want has been brought to Africans, many of whom are now almost without the means of subsistence. The honourable settlement which we seek is, for them, very much a bread and butter matter.

The White Paper concludes in grandiloquent terms about the trusteeship of the British Parliament for Rhodesians of all races. The Government propose to provide funds up to £5 million a year for ten years in return for corresponding contributions from Rhodesia for the training and education of Africans. This is welcome, because hitherto this Parliament has not been a particularly generous trustee.

Africans in Rhodesia have achieved material standards of living higher than almost anywhere else in Africa. But this has been brought about by the enterprise, efforts and toil of Rhodesians of all races, and they have not had the benefit of the aid which has been poured out upon Commonwealth and other countries, some of them hostile to our policies and interests.

I obtained the figures from the Commonwealth Office. Since 1953 Britain has loaned Southern Rhodesia £4,850,000 for African housing, education and general development. Grants have amounted to only £6,569,000, and of that amount £4 million was to help Southern Rhodesia with her share of the ex-Federal debt and the balance went to University College, which in the first instance was a Federal institution.

We should be a little less grand and a little more humble when we talk about our trusteeship for Rhodesians of all races. When we consider this welcome proposal for a cash contribution from this country, let us, for Heaven's sake, bear in mind that it is vital that economic progress and educational advance should march hand in hand. If educational advance outstrips economic expansion, more misery than happiness will be conferred. This is not just a White settler's view of Rhodesia, it is a view now held by African governments of all kinds. It was a view heard at the U.N.E.S.C.O. Conference in Nairobi last July, the main purpose of which was to work out means for adapting African schooling to African conditions. That conference was attended by representatives of 130 nations. Only recently, as a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation in Malawi, I heard President Banda announce in his State Address plans entirely to transform the British educational model in Malawi to one more suited to an African and a largely agricultural society. All Governments in Africa today are concerned at the danger to society of an educated class which, because of uneven development in the country, can find no outlet for its talents.

Therefore, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will consider whether part of the funds which may be made available if this settlement is reached can be devoted to the development also of agriculture and urban industry. I would like this country to interest itself in schemes such as that at Chisumbanji, where tribal land is being irrigated and Africans taught to fertilise, to drill and to spray. I should like to see British money put behind the efforts of white farmers—white settlers—who have taken black neighbours into fruitful partnership.

One of the sorriest episodes of the great sanctions fiasco was the holding up of "Freedom from Hunger" contributions from Britain for agricultural training schemes in Rhodesia. Parliament in future might well consider diverting aid from unfriendly States to help the Rhodesian Parliament achieve the purpose of the Tribal Trust Lands Development Corporation, the Bill for which is now going through Parliament in Salisbury. That Bill was welcomed by African Opposition Members. Mr. P. J. D. Rubatika described it as the "Magna Carta of the African people", and I commend to hon. Members the Rhodesian Hansard Report of those proceedings.

This Anglo-Rhodesian dispute has distracted our attention from the real problems of Rhodesia, which are demographic and economic more than constitutional and political. By 1988, the tribal trust lands of Rhodesia will have to sustain ten times the population of 1918 and twice that of 1968, so the ending of sanctions is a primary interest of the Rhodesian Africans. Sanctions have hit Europeans far less.

Mr. Hooley

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that perhaps a more radical and quits easy reform would be the repeal of the Land Apportionment Act?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I do not think that that in itself would do very much to increase productivity in Rhodesia—

Mr. Faulds

It would increase the area.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

The area avail able to Africans for cultivation is being increased, but I do not wish to go into these matters, since many other hon. Members wish to speak.

Sanctions have hit the Europeans much less than the Africans. Industry and finance in Rhodesia—this was my impression recently—are eager for a settlement, but Mr. Smith has to reckon with a much wider electorate. Right hon. and hon. Members have their apprehensions lest their own leaders are going to sell out. I can assure them that the apprehensions of rank and file members of the Rhodesian Front lest Mr. Smith sell out to right hon. Gentlemen opposite are much greater.

Farmers in Rhodesia have by now either gone to the wall or adjusted themselves to the loss of export markets for Rhodesian tobacco. Probably the Rhodesian economy was too dependent on tobacco. The rank and file of the Rhodesian Front—these are the people, whether we like it or not, of whom Mr. Smith has to take account—are indifferent to the great banking and commercial interests. One might say that the farmers are like those old-time squires and the artisans like the smaller people who supported the Tory Party in the 18th century against the Whig oligarchy, and they are not minded to accept any settlement which can be made to appear to them to be a sell-out to a British Government whom they have learned in these three years to dislike.

It is a sad thought to me at least that on 11th November, a solemn day which is also the anniversary of U.D.I., a new flag is to be raised in Rhodesia, so that, by a strange paradox, the Republic of South Africa will be the last African State to retain a vestigial remnant of the Union Jack. The Rhodesian Front Congress was divided on a consitution for the future of Rhodesia, both constitutions considered were republican.

There is not much time left to save the British connection with Rhodesia. There is not much time left to save Rhodesia for the British Crown. There is a race between an honourable settlement, which will still require a bit of give and take on both sides, and a Rhodesia increasingly and ideologically aligned with South Africa. Is that what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who are attacking the White Paper really want? Do they want to prolong a conflict which means that the liberal ideas which they champion can have no voice and no scope and no influence? At the time of the first great U.D.I., that of the U.S.A., Burke said: Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom. Let us hope that, on both sides now, there will be magnanimity and there will be wisdom.

5.47 p.m.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

It is no pleasure for me to be divided from my Front Bench in the consideration of this problem which has beset us ever since I entered the House. I am divided from them not on any issue of moral principle—I stress that—it is not because I want different ends for the Africans in Rhodesia from those sought by the Prime Minister or the Minister without Portfolio. It is because there is a difference between us of judgment about whether one can trust the white Rhodesian settlers to implement any agreement which we reach with them when it becomes obvious that the Africans are moving towards majority rule.

The Government say that, given certain preconditions, which they accept are only paper guarantees, they would be prepared to trust the Rhodesians to implement the settlement. On all the evidence which has been available to us over these three or four years that this problem has been debated in this House, surely we must have come to realise that the settlers in Rhodesia are not to be trusted on this issue. Only in the last month, before the Prime Minister went to "Fearless", Mr. Smith himself has twice reiterated that there should be no question of majority rule in Rhodesia in his lifetime or in his child's lifetime, and there was even some question about his grandchild's lifetime.

In those circumstances, how am I, as a responsible Member of Parliament, having to judge these proposals as a basis for a settlement, to ask myself to trust these men to implement the first principle, the basic bedrock of any settlement—unimpeded progress to majority rule? I cannot.

I remember when my right hon. Friend who is now the Minister without Portfolio, in whom I have great trust and for whom I have great respect, went to Salisbury last year and the situation which arose then. In the same week that my right hon. Friend went, the Rhodesian Parliament passed certain discriminatory legislation even though it was known that the Commonwealth Secretary was coming to discuss a settlement which was supposed to guarantee the rights and privileges of the African majority. In that very week, discriminatory legislation was passed.

Then, on the day after it was passed, we had the meeting in Salisbury between my right hon. Friend and Mr. Smith, when there were smiles all round and handshakes for the benefit of the cameras; and on the following day, when my right hon. Friend was on his way home to London, before he had even reached London, Mr. Smith was issuing public statements denigrating him and his honour.

In those circumstances, am I really asked to trust this man? Am I really to be asked to vote for a settlement which puts the lives and future of 4 million Africans into this man's hands? I cannot, unless I have some overwhelming guarantee that, somehow or other, he could be stopped from operating another U.D.I.

My right hon. Friend has emphasised again that the blocking quarter is a fulfilment of our obligations under the first principle. Of course, it is not. It is a fulfilment of our second principle that there can be no retrogressive action to stop the progress towards majority rule. Progress to majority rule, however, is not guaranteed by any of the proposals which were hammered out on "Fearless" or even on "Tiger". If the Africans remain at the same level of education and development, nothing at all will ensure that they move towards majority rule.

I wish that somebody would do an analysis of how many of them have become eligible for the "B" roll since the 1961 Constitution was implemented. How many of them have reached the qualification which is required? I know that there have been difficulties about registration because of the attitude of the two nationalist parties towards registration, but how many of them have reached the possibility of registering? How many in South Africa, with similar restrictions upon the right of Africans to vote, have gradually come up to these levels?

Therefore, apart from the proposal to implement an African educational programme financed partly by this country and partly by Rhodesia, one has to ask oneself whether there is anything in this settlement which will ensure progress—never mind unimpeded progress—to majority rule. All I can say is that there is not. We have to depend upon the trust that we can put into the reliability of the white man in Rhodesia to allow the Africans to develop in this way. As I say, I cannot give that trust.

Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)

I am following carefully the hon. Member's argument, and I respect the sincerity with which he is speaking. Having reached this point, however, can he now indicate what he believes to be necessary to ensure the guarantee of the first principle of unimpeded progress? What exactly does the hon. Member visualise as being acceptable to him?

Mr. Lyon

I do not want to burke that question—it is fundamental to any consideration of the issue—but I prefer to come to it in the development of my argument.

The other issue of judgment that divides me from my Front Bench—I am coming to the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition—is consideration of the alternatives. It is a matter which anybody who sincerely wishes to try to get a settlement in Rhodesia has to face, and I have tried to face it.

My right hon. Friend asks what are the alternatives. If it is said that Nibmar is the first consideration and we know that Nibmar will never be accepted by the white minority in Rhodesia, and we have no force or power to intervene physically in Rhodesia, what are the alternatives? My right hon. Friend says that the alternative is that there will be a gradual deterioration of relationships in Rhodesia so that there will be a more rigid application of apartheid. All I can say about that is that I do not necessarily dissent from the view that there will gradually be a deterioration with the result that there is a more rigid application of apartheid.

My view is that we will get it in any event, whether there is a settlement or not. If control is to be exercised by a white minority, which has shown itself frightened of trusting the responsibility and judgment of the black majority, the nearer that black majority gets to power, the more likely it is that there will be legislation to bring about a rigid apartheid.

The division between Mr. Harper and Mr. Smith was not a division about whether there should be apartheid. The division was about the pace at which it should be implemented. Mr. Smith said that it should be done in five years, Mr. Harper says that it should be done now. In those circumstances, I do not think that this is any great bogeyman that my right hon. Friend is waving at us.

The dreadful situation in Central Africa is that the fate of the Africans, so far as it is to be dictated by the white majority, is greater and greater progress towards apartheid. We will not slow it up by giving the white minority the blessing of independence on terms which we have agreed with them.

Therefore, I come to the Leader of the Opposition's question. What do we do? We have tried. We have ruled out force. We cannot intervene against South Africa because, even if we wanted to impose sanctions, it is doubtful whether the rest of the world would honour them and, therefore, they would be ineffective.

What do we do? Inadvertently, my right hon. Friend the former Commonwealth Secretary has given me the text for my answer. He mentioned Cromwell's dictum that he did not necessarily know what to do but he knew what not to do. I know what not to do. It is as clear as daylight that this is an issue on which I cannot compromise. I long to compromise. I wish that I could.

Everything that I have done since I came into this House was done because I wanted a Labour Government to succeed. It is not with any pleasure that I rock the boat. It is not with any pleasure that I divide from my right hon. Friend. I would like to compromise, but I cannot. I know that "Fearless", because it is a sell-out, because it is an abdication of our responsibility to a white minority, is wrong, and I am not having that.

Do I know what will happen if we go on with sanctions? The answer is, "No". We may gradually ultimately lose. We may find a situation in which the rest of the world gets tired of sanctions, in which a new American Administration, under a new President, is not as sympathetic to the cause as the present one, and a situation in which gradually the United Nations gets bored with the whole thing and we lose. I would rather that happened than that we compromised by coming to this kind of conclusion. I would rather that we were honourably defeated than that we dishonourably compromised. Therefore, I know where I stand.

I may be naïve—and, heaven knows, there are people involved in this matter with political wisdom and judgment far transcending mine—but who would have said 12 months ago that South African troops and police would be stationed in Rhodesia precisely because the Rhodesian authorities could not deal with the guerrilla activity there. How many of us at the time of the "Tiger" debate said we must really look to the guerrillas? We wish we could; we wish we could look to the freedom fighters because at least there would be some expression of African resistance. But we know that it is not possible. We know the Rhodesian police control the situation. But here we are in a situation where law and order have deteriorated to that extent—

Mr. Paget


Mr. Lyon

My hon. and learned Friend says it has not. With great respect to him, I wonder what the South African police are doing?

Mr. Paget

Would my hon. Friend like to be told? They are there purely as a political gesture of solidarity.

Mr. Lyon

Well, if my hon. and learned Friend will believe that I am glad that I do not trust in his judgment on any of these issues. It must be plain, at any rate to any other hon. Member of the House, that the South African police are there because the situation has got out of control. Not seriously out of control; there is not a Mau Mau episode. But who is to say that in another say twelve months the situation will not have deteriorated very seriously indeed and there will be a real desire for British intervention in those circumstances? Who is to say that South Africa in another twelve months' time of this controversy on her northern borders—which focuses international attention on South Africa and is a constant sore in South Africa's side—who is to say that after twelve months the South Africans will not come to the conclusion that they would rather have a Banda type of African Government in Rhodesia, a compliant African stable country on their northern borders, than the present situation which has led to this kind of controversial impasse?

I do not know. It may be that I am naïve. I have to make the same admission as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) when he came back with his proposals from Salisbury and he said at that Box, "It may be that Mr. Smith is stringing me along." I should have thought that all the evidence since "Fearless" is quite clear that Mr. Smith is stringing him along, and stringing along this Government, because we have arrived—I end on this note, perhaps controversially—in this situation because for over twelve months the Opposition have been mounting a campaign that we must talk with Mr. Smith, that talk is likely to lead to some kind of concessions by both sides, that some kind of agreement can be worked out.

The nearer, however, we get to Mr. Smith the further he moves away. If I may adapt the brilliant cartoon by Papas in The Guardian after the attack by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) at the Conservative Party conference, what we have seen is a gradual progression of milestones. We have seen Mr. Smith saying, "I agree that there should be a constitutional settlement on the "Tiger" terms but we cannot have this addition now of a return to legality". So the Opposition castigated my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister because he had stuck to what were "constitutional figments". Well, we have dropped all that. I must confess that that fills me with foreboding for the very reason which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party indicated, but we dropped it.

So what does Mr. Smith say then? He says, "We cannot have the Privy Council constitutional check: that is an infringement of our independence". This, I must say, caused me concern on Thursday. This caused me at any rate to vent in another place my concern publicly for the first time. Mr. Smith was saying, "Let us get rid of the Privy Council" and it looked as though there might be some response from the British Government to that; but when it looked as though there might be some response Mr. Smith went further: "We cannot have the blocking mechanism".

How far are we going to go? Where can we stop? Even the Daily Telegraph this morning says, "We must stop here. We must draw the line here." And yet the Official Opposition this afternoon in this House are saying to my right hon. Friend "When the answer comes, go to Salisbury. Negotiate. You must talk. You must come to a settlement. There must be a settlement."

On any terms? For me, no. The line was drawn long ago, but it has been definitely drawn by "Fearless". I am definitely going to divide the House, if others will join me. I am going to divide the House at the end of this debate on the Adjournment. I know that that, in itself, is a meaningless gesture, but I want it to be plain that I will never accept a settlement of this situation on anything like the "Fearless" proposals—and I do not want it said, when Mr. Smith says "Yes" to some proposals signed in a rowing boat on the Serpentine, that I did not make a protest earlier and that we have moved still further along the road of compromise and settlement.

We have had Munich referred to again today. Who could have said at the time of Munich that only two years afterwards the people would bitterly regret it? I believe that if we ever made a settlement of this situation on anything like these proposals we would live bitterly to rue it, because I believe it would lead in the end to a racial conflagration in central Africa in which we would, willynilly, be drawn. The British public are getting tired of this business and want a settlement, but would like something better, and not have to say, "You left our children to fight a racial battle because you compromised on this issue".

6.7 p.m.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

The hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) was extremely straightforward and sincere in his reply to the question put by my right hon. Friend. The question was, "What would you do other than this proposal? You have no power, you have foresworn power. What would you do?" And the hon. Member's answer was, "I do not know. I am hoping that things will get better."

I agree with a great deal of what he said, but I believe they will get worse, and, although I do not like this settlement very much, it is a matter of judgment what would happen if there were no settlement. My view is that things would get much worse than he thinks.

He suggested various possibilities. I cling to the feeling that I have had throughout this debate, which is that having responsibility without power the British Government are in a most dangerous situation, a more dangerous situation than for many years, and that any further continuation of the situation is liable to set the whole world in flames. I support this settlement.

I thought that one of the really almost pathetic cries from the Prime Minister came in the previous debate when he said he was sick and tired of being held responsible for international law and by international bodies for what Mr. Smith and his friends said in Rhodesia. But, of course, he is responsible, and if there is no settlement on these terms he must go on being responsible, but, of course, totally and completely powerless. This is not a situation which anybody could recommend any Government to continue.

I see the dangers the hon. Member mentioned, and although I think he was less than just to Mr. Smith personally, I do not disagree with him that, in a year or two, when majority rule comes looming near the white minority in Rhodesia there will be, as there always is in such a situation, a very strong tendency for the white minority to try to stop that somehow or other. I also agree that the guarantees which are in this proposal—it is not yet an agreement—could be swept aside without too much difficulty. The Privy Council has been defied once and it could be defied again, and the blocking mechanisms, although important in their way—and I hope that they will be accepted—in the last analysis are a pretty frail obstacle.

What is the alternative? It is not enough to make a moral gesture and say that we do not like this, but we have nothing better to put in its place. It gives one a comfortable feeling and it keep's one's nose clean, but it is not a responsible attitude. A far more consistent attitude, though one which I do not think would receive much following, is that put forward by some hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds), who said at an early time that there was only one thing to do to rebels and that was to shoot them. There is a lot in that, but if that cannot be done, there must be a compromise, and that has been the history of the world. Otherwise one gets into the mystic middle state in which there are all the disadvantages which the Prime Minister mentioned, in which one is responsible before world opinion for everything which is going on in an area over which one has no power. That is the worst of several possible worlds, and I hope against hope that we shall get off that hook soon.

It is an old story. The great Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister, was very much against our going into this area at all, and he was quite right. He said that it was wrong to accept the allegiance of peoples, whatever their colour, in areas where they could not be reached by the power of either the Royal Navy or the Indian Army. We have reaped that lesson, because we cannot protect them. Why, therefore, should we claim their allegiance? We cannot protect them one from another and we cannot protect them against outside attack.

For that reason I have always held the view, although I know that it offends many of my colleagues, that we should have done much better not to accept into the British Empire, as it then was, any area in which we had no power or control, and for that reason I hope that we shall cease to have that responsibility as soon as possible.

Although I know that it is very unpopular and I think that nobody in the House will agree with me, I have to say that if this agreement breaks down, or is not made, I shall not be too unhappy if the painter is cut altogether, because I am convinced that the hon. Member for York, for all his sincerity, was wrong in saying that we should go on with a sanctions policy. It may be having some effect, but it is falling into disrepute all over the world. Any attempt to strengthen it would make it break down altogether, and we are becoming the laughing stock not only of many foreign countries, but of the Commonwealth itself. Anyone who has recently been to Malaysia, Singapore, or parts of Africa which follow the Dr. Banda line will know that those countries want a settlement with the Smith régime and want it to come rapidly, because they know that this ridiculous and impossible position for the United Kingdom is threatening to break up all sorts of important international organisations.

It may be said that if we settle on these terms or do not make a settlement but the painter is cut, the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth will be even more angry than they now are with the present situation. I wonder whether that is true. My own view is that although some very hard words will no doubt be said in January, most of the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth on the whole are only too anxious to find some settlement. I believe that if the Prime Minister makes his settlement, he will persuade the majority of them of that.

Some very interesting trends and turns in what might be called African opinion in independent African countries have been taking place. They are not always very explicit and they are often confidential, but they are none the less strong, because these countries do not like their trade to be disrupted and they see that the continuation of this ulcer in the centre of their continent is doing them no good.

Let us hope that this agreement is made, but if it is not made, this situation must be brought to an end. With great regret, I feel that the only way in which it will be brought to an end is if Mr. Smith and his friends cut the painter, which will at least get the Prime Minister away from that pathetic cri de coeur when he said that he was sick and tired of being held responsible for the actions and the words of the Smith régime in front of international bodies and in international law.

I dislike the appeal to the Privy Council for which the proposals provide, because it retains the hook, it retains the responsibility without any of the power. In international law and certainly in international opinion the Privy Council is an organ of the British Government. I know that in domestic law it is a judicial, independent body, but in the international forum we are responsible for its actions, for its judgments and for its inactions, and therefore this position will remain if the clause about the appeal to the Privy Council, particularly in its political rather than judicial connotation, remains.

We should still be on this hook. We should still be on the hook which we got on in 1890 and have never yet got off. We have never had any power in this part of the world. People think that we have had because we have made laws and issued decrees and agreed to constitutions, but we have never had any power. The conditions of law and order about which the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) complained so much started long before U.D.I. We had no power in practice to disallow them. We cannot say that that is entirely a creature of U.D.I. Apartheid in Salisbury was far worse in 1957 than it is now and there is no doubt about that, whatever some hon. Members opposite may say.

I myself was turned out of a Post Office because I stood unknowingly in the queue reserved for Africans and was not allowed when I got to the front of the queue to be sold a stamp, but that has all gone now.

Mr. Faulds

Why unknowingly?

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

I was not aware—

Mr. Faulds

Less credit to you.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

I was not aware that there were two different queues. I queued for a stamp as one would in this country, not particularly noticing who was in front of me or who was behind me, and I was refused a stamp. That would not happen today, but it happened in the days when we were much more responsible for that country than we now are in any material sense. We have never had any power there and the sooner we get rid of the responsibility, the better for all concerned.

6.19 p.m.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)

The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) was good enough to mention my attitude towards the use of force. He was quite wrong when he said that it was a question of force or a compromise. We could let the whole affair grind on until the white Southern Rhodesians are sensible of their sufferings, as they will be, and of their total international unacceptability, or, better still, we could assist, as a Committee of the United Nations has suggested we should, morally and materially the resistance fighters of Southern Rhodesia to bring about their own solution to the problem, which is probably how it will happen historically anyway.

At the time of the "Tiger" talks, many of us on this side of the House made it quite clear that a settlement on those terms would have been quite unacceptable to us. After the breakdown of those negotiations, the Prime Minister made his declaration on Nibmar, and I still happen to believe that that is an essential prerequisite for any solution of the Southern Rhodesian problem. I have been foolish enough to believe such categorical assurances as we were given about Nibmar, but I shall not be so unkind as to quote the Prime Minister's own words against him.

We were left with the six principles. Unsatisfactory as these are for the advance of the African majority in Southern Rhodesia, we have received repeated assurances that they will be adhered to. At the time of the "Fearless" talks, authoritative statements and informed Press comment led us to believe that, as one paper put it, the Prime Minister was sticking resolutely to the six principles. Consequently, although Nibmar had been tossed into the wastepaper basket, I had few qualms and no suspicions that further retreats from the "Tiger" talks were imminent. Perhaps I should have known better.

The most obnoxious feature of the retreat from "Tiger" is that the review procedure on the detention of prisoners has been lightened appreciably to make it easier for Smith to keep his political opponents languishing in gaols in Southern Rhodesia; and the people languishing there are the very Africans who believe in our democratic system and who used to believe in the good faith of Britain.

To me, a settlement on the "Fearless" terms is totally unacceptable. However one rigs the constitutional guarantees against retrogressive amendment, they can be unrigged. Everyone in this House knows that, including the Prime Minister. There can be no doubt that, with the men who will be working this constitution, whom we all know to be untrustworthy, there will be abrogation of the Constitution whenever the white supremacists feel that they can fix it. The former Commonwealth Secretary knows that as well as anyone. Why else all the concern about writing in guarantees against retrogressive action? We all know that the only factor which can prevent such retrogression is the maintenance of a physical presence in Southern Rhodesia until majority rule is realised.

Does the Prime Minister intend to insist on such a presence, or will he pretend that all will be well without it—which he knows full well is not true? Whenever I have discussed the Southern Rhodesia problem with President Kaunda of Zambia, as I have on a number of occasions, always I have made a point of my supposition that the surest guarantee of a responsible resolution of the Southern Rhodesia problem was the Prime Minister's own feeling for his historical place and reputation. It appears that I was wrong. How else can he contemplate the enormous and historic damage which would ensue from a settlement on the "Fearless" terms?

It is certain that it would lead to the collapse of the Commonwealth, with all the promise that it still holds of cooperation across the barriers of creed, colour and treaty commitments. It would diminish enormously the rewarding trade and investment which awaits Britain in the developing countries of black Africa as they move from peasant communities to consumer societies.

It would lay down—and perhaps this is a point the Opposition should consider more carefully than they have in the past—a political highway of infiltration and influence for China and Russia throughout the entire Continent of Africa. We would be making the gift of 225 million Africans in exchange for the preservation of the privileges of 225,000 white settlers in Southern Rhodesia. It would be yet another blow at race relations, not only in Southern Africa but throughout the world, and I need hardly remind hon. Members that race is the great problem of our time.

The Government need to remember that their record on matters affecting race relations is pretty tattered. On too many occasions, they have retreated before popular prejudice. They retreated on immigration controls, and on the status of Kenyan Asians. Now, from all appearances, they are in the process of retreating before Smith and his stand for white supremacy.

I discovered in Smethwick that a stand on principle is not necessarily an electoral disadvantage. The decent, ordinary folk of the country respond more warmly to honest bluntness than to the contortions of political expediency. It is a lesson that politicians could learn, to the country's advantage as well as to their own. It is one that I commend to the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues.

Although they are friends of mine, I must say that there are Ministers in this Government who should be ashamed of their connivance in such a settlement. Principle seems to have lost out to pragmatism and to the fruits of office. Those whom we might have expected to make a stand, judging from what they said when we were in Opposition, apparently do not intend to. They have abandoned the postures of principle which they adopted in opposition. Power and position have bought them.

I joined the Labour Party because I believed and judged that its leaders meant the principles that they propounded, whereas we all know that to the Conservative Party principle is a peripheral consideraiton. I fought Stratford-upon-Avon originally because I believed that Labour in power would restore our country's fortunes. Undoubtedly the Government are doing that, as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will learn to their cost at the next election. I fought and won Smethwick for the same reason and because I believed that the Labour Party was the party of principle in such fundamental problems as matters of social concern, international dealings and matters affecting race relations.

I intend to maintain those beliefs, but if the Government settle on the "Fearless" terms, I am afraid that I shall have to maintain them outside the Parliamentary Labour Party. I have no doubt that the Parliamentary Labour Party will get by without my services, but I should warn the Prime Minister that no Labour Government, now or at the next election, will get by without the support of people who believe as I do and care as I do about the fundamental problems of our day. As with others, we are far from happy about the Government's handling of this one.

6.27 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

This much can be said for the speech of the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds): it was a great deal less immoderate than others that I have heard him make. However, he and I are so far apart on this issue that there is little point in my seeking to persuade him.

I take him up on two points only. First, it does not seem to me that he has answered at all the main argument advanced by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs. That is a criticism which applies not only to the hon. Gentleman's speech but to those of others of his hon. Friends.

The right hon. Gentleman has said that, if there is no agreement, it is the African people of Rhodesia who progressively will suffer first. If he accepts that, I submit to him and to others of his hon. Friends that there should be some counter-argument setting out what they propose for the alleviation of the suffering If they do not accept it, I cannot really see that that is consistent with their declared interest in the African people.

Mr. Faulds

Perhaps I might give the answer to the hon. Gentleman. The Africans themselves would prefer us to stick it out and somehow bring about the downfall of Smith, or give the African freedom fighters the assistance that I suggested we should be giving them. This is the resolution of the problem.

Mr. Hastings

Let me assure the hon. Gentleman that, judging from my experience of Rhodesia, he is wildly wide of the mark.

He spoke then of a political highway which he saw us providing for the Chinese and Russians through the situation in Rhodesia, if there was no settlement. I recognise his train of thought, but I would tell him of a fact that I came across by chance recently, that Mao Tse Tung wrote a tract, or thought, as long as 40 years ago during the civil war in China in which he outlined clearly how the Chinese nation would penetrate and ultimately capture Africa. It was to start through Zanzibar, as it did, long before U.D.I. We were the people who opened the gate. We gave Zanzibar independence. We then permitted a revolution to take place on the back of which the Chinese arrived. They have since been doing their best to follow Mao's thoughts. It has nothing whatever to do with U.D.I. Nor, I fear, has the Russian advance into Africa. I believe that it has a good deal more to do with control of the route to the Indian Ocean, to which perhaps the Government from time to time might be seen to pay rather more attention than would appear at present.

I welcome these negotiations, if they continue, and I profoundly wish them all success. I believe the Prime Minister was entirely right to try again and I only wish that he could have brought himself to do so some months ago. I have certain feelings at this juncture about the proposals put forward. I think that to attempt to protect the entrenched clauses by a plurality of devices for as long as 15 years or more is likely to be a great stumbling-block. Indeed, any method by which Her Majesty's Government may seek to tie an independent Rhodesia to the United Kingdom seems, as several right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have already said, to be unrealistic, for it takes no account of the fundamental realities of the situation which turn on the question of power, as was made clear by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). Therefore, reference to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is something about which the Government should keep a flexible and open mind.

In any case—I come now to the main theme of my speech—any safeguard which is written into an agreement now depends on one quality alone—mutual trust. Many hon. Gentlemen, notably the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party, have made much of this, and they have made little attempt, by anything they have said, to improve what I agree at this stage is a state of virtually non-existent mutual trust. The retrenchment provisions are finally unenforceable, as many of us recognise, without it.

What can we do to reintroduce some measure of good faith on either side? It is ridiculous for us to maintain that all the Rhodesians involved are the scoundrels some hon. Gentlemen contend that they are. It is equally ridiculous to believe that those on the British side carrying out the negotiations are totally unreasonable.

What can we do to increase the area of the extent of good faith? I want to put it, not for the first time, from the African or should I say the Rhodesian point of view. I think that for us it means desisting from simply spelling out the faults and errors on the other side and spending a little more time considering and taking account of our own African record and attitudes. We read daily in the newspapers of the negotiations and proposals, described as "the best that Rhodesia is likely to get" that "they represent concessions", "too many concessions" or "not enough", or whatever it may be. Really it is the language of the industrial takeover, whereas in fact we are dealing with a vastly complicated problem in human relationships.

The only criterion must be: are these provisions suitable and will they stand the test of time? I profoundly believe that our main error not only in this vexed matter, but over a good many of our judgments in the past in Africa, has been that we insist on applying or judging by our own standards of equity and fairness without realising that to impose what seems to us, entirely sincerely, to be fair, may at the same time be to destroy the very fabric of African society and psychology. We base all our judgments and, indeed, our political system upon the viability of the individual. Without this it would be totally unworkable.

For African people—and there are many hundreds of thousands in the area under discussion—the concept of individuality, the basis of our system, is virtually incomprehensible, where it is, it calls up a vision of abject loneliness. This is relevant to our argument. For African people—and I have at least done my best to understand them—existence is made bearable by belonging; that is, belonging to the family group, the sub-tribe, the tribal group, or whatever it is. To be a part, both of the living and of the dead, is the essence of their psychology. I suggest that the fear, starvation, misery and death, which countless inarticulate African people have suffered since decolonisation, results from this single, massive and arrogant miscalculation.

I readily accept that hon. Gentlemen are sincere in their demands for Nibmar. But I suggest that what they are really saying to the African people is: "We represent the only viable system of civilisation. Therefore, if you want to better yourselves, imitate. If you do not understand that this is the truth, it is either because you are too primitive or you are exploited, or both."

I hold that this is not so. In terms of our monstrous technological power, of course, African society has little to contribute. But when it comes to a balanced acceptance of life, a viable system of human relationships, African society has much to recommend it by comparison—indeed, much that we have lost and much that we might envy, if we could understand it a little better. It involves, for instance, a breadth of participation, to use the latest fashionable word, to which we mighty individualists can never aspire. We destroy African society to our shame, and I suggest that there is much to be ashamed of in ex-Colonial Africa.

The truth is that we have no panacea for African happiness with our complicated systems of voting, our Speaker's mace, and all the paraphernalia of our political system. The simple fact is that the impact of Western economic man is transforming Africa beyond recall. Therefore, we must face this since we, just as much as the white Rhodesians, are responsible. So what can we do? All we can do is to make the transformation as bearable as possible.

I come now to the Rhodesian approach. The Rhodesian approach is based on two premises. First; to make the transformation as bearable as possible a great span of time is required—and, of course, patience.

Secondly, the transformation of the African to economic power—which is what really counts in Africa—must happen without destroying the fabric of his society, which is another way of saying, his peace of mind. Traditional Africa, in other words, should be the catalyst. I say that at best. At worst—and I would be the first to admit it—there is a good deal of prejudice and some hypocrisy. But there is plenty of both in this country, and debates in this House are not exactly immune either.

Of the two approaches, the British Colonial Office-Commonwealth Office approach and the Rhodesian approach, I have no doubt that if genuinely pursued the Rhodesian is the more likely to succeed. I fear that we have the ruins of our own experiments to contemplate, to prove this; and also the evil record of intimidation in Rhodesia which was on a scale never appreciated in this country and appreciated relatively little in Rhodesia until well after it had been stopped by the Rhodesian Front, whether we like it or not. And that is the principal reason why so many Africans, in a sense, support the Rhodesian Front Government, for anything is better than a return to intimidation. To accede to the British proposals, therefore, is a genuinely difficult matter for the Rhodesians at this juncture, if we accept the differences of approach which I have sought to describe. It is at the best a gamble. On balance at this moment, I think it is a gamble that Rhodesia should take.

There are several reasons for this, and a number have been advanced already in this debate. I add only one—that, unobserved, and, to a certain extent, unattributed—there is a detente growing in Central and Southern Africa between the white-controlled States and the independent black Governments. We all know of the example of South Africa and Malawi; most of us have heard something of the relationship between South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. Both these last are relatively small States situated south of the Limpopo and it may be said that this is a natural consequence of independence. What is not so well known is that there are extensive links growing with other States to the north, and an attitude growing in the minds of African leaders which, boiled down to essentials, means that an aid and trade agreement with South Africa is worth, in practical terms to their people, a great deal more than all the imprecations and protestations of O.A.U. or the United Nations; for the United Nations cannot import water resources, their power supplies, or offer them terms such as South Africa gladly does.

Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)

The hon. Member is making a grave point. It is important that he should specify the countries and people of whom he is speaking.

Mr. Hastings

I cannot do that, although I should like to and it is a perfectly fair question. Perhaps I have gone rather further than I should have done in wisdom, in stating that this is taking place. I know of several of these approaches although I cannot give the names of the countries for the simple reason that, on both sides, this would not be welcomed. These people have to pay lip-service to the mad world of O.A.U., but in a few years' time that may not be so. It is a fact; I ask the hon. Member to accept my assurance.

There is a growing together, a process of cohesion which I welcome entirely. I do not for a moment suggest that it is starry-eyed or idealistic, but that it is based on economic fact. It is the proof that already nations of different colours are beginning to be interdependent in Central and Southern Africa as the various laces I believe, will be interdependent, too. It is a process which could be greatly expanded if there were a Rhodesian settlement. Indeed Rhodesia itself could play a pivotal and critically important part in this process. From this tragedy, she could make a contribution out of all proportion to her numbers and size towards the resolution of one of the greatest problems of our time. A contribution for which we, in this country, may one day be profoundly grateful. It is worth a certain sacrifice on either side.

6.44 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I have in the past been extremely critical of the Government in their handling of the Rhodesia question. Indeed, like my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds), I took my criticism to the point of resigning from the Parliamentary party. I do not know if my hon. Friend the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) is to do the same. The attitude which I took, and which I think the hon. Member for Smethwick takes, was that, if one belongs to a club, one obeys its rules; it is not particularly honourable to take advantages which are conferred by membership of the club when one flouts its rules. Therefore, if one wants to give oneself the luxury of disobeying those rules, one should first leave the club.

Having referred to my past criticism, it is with some genuine pleasure that I say something in support of the Government and what they have done now and, in particular, in support of the Prime Minister, of whom I have been very critical in the past. First, as to the manner of these negotiations, I have on occasion said that, in my view, the Prime Minister in his person was the greatest obstacle to a settlement. I certainly thought that, but from what accounts I have had from Rhodesia, his achievements on "Fearless" in a diplomatic context were really rather astonishing, a virtuoso performance. He succeeded in establishing a sense of confidence and a belief that a settlement was really wanted.

Secondly, I believe—and here again I have been highly critical, both before and after U.D.I.—negotiations this time were absolutely on the right point—African advance. These are the sticking points and they are the right points to stick on. It is our responsibility not to get pompous about legality and old ideas of colonialism, the rights of a colonial Power and talking nonsense about traitors, but that the advance of the African people, whose trustees in this sense we are, should be guaranteed and this was the right thing to negotiate about.

Finally, I pay some tribute—and I think Mr. Smith should look at this—to the courage which the Prime Minister has shown in facing internal and external difficulties. Mr. Smith, too, has those difficulties. It is true that, perhaps, both of them are responsible in a degree for those difficulties, but the Prime Minister has faced a resolution by his own party condemning the policy he has adopted. He has to face the Commonwealth and tell them that Nibmar is off. He has to face the United Nations, to whom he handed Rhodesia, and now he has to take it back. He may very well have to use the veto for this purpose.

These are very courageous decisions, whether one agrees with them or not. These are very brave decisions and Mr. Smith might recognise this and realise that a little courage is required from him, too, in facing his internal difficulties. I say this also for my right hon. Friend—he has kept his mouth shut since "Fearless". Not once, in spite of great internal pressures, has he said a single word which would embarrass the negotiations later. Mr. Smith might take note of this. He, in trying to defend his internal position, has made the position more difficult for my right hon. Friend in dealing with his.

Mr. Smith should recognise how far the Prime Minister has come and what difficulties he has to face. I also thank the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), who was Prime Minister before my right hon. Friend and who, with a very disinterested regard for the public interest which from him we have almost taken for granted, has indicated that Mr. Smith can hope for no better terms from the Conservatives than are now available to him. I urge this particularly because although the terms are vital at this point, in the long run, I do not think that they matter in the least. I do not believe in constitutions very much. I have seen too many of them to believe that constitutions can preserve rights which are inconsistent with the real power balance.

The thing which will guarantee the advance is not a blocking quarter nor a Privy Council appeal. What matters is the way in which power relationships develop in Rhodesia, and here is the real issue and choice. There can either be economic advance—and that will be in co-operation with Britain—or there can be South African dependence. That is what will happen if sanctions continue. Mr. Smith talks about a second-class independence. That is certainly what he will get from South African dependence. He will have the sort of independence which is being enjoyed by Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, namely, an independence which relies totally upon South Africa, which depends entirely upon South Africa's good will, with the people having to go to South Africa to find their employment. That will be Rhodesia's position if sanctions continue.

From out point of view, sanctions work backwards. They are a force pushing Rhodesia into South Africa. It is only because sanctions have been comparatively ineffective that Rhodesia has something to negotiate with. Where they have been effective has been in, for instance, the tobacco industry. These are the Right-wing diehards who were almost against any form of settlement, despite the fact that they are the people against whom sanctions have been effective.

If sanctions succeed in toppling Smith, they will not topple him in favour of some well-meaning Liberal. Lord Graham is the direction in which Smith will topple. I know Lord Graham very well. I shared a desk with him at school. I was in the Navy with him. He was one of the dozen R.N.V.R. officers who achieved command of a destroyer. That is a great deal better than I did. I certainly do not regard his as a fool. I have great respect for him. However, I hope that he will forgive me saying that I regard him rather as a primitive Scottish clansman and a man who is happiest in that type of society. The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, who knows Lord Graham, will not dissent from me all that much.

If sanctions go on, business confidence in Rhodesia will vanish. The Rhodesian business will move into South Africa. To a great degree, white employment will move to South Africa. There will be left a kind of agrarian society which does not need to advance the African, which can leave the African at tribal level, because it will not require educated Africans, and whose security will be policed by a South African guarantee since the South Africans are just as interested in their security as the Russians are. This is a border State in which they will look after that security. That seems to me the South African alternative—Rhodesia providing migratory labour as a sort of Czechoslovakia of South Africa.

If we get away from sanctions, if we resume co-operation with Rhodesia, and if Rhodesia has access to our capital markets, the alternative is undoubtedly a tremendous economic expansion. It is a country where the race ratio is one to 16 and probably soon, and certainly within the next 10 years, will be less than one to 20. With this kind of expansion, the Civil Service must expand, and the Civil Service can expand only from African recruitment. At the end of 10 years, at least four-fifths of the Public Service must be African. The same applies to the management side of business.

I have a brother-in-law, a strong opponent of Mr. Smith, who is in the store business. He has one African to whom he is paying nearly £3,000 a year and four Africans to whom he is paying nearly £2,000 a year. The management of his business is African. If one's business is to expand, Africans must be employed because there is no one else to do the work. This is why apartheid is such a nonsense in the Rhodesian context. The figures are wrong for it.

To my mind, this is the guarantee—the pace for expansion of educated manpower. This is why there is an astonishing boom when a country receives refugees. Look at the German miracle when the refugees came in, and the French miracle when people came from Algeria, as the result of the arrival of educated, skilled manpower. That is what an education system must produce, and this is the real pacemaker in a country's advance. This is the effective guarantee of a constitution—not a blocking quarter or appeal to the Privy Council, but the fact that it is not possible to disfranchise four-fifths of the Civil Service and the effective management of businesses.

By economic expansion, a new power situation is created which can be represented only by the African majority which must inevitably become the major part in that expanded economy. This is why I am a tremendous believer in and very pleased with the provision for African education. I had long conversations with Mr. Smith in 1965 on this very issue. At that time, he said, "We do not want this merely to produce African voters. That would not be acceptable to us. We do not want a situation in which we have an unemployed intelligentsia. We want this linked with a planned expansion which, whether it be doctors, administrators, or civil servants, will provide employment for these men as they come forward. If this results in there being more black voters than white voters in 10 or 15 years, that is something which I would be prepared to accept".

Mr. Mendelson

It is a pity he never repeated it.

Mr. Paget

I think that it will be repeated now.

There is much loose talk about consulting the Africans, as though they were a sort of homogeneous entity which had one opinion. There are probably as many opinions as there are Africans, certainly as groups of Africans. When we talk about African opinions in the Governments which we consult at the United Nations and at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, let us consider what they are. In Ghana, it is a couple of battalions of Sandhurst officers. In Nigeria, it is the murderers of the murderers of the people we dealt with. It was the Hausa Nilotics who killed more Ibo Bantus than in the whole Vietnam war. It is almost too horrible to think of what the Nilotics have done to the Bantus in the Sudan. Come to Uganda, where the Bantu tribes are having a very much worse time at the hands of the Nilotics than any of the Bantus in Rhodesia. Come to Kenya, which is the showpiece at the moment, but I felt very unhappy when I was there last.

Mr. Speaker

Order. With respect, the hon. and learned Gentleman must come to Rhodesia.

Mr. Paget

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I was dealing with the international problem which has been much referred to in relation to this settlement.

When talking about the Africans, we must be a little careful to consider how representative the various Governments are, how legal they are, and how constitutional they are, because, with few exceptions, the constitutions with which they were brought into independence have been destroyed and their representativeness is very much to be taken on faith.

Therefore, I think that the Government are right in saying that it requires a Royal Commission of independent people to satisfy themselves as to what African opinion in Rhodesia is. This at least has been a provision which has not worried Mr. Smith seriously, because I do not think that he or anybody who knows Rhodesia has the least doubt about what the answer would be. The overwhelming majority of the people, black and white, in Rhodesia want this settlement. They want to be able to get ahead. I urge my friends in Rhodesia to recognise that the British Government, with considerable courage, have gone just about as far as it is possible to go and if at this point a settlement is missed the responsibility rests squarely with Mr. Smith.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind the House that many hon. Members still wish to speak. Reasonably brief speeches will help.

7.2 p.m.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)

The speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) will be as helpful towards a settlement of this problem as the speech of the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) will be injurious to it. I do not think the speech of the hon. Member for Smethwick will so much embarrass the Prime Minister, against whom it was directed, as embarrass Mr. Smith. It is speeches of that kind which sow mistrust between the two peoples and make it more difficult for Mr. Smith and his colleagues to make a settlement with the British Government agreeable to their compatriots.

I give this much attention to the hon. hon. Gentleman's speech because it is not without significance. He, the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon), and the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot), said in effect that there should not be a settlement with Rhodesia because those people should not be trusted. It was an allegation of bad faith, of untrustworthiness. In the heat of political controversy such allegations are easily made. They are tempting to make when someone feels strongly about a subject. I draw the attention of the hon. Member for Smethwick to how easy it is to slide on, because within a moment he accused his own leaders of had faith—I see him nodding his head in acquiescence—of being bought by office.

So, before long, the whole coinage of political debate is debased and nobody has a shred of clothing left, because everyone's motives are suspect in that way.

Although this is a difficult problem and one that baffles most of those who come up against it, there is one element in it which is clear and which should be generally recognised. The problem arises precisely because Mr. Smith, and perhaps his predecessors in Rhodesia, have had a degree of honesty that may even seem to be naivety in negotiations such as these. The other nations of Africa, as they approached independence, had very little difficulty. They went to Lancaster House or to Marlborough House. They reached agreement. They signed at the bottom of a document. One after another they went home and dismantled and tore up those Constitutions. We have finished up with one-party States in almost the whole of Africa. At one set of negotiations at which I was present—I will not say which negotiations they were—it was said openly that if the British Government insisted upon this or that condition, it would be torn up as soon as they got back home and obtained their independence.

The Rhodesians have been unwilling to reach agreement in that way. Because they were unwilling to reach agreement in that way, we have had this dispute. Everyone recognises—my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said it, and I think it procured general acceptance—that in Africa today a Rhodesia without independence is an anomaly. A British colony in Africa, particularly one of such maturity, is patently absurd. The question is how we get ourselves out of that position.

The hon. Members for York and Smethwick addressed themselves to the question of what the alternative is, the hon. Member for York at the invitation of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Smethwick in talking about it at large. I think that these two hon. Members intend to vote against the Adjournment Motion later. In addressing himself to the question of an alternative the hon. Member for York said, "I do not know what will happen". He went on to say that there was a hope that disorder would increase in Rhodesia and that British Forces would go in. The hon. Member for Smethwick was more explicit: he looked forward to a solution through guerilla warfare and, I suppose, again to the intervention of forces from outside.

If the only alternative which the Government's opponents—it is strange that I should be speaking in support of the Government Front Bench—can put forward is the collapse of Rhodesia in disorder and military intervention, they have advanced a most potent argument against their own conclusions. In human affairs, one is never dealing with absolutes. One is always choosing between a number of courses of conduct, each of which has its objections. One has to choose the best which is available.

I say—I agree on this occasion with the Prime Minister—that agreement, if it can be reached, is plainly the best course of action which is available. Let us be a little humble. It is no good talking about the untrustworthiness of Mr. Smith. I do not think that he is untrustworthy, but in any case the argument is an irrelevancy, because Britain refused independence to Edgar Whitehead, Roy Welensky, and Winston Field one after the other. At least nobody has ever accused those gentlemen of bad faith. Let us be honest about it. We do not have, on either side, a very good record in dealing with the Rhodesia problem. It should have been solved long ago, and we have reached the point where it must be solved if it is not to go on doing great damage to the cause of this country and of the people of different races living together in reasonable harmony throughout the world.

The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley), a former Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, said that he thought that the 1961 Constitution could have led to an African majority. He was right; if it had been operated by the Africans it could and would have led to an African majority. It was agreed to by the representatives of the Africans in Rhodesia, and then Mr. Nkomo was got at from outside Rhodesia. That is the tragedy of Rhodesia. He withdrew his acceptance and we drifted into the present difficulty.

I now come to the immediate proposals, and some phrases which are perhaps unfortunate. We talk about the trusteeship of the African majority. If that is something to be projected into the future I ask, "How long, and by what means?" The Prime Minister has said that it is a tremendous step, without precedent, to give independence without prior majority rule. Perhaps that is so technically, but is it a point of any substance? Where in Africa is there now a country governed by majority rule, and for how long was any newly-independent African country governed by majority rule? We may regret this. I do not know whether we are right to regret it. I have much agreement with what my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) said about Africans. But this at least is the fact, and therefore we should be just a little humble and cautious about how far we turn Africa and the world upside down in the cause of majority rule in Africa.

I had the good fortune a couple of years ago to have the experience of getting to understand at least one African tribe, because I appeared for it in independence negotiations. As a result of that experience I came to exactly the same conclusion as my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire, that what the African wants is a voice, not a vote. I am talking about the tribal African. He is used to participating, he has always participated. He has had a voice in every decision taken, but a vote is quite a different thing. It is a lonely and unfamiliar thing for an African. He may one day come to want it, to understand it, and to operate it successfully, but that must lie in the future, and nobody can predict with certainty that it will happen. But participation is absolutely crucial to his acceptance of any society.

Therefore, the true problem we have to solve is how to forge initially—because that is all we can do—a society in Rhodesia where the African has the sense of participation, and we must not be dogmatic about the mechanics by which that sense of participation is made to appear. We are being dogmatic about the mechanics, and therefore showing a certain lack of understanding of Africans.

Dr. Hugh Gray (Yarmouth)

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman rejecting the dogmatism of his right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), who insisted on an effective blocking quarter?

Mr. Bell

I do not see any connection between those two matters. What my right hon. Friend was trying to secure, and, I suppose, what the Prime Minister is trying to secure, is that we should devise by agreement a constitution which we think is good for Rhodesia, and we should then put into it a blocking mechanism so that it can be radically altered only by a certain wide measure of agreement. But that has nothing to do with any system of mechanics which may commend itself to some people in this country. I find it surprising that there should still be people who are such devotees of the Westminster system of democracy in Africa after our experience in the past 15 years.

The conclusion I have reached is that our judgment has never been particularly sound in forging institutions for Africans. We have a great record in Africa and India, but we were never what one might call geniuses at devising a multi-racial society. But the Rhodesians, left alone as they have been for 40 years since 1923—we never ruled Rhodesia, it went straight from the South Africa Company to complete self-rule—have forged the only approach to a multi-racial society that an Anglo-Saxon country has ever forged. Therefore, I believe that their judgment in the matter is sounder than ours, and that the opportunities and future of the Africans are safer in their hands than they are with perpetual tutelage from Westminster.

If we keep the strings, the hooks, the Privy Council responsibility, with the final decision perhaps here in the House by a treaty or in some other way, the future of that part of Africa, with all its inhabitants, will be caught up in the ideological disputes that sometimes bedevil us here, but never destroy us because we are so used to handling them and have immense experience. It would be destructive of all security and hope for that country 6,000 miles away if it were to be perpetually in tutelage to the opinions from below the Gangway on either side of the house. The people there must have independence, must go their own way, and we must recognise that once the constitution is devised the safeguards can be no more than a pious gesture, and that the operation is an expression of trust.

7.18 p.m.

Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)

The only comment I wish to make on the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) is that the support which the Government are receiving from certain hon. Members opposite should be worrying them. The fact that the only word from this side of the House in support of the "Fearless" proposals has come from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) should make them see the danger signals.

I do not claim to speak about Rhodesia any more than any other hon. Member, although I have visited it three times. But I should like to try to tell the House the views of Rhodesians, both black and white, on the present crisis, because it is their future that the crisis is about. The present negotiations seem to Rhodesians from whom I have heard to be like an auction at which 4⅓ million Africans are being sold off as cheap labour to Mr. Smith, and this is an auction at which no African is permitted to make any bid. The Press in both South Africa and Britain, from the Guardian to Mr. Douglas Brown in the Sunday Telegraph, has pointed out that the safeguards in the "Fearless" proposals are, in the last analysis, valueless.

Once Mr. Smith has won his two prizes of the lifting of sanctions and sovereign independence, any number of guarantees can be torn up unless there are United Nations, Commonwealth or British troops stationed in Rhodesia to ensure that he honours them. This abrogation is exactly what South Africa did when, unfortunately, the Liberal Government in 1908 made the error of granting her independence before majority rule. This is why the South African newspaper, Die Burgher, has been attempting to spell out to the more obtuse members of the Rhodesia Parliament that they have a gift horse offered them.

This is why a considerable number of hon. Members on this side of the House still believe that Nibmar is absolutely essential. Who could have any confidence in the rule of law in any Rhodesia left in the hands of such men as Mr. Desmond Lardner-Burke and Chief Justice Beadle after their recent abrogation of legality? Who could trust Mr. Smith ever again—the man who pledged that he would not seize U.D.I. without consulting the country of Rhodesia and then failed to consult even the Rhodesian Parliament; the man who stated "As long as I am Prime Minister of this country, there will be no interference with the Press" and then proceeded to institute one of the most rigid censorships known in the world; the man who obtained the signature of Her Majesty's Governor to emergency powers by the deliberate trick of pledging that there would be no U.D.I., and then declared U.D.I. less than 24 hours later? What safeguard can this House feel there will be in the Privy Council when the Rhodesia Front has only this year ignored not only the Privy Council but the Queen's express reprieve?

The "Fearless" proposals seek to leave the release of political detainees—who represent, as it has often been said, far more Rhodesians than either of the white Rhodesia Front negotiators on the "Fearless"—to a court, two out of whose three judges, a majority, would be Rhodesians. We have all seen how these judges have defied legality this year, since when the more moderate of the judges have resigned. Unless all the political detainees are released, the testing of opinion in Rhodesia, one of the six principles, would be totally valueless, because European Church missionaries in Rhodesia estimate that Mr. Joshua Nkomo has the support of 80 per cent. of the Africans in that country, who themselves form 95 per cent. of the population.

We must ask ourselves for what reason Mr. Smith kicks against the safeguard of the Privy Council and why he seeks to kick against a blocking quarter unless his intentions are dishonourable. If he were honest, what would he have to fear from either of those safeguards? Why should he have any objection to a United Nations referendum, which he has continually declined, and why would he have any objection to the stationing of Forces in Rhodesia to guarantee the settlement, unless he has it in his mind at present that he will abrogate it as soon as he can?

The "Fearless" proposals are also unacceptable because such a régime will be retaining control during the testing of opinion. Is it not indicative that, when Rhodesia Front supporters here claim that Africans are not yet educated for Government, Mr. Smith and his predecessors declined the offer from the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) of express aid to help with rapid African education? When such educational proposals are made as the basis for the future franchise of Rhodesia, how can it be safe to leave this qualification in the hands of the Rhodesia Front, when it has already since U.D.I. cut back on African secondary education and, therefore, at one stroke diminished the number of future African voters who can qualify for the "A" roll?

We remember clearly that Mr. Smith has repeatedly said that there will be no majority rule in his lifetime. If he were sincere when he said this, what is the point of negotiations? If he is not sincere when he makes such clear and repeated statements, what is the point of negotiating with such a man? How can there be any point in negotiating with the leaders of the Rhodesia Front when principles 5 and 6 of the party constitution read as follows: 5. The Party will uphold the principle of the Land Apportionment Act. 6. Recognising the different customs and modes of living of the various communities in Southern Rhodesia, the Party opposes compulsory integration and recognises the rôle of Government at all levels to provide separate facilities and amenities for the various groups to enable them to preserve their customs and ways of life. Principle 11 of the Principles of the Constitution of the Rhodesia Front shows the whole raison d'etre of the party: The Party will ensure the permanent establishment of the European in Southern Rhodesia. The leaders of this party can never negotiate away its whole purpose of existing.

Moderate Europeans during the last few days have written to me from Rhodesia saying that they feel that it is a great pity that negotiations have been started at this juncture, just when sanctions were starting to have a very serious effect on the Rhodesia Government. One writer said that these negotiations have saved Mr. Smith's bacon. On "Tiger" it was Britain that made the concessions. Now it is Britain that has made even more concessions on "Fearless". Mr. Smith has told his people that he thinks that he can squeeze even more out of us yet.

Those of us who reject the "Fearless" proposals remember not only Lord Alport's words at the time of "Tiger", when he said: There can be no agreement which the present Government or any Government in the country could reach with the Smith régime and still maintain its self-respect, its sense of confidence and its integrity. We also remember the Prime Minister's words, when he said: We cannot negotiate with these men, nor can they be trusted after the return to constitutional rule with the task of leading Rhodesia in the paths of freedom and racial harmony. The Prime Minister went on: Mr. Smith, although a private person, is the leader of a great political party, and certainly his views will be sought, but— and these are the significant words— as to entrusting to them, to that Government or to that Parliament the conduct of restoration and reconstruction of affairs in Rhodesia, I think that this would be absolutely intolerable. I come finally to what some of us on this side would prefer as the alternative solution. Instead of these proposals, let us have a constitutional conference to work out a multi-racial solution with the leaders of all the people in Rhodesia. Let us look once again at the plan which a distinguished white Rhodesian lawyer, Mr. Hardwicke Holderness, proposed of a legislature for Rhodesia with parity between the two races so that the agreement of more than one race would be necessary for any legislation to go through.

I think that many hon. Members on both sides of the House know in their hearts that, if the "Fearless" proposals were accepted in Rhodesia, they would, in all probability, be overthrown. It is a temptation of expediency that we abandon the principles in Rhodesia or that we settle for these unenforceable terms. This would do not only permanent damage to the Commonwealth, to Britain at the United Nations and to future hopes for race relations in the world, but—this is the overwhelming argument—such a compromise would solve nothing. It would only leave worse problems for the future and for our children to solve. It is unthinkable for Britain to have to be defending the Rhodesia Front in the future against attacks from guerrillas of those who form the majority of the Rhodesian inhabitants.

To conclude, on this issue the Labour Government have in their hands not only the total records of our post-imperial history but also a feeling for multiracial tolerance in this world. On such important questions, we cannot afford to be weak. To do so would be to imperil all the whites living peacefully in Africa at present. On this issue, principle and self-interest combine to impel us to stand firm.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)

In the last nine years I have listened to every debate on Rhodesia, but this is the first occasion, Mr. Speaker, when I have felt bold enough to seek to catch your eye on the subject. In conformity with tradition, I will declare an interest, but the House probably already knows that my group has considerable works in central Africa and has, until recently, been doing a lot of work in Rhodesia. I therefore approach this problem possibly more as a commercial man than as a politician.

I do not think that I shall ever have the benefit of some hon. Members opposite of being able to see things so black or so white, which seems to be one of the qualities of a politician. Possibly also because we work in many of the central African countries, I am equally convinced that the political pattern of Westminster is not exportable as we know it. I say that with considerable feeling because, in the many countries of Africa, I cannot see a single pattern where democracy works perfectly. I admire the confidence of hon. Members opposite on this matter, therefore, I feel a great deal of sympathy for them.

I know from my commercial experience that is it easy to export a contract to build a dam but that it is nothing like so easy to build a constitution which will fit the pattern. I first saw Rhodesia in 1936 and I have followed its progress since. One of our problems is that in the early days we assumed, and we gave them every right to assume, that they were practically an independent country. Their Prime Minister attended Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conferences as an observer and by invitation.

The Rhodesians are almost like an adolescent who has gone off and got married without his parent's permission, with the parents still trying to put their own interpretation on what he is doing. We are like parents in that we cannot wield much influence over the child. Any influence we try to exert has to be by cutting off his allowance or means of subsistence, but our action has been offset because friendly and not so friendly aunts have helped him out. Any power we had in that way over Rhodesia has been lost.

The real question is how we can best help Africa and the Rhodesians. I mean by that Rhodesians of all colours and stages of education. Certainly hon. Members opposite—and I am glad they have not done so today—have in the past criticised commercial interests in Rhodesia as having something sinister about them. I am not ashamed of the fact that my group made a contribution to building the Kariba Dam and that we did much to build aerodromes and roads in Rhodesia. I am proud of the fact that we have built and sold to Africans—and I do not think that many hon. Members realise this—a number of houses which they are buying with building society mortgages. These are the things we can do to help the Africans most. I am proud, too, of the fact that we have built a number of African schools. These are the sort of developments which will allow the African people to grow up and take a responsible position in the political life of the country.

We in this country think too much of our own development. We never seem to remember just how short a time it is during which Rhodesia has been developing. I remember how surprised I was, on my first visit to Rhodesia, when I went into the Livingstone Museum and saw the cheque paid to the African chief for the purchase of an interest in Rhodesia. I was even more surprised to find that I was staying in the house of the man who signed that cheque. That is the timescale of the development of Africa and it is one of the problems of today.

I do not think the situation is helped by any hon. Member, however much he may wish to attack the Prime Minister—the attacks come mostly from the benches opposite—to say that we should not trust Mr. Smith. Trust is mutual. If one does not trust a man, one has no right to expect him to trust one in return. I have been engaged in a number of negotiations with foreign powers on building contracts. None of them could have taken place if each side had not been willing to accept the bona fides of the other.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) is not in his place. But he and some other hon. Members should recall, when they say that we should put in troops to conquer Rhodesia, that they are the same individuals who urge us to reduce the Armed Forces.

Equally, we should remember that we ought to be thinking about how we can help the moderates, about what we can do to expand the country, to fill the bellies of the Africans and to increase their education. These are things which go with political independence but we will not achieve these things by the means proposed by hon. Members opposite. We should not and cannot reduce the country into submission by starvation. It would hurt the very people hon. Members want to help. They would be the first to suffer.

In this situation, we in this country will have little power and influence left if we go on with this argument, which has been laughed at by many countries. Even a number of African countries believe that we are not doing the right thing. Some hon. Members opposite have said that it is impossible to name them at this stage but we know which they are. The solution must be a settlement and it should be an honourable and a quick settlement, because the continuation and extension of sanctions will not help all those we should be wanting to help tonight.

7.37 p.m.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

Even if it had been my intention to try and convince hon. Members opposite that their point of view was wrong, I would have given up, because most of them have already left the Chamber.

My main point is to try and get through to my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Minister without Portfolio how deeply some on this side feel on this issue. First, we care desperately that the Government and the Labour Party are going to be seen to have made a real and drastic mistake in putting forward these proposals for a settlement with the Smith régime. Secondly, as my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) pointed out, we care very desperately that, in the eyes of the international community, if the proposals are accepted, it is we who will be responsible for what happens to future generations both in this country and in Africa when the settlement is put into operation.

I want to refer to something which my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio said in opening, and I have heard him say it before. He said that the difficulty about Southern Rhodesia is that we have responsibility without power. If that is true, it was true at the time of U.D.I. If it is true, what on earth have we been playing at since then? What have sanctions been about? If we never had any power over what happened in Southern Rhodesia, what was the worth of all the exercises we have gone into in trying to force the Smith régime to return, as my right hon. Friend put it, to legality? My right hon. Friend may be right but it is important to point out that we have been led to believe that we could do something about the situation in Southern Rhodesia. This was why we had sanctions and the commitment to Nibmar.

The importance of Nibmar has been underplayed during the debate. The Prime Minister said this afternoon, and he spelled it out in the "Fearless" proposals, that there were substantial changes, but the changes he spelled out are changes yet to come, not changes which have yet happened. They are changes which he has written into the proposals for the settlement on "Fearless". He has been very selective, as was my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary, when he said that other changes have taken place in Southern Rhodesia. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party said, those changes make it more imperative than ever that Nibmar becomes part of the British commitment for any settlement in Southern Rhodesia.

The main change which we have seen has been unimpeded progress not towards African rule but towards apartheid. It is said that if we do not accept what was suggested in the "Fearless" proposals, the situation will only get worse, not that discrimination will cease, and it is also argued that it is worse now than it was at the time of U.D.I. That is why I say that the Prime Minister is being very selective and that events since U.D.I., the hangings and the examples of apartheid mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend, highlight the desperate position.

We can all quote each other against each other. Every politician is open to that. If the situation has changed, it is possible to concede that one did say what is quoted, but I return to what my right hon. Friend said in November. He argues that the situation is now different and what he said then does not apply. I would be prepared to accept that, except that after his visit on 14th November my right hon. Friend said that due to the situation and due to what Ian Smith had said to him about the repudiation of the guarantees which we wanted about the "Tiger" proposals and so on, he could not put any trust in a settlement which left him in charge. It has been on that basis that many of us have gone along with him and argued our case. There has been a tendency to dismiss the concept of a return to legality as unimportant, but it is the essence of what some of us have been arguing when we have said that there must be this return to legality and that it must be backed by the Nibmar commitment.

We were told that the "Tiger" proposals were in line with the six principles and that that was as far as we could go. I fail to understand how it can be said that we now have a new situation and a new set of proposals which are better for the Smith régime than the "Tiger" proposals because they repudiate a return to legality—other matters have already been mentioned by other hon. Members. How can I be asked to accept that this, too, is in line with the six principles?

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) spoke of South Africa and the way in which having this constitution in Rhodesia would ensure the economic development of the Africans and an increase in their educational qualifications and so on. The whole history of South Africa repudiates his case. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker) said, it is the South Africans who are now urging Ian Smith to accept the constitution because—and any hon. Member can look this up in the Library, as I have—the South Africans managed to destroy a constitution which had entrenched clauses and which guaranteed unimpeded progress towards majority rule. We therefore have every reason to be suspicious and unhappy about what I regard as the Government's grave mistake in the lead which they are giving to the party.

Several hon. Members have said that one way to guarantee a constitution in Southern Rhodesia would be to have a British presence there. I can see the logic of that if the constitution had the blessing and acceptance of the Africans. But I appreciate the dangers if the Africans repudiate the "Fearless" constitution and British forces are in or near Rhodesia to uphold that constitution. What happens when the inevitable happens, when the Africans who do not accept the constitution and who have not been included in any discussions about it and who do not support it in any way increase their activities saying that the constitution is not in their interests? On whose side will the British force or the British presence be? This is one of the aspects of the matter which worries me. We have been talking about guarantees to uphold a constitution but it would be a constitution not fully accepted by all concerned.

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

Will my hon. Friend refresh her memory about principle No. 5? The whole basis of any proposals, assuming that Her Majesty's Government would not accept a settlement, and the whole basis of the six principles, particularly No. 5, must ensure that the constitution is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, so the point does not arise.

Miss Lestor

Except that there has been ample evidence, as has been demonstrated in this argument, of the major difficulties of being able to establish within the setup of the "Fearless" constitution any way of being sure that that is the situation. That is the difficulty and the danger.

Those of us who have been critical of these proposals have been told that we are not being very helpful because we are not putting forward any positive alternative. The logic of that argument is that because there is no positive alternative for the moment we have to endorse something which we believe to be fundamentally wrong and which we believe can only lead to the sort of situation, that is, racial conflict, which every hon. Member says he wishes to avoid.

There are several difficulties in which the Government will find themselves if they try to present this set of proposals as being acceptable within the terms they themselves laid down, and this to me is the most reprehensible aspect. If the Government were to say that it is a terrible mess and that they cannot do anything about Rhodesia, that they know that it is a shocking situation and that they will do all then can, but this is the best we can do, I could understand it. What I cannot understand is that this course of action should be sold to me as morally and justifiably right when it is a situation which could end in racial conflict.

The Government have done something very good—they have introduced the Race Relations Bill. Although the Tory Party did not support it, for a variety of reasons, I did. I wish that it were stronger. Many of us have argued in the country—and my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) knows this very well—for the Bill, and I shall be very proud if it becomes part of the Statute Book. But it is not easy to argue in support of a Bill to outlaw racial discrimination in this country and to convince people that the Bill is right and at the same time to say that racialism is good enough for the Africans in another country. That is a contradiction to all we have said about race relations and that is why some of us feel very deeply about this issue.

One cannot have it both ways. I do not impute motives to the Prime Minister; I am sure that he is sincere, but I think that he is sincerely wrong. He spoke about human rights from Birmingham to Bulawayo and I agree with what he said, but the human rights for which we have argued for our own country must be applied to a country for which we have responsibility.

If we have got to the situation of asking: what on earth can we do about it? there are two things that we can do. I would go further with sanctions. First of all we can indulge in a propaganda exercise to try to educate the British public. I believe that people do believe in fair play, and they must know what is really happening in Southern Rhodesia. They must be told of the sort of society that exists there. They do not understand, because no one has bothered to tell them, or when people have tried to do so they have not got the sort of publicity that they ought to. We should alert public opinion to what it is we are trying to do.

Alternatively, if it is all too late, if inevitably we have reached this situation, at least let us, in the eyes of the international community, be seen not to be endorsing something that can only lead to racialism and racial conflict in Southern Rhodesia. It is not only a question of highlighting the issues and standing up on this question for the Africans, but it is also a question for our party, because I believe that on this issue, members of the party care very desperately that the Government should seek to do the right thing.

7.50 p.m.

Mr. Evelyn King (Dorset, South)

I ought to apologise to the House because I was out of the Chamber for an hour between 6 o'clock and 7 o'clock. Other than that, I have heard all the speeches. I particularly enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), and it may be that although I shall produce a slightly different form of argument, I will come to much the same conclusion as that at which she arrived. I am not, and never have been, one of those people—and there are many on both sides of the House—who are utterly convinced that there is only one policy that we can follow, that this policy is right and every other is wrong.

I do not believe that this Anglo-Rhodesian situation is that kind of problem. I concede that any evidence that anyone may offer is as likely to be wrong as right. There are some things about which one is sure; there are others when one ought to have the humility to possess doubt. I hope that I am fair to everyone when I say that almost every speech to which I have listened from hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies opposite has primarily criticised the Government of Mr. Ian Smith as being immoral and deplorable. The trouble is that it is all too easy to do this.

I am not in the least concerned to argue that this is or is not so. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must not think that when they have said that they make any contribution whatever to the political solution of this problem. I must say, and here one must speak with circumspection to avoid giving offence, that it is true that the vast majority of Governments in the African continent are bad, I think about 90 per cent. of them. One could make a speech, not wildly dissimilar to some of those which we have heard about Mr. Ian Smith's Government, but relating to almost any other Government in that continent. This contributes nothing to the solution of the Anglo-Rhodesian problem.

This is a practical House, and it has to take a practical view. There is one question only, and that is to decide what practical steps Great Britain can take to ease the situation. Too few hon. Members are addressing themselves to this. There are some things upon which all would agree. We are agreed that sanctions have had an adverse economic effect upon Rhodesia, to a considerable degree. We are agreed that, though the economic effects have been adverse, the political effects have been nil, and many of us hold the view that the political effects have been the reverse of those intended.

I would have thought that many of us must say, and the right hon. Gentleman must he aware of this, as is almost every official adviser, that the policy we have so far followed has not been successful. We must start from that beginning, and then seek to argue how we may alter it. That is the point from which I start.

We come to the other seeming illogicality. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have argued that any paper guarantee is worthless, yet in the next breath they have argued that there should be more paper guarantees. They cannot have it both ways. If they think that a guarantee is worthless what is the good of the appeal to the Privy Council? Why reinforce it by a treaty? Why have the blocking quarter? It will all be useless and it will not matter what the negotiations are about.

One cannot enter into negotiations with a foreign country with any hope of success on the understanding that one is sure that they will break promises as soon as negotiations are finished. This may be true. I am a pessimist. Clearly no Prime Minister will last forever, and any document to which Mr. Ian Smith may set his signature will not necessarily bind his successors in ten or 15 years' time. No document ever has bound successor Parliaments, particularly in Africa. One is bound to try to weigh up the balance.

Can one achieve a small thing for the Africans? One cannot achieve big things but one might achieve something small for them. That is the only case which the Government have, and which I have. We all agree that in the last three years the effect of our actions has been to diminish the economic prosperity of the Africans, has done harm to them. There must be some case for seeking to reverse this and doing them good. In other words one is in a position where, whatever one does, it is certain to be wrong. But perhaps some tiny element of good may result if an agreement is reached. I will put it no higher than that.

I concede that any agreement likely to be reached will be rather a poor one. The criticism from other African countries about an agreement must not be overstated. True, many will make more noise than they really feel. I have taken some trouble to go into this, and my impression is that the Commonwealth will take it more easily than is commonly thought.

Nonetheless, I concede that one will do damage to British prestige among Africans. We run a risk of being damaged in the United Nations. Those who have a more tender conscience than I will feel that we have damaged British traditions in accepting conditions that do not appear morally acceptable. Even if this be so, what conclusions does one reach? Is there to be no agreement, never, not in five, ten or 15 years? Does anyone believe that this argument, this battle, this continuation of sanctions, can go on for ever? One day it has to stop. It may be that one day this House will face another position. It may even be a position when the Conservative Party is in office, and when we, like the present Government, have failed to reach agreement.

If that were to happen, and this is where I join with the hon. Lady, it might be better to have no agreement. Even if there were no agreement I would argue that the Government ought to go to the United Nations and say that there is no agreement to which they could put their hands. Equally, sanctions should not continue forever. For example, exports of Japanese goods to Rhodesia are now, I am told, up by 200 per cent. We can say to the United Nations fairly, more so as the years go by, "We cannot carry this burden alone". We must declare from now on that this is not a situation which we can control, that sanctions must end and that we must withdraw from it. That might be a more honourable settlement than reaching an agreement to which many hon. Members could not subscribe.

Whatever we do will incur grave criticism. It is no use running away in a stream of abuse. We must find a practical solution and, in this, my fourth speech on the subject, I can only say from the bottom of my heart that I wish the Minister without Portfolio every kind of good luck if it should be his responsibility to bring that agreement to fruition. It will be a great work. He will get very little thanks, but in the long eye of history he may get more thanks than he thinks.

8.1 p.m.

Mr. Richard Crawshaw (Liverpool, Toxteth)

During the day, we have heard different points argued about what this constitution would mean, but there is only one point with which we should be concerned, and that is that, whatever the terms, what are the chances of implementing them? It is not worth while putting terms which are acceptable to Rhodesia unless we can implement them.

Although I agree that the six principles are important, I am not a hard-and-fast liner on even these. So long as the Africans do get self-government within the foreseeable future, that would suit me, but condition number five in which we are to find out whether the Constitution as proposed is acceptable to the Rhodesian people generally seems futile. We are saying that coloured Africans are not capable of putting a cross on a ballot form to elect their representative, yet we will ask them whether they agree with a complicated and intricate constitution. I do not think that condition number five is practicable.

This is the first time that I have spoken on the Rhodesian issue, not because I have not been concerned about it, but because I have been very concerned, and anxious that nothing I said would adversely influence any of the negotiations. I have been prepared to accept, up to now, that my right hon. Friends, being in office, know more about the situation than I do, that they know a feeling of the people in the country and of hon. Members, but I rise today because at last I realise that they do not seem to appreciate any of these points.

When this issue arose, I had some correspondence with the Prime Minister. I was under no doubts not just that this was an issue of whether a quarter of a million white Rhodesians controlled four million Africans indefinitely but that here were the seeds of something which could set all southern Africa aflame. I said it on the day of U.D.I. in a letter; I referred to a blood bath in Southern Africa if we failed to carry out our moral responsibility. Later, when sanctions were imposed, I wrote to say that in two years Smith would still be sitting happily in Salisbury if we carried on as we were doing. Therefore, I have regrettably concluded that my right hon. Friends seem to have misjudged the situation and the feelings of the country and of hon. Members.

I was an advocate of force being used. People raise their hands in horror and say that that would have started a blood bath, but it was because I realised the serious repercussions which this could have on Africa as a whole that I realised, even on the day of U.D.I., that it would have been preferable to use force to assert our authority.

We have heard since then that it was not practicable, that we have not the forces to do it. No-one in the House will ever suggest that I have tried to cut down our Forces, but with this argument, when we are spending £2,000 million a year, it will not be long before I vote with some of my more Left-wing hon. Friends. I do not see why we spend £2,000 million if we cannot control a country occupied by a quarter of a million white settlers. So there is something in my hon. Friends' argument for cutting down our Forces.

But I must refer to what the Prime Minister has said more than once when pressed about what would happen if an agreement were signed and the Rhodesians went back on it. He has said—I do not know his exact words—that we could not guarantee that force would not be used on the second occasion. Does this mean that force had been a practical possibility, but was not being used for moral reasons? If so, once again the Front Bench have completely misjudged the situation. We heard again today of further repressions and blood baths, but the whole reason that this has come about is that we failed to honour our obligations to those coloured Rhodesians.

An hon. Member said that it serves no purpose to start criticising Mr. Smith and members of his Government, but we heard today from the former Commonwealth Secretary his views on that Government, and the views he formed over a period of whether he was prepared to trust them. I am more inclined to take his view on this matter and that of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench today. It is no good hon. Gentlemen saying that it does no good and contributes nothing to say what one thinks of the person with whom one is dealing. This argument was used against Churchill and his attacks on Hitler in 1930s, but not even hon. Gentlemen opposite would say that he was wrong in the outcome.

Can we trust this régime, whatever agreement is drawn up, to implement it? This is the important point; we know that over the past three years, Mr. Smith and his Government have acted illegally, first, on U.D.I. and then in framing the new Constitution.

I was surprised to hear my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio say, in answer to someone who pointed out that during the past three years they have overruled what our Privy Council had to say, that the judges in Rhodesia were judging the issue as affecting an illegal régime and that if the régime had been legal, they would have supported what the Privy Council said. This goes without saying, that if any new régime in Rhodesia did not wish the Privy Council to have cognisance of any decisions or agreements which it made, all it would have to do would be to make the régime illegal again, and that would automatically take away the Privy Council's right, according to my right hon. Friend, to have any grounds for saying that the agreement should be carried out. This is what we fear. What appals me is that Mr. Smith and his friends have not accepted this agreement.

Then we come to sanctions. We are told how these are hurting our African brothers. Of course, they are. Any sanctions are bound to hurt people, but what would have happened during the last war if, when we were imposing a blockade on France and the rest of Europe, our allies had said that it was hurting our people in Europe and that we should not do it? It is as illogical as that. Of course, they have to hurt people. All I regret is that we have not imposed the sanctions sufficiently strongly really to hurt the Rhodesian régime. I believe that if we were really sincere in wanting to bring down the régime, we could impose sanctions which would be effective.

Right hon. and hon. Members opposite ask about the régimes which have been given their independence and have become dictatorships. Do they think that there is any comparison between a dictatorship which is set up by the people of their own country and one which is imposed by us? Of course, we regret it when African States throw overboard the democracy which we thought we were giving them, and that is regrettable. It is, however, a different matter when a white race has imposed it on a coloured race, not simply for the immediate future, but because of the repercussions it will have in five, 10, 15 and 20 years' time in Africa. Therefore, I cannot see any comparison with a coloured race in Africa which goes dictatorial. That is no excuse for saying that we should not try to bring the Rhodesians along with us. When they become independent they might do the same, but that is not our moral responsibility. Our moral responsibility is to ensure that the 4 million Africans are allowed to have the form of government which they want, not what we want or what Smith wants.

It appals me that Mr. Smith has not accepted the proposals. What really worries me, however, is that this may be a pretence on his part. He may be intending to accept the proposals. He would, of course, know, as my right hon. Friend knows, that there would be considerable opposition from these benches if these proposals came forward. Therefore, it would have been easy for us today to sit down and say that Mr. Smith was not accepting them in any event and, therefore, why start talking about them and why cause any trouble by going into the Division Lobby tonight, as I intend to do?

It is imperative that each one of us who believes in the freedom of each person to elect his own government should show this tonight by going into the Lobby to demonstrate that even though Smith may not accept the proposals, we are having no truck with them whatever, whether he is prepared to accept them or not.

I believe that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio have been so close to this problem, thrashing out one point after another, that they have failed to see how far along the road they have gone from what they promised the House and what we were given to understand would be the constitution for Rhodesia.

People ask what the solution is to be. I believe that sanctions, properly applied, would do it. People talk about the freedom fighters. When they are mentioned here, people throw up their hands in horror as though they were doing something wrong. What appals me is that we always view the situation from our own points of view. If those freedom fighters were Czechs now fighting against the Russians in Czechoslovakia, or if it was an underground movement in Europe during the war, right hon. and hon. Members opposite would be the first to pay tribute to them, as I pay tribute to them today. If I were a black Rhodesian, I know what I would be doing in Rhodesia today and I hope that many of my hon. Friends would be with me.

This situation has been brought about because my hon. Friends have failed to appreciate that when they were dealing with the situation three years ago, it was not simply a problem between us and Smith. It was a problem that affected the whole of Africa. They failed to appreciate that. Even at this late stage, I, for one am not prepared to put my name to any agreement which goes along these lines.

One does not have to accept agreements. It may well be that with our failing prestige and power in the world, we must accept certain limitations. I accept this. We have seen what happens merely by giving consent—for example, the trouble in Europe that followed Yalta. If we were prepared to say, "We cannot do anything about it, but you are not getting my name as a signature to it", at least we would maintain the respect of the world. I do not believe that we will retain the respect of anybody in this country, certainly not of the African States, if we go along with these proposals. I urge my hon. Friends to make clear to the Government tonight that we do not intend to go along with these proposals now and we will not go along with them if they are brought forward at a later stage.

8.16 p.m.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I apologise, Mr. Speaker, for being absent for part of the debate, but I heard the opening speeches, which were splendid, from both sides. I wish to make a few short comments on what has been said and to add some of my views on them.

I was tempted to interrupt the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) to ask whether he had been to Rhodesia. If he has, I withdraw any suggestions which I might make. Listening to the hon. Member, however, my feeling was that he had not been there, certainly not recently. if he considered his comments in the light of visiting that country and seeing things as they are, he would not have made the comments which he has made today.

I had the pleasure of visiting Rhodesia last year. In case hon. Members might be suspicious, I add that I paid my own fare and hotel bills and, therefore, was not a guest of any group, clique or faction. I had the liberty of seeing what I wanted to see and speaking to those to whom I wished to speak.

The evidence which I saw was that the freedom fighters were not supported by the people of Rhodesia, neither do they seem to stem from there. They are trained outside Rhodesia with the aid of foreign money, trained by foreigners to cause the maximum disruption in Rhodesia. Although I certainly did not travel over all the country, I spoke to a large number of people of all colours. My impression was that the freedom fighters were by no means supported by the people of Rhodesia. On the basis of the small white population out there and the limited armed forces and police at their disposal, I suggest that if freedom fighters, trained and financed from outside, had the support of the local population, they could cause chaos in Rhodesia very quickly. Another impression which I gained was that in Rhodesia, as I found in one or two so-called free States, one hardly ever sees a policeman and when one sees one he is usually a black African.

The hon. Member for Toxteth put to us the proposititon that in certain circumstances he would favour the use of force. The question which he and other hon. Members who disagree with the Government's policy must face is, for what precise purpose would we use that force? Certainly, force could be used by our Government to impose a régime and make it a colony once again, but where would we go from there? The real difficulty of the Rhodesian situation is to ensure that people of different races can live together with the rights of both races guaranteed.

It would be the easiest thing in the world to use force and bring about an independent black African State from which all the Europeans, or the great majority, would quickly disappear and go south to South Africa. The Government could sent in troops tomorrow, and that could be the result.

Mr. Crawshaw

That did not happen in Kenya. Why does the hon. Member suggest that the white people should be expelled? All that we are asking is that a black vote should be equal to a white vote.

Mr. Taylor

I do not suggest that people would be expelled forthwith. When the hon. Member mentions Kenya, he should be reminded of what happened to the Indian minority, of which we in this House are very conscious. Many settlers left Kenya because of their fears for democracy on the basis of the one-party system.

It is one thing to argue the importance at some stage of the principle of one man, one vote or equality of franchise, but what is the point of having the principle of one man, one vote when the vote can be given to only one party? If the youngsters of 18 in this country were told that they could vote but that they must use their vote for either the Conservative or the Labour Party, that would not be very meaningful.

It is very difficult indeed to find an ideal solution which can solve all the problems. I am afraid that, in this problem, as in so many other problems which we in this House face, there is not a right and wrong answer but just a series of wrong answers which will offend some people, which will involve difficulties. However, think the Minister without Portfolio put the case very fairly when he implied in his speech that it was a question of an agreement or of nothing, and this is just the point we have before us at the present time.

There is a third possibility, which has been mentioned—force; but force, in my opinion, and judging from the experience which we have had in other places, would simply lead people to a situation in which a minority, a substantial white minority compared with that in Kenya, would feel that there would be no future for them, so that the vast majority of them, I believe, would get out quickly. In these circumstances I think the only real alternative we have is an agreement so as to have a situation in which Rhodesia rather like Spain in the interwar years has staggered along in the world, not quite respectable, not quite accepted by everyone in the world, but maintaining and gradually improving its position in the world. It has taken Spain a certain number of years and it will probably take Rhodesia many years, but that is one possibility.

Another possibility is to have an agreement with this country and with the people of this country who have such strong links with Rhodesia, an agreement under which they would have strong influence with Rhodesia so as to ensure that a satisfactory or adequate settlement would be brought about.

There are two questions which I would put to the Minister and to hon. Gentlemen opposite. Are they absolutely and entirely satisfied that African opinion in Rhodesia—I mean educated as well as uneducated African opinion—is 100 per cent. against Mr. Smith and his Government and the present Rhodesian situation? I think that most people who would say that it is are people who have not been there. I have had the opportunity of being there, and certainly the impression which I got was that highly educated Rhodesian African opinion was that one of the worst things which could happen in Rhodesia would be a speedy move towards one man, one vote, and I had the pleasure of attending the Rhodesian Parliament and of hearing the 15 African M.P.s.

Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

Can the hon. Member give us some idea of what he means by a speedy move to one man, one vote, and would he indicate whether he believes that Africans should have the opportunity of saying whether they agree or do not agree?

Mr. Taylor

What we have to see is that we try to find the kind of constitution which would enable the two races to live harmoniously together in the context of Africa. My belief is that any move, any speedy move, to one man, one vote—and I should not like to lay down any time scale, but in the foreseeable future—could not ensure this. It is very easy to talk about what should or should not be done, and about people living harmoniously together, but in Rhodesia we have a problem which is not easy to solve.

Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)

I also have been travelling and have just come back from Malawi. There, although it is a one-party State, the President himself nominates five members from the white settler community to sit in Parliament to see that that community's interests are maintained. I think that the hon. Member is being a little pessimistic in suggesting that if the Africans in Rhodesia were given the vote the white people would be immediately ejected or have no say in affairs in that country.

Mr. Taylor

I think that if the hon. Member were to compare Malawi and Rhodesia proportionately, he would see that there are very substantial differences. I know the speeches of the Malawi M.P.s. I have read their speeches in the Malawi HANSARD. The Malawi HANSARD is even more interesting than the HANSARD which we have in this House.

However, I would ask the Minister whether he can give any indication of the accuracy of what has been said by some hon. Members, that African opinion is in favour of the kind of move which they have been suggesting.

Some comments have been made about the Africans in Rhodesia who are under restriction or detention, and I would ask the Minister if he could give us any information about the numbers who are under restriction or detention now as compared with the numbers when Mr. Garfield Todd was in charge. I received official figures while I was in Salisbury. I cannot, of course, vouch for them, but I think that if the figures were to be revealed and if this information were given—and I have no reason to disbelieve the information which I was given—I think the results would be very surprising, for the numbers under detention and under restriction at the present time are less than half what they were five years ago when we had a different Prime Minister.

One of the most embarrassing things to the Prime Minister, I suppose, must be to have my support and that of my colleagues on this side of the House, but one has to ensure that what one contributes is towards a policy to solve the basic problem of people of different races living together harmoniously. That is why one has been critical of the Government and their Rhodesian policies, but the first thing one has to say, what all hon. Members in the House would say, is that this really complex problem, the problem of two different races living together, has not yet been solved, to my knowledge, anywhere in the world, with liberties and freedoms being guaranteed. It is a major, massive problem.

What guarantees have we that democracy will continue? What guarantees have we that democracy will be possible? I have here a full statement of the present position in several countries in the Continent of Africa based on so-called democracy. This is a pamphlet which I know the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick) would be interested in, and I should be glad to show it to him. It is called, "One man, one vote: Africa A to Z"—a splendid publication which I would be glad to give the hon. Member.

Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)

On the question of dictatorship, will the hon. Member not agree that it is not just a question of dictatorship? What is happening in Rhodesia is that people are being deprived of basic rights because of the colour of their skins. Although one deplores dictatorship anywhere, in Europe dictatorship is not a situation where a majority in any one country are denied basic human rights for the one reason, the colour of their skin.

Mr. Taylor

Again I can only say to the hon. Member that I wish he had had the pleasure of listening, as I did, to those people out there, and I am sure that if he and his colleagues had many of them would not be making the comments they are making today.

Whether they believe or whether they do not believe, sanctions have brought a settlement nearer, they are not affecting a large number of the peoples. The impression I have is that sanctions certainly are not hitting the economy so hard. There is enormous import substitution, and many things which were once imported are now made in that country. Even in areas where sanctions have hit hardest—in the tobacco industry, for instance—there one finds the most extreme opinion. It is, in fact, in the industries which are being hit hardest by the sanctions that one finds the most inflexible opinion. In these circumstances, I do not believe that sanctions as a policy have brought a settlement any nearer. Nor do I think they assist in making good feelings stronger.

While I am afraid that what I say may be an embarrassment to the Minister without Portfolio, bearing in mind the atmosphere in this House three years ago and what has been said since, the statement from the Government and the debate today are most encouraging. I wish the Government well, and I hope they will get an agreement.

I say in all sincerity to hon. Members opposite that, whether they like it or not, they are faced with two alternatives. One is an agreement which will give this country some influence and may bring about progress towards majority rule on the basis of a qualitative franchise, which is the only practical one; the other is to achieve nothing at all; to have the present situation developing towards closer links with South Africa and the Portuguese colonies. It is our duty to Africa, to our country and to the world to give support to a settlement which will restore friendly relations, and which will give Rhodesia the possibility of progress on the basis of a qualitative franchise towards the independence, freedom and democracy which are enjoyed by far too few of the people living in Africa.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)

One view which has not so far been voiced in this debate, perhaps understandably, is that the criticisms which some or perhaps all of us are levelling at the White Paper and its proposals are ill-timed and pointless because we shall again be saved at the eleventh hour by the intransigence of Ian Smith. Alternatively it is sometimes argued, and understandably this has not been expressed in the debate so far, that the effect of criticism of the proposals may be to encourage Mr. Smith to accept the proposals in the White Paper.

I contend that the pressures on Mr. Smith to reach a settlement with this country will increase as sanctions bite further into the economy of Rhodesia and the business community become increasingly restless and argue more strongly with the régime.

We know that the South African Government, through their security forces and other means, are now physically present in the very heart of Rhodesia. We know that the South African Government are deeply disturbed by the threat to the stability—

Mr. Hastings

The hon. Gentleman mentioned South Africans being in the heart of Rhodesia. I take it that he must mean the Zambesi valley. During this summer I spent weeks on foot in the Zambesi valley and I can assure him that this is not the case. They were there for one short session of training and experience. The Rhodesians are completely in control.

Mr. Judd

I am happy to take that point. I have authoritative recent information that South African forces are not even disguising their presence by wearing Rhodesian uniform, but are quite ostentatiously to be seen all over Rhodesia. In its yearning for security the South African Government will increasingly put pressure on the Rhodesian régime to reach a settlement because they fear the implications to South Africa of the freedom fighting already taking place within Rhodesia.

Although the leaders of the régime may at present have certain difficulties with their less sophisticated followers now that the nationalist Press within South Africa is spelling out the opportunities offered by the White Paper, the régime may endorse these proposals in a Machiavellian spirit and then go forward and do precisely what it wants, exactly as has happened in the Republic of South Africa since 1909.

The time may well approach when Mr. Smith will again meet representatives of this country, this time determined to reach a settlement. If that is the case, just as the provisions of "Tiger" were the starting point for the discussions in "Fearless", so it seems that the likely starting point for future discussions will be the provisions of "Fearless". For these reasons we must in this debate analyse and examine the proposals put forward in the document resulting from "Fearless".

We must look first at the Commission which is to examine the feeling of the people of Rhodesia as a whole. We do not know who will be on this Commission and how it will operate. Those matters will be very significant. We do not know whether it will have access in the way that we would like to see to all the detainees. The point has been made that there has been a significant deterioration in the position of the detainees between the "Tiger" proposals and the "Fearless" proposals. At the time of "Tiger" it was said that no one was to be detained unless he had committed acts of violence or of intimidation. What is now said is that no one is to continue to be detained unless he has or is likely to commit such acts. This is a very subjective approach, and if we look at the provision for establishing whether in the view of the authority people are likely to commit such acts or not, we see, right through the complicated procedures, the predominance of the Rhodesian régime itself.

It may be forgotten that, even if the detainees are to be consulted in their detention centres, as practical politicians we must realise that these key people who should be educating public opinion in Rhodesia about the implications of the proposed settlement as they see them will be prevented from moving amongst their people and carrying out this operation at the very time when the illegal régime will be mobilising all their resources to convince the people of their standpoint towards them. But, presumably, if we set up a commission to examine the views of the people of Rhodesia as a whole, it will be open-minded in its work and, therefore, it is at least possible that it will find that the proposals are not acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.

Let us examine for a moment what that would mean. Smith would be in a stronger position than ever. Quickly, he would be able to divest himself of the embarrassing presence of unacceptable people in his so-called interim broad-based administration. It would mean that the built-up pressure of sanctions, already undermined by the Salisbury overtures, would be weakened still further. We would be worse off in trying to deal with the situation with which we were then confronted.

Lest the Commission finds in favour of the proposals, we must look at the safeguards. As regards the blocking quarter, the point has been made already that there is only a hair's breadth of safety in it. It would be necessary only to subvert one or two African politicians for the régime to achieve what they might want to do in terms of amending the Constitution retrogressively. Of course, they would not necessarily need to subvert African politicians. They have plenty of experience in this sort of operation, and what they might do is provoke a crisis which they could claim to the world necessitated suspension of the Constitution. We must ask the Government what we would do in that situation.

As for appeal to the Privy Council, we know that it can be made either by the Constitutional Council or by individuals with the leave of that Council. Even if we do not question that complicated procedure, what happens if the Privy Council decides to uphold an appeal? If what is by then the legal Government refuses to accept the decision, will we intervene? In the time of the illegal régime, a report of the Privy Council has been ignored and men have been executed against its ruling. We did not prevent it. The truth is that the nationalist Press of South Africa is right. History will repeat itself, as it did in the Union and Republic after 1910. All that the Smith régime have to do now is to have independence on virtually any terms. Then they would be in a position to do whatever it wished. There is no reason to believe that all the machinery of international action, so painstakingly erected, could be re-erected quickly once dismantled.

As I have argued already, constitutional amendment is not necessary. Under the provisions of the White Paper, it would be quite possible for the régime to delay the advancement and enfranchisement of the Africans simply by not implementing the educational policies which would guarantee it. It is true that, if necessary, £50 million will be made available to the régime to help with their educational policy. But we are given no details about how the grant should be used, and for example it could be used too easily exclusively for school building or for primary education which would not qualify people at the rate that we might wish.

Basically, we are concerned with an issue of trust and, in this context, it is relevant to note that nowhere in Africa has a white minority in full control of its security forces surrendered power voluntarily and of its own volition. That is why Nibmar is so essential to the substance of the six principles.

I want now to examine some of the criticisms which have been made of those of us who have advocated Nibmar. Of course, Nibmar implies a period of direct rule. If the Government believe that this direct rule is impossible, because it necessitates British intervention by force—and I am by no means certain that now the South Africans have intervened directly in Rhodesia and are so anxious about stability that that necessarily follows—why in heaven's name did they ever commit themselves to it? Are we now to be told that this was a gimmick to reassure our Commonwealth friends?

The Government said that there would have to be significant changes within Rhodesia to justify going back to the Commonwealth with a changed policy on Nibmar. As has been argued, changes there have been under the régime, but all these changes have been in the wrong direction.

I shall never forget the Rhodesian African who spoke to me not many days ago. He said that what stuck in his gullet most was not the wrongful executions—certainly a move in the wrong direction—but the fact that only a week before our Ministers were negotiating on "Fearless", the Rhodesian régime introduced the Urban Areas Act with all its crude apartheid implications.

We have heard today about the departures, and their significance, of Graham and Harper. My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) was right to point out that there is no difference of viewpoint between Graham and Harper and Ian Smith. It is only timing on which they basically disagree. It is only a matter of how quickly apartheid should be introduced.

We have to look at the new dimension which has been introduced into the crisis. I refer to the freedom fighting which will inevitably become increasingly militant and tough, because it is the only means open to the Africans to achieve their legitimate goal. If the freedom fighting is to be stopped, a settlement will have to be acceptable to nationalist leaders in Rhodesia and to their allies in Africa and elsewhere. Otherwise, far from ridding ourselves of our involvement, we shall become increasingly committed to sustaining a white minority Government against the physical pressures of the African majority in Rhodesia and Africa as a whole. Still further, we shall be aligning ourselves with the racialist white minority throughout southern Africa. We shall be ensuring by that action that freedom fighting becomes a crude racialist confrontation at goodness knows what cost in blood and suffering, not least for the white minority whom so many seem intent to protect.

We have also heard about the economic cost of making a stand at this juncture. It is perhaps relevant to remark that there are 4½ whites doing relatively well at present in Southern Africa, but there is a market of 240 million Africans throughout the rest of the Commonwealth and, as a trading nation, we should see this in perspective.

What shall we do? First, we ought to strengthen sanctions still further. We ought to see whether it would be possible to establish a United Nations Inspectorate to examine the application of sanctions to make sure that they are being carried out as effectively as possible. We ought to tighten up still further on passports and we ought to place an international embargo on communications until we get an agreement from the rebels that enables us to secure the presence necessary for fulfilment of the principles of Nibmar. If the sceptics are right it will still, as has been said by a number of my hon. Friends, be a thousand times better to have withheld recognition of the régime and all that it stands for than to give it our moral endorsement and thereby to have taken one more critical step towards a total break in inter-racial confidence throughout the world, because it would be foolish in the extreme to believe that the issues at stake al e limited to Rhodesia itself—[Interruption.]

We cannot pass on the responsibility for this crisis to this or that Minister. Every Member of this House shares the responsibility, because, legally, historically and morally, Britain is the power responsible for what is happening in Rhodesia today and what will happen in Rhodesia in future. Time and again I am told how the Africans in Rhodesia still look to Britain for their salvation—a trust which we surely want to justify.

We have no right to question the motives of those Ministers handling the crisis on our behalf. All three have been associated with courageous stands, despite immense counter pressures, in the cause of human rights, race relations and African affairs, but simply because we respect them for their past actions we have a duty—all of us in this House—to tell them when they are wrong and to spell out the consequences we see following their actions. The post-war Labour Government, as we were reminded by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley), started a brave new chapter in the history of empire, a chapter to which distinguished members of the Opposition contributed when they were in office. The essential element of that chapter was that independence for former colonial territories would always be agreed on the basis of majority rule. That chapter is almost complete; it would be disastrous to destroy it at the end.

On the night of U.D.I. the Prime Minister spoke for all that is best in Britain when he assured the people of Rhodesia that we would do everything necessary and stand firm to bring them back on the road to majority rule. Three years later the Commonwealth Office has at its disposal masses of accumulated evidence of the knock at the door in the middle of the night, people imprisoned without trial, brutal interrogation techniques, illegal executions and all the other nauseating paraphernalia of a police state. A nation which could not bring itself to believe that the atrocities of Nazi Germany were unknown to the mass of Germans and which rushed rapidly to condemn the Russians for intervening in Czechoslovakia, if made aware of what the Smith régime means, would back the Government to the hilt in a continued and determined stand for all that we are working for.

I have the honour to represent a constituency in which the words of Francis Drake are well known. I should like to share some with the House tonight: There must be a beginning of any great matter but the continuing to the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory. In this debate and every other debate we have had in this House throughout the Rhodesian crisis we have been debating the will: whether we have the will to solve this crisis or not.

8.47 p.m.

Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)

Those of us who over the years have either sat through or taken part in previous debates on the subject of Rhodesia will, I think, at least recognise that this debate has been very different from some of its predecessors because, with few exceptions, the language spoken has been singularly temperate. Inflammatory speeches, again with few exceptions—and I make that exception for the speech of the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd)—have been very few and far between. This is right because I think most of us, wherever we sit in this House, recognise that we are debating not only a very grave issue as to whether or not we get a settlement with Rhodesia, but that this is probably the last chance which the Government or Mr. Smith will have to come to an agreement.

I believe the House is divided not on party lines at all. I think this cuts across party lines but it is divided on a simple issue. There are those hon. Members who wish to see a settlement with all that flows from it and who recognise at once the immense issues at stake, the immense interests and advantages which could accrue both to the future of Rhodesia and this country, and those who take too narrow and too hypocritical a view of the Rhodesian problem and who are prepared to stick so much on the letter of the law and doubt anyone else's good intentions, including Mr. Smith's. They would be prepared at the last minute to throw everything away for the sake of not giving way on any point on the negotiations which are taking place with the illegal Rhodesian égime.

I have said that I think that this is probably the last chance which the Prime Minister or Mr. Smith will have of reaching a settlement. Those of us who read or heard about the negotiations on H.M.S. "Tiger" and those of us who read and heard about the negotiations on H.M.S. "Fearless" more recently will have realised that there was an immense difference between the atmosphere of the two sets of negotiations. I am certain that the Prime Minister benefited from the difficulties of the past. If anyone at some future date cares to write a textbook about the whole technique of negotiations and how they should and should not be conducted, I believe that the negotiations on H.M.S. "Tiger" will be cited as an almost classic example of how not to conduct negotiations.

Those mistakes were not repeated recently on H.M.S. "Fearless", for the simple reason that the Prime Minister, as I think he will recognise, did not get himself tied up in a timetable of his own making; he did not become imprisoned in a straitjacket of his own which left him at the crucial moment with almost no room for manoeuvre.

I reinforce the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home). Most of us in the House hope that when Mr. Smith replies to the proposals put to him by the Prime Minister, that reply will be sufficiently optimistic and worth while for negotiations to be carried on. I greatly hope that the next move will be—not, as my right hon. Friend put it, a long-range bombardment of words in a reply to a reply, but the visit to Rhodesia of the Minister without Portfolio, for whom we all have a high regard, to continue to talk in Salisbury. The process of talking to Mr. Smith and his colleagues in Salisbury is far more valuable than any amount of long-range correspondence by telegram or other means.

The House is, rightly, always jealous of the safeguards that can be written in for any majority or minority. We come down to the basic question whether in the ultimate any safeguards, however carefully entrenched and tied up, would be enforceable if the crunch were to come. I do not believe that either the safeguard of the appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council or that of the blocking quarter would save the day. If there is bad blood and if people mean to break a treaty, there is no method which I know of to prevent them from doing so. The assurances given to the Ashanti minority in Ghana in the entrenched clauses were absolute; this House pledged that the rights of the minority would be protected. In a short time they were overthrown. This was a terrible thing, but it was impossible for us then to do anything about it.

As, rightly, the Prime Minister has ruled out the use of force because he realises that, with the limitation of power, it is a non-starter—he is much more realistic about this than some of his colleagues—we are brought back to one of two alternatives. One either does nothing, which, in the long run, would seem to be disastrous, or one negotiates. If we negotiate, we shall not get 100 per cent. of what we want. We may get 60 or 70 per cent., according to how cleverly we negotiate. We cannot negotiate on the basis that we get 100 per cent. and the other side gets nought, nor the other side cannot negotiate on that basis.

I hope that Mr. Smith's reply will be satisfactory. I hope that the Prime Minister will send out the Minister Without Portfolio to carry on the negotiations. I hope that he and the whole House realise how important it is that we should seize every opportunity of what I believe is the last chance of what should be a proper settlement of perhaps one of the most difficult and intractable but most far-reaching problems in the whole of Africa.

8.55 p.m.

Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)

The House has been faced with a debate in a difficult situation. It takes place at a time when the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government are in the middle of a delicate negotiation. The Prime Minister and the Minister Without Portfolio have been at pains to make it clear that they are ready to continue talks on the basis of the document which was drafted on H.M.S. "Fearless".

Some hon. Members may welcome the opportunity to comment on the White Paper at such a time. A number have done so today because they felt that they must make their own personal position clear at this stage. I respect the deep sincerity with which they have spoken, and I recognise the anguish which some have been suffering in a conflict of loyalties between what they believe to be the right course to follow in this situation and their loyalty to their party. But, from my point of view, the House has always recognised its responsibility during negotiations not to do anything to undermine the position of the Government representatives taking part in those negotiations. Having taken part in so many international negotiations, I appreciate how important that is. Therefore, I propose to impose a voluntary limitation on what I say about these proposals.

A further difficulty in the debate has been that the House is in the position of knowing Her Majesty's Government's proposals but of not yet having the reply from the Rhodesian Administration—at least, not in a considered form. We have seen the various individual statements on some aspects of the "Fearless" proposals made in Salisbury, but I should not like to rest a judgment on remarks which have been made, or are alleged to have been made, on television or in the Press. We must await the considered reply of Mr. Smith in the hope and, indeed, the expectation that it will lead to a further stage in the negotiations.

The Minister without Portfolio remains ready to fly to Salisbury to continue the talks, which itself is a good thing, although I should like to say a few words later about a possible method of handling the negotiations. In these circumstances, it seems to me that what we can do is to make some comments on the change in Her Majesty's Government's position, to ask for an elucidation of some of the proposals and the reasons for them, and to offer some suggestions for the continuation of the negotiations. As I am sure the Prime Minister realises, it is not possible for Her Majesty's Opposition to reach a final judgment on these matters tonight. In the same way, there may be some questions into which the Prime Minister does not wish to go in detail. If that is so, I for one will completely understand.

I begin by reiterating as strongly as I can that the Opposition wish to see a negotiated settlement based on the five principles, an honourable settlement which we can support in the House and in the country. For this reason, we are glad that the talks on H.M.S. "Fearless" took place. We cannot judge whether they were fully prepared. There are perhaps some indications—for example, the confusion over the meaning of some of the specific proposals—that perhaps they could have benefited from rather more being done beforehand. But we on this side of the House had been pressing for the renewal of contact ever since my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) returned from Salisbury last spring, and we welcome the fact that the talks have been held.

One cannot hope to reach an agreement in a situation like this, nor to produce a settlement that will last, unless there is some kind of respect between the two sides. I have already commented upon the improvement on the "Tiger" situation, that this time the normal courtesies were observed, the atmosphere was improved, no deadline has been imposed on Mr. Smith or the Rhodesians, no pistol has been pointed at his head, such as Nibmar or United Nations mandatory sanctions, and talks can continue. I hope that Mr. Smith's attitude has similarly changed and will be helpful. In these respects the lessons of "Tiger" have been learned, and that is all to the good.

There is no point in speculating on what the situation would now be if this approach had been adopted on "Tiger". I propose to concentrate on the future and how to secure a successful negotiation. It must be a genuine one. In other words, there cannot be aspects which are really imposed against the wish of either side, because of the context in which the negotiation is set. First, Her Majesty's Government, as they have repeatedly said, are not prepared to use force to settle the question, and any threat to do so would just be an empty one.

Second, whereas sanctions have damaged, and will continue to damage, the Rhodesian economy, which is a reason for Mr. Smith and the Administration wanting a settlement, they will not break the economy. In addition to sanction-busting, which we know is going on from a number of countries, apparently now including even countries from behind the Iron Curtain, Her Majesty's Government have always acknowledged that they will not and cannot challenge South Africa and Portugal to carry out the United Nations Security Council Resolution. In those circumstances, sanctions cannot be completely efficient. They cannot, there-fore, break the economy or bring down the régime.

Third, as a result of those two facts, no settlement will be lasting unless it is based on genuine acceptance by the Rhodesians as well as by Her Majesty's Government. If it is not based on genuine acceptance, and if it is challenged, the same situation will arise again. Force will not be used to maintain the settlement, and sanctions will not be completely effective in bringing about a restoration. It is in this light that we must look at the proposals from "Fearless".

The major change in Her Majesty's Government's position is that the Prime Minister has abandoned any idea of return to the old legality of either the 1961 Constitution or the 1965 Constitution passed by this Parliament before he was prepared to move on to any new constitution which might be agreed. Moreover, the Prime Minister and the Government have jettisoned the complicated paraphernalia of an interim machinery of government in which the British Government would have a stake, and under which power in Rhodesia would not be fully in Rhodesian hands. I believe that the Prime Minister's abandonment of the idea of an interim machinery of government is an immense step forward, and I hope that this is fully appreciated by Mr. Smith and his colleagues in the Administration.

I think that the Prime Minister will agree that in doing this he has adopted the attitude which we have been pressing upon him. Perhaps I may be forgiven for reminding him that as long ago as the debate in the House on 21st December, 1965, less than six weeks after U.D.I., I warned him against any idea that he could impose any form of direct rule. I said: I believe that it was wrong, and I said so at the time, that the Prime Minister should speak at all about direct rule, even for a short time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 1894.] We know the problem that this caused on the "Tiger" proposals. [Interruption.] Perhaps we can disagree with the Prime Minister on this, but I believe the fact that there was this complicated paraphernalia for an interim rôle in which the British Government had a say with other people and the possibility of British forces going into Rhodesia gave those who were opposed to a settlement a very powerful argument, and I regret that they had it.

A year ago, speaking in Bradford, I said: In working for a settlement it is no longer realistic to talk about a return to the old legality. What we need is a means of working forward to a new legality. We need a settlement which will enable the Queen and Parliament to confer independence on Rhodesia by Act of Parliament in due and proper form. Of course a 'new legality' of this kind must be based on the Five Principles originally laid down by the Conservative Government. In particular, the new arrangements must be clearly seen to be acceptable to the Rhodesian people in accordance with the fifth of those principles. Naturally, the Prime Minister condemned us for putting forward this idea. But he has now accepted it, and in that I am sure he is right. He has been criticised today by many of his hon. Friends on the back benches for doing so. I cannot agree with them. In the first place, I think a proposal of this kind was always unrealistic and un-negotiable, but secondly, and more important, it was unnecessary—unnecessary, that is, unless it was intended as a method of regaining power for Britain in Rhodesia. That, of course, no European Rhodesian, no moderate, was prepared to tolerate for a moment. It is not necessary today because what matters is the future constitution and not the past, and so I believe that the Prime Minister and his colleagues are right in adopting this approach.

What has dominated the minds of so many hon. Members who have spoken in the debate and the reason why this, despite all the difficulties, turned out to be a very good debate is that we are debating whether any settlement, particularly of the kind outlined in the White Paper, can honourably be considered to be within the terms of the five principles. This is a matter on which so many hon. Gentlemen have concentrated, and I think it is a tribute to this House that this should have been so.

There has been a great deal of discussions of guarantees. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has, of course, been debated as a double guarantee—to use the phrase of the Minister without Portfolio—the blocking quarter. Actually, I think there is here, if I read the White Paper aright, what looks like an improvement on "Tiger" in that the Judicial Committee is invoked through the Constitutional Council which already exists both under the 1961 Constitution and under the 1965 Constitution, and I hope, therefore, is more acceptable to Mr. Smith in Salisbury. Perhaps the Prime Minister could say a word about the section of the White Paper dealing with the Judicial Committee. For example, is discrimination as described in paragraph 8(1) of Appendix I a justiciable issue for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council? Many doubts from a high level have been expressed about this. Is there any precedent for using the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for an issue of this kind—that is apart from giving decisions about the actual implementation of a Constitution? It does not seem to me that the example sometimes quoted of Ceylon is exactly comparable. Would not an individual appeal from the Rhodesian courts to the Judicial Committee, if Mr. Smith would accept that, achieve the purpose at which the Government are aiming?

Lastly, as far as the future of this part of the negotiations is concerned, would it help if constitutional lawyers from both sides were first of all to examine the intricacies in order to remove any confusion that may still exist in Salisbury about the purpose of the appeal to the Judicial Committee and how it would work?

There is then the first principle, the guarantee of unimpeded progress towards majority rule, which was discussed in particular by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon). I asked him what guarantee of the first principle would be acceptable to him. He was not able to give me a reply.

It seems to me that the only guarantee of making progress is through educational advancement and through economic progress, combined with no retrogression in the qualifications for the franchise. If there is educational advance and an improved standard of living, then, provided the franchise is not changed—which comes under the second principle of no retrogression—there would be unimpeded progress towards African majority rule. That is why I welcome the educational programme put forward in the White Paper and why I would support, even in the present hard pressed condition of this country, an economic development programme, preferably organised internationally, although there may be other individual things that we as a country could do to help Rhodesia economically in the event of a settlement.

But even with educational advance and improvement in the standard of living, there is no guarantee of progress being made if the African Rhodesians themselves refuse to operate the system. So in this respect the best possible guarantees one can get are bound to depend on this factor.

Many hon. Members have spoken as though no provision had been made for the implementation of the fifth principle. I was rather surprised by this approach. They seemed to treat it as a matter of no importance. But there is to be a Royal Commission, established not by Mr. Smith but by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government. This seems to me a matter of major importance concerning the safeguards to the acceptance of any agreed settlement between the British Government and Mr. Smith's Administration.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Devon. North (Mr. Thorpe) that the terms of reference to the Judicial Committee for dealing with detainees are wider than the original "Tiger" proposals. I differ from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General on that. On the other hand, I believe that this is right. I would prefer to leave this matter by its very nature in the hands of a judicial committee on which Her Majesty's Government have one nomination. This is a more satisfactory way of dealing with the matter from both sides.

Mr. Michael Foot

In dealing with the operation of the Royal Commission, will not the right hon. Gentleman accept that, under the "Fearless" proposals as compared with the "Tiger" proposals, the Royal Commission is to operate in extremely different circumstances? It was the Prime Minister himself who said, after the "Tiger" proposals: A coerced, submissive African population—only too well aware that the penalty of political deviation could well be imprisonment without trial—might find it difficult to express to a Royal Commission of strangers its uninhibited views. … Hon. Members will not deny this. They should consider it before they vote tonight."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1966; Vol. 737, c. 1623.] That is what my right hon. Friend said at the time of "Tiger". The reason that at that time, at any rate, he was insisting of a return to legality was so that the Royal Commission could operate in circumstances in which these police tactics could be avoided. Does not the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition not admit that that position has been abandoned and that it greatly affects the question of the Royal Commission?

Mr. Heath

No doubt the Prime Minister will be able to answer the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) himself. I am trying to answer the debate from this side of the House. The White Piper, dealing with the fifth principle—the test of acceptability—sets out with conditions under which the Royal Commission would operate. If these conditions are accepted by both sides, the Royal Commission will be able to operate freely and it will be open to the Commission to comment or withdraw if it finds that the conditions for its work are not full available to it. That is surely a satisfactory way of handling the situation.

The debate has been characterised by much greater realism than hitherto. The tone for this was set by the Minister without Portfolio, and I welcome it. But let us also be realistic about guarantees. There cart be no absolute guarantee of any constitution unless we are prepared in the last resort to use force to impose it and maintain it, or unless we are prepared to use economic sanctions to the full in order to bring down the régime which has violated the constitution. This is the hard fact which we have to face. Her Majesty's Government have not been prepared to use force over this dispute, and there is no indication that any British Government would be prepared to use force in the future on the violation of the constitution.

I would have thought that nothing could have been less realistic than the proposal of the Leader of the Liberal Party that in this settlement we should obtain a sovereign military base in Rhodesia—nothing less realistic than per- haps his proposal that it should also be settled by bombing Rhodesia. The world has not been prepared to use sanctions to bring down the régime on this occasion and I believe that the world would be even less likely to try to use sanctions to bring down the régime in future.

But some hon. Members say that if force cannot be used and sanctions are ineffective, Nibmar would provide the guarantee which is required. We are trying to deal sincerely and realistically with this problem and I ask how they propose to get Nibmar in this situation. If there is no settlement, do they imagine that by letting it drag on we shall ever get Nibmar in Rhodesia? I find that most unrealistic.

I also put this to them: if, in some way or other, after a considerable number of years, Nibmar arrived and there were African majority rule, they would find themselves in exactly the same position about how to get guarantees enforced, because Her Majesty's Government have themselves added the sixth principle, which is an equal guarantee to the new minorities, the Asians and the Europeans in Rhodesia, the minorities in terms of power. Having got Nibmar, they would have to ask themselves how they would guarantee that, because African Governments, too, have violated constitutions. There are very few constitutions in Africa now which have not been violated. My point is that over the whole question of enforcement we face the same question. There can be no absolute guarantee unless we use force, and that we are not prepared to do.

What, then, is the answer? Surely it is that in any settlement of this kind there are risks, probably very considerable risks. All I ask is that the Prime Minister tonight will not attempt to disguise the risks involved in any settlement of this kind. It is bound to be a matter of individual judgment and careful examination of conscience, perhaps to an agonising degree, as to what wisdom and honour allow. But, whatever the House does, I ask that we do it with our eyes wide open.

Even in this situation there is reason for encouragement. The Rhodesians have much to gain economically from a settlement and nationally from the resumption of relations with other countries. The African Rhodesians have much to gain economically and politically from an education programme and from an expanding economy. A settled constitution would give an opportunity for the moderate forces in Rhodesia, who have so far had no opportunity to make themselves felt, to operate in working the new constitution, and I believe that they would take that opportunity.

Having once been through this experience, I very much doubt whether many Rhodesians of any race would want to go through it again. Nor do I think—and some have expressed this apprehension—that a blood bath in Africa will follow a settlement. I have found that in the past what those in African countries have most resented is the misjudgment to which they have been subjected and the ill-founded forecasts by which they have been misled. As a result, they have exposed their own positions, that of their Governments and that of their countries and, they believe, unnecessarily.

They will be glad to see a settlement. The hon. Member for York said that if the present situation drags on it will lead, as the Minister without Portfolio prophesied, to a deterioration, both economic and political, which would finally result in apartheid. He said that he agreed with that. He said that if there was a settlement, he believed that the same thing might happen. I agree with him on the first point, that if this drags on there will be a deterioration. It may well lead to apartheid of the worst kind. I do not think there is any doubt about it.

I do not agree with him when he said that if there is a settlement the same thing will happen. For the reasons I have given, I believe that if there is a settlement, with all the risk which we recognise, there is a possibility that it will be honoured and that progress will be made. So I say to the hon. Member for York that rather than the certainty of despair, I would choose the possibility of hope.

I understand that there may be a Division tonight at the end of the debate on this Motion, that the Prime Minister will be challenged by some of his hon. and right hon. Friends. If this is so, I for one shall regret it deeply. In my view, Her Majesty's Government ought to be allowed to continue with this nego- tiation and Parliament should then pass judgment when they offer to the House their final agreement. [Interruption.] I repeat that Her Majesty's Opposition is not in a position to pass judgment and we do not intend to do so.

Mr. Winnick

We know where the right hon. Gentleman stands.

Mr. Heath

I have made my position absolutely clear. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that my sincerity is just as great as that of his hon. Friends, which I respect. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have had so so an orderly debate; we cannot debate by interruption.

Mr. Wellbeloved

The Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) suggested earlier in the debate that the "Fearless" proposals should be backed with a treaty between this country and Rhodesia. If that course were accepted, would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to give an undertaking now, in this debate, that he would recommend to his party the reintroduction of sanctions, to an even greater level than they are now, should this treaty be thrown over by retrogressive steps under the second principle, by the Rhodesian Government?

Mr. Heath

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, we have not yet reached the stage where we can even consider a settlement. To address myself to a hypothetical situation, as the result of an unknown settlement possibly being broken, is not something that I can do in this debate. [Interruption.] This is why we cannot deal with this matter tonight. Her Majesty's Opposition is not in a position to make any judgment upon the "Fearless" proposals. I do not think that we shall be expected to do so.

Mr. Faulds

It is your treaty. Answer the question.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) was listened to quietly. He must extend the same courtesy to other speakers.

Mr. Heath

Nor am I prepared to advise my hon. and right hon. Friends to vote blind at this stage of the White Paper. I have no wish to be controversial tonight.

An Hon. Member

The right hon. Gentleman could not be.

Mr. Heath

I could have been very controversial and have not been, because I want to see these negotiations brought to a successful conclusion. We can recall the Prime Minister's attitude towards votes on Rhodesia in the past. I have no desire to see a repetition of that. I shall therefore advise my hon. and right hon. Friends to abstain if there is a Division tonight.

I want to say this to those in the Administration in Salisbury, and I believe that I have a right to say it, because the Conservative Party has constantly pressed the Prime Minister and the Government for a resumption of negotiations. I say that we believe that the "Fearless" proposals provide a firm basis for continuing negotiations for an honourable settlement by both countries. I urge the Government and Mr. Smith's Administration, not to let slip this opportunity which has now been created. My advice to them is "let them press on".

9.25 p.m.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

At the end of this debate it can rightly be said that, whatever the depth of passions raised by this subject—and it is inevitable that passions should be raised—all the contributions to the debate—all those which I have heard; I have had full reports on the others—have been made in a spirit of deep sincerity and responsibility. I believe that there has been a very widespread acceptance of the fact that, in this debate, we have a very special responsibility, all of us, as trustees for 4 million Africans, as well as representing this country in our special relationship with Rhodesia.

With regard to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, I fully understand that in this situation, the Opposition could not be expected to give a final judgment on our proposals, although I felt that the speech of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), suspending judgment as it was, represented not only a fair assessment of the proposals which we have put forward, coupled with some advice which he felt that we ought to have in this sense, but also a recognition that, while there was a possibility of continued negotiations, no one should say anything in this debate which made them more difficult.

Therefore, in the same spirit, I want to take up one or two of the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition, where he thinks he is right and we think that he is wrong in his analysis of past events, not least his analysis of what went on in relation to the "Tiger" negotiations. It would not be helpful tonight to go back over the past. All of us here are trying to look to the future in this very difficult situation. The House will understand my difficulties, particularly the fact that anything I say this evening must be in the nature of an interim report.

I told the House last Tuesday of the situation as it was left when the talks ended on H.M.S. "Fearless". I said that I had made it clear to Mr. Smith that my right hon. Friend the then Commonwealth Secretary, now Minister without Portfolio, was available to go to Salisbury if that was thought to be helpful, and obviously it would be impossible to take the matter further in the absence of a considered reply from Salisbury.

I understand that, in the last few minutes, a reply has arrived from Salisbury and is now awaiting my attention. The House would not expect me either to ask for a moment's break in my speech to attempt to see what it says or still less to give a snap judgment on a reply which has taken nine days to draft—[An HON. MEMBER: "Then why mention it?''] I mention it, since my hon. Friend asks, simply because I think it is my duty to put the House in possession of all the facts. It would have been totally wrong, since Mr. Smith has himself gone on the air a few minutes ago to say that he had sent a reply, if we took this matter through to a Division tonight without my telling the House that a reply was here, even though it is not possible for me to give a considered view on it.

Before coming to some of the main points in the debate, I would deal with two criticisms of the Government's policy which have been part of the currency of comment on the "Fearless" talks but which have not, I think, been made fully articulate today. The first thing I want to dismiss entirely from the debate is the allegation that there was an agreement on "Fearless", that it was all sewn up and that all subsequent comments in Salisbury and London were part of an agreed charade to secure greater acceptability in our two countries. Obviously, this allegation is entirely without foundation. Not only is it not true: it could never have been possible. The position following "Fearless" is exactly as I just said.

But there is an opposite criticism, and for one moment, I thought that the Leader of the Opposition was at least flirting with it, although he did not finally pin himself to it, namely, that the Government should not have agreed to a meeting until it was clear beyond reasonable doubt that agreement was likely, that, subject to drafting points, the main issues should have been cleared in advance. Anyone who makes that criticism does not know Mr. Smith: indeed, anyone who makes it has not much idea of how any negotiations are conducted.

A week ago, in my statement to the House, I set out the exact state which our earlier probings had reached before we decided on the meetings on board H.M.S. "Fearless", and, as I said, it seemed reasonable to assume that Mr. Smith, like any other negotiator, would be unlikely, before coming to the conference table, to show his negotiating hand, and in particular to indicate any concessions which he would be ready to make. What I told the House, therefore, was all we had to go on. In the nature of things, we could not have expected more. I thought then, however, and I still think, that it was right nevertheless to go ahead with the talks.

I am glad that recent newspaper criticisms and comment, unlike some of the earlier first reactions, now accept that it would have been impossible for us to have insisted on everything being carried forward to an advanced point before talking and that we had to decide on the basis of the information available whether to have the talks. Certainly, I cannot accept any responsibility for the criticism that we should have carried things further in Salisbury before meeting in Gibraltar.

My next point is necessary because of some speeches which have been made today. The statement of British pro- posals for a settlement set out in Annex B of last week's White Paper hangs together and stands as one complete whole for acceptance or rejection by the régime in Salisbury. This means that our proposals for the return to constitutional rule, which has been the subject of a number of speeches today, are themselves dependent on the acceptance of our other proposals which are required to make a reality of the six principles and to provide guarantees for the fulfilment of those principles.

There are one or two points—I say this in reply to a number of questions which have been addressed to me—about the return to constitutional rule. While the "Fearless" proposals represent a variation of the "Tiger" proposals, they mean that sanctions will be maintained in full and any recognition of any Administration in Salisbury will be withheld until, following agreement, the fifth principle test of acceptability has been carried through.

Hon. Members have asked what is the constitutional position in Salisbury during the period, first of negotiation, then of an interim provisional settlement and then of the test of acceptability. The position remains unchanged: that is to say, a soi-disant government, illegal, not recognised by us or, indeed, by any other country in the world. The new situation will be created only after the test of acceptability has demonstrated agreement on the constitution, if that is what the test of acceptability shows. Only then can the unwinding of sanctions begin.

The second point on which there has been misunderstanding—I say this in the light of a number of speeches, including that of the Leader of the Opposition—is a misunderstanding, a misreading here and in Salisbury, of what the "Tiger" proposals for the return to legality meant.

There was on "Tiger" no suggestion, as has been repeatedly claimed over the past week in certain Press comment and by hon. Members today, of direct rule in the interim period. That was not in "Tiger". On the contrary, under the "Tiger" proposals, if agreement had been reached at that time, there would have been an immediate return to legality—that is, to the 1961 Constitution. Under that, the Governor would then have acted on the advice of his constitutional Ministers. There would have been no question of what has been called Governor's rule.

I want to come to the provisions in the Government's statement for giving effect to the six principles and providing guarantees to ensure that those Principles are not eroded.

Mr. Thorpe

Before dealing with that, I wonder whether the Prime Minister could first clear a point concerning the return to legality. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that on 8th December, at c. 1623 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, he indicated that, in his view, the fifth principle—namely, acceptability to the Africans—could not properly be determined whilst the illegal régime remained in power. He therefore attached great importance to the fact that the Governor would be in charge of security and defence matters, acting on the advice not only of Ministers, but of a security council, with a United Kingdom representative present. That has gone. Why is the view expressed by the Prime Minister on 8th December no longer the view which he expresses today?

The Prime Minister

8th December, 1966. I understand the point. It was put clearly by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) across the Floor of the House to the Leader of the Opposition. I certainly intend to come to that point when I come to the conditions for the test of acceptability.

Indeed, in dealing with the six principles, I shall begin with the fifth, because the fifth principle requires proof that any settlement reached is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, prior proof before any further action of any kind is taken by the Government or by this House. This principle, like all the others, stems from our insistence in all the talks which we have had, as I have just said, that we are acting not only as representing the Imperial Government and Parliament but as trustees for 4 million Africans and for their children. In this sense the fifth principle is transcendent and overriding, and governs all the other principles; and in this sense, too, it provides the answer to those in this House or in the Commonwealth or in the United Nations who are critical, perhaps violently critical, of any settle- ment other than total capitulation of the régime and the immediate, or at any rate early, establishment of majority rule. In the last resort the decision on the acceptability of the settlement must rest with the people of Rhodesia as a whole, African and European. They must be the judges.

I say this with this proviso. They must be the judges provided only that the test of acceptability is carried through in a way which enables an unequivocal judgment to be made of the freely-expressed desires of the Rhodesian people.

Mr. Mendelson

Did this emphasis which the Prime Minister has just put on this principle not lead him and his colleagues in "Fearless" to insist on assurances that the main national dealers, Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole, must be free to move about the country to explain their attitude and to give advice to their followers on the attitude to be adopted to these proposals?

The Prime Minister

I want to go into the question of detainees and those restricted in a moment; I may have something to say about Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole, and I shall deal with freedom of expression and of the nationalist leadership.

What I have just said means that membership of the Royal Commission—the idea of a Royal Commission for the test of acceptability I originally proposed in Salisbury three years ago this week—must be such as to inspire confidence and carry conviction here in Britain and equally to Rhodesians of every race, and it must be such as to ensure that a clear and incontestable verdict can be obtained. That is why I attach importance to ensuring adequate representation on the Commission of members who are respected not only for their basic integrity and objectivity but also for their knowledge of specifically African problems, including the problems of South Africa.

On "Tiger" we also insisted that the Royal Commission should function against a background of freedom from censorship. Newspaper censorship in Rhodesia has been abolished since "Tiger", but on "Fearless" we also insisted that Africans, or indeed anyone also opposed to the proposed terms of a settlement should have a fair crack of the whip on the radio and television, and from all our discussions on "Fearless" I do not feel that that would have presented difficulty. That is why we have insisted that there should be freedom of political expression throughout Rhodesia. This means the release of those in detention or under restriction where-ever an impartial tribunal can be satisfied that it would not lead to intimidation, victimisation or violence because, of course, where there is victimisation by one side or the other in this matter—I have always used that phrase over three or four years—it always means that there is no freedom of expression.

When our talks on "Fearless" ended there was still need for further discussion and precise terms of reference of this proposed tribunal but this matter was not proceeded with further on "Fearless" because we were clearly approaching the prospect of a breakdown on another essential guarantee to which I will refer in a minute.

I said we approached these talks on "Fearless", as we and our predecessors approached all the previous talks—the talks of 1963 under the right hon. Gentleman; September, 1964; the visit of my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and the then Commonwealth Secretary in February, 1965; by own visit to Salisbury in 1965, successive visits of Commonwealth Secretaries or their representatives at various dates in 1966 and in 1967; the "Tiger" talks; and now the latest series—we have approached all of these as trustees for 4 million Africans and a smaller number, not less important because a smaller number, of people, of under-privileged races, in Rhodesia—we have not heard their position mentioned today—as trustees not only in terms of the first and second principles guaranteeing unimpeded progress to majority rule, but also trustees for improvements in the constitutional position of the Africans and trustees on their behalf so far as discrimination is concerned—the third and the fourth principles.

The third principle, as the House knows, requires immediate improvement in the political status of the African population. I do not propose to go into this matter in detail because my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio this afternoon dealt with the implications of what we have proposed and what we have insisted upon so far as the third principle is concerned. But it does include, of course, a very wide extension of the B roll franchise to something like 1 million African voters against a figure of some tens of thousands eligible at the present time. What is relevant here, as my right hon. Friend stressed and as I stressed last week, is that if this is to be so, we have to be satisfied about the acceptability, about the efficiency and about the enthusiasm with which the registration of African voters is carried through. We have many doubts about this, and that is why last week we agreed to a proposition that the Royal Commission, in addition to the test of acceptability, should have the right also of saying whether the machinery for the registration of voters was adequate.

On the fourth principle—progress towards ending racial discrimination—in addition to the Royal Commission or other form of Commission referred to by my right hon. Friend, obviously the key issue here is the proposal for education. This has been consistent Government policy under successive Governments here since, as the right hon. Gentleman reminded us, his own talks with Mr. Winston Field in 1963 and early 1964. I remember the first time when, as Leader of the Opposition, I discussed this idea, he said that this was what he was then trying to press on Mr. Ian Smith. It was a major element in our pre-U.D.I. proposals, and was handed down. Since I.D.I. we have given awards to enable 100 Rhodesian Africans to study in Britain, and we have played a leading part in helping to raise funds to enable many others to continue studying in Commonwealth countries.

On "Fearless" we proposed to extend this further by providing up to £5 million a year, matched by a similar sum from the Rhodesians, to create additional funds which would more than double the amount to be spent on educating Africans in Rhodesia.

One effect of this would be to increase their ability to gain the economic and educational qualifications for the franchise. We should also hope to see a general improvement in their status and living standards, which is why we have stressed that the additional funds to be provided should be spent on vocational training as well as ordinary schooling.

Mr. James Johnson

Is it not unfair to labour this point of the importance of education? If, in fact, the Rhodesians are more advanced than any other State in the Continent bar the South Africans and perhaps the Nigerians, this is not a factor against political advancement inside the territory.

The Prime Minister

I do not think my hon Friend would find many countries north of the Zambesi would agree with this assessment. It has been widely said by my African colleagues among the Prime Ministers that one of the difficulties has been the holding back not only of education but of political opportunities for Africans.

I want now to turn to the all-important first and second principles, separate principles with their own requirements, both designed to ensure not only that the guaranteed progress towards majority rule envisaged in the 1961 Constitution on the basis of merit and achievement should continue unimpeded, but also that at no point would a European minority be able to carry through, against the will of the elected African representatives, retrogressive amendments to the Constitution, which could provide a braking mechanism on African advance to majority rule, which would destroy the guarantees and impede the progress which the first principle demands.

For four years it has been precisely this argument which has lain at the heart of the Rhodesian tragedy—the Rhodesia Front's insistence on a braking mechanism to hold back democratic progress at will and at a time of their own choosing—as compared with the essential blocking mechanism to ensure that retrogressive amendments cannot be carried through on the fiat of a minority.

Hon. Members today and over a period have quoted many statements by Mr. Smith and his colleagues to show that they still cling to a braking mechanism which would enable them to control the pace of the progress towards majority rule. This cannot be denied. I said in the House last week that not only the six principles but all that they are meant to enshrine are anathema, are repugnant to Mr. Smith, to those he leads and to that wider section of European opinion in Rhodesia for which on this issue he is the spokesman.

The issue on "Fearless" was not that of convincing one another either about the basic philosophy involved or about the need for the six principles. It was simply whether Mr. Smith and his colleagues, to secure an agreement and settled and ordered progress for Rhodesia on a legal basis, which I think that they want, would be prepared to accept terms which provided full and effective guarantees for the six principles—guarantees not subject to subsequent erosion.

The centre of this argument is the "blocking quarter" required to ensure that the amendment of entrenched clauses cannot be carried through against the opposition of the representatives of the African majority. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) will allow me to say that it was not the case that the proposals which he brought back suggested a willingness to accept a genuine and effective blocking quarter. Equally—and this has been confirmed again on "Fearless"—it depended on certain events outside the matters which were under Mr. Smith's control. Equally again, I have never underrated in statements that I have made in this House, and still less after meeting Mr. Smith do I underrate, the valuable and indispensable contribution that the right hon. Gentleman has made to a settlement, whenever it comes, by the clarity and firmness with which he told Mr. Smith that he could not play off one party against another in this House and that a future Conservative Government, if such were to be elected, would equally insist on the six principles.

In the talks on "Fearless", as in all previous talks, we therefore insisted and we continue to insist that the blocking quarter must be constituted by directly elected Africans.

This is one of the most difficult points for Mr. Smith to concede. But, despite his attachment to the chiefs and his insistence on the rôle which they play in tribal administration, I believe that he might be prepared to accept this, however repugnant it is to him.

The senate mechanism which I proposed originally to Mr. Smith on H.M.S. "Tiger" would involve the two Houses voting together when amendments to the entrenched clauses were in question. In the "Fearless" statement, we have left open to negotiation the exact composition of each of the two Houses, provided that, whatever the ultimate figures, there must be still a blocking quarter consisting of elected Africans. By a "blocking quarter", I mean a figure which, when the total representation is divided by four, gives a clear blocking mechanism to directly elected Africans who have been elected by Africans. For the reasons which Mr. Smith has urged, we are prepared to provide for an increased chiefly representation in the senate, if required, but not so as to endanger this elected blocking quarter.

I have referred already to the importance of registering all the Africans who, on the widely extended franchise, will be free to vote on the "B" roll, as well as the importance of registration for the "A" roll. I do not need to emphasise how important this is in the context of the blocking quarter to ensure that the Africans entrusted with the duty of pronouncing on amendments to the entrenched clauses should represent the widest range of African opinion.

Now I turn to the question of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which played a central rôle in the last day or two of the discussions. Appeal to the Privy Council, not only on ordinary points of law, criminal or civil, but also on constitutional matters has been enshrined in the Rhodesian Constitution from 1923. It was in the 1961 Constitution, and it was reinforced by a further extra-parliamentary guarantee—namely, a treaty—in the "Tiger" proposals.

We all understood that the régime accepted all this following "Tiger" so far as the constitutional terms were concerned. What they then rejected were the proposals for the return to legality. But we understood that they accepted "Tiger" on this constitutional side, which included the Privy Council and a treaty as well.

This matter of an external guarantee has been the subject of a great deal of comment in the past week. As I made clear to the House last Tuesday, we feel that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the best type of reinforcement required for the second principle, but we made it plain to Mr. Smith that alternative instruments could be con- sidered. The Rhodesian régime and many Rhodesians apparently regard the Privy Council as a peculiarly British instrument best fitted to construe the law of Britain, which, in practice, it normally does not.

Clearly this is not the case, since not only does membership of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council go far beyond British judges, but throughout the years it has regularly ruled on matters affecting Roman, Dutch law and other legal systems. But—and I want this understood—we were, and are, willing to consider other alternatives. For example, a Judicial Committee consisting of the Chief Justices of, let us say, Britain, Rhodesia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malawi, or other African countries, or their alternates, such a tribunal sitting in Salisbury. I cannot imagine that there would be much objection to that or an exclusively Commonwealth proposal. Our proposals for the special rôle to be given to the Rhodesian Constitutional Council could, of course, have fitted in equally well with such a tribunal, as in our proposals for a sifting mechanism on the way to the Privy Council, if this safeguard were required. Alternatively, since it was suggested by the Salisbury representatives—and this perfectly fair point has been made again today—that to require any Judicial Committee to rule on such matters as discrimination and human rights would involve it in a degree of political rather than judicial judgment, we could have agreed—and this was made clear—to a tribunal nominated by the Prime Ministers of the countries I have mentioned, or of other Commonwealth countries to be agreed.

Alternatively, we would have been prepared to dispense with a judicial-type review if, as part of a settlement, an undertaking were given that there would be no amendment of the entrenched clauses for a given period ahead—say, the 15 years mentioned in the White Paper. I would not feel entirely happy about this proposal, since every developing constitution requires machinery for change. But at least it could be provided that there would be no such changes without agreement with us for a given period of years until the new Constitution was working satisfactorily. Such a proposal could be embodied in a treaty between the two Governments, such as had been proposed on a number of occasions. And it featured in the "Tiger" proposals and was discussed in Salisbury before September 1965.

With this present possible alternative, any treaty or inter-governmental agreement would be limited to this particular guarantee.

Hon. Members have asked why we do need an external guarantee to reinforce the blocking quarter. This is to guarantee against retrogressive amendments which are so fundamental to the six principles that right hon. and hon. Members must ask themselves whether the blocking quarter is enough.

Recent newspaper comments in this country, for example, have drawn attention to the possibility that, with a blocking minority barely above the 25 per cent. necessary, the temptation, not necessarily to a Government or to a Parliament but to other people, to suborn or in some other way put pressure on one or more of the elected Africans would be tremendous.

There is a great deal at stake here for those European Rhodesians who basically in their hearts reject the six principles, because basically in their hearts they reject majority rule in any reasonable time. We have seen how this attitude led to U.D.I., at great cost to Rhodesians of every race. We cannot take the risk that an independence constitution should rest on the assumption that there would not be those who would find the temptation too great to resist.

It was urged last week, and it has been urged again in this House today, that an external guarantee of this kind would be a unique imposition on a sovereign country and that the very sovereignty of the Rhodesian Parliament would be breached. We justify it by the fact that we are dealing with a unique situation in Rhodesia and that this requires a unique solution if it were unique. But in many countries, Jamaica, Trinidad, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Lesotho and others, an appeal lies to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as of right on any question about the interpretation of their Constitution, including whether any law is invalid because it conflicts with the Constitution. I could give the House further details.

I have not time to spell out the alternative to a settlement, though this was set out by my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio this afternoon. A trend to apartheid, which means not only suffering but a denial of fundamental human rights going far beyond constitutional issues. A greater danger, too, a hardening of attitudes throughout Southern Africa which in the end—and the end perhaps is not so far away as some may feel—could lead to a régime of violence and oppression far beyond anything we have seen in that part of the world, a forest fire which could rapidly spread across Southern Africa and from which countries to the north of the Zambesi could be guaranteed no protection.

I have made clear that the proposals handed to Mr. Smith on H.M.S. "Fearless" stand as a whole. This offer remains open and will continue to remain open. At the earliest moment I propose to inform the House when we have really had time to consider Mr. Smith's reply. I do not want to rush it any more than he did, but when we have considered his reply I will report to the House.

Where there is disagreement in this House, I think, for example, in some speeches of my hon. Friends and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, it is about whether we have offered too much not too little. I have not heard, nor has there been reported to me, any clearly articulated suggestion that we should withdraw our insistence on external guarantees. I shall study the speeches tomorrow. I do not believe there has been any attempt to say that we ought to be more generous in our offers to Mr. Smith than we have been, but there has been, of course, on the other hand, a great deal of suggestion that we have been too generous, not too lenient. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I did not need that cheer to convince me that it is what my hon. Friends have been trying to tell me for a week past.

What is perhaps of equal importance is that practically all independent neutral comment, even by those who constantly opposed the Government's Rhodesia policy, is on record in this country warning Mr. Smith that this is a reasonable proposal and the fault will lie unequivocally with any in Salisbury who are responsible for rejecting it.

Yesterday's Financial Times, while not denying the effect of sanctions on us, makes it clear that the economic effects have been absorbed by British economy some time ago, and goes on to say: Possibly Mr. Smith thinks Mr. Wilson was bluffing. If so, he is making a serious mistake. However much Mr. Wilson might like to get the Rhodesian issue off his back, there are limits of conciliation beyond which he cannot possibly go. He came very close to those limits on the Fearless. He cannot go much further.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

The Prime Minister

I agree. Today's Daily Telegraph—[HON. MEMBERS: "Guardian."] I am quoting some newspapers which have not been associated with our general Rhodesia policy over the

years. I quote the Daily Telegraph, which I hope is featured in Salisbury tonight. It says: It should be made clear in Parliament today that if Mr. Smith and his Cabinet reject the main provisions in Fearless ' there is nothing more to come. There is a limit to what Parliament will accept and it has been reached. Not only do I accept that judgment of the Daily Telegraph editorial team, but I believe that the whole lesson of today's debate is to confirm what I have said and to signal to Salisbury that there is a limit to what Parliament will accept; and it has been reached.

Mr. J. D. Concannon

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Hon. Members


Question put, That this House do now adjourn:—

The House divided: Ayes 56, Noes 177.

Division No. 307.] AYES [9.59 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford. E.) Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Pardoe, John
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Heffer, Eric S. Park, Trevor
Barnes, Michael Hooley, Frank Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Barnett, Joel Horner, John Pavitt, Laurence
Bidwell, Sydney Huckfield, Leslie Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Booth, Albert Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Rose, Paul
Brooks, Edwin Judd, Frank Ryan, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Sheldon Robert
Crawshaw, Richard Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire,W.) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Dickens, James Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Dunn, James A. Lestor, Miss Joan Whitaker, Ben
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Lubbock, Eric Winnick, David
Ellis, John Marks, Kenneth Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Evans, Cwynfor (C'marthen) Mendelson, J. J
Faulds, Andrew Miller, Dr. M. S.
Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Molloy, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gardner, Tony Newens, Stan Mr. Michael Foot and
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Norwood, Christopher Mr. Alexander Lyon
Gregory, Arnold Orme, Stanley
Archer, Peter Chapman, Donald Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)
Armstrong, Ernest Coe, Denis Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)
Bacon, Bt. Hn. Alice Coleman, Donald Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)
Baxter, William Concannon, J. D. Fernyhough, E.
Bence, Cyril Corbet, Mrs. Freda Finch, Harold
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Craddock, George (Bradford, S) Ford, Ben
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Forrester, John
Blackburn, F. Cullen, Mrs. Alice Fowler, Gerry
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Dalyell, Tam Freeson, Reginald
Boston, Terence Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Ginsburg, David
Boyden, James Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Davies, Harold (Leek) Gourlay, Harry
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Davies, Ifor (Gower) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Dell, Edmund Grey, Charles (Durham)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Dempsey, James Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Buchan, Norman Dobson, Ray Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Doig, Peter Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Hamling, William
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Eadie, Alex Haseldine, Norman
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Edwards, William (Merioneth) Hattersley, Roy
Cant, R. B. Ennals, David Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Carmichael, Neil Ensor, David Her bison, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Hilton, W. S. Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Small, William
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mapp, Charles Snow, Julian
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Spriggs, Leslie
Howie, W. Millan, Bruce Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Hoy, James Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Morris, Charles (Openshaw) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Moyle, Roland Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Swingler, Stephen
Hunter, Adam Neal, Harold Symonds, J. B.
Hynd, John Oakes, Gordon Taverne, Dick
Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) O'Malley, Brian Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Janner, Sir Barnett Oswald, Thomas Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Tinn, James
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Owen, Will (Morpeth) Urwin, T. W
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Paget, R. T. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Palmer, Arthur Wallace, George
Jonas, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Kenyon, Clifford Parker, John (Dagenham) Weitzman, David
Lawson, George Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Leadbitter Ted Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred White, Mrs. Eirene
Ledger, Ron Pentland, Norman Whitlock, William
Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Wilkins, W. A.
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Lipton, Marcus Probert, Arthur Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Lomas, Kenneth Rees, Merlyn Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W. Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
McBride, Neil Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
McCann, John Robertson, John (Paisley) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
MacDermot, Niall Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as) Woof, Robert
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Rodgers, William (Stockton) Wyatt, Woodrow
Mackie, John Ross, Rt. Hn. William Yates, Victor
Maclennan, Robert Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
MacPherson, Malcolm Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Skeffington, Arthur Mr. Walter Harrison.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Slater, Joseph