§ Mr. Speaker
We have already lost part of a short debate. I hope that back benchers who are called will be reasonably brief when we get to them.
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
I beg to move,That this House deplores the inept handling by Her Majesty's Government of the situation in Anguilla.We have placed this Motion on the Order Paper because of the story of mismanagement, miscalculation, misjudgment and ineptitude which has characterised the Government's handling of the Anguillan situation from the start, and also because there is a theme of insensitivity running through the political direction of diplomacy which has all the appearances in this Government of a chronic disease. We need only think of the Falkland Islands, I' affaire Soames and now Anguilla. The reputation of Britain cannot afford any more such displays.
I will relate the tale of Anguilla. The Government opted for the creation of a unitary State of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, but knew at the time that the Anguillans detested and thoroughly disapproved the prospect of being managed by and from St. Kitts in that unitary State.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The hon. Gentleman may make his case and seek to prove that what I have said is not true, but perhaps he will allow me to make my case, which will suggest that there were different courses and perhaps better courses that might have been taken.
482 Nevertheless, the Government decided to take this risk. But having selected this solution the inexplicable thing is that the Government did not insist on the one feature of the Constitution which could have induced the Anguillans to accept it, and that was the appointment of the three elected councils, one for each of the islands. Incredibly, nothing was done in this respect either before Independence Day or in 1967, or in 1968, or, indeed, in 1969. The Foreign Secretary must answer the question: why not? It is conceivable, this solution having been selected, that had the councils been appointed this solution might, although I can never put it higher than that, have worked. To them it was this lapse which confirmed the Anguillans in their belief that St. Kitts did not mean to honour the Constitution, and that the British Government did not intend to do anything about it.
The Government's excuses in this respect have so far been too lame for words. At the Independence celebrations there were demonstrations against association with a unitary State including St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) told the House on his return from the Independence celebrations:It is quite clear that Anguilla is part of St. Kitts and Nevis, and when I met the Deputy Premier it was clear that the bulk of the people expressed that wish."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1967; Vol. 743, c. 715.]With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, it was not clear at all.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas), the present Secretary of State for Wales—
§ Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough, East)
I am obliged to the right hon Gentleman for giving way. I was quite clear at the time that the majority of the people did wish the association. They wished it on the basis of having their own local council. If that had been given 483 them at the time by the Premier of St. Kitts, I do not think that we would have had the trouble we are having.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
That, I am afraid, is a very big "if". It was not done and, unfortunately for the right hon. Gentleman, the proof of the pudding has been in the eating. The Anguillans, as we shall see as the story unfolds, clearly do not wish to be part of St. Kitts. It was not, with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman's judgment, at all clear at that time.
The right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for Wales was questioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) about the appointment of the island council to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East attaches importance, as I do. The right hon. Gentleman replied:I understand that the necessary arrangements are proceeding and I am not aware that any difficulties have arisen since the inauguration of statehood."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1967; Vol. 743, c. 1435.]The necessary arrangements were not proceeding, and everyone else was aware that difficulties had arisen since the inauguration of statehood. Yet this was a Government spokesman speaking. Why was he not aware of this, as so many others were? I ask, because at that time my noble Friend, Lord Jellicoe, in another place was questioning the Government, and thus expressing our misgivings, and getting the same kind of complacent reply as was being given by other Ministers in this House.
§ Mr. Evan Luard (Oxford)
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why, if it was so obvious from the very beginning that Anguilla would never accept association with St. Kitts and Nevis, this point was not made clear at any point during the debate here on associated statehood on 31st January, 1967, by any Opposition spokesman, including those on the Opposition Front Bench?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I think that the assumption was that the Constitution would be worked as written down. If the local council had been appointed, that was a possible solution—it was no better than that at any time—but this local council has not been appointed, and that 484 has made a great difference to the point of view of the Anguillans—there is no question of that.
It was not until my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) went to Anguilla and advised the appointment of a resident official that there was any halt to the policy of drift and any grip taken of the situation at all. Unfortunately, that grip was more apparent than real. The House would like to know from the Foreign Secretary what advice was given by Mr. Lee during his tenure of office as a resident in the island, in that apparently wasted year. Did he report that the union with St. Kitts was not acceptable to Anguilla? Did he make any recommendations that would make such a union more acceptable to the people of Anguilla?
There is another matter that so far, I am bound to say, the answers given by the Under-Secretary of State in an earlier debate leave totally obscure. Who were—coming to more recent days—the "Mafia" type men on Anguilla? Were they dreamed up by the Under-Secretary after his talks with Mr. Bradshaw? Like other people, I have seen individuals who have come from the island of Anguilla, some of whom have lived there for some time. They never saw these men, and Anguilla is not the place where one can miss people.
In this context, the Under-Secretary made a very curious statement. He was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) for the number of foreign nationals on the island. The Under-Secretary could not tell my hon. Friend. He did not know, becausethere was no one there to count them …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1969; Vol. 780, c. 1554.]Is the Foreign Secretary intending to tell us seriously that in the predictable situation of tension building up in the island of Anguilla, which had been known for so long, Mr. Lee was never even sent an understudy or any support—that no one was sent to him to remain on the island—so that there was no one at all on the island to communicate with the right hon. Gentleman and with the British Government? That attitude to administration is not only negligent but positively flippant.
485 What about the arms? There were a few. Some arms were imported by Mr. Webster—not, let me say, to oppose the British, but in case the Anguillans were abandoned by the British and the people of St. Kitts succeeded in taking over. What about the crates of arms of which the Under-Secretary told us? Have those crates ever been found? The arms said to have been imported by these undesirable gentlemen have not been found. They have not been seen to be taken away. So what, so far, do we know? The men are faceless and nameless, the crates are unopened and invisible. All, apparently, have evaporated into thin air.
The Government story really stretches credibility too far. I do not know whether the Foreign Secretary saw the presentation on television. Our troops did their duty, as they always do, but their advancing with fixed bayonets on to the beaches of Anguilla as though they were invading a foreign Power stretched credibility too far. These Anguillans have always been simple, British subjects, loyal to the Queen, and to suggest anything else was to give a totally false impression to the country.
And what about the comings and goings of Ministers, of the Ministerial team, to and from this tiny State? We had Lord Shepherd, we had the Under-Secretary, we had Lord Caradon first and then we had Lord Caradon again. I can almost hear the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary rehearsing:Tripping hither, tripping thither,Nobody knows why or whither,If you ask the special function,Of our never ceasing motion,We reply, without compunction,That we haven't any notion.What a field-day that would have been for Mr. Gilbert! Will the Foreign Secretary please tell us if this other noble and roving Lord is to be let loose on to this stage? If he were to join the dance there would have been nothing like it since the Lobster Quadrille.
Is Mr. Lee coming or going? Poor Mr. Lee, he has done his duty. To whom does the authority now belong in Anguilla, to Mr. Lee or Mr. Cumber? Why when at Lord Caradon's first meeting all was smiles and at the second there was all tears with accusations of bad faith? There is a great deal of explanation to be done 486 by the Foreign Secretary before the House can be satisfied that this matter has been well handled in any way.
We understand and accept that it was never the policy of Her Majesty's Government to compel the Anguillans to live under St. Kitts, but why did the right hon. Gentleman not say so plainly and forestall all this trouble and nonsense? The serious part of the matter now is how this muddle is to be undone. Perhaps the Foreign Secretary will tell us. Is it to require a new Act of Parliament? Is it true that under the West Indies Act the British Government can only divide an associated State at the request of and with the consent of that State? Therefore, would it need legislation not only in the State Legislature but in these Houses of Parliament? How do the Government intend to proceed in future?
Perhaps the Foreign Secretary can enlighten the House how he proposes to approach the problem of associated status of such territories in future, because there will be more territories with problems of a similar nature to those of Anguilla. Is there not a case for charging a senior Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with a knowledge of the Commonwealth and perhaps machinery for contact and consultation, with responsibility in the endless problems which will arise? It is not for me to interfere in the Government's appointments, but is not the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) sitting twiddling his very able thumbs? Might he not be given this job to do?
Some of these islands will be developed in future. I am told there are applications for development coming forward from many of them. There is no one responsible in some of these places who could deal with those applications and see that they are properly channelled and looked at. There seems an overwhelming case for giving this job to a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
§ Mr. Chapman
Are not questions of land development matters of internal affairs over which we would not have control anyway?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
It is important that the British Government should be informed, but they have not been informed on these matters. There is no one to keep the British Government 487 informed and no one to co-ordinate action, no consultation with local people to see that the best interests of such territories are served. I am asking for an improvement which I think is practicable in the machinery of government. There will be a host of these matters which will arise, small in themselves but of great importance to the reputation of Britain.
The Anguillans are simple people. They are loyal to the British Crown. It is a shame that they should be the victims of fumbling diplomacy by the British Government. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware of the ridicule of the Government action which has made us the cartoonists' delight in so many countries outside our island. He must quickly and firmly put this matter right, both for the Anguillans and for Britain.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)
Before I comment on Anguilla, I will follow the example of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) and make a very brief reference to two other matters of foreign affairs which he brought in as a makeweight to prop up his rather lightly bolstered case.
One was what the right hon. Gentleman described as "the Soames affair", which was debated in this House and with which only a very small group of hon. Members thought it wise to express their disagreement with the Government's handling. It was open to the right hon. Gentleman himself to do then as some of his hon. Friends did. There was a vote, but the right hon. Gentleman was not in the Lobby.
On the Falkland Islands, I repeat that we have had two objectives. One was to make it quite clear that we will not hand those islands over against their will, and the second was to achieve, if we can, agreement for the benefit of the islanders with the Argentine Government. That seems to me, although a difficult undertaking, one that it is right and legitimate to try to undertake. Let us push what for the purposes of this debate were the right hon. Gentleman's make- 488 weights—[An HON. MEMBER: "Paperweights."]—to one side and turn to the Anguillan question.
I noted the particular points of criticism that the right hon. Gentleman made. The first was concerned with the actual creation of an associated State of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. I noticed that he did not criticise the concept of associated statehood. One knows that it is a concept which has difficulties, but I do not believe anyone has yet found a preferable alternative to it in the Caribbean situation.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we all knew, or ought to have known at the time, that an associated State of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla would not work. As an hon. Friend pointed out, if hon. Members opposite did know that at the time, they were remarkably silent about it. The whole structure of setting up associated States, including the creation of the associated State of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, was in accordance with the unanimous recommendations of constitutional conferences on this part of the world, and it was done with the agreement of the Member for Anguilla in the Legislature of this associated State. So when the right hon. Gentleman suggests that everyone knew, or ought to have known at the time, that it would not work, he is exercising a facility of hindsight that is denied to lesser mortals.
There was the further criticism that nothing was done about the admittedly important question of the election of a council for Anguilla within the administration of the associated State. But that was not so. The desirability of doing this had been made clear to the St. Kitts Government. It was one of the recommendations of the conference. On this question agreement was reached that was satisfactory to the other island, Nevis, and when in February, 1967, the associated State came into being there was every reason to believe that by the end of the year there would be elected local councils functioning in both islands. That was not merely the Government's judgment; it was the view of the experienced West Indian who was at that time the Administrator of the State. It was reasonable, therefore, to proceed in accordance with the conference recommendations to create the State and reasonable to expect the establishment 489 within a reasonable period of the elected council.
It was only a few months after the associated State was established that the people in Anguilla took the step of expelling the St. Kitts police from the island. I believe there was an obligation on them at that time to exercise greater patience, the more so as the example of Nevis had shown that agreement was not impossible.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Will the right hon. Gentleman now answer the question which he did not previously answer? Was it necessary for the Royal Marines to land to install the first representative from St. Kitts in February, 1967?
§ Mr. Stewart
The hon. Gentleman is asking about the installation at the time. I believe that it was a reasonable step to take at that time. The point which I am now making, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, is that as to the elected council there was good reason to suppose that that would come into existence during the year. It was an act of unwisdom—
§ Mr. Stewart
This is a short debate, and I have given way once. At the moment I am answering the speech which was made. I believe that it is the wish of the House that I should speak as fully as possible in answering the particular charges which were made by the right hon. Gentleman, and then leave hon. Members to make their points in the subsequent debate.
I do not believe there is anything in the criticism that one ought to have known from the start that it would not work. There is nothing in the criticism about the elected council. That problem, given greater patience, could have been solved.
The next charge was that of neglect in the period which followed May, 1967, when the St. Kitts police were expelled and when the island entered on a period which one can speak of as illegal independence.
§ Mr. Stewart
No, I am sorry. I am replying to a series of some half a dozen 490 criticisms made by the right hon. Gentleman. I think that I should have the opportunity to do so.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Foreign Secretary's whole case has been destroyed by the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton).
§ Mr. Stewart
The further suggestion was made that during this period there was a neglect of administration as well as a neglect of opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman drew a picture of Mr. Lee cut off without supporting staff. He is wrong about that. There was a supporting staff. He had communications direct with London, and he was able to keep in close touch not only with London but with the British Government representative in the associated State whose office was on a neighbouring island.
What were the steps which ought to have been taken during this period? The first step, I believe, in view of what happened, was to consult with the Caribbean Governments. This was not a situation where we were dealing with—
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The Under-Secretary of State has said in the House that the numbers of people on the island could not be counted because there was nobody there to give the information. Why was nobody there? What was the supporter of Mr. Lee doing?
§ Mr. Stewart
I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is raising the question of how many foreign nationals there were on the island. It was not possible to determine, for reasons which I will explain. One must remember that during this period there was an interim settlement without any Commissioner from Her Majesty with authority to administer the island. It was an unusual arrangement justified by the fact that both the Anguillans and the whole Cabinet of the associated State had agreed to it. But it did not give to Mr. Lee the authority which he now has as Her Majesty's Commissioner.
491 I was saying that the right thing to do first was to consult with the Caribbean Governments. We were not dealing with a British colony where we could simply step in and act entirely by ourselves. The right thing, since difficulties had arisen in an associated State in this new political creation, was to consult with the Caribbean Governments. That was done at the Barbados Conference in the summer of that year.
Subsequently—I am sure the House will agree that this was a right step to take—hon. Members from this House went out to examine the situation, and this resulted in the so-called interim settlement. I do not believe that the steps taken so far can be criticised. It was right to send out the Parliamentary delegation, it was right to consult at the Barbados Conference, and it was right, since the interim settlement—unusual though the arrangement was—had the agreement of both sides, to proceed with it.
It seems to me that the charge of neglect can be made only by somebody who holds that at the first sign of difficulty arising in the associated State, we ought to have stepped in directly and possibly jeopardised the whole belief in the workability of the associated State concept. I believe that would have been an error of judgment, and I believe that the right hon. Gentleman, in the same position, would have come to the same conclusion.
I turn to the situation which existed in Anguilla during the period of the interim settlement and the period thereafter when, owing to increasing difficulties, the interim settlement broke down and illegal authority reigned in Anguilla. During the period of the interim settlement, Mr. Lee did everything he could to carry out the job intended for him—to try to conciliate. I do not believe that anybody who knows the history of the matter would subscribe to any criticism of how he sought to carry out that duty. It is true that in the end he failed; the circumstances were too strong for him. But I am certain that it was right of him to make the attempt.
With the failure of the interim settlement, Anguilla entered a period not only of illegal rule in the nominal sense of the word but of increasingly lawless rule. 492 On this matter the right hon. Gentleman made merry. It was all done by faceless people. It was all very nice, and we were exaggerating it. This is not how people in the Caribbean see it.
The facts can be fairly described in this way. The people of Anguilla were being put in increasing danger of being ruled by a corrupt, self-interested regime, supporting itself increasingly by intimidation. [An HON MEMBER: "Nonsense."] I will give one example by way of illustration: the activities of Mr. Holcomb, an American citizen who is now no longer in the island.
Mr. Holcomb was described as the legal adviser to the independent republic of Anguilla, although he had no legal qualifications of a kind which would have been recognised anywhere in the world, other than in the self-styled independent republic of Anguilla. However, he set to work to draft a constitution of a kind which would give opportunities for tax evasion, which would provide the island with a supreme court whose members would not need any legal qualifications other than those possessed—or rather not possessed—by Mr. Holcomb himself, and which would make it pretty sure that if any advantages emerged from the development of the island they would be restricted to a small group of people rather than benefit the people of Anguilla as a whole. He was also engaged on certain industrial proposals which would have had substantially the same effect.
It was dislike of the St. Kitts Government which caused the people of Anguilla to see in Mr. Webster somebody who personified that dislike. In effect, these rather disreputable proposals were to be carried out, as it were, on the band wagon of dislike of St. Kitts. If that was not sufficient, they could be backed up by intimidation.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about what people had seen or had not seen on the island. A number of people have seen the burnt-out ruins of houses. Intimidation of those who disliked these developments in Anguilla began with the shouting of abuse, and ended with the burning down of their houses. There is no doubt at all that there were and may still be, supplies of arms in the island. It is still one of the tasks of the forces we now have in the island either to take the arms themselves or to make sure 493 that they have left the island. So far there has been the surrender of a number of rifles, shotguns and ammunition and the discovery of an anti-tank rifle, which is not a weapon which one would normally use for the internal administration of Anguilla.
If right hon. Gentlemen are asserting that the statements repeatedly made by Mr. Webster and by some of his supporters that substantial supplies of arms had been brought to the island were untrue, it is up to them to say on what knowledge they base that assertion. In view of the undoubted cases of arson and—somewhat earlier—of murder on the island, it would have been quite wrong for us to have ignored the repeated reports that there were arms on the island. I say that it is the duty of the forces now there to search for those arms, as they are in fact doing.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
The Foreign Secretary has spoken now of arson, murder and arms running. Does he not think that it would be right to issue a White Paper setting out the evidence that he has, documentary or otherwise, so that the House can judge the seriousness of what he is saying?
§ Mr. Stewart
I think that the references to the cases of arson and murder have been public for some time. These were things that it was hoped might during the period of interim settlement have been investigated, but with the progressive breakdown of that settlement it proved impossible to discover who was responsible for these acts. That the acts themselves had occurred was not in dispute. This is the situation. [HON. MEMBERS: "A White Paper."] If the House wants longer and more detailed information than can be given in a short debate, I will certainly consider giving it, and in what might be the most appropriate form What I have said so far are facts that have already been stated some time back in the history of this matter.
What should be noticed is that this was an island faced with corrupt tendencies in its administration, backed up by intimidation. This was something which was of very great concern to Caribbean countries. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is a great deal easier for him and some of his hon. Friends 494 to treat this as a Gilbertian joke than it is for the Governments and peoples of the Caribbean who have to live with this kind of problem and who know that if a state of lawlessness were allowed to persist in one island it might extend to others and become a real menace to the Caribbean. This is the real issue to which the right hon. Gentleman paid far too little attention.
In this situation, therefore, it was judged right to deal with the immediate situation by appointing Her Majesty's Commissioner in the island; and further—this was the achievement of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary—agreement was obtained to this both from the Government in St. Kitts and from Mr. Webster. My hon. Friend's visit to the island was to install the Commissioner as had been agreed in St. Kitts and as had been agreed by Mr. Webster.
We have the record of what my hon. Friend said at the airport, a record which indicates the loud and cordial enthusiasm with which he was received. There was no doubt that this was and still is the right way to proceed. I believe that it was because it was clear that so many in the island did want it that Mr. Webster, very ill-advisedly, in company with some others created a situation in which my hon. Friend had to choose between either leaving the island or the development of the situation in such a way that there might have been loss of life.
I am certain that in those circumstances my hon. Friend was right to leave. I say this because I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman did not repeat some of the ill-natured and ill-informed criticism that has been made elsewhere of my hon. Friend, criticism which is wholly rebutted by the facts of what occurred.
We established, therefore, Her Majesty's Commissioner on the island. There was some reference to the troops that we used. The right hon. Gentleman referred to troops advancing with fixed bayonets. I invite the House to consider again what I asked it to consider when I replied to Questions earlier. There had been a situation where by the threat of force and the threat of use of weapons the attempt to install the Commissioner had failed. There were reports, which we had reason to believe, that there was 495 a good deal of arms. I suppose that we could have sent a much smaller force. We could have run the risk of its smallness encouraging reckless people to use force. In fact we carried out the operation in a way that ensured that there was no loss of life, and there has been nothing but very minor injuries ever since.
I say again that it was right to handle the matter in that way. The Motion alleges "inept handling". This is the usual ploy of Oppositions when they do not want to be put in the position of advocating an alternative policy. They say, "We will not criticise your policy. We will say that we could have handled it better". If the Opposition say that they could have handled the operation better, they oblige me—and for a moment I will be controversial—to ask the House to consider their credentials for the handling of military operations of any size.
Some of us remember the ludicrous expedition to Kuwait, where soldiers were given the famous instruction—"If you get lost, return to your unit". Some of us in a more sombre vein remember the events at Suez where, apart from those killed in battle, hundreds of innocent civilians were drowned. Thank God that nothing remotely resembling that has happened on Anguilla or, I trust, ever will happen. Before we have any more criticisms about "inept handling", let the Tory Party first remove the beam from its own eye.
§ Mr. Marten
Does not the Secretary of State realise that if he sent a similar quantity of troops to Margate there would be no bloodshed either? The Anguillans are peaceful people just as the people are at Margate. That is why there was no bloodshed.
§ Mr. Stewart
I have pointed out, and it cannot be denied, that there had been serious acts of violence and lawlessness in the island previously and that there had been the clearest indications that, unless we made it quite clear that the Commissioner would be installed, there might be armed resistance. I hope that the Tory Party will weigh it up. I should like to know whether the Tories in fact say that we should have sent a smaller force. The right hon. Gentleman 496 was not prepared to be precise on that point. Moreover, if any among the public have formed a mental picture, because they were paratroops, of their descending from the sky on Anguilla, let them please dismiss such pictures from their minds. The paratroops went because, in the ordinary rotation, they were the spearhead battalion of the Strategic Reserve.
Let us look now at the situation in the island itself, since so far none of the criticisms has stood up. It is not true that anyone could have foreseen that the thing would not work. It is not true that we neglected the situation. It is not true that it was unwise to appoint Her Majesty's Commissioner. The Opposition do not seem quite to be able to make up their mind what their criticism is about the show of force to make sure that the Commissioner was installed. Therefore, let us turn to what has actually happened since he was installed.
We now have a magistrate's court functioning. We have the acts of violence and intimidation stopped. The newspaper, which previously had been forcibly suppressed, is working again. We now have people in Anguilla who have different opinions free to express them and, as a recent news item tells us, free, as they ought to be, to organise in support of their opinions. We are beginning to train what the island has so badly needed, a native Anguillan police force.
Meanwhile, the Royal Engineers are getting on with the work of essential repairs to electrical machinery needed for the cottage hospital, improving the island's water supply, establishing Radio Anguilla, the building of a new school, and the surfacing of roads; and not only doing these things themselves but securing the co-operation of the Anguillan people in doing them. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the television. These activities of the Royal Engineers are not as noisy as demonstrations, they do not make such good pictures as an excited crowd at an airport, but they are of a good deal more value and importance—permanent value and importance—to the people of the island, and we shall go ahead with them.
During this period, there came the visits of Lord Caradon to the island, with which also the right hon. Gentleman 497 made very merry. My right hon. and noble Friend secured an agreement with Mr. Webster, the substance of which was that the island would be administered by Her Majesty's Commissioner in consultation and co-operation with representatives of the people of the island. With that we are fully content, and by that formula we stand. It is true that Mr. Webster shortly after making the agreement repudiated it. But it is also true that he has shown—here, I think, he has followed the path of wisdom—a decision since to work on the lines of that agreement.
If we can have the co-operation of Mr. Webster, it is most welcome. But we could not regard his co-operation as an absolutely necessary condition for the Commissioner to do his work. For the present, the island, as previously agreed by Mr. Webster and as agreed with St. Kitts, must be administered by the Commissioner in consultation. I do not at all accept, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's criticism that Lord Caradon's visits were unnecessary.
§ Mr. Stewart
The right hon. Gentleman says that he did not say so, but a whole verse from Gilbert and Sullivan left the House with the impression that that is what he wanted to say.
In looking to the future of the island, I think that deliberately one must not be dogmatic. We have to face two facts: first, that legally Anguilla is part of the associated State as the law now stands; and second, that there is deep objection among the Anguillans to that connection. To resolve this situation there is needed first time and second consultation with our friends in the Caribbean. While in New York I took the opportunity to have two frank and friendly conversations with Mr. Bradshaw. Recently I saw the High Commissioners in this country, and I shall be pursuing consultations with their Governments.
§ Mr. Stewart
Whether it will need new legislation will depend on what solution is ultimately reached. That is precisely why I said that I thought it wise not to be dogmatic about it at present. This is 498 a matter on which we need consultation with the Caribbean.
I have had and no doubt shall have during the rest of the debate a number of suggestions as to how we might face the future. To these I shall listen most gladly. There has, for example, been the suggestion that there ought to be, if not a Minister, someone carrying out, perhaps, the sort of function in the Caribbean which Mr. Malcolm MacDonald carried out in Africa. There are these and other suggestions, and I shall gladly welcome what the House has to say about it.
The particular criticisms voiced by the right hon. Gentleman are not supported by the record of history. What we must go for now is the firm administration of the island and the carrying out of much needed work there for the present and the immediate future, but the longer-term future will call for consultation with our Caribbean friends, on which we are now embarked. It is that approach which the situation requires, not this niggling and partisan Motion, which I ask the House to reject.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this debate because I was away at the time of the foreign affairs debate, which touched on Anguilla, a month ago, and I am one of the few Members who have visited Anguilla and know the personalities and problems there at first hand. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) and I were responsible for the interim settlement in December, 1967, to which the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, has now, I hope, secured an extension for a further interim period.
I do not usually criticise the Government on Commonwealth and Colonial issues, on which, as I think the House knows, I have always preferred a bipartisan approach. Indeed, I think that have been criticised on one or two occasions from this side for adopting that line on these issues. But I must in honesty say that I do not consider that the Anguillan problem—and I acknowledge that it is a very awkward problem, though a very small one—has been particularly well handled by the Government.
In the light of my own experience, I was a little surprised that it was thought 499 necessary to deploy the British Navy and the British Army and to mount an invasion in order to resolve the problem. But I want to be fair about it. I acknowledge that the interim settlement made by Lord Caradon is different in one important respect from the interim settlement made by the hon. Member for Northfield and myself. In the arrangements which we made, Mr. Lee was, by his own wish and at his own request, an adviser to the Anguillans. I wanted at that time—and I think that the hon. Member for Northfield did, too—to give him power, but Mr. Lee himself thought that he could do more to influence, to mediate and to conciliate if he merely advised.
Under the new arrangements, however, the administrator, Mr. Cumber, has real power. I acknowledge that that is a difference. It may be that he would not have been accorded that power by the Anguillans if we had not first occupied the island. I do not know, and I leave that question entirely open.
The fact remains that the whole incident made Britain look ridiculous. I was in New York at the time, and it distressed me to find that we were a laughing stock in the United States, where the operation was regarded as pathetic and absurd. I believe that Lord Caradon, with his knowledge of the Caribbean, his prestige there, and his diplomatic experience, should have been invited to try his hand before instead of after the use of force, and without resorting to it.
May I return to the interim solution which the hon. Member for Northfield and I secured in 1967. I have never had the opportunity of reporting on this to the House. On a small scale, it was quite a difficult negotiation, because neither side would meet the other, and we had frequently to go to and from Anguilla and St. Kitts to get agreement. It was always clear—I acknowledge what the right hon. Gentleman said—that Anguilla would not willingly return to association with St. Kitts. It was equally clear that Britain was bound by our signature to the Associated States Agreement, and that Mr. Bradshaw was therefore legally completely in the right.
A long-term solution was therefore very difficult to achieve, and the hon. 500 Gentleman and I were not invited to attempt one. Our task was to negotiate the installation of a British official who would hold the ring, so to speak; and buy time for Her Majesty's Government while a permanent solution could be devised. It was not very easy to achieve even what we did, because the distrust on both sides was very great. It took us nearly three weeks, working about 18 hours a day, to get an agreement.
I direct my next observation particularly to the Under-Secretary of State. In any Commonwealth negotiation one must allow plenty of time, have plenty of patience, and work very hard for success. I learnt that when I worked for my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), and no one worked harder than he did. This is particularly true of the Caribbean, because the West Indians love to talk and to argue.
§ Mr. Fisher
Of course, but West Indians in particular do.
One must also have a sense of humour, because they have, and one can often avoid a crisis by humour and good humour. What is quite fatal is to arrive with a cut-and-dried inflexible plan made in London. What is even worse is to read out one's plan to the public, without any prior negotiation when one arrives at the airport initially and to say in effect, "Take it or leave it". One can never get agreement with West Indians if one adopts that sort of approach, yet that is exactly what the Under-Secretary of State did, and that is the burden of my complaint. From that initial mistake much else flowed.
It would have been wiser to begin as the hon. Gentleman and I began. I told the crowd at the airport—the same crowd welcomed us as welcomed the Under-Secretary—that we had come to look, to listen, and to learn. And for three days we did exactly that. We toured the Island and listened to the views and complaints of the people. When we had got to know the leaders quite well personally and had the feel of the place, we began, very tentatively, to put forward our proposals.
501 I acknowledge that the Anguillans are not at all easy people to negotiate with, because, perhaps through lack of political experience, they are not politically very sophisticated. Mr. Webster is honest but not very articulate, deeply religious but rather obstinate, an ardent patriot for Anguilla but not a very self-confident leader of his own people. He was nervous of leadership and wanted always to carry his followers and the people with him at every stage of the negotiations. He had no idea of negotiating privately, and even when agreement was reached we had to obtain all the signatures from all the leading people all over the Island of Anguilla ourselves. We also had to announce at a great public meeting the solution that had been agreed. It was rather embarrassing that we should have had to do that, but we did it because Mr. Webster was unwilling to do it himself until he saw that the agreement was acceptable to the people. Therefore, with great respect to Mr. Webster, he lacks the quality of leadership.
By comparison, Mr. Bradshaw was infinitely more co-operative, because he is a realist and an experienced politician, both as Finance Minister of the old West Indies Federation and the Premier of St. Kitts for many years.
In his speech on 24th March, my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) was much less than fair to Mr. Bradshaw. He was also rather less than fair to the hon. Member for Northfield and myself. He said that we had got our settlement because it was based on false hopes and false premises in both islands. That is totally untrue. Each side saw the document that the other was signing, and to each was explained exactly what had been agreed with the other. No one was misled in any way about the interim solution; and no attempt was made to negotiate a final solution, because that was quite outside our terms of reference
§ Viscount Lambton
My hon. Friend said that politicians in the West Indies are unsophisticated. I think that that is the case, but, with all respect, I stand by what I said earlier, that the settlement was reached because both sides believed after my hon. Friend and the hon. Gentleman had been there that they would get what they wanted. Anguilla believed 502 that it would be independent, and St. Kitts believed that Anguilla would be returned to it at the end of the year. I can only repeat that I believe that that was one of the prime causes of the extreme dissatisfaction in Anguilla this year.
§ Mr. Fisher
It may be that there was wishful thinking in both Islands, and naturally people always hope that a thing will work out in the end in the way that will suit them. But I assure my noble Friend that this was not the impression given. We were meticulously careful—and the hon. Gentleman will confirm this—to be absolutely honest with both sides at every stage. I stand by that.
That is the background—an interim settlement for one year. During that year, before the arrangements were to expire, the British Government were to negotiate a final solution. It is a serious criticism that in fact 10 months of the year that we had bought were allowed to pass before any attempt was made to negotiate anything. Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Webster came to London last October. No final settlement was reached. I do not blame the Government for that. It was very difficult. But I do blame them for not even negotiating an extension of the interim solution, which was not very difficult.
Instead, the conference was entirely abortive, and Mr. Webster went back to Anguilla and declared his little U.D.I. Later, the Under-Secretary of State visited Anguilla very briefly—I believe for only a few hours. I hope that he will not think that I am being unfriendly when I say that it was an unsuccessful and a rather humiliating visit. I do not believe that the Anguillans would have shot a Minister of the Crown, or that there was any danger of bloodshed, or any truth whatever in the theory that the Mafia or people like that had taken over the island. That would be entirely out of character.
The one thing of which the Anguillans were terrified when we were there was exploitation of their island by American speculators. Every American who arrived was very carefully checked on, and anyone undesirable was at once asked to leave. The only American would-be property developer on the 503 island at the time of the Under-Secretary's visit was, as far as I know, Mr. Holcombe. I was able to check his record when I was in the United States and the Bahamas last month. It is not spotless, but it is not a very bad record. No doubt he wanted to make money on and out of Anguilla by land development. But he was not a criminal, and he had nothing to do with the Mafia. It was certainly not necessary to import British troops in order to export Mr. Holcomb.
It is probably true that Mr. Webster has been influenced in recent months by some of the less moderate of his Anguillan advisers. It would be much wiser for him to listen to the advice of Mr. Emil Gumbs and Mr. Harrigan than to that of Mr. Jeremiah Gumbs and Mr. Wallace Rey. But surely it would have been right to try for an extension of the interim solution by ordinary diplomatic means instead of using force before even attempting any serious negotiations. I do not call it a serious negotiation to arrive at an airport and to read out a cut-and-dried plan.
What about the future? The Government have a chance of another bite at this difficult cherry. I hope—I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman referred to this in his speech—that the Commonwealth countries of the Caribbean will also play their part, as they certainly should. It was a little irresponsible of them to opt out just because this is a "hot potato". This is, after all, a Caribbean problem, involving the possibility of further fragmentation of the Caribbean, and the independent countries of the Caribbean should certainly help in its solution—
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
I have been trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. Up to now it seems that he has suggested that the Anguillans are naïve, to say the least, and liable to change their minds very considerably, and that the other Caribbean Governments should have helped. What he has not touched on is any serious ineptitude by Her Majesty's Government. Is he not saying that some Americans think that the Government were inept and that the Opposition are charging them with the American version rather than with their own?
§ Mr. Fisher
That was a pointless intervention. I cannot make my speech again. I have made several charges, which the hon. Member would have heard if he had listened, about the ineptitude of the handling of this situation by Ministers of the Crown in this Government. I do not propose to repeat them if the hon. Gentleman did not hear them the first time.
As I said, the independent countries should help in this solution, because the last thing that any of us wants is further fragmentation in the Caribbean. I am against fragmentation, whether in the Caribbean or in Africa, and it is rather unrealistic to imagine that a tiny island, 14 miles by two, with no resources except remittances, and only 6,000 people, can possibly sustain independence and the expense of international representation in the modern world. It is absurd. Therefore, if the people of Anguilla will not return to St. Kitts, the Government must try to negotiate—that is all that they can do—with St. Kitts the terms of an Anguillan secession, and then must see with which other Caribbean unit Anguilla could be federated—perhaps with the British Virgin Islands or with the Dutch Island of St. Martin.
§ Viscount Lambton
Does my hon. Friend think that it is now possible that Anguilla can return under the authority of St. Kitts?
§ Mr. Fisher
No, I do not. Hon. Members do not seem to be listening very attentively. I did not suggest that—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. May I remind hon. Members of the shortness of this debate and the consequent need to keep speeches short so as to get in as many hon. Members as possible?
§ Mr. Fisher
I had not suggested that they should return to St. Kitts but that we should negotiate some way out of that problem and then, possibly consider attaching Anguilla to some other unit in the Caribbean.
Whatever the solution, Anguilla is a financial liability, not an asset, and Britain will have to pay. It is not just Mr. Bradshaw who should be blamed for the lack of development in Anguilla. It has been his responsibility for a few years; it has been Britain's responsibility 505 for many generations. There is no electric light on the island, no telephones, no proper roads, not enough schools and inadequate water supplies. That is not a proud legacy to leave to the Anguillans and it is mainly the fault of successive British Governments of all parties.
What, in view of the Anguillan experience, is the future of the Associated States? This is very important for the future. I acknowledge some personal responsibility for this idea, because, when it became apparent that the Eastern Caribbean would not federate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham asked me and the officials in the old Colonial Office to consider the future of the remaining small British territories which could not sustain or did not want independence.
We tentatively worked out the Associated State idea, which was later adopted and implemented by our successors. Perhaps that was, in retrospect—the hon. Member for Northfield criticised it at the time—not a very good idea. It leaves us, after all, with some residual responsibility but no residual power. For it to work, we should, no doubt, have kept ultimate strategic control of internal security; but, if we keep that, we retain colonial status, because external affairs, defence and the ultimate strategic control of internal security is precisely the status of Colonies such as British Honduras and the Bahamas. Therefore, there may be no half-way house—either a territory is a Colony, with internal self-government, or it is independent.
What I am sure would be wrong, after Anguilla, is to leave the Associated States exactly as they are. The same sort of thing could happen again—in Barbuda, the Grenadines or elsewhere. We cannot go around the Caribbean with frigates, marines, police and paratroops whenever there is internal dissension in any part of the area. We should call a Carribbean conference or set up a Carribbean commission to discuss, first of all, Anguilla and, perhaps, later, if that goes well, the whole concept of the Associated States and their future. Britain should play a part in this, but the independent countries of the Caribbean should play a part, too, and should accept their responsibilities.
506 Whether we do that or not—I hope that we shall—there is one other immediate and constructive action which we can take on our own and on which the Foreign Secretary himself, I was glad to hear, just touched. The Government could appoint someone with diplomatic and political experience as Britain's special representative in the Caribbean, a sort of "mini-Malcolm Macdonald", if I may be allowed to put it in that way. It should be someone, at any rate, who can talk to the island leaders, not as a civil servant but as a fellow politician, someone who can anticipate trouble and put it right before, instead of after, the event. We hope that Lord Caradon has put it right now, but that was after the event and not before. If he had been in the area before, this might never have happened. There has been a real need for this sort of appointment for some time. Anguilla spotlights the need and I hope that the Government will respond to it.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Evan Luard (Oxford)
Wisdom after the event is one of the normal elements of political life. Oppositions, after all, as one of their main functions, have to say that they could have handled any situation better than the Government and that they were well aware in advance of all the difficulties which might arise. But we have rarely seen such a remarkable example of posterior sagacity as has been shown on this occasion, not merely by members of the Opposition, but by many sections of the Press. Many people or organs have suggested that they knew all the time about all the difficulties which would arise over Anguilla, that they had warned in advance about them and that the Government had shown great ineptitude in not themselves having been aware of this.
But the facts of the case are very much the reverse. Anyone who has had any close knowledge or experience of this affair over the last two years will realise that almost throughout, from shortly after associated statehood was given, the Government have been engaged almost continuously in trying to find a way out of the very serious difficulties in Anguilla, while the Opposition, with one or two notable exceptions I admit, have almost totally ignored this situation throughout 507 this period. That I will refer to again in detail—
§ Sir John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)
Surely, if the hon. Gentleman read HANSARD he would find that in the last three years debates have been initiated from this side of the House drawing attention to the exact state of affairs which now exists.
§ Mr. Luard
I said that I was going to refer in detail to this matter and also to how much this was raised in the House. I recognise that the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) and his hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) have consistently raised this point. I am concerned particularly with the attitude of the Official Opposition and I will give a certain number of facts and figures.
Three main accusations have been made against the Government. The first is that the Associated State was associated in this form: that Anguilla was associated at all with St. Kitts and Nevis. Here one has merely to turn to the debate about associated statehood on the West Indies Act in early 1967. The fact is that not one word of objection was raised by any Opposition speaker, including the Front Bench speaker, during that debate to the fact that Anguilla was to be associated with St. Kitts and Nevis. If there were any time at which it was essential to raise precisely those doubts, it was surely during that debate. And there was practically no comment during those few months, even from individual Opposition hon. Members on this subject. It was true that shortly after associated statehood was brought about there were serious difficulties and outbreaks of rioting.
§ Mr. Luard
I have already excepted the hon. Member for Banbury from everything I say. I recognise that he personally was very active about this matter. I am speaking of the Opposition as a whole. He was the only one who was consistently active in this connection.
From that moment, the Government themselves were constantly engaged in seeking ways to alleviate the situation and to conciliate between Anguilla and St. 508 Kitts. But from the moment of the second serious disturbances in July, 1967, there was very little discussion of this matter either in the House or in the Press as a whole. I have done some research into this matter and I have found that between July, 1967, and December, 1968, when the interim agreement broke down, only 14 Parliamentary Questions were asked, of which more than half were asked by the hon. Member for Banbury. But the Official Opposition spokesmen did not once open their mouths on this subject, and it cannot therefore be said that they were buisly alerting the House to the dangers likely to arise.
That is equally true, I regret to say, of much of the Press. The Times has recently indulged in great sermons about the inactivity of the Government during this time. I have undertaken a certain amount of research on this subject and I have found four news items in The Times on the subject of Anguilla throughout the whole of 1968. It cannot be said that the Press either was particularly busy in pointing to the dangers about to arise.
On the other hand, the Government were actively involved. The right hon Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) mentioned the visit of his hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) as though it was an inspiration of their own to try to sort out this difficult problem. But their visit was made at the express invitation of the Government because of the very difficulties then arising.
The visit was not criticised at the time. In fact, there were warm welcomes from the Opposition benches for the agreement at which those two hon. Members arrived. It was the obvious kind of interim agreement, a compromise agreement, to try to reach, but it is perfectly true, as the hon. Member for Surbiton has pointed out in his wise speech, that to some extent it was misinterpreted, or interpreted ambiguously, by the two main protagonists. It is often the way when a compromise is suggested that it will seem to both parties to represent something quite different from what it seems to the outside world to represent.
509 This has been shown in the difficulties which arose at the time of the expiry of the agreement and immediately before the expiry. But it cannot be said that the Government were not aware of the problems likely to arise and were not seeking, as hard as they could during that period first to extend the agreement and then to provide some substitute agreement.
The second of the main criticisms which has been made against the Government is that of neglect of Anguilla, either over many years, or over the last year or two. It cannot be denied that Anguilla has been shamefully neglected economically, but this has been the neglect of successive British Governments over a period of 200 or 300 years. If one is looking about as to who should carry the main responsibility for this neglect, it must go to those parties who were most often the Government during that period. In fact, in the most recent period, the responsibility is not so grave as at some previous periods. But if neglect is taken to mean neglect over the last two or three years, it is a charge which cannot be sustained. I have already shown the amount of interest being taken in the situation in Anguilla generally during this period by the Government and their various attempts to try to resolve the difficulties.
The basic elements of the situation are such as to make any solution extremely difficult and I wish to refer to some of the many alternatives which are often somewhat airily ventilated. Mention has already been made today of the idea that as an alternative Anguilla should be associated with the British Virgin Islands. This idea has been frequently mentioned in the Press as though it were a simple solution as an alternative to the present.
Most of those who advocate this alternative seem to have neglected to ask what the people of the British Virgin Islands think of this proposal. Some of us recently had the opportunity to meet a Member of Parliament from the British Virgin Islands in a delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I took the opportunity to ask him what he thought of this solution. He was completely categorical that such a solution would be totally unacceptable to the British Virgin Islands, for much the same kind of reasons advanced for other associations of that kind. He expressed 510 in particular his great distrust for Mr. Webster personally.
When I pressed him further and asked him whether he thought that this was the only possible satisfactory solution of the problem of Anguilla, the most he would concede was that it might be possible, provided and provided only that full control of the joint Associated State rested in the hands of the representative of the British Virgin Islands. This symbolises the difficulties which one confronts in the Caribbean with a situation of this kind. There are intense suspicions, particularly of personalities among the Caribbean islands. Perhaps we as a people must bear some responsibility for this, but there is not sufficient mutual knowledge among the islands of the Caribbean to make the idea of close association often acceptable to them.
Somewhat similar arguments apply to the idea of association with St. Martin. When one thinks of the difficulties which in practice have already been experienced in the attempt to encourage association among English-speaking islands, subject to a common tradition under the British colonial system, one appreciates the infinitely greater difficulties which would arise in trying to encourage association between Anguilla and St. Martin which admittedly, from a purely geographical point of view, is the obvious associated State. It would be extremely difficult in practice to bring about the kind of association that would provide a viable administrative structure for either of these two islands.
It is therefore not so easy to think of other alternatives in the Caribbean region as some have suggested. One must recognise that the choice is between re-association with St. Kitts, which is probably now impossible, and some kind of isolated status of Anguilla in some new relationship with either this country, or some regional grouping in the Caribbean.
I turn to the third of the main criticisms made both in the House and in the Press of the Government's handling of the situation over the last three or four months since the interim agreement broke down. I share some of the doubts about the decision to send troops to Anguilla, although I think that it is difficult for anybody who does not have close knowledge of the conditions in the island at the time to reach a firm decision.
511 My own opinion is somewhat similar to that of the hon. Member for Surbiton. I would have thought that it should have been possible to make further attempts at peaceful contacts with the people of Anguilla. As I said at the time, I should have preferred the Government to call a conference of Caribbean Governments generally, including the Government of St. Kitts and representatives from Anguilla, before any attempt to use force was considered.
Having said that, I must point out one fact which seems to have been almost totally ignored by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is that, whatever one thinks of the way in which the intervention was handled, its final outcome has been to provide for Anguilla almost everything that it demanded.
The real difficulty for us in handling the situation in the first place was that the internal relationship between Anguilla and St. Kitts was an affair internal to the Associated State, in which we had no legal right to intervene. That situation was altered fundamentally by the unilateral declaration of independence by Anguilla two or three months ago. That in itself provided sufficient justification for intervention from this country. Indeed I think that it would have provided a better justification than the one mainly used by the Government, namely, the involvement of external elements in the administration of Anguilla.
The unilateral declaration of independence had an immediate effect on the external relations of the Associated State of St. Kitts as a whole. Supposing, for example, Anguilla had tried to obtain official diplomatic recognition from other States. Supposing it had tried to obtain membership of international organisations. Such steps would immediately have affected the external relations of St. Kitts, and it was automatically a matter of the kind laid down in the West Indies Act under which we were entitled to intervene. That does not in itself mean that we were wise to intervene by force, but it gave us the legal justification, the existence of which was doubted so widely in the Press when the intervention took place.
If we had done nothing, one of three things might have happened. Mr. 512 Bradshaw might have attempted to reassert his authority over Anguilla by force or by some other means with assistance from elsewhere. That, surely, would have been the worst possible outcome, because it would have revived the difficulties with which we had always been faced. That then was the least likely of the three possibilities.
The second possibility was that Anguilla might have continued in total isolation, in increasing economic misery, in a status which had no international recognition and which would have been a source of continuing doubt and worry among Caribbean Governments generally.
The third possibility was that Anguilla might remain independent but become increasingly under the influence of various external elements—commercial, possibly criminal and possibly corrupt. That again is an outcome which Caribbean Governments would have widely feared and one which would have left a totally unsatisfactory situation in the Caribbean.
It seems to me, therefore, that all three of the principal accusations raised against the Government in this House and in the Press fall down, and no satisfactory alternative to the actions taken by the Government has been suggested.
Like other hon. Members, I want to say a few words about the future and the way in which I hope that the Government will seek to handle the matter over the coming months and possibly years.
First, I want to re-emphasise a point which has been made already by the hon. Member for Surbiton, and that is the importance of trying to confront this problem in a Caribbean setting. Clearly it is primarily a Caribbean problem. It is a matter which cannot be handled without consultation with and the closest co-operation of other Caribbean Governments. I know that Her Majesty's Government have been seeking that co-operation and have been in close consultation with them. But my point is that, whatever future status is decided on, not only for Anguilla but for other small territories in the region such as the Virgin Islands or any other territory such as Barbuda which may finally wish to secede from its present Associated State, some kind of international status will be 513 required. That status will be more satisfactory if it has some kind of regional blessing and permanent regional political connection than a direct colonial relationship with this country.
I endorse the suggestion that there should be some permanent British representative in the Caribbean area, and I believe that there should be some permanent council of the Caribbean meeting regularly and perhaps almost on a permanent basis, which can take responsibility for small territories of this kind in the Caribbean area.
I also urge upon the Government the desirability of taking the United Nations into their confidence to the greatest possible extent in the arrangements which they make for territories of this kind. That does not apply only in the Caribbean area but to colonial territories of almost all kinds. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary knows, I am afraid that one of the reasons why we experience difficulty in the United Nations on colonial matters is that, on the whole, we have not so far made much attempt to take the United Nations into our confidence. In according a status very similar to associated statehood to the Cook Islands, New Zealand brought in the United Nations and had a United Nations observer mission there before independence. That has done much to improve the standing of New Zealand in the United Nations and has won good will for its policies in the United Nations.
So far, the British Government have always refused to accept United Nations observer missions in any colonial territories. If we were prepared to do this, perhaps in a quite small territory immediately before independence, we would win enormously in terms of good will in the United Nations. I am not suggesting that the United Nations can take on administrative responsibilities in these islands, but it can in some sense endorse the final status which is agreed.
The United Nations is engaged in a study of the status of very small territories. It is a problem which arises in many parts of the world for many different colonial powers, and it is one of great concern to the United Nations because of its interest in de-colonisation, and in the final sovereign status of different nations, for example, whether they 514 should qualify for membership of the United Nations. As the largest remaining colonial Power, we would gain in many ways if we were prepared to consult more fully with the United Nations on matters of this kind and, in the case of Anguilla and the Caribbean, we could win by involving the United Nations in the consultations which have been described.
But I want to reaffirm what I said earlier. Whatever criticisms may be made of one or two small detailed elements of the handling of the situation, the Opposition have failed totally to make out a case for the Government's general ineptitude. They have failed to offer any convincing alternative policies. They have failed to answer the fact that, in the present situation Anguilla is far closer to reaching its objectives than ever before. For the moment, it has acquired separation from St. Kitts. It is acquiring now considerable development assistance from this country. In addition, it is acquiring a recognised international status which it could not have had if it had been allowed to continue with the unilateral declaration of independence which provoked the action.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Sir John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)
I can understand why the Foreign Secretary was a little sensitive about the situation in Anguilla being described as Gilbertian. I thought that the quotations by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) were extremely apt and very much to the point. In many ways, it is a Gilbertian situation.
In his closing words, the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Luard) said that we have to go through all this rigmarole to give the aid that we should have given without the presence of paratroops, police and the like. In my view, that underlines the Gilbertian situation which has arisen over this tiny island in the Caribbean. If we were to send to a stranger a complete record of all that has happened since the creation of the Associated State, he would think that he had been given a hitherto undiscovered manuscript of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. However, the tragedy is that there is no music and very little humour in the situation. It has become a tragic farce.
I am sure that the Foreign Secretary is aware of the opinions that have been 515 expressed not only in cartoons but in the columns of magazines and newspapers of the new world, particularly the United States, about sending in paratroops. I think that our status has been lowered—
§ Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)
Surely the hon. Gentleman pointed out how much better our record is than that of the Americans.
§ Sir J. Rodgers
I think that I have travelled more than the hon. Gentleman since this invasion and I assure him that this has not done our prestige any good.
§ Mr. Roebuck
I was only suggesting that if the Americans want to put their record in military achievements against the record of this country, we have a pretty good answer. I hope that the hon. Gentleman thinks so, too.
§ Sir J. Rodgers
I should be going outside the scope of the debate if I were to follow the hon. Gentleman. I agree with him on some points. I was making the factual point about the reaction overseas to the Anguillan situation.
We should remind ourselves that it is not so long ago since Anguilla was begging to remain a British Colony. Anguilla was as patriotic as any we could find in the British Commonwealth. Where other places were demanding independence, Anguilla was pleading to remain a Colony and to be administered from this country. It seems odd that within a year or two of taking that attitude we should be regarding the Anguillans as vicious people perpetrating arson, murder, intimidation and the like, which demand the presence of British troops and policemen.
After the tragic break and attempt at federation in the Caribbean, my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) should not be condemned for thinking up the idea of associated statehood. Many on this side were worried about it, as I am sure were many hon. Gentlemen opposite. Nevertheless, we did not come up with any better solution. Therefore, we were in favour of a trial of this sort of grouping of smaller islands together to see if they could work out some solution to their own problems.
With hindsight, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton is right. It is now proved that holding the power 516 of preventing external aggression and representing Anguilla at the United Nations and other diplomatic posts throughout the world, but having no control over their internal affairs, is an unworkable situation. I think we are acting ultra vires in that respect.
§ Mr. Marten
There have been suggestions that this side of the House did not make any objections to the associated status. I should like to get on record that, after Second Reading, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) and I went to see the Minister of State at the then Commonwealth and Colonial Office, now the Paymaster-General, and put forward our suggestions to her.
§ Sir J. Rodgers
I also saw Lord Shepherd on several occasions, and I have raised debates on this matter over the last two or three years. Even though we are worried about the associated statehood, none of us would have approved it if we had thought that a situation could arise where we literally force one island—in this case a much smaller island than the others—into becoming such an Associated State.
From the outset Mr. Webster has said that they were afraid of Mr. Bradshaw, that they did not wish to be associated with St. Kitts, and that they did not accept it as a solution. I have met Mr. Webster several times over the years. I know Mr. Bradshaw, too. I think it was never on the cards that the lion, in the shape of Mr. Bradshaw of St. Kitts, and the lamb, in the shape of Mr. Webster, would lie down together.
Long before this situation arose, Mr. Webster was repeatedly asking whether Anguilla could remain a Colony, or, failing that, that it might associate with the Virgin Islands, and, if not, could it leave the British Commonwealth altogether and be an associated island of the French or the Dutch Islands. He was seeking a peaceful solution then.
I admit that there are difficulties about association. I think that the hon. Member for Oxford is right. The more one thinks about it the more difficult it is to place a small island like Anguilla in any form of association, whatever the nation or conditions. But that is no reason for forcing it into association with St. Kitts.
517 Then came the Parliamentary Mission. I am sure that the House and the country is in a sense indebted to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton for bringing about an interim solution and gaining a year's grace. Equally, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) was right when he said, at the end of the mission, that both countries believed something different if they behaved patiently for a year. Mr. Bradshaw believed that the Anguillans would be forced back into associated statehood, whereas Mr. Webster was convinced that all he had to do was to accept this mandate for a year and, at the end of that year, he would be given some sort of independence or some new status which would relieve him of Mr. Bradshaw and the Government of St. Kitts.
These things happen. As my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton said, it was perhaps naive politicians who brought it about. This is no reflection on my two hon. Friends, but, in the end, this was a residual fact.
There was also the knowledge on Anguilla that Lord Shepherd had suggested at one moment that troops from various Caribbean islands should be carried in a British frigate and land on Anguilla. This cannot have improved the relations between Anguilla and this country. The fact that Jamaica refused to play ball is a different matter. This was not referred to by the Foreign Secretary, but this worsened relations between us.
Then came what can only be described as the disastrous visit of the Under-Secretary. I am told by people who were there at the time that the Under-Secretary refused to shake hands with Mr. Webster. Mr. Webster had dressed himself in the appropriate clothes to receive a British Minister, including white gloves. He held out his hand, and the Under-Secretary refused to shake hands in front of the Anguillan people. It may be right or wrong. If it is wrong let us have a denial. If it is right, it was an error of judgment and an insult to these friendly people who like these gestures and had gone out of their way to make a gesture by dressing up and wearing white gloves.
518 The flight of the Under-Secretary was ignominious. I am not accusing the hon. Gentleman of cowardice, but it was an error of judgment of a major kind. He should have sat down and talked to them. They are a friendly people. I am sure that there would not have been any attempt on his life. He failed lamentably to live up to the traditions of his office.
I now come to the question that I should like to address to the Foreign Secretary. Today the right hon. Gentleman made allegations about the Mafia and undesirable characters who had taken over the island. He has repeatedly been asked what evidence he had. The Foreign Secretary said that he would publish a White Paper. I hope that he will, because nobody has yet given us any evidence of a Mafia-type take-over.
I have heard it said by people living in the Caribbean that the whole thing was started by a journalist who got his facts mixed, who was really speaking about Monserrat at the time, not Anguilla, and that the Commonwealth Office accepted it thinking that it was happening in Anguilla. That is probably the reason why we have not been able to find the cache of arms that was talked about or the men who make up the Mafia. I should not rely on the presence of the Mafia as the absolute truth. If it is not, perhaps the Foreign Secretary will tell us something about it.
Even if it was true, were we justified in landing troops? Even if there had been Mafia and arms, are we legally entitled to be there? Our only rights are to resist external aggression and to represent them. We have no right to take part in their internal arrangements for their own protection. I believe that we were wrong to land troops. It would be helpful if the Foreign Secretary could say against what external aggression we are protecting the Anguillans to justify the continued presence of these troops.
Then followed the statement of the Foreign Secretary that it was no part of Her Majesty's Government's policy to force Anguilla to remain part of an administration of which it did not approve. But what power have we to say that either? We have given them associated statehood. Have we any right to give Anguilla freedom? My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire asked what it involved. Does 519 it mean that we have to get Mr. Bradshaw's permission first and introduce legislation in St. Kitts and then come back and introduce further legislation here? What is the machinery by which we can exercise this so-called power? I do not believe that the Government have given sufficient thought to that. I cannot see Mr. Bradshaw ever giving permission for the island to break away.
Why was Mr. Lee appointed as the Commissioner? One reads daily in the newspapers about diplomatic personnel being retired early to allow for promotions from the lower ranks. Why did we use a diplomatic mercenary for this delicate task? Were there not trained established officers in the service available for this job? Did the Government have to appoint a man who had existed for years on temporary assignments? It was an extraordinary appointment, in what was a most delicate operation. It was obviously wrong, otherwise Mr. Lee would not have had to be removed and a permanent civil servant installed in his place to carry on the job. The matters which I have outlined highlight the ineptitude, the ignorance, and the bungling of the Government in this matter.
What can we do now? The right hon. Gentleman said that he would be interested in hearing suggestions. First, I suppose it is possible to call together representatives of the three islands to see whether they will privately agree to some new arrangement, but this would not get over the point made by the hon. Member for Oxford. Even if they agreed to let Anguilla legally leave the Associated State of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, what would we do with Anguilla?
If we do not act quickly—and speed is of the essence—there is a danger that we shall damage, not just these islands but the economy of the Caribbean area as a whole. We shall run the danger of splitting the Caribbean, because certain territories there back Mr. Bradshaw, while others tend to side with Mr. Webster. This is bad for the Caribbean and therefore the sooner a solution is found the better it will be.
The Associated State of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla cannot remain as it is. That is agreed on both sides of the House. I think that Mr. Bradshaw has acted a little 520 vindictively against the Anguillans. He has not allocated the amount of money that was allowed for the island, and it is a paradox that it has taken the presence of paratroops and policemen to get to this island the aid that it has wanted for many generations.
My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton said that we cannot blame the present Administration because the situation in Anguilla is the result of neglect over hundreds of years. This island has no roads, no telegraphic communications, inadequate schools, hospitals, and so on, and it is a dreadful story. Nevertheless, Mr. Webster is not the gangster that he has been represented to be. I know him. He is a simple, honest, Bible-reading, if somewhat obstinate, man who does not always listen to the other side of the argument.
I do not wish to see the United Nations being asked to find a solution to this problem. I can think of nothing weaker than for the Government to hand this issue on a plate to the United Nations.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. Interventions prolong speeches, and I ask for the co-operation of hon. Members to keeping their speeches short. There are still a number of hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate.
§ Sir J. Rodgers
One of the weakest sides of the Government is that when it suits their book, as over Rhodesia, they back the United Nations, but when it does not suit their book, as over Gibraltar, they tend to sweep the United Nations aside. I believe that this is a British responsibility, and that it is for Britain alone to settle this problem. I agree that we should keep the United Nations informed, but this is a British responsibility, and it is the Government who must decide the issue.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Is the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) giving way, or has he concluded his speech?
§ Sir J. Rodgers
I do not disagree with that.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will answer the questions that I have posed about the basis of the legality of our presence on this island, why he appointed Mr. Lee, and so on.
§ Sir J. Rodgers
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will have the courage to tell the Anguillans now that whatever solution may eventually be found they will on no account go back to the St. Kitt's—Nevis state, and that some special arrangements will be made to suit their own desires.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
I shall be very brief, but there are half a dozen things that I want to say.
I do not disagree in essence with anything said by the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) except about the landing of troops. I do not propose to go over the history and what the interim mission was trying to do. I think that the hon. Gentleman spoke for us both on this matter, and I do not want to repeat it; but there are still a number of points that need to be made.
First, was it ever the case that we should have known from the start—this was the point made by the right hon Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)—that the Anguillans would never stay with St. Kitts? It is monstrous to say that we should have known. Mr. Peter Adams, then the Anguillan representative in the St. Kitts Legislature, held a meeting in St. Kitts before he came to London to sign the associated status Statute, to tell people what he was going to do, and what was proposed. There was at that meeting no dissent to associated statehood. Indeed, very few people turned up at the meeting. 522 Nobody here can say that we should have known. The fact is that political sophisication and political birth came to this island only after statehood. That was when the trouble arose. Nobody could have foreseen it in the facile way hinted at by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire.
There is always talk about Anguilla being a poor little island and terribly neglected. A lot of this is just not true. The Anguillans live in nice concrete houses, for the most part with individual septic pits, and they are in that sense a sight better off than most of the residents of St. Kitts which is a sugar estate island, where there is real abject poverty, and where there are many terrible schools. Those who talk about Anguilla should visit St. Kitts. The trouble in Anguilla is that the people there have individually a higher standard of living than the people on St. Kitts, but do not have the infrastructure. They do not have the roads, the telephones, and all the other things that one finds in a modern community.
Secondly, because they are not a black sugar island accustomed to this sort of thing, their expectations are much higher. They are people whose horizons are to the north, to the lush American Virgin Islands, to tourism, to easy living, and to Eton and Slough. They mainly migrate to these areas at a period of their lives and do very well and send their remittances back. Their expectations are higher than those of the average Kittitian. That is why they grumble more, and it also explains why they hate St. Kitts. Let us not parade the story about them being terribly poor and neglected. They have higher expectations, based on a pattern different from that of the average daily life in St. Kitts. That is the trouble, but that is a Caribbean problem generally. The problem of expectations is the problem of the Caribbean.
I disagree with what the hon. Member for Surbiton said about the landing of troops. I do not think that my right hon. Friend could have done anything else. Once we had reached the unhappy situation of the open appearance of arms on the island in the way that greeted my hon. Friend, and the subsequent breakdown, my right hon. Friend could do nothing else than put into effect Operation Overkill. He had to send in as many 523 troops as he could, within reason, so that there would be no bloodshed. If he had not done so there might have been bloodshed. He had to send these troops in in these numbers to do the job properly. He probably saved lives by doing so. It was a difficult and horrible decision, but it was obviously the correct one.
There is no doubt about the arms on Anguilla. It is no good the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire saying otherwise. At one point in our mission, on returning by aircraft from St. Kitts, the hon. Member for Surbiton and I were surrounded by men when we landed. We did not know it at the time but we were told afterwards that everyone was armed. Why? Because they were afraid that when we returned from St. Kitts we would bring with us St. Kitts policemen, and they were ready to shoot them. Do not let us kid ourselves about arms; they are there. We hoped that the interim settlement would allow things to calm down and that the arms would never be used and would finally be jettisoned. That was our only hope. But once matters had reached the point of being ugly my right hon. Friend could not do anything else than he did.
Why was there a breakdown in the interim settlement? Everybody seems to be avoiding mention of the fact that the interim settlement was not just for one year. On this I had one small difference with the hon. Member for Surbiton. I always envisaged, differently from him, that the interim settlement would go on for two, three or more years. I said so time and again during our mission. It is like situations involving a United Nations peacekeeping force: everybody would rather have that than the compromises and loss of face involved in a final settlement. It is always the case in the world's trouble spots that it is easier to maintain the status quo where nobody has to give away anything than to face the difficulties of compromises in a real settlement.
I always envisaged the interim settlement needing to be renewed at the end of a year. Indeed, the Letters of Intent on which the settlement was based provide for the renewal of the interim settlement. Why was it not renewed? In 524 this respect I express my only criticism of my right hon. Friend's Department. When Mr. Webster came here last October and I met him, as did other hon. Members, I knew that he would not renew the interim settlement. Why? Because he said, "The very things that you, Mr. Chapman, left behind to be settled during that year have not been settled. We are getting nowhere on many issues that matter to us".
Those issues were the release of Post Office savings held in St. Kitts—the finding of some means to compensate people who, in the shemozzle, had lost their pass books for Post Office savings; the problems of the pensions of civil servants in Anguilla—money had never been sent from St. Kitts to pay them; magisterial arrangements, and the problem of land sales. No land sales can legally take place without the approval of St. Kitts, and that is being withheld.
There are half a dozen main issues on which there should have been progress in the 12 months and which, I am afraid, were not properly chased up by the Commonwealth Office in that period. It may have been due to a change of Ministers. As the hon. Member for Surbiton knows, I personally initiated a complete system for the island's telephones. I negotiated it with Cable and Wireless in Barbados. I showed in a letter exactly how Cable and Wireless could and would provide a service, but nothing satisfactory was done in the 12 months.
I do not entirely blame my right hon. Friend. Other hon. Members have put their finger on the reason for this. Mr. Bradshaw was unlikely to give way easily on these matters. These were some of his trump cards, and if he gave them all away he would never get Anguilla back. The flaw in our settlement perhaps was that the man appointed as senior British official to do the job was not the powerful person that he should have been. He could not do the job of a politician. It probably needed somebody who could do some tough bargaining with Mr. Bradshaw in connection with matters like the Post Office savings books and the pay and the pensions of the civil servants.
Mr. Bradshaw is a good friend of mine. He is a tough politician, but he is a likeable man. He has been a statesman throughout this matter, but he is 525 also a tough negotiator. He would say to any civil servant, in this situation, "Get out; you will not expect me to play all my trump cards". But if a politician were to go there and argue the matter face to face with Mr. Bradshaw a settlement could be reached.
The difficulty arose out of a double failure; in the sense that after our mission we did not leave behind the strongest possible type of man—perhaps that was impossible—and, secondly, that during these 12 months the Commonwealth Office did not chase up every one of the points that we left behind for settlement by the Department.
I go further. During this 12 months the hon. Member for Surbiton and I have been to the Commonwealth Office on several occasions to ask for information about the progress of the interim settlement. Not once have we been invited into the Commonwealth Office. On every occasion it is we who have asked to see the Minister to try to press for faster progress to be made. Now I do not claim to know everything about the situation; but it is symptomatic of the position. First, we did not leave behind a strong enough man and, secondly, the Commonwealth Office could not see its way to making better progress during the 12 months. That may be the correct diagnosis of the situation, and the reason why there has been a failure.
There were no misconceptions about the interim settlement, and there was certainly never any understanding that after 12 months Anguilla would go back to St. Kitts. That was clear to Mr. Bradshaw. He knew it. This was an interim settlement, which might have to be continued. It was felt that we might be able to bring Anguilla steadily round. Mr. Bradshaw hoped that that would be the case, but he was under no misconception that we were promising that. Nor were the Anguillans thinking that we were going to lead them to independence. That is absolutely clear in the settlement.
What of the future? We must send somebody of a political character to the Caribbean—somebody who can to some extent he a friendly influence and can get on with the West Indians. He must be able to see the problems that exist 526 there and be able to knock heads together in the nicest way. That is the problem with this fragmented area. We must try to get the area together. I have urged, for example, that the area should make application to the International Development Authority for development funds for roads such as we are now providing in Anguilla. The International Development Authority will not deal with populations of fewer than 300,000. Together with United States and Canada we have just done a survey of economic needs, but those countries will not provide the money to develop these islands until they can get together and there is a sign of political stability, based on bigger units.
I regretted the withdrawal of Britain. I regretted the Act giving associated status. I was the only hon. Member who spoke against its Second Reading. I regretted the withdrawal of the British presence too early from the Caribbean. But there is much that we can still do, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will pursue this suggestion. He knows that many of us have been pressing for years for the appointment of somebody who will provide a good British presence at the top—a Malcolm MacDonald type of person—urging these islands to get together, giving them a little lead and a little push. They do not resent us. They are more British than half of us. They would take a lead from British wisdom and experience. This is a British part of the world and it is aching for a little more British presence to solve its problems. I hope that that is how we shall go forward in the future.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
This is a Motion of censure by the Opposition and I think that I should try to censure the Government. I should have liked much more time to say many more things and deal especially with some of the points made by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Luard). My first point of censure is that we last debated this matter at 4 o'clock in the morning on 25th March on the Consolidated Fund Bill. That is not a very nice time to debate anything and I was very kind to the Under-Secretary of State and said that I would not expect him to answer all my questions, on the understanding that, within 48 hours or shortly after, he would 527 give me written answers to my questions. It was not a time at which to expect a considered reply.
But since that date, I have not had one letter from the Under-Secretary dealing with any of the points which I put to him and which I kindly let him off the hook of answering at the time. I think that that is disgraceful. If the hon. Gentleman claims, as he may, that he answered my questions in his speech, I would say that that is totally wrong. If he reads it again, he will find that many of the questions which I put to him have not been answered. It is degrading debates in the House of Commons if one does that sort of thing and when a Minister has not the courtesy to write a letter and say even, "I am not going to answer the questions because they are too difficult or too embarrassing". I hope that this will not happen again and I certainly shall not let the hon. Gentleman off the hook another time.
I should like to select only two of my questions which were not answered out of the many which went unanswered but which need an answer and which the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has not answered today. On the answers to these questions depends one's judgment of the whole Anguillan affair. On 17th April, I asked the Prime Minister whether he would set up an inquiry to go into the legality of the whole operation and to produce the evidence upon which a decision to invade was taken.
I did this because I was concerned about Britain's good name in world affairs. I was not concerned with party politics, but I am ashamed of what this Government have done when I go abroad, as I have recently been, to Scandinavia and America. By their Anguillan operation, this Government are the laughingstock of the world. If the Foreign Secretary denies that, as he has done, let him get out of his cosseted diplomatic circles and go among the people of America and Scandinavia and talk to them, because they are thoroughly critical of the whole thing.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
I was, of course, in America shortly after this to attend a N.A.T.O. Parliamentary meeting. I do not accept for one moment the suggestion 528 which the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend make. They pick up things written by a few journalists and a few cartoonists and give them as reasons for criticising their own Government. It is a totally inadequate reason.
§ Mr. Marten
I was in Washington at exactly the same time as the right hon. Gentleman, as he knows, but I was not with the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians and diplomats, who were far too polite, of course, to tell him the truth. I was down in Tennessee and in Connecticut and Virginia and it was there, standing in queues with the common people of America, that I realised that they are criticising and laughing at us; and I was ashamed.
It is because of this that I want a "full, frank and searching inquiry"—as the Prime Minister would call it—into this whole affair. When I asked the Prime Minister for that, he was evasive. I said that I wanted an inquiry into "the legality of the operation". What did he do? Exactly what one would expect of him. He said that the question should have been addressed to the Attorney-General, who was at the time sitting on the bench beside him—just because I had questioned the legality. What a childish response! But one has come to expect that these days from the Prime Minister.
But I am still concerned to clear up all the doubt in the world over the behaviour of this Government. The first question which we have to decide and clear up is the conflicting aims which seep through the present muddled situation. I go back to the point which I put at 4 o'clock in the morning to the Under-Secretary of State. At the conference of Commonwealth Heads of Government at Port of Spain, Britain was asked to take all necessary steps to preserve the territorial integrity of the State of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. That request implied no separation of Anguilla from St. Kitts. Then, of course, one has the statement of the Under-Secretary when he arrived at the airport implying that it would be separated.
Then, in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill, he said:It seemed to me … that if we, within the West Indies Act, legalised the temporary severance of Anguilla from the State of St. Kitts …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1969 Vol. 780, c. 1550.]529 "The temporary severance". In other words, is Anguilla to go back to St. Kitts or are those words a mistake? A temporary severance is what is apparently in the Government's mind.
The next step which would appear from the hon. Gentleman's winding-up speech in that debate was that, having decided that, he then discussed this proposal, presumably to invade, with the other Caribbean Governments and said that his proposals were acceptable to those Governments in the Caribbean with whom he had been able to discuss the matter. Who were the Governments with whom he had been able to discuss it? In the event, very few seem to agree with what the Government have done.
These conflicting statements simply do not make sense. It is absolute proof that the Government have got themselves into a muddle. I believe that the answer to this question of temporary severance is that the Government have got an agreement which they refuse to publish—I have asked the Minister whether he will publish it and he refuses—with Mr. Bradshaw which they are simply ashamed to publish.
They have no legal power to interfere as they have done in the internal affairs of the State except at the request of Mr. Bradshaw. He did not request the Government to invade. The Government proposed it and Mr. Bradshaw agreed to it. There has been no request and I therefore maintain—this is what I believe that an inquiry would show—that the invasion of Anguilla was illegal. Of course, the price of the agreement with Mr. Bradshaw is surely that Anguilla's separation is, as the Under-Secretary let it out, perhaps inadvertently, only temporary, yet the Government know that the one thing which the Anguillans will not take is going back under St. Kitts.
The reason for all this muddle is that the Government have not taken the quesion of Anguilla seriously. They have had far too many changes of Ministers—changes of Ministries, indeed: the merging of the Colonial Office with the Commonwealth Office and then with the Foreign Office—with Ministers switching in and out of the job, and there is not one person there who, before this happened, really understood the Caribbean. 530 The people who did understand the Caribbean were those on the back benches.
I come now to the second question which I have picked out from those which were left unanswered during the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill. We have had no satisfactory evidence yet to justify the invasion. I put down a Question to the Under-Secretary to ask him… if he will publish the agreement with the St. Kitts Government about the invasion of Anguilla.He replied:There was no invasion of Anguilla."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd April, 1969; Vol. 781, c. 166.]I found that an astonishing Answer. I do not know what on earth the operation was. I am told that it was "supporting the establishment of the Commissioner". That is legalistic nonsense, and the Minister should be ashamed of an Answer like that.
I ask for the hard evidence of the amount and type of arms. The Government must know this by now and, if they cannot produce that evidence, I would respectfully submit that they have not got the evidence. If they have not got the evidence, the whole of their case falls to the ground and this invasion then comes back to the fact that Mr. Holcomb, one American, had to be removed, so 250 parachutists were sent for that purpose.
Of course, the Under-Secretary of State in his speech on the Consolidated Fund Bill, attempted to cover up. He thought that this might happen, that they might not find all the arms:Is it not likely that we shall never find the arms and that they have been taken off the island?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1969; Vol. 780, c. 1555.]He is covering up by this. May we be told precisely what arms were discovered?
The whole conception of the Anguillan operation has been a farce, a tragicomedy and an all-star opera bouffe from beginning to end. In the name of Britain, I sincerely ask the Foreign Secretary—the Prime Minister has laughed this out of court—to conduct an inquiry and publish a White Paper to answer the questions we have asked. This should be done for the good name of Britain at home and overseas, because these questions are 531 worrying not only us but many people abroad.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) opened the debate with a combination of unusual ferocity and flippancy which did not do justice to the gravity of the subject under discussion. Although the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) was also ferocious, at least he debated the matter in a way which corresponded to the seriousness of the issues.
It is true that Anguilla, with its 6,000 inhabitants, is little more than the size of a rural district. It is equally true that the personalities involved have been such that tantrums have been elevated into political drama and private abuse into great political declarations. But the situation in Anguilla has an importance which reaches far beyond the limited area of the island itself, and it is in that context that I wish to deal with the subject.
Let us remember that Cuba is also a Caribbean island and that this vast area, its islands now made neighbours by jet travel, is of the greatest strategic importance and should not be underestimated. Indeed, there is far more involved than the purely political matters that have been mentioned today. Although it is of the greatest importance that the local problems should be dealt with fairly and justly, they cannot be separated from the wider considerations which affect this area.
It was not philanthropy which induced the Committee of 24 on 6th March, 1967, to condemn Her Majesty's Government for their alleged tardiness in decolonisation. It will be recalled that it was originally Mr. Khrushchev in 1960 who, in his famous Resolution No. 1514, sought to speed up the decolonisation of, in particular, the Caribbean area. As we know, that was not simply an act of philanthropy on his part. His whole object was to try to diminish the Western presence in the area.
For the benefit of the House I will recall part of the speech which Lord Caradon made on that occasion. He said in reply to a resolution which sought to condemn Britain: 532Are we to assume that the sponsors of this resolution wish to stipulate that all the remaining colonial territories, however small, poor or isolated, must be required to abandon their own freely expressed aims, and that they should be forced to walk the plank into independent isolation whether they wish it or not?He added:Any such arrogant intention would certainly be resented and rejected by the peoples concerned.There is a danger that some of the territories in the Caribbean might be forced precisely into that isolation. That would expose them to sinister political and, in some cases, financial repercussions such as those mentioned by the Foreign Secretary.
The Caribbean has something of the quality of the American Far West during the era of expansion in the 19th century. It is an area that attracts the entrepreneur and pioneer, but also the gangster, exploiter and speculator. It is neither melodrama nor farce to say that this area is vulnerable to both the individual speculator as well as to the more dangerous penetration of political interests like Black Power—this has not been mentioned today, but qualified observers say that these forces are seeking to extend their influence into the area—and the Communist bloc.
The Caribbean is, I believe, an area of legitimate Western defence, expressed through space tracking and oceanographic stations. It would be dangerous in the extreme to allow irresponsible and, in some cases, sinister bodies to obtain footholds in the area and to replace even such existing authorities with those intruders.
One of the chief dangers in the Caribbean is that of fragmentation and loss of political orientation. The culture of these islands belongs to a colonial past and there are legitimate resentments, despite the loyalty of many of the former colonies of Britain, that because of exploitation these islands have lacked an opportunity to develop and still suffer from a colonial inheritance. Some of the resentments expressed by, for example, Mr. Webster towards Mr. Bradshaw spring from a desire on the part of the Anguillans not to substitute a form of black exploitation for white exploitation. In the 10 years before 1967 St. Kitts had grants and loans totalling £2,145,000. That is a substantial sum and we should be told what portion of it went to Anguilla.
533 Nobody can doubt that in many areas the Caribbean islands are colonial slums which have fallen into a decay accelerated by economic change. One illustration of this is the decline in the salt industry on islands like the Turks and Caicos, leaving a dwindling population with little to sustain it except the hope of a developing tourist industry. The poverty is great. Trinidad and Tobago have a per capita income of 630 dollars, but in Anguilla as a whole I doubt whether the per capita income is much more than 250 dollars. Nobody can describe those as large sums.
After 300 years of colonial rule it is now notorious—this has been advertised widely in the Press—that Anguilla is a country without any system of roads and, in modern terms, is without the telephone and the ordinary civilised amenities of life. Although it has some concrete houses, the Minister did not inform us that they exist simply because Hurricane Donna swept away a great many of the ramshackle wooden structures that previously existed, with the result that new dwellings had to be built from scratch.
It is obvious that Her Majesty's Government could not allow Anguilla, because of its isolation, to fall prey of the interests to which I have referred. While it is conceivable that the occupation or "discipline"—perhaps that is a better word to use—of Anguilla might have taken place with 50 Metropolitan policemen, I believe that my right hon. Friend was right when he said at an earlier stage that had an attempt been made to enter the island and had that attempt been repulsed with bloody consequences, the Government would have failed in their duty and would then have been censured for having to take appropriate steps to carry out their policy.
The intervention was set in train by the ruffianly treatment of the Under-Secretary, whose conduct in a difficult and dangerous situation was in my view exemplary. Although the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) appears to be raising his eyebrows at that, I assure him, knowing the temper of some of these islands, that it would have been absurdly suicidal for the Under-Secretary to have offered not only himself but his party as martyrs. That would not have enhanced Britain's status and it would inevitably have led to 534 a far harsher reaction against Mr. Webster and his associates than proved to be the case. In the end it would have had damaging consequences both for Anguilla and Britain. It was Mr. Webster, after all, who said that he could not guarantee the safety of the Under-Secretary. If a man who professed to be in control made that admission, it was quite clear that law and order had broken down.
If there is one criticism that I would venture to make of the Government it is their lack of support of Mr. Lee. It seems to me, without any knowledge of Mr. Lee personally, and seeing the matter from outside, that in a very difficult situation the Commissioner did not receive adequate support for the duties which had been imposed on him. Even when Lord Caradon turned up he was dealing with a Mr. Webster who constantly changed his footing so that from one day to another it was impossible precisely to know his position.
I am, however, delighted that Mr. John Cumber—whom I knew while I was on a visit which I paid to the Cayman Islands in order to make a report on its Constitution for the Colonial Office—has gone to act as Government representative. Mr. Cumber is an extremely popular administrator and one who is used to face-to-face confrontations in the intimacy of a small island. I am confident that not only does he deserve the support of the Government but will, in turn, give Government policy effective backing. With the background of his own substantial experience, he will be able to talk to Mr. Webster on a basis of mutual confidence, and I hope that, having come from the Caymans, where the religious and loyal population is a counterpart in some way of the population of Anguilla, he will be able to talk to Mr. Webster in a way in which his predecessors failed to do.
What of the future? What sort of status should Anguilla have? What should happen to the Parachute Regiment? I believe that at this present stage the Government should see that there is a progressive reduction of purely military forces, and that the Royal Engineers should be maintained, as long as it is possible for them to work in harmony with the indigenous population, in trying to catch up on the many years of neglect from which Anguilla now suffers.
535 I believe that in the long run only the principle of federation can give any kind of healthy viability to the Caribbean islands. The West Indies Federation originally broke down because of the impossibility of communication over vast areas, but we have to remember that when the West Indies Federation was established communications were primarily by means of the petrol-driven aeroplane. But the distances were large, the aircraft slow, and communications were inadequate in the absence of rapid communication. Through lack of jet aircraft, even through the lack of telephones and radio, the whole concept of a federation covering such vast distances became almost impossible.
In the seven years that have since passed, the jet aircraft has linked the islands as previously they were not linked. It has shortened distances and speeded up communications, and I think that we should now return to some of the original concepts of federation, and precisely the kind of federation that we are seeking to create elsewhere. I think that through these communications we can make Britain herself as close a neighbour of the Caribbean as some of the islands are to each other.
In those circumstances, I commend the Government for not abdicating their responsibility in Anguilla. I commend them, too, for taking a longer and wider view than have those who have opposed their policy today.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I can say what I have to say in just the two minutes that are available to me.
First, I ask the Under-Secretary to stress to his right hon. Friend the importance of a White Paper. That White Paper must deal with two things. First, it must contain the evidence to hand of the arms and of the disreputable men. We have the Metropolitan police, we have a large number of soldiers in the islands, and we have the population which the Government say was intimidated and would, therefore, be anxious to provide to the police the evidence which the Government claim to have.
Secondly, the White Paper must set out the legal position. There is some doubt about the legal position, and recent 536 correspondence in The Times has indicated this. The Statutory Instruments Committee has also some doubt about it. It is particularly important for those of us who go from this country to international bodies, to Strasbourg, to W.E.U. and to the United Nations, to have the evidence and the legal position quite clear so that we can stand up for this country in the eyes of the world.
Secondly, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will clear up the one straight question: was this or was it not the second armed landing by British troops in Anguilla? In the other place, my right hon. Friend the noble Lord, Lord Jellicoe, raised this question and, answering for the Government, the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said that there was not a previous landing. My information is that there was. The veracity of the British Government is at stake, and we must have a firm answer. Was there or was there not a second landing?
In the conduct of our foreign policy, can we not have a little more sense of perspective? When I was in New York at the time the Americans were concerned, as they rightly should have been, with the Soviet-Chinese border forces and with the A.B.M. question. They honestly thought, when the British Chiefs of Staff were called in and when emergency meetings of the Cabinet were held, that the British had "lost their marbles". We must have more perspective in the conduct of foreign affairs. In particular, we must avoid, until every other possibility has been exhausted, the landing of white troops in black islands. This is folly in 1969, and I hope that the Government will think very carefully before doing it again on such slender evidence.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
I have listened very carefully to the whole debate, but I fear that there can be no escape for the Government from censure of their handling of this unhappy affair. Since they took the decision two years ago to create the Associated State of St. Kitts/Nevis/Anguilla there have been three phases, in each of which their conduct has been lamentable. Throughout, they have lacked any clear idea of how to handle the matter, and even at this late hour there is no solution in sight for the tiny island of Anguilla and its inhabitants.
537 First, there was the phase of appalling complacency, during which Ministers turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the disturbing behaviour of Mr. Robert Bradshaw—head of the new Government of the associated State—and the rising tide of protest from Anguilla.
Secondly, there was the phase of trying to run with the hare of the troubled Anguillans and hunt with the hounds of Mr. Bradshaw, and hoping that, somehow, sometime, the situation would resolve itself; that these awkward islanders would pipe down and that Mr. Bradshaw would grow more reasonable, when everyone who knew anything at all about the historic antipathy of the islands and the personalities involved knew that the Anguillans would have rather died than be put under the rule of St. Kitts. Indeed—surprise, surprise—they would have even preferred to return to the rule of Her Majesty's Government.
Thirdly, there was the phase which began with the military intervention, the moral and political justification for which is still obscure. How could it be otherwise? On the one hand, this was undertaken with the knowledge and approval of Mr. Bradshaw and, seemingly, with that of the other Caribbean Commonwealth Governments which had called on Her Majesty's Government to take all necessary steps to restore Anguilla to the associated State, while on the other, we had the Anguillans being told that the whole purpose was to enable them to decide their own future. Here is a contradiction which at no time have Her Majesty's Government sought to resolve, and which has still not been resolved today.
I say that the Carribbean Commonwealth Government seemingly gave their approval but, in the event, as the House will recall, two of them condemned the subsequent action of Her Majesty's Government. So much for Commonwealth consultation. So much for the Government's understanding of the situation. Complacency and confusion are the characteristics of this unhappy story from the very beginning. Let me, therefore, take each phase in turn so that the House can judge for itself whether we have misjudged Her Majesty's Ministers.
My right hon. Friend said that when they created the Associated State Her 538 Majesty's Government should have known that they were taking a risk. This was rejected by some hon. Members opposite, but he was quite right. It is perfectly true that the representatives of the three islands at the Constitutional Conference in 1966 had come together and agreed to the setting up of the State, but what hon. Members opposite have forgotten is that after the Constitutional Conference was called and before the legislation was passed Mr. Bradshaw had won an election in St. Kitts, was installed in the seat of power, and was beginning to act in a way which gave a basis for the fears of the Anguillans.
It had been agreed by the Constitutional Conference that each island should have a largely elected local council, but once Mr. Bradshaw was in the saddle he took no steps to facilitate this provision and neither did the Government here do anything about it. The West Indies Bill was rushed through both Houses in the opening weeks of 1967, but before it reached another place Dr. Herbert, leader of the Opposition in St. Kitts and, Mr. Adams from Anguilla, came to London and raised serious objections. When my noble Friend, Lord Jellicoe, raised these matters he was given a bland assurance from the Government spokesman that the Government of St. Kitts would implement everything agreed at the Constitutional Conference. Indeed, Dr. Herbert and Mr. Adams were given specific assurances by the former Minister of State, the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart), that legislation to provide local councils would be enacted by the St. Kitts Government before Statehood Day. She told the House that the atmosphere in Anguilla was now "very much calmer".
She was wrong on both counts, and in the weeks and months which followed it became clear from the many exchanges across the Floor of the House that promises would not be kept and that the situation was sliding to a disaster. What was so distressing to my hon. Friends who knew the area well was the persistent refusal of Ministers to see where events were leading. The Press reported that when the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) went to Anguilla just after Statehood Day he was taunted by demonstrators. When he came home he made light of it. There 539 had been a demonstration, he said, but the troubles were exaggerated. He addedIt is quite clear that Anguilla is a part of St. Kitts and Nevis and when I met the Deputy Premier it was clear that the bulk of the people expressed that wish."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1967; Vol. 743, c. 715.]But as my right hon. Friend said it was not the least bit clear. Only Her Majesty's Government were surprised when on 31st May the Anguillans expelled Mr. Bradshaw's police and made a U.D.I. declaring themselvesabsolutely and conclusively independent from St. Kitts.It was a somewhat different U.D.I. from that of Mr. Ian Smith, however, for it was accompanied by a moving declaration of faith which ran as followsThe history of the British Empire and Commonwealth gives us high hopes that we, as others, can enjoy both freedom and allegiance to the Crown. We humbly beg our Queen and the people of Britain to talk with us about sharing the future.They were talking into the wind. Ministers here did not have the wit to see that an irretrievable step had been taken. Although a request was made to them by the Anguillans to explore some new arrangement for the island within the Commonwealth it was unthinkable where the Government were concerned that they should do anything about that and they said so. It might have been this Government that Freud had in mind when he observed that it is the unthinkable that one should think about.
There followed a breathing space won for the Government not by their own efforts but my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) who made such notable contributions to this debate. Their patient and skilful diplomacy secured agreement from both St. Kitts and the Anguillans to a Foreign Office official, Mr. Lee—being stationed on the island for a year with the object of maintaining direct contact between Britain and the islanders and allowing for a cooling off period. But the Government even threw away this opportunity to rethink the whole problem. They believed that Mr. Lee could persuade the Anguillans to return quietly to Mr. Bradshaw's fold. Not surprisingly this did not happen. When their leader Mr. Webster came to London 540 for talks they sent him away empty handed. When the year was up last January Mr. Lee had to go. Her Majesty's Government cut development aid, and the Anguillans voted by 1739 votes to 4 for independence under a new Constitution.
It is relevant to ask what was the attitude of Mr. Bradshaw and his Government throughout this period of doubt and uncertainty? Was it one of conciliation and genuine anxiety to allay the fears of the Anguillans? On the contrary he had provoked the situation by delaying the implementation of the agreement about local councils reached at the Constitutional Conference, and had been encouraged in this by the supine attitude of Ministers here. Maybe he had exaggerated when he boasted that he would bring the rebellious Anguillans to heel by turning their island into a desert.
Deeds, however, speak louder than words. This was the man who in mid-1967 proclaimed an emergency, threw all the opposition leaders into jail without charge, detained British subjects and treated them abominably, whose actions were condemned by his own judiciary and who constantly requested Britain to give him the equipment to take Anguilla back by force. But Her Majesty's Government not only did not have to consider such a request; they did not have to put up with the situation at all. They could have recognised that the cause of the trouble had been their own failure from the beginning to grasp the fact that if promises made at a Constitutional Conference were not kept and if the ruling government behaved tyrannically, then the Constitution itself would be imperilled, rebellion would result, and Britain, responsible as she is for defence and external affairs, would be put in an impossible position.
Indeed, there was an alternative to the policy of drift which they have followed. There was an alternative to the policy of military intervention towards which they were moving. They could have served notice on the St. Kitts Government that they would use the power given to them in section 10 of the West Indies Act to end the status of association. They could have made it plain that Britain would not be party to a situation which had changed out of all recognition since the Constitutional Conference of 1966. What 541 effect would this have had? It would certainly have shown the Anguillans that we were not unsympathetic to their plight. It might have persuaded the St. Kitts Government to moderate their tone. It is not unreasonable to believe that it might have led to other Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean—all of whom have an interest in the tranquillity of the area—to bring even heavier pressure to bear upon Mr. Bradshaw.
It would at any rate have indicated that Her Majesty's Government were big enough to say, "We have made a mistake. May be we should have listened to the fears that were expressed when we enacted this arrangement. May be we should have delayed giving associated status until the island councils were in being. Let us start again and let us work out a solution together amicably if we can". Instead they decided on military intervention.
So we came to the third phase which began with the ill fated visit of the Under-Secretary on 11th March. I make no comment as to what happened on that occasion. The hon. Gentleman has given his own account to the House. Suffice it to say that the message he carried did nothing to clear the air. True that message said,Our wish is to ensure that you should be administered in a way acceptable to you.But what did those words mean? Did they mean that the islanders were to be free of St. Kitts at last? Certainly not. If the message did not register it was not because Mafia-like elements were shouting down the voice of reason but because even at that late hour Her Majesty's Government were quite unable to say, "This is the end of your association with St. Kitts." They were unable to say that because when they finally intervened with troops it was with Mr. Bradshaw's approval as the St. Kitts radio has never ceased telling the Anguillans.
So we come to the invasion on 19th March. We still do not know the justification for this. Stretch the law how you like, Her Majesty's Government have no power to intervene in the domestic affairs of an Associated State. The Order in Council made under Section 7(2) has validity only in respect of Britain's responsibilities relating to defence and external affairs. Here I ask two questions. 542 First, what foreign Power or what foreign elements were threatening the territorial integrity of the Associated State? Secondly, the Foreign Secretary told us that the Government's action in sending troops was legal because it had the approval of the Government in St. Kitts. But how does this square with the declaration he made to this House as to the Anguillans that, "It is no part of our purpose to put them under an administration under which they do not wish to live"? If words mean anything at all that declaration means recognition of the right of Anguillans to secede. Was it really necessary to send in troops to give them that right? Was it really necessary to send in troops at all?
To the first of these questions the Government decline to give any answer. As to the second, they, like a drowning man clutching at a straw, eagerly answer, "Yes". The Under-Secretary of State has told us that the island was in the grip of "Mafia-like" elements, that arms were being imported by a man he would not name. The Foreign Secretary toned this down a little later. He thought that "Mafia-like" elements was an exaggeration. He preferred to alk of "disreputable characters with arms". This afternoon he added further vague allegations of arson, intimidation and murder.
Very well. There has now been effective military occupation of Anguilla for five weeks. By now surely the truth is known. Who were these disreputable elements? Let them be named. What were their crimes? Let these be set out. Who has been murdered? Whose houses have been burned down? We demand the publication of a White Paper setting out these matters—the only justification which the Government can give for their intervention, other than that they sent in troops with the approval of Mr. Bradshaw.
What quantity and type of arms were introduced into the island, and when? Some hon. Gentlemen opposite think that this is rather funny. Then let the details be given. When were these arms brought in? Were they brought in by the Anguillans to repel the threatened invasion by Mr. Bradshaw's gendarmerie in 1967 and 1968, or to wage war on Her Majesty's Government in 1969? The question is important.
543 The hon. Member for Northfield gave us evidence of how, during the interim period, Anguillans were arming themselves, not against paratroopers from the United Kingdom or against the Dagenham Girl Pipers, but against the possibility of armed men from St. Kitts descending upon them. So my question goes to the heart of the matter. It is precisely because of the earlier failure of Ministers to take the fears of the Anguillans seriously that the St. Kitts forces would descend upon them that there may be some justification—God forbid that I should give them any encouragement—for arming themselves.
Does it not strike the House as odd that, after the troops had gone in, the Mafia-like elements had fled and the arms had disappeared, we still had a situation where for a time Mr. Lee could not use his office, the courtroom could not be opened, and even Lord Caradon's neatly-contrived settlement broke down.
Is it not possible that the real enemy lay in the hearts and minds of the Anguillans who had once humbly begged Her Majesty and the people of Britain to listen to them, but who now found themselves liberated by British troops sent in with the approval of the hated St. Kitts Government.
As to the future, there is still no clear aim. The whole House was shocked to hear the Foreign Secretary say, in his statement on 19th March, that direct British rule might last for years. Five days later, he admitted that perhaps he had exaggerated the time needed. It is understandable that, against this background, the Anguillans should have talked about holding their own referendum over their future.
There is, I think, a new danger in this situation, namely, that the Government will continue to drift without any clear idea as to where they are going. What sort of future do they envisage for Anguilla? By now they should have consulted with the islanders and started to make up their own minds. But how does one consult without a proper council? Why has a council not yet been elected? Elections should be held without delay.
As to what kind of future, there are a number of alternatives, several of which have been given in this debate. I will 544 not go into them all now. But one thing is clear. There can be no peace in Anguilla until the association with St. Kitts is ended. Nor is there likely to be much progress until we see an end to the military occupation. When will the troops be withdrawn?
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton that these are matters on which the Commonwealth Governments in the Caribbean should be consulted. It is sad to reflect that, if there had been any real unity in the Caribbean and the West Indies Federation had not broken up, this problem need never have arisen. But it should have been solved not by the sending of troops, but by the good will, and the conciliatory offices of Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. Even now, if the Anguillans wish it, it will be better for the Queen's Commissioner on the island to be a West Indian. I hope consideration will be given to this suggestion.
It may be that the Government are now stirring themselves and are devising plans for the future. But the damage has been done. It is because of the bungling of the last two years, because no real justification has yet been given to the House for the military intervention, because of the continued doubt in our minds as to where the Government are going, that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I must register our strong disapproval in the Lobby.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. William Whitlock)
Since I have so little time in which to reply to this debate, I should like first to deal with the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to an interjection from the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Lord Lambton), an interjection which was misunderstood. I wish to make it clear that it is untrue to suggest that Mr. Byron, representative of the State Government of Anguilla, was installed by British Marines.
In fact, H.M.S. "Salisbury" landed territorial police in Anguilla on 15th February, 1967, supported by Royal Navy personnel, to conduct a search in connection with minor disturbances. When that was done, they went back to their ship. [Interruption.] I am not giving way. I have so little time in which 545 to answer the debate. The hon. Gentleman opposite was not interrupted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I do not intend to give way.
It is the case of the Opposition that the troubles in Anguilla should have been foreseen. Unfortunately for hon. Gentlemen opposite, this argument cuts both ways. Some of us on this side of the House are equally entitled to ask what the Conservative Party did in the many years when they were in Government and responsible for the conduct of affairs in the Caribbean.
The Anguillan affair has dramatised in every way the dilemma which faces so many small islands in that area. Why was it that the West Indies Federation, in which such small islands as this had a place, was allowed to collapse? Were hon. Gentlemen opposite not firm enough, imaginative enough or sensitive enough to understand the feelings of the people in this area? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the debate."]
The accusation has been made that we should have known that there was a secessionist movement in Anguilla before statehood. What is the evidence? Just before statehood there was opposition, not to change, but to the timing of the change. In every territory where constitutional change is about to occur, there is opposition and doubt.
One noble Lord in another place told us of the fears in Anguilla about the granting of statehood. I suggest that one swallow does not make a summer. One noble Lord, however well-intentioned, is certainly not evidence that, on that side of the House, there is overwhelming sagacity about what was going on in the area.
It should be made clear that, although we were aware of the indications of Anguillan discontent at their neglect by the central Government, there was at no stage before statehood any real reason to believe that this discontent would take the form of a secessionist movement or that any such movement would have any solid backing on the island. As my right hon. Friend has said, opposition to statehood came late in Anguilla.
The elected Member for Anguilla signed the report of the Constitutional Conference without a qualm. The document 546 provided for local government on Anguilla. What caused anxiety was fear that the State Government might not implement those provisions as speedily as they should. This fear was by no means alleviated by the Opposition in St. Kitts who no doubt saw it, as Oppositions tend to do, as a stick with which to beat the Government.
The last-minute moves to postpone statehood were of a kind not uncommon when a new measure of constitutional advance takes place. The fact is that, with a little good will and understanding on both sides, they need not have led to unhappy results. Precisely the same provisions for local government were made in respect of Nevis, an island which also has had its differences with central Government. Yet on Nevis arrangements went through without difficulty, and Nevis now has its own elected council and remains a part of the Associated State.
Then there have been criticisms of the concept of Associated Statehood. This is an arrangement devised for small territories which could not support the trappings of independence but which were capable of internal self-government. Where is the evidence that amongst the Tory Opposition there was a belief that associated statehood was an unworkable arrangement? There is not any such evidence. In the debates on the various stages of the West Indies Bill no protests, no words of warning, no opposition to the concept of associated statehood, came from the Tory Opposition. The Opposition accepted the concept because they could think of nothing to take its place. As the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) revealed, it was their own concept. It is no wonder, therefore, that they did not oppose it. They still cannot in opposition find anything to take its place.
We are at the moment, following my visit to all the Associated States and my conversations with the Governments of the five Associated States, considering the future of these Associated States. All the suggestions advanced in particular by the hon. Member for Surbiton and by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) are already being considered and will be taken fully into account when we come to make a 547 decision on the matter. We are very grateful to the hon. Members for these proposals.
I come now to the suggestion that the period of the interim settlement was a wasted year. As hon. Members know full well, the two sides to the interim settlement accepted that the people of each island would refrain from hostile activities against the property or individuals of the other island and that in the period of the interim settlement efforts would be made in good faith by all to restore friendship and harmony between the two islands.
It may very well be that the two parties to the arrangement had different ideas about what the arrangement meant. Nevertheless, those were the words upon which they agreed. To the British Government it appeared that there were prospects of conciliation. It was right that we should explore all the avenues leading to co-operation and harmony. That is exactly what we did.
Unfortunately, what we hoped for did not materialise. But should we in the period of the interim settlement have said that it must end? Surely it was for the parties to that settlement to decide whether at any stage during that period they wished it to end. They did not indicate that they wished it to end.
In October, 1968, towards the end of the year of the interim settlement, the parties to the agreement came to London, and for two and a half weeks Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Webster discussed the matter in London. Mr. Bradshaw was willing to compromise, to give increased autonomy to Anguilla. Mr. Webster was completely intransigent and, however fat we got along the road to compromise between Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Webster's legal adviser, back we would come ovet and over again to the point where Mr. Webster would say, "It would be suicide for me to go back with any other understanding than that of associated statehood for Anguilla or for colonial status".
As to the continuation of the interim settlement which the hon. Member for Surbiton said that we failed to negotiate, I would point out that we attempted to get an extension of the interim settlement. Again Mr. Webster turned down the idea of an extension of the interim settlement, 548 though Mr. Bradshaw accepted it in principle. Mr. Webster went back saying that he would discuss this with his Council. In fact it was not until 30th December of last year that we were finally informed by Mr. Webster that all prospect of settlement must be abandoned.
Why were not the proposals which I took to Anguilla made available in October, 1968? The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) suggested in a supplementary question the other day that had those proposals been made in October, 1968, they would have been acceptable to Mr. Webster, so why were they not made then? As the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, under the West Indies Act Her Majesty's Government can legislate to change the status of Anguilla only at the request and with the consent of the State Government. That consent was not available in 1968.
§ Mr. Whitlock
Following my visit to the Caribbean, I had talks, as I have said already, with all the Governments of the Associated States of the Ciribbean. There was in three of those States extreme apprehension of the activities of undesirable characters on those islands, too. A parallel was drawn between their fears of the subversive elements on their islands with what was happening on Anguilla. I talked with many people in the area—Anguillans and non-Anguillans—and learned, even if I had not known before, the strength of the feeling of the Anguillans against a return to government by St. Kitts.
I drew up proposals in the Caribbean which, as hon. Gentlemen know, were explained at the airport in Anguilla. There was a statesman-like acceptance on the part of the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla that there was terrific opposition on Anguilla to return to government by St. Kitts. The hope was that, with the return to stability in the area once the proposals were in operation, with the end of the intimidation which was going on on the island, with the development of the area, and with the evident interest of the whole of the Caribbean in the affairs of Anguilla, the feeling of neglect that Anguillans had long found would soon disappear.
549 With these proposals I went to the island. The allegations of the countries of the Caribbean that Anguilla was a threat to the security of the whole area were borne out by what happened.
§ Mr. Whitlock
I will deal with the allegations about Mafia-type characters, undesirable characters, extremely unpleasant people—whatever one wishes to call them. There have been statements that those people have not been seen there by some people. They have been seen by others. I did not seek them out. They came to me—and I wish I had not seen them.
The hon. Member for Banbury asked—who are these people; where are the arms? As I pointed out in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill, many of these people have now left the island. The arms are not there.
§ Mr. Whitlock
What hon. Members are saying is that, if my house is robbed, I must not complain to the police that robbery has occurred unless I can say who robbed my house, where the jemmies are which were used by the robbers, and
§ where the robbers came from. This is a ridiculous argument.
§ Mr. Whitlock
Complaints about intimidation on the island have been going on for a very long time. Mr. Adams, who was the elected representative of Anguilla who came to the Barbados Conference in 1967, said that there were arms on the island, that intimidation was taking place, that undesirable characters were on the island, and that he and three other members of the elected Council of Anguilla had been threatened with death. Those are the statements which were made by Mr. Adams at the Barbados Conference.
Surely it must be evident to the House that once armed forces have dominated the affairs of the island, how then could we influence its—[Interruption.]—once armed people were dominating the affairs of the island, how could we influence its future until we have had removed the possibility of an armed minority continuing to terrorise the island? I ask the House to reject the Motion.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes 286.553
|Division No. 166.]||AYES||[7.0 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Burden, F. A.||Foster, Sir John|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.|
|Astor, John||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Carlisle, Mark||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Awdry, Daniel||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Channon, H. P. G.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Balniel, Lord||Clark, Henry||Goodhew, Victor|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Clegg, Walter||Gower, Raymond|
|Batsford, Brian||Cordle, John||Grant, Anthony|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Costain, A. P.||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Bell, Ronald||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Crowder, F. P.||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Glos. & Fhm)||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Gurden, Harold|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Currie, G. B. H.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bessell, Peter||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Biffen, John||Dance, James||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Harris, Header (Heston)|
|Blaker, Peter||Digby, Simon Wingfleid||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Donnelly, Desmond||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Body, Richard||Doughty, Charles||Hastings, Stephen|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Drayson, G. B.||Hawkins, Paul|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hay, John|
|Braine, Bernard||Eden, Sir John||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Brewis, John||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Heseltine, Michael|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Emery, Peter||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Hiley, Joseph|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Ewing, Mrs. Winifred||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Eyre, Reginald||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bryan, Paul||Farr, John||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Fisher, Nigel||Holland, Philip|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fortescue, Tim||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Hordern, peter||Montgomery, Fergus||Sharpies, Richard|
|Hornby, Richard||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Silvester, Frederick|
|Hunt, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Irvine, Bryant Goodman (Rye)||Murton, Oscar||Speed, Keith|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Stainton, Keith|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Neave, Airey||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Johnson Smith, C. (E. Grinstead)||Nichols, Sir Harmar||Stodart, Anthony|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Jopling, Michael||Nott, John||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Onslow, Cranley||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Temple, John M.|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Kirk, Peter||Pardoe, John||Tilney, John|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Peel, John||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Percival, Ian||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Lane, David||Peyton, John||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Waddington, David|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Pink, R. Bonner||Wainwrght, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Pounder, Rafton||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wall, Patrick|
|Longden, Gilbert||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Lubbock, Eric||Prior, J. M. L.||Weatherill, Bernard|
|MacArthur, Ian||Pym, Francis||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Wiggin, A. W.|
|McMaster, Stanley||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|McNair. Wilson, M. (Walthamstow, E.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Maddan, Martin||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Maginnis, John E.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Ridsdale, Julian||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Marten, Neil||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Wright, Esmond|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Royle, Anthony||Wylie, N. R.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Russell, Sir Ronald||Younger, Hn. George|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Scott, Nicholas||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Scott-Hopkins, James||Mr. Jasper More.|
|Abse, Leo||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Dunnett, Jack|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Cant, R. B.||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Carmichael, Neil||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)|
|Anderson, Donald||Chapman, Donald||Eadie, Alex|
|Archer, Peter||Coe, Denis||Edelman, Maurice|
|Ashley, Jack||Coleman, Donald||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Concannon, J. D.||Edwards, William (Merioneth)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Conlan, Bernard||Ellis, John|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||English, Michael|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Ennals, David|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Crawshaw, Richard||Ensor, David|
|Barnett, Joel||Cronin, John||Fernyhough, E.|
|Baxter, William||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Finch, Harold|
|Bence, Cyril||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Fletcher. Rt. Hn. Sir Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Dalyell, Tam||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Foley, Maurice|
|Binns, John||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Ford, Ben|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Forrester, John|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Booth, Albert||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Boston, Terence||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Gardner, Tony|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Garrett, W. E.|
|Boyden, James||Delargy, Hugh||Ginsburg, David|
|Bradley, Tom||Dell, Edmund||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Dempsey, James||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Dewar, Donald||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Gregory, Arnold|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Dobson, Ray||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Buchan, Norman||Doig, Peter||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Driberg, Tom||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dunn, James A.||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Macdonald, A. H.||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Rankin, John|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Hamling, William||Mackie, John||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.|
|Hannan, William||Mackintosh John P.||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Harper, Joseph||Maclennan, Robert||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||McNamara, J. Kevin||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Haseldine, Norman||MacPherson, Malcolm||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)|
|Hazell, Bert||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Henig, Stanley||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hilton, W. S.||Manuel, Archie||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Hobden, Dennis||Mapp, Charles||Sheldon, Robert|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Marquand, David||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Howie, W.||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Hoy, James||Maxwell, Robert||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Mayhew, Christopher||Silverman, Julius|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Mendelson, John||Slater, Joseph|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mikardo, Ian||Small, William|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Millan, Bruce||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hunter, Adam||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Moonman, Eric||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Taverne, Dick|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Moyle, Roland||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St P'cras, S.)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Neal, Harold||Thornton, Ernest|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Newens, Stan||Tinn, James|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Norwood, Christopher||Tomney, Frank|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Oakes, Gordon||Tuck, Raphael|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Ogden, Eric||Urwin, T. W.|
|Judd, Frank||O'Malley, Brian||Varley, Eric G.|
|Kelley, Richard||Oram, Albert E.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Orbach, Maurice||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Oswald, Thomas||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth Central)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Weitzman, David|
|Lawson, George||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Ledger, Ron||Padley, Walter||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Paget, R. T.||Whitlock, William|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Palmer, Arthur||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Park, Trevor||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Pavitt, Laurence||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wilson William (Coventry, S.)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Winnick, David|
|Luard, Evan||Pentland, Norman||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Woof, Robert|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|McBride, Neil||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McCann, John||Price, William (Rugby)||Mr. Charles Grey and|
|MacColl, James||Probert, Arthur||Mr. Ioan L. Evans.|