HC Deb 23 June 1969 vol 785 cc993-7
30. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the situation in Rhodesia.

64. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the position regarding Rhodesia in the light of the result of the referendum conducted among some Rhodesians.

72. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's future policy in relation to Southern Rhodesia.

17. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the situation in Rhodesia.

Mr. M. Stewart

As the House knows a referendum was held in Rhodesia on 20th June. The whole House will join with me in deploring the result. The constitutional proposals for which this minority electorate has voted could never form the basis of an honourable settlement with this country.

It will remain our policy to work for such a settlement when there are people in power in Rhodesia who share our principles. But as things now stand the acceptance of the Rhodesia Front proposals by the minority electorate has pushed the "Fearless" proposals off the table.

The choice which Rhodesian Europeans have made is not the way to safeguard the stability and prosperity of their country. When they realise this they will find us ready to meet them. Meanwhile sanctions and the international isolation of Rhodesia must continue.

There are important aspects of this matter about which I am in consultation with the Governor of Southern Rhodesia and, with the House's permission, I will make a statement tomorrow.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Apart from harming British trade and influence and African livelihood, what can sanctions now achieve? Is not the time coming to recognise the fact of Rhodesian independence? Did not an earlier Administration, in the end, have to recognise the American U.D.I., slavery and all?

Mr. Stewart

The American Declaration of Independence was a declaration for liberty. The Rhodesian declaration of independence is a declaration against that.

Mr. Whitaker

Can my right hon. Friend say something about the position of the two Missions in the respective countries, and, since it is now the only alternative to prolonged periods of bloodshed, would he say what new initiatives Britain is to take in the United Nations for policing and making sanctions more effective?

Mr. Stewart

We are doing our best to make sanctions effective. I do not believe that further resolutions at the United Nations are required. A stricter observance of United Nations policy is required by some countries. We are doing our best to secure this. As to the other part of my hon. Friend's question, I would ask him to await my statement tomorrow.

Mr. Sandys

While deploring the way in which things have developed in Rhodesia—and the fault is not all on one side—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government still hope that sanctions will bring about a change of régime in Rhodesia?

Mr. Stewart

It is necessary to pursue the policy of sanctions. When the right hon. Gentleman uses this rather dodging phrase the fault is not all on one side he must make up his mind on the vital question: does he believe that it is right to establish in Africa a régime based on the permanent principle of racial supremacy?

Mr. Sandys


Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Bottomley.

Mr. Bottomley

Would my right hon. Friend agree that Parliament as a whole has a continuing responsibility to the Governor, whose services to Rhodesia and the Commonwealth we all so admire, and to those Rhodesians who voted for British standards of liberty and justice? Has my right hon. Friend considered the recent broadcast by Rear-Admiral Sir Anthony Buzzard, ex-chief of the Naval Intelligence Staff, who says that we should continue to apply sanctions vigorously and that force ought not ultimately to be ruled out as a means of ending this rebellion?

Mr. Stewart

I was aware of that broadcast. For the reasons I have given, I agree that it is right to continue sanctions. I must join with my right hon. Friend, as, I think, the whole House will, in expressing appreciation of the stand taken by the Governor throughout this long period. As for the rest, I must again ask the House to await my statement.

Viscount Lambton

I regret the result of the referendum, but would not the Foreign Secretary agree that in the past sanctions have borne most hard on the native population, and are likely to do so again in the future?

Mr. Stewart

The opportunities for the native population in Rhodesia of expressing their opinions are, unfortunately, limited, but we have no reason whatever to believe that they, of all people, would wish the policy of sanctions to be changed.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the inadequate Press reports about the facts, can my right hon. Friend give prominence to one specific fact, which is that out of 90,000 electors who voted for Mr. Smith's constitution, only 6,000 coloured people were allowed to vote, although there are nearly 4 million Africans in Rhodesia?

Mr. Stewart

I am obliged to my right hon. Friend, because, although that fact is very well known to all of us here and, indeed, to many other people, it is a fact that cannot be too often stated that the very nature of the electorate makes this referendum contemptible.

31. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will seek an early opportunity of visiting Rhodesia.

Mr. M. Stewart

No, Sir.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

When was the right hon. Gentleman last there? If the right hon. Gentleman had known Rhodesia better, would he not have understood that to intervene in the referendum by the public statement he made could only have added to Mr. Smith's majority?

Mr. Stewart

No, Sir. I did not make that statement without careful consideration and consultation. I am certain that the hon. Gentleman is wrong.

Miss Lestor

Does not my right hon. Friend find it curious that those people who are so critical and hostile to immigrants in this country are so "pro" and sympathetic to white immigrants in Rhodesia? Will my right hon. Friend take my assurance that on this side he has our complete support for his efforts to isolate the Smith régime; and that we hope that he will also consider a communications sanction on Rhodesia, and any other sanction, in order to break contact completely with that régime?

Mr. Stewart

On the latter part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I think that she will agree that this is not a simple and straightforward issue, and that there are arguments both ways about a communications sanction. As to the first part of her question, it is true, I think, that some people do take a rather inconsistent attitude about the right of coloured people to live here and the right of white people to live in Rhodesia. I believe that the moral of this is that in many parts of the world civilised men have to recognise the necessity of creating multi-racial societies based on equal rights.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Lady the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) to insinuate that I am hostile to any section of Her Majesty's subjects in this country, whether immigrant or native?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must accept political criticism.