§ Postponed proceedings on Question, That this House do now adjourn, resumed.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Winnick
I would quote from a letter which Margery Perham wrote to The Times on 7th August, 1968:Why do we continue a trade which Belgium, France and Holland have now renounced on moral grounds and which associates us with Russia and with the Egyptian airmen who have been destroying Biafra's churches, hospitals and schools? Are we to follow the advice given by Mr. Healey in the Commons on 17th July in defence of the arms trade, to consider the value of the contracts and the interests in them of some Members' constituents, the same arguments used in defence of the slave trade?".In another letter to The Times she writes:Britain has no power over Nigeria but she has the historical, cultural and economic links which, if used with wisdom and 1637 generosity, might at this juncture help to bring this hideous war to an end and promote the first steps towards a unified Nigeria and a reconstructed Biafra. Such proposals must be speculative in view of the scanty news we receive from Nigeria, but they could at least be a basis for discussion".It is because I do not believe the Government wish to change their policy of continued arms shipment for various commercial reasons, that I have no alternative but to vote against the Motion. I hope there will be sufficient of us to warn our Government and the Nigerian Government there cannot be an indefinite continuation of this hideous and unjust war, which sooner or later must be ended on political grounds.
§ 7.02 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
Before commenting on the speech of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick), I ought to declare an interest. I am a director of a company with large trading interests both in Nigeria and the old Eastern Region, with a fleet which operated on the river which now forms no-man's land between what is Ibo-land and the West of Nigeria. One has great interest therefore in stopping this war, but far more important is the interest in stopping the carnage which has horrified so many people in this country.
The hon. Gentleman referred to Biafra, but in the many visits I have paid to Nigeria I never heard of Biafra until 1967. There was no such place. If only the Ibos had been sensible enough to claim only their territory and not dominion over the peoples in the southeast state and in the Rivers State, one would have very much more sympathy with them. They want their imperial dominion and have gone on saying so.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) said that Her Majesty's Government had got themselves into an impossible situation. I agree. Whether they have been badly advised or whether they have come to the wrong conclusions, they have not done well for themselves or for this country.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck
I think I said Her Majesty's Government found themselves or were placed in an impossible situation, not "had got themselves into an impossible situation".
§ Mr. Tilney
My view is, because of their policy, their lack of drive in grasping the nettle, their position is that much more dangerous. As long ago as 16th August, 1967, I wrote to the Daily Telegraph:Let us either endeavour to get the Commonwealth to send troops to keep the peace while arbitration is enforced among the warring states, or remain out of internal squabbles.In the meantime, we should try to get all nations to embargo the sale of arms to the whole area and the British Government should offer our good services to mediate if asked to do so.At that time the B.B.C. and the Press were paying not the slightest attention to the embryo war in Nigeria, any more than they are paying any attention to the war that is now going on in the Sudan. There was no comment from my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) and not a squeak out of the Spectator. Two days after my letter the Spectator had, for the first time an article on Nigeria, which said:There is a case for supplying the Federal Government with the arms and aircraft they are asking for. But there is only a good case if it can be shown that such arms deliveries would not be used again to massacre civilians and that they would—as claimed—bring quick victory for the Federal Government".Of course one would like to see a cease-fire, but it is no good having a cease-fire unless there is a police force to make certain that the time during which there is a cease-fire is not used to build up more arms from France and elsewhere. How can the Federal Government possibly agree unless Colonel Ojukwu says beforehand that he will accept some form of liaison within a united federal or confederal Nigeria?
I fear it is now too late for this embargo, even if one could ever get agreement on it. If we do stop arms the lives of 16,000 British citizens scattered all over Nigeria might well be in danger. The feeling would be that this country had let the Nigerian people down. We also have vast British interests there, but these are minor matters compared with the moral attitude that we should take.
It is as well to note what the New Nigeria, the paper printed in Kaduna, says on 10th March:We should decide not to buy any more arms from Britain. Even Wilson's critics agree that Britain is not the unique armoury of the 1639 world. … Both Nigeria and Britain will then have entered the era of trading in selective goods, something akin to voluntary and mutual selective sanctions.It may well turn out that Britain is not holding all the trumps as Wilson's Parliamentary critics seem to believe.It is as well to bear in mind the feeling of some Nigerians at the present time.
Whatever the Federal Government say, I still believe there is a need for some form of peace-keeping force, not only to organise the food supply. I am told there are a million or more people starving north of the Onitsha/Enugu road where there is no fighting going on but where they are virtually contained. I do not know why a corridor could not be made to reach those people.
I believe in a peace-keeping force because the Ibos are more likely to surrender to such a force. I heard only yesterday from an Ibo ship-owner, who had escaped with his family of eight children by walking for many days through the bush out of Ibo-land, that they were conditioned to believe that if they surrendered to the Federal troops they would be shot. This is the result of Ibo propaganda.
§ Mr. Tilney
I accept what happened in the North. I will come to that a little later. It is a major world interest to end this ghastly conflict. We all have a horror of bombing. I accept with sympathy the sincerity of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House who have spoken about bombing. I remember very well, however, being bombed outside Caen by the United States Air Force who were 90 degrees out for line. I also remember being bombed by our own Air Force and the Americans by mistake even in Normandy, which is an area where targets are easily noticed. Anyone who has flown over the rain forests of Nigeria knows that the territory all looks alike for hundreds of miles. It is extremely difficult to pinpoint military targets.
I fear that the war has already been too prolonged by our lack of action. Whether it was bad advice that the Government received or bad decisions, only history can judge. But I ask the Foreign Secretary to answer this question: is it true that our High Commissioner in Lagos, when Ironsi was killed, was asked 1640 for British troops by the acting Head of State before General Gowon took over? Was that request sent to London? If so, what was the Government's reply? It is arguable that had we sent a paratroop battalion into Ikeja airport at that time, not only would the civil war never have taken place, but there would have been no excuse, and probably no need, for the massacres which ultimately occurred and which were Colonel Ojukwu's excuse for seceding from the Federation. It is fascinating to speculate on the "ifs" of history. But the Tory Government prevented civil wars in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. President de Gaulle has prevented them in the Gabon and Chad. Could this Government have prevented them, too?
The British Government have dithered and done nothing; they have sat on the fence. All that they have done is to send conventional arms in a sort of quarter-hearted manner. I accept that they could not do more immediately because of the many British people in Ibo land at that time, but, once the British had left so-called Biafra after a few months, and once the Government had decided to back the Federal Government, they should have backed them fully and in a major way.
I still think that we should give the Federal Government possibly aeroplanes and bombs with delayed fuses, not these awful anti-personnel bombs, which are no good. If it is required to knock out an airport or airstrip, a heavy bomb with a delayed action fuse should be used. If it falls in the wrong place, it is very unlikely to hit people on the head. If civilians are near, it gives them ample time to get away. Why do not the Government help in that way?
§ Mr. Peter Mahon
Would the hon. Gentleman expect thousands of small children to understand this strategy?
§ Mr. Tilney
They have only to see the bombs drop. The hon. Gentleman knows that many time bombs fell on Liverpool and people could get away from where they fell. They had the opportunity to do so. It was the bombs that exploded immediately which were so dangerous.
The trouble is that the pro-Biafran lobby in the House has listened too much to the propaganda from Markpress. It 1641 would be folly to refuse to supply arms now. It would jeopardise our vast British interests. It would help Russia. It would prolong the war and starvation and would give a boost to further Balkanisation, which is one of the worst possible things which could happen in Africa.
§ Mr. Lee
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He speaks, as others have done, about Balkanisation. Would he concede, first, that the scope and size of Nigeria makes his argument somewhat false? Secondly, he knows as well as I do that Nigeria is riddled by cleavages far greater and of much longer duration than the kind of problems which have arisen in other parts of the world? There is much more reason for division in that country than possibly there is in other African countries.
§ Mr. Tilney
Exactly the same could have been said of what remained of the Confederate States in the United States at one time. If the rump of Ibo-land is allowed to have independence, the Ibos could not properly survive and enjoy a decent standard of living.
I urge Her Majesty's Government, not only to continue their present policy, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) suggested, if the Nigerians stop the bombing, to give them more hardware.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Barnes (Brentford and Chiswick)
This is the fifth time in nine months that we have debated Nigeria and Biafra. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt) said, it is no surprise that many Nigerians, in particular, protest about this. They wonder why we debate their affairs so often. But we do so since we in Britain are directly involved, because of our policy of supplying arms to Nigeria and because if there is a military solution, and if this is how it all ends, we in Britain cannot dissociate ourselves from it. This gives us the right, and indeed the duty, to continue to debate what is happening between Nigeria and Biafra as long as we supply arms.
1642 Given the stand taken by both sides, given the fact that Nigeria says that it will agree to talks only if they are on the basis of one Nigeria, and given that Biafra says that it will agree to talks only if there is a cease-fire and the talks are without pre-conditions, the view of most people who have visited both sides recently, as my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) and I have done, is that there is no chance of meaningful talks between the two sides in the foreseeable future.
In view of that, and in view of the military stalemate, Britain must choose. One can understand the protest about the bombing in this country, but it is not enough to say, "Stop the bombing". The choice is this: either we take the view which the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) took, which is similar to the view of my hon. Friend the Member for York—and I hope that he will have a chance to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker—[Interruption.] This is an important point and I hope that hon. Members will listen. Either we take the view put forward by them with great sincerity that a Federal military victory is the only acceptable way out, even at a very high price, or we take the view, which is the one that I take, that a military solution can be achieved at present only at such a price that it would be a disaster of such magnitude that it should be avoided at all costs.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said that he wants to see a peaceful solution. Of course he does; we all do. But while Biafra will not accept one Nigeria, it is implicit in British policy that there must be a Federal victory. It is most important for an understanding of the situation that hon. Members realise this. Because of this, I wish to address myself to the practicality of a military solution.
The present stalemate has continued for over six months with not much territory being gained or lost. All the evidence which has come out of Biafra recently from hon. Members who have visited it and from journalists like Mr. Churchill is that there is no sign of a Federal military victory unless they are able greatly to increase their fire power. That means not only more weapons but more sophisticated weapons from us and from Russia. If that is done, what will 1643 be the situation after this military victory?
When one hears Nigerian politicians say, as Dr. Arikpo said to my hon. Friend the Member for York and me when we were in Lagos, "Either the Biafrans talk on the basis of one Nigeria, or we fight it out", one wonders what kind of "one Nigeria" this will be if it is fought out to a conclusion. Will not a huge legacy of bitterness and hatred be added to all the other volatile factors which have kept Nigeria in such difficulty in recent years?
Very little thought appears to be given in Lagos; to this question, partly because the view persists there that it is only Colonel Ojukwu and "his clique" who have to be overcome. My hon. Friend and I took very different views before we visited Nigeria, and we still have different views on what should be the outcome. But there were many facts which we were able to see with our own eyes and about which we were able to agree. One of them is that to talk of "Colonel Ojukwu and his clique" could not be further from the truth. If one of the bombs landing on Umuahia were to kill Colonel Ojukwu, someone else would carry on. The will to fight to the end runs right through the Biafran people, from very young children through to the old men who are to be found sitting on benches patiently waiting for their daily meal at the local feeding centre. It is a will which goes right through the people. Some hon. Members may think that it is misplaced, but for an understanding of the situation it is vital to accept that it is there.
If a military solution is aimed at and achieved and if the war is fought through to the end, it will mean as many deaths again from military casualties as we have seen already from starvation, so tightly are people packed into the area which is now Biafra.
If we can first be clear about what a military solution would involve, if it happened, we must then ask ourselves whether support for a Federal victory is the only practical policy for Britain, given the present intransigence of the two sides. I believe that that is not so and that there are alternatives. If we were to choose to do so, I believe that it would still be possible for Britain to bring home to Nigeria that a military solution is no 1644 longer possible and certainly not desirable.
I know that it is not fashionable to talk about British influence, but I believe that it is in our power to bring home to both sides that they have to settle for something short of their original objectives, with Nigeria accepting something short of one Nigeria and Biafra accepting something short of full secession.
People may ask how the British Government are to put that to the Biafrans in their present mood. My hon. Friend and I heard Colonel Ojukwu making a major speech to his Consultative Assembly slating the British Government and threatening British interests. However, one interesting feature of his speeches is the amount of space in them that he allocates to dealing with Britain and the British Government. The view persists in Biafra that a key to the war may lie in London.
If Britain were to attempt the course that I suggest, we should have to start by sending someone to Biafra. Most people seem to go to Lagos, including Ministers. International observers go to Nigeria. However, the nature of this war is such, because it is the Nigerians who are pressing in upon the Biafrans, that anyone who wants to see the bomb holes in the middle of market places has to go to Biafra. The observers should be in Biafra, not Nigeria, and I support the suggestion that the Biafrans should be asked to accept international observers.
If the British Government took this course of action and, in the first place, sent a special envoy of some kind to Biafra, possibly with instructions to stay for a period, some influence could be brought to bear. It might be a Minister. It might even be Mr. Parker, the former Deputy High Commissioner in Enugu, who was withdrawn shortly after the fighting began. There is great respect for his views among Biafrans, but the impression of many people in London is that his views have not been taken into account by the Government. Indeed, I believe that he was switched to another desk at the Foreign Office. If that is the case, it is a great pity.
On the Nigerian side, I believe that Britain is still in a position to urge upon the Nigerians that a military solution is not possible. There is one reason only. It is our diplomatic support alone that 1645 continues to give respectability to the policy of trying to gain a military solution. I do not believe that a military solution could survive the withdrawal of British support. British diplomatic and arms support is so fundamental to the Nigerian policy of trying to gain a military victory that that policy could not be pursued in the face of a withdrawal of British support.
Nor do I believe that such an action by Britain would throw Nigeria immediately into the arms of the Russians, as many hon. Members have suggested. In my view, our present policy is doing just that. There is deep disillusionment in Nigeria about the attitude of the British Government. In the post the other day I received a Press release from Nigeria House. Someone had marked the final paragraph and added:In fact, Nigerians are fed up with the double-standard policy of the British Government.It is not signed, and I suppose that anyone could have sent it. On the other hand, I do not know who has access to Nigeria House Press releases. Again, in The Times the other day there appeared a letter from someone at the University of Lagos. In the course of it, the writer said:Nigeria has other, clearer-sighted friends who show no sign of abandoning her—rather the reverse. As I write, a flotilla of Soviet warships lies off the Lagos Marina, and its commander has cheered us all with a forthright statement of his country's support for One Nigeria.If we continue our present policy and if the gist of Sir Denis Greenhill's visit and that of other visits made to Lagos in the near future is merely to try and play down the bombing and to persuade the Nigerians not to bomb while still offering more Saracens or Saladins, Nigeria will still have to turn to Russia for more arms, because she will need more sophisticated weapons to gain victory. The more the present trends continue, the more Britain will be seen in Nigeria as being her fair-weather friend, whereas the Russians will be seen more and more in Nigeria as being her true friends, with all that that will imply for both countries in the post-war situation, when it comes. I do not believe that Britain would lose anything that we have not lost already by urging a political settlement on the Nigerian Government. Regrettably, my hon. Friend and I did 1646 not have as much time as we would have liked to travel extensively in Nigeria, although we had important talks in Lagos. But in Biafra everywhere we went, the cry was, "Can you do nothing to stop the war? How long does it have to go on?"
Whatever their views about this, hon. Members would do well to be aware of and pay tribute to the wonderful work that many Nigerians, Biafrans, non-Nigerians in Nigeria and non-Biafrans in Biafra are doing to relieve the suffering taking place. Daily acts of heroism of great magnitude are carried out by relief workers of many different kinds. It is invidious to mention names. One can only speak of people whom one has met. Mention has been made, for example, of the matron of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Umuahia. The hospital was built originally for 150 patients. There are now 700.
I can think of people like Father Doheny, whom we met, who runs the sick bay at a little place called Ezinihitte. There are 580 patients, 400 of them kwashiokor children, not enough medicines, not enough food and just one doctor. There are the sisters in the convents who run the feeding centres, the Red Cross, and the Churches which operate the airlift. Let those who advocate a military solution speak to the people who have to clear up the human debris that is left behind by a so-called military solution.
When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary winds up, I shall look for some sign that the British Government now accept that a military solution is no longer possible and certainly not desirable. If we do not get a significant sign in that direction I will vote against the Government. Whatever happens in the vote, I will continue to fight, if the policy does not change, against a policy which I believe has now become totally counterproductive.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)
Mr. Speaker, as you require us to be brief I will not comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes), except to say that I was not sure that his reasoning about what would happen if the British went out and the Russians came in altogether justified the conclusions he reached. But he has 1647 made his position clear, and I should like to do the same.
In the first place, we have all been subjected to so much propaganda both in this House and in the country from so-called Biafran sources about Biafra that many of us have forgotten that there is no such place anyhow. This is a name which has recently been created.
It is worth while, if we are talking about being in the Biafran lobby or pro-Biafran, to look at what the Biafran State that Colonel Ojukwu claims would consist of if he got his way. It is not the little Iboland to which his forces are restricted in the deeply populated areas. It would comprise nearly as many non-Ibos in Biafra as there are Ibos in the whole area.
It is an odd thing to hear Ibos making the plea that all they require is their own state and that they do not want to be a minority element in the whole of Nigeria. If we are not blinded by the pamphlets that we receive every day, the fact is that the proportion of non-Ibos in any Biafra would be a great deal larger than the proportion of Biafrans in Federal Nigeria. Those who plead for the maintenance of Biafra and say that this little place has to win its position in the world should consider what is to happen and who will decide the fate of the five million non-Ibos who show no sign, so far, of wanting to be ruled by the Ibos in these other areas.
I suppose that people will say there ought to be a plebiscite, which is the standard weapon in trying to get out of any awkward situation. But, even with a plebiscite, I do not think that anybody who knows the area remotely would doubt the answer. The net result would be the same and Biafra would be reduced to Iboland as it is now, where the Ibos are in a large majority.
If we accept the reasoning that there is no such place as Biafra but that there is an Iboland, those who talk about justifying a political settlement, which I presume includes an economic settlement, are living in a pipe dream. I suggest that Iboland cannot exist as an economic entity, let alone a political one. Hence I cannot understand the argument of those who look at the area to which Colonel Ojukwu is restricted by the conduct of the war as a potential nation- 1648 state in other words, back in the heartland where the Ibos are in a heavy majority—I sympathise with their emotions; I have as much reason as anybody to dislike and abhor war—but I cannot say that the so-called Biafrans must be allowed to secede and at the same time advocate that the resultant state would comprise a large number of people who do not want to be in any Ibo-dominated state.
Those who have spoken with such fervour and passion today on behalf of the so-called Biafran right to self-determination should spend more time considering what the other people concerned want. They should spend a few minutes describing to us how the Iboland entity could possibly survive in an economic world. If it will not, what is the good talking of negotiations. The only negotiation which Colonel Ojukwu wants is whole of West Africa today, except the the only thing that Nigerians cannot negotiate about, because, apart from the question of national pride, it is unthinkable that any future Nigeria should have a totally uneconomic, hostile, minute, enclave in the middle of its territory constantly reaching out to establish boundaries down to Port Harcourt, over lands where there are very few Ibos living. These are facts opposed to the dreams of many hon. Members on both sides.
§ Dr. John Dunwoody (Falmouth and Camborne)
Would the hon. Gentleman nevertheless accept that, even with the limited boundaries about which he speaks, Biafra would have a larger population than any other country in the whole of West Africa today, except the Federation of Nigeria?
§ Sir F. Bennett
I have more respect for the hon. Gentleman than to imagine that merely by counting heads he can disregard uneconomic circumstances. One can pick out areas in many parts of Asia. For instance, in the middle of India there are areas with large numbers of people who might like to break away, but everyone knows that they could not survive because they would be cut off from all forms of support, economically and otherwise. There is no limit to the theoretical fragmentation of any State anywhere in the world.
I come now to explain why I feel bound to support the Government. It 1649 does not mean that I do not think that they could have done many things differently in the past. They would be rather arrogant if, looking back, they felt there were not many moments when they might have acted in a different way or achieved a different result. Yet I feel that on these benches tonight we must approach this problem on the basis: if we were in office tomorrow what would we do in this situation? This is the only fair way to approach the problem.
I think that the idea of going to the United Nations to try to get an arms embargo is excellent, but I do not believe that a Conservative Government would cut off all arms to the Nigerian Government.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I do not believe that we would do that. I am justifying my attitude. I will not be put off by interruptions from an hon. Gentleman in a sitting position when he has already spoken. I am justifying what a Conservative Government would do. I do not believe that we would make any dramatic change in policy at this stage.
I should like to put forward a few reasons why I think we have no alternative but to go on with the present policy and, to some extent, even to increase our help and support to the Nigerian Government, although I do not go so far as those who talk in terms of sending them bombers and bombs.
First, no one has denied that the Russians are getting deep into the struggle. They have failed to get a foothold in many other parts of Africa, and this is the one chance they have of getting a secure base in the richest and potentially most powerful country in the whole of West Africa south of the Arab States. If we abandon such influence as we have, which a dramatic change of policy would bring about, the Russians would be only too eager to take up the slack and join in and play an even bigger rôle.
In this context, I cannot help feeling that this conflict is already bedevilled enough with some strange bed-partners and alliances. We do not want to go to the extent of increasing these bedevil- 1650 lings. The bit of Red Chinese interest which exists in trying to help Biafra would show itself much more if the Russians were to come in even more. We should then have the odd position of the Red Chinese, the Portuguese, the French and, to some extent, the Vatican all on the same side. That is just one of the more unusual alliances we might find in the world. At the moment one of the most stabilising influences in the Nigerian conflict is the traditional British rôle which we can play, but which I think we could have played better now than before. Let us assume, therefore, that we are going to try to do that.
I come now to the humanitarian argument. I cannot see how restricting the supply of small arms and armoured cars, which are the most humane means of trying to win a ground war of this sort—which will mean that the Nigerian forces will be thrown back on using bombers supplied by the Russians—will help anyone. The great cry is that we do not want people to be bombed. But if we cut out the ground forces, and if we do not supply the ammunition and equipment for the Nigerian forces on the ground where they can be seen by international observers, and where the Nigerian generals can keep an eye on them, they will perforce resort to more bombing. It is said that we should stop supplying arms, but that we should turn a blind eye if the Russians continue to send in bombers. Hon. Members say that they want to stop the bombing; yet they seem anxious to put the Nigerians into the position where they cannot but resort to more bombing to retain their offensive. I cannot understand the reasoning behind those conflicting arguments.
It is said that if we stop supplying arms the war against Iboland is more likely to stop. This is not true. Iboland will still be conquered, for the reasons I have given. Even if the struggle becomes more embittered, and lasts longer, the same result will follow, but the conflict will be even more bloodthirsty and ruthless.
Those who have lived in Africa and who know Nigeria are aware that one of the most frightening things about Africa is the tribal feeling that simmers below the surface. There are deep historical tribal differences, compared with which some of the rifts in Europe seem like 1651 child's play, and General Gowon is playing a notable part in preventing tribal troubles spreading. If he is cut off from his Western allies, there is every chance that these tribal hatreds will become even more ferocious. I have no doubt about the trouble which would result if General Gowon were cut off from his contacts with the West and had to turn to more unscrupulous friends.
Several of my hon. Friends have referred to British interests there. If I thought that the reality of the situation dictated that in the interests of bringing peace to the area British interests should be damaged, I would be the first to say that there is no doubt which way the scales would have to go, but as far as I can see, and if my previous arguments are right—and I cannot think that they can be faulted from a realistic point of view—we should do enormous damage to long-term and short-term British interests there, including our oil supplies in the event of another breakdown in the Middle East, if we were to change our present policy. I think I am right in saying that 11 per cent. of our oil comes from Nigeria, and that this is oil which Russia would very much like to get her hands on. If that were to happen, what would be the result in terms of employment in this country? No one thinks about that when suggesting action which might lead to a complete severance of our relations with Nigeria.
I come, now, to a matter which some hon. Members think is important, but which others like my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) do not. Some people think that it is none of our business that a successful Biafran breakaway would be the biggest fillip to tribal fragmentation throughout the continent of Africa. I do not think we can dismiss that possibility and say that we have no responsibility for what happens, because we created these states, for better or for worse. All parties are responsible for creating states with artificial barriers.
Why is it that Kenya and Uganda are continuing to support the Nigerian Federal Government? Has no one thought about why they are taking that line? The reason is that if Iboland got away with what it is demanding there could be a series of tribal break-ups and fragmentations in Uganda and Kenya 1652 which could spread throughout the whole of Africa.
I know this part of the world, and I know that these tribal factors are there just beneath the surface. We have in Jomo Kenyatta a ruler who has risen above all this and who knows the problems better than anyone else. If anyone thinks that this is a case of the white man supplying arms so that the black man can be killed he should go to Kenya, or Uganda, or any area where there are real tribal problems, and ask the people there what they want to see as a result of the Nigerian war.
It is noticeable that the most enthusiastic adherent of Biafra's course of action is Tanzania. She is one of the few African states which have very few tribal divisions within their boundaries.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I am coming to that. I said that the most enthusiastic adherent was Tanzania. Although Zambia has taken action, I am not sure whether, in the light of the last elections which showed what was happening in Zambia and how in particular Barotseland voted, she would be quite so enthusiastic to see the situation develop in which the right to fragment belonged to any particular tribe. The state of affairs in Africa is one for which we cannot escape responsibility. We created modern Africa. However foolishly, however wrongly, we laid down frontiers which have no reality at all in economic terms, and certainly not in ethnological terms.
Ladies and Gentlemen—Mr. Deputy Speaker, I apologise for doubling your sex. We cannot give up our responsibility in that area of the world. I therefore say to the House that, for every reason that I can adduce after thinking over the matter deeply, we should support those of my hon. Friends who say that if we are honest we have no alternative but to support the Government's present policies, and this I have every intention of doing.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
This is the first time that I have spoken in a debate on Nigeria and Africa. I feel rather like the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home). Throughout the whole of this conflict I have been a prey to a 1653 variety of conflicting emotions. It is not usual for politicians to admit that they are never quite sure, that they are not quite certain where they stand, or what position they hold, but I think that I must be quite honest and say that up to now—and possibly even now—1 have never been absolutely certain which side is right and which side is wrong. I envy those who are certain about who is right and who is wrong. I wish that I had the same certainty that they have shown in debates in this House on this question.
I can see the sensible, intelligent, argument for having a Federal Nigeria with no breakaway State. I can understand this, but I can also understand the deep feelings of the Ibo or Biafran people that they have no future within the context of a Federal Nigeria and that they ought to have a separate State.
We are discussing the Government's policy and what action the Government should take. I feel that to some extent I have been conned by the Government. We were told that the Government's real endeavours in this matter were directed to trying to mediate, to trying to solve this question and bring it to a conclusion at the earliest possible moment. We were told this on numerous occasions, but the truth is that the Government are on the side of Federal Nigeria. It would have been much more honest and better for people like me to say from the start, "We have interests in Nigeria which we will defend by continuing to supply arms to Nigeria; we will defend our oil interests and Unilever will defend their interests in this way." We would then have known where we were and would have been able to make up our minds as to whether we were on the side of the Biafrans or that of the Federal Government. We were not faced with that proposition but with the idea that we were mediating. That was Government policy.
The traumatic experience for me was the discovery that a ship registered in Liverpool had left there for Lagos on a normal run, where it was commandeered by the Federal Government and used to transport a small number of troops and military vehicles to Port Harcourt. There was not a peep, not one word of disagreement, from the Government about Federal Nigeria's action. I wrote to the 1654 Foreign Secretary about this matter, which came to light only because two Liverpool seamen refused to sail on the ship. They had signed articles from Liverpool to Lagos and then were told that they would get 100 per cent. bonuses if they sailed to Port Harcourt. They said that they had not come to sail in enemy territory or to transport troops in a civil war. So they were flown home. No great pressure was put on them, but they gave this to the world by telling me, their Member of Parliament, and I raised the matter. How many other ships on which seamen have not refused to sail have been used in this way?
If I were a Biafran I would conclude, in those circumstances, that if ships were being commandeered in this way, with no protest by the British Government, it showed that we were supporting one side again the other. I was told that under international law this was permissible because of the circumstances. But I should like to know whether any other ships have been used in this way and why no protest was made by the Government. Does this not show clearly that the Government are supporting one side? Yet we are told that our task is to mediate towards a cease-fire. That is not the way to mediate or to deal honestly with this matter.
It has been said in the debate that we had contracts with the Nigerian Government which we had to fulfil. Obviously, we should fulfil our obligations, but did we not make those contracts with a democratically elected Nigerian Government, which has since been overthrown by a military group? Since then, one or two other military groups have overthrown their predecessors. And people talk of legitimate Government. What legitimate Government is this, after this series of military coups? Whatever obligations we had with the original Government to some extent ceased the moment that the legitimate Government was overthrown. We must remember this. The situation is not the same today as when we signed the contracts and made the agreements. This makes the situation somewhat different from the explanation that we have been given, and this must be answered by the Government.
The other argument which has been used and which persuaded me a great deal 1655 was my hon. Friend's remark, "By continuing to sell arms to the Federal Government we shall be able to use our influence to bring the war to an end fairly quickly." But it has gone on for 18 months, and that is why I feel that I have been "conned". Where has all this wonderful influence, which we have been having through the sale of our arms, left us? What have we achieved? Nothing. The war has intensified, civilians and children are now being bombed, and it has meant nothing. Because we did not mediate from the beginning, the Russians have now got in. After we had the ear of both sides but decided not to allow both sides to be heard properly, the Russians have come in and the situation has been complicated.
I am rather concerned about our policy now towards Nigeria, whereas previously I tended to go along with the Government and believed that perhaps they were doing the right thing. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) will remember that when he made his first speech in the House on this matter he summed up my attitude, as I believe I told him afterwards. His speech today was a little different, but it was only a shade of difference.
We surely cannot allow our Government's policy to continue in this way. Therefore, I will certainly not vote for the Government. I may well vote against them, depending upon the reply that we get from the Foreign Secretary. I hope that we shall not get some suggestion that because the Prime Minister is going to fly out there this will solve the problem. We have heard that sort of thing before and I want something far more tangible. I want the Government to say tonight that they are for the Federal Government and its military solution or that they will take steps to get a cease-fire as early as possible so that negotiations can take place and a final, genuine solution to this war can be found. My final decision will depend on the answers that we receive, but I cannot vote for a continuation of the Government's policy as it has been revealed up to now.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
This is a back benchers' debate. It was the back benchers who asked the Leader of the House to provide time to debate Nigeria, and I concede that the right hon. 1656 Gentleman has been—I was going to say "generous", but perhaps that is too strong a term—helpful in recognising the strong feeling of hon. Members on both sides. I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for enabling us to have a debate without delay.
This is a back benchers' day because both Front Benches have for the past 18 months failed. They have failed me because, having sat through this debate and three previous ones on the subject, I still feel strongly, emotionally and bitterly about what has been happening in the Nigerian war and about the decision of Her Majesty's Government.
I recognise the difficulty of the decision which rests on the shoulders of the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues. I equally recognise the difficulty which rests on the shoulders of the occupants of the Opposition Front Bench. I believe, with all the sincerity, understanding and sympathy at my command, that both Front Benches have been absolutely, utterly and morally wrong in seeing this war supported by the supply of arms. I can no longer accept excuses from the Government about the rightness of assisting in the Nigerian civil war.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) put his point of view with sincerity. He knows the country well. I cannot accept his view because when he took his eyes off his notes and spoke about the supply of arms to the Federal Government by Her Majesty's Government he seemed, after referring to small arms and other weapons, to search for a word as he used the phrase "humane …". It was the word "killing" that caused him to hesitate. It is the humanity or lack of it that makes me pause in the breach and prevents me from supporting Her Majesty's Government. I would, therefore, not dream of supporting them because, morally, I cannot give them my support.
There is no morality in the arguments being deployed by the Government. They may protest that what they are doing is good diplomacy, but I recall being received by the former Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs and receiving answers from him. Along with a number of hon. Members from both sides of the House, I met the right hon. Gentleman about a year ago. He listened fairly to 1657 what we had to say, and I am sure that he was disturbed in his conscience about his decision and the responsibility which he then bore for it. When he spoke to us I felt that I was listening not to the Secretary of State expressing his own views but to the views of the professional Diplomatic Service and Foreign Office advisers who were behind him.
Tonight I want to hear the Government led from the Front Bench and not from the Foreign Office. I want the Foreign Secretary to hear our views, to accept our reasoning and then to reason the matter out for himself, being aware of our distress about the continuance of the supply of arms in the assistance of a civil war which shows no sign of ending.
The decision of the Government may be good politics and the line they are following may be wise political strategy. Perhaps that is why there is some argument in the spread of Balkanisation in Africa, but what are we really talking about in this context? My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay will not accept the title "Biafra". Is he aware that this is the title assumed for this State by the leader of that country, which was the eastern region and which was set up 60 or 70 years ago by the Colonial Office?
The title "Biafra" is not wrong because we are not really speaking of Iboland. The last census of the area revealed a population of more than 12 million, larger than South Africa or Ethiopia. While all these wise arguments are being adduced, people are dying. They have been dying for the last 18 months, and this year another one million will die.
Last August, when we had an opportunity to debate this matter in the middle of the Summer Recess—the situation was so serious and the conscience of the nation so troubled that we had to return for that—we found a new phrase emanating and we thought that it might result in the Nigerian civil war coming to an end. We were ourselves engaged in supporting a policy of "quick kill", and that phrase has been used again today. I have no doubt that it is used with sincerity, but I cannot support such tactics.
I accept the arguments that have been adduced about British interests being involved and the fact that 16,000 British 1658 subjects are living in Nigeria. Some of them live in Biafra. Some of my constituents are living there, and that is why I have been kept well informed on the subject. What new phrase will emerge from today's debate to quieten our consciences? Shall we be told that the Government are faced with a difficult situation? A statement of that kind would satisfy neither me nor the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). It would not satisfy many hon. Members.
Her Majesty's Government have recognised the Federal Government of Nigeria; but what a Government! What caused the unnatural haste to recognise Colonel Gowon? How did he reach power? He was certainly not voted into power. He took office behind the barrel of a gun, and we recognised him with much too much haste. Who was the man who remained in command, appointed by the former Prime Minister of the Federation, by Ironsi, to lead the Eastern Region? It was Colonel Ojukwu. Why was not Colonel Ojukwu thrown over at the time when Ironsi was murdered? The reason is that the troops around Ojukwu remained loyal to the Federal Government—in other words, loyal to the only Government they knew—and they supported their Eastern Region leader and Prime Minister.
The Foreign Office and Colonial Office must know the background to this tragedy. They cannot, in truth, go on stating that one region has revolted, that Biafra is rebelling and must, therefore, be suppressed and destroyed. After all, on what sort of politics are we engaged? We are not right in assuming that we must support the Federal Government against the breakaway State of Biafra.
We must consider the whole history, certainly from the point of view of Britain, of the original Nigerian protectorates, how they were created about 70 years ago and how they emerged in 1900 when, for the first time, the word "Nigeria" was used to describe the Northern and Southern Protectorates and the Protectorate of the Colony of Lagos, as it then was.
This history points to the division which lies within the great confines of this large geographical territory. We not only know of the many different ethnic and tribal groups which exist in what we 1659 call Nigeria today, but the Foreign Secretary knows only too well—because the history of all this is not that old—of the continuing divisions that have existed after 1900 and of the decision of the Colonial Office, as it then was, under the first Governor General, Lord Lugard, to establish separation, first between north and south and finally between north, west and east. In later years there was a movement towards smaller emergent states. I fear that we in this country fail to recognise that division has been the background to Nigeria's history for a long time.
There have been great differences among these three regions, and even more differences within these regions. It was our early rule which allowed those differences to develop, because it suited the then political management and rule of our Colonies to have the power here in Whitehall, and to have a weak central administration in what we now call Federal Nigeria and have the main body of civil servants in the regions themselves. There was very little transfer of senior civil servants and colonial servants between one region and another. The Civil Service itself grew up in the regions, but British rule of the time was the mainstay of stability.
British government, with all its faults, in the past has been a sound colonial ruler, but what it is not being sound in today is the development of the new Commonwealth of Nations. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), who said that we are trying to support the wrong national boundaries. I agree with him that it is a false dream to go on trying to support the false boundaries which constitute the ideal of Federal Nigeria. The very breakaway that happened at the time of military government in 1966 and which precipitated this civil war had its seeds a long way back, not in the minds of young Sandhurst-trained officers now in the armies of Nigeria and Biafra. The seeds were sown much earlier at a time when we were establishing a type of rule for various regions in Nigeria.
I quote what the second Governor-General of Nigeria, Sir Hugh Clifford, Lord Lugard's successor, said in 1920: 1660Assuming, therefore, for a moment that the impossible were feasible—that this collection of self-contained and mutually independent native states were indeed capable of being welded into a single homogenous nation—a deadly blow would be struck at the very root of national self-government in Nigeria, which secures to each separate people the right to maintain its identity, its individuality and its nationality, its own chosen form of government, and the peculiar political and social institutions which have evolved for it by the wisdom and accumulated experience of generations of its forebears.That was the second Governor-General, commenting, I think the House will accept, not only on the attitude of these peoples of Nigeria, but also on the pattern of our colonial rule of a group of nations which we accepted as a fact of constitutional life. There followed from this the development towards a constitution in Nigeria which was based all the time on separate regions. Never did we produce, unfortunately, a strong central legislature. Here I think was the seed of the present sad civil war: we did not succeed in leaving behind this unity of a central legislature which could have brought these three or four regions of Nigeria together.
Twenty-three years ago, in 1946, we set the stage for the struggle by regional political parties for power at the centre in the Richards constitution which was then drawn up. This inevitably has led to the disintegration of Nigeria which we now see taking place. When Nigeria got its independence in 1960 it was not ready for democratic government. Their approach to a democratic election as we understand it in 1964 was nothing more than a tragic farce. What followed from it immediately was corruption, graft, riots, arson, robbery, murder and the complete collapse of law and order.
This story of the struggle in Nigeria for power between these regions, seeking power at the centre of the Federation in a large country where the three main political groups come from the individual three main regions is the story of the rejection of honest democracy until the people were disgusted and the inevitable took place, a coup d'etat and murder of the Prime Minister, several other Ministers and senior officers of state. The further murder took place of Ironsi, and in the turmoil General Gowon appeared on the scene and took command at the centre.
1661 There was an unnatural haste in recognising General Gowon and the legitimacy of his Government, because beneath it there was the fear that as he is a northerner, with the rooted fear of a great many years of history, at last the northerners would have the power they had always sought. Under a democratic constitution drawn up for them they had a legitimate power with a legitimate majority in the Legislative Assembly. But now, under a military Government, it was seen that this would mean the denial of all the things the Colonial Office of the past had tried to build into this group of nations, individual nationhood within a Federation. This looked like going.
There was a constitutional conference in September, 1966, at the beginning of the Gowon Government. It lasted four days and was then adjourned and General Gowon never called it together again. He did not get the agreement of Ojukwu and the Eastern Region. Then he produced his 12-State formula which would have produced the Balkanisation of which we should be afraid—of little non-viable States within the Federation in which the powerful North would be in control.
Why should we refuse to recognise the legitimate right of one of the great constitutional regions of Nigeria to stand up for its right to exist? It is our right as Members of Parliament to recognise that it has such human rights. What is the difference, when we are talking of war, between genocide and murder? It is still death if it is the death of only one person. There is no quick kill; just tragedy. These wrongs do not make any right. They give us no right to moralise about our correctness in supporting the Federal Government. We cannot keep up this pretence much longer. If not tonight, tomorrow or next week, we will stop the arms supply some day. We shall for ever regret this tragic decision and the black page which has been written on our history as a great nation.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
Unless the Foreign Secretary announces a drastic change of policy before the House divides, I shall vote against the Government tonight. I shall do that with regret. There have been other issues 1662 of foreign policy in which in recent years I have wished to take that step. Tonight I shall take it with the full conviction that I am right.
In May, 1967, the Government were faced with two movements for constitutional change in Africa. They were in countries which for many years had been under British rule. Both movements were called rebellions by their opponents. In Rhodesia a small minority of white settlers—about 5 per cent. of the population, but holding Government power—had rebelled against the British Crown. Their purpose was to guarantee the continued supremacy of the whites. They had moved—they are moving still—fast—towards apartheid. The Defence Correspondent of The Times, a much-respected nephew of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), wrote not long ago—To be a black man in South Africa today is to be the victim of a discrimination as bad as. if not worse than, the Nazi persecution of the Jews.Rhodesia is moving fast towards that Nazi goal.
In Nigeria a body of 12–15 million Africans, almost twice as numerous as the people of Sweden, belonging to various tribes but firmly united in the east, were demanding rights of local government and, in particular, rights of local self-defence, within a confederation of the four Nigerian regions which the British had set up. Millions of those easterners were refugees. They had been driven from their homes and from their jobs, and many had been killed. But they were still saying in May, 1967 to the Nigerians of the North and West: "Let us remain united as one nation with the closest economic and other ties. But since we differ in language, religion, education, social institutions, and in our recent history, let us have a measure of regional self-government, as some other countries do. In particular, in view of recent terrible events, let us have in each region our own police, our own militia, to maintain our own security and law and order within the confederation which we set up".
Faced with these two constitutional movements, the Labour Government made two decisions. On Rhodesia they said, "There can be no question of the 1663 use of force to oust the Smith régime. The future constitution of the country must be settled by peaceful means. Force would lead to large-scale fighting. It would mean disaster for whites and blacks alike. More important, it could bring no lasting settlement of Rhodesian problems. It would only make matters worse."
That was the decision on Rhodesia which is adhered to still. I accept it. I think it is right. I think it is wise. I believe that the use of force would have been short-sighted, very dangerous, and very wrong.
But I wish the Government had said the same about Nigeria. On Nigeria the Government's decision was very different from that. They declared that Colonel Ojukwu was a rebel, that the unity of Nigeria must be maintained, that General Gowon should resort to force and that Britain would supply the arms. They even refused to see Ojukwu's envoy, the distinguished pro-British Sir Louis Mbanefo. I think that was a very grave mistake, for Mbanefo could have told them, as he told me, that fighting, if it started, would last long months or years; that if Biafra were beaten in the field, guerrilla war would follow on as in Vietnam; that Ojukwu was still against the use of force, that he was still ready to negotiate on reasonable terms.
Let me look a little closer at what the Government did in those fateful weeks. They refused to see Mbanefo—and nothing that I could do would make them change their minds. They scouted his suggestion of a lengthy war. They accepted Gowon's pledge that he could win by fighting within a matter of days. In July the Government of the United States refused Gowon's request that they should sell him arms. Kosygin had very recently been the guest of the Prime Minister in London. Nothing could have been more natural than for the Prime Minister to say, "I must work with the United Statss, as I have done on so many other matters where they were doubtfully right. I will work with the United States and I will invite Kosygin publicly to join in using the United Nations to secure a ban on arms to both sides from all sources, and a Nigerian conference that will bring a negotiated peace."
Alas, the Prime Minister did not do that. In August, after long reflection, disregarding the United States' decision, 1664 he allowed new contracts for arms sales to Nigeria to be made. And large quantities of arms—alas, the Government do not tell us how many; they do not do what Labour Governments did in times gone by and publish details of all the exports of arms this country makes—large quantities have gone since then from Great Britain to Lagos and are going still.
There have been large quantities of arms, but they have not won the war. Very heavy losses have been inflicted in the battles by both sides. The flower of Nigerian manhood is being destroyed. Perhaps a million Biafrans have died of hunger, the most ghastly form of human torture. I know about it, for I worked for Dr. Nansen during the Russian famine in 1922.
This has happened, but the war has not been won. It may still be long. If the Biafran forces are beaten in the field, there will still be guerrilla warfare which may last for years.
The situation is like it was in 1967 in another way. Ojukwu has proposed a truce, to be followed by a ceasefire and by negotiations without any preconditions. On what possible grounds can Colonel Gowon refuse that offer? On what possible ground can the Government fail to support what Ojukwu has proposed?
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said today that the Government want the earliest possible peace. I accept that. We all do. Compared with that end, all other matters—international relief, observers, the bombing of civilians—are of secondary importance. I have a letter here written from Umuahia on 27th February which gives details of a long list of bombings, and the author, a respected British citizen, says that it is inconceivable that those bombings happen without a Government order from the high command in Lagos. As I say, relief, observers and bombings are all side issues compared with the ending of the war, and it would be disastrous if, important though they are, they were to divert attention from the main problem of how to bring the fighting to art end. Nothing really matters except that. Stop the fighting, and we have at least the hope of a united, prosperous, progressive Nigeria once more. But let the war go on to its bloody and still far off 1665 conclusion and that hope will be extinguished, perhaps for ever.
I listen with amazement to those of my hon. Friends who argue that the war should be allowed to continue and that, in the end, a satisfactory solution will be found by victory for the Government in Lagos. I wonder whether they have ever heard that we have had two world wars. The first was the war to end all wars, but it created the very forces of militarism and the vast vested interests which smashed the League of Nations and made the second war. The Second World War was the war to make the world safe for democracy. If my hon. Friends think that it succeeded, let them read Lord Attlee's statement of war aims made in November, 1939, and compare it with what actually happened after 1945. They will see how war destroys the very things one wants to do.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor) We all respect the right hon. Gentleman's views, but he must get history right. Is he suggesting that if Hitler had won the Second World War he and I would have been sitting in this Chamber today?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
No, I am suggesting nothing of the kind. But what I should suggest, if I had time, is that Hitler could have been stopped at the disarmament conference in 1932 which the then Tory Government helped to destroy, and he could have been stopped again over Abyssinia, when the Tory Government appeased Mussolini instead of upholding the Covenant of the League of Nations.
I hope that the Government will do what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire suggested this afternoon. I hope that they will take this matter to the United Nations. Let them sweep aside the sophistry that this is an internal matter which concerns the Government of Lagos alone. It is a ghastly precedent for Africa as a whole which is now going on. The sales by the great arms producing nations of armaments to carry on the war and the sales from the international rings make this a question of international peace which is eminently within the scope of the United Nations. Let the Government propose in the United Nations, in public session, that all member States—Russia, France and the United States and all the rest—should stop the 1666 sale of arms from every source, should use their navies and should control their airports and seaports to promote that end.
It is gallant of the Prime Minister to suggest that he will go to Lagos, but I fear that, like one of his predecessors who went to Munich, he will do very little good. Let him go instead to the Security Council, as Mr. Chamberlain should have gone to Geneva on Sir Winston Churchill's advice in 1938. Let the Prime Minister go to the Security Council and propose a universal ban on arms. I believe that he would stop this war, and, perhaps, with one war ended, other wars might end as well.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
To too many people, including the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker), this is an unquestioning campaign, controversy and debate about a notional Biafra, whereas it should be about Nigeria as a whole, and about Britain. We have been subjected to a deluge of propaganda, to which hon. Members on both sides have referred. We have read and heard horrific reports about bombing, which, I regret to say, one could read or hear about in the case of any war in any part of the world. Therefore, it becomes necessary to say that whoever is bombing what it is not with British aeroplanes or British bombs.
The hope of international arms control has been widely canvassed, and the right hon. Member for Derby, South concluded his speech with an appeal for it. We should all like to see it, but I cannot recollect any occasion when such a system has been operated successfully. Certainly, the Near East is no example of it.
§ Mr. Bell
The right hon. Gentleman can no doubt tell me about that afterwards. It is not one that I have ever heard of. Where such control has been attempted on a major scale it has been marked by a conspicuous lack of success. The Near East offers no encouragement for such an attempt in the future. Such a ban merely gives an advantage to those who do not join in.
1667 That being so, the proposal must be that Britain on her own initiative, and, in effect, alone, would deny arms to a Common wealth Government. For so remarkable an action I have discovered only four arguments. The first consisted of the allegations of genocide, which I think nobody now persists in—not even The Times—and which have been disowned by all impartial observers, and which I think arose as pure partisanship on the basis that, "Our side is losing, casualties are heavy, and this must be genocide".
The second was the deliberate bombing of civilian objectives. Here again, the evidence is remarkably weak. To say that, because an Egyptian pilot has hit a hospital with a bomb he was aiming at the hospital, is a logical leap which lacks inevitability. Like one of my hon. Friends, I can think of many reasons why an Egyptian pilot would drop his bombs over a civilian area, where there are less likely to be anti-aircraft guns, than over a strictly military target.
If it be said, as the third argument, that at any rate this amounts to indiscriminate bombing, as indeed it does, I fear that, like the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt), one must point out that our conception of a military target in the last war was one that permitted the destruction which I and many others saw in German cities after the war was over. And the German conception of a military target was one that permitted the destruction of our cities in a way that we all saw.
The fourth reason, which is less often avowed but is perhaps the most real, is that a good many people in this country know and like the Ibos, or are coreligionists with them. This is not a consideration to be brushed aside. There is room in life for such loyalties, but they cannot be over-riding considerations, as they have been allowed to become.
Therefore, when the situation is rightly appraised in any reasonably wide perspective, there is no special reason which would justify so sharp and fateful an act as the denial of arms to a Government within the Commonwealth. This is the view of the majority of African States and the majority of Governments throughout the world. It is also, I am happy to observe, the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West 1668 Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), whose judgment in these matters I greatly respect. The reality, as I think everyone knows, is that there has been a massive propaganda campaign such as few hon. Members of the House have experienced before. Secondly, there has been a massive intervention by the Government of France in Nigeria.
I do not complain about the propaganda campaign. People are entitled to press their views by all means at their disposal, and this one has been very largely based upon the very strong denominational religious interests which are at stake. Again, they are entitled to do that, and The Times, which is the mouthpiece of one of these denominations, is entitled to make a corresponding effort. I do not complain. My own Church, the Church of Scotland, undertook a similar operation when Nyasaland was an issue. It was committed up to the neck in Nyasaland. On that occasion, I felt a certain feeling of loyalty to my Church, but I retained the freedom to examine and discriminate and eventually disagree with it.
Frence is deeply involved in this episode and is so in a specifically anti-British operation. No one should underestimate the vigour or the value of de Gaulle's linguistic and cultural campaign. The amused contempt with which some regard it is in itself a form of naivety. President de Gaulle is interested in the tribal fragmentation of a large and viable country based on British tradition and the English language, which, if it flourishes, will overshadow the little ex-colonies of France in West Africa.
We are going to finish up with enemies all around and no friends if everyone indulges his special interest at the cost of the national interest. Her Majesty's Ministers, however ineptly, have in this case had some regard for the general interest of Britain. I say "ineptly", because they ought, having decided to support the Federal Government, to have supported them effectively, and thereby shortened immensely the war and reduced the casualties which have ensued.
In these circumstances, and taking that view, I naturally have to consider what I am going to do at the end of the debate. One has to bear in mind here that thrusting French initiative which is developing in Nigeria. One has to remember the 1669 shadow of Russan ambitions which lies over Nigeria. Is it thinkable that we should pull out and leave these two to resolve the future of Nigeria as a tug-of-war between them? Is is thinkable that we should pull out and stop supplying arms, leaving the 16,000 British subjects in Federal Nigeria to whatever consequences that might bring to them? Is it. indeed, for that matter thinkable that we should sacrifice the vast British material interests which are also at stake in Nigeria?
In relaxed matters, when, upon a balance of factors, one arrives at the conclusion that a Government composed of one's political opponents is acting in the national interest, one discharges one's duty by saying so and leaving the burden on them. But when the going in defence of that interest is rough, when there are inflamed sectors of public opinion, and when there is odium to be incurred by resisting heavy pressures, then I do not find on the sidelines a position worthy of my responsibility. I assume that the Foreign Secretary will maintain the Government's policy and not prepare the way for retreat. Subject to that, if there should be a vote tonight, I shall take part in it.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
I am grateful for an opportunity to speak for the first time in a debate on Nigeria. I have just returned from a visit to both sides in this tragic war. I came back about three weeks ago.
I have formed certain conclusions about what we ought to do in relation to our policy towards Nigeria which I know the House will find controversial; but before I come to them I want to lay the groundwork by stating what we saw when we were in both Biafra and Nigeria in order that there can be at least ascertainable facts upon which rational discussion of the issue can take place. Never before in all the time I have been interested in politics have I seen a question so bedevilled by propaganda as this one is. Despite the tragedy of the deaths that have taken place, it remains true that in this war in Biafra propaganda is more important than bullets and that to get away from propaganda and down to the reality of the issues is a first prerequisite of anybody who has to make up his mind about it.
1670 I chose to go with my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) because we had taken different views about this issue before and because I thought it desirable that we should be able to compensate each other's prejudices so that we could get some kind of impartial and reliable basis for discussion. We also agreed that it would be useless to go unless we went to both sides. It is there, I believe, that the account of Mr. Winston Churchill in The Times is so deficient—not that he did not go to Lagos, for he did. But in order to give the kind of account about this situation that is really full and complementary one has to do the investigation in depth, in Lagos and in Nigeria as a whole, that he did in Biafra.
What he saw in Biafra I saw in Biafra, and I do not disagree with the actual incidents he recounts. But on the conclusions to which he comes and the inferences to be drawn from the facts I disagree, simply because I have had the opportunity of discussions with a number of people who are very well informed on the Federal side, and because I have taken into account the evidence brought back from the Federal side by those hon. Members of the House who were there last year and have been there since.
It is important that one should bear this difficulty in mind, because the tragedy of this war is that, whatever the historical context in which it is set—which it is absolutely vital to know before one comes to a decision—the fact remains that things have changed on both sides in the two years of the war, and that neither side fully appreciates the changes that have taken place in the other part of Nigeria. The Nigerians do not realise the intensity of feeling at every level of the people in Biafra about their own security, and their fears for survival if the Federal régime wins. That is intense, genuine and real, not only with Colonel Ojukwu and his clique. The clique represents the feelings and opinions of everybody in Biafra.
I asked at every level and everybody gave me the same reply: they did not want to go back to one Nigeria because they or their family, in the extended family situation there had suffered so terribly in the killings that took place in 1966 or in the war itself. That feeling is intense. When I asked at an old people's feeding station where there were only 600 1671 old men, whom one would expect to be tired of the life in the war, the shortages and lack of food: "Do you want to go back to one Nigeria?" they nearly lynched me. These old men all expostulated with one shout. That is the feeling. In order to put that into its proper context one has to ask whether the feeling is justified.
I am bound to say from the available evidence that it is not the case. There are four million Ibos living in the Federal territory now. They live there unmolested and without any discrimination against them. They live full viable lives. There are people at every level of government and trade and business, and they are still living as they did before the war. There are places in Ibadan, for instance, where the Ibo owners of houses left when the killings took place in 1966 and went to Iboland. The rents for those houses are being collected in their names and the money put into bank accounts so that the bank accounts will be available to them when they return. The feeling is sincere but unjustified.
The tragedy of the situation is that the Biafrans do not realise what has happened in Federal Nigeria. Here I take great issue with what was said by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch). The major change in the situation on the Federal side since the war began is that the old power structure has been broken finally and for ever. Everywhere we went among the leaders in Biafra they asked us: "What is the good of our negotiating with fellows like Arikpo and Enahoro? They are only minority tribes. They do not control anyone. They do not represent anyone. We know that the Federal régime is controlled from the north as it was before the war by the Sardauna of Sekota and his co-emirs". The truth is that they do not control the situation.
The breakdown of the three major tribal units into 12 States has effectively destroyed the hegemony of the Hausa-Fulani and the Yoruba, and the Ibo, when they are brought back into the Union. There is now a place for minorities, There is now a place for anyone on the basis of his ability, not on the basis of his relationship to the dominant groups. This was the thing that we as a colonial Power ought to have brought about 20 years ago. We 1672 rested for too long on the major basis of power. The truth is that within a united Nigeria there is a better hope for the Ibos than they have ever had in the past, and they could ever have within the little postage-stamp that might be theirs within an independent Biafra. But this situation has to be decided by the people on the spot.
One of the major complaints about this whole discussion is the moral arguments of some of those who partake in it. They say: "This is war. Therefore, we must stop war, because this is the Africans playing with weapons that they do not understand". These men are intelligent and articulate, on both sides; men of compassion and dignity and calibre whom I would be proud to call my friends. Yet they see the situation in a different light. They are fighting the fight that the North and the South fought in the Civil War. They are fighting a fight vital to the development of Africa.
Every African State is faced with this problem. If there is a case for the Ibo, then there is a case for the Baganda, there is a case just as strong for the Lozi in Barotseland and there is a case for the Luo in Kenya. This precedent, if the Ibos succeed, will be followed throughout Africa. I accept that these boundaries were determined by European colonisers. I accept that they are artificial, but so are our boundaries. Every Western European State is created out of a section which was finally controlled by the Military. In the initial period it had no relation to the dominant tribal unit of the area. It took us 400 to 500 years to grow into nationhood. The African States will have to do it in tens of years. It is vital that in that process they should be secure from the threat of tribal disintegration.
The future of the Ibo children, about whom we are so concerned, is a future within a rich, viable unit of a united federal union. That is what the federalists are fighting about. It is not an arid concept which they put up against a fervent belief of the Ibos in their own survival. It is of real concern that this great unit of tremendous economic potential, which can give a full life to the people in a developing country, should be held together if it is possible. Is it possible?
I have listened with the deepest respect to the right hon. Member for Kinross 1673 and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) in his suggestions regarding the way in which the political negotiation might be begun. I do not think this is on. We went with the intention of finding some way of bringing about a negotiated settlement. If I could have done that I would have been delighted, whatever the result—whether it meant two Nigerias or one—but we could not do it because there is no basis for a negotiated settlement.
I take what my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) said one stage further. I asked Colonel Ojukwu what he meant by "commonwealth", which is what he says he would accept in negotiation. He said:It does not mean a Nigerian commonwealth of which we are part, as such. It means a degree of co-operation between two peoples. Certain things I will not risk. First, I have seen what armed force can do. Never again will I put our reliance on outside organisations.There is no room in his thinking at the negotiating table for a union within which there would be armed forces not under the control of Biafra. There is no room for a settlement in which an independent organisation would have to be relied on for their security.
As he explained to us, "There is only one way, and that is that we should be separate. We may have common services; we may grow together in later years. There are ties of geography and background, but initially there must be a split." If that is the case and the case for the Federals is the exact opposite—both of them honest, intelligent appraisals of their situation—there is no meeting of minds that would create negotiation.
Though I much regret it, we have to look for a way of ending this tragic war as quickly as possible, with the minimum amount of stress and bitterness. This has to be overcome in the re-integration of the Ibos in a united Nigeria.
There are only three alternatives for British policy. The first is that we do what some of my hon. Friends suggest—abandon the arms policy. The arms policy is not the most important stance of the British Government as far as Biafra is concerned; even more important is a change in our diplomatic support for Federal Nigeria. If we are to do that, then Biafra will win. If we are to bring 1674 about a ceasefire, then Biafra has won. If one believes that it is in the best interests of Nigeria and Biafra that Biafra should win, then one takes that course. I do not take that course. Even if we did change our stance I do not think the war would come to an end. The Biafrans are receiving arms from the French, about which General de Gaulle says he knows nothing. He says he would sign an arms embargo tomorrow because he says he knows nothing about it. Arms are flown out from Libreville airport under the eyes of the French officials, but General de Gaulle says, "I do not know anything about it". The Biafrans would get their weapons and so would the Federal Nigerians, because they can get them through the same black market sources. They can get them from Russia and other parts of the world.
The same is true if we continue our present policy: the war goes on. I was bombed four times while I was there, but I was never terribly worried about my physical safety because these bombing raids are ludicrous by Western standards of bombing. One plane comes over each day and drops three or four bombs. Inevitably, because the bombing is indiscriminate, the bombs sometimes hit a collection of people in a market place and severe injuries are done. I do not think the bombing has any military purpose. It only adds to the propaganda war for the Biafrans. It is totally meaningless and totally inhuman, and I hope that it will be stopped. That is something that we can do. But we cannot go on supplying arms at the level at which we are supplying them now and hope for a quick military solution to this war.
We did not see the front; we got accounts of it from people who were heavily biased in favour of the Biafrans, but their evidence is probably acceptable. They say that where the war is fought with normal small arms, like machine guns and rifles, there is a movement of a mile here or a mile there, backwards and forwards, but it is virtually stalemate. But when the Saladins and Ferrets come, there is a movement by the Nigerian troops because the Biafrans have nothing to put against them. In their enclave, where they can be supplied only by air, they will never have anything to put against the Nigerians.
1675 This war is fought on the roads, and the movement goes on on the roads. It takes place over the urban areas. Then there is a movement back of the troops. There is only one urban area left in the Biafran enclave. I am sure that if the roads were taken, if Umuahia were taken and the other urban roads were taken, this war would be over. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I do not believe that there would be guerrilla fighting. This is not North Vietnam adjacent to China, with a feeding of arms. This is an enclave totally surrounded by Federal troops. There is no way of getting in arms except by means of the airstrip. If the airstrip falls to the Federal régime, the supply of arms stops. There will be a certain amount of unrest, but it will gradually die down.
Then comes the major political issue for us to decide. Given that situation, can the Ibos be re-integrated into a federal union? Will they not be so bitter that they will never be re-integrated? Examples of partition have been given None of them was good because in Pakistan, India and Ireland there was always exacerbation of the existing problem between the two units who were abrasive to each other. But in the United States, where they had this problem and where they fought for four bitter years, with all the repercussions, they have absorbed the bitterness and have grown into one great unit. I hope that that will happen in Nigeria.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
It is barely three months since we had our last debate on the civil war in West Africa. Between then and now the totality of suffering has been in no way assuaged. New dimensions have been added to military operations there, and, by far the most relevant to our debate, the moral dilemma, of which we are all conscious, has grown far more disturbing even than it was last December or late last summer.
We are all glad that the Leader of the House agreed to the demand for this debate this week. The impatience for it has been obvious, and anyone who has listened, as I have, to most of the speeches can have been left in no doubt of the real disquiet felt by a number of hon. Members on three scores. The first 1676 is the inability of this country so far to play an effective part in bringing the war to an end. The second is the anxiety about the adequacy or otherwise of existing efforts, important as they are, to bring aid to the wounded and those suffering from disease or dying of starvation. But the third and most obvious anxiety, which to some extent we all share, lies in the vicarious association which some believe to exist with the misery now being suffered in West Africa through our supply of arms to the Federal Government.
Earlier today, my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) spoke about the need for one more supreme international effort to achieve reconciliation. We have waited all day and we still wait for the Foreign Secretary to reply, and he will realise by now that we expect a great deal from him. I do not know whether we shall hear of some new initative or whether he will tell us about the Prime Minister. Whatever it is, I hope that he will tell us before about five minutes to ten. Above all, I hope that he will reply in full to my right hon. Friend's suggestion.
Even with the reported wish of Colonel Ojukwu for a ceasefire, all of us are only too well aware, as was clear from a number of speeches towards the end of the debate, of the obstacles which such an effort would have to overcome. We have the depressing evidence of past failures, in spite of the energetic attempts of the O.A.U., the Commonwealth Secretariat, Her Majesty's Government and many individuals to define the basis for a possible agreement. But the essence of the problem is the present apparent incompatibility of the rival demands, for sovereign independence on the one side, and the insistence on unity, loose though it might be, on the other.
However strong our desire to bring the war to an end and our determination to do everything in our power to make that possible, my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) made clear that the yawning gap between the demands for Biafra and the Federal Government still widely separates the hope of a ceasefire from the achievement of peace. This is relevant to the speech made by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun).
1677 None the less, I believe that a ceasefire would be welcomed by all and could be constructive if, though it is a big "if", effective methods could be devised for preventing the use of a lull in the fighting for preparation for further hostilities. But if, and so long as, each side continues to believe that the conflict of principle between them can be decided by military force, surely they are bound to question the wisdom of abandoning that bloody method and substituting for it negotiation which, if successful, must involve some kind of compromise which neither side yet seems willing to accept.
At the time of our last debate in December the military deadlock seemed to me to be depressingly complete. It is hard to judge, thousands of miles away as we are, how complete that deadlock is today. We in this country have to be guided by the testimony of eye-witnesses in West Africa, and even eye-witnesses always find it difficult to assess what might be called the "invisibles" of war, such as morale, the ability to suffer, or the will to win, on which to a very large extent the conflict in West Africa appears to depend.
Here I found myself in disagreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton. On the whole, it does not seem foolish to assume that many months of bitter fighting, many thousands of human beings destroyed and mutilated, and thousands of others diseased and dying, lie between this moment and the attainment of a possible Federal victory.
Therefore, if we are in earnest about bringing this war to an end as soon as possible, it is likely to be done only while the two armies are in a state of military deadlock. If the deadlock were complete, I have often wondered since December, whether this would be so depressing as I thought then. If both sides became convinced that the issue of unity or secession was no longer susceptible to a military solution, might it not in crease the possibility of compromise and the willingness to work out a new political framework?
Incidentally, I was relieved to hear the Leader of the Liberal Party, after sketching his blueprint for Nigeria's future, admit that the task was for the Nigerians, not for us in this House.
1678 Such a conviction on the part of the contestants in West Africa may still be distant. Who can tell? It may be nearer than we think. But the possibility—even the certainty—that the rival leaders in this civil war will one day judge the conference table potentially more fruitful than armed attack must commend the wisdom not only of my right hon. Friend's proposal for a "supreme efford towards conciliation", but also of a continuing readiness to help in the massive task of reconstruction, material, social, political, and in every other way, as soon as the sterility of continued military conflict has laid the necessary first foundation for such rebuilding.
From reports that we read, the present distress in Nigeria through starvation and disease is little less serious than we feared it would be three months ago. A great deal has been done. The Government have made contributions for relief, and the Under-Secretary announced welcome new additions this afternoon. In addition, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, many charitable organisations are helping.
Although the issue of independence or secession is properly one for Nigeria to settle, the experience of human suffering on the scale that now exists as a result of this war is one from which the world cannot, and will not, turn away. Britain and other countries long to do more. We can all see that the situation will grow far worse if we are not allowed to provide more help. Yet Colonel Ojukwu is said still to refuse a corridor of relief, because he apparently fears that such a corridor could facilitate a Federal military attack. We all hope that the possibility of Obilagu, which the Under-Secretary mentioned this afternoon, may materialise.
One of the tragedies of the situation is our apparent inability so far to convince Colonel Ojukwu of the comparative simplicity of arrangements for the protection and supervision of such a land corridor in a way that would effectively guard it against risk of military misuse. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us what approaches have been made to the Biafran leaders with a view to securing the right to provide international protection for such a corridor, and what was their reply. Of all the means of 1679 relief, this method seems far the most effective, as well as the easiest to provide and to secure.
Without it, without day flights, and with night flights subject to considerable hazard and interruption, the tonnage of available supplies has never risen anywhere near the lowest minimum of need. Obviously the new route of relief would need supervision. Observers at the reception point would have to be allowed responsibility for inspection of cargoes. We are anxious to know also from the Foreign Secretary whether Colonel Ojukwu is likely to be willing to allow international observers, as my right hon. Friend asked, to be stationed in Biafra.
Their presence in that country would be invaluable for other reasons. One of our difficulties at the present time is that we receive what we believe to be objective information from observers invited by the Federal Government, but it is extremely hard for us to assess the objectivity of information from Biafra; and where the objectivity is not in doubt, it is harder still to assess the expertise of that information. We believe that dispatches from half a dozen international trained observers would help immeasurably in the evaluation of the reports that we are now receiving.
When the Foreign Secretary replies we hope to hear from him what means of contact he has with Colonel Ojukwu, what information he has about his willingness to accept observers, and, in general, what steps can now usefully be taken to free, and vastly to increase, the supplies of food and other necessities which this country and others long to send to the relief of hundreds of thousands who are suffering—diseased, mutilated, and hungry.
They are suffering in Nigeria as well as in Biafra, but it is the sufferings in Biafra, which for various reasons, have most uncomfortably stirred the emotions of people in this island and, perhaps as Sir Bernard Fergusson wrote yesterday, have divided us as we have not been divided since the invasion of Egypt twelve years ago.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party said that we are wholly united in our desire to bring an end to the war. We are also united, I believe, in our longing to secure freer entry for the relief that we want to send; 1680 and I think that it is largely because we are forced, in those two respects, to stand on the sidelines and watch in impotence an agony that we can neither stop nor effectively relieve, that we are inevitably, and I think probably rightly, driven to search for some action that we can take, some possible means that would make things better, or at the very least would refrain from adding to the misery.
It was ten years ago that we carried responsibility for the welfare of Nigeria; and that country's independence in 1960 was welcomed by all shades of opinion in Britain. We all watched the early years of the new Federation, first with hope, but later with anxiety, and I think that it is because of our long colonial connection with the territory that we feel a far closer involvement in this civil war than we should in any other possible civil wars in other parts of the world.
Our acute anxiety and distress in the face of the reported slaughter of men, women and children are the more painful because of these recent connections. Moreover, the conviction that we are in some way implicated, through our arms supply to the Federal Government, with this hideous slaughter and consequent suffering transforms this anxiety and distress into emotions which are still more painful.
A number of hon. Members have declared their conviction that we should ourselves unilaterally cut off the supply of arms. My right hon. Friend, in urging a further attempt to secure international agreement to cancel all arms, expressed himself firmly against such unilateral action. I take it that the Foreign Secretary will include in his reply, which we were assured would be a full one, a reply to the specific proposal made by my right hon. Friend. No one under-estimates the difficulties of securing, or policing, a total ban, but it is the objective for which we must now again work, and continue to do so.
Yet today we are far from such an agreement. Some hon. Members who have spoken are wholly pessimistic about achieving one, and those who follow the view of my right hon. Friend are deeply divided from those who would stop the supply of arms from Britain. This division is a reality—there is no doubt about it—but it would be quite wrong to think that all common ground 1681 had meanwhile disappeared. I believe that those who oppose the continued supply of arms understand well the arguments of those who believe it to be necessary, and I am even more certain that those who continue to support the present policy understand and sympathise with the arguments of those who find it repulsive. This, I suppose, is hardly surprising, because the differences between us are almost inevitably the reflections of the differences within each of us. I can speak only for myself, but I imagine that many other hon. Members have similarly wrestled with their own divided counsels.
On the one hand is the urge to cut off the arms supply, to relieve our troubled consciences by the knowledge that we had done all we could to remove ourselves even from indirect participation in this bloody civil war. But, if we heeded this counsel, do we expect to win for our consciences the luxury of untroubled calm? What difference would the ban make to the realities in West Africa? Would the bombing cease? My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) argued powerfully in the opposite direction when he suggested that restriction of arms for land warfare would have the effect of stepping up the air bombardment. Would the suffering in West Africa grow less and the end of the war be brought one moment nearer?
My right hon. Friend drew attention to the effect on relations between Britain and Nigeria of such a unilateral ban. Certainly, whatever the course and duration of the civil war, Nigeria will play an important part in the future of the African continent. The ban which some see as the means by which we could assume the mantle of neutrality would be seen by others as the abandonment of neutrality, and many would conclude that by attempting to opt out we had taken sides. They would say that, having built up in Nigeria a military dependence on Britain, we then withheld the arms on which we had created that dependence and had, therefore, taken sides against the principle of unity and for the right to secede. We should bear much responsibility if, through the best of intentions in Nigeria, we took steps which led ultimately to disintegration throughout the continent of Africa.
1682 What of the reactions of Soviet Russia? Do we expect that Russian consciences will suddenly quicken if the supply of arms and ammunition from Britain runs dry? Certainly, Russian consciences seem a great deal less troubled than many here tonight. Like the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Woodrow Wyatt) I find it impossible to count as gain for peace in Nigeria the substitution of Russian weapons for British; or to count as gain for the future stability of Africa and the future peace of the world the inevitably greater dependence on the Soviets of a large and important African State.
For while Nigeria and Biafra are fighting over the issue of unity or secession, the greater Powers at their side have inevitably been drawn into a wider struggle, one aspect of which is the first attempt of Soviet Russia to build a position of influence on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The bloodshed and suffering in West Africa rightly appal us and behind them lurks the danger of a wider disintegration across the African continent; but beyond even this, it seems to me, lies a wider threat to the stability of the world. By denying arms now to the Federal Government and thus opening the way for Soviet Russia to occupy the vacuum, I believe that we should simultaneously have opted out of an important part in this wider struggle. My fear is that this might ultimately load our consciences in the years to come with a far greater weight than lies upon them now.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)
We have had a debate in which right hon. and hon. Members have spoken with great breadth of knowledge and great depth of feeling. There have been some bitter passages in the debates, but I believe that we are now, at the end of it, all in the mood to accept that this is a question on which humane, well-intentioned and well-informed people can form very different conclusions and that we shall get nowhere if we start accusing others with whom we disagree of being callous, hard-hearted, immoral or hypocritical. We must try to do better than that.
This cannot be represented as an argument between the humane and the moral 1683 on the one hand and the hard-hearted realpolitiker on the other. We are aware—the right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) described this—of the struggle that is going on within us all; that there are issues of right and wrong actually struggling with each other on this question. This is what indeed makes it a tragedy—this conflict of rights and of feelings of morality.
The situation in the end means that one must make a judgment knowing that when one has made it, although one will stick firmly to it one is bound to do so with some distress and regret. I believe that this is in the minds of us all. However, it does not remove from us the necessity to make a firm decision, despite the distress and regret that it may cause.
It is in that spirit that I wish, first, to try to state the essentials of the problem and the essentials of Government policy, and, secondly, to take up what I think have been the two main presentations by the House to the Government. They are, first, the question of what steps we can take in the interests of humanity to bring this war nearer to a conclusion, and, secondly, the plain question of what we should do about the supply of arms.
Anticipating the main course of my argument, and in response to a point made by the right hon. Member for Bridlington, I will say a word about initiatives and steps to end the war, though I shall have more to say about this later. I believe that the House will accept that if we are to take such steps we must keep closely in touch with the Nigerian Government; otherwise it will simply be an empty exercise.
It is to be expected, therefore, that at some stage there will be a meeting of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister with the Prime Minister of Nigeria. [Interruption] It was well known and it was public knowledge at the time of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference that such a meeting might occur. Indeed, I can tell the House that there is to be such a meeting. [Interruption.]
The details of the meeting have not yet been arranged, and I should have been entirely happy, as would my right hon. Friend, to have left any announcement of this until later. However, in view of the questions that have been put by hon. Gentlemen opposite and in view of 1684 what has already been made public knowledge, I am now confirming for the House that this is a correct report.
In the course of the debate it has been urged on us that we should take initiatives to end the war. Those who have asked that presumably know that if it is to be done to any purpose there must be consultation between Her Majesty's Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is not reasonable, that request having been made—indeed, it is ungenerous and departs from what I said at the beginning of my speech about the mood of the House—for us to be asked to try to take initiatives to end the war and then for it to be assumed that anything that may be necessary in the course of that is adopted merely for the purpose of influencing the debate. If there are hon. Members who really advance that argument, they are thinking and speaking unworthily and out of tune with the general mood of the House.
While I wish to take up what I said at the outset about dealing with the essentials of the problem, I should, perhaps, first say that the immediate occasion of the debate is the natural concern of the House about the bombing in the rebel-held territory in Nigeria.
§ Mr. Stewart
No, I think not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] It may be possible for me to give way later, but to do so just at the beginning breaks the line of argument. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Stewart
I have listened to the greater part of this debate and I think the House wishes to hear what I have to say.
The Under-Secretary of State, who opened the debate, on the question of bombing, stated very clearly our refusal to condone and our condemnation of indiscriminate bombing. He further detailed the instructions given by General Gowon to his officers, the determination of the Nigeria Government to proceed most resolutely against any officer guilty of disobedience of these orders. That is one point which has been established. It has also been brought out during the debate—and this is an unhappy fact we 1685 must realise—that the bombing of civilians has not in the course of this war been confined to one side.
I say that not because one set of cruelties excuses another, but for the reason that I do not think all hon. Members have fully realised that there are a number of Africans who notice the great concern about the recent bombing of civilians in rebel-held territory and are saying, "Where were the consciences of these Europeans when the hospital at Ore was bombarded by the rebels? Where were the consciences of the Europeans when there was bombing on Lagos and repeated incidents of this kind at the beginning of the war?" When we weigh up all this, the conclusion we have to come to, and which was voiced by a number of hon. Members, is that we know very well that if there is war at all there will be cruelties inflicted on innocent people, whether deliberately or through recklessness, or sometimes inevitably in the mere course of warlike operations. This will be true whether the war is waged by land, sea or air.
Our real concern, therefore, if we are concerned—and who is not?—about the suffering caused by the bombing, must be to try to bring the war to an end. I wanted to say that about the bombing but I will now gladly give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun).
§ Mr. Frank Allaun
I am most grateful to the Foreign Secretary. He had just referred to the initiative that the Government will take to obtain peace. When the Prime Minister goes, will he press the Federal Government for a ceasefire without pre-condition, because this is the key to a settlement?
§ Mr. Stewart
I ask my hon. Friend to exercise a little patience. I shall come later to what I believe can be achieved. I now ask the House to consider for a few minutes what I call the essentials of the problem.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
Before leaving the question of the bombing, because this point has been made by many hon. Members, is my right hon. Friend not asking the Federal Government for a cessation of these bombing raids as they have been proved wholly 1686 indiscriminate by every eye-witness on the scene?
§ Mr. Stewart
What we have urged on the Federal Government is that they must take every possible measure—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have been asked a question and hon. Members must listen to the answer. I am told that my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East admitted that airstrips were a legitimate target for bombing. We should bear that in mind before we say that there ought not to be any bombing at all. What we have urged on the Federal Government is that in one way or another they must stop the result occurring of the indiscriminate killing of innocent people.
I ask the House now to consider what I call the essentials of the problem. Here it cannot be said too often that this is a problem affecting Nigeria and Africa as a whole. There have been some references to the boundaries or existence of Nigeria. We should remember this. When Nigeria came to dependence she was accepted without cavil by every nation in the Commonwealth as a fit member of the Commonwealth and by every nation in the United Nations as a fit member of the United Nations. She was not regarded as an artificial, ramshackle creation, but as a genuine State. That is a fact that we cannot set aside.
In the light of that, we must all accept how serious a principle is raised if it is suggested that a particular people out of the many peoples of Nigeria should be able to carry out a successful secession. This was a point very strongly and rightly emphasised by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home). We must remember not only what the effect would be of a successful secession on Nigeria, but also its effect, as my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) said, on other African countries.
The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) asked, if I remember rightly, that he should be given not what he called just a Foreign Office answer but a real answer from the Front Benches. What I am saying now I say out of a deep conviction formed over many years as to what is one of the most important points in world politics today. That important pivotal point is that the peoples 1687 of Africa, who have for so many centuries been bullied, enslaved, kicked about by more powerful and sophisticated peoples, should now be able to take their proper place in the world. I do not believe that they will be able to do that unless they have a structure of efficient, viable States.
I believe that, if the existence of those States is threatened by tribal secessions, we shall find ourselves living in a world in which Africa is for ever dragging behind other continents. This, I believe, would be profoundly wrong. This surely is one of the essentials of the problem. I know that not all hon. Members accept it, but they must accept that many of us do believe this sincerely and deeply. They must also be prepared to realise that this is very much the African view of the problem.
It is in the light of this that Her Majesty's Government took from the start, and still take, the view that this attempt by the Ibos, whatever their grievances, at rebellion and secession to remedy their grievances, was a tragic and disastrous error and that therefore the Nigerian Government were right to resist it. But with that right there goes a duty—the duty on the Nigerian Government so to frame the structure of their State that there is the fullest possible degree of autonomy and development, not only for the Ibos, but for the many other peoples of whom the Nigerian Federation is made up.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) was listened to reasonably. He must now listen.
§ Mr. Stewart
The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) said that one of the objects of British policy has been to maintain a unitary Nigeria. Here, with respect, he really has got it wrong. Nigeria is and always has been a Federal State. It is most important that the Federal character of it should be emphasised so as to provide the Ibos with their proper place in it. This is exactly what the Federal Government are now prepared to do. The reconstruction of the State of Nigeria into 12 States gives the opportunity for the many peoples in it to co-operate in building up what could be one of the most 1688 prosperous and fortunate nations in Africa.
We held that view, that the rebellion was tragic and disastrous and that the Nigerian Government, at one and the same time, had the right to resist it but the duty so to construct the State that there was a proper place for the Ibos. This, I think, is what many hon. Members mean when they speak of a political solution, that while the Nigerian Government are in our view right to resist secession, they must seek a political settlement, that is, a federal structure of such a kind that none of the peoples of Nigeria can say that they are unfairly deprived of opportunities for their own development and their own culture or the opportunity to play their proper part in Nigeria as a whole.
Although I realise that what I have said will not command the agreement of all hon. Members, I do not believe that anyone can say that the position which I have advanced is inhumane or unreasonable, and I believe that, even for those who cannot accept it, it must have a great basis in the real facts of the situation.
Granted that, the decision which we had to take about arms supply followed. We could not have said to Nigeria, "We gave you to understand that you would be able to obtain from firms in this country certain kinds of arms, but now, because you are faced with a rebellion, a rebellion which is in our view and in yours evil for Nigeria and dangerous for Africa, we shall cut them off". If we had said that, it would have been in Nigerian eyes and in fact tantamout to supporting the rebellion, supporting something which we believed to be wrong.
§ Mr. Stewart
No. I wish to make this quite clear because it has always been the Government's position. We have never claimed that we were neutral in the sense of taking no view as to the rights and wrongs of the issue. We believe that the rebellion was wrong and that is was right, therefore, not to take the deliberate act of cutting off arms from a Government faced with a rebellion of so disastrous a character.
Anyone who advocates that we should have taken the other view, that we should have cut off arms, must look at what the 1689 results would have been. There would certainly have been a profound estrangement of ourselves from Nigeria and from Africa as a whole. It would have involved a great increase of Russian influence in Nigeria, and it would have involved a great risk to British people and British interests in Nigeria.
The House knows that I have on other occasions taken the view that there are circumstances in which it is entirely right for a country to say, "We must push our economic interests aside because there are overwelming moral considerations". That is the view which the Government took over the sale of arms to South Africa, the view which I expressed in the House. But in this case, who can say that it is axiomatic that it is morally right to cut off arms supplies from a country facing a rebellion of this disastrous character? It is not axiomatic, and I do not believe it to be true.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on 25th January, 1968, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in another place said, "We are not helping one side or another; we are entirely neutral"? Second, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman said about partition, may we assume that he would have used force to prevent partition in Ireland?
§ Mr. Stewart
No, Sir. We cannot argue the Irish question at the same time as we argue the Nigerian question.
It has been suggested that if we had taken a different view about arms we could have acted as mediators. Let us look at what actually happened. There are a great many countries which are not supplying arms to either side. There are a number which are either supplying or allowing arms to be supplied to Colonel Ojukwu. Have they been able either to mediate or to exercise influence on Colonel Ojukwu? Have they been able to say to him, "Will you open your country to mercy corridors for relief?", the main thing required to prevent starvation in Biafra? If we had refused to supply arms, any chance of acting as mediator would have gone at once. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), that I have never pretended, the Government were in the position of a mediator. For the very reasons I have just set out. I 1690 understand that that cannot be so. If my hon. Friend will read what the Government had said he will see that he has not been misled on this point.
§ Mr. Stewart
It is not true that the Government's policy amounted only to the decision on arms. If I have had to spend some time on that it is because of the emphasis many hon. Members have laid on it. But it was furthering our aim, so far as we could, to seek a peaceful solution, and this had to be done in consultation with the Nigerian Government. Since the suggestion has been made that we have never had any influence, that we have never worked for peace, I must remind the House that we brought about the conversations at Aburri. I must tell the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone that his allegation that the British High Commissioner encouraged, persuaded or in any way influenced the Nigerian Government to go back on that agreement is wholly without foundation. We further brought about the talks at Kampala, which could have brought peace if it had not been for encouragement to the secessionists from people outside.
In 1968 there were the meetings between my noble Friend, Lord Shepherd, and Sir Louis Mbanefo, and the visits of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and my noble Friend, Lord Shepherd. More recently, at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting, it was with our help and encouragement that Chief Awolowo said explicitly that he would meet the representatives of Colonel Ojukwu here without any preconditions.
The Leader of the Liberal Party was somewhat scornful on the question of whether we have had any influence. I would put the matter like this. It is obviously not possible to say, when one looks at the whole record of the Nigerian Government's behaviour, how much of it has been due to persuasions of ours and how much of it they might have done anyway. Whilst we have rightly criticised and condemned them for the recent bombing incidents, let us look at the whole record of their behaviour, remembering that they are a Government facing a rebellion and fighting for the whole 1691 structure of their country. Let us notice what they have done. Throughout the whole struggle they have made it clear that they will talk and compromise about anything short of the dismemberment of Nigeria. They have admitted—and I think that this is unprecedented—international observers to go about with their forces to supervise the behaviour of those forces, and it is those observers who have torn to pieces the allegations of genocide. They have made it quite clear that they are willing, when a settlement is reached, to give guarantees for the safety of the Ibos, and would even have an observer force or something of that kind to see that those guarantees are kept.
On the question of relief, the Nigerian Government have made the generous offer of Obilago Airport. It is not they who stand in the way of pouring in relief by land. I am bound to say, remembering the strain under which they are placed—and I think we all know the terrible fact that when human beings wage war they are always likely to become more callous in the process—that I do not think one can condemn—far from it—the general record of the Nigerian Government, and I am not prepared to believe that the persuasions of this country, which has been in close touch with them throughout and which has always urged on them counsels of moderation and humanity, have been of no effect at all.
On the relief supplies, I do not think I need add much to what my hon. Friend said. He made it clear that, in response to the latest appeals from the Red Cross, we are going to contribute a further £1.1 million for relief, about half of which will be in food and the rest cash. He also announced our intention of making provision in the new financial year totalling this £1.1 million towards Nigerian relief, and there will be the ordinary procedure of a Supplementary Estimate.
Now there does lie on us the need to try to seek peace and settlement. If we are to do that, can we get an arms embargo? I should be deceiving the House if I pretended that getting an embargo was anything but very difficult. Many of my hon. Friends will remember that the attempts to bring about the policy that was known as non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War in practice 1692 worked entirely to the advantage of one side. But we have not been idle about this.
We know the Russian view, which is that they are prepared to go on supplying in all circumstances. The French view is that they are not in fact supplying. We have raised this matter in Western European Union, and it is interesting to note that the recent decision of W.E.U. was that its wisest approach was to handle this in consultation with the O.A.U.
Governments which support the rebel cause hold strongly to their point of view. The Portuguese Government, for example, provide important transit and other facilities and presumably see this policy as part of their long-term defence of Portuguese colonial interests in Africa. Similar considerations arise in the case of other countries.
In this situation—and I hope I carry hon. Members with me here, for I am pointing out, as I must, the difficulties—it would be easy to pretend that we could make a striking initiative for an embargo tomorrow and try to conceal the fact that the chances of success are not very great. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If we want success, the embargo has to be supervised inside Nigeria itself. There is no other way of making it effective.
That means, if the supervising job is to be done properly, that the international arms embargo would have to be accompanied by a cease-fire, and the same thing works the other way, because a cease-fire without an arms embargo would so clearly work to the advantage of the rebels that one could not reasonably ask the Nigerian Government to agree to it.
It seems to me, therefore, that the object of any steps must be a combination of the following things: an international arms embargo, a cease-fire, the meeting of the two sides without pre-conditions and, one ought to add to that, the opening of the "mercy" corridors for relief. I am bound to say that if Colonel Ojukwu maintains his opposition to that it would be difficult to place much reliance in good faith on the other issues.
As to meeting without pre-conditions, I must tell the House that the positions of the two sides on this have changed and it is difficult to be certain at any one moment that one is giving a completely accurate and up-to-date account of what their view would be. I simply 1693 remind the House that, at the time of the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference, Chief Awolowo of Nigeria was prepared to meet Colonol Ojukwu's representatives on those terms. What we must try to work at is for such a situation to recur and, when it does recur, for there to be this time, as there was not at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, a response on Ojukwu's side.
By what mechanism could this be achieved? I must tell the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire that the problem of trying to do this through the United Nations would be that we would be tackling an international arms embargo, which, for reasons I have already mentioned is unwelcome to a number of countries, through a mechanism which would be extremely unattractive to the participants and to African countries who feel that the proper regional organisation is the Organisation of African Unity. I do not rule out an approach to the United Nations, indeed, I do not think one can give immediately a blueprint as to how we should try to reach the objectives I have mentioned——
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not rule out the United Nations, I have pointed out the difficulties of it.
Above all, we must try and work, as much as we can, through the Organisation of African Unity. As for the part that the Commonwealth, the third agency mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, could play, it seems that it could play a
§ part in any observer or peacekeeping forces that will be required after a settlement is reached. Our willingness to provide our contingent to such a force has already been announced.
§ I have tried to describe to the House what is the nature of a possible settlement that might be reached. I have not attempted to disguise the enormous difficulties, because there are here deep and profound differences of principle which divide the Nigerians from Ojukwu and his followers.
§ What I am suggesting could be attained if there is a real effort in other directions. We shall endeavour to do all we can to produce that result. The House knows that Britain does not hold this issue in the hollow of its hand, but we are more likely to be able to help if we accept the need for Africa, for the unity of her peoples and for the movement away from tribalism towards modern nationhood. That is why I feel obliged—and I do not do this with malice, but one must be plain—to say that I have not found it possible to accept the proposition of an immediate cut-off of arms supplies, which would not save a single life, which would make negotiations for an agreed embargo impossible, and which would weaken rather than strengthen our hands in anything we seek to do.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 62, Noes 232.1695
|Division No. 118.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Alldritt, Walter||Grffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Newens, Stan|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Phillp (Derby, S.)|
|Barnes, Michael||Heffer, Eric S.||Norwood, Christopher|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Orbach, Maurice|
|Bessell, Peter||Hooson, Emlyn||Orme, Stanley|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hordern, Peter||Ridley, Hn. Ncholas|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Huckfield, Leslie||Rose, Paul|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Booth, Albert||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Rowlands, E.|
|Crouch, David||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Stainton, Keith|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Kelley, Richard||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Dickens, James||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Driberg, Tom||Kirk, Peter||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Lee, John (Reading)||Winnick, David|
|Ewing, Mrs. Winifred||Lestor, Miss Joan||Woof, Robert|
|Faulds, Andrew||Longden, Gilbert|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Mr. Stanley Henig and|
|Goodhew, Victor||Mikardo, Ian||Mr. Eric Lubbock.|
|Albu, Austen||Gregory, Arnold||Murray, Albert|
|Anderson, Donald||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Neal, Harold|
|Archer, Peter||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Oakes, Gordon|
|Ashley, Jack||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Ogden, Eric|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Hamling, William||Oram, Albert E.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Hannan, William||Oswald, Thomas|
|Beaney, Alan||Harper, Joseph||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Bonn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Binns, John||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Paget, R. T.|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hattersley, Roy||Palmer, Arthur|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hazell, Bert||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Boston, Terence||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Hilton, W. s.||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)|
|Boyden, James||Hooley, Frank||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Bradley, Tom||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Brooks, Edwin||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Howie, W.||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Hoy, James||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Buchan, Norman||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hunter, Adam||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Callaghan, (Rt. Hn. James||Hynd, John||Randall, Harry|
|Cant, R. B.||Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Carmichael, Neil||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Janner, Sir Barnett||Richard, Ivor|
|Chapman, Donald||Jay, Rt. Hn, Douglas||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Coe, Denis||Jeger, George (Goole)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)|
|Coleman, Donald||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Cronin, John||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Ryan, John|
|Dalyell, Tam||Judd, Frank||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Short. Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Lawson, George||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Leadbitter, Ted||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Silverman, Julius|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Small, William|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lipton, Marcus||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Dell, Edmund||Lomas, Kenneth||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Dewar, Donald||Loughlin, Charles||Taverne, Dick|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Dobson, Ray||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Dunn, James A.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Tinn, James|
|Dunnett, Jack||McBride, Neil||Tomney, Frank|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||McCann, John||Tuck, Raphael|
|Eadie, Alex||MacColl, James||Urwin, T. W.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacDermot, Niall||Varley, Eric G.|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Macdonald, A. H.||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Ellis, John||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|English, Michael||Mackie, John||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ennals, David||Mackintosh, John P.||Wallace, George|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Maclennan, Robert||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Weitzman, David|
|Fernyhough, E.||MacPherson, Malcolm||Wellbeloved, James|
|Finch, Harold||Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.)||Well, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Marks, Kenneth||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hn. SirEric (Islington. E.)||Marquand, David||Whitlock, William|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Foley, Maurice||Mayhew, Christopher||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Foot, Rt. Hn. Dingle (Ipswich)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Williams, Clifford (Abertilery)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Millan, Bruce||Williams. Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Ford, Ben||Miller, Dr. M. S,||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Forrester, John||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Fowler, Gerry||Molloy, William||Wilson, William (Coventry, 8.)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Moonman, Eric||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Freeson, Reginald||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wyatt Woodrow|
|Gardner, Tony||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Ginsburg, David||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gordon Walter, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Mr. J. D. Concannon and|
|Greenwood, St. Hn. Anthony||Moyle, Roland||Mr. Charles Grey, C. B. E.|
§ It being after Ten o'clock, the Motion for the adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.