§ 3.34 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
I beg to move,That the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order, 1970, a draft of which was laid before this House on 27th October, be approved.The purpose of this Order is to continue in force Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965. As the House is only too well aware, this Act gives Her Majesty in Council power to take whatever measures are necessary to deal with the situation in Southern Rhodesia brought about by the illegal declaration of independence on 11th November of that year.
It is a melancholy reflection that peoples who have for so many years had so much in common, as have the peoples of Britain and Southern Rhodesia, are still caught up in a dispute which is today unresolved. I will not rehearse this sad story. I have no wish to rake over the past. The unilateral declaration of independence ought never to have happened. It was an error of judgment. When it did, it was, in our view, on this side of the House, a mistake to internationalise the question. This was essentially a British problem, and it ought to have remained a problem between Britain and Southern Rhodesia. Anyhow, year by year the relationship between Britain and Rhodesia has deteriorated until in the last 12 months the Rhodesian régime have taken steps purporting formally to repudiate the Queen's sovereignty by introducing a republican constitution, and in so doing sought to sever the last remaining links with the Crown. Whatever views may be held on the Rhodesian situation there can be nobody in this House who will not regret that this should have happened, and many now in Rhodesia, although, it must be confessed, they are not articulate, are known to feel the same way.
In consequence we face a situation which is even less amenable to solution than it was when a similar Motion to this was debated last year or when the last attempts were made at a solution aboard the "Tiger" and the "Fearless".
Should we regard the rift as impossible to bridge? That it is much more difficult 34 to bridge than it was a year ago or when those previous talks were held there is no doubt. Apart altogether from the republican status assumed by Mr. Smith for Rhodesia, Mr. Smith's new constitution presents a much greater obstacle to agreement than did the constitution on which we were to work before, but, however long the odds against a settlement I do not believe that any new Government can simply let the matter lie where it is without a new attempt to see if a settlement is possible. The consequences of final rupture—because that is what it would be—are so serious for Rhodesia, for the Europeans and the Africans in that country, and for the future of southern Africa as a whole, that one more try should be made even though the evidence is that the chances of success are remote.
To this end I last week sent on behalf of the Government a communication of a preliminary nature to Mr. Smith, through the channel of our Ambassador in Pretoria and Mr. Smith's representative there. This is simply a first exploratory step in a process of trying to establish whether there is a realistic basis for a negotiated settlement at all within the ambit of the five principles subscribed to through the years by a majority on both sides of this House. This exploratory stage may take some time, because it is necessary that Her Majesty's Government and Mr. Smith should agree on the basis and purpose of talks before a detailed negotiation could begin. We must be sure that Mr. Smith and Her Majesty's Government are talking about the same thing.
I have told the House of the method of communication which we think it is right to use, at any rate at a start. The substance of the exchanges must be kept confidential until there are sure signs of success on the one hand or failure on the other. That is wise in any negotiation, but in a situation which is so highly charged with emotion as that of Rhodesia it is clearly essential.
If any further justification is needed for an attempt to end the folly of political separation between Britain and Rhodesia it is the distortion of the economy of that country which is taking place and the penalties of boycott which fall so hard on the African majority in Rhodesia. The penalties fall on them 35 first, and on them more hardly than anybody else.
Rhodesia is a country crying aloud for investment and expanding foreign trade, and if there was a settlement with Britain its huge potential would at once begin to be asserted and realised.
A successful negotiation would also bring benefits going far beyond Rhodesia itself. It would help to reduce the tensions which are poisoning relationships within Southern Africa and between Southern Africa and the countries to the north. It would be the biggest step that could be taken towards promoting the dialogue between black and white Africa and the process of constructive change which is the only way in which apartheid and racial discrimination will in the end be broken down.
Violence is an alternative preferred by some, although it is difficult to believe that people can think in that way. To give way and conclude that violence is inevitable is to despair of the future of Southern Africa. So we must proceed on the path of reconciliation. A settlement with Rhodesia would help enormously in that process.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
If we accept the right hon. Gentleman's point that a settlement on the five principles would ease the tension in Central Africa, is it not equally clear that a settlement which is not in accord with the major principle of uninterrupted progress toward majority rule is much more likely to exacerbate relationships, and that failure to achieve anything as a result of the talks is also likely to exacerbate tension in Southern Africa?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I always give way to hon. Gentlemen if I can. I am not sure that I should have done so this time, because he has really repeated what I have said. There will not be a settlement except within the five principles. Therefore, if there is a settlement, it will be within the five principles. We had better proceed on those lines.
The Order makes it clear that in the Government's view sanctions should continue during this attempted negotiation. I am very well aware that they are costly to this country—I think that the cost to the Exchequer is about £40 million this 36 year—and to Rhodesia. I know the argument used that if they were lifted people in Rhodesia would be relieved of the burden of disloyalty of which they are accused when speaking against the present state of affairs. I have weighed these arguments very carefully, as anyone is bound to do, but on balance I am certain that it is best that each side should start the negotiation from the position it now holds. If we can return into legal and honourable relationships with Rhodesia, then of course sanctions could end and we could begin, and quickly, a many-sided and fruitful partnership with Rhodesia from which all would gain. It is for that that we must therefore work.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
First, let me say how much I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about sanctions continuing before and during negotiations. But would he not agree that he must also make it clear that sanctions will continue after the negotiations if the negotiations do not succeed? Otherwise, he is giving Mr. Smith an incentive to fail in order to bring sanctions to an end.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is correct. I have firmly taken the view that if one is going into negotiations one must not anticipate failure; one must go into it believing that it can succeed. If the negotiation fails, then of course we must reconsider the situation and explain the position to the House and say what action the Government propose to take.
There were certain side effects of sanctions affecting people in this country which the Government felt should be ended because they were so palpably unfair. It was clearly ridiculous, for example, that surcharges should have been imposed on mail received by people in Britain from relatives in Rhodesia, with whom they could have no other contact, especially while other types of mail bearing official franks escaped this surcharge. The whole episode is well got rid of. It may have seemed a small thing, but it seemed very inhuman and unjust to those who suffered. That is why we believe that it is right to make this change, and the Post Office under its regulations was able and ready to do so. The surcharges have therefore been stopped.
37 We also considered urgently another of the consequences of the illegal situation in Rhodesia, which I shall mention only briefly because we shall debate it later today—the invalidity in this country of certain divorce decrees granted in Rhodesia. This has naturally caused suffering and distress to those affected, particularly to those who wish to marry again in Britain. Fortunately we can mitigate this hardship, and we shall this evening be debating the Southern Rhodesia (Matrimonial Jurisdiction) Order in which, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will explain, we are not legalising any action taken in Rhodesia but are extending the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom courts so that they can deal with these matters. We will be ready to consider any further need for mitigation for humanitarian reasons where this can be achieved without affecting the general structure of economic sanctions.
It may be that in this debate some will argue that a further attempt to negotiate with Rhodesia is useless. It may be that some will say that we should cut out all responsibility for everything Rhodesian, and that now is the time to do it. But I ask them to recognise the prizes to all races of success and the resumption of international recognition for Rhodesia.
As I told the right hon. Gentleman, today I cannot look beyond our attempt to discover a basis for negotiation. Some will ask, as he did, what would happen if the talks failed, but I cannot enter the talks anticipating that that will happen. Should it happen, we must consider our action and report our conclusions to the House.
As a party and Government, we have given public commitments, and it is in accordance with them that I move the Order. It recognises the need to start the negotiations from the present stance adopted by Rhodesia and by the United Kingdom. This debate has enabled me to say that the first step has been taken to see whether a dispute which is widely deplored can be put behind us and partnership with Rhodesia once more restored. I hope that there will be a positive response from Mr. Smith and from the Rhodesian people.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
Before taking up some of the important points made by the Foreign Secretary on the question of talks about talks, may I say how much we on this side welcome, and with what relief we welcome, the Government's decision to renew the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965, so that sanctions may continue against the illegal régime. The House will recall that the party opposite refused to support the Labour Government when they did the same in previous years. But the right hon. Gentleman was right last year, on 16th October, to warn those of his hon. Friends who planned to vote against renewal of the Act that their actionwould inevitably be seen there as giving the green light to Mr. Smith to go right ahead to declare a republic and adopt his constitution, which includes separate development.Some of his hon. Friends ignored the right hon. Gentleman's appeal. Mr. Smith did go ahead. The constitution was made law. The possibility of any successful negotiation with Salisbury on the basis of the five principles has been made infinitely more difficult, if not impossible.
The House now faces the situation predicted by the Foreign Secretary last year when he said:If Mr. Smith's proposed constitution for Rhodesia were adopted, of course Britain could not be a party to it.He went on to describe that constitution as oneon which a break with this country will be irreparable and formalised."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th October, 1969; Vol. 788, c. 623–6.]Those were the words of the right hon. Gentleman who is now Foreign Secretary.
We all know that, in the last 12 months, Mr. Smith has deliberately cut his last links with Britain and with the Crown. He has decided to model his régime on the cruel and inhuman pattern established by apartheid in South Africa, and he is moving towards a situation in which 5 million British subjects will be placed under the yoke of a foreign Power in Pretoria. I hope that at some stage this afternoon a member of the Government will make clear what view they take of this development. The right hon. Gentleman has just stressed that he regards the Southern Rhodesia problem as essentially a British problem, but he will know that 39 it has recently been reliably reported that there are now between 3,000 and 4,000 troops and police of a foreign Power operating on British territory in Southern Rhodesia in support of a régime which is in open rebellion against the Crown.
Has the right hon. Gentleman raised this violation of British territory with the Government of South Africa? What is his view on it? Is he in favour of it? Is he indifferent to it? Or is he opposed to it? The House has a right to have an answer to these important questions, above all from the representative of a Government who regard the Southern Rhodesia problem as essentially a problem for Britain and not for anyone else.
Next, I take the case of the arrest of Mr. Benjamin Ramotse. It was established at a trial in South Africa on 28th September this year that Mr. Ramotse was arrested on the territory of our Commonwealth partner Botswana by Mr. Smith's police and was handed over on that territory to the police of the South African Government, to be brutally tortured, and, after a delay of two years, Mr. Ramotse was brought to trial and given a heavy sentence.
Despite its total dependence economically on South Africa, the Government of Botswana have had the courage to raise this matter with the South African Government in a formal note. Yet the initial offence was committed not by the South African Government but by men for whom Her Majesty's Government have responsibility and for whom the Foreign Secretary has just asserted his responsibility in the strongest and clearest terms. What protest has the right hon. Gentleman made? What support is he giving to the Government of Botswana in the inquiries which that Government are making of the South African Government at this time? I hope that we shall have some sort of comment on this before the debate is over.
I stress this sinister new development, the moving of Southern Rhodesia into the orbit of a foreign Power, because so much in the past has been made of the kith and kin argument, the fact that many of us and many Rhodesians fought together in the war, against a common enemy. I myself served with Mr. Winston Field, who later became Prime Minister of Rhodesia. But since U.D.I., all this 40 has been changing. In an article in the Sunday Times a fortnight ago, the noble lord, Lord Alport, said that in the last few years there had been fundamental changes not only in the policy of the white minority in Southern Rhodesia but in its very composition. In the last 10 years, over one-third of the 220,000 Europeans had emigrated—these were mainly British—and their place has been largely taken by an influx of immigrants, the majority of these, besides including some embittered emigrés from Zambia and Kenya, being mainly Afrikaaners, Portuguese, Italians and Germans.
Everybody who has studied this matter will agree that the biggest change which has taken place in Southern Rhodesia in the last 12 months is that represented by the introduction of the new republican constitution and the Land Tenure Act which accompanies it. It is no exaggeration to say that the changes wrought by these two measures are bigger than all those carried out in the previous seven years since the Rhodesia Front came to power.
The new constitution has one prime purpose, which is frankly stated in its preamble. Its purpose is to make majority rule impossible for all time. I think that I should read this preamble, for nothing will show better the obstacles facing the right hon. Gentleman if he wishes to find a way towards a negotiated settlement on the basis of the five principles. The introduction to the proposals for a new constitution published by the Rhodesian Government begins as follows:The Government of Rhodesia believe that the present Constitution is no longer acceptable to the people of Rhodesia because it contains a number of objectionable features, the principal ones being that it provides for eventual African rule and, inevitably, the domination of one race by another"—an ironic phrase—and that it does not guarantee that government will be retained in responsible hands. Therefore it is proposed that there should be a new C onstitution which, while reproducing some of the provisions of the existing Constitution, will make certain major changes in order to remove these objectionable features.What are these changes? I summarise them as follows. First, the Africans, although they have a majority of over 20 to one already, and the birth trend suggests that it will be a much larger majority as time passes, will never be given a majority of seats in the Rhodesian Parliament. The maximum they 41 can ever hope for is parity. But this depends on the Africans paying as much income tax as the Europeans. They have been given 16 out of 66 Parliamentary seats already, but they will have no increase in representation until they are paying 26.5 per cent. of all the income tax paid in Rhodesia, and that is 45 times as much income tax as they are paying now, and assuming that European income tax payments do not rise faster than African income tax payments.
In fact, at the present rates of relative growth, it would take the Africans 230 years to reach their existing quota of seats, and 500 years to achieve parity with the Europeans; and they can never be allowed more than parity under the constitution, the clauses of which, incidentally, are heavily entrenched. Secondly, the Government are able to adjust income tax rates in favour of indirect taxation to prevent this ever happening at all. Indeed, they have already changed the basis of taxation so that a great deal more falls on indirect taxation than on income tax.
Thirdly, to ensure that parity never comes about, they are now increasingly attempting to tribalise the Africans. They are adopting a policy of separate development, or apartheid. Under the Land Tenure Act they are dividing the country equally between whites and Africans. The good land is going overwhelmingly to the whites. A large part of the African land is being taken from them immediately as national parks. This Land Tenure Act allows individual ownership to Africans of only about 4 per cent. of the total land in Southern Rhodesia, whereas the Europeans have the right to own about 40 per cent. individually of the land in Rhodesia.
When we add to this the fact that the European child has 10 times as much money spent on his education as the African child, and that under the system of job reservation it is very difficult for the handful of African graduates ever to take fit employment in Southern Rhodesia at all, it can be argued that the new Southern Rhodesian constitution is well to the right of that in South Africa at present.
Certainly the right hon. Gentleman was not exaggerating when he told the House last October:I do not have to go into details of Mr. Smith's income tax regulations or educational 42 policy to make the point. If the constitution goes through Mr. Smith's Parliament …as it has gone through—… he will introduce two rolls—one can and one European, with no common roll—and that, as far as we know from the constitution, in perpetuity.The right hon. Gentleman was correct.Therefore, there is no question that our Parliament or anyone in this country could be a partner in such an enterprise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th October, 1969; Vol. 788, c. 623.]
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
Does not the lamentable tale told to the House lend colour to the view that these negotiations should be launched for the purpose of breaking off sanctions? Will my right hon. Friend seek from the Government side something which we on the back benches may not be able to elucidate, and that is an absolute assurance that it is not their intention to enter into these negotiations solely for the purpose of finishing sanctions—successful or unsuccessful?
§ Mr. Healey
My hon. Friend's natural impatience encourages me to anticipate the winding up section of my speech, but I can assure my hon. Friend that I will not sit down without making this point.
It must be clear—I know it is clear to the Foreign Secretary—that in this situation the prospects of a basis being found for negotiation are almost nonexistent.
§ Mr. Healey
With respect, may I get on a little. I will give way later on. I want to allow plenty of time for back bench opinion, particularly on the Government side, to express itself.
I would not blame a new Government, particularly a Government who have pledged themselves to do such a thing, seeking to find whether there is a basis for some discussion within the limits of the five principles. But I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues on the Front Bench at any rate will agree with me that, even though the failure of such talks is certain, they could gravely damage Britain's image at the United Nations and in the Commonwealth unless it was quite clear they were 43 taking place within the framework of the five principles, for which the Foreign Secretary himself was, as we all know, responsible.
I make this point in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said when he opened the debate, because he will know that on 28th October Mr. Smith said that Britain will have to climb down further than Rhodesia in order to secure a settlement. Mr. Smith went on to say:Rhodesians are under no obligation to accept Britain's five principles and have only one principle for a settlement—that it should be in Rhodesia's interests.What echoes that remark awakens in us. I am sure we have heard it before, and in another context. But plastic Napoleons talk very much the same all over the world.
§ Mr. Cormack
As the right hon. Gentleman has said that he believes that my right hon. Friend has spoken in absolute sincerity and good faith, may I ask whether he really considers that his speech is being helpful, when we must assume for our part on this side of the House that he would like to see a just solution to this wretched problem? Does he consider that to go over all this ground again is being helpful to Her Majesty's Government?
§ Mr. Healey
I would not have made the remarks I have unless I thought that these points were not only helpful but vital to be made at a moment when the British Government are seeking to open negotiations with the Smith régime for a settlement within the framework of the five principles. With great respect to hon. Gentlemen, particularly on the back benches on the Government side, before they cheer too heartily at the prospective opening of talks about talks, they must familiarise themselves with what has happened in Southern Rhodesia in the last 12 months—the new, and, in the view of the Foreign Secretary himself a year ago, insuperable, obstacles which they have raised to any agreement on the basis of the five principles.
The question we must ask ourselves is why, in this situation, is Mr. Smith apparently willing at least to talk about talks. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary was right in suggesting that the main reason is that sanc 44 tions are now beginning to bite seriously. [interruption.] Before hon. Members on the Government back benches sneer, let them recall what the Foreign Secretary said in his opening remarks—that the Southern Rhodesian economy has been seriously distorted and not for the better, by sanctions. Real inconvenience is being caused; and above all, the growth rate in Southern Rhodesia is well below what is needed to meet the population increase. There is now a severe shortage of foreign exchange. Foreign investment in critical areas is now declining. A recent shortage of ammonia, due to a European Government preventing an attempt to break sanctions, is now hitting agriculture throughout the territory. There is a severe shortage of rolling stock.
I am not suggesting, nor have I ever suggested, that the impact of sanctions, given the leak through South Africa, is ever likely in itself to produce a settlement. But I said last year—the right hon. Gentleman did me the kindness of quoting what I said—that they are an absolutely indispensable element in producing a situation in which the position can be changed for the better. Indeed, I was interested to notice that the diplomatic staff of the Daily Telegraph—who act as a transmission belt between the Foreign Secretary and the Tory masses—said the other day:Observers believe that economic troubles are likely to induce Mr. Smith to give a more favourable reception to the new approach planned by Mr. Heath's Government.Mr. Douglas Brown, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, added weight to this opinion.
It may be so, but certainly nothing but the prospect of the maintenance of economic sanctions is likely to produce any change in the attitude of the Smith government. That is why sanctions are so important to anybody who hopes for a negotiated settlement, and above all, to those who hope for a negotiated settlement. Therefore it is vital not only to keep sanctions on before and throughout negotiations—as I understand it, the Foreign Secretary undertook that he would keep sanctions on before and throughout the negotiations—but if the negotiations are to have any chance of success, he must make it clear now that sanctions will continue after the negotiations if the negotiations are not successful.
45 The right hon. Gentleman has great experience in international negotiations. He knows as well as anyone in this House, and certainly as well as any trade unionist on this side of the House, that it is the knowledge of what will happen if negotiations fail which is always the main weapon in negotiations. A clear pledge is needed from the Government on this now, if they are really seeking success. As I understood it, that is what the right hon. Gentleman said when he spoke to the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool a month ago. He said:When I was last in Salisbury, Mr. Smith and I both thought that the right way to handle the matter of sanctions was at the end of a successful negotiation, not before"—not before the end of a successful negotiation. He went on to say:The leader of the party, the Prime Minister, and I, have also stated publicly before the election, at the election and since the election that we will not lift sanctions pending a renewed negotiation.All that I ask the right hon. Gentleman to do is to say "pending a renewed successful negotiation", to make clear what he implied in his speech to the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool last year. If he gives any hint that sanctions may go after the negotiations fail, he is giving Mr. Smith the clearest conceivable incentive to aim at failure in the negotiations, because it is sanctions and only sanctions which have led Mr. Smith as close to the negotiating table as he may be at this moment.
All of us on this side of the House support the Government in renewing the Southern Rhodesia Act. Certainly we support the maintenance of sanctions. We also support the determination not to reach a settlement except within the basis of the five principles. It is nice, for once, to have the chance of a bipartisan policy with right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite on an important matter of African affairs. But I cannot help suspecting that we are supporting the right hon. Gentleman rather as a second supports a boxer between rounds. I hope very much that he will stick to the position that he put clearly at the beginning of the debate: no settlement except within the basis of the five principles. I ask him to accept the logic of the argument that he has no chance of a settlement unless he makes it clear that sanctions will continue after 46 negotiations unless a settlement is reached. I hope, too, that we shall have in the course of this debate answers to the questions that I have raised, including those that I raised on the South African intervention in the affairs of a British territory.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that you will agree that this is a genuine point of order. It has been reported by the Reverend Michael Scott that there are some 74 hon. Members who have a direct or indirect vested interest in the whole South African question, including the Southern Rhodesian question. It is the usual custom and practice for an hon. Member to declare any interest when he addresses the House. That has not been done so frequently in the past. There are many cases where the interest is only indirect and may not have a bearing on the point at issue. The question that we are debating today has a vital bearing upon those hon. Members who may have shares, shareholdings or directorships in South African companies. I would ask you to rule that if any hon. Member, speaking from either side of the House, has such interests, he should declare them, so that hon. Members generally know to what extent any hon. Member addressing the House has a vested interest in the matter that we are debating.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Hon. Members declare an interest in matters in which they have personal interest. But hon. Members may have a personal interest in some questions if it is shared by other hon. Members and is a matter of general policy.
May I remind the House that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak? Reasonably brief speeches will help.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was rather confused by your Ruling. The personal interest referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) was not the kind of interest of view shared by others, but direct financial interest, which my hon. Friend linked both with Southern Rhodesia and the whole of Southern Africa. That is the point that my hon. Friend asked to have brought home to the minds of hon. Members opposite who may wish to speak in the debate.
§ Mr. Speaker
I thought that I ruled clearly. Hon. Members may have a financial interest in some questions being debated in the House. If they share that interest with another group of British citizens, including groups of hon. Members and it is a matter of general policy, there is nothing illegitimate about that.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
In deference to your wishes, Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. My views on Rhodesia are already fairly well known to this House. No one has more strongly denounced the futility of sanctions than I have.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) spoke about the problem of negotiating a settlement with Rhodesia. Most people would agree that the negotiations with the Smith Government conducted by the late Labour Administration were hopelessly mishandled.
If the then Prime Minister, when he went to Salisbury before U.D.I., had offered Mr. Smith the precise terms which he offered him a few years later on board H.M.S. "Fearless", there is no doubt that Mr. Smith would have accepted them with alacrity, and the independence of Rhodesia would have been achieved in an orderly legal fashion in accordance with terms which apparently were subsequently acceptable to the Labour Government.
Sanctions had the exact effect that some of us predicted again and again in this House. They consolidated European opinion in Rhodesia behind the most extreme elements in Mr. Smith's party. They made Rhodesia more and more dependent upon South Africa. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman complaining about it now. It is the policy of his Government which produced that result. Not only has it made Rhodesians increasingly dependent economically upon South Africa. It has driven them more and more into adopting South African racial policies.
The right hon. Gentleman is right when he says that sanctions have bitten. Of course they have. It is inconceivable that they would have no effect. But, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary pointed out, while all have suffered, those who have been most hurt are the African population for whose benefit the sanctions were introduced.
48 In addition to all this, we have gravely damaged our relations with one of our oldest friends, Portugal. We have also thrown away valuable markets in Rhodesia. These have been taken over by other countries, which have perhaps imposed sanctions less strictly. I refer to such countries as France, Germany and Japan. They have replaced us in markets which were important to us, many of which we shall not be able to regain.
My right hon. Friend said today that he was trying to negotiate an honourable settlement with Mr. Smith's Government; and he asked us, in the interval, to accept the continuance of sanctions for a little while longer.
I am extremely impatient to see the end of this tragic dispute and to see the restoration of normal friendly relations with Rhodesia. But since I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend feels exactly the same, and as I have complete confidence in him and in his judgment, I have decided, with considerable reluctance not to oppose this Order and, if necessary, to vote for it.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
The right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) has announced his intention to support the Government on this Order and, if necessary to vote for it. But I wonder whether his reason for doing so is exactly welcome to the Government. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would give his support because he believed that the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues think about the matter in the same way as himself. What is the right hon. Gentleman's way of thinking about it; that he is prepared to put un with sanctions a little longer.
§ Mr. Sandys
I said that I am impatient to see an end to this tragic dispute and to see a settlement reached which will restore friendly and normal relations with Rhodesia. I said that I believed that those were also the hopes and wishes of my right hon. Friend. If the right hon. Gentleman will look in HANSARD tomorrow he will see that that is precisely what I said.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not disputing that and I am not misrepresenting the right hon. Gentleman. He also said that he was getting impatient.
49 What we really need to know is what the attitude of the Government will be in the end. Will it be that put forward in good faith by the Foreign Secretary, or will it be the attitude that we have just heard expressed, namely, "Let us go through the motions and then have a flimsy excuse for getting rid of sanctions"?
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of—
§ Mr. Stewart
The right hon. Gentleman talked about ending this tragic dispute. But it is clear that it can be ended in only one way: by the acceptance of a settlement based on the five principles. That was not clear from the right hon. Gentleman's speech. This is not a dispute simply between Britain and the régime in Rhodesia. The black population, the great majority of the Rhodesian people, is also a party to this dispute. Indeed, in view of the vital nature of racial questions today, all Africa and all mankind are parties to this dispute
This is why I could not agree with the Foreign Secretary when he said that he thought the last Government were wrong to internationalise the matter. By its nature, it had to be a matter of international concern. What else would any British Government have done? Would right hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried to crush the rebellion by force; would they have gone into negotiations without any sanctions or threat of sanctions of any kind; or would they—the greatest absurdity of all—have tried some economic measures against the régime single-handed without the co-operation with the rest of the world?
Accepting the necessity to engage in any kind of measure against the rebellious régime, it was essential to make it an international matter. The fact that we have this Order before us shows that the Government have grasped that point. Any objection to the Order would be an acceptance of all that the Smith régime stands for, and what it stands for was graphically described by my right hon. 50 Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey).
This is no longer a régime which argues that it is in some way the trustee of an ignorant, unsophisticated population which will in time be advanced to full rights. It is now a régime—in my judgment, it always has been—which rests on the doctrine of the permanent inferiority of one race to the other.
The Government say that they will endeavour to resume talks with Mr. Smith. The danger here is that that will simply encourage the rebel régime to think that it has only to go through a certain amount of procedure and sanctions will be called off. However, I accept what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East that, with a new Government coming in, if they are determined, they must have a go.
I want to take up and emphasise what my right hon. Friend said about the Government's attitude to sanctions if the negotiations fail. The plain question put was: if these negotiations fail, is it the Government's resolve to continue with sanctions until a settlement based on the five principles is reached?
The Foreign Secretary said that he would not answer that question because it was a mistake to enter negotiations contemplating that they might fail. But which is worse: to enter into negotiations contemplating that they might fail, or to enter into negotiations in a posture which well-nigh ensures that they will fail? That is what the Government will do if they do not make it quite clear that sanctions will not be removed if the negotiations fail; they will, in the Foreign Secretary's phrase in an earlier debate which was quoted by my right hon. Friend, be removed at the end of a successful negotiation.
At any rate, sanctions are to be retained for the present. I would not ask the Government to do anything about sanctions that their predecessors were not prepared to do. But retaining sanctions is not simply saying. "We are retaining them; we are not going through a formal procedure of calling them off." They have to be continuously and energetically maintained. The policy and practice of the Labour Government was to maintain as careful supervision as they could over sanctions-breaking into Rhodesia and 51 to take up cases of sanctions-breaking, first, with the country concerned, and, secondly, if necessary, with the United Nations. Are the Government prepared to do that? Does their retention of sanctions mean a genuine and energetic determination so that, as far as possible, they are enforced?
There are serious leaks—not only through Portugal and South Africa. In my view, the time was probably ripe for an attempt to give this question further publicity in the United Nations and, if possible, to intensify the enforcement of sanctions. But merely to say, "We will retain them", without any resolve to try to intensify their enforcement would be a meaningless gesture.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Labour Government's policy was a hopeless failure, because all the shops were well stocked with manufactured goods a year or two ago? The only difference from three or four years before is that, instead of being British goods, they were Swiss, French or Japanese.
§ Mr. Stewart
I will come to the effecttiveness of sanctions in a few moments.
So far the Government have given one rather disquieting side of their enthusiasm to maintain sanctions; namely, their action about stamps. This is in a totally different category from their action about marriages. Their action about marriages, rightly, as we have been told, does nothing to legalise any action by the rebel régime. The question of the stamps is an admission that an attempt by the Smith régime to usurp one of the best known and most visible signs of sovereignty, the Queen's head on a stamp, is something that the Government are prepared to accept. It seems to me that one use which people in this country might make of the fact that they have correspondents in Rhodesia is to urge them to return to their allegiance to the Crown and, what is even more important, to return to their duty to mankind.
The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) raised the question of the effectiveness of sanctions. I know the considerable evidence that can be quoted about serious leaks, but there is one impressive piece of evidence which comes from the Smith régime itself. It is an offence 52 punishable by heavy fines and imprisonment under Mr. Smith's régime to publish facts about the country's economy which the régime considers damaging; not to publish facts that are untrue, but to publish facts that the régime does not want to have published.
If sanctions are as ineffective as claimed, why this heavy penal legislation? It is an interesting example of the fact that if a white man begins by tyrannising over blacks, in the end he is driven into a position where he has to tyrannise over his fellow whites as well, and this was strikingly brought out in an article, which I expect many hon. Members read, in one of the Sunday newspapers.
I spoke just now about the efficacy of sanctions and, above all, about the justification of them in view of this country's position in the world. Unless they are continued until in the end a just settlement, in the full implication of that word, is achieved, and unless this country makes it quite clear that it desires them to be continued, and will make its best efforts to see that they are observed not only by us but by others, we shall signal to the whole world that in effect we are approving what the Smith régime is doing. The results of that will be far more serious than the £40 million of our economy every year that sanctions now cost. They will be far more serious than any of the other difficulties that arise from this admittedly harsh and intractible problem, because this is one of the questions on which the future of mankind hangs.
To our Government I say, not only maintain, but persist and intensify, and to the régime in Rhodesia the only thing that one can say is the comment once made by Thomas Jefferson about the institution of slavery in the State of Virginia:I tremble for my country whenI remember that God is just.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
I welcome the announcement of preliminary steps towards negotiation made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I think that they will be very difficult, and that the difficulties have been added to by the speeches of the right hon. Members for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and Fulham (Mr. Michael 53 Stewart). After all, they are the guilty men who have been responsible for driving the Rhodesians towards South Africa, and they are the greatest friends of the extreme right wing in Rhodesia as a result.
Where I differ from my right hon. Friend is on the question whether we should continue sanctions while we negotiate. On 15th July, 1968, my right hon. Friend said:In our opinion"—he was talking about the action which the then Government proposed to take in response to mandatory sanctions—they add up to a complete boycott of investment, trade and contacts between people. Therefore, it is idle to pretend that they are not designed to force a political settlement by breaking the Rhodesian economy. It is to that aspect of sanctions that we on this side of the House have consistently objected, and therefore we shall vote against this Order …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th July, 1968; Vol. 768, c. 1177–8.]I regard sanctions as irrelevant to a settlement.
Equally, I regard sanctions as a matter of conscience. I believe that it is un-Christian and counter-productive for one nation to set a complete boycott on another nation. What are we trying to do? Nobody believes at the moment that we can bring Rhodesia back to dominion status. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East talked rather like some colonial despot, as if he could bring Rhodesia back by objecting to what they were doing. That is past. The mismanagement by the Socialist Government over the last few years has made it impossible to bring Rhodesia back into the Commonwealth. That again is inescapable.
All that we can achieve if, as I hope, we can get an agreement within the five principles is that we can be friends again and that we can help each other towards those ideals in which, in the past, the leaders of Rhodesia, men like Sir Roy Welensky, believed: further, that we can do as we did with America. It took nine years for Britain to recognise the North American colonies. This process of squabble under the previous Socialist Government has now lasted for five years. Are we to wait another four years before we take the sensible step of recognising Rhodesia?
54 Let us see what we ought to be doing. If we believe in a multi-racial society, surely we ought to be trying to press Rhodesia forward to that by our own policy? I suggest to my right hon. Friend that there are four lines of policy that it is our duty as Britain, with a worldwide responsibility, and being a Christian nation, to take in her approach to Rhodesia.
First, we should admit that many mistakes have been made by us and by them in the past. Second, if we are to get sufficient Africans in a position to be given responsibility we should aid Rhodesia with a crash programme of secondary education. At the moment, under the present régime primary education in Rhodesia is far ahead of primary education in any other part of Africa, but secondary education is lagging behind, and therefore Britain should say that she will make sacrifices to see that secondary education amongst the Africans is speeded up.
Third, we must recognise that unless there are opportunities for the educated Africans such a crash programme would add to their disappointment. We must therefore undertake to aid co-operative farming schemes among Africans, and that type of industrial development, which will provide opportunities for a number of educated Africans, Fourth, and this is perhaps the most important of all, I believe that what restricts a good deal the ability of the Africans to take responsibility is ill-health. At the moment about 75 per cent. of the African population in Rhodesia suffer from bilharzia. The medical and pharmaceutical professions in Britain have made such advances that that disease could be eradicated if we were to send out a team of doctors with the necessary drugs to tackle the problem there.
If our negotiating team started on those lines, showing how we could help Rhodesia to go forward to a new constitution under the five principles, and really become, as it was planned to be in the days of Federation, a multi-racial society, I believe that that would be far more likely to succeed than any continuance of a sanctions policy. I believe that it would be a more Christian policy than giving financial assistance to those who are trying to subvert the economy in various parts of the world.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)
No one would question the sincerity of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). With the personal integrity that one has to come to respect from him, he has advanced with great sincerity an argument genuinely held by a number of people not only here but elsewhere—that one way of securing emancipation and progress in Southern Africa is to encourage the economic and social development of Southern Africa as rapidly as possible, thereby drawing into the economic and social system a growing number of Africans who will begin to take their rightful place within society.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this policy achieves its objective. In South Africa itself during the past 10 years, we have certainly seen economic growth. It can be argued that there are, in total, a larger number of Africans in the urban areas of South Africa now than there were at the beginning of the decade, but in terms of the proportionate increase in the size of the total African population of South Africa, there is now a smaller proportion of the African population in the more sophisticated urban areas, the more economically developed areas of South Africa, than there was at the beginning of the decade.
What is also unfortunately true is that, during this decade, although there may have been an increase in the numbers of Africans participating in the more developed economic activity of South Africa, at the same time there is every sort of evidence of the strengthening grip of apartheid and the police state during the same period. Therefore, while I respect the sincerity of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, I am afraid that there is no evidence that any hon. Member can rely on that this argument achieves the emancipation of the African.
The operation of sanctions to date shows that they have inhibited the growth of the Rhodesian economy, have led to inflation and have put great difficulties upon the tobacco farmers, that Rhodesian Railways are encountering increased technical problems in operating efficiency, and that the country has tremendous problems in trying to secure the foreign exchange it needs to maintain its economic activity.
While all this is true, it is obviously also true that sanctions have not brought 56 the régime to its knees. If we are to examine this situation today, it is terribly important that we should analyse why sanctions, internationally applied, have failed. If the international community, having embarked on a policy of economic sanctions against this unrepresentative régime, representing less than a quarter of a million people, less than a twentieth of the total population, fails to succeed through that policy, the lesson for the international community is grim indeed.
What chance has the international community, operating at the United Nations or elsewhere, of succeeding in enforcing collective international opinion where it believes that there is an injustice which must be answered, with anything short of force in future? This is a very grim lesson. It probably means that there is no prospect for effective international sanctions in future if we cannot succeed in this test case of Rhodesia.
On analysis, it is clear that the principal reason for the failure of sanctions lies directly at the feet of the Government of Portugal and South Africa. Both these significant nations, in the context of Southern Africa, have deliberately determined, as an act of priority in their foreign policy, to undermine the will of the international community in its sanctions policy.
If we accept this—no one can really dispute it—it surely brings home to us the impossibility of trying to reach our objectives over Rhodesia in isolation. It might have been possible once to approach the crisis of Rhodesia in isolation, but the situation has now qualitatively changed, and the political, economic, strategic and military position of Rhodesia is inextricably involved now in the economic, political and strategic position of the Portuguese territories and South Africa itself.
If we accept this—few would want to dispute it—both sides of the House must then accept the illogicality of trying to achieve our objective in Rhodesia at the same time as encouraging increased economic involvement in the republic of South Africa, let alone considering the possibility of resuming arms sales to the Republic, the illogicality of trying to achieve our objective in Rhodesia while failing to bring pressure on Portugal or to register our concern that Portugal, 57 as a N.A.T.O. partner, theoretically defending freedom, is indulging in cruelly repressive wars of colonial repression in her territories in Africa. We must accept the illogicality of trying to achieve our objective in Rhodesia while hesitating to condemn forthrightly and completely, as my right hon. Friend said, the presence of South African security forces within Rhodesia.
The Foreign Secretary, in a former capacity as Prime Minister, in one of his first speeches, made a very fine and statesmanlike contribution, I thought, to considering the world situation and facing the realities with which we are confronted. I hope that I am quoting him accurately—he will correct me if I am wrong when I say that, in that early speech, he said:I believe that the greatest danger ahead of us in the world today is that the world might be divided on racial lines. I see no other danger, not even the nuclear bomb, which would be so catastrophic as that"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 52.]Surely, to anyone looking at the Southern African situation at the moment, it is clear that this confrontation between the races is unfortunately and sadly increasing there. It is also true that there is tremendous sophisticated, military and police power at the disposal of the white minority, and that the majority of Africans in this situation have extreme difficulty in ever hoping to oppose effectively the power of the minority.
At a time when we hear a great deal of concern expressed about the Communist threat in the Indian Ocean area, surely we should accept that failure to identify beyond doubt with the legitimate struggle of a majority of the people of Southern Africa for their basic freedoms, for the principle of majority rule, is to play into the hands of the Communists in Africa, with God knows what prospects for the future of world stability.
It has been suggested that it is possible to identify clearly with that majority in their legitimate struggle within the context of the five principles. Some of my hon. Friends will endorse this point, but I wish to make it plain that, although we may feel sad about it, there are people who doubt the possibility of this because it is necessary to re-examine the five principles to see some of their implications.
58 It is the intention that there should be unimpeded progress to majority rule, as enshrined in the 1961 constitution, and this would have to be maintained and guaranteed. There would have to be an immediate improvement in the political status of the African population and there would have to be guarantees against retrospective amendment of the constitution. Her Majesty's Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
Let us consider, first, the issue of guarantees. Would any hon. Member honestly and sincerely argue that it would be possible to have the sort of cast iron guarantees necessary against going back on the principles of any settlement without infringing the sovereignty of Rhodesia? I believe that once Rhodesia was independent, it would be in a position to repeat what we have already seen done in the history of the Republic of South Africa, and that is the complete and cynical throwing aside of any principles enshrined in any settlement. I find precious little evidence in the record of Ian Smith and his illegal régime to suggest that we could have any ground for trusting them to fulfil the terms of any agreement beyond the time of that agreement being initialled and signed.
The right hon. Gentleman sounded courageous when he said that it would be wrong to go into negotiations anticipating failure. I ally myself completely with those who argue that the basis of any sensible negotiations must be that the people with whom one is negotiating realise that one has thought the matter through sufficiently well to know what one will do if the negotiations do not work out. If we say that we are not anticipating failure then, whether or not we intend it, that statement will be interpreted by millions of people throughout the African Continent to mean that we are putting a premium on coming to terms, on any face-saving basis possible, with the illegal régime. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In an already delicate situation between this country and the majority of the people of the African Continent, this is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs.
The right hon. Gentleman's words about sanctions contained a certain 59 ambiguity. My hon. Friends have already suggested that Ian Smith might feel that he would have nothing whatever to lose by standing out, because even if the negotiations were to fail, we would set about dismantling our sanctions policy. Considering the right hon. Gentleman's words, one must accept that that will be felt in the African Continent. We should, therefore, contemplate what would be the logical result of dismantling sanctions. The results can be spelt out in a few words and no doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite have thought them out just as I have.
First, we would immediately begin to get increasingly involved economically in the life of Rhodesia. Second, we would begin to get, as a result of that, an increased vested interest in an economic and social system which is based on exploitation, repression and police state methods. Third, this increased economic involvement would lead to increased pressure for recognition, and I suspect that that recognition would be difficult to resist. Fourth, we would then have taken one further step towards being identified with an unrepresentative, repressive white minority in the South African Continent. There is no reason, therefore, why we should hesitate to make it plain at this stage that unless we can get a satisfactory settlement—and I have expressed my doubts about that—we would continue our sanctions policy without hesitation.
The right hon. Gentleman referred—I respect his view but I wish to examine it more closely—with some horror, and I believe it was genuine horror, to the increased emphasis now being placed by some people on violence as the only means of solving the situation in Southern Africa.
I put it to him that some people in this country who find themselves unable to dissociate themselves from supporting the freedom fighters recoil from the concept of violence every bit as much as the right hon. Gentleman does. However, we must analyse what violence is.
Looking at the situation in Southern Africa, some people analysing what has happened in the last 10 years might say that in respect of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, the Administration in South-West Africa and the illegal régime which we are discussing in 60 Rhodesia, the fundamentally important point about them all is the violence which they themselves epitomise.
We are speaking of systems which enable people to be imprisoned without proper trial, which enable torture to take place and which enable invasion by the Administration of principles of free education as we understand them here. I will repeat a story which I heard the other day. I promise to give only this one example to bring home the point I am making. It concerns an otherwise peaceful Rhodesian who had been involved for some time, together with other Rhodesians, in undertaking some political organisational work which would have been thought fairly harmless in our free political society in Britain.
He was arranging meetings at which Mr. Nkomo was to speak. Because of his involvement in arranging these matters on a number of occasions, it was decided by the authorities that his activities were no longer acceptable. The police arrived at his home one day while his wife was out shopping. He lived some distance from the town. The police informed him that they were taking him into custody, and he asked whether it would be possible to wait until his wife returned because he had young children in the house. He was told that that would be impossible.
At that point the police openly drew their revolvers because they were afraid that he might resist arrest—I wish to be fair in relating this story. In the end, to cut a rather painful long story short, he was driven off by the police in a car, while his wife was still in town shopping, away from his home to the police station. He had to leave his young children, one aged 4, behind, sitting weeping on the garden path. There they sat as their father disappeared in police custody.
In this situation, where is the violence? Some of us have sadly come to the conclusion that faced with this sort of powerful repression—as we have watched courageous attempts for the last 20 years, attempts in non-violent terms perhaps unrivalled in human history; attempts at peaceful resistance by the majority of the people of Southern Africa—it is now not for us to condemn them if they feel that they have no alternative but to turn to less pleasant, indeed more violent, attempts.
61 Many of them now feel that they must go against what have been their own deeply held philosophical convictions. While it would have been extremely wrong for anyone in the comfort of this House or this country to take the initiative in encouraging the people of Southern Africa to take this form of action, just as it would have been wicked to encourage the freedom fighters in Czechoslovakia a couple of years ago or the people of Hungary in 1956, once the people involved, having tried every other technique at their disposal, have come to the conclusion that they have no alternative, it is a very real moral predicament for us in this country, and in the West generally, to decide what our reaction should be.
In this situation I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that if people on the spot decide that this is the only way in which they can defend their cause, we must be prepared to identify with that struggle. I cannot say how sad I am—
§ Mr. John Biffen (Oswestry)
The hon. Gentleman makes a fairly important point when he advocates identification with the guerrilla fighters in Southern Africa. Would he spell out what that means in terms of a policy he would recommend to this Government or any alternative United Kingdom Government?
§ Mr. Judd
Yes, and without hesitation. We should follow the example of the Government of Sweden who have decided that they are prepared to supply medical equipment and educational equipment to the liberated areas of the Portuguese territories, and to support the rudimentary administrations there. It starts by realising that we cannot out of hand condemn the people who have taken this course of violence, but must be prepared to explain to the British public why they see no alternative in the present situation.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
Would the hon. Gentleman apply his line of reasoning to causes with which he disagrees as well as to causes with which he plainly agrees?
§ Mr. Biffen
With respect to the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), this is an important matter. On the specific point concerning Southern Africa, would the hon. Gentleman himself advocate, and advocate the Government's advocating, the supply of arms to the guerrillas?
§ Mr. Judd
At this stage I would not advocate that, but I believe that we have a moral responsibility to look to the civil needs of the people involved in the struggle. In the same way I am not advocating—I am completely and fundamentally opposed to—the supply of arms to the Republic of South Africa, because I see this essentially as a civil war, but I accept that just as we should not be prepared to deny medical and educational equipment to South Africa, so I do not see why we should not at this stage provide educational equipment, medical equipment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Money?"] I would be prepared for these needs to supply money at this stage to the forces fighting.
In this situation there is one other point we must all accept, and I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to understand that there has been a good deal of honest heart-searching on the part of many of us on this side before coming to this conclusion. If we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we must be prepared to understand, interpret and, where necessary, identify with the legitimate struggle of the majority in the predicament in which they find themselves, it means that we must continue with all the resolve at our disposal to bring to bear on the unrepresentative minority régimes the external pressures that are necessary as a possible alternative means of solving the problem. If we on this side believe this, and if we see the picture in this perspective, it is even more incumbent on hon. and right hon. Members opposite to do everything possible at their disposal to bring to bear those external pressures.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
I followed the first part of the speech of the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) with attention 63 and interest, because although I was not in agreement with all that he said—I did not expect to be—I felt that the disagreement fell within the normal range of Parliamentary difference. In the last part of his speech I felt that the hon. Gentleman fell sadly below his earlier standard. I greatly regret that he has seen fit to utter, in the very cradle of parliamentary democracy words, which will be widely interpreted as an incentive to violence and sympathy with terrorism. I believe that that part of his speech will be keenly resented and widely and extensively repudiated by the sense and sentiment of the House.
I do not intend to follow the hon. Gentleman further into these matters, but propose instead for a moment to do something which, perhaps strangely, has so far been absent from the debate. I propose to refer to the terms of the Section which this Order proposes to continue. The terms of the Section fall into two categories; the economic category, which has figured in the debate, and the constitutional category to which little reference has so far been made.
The fact is that paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 2(2) of the Act of 1965 make it possible for Orders in Council to make constitutional arrangements for Southern Rhodesia. My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), in an admirable speech, referred to dominion status, but it is not, of course, dominion status that is contemplated. It is colonial status which figures in the Southern Rhodesia (Constitution) Order of 1965, which I imagine right hon. Gentlemen opposite are only too anxious to forget.
The powers that we are being asked to continue are wholly academic. Successive Prime Ministers having provided, in Sir Winston's phrase, for the dissolution of the British Empire, we have dismantled the apparatus of empire. The inhibitions on colonial government are even greater and more compelling than those described by Burke in the 1780s in the context of American Independence: what he called.. the immutable condition and eternal law of extensive and detached empire.The inhibitions that Burke had in mind, of course, were those of time and distance:Months pass and seas roll between the order and the execution.64 Today all that is different. Although we are dealing with twice as great a distance, we are not dealing in months but in hours.
Now it is not a question of time and distance but a more radical question. The inhibitions on imposing a colonial form of government, as it was sought to do in 1965, are more radical: they are inhibitions of ways and means. In 1970 we lack the power, even if we had the will, to impose colonial rule, and it is not something that can be reassumed at will to suit an individual occasion. We cannot exercise colonial rule without a colonial structure. Still less can we put the clock back half a century and bring in a centralised form of government that has not been known for 50 years.
So all that part of the Section and all that part, therefore, of the Order, is really only window dressing. It belongs to the period of 1965 when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) was talking of a solution in weeks, not months. But the weeks have become months, the months have become years, and five years is long enough to recognise the unreality of direct government from Whitehall. Therefore, this part of the Section and this part of the Order are not the heart of the matter, because they are only academic, but it is a well known principle that it tends to bring the law into contempt to legislate for powers that cannot be effective.
I come then, to the nub of the matter, to paragraph (c), which is the provision on which depends the continuance of the Sanctions Order, its principal product—the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order, 1968. We considered the Sanctions Order in 1968, those of us who were in the House at that time. We had to consider it in the context of its legality, its necessity, its utility and whether it was right. I thought then that in the context of those things we should oppose the Order, and I did so. So did 246 of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I have thought about it again in the light of the same principles, and I am of the same mind.
I make quite clear to the House, as I have before, the background from which I approach the matter—certainly not as an apologist for the régime, certainly not because I have any sympathy with apartheid or similar racial 65 manifestations. On the contrary, I have friends and associates—personal, professional and political—of many races in many lands. Overseas I am a member of the Bar of what is perhaps the most multi-racial country in the world, and proud to be so. Here in London I am a member of an institution which has done much to teach the great principles of the rule of law to Commonwealth students of every race and creed.
My approach is legal, constitutional and practical as to what is best for Rhodesia and what is best for Britain, against the general background that agreed settlements are better than dictated ones. On this approach I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the continuance of sanctions is neither helpful nor justified. In the last Parliament Sir Lionel Heald and I argued that the original reference to the United Nations was misconceived in law. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) took the same view and it was powerfully echoed in authoritative quarters on the other side of the Atlantic. I will not go into that argument again now. I believe that it is true and it has never been met.
As right hon. and hon. Gentlemen know, sanctions derive from Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations. Originally the right hon. Member for Huyton said that the reference was not under Chapter 7. He had to say that, because the conditions of Chapter 7 had never been satisfied—an indispensable preliminary to a valid imposition of international sanctions. Sir Lionel and I asked that the advisory opinion of the International Court should be taken under Section 65 of its Statute, but characteristically nothing was done.
I cordially agree with my right hon. Friend the present Foreign Secretary thatThe first of the reasons why we on this side will have nothing to do with these mandatory sanctions is that, by handing over decisions to the United Nations, the British Government have surrendered control and direction of the policy, and the mandatory sanctions laid down in the Order are vindictive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1968; Vol. 766, c. 748.]So much for the constitutional and legal side.
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan (Cardigan)
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentle 66 man's argument about legality fall down flat when he considers that the legality of the Order can stem only from the legality of the parent Act, an Act whose legality he does not challenge?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
The hon. Gentleman is getting a little confused. Of course within our domestic jurisdiction Parliament has the right to pass any legislation which it pleases. We are not discussing that. We are discussing what we ought to do; and what we ought to do depends on whether or not there is a validity in the original reference from which these international sanctions sprang.
I believe that on practical grounds the balance of argument is also against. I do not want to go into the detail of it with the House. We have discussed these matters before. There are many reasons for taking that view. In many respects, the sanctions Order is itself unenforceable because, as for example in Article 5, it purports to regulate conduct within Southern Rhodesia and that we could do only if the Government here exercised not only de jure sovereignty but de facto sovereignty, which quite manifestly they do not.
Next, there has been a general consensus of opinion this afternoon in regard to the effect on Rhodesia, and it ties in with What Sir Roy Welensky is reported as saying in The Times of today. The fact is that sanctions have been painful, in Rhodesia. Of course they have—painful to all races, and painful in particular to the Africans. Although painful, they have not been decisive, as the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West admitted. They have not brought the régime down and they are not likely to. Even if they did, it is not apparent that there is anybody to take their place or at any rate anybody who would take a more liberal view than they did.
Then, the House is not only entitled but obliged to consider the effect on Britain, because we who sit in Parliament represent Britain. The effect is £40 million a year, we are told. The danger, perhaps now an established fact, is that our trade will be permanently lost to the less vigilant or less scrupulous nations of the United Nations. Who is to benefit? Not the Rhodesians. Not the British. The only beneficiaries are likely to be those 67 who are mainly the beneficiaries in all the unhappy conflicts in the world today—those who practise neither parliamentary democracy nor racial tolerance.
I have in the course of my observations referred once or twice to what I have said on previous occasions; and for that I apologise. May I now with fitting humility ask a question in the words ascribed by Shakespeare to Metellus Cimber all those years ago:Is there no voice more worthy than my own,To sound more sweetly in great Caesar's ear?I think that I have found such a voice. I take these words from HANSARD for 17th June, 1968:When we see the British Government surrendering control of the situation to others; when we see the danger of the increasing use of force and the increasing number of terrorists in Central Africa, and that terrorism condoned by others; when we see that the victims of sanctions in Rhodesia are bound to be the Africans inside Rhodesia and the Africans in Zambia; and when we see that the effect on Rhodesia is to drive the Rhodesians more and more into South Africa's arms, we feel that the policy of mandatory sanctions must be condemned, and as an Opposition can have no part in it at all."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 17th June, 1968; Vol. 766, c. 753–4]The voice to sound more sweetly was that of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I agreed with it then and I agree with it now. I believe that the logic of the case is that sanctions, be they international or be their national, in principle and in practice have been weighed in the balance and found wanting and should now be discontinued.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
Although we are speaking in the debate from unaccustomed positions, I fear that in relation to our arguments there is much that is stale and rather time-worn in what has preceded and, I suspect, in what will succeed us in the debate. Inevitably, many of us over the years have formed firm opinions about what ought or ought not to be done in the Rhodesian situation and we have outlined the arguments, sometimes ad nauseam, in the past.
There was one point which arose in the course of the Foreign Secretary's speech where I thought that he failed to see, not what are the dangers and diffi 68 culties of entering into discussions, but what will be the position at the end, whether or not we succeed. At one stage the right hon. Gentleman said that the previous Government had made a serious mistake in internationalising this matter. For the reasons which my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) indicated, if the policy of sanctions was to be pursued it was inevitable that we had to seek the support of the rest of the international community, so to that extent we had to internationalise.
In addition, this is a matter which we could not in the nature of things keep to ourselves. It is not simply a question of the relationships between Her Majesty's Government and the Government in Rhodesia. There are implications for people, particularly in Central Africa, far outside the nice diplomatic confines of the ordinary diplomatic overtures. This is a matter which deeply touches people of all races, but particularly Africans, in Central Africa.
Although I recognise that the gulf between hon. Members opposite and some of my hon. Friends and myself on this issue is irreconcilable, and although I recognise their sincerity, as I know that they recognise ours, I want to undertake the perhaps hopeless task of trying to see the issue for a few moments through the eyes of Africans.
We shall not simply come to any nice settlement with Mr. Smith and expect that that will not have some repercussions upon African opinion in Central Africa, which in turn must have the profoundest effects upon our relations with those States. Those, too, have to be weighed in the balance when we come to consider the risks and advantages of a settlement.
Somebody said something about our trade with Rhodesia. What is to happen to our trade with Zambia and Nigeria? What is to happen to the trade that we could have with Kenya? What would happen to the white populations in Kenya and Zambia if we failed to appreciate that for Africans this is a matter of the deepest moment?
I do not think that I can better help the House than by reciting a conversation I had with the very wise and shrewd United States Ambassador to Zambia on the first occasion that I went to Zambia. 69 I had reached Zambia from other parts of East Africa where I had noticed, as I am sure hon. Members who have visited the areas will know well, the extrovert nature of the African, the easy friendliness with which he engaged one in conversation, and the way in which he discussed his problems.
On reaching Zambia what I noticed particularly—this was two years after U.D.I.—was that there was a kind of sullen suspicion by the ordinary African in the street at any white face. Even Africans working in hotels had the appearance that somehow there was a gulf fixed between white visitors and themselves.
In the public offices were displayed the types of notice which were displayed in public offices here during the war—"Remember that idle conversation may get back to the enemy. Watch your tongue. Be careful about suspicious contacts with strangers". There was that kind of closed mentality. I said to Bob Good, the United States Ambassador, when I first met him, "What is it that explains this curious insensitivity, which I have not found anywhere else in the other parts of East Africa that I have visited?". He said "What you have to understand about Zambia is this. The Zambians are a wedge stuck into the rest of white Africa and they feel enclosed. They feel that they only escaped the kind of fate that affects their brethren in Rhodesia and South Africa by the skin of their teeth. Only by the breakdown of the Central African Federation were they kept out of this kind of white dominance. For them, it is a matter of personal feeling that their support should be given to those in white Africa who are fighting for the equal standing of the Africans". Therefore, there always will be this concern—a deep concern which some hon. Members opposite dismiss as emotionalism.
Some of our deepest understandings, some of our most tender feelings, are at root emotional and not rational. Some of our attitudes to religion, to culture and to art, and, most of all, our attitude to each other—personal relationships at their deepest level—are emotional. Simply to dismiss it as though this was part of the human understanding that had no place in politics is to fail to understand a real and vital fact. Africans cannot accept that they should sit by 70 whilst there is perpetuated in Southern Africa the dominance of the white race. They will not accept it.
If this House approves a settlement purporting to be within the five principles, which patently it is not, we cannot expect that that will not have the deepest repercussions in the rest of Africa; and, according to the latest reports to the Africa Bureau about the depth of economic involvement in white Africa as against black Africa, our potential is greater in black Africa than it is in white Africa. So at the level where most hon. Members opposite seem to make their decisions, even at that level, we have much to cause us to be careful in entering into these discussions.
The Foreign Secretary says that there is no question of coming to an agreement which is not within the five principles. I treat that with some scepticism. I remember that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition on two occasions was prepared to make overtures for a settlement on the basis of the six principles, which I for one found difficult to reconcile with the six principles. But if it was impossible to feel that the proposed "Fearless" settlement was within the five principles, how much more difficult is it going to be now that the Rhodesians have openly and publicly committed themselves to a constitution which enshrines perpetually the fact that Africans can never move to majority rule. Anything less will not satisfy the Africans in Rhodesia, and still less will it satisfy the Africans in other States where they already enjoy majority rule and where they believe that they are pursuing a better and happier life as a result. Therefore, I view this whole approach with some cynicism.
The Foreign Secretary says that we must make a last attempt I suppose that in the nature of party politics he must feel that he will be better at negotiating with Ian Smith than his predessors were. Even if that be true, I suspect that he will be just as unsuccessful, and if he were to be successful at a purported agreement on the five principles, clearly we would be in for a major tragedy. But what is to happen if he fails? Suppose that even the skill of the right hon. Gentleman is not enough to overcome the race prejudice of Mr. Ian Smith? What 71 is to happen to sanctions after that? What will happen to the mood and opinions in Central Africa? The right hon. Gentleman said that a settlement on the five principles would ease the tensions which are poisoning the Southern African situation. But a failure is likely to exacerbate those tensions still more. Then everybody on both sides of the argument will have tried to get a settlement and will not have got one. Then the African will know that there is no hope.
The only argument which the right hon. Gentleman and The Times between them can set against those who have approved of terrorism is that it is the argument of pessimism, that it indicates that there is no hope. What is to happen when the right hon. Gentleman goes through the motions of seeing the delegation from Salisbury and, at the end, comes to this House and says, "We have tried but it is not possible within the five principles to come to any settlement"? What effect will that have on the Africans in Rhodesia? What effect will it have on the freedom fighters along the Zambesi? It must confirm what they believe now, but which at least some Africans do not believe. It must confirm their worst fears that there is only one way in which they can succeed in attaining for themselves the dignity which we have, and which the right hon. Gentleman says we have because of our parliamentary institutions.
I only remind the right hon. Gentleman that we established those Parliamentary institutions also out of violence. We fought in the past in order to achieve the dignity and the status that we have now, speaking in freedom and enjoying this division of opinion in peace. That is all that the African is asking for. If he attains it—and it seems to me that he must attain it soon—and if he cannot attain it by agreement, the only course for him will be violence.
Although I understand why the right hon. Gentleman has embarked on this round of talks again, it was profoundly dangerous to do so. It will exacerbate and not diminish the tensions which already exist in Central Africa.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
The hon. Member for York 72 (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) is undoubtedly right in saying that in the debate on this Motion we necessarily traverse again a good deal of well-trodden ground. He is right, too, in saying that it is a subject charged and shot through by emotion of many kinds. Nevertheless we have to endeavuor as best we can to bring reasoning and reality to bear upon it.
The House is being asked today for the sixth time to enact or to continue what is an essential absurdity and one which has become more blatant with the passage of those five years. It is quite true that the present Order happily does not renew the patently absurd declaratory first Section of the Act of 1965. But, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) made clear, those parts of the Act which it does renew still involve the same basic unreality of asserting that Her Majesty's Government and this House retain a responsibility for Southern Rhodesia because the writs of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom runs there. It does not run there. That is imagination and not fact.
The fact was disclosed a few days ago when the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) had a Written Question to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. My hon. Friend replied:Her Majesty's Government have no power on the ground to control the activities of the Rhodesian police."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1970; Vol. 805, c. 263.]That is the world of reality. It is to a world of make-believe that the 1965 Act and the parts which are being renewed today belong.
The decision whether to do this or not rests firmly with this House. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made that quite clear. I think he did not refer at any point in his speech to the United Nations. He certainly did not seek to argue that the hands of this House are bound by any resolution of the United Nations. Clearly, therefore, he believes, and his advice is, that it is in our power to do or not to do, to renew or not to renew, to maintain sanctions or to abandon sanctions. Had he not believed that, my right hon. Friend must of necessity have come to the Box and said to the House, "I am placing this Order before you this afternoon but, of course, the 73 House has no choice but to accept it because it is mandatory upon this House and upon the Government". The whole tenor of the debate to this moment from its opening by my right hon. Friend implied perfectly clearly that we are not bound as indeed it would be intolerable that we should be bound—that we have to take our own decision and cannot refer the power or the responsibility for our decision anywhere else.
The ground which is urged for renewing sanctions and the powers under which they are operated is that Her Majesty's Government wish to engage in a negotiation with the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia—that they want, in my right hon. Friend's words, "one more try". The first question, therefore, is whether the prospects—and I will consider them a little at large later—for a settlement, for a successful negotiation, are dependent upon the continuance of sanctions or are even enhanced by the continuance of sanctions. For my part, it appears to me that the continuance of sanctions so far from being a trump card, a powerful bargaining lever, is not one at all.
Here is a process which has been put into effect over five years with increasing endeavour. Over those five years it has not only had no effect, but the régime in Southern Rhodesia has moved steadily and inexorably towards the ultimate breach, which they have now accomlished in every possible form which was open to them. I do not believe that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who opened the debate for the Opposition, can seriously believe that that progress of events was affected one way or the other by a dozen or two dozen hon. Members of this House going or not going into the Lobby in past years against sanctions. Sanctions have failed at every stage to bring pressure and duress to bear upon those who are in charge in Southern Rhodesia. It seems to me hard to argue that because we are armed with them in 1970 or 1971 we have a bargaining counter, a lever, a force. It might be easier to argue the contrary.
But my right hon. Friend's difficulty is even greater than that. "One more try": those are his words. The implications of those words have been brought out in more than one speech in this 74 debate. My right hon. Friend is not saying to the House or to the benches behind him, "I am going to initiate, if I can, a new round of negotiations with the Smith régime. But make no mistake: I shall be back again with this Order next year, and the year after, and the year after that until, if I ever do, I get a settlement on the five principles". I respect the care with which my right hon. Friend phrased what he said, but the reality is that, if the Government claim these powers in order to make "one more try", by implication when that try is over, whatever be the outcome, they will not again ask for sanctions to be authorised by the House. Whatever formula then is used, my right hon. Friend will, in effect, be going to Mr. Smith and saying, "Mr. Smith, this is your last chance. This time you had better settle—or we shall have to consider removing sanctions". What an arm-breaking clinch! What an irresistible argument! Yet this is deeply implicit in the stance which Her Majesty's Government have taken and in the grounds on which they ask the House to pass the Motion.
We must go beyond that argument, transparent as it is, and look at the realities of a prospect of a settlement. What do we in this House mean by a "settlement"? It can be an ambiguous word—and, I shall presently suggest, a dangerously ambiguous word—but at any rate both sides of the House are agreed on what we mean by it. We mean a constitution of Southern Rhodesia, agreed between Her Majesty's Government and whatever authority there be in Southern Rhodesia, which would enable this House to enact on the Statute Book of this country an independence constitution for Southern Rhodesia, as we have enacted it for so many territories in the past. We have all said that there can be no question of such a constitution being enacted by this House which does not conform to what are called the five principles. I have said repeatedly outside and inside this House that if such legislation were ever to be proposed I would not go into the Lobby in support of it.
But what possibility, what likelihood, is there that, after all that has passed, after those in charge in Rhodesia have severed one by one every link with this country—links which they treasured, links which they would fain have retained 75 —after they have made themselves, in form and indeed in reality, an independent republic, they would submit to have this House enact the very constitution to avoid which they have lived through these last five years and are able and prepared to go on living through the years to come? The prospect of a settlement in those terms, which are the only terms about which we in this House can talk, beggars imagination.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who is a knower of men and a knower of these things as few besides, is not deceived as to what the chances are. He knows perfectly well that the chances of a settlement, thus defined and thus acceptable, are negligible—one in a hundred? one in a thousand? But people say, "What of it? It would be such a wonderful thing—would it not?—if it were possible. Why not go for the one in a hundred chance? Why not go for the one in a thousand chance?" I have heard this said by some of my hon. and right hon. Friends. They say, "What harm is there, however remote the possibility, in one last try?". There is harm; there is danger.
Sooner or later, whether we like it or not, this country will have to recognise reality, and the reality is that, against our will and against our wishes, there has come into existence, there exists and, so far as is foreseeable, there will continue to exist a sovereign, independent republic in Southern Rhodesia. Sooner or later we shall have to admit that to be fact. Of course, we shall not be required to enact the constitution of that independent republic, any more than in 1783 we wrote the constitution of the United States on to the Statute Book of the United Kingdom. All that will be required, when the moment of truth comes, will simply be that we shall have to legislate to clear up perhaps the inevitable odds and ends when such a political earthquake is recognised to have taken place.
But the danger is this. Since that must come sooner or later—and most people in the House and outside think the sooner that reality comes the better—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—Yes, but if my right hon. Friends go for "one more try" for a just and honourable settlement—and we know what they mean; they have been clear, frank and 76 candid about what they mean—and in the end we settle, as we must, for a recognition of reality, which will be something quite different, quite a different meaning of "settlement"—then I very much fear that there will attach to Her Majesty's Government the sense, the misunderstanding, the imputation of a kind of dishonesty, of having promised one course and fallen back upon another, of having professed the five principles and run away from them. That will not be true, but I fear very much that, in the face of the country and of the world, there is all too much danger that it will seem to be what the Government have done.
There is indeed a danger, as there usually is in politics and in life, in attempting the remotely improbable, just because it is something that we dearly wish might happen. I believe that that is a danger which my right hon. Friends in the Government are incurring. That is why this afternoon I believe that the House, and certainly my hon. Friends, should take their resolution. When an unpleasant reality has to be recognised, when a transition has to be made from make believe to the daylight world, as we have got to make it in this matter of Southern Rhodesia, the process does not become any less painful by the lapse of time. It becomes harder, more painful, more rending and tearing when it comes about, the greater the delay that is interposed. There is now a new Parliament, a new Government. This is the time to leave behind make believe and to face the truth.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South-West)
I am very pleased to be following that speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). It displayed two qualities which he applies to most subjects on which he speaks. First, there was an apparently dispassionate analysis of the situation, and a recognition of the facts with which I would not at all disagree. Secondly, there was the ability to come, I would say, to precisely the wrong conclusion on the facts.
He implied that the only case for continuing sanctions against Rhodesia was the hope of achieving a settlement such as the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign 77 Secretary intends to attempt, a settlement which would allow us to give independence within the five or six principles. I wish to suggest in the next few minutes that there is a more important and up-to-date reason why sanctions should be continued, but I certainly agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the chances of getting any settlement which could be regarded as falling within the six principles are utterly negligible.
This debate has certainly struck a very sober note, and I think it is desirable that it should do so given the responsibility of this House for five million souls in Rhodesia. The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) suggested that we should bear in mind our responsibilities to our constituents in this country. I suggest that in the absence of any effective representation for the five million Africans in Rhodesia, we should do well, too, to recognise in this debate that we owe them something.
The fact is that the differences of opinion in this House matter very little to the people who are suffering now in the prisons and detention camps in Rhodesia. I have several friends who are in prison in the detention camps in Rhodesia. I have myself spent a night in one of Smith's restriction camps as they were before U.D.I., and I do not believe that to the inmates of those camps many of the debates which have taken place in this House over the past five years have mattered at all. The differences between people in this House do not matter to them, but what matters is the extent of the agreement which there has been, unfortunately, in this House not to take certain actions which alone would further the interests of those inmates of those institutions in Rhodesia.
I wish to suggest that the prevailing characteristic of debates in this House on this subject has been self-deception, and it was for the lack of self-deception that I welcomed the initial comments made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. There never was a chance that guarantees would ensure the progress of Rhodesia to a democratic form of government. There never was a chance of that. It was not always clear that there was not a chance, but it is certainly clear now, and I suggest that anyone who, at this stage in the proceedings, 78 still believes that it is possible that the rulers of Rhodesia will give themselves over to what they believe would be a form of life which would subvert their safety and their well being has got his head thoroughly deeply in the sands. They will not agree to that. They never would have agreed with that.
The only way in which we could have compelled them to agree was by the use of direct force, and I believe that there would have been no more honourable or proper use of our military forces, at any time or any place since the war, than to ensure, in this colony for which we were legally responsible, the maintenance of the law, and it is a matter of shame that this House should have been prepared to take upon itself direct responsibility for the government of Rhodesia but not have been prepared to do what any Government must be prepared to do in the last resort—to use military means to enforce the law.
Not having been prepared to do so, then let us recognise now that sanctions are not going to work in the sense in which they were originally intended to work. The intention of sanctions was that we would bring about a new régime in Rhodesia which would be prepared to operate a different kind of government. Now that has gone; that has passed; that is certainly not going to happen.
There has been confusion between sanctions biting and sanctions working. Sanctions can bite; they can have effect, without bringing about any change in the political situation, and that is the general position with which we are faced now. Does that mean that therefore we should be prepared to withdraw sanctions? At this point I find myself in intense disagreement with those on the other side who have suggested that.
I suspect that this debate is not the end of one series of debates about achieving political change in Rhodesia. It is the beginning of a new series of debates about whether we are going to terminate sanctions, given that there is not going to be any change in the political situation in Rhodesia.
When we discuss the Republic of South Africa it is frequently pointed out that one reason why we should not take stronger actions, use stronger words, against the apartheid régime in South 79 Africa is our enormous economic stake in that country. At the moment we have a small economic stake in Rhodesia, albeit smaller because for the last few years there have been restrictions—they have been evaded but there have been restrictions—on the establishment of economic relations with Rhodesia.
If we decide now to restore normal relations with Rhodesia then what we shall be doing is re-establishing with Rhodesia the same kind of bilateral economic interdependence which we also have with the Republic of South Africa. An hon. Gentleman opposite says "Hear, hear". Of course, that is exactly what the hon. Member wants; he wants us to have with Rhodesia that kind of relationship; he wants it to be difficult for any British Government to apply any pressure to change the political situation within that country; but overtly, at least to voice the opinion the Government express—great abhorrence of the system of government in South Africa and Rhodesia; and they might be prepared to exercise slight pressure towards liberalisation, for what that might be worth, were it not for the fact that, in the case of South Africa, we have such an intense interest in the economic status quo.
I wish to argue that it is because we do not want now to re-establish the same interest in the status quo in Rhodesia that we should be prepared to continue sanctions despite our recognition that we are not going to change the political situation within Rhodesia.
Finally, we need to acknowledge some modesty in what we are currently likely to achieve in that area. Nothing that the Government do will change the future of central and southern Africa. They will not, in supplying arms to South Africa or in anything else, decide whether whites or blacks in the end govern that part of the world. That will be determined by far stronger forces than one or two British frigates sent for presentational purposes. What they will decide is the place where Britain's voice is heard on this kind of matter. Which side will Britain be on when the world divides, as it will, on racial lines in that area? Shall we be on the side of the Czars, because that is the equivalent today, or shall we be on the side of the future?
80 Hon. Gentlemen opposite should take into account another consideration, that is that they are not deciding the future of the world: they are, to a great extent, deciding the future of the Conservative Party, if nothing else. What kind of Conservative Party will it be? I have an impartial view of that subject, but I suggest that the Conservative Party has succeeded in keeping itself in being since 1832 mainly because it has been prepared to keep admittedly a good deal behind the times but not to stay static. If it insists on staying static on a great international issue like this, and falling too far behind the times, the Conservative Party will knock itself cleanly out of British politics.
For that reason, and for the other reasons I gave, hon. Gentlemen opposite should recognise that there is an important reason for continuing to apply sanctions against Rhodesia, despite our recognition that no political change is likely to result there.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)
To save time, I would put only one rhetorical question to the hon. Member for White-haven (Dr. John A. Cunningham). Would he make the same speech if the present round of prospective negotiations fail, in six, seven, eight, nine or ten years—ad infinitum? As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary intimated, there must be a point at which we know we have to face reality.
I have three small comments to make first. One is to the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) who, I think, spoke about stamps. In fact, the situation in Rhodesia is that a surcharge is payable in this country if the Rhodesians choose to use one of the new Republican stamps. If, at precisely the same cost of buying one of those stamps, they go to the Philatelic Agency, an agency of the Government, they can buy one of the old stamps and no surcharge is payable. This makes it even more farcical, therefore. The only person hurt is not the man over there but the person over here whose relatives may have written to him.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart
It is not a question of money. Is the hon. Gentleman saying it is a matter of indifference to him whether the stamp bears the Queen's 81 head or whether it asserts the authority of an illegal régime?
§ Sir F. Bennett
I never mentioned the word "indifferent". In common with other hon. Members, I am trying today to talk about facts, and I was correcting the right hon. Gentleman on facts which he had entirely wrong.
He also mentioned laws having been made which prevented the publication of economic facts about life in Rhodesia. He implied that this meant that things were much worse than the Rhodesian Government would like to admit them to be. But another reason is that, as for any Government under siege, it would be very undesirable, from the point of view of that Government's attempts to break sanctions, if they allowed full details to be published of what the present state of Rhodesian business was, and where her supplies were coming from.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey)—I am sorry that he has left—attacked my right hon. Friend for not being tough with the South Africans about the unlawful presence of their troops and/or police in Rhodesia. I do not know what he means by "being tough" and what he wants our Government to do. I should have liked to ask him, had he been here, whether those police and troops were not there before 18th June, and what he did about it. In particular, I should have liked to ask whether they were there when he made arrangements for combined naval manoeuvres with the South Africans, to be started on 6th August, which would have entailed putting British sailors under the command of a South African admiral. If he calls that tough, he has a strange interpretation of events.
This debate has been different from some others on the subject in one welcome respect. Today at least we have dropped the farce of any hon. Member pretending that sanctions were having any effect so far as their original purpose went. That purpose was, in the words of the then Prime Minister:… to induce a change of heart and mind in Salisbury towards reaching a negotiated settlement and for them to abandon U.D.I.At least we have that one dropped today, so we have made some little progress towards reality.
One other welcome novelty is that, for the first time, hon. Members opposite 82 have not attacked hon. Members on this side who declare that they believe honestly that sanctions are ineffective. In the past, accusations were hurled at one that that showed that one must in some way be a semi-stooge of Mr. Smith. That was always a ridiculous accusation of hon. Members who did their best to describe what they believed to be the facts. It would be as unfair to accuse any hon. Member opposite who says that the present policy of the Americans in Vietnam is wrong—which again is what they believe to be a fact—of being Communist supporters. At least, then, today we have wandered back into reality in two respects.
I make no apology at all about my own attitude. I have been looking through my speeches from the day since U.D.I. was declared and I find that, consistently, I have said that I believe that sanctions would fail in their purpose and that there were only two options open to us. The first was force which very few have advocated, and which was abandoned shortly after it was first mentioned.
The second, the only real option, was for us to reach then the best negotiated settlement which could be obtained. There is no doubt, as right hon. Gentlemen have said from this side, that everyone believes that we could have got better terms had we gone straight into those negotiations then than can possibly be obtained now, even if the Foreign Secretary has a near-miraculous success in his coming talks, if those take place.
The proposition of sanctions was doomed to failure from the start, because it depended on South African and Portuguese support if it were to be effective. It was known to Her Majesty's Government at the time that this support by South Africa and Portugal would not be forthcoming. There is a gentleman to whom high tribute was paid by the party opposite when they were in government because he did his best to help the Government reach a negotiated arrangement—Sir Hugh Beadle, the Chief Justice, who told the Government openly that they had no chance at all of obtaining their objectives over sanctions unless they could obtain the concurrence of Portugal and South Africa in their working.
In regard to sanctions and their consequences, I also rely on the words of a much greater man than I am, my right 83 hon. Friend the present Home Secretary, who said:First, there will be a loss of control by Britain. Second, they will not work unless other countries do the same. Third, they will certainly not work without South African support. Fourth, they will consolidate opinion behind the Right wing in Rhodesia and make the position of the moderates and a would-be moderate alternative government totally impossible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1967; Vol. 740, c. 1225.]Every word of that is as true today as it was when it was said.
I add two more reasons to explain why sanctions have failed, are failing, and will continue to fail. First, they have no really strong local support even among the people we are seeking to protect, the people who are hit hardest by the sanctions which we are wielding. Second, sanctions are failing because in this House of Commons, an institution of politicians, we do not yet appreciate—this is certainly true of those of us who have not lived in Africa—the wide measure of political apathy among the African populations of Central and Southern Africa as a whole.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
When speaking of the masses of the people, is the hon. Gentleman saying that they are so apathetic, so apolitical, that they do not oppose the Smith régime as such?
§ Sir F. Bennett
I think that it would be better if I did not allow interventions again on this question. I am trying to be brief, and I was just coming to that point. What do I mean by apathy? The great mass of African peoples are more apathetic than we realise about the exercise of their political rights. I shall give my reasoning in a moment, and, in order to save time, I cite just one example. In Southern Rhodesia at the moment, where there is undoubtedly a full-blooded authoritarian Government in being it remains a fact that a tiny minority of white people are able to maintain order over vast tracts of country, including, in particular, the tribal areas, with far fewer troops and security forces than we need in Ulster. If there were the widespread revolutionary feeling throughout Rhodesia about which we are told, the Rhodesian army and police forces would indeed be stretched to and beyond their utmost to maintain law and order.
84 Again, there is an Iron Curtain across Europe to prevent people living in the Communist paradise from escaping to the West. On the other hand, along the South Africa border, the only controls are restrictions on the number of Africans who, realising where they are going, want to go into South Africa to live and work there. There is the comparison in "Iron Curtains": in one case, to prevent people leaving paradise, and in the other to prevent people going into hell. Can it be said to make sense on any logical basis whatever? If that does not show the degree of political apathy, I can only leave it to hon. Members opposite to ponder a little further.
What are the only two options which we have, or could have had? One was force, to which I have referred briefly already. I believe that, if the Prime Minister of the day, after U.D.I. was declared, had at that moment, within 12 hours of the declaration called in the name of Her Majesty upon the forces in Rhodesia, who owed allegiance to Her Majesty, to take control, there would have been a chance that it might have happened. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that we have grounds for saying that.
§ Sir F. Bennett
We have grounds for thinking it. That is all we have. The reason why we did not do that at the time was that, apart from anything else, the Prime Minister of the day was not the sort of man to chance his arm in that way. He shelved the decision, hoping that he could find some other method to deal with it. So force was out.
Now we are left, we are told, with the only real alternative, a compromise settlement. As has been said already, the situation becomes more unfavourable every year. As the speeches from the benches opposite have admitted, this is partly because the sort of people who had ties or have ties with this country are dying or are moving out, and the people coming in have no such ties. In addition, apart from the movement in of a type of immigrant who has no close connections with this country, a younger generation is growing up and beginning to take the reins, people one generation away from parents who had deep personal connections with this country. So the 85 climate for reaching any form of settlement grows worse and worse from year to year. The former Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Fulham, admitted in his speech today that it is becoming worse, not better.
What part can sanctions play? It would be tempting to go into all that is happening in Southern Rhodesia in relation to sanctions. Of course, sanctions are biting. Of course, the Rhodesians would rather be without them. But that is not what it was all about. We never did it to bite or to annoy. We did it, theoretically, to try to induce a change of heart and mind. So there is nothing to be gained by saying that sanctions are annoying to Rhodesians or biting on the Rhodesians. We are talking about the facts as they are today.
In fact—this was pointed out in two leading British newspapers in the last couple of days; it is not just a Rhodesian claim—the rate of economic growth in Rhodesia in the last year, though not nearly as high as it would be had there been no sanctions, is higher than it was in this country in the last year of the last Labour Government. Who is doing the besieging, and who is being besieged? We had to devalue our currency. The Rhodesians have not. Who is the besieger, and who is the besieged?
Now, the question of petrol. All the petrol that one wants is freely available today in Salisbury. Need I remind hon. Members opposite that it is now 4d. a gallon cheaper there than it is in this country, which is applying the sanctions? In the country which is suffering sanctions, people buy it for 4d. a gallon less than we can.
Here lies the ultimate absurdity. While this situation continues, the United Kingdom, with its defence resources stretched as they have never been—this is common ground on both sides of the House—has to devote six frigates out of a total force of 29—two on, two off, and two "in the wash"—to preventing petrol reaching Rhodesia via Beira, although all the petrol that Rhodesians need is going in via Laurenço Marques. That is how matters stand today. We have produced one effect, at least. We have depressed the standard of living markedly in Beira and we have done much to create the biggest boom in African history in 86 Laurenço Marques, though I do not suppose that that was in the minds of right hon. Gentlemen opposite in proposing this farce.
When the farce began, there was an aircraft carrier there, with a lot of attendant escort vessels, and the air base on Madagascar for which we have to pay a fairly heavy rent. When I wrote some time ago to then responsible Ministers that with the shortage of aircraft carriers and all our other difficulties in the world, it was a pity to have one aircraft carrier carrying out the farcical operation of not preventing petrol going into Rhodesia. I was told that it was essential to have an aircraft carrier for the job. Eventually, when the phasing-out programme for aircraft carriers under the last Government began to make its impact, the aircraft carrier was withdrawn for servicing in England. I asked when it would go back. I was told that it would never go back because what was regarded as impossible a few months before was now seen to be possible and two frigates could do the job just as easily as the aircraft carrier, which I had been earlier told was indispensable, could do it.
How long are we to go on? I ask my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, when he is reviewing certain specific aspects of the sanctions situation, without abandoning the policy as a whole, to look again at this state of affairs. If we are not preventing petrol from going into Rhodesia, can we not find a rather less expensive method than six frigates for not doing it? It reminds one of the old joke about the man who was asked whether he would like his coffee without milk or cream and he said, "Without milk, because milk is cheaper". If we are not preventing petrol going in, could we not use a gunboat not to prevent it going in? This would introduce at least some element of sanity into the situation.
We are annoying Portugal, of course, but, as I say, that is not the purpose. We are maintaining a hostile blockade of Beira. A few months ago, a naval rating wrote to me—for obvious reasons, I shall not give his name—and told me of the sort of thing that can happen. A naval rating had acute appendicitis. We got in touch with the Portuguese authorities in blockaded Beira, we flew him in by helicopter, he had a very satisfactory operation which saved his life, we 87 thanked the Portuguese authorities, and then we flew him back to his vessel, there to carry on the blockade of the country in which he had just had his appendix out. Can any hon. Member go on much longer sustaining what is in effect a farce, which the whole world outside this House knows is a farce?
I have never objected to people who differ violently from me. What I find difficult is to sustain nonsenses. Having said all this, hon. Members now have the right to ask how I shall vote if we divide tonight. Frankly, I have not yet made up my mind. I am inclined at this stage to vote with the Government. I make this point not because of pressure from the Whips or anyone else—none has been exerted on me at any stage—but because of one sentence from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary which I quoted earlier, and which was also referred to by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). My right hon. Friend the present Home Secretary, discussing whether we could support sanctions or not, then said:Only through negotiations can a tragedy of one kind or another be averted. While the negotiations continued,—that was while they were going on—I believe that the status quo on both sides—on sanctions, U.D.I., and so on—should be preserved. But this means that the Government themselves—the British Government—… must make some move and show some willingness to move in the direction of negotiations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June 1968; Vol. 766, c. 838]That sentence, if it was true then, is probably true today. I willingly accept the points made in a remarkable speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) when he said that we are not meeting the situation by perpetrating a nonsense any longer. But nevertheless we have perpetrated it for five years, and for my part I am certainly willing to give the Foreign Secretary a chance to see whether he can pull off something successful, whether the chances be one in a hundred, one in fifty or one in any more.
I know the arguments against it were very ably deployed by my right hon. Friend. Even if the card of maintained 88 sanctions is a joker rather than an ace, I still say in these circumstances, that I do not want to deny the Foreign Secretary the same freedom of manœuvre that I and others were willing to give Ministers on the other side of the House when they were in office, on the occasion I have mentioned. If tonight I do support the Government it will be for this reason—plus one other, that I fought the election in accordance with the party manifesto, to which I subscribed, and I went along with it when I spoke in favour of the Foreign Secretary having one more opportunity to try to remedy the mistakes of the past. I said that before 18th June and I do not feel inclined to run away from what I said.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
The hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) said that in his view the whole world regards the maintenance of international sanctions against Rhodesia as a farce. If this is so, it is not reflected in the attitude expressed by the official representatives of countries in the United Nations. Nor is it reflected in the fact that the illegal régime has failed to attract the recognition of any country in the United Nations. I think that the hon. Gentleman's perception of the reality, as he sees it, outside Rhodesia is perhaps less penetrating than the perception of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) of the reality as he saw it in Rhodesia.
In a forceful speech, the right hon. Gentleman attempted to argue that, because we could not exert power on the ground, we surrendered all international responsibility. This argument is dangerous and perhaps illogical. It is dangerous because it appears to exclude the fact, as I see it, of a wider international reality than the position in terms of power inside Rhodesia itself. The wider reality which the right hon. Gentleman seems prepared to ignore is the world struggle which is developing rapidly year by year over race and over the future of the oppressed minorities in Southern Africa as a whole.
If I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman's logic in his exclusion from our concern of the future economic sanctions and the wider question of the racial conflicts in the world, I find it easier to 89 accept the logic he put forward about the present negotiations, or the talks about talks, upon which the Foreign Secretary hopes to embark. As the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said, it is plain that the implication which the right hon. Gentleman would have at least some hon. Members take from his action in initiating talks about talks, is that he is making one last try, while keeping the restive ranks in order. The implication is plain that sanctions must be maintained up to that point and that point alone.
The right hon. Gentleman has refused to answer the question of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) as to what will be the position afterwards, and I wholly endorse what his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton said—
§ Mr. Maclennan
I leave that to them—about the danger of this stance of entering the conference chamber deprived of the only weapon, however weak it may be, by implying that sanctions may be removed. I question the wisdom of entering the conference chamber in any case. I cannot see what use is to be served, or what hopeful signs there are that the illegal régime is prepared meaningfully to discuss matters within the framework of the five principles to which the right hon. Gentleman has given form and frequent support, or any evidence to give one spot of hope in this situation.
The danger of misrepresenting the strength of mind of the British people on this issue is quite apparent. The hon. Member for Torquay was also, I think, mistaken when he suggested that the British public recognised what he called the farce of sanctions and the maintenance of our present position. Every public opinion poll on this issue has demonstrated that the British public considers that, if it were possible to take a stronger line than we have taken in the past, it would be prepared to support it. The opinion polls have not suggested that we should weaken our stance but rather that we should strengthen it. That would certainly be my position today. But it is understandable that a new Government feel bound to traverse the thorny path of further negotiations with the illegal régime.
90 In the short time available to me, I want to beg the Foreign Secretary to continue, both in private and in public, making plain his adherence to the five principles and to retaining the international instrument of sanctions to which this Government are committed. I hope that he will do so in no spirit of despair, as he seemed to suggest. He must not countenance failure. He must do so recognising the wide international reality to which right hon. and hon. Members have drawn attention throughout the debate.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
We are debating how best to remedy the situation in what was once a British colony and is now a country which is rapidly sliding into the policy of apartheid practised by its southern neighbour, which we all abhor. Everyone in this House deplores the doctrine of apartheid: not only is it un-Christian; it is also foolish, because it is ultimately destined to fail. Worse, however, than the doctrine itself are the methods whereby it is enforced. They are Hitlerian: there is no other word for it.
What can we best do to rescue Rhodesia? The hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd), whose sincerity I do not question, seems to imagine that we on this side of the House condone the force used by those Governments against their subjects. Why he should do that, I do not know. We do not condone it. Why does he, apparently, condone the force used in many other countries all over the globe? The sort of incident that he described to us happens practically daily in many other countries, but no one seems to bother about that.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) did not feel it necessary to wish my right hon. Friend well in his coming negotiations. He welcomed the fact that the two sides of the House were bipartisan at the moment. But we have seen that before. For a long time British policy towards Rhodesia was bipartisan, and properly so, because U.D.I. was an illegal act and because only the British Parliament could confer independence upon a colonial territory. For generations, it has been the declared intention of successive British Governments to lead Her Majesty's subjects overseas to self-government with independent sovereign status under majority rule.
91 When my right hon. Friend was last Foreign Secretary, he warned the Rhodesian Government what steps would have to be taken in the event of illegal secession; so that, when that illegal secession came about and the then Labour Goverment took those steps, my right hon. Friends and I supported them. Their honourable objective was to enable us to fulfil our unquestioned responsibility to our African fellow-subjects in Rhodesia. The only other means of fulfilling that responsibility would have been force. But, though it was supported by the Archbishop and by some left-wing "pacifists", the use of force was opposed by both Government and Opposition.
My right hon. Friends and I parted company with the Labour Government when they took the matter to the United Nations because we believed that it was our responsibility and ours alone. For my part, I also believed that only if all the nations were genuinely ready to honour sanctions and, in addition, to contemplate a blockade, probably prolonged, of the whole of Southern Africa, would mandatory sanctions succeed.
As we know, neither condition was fulfilled and today, Salisbury is full of the products of all countries, except ours; and even some of ours obtain access through South Africa and we can do nothing to stop that.
For over two years, I have been on record as believing that, since responsibility without power is futile, we should, regretfully, confess failure and leave Rhodesia to pursue her own way outside the Commonwealth. The admirable prescription proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) might have succeeded at one time; but owing to the disastrous way in which the whole question was handled by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, I fear it cannot now succeed. I do not believe that the men who lead the Rhodesian Front will agree to any solution which embraces the five principles. If, by some remote chance, they did agree to them, I do not think that they would honour them thereafter.
I hope that I may be proved wrong, but in any case, even though there is only once chance in a thousand, I believe that 92 the situation has been changed, because in our election manifesto, my party pledged itself to… make a further effort to find a sensible and just solution in accordance with the five principles which we have consistently maintained.I wish my right hon. Friend well in his honourable efforts. Certainly I agree with his argument that it would be folly to withhold support for the renewal of sanctions immediately before embarking on these final negotiations—and they must be final.
I shall support the Government tonight for that and one other reason. I believe that the reopening of negotiations will serve to tell the peoples of Rhodesia, irrespective of whether these futile sanctions are maintained, what their life will be like in future if the negotiations fail. That is what we have to get across to the peoples of Rhodesia. If they cease to be the victims of sanctions, they will be boycotted by the rest of the world. Apartheid is doomed to failure. Can they now be persuaded, even at this late hour, to return to democracy?
I wish my right hon. Friend well, and I shall certainly support him in the Division Lobby, tonight.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomson (Dundee, East)
In the short time available to me, I shall confine myself to two points only. The first concerns the prospects for negotiations. The second concerns the relationship of sanctions policy to those prospects.
The negotiations which the Foreign Secretary now seeks arise from the fact that, inevitably, the new Government want "to have a go" as they undertook to do in their election manifesto. If the Foreign Secretary is more successful than I was in my time in rescuing the five million Africans in Rhodesia from the grim situation that they face, at the same time giving them effective guarantees of unimpeded progress to majority rule, no one will applaud the right hon. Gentleman more than I shall.
However, I may be excused a personal note of pessimism and scepticism about the prospects facing the right hon. Gentleman. It is exactly two years ago, almost to the day, that I was engaged in the last round of talks between the British Government and Mr. Smith in 93 Salisbury. In this debate, there has been a temptation to talk of the Government "having another go", rather as if it were simply one more effort in a long series of attempts made originally by the right hon. Gentleman before U.D.I. and then by the Labour Government after U.D.I.
That is not the situation. After my last visit, Mr. Smith in effect tore up the whole basis on which all the talks between him and successive British Governments had taken place until that time. The constitution which he put in place of the "Fearless" formula was in direct contradiction to the position that he had taken up in those talks. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said, it was a constitution which would never give the elected Africans majority rule, and by no conceivable casuistry can the five principles be reconciled with the present Rhodesian constitution. Either the principle of unimpeded progress to majority rule must go, or the principles upon which Mr. Smith's constitution are built must go.
Therefore, while I recognise the right of the Government to make this approach, with the mandate that they have following the election, I do not feel optimistic over either the timing of the approach or its prospects.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), in a characteristically powerful speech, ventured the view that the Foreign Secretary was not deceived about his chances. The right hon. Gentleman said that perhaps the chances are one in a hundred or one in a thousand. He contested the view which has been expressed by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) that there is no harm in having a try. The right hon. Gentleman thought that there was some harm because it obscured reality. I am inclined to agree with him, though I would define the reality that it obscures rather differently from the way in which he described it. I think what is at risk is that the attempt distracts the Rhodesian people, and particularly the European community, rather than the British community here, from reality.
More talks about talks about talks takes away the attention of the Rhodesians from what ought to be the 94 real choice which, after these long and agonising years, now faces them. The choice is between a long-term ostracism and a degree of economic stagnation going with it or a return to the decencies of progress towards majority rule together with a return to the kind of economic progress that Rhodesia enjoyed before the illegal declaration of independence.
This brings me to the efficacy of sanctions. There cannot be any doubt that sanctions are having some significant effect on the Rhodesian economy. Perhaps the most succinct piece of evidence that I can give the House is a quotation from the Rhodesian Herald of a week or two ago remarking on the present shortage of foreign exchange in Rhodesia, and saying:This is an area in which sanctions are demonstrably succeeding. The success may not be spectacular, but it is unquestionably stinting our growth.If the Rhodesian Herald, a courageous newspaper, says that, with all the throats of censorship in Rhodesia, we can take it that something is happening to the Rhodesian economy as a result of sanctions over the years. Therefore, if the Foreign Secretary gets any change from Mr. Smith—I do not think that he will get much change or anything which will go to fundamentals—it will be because of that background of economic pressure brought by sanctions.
I very much regret, therefore, that no assurance was given by the Foreign Secretary that, if the approaches do not produce any results, sanctions will be continued. The right hon. Gentleman was curiously ambivalent about it. He said, on the one hand, that he never contemplated failure in going into any negotiations like these; but, on the other hand, that he could not be in the least confident of success.
I suggest that failure is certain if Mr. Smith goes into these talks believing that he can have the dropping of sanctions by Britain without making any concession in return. It is only if he knows that there will be the endless vista of continued economic pressure that the right hon. Gentleman has any real leverage.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, to return to his view of reality, argued that we should drop sanctions and recognise Rhodesian 95 independence without legislating in any way for approval of it in this House. The right hon. Gentleman has a powerful and logical mind, as the House knows. But life is not logic. I often find the right hon. Gentleman pursues logic to that logical conclusion which reduces itself to absurdity. He did so in this case, because he ignored the reality for Britain. The reality for Britain—the economic, the political and, I might venture, the moral reality—is the danger of getting on the wrong side of one of the most fundamental issues that divides the human race today. This was the fallacy of his historical comparison with the American War of Independence. In our failure to recognise the U.D.I. of American colonists and in our laggard acceptance of their sovereignty we were in those days getting on the wrong side of the great human cause of the times.
I beg the Government, in the approaches that they are now making, to watch their step very carefully in this regard. The new approach that they are making is bound to arouse suspicions. I speak perhaps from bitter experience. I ask the Minister of State, who is to wind up, on behalf of Britain, to allay these suspicions now by giving an unequivocal assurance that, if there is no successful outcome to the approach of Her Majesty's Government, they will not remove sanctions.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Joseph Godber)
Unlike many hon. Members who have taken part in the debate, this is the first time that I have spoken on Rhodesia in this House. I was, however, involved in leading the delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations for at least two years in the early 1960s when I observed the increasing bitterness on this subject which, I believe, helped to drive the white minority in Rhodesia into more extreme positions. It should be recognised that this is one reason which has moved them in that way, just as I believe the attitude of one or two hon. Members opposite may also have helped.
We have had strong emotions shown in the debate, and understandably so. But we were reminded by my right hon. 96 Friend in his opening speech of the first step that we are proposing in our efforts to see whether there is a realistic basis for a negotiated settlement of this acute and difficult problem. This, after all, is our stated commitment, clearly put out in our manifesto at the election, and it would be wrong if we did not seek to carry it out. It will not be easy, and we are aware of the strong emotions which this long outstanding issue attracts.
Some hon. Members have said that it is wrong to approach Mr. Smith since there are no prospects of reaching agreement. But we should be failing in our responsibilities if we did not find out for ourselves whether a just settlement was still possible. However slight the possibility, we must be quite sure on this.
The previous Government were content to accept a situation which was little more than a stalemate in the latter stages of their administration. We are not. We believe that it is our duty to make this final effort.
Other hon. Members have claimed that it is unrealistic not to recognise Rhodesia's attempted independence. We did not approve of the declaration of independence five years ago. After all, it should be remembered that no other country has recognised Rhodesia. To recognise Rhodesia's independence now would, in my view, be to take a very short-sighted view. Indeed, it is not necessarily in the interests of Rhodesia itself—I emphasise that—because these interests lie in restoring legality to Rhodesia so that it can take its place among the free nations of the world; and so that it can realise the vast economic potential and the aspirations of all its people. I believe that this is not always borne in mind. If we can encourage and attract Rhodesia back into this situation, the Rhodesians themselves will benefit.
Although sanctions have not achieved their immediate political objective, no one can deny that they continue to exert pressure on the Rhodesian economy and to restrict the rate of development. Despite a good year in 1969, the available figures suggest that real income per head is no higher now than five years ago. We all know what has happened in the 97 tobacco industry; and recently leaders of the régime in Salisbury have, in effect, admitted increasing difficulties over such matters as foreign exchange. It has been announced that the criteria for the issue of import allocations are to be further tightened.
I do not give this catalogue of items to take pleasure in them, but merely to show that it is not true that we have no bargaining counter. This point should be borne in mind.
It is clear that the present situation benefits nobody. It certainly does not benefit the Africans in Rhodesia whose interests everyone on both sides of the House honestly believes to be advancing.
The return to legality, if it can be achieved, would enable the Africans to play a fuller part in all spheres of the life of their country. Aid from outside would again begin to flow into Rhodesia; there would be an interchange of visitors and ideas which, in present circumstances, is impossible; and a Rhodesia practising genuine multi-racial co-operation would be uniquely placed to act as a bridge between black and white in Africa. That is what is behind my right hon. Friend's feeling in deciding to make a final attempt.
Rhodesia's neighbours would also benefit. The application of sanctions has disrupted natural trading links in central and Southern Africa. Perhaps even more important, the uncertainty created by Rhodesia's position has contributed to the general tension in the area and the poisoning of relations across the Zambesi. Confrontation and the threat of violence have solved nothing, and they never will solve anything. If apartheid is to disappear and racial tolerance is to develop there must be some dialogue between black and white. Reports of recent contacts between South African and certain African leaders show that this is possible.
To argue that no good can come from dealing with Mr. Smith is in my view to encourage those who believe that violence is the only way in Southern Africa. We in the Government do not accept that, and I emphasise it strongly, because all too easily one sees among the black African states this feeling that violence is the only way out. I do not believe that that is the view on either side of the House, certainly not among 98 the majority of hon. Members, and I believe that we should therefore be trying to find other ways to influence and resolve this problem.
As is well known, we are committed, so far as we are able, to promote the economic and political development of all races in Rhodesia. Reference has been made this afternoon to the 1969 constitution, and that constitution fails in certain important respects to do this. It would be futile to discuss what might or might not be accepted as a settlement. Our basis for negotiation is well known, and it rests firmly on the five principles. My right hon. Friend stated that clearly in his speech today, and I think that that deals with the point raised by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey).
The right hon. Gentleman raised two other specific points with which I shall try to deal in the short time available to me. He asked about troops and police from South Africa being in Rhodesia. There are no South African troops in Rhodesia. There is a small number of South African policemen there, very much smaller, I am assured, than the figure suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. We have made representations to the South African Government about the continued presence of these police in Southern Rhodesia, as I presume the previous Government did because the troops were there when they were in office. We have merely continued in this sense what they were doing, and we shall continue to do what we can to secure their withdrawal.
The right hon. Gentleman raised the question of the Ramotse case. We have naturally followed this with the closest attention, but the facts have not been clearly established. I am told that Ramotse claims to be a Zambian citizen, and we therefore have no locus standi to intervene with the South African Government on account of his personal status. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the action of the Botswana Government. The question whether Ramotse was arrested on Botswana territory is a matter for them, and we are not in a position to say categorically anything in relation to that. Although, in theory, we have a responsibility for the actions of the police in Rhodesia, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite know that neither we nor 99 they before us have been in a position to influence those actions over the last few years. On those issues the position is as I have stated it.
On the question of the effectiveness of sanctions, we have been hearing for years—I think that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East said it today in his speech—that sanctions are beginning to bite. That is what we have heard so many times, and of course we all remember the speech made in Lagos by the present Leader of the Opposition when he talked of them being effective in "weeks rather than months". That speech was made in 1966.
The fact, as I have tried to show to the House, is that sanctions have had some real effect on the Rhodesian economy, but they have so far had no political effect. That is the difference, and that is the point which I think must be emphasised. There has not been the effect which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they were on this side of the House, so confidently predicted. What we say is that it is our belief that they are having a real effect on the economy, but that they have not persuaded the Rhodesian régime to take the steps which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite or we wish they would.
§ Mr. Godber
I have very little time. I am trying to deal with some of the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman. The most important point that I want to deal with is the constant theme that it is not sufficient for us to say, as my right hon. Friend said earlier, that sanctions will be maintained during the attempted negotiations. This is the point with which I think the right hon. Gentleman wanted me to deal. The argument is that if we are to hope to succeed in negotiations we have to say quite clearly that if the negotiations fail sanctions will continue to be maintained. That is how I understand the position.
Our position on this is straightforward. It is that the Order before the House continues sanctions for one year. That is precisely what the previous Government did. That was precisely their position, and indeed it is the maximum period allowed for under the Act which they 100 passed. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may claim that the techniques for which they now call must be right, but I feel entitled to point out to the House that the techniques which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite used when in office neither brought about an agreed solution, nor did they achieve a solution by coercion, so they are scarcely in a position today to tell us what is the best way to achieve a solution. I am surely entitled to say that the advice given to us by them is not necessarily the best suited to bring about a solution.
We are maintaining sanctions for one year in the Order before the House. If the negotiations should be concluded before the year is up and we should wish to amend the Order to take account of that fact, we shall have to submit an amendment to the House. It is not reasonable to expect me to go further than that tonight in regard to the Order. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite never asked for a further period, and I do not think it right that we should be told, or be expected, to ask for a further period. We have taken up a clear position in regard to this. This is a genuine attempt which we are going to make to reach a solution. We are retaining sanctions while that is on, and surely that is an honourable position, and one which deserves the support of the House.
This is a difficult subject, and it is one on which emotions are very strong on both sides of the House. This has been clearly shown in the speeches that we have heard tonight. Many issues have been raised in relation to it, but the fundamental one is whether there is a possibility of getting the present régime in Rhodesia back within the comity of nations, back within the rules which will enable us to bring them back into the Commonwealth and so enable them to enjoy recognition by other nations. That is surely a worth-while objective.
I realise the sincerity of my right hon. and hon. Friends who feel that the time has come to institute a change, but I beg them to realise the heavy responsibility that rests on the Government at this time. My right hon. Friend has promised to make one further effort, and I suggest to the House that he deserves the support of the whole House in the attempt that he is seeking to make. He 101 does recognise the difficulties of the problem. He has not attempted in any way to camouflage these. But one further effort is surely right. That is the promise that we made to the people of this country, and it is in accord with their wishes that the effort should be made. If it succeeds it could bring excellent benefits, not merely to Rhodesia, but to the whole of black Africa, which I believe
§ is important to all of us here, as well as to the British people.
§ The House divided: Ayes 276, Noes 21.103
|Division No. 20.]||AYES||[6.59 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Jones, Barry (Flint, East)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Ellis, Tom||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Emery, Peter||Judd, Frank|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Evans, Fred||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Astor, John||Eyre, Reginald||Kellett, Mrs. Elaine|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Farr, John||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Atkinson, Norman||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Batsford, Brian||Fisher, Nigel||Kirk, Peter|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Kitson, Timothy|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Knox, David|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Fookes, Miss Janet||Lambie, David|
|Benyon, W.||Ford, Ben||Lambton, Antony|
|Berry, Hon. Anthony||Fortescue, Tim||Lane, David|
|Blaker, Peter||Foster, Sir John||Latham, Arthur|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Fox, Marcus||Lawson, George|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Freeson, Reginald||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Booth, Albert||Fry, Peter||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Boscawen, R. T.||Gardner, Edward||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Garrett, W. E.||Leonard, Dick|
|Bowden, Andrew||Gibson-Watt, David||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Ginsburg, David||Longden, Gilbert|
|Braine, Bernard||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Loveridge, John|
|Bray, Ronald||Golding, John||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Goodhew, Victor||MacArthur, Ian|
|Buchan, Norman||Gower, Raymond||McBride, Neil|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Buck, Antony||Grant, George (Morpeth)||McGuire, Michael|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Green, Alan||McLaren, Martin|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Grieve, Percy||Maclennan, Robert|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, West)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Grylls, Michael||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Cummer, Selwyn||Maddan, Martin|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Madel, David|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Marten, Neil|
|Channon, Paul||Hamling, William||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Maude, Angus|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hardy, Peter||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mawby, Ray|
|Cockeram, Eric||Haselhurst, Alan||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Coleman, Donald||Hattersley, Roy||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Coombs, Derek||Havers, Michael||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hawkins, Paul||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cordle, John||Hayhoe, Barney||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Cormack, Patrick||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Costain, A. P.||Heseltine, Michael||Moate, Roger|
|Critchley, Julian||Higgins, Terence L.||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||More, Jasper|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)||Holland, Philip||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hordern, Peter||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, Central)||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Murray, Hn. Ronald King|
|Dean, Paul||Howell, David (Guildford)||Murton, Oscar|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, North)||Normanton, Tom|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, North)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Dixon, Piers||Hunt, John||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Doig, Peter||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Orme, Stanley|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Owen, Idris (Stockport, North)|
|Driberg, Tom||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Eadie, Alex||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Eden, Sir John||Jessel, Toby||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Peart, Bt. Hn. Fred||Scott-Hopkins, James||Tilney, John|
|Pendry, Tom||Sharples, Richard||Tomney, Frank|
|Percival, Ian||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Perry, Ernest G.||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Trew, Peter|
|Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Waddington, David|
|Pounder, Rafton||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Prescott, John||Sillars, James||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Silverman, Julius||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Simeons, Charles||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Sinclair, Sir George||Wallace, George|
|Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Small, William||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Raison, Timothy||Spearing, Nigel||Warren, Kenneth|
|Rankin, John||Speed, Keith||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Spriggs, Leslie||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Redmond, Robert||Sproat, Iain||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Rees, Hn. Peter (Dover)||Stallard, A. W.||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Stanbrook, Ivor||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)||Wilkinson, John|
|Richard, Ivor||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Tapsell, Peter||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Roper, John||Tebbit, Norman||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Rose, Paul B.||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||Mr. Hector Monro and|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)||Mr. Walter Clegg.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Stokes, John|
|Bell, Ronald||King, Evelyn (Dorset, South)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Biff en, John||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Molyneaux, James||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Fell, Anthony||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Mr. Stephen Hastings and|
|Hay, John||Soref, Harold||Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles.|