§ 6.53 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 1971, a draft of which was laid before this House on 18th October, in the last session of Parliament, be approved.The purpose of this Order is to continue in force Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965. 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.
Against that background it has been the purpose of successive Governments to reach an agreement with Mr. Smith on the basis of the five principles. If the "Test of Acceptability" under the fifth principle showed that the people of Rhodesia as a whole found the agreement acceptable, Parliament would be asked to approve an independence Act and legality would be restored. This would pave the way to the dropping of sanctions, when the necessary legislation had been passed in the Rhodesian and United Kingdom Parliaments.
The last Government attempted to reach such an agreement on two occasions. As we promised in our election manifesto, this Government are making a further attempt to reach such an agreement. We would have failed in our duty if we had not done so. As I told the House yesterday, we have now reached a stage where substantive negotiations can start, and I plan to visit Salisbury shortly.
There will be some who have been disappointed at the time which it has taken to reach this stage. It has indeed been a slow business. But I am sure that we were right not to rush the matter. It is far better to reach the right agreement—if this can be done—slowly than to fail through undue haste.
These are complex matters, and we have had to deal with a situation in which the Rhodesians are operating from a constitution which has different racial rolls and stops at parity of representation. It was clear, therefore, that much discussion and adaptation would have to take 1090 place before we could arrive at a solution acceptable to this Parliament. It has to be accepted by the House.
In the course of this year the gap between the two sides has been much reduced. But there are still some crucial problems which I do not think the emissaries can take any further, and therefore I must go to see whether they can be resolved. I shall try to resolve them in Salisbury.
Success cannot be guaranteed, but failure would be a tragedy—a tragedy for all Rhodesians, European and African alike, for there is little joy for any Rhodesian in the indefinite postponement of the investment and growth on which the economic prosperity of all depends, and very little joy, either, in becoming, in effect, a permanent dependency of South Africa, which would be the fate of Rhodesia if agreement were not reached.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition put this matter aptly in perspective on 21st January, 1969, when he talked aboutthe drift to apartheid… which may be one consequence of no settlement being reached, unemployment and the danger of a blood bath in that area."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st January, 1969; Vol. 776, c. 249.]—perhaps a little over-dramatised—which is the right hon. Gentleman's way sometimes—but nevertheless uncomfortably near the truth. That would be a bleak prospect when Rhodesia can so clearly have a fine prospect as a nation in her own right.
It has always been the policy of this Government that while negotiations were proceeding both sides should retain their positions. That means that sanctions remain in force while we see whether agreement is possible. I shall no doubt be asked what our attitude to sanctions will be if the negotiations fail. My answer must be the same as that which I gave some time ago: I do not go into negotiations contemplating failure. If one does, one has lost sight of the goal from the start. We on this side of the House have never accepted the need for involvement of the United Nations in this essentially domestic problem, but mandatory sanctions were imposed, and we have to accept them as a fact of life.
An agreement with Mr. Smith on the basis of the five principles would bring
1091 [SIR A. DOUGLAS-HOME.]
this melancholy chapter to a close. It is to this aim that we are devoting our energies. I therefore ask the House to support the Motion, so that I can go to Salisbury with the best hope of reaching an honourable settlement which will end the bitterness and start a new era for that country, in which Europeans and Africans alike can prosper; in which they can find harmonious living, and live at peace with their neighbours in Africa and with the whole world outside.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I think that the House was well aware, yesterday, that the Foreign Secretary's decision to announce an early visit to Rhodesia had a double purpose. There is no doubt that it will succeed in its immediate purpose, which is to secure a renewal of sanctions tonight and to avert or reduce to the minimum any opposition to this move from his own benches— [Interruption.] I have a little sympathy for the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), perhaps not for reasons that he would appreciate.
The Prime Minister himself—and the right hon. Gentleman, I believe, tonight— has made it very clear that it is essential that sanctions should continue unless a settlement is reached. According to the Observer newspaper, the Prime Minister gave a firm pledge on this when speaking the other day in Edinburgh to a meeting of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Association. He said that Mr. Smith… has always maintained his is an independent country. We have not accepted this and said that sanctions would remain until a settlement is reached which we can put before Parliament as an honourable settlement.In other words, if these negotiations do not succeed, sanctions will remain, and while I understand the Foreign Secretary's unwillingness to come clean on that to-night there was no doubt of the meaning of his words when he said that although the Government, as we know, never agreed with the previous Government's decision to put the matter in the United Nations they accept the United Nations mandatory resolution on sanctions. This must be well understood by Salisbury or the negotiations which the right hon. Gentleman is about to undertake have very little chance of success.
1092 There are three obvious reasons why sanctions must be maintained until and unless a satisfactory solution is reached on the basis of the five principles. First of all, as the Foreign Secretary made very clear, sanctions are imposing real penalties on those responsible for a breach of their oath to the Crown and for the unilateral declaration of independence.
There is already a serious shortage of foreign exchange and capital in Rhodesia. The British population is leaving Rhodesia, and is being replaced by Greeks, Portuguese and Afrikaners. Even so, there is a steady increase in the percentage of the population which is African rather than European. In the last six years, the proportion of Africans to Europeans has risen from 19 to 1 to 22 to 1. The fact is that there is no future for the Europeans in Rhodesia if the unilateral declaration of independence remains in force, and this must be well understood.
The second reason is, as the right hon. Gentleman is well aware, that the maintenance of sanctions is a vital bargaining card. The most important carrot he can offer the Smith rÉgime in his negotiations is to promise to end sanctions provided a satisfactory settlement is reached. But this negotiating card exists only so long as the House renews sanctions tonight, and the Foreign Secretary makes it clear that sanctions will be maintained until and unless a satisfactory resolution of the problem is reached.
There is a third reason for renewing sanctions and maintaining them, short of a settlement, and that is that although they are costly to the United Kingdom— and a figure of £40 million a year has been mentioned—there is no doubt that it would be far more costly in material and financial terms for Britain to throw away what good will she still has in black Africa and the Third World by selling out to the Smith rÉgime and abandoning sanctions without a satisfactory settlement.
I believe that the Foreign Secretary is as well aware of these facts as I am, though I am not surprised that he should have chosen to introduce his request to the House to renew sanctions with a speech which was exiguous, to say the least, in relation to the magnitude of the issues at stake. Still, if the right hon. Gentleman's visit helps him tonight to 1093 obtain the renewal of sanctions it will have succeeded in its immediate purpose, and this is something worthwhile.
But the Foreign Secretary's visit has another purpose, and that is to achieve a settlement which is based on the five principles—and I believe he added yesterday, "something more". I was glad that he yesterday rejected the suggestion made by his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) that he should not interpret the principles too rigidly because it was more important to get a settlement than to keep his word.
One can be far less happy about the right hon. Gentleman's decision to visit Salisbury in these circumstances and at this time, because he insisted until yesterday that the officials of the two sides should have already mapped out the foundations for an agreement before the principals became directly involved. That was a wise decision. There is no doubt, as reported in many newspapers this morning, that his decision to visit Salisbury at a moment when there are major issues completely unresolved in the official talks is regarded there as a tactical victory for Smith. This is reported in The Times and the Daily Telegraph this morning.
I do not envy the right hon. Gentleman his task in going into these talks in Salisbury in a few days' time, trying to resolve quite major issues which have so far not been resolved in a series of meetings between very able officials on both sides, because to negotiate with Smith on the termination of the unilateral declaration of independence has been found by many Ministers in the past to be like trying to pick up mercury with knitting needles.
I regret having to say it, but I think it a pity that he has chosen the Attorney-General to accompany him on his visit— [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I will tell the House why. It is because the Attorney-General on 27th January, 1966, declared that
§ "… the 'nonsense' of sanctions should be dropped"—1094
§ Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)
Why should I submit, Mr. Speaker, to being called a shower by that creature over there? On a point of order, is "shower" now regarded as correct parliamentary terminology?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that it would be better if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) were allowed to pursue his speech in peace and quiet.
§ Sir G. Nabarro:
But may I have an answer to this question, Mr. Speaker: is "shower" a parliamentary expression?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
But I submit to you, Sir, that "shower" was not used in its proper context, but as an opprobrious term.
§ Mr. Healey:
I forbear to pursue the question of moisture with regard to hon. Members opposite, but I will not forbear to point out that the overwhelming majority of hon. Members opposite clearly disagree with the policy of their own Government in this matter, and it is well that the House, the country and the world should take note of it.
It is a serious matter that the Attorney-General, who is the only other Ministerial member of the Foreign Secretary's team, should have gone on record as opposing the whole of Her Majesty's Government's present policy on sanctions and, indeed, towards the Smith rÉgime in general.
There is one great advantage in the Foreign Secretary's visit and that is that no one can doubt that if the right hon. Gentleman, who is greatly respected in Rhodesia as well as in this country, fails to reach an agreement on what he regards as honourable terms, then no agreement can be reached, and hon. Members opposite will have to decide whether they support a dishonourable agreement, or are prepared to bite on the bullet and maintain a policy which successive Governments have followed for the last six years. 1095 It is well that the House should understand precisely what acceptance of the five principles means. It means, first of all, that the Prime Minister—so called —of Rhodesia will have to go back on everything he has said over the last six years about the five principles, because he has rejected them both in theory and in practice. In the middle of this present set of negotiations, in June this year, he said publicly in a television interview:I don't believe in any of the principles.
When the principles were first enunciated six years ago—the Foreign Secretary had a major part in defining them—they already required the Rhodesian Government at that time to undo many of the things they had been doing over recent years. But since 1965, in the last six years, the Rhodesian regime has been moving with increasing speed in the opposite direction. I was glad that tonight the Foreign Secretary pointed out that Rhodesia is engaged in a "drift to apartheid" and that he endorsed the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in this regard, because this is clearly so, and the concessions which Smith would have to make to meet the five principles now are infinitely greater than those he would have had to make when they were first announced.
Let us consider the first principle, unimpeded progress towards majority rule, and the third principle, an immediate improvement in the political status of the Africans. The 1969 constitution is totally, fundamentally incompatible with both these principles. and no one has stated this more clearly than the Foreign Secretary, who said:'… there is no question that our Parliament or anybody in this country could be a partner in such an enterprise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th October, 1969; Vol. 788, c. 623.]He was speaking then of the constitution before it was brought into force and concentrating particularly on Smith's intention—now carried out—to introduce two separate rolls with no common roll in perpetuity.
The fact is—and Smith has confirmed this—that at 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. 1096 the clauses of which, incidentally, are heavily entrenched. It is quite clear that so long as the 1969 constitution remains in force it is impossible to claim that the five principles are being observed and that any settlement which may be considered will be consistent with the five principles.
The most important single matter—I understand from Press leaks from a Conservative meeting last night that this has been under consideration by the Government—is to produce a single roll and get rid of the income qualification. But I regret that the arguments so far at the official level have been about the nature of the obstacles to African representation, because unimpeded progress towards majority rule should mean removing obstacles and not choosing the most acceptable obstacles. I hope very much that the Minister of State will give us some idea of the Government's intentions in this regard.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)
If the right hon. Gentleman sincerely wishes well to my right hon. Friend in his trip to Salisbury and believes, as I do, that he is a man of honour and will not return with a sell out, is he being helpful tonight?
§ Mr. Healey
There is no one whom the Foreign Secretary will meet in Salisbury, on either side of the argument, African or European, politician or churchman, who does not know that everything I am now saying is both true and totally relevant to the negotiations. To attempt to disguise the importance of the concessions Smith must make is to do a disservice to the Foreign Secretary.
§ Mr. Healey:
No. With great respect, at the moment I find myself in a state of suspended animation concerning interventions by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I gave way to him far too often on the previous occasion.
§ Mr. Healey
I have given way a good deal this evening already. I will consider the hon. and gallant Gentleman's next attempt, but I shall not give way now.
1097 I have discussed the importance of repealing the 1969 constitution if the first and third principles are to be met. Now let us look at the other principles, particularly the principle which concerns the removal of discrimination. The Land Apportionment Act now being introduced in Rhodesia gives one-twentieth of the population half the land. But the situation is far worse because only one in six of the Europeans are farmers, whereas four out of five Africans are farmers. So under the Land Apportionment Act the average European farmer gets 500 times as much land as the average African. Moreover the implementation of that Act means the direct introduction of apartheid and all the abscene practices which go with that to the south in South Africa.
We had some discussion in the debate on the Gracious Speech last week about the proposed evictions from the Epworth Mission of 3,500 Africans, and the Foreign Secretary told us that these evictions were not being proceeded with. But last Sunday the Sunday Times said that officials in Salisbury refused to con- firm reports in London that the eviction of 3,500 Africans from the Epworth Mission had been suspended. I hope that when he replies to the debate the Minister will say whether he has any firm evidence that these evictions have been suspended. The most that I have seen attributed to any Rhodesian representative is that it may be possible to suspend the evictions while the negotiations proceed. But I must ask the Minister to say whether the Government are insisting that the Land Apportionment Act must go, because it is clear that it is totally incompatible with the spirit and the letter of the five principles.
I come to the second and fifth principles, which I gather from the newspapers represent some of the most difficult aspects of the negotiations which the Foreign Secretary is about to undertake.
First, there must be guarantees against retrospective amendment of the settlement agreed. It may be years before there is majority rule in Rhodesia even if a settlement is reached. I must ask the House whether, on the basis of its experience over the last six years, it can really trust Smith's word on this matter, given the long history of his broken promises. But, even more important, it 1098 is quite clear that if Smith did attempt to keep his word, he could be overthrown as easily as he overthrew Winston Field. Indeed, the threat was made yesterday by the Republican Alliance—said to be gaining strength in Rhodesia—to get rid of Smith if he even reached a settlement on the basis of the five principles.
§ Mr. Healey
Against this background, I think that the House will insist that there must be external guarantees if the provisions against retrospective Amendment of the constitution are to carry any conviction, and there must be some practical sanctions envisaged in case there is an attempt thereat. I ask the Minister what sort of sanctions are envisaged and if he will insist that some external body. perhaps the United Nations, perhaps the Commonwealth, is involved in the guarantee against retrospective amendment.
Then we come to the fifth principle. that the settlement reached must be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. This means that it must be acceptable to the Africans who comprise 20 out of 21 inhabitants of Rhodesia. We know the African view of the Rhodesian Front Government. The Rhodesian Front has only once put up a candidate in any African constituency. On that occasion, in 1962, the Front got only 86 votes out of 112,000 eligible to be cast. It has never tried since to attract any African votes at all. The Foreign Secretary admitted in 1964 that the traditional chiefs do not accurately reflect majority opinion among Africans.
§ Mr. Healey
I believe the Foreign Secretary is right. But this means that if there is to be an adequate consultation of African opinion, some attempt must be made to canvass the views of responsible political leaders of African opinion, and this means that they must be let out of detention in order to organise, discuss, say and print what they wish. I was concerned when I read in this morning's Press leaks that the Secretary of State is considering a period of only six weeks between signature of an agreement and the completion of consultation. I fail to see how proper discussions could take place in those circumstances. 1099 Will the Secretary of State insist, as the previous Government insisted, that as an essential preliminary to any process of consultation the responsible political leaders of African opinion should be released from detention and enabled to get in touch with their constituents? I hope, too, that the Foreign Secretary will, as he suggested yesterday, take the view of the church leaders in Rhodesia, all of whom are very much closer to African opinion, although they are white, than any of the political leaders of the European Community whom the Foreign Secretary is likely to be able to consult.
§ Mr. Healey
I know for many reasons. The main reason I know this is that the leaders of the Catholic, Methodist and Anglican Churches in Rhodesia have been fighting a courageous fight for the last six years against a regime which is openly racialist and which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has the gall to support in the House.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not get too heated on the matter of my seeing Africans and others. I have told him that I will see African leaders and others and members of the churches. There were neither members of the churches nor Africans on "Tiger" and "Fearless".
§ Mr. Healey
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is a little too agitated, because he has totally missed the point. What I was talking about was not the people with whom the Foreign Secretary will talk next week but how consultation is to be carried on and who is to be responsible for obtaining the views of the majority of the African people and ensuring that the settlement is both understood and accepted by them. I am glad that the Foreign Secretary now admits that he made a slight error in making that intervention in that way.
The House is well aware, and the Foreign Secretary is well aware, as he made clear yesterday, that the honour and reputation of the United Kingdom Government and people, as well as of the Foreign Secretary himself, are at stake in these negotiations. I believe that the Foreign Secretary will not betray the five 1100 principles. I believe that he knows that, if he were ever tempted to do so, he would inflict a fatal blow on British influence in Africa and Asia.
If the Foreign Secretary stands firm on this matter, I believe that he can do much to repair the damage which was done by the South African arms issue over the last 12 months. We shall watch with anxiety and vigilance the progress of these negotiations and we shall look forward to a full report to the House when the Foreign Secretary returns.
If the Foreign Secretary succeeds in reaching an honourable settlement, he will deserve the warmest congratulations of all quarters of the House. I say with all the force at my command that I fully support the right hon. Gentleman's view, which he expressed yesterday and today, that an honourable settlement would be infinitely preferable to the continuation of the present situation. I go further and say that if the Foreign Secretary fails in these negotiations, he will nevertheless have done something of some importance in the matter, because he will have demonstrated that it is impossible for any man to reach an agreement on the basis of the five principles with the Smith rÉgime.
But if the right hon. Gentleman were to make an agreement which was not seen to be fully consistent with the five principles I think that he would have inflicted damage on his country's reputation which it would take decades to repair.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)
If the Opposition wished to choose someone to criticise others for not being trustworthy in keeping their promises and statements about policy, they should certainly have chosen another spokesman than the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). If I had more time at my disposal I should have great fun in going into that matter in more detail.
I should have thought that it would be common ground everywhere in the House, as it is common ground everywhere in Africa, that sanctions have been, and have proved to be, ineffective.
§ Sir F. Bennett:
There is not one hon. Member other than the vociferous hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds), who I wish would climb back on to his perch and have a nut and let us get on with the business, nor is there any other person that I know of elsewhere who does not agree that sanctions have proved ineffective.
§ Sir F. Bennett
At least I am wasting it whilst standing up instead of whilst sitting down.
Not only have sanctions proved to be ineffective but they have proved to be counter-productive. The right hon. Gentleman, in almost the only true statement he made admitted this very fact when he conceded that the effect of sanctions and the present policies so far had been to increase the strength of the ultra-Right in Rhodesia. The right hon. Gentleman made the best case that anyone could make against sanctions.
I turn to the question why I intend to put no obstacle in the way of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—I hope that many of my hon. Friends will feel likewise—in the mission he is to undertake on behalf of the House. I was particularly struck yesterday when my right hon. Friend said that his main purpose was to procure a better way of life for the Africans living in Rhodesia than they will get if he fails in his mission. This is the overriding consideration to be brought forward.
As long ago as 1968 the present Home Secretary, when discussing the possibility of an agreement to be reached by the present Opposition, said this:Only through negotiations can a tragedy of one kind or another be averted. While the negotiations continue, 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 "—that is, 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.]1102 I was convinced of the force of that argument when those now in Opposition were in charge of the negotiations. I could hardly give less opportunity to my own Foreign Secretary to succeed in these negotiations than some of us were prepared to accord the Labour Government in 1968.
It is for that reason, and for that reason alone—and I can advise the Foreign Secretary—there will not be many more occasions, when he will be able to continue to call on the support of those who are convinced in all integrity that sanctions have proved to be ineffective—that I take this attitude tonight.
Finally, I am glad that my right hon. Friend said what he said about the question of consultation on the spot. It has been said that my right hon. Friend is bound to consult opinion on the spot during the course of negotiations. My right hon. Friend was right to point out that this was not one of the preoccupations of the former Prime Minister on either "Tiger" or "Fearless". Let us get it straight that the former Prime Minister was prepared to initial a document that night without going near one African or church leader in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Healey
—I wonder whether he would correct his last statement. He will be well aware that the Labour Prime Minister saw Mr. Sithole and Mr. Nkomo and other leaders of African opinion on the only visit that he paid to Rhodesia during his period in office.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I could not hear a word of what the right hon. Gentleman said; but whatever I would have heard would not have a word of difference to what I said.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
There is very little new to be said in this debate, but I must say, as someone who has not taken any deep, consistent or necessarily highly detailed and informed interest in Africa, that I find the attitudes which have been expressed by the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) quite incomprehensible.
1103 The basic question that we are discussing, before we go on, as inevitably we shall, to discuss the Foreign Secretary's intentions within the parameters within which he will operate, is whether sanctions should be maintained. Why were sanctions introduced? Because of U.D.I. Why was U.D.I. introduced? It was because the white minority—a tiny white minority—was determined in perpetuity to hold the reins of government. That is why. It is very simple. There is nothing very complicated about it. I do not understand how hon. Members opposite can argue against the simple principle—the first of the five—that there should be unimpeded progress towards majority rule. I find that quite incomprehensible.
Possibly it is one of these divides in principle which affect all people in politics, but I cannot understand how any member of a democratic Parliament, as ours is, can justify a situation in which, for a period as long ahead as one can conceivably visualise, a minority denies power, democratic aspirations and freedom as we understand it to a great majority of people. I do not understand it at all.
I do not dissent from the Foreign Secretary's desire to talk. Perhaps, in a sense, even more than some of my own colleagues, I have always taken the view that however difficult the person one is dealing with, it is a good thing to talk to him and exchange views. It is a good thing to try. I certainly do not dissent from that.
The Foreign Secretary said in his brief speech—and I do not criticise him for that—that he felt, to use his own expression, that the gap had closed, although there were a number of crucial issues which remained. It seems to me that the whole lesson of the last six years is that the gap has widened. I suppose it is an inevitable part of the beginning of negotiations that the Foreign Secretary has not today, or yesterday when the statement was made, delineated in any way any of the areas in which the gap has closed. It seems to me, however, that the whole trend has been rather the opposite.
Many hon. Members wish to speak and I do not wish to rehearse the arguments which are well known and which the 1104 right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has gone over, but I should like to say this to the Foreign Secretary. If he reaches an honourable agreement on the basis of the five principles—and, like the right hon. Member for Leeds, East, I wish it were possible; I do not believe it is possible, but I am certainly not against people trying—it really is utterly essential that this agreement should be guaranteed in such a way that we can be assured that it will be carried out.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the question of external guarantees. Indeed, the excellent paper from the Africa Bureau mentioned this and asked:Can any settlement with Mr. Smith alone be followed without explicit external guarantees to enforce its implementation?I do not think that is an unfair thing to say after the experience of the last six years or after the experience with South Africa. I do not think external guarantees are practical or are on. In the Middle East the reason Israel does not reach an agreement is that she does not accept their reliability. She could certainly get them, but could she rely on them? When I was there in the summer I was reminded that Czechoslovakia and Poland had external guarantees but it was rather late by the time anything happened. Therefore, I do not think there is any external guarantee, however well intentioned, that would in the end work if the agreement reached honourably was subsequently breached dishonourably.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
The hon. Gentleman has made a point which is in flat contradiction to what his leader said yesterday. There is one external guarantee which could be enforced, and that is the presence of British forces.
§ Mr. Johnston
The hon. Gentleman must contain his impatience. That is exactly the point to which I was coming. I was talking about external guarantees. I am now talking about what could be done internally in the Rhodesian sense of the word. I would again draw the attention of the Foreign Secretary to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) said yesterday, which was that perhaps the only effective guarantee that one could devise would be some sort of British armed presence in Rhodesia—a 1105 British sovereign base in Rhodesia. I do not see any other form of guarantee which could be effective, because there must be a method of implementing any agreement reached.
We have all been over this ground a lot. Many hon. Members have said today and at other times that the Foreign Secretary is a man of honour. He is a man who means the best. I would say to him that in this case failure with honour can he a success. Success with dishonour would be exactly as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East said—a grave disservice to this country and to the whole future of our relations with Africa.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
I hope very much that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will come back from Rhodesia successful. I am certain that he will come back with his honour perfectly intact. We wish him well. We realise that he has a difficult task ahead of him. Frankly, I do not share the pessimism of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). After all, there were two attempts when he was in power to reach an agreement with Mr. Smith and his Government. Since then there were nine months of negotiation between officials and three visits of Lord Goodman.
I do not think my right hon. Friend would be going to Salisbury unless he thought there was a reasonable chance of success. Obviously, it cannot be guaranteed, but we all wish him well and we hope that he will come back with an agreement based, as he said, on the framework of the five principles. May I repeat briefly the action of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East and run through those five principles. First, unimpeded progress towards majority rule. Here the task is to marry that principle with the present Rhodesian constitution which advocates parity between the races. We must reach parity before we reach majority rule. Therefore, I think this problem is not insoluble. The key here is timing.
I would remind the Opposition that when they met Mr. Smith in H.M.S. "Tiger" they made certain concessions in order to reach an agreement. When they met him again in H.M.S. "Fearless" 1106 they made further concessions to reach an agreement. I hope that when my right hon. Friend comes back from Salisbury they will not expect him to come hack with "one man one vote", because I believe that is what they are going to demand when the time comes. But it is not what they asked for. The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) said there was no question of one man one vote, and that majority rule would not come for some considerable time. On the second principle, a guarantee against retrogressive amendment, we have already heard the question, can we trust Mr. Smith? If Mr. Smith were minded to tear up any agreement new, one can only say that he would have been much wiser to have signed on the dotted line before U.D.I. and then torn it up. Indeed, I am certain that he received that advice, but he did not do it because he said then that, when Rhodesians sign agreements, they keep their word.
I am prepared to trust Mr. Smith and his Government. If he reaches an agreement, after all the difficulties which he and his Government have had during the negotiations with the present Opposition, he will keep it. He has, after all, conceded the real key to this question, namely, the blocking quarter, which will give the elected African representatives in Parliament the chance and the power to block any changes in entrenched clauses of the constitution of which they disapprove.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)
I am interested to hear the hon. Gentleman say that he is prepared to trust Mr. Ian Smith's word. Will he tell us how he interprets Mr. Smith's word that there is no question of majority rule within his lifetime?
§ Mr. Wall
Mr. Smith, to my knowledge, has denied that statement and said that he said no African Nationalist majority rule; he did not necessarily mean majority rule. But, like many hon. Members here, Mr. Smith is a politician who has to think of his own electorate. I am saying that I should trust the word of Mr. Smith if he and his Government put their signature to a document which was signed also by the British Government. I believe that Mr. Smith and his Government would do everything they could to keep that agreement. I say again that it would have been infinitely simpler
1107 [MR. WALL.]
for Mr. Smith to do as his more extreme supporters wanted to persuade him to do, that is, sign on the dotted line many years ago and then tear it up. Incidentally, most other African Governments have done just that; they have torn up nearly every constitution which the House of Commons produced for them. I do not believe that the Rhodesians are prepared to follow that example.
The third principle is improvement in the status of the African. Here, the key is the traditional one in the British Colonial system of a qualified franchise based on education and income. I hope that this will lead back towards the old 1961 constitution, which had as one of its elements a common roll. I regard this as a guarantee for the future.
The fourth principle is progress towards ending racial discrimination. Here, I come to the question of the Methodist mission at Epworth near Salisbury and the Catholic mission at Chishawasha. A few days ago, the Daily Telegraph reported:Mr. Ian Smith. Rhodesian Prime Minister, is understood to have suspended his Government's plans to evict several thousand African tenants from the 'White'-designated mission lands near Salisbury.There are reports that this move may well have been designed by certain officials who want to block any settlement. In Rhodesia there may well be such officials, as there may well be officials in this country who, for their part. would regret it if a settlement were reached. So I believe that the reports of the proposed eviction may well not be true.
Any imposition of apartheid on mission lands near Salisbury would not be tolerable, and, if such a thing were persisted in, I could well understand the British Government not reaching agreement with Mr. Smith and his Government. I very much hope that the reports of evictions from the mission territories or deliberate segregation in education are wrong, or that, if they have any truth, any such plans will be dropped at once by the Rhodesians.
The last principle is that a settlement must be acceptable to the people as a whole. We arc told, as in the past when the present Opposition were in power, that this would be sounded by a Royal 1108 Commission. Obviously, my right hon. Friend will have to see representatives of African opinion of all kinds. Unlike some hon. Members opposite. I do not accept that the leaders of Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U. now in detention are leaders of African opinion. They may well be leaders of certain sections of African opinion, but they have never been elected by any Africans. [Interruption.] The elected African Members of Parliament —there are 15 of them—who were elected by African votes are far more representatives of their race's opinion than are the Reverend Sithole or Mr. Nkomo.
I remind the House that those two leaders are now no longer in charge of the Nationalist organisation anyway. We have reports from Lusaka that Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U. have now come together in an association called Frolizi, which has new leaders. This detracts somewhat from the claim of Mr. Nkomo and the Reverend Sithole to be leaders of African opinion.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
Does not the hon. Gentleman know that the reports which have come from Lusaka are that the merging of Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U. came about directly as a result of a request from the two leaders of Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U. in detention?
§ Mr. Wall
It came about as a direct result of the threat by the President of Zambia to close down both organisations unless they got together, as the O.A.U. has constantly tried to force them together for the last four years.
To my friends in Rhodesia I say this. They may well have won the battle of sanctions. I believe that they have. They have proved that the boast of "Weeks rather than months" was false. But. equally, sanctions have prevented Rhodesia expanding as it should. If they do have a settlement, if they are sensible enough to reach agreement with my right hon. Friend, they will gain three things which they greatly need—recognition, capital and immigration. I believe that a very large number of English men and women will want to go to Rhodesia once a settlement has been reached. Those three things—recognition, capital and immigration—are well worth having.
I remind my friends in Rhodesia also that, if the negotiations fail, although sanctions will continue to be eroded, it 1109 will be very difficult for any British Government to remove them completely, for they have United Nations opinion to consider because the present Opposition went to the United Nations to ask for mandatory sanctions, against all the advice of my right hon. and hon. Friends.
What attitude will the Opposition here adopt? A settlement must, obviously, be based on a compromise. This compromise will not be NIBMAR. It will not be "One man one vote". I hope that the Opposition will remember the concessions which their Government made, both in H.M.S. "Tiger" and in H.M.S. "Fearless". I understand the temptation which they have, particularly at the present time, to unite the party against any settlement which my right hon. Friend brings back.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East is not here at the moment, because I have here a good quotation from the Yorkshire Post, his county newspaper:However it is quite clear that white-ruled Rhodesia is capable of surviving whatever conceivable pressures might be inflicted on her by Britain, the United Nations Organisation or anyone else in the foreseeable future. And if agreement is not reached between Mr. Smith and Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the ranks of the white supremacists will be swelled by bitter and frustrated men who at this point in time might be regarded as moderates. That would lead to more and more discrimination against the black population.That is what I say to the Opposition. That is what will happen because the alternative to success is to throw Rhodesia into the, arms of South Africa and to force the Rhodesians to adopt an apartheid system which, I am convinced. the majority would not wish.
My final word is to the Government. I regret the timing of this debate. The Government have been in office now for about 16 months. I regard it as unfortunate that they could not reach the present stage of negotiations before asking the House to pass this sanctions Order. Last year, many of my right hon. and hon. Friends said. "This time, but never again". Now we are asked again to approve this Order.
I accept that when he goes to Salisbury my right hon. Friend needs this Measure in his pocket; it is one of the major cards he has in his negotiations 1110 with Mr. Smith. But one must accept also that when people such as myself and others of my hon. Friends have consistently voted against sanctions because they felt that they were wrong in principle, and particularly wrong in this case, it is difficult for them not to vote against sanctions again tonight.
I hope, therefore, that it will be decided that it is unnecessary to divide the House on this matter, in view of the very special circumstances and the fact that my right hon. Friend is to go to Salisbury on Sunday. I hope that he will accept that, if that happens, the Order will have been approved on the tacit understanding that it will not run its full term but will be repealed as soon as a settlement is reached. We wish him "God speed" in reaching that settlement.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) gave away his whole case when he said that the Rhodesians will get three things out of a settlement—recognition, capital and immigration. Of course they will. That is why they want a settlement, and the tragedy of the situation is that out of any kind of settlement they are the only beneficiaries. We shall not gain anything7, whatsoever, because it is impossible to get a settlement which would be recognised, by Africa in particular but by the Third World in general. as being an honourable settlement guaranteeing unimpeded progress to majority rule.
We discovered that after two dispiriting attempts to get a settlement. The hon. Member for Haltemprice is right in making the party point that we gave concessions on H.M.S. "Tiger" and on H.M.S. "Fearless". Indeed, it was because we were giving so many concessions that my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) and I divided the House in 1968 on the "Fearless" negotiations. We had given too much. What I fear now is that that arch negotiator, Lord Goodman, should be starting from "Fearless" in his negotiations about where we should go in the present attempted settlement and that Smith, having already declared his independence and his republican constitution, and having already enshrined within that constitution the basis of apartheid, is not 1111 likely now to make the kind of concessions he was unwilling to make as long ago as "Fearless".
Therefore, what I conceive as any kind of settlement that could be brought back by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary is one that is a watering down of the "Fearless" position. No such settlement could be accepted by any black African nation as a respectable, honourable settlement. If those nations did not accept it, neither would any others of the Afro-Asian bloc in the United Nations. What, then, is the position of the British Government in the United Nations? What is likely to happen when the Foreign Secretary takes his agreement to the Security Council and says, "Now will you release us from the mandatory sanctions which you applied?"
§ Mr. Wall
The hon. Gentleman knows that part of Africa, as I do. Has not he been told by African leaders of adjacent black African-ruled States that they want stability above all, and that stability can be returned to Southern and Central Africa only by the ending of sanctions and the futile dispute with the Rhodesian Government?
§ Mr. Lyon
I have been round those black African States to which the hon. Gentleman referred in a speech last week. I notice that he included the President of Botswana among the leaders he had spoken to. The President of Botswana wants stability in Central Africa. He does not want a dishonourable settlement. [Interruption.] What we are talking about is the definition of an honourable settlement. Seretse Khama has a very different standard from the hon. Gentleman for an honourable settlement. He would not accept a settlement on the "Fearless" terms. He told me that as recently as last April. If he would not accept "Fearless", how could he accept a watered-down version of it that might be brought back by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary?
Even if the right hon. Gentleman could square his conscience to bring back something within the five principles, as he believes them to be, if he went to the Security Council with that document and said "This is the honourable settlement that we have achieved. Now let us take 1112 off sanctions", what would be the effect? We should be vilified in the United Nations and throughout black Africa—and for what purpose? It would be to recover the lost £40 million worth of trade with Rhodesia, which is never likely to come back to us anyway, and to recover the opportunity for investment in a country which has very few Europeans and has a large indigenous African population as against the opportunities for investment in the whole of black Africa. What is to happen to our investments in Nigeria if the right hon. Gentleman returns with a settlement which is regarded by the Nigerian Government as a sell-out?
Can it really be said by Conservative hon. Members that Britain has anything to gain by now going for a settlement? What we have to say at this stage in the proceedings is that no honourable settlement can be negotiated with a white minority Government in Rhodesia, whether headed by Ian Smith or any successor, because they will not agree to any settlement, unless economic pressure is maintained, which could be accepted by any respectable black African Government as honouring the pledge to allow unimpeded progress to majority rule. That is at the very heart of the dilemma.
There was a case at the time of "Tiger" for saying "Sanctions have been on for only a little while. There is a possibility of getting a settlement. Bitterness is not so deep. The Rhodesian whites have not gone so far along the road towards apartheid and, therefore, we may be able to rescue them from that path by taking steps, at the price of some concessions, which would give us something that might be interpreted as an honourable settlement". That day is long past. The Rhodesians have had their republican constitution; they have passed their apartheid legislation. Not only has it been passed but, because it gives the right for certain groups of whites in a neighbourhood to petition for neighbourhoods to be declared white and blacks to be moved out, there is already pressure from neighbourhoods to allow it to be implemented.
Therefore, the Rhodesians already have the smell of apartheid under their nostrils. Does the right hon. Gentleman expect us to believe that, settlement or not, that smell will not continue? After all, why 1113 has South Africa gone for apartheid? It has been independent for 50 years. It has had the opportunity to take whatever course it wanted to take in relation to its black majority and it has gone for apartheid. So would a white minority in Rhodesia, for the very same reason. If the blacks are allowed to have equality of job opportunity and political power, the whites are condemned perpetually to a minority share in their country, because population factors are heavily in favour of the blacks. It is in the economic and political interest of the whites to entrench themselves, and only an act of magnanimity could allow them to forgo that kind of apartheid protection.
The logic of events, whatever their protestations, is that if a country in Africa is given independence with power still vested in the white minority, that white minority will continue to keep the power at all costs, by every means open to them, whatever their leaders say. There- fore, we shall never be able to say, short of taking over the country by force, which no one is now prepared to do, that we can create in Rhodesia a situation in which the whites will not go for apartheid.
Mr. PiersDixon (Truro)
I have been trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument, but there is one basic point I do not understand, and I should be very glad if he would help us on it. Is he for or against arriving at a settlement?
§ Mr. Lyon
I cannot give the whole argument in my first sentence. I am coming to precisely that point. The hon. Gentleman has asked me a fair question: if I do not believe that, settlement or not, we could ever get rid of the threat of apartheid in Rhodesia, short of applying the principle of one man, one vote, what do I say should happen? My answer is that we have now nothing to gain by getting a settlement. We shall not get back lost trade, we shall suffer severe political and economic sanctions in Africa and, possibly, throughout the rest of the Third World if we come forward with an agreement. Let us continue with sanctions. This is the wish of the United Nations, of the black majority in Rhodesia and of the black nations to the north of the Zambesi.
§ Mr. Lyon
I am trying to answer the question but I am getting another intervention. If, therefore, there is no benefit to be gained for this country or for the black majority in Rhodesia by purporting to have a settlement, let us for goodness' sake put behind us the thought that there can ever be a settlement.
§ Mr. Cormack
It would seem from what the hon. Gentleman has so lucidly said that he is disagreeing with his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who said quite plainly that he wished for a settlement. Is the hon. Member so much in disagreement, or not?
§ Mr. Lyon
I am saying that I do not believe there is any chance of an honourable settlement. My right hon. Friend said that if an honourable settlement were possible he would hope it could be achieved, but I do not believe it can be achieved. I subscribe to my right hon. Friend's words but, as a matter of political analysis. I do not think it can be done, and I am saying so clearly and facing the inevitable question—what do we do then—which the Foreign Secretary tonight avoided answering by a repetition of his phraseology on the last occasion, when he said that one does not enter into negotiations in the expectation that one will fail. Perhaps not, but at least one makes allowance for the possibility of failure in a situation like the Rhodesian situation.
What is to happen if the Foreign Secretary comes back with his honour intact and no settlement? The hon. Member for Haltemprice says that he will no longer vote for sanctions—
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He has used the word "logic". He agreed with his own Front Bench that sanctions should he continued, but is he aware that during the last three, years the average rate of growth of the gross national product of Rhodesia has been 6 per cent. per annum, three times greater than the rate of growth in this country, and that Rhodesia has an abundance of everything notwithstanding sanctions? What, therefore, is the logic of continuing sanctions?
§ Mr. Lyon
I wish that the hon. Member for Worcestershire. South would get together with his hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice who says that we should take off sanctions so that Rhodesia can grow. He says that Rhodesia wants capital. Of course it wants capital. If the hon. Member for Worcestershire. South looks at the gross national product of most of the countries in the developing world. he will find comparable rates of increasing growth. In many of the developing nations, which are starting from a much lower base, we should expect to find very much higher rates of growth than in a developed country like ours. which is suffering from the difficulties of having old manufacturing industries which are running down. It is an inevitable part of the analysis of the economies of the developing world.
In Rhodesia, with a settled European population and already some manufacturing potential, one would expect that in the years since 1965 the rate of growth would have been very much higher. Rhodesia expected that, but the capital could not be obtained. It is because the 1116 Rhodesians cannot get the capital that they want a settlement. It is not we who are over the barrel; it is they who are over the barrel.
We should keep on sanctions longer to add to the economic difficulties of the Rhodesian rÉgime until the whites in Rhodesia recognise that there is no future for them when, even though they have the political power, they cannot have the economic benefits of that political power. That is what we should be drumming into them by every means in our power.
We should be making the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations a viable institution. We should be making the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee a viable institution. The Commonwealth Sanctions Committee meets twice a year with the Commissioners here in London. The High Commissioners are concerned about what the British Government have failed to do, and the British Government do not even tell them what is happening in relation to the negotiations with Smith about a settlement in Rhodesia. How can that be said to be a use of the Sanctions Committee either of the Commonwealth or the United Nations?
There is much more we could do to tighten up sanctions against Rhodesia and to make them bite even more than they are biting now. The reason why sanctions were not as effective as many people prophesied—not I—in 1965 is that there was a great gaping hole through South Africa and the Portuguese territories. In addition, countries like France were prepared to continue to send petroleum to Rhodesia by illegal means and then protest to the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations that they were not doing so. It is interesting to note that French policy in relation to Southern Africa is changing and that the French are now much more aware of the threat to their position in the northern States of Africa if they continue their existing racist policy.
There may be a chance of tightening up the sanctions campaign, but even at its present level it is hitting Smith and the white minority regime in Salisbury. In these circumstances it is criminal that we should be proposing action to take away the threat of sanctions. They should continue until the white minority in Rhodesia recognise that there is no future for them in a situation where, although 1117 they may hold the political power, the black African majority are dispossessed. For that reason I am against negotiating with Smith at this moment, I am against any settlement—which I think is bound to be dishonourable—and I am against the Foreign Secretary going to Salisbury.
§ 8.9 p.m.
The speech of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) was gloomy and urconstructive. He does not want my right hon. Friend to go to Salisbury, he does not want an end to sanctions, he does not want a settlement, honourable or otherwise. with the Rhodesian authorities. He said that the only beneficiaries of a settlement would be those who now hold the power in Rhodesia. This is not so. The main beneficiaries of a settlement, as was indicated by my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. are the African majority in Rhodesia.
The hon. Member for York was at great pains to say sanctions were biting and that as a result Rhodesia was short of capital investment. This is a complaint we share with Rhodesia since the United Kingdom, too, is very short of capital investment.—He was at great pains to say—I am not sure he was wholly accurate—that the sanctions are having a success and are bringing economic pressure to bear on Rhodesia. If this is true, who is it that suffers? Is it the white minority? No, it is not. If anybody suffers in Rhodesia as a result of sancztions, it is the African people.
It is not shown in statistics when Africans lose their jobs and go off and scratch a living somewhere in the tribal trust areas. I wish some hon. Members would show rather more regard for ordinary human beings in Rhodesia—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—instead of standing on their high principles and saying, "We want to go on bringing sanctions to bear on Rhodesia", not caring tuppence about what happens to the African.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison:
I will give way in a moment. He said the only beneficiaries were those who were holding the power. What will happen if sanctions are brought to an end? Who will be the main bene- 1118 frciaries? I say again that it will be the Africans. On the assumptions made by the hon. Member for York there will be more economic and educational development in Rhodesia. And if there is a normal political relationship between Rhodesia and other countries, including the United Kingdom—in other words, if the heat is off Rhodesia—it will be possible for political dissent to return. Rhodesia is a country where in normal circumstances there is a great deal of politics. At the moment there is very little politics there. It is considered among the white population a patriotic duty to support the Rhodesia Front because the Rhodesians feel the world is making war on them— economic and psychological war. If we bring about a settlement, it will be found that political dissent can revive in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
There can be some chance of different political tendencies having some expression again in Rhodesia, as they always did prior to the unilateral declaration of independence.
§ Miss Lestor
The hon. Gentleman said the Africans were the ones suffering as a result of sanctions because they were losing their jobs. If that is true, why is it the Rhodesian Government did not seize the opportunity to increase job opportunities for those Africans who had been displaced, instead of bending over backwards to encourage immigration into Rhodesia by people from outside thus preventing the African population moving into jobs that were available?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I do not know the details of the present policy of the Rhodesian Government with regard to immigration. Any Rhodesian Government, whether illegal or recognised, will be concerned to encourage immigration from countries which can bring wealth, expertise and development to Rhodesia. And I do not know what the hon. Lady is driving at when she says that white immigrants are being brought in to deprive black people in Rhodesia of jobs.
I want now to make my own case. I am opposed to this Order for the renewal of sanctions. I wanted to say something about the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds. East (Mr. Healey). but the Shadow Foreign Secretary is in 1119 and out of the Chamber—he makes his own speech and out he goes. I thought he would come back, but he has gone again. I will not follow his commentary on the party management, or one might say stage management, of all this. I had a certain amount of sympathy with what he said about that, but since he is not present I will not take that point any further. However, I would differ with him in giving an unqualified message of God-speed to my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.
The right hon. Gentleman who opened the debate for the Opposition should be ashamed of his meanness. Indeed, the Labour Party should be ashamed of their whole record on Rhodesia. The sanctions to which I have been consistently opposed —and I am on record as having opposed them before they were introduced—are the work of the Labour Party and of the Government headed by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. [Interruption.] Yes. I opposed them before they were introduced. I said they would be a futile farce and they have been shown to be advantageous only to our enemies and our trading competitors.
I am always touched by the fervent royalism of the extreme Left wing of the Labour Party when Rhodesia is discussed. It was the achievement of the present Leader of the Opposition when Prime Minister—he of weeks not months, which then became years not decades, and, if the hon. Member for York has his way, will be decades not centuries—to claim the great credit of having converted some of the most fervent royalists of the world, those of Rhodesia, into resentful republicans. With all his talk of rebellion against the Crown, he deprived the Queen of a fair dominion. Now right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are at it again and want to spoil the chance of a settlement. What they really want, if they have their way and spoil a settlement with Rhodesia, is to extend the South African empire to the Zambesi.
I agree that the task of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is formidable. I see great difficulties in bringing within the framework of the five principles a settlement with Rhodesians, who have given to themselves a constitution 1120 which not only has been passed by their Parliament but has been endorsed by referendum. It is not an apartheid constitution.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I do not see how one can describe as apartheid a constitution which is aimed at bringing parity of representation and equal representation from two races into the same Parliament. One may dislike it or think it wrong or stupid, but it is not an apartheid constitution. It is however a problem how one squares such a constitution with this set of principles.
In this difficulty the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition conies to our rescue because, not to be outdone by the Tories, he had to have a principle of his own. To the five principles the right hon. Gentleman added a sixth, which was that such a state of affairs should be brought about in Rhodesia that the whites should not be able to dominate the blacks and oppress them or vice verse. That is the sixth principle. I suppose in the circumstances of Africa, with all we have learnt about what happens to majority rule in Africa, one could say that parity between the races in a Parliament, giving effect to the sixth principle of the right hon. Gentleman, might be worse.
However it is not for me to say how this hand should be played. I feel a bit like the Irishman who said, "If I had wanted to get there I would not have started from here." It would have been a good idea if we had decided long ago to deal in facts rather than in phrases.
What is the great fact in this situation? I think that it is admitted everywhere now. I know that there are idealists who want to soldier on through the decades and the centuries keeping themselves right with their consciences. At the expense of the African population, they want to go on and on with sanctions against the admitted fact of independence. They do not deny it. No one in this House denies that Rhodesia today is an independent State.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison:
So far unrecognised. At the time of U.D.I., the Leader 1121 of the Opposition, then Prime Minister, asked the judges in Rhodesia to remain at their posts and to continue to administer justice. In the Appellate Division of the High Court in Salisbury there was an interesting dispute. It was not whether Rhodesia was an independent State. It concerned the issue to which the hon. Member for Smethwich (Mr. Faulds) has just referred. I know what the hon. Gentleman had to say about the judges in the High Court, especially about Sir Hugh Beadle—
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
The dispute in the Appellate Division—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way"] I am in the middle of a sentence—was whether this independent State was independent de facto or de jure.
§ Mr. Faulds
Is the hon. Gentleman really claiming that that chap Beadle is a representative of a reasonable, responsible judiciary or one for which any Member of this House would have regard, considering his rÔle as main traitor in the arranging and carrying out of I.D.I.?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
Certainly I regard him and the other judges in Rhodesia with respect.
Reference has been made to the leaders of the two African nationalist movements, Mr. Joshua Nkomo and the Rev. Sithole. It has been said that they are not able to express their opinions. The hon. Member for Smethwick asked why they were not given a chance to get themselves elected as representative leaders of their people. They had their chance. In 1961, a constitution was given to Rhodesia by this House. It was a constitution which would have taken Rhodesia to majority rule. It was a constitution which was accepted by Mr. Nkomo and by the Rev. Sithole in London. However, when they 1122 went back to Salisbury they repudiated the constitution that they had accepted.
The 1961 constitution was one which most white people in Rhodesia did not like.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I think that most people in Rhodesia did not like a constitution which, with progress in economic and educational development, would have led to majority rule.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
It had to be sold to the electorate. Sir Edgar Whitehead sold it. I think with the understanding of the then Government here, by assuring the Rhodesian electorate that this was the last concession that would have to be made before Rhodesia had its independence. On the break-up of the Federation, the two other territories were given their independence. The Rhodesians expected their independence, and they were given to understand that, having accepted a constitution which would have led to African majority rule, they should have their independence.
The 1961 constitution has been interpreted. again by the High Court of which the hon. Member for Smethwick does not approve but which people with some knowledge of the law and the judicial process respect. The High Court in Salisbury has said, I think rightly, that, in effect, the 1961 constitution was incompatible with colonial status. I do not know. I am not a lawyer, like the hon. Member for Smethwick—
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
But, although Southern Rhodesia has governed itself since 1923, although the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia was always admitted to the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers until Federation, and although there has never been any direct rule of Rhodesia by this country, no imperial garrison, and its civil servants
1123 [MR. BIGGS-DAVISON.]
have always been locally recruited, I suspect that the hon. Member for Smethwick and other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would say that Rhodesia is a colony in rebellion.
What do the international law authorities say about that? I see that we have my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General with us—
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will be able to help me. It is very good that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General is going to Salisbury—
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I thought that the speech quoted by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East was very good. It was just the sort of thing that should be heard from law officers. Brierly, Oppenheim and other legal authorities say that, if a mother State fails to subdue a rebellious colony, that rebellious colony ought to be recognised as a State. Even if other lawyers dispute that, it is common sense and it is in conformity with British foreign policy as it has been pursued from Government to Government.
There has been heart-searching and head-shaking about the seating of Communist China at the United Nations. There is a Motion on the Order Paper about it in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. Stewart-Smith). But, in deciding whether to recognise the Peking regime, whether to recognise any revolutionary regime, in Africa or anywhere else, what successive Conservative and Labour Governments have always stressed is the question: Do the people who have power there have effective control? The worst enemies of Mr. Ian Smith and his friends would scarcely deny that they have very effective control over Rhodesia. The Peking Government came to power by massacre and has been preserved by the obscenities of the Cultural Revolution—
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
No doubt the hon. Gentleman would say that everything done 1124 by the present Communist authorities in China is impeccable. All right. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his point of view. But the point is that the Peking Government is seated at the United Nations with the full approval of and upon a vote by Her Majesty's Government, whereas Rhodesia is not even permitted to plead her case at the United Nations.
Throughout Africa, from A to Z, Algeria to Zanzibar—if genocide means anything, there was genocide in Zanzibar —there has been speedy recognition of every revolutionary usurpation. Of course, the revolution in Rhodesia was different. It was bloodless. Nobody got hurt. It caused no break in the continuity of parliamentary government and judicial process. It is less of a police state than all the others. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentleman do not follow events in Africa.
On 18th October I tabled a Question to my right hon. Friend who, we understand, is responsible for Rhodesia. We in this House arc supposed to be responsible for Rhodesia. We ought, therefore, to be responsible for the liberty of individual Rhodesians. I asked my right hon. Friendhow many Rhodesian Africans are in custody or on bail in Zambia; with what offences they have been charged; what have been the periods in custody in each case; what representations have been made; and with what result?".The Answer was:Nine Africans detained in Zambia under public security or immigration regulations have been identified as Rhodesian citizens. Representations have been made on behalf of two in custody since 1969.It is now 1971.Inquiries are continuing about the other seven, who have been detained in recent months. None of these has yet been tried or released."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 49-50.]
I understand the realities of government in Africa; but it is strange that, when so much is made about our responsibility for Rhodesia, we do not hear anything about Rhodesians who are detained without trial in a neighbouring African state.
I pray that my right hon. Friend may succeed. I suppose that it is now or never. If a settlement is not reached, let it be clear that the days of sanctions are numbered. Many of my hon. Friends have always opposed sanctions. We 1125 oppose them now. If a Division is called I shall vote against the Order.
It has been said from the Treasury Bench—I noticed it with care—that Salisbury does not expect the termination of sanctions with the negotiations in progress. I am not personally more Rhodesian than the Rhodesians. I have always taken my stand on the facts of the situation and on the British interest. But if there is a Division, the Government can have their Order with Labour and Liberal support, which is only proper, because sanctions are a Socialist measure.
It does not lie in the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition or any of his colleagues to talk about loss of British sovereignty in Europe when they abjectly surrendered British sovereignty over our relationship with Rhodesia to the United Nations where, alas, the highest common factor is hostility to British and European interests.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
It is rather curious that, six years after the declaration of U.D.I. and probably the fifth debate on the continuation of sanctions, the only speech from the Government side in support of sanctions has been from the Front Bench. Not one Government back bencher has spoken a word of sympathy for sanctions. Therein lies the reason that Mr. Smith refused to sign after H.M.S. "Tiger" and after H.M.S. "Fearless". He has always believed that if he hung on long enough he could get a much better deal from the Tory Party. He has always felt that if he hung on long enough he would get hi; own way and complete independence without any of the trappings tied to him by the five principles.
The seed of the rebellion in Rhodesia by the white minority has been nurtured by hon. Members opposite. For some of them to complain that some of the statements made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) were not helping the situation is to show their complete misunderstanding of the climate of opinion in Rhodesia. As long as hon. Gentlemen opposite condemn sanctions and any settlement, except on the basis of giving in to Smith, then so long will Smith agree to carry on with his present stand. They stand up and 1126 hypocritically wish the Foreign Secretary God-speed. The right hon. Gentleman has to run fast to escape the knives being stuck in his back by his hon. Friends [An HON. MEMBER: "Absolute rubbish."] It is true, whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not.
We understand from the Foreign Secretary that if he is able to reach some agreement with Mr. Smith and his Government there will be a period of about six weeks in which to test whether the settlement is acceptable to the majority of opinion in Rhodesia. We have heard these nice little cracks about how Mr. Nkomo and the Reverend Sithole are not really representative of African opinion. The same thing was said about Mr. Kenyatta in Kenya and, going further back, about Mahatma Gandhi. One is almost driven to the conclusion that some African leaders who were despised in the past have been almost canonised by the Government of South Africa, especially when one thinks of their attitude to Doctor Banda. And what happened to him at the time of the Central Africa Federation. Let us not have any nonsense about African leaders being unrepresentative of their people.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
The difference is that Mahatma Gandhi and the India National Congress made full use of such parliamentary constitutions as there were. Mr. Sithole and Joshua Nkomo refused to work the parliamentary constitutions which would have led them to majority rule.
§ Mr. Hughes
I do not believe that the 1961 constitution would, in time, have led to majority rule. But even if one concedes that that was possible, why should African leaders and African opinion in Rhodesia accept a delay leading to majority rule when the other two countries which formed part of the Central African Federation got their independence on the basis of universal adult suffrage? No African leader with any sense would have accepted such a thing.
If there was to be a real chance of an honourable settlement, African leaders —not just the political leaders, but trade union and church leaders, too—ought to have been sitting round a table discussing what sort of constitution they were prepared to accept. It is no use hon. Gentlemen opposite saying that that did not
1127 [MR. HUGHES.]
happen in "Tiger" and "Fearless". The Government had better learn to stand on their own two feet when they make proposals, and stop trying to duck out of their responsibility by chucking epithets from one side of the House to the other.
Even allowing for the fact that there has been no real consultation with the African leaders, what we have to recognise is that time does not stand still. Events have changed the situation in Africa, and what might have been acceptable five years ago, four years ago, or even two years ago, is no longer acceptable to the people in Africa and in Rhodesia, because they are rightly becoming impatient and are being driven to the view that there can be no real settlement.
We have heard the story that any settlement must have some kind of external guarantee. We know that internal guarantees dressed up in terms of constitutional blocking quarters, two- thirds majorities, and so on, do not begin to work. Anyone who thinks that they will work has only to look at the position in South Africa. Coloured people were given some rights in the Cape Province on the common roll. I shall not go into the infamous saga of the special High Court of Parliament set up to judge whether legislation introduced into the South African Parliament was legal, or the way in which the Senate was enlarged to get round a part of the constitution which was not explicit.
We know that if the Government, or the people in power, are ruthless enough, or determined enough, to get round a written constitution in order to preserve their own prestige, privilege and power, they will get round any written constitution that can be devised by man. The only real basis for a settlement which is honourable to the people of this country who have a long tradition of democracy and of working to the principle of one man one vote, and one woman one vote, is that of no independence before majority rule. That is the only way in which we can arrive at an honourable settlement. But we have been told that there is no chance of the present Foreign Secretary trying to negotiate a settlement on that basis. Therefore, we must ask whether it is possible for there to be some sort of external guarantee or sanction which can last for as long as the implementation of a settlement takes.
1128 It is not only unimpeded progress towards majority rule which is important, but the length of time it takes. If it takes 50 years, it can never be acceptable; nor would 30 years be accepted as short enough to make the sanctions written into the agreement effective. I understand—perhaps the Minister will confirm this—that there are held in this country some frozen funds belonging to Rhodesia. If so, they should not be released until majority rule is reached.
I should certainly like to see some military garrison stationed in Rhodesia, with the possibility that, if the Government of Rhodesia reneged on their promise, some military action would be taken. But I recognise that that would not be the Government's view or a practical possibility at this moment of time. The only practical time to use military force was at the time of U.D.I. Had we had the will then to apply military force, the strategic consequences could have been easily worked out, and I believe that it would have been effective.
But although we cannot station military force in Rhodesia now, we should write into any settlement what steps will be taken by this Government, in conjunction with the United Nations, so that any country bordering Rhodesia which gave assistance and succour to a Government which breaks its word would know exactly where it stood in relation to sanctions. We should say to the South African Government as well that any breaking of settlements or support of the Rhodesian Government would be met with the full force of any sanctions which we decided to apply.
Some hon. Members opposite are very prone to call in aid the word of God. It is certainly not for me, as a man of no religious persuasion, to preach the gospel or to tell hon. Members opposite what their Christian duty is, but I should like some of them to take note of the resolution passed by the Christian Council of Rhodesia on 8th September, 1971. The Christian Council represents the majority of churches in Rhodesia. Its resolution called very strongly for the kind of atittude in which many of my lion. Friend believe.
It went on to say:It is not enough to cloak political ideas in Christian language and to talk of justice and 1129 democracy where these things do not in fact exist. Human rights are too important to be left as side issues. They must be central, written into the constitution and able to be defended in the courts of law.It went on to make other points about how a settlement would have to be acceptable to the chosen leaders of all sections of opinion—political, trade union, Christian and others.
The Foreign Secretary carries a very great responsibility. It is a responsibility, in my view, as great as was carried by the Prime Minister of this country when he went to Munich in 1938. No one can doubt that a settlement which is dishonourable and unfair to the majority of people in Rhodesia means for Southern Africa the kind of bleak future which the world faced after 1938. It is a future of violence.
Some hon. Members opposite, when one talks of violence in Southern Africa, ask, "If there is such determination by the Africans to gain their independence, why has there not been the violence which we have been led to expect in South Africa and Rhodesia?" It should be a matter for rejoicing that, up to now, the African people have placed and kept their faith in non-violent means of obtaining their independence. If we fail them now, we are shutting the door for ever after on any peaceful settlement and there will be no other possibility except the way of revolution and of violence. I for one will support them every inch of the way if that is what they are driven to. I have no hesitation in saying that here tonight.
I am sorry that the Foreign Secretary is not here, because I intend to refer to him. There has been speculation in the Press—I accept that such speculation is not always reliable—and suggestions elsewhere that the Foreign Secretary would consider it a fitting end to his career if he were able to get an honourable settlement in Rhodesia. Many others take the view that it would he a tragedy if he ended his career by arriving at what we would regard as a dishonourable settlement as far as the aspirations of the majority of the people of Rhodesia are concerned.
In my view it would be a fitting end to his career if, having achieved the fame, if that is the word, and notoriety of being associated with Munich in 1938, he got a settlement which made him 1130 nothing more than the P.P.S. to Mr. Smith, a so-called Prime Minister who is nothing but a Fascist in his ideals.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
I would find it difficult to go along with anything that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) said. I enjoyed listening to his remarks until the end, when he spoiled them with a gratuitous and insulting peroration.
The hon. Gentleman accused a number of unspecified hon. Members on this side of the House—he may well include myself —of nurturing the present Rhodesian Government. I wish at the outset to put two points to him about this, and he is entitled to say that they are points in defence.
First, those of us who opposed these measures in the first place did not strike our attitude simply when U.D.I. was first declared. We did so well before that. We opposed sanctions for reasons which some of my hon. Friends, and particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), have developed at length because we did not think they would ever work, a part from any other consideration.
More important than that, we took account—certainly I always tried to do so, as one who was for many years connected with Rhodesia—of the history of the relations of a whole series of Rhodesian Governments with a series of British Governments. We took the view—certainly I did—that there was great injustice in the dealings of those British Governments with the Rhodesians, and I have made no exception as far as my party is concerned.
Matters got worse and worse. Every time the Rhodesians made a concession it was never quite enough. They were led to believe—perhaps because they were too simple people: they were led to hope that they would be able to reach their independence if they did this or that, but whatever they did it was never quite enough.
All of us in this House are to some extent guilty in this matter, and certainly I absolve no political party in this country. It is clear, therefore, that there was a long history before we came to oppose sanctions. I simply ask the hon. Member 1131 for Aberdeen, North to bear this in mind, because it is an important factor in this long and miserable story.
The second point I put to the hon. Member concerns his view about violence and military force in Rhodesia. I think it fair to say that he recognises that to send British forces there today would be impractical, though the way he put it was that it would not fit in with the view of the present Government. I must put it to him that if there is any shortage of British military forces today at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government, that is hardly the fault of the present British Government. If we do not have enough, or, rather, if we are extended to cope with a real threat here on our doorstep in British streets, how hon. Gentlemen opposite can delude themselves into thinking that we could undertake an expedition of that kind—at any stage over the last decade, let alone now—surpasses imagination.
I do not wish to castigate the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North about this. However, the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) exclaimed in an intervention—in which he was now more illuminating than in his whole speech— that British troops should be sent there. [Interruption.] Indeed, that is the only logic of his idiotic argument. I will not go into it further except to point out that the folly of believing such a thing, if it were possible at any stage in the last decade, let alone now, destroys a lot of what many hon. Gentlemen opposite have said tonight.
I do not want to detain the House for more than a few minutes. Much has already been said on this unhappy matter this evening and over the years. It is a matter of some bitterness to me that, yet again, we should be faced with this dreary debate and these arguments, which we have all hashed over again and again, and with this Order. It is a matter of disappointment to me that after 14 or 15 months since the accession of the present Government we should still have to do so, although I recognise the difficulties that exist. I rejoice—as I believe all my right hon. and hon. Friends rejoice—at the prospect of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's going out to Rhodesia. I have already wished him 1132 good luck, and I now repeat my good wishes.
I want to make what is in the nature of a personal statement on this matter. I believe that I am right in saying that I have opposed this Order on every occasion on which it has come before the House, until now —for the sort of historical and practical reasons that I have tried to deploy. I do not believe that sanctions are working. I did not think that they would. I do not believe that they have a material part to play in the coming negotiations. Other things do—yes, on the Rhodesian side— but sanctions, no. I believe that sanctions have damaged not only this country's economic position but the clear thought to which we were always accustomed and which we expected of our Governments. I could never imagine that such a policy as this would succeed. I have opposed it all along.
This evening I am placed in great difficulty. I feel that a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends are in the same position. Above all—as somebody who is at least half Rhodesian—what I want, and have always wanted, hoped and prayed for, is a settlement of this miserable dispute. Therefore, I do not wish to do anything this evening which my right hon. Friend, upon whose shoulders this heavy responsibility lies, might construe as likely to make his task more difficult.
Whatever may be my own view as to the merits of the policy, this is no time to strike attitudes, or try to strike sparks out of newspaper columns in the morning. This is a time to do what we can to assist my right hon. Friend in the task in which I so fervently hope that he will succeed.
The only other matter to which I want to refer is the question of the five principles. I believe—as, I hope, a practical man—that it was a mistake to adopt and adapt these principles in the first place. I have said this to my right hon. Friend before now; it is no secret. I say this not because any one of them is necessarily wrong but because as soon as one lays down principles, one limits and renders more inflexible the conduct of any negotiations. From that point of view it was a pity that the five principles were laid down. Subsequent events have proved 1133 the truth of that. But there we are; it is manifestly clear that whatever my right hon. Friend, as an honourable man, brings back must be confined within them.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
It is interesting to note that the hon. Gentleman thinks that the principles were a mistake, although not because they were necessarily wrong. Does he accept the five principles?
§ Mr. Hastings
I should have to go away and look them all up. For instance, unimpeded progress to majority rule can mean 65 different things—
§ Mr. Hastings
To explain that would involve a dissertation on the history of Rhodesia, on what I conceive to be the attitude of the Africans and on what in the end will come about. There is nothing conceivable that the hon. Member for York, or any hon. Member or Government, past, present or future, can do to ensure that end. The only thing that can do it is good will, and that is what so many hon. Members opposite are really trying to destroy.
§ Mr. Faulds
Will the hon. Gentleman give us a dissertation on the other four principles? What are they?
§ Mr. Hastings
The day the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) wants me or any of my hon. Friends to give way to him or to reply seriously to him, he must first improve the manners he displays in the House.
§ Mr. Hastings
Most hon. Members opposite take the matter seriously. Indeed, I think that our debates in the House, and, generally speaking, at this hour of night, which are most worth while are those in which both sides accept that in our various ways we are trying to reach a reasonable solution. That is probably the present case. We have had many of these debates and whatever attitudes we strike, most of us are concerned with the same problem and are trying to resolve it honestly in our various ways. I do not mean this in any accusatory way but I sincerely put it to right 1134 hon. and hon. Members opposite. I mentioned the principles for a purpose. I mentioned what I thought to be their limitations in terms of interpretation and negotiation.
If, happily, my right hon. Friend comes back between now and Christmas or in the new year with a solution which satisfies him, it is a fair bet, and I think that everyone, including the hon. Member for York, will concede it, that whatever my right hon. Friend brings back will be open to a number of different interpretations. It will be easy to destroy it. It will be simple to make out that it does not fit in with this or that principle, not only in every detail but in major respects. I defy the ingenuity of man to achieve any better result. That is what we shall be faced with.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
Does the hon. Gentleman therefore recognise that if this so-called settlement is to have any chance of success, it must depend on acceptance by the African majority and that it is their good will rather than the good will of the whites on which we are dependent?
§ Mr. Hastings
We can discuss that point until the cows come home. Of course, that is so in a sense, but it is very difficult to define. I could ask the hon. Gentleman to explain exactly what the good will or opinion of the African majority in Rhodesia is. I have met these people often enough. I have trekked about in the Zambesi and talked with them whenever I have had the chance. It is not an easy matter to work out. In principle, however, I recognise that position. I only ask the hon. Gentleman to have the good will also to accept my proposition, but I see that he does not want negotiations of any kind, in which case I have nothing more to say to him.
But there are, I am sure, many hon. Members opposite who must be faced with this dilemma. If they really want an end to this miserable situation, and if my right hon. Friend comes back with something which he believes fits in with the five principles, let them examine their own consciences at this hour, and from now on. Will they treat the matter objectively, will they made out of it some sort of political campaign or will they simply try to strike what they conceive 1135 to be fashionable attitudes over it? I earnestly pray and hope not.
§ Mr. Hastings
It applies to everyone. I am making no exceptions but am making a plea to the House, that if—and he has not been all that optimistic—my right hon. Friend should return with what he conceives to be an honourable solution it should be treated on its merits and in terms of what so many of us have represented may be the consequences should this last chance fail. We have heard views about Rhodesia and the future of Africa again and again in our debates on this and other matters. Again, I appeal to those hon. Gentlemen opposite who may believe, as I do, that probably there is sense on both sides to reflect on this. Those of us who have experience of Rhodesia suggest that should this chance slip, the frontier of apartheid and Dutch South African control would advance to the Zambesi, with all that that would mean. This is a serious consequence of failure.
Secondly, any hope of those in Rhodesia—and I know many—who have opposed U.D.I.; who are moderate people; who have worked, selflessly in many cases, for the African, in many different sectors of life, for this element —possibly tenuous—of multi-racialism which exists there; any hope of their obtaining any further influence or power would be gone for the foreseeable future. That surely also would be a serious consequence of failure.
Finally, economically, African unemployment is an undoubted fact. If this miserable business had not started, Rhodesia's economy by this time would have been booming. There is no doubt about that. If a settlement is achieved. boom it will, and this will bring employment and thus bring the beginnings of economic power to the African. I have always thought that it is through economic power that the African will really advance, and not through the artificial imposition of Western concepts of democracy—one man one vote. I think African experience proves that this is the case, but I recognise that it is a matter of opinion. It is certainly mine.
1136 If a settlement is achieved, it is just posible—I put it no higher— that possible—I put it no higher—that Rhodesia could become a sort of entrepÔt, a centre for communications, ideas and diplomacy, a point of contact between the black-ruled States of the North and the rigid rule of South Africa in the South, and the Portuguese territories as well. There are sure signs of this possibility and there have been for some years now. This is not impossible to envisage. At least it is a chance, and goodness knows there is danger of enough misery and unhappiness in Central Africa if it does not come about. So that, surely, is also something worth striving for. The outright rejection of such a possibility— assuming that I am not imagining it, and I do not think that I am—would also be a serious consequence of failure.
I say to hon. Members, on all sides of the House, let us examine what my right hon. Friend brings back, not every comma and full stop, but whether, as he said, it lies within the framework of these principles; and let us do so in the full knowledge that if this last chance fails, the consequences are almost sure to equate with what I have sought to describe.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)
I always listen with great interest to the contributions that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) makes to these debates. He puts with a certain candidness a point of view to which I am entirely opposed. I say only one thing about the hon. Gentleman's remarks as to the possibility of the Secretary of State bringing back a proposed settlement within the terms of the five principles. If the Foreign Secretary is the man of principle that I believe him to be—this is a view widely shared on this side— it is totally impossible to envisage a situation in which he would bring back a proposed settlement which he would feel to be within the terms of the five principles and which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire would find acceptable.
In this annual debate, as it has now been for several years, in which we renew this legislation on sanctions, it would be remiss of us not to take the opportunity of looking at some of the wider dimensions of the policy we are asked to renew. All of us will agree that the sanctions policy 1137 has not been 100 per cent. effective or successful. In saying that, we also clearly recognise that the major cause of the ineffectivenes of the sanctions policy has been the overt and deliberate policy of Portugal and South Africa in determining to subvert the international operation.
This is where our foreign policy becomes so incredible in the eyes of the world beyond Britain; because at the very time that we plead that the sanctions policy has been ineffective the world sees us on numerous occasions apparently determined to strengthen, at different levels, the bonds of friendship between Britain and Portugal and between Britain and South Africa, the two countries most determined to undermine our policy in what has been one of our most difficult problems for a decade.
This is one lesson which we must draw. It is incumbent upon the Secretary of of State to explain to the House on some occasion where the consistency in our foreign policy on this front lies.
There is another point which should be examined in terms of the wider dimensions of this policy. If the sanctions policy against Rhodesia fails, what is the lesson to be drawn by the world in terms of future policy agreed, for example, at the United Nations? I fear that there is a very grim lesson to be drawn. If we cannot as an international community successfully enforce a policy of sanctions against the community of a mere 239,000 people out of a total population of more than 5 million, can we ever envisage a time in the future in which a sanctions policy will be possible? If we cannot envisage a time when a sanctions policy will ever be effective, we have to accept that, short of force, there is no way of an international community enforcing its will when it believes that its will should he enforced.
Although I agree with those on both sides who have said that the sanctions policy has not been 100 per cent. effective, for the reasons that I have outlined, it is also clear as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said, that sanctions have had a good deal more effect than some people are willing to admit. It is because of their effect that Smith at this juncture is willing to consider the possibility of a settlement and to sue for terms.
1138 If we understand and appreciate this, it is incumbent upon all of us in the House tonight to do everything possible to strengthen the bargaining position of the Foreign Secretary as he goes to Salisbury. To refuse, or to contemplate refusing, to renew the sanctions policy tonight would completely undermine the Foreign Secretary's position and tremendously strengthen Ian Smith's hand as these two gentlemen meet in negotiation in Salisbury. Ian Smith would quickly recognise that he had very little to lose even if a settlement were not forthcoming, because he would realise that if no settlement were forthcoming and if this House were nevertheless contemplating the removal of sanctions he would get the economic benefits of the removal of sanctions without the crowning triumph of political recognition. He would also realise as he got the economic benefits of collaboration with this country, without perhaps political recognition at this stage, that we would find as a result of the expanding economic links of various kinds that inevitably pressures were mounting for a formal recognition of the Rhodesian regime at a later stage, and in any case we would quickly be propelled into a position of de facto recognition of the rÉgime.
An unprincipled recognition of the regime of the type I have described would mean that apart from the Rhodesian situation itself, in the overall context of Southern Africa as a whole, we would have taken one more decisive step towards identification with white supremacy, confirming the conviction of the overwhelming majority of people on the African continent and beyond that when the chips are down we are on the side of the white minority on the African continent. We would still further be destroying any remaining hope of evolutionary peaceful change in that situation. We would be underlining our involvement in a system of social order based only on ruthless racialist tyranny. This would mean that there would be very little hope of any change for the majority of people in Southern Africa short of violent revolution.
But against this analysis, the Foreign Secretary and others have argued tonight that it will be possible to reach an agreement on the basis of the five principles;> 1139 that even if it is not likely, it is possible, and that is why he is undertaking his journey. There are two points in connection with this journey which I believe the Foreign Secretary has entirely failed to answer to date. I therefore want to put them to him again and I hope that we may possibly have an answer before the debate finishes tonight. When we are considering the five principles, there are two angles from which we can approach them. There is one of discussion in an intellectualised form of logic. There is another angle in terms of practical long-term viability and acceptability. I suggest to my hon. Friends that we on this side of the House must beware of becoming caught up at this stage in a debate about whether any particular proposed settlement which was claimed to be within the limits of the five principles would ensure majority rule in five. 10, 15 or 30 years, because I do not believe that this is the essence of the problem at all.
I believe that as we discuss the time scale within which majority rule will be achieved, the rest of the world looks at us with a good deal of interest and asks why, when we were willing to grant, on a multi-racial basis of universal suffrage, independence to Botswana, Kenya and Swaziland, we find it impossible to do this in the case of Rhodesia. The real essence of the problem which we have to accept is this. Even supposing a settlement were found which was claimed to be within the five principles, how are we going to be able to guarantee the implementation of that settlement into the future? The biggest and most obvious example which we have is the story of South Africa itself. There can be no doubt whatsoever that Asquith and the Liberal Administration of that time were absolutely convinced that they were bestowing upon South Africa a constitution which would ensure progress to majority rule and all that we are concerned about in this House tonight. Yet, as my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) so clearly pointed out earlier, when the white minority in that situation found its position threatened, it became politically inevitable that the constitution would be so changed that white supremacy could be protected and the white minority 1140 enabled to continue to enjoy its privilege in that society.
Unless we have meaningful external guarantees of some kind, it is, sadly, equally inevitable that the same situation will develop in Rhodesia.
Some will say, "How are we to find an external guarantee satisfactory in these circumstances?". My conclusion, perhaps negative, is that, if we cannot find a satisfactory external guarantee, it will be infinitely better to continue the status quo, with all its inadequacies, than to indulge in what will be clearly seen by the whole world and by posterity as a shameless sell-out ill disguised by the terminology of the so-called five principles.
There is one other point on which we have not had a satisfactory answer from the Foreign Secretary. One of the most important of the five principles is that any proposed solution must be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. To anyone who takes democracy seriously in this country or anywhere else in the world, it is not good enough to say that some representative of Britain will go and interview African detainees in prison to see what their views are on the proposed settlement.
To anyone who takes democracy seriously, a meaningful test of opinion must involve a free debate within Rhodesia among the people of Rhodesia as a whole on the acceptability of such terms. This requires that truly representative leaders of the African community must be free to campaign, that exiles must be able to return and take part in that campaign, that equal resources must be available, without question, to those who are opposed to the proposed terms of settlement as are available to those who favour them. Anything short of that will be seen as a sham if we have the audacity to talk of a meaningful test of the opinion and views of the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
Incidentally, on that score, I was interested by some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison). The hon. Gentleman seemed greatly exercised and concerned about the predicament of certain Rhodesian prisoners in Zambia who had not been brought to proper trial. I join with anyone who deprecates internment of that 1141 kind. It is something which we know in our own internal political situation here in Britain at the moment. It is a most unfortunate form of action. But, when he talks of the predicament of Rhodesians in Zambia today, why is the hon. Member for Chigwell not prepared also to look at our much more direct responsibility in this House?
Has he not heard recently of 22 Rhodesians refused the protection of the British Government in Botswana and returned to Rhodesia, where at least one has subsequently died in prison? If the hon. Member and his hon. Friends want to carry more conviction in our debates, they must speak out more honestly about the grim predicament of many Africans and others within Rhodesia who are opposed to the totalitarian rÉgime now in power there.
Now, one final point which introduces one more dimension of this matter which has not yet, I think, been mentioned. When we consider the adequacy or in-adequacy of our own policy towards Rhodesia, we should, as members of the Commonwealth, never forget the strains put upon people in other Commonwealth countries as a result of the Rhodesian crisis.
There is one country, Zambia, whatever the political faults there may be—I should be second to none in acknowledging that there are many shortcomings in Zambia's political system—which has carried, perhaps, an unrivalled burden as as result of the Rhodesian crisis. I hope that we can have assurances from the Government that they understand the situation, that they continue to understand that we have a special obligation to the people of Zambia in their economic difficulties, because of their dependence upon communications through Rhodesia. We have a special responsibility to the ordinary people of Zambia to ensure that by our economic relations with that country we are doing something to alleviate the burden for them of the illegal declaration of independence by the Smith rÉgime in Rhodesia.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)
An honourable and perceptive Gentleman who spoke in the debate on the Gracious Speech remarked that we are rather prone 1142 in the autumn to share with the House the experience we have gained in our summer travels. I am not entirely certain that the House is appreciative of that practice, but I hope that hon. Members will be patient if I draw on the experience I gained on a short visit to Rhodesia in September.
I do not propose to speculate on whether the negotiations about to be undertaken will succeed or on what point they might fail. I hope that the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) will forgive me if I do not take up all those interesting questions. I hope that there will be plenty of time this winter, if the negotiations succeed, to debate the implications of any settlement reached. Nor do I propose to offer any observations on the legal niceties of the issues involved, except to observe that unlike the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), I am extremely glad that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will be accompanying my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. I am certain that he will be able to bring unclouded legal judgment to bear on the problems, unworried by anything he may have said in the political context in the past.
I should like to try to stress the context in which the negotiations will take place and, in particular, to try to assess the effect that sanctions have had on Rhodesia and its leaders. The first point, which has been made by many hon. Members on both sides, is that in the short run sanctions have manifestly failed. They have not made any significant impact on the standard of living of the average white family, the average white voter, in Rhodesia. The reasons are well known. It is all too easy to pillory the South African Government or the Portuguese Government for the failure of sanctions.
I refer the hon. Member for Ports-mouth, West to the report of the United Nations committee which this year investigated the effect of sanctions. I remind him in particular that it recorded that there had been three flagrant violations of sanctions, all with the connivance of the Governments concerned. The first was shipments of wheat from Australia to Rhodesia, the second was imports of graphite from Rhodesia to the Federal Republic of Germany and the third was 1143 imports of Rhodesian meat into Switzerland. It may well be that within a matter of weeks or months the United States will be importing chrome from Rhodesia. Therefore, the failure of the sanctions is certainly not the fault of the South African Government or the Portuguese Government, or not their fault entirely. Incidentally, I recall travelling everywhere in Rhodesia in a Japanese motor car.
The longer-term effects of sanctions are more debateable. Unlike some of my hon Friends, I think that in the long run they will hurt Rhodesia both economically and psychologically. But I doubt that the Leader of the Opposition meant to commit us to a 30 years' war. I could not support a policy based on that kind of calculation.
I think that in the long run the policy of sanctions will deprive Rhodesia of the investment capital it needs, with the result that it will not be able to create the jobs for the educated Africans which its present system is turning out. Second. I think that psychologically the attempted ostracism of Rhodesia is having a most deleterious effect on the young people there. The hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) detected the smell of apartheid in Rhodesia. If that smell has become more pungent over the past five years, it is precisely because we have deprived young Rhodesians of the opportunity to come here and be exposed to other ideas, other views and other policies. It is sad to note that now, when there is a faint chance that the youth of South Africa will look at their own system a little more critically—and hon. Members will recall the reception accorded to Dr. Banda at Stellenbosch—the young people of Rhodesia are slightly hardening in their attitude.
Hon. Members opposite have subjected Mr. Smith and his Government to systematic abuse. They have described him as a traitor and a person with whom it is impossible to do business. I have no doubt that in the eighteenth century just such epithets and descriptions were applied to General Washington, but ultimately we have to come to terms with the situation. The leaders of the Labour Party are not held in very great esteem in Salisbury—
§ Mr. Rees
It is felt that they do not bring to this problem an open mind. We are not here to bandy insults or to strike moral attitudes; we are here to assist the negotiations which my right hon. Friend is about to undertake.
The reality is that the Rhodesian Front is the majority party under the Rhodesian system, whether we like it or not, and that the leader of that party is Mr. Ian Smith. If I may be allowed to paraphrase a memorable phrase of Lord Butler's, which I think he now disowns, Mr. Ian Smith is the best Rhodesian Prime Minister we have—
§ Mr. Rees
The best Rhodesian Prime Minister of any kind we have, because he is the only Prime Minister with whom we can negotiate. I have no doubt that the majority party would like to dictate a solution of this problem to the Rhodesian electors, but that is not the situation which my right hon. Friend will encounter in Salisbury. We have to come to terms with the political situation there. Mr. Ian Smith is the person with whom my right hon. Friend has to negotiate, and Mr. Ian Smith has to sell to his electors any settlement which is reached. It is important that this should be remembered. This is not a colonial situation in which we can impose the solution we should like to see. This is a matter of genuine negotiation. We have not the means, nor indeed the will, to coerce the white Rhodesians, and neither has Mr. Smith the means to coerce his own electorate. We cannot expect him to capitulate, nor can he expect us to capitulate.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that in some circumstances they would prefer no settlement. Up to a point I can understand that, but we have to consider the long-term interests of the Rhodesians and it is folly to wish those negotiations to fail. It is surely better to have a settlement which will at least enable us to influence the Rhodesians. At the moment we have precious little chance of influencing them except over 30 years of destroying their economy and warping their national consciousness. If we achieve a settlement we shall be able to jettison the responsibility we have carried for far too long for actions which we 1145 cannot control, and we shall have some chance of influencing the course of events in Salisbury.
By continuing sanctions, we ensure that Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front continue in power. No election in Rhodesia would be fought on any issue other than sanctions. At least, if we remove sanctions after a settlement there is a chance for a domestic dialogue to develop.
Hon. Members will recall that the most realistic statesman in Central Africa, Dr. Banda, has, in the context of South African affairs, opted for dialogue rather than confrontation, and I am with him on that. Therefore, without over-much enthusiasm, I support the renewal of the sanctions Order in the hope that it will be a prelude to a settlement and, therefore, of short-lived duration.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
We have heard a good deal, not least from the hon. and learned Member for Dover (Mr. Peter Rees), about prospects for a settlement in Southern Rhodesia. I am one of those hon. Members who believe that no settlement is possible, or should he attempted, with this régime. We have the word of Mr. Smith himself that he does not believe in the five principles. We have the word of hon. Members opposite that they do not know what the five principles are. The five principles, beyond the most important one of unimpeded progress towards majority rule, include as the third and fourth principles that there must be immediate improvement in the political status of the African population and progress towards ending racial discrimination.
I do not wish to take more than a few minutes of the time of the House but I should like to demonstrate, if I can, that it is in no sense true in Rhodesia today that either of those provisions is being met. In fact, the situation is quite the contrary. The Rhodesians are in some difficulties, and it is just because they are in difficulty that they have been prepared at least to enter into overtures with Lord Goodman, who was sent to Salisbury. They are in difficulties not only because they have serious problems of foreign exchange and in selling the goods they produce, but also because they have a serious problem of unem- 1146 ployment, as hon. Members opposite have acknowledged.
The Rhodesians have a further serious problem that their own young people among the white minority, amounting to one in 21 of the population, cannot stomach the regime there and are themselves emigrating. When the hon. and learned Member for Dover spoke of Mr. Smith having the support of the majority, what he meant was the white majority. The white minority—the white one in 21 of the population, who are themselves more than 75 per cent. immigrants to that country—are now embarked on a policy through the provisions, of the Land Tenure Act and other such obscene actions of making many African tribes and natives of that country virtually strangers in the land of their birth. This is not a happy augury for the journey the Foreign Secretary is about to make.
I reiterate what I said a moment ago that in my view the Rhodesians have come this far as least in their discussions purely because they are now in difficulty as a result of the sanctions imposed by the previous Government and which Her Majesty's Government tonight will renew for a further year. The hon. Members for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) and Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) both said there is no evidence that Rhodesian businessmen have been affected in any way by the application of sanctions. I am sure they know, as I know, individual white Rhodesians who have been forced to come back to this country, or who have been forced to take domicile elsewhere in Europe, as a result of the economic difficulties which have bankrupted them in Rhodesia as a direct result of sanctions. Although I personally do not rejoice at what has happened to them individually, it seems fairly obvious that the sanctions are biting and that it is just because they are biting that the Rhodesians are now proposing to enter discussions with us again.
§ Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)
Will the hon. Gentleman say when he last visited the African Continent or, if he has not recently visited it, where he obtained that sort of information? Is it solely from people who have come there to this country, or from the Press?
§ Mr. Whitehead:
As the hon. Gentleman would have heard had he been listening, I said that I had encountered
1147 [MR. WHITEHEAD.]
businessmen who had come back to this country—I myself was last in Rhodesia some three years ago—because their businesses had been destroyed over the last three or four years as a result of the situation in which the Rhodesian economy now finds itself. Therefore, it seems evident that the sanctions, which have been derided as useless and ineffective, are having some effect, though not yet the effect I would like to have seen them have, and certainly not as swiftly as I had expected. I would like the sanctions to have been mandatory at an earlier period. I would like them to have bitten at the time when some people in the Labour Government were indulging in more rhetoric than was good for them in terms of how the sanctions would be applied and how quickly they would take effect. My simple point is that they are taking effect now.
Mr. Smith has told us that he does not believe in the five principles. He says that they are our principles and not his. Perhaps I might remind the House of what he said about his constitution—not the 1961 constitution, which some hon. Members opposite seem to believe would have led to majority rule, but his own 1969 constitution. He said:This Government has never changed its main story from the day it started, and it has no intention of changing it in the future. Let me make all Rhodesians aware of this, for some of them have short memories.…It is a story of which we are proud, one which we have no wish to hide away. It is for this reason that we now put before you our new Rhodesian constitution to take the place of the present constitution which, however innocuous it may look at the moment, leads on relentlessly to majority rule.
Mr. Smith was at least in agreement with the lion. Member for Haltemprice in believing that the 1961 constitution, absurd as the thought would be to those who analysed that document, would lead to majority rule. That was why he got rid of it. He does not want majority rule. He ruled out of court the first of the five principles from the beginning. In that situation, it is inconceivable that on his journey to Salisbury, which might really be a journey to Canossa, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary can have any hope that there will be an honourable settlement such as I am sure he desires.
1148 The Rhodesian Africans have been invoked a great deal tonight. We have heard from hon. Gentlemen opposite how they have been affected by unemployment, and they have. The population has increased by something like 1½ million, whereas job opportunities have increased by something like 80,000. Clearly the disparity and the economic suffering is greater. However, I have not heard a single representative of that African population asking Her Majesty's Government to lift sanctions. I have not heard any African Church leader or any of those African leaders who are now out of gaol telling Her Majesty's Government that sanctions must be lifted for the sake of their people.
Perhaps I might refer briefly to one such African leader who, under the 1969 constitution, might find his way into the so-called "Progress to majority rule" Parliament which Mr. Smith is constituting. I refer to the Chief of the Tangwena tribe. In 1969, when confronted with the prospect of the expropriation of tribal lands under the Land Tenure Act of that year, the Chief of the Tangwena tribe appealed to the High Court. Under the rule of law in which lion. Gentlemen opposite place such faith, he appealed to the court to stop the eviction of his people. He received the ruling that he wanted. None the less, his people were evicted. By October, 1970, members of his tribe had been driven out of their ancestral lands.
When that kind of thing goes on, it is very difficult even for some hon. Members opposite—though I am a little alarmed at the fact that no hon. Member opposite so far has expressed himself in favour of sanctions—to believe that the third and fourth principles regarding fair treatment between the races and the removal of the present disparities can be followed.
The Tangwena tribe has been dispersed. Those people are not the terrorists, landless agitators or urbanised rootless workers who have been invoked in speeches that we have heard from hon. Members opposite. They were simply living where they and their ancestors had lived for many centuries, long before the white man came to Rhodesia and certainly before any of the present white population of Rhodesia came to those tribal lands.
1149 When those people have been dispersed in that way, cynically, callously and without the possibility of redress, how can hon. Gentlemen opposite suppose that there can be any accommodation with the rÉgime responsible, which Mr. Garfield Todd pointed out in a letter to The Times today is itself being pressed from the Right and is itself in danger of losing by-elections to absurd Rightwing candidates with views that are even more extreme than those of its own members? How can such a regime possibly guarantee any kinds of rights to the African population of Rhodesia?
It is precisely because those rights cannot be guaranteed that I believe that the Foreign Secretary is wasting his time in going to Rhodesia and seeking to reach any kind of accommodation with a rÉgime with which we can and should have no dealings whatsoever.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stokes(Oldbury and Halesowcn)
Having sat through the whole of the debate last year and through the whole debate this afternoon, I can only say how sorry I am to see how little the attitude of the Opposition has changed to this difficult problem over the last 12 months. To hear some of them speak, to hear some of their wilder ideas, makes me wonder whether some of us on this side of the House are not right when we think that they are the party of theory and that we are the party of flesh and blood.
I should like to speak briefly about two sectors which have not been mentioned much so far in the debate. First, the white settlers in Rhodesia and, secondly, public opinion in this country which so far no one has mentioned at all.
What about the Common Market?
§ Mr. Stokes
It is important to realise what kind of people these white Rhodesian settlers are. They are not, for instance, like those people who went out from Britain in the days of the old colonial empire, did their stint abroad, and eventually retired to some suitable watering place in this country. Rhodesia is their permanent home; a home not only for them, but for their children and their children's children. They made that country. They cleared the swamps, they 1150 mastered the tsetse fly and the mosquito, they built the roads, they built the towns. In fact, they made it such an attractive place that the Africans flocked in.
Why should they suddenly give everything up for some half-baked, untried theory of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) of "one man, one vote" of which we hear so much from hon. Gentlemen opposite? [Interruption.] I have listened without any interrupting for nearly three hours. I trust that hon. Gentlemen will listen to me for ten minutes.
Incidentally, nothing will please hon. Gentlemen opposite. They do not want a settlement; they want a breakdown. If that conies about, it is the African who will suffer most.
What worries me more about this whole tragic situation is a further gap between what some hon. Gentlemen opposite say here and what the ordinary Englishman and woman in the street thinks about this subject. I do not mean the intellectuals. I do not mean people like B.B.C. producers and readers of the Observer and The Guardian. I mean ordinary people—people I am proud to represent, down to earth and patriotic people, many of them working-class people. Believe me, what we have heard from hon. Gentlemen opposite does not represent any of those people at all.
Furthermore, ordinary men and women in this country believe that it was a humiliation for this country, with its vast experience of Empire and Commonwealth, to have to hand over this matter to the United Nations, and that we shall have to go to what I can only call that bogus Assembly cap in hand and say, "We are sorry for what we have done", whether the negotiations succeed or fail.
Does my hon. Friend agree with the five principles, or does he think that they are half baked too?
§ Mr. Stokes:
I believe in the five principles. They are not in dispute. It is the unrealistic attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite with which I quarrel.
Several times during this debate—and I have listened carefully to every word that has been said—I have had to rub my eyes because, surely, from the Foreign Office we expect realism? Regretfully,
1151 [MR. STOKES.]
perhaps, the Home Office may not always fully represent those of us for whom England is our home, but we expect better things of the Foreign Office. We applauded—and even some miserable hon. Gentlemen opposite faintly applauded—when the Russian spies were sent packing.
We loved the passage in the Gracious Speech which said:In their external policies My Government will protect and advance the nation's interests.That was a new note, a note that we certainly did not have from the previous Government. But now we have the imposition of sanctions once again. It has become a sort of annual charade. Many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House said to me last year that they could not vote in favour of sanctions again, and nor can I.
More important still when this Government came to power millions of patriotic people in this country, not least a large section of the working-class, expected a change in foreign affairs, a change to put Great Britain and her interests first. They expected, for instance, a firmer policy in Northern Ireland, and a firmer policy about the control of immigration. Now we have to fill the cup of disappointment to the brim with sanctions against Rhodesia once more. How can we go on letting down ordinary peope whom we represent in this way?
May I beg my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary—and no one admires him more than I do—to look back to one of his most distinguished predecessors, Lord Castlereagh. When this country stood at the pinnacle of her fame and greatness he once had described to him some vague, extraordinarily wishy-washy idea—similar to the idea that we have heard poured forth tonight from the clever hon. Gentlemen opposite—which was called the Holy Alliance. I wonder whether the House knows how Lord Castlereagh described that set up? He said that it was a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense. That is what the ordinary Englishman thinks of the policy of sanctions today.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)
It is always a great delight to 1152 speak after the hon. Member for Olds-bury and Halesowen (Mr. Stokes) because he proves to us, if we had any doubt, that Mr. Alan Bennett draws from life and not from his imagination.
The hon. Gentleman told the House that he could not vote for sanctions to-night, but what neither he nor any of his colleagues who are against sanctions have yet told us is whether they will have the courage of their convictions and divide the House—
§ Mr. Kaufman
—or whether they have been bought off by the Foreign Secretary's expensive trip to Rhodesia next week.
There has been a great deal of confusion among hon. Gentlemen opposite —every one of whom is opposed to sanctions—about the effect of sanctions. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) told us that they are not working, the hon. and learned Member for Dover (Mr. Peter Rees) told us that they are working very seriously indeed. But what is quite clear is that without sanctions and without this Order, the Foreign Secretary would not be going to Salisbury on Sunday because there would be no reason for him to go or for the Rhodesians to need him there, because there would be no reason for them to try to make a settlement.
I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is right to go, not because I believe that a settlement is possible or desirable but so that he can see for himself that a settlement on honourable terms is not possible. It has become a clichÉ of this debate to say of the Foreign Secretary that he is a man of great honour. Nevertheless, it is a sentiment worth repeating, because it is one which most hon. Members on this side as well as on the other side hold.
The right hon. Gentleman does not need me to tell him that the man whom he is going to meet next week is one of the most remarkable politicians in the world today. He was described in to- day's Observer by Mr. Peter Jenkins— [An HON. MEMBER: "In The Guardian."] I am so sorry: the hon. Gentleman has obsessed me—as having a dim and devious mind. But Mr. Peter Jenkins, I am afraid, is as incompetent a journalist 1153 as this proves. Although Mr. Ian Smith is certainly devious, although he may even be wicked, although he is certainly pursuing evil policies, the last thing that can be said about him is that he is dim.
It fell to my lot three years ago personally to see Mr. Smith in action for several days on board H.M.S. "Fearless". I have no doubt, after seeing him, that he is one of the most brilliant politicians in the world today. It is my belief that he is a politician charismatic enough in his own country to carry a deal with the Foreign Secretary based on the five principles. I very much trust that the Foreign Secretary will not heed Mr. Smith if he tells him that he cannot carry his country, because he is so masterly a politician that if he really wished to make a settlement on the five principles he could do so and could carry his country with him.
I would say to the Foreign Secretary— I trust that he will acquit me of being either impertient or patronising, since I wish to be neither—that he is going out to meet a man who is as up to date, through his intelligence services, in his assessment of British politics as any hon. Member present tonight. His remarks on H.M.S. "Fearless" about the present Prime Minister are perhaps the only remarks that I have heard from him with which I would personally agree.
He is an extraordinarily resourceful negotiator, whose techniques at that time—I am sure that they will be repeated now—are apparently to make a concession, to demand another in return and then, when that concession appears to have been made, to withdraw the first concession or to reinterpret it in such a way that it no longer stands up. He certainly did this on board H.M.S. "Fearless" and he did it particularly in relation to the second principle, which is why the second principle is of such very great importance.
He tried to get around the second principle, he tried to get around the whole question of external guarantees. I agree with all my hon. Friends that an agreement with Mr. Smith without external guarantees would be worthless; on that basis, one was never attempted on "Fearless".
The hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) said that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was 1154 willing to sign an agreement with Mr. Smith without wishing any of the detainees to be released. The hon. Gentleman is wrong. Before an agreement was ready to be signed, before one had been approached, names of detainees to be released were being discussed on board that ship.
§ Sir F. Bennett:
I did not say anything like that. I said that as far as I knew there were no detainees or church leaders occupying cabins on either "Fearless" or "Tiger" and that any interviews the former Prime Minister may have had with such detainees must have taken place in Rhodesia before U.D.I. That is what I said and the hon. Gentleman is contradicting me.
§ Mr. Kaufman
We had better both look at the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow, when one can apologise to the other. Meanwhile, let us leave the matter in suspension.
In his statement yesterday the Foreign Secretary said:If agreement is reached we would then have to satisfy ourselves that its terms were fully understood by the Rhodesian people as a whole and acceptable to them ".— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1971; Vol. 825, c. 833.]This is an important part of the principles. It is important, too, to ask Mr. Smith what he means by this. The Foreign Secretary should not allow himself to be charmed into accepting the views of the chiefs as a good guide to the views of the people as a whole.
The right hon. Gentleman returned to electoral politics eight years ago. I hope he believes in electoral politics that an endaba of chiefs or even the House of Lords is no substitute for finding out what the people of Rhodesia, the Africans, think. I ask him to realise that he carries with him to Rhodesia his honour, as he says, but also the misgivings of a large number of people as well as the misgivings of a large number of church groups.
The question of the Land Tenure Act has been raised in this debate and I draw the attention of the Foreign Secretary to the statement reported in Monday's Guardian from Rhodesia, of Father Sean Dunne, the education secretary of the Bishops' Conference, who said:The implementation of the Government's discriminatory policies, particularly under the1155Land Tenure Act since February, has made it clear that the Government's ideology is so incompatible with the Church's teaching that further negotiations would serve no useful purpose.He was talking about negotiations over the Land Tenure Act. It is important to bear in mind the views of the Catholic Church in Rhodesia.
There is also the view of the Methodist Church. I recently received a letter from the Methodist Church of the Manchester and Stockport District. It speaks strongly about the kind of terms which the Foreign Secretary should seek and the terms which the Methodist Church would regard as acceptable. Without delaying the House, I will quote three passages from the letter. It says:The five principles must be accepted both in word and spirit and there is some fear that the fifth of these may be in danger of being ignored—i.e. 'Britain must be satisfied that any proposed basis for independence would be acceptable to the Rhodesian population as a whole.'That is the one on which the right hon. Gentleman rightly lays so much stress. The letter goes on:Any constitution must specifically guarantee basic human rights. Any negotiations should include the chosen leaders of all sections of the Rhodesian population. Christians cannot be content with a settlement in which the majority of those concerned has had no voice.The letter, written by honourable men with honourable fears, adds:We are fearful lest the British Government give endorsement to tyrannical and totalitarian policies.The Foreign Secretary is going to Rhodesia—he said this in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) following his statement on Monday—carrying his own honour about which he says he cares and is right to care. However, I remind him that he also carries with him the honour of millions of people in this country who hate racism and oppression and who look to him to ensure that he upholds not only the five principles and his principles, but their principles as well.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)
I will not detain the House for long. I agreed very much with my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) when he said that he regretted this de- 1156 bate. I regret it, but for rather different reasons.
I would have imagined that all those who support the Commonwealth and what it stands for, who want tension to be removed in all parts of the world, who believe that discrimination should end and that contact is better than ostracism would with one voice wish my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary God-speed in his journey to Salisbury. I most devoutly wish him well. I hope that he will go as an emissary of this House as well as of Her Majesty's Government, because I firmly believe that he is a man of honour and integrity and will not negotiate any settlement which lets down the Rhodesian people. be they black or white.
The greatest service that this House can perform this evening is to say as little as possible. There is a time for debate; there is, indeed, sometimes a time for recrimination. But there is also a time for silence, or a time for few words, and I think that tonight is the time for few words. Debate can come later. I hope that we shall all wish the Foreign Secretary well. I hope that some hon. Members opposite will think better of much of what they have said—and that they will realise that a true settlement is in their interests, in Rhodesia's interests and in the world's interests. I my right hon. Friend will bring back
§ 10.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack). I want to explain why a number of my hon. Friends are very disappointed that the Foreign Secretary is going to Salisbury. It is not that we do not want a settlement in accordance with the five principles, which would lead to majority rule. We want a settlement in accordance with the five principles; I suggest that we want it more than many hon. Members opposite do. We believe, moreover, that it is absolutely inconceivable that the present illegal rÉgime, on the basis of its past policies, will suddenly do an about-turn and pursue policies resulting in majority rule, a reversal of the trends implemented under the Land Tenure Act, and all the other considerations.
I regret what the Foreign Secretary said earlier, but I believe it was his brief. 1157 The justification for his going to Salisbury which he gave yesterday cannot but arouse suspicions, even among some of his hon. Friends. He is not able to point to a single act of policy or a single development that indicates that Mr. Smith has changed his position one iota. The Foreign Secretary says that if we get a satisfactory settlement it will make a tremendous contribution to obtaining a harmonious situation on the Continent of Africa. My hon. Friends and I also want a harmonious situation on the Continent of Africa, but we believe that that is impossible as long as there is apartheid and as long as bestial policies are pursued by Mr. Vender and Mr. Smith. We believe that if we are to achieve harmony in Southern Africa we must cast our lot wholeheartedly with the forces which are seeking to chance those regimes and those bestial policies.
Far from a settlement that the Foreign Secretary brings back being likely to improve harmony on the Continent of Africa, it is more likely to create a serious dterioration in the situation. I find it inconceivable that he will bring back a settlement that is acceptable to the African leaders or to the Africans in Africa. The Foreign Secretary should remember what happened in Zambia when he made his announcement about selling arms to South Africa. He should remember the rioting and the effect that it had on Europeans in that country. There is a real danger that if he comes hack with a settlement that is not accept- able to the African leaders European; in African countries may die. We see what is happening in Ireland and the apparently trivial reasons that are responsible.
We must put ourselves in the position of the black politican activist in Africa and try to comprehend how he feels about apartheid and how he will feel if he is faced with a situation which he interprets as a sell-out by the British Government and as further evidence that the Europeans are backing the white raises in Southern Africa.
I believe that there is absolutely no chance of a settlement being concluded which will lead in the direction of majority rule. That is why I do not want a settlement. I remember when the present Leader of the Opposition met Mr. Smith on "Tiger" and "Fearless". 1158 I was not then a Member of the House, but in my work I found Labour people who wanted each meeting to succeed and would blame Ian Smith if it failed, and Conservatives who wanted it to succeed and would blame my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition if it failed. I believe now that there was then no possibility of Mr. Smith doing an about-turn and that those who support him had no intention of letting it happen.
There are two possible results of the Foreign Secretary's visit. He may fail in the eyes of hon. Members opposite. He may return and say, "I tried but I am afraid that Mr. Smith is not prepared to move. I am sorry, but vie must accept that we cannot got the changes we want." I hope that that is what will happen, but there has been some discussion whether in that case we should pursue sanctions or what course we should follow.
I believe that we should continue sanctions. They are affecting the Rhodesian economy. If that is disputed and some hon. Members opposite say that they are irrelevant, I would still pursue sanctions because they do not cost us all that much and it is important that the black Africans should not come to the conclusion that the British people are only on the side of the whites. I am sure that hon. Members opposite do not want to drive the black African, further into the arms of the Russians or the Chinese. If, however, the black Africans become convinced that Britain is supporting the white nations it means, that more and more moderate African leaders will turn to those two Powers.
Alternatively, the Foreign Secretary may succeed in the eyes of hon. Members opposite. Let us suppose that he comes back with this good settlement— which, incidentally, I think is what will harlot a. That will mean that either he or Mr. Smith will have moved. It may well be that the Foreign Secretary corn- promises on the five principles. I hear the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) say that the Foreign Secretary ought to do so, and I believe that to he the view supported by the vast majority of hon. Members opposite. I do not think that it is the view of the Foreign Secretary, or the official view of the British Government.
1159 [MR. STRANG.]
But let us suppose that Mr. Smith moves, and that the Foreign Secretary comes back with a settlement which, on paper at least, indicates that Mr. Smith has not only gone back on many of his statements but has agreed to repeal the Land Tenure Act and, perhaps, has agreed to very substantial changes in the constitution. Here, let me say that I hope that we are not negotiating on the 1969 constitution: all these things are based on the 1961 constitution.
Hon. Members have asked how, if Mr. Smith makes this fantastic somersault and we get such a settlement, we will guarantee that settlement. One suggestion is an external guarantee, a military presence, or a treaty under which Britain, if the Rhodesian Government introduced retrogressive legislation, would have the right to intervene. None of those is likely to be adopted. It seems that the only guarantee which we would have against this reversal would be. as one of the principles spelled out, a very substantial and massive enhancement of the status of the Africans. We have to have a situation in which a very substantially increased proportion of the electorate are Africans. If all Africans who had two years' secondary education were allowed to vote, they would be in the majority.
It is worth repeating what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd), that if we are to improve the political status of the Africans and to consult them about the settlement we are trying to obtain, we must have a general election and allow the true African leaders to campaign in a proper election. We cannot just select those who we wish to consult. The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) went to greet lengths to tell us of those African leaders who were not representative of African opinion and whom we should not be consulting.
§ Mr. Strang
I suggest that the hon. Member for Haltemprice wants to select those whom he wishes to consult.
§ Mr. Strang
I make the point to the hon. Member that history has shown time and again that the men who have gone to jail for their political principles, and who have the support of the vast majority of the politically articulate section of the population, are the men who ultimately command the support of the people when there are free elections and a general principle of free franchise.
In conclusion, I believe that we shall have a sell out. I have always believed this. It seems that it would be quite out of character for this Government to maintain sanctions throughout their life and to maintain the policies pursued by the previous Government.
§ Mr. Idris Owen (Stockport, North)
Would the hon. Member have accepted the terms if the leader of his party had returned after negotiating with the same Mr. Smith? Would he have accepted them as a result of the "Fearless" talks if the Leader of the Opposition had come to some agreement with Mr. Smith, the same Mr. Smith that the hon. Gentleman does not trust at present?
§ Mr. Strang
I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman has just come into the Chamber, but I made my position clear. I said that I felt that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was wrong to negotiate with Mr. Smith when he did. I said so at the time. We should have sanctions for the foreseeable future.
I appreciate the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. He talks about sanctions in the foreseeable future. But if the purpose of the sanctions is to induce a change in the political stance of Rhodesia, does he not foresee an escalation from sanctions to something rather more rigorous?
§ Mr. Strang
I would not be dogmatic about whether sanctions are likely to achieve a political change. Nothing I have said implies that. I say that sanctions are of tremendous symbolic significance for Africans and their leaders on 1161 the African continent. These factors are important. All hon. Members may not think so. But if we get rioting in Zambia similar to that we have already had, hon. Members will realise that these factors are important. I have always said, and 1162 still do, that we shall have a sell out. I hope fervently that we shall not have a sell out but that the Foreign Secretary will return and say that he has tried but failed.
§ 10.14 p.m.
§ Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)
I have said a hundred times in the last six years that the person in the Conservative Cabinet most likely to achieve success in negotiations with Mr. Ian Smith would be my right hon. Friend the present incumbent of the office of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
Whereas many hon. Members opposite have sought to doom my right hon. Friend's mission to failure, I take exactly the opposite view. I fervently wish my right hon. Friend success in reaching a compromise solution. When I say "compromise" I do not intend to imply, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Fast (Mr. Strang) suggested, a sell-out. There is a tremerdcus difference between a compromise and a sell-out.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I shall explain it. The hon. Gentleman has not been in his place the whole evening.
Sir G. Nabarre
That may be so. I have been in the Chamber, listening.
The is a tremendous difference between a sell-cut and a compromise. We are faced with a position which is nearly intractable. It is six years tomorrow since Mr. Ian Smith seized power— illegally seized power, I agree, but he seized power. Today he is in the position of a dictator, evidently impervious to the effects of sanctions.
I believe that the only hope is to reach with Mr. Smith the highest common factor of agreement in the interests of the African majority in Rhodesia. of the white minority in Rhodesia, and of the British Government. It is useless for both sides in the House to pay lip-service to the five principles and then for one patty to say in the next breath, "These principles are utterly unchangeable. They must be interpreted literally to the last letter. Every "i" must be dotted and every "t" must be crossed. We cannot change anything in the five principles".
1164 On that basis it is utterly impossible for this wretched situation—I call it "wretched" advisedly; most Conservatives consider it to be wretched—ever to be brought to a solution. There are 240,000 white people in Rhodesia. There are 5 million Africans. What is more significant, the African population is increasing at an annual rate approximately equal to the present white population. This means that in the course of the next 10 or 15 or 20 years it is probable—one cannot be exact about it—that the black population of Rhodesia will outnumber the white population by 80 to 1.
I should not hive thought that any hon. Member on this side, however Rightwing his views may be, would suggest that a tiny minority of one-eightieth part can rule a huge majority of that sort without a broader basis of suffrage being achieved, if not total universal suffrage.
It is for that reason that I find the first of the five principles—unimpejed progress towards majority rule somewhat unreal. There will be majority rule, anyway, within 10 or 15 years. The problem surely is how to bring about majority rule peacefully and without widespread bloodshed. It is in pursuit of that principle that I address my comments to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary tonight.
I therefore I rope that I shall not be castigated in any quarter of the House when I use the word "compromise" instead of "sell-out". I do not want a sell-out in any circumstances, but I do want a compromise solution in the interests of the three bodies of people that I have mentioned.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
If I were as assured as is the hon. Gentleman that in the foreseeable future there could be majority rule in Rhodesia, whatever the terms of the compromise, I would be much mane happy about the visit of the Secretary of State. Why has it not happened in South Africa over a period of 70 years when it has had minority rule? Why has it not come to pass in South Africa if it is to happen in Rhodesia?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I think that the operative word here is "foreseeable". I have no means whatever of interpreting "foreseeable". Neither has the hon. Gentleman. It may be five, 10 or 20 1165 years. It depends on a number of factors over many of which we have no control. The hon. Gentleman asks why it has not happened in South Africa. I will tell him why it has not happened in South Africa. The answer surely is that the African section of the population in South Africa do not wish to rule the entire country on a one-man one-vote basis. The Transkei establishment are working tolerably satisfactorily. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, no."] Oh, yes. I have said over and over again, in South Africa, in other parts of Africa, all over this country, that I myself abhor racial segregation. But that does not mean that I believe in handing over the rule of those countries to a majority which in many instances is not immediately fit to rule. It is a question of time and evolution—social evolution particularly.
I believe there will be majority rule in Rhodesia in the passage of years, though I have no means of interpreting "foreseeable". Neither can I look into the future with any accuracy in South Africa. But of one thing I am utterly convinced. A policy of sanctions or any repressive economic measures, whether against South Africa or against Rhodesia, I am quite certain is doomed to failure from the start. I have in two General Elections said—and I have scrupulously honoured my undertakings—that I would never vote for sanctions against Rhodesia. It was Baldwin—and I have sat in Baldwin's constituency wholly or in part for the last 21 years—who said, in the context of Abyssinia, that sanctions lead inevitably to war. That has always been my view. But it might be added that sanctions have never succeeded against any nation in the world.
Although we may quibble about the efficacy of the policy of sanctions adopted nearly six years ago, of one thing we may all be quite certain—that whereas the Rhodesians are suffering some relatively minor inconvenience today, there are plenty of all types of raw materials, manufactures and goods of every description. The question of petrol was raised right at the beginning of the controversy about sanctions, but Rhodesia, although she put on a petrol rationing scheme for the first year or two, quickly found that she could abandon it. There are, and have been in the last five years, more motor cars on the race courses of Rhodesia than we 1166 see on the clowns at Epsom on Derby Day relative to the numbers attending the two types of races. The petrol, the raw materials, the manufactures and everything that Rhodesia needs for her economy, save only foreign currency, with which I will deal in a moment, flow— [Interruption.] I wish the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) would attend our debates instead of coming in and bawling at me. He really is the most ignorant Member of the House of Commons. I hope that he may shortly return either to the Tea Room or to the wet canteen, having regard to the hour.
I want to deal with sanctions a little more deeply. All these goods and services which have flowed over the frontier from South Africa are either South African in origin or from Western Germany, or France or Japan, or the United States of America, and there is no evidence that they are likely to cease at an early date
It is, therefore, an utterly forlorn hope for hon. Members opposite to talk about sanctions biting in the future, as the hon. Member for Yen-le (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) did. In my opinion, there is no hope whatever of the efficiency of sanctions increasing.
It is interesting to note what Mr. Ian Smith said in the latest interview with him reported in one of our reputable journals, Industrial Management, published a couple of days ago. Mr. Ian Smith says, in banner headlines—though, of course, he did not insert the head lines—Our position gets stronger.I shall not weary the House by reading many of his statements, for, admittedly, they may be in the nature of propaganda. So they may be, but all the evidence — I endeavoured to demonstrate this earlier in an intervention in the speech of the hon. Member for York—is that the Rhodesian economy has grown at an average of 6 per cent. per annum measured in terms of the expansion of the gross national product during the last three years. That is clear from all the evidence available to us from all sources, and, alter all, that rate of growth is three or four times the rate of growth of our national income here in Britain. It may be argued that the Rhodesians started from a lower base than we did. I agree. but it is still evidence that their economy is growing quite fast.
1167 [SIR G. NABARRO.]
The kind of trade and business which we are losing today is extremely valuable, especially as we have a grave unemployment problem in this country. It is no joke that there are 924,000 unemployed today. It is a situation which my right hon. Friends have frequently spoken of as intolerable. It will become even more intolerable if we fail to grasp certain opportunities available to us for filling with work factories which are at present running at a good deal less than full capacity.
This is the sort of example which I cite to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. It comes from the issue of Industrial Management, in which the interview with Mr. Smith is published—During the next three years, the Rhodesian railways will need a hefty £33 million for new rolling stock and another rail link with South Africa out of a total public sector budget of £128 million. Once, Britain would have been the obvious source for this equipment. Now it is reliably reported that Rhodesia is buying locomotives from Nest Germany's Siemens company, manufactured in South Africa. Young"—an official of the Rhodesian Ministry of Finance—maintains a stony silence when tackled on this, the accepted way of refusing to be pumped on certain areas of 'classified' information.
§ Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South-West)
Even if there is a settlement with Rhodesia, it is extremely unlikely that our trade with Rhodesia will be restored, as my hon. Friend the Member for York pointed out, because what the Rhodesians think of hon. Members on the Government side is not much more than they think of us on this side. Also, will the hon. Gentleman face the undoubted prospect of the losses which we should endure throughout the rest of Africa if we reached a settlement with Rhodesia which, whatever might be its merits, Africans regarded as a sell-out?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I do not think that everything is black and white in trade matters. Of course, if a settlement is reached we shall not overnight restore the whole of our trade with Rhodesia as it existed before 1965. But we shall restore a part of it, and because of the links of race, the links of culture, the fact that a large number of people in 1168 Rhodesia in command of purchasing are British in origin, we shall, I believe, rapidly restore our position.
The point which I make, partly in response to the hon. Gentleman's intervention, is this. Our foreign competitors —the Japanese, the Germans and the French—are taking all our trade today. The Rhodesians are getting everything they require, save only foreign exchange. They are borrowing, making good their needs, at very high interest rate from South Africa, and in part measure from Portugal. Sanctions have not succeeded. They cannot succeed in the future. That is the opinion of practically every business executive in Britain today, watching the disappearance of our traditional trade with Rhodesia. I want to sec that trade restored. Of course, it will take several years.
§ Mr. Faulds
How does the hon. Gentleman manage to reconcile the arguments he is making with the annual report of the Associated Chamber of Commerce in Salisbury, which reads:The position has now been reached when commerce can no longer service the demands of the other sectors of the economy, and the situation with regard to stocks and replacement machinery is now extremely serious."?How does he reconcile his arguments with the statements of the business gentlemen in Salisbury?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I cannot do so, because we are quoting from different sources. What is available to the hon. Gentleman in the Library of the House, from every record available from all sorts of impartial sources, is the steady growth of the Rhodesian economy and the fact that the Rhodesians are not short of any manufactures or raw materials, other than —if we can call it a commodity—capital for investment purposes.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
What I should like my right hon. Friend to seek in Rhodesia is a rapprochement. He cannot possibly succeed by absolute adherence literally to the five principles, notably the first. There will have to be some compromise from both sides. I hope that if my right hon. Friend secures agreement on those lines the Opposition will not be either bigoted or dogmatic on the matter. It is a question of taking up slack in our factories here and restoring our trade. That is the 1169 most important thing of all, given no sell-out on the five principles, only compromise as to the first.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston
The hon. Gentleman has not answered the point that, even supposing his argument is true, the corresponding loss of trade with other countries in Africa would probably vastly exceed any gain.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I doubt that. I do not want to go over the whole gamut of African States—Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and the remainder—[Interruption.]— Ghana and Nigeria and the former French colonies, old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I was talking about the former British and French colonies. I could go wider. [Interruption.] I do wish, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you would cause the unruly Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) to stop bawling at me from a sedentary position.
I doubt very much whether our principal customers in Africa, such as Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia, would in any way diminish their trade with us if they saw that the British Foreign Secretary had honestly and sincerely negotiated with the Rhodesians the highest common factor of agreement, having regard to all the intractable circumstances to which I have referred. Only the bigots will deny my right hon. Friend good wishes for his success. I wish him fervently and deeply sincerely success in this vitally important mission.
§ 10.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)
We listened with interest, as always, to the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), who spent a great deal of time explaining the difference between compromise and sell-out. The result was that we see that his compromise would represent Britain's sell-out. Although he proclaimed an interest in the five principles, he hardly referred to any of them. It seemed to me that his fidelity to them was very similar to that of Ian 1170 Smith. Ian Smith had this to say about them, and this was partially quoted by my right hon. Friend at the beginning of the debate:I don't believe in any of these principles, I don't believe they are principles in the first place:That is a view that would he acceptable to the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Stokes)—these were laid down by the British Government, and the position is that we have tried to meet them and help them to produce a constitution which would satisfy their principles. But they are not our principles.In Bulawayo in 1970 Mr. Smith was asked when he foresaw a phased movement towards majority rule, and his answer was in one word, "Never". So much for Ian Smith's belief in the five principles.
What is far more important is what has happened in the last few years in the legislative process and in the daily practice in relation to racial discrimination in Rhodesia. Had I been in the House before 1970 I should not have welcomed the discussions between my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister and Ian Smith, but a great deal has happened since 1968. The legislative situation has changed dramatically. This is rarely referred to by hon. and right hon. Members opposite. There has been the Land Tenure Act of 1970, and I asked this Question of the Foreign Secretary:… how many Africans in Southern Rhodesia have been removed by the illegal regime from land of which they were in lawful occupation pursuant to the provisions of the Land Tenure Act.The reply from the Under-Secretary of State was:Approximately 1,800 members of the Tangwena Tribe were compulsorily resettled under the Land Tenure Act. Other similar evictions may have occurred, but no accurate figures are available.There has been a dramatic change since 1968. This occurred after the only remedy available to the Africans was sought, namely, an appeal to the courts, which they won. Immediately after, they were none the less evicted from their land, their only means of livelihood.
I asked a Question in the House about detention without trial:How many Africans in Rhodesia are held in detention without trial by the illegal regime?
1171 [MR. CLINTON DAVIS.]
The Under-Secretary of State said:I understand that the latest figure available is about 100."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th November, 1971; Vol. 825, c. 56.]Hon. and right hon. Members opposite do not care. They never protest about this sort of thing. This shows their utter cant and hypocrisy when they proclaim fidelity to the five principles. We have heard no protests about the closing down of Cold Comfort Farm, or the deportation of Guy Clutton-Brock. We have heard nothing about the unlawful detention without trial of Didymus Mutasa, or the daily harassing of representative African opinion. What have we heard from any hon. Gentleman opposite about the proposed removal from the Epworth Mission of 3,500 Africans? One word—
§ Mr. Davis
I must have missed the hon. Gentleman's contribution during the time when I was having something to eat. If I misrepresented him I apologise, but I heard no protests from the other side of the House about this matter when I was in the Chamber. I did not hear about the 1,000 registered African tenants who were to be removed from the mission lands to which he has just referred. All this seems totally inconsistent with the five principles in which Ian Smith is now supposed suddenly to proclaim his belief. What has happened is a constant and quite consistent erosion of the African position in Rhodesia, politically and in every other respect.
I should like to know whether the Foreign Secretary will insist at the beginning of these discussions, on an undertaking that this racialist legislation is to be repealed, because he made no comment whatever about that matter today. I find it difficult to understand how against this background any element of trust is to be reposed in the sort 1172 of people with whom he is now proposing to enter into negotiation.
The truth of the matter is that it is a small, white racialist minority that governs Rhodesia at present. Any African contribution at all is simply by way of sufferance on the part of the white community. This is true in government, in education, in determining where people live and work and the way in which they are treated, and even in regard to what they can say. This is all determined by the "goodwill" of the white minority.
The inhabitants have to suffer censorship and detention without trial, in total repudiation of the rule of law, because after 30 days' detention without trial they can be rearrested—[Interruption.] I condemn it in Northern Ireland as I condemn it in Rhodesia.
We are told by the Smith regime that one day perhaps when the Africans are able to contribute more by way of income tax they will then earn the right to greater representation in the Rhodesian Parliament. But at the moment they pay only 0.5 per cent. of the total income tax recovered by the Government there and will have to wait until they are paying 25 per cent. of the total income tax before they can get a modicum of reform. Does the other side find this an acceptable principle— if one can dignify such a policy by using such a term? How can the Africans advance to that degree under the repressive regime we are not witnessing?
§ Mr. Cormack
Does the hon. Gentleman think that the prerogative of possessing all these nice qualities reposes only with the Opposition? Does he also think that the countries surrounding Rhodesia are examples of complete sweetness and light? He does not believe that one should refuse to have dealings with those countries because their internal policies may not be all that is desired. If he claims to be talking in terms of logic, he surely must pursue a logical argument.
§ Mr. Peter Rees
Would the hon. Gentleman explain how we are to exercise that responsibility if we are not on terms with the present Rhodesian Government?
§ Mr. Davis
We have a right to administer our responsibilities by continuing the sanctions, by continuing to recognise world opinion, and by continuing to recognise Britain's interests in a wider African context—which is something hon. Members fail totally to understand. What will be the cost of a squalid deal with Rhodesia? It will produce great enmity from the rest of African opinion. I care about it, if right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not.
I was discussing the Land Apportionment Act, which determines how Africans live. They cannot live in town centres. They can work there, but they have to live outside. Hon. Gentlemen opposite find that acceptable, especially the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Stokes), the reader of Titbits. As for education, the Smith rÈgime proclaims proudly that it is spending some-what more on African education than on European education. But there are ten times the number of Africans at school. Yet the expenditure per capita is ten times higher on Europeans. All this represents the obvious incongruity of the situation and the impossibility of coming to any sort of terms with the Smith regime which can be construed in the least way as being honourable.
Sanctions may not have been the success that one would have hoped. But there have been interesting testimonies from hon. Gentlemen opposite. Some have said the sanctions are endangering the Rhodesian economy. Others have said that the Rhodesian economy is prospering. We are not sure what is the true position. I believe that sanctions have had a considerable effect, as the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South conceded. Yet, while some hon. Gentlemen say that sanctions are not affecting the economy and that there has been an expansion of some 6 per cent., why is it that Africans have not shared in that growing prosperity? They have not, and they will not be permitted to do so.
I believe that the Government's negotiations are doomed to failure in every 1174 respect. I cannot see how African opinion can be consulted properly at the moment, but if it could be I believe fervently that it would not accept any shoddy compromise. The Africans' aspirations are those of us all. They want a square deal. They want to be able to bring up their children in decent surroundings. They want a decent life. They want to enjoy reasonable health and to see their children well educated. They want reasonable work opportunities. They want opportunities for political advancement. I suggest that there is overwhelming evidence that all those aspirations are denied under the Smith fascist rÈgime
It is an odious rÈgime. In my view. we made a mistake in the first place by not seeking to bring it down with force But if, coupled with the deal that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite did on South Africa, they seek now to come to a shabby compromise, deluding the British people that they are sticking to the five principles when they are doing nothing of the sort, they will produce such enmity and hostility in Africa that Britain's long-term interests will he destroyed. Africans are not prepared to allow their brethren constantly to he shut out from the aspirations to which I have referred. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen should remember that when they talk about negotiations.
§ 10.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)
I support the continuance of sanctions at the present time—[Hors. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—and, without wishing to be associated with any of the humbug which has been uttered by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, I wish my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary success in his mission.
The events in Rhodesia in 1965 were a great tragedy, because they put back the progress of Rhodesia towards fully responsible self-government under the British Crown and put the government of that country into the hands of people who appear to have no faith in the ability of Africans to govern themselves properly. That is why they speak now of keeping the government of Rhodesia in responsible hands, by which one may perhaps fairly suppose they mean white hands.
1175 [MR. STANBROOK.]
In that attitude, they make a fundamental mistake. Nobody learns the art of government without training or experience. The Africans of Rhodesia are entitled to a share in the government of their country. It may be an act of faith to grant them a share in Rhodesia at the present time, but sooner or later the 5 per cent. of the population of Rhodesia who now have a direct share in their own government will have to make that act of faith towards the other 95 per cent.
I hope that my right hon. Friend can persuade Mr. Smith, by accepting a constitution based upon the five principles, to show vision and confidence in his own people, both white and black.
§ 10.53 p.m.
§ Mrs. Judith Hart (Lanark)
I am glad that the Foreign Secretary had just one speech which supported him on the Order, because in all the other speeches by hon. Gentlemen opposite they have said either that they could not find it possible to vote for the Order or, indeed, that they might find it necessary to vote against it. [HON. MEMBERS: 'Not true."] One hon. Gentleman—I think it was the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison)—said that he could not bring himself to vote for the Order and would have to consider whether he should vote against it. That is the business of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Let me not interfere with the problem of how they behave in their own Division Lobbies tonight.
§ Mr. Cormack
On a point of order. Is it in order for the right hon. Lady to make such gross misrepresentations?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
That is not a point of order, as the hon. Gentleman well knows.
§ Mrs. Hart
Not misrepresentations; question marks.
The Foreign Secretary must have been glad to have some words of comfort from behind him.
As has been made clear by my hon. Friends, two issues arise in the debate. One is sanctions policy and the Order itself; the other is the Foreign Secretary's journey to Salisbury.
On the degree of effectiveness of sanctions, it would be wrong to claim either 1176 too much or too little. This has emerged in the debate from the differing interpretations which have come from right hon. and hon. Members. Of course there have been evasions. There have been evasions right from the beginning. Nobody has ever been in any doubt about that. The whole difficulty of the sanctions exercise right from the beginning was that Rhodesia had an unholy alliance with South Africa and Portugal which meant, for example, that South Africa needed to increase her imports of oil by only 5 per cent. to enable her to supply oil to Rhodesia. The whole problem has been that we have been confronted with an economic alliance which has meant that the sanctions exercise has been extremely difficult to operate.
We shall not get anywhere in attempting to interpret the present Rhodesian situation if we imagine that it is easy to operate the sanctions policy, or that it is completely successful in its operation, but I quote some details, not from Mr. Ian Smith's own propaganda on his own behalf, nor from any of the businessmen who have come back from Rhodesia, nor, for that matter, from businessmen in Rhodesia, but from Rhodesia's own economic survey for last year, the official publication of the Rhodesian rÉgime.
During 1971 the Rhodesian balance of payments fell from a surplus of 21 million dollars to a surplus of 0.8 million dollars, and one knows—and this has been said by hon. Gentlemen opposite— that there are considerable foreign exchange difficulties and a shortage of capital in Rhodesia. One knows, too, that there are irritating shortages of, for example, tractors and railway stock. It is known also—and this appears in the official Rhodesian economic survey—just how great is the problem of unemployment there, to which reference has been made by my hon. Friends. In the last 10 years 100,000 new jobs have been created for Africans, but well over 1 million young Africans have reached working age, and there is every indication that the Smith regime is more frightened of the consequences of African unemployment than it is of any organised opposition by some of the freedom fighters.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Surely the right hon. Lady is making a fundamental mistake? Sanctions were 1177 the means to an end, the end being to exert pressure on the regime which had declared independence so that another Government would emerge and see sense. In fact, the effect has been to unite the white population under Smith, and in that respect sanctions have been a complete failure.
§ Mrs. Hart
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had waited a moment he would have heard me give some interesting information about the state of opinion in Rhodesia and about the confidence of the white people of Rhodesia in their own society.?
I quote from The Cape Argus of March of this year of a survey of white Rhodesian sixth formers asking their intentions about their future in their country. Asked if they intended to leave the country, half said that they did. Of these, half said that they did not intend to return. The survey was carried out by a Salisbury educationist and among the reasons given, were that there was an air of repression there, that Rhodesia was too insular, that there was no scope in Rhodesia in advanced technology, and that the future depended too much on the political situation.
The University of Rhodesia carried out a survey among 16 white schools in Rhodesia. The Rand Daily Mail said that it found an overriding desire, particularly among the more intelligent children, to leave the country.They want to leave home, parents, Rhodesian society, the lot.If hon. Gentlemen opposite found that half the sixth formers in Britain, and the most intelligent ones at that, intended to leave this country because the political situation was similar to that in Rhodesia, and was intolerable, would they say that that was indicative of confidence in the future of this country?
§ Mrs. Hart
No, I will not give way now. I have a feeling that the hon. Gentleman will want to interrupt me later and I will give way to him then.
We have to accept that sanctions have created some difficulties in Rhodesia, that there are some difficulties which are making Mr. Smith readier to talk to the Foreign Secretary next week than he has been for some time. I do not think there is evidence that the Rhodesian economy is happily surviving sanctions policy. However, there is no evidence that sanctions policy is destroying the Rhodesian economy. The evidence lies somewhere in between, and that is sufficient argument for continuing sanctions.
The Foreign Secretary has not told us. and I doubt whether the Minister of State will tell us, whether he himself believes that his journey is a hopeful one, or whether, in his own mind, it is a necessary exercise to satisfy the hon. Gentlemen who are present in the Chamber on his own side—the eager appeasers in his own party. We do not know, and he is not likely to tell us, what the Prime Minister's purpose is in all this—whether or not there is a genuine belief that an honourable settlement is possible.
It is possible, of course, that the Foreign Secretary could be going to Salisbury whether or not he believes an honourable settlement to be possible—because in the one case he has to go through the exercise and in the other he has convinced himself that it may be possible. If it is the former, if he is going through a political exercise for the sake of his own party, then we shall await his return and we shall look forward to his explanation that it was not possible for him to find any basis for agreement with Mr. Smith which satisfied the five principles.
If, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman has convinced himself that there is real hope of an honourable settlement, we must remind him before he leaves, as my hon. Friends have done tonight, of some of the key points which we hope will remain at the front of his mind all the time he is in Salisbury
The first point is that were a settlement to satisfy the five principles Mr. Smith would have to put the clock back on everything that he has done since U.D.I.
1179 [MRS. HART.]
He would have to abandon the 1961 Constitution—certainly not take it as a base for any future negotiations. He would have to abandon the Land Tenure Act and the body of legislation which has taken apartheid many steps forward since the declaration of U.D.I. In view of what Mr. Smith has said—after all, he has said that there can be no going back—I cannot think that this is possible, but perhaps the Foreign Secretary thinks that it is.
Second, on the test of opinion, which is necessary in terms of the five principles, it is extremely disturbing to read the accounts in the Press this morning, apparently based on what the Foreign Secretary is believed to have said to his own party last night—that there had been some measure of agreement reached between the Government and Mr. Smith on the way that the test of opinion could be carried out and on a six-week period during which opinion could be tested.
The only possible basis for any test of opinion in accordance with the five principles is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) said, that all the political prisoners must be released, that they must be totally free to campaign and that there must be a total lifting of censorship so that they may campaign. Anything short of that—and it must obviously take longer than six weeks—could not pretend to be a test of opinion in Rhodesia. [Interruption.] It is obvious that some hon. Gentlemen opposite have reservations about what I am saying.
§ Mrs. Hart
His frankness tonight was in contrast with the remarks of some of his colleagues. He said frankly that he wants a compromise. He does not like the phrase "sell-out" but he wants an end to the situation.
There is no longer very much hope that one can prevent Rhodesia from being sucked into the Southern African situation, dominated by South Africa. Indeed, she is already there. That there- 1180 fore presents a situation in which one must be very careful in doing anything based on a belief that it is even possible for the white minority in Rhodesia not to move faster and further towards apartheid. [Interruption.] They are bound to do so.
Not only in this House, among my hon. Friends, but outside, in Britain, Africa, within the United Nations and throughout the world, the Foreign Secretary starts from a base of mistrust and doubt because of his readiness to sell arms to South Africa—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] This is the Southern African situation—because of the British Government's actions on South-West Africa at the U.N. and because of the Government's apparent readiness to isolate themselves on a number of these issues with South Africa and Portugal.
For this reason the right hon. Gentleman starts on a considerable basis of mistrust. He should not underestimate the degree to which he will have to convince us that anything with which he comes back from Salisbury is honourable enough to satisfy my hon. Friends.
§ 11.8 p.m.
The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Joseph Gedher)
We are tonight debating the renewal of the Order on sanctions, though the debate has, of course, taken place against the background of the impending visit to Salisbury of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. In these circumstances it is natural that hon. Members on both sides of the House should seek to give him advice in relation to his visit. I have no doubt that he will give the full degree of weight to the various speeches that have been made that he deems appropriate in each case.
Hon. Members have also sought to put down markers and to give warnings of the likely consequences of failing to observe any of them. I am sure it will be recognised that it would be impossible for me to go into any detail in replying to the debate tonight or to comment explicitly on the various proposals and suggestions that have been made. To do so would put my right hon. Friend in an intolerable position on his visit.
What my right hon. Friend has made clear, and what was emphasised in the Queen's Speech, was that any settlement 1181 arrived at would have to conform with the five principles. Those principles have been common ground up to now on both sides of the House—or at least among most hon. Members. It is worth remembering that we on this side of the House supported the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when he sought to achieve agreement on the basis of those principles both on "Tiger" and on "Fearless". The fact that he failed to secure agreement on either occasion was a matter of deep regret to hon. Members on both sides. Had he succeeded, I am sure that his success would have been as warmly welcomed by my hon. Friends as by his own supporters. In the same way, I am confident that if my right hon. Friend is able to achieve success in this visit it will receive widespread approval both in this House and outside in this country.
There are those who will not welcome any agreement. Some hon. Members have made their position on this clear tonight. Of course emotions run strongly in the House on this matter, and they run strongly in many other places, both in Africa and in the United Nations. But I am disturbed when I find some hon. Members opposite who are apparently anxious even to prevent an agreement. That anxiety has been made clear by several hon. Members tonight. Many of them have paid tribute to my right hon. Friend's integrity, but have gone on to question it in the next sentence by implying that he will fail to stand by the principles.
Some hon. Members go further and try to bring in additional matters beyond the principles as we understand them. They have done so tonight. Some have already done so in the Press. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was one of the signatories of a letter in The Times on Monday. I do not think that he was the author, but he was one of the signatories. That letter stated:Two requirements are essential for a settlement. The first is that genuine representatives of the African people participate in negotiations.…Secondly, a future Government of Rhodesia must be elected on the basis of universal suffrage. We call on the British Government to proceed on the basis of these two essential requirements".Both points go far beyond anything that they themselves asked when they were in office. The letter says: 1182Some of us have long considered the five principles inadequate… .I do not know whether "long" means that they considered them inadequate at the time when they were negotiating on the basis of those principles, but we have of course seen changes on the part of the party opposite on a number of other matters.
§ Mr. Healey
I know that the right hon. Member does not want to misrepresent me. Can he tell the House how we can have majority rule without universal suffrage?
§ Mr. Godber
Certainly we can have it without universal suffrage. I understand that that was the basis of the proposals which his right hon. Friend put forward on both "Tiger" and "Fearless" It seems that the right hon. Gentleman did not understand the proposals that his right hon. Friend put forward.
An agreement based on the five principles may prove impossible to achieve, but do not let us set out deliberately to make agreement impossible from the start. What is at stake in these negotiations more than anything else is the future conditions in which the African majority in Rhodesia will live. That fact has not been sufficiently taken into account by hon. Members opposite. The position of those people has deteriorated since the efforts made by the Leader of the Opposition to secure an agreement. If, unhappily, my right hon. Friend should not succeed the prospects of an eventual alignment of policies between Rhodesia and South Africa become an even clearer possibility.
The five principles must be our sheet anchor in any negotiations, but anyone who puts forward much tougher conditions, or says that we should not seek to negotiate at all, should face squarely what this means to the African majority in Rhodesia. If we all genuinely want to help the African people living in Rhodesia, we must all wish "Godspeed" to my right hon. Friend on his journey
That is why I take issue with a number of hon. Members opposite, because they really have not faced up to this problem. It seemed to me that their attitude is that they would rather the attempt failed, because they do not want to have anything to do with Mr Smith. and want to allow sanctions to continue 1183 [MR. GODBER.]
in a way they hope will eventually lead to some change; but they do not face up to the fact that all the time the position of these people is deteriorating and all the time the position of Rhodesia is moving closer to that of South Africa.
§ Mr. Godber
No, I have not very much time, and as a number of hon. Members seem anxious to intervene to give way to one of them would be invidious.
There are those hon. Members who have said tonight, and it will be on record in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow, that they would prefer not to have an agreement—
§ Mr. Godber
Indeed, it is the point, and it is the point I am making, so there is no dispute that this is the position taken by hon. Members opposite. I say that it is a false position, because it does not take into account the real needs of the African majority.
§ Mr. Godber
No, I do not have a great deal of time.
As to the five principles themselves, I have listened with great interest to the comments and interpretations which have been placed on them in the debate, but I do not think that any good purpose would be served by any detailed comments I could make on them. I want to remind hon. Members on both sides that Lord Goodman, with the distinguished team of officials who have accompanied him on his many journeys to Salisbury this year, have always had before them the five principles as the firm basis for the soundings and explorations they have made, and have made it absolutely clear to Mr. Smith and his colleagues that they form the firm basis of any talks my right hon. Friend will have with them. That is the safeguard in regard to all the questions and queries that have been raised tonight.
That is why I say to hon. Members that it is just not good enough to say, "We admire the integrity of the Foreign Secretary, but we do not trust him negotiating with Mr. Smith."
§ Mr. Faulds
It is extremely good of the right hon. Gentleman to have at last given way. What he seems to fail to comprehend is that we have—I personally have—every faith in the Foreign Secretary, but what I do not have faith in is what hon. Members opposite expect, that there will be some extraordinary psychological transformation in Mr. Smith by which he will suddenly become a trustworthy character. If there were to be there would be a palace coup the day after.
§ Mr. Godber
What the hon. Gentleman says is that, having made a deal, Mr. Smith would rat on it straight away. If that is really the hon. Gentleman's belief, why did Mr. Smith not do precisely this in the negotiations with the Leader of the Opposition, when he could have got agreement and done away with sanctions straight away on exactly the same basis? The fact that Mr. Smith refused to do so prompts me to believe that he will stand by any agreement he makes. The point I was making was not that but that so many hon. Members opposite seem to think that it would be in the interests of the black African majority in Rhodesia if no agreement was reached. I do not believe that to be the case.
I said that I would not go into detail on the five principles, but I want to make an exception of the fifth principle because it has been mentioned by so many hon. Members, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East, made a particular point of it. I want to remind hon. Members precisely what that principle states. It says:The British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.That is the phrasing of the fifth principle. Until agreement has been reached, it is impossible to say precisely the form that this test of acceptability would take. But I can assure the House that we would agree only on the basis of arrangements that would ensure a full and impartial ascertainment of the views of all sections of the Rhodesian people. There would be no question of seeking the views of 1185 Rhodesian Africans by, for instance, consultation with the tribal chiefs alone. Consultation will, of course, go much wider than that. The conditions which will be necessary must include adequate time and facilities for full explanation and discussion of the proposed terms for a settlement throughout the length and breadth of Rhodesia. It must also be clear that there will be provision for all Rhodesian Africans to express their views, and I hope that this shows the House that we attach great importance to the fifth principle.
§ Mr. Healey
To some extent I am reassured by what the right hon. Gentleman has said. Will he answer the question asked by myself and many of my hon. Friends, namely, if he intends to carry out this type of consultation will he insist, as the Labour Government did, that all African political detainees who are not convicted of crimes of violence are released and will be free themselves to consult those Africans with whom they have contact and will have freedom of speech and propaganda during the period of consultation, because otherwise it is very difficult to feel confident that another body of people will be able to carry out an effective consultation?
§ Mr. Godber
I have chosen my words with care. I have made the point that we cannot be precise until the discussions between my right hon. Friend and Mr. Smith have been concluded, because that will be one of the aspects of the discussions. I have deliberately set out the position of broad principle. My right hon. Friend will take note of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I cannot go beyond the point I have made about the way and the extent to which consultation will take place.
So, if agreement should be reached, there will have to be a period of time during which full consultation takes place before we can report to Parliament that in the Government's view the five principles have been met. Thus there is no question of Parliament being faced with a fait accompli immediately upon my right hon. Friend's return. I give this assurance because I realise the anxiety of hon. Members about this matter. That anxiety is very widespread on both sides of the House. I think that throughout the whole of the House there 1186 is a desire that there shall be the fullest consultation. That is why I have particularly picked on the fifth principle. But the others are of great importance and have, for many months now, been the subject of close discussion between Lord Goodman and his team, and will be the basis of the discussions which my right hon. Friend will be having. I mentioned particularly the fifth principle because unless we can show that the black African majority in Rhodesia have been adequately consulted it will not be satisfactory to opinion outside and inside the House.
The importance of the Order is that it is a continuation of the existing policy of the Government to maintain sanctions under existing conditions. The Order is put in its normal form, as it has been before, that is, for a period of 12 months, and if agreement is reached in my right hon. Friend's discussions in Salisbury, and if that agreement is later shown to have the backing of the majority of black African opinion in Rhodesia, as it required in the fifth principle, a new situation will have arisen which would pave the way to the ending of sanctions and hence the present Order.
I am grateful to those of my hon. Friend's—who feel deeply on this issue— who have said that because of the particular circumstances they would not wish to press this matter to a Division. It is of enormous help to my right hon. Friend if we have the support of the whole House at this time, and it is the best way in which we can give him the evidence of the strength of feeling in the House that wishes him well. So I hope very much that we can have full agreement in the House.
Before concluding, I want to touch upon one other matter raised in the debate by the right hon. Gentleman in his opening speech and by a number of other hon. Members who were seeking, as it were, to appear to widen the position about guarantees. This is where one has to recognise that even when the party opposite were negotiating they did not at every stage seek to have external guarantees. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said in the House on 18th February, 1969, that it was not a question of an external guarantee. He referred to what the right
1187 [MR. GOOBER.]
hon. Gentleman then the Minister without Portfolio had said in regard to safeguards that this had… no external implications. It was purely internal."—[OFFICAL REPORT, 18th February, 1969; Vol. 778, c. 206.]
That was the position as set out by the then Prime Minister, and it is unreasonable to expect us at this stage for the reasons I have given to seek to widen the position.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
This is a most important matter because, if the Foreign Secretary is to go to Salisbury with the intention of not negotiating an external guarantee, it is a serious implication. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the "Tiger" and "Fearless" proposals there was an external guarantee? Under the "Fearless" proposals the Privy Council would have had the right to veto any discriminatory legislation. That was an external guarantee.
§ Mr. Godber
The quotation I gave was subsequent to both those occasions and the Leader of the Opposition changed the proposal for an external guarantee. That is clear both from the quotation I have given and from the report of what the right hon. Gentleman said at the time. Of course my right hon. Friend will wish to have the fullest assurances possible in regard to the future.
§ Mr. George Thomson (Dundee, East)
Can I put the matter in its proper perspective? The first point was that the Privy Council was applicable to Rhodesia as to other Commonwealth territories. Therefore it was not in that sense external to Rhodesia. The final proposition that I on behalf of the then British Government put to Mr. Smith was that any view of the Privy Council should be tested in Rhodesia by a reference to the various communities inside Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Godber
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for stating so clearly the position as it was then. I have been discussing the question of testing opinion in Rhodesia in regard to the fifth principle. Certainly the question of any 1188 agreement which is reached will be fully subjected to the test of Rhodesian opinion. This is the most important aspect. [Interruption.] It may not be the same point, but it is a very important point. I cannot add anything on the question of external guarantees. I do not wish in any way to inhibit the discussions which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will have on this or any other subject. It would be wrong for me to go beyond what I have said tonight in this regard.
I therefore ask the House unhesitatingly to give its full support to the Order. To show a united front on this issue is the best way in which we can give my right hon. Friend the complete backing in his difficult task which I think he is entitled to expect, and which many speeches tonight have indicated that he will receive. I should like to think that we shall have a unanimous view on this matter.
It would be stupid to minimise the task which will confront my right hon. Friend. It is clear that it is indeed questionable whether he will be able to succeed, but I am certain that it is right that he should make this attempt. When he reports back to the House on the outcome of his discussions, we shall know clearly what has happened. If he is able to succeed, this will be a great step forward for the black African majority in Rhodesia, who are the people both sides of the House should be thinking about at this present time.
I therefore commend the Order to the House and hope that we shall have unanimous agreement to it.
§ Question put and agreed to.