HC Deb 22 March 1976 vol 908 cc29-45
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. James Callaghan)

I will, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, make a statement on the situation in Rhodesia.

The news that negotiations between Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Smith were broken off on Friday is a matter of deep concern. Yet another attempt to find a solution to Rhodesia's problem by peaceful means has been thrown away because of Mr. Smith's refusal to accept the principle of majority rule at an early date.

This effort has failed, like its predecessor that was launched by the four Presidents and Mr. Vorster in December 1974, because of Mr. Smith's prevarications. His purpose has not been to negotiate a constitutional settlement but to buy time in order to remove the pressures on him.

When Mr. Nkomo took his decision to begin fresh discussions with Mr. Smith, it was made clear that while Her Majesty's Government had no wish to take sides in the internal differences of the African National Council, we welcomed his initiative and wished it success. He and his colleagues have shown patience and determination in recent months and I believe that when the account of the negotiations is published it will be seen that the demands put forward by Mr. Nkomo were both reasonable and moderate.

It seemed likely in mid-February that the talks might founder and I then heard from a number of sources, as the House knows, that Mr. Smith wished Britain to become involved. I therefore asked Lord Greenhill to visit Salisbury to assess Mr. Smith's position in order that I might consider whether there was any real

prospect of Britain being able to promote a settlement.

Lord Greenhill's report did not give an indication that there was a sufficient change in Mr. Smith's attitude to make it useful for Britain to assume a rôle in those talks then going on.

More recently, he sent word to me that he would like the British Government to appoint a Commission of wise men to put forward the terms of a settlement. In the absence of any commitment by him to majority rule, this seemed to me to be retreading old ground and I made clear to Mr. Smith that I rejected the proposal.

Last week, Mr. Smith made a fresh proposal to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) which incorporated the original idea of the three wise men but proposed that they should take part in a round table conference to be attended by representatives of the Rhodesian Front, other representatives of the European Community, of Mr. Nkomo's ANC and selected leaders of the external wing of the ANC. The hon. Member was good enough to communicate this proposal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State as soon as he returned, but by then the talks were on the point of breaking down. In my view, they were designed to do no more than buy even more time for Mr. Smith's régime. He does not seem to realise that he no longer has much time to buy.

During recent months, I have been giving a great deal of thought to the ways in which Britain could help to secure an orderly transfer of power in Rhodesia. During this period I have kept in touch with the African nationalist leaders and also with the four Presidents, whose advice I greatly value. It is my understanding that the four Presidents, despite their belief that the armed struggle may now be inevitable, still sincerely wish to see a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia.

If their hopes and wishes and ours are to be fulfilled, there must be a two-stage operation. First, there must be prior agreement by all the principal parties to a number of pre-conditions. These are as follows: first, acceptance of the principle of majority rule; secondly, elections for majority rule to take place in 18 months to two years; thirdly, agreement that there will be no independence before majority rule; fourthly, the negotiations must not be long drawn out. There would also need to be assurances that the transition to majority rule and to an independent Rhodesia would not be thwarted and would be orderly. If these pre-conditions were accepted, it would then become possible for the second stage to begin, namely, the negotiation of the actual terms of a constitution for independence.

We should also need to ensure that the settlement provided a background in which both communities could live and work together in an independent Rhodesia. Many African leaders have reiterated their strong desire that those Europeans who are prepared to put their faith in Rhodesia should remain in that country and that their presence will help to ensure the country's development. Her Majesty's Government would be willing to consider financial and other means to assist this end.

Given the acceptance of the principle of early majority rule, it is in my view possible to reach a settlement which would go a very long way towards reconciling African aspirations and European fears. Britain would be prepared to play a constructive part in any negotiations in which these pre-conditions have been accepted and would be willing to sit down with representatives of all shades of Rhodesian opinion, inside and out.

An independent Rhodesia will need development assistance and aid for educational and other purposes on a significant scale. Britain would play her part, but I hope that members of the Commonwealth, the European Communities and others would also be willing to help.

In a final settlement achieved along these lines, all should be ready to agree that guerrilla activity should cease and that an approach should be made to the United Nations with a view to lifting the economic sanctions now in force. I am ready to discuss this approach if it meets with any reaction with all concerned, but no agreement would be worth anything until the principle of majority rule opens the door to new negotiations.

As things are, Mr. Smith is leading his country on the path of death and destruction. Even at this late stage, I ask the European population of Rhodesia to believe that there is an alternative path. It is still just possible for Mr. Smith to follow it. If not, I hope that other leaders will emerge who recognise the realities of the hour and that the time is here when the legitimate aspirations of the African people can be met and reconciled with the desires of the European population. Only in this way can there be hope for a peaceful future for Rhodesia.

Mr. Maudling

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement and ask whether he is aware that we on this side of the House are glad that he has departed from the original purely negative reaction of the Foreign Office to the breakdown of the talks? Is he aware that we are also glad that he stressed what Britain could do for Rhodesia once there is a settlement? This is very important. May I express the hope that even now, while we do not necessarily agree with the details of the statement, Mr. Smith will accept the principle of transition to majority rule on timing and conditions to be agreed? Can the Foreign Secretary confirm that the ending of UDI would mean that this country would automatically resume de facto responsibility for the constitution and security of Rhodesia which we still possess de jure?

Mr. Callaghan

The right hon. Gentleman is aware from my consultations with him that I have been thinking very carefully about the kind of proposals I have put forward today and that the only question has been one of time—when it was appropriate to put them forward. I would have been caught in a trap if I had tried to insert them at the end of the discussions between Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Smith. I did not consider that they were on a basis that would have provided for this. We now have to appeal to a wider constituency which includes forces outside Rhodesia—forces for which some hon. Members may not much care—for example, the guerrilla forces. We may have to discuss the situation with a great many elements if we are to get a final settlement.

I thought it right to put forward these proposals publicly now to give Europeans as well as Africans in Rhodesia at least the opportunity of seeing that there is a way forward in which we are ready to play our part, in conjunction with the Commonwealth, to safeguard both races and their future.

Frankly, it is not sufficient to hold out the hope to Mr. Smith that if only he will end UDI we shall de facto resume our responsibilities. That is the de jure situation now, but we must deal with the situation as it exists and the alternatives for Mr. Smith are for him to say that there will be early majority rule and to get on with it or to let others who will do so get on with it.

Mr. David Steel

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we welcome the cold realism of his statement? Does he agree that there are many examples in Africa where the transition to African rule has been sudden, unprepared and accompanied by much violence and human suffering, and that there are also examples where the transition has been peaceful and orderly and where the European minorities enjoy a fruitful life, as could happen in Rhodesia? What hopes has the right hon. Gentleman of persuading Mr. Smith that unless he opts for the second course the consequence will be chaos and revolution in his country?

Mr. Callaghan

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I do not know that I have much hope of persuading Mr. Smith, whose contradictory statements, even in the past three or four days, give little room for belief that it is possible to negotiate with him. I am not hopeful. It is the duty of the House to say to the European population in Rhodesia—which is our responsibility and not Mr. Smith's—as well as the African population "Here is a way forward. We shall play our part if you will take the step that you Europeans believe to be risky."

There are examples, as the hon. Gentleman says—Kenya is one and perhaps the most notable—where there has been peaceful and orderly transition. I should like the House to know that, in my view, if the Europeans in Rhodesia are wise enough to negotiate with leaders representing various factions in Rhodesia, such a transition could take place even in that country.

Mr. Newens

Will my right hon. Friend make clear that we shall have no truck with anything apart from full majority rule and that Britain will not allow herself to be used as an agent of procrastination?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir. Time is on no one's side in this matter, and I certainly do not wish to procrastinate. That is one reason—not the only one—why I have thought it right to put on the table today positive and constructive proposals which the four Presidents, the Europeans and the Africans in Rhodesia can reflect on to see whether they come anywhere near to being an agenda which they would be willing to discuss once the pre-conditions have been accepted.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the European population as our responsibility and not Mr. Smith's. Are we proposing to set up regular communications by which the European population can get in touch with the Foreign Secretary?

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that a settlement in Rhodesia is an important part, but only a part, of a more general conflict which is in danger of taking place in Southern Africa? What discussions, if any, has the right hon. Gentleman had with the four Presidents about economic and military aid to their countries to protect them from further Cuban expansion from Angola?

Mr. Callaghan

There are means by which the European population can get in touch with me, and, indeed, I have received emissaries within recent weeks who have expressed to me varying points of view. They know that they are free to communicate if they wish to do so. As to what the right hon. Gentleman called the general conflict in Southern Africa, I hope, as a result of action last week, that some part of that conflict has been removed. The Soviet Union played a helpful part in relation to its contacts with Angola and ours with South Africa. I hope that that action will bear fruit, although we shall not know until the end of the week. The Government have recently announced additional aid to Zambia in her present circumstances, to Zaire and Mozambique.

Mr. Whitehead

My right hon. Friend has correctly said that these important proposals should be put to a wider constituency. As Mr. Smith has proved to be a pathological liar with whom it is impossible to negotiate, does my right hon. Friend accept that the minority community of Rhodesia should be contacted directly by Her Majesty's Government? How are we to sample opinion among the white population in Rhodesia?

Mr. Callaghan

That is a difficult question to which I cannot give a clear answer this afternoon. I hope that my statement will receive widespread publicity on the BBC external services and in other ways and will be made available to the Europeans in Rhodesia as well as the Africans. I have no other suggestions to make at present.

Sir David Ronton

Whatever Mr. Ian Smith may have said or done, does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the African majority in Rhodesia has a great deal to gain in the years to come from partnership with the European minority? The right hon. Gentleman speaks of constitutional proposals for majority rule, but what will he do to ensure that a genuine partnership of that kind remains in the interest of Rhodesia?

Mr. Callaghan

I agree that there is a lot to be gained from partnership with the European minority, but it takes two to make a partnership. At the moment we need a clear indication that the European minority is ready to share that partnership with the African majority. That is the first thing that is needed. If the pre-conditions can be accepted by those concerned, what happens in the future will be a matter for negotiation on an independence constitution. That is where the question asked by the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have to be answered. It is not for Britain to do so. We are not in a position to impose a settlement, but we have a de jure and moral responsibility which I am trying to discharge by putting forward constructive proposals for others to consider, those who have perhaps more power in the area than we have. It is for them to say whether they regard the proposals as being a starting point for a fresh beginning in Rhodesia.

Mrs. Hart

I very much appreciate the whole of the Foreign Secretary's statement, but I should like to put to him one point of anxiety on which I hope he will be able to reassure the House. There is a danger that the British Government might at some point agree to go into Rhodesia to monitor a settlement along the lines of the proposals put forward. There is anxiety that, unless these proposals were totally acceptable to the Rhodesia Africans, after 11 years of UDI we should be putting ourselves again into a dangerous position. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that there will be no question of the British Government's providing any presence in Rhodesia to monitor proposals before they have been totally agreed by the African majority in Rhodesia?

Mr. Callaghan

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I am aware of the point she raises, and I have been troubled by the deep suspicion that exists of the way in which the United Kingdom is trying to handle these matters. When my right hon. Friend has had time to study the statement, I hope that she will feel able to tell her friends in Africa that there is no need for the concern she expressed. We have no intention of going to Rhodesia to pull anybody's chestnuts out of the fire and we shall not be monitoring proposals. If there is an agreement which is acceptable to all the shades of opinion in Rhodesia which I outlined, we shall be ready, if necessary at some sacrifice to ourselves, to assist in ensuring that that settlement is translated into reality for all the people of that country.

Mr. Hastings

I welcome the policy suggestions made by the right hon. Gentleman, particularly the concept of the wider constituency. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the key may be that so long as the main fear in the minds of the white Rhodesians is of Communist, Russian and Cuban aggression rather than any other constitutional consideration, unless he can produce some guarantee of integrity after settlement there is a fairly slim chance? Would the Foreign Secretary say something more about that?

Mr. Callaghan

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear in several quarters that any aggression by external forces against Rhodesia would meet with the condemnation of this country. I use that word advisedly.

Mr. Hastings

That is no guarantee.

Mr. Callaghan

I have indicated how far we can go. If the hon. Gentleman would like to volunteer, he can give me his name afterwards.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Robert Mellish)

I will give the hon. Gentleman a pair.

Mr. Callaghan

My own view is that if we could reach agreement along these lines the integrity of the country would be respected. I shall take every opportunity—and some opportunities are open to me in the very near future—to make clear that the situation in Southern Africa can only be made worse unless the people of Rhodesia are allowed to settle their own problems.

Mr. Faulds

Will my right hon. Friend accept that there is general support and agreement on these Benches for his politically realistic statement that the guerrilla representatives must be included in any negotiations? But will he ponder the possibility that two years is too long a period before the evolution of Zimbabwe, because in that period the situation can only massively deteriorate?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir. I said a period of 18 months to two years, but it is clearly not one to which I would tie myself. But we have to have a period of orderly transition if it is to come at all. It must be a period in which African Ministers are brought into government, in which electoral rules are prepared, and in which elections can take place. Therefore, I think that what I have suggested would not be an unreasonable period, and I believe that it could well be acceptable to the African majority there—I will not speak for anyone outside—if they thought that there was a reality in what was intended, if they believed that it would really come about and not be thwarted. This is where Britain could play her part.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Is not the heart of the matter the question of safeguards—safeguards for the Africans that progress towards majority rule will be real and come quickly and safeguards for the white minority that they will be able to share in power and will have some safeguard for their property and their pensions? May I join the right hon. Gentleman in the hope that all those in Rhodesia and in the adjoining countries will seize with both hands the constructive offer that he has made today? May I wish him god-speed in achieving it?

Mr. Callaghan

I am deeply obliged to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said, for he has the most recent experience of any of us in Rhodesia. What he has to say will reinforce, I hope, the practical approach that I am trying to make. I hope that his words will be listened to in Rhodesia. I entirely agree with him about the need to satisfy both Europeans and Africans. That will be a matter for negotiation when the pre-conditions have been accepted, and it would be my strong desire and intention to see that both were safeguarded in any constitutional independence agreement that was arrived at.

Mr. Luard

Are there not many signs that Mr. Smith and his colleagues still do not fully recognise the harsh reality of the situation with which they are faced? Whilst my right hon. Friend has today set out the picture of an alternative settlement which it might be possible to reach if they were so willing, is it not essential meanwhile to tighten sanctions against Rhodesia and to attempt to stop up the loopholes which still exist in them?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir. The Commonwealth Sanctions Committee has met and there will be a meeting of the Security Council very soon on this matter. I believe that they will take steps, and, of course, the EEC itself has the matter constantly under review with a view to tightening sanctions. We have had 12 years of sanctions. They have thwarted the development of Rhodesia but they have not provided a solution to the problem. I therefore want to press as much as I can the constructive part of my statement and appeal to the good sense of the European population, if it is possible, so that they can see that there is another path rather than the dead end they are now in.

Mr. Amery

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the statement put out by Mr. Nkomo that both sides were agreed on the principle of majority rule and that the difference between them lay in the length of period of transition—according to Mr. Nkomo, 10 or 15 years on the one side and one or two years on the other? Would it not be wiser in these circumstances for Her Majesty's Government to reserve their position on the exact time scale if they are to arbitrate successfully in a matter of such importance, the alternative to a solution being too ghastly to contemplate? Would not the Foreign Secretary also agree that, by insisting on no independence before majority rule, he is coming perilously close to asking for unconditional surrender by the Smith regime and that this is usually a bankrupt policy in all diplomacy?

Mr. Callaghan

Mr. Nkomo was asking for immediate majority rule. My hon. Friends have reminded us of the latest views of Mr. Smith. If only Mr. Smith would stick to one period for longer than a week, we would know where we were, but I have no means of knowing whether it is 1,000 years or 10 years. Therefore, we have to take into account that Mr. Nkomo is not the only one involved. The situation is moving fast, as I believe the House now knows, and there are others who, if they do not believe that a reasonable settlement can be reached, will take up arms. That is the reality of the situation.

The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) speaks of unconditional surrender by Mr. Smith. I do not know that I want Mr. Smith to surrender to Great Britain. I want him to surrender to the facts of the situation and then to lead the European people along a better path. That is his responsibility now, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will encourage him to take it.

Mr. Hooley

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the major road block now is Ian Smith himself and that it will be as futile to talk to him in the future as it was in the past?

Mr. Callaghan

I made some general comments on that aspect at the end of my statement. It is possible for Mr. Smith to change his mind. It would not be for the first time, perhaps, but if he does not do so I hope that other European leaders will take the matter into their own hands and will, in whatever way they think appropriate, try to educate opinion in Rhodesia along these lines.

Mr. Cormack

Bearing in mind the necessity for his realistic initiative to be accepted in Rhodesia, will the Foreign Secretary consider either going there himself or sending a Minister of State to impress upon Mr. Smith the offer that has been made in the House today?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir, I would consider that. But I think that there must be some indication from Mr. Smith—and we have had this argument time and again. This is why I have held back. Mr. Nkomo has pressed it upon Mr. Smith; Mr. Vorster has pressed on him the need for a settlement; and the four Presidents have done so. Indeed, everyone has. It is now up to Mr. Smith to make his position clear if he is willing to accept preconditions. Either my right hon. Friend or I would be happy to go to Africa to explain what we have in mind. It is not my desire to impose what I have said on anyone. But we regard it as the basis for a settlement and one which everyone could take up and discuss.

Mr. James Johnson

Whilst I accept that my right hon. Friend appreciates the dynamism of the situation, is it not a fact that even now it may be too late? Is there not a danger that Mr. Nkomo may even now, in the historical context, be a black Kerensky? Is it not the view of the heads of neighbouring States that power lies in the hands of guerrilla forces and people outside Salisbury, who speak, and will speak in the future, for their people?

Mr. Callaghan

There is no doubt that the guerrilla forces outside Rhodesia are growing. But they are not the only forces. There are still considerable political African forces inside Rhodesia if Mr. Smith can only bring himself to treat with them on a realistic basis. We must involve all the forces in final talks, including the guerrilla forces. But I do not believe that they would necessarily be the determining factor if we could reach a settlement which would appeal to the great body of African people inside Rhodesia itself.

Mr. Blaker

When we are hoping that Mr. Smith, and many other white people in Rhodesia who think like him, will change the position they have taken for 11 years, some of us wonder whether it is helpful to describe him as a pathological liar. Does it advance the case?

While the constitutional responsibility for a settlement rests on this House, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many who agree with him, in regard to guarantees for various parts of the population and aid to Rhodesia after a settlement, that it is right to think in terms of bringing in other countries to help? Is the right hon. Gentleman bringing other countries along with him in his thinking?

Mr. Callaghan

As to the first part of the question, everyone chooses his own language, and we all have our own opinions. I am bound to say that I do not feel that I can rely upon what Mr. Smith says to me. I wish I could. It would make negotiation much easier. One must speak from experience and speak frankly on these issues. This is one of the difficulties that everybody who has dealt with Mr. Smith has found. To use a mild word, his suppleness is such that one is never quite sure when one has grasped him and when he is out of one's reach again.

I have chosen my own word in my statement. I used the word "prevarication". I stand by that. I think no one can deny that that is the situation. I have not used the language to which the hon. Gentleman referred and do not intend to be offensive to anybody—not this week, anyway.

Concerning the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I have today been in touch with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Shridath Ramphal. We hope through him to involve the rest of the Commonwealth in these matters, because it was at the Kingston meeting, the hon. Gentleman will recall, that a stand was taken on these matters.

Mr. Stonehouse

Has the Foreign Secretary at any stage conveyed a guarantee to Mr. Smith that he and his colleagues will in no circumstances be charged with high treason or other crimes against the Crown?

Mr. Callagahan

I have given no such guarantee, nor has one been asked for. I should have to think about it if it were. I am not sure what the reply would be.

Mr. Luce

I welcome the Secretary of State's constructive proposals. Will he use every means at his disposal to bring home to the Europeans the stark choice they now face? Either they refuse to compromise, in which case it will lead to their own ruination and exploitation by the Soviet Union, or else they reach an early settlement, in which case they at least have a prospect of an orderly transition to independence and, indeed, a prospect of contributing to the future of Rhodesia.

Mr. Callaghan

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, and I hope that the several expressions of view from the Opposition Benches will convince Mr. Smith that in this approach there is a great deal of unity in the House of Commons. I am not saying that everybody agrees with it, but there is a great deal of unity in our assessment of the situation and our analysis of what needs to be done. I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will make this as clear as they can to Mr. Smith and to those in Rhodesia whom they may know or to whom they may even be related.

Mr. Pavitt

Will my right hon. Friend, in taking note from all parts of the House of the desire for a genuine cooperation between all colours, races and creeds in Rhodesia, nevertheless be vigilant that the kind of de jure co-operation which may emerge should not be the economic de facto co-operation of the kind between a small jockey and a very large horse?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Walters

Bearing in mind the highly disturbing reports emerging from Mozambique, with all their very dangerous consequences, will the Foreign Secretary not consider it wise to achieve some reassurances before proceeding with the normal aid programme?

Mr. Callaghan

That is, I think, a separate question, but I am certain that if we can only proceed along these lines, then President Machel, who is one of the four Presidents concerned, will be very ready indeed to co-operate in trying to make a success of it.

Mr. Flannery

Will my right hon. Friend agree with me that people who talk about preventing mankind having democracy for 1,000 years have had infamous predecessors who were treated somewhat roughly? Will my right hon. Friend promise me that when a word such as "partnership" is used in the context in which it was used earlier from the Opposition Benches it must in no way be accepted as precluding majority rule in terms of "one man, one vote"? That is the kind of partnership which would be induced by democracy.

Mr. Callaghan

Majority rule can, of course, mean a number of things, but it must lead in the end to "one man one vote". Whether it begins there is a matter for negotiation. It may be that it would or that it would not. But majority rule means what it says, namely, rule by the majority. We know what we mean by that, and I think everybody else knows what we mean by that. It is on that basis, unpleasant though it is for many people in Rhodesia, that the Europeans have to make up their minds.

Mr. Wall

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the key lies in the safeguards given to the white minority? Will he say what he has in mind in this respect? Above all, will he say whether such safeguards will be guaranteed by this country?

Mr. Callaghan

I do not think I wish to go further this afternoon than I have done in my statement. I considered it very carefully and, as the hon. Gentleman may guess, I had a number of thoughts in mind about what would need to be put forward. But I think that that comes at the second stage, when we have the pre-conditions accepted, under the general umbrella that we shall do our best to safeguard the future of all the races in Rhodesia. Then we can begin to discuss the details and what Britain would or would not agree to underwrite.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Will my right hon. Friend realise that the support he has had from all sides of the House will also be shown by nations throughout the world? It would be an impossible situation for us to be seen to be supporting the minority régime in Rhodesia. Will my right hon. Friend point out to the white population that they are facing now a choice of settling either for majority rule quickly or for a civil war and unnecessary bloodshed?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, I fear that this is the choice that lies before them. That is why I hope there can be negotiation with responsible African leaders who represent their people and who, I believe, are anxious to avoid Rhodesia walking along the path that some other African States have walked when there has been a disorderly transfer of power.

Several hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

I shall take three more questions. Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

If the Foreign Secretary does not spell out now in some detail the sort of safeguards he has in mind for the white minority in Rhodesia, is there not a danger that, in the absence of these safeguards, they will refuse to face the realities of the situation, continue to look inwards and become a small laager, totally without recognition of the realities of the present situation? If the Foreign Secretary puts forward proposals for safeguarding the white minority now, that could well encourage them to accept the principle of majority rule and progress could then be made towards a settlement.

Mr. Callaghan

It is my hope that the general statement of intention that I have made will make those who want to tread another path believe that it is worth while finding out more about it. I considered whether I should spell out a number of issues in the statement but came to the conclusion that it could not be a complete list of issues. There are many issues which might appeal to the hon. Gentleman, and issues which appeal to me. The British Government would have to take them all into account and negotiate on them in good faith. I repeat the general intention, which is that we should see to what extent European interests can be safeguarded and whether and to what extent they would need to be underwritten in more than one way in trying to make Rhodesia a country in which both communities can work together.

Mr. Robert Hughes

My right hon. Friend referred to the fears of the Europeans in Rhodesia and to the aspiration of the Africans towards "one man, one vote", majority rule and democracy, which is a laudable object. Will he agree that in no circumstances should any impression be fostered that it is somehow a Communist conspiracy which is leading the Europeans along a road which can only bring disaster for them?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir. I hope that the European population in Rhodesia will have a full statement of what is being said. Sometimes I feel that they are rather cut off from opinions, not only in the rest of the world but even in the rest of Africa. This is a great misfortune, and anything that my hon. Friend or others can do to overcome it will be very helpful.

Mr. Aitken

Since Rhodesia's tragic progress down what the right hon. Gentlemon rightly called the path to death and destruction is being accelerated by the Soviet and Cuban military activities in the area, can the right hon. Gentleman give the House some indication of the sort of specific requests and proposals that he will be putting on this subject to Mr. Gromyko during the course of this week?

Mr. Callaghan

I do not think that that would be proper.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must move on.

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