HC Deb 28 April 1977 vol 930 cc1659-89

11.45 p.m.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Edward Rowlands)

I beg to move. That the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1977 (S.1., 1977, No. 591), a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th April, be approved. The Order provides for the implementation of parts of Security Council Resolution 388, which was passed last year and which we co-sponsored. The principal objective of that resolution was to remove the benefits of insurance cover, to the extent that it was being provided by member States, from all commercial and industrial property in Southern Rhodesia and from all goods and produce in transit to and from Southern Rhodesia.

Since the passing of the resolution discussions have been held with the two principal insurance organisations in this country, the Corporation of Lloyds and the British Insurance Association. I am pleased to be able to inform the House that both these associations willingly agreed to implement voluntarily the relevant sections of the United Nations resolution, and these have been operative for some time.

What we are left with in the order is the provision to make effective the remaining operative clauses of the United Nations resolution and to bring our domestic legislation into line with our international obligations. The clauses are aimed at clearing up any anomalies that may exist in the areas of trade marks and registered designs.

If I may explain a little more the nature of this part of the order, a trade name is a name by which a design is known and which may be used to confer on the products of that design the hallmark of distinction. Over time these names acquire considerable commercial value. Other enterprises become interested in negotiating the rights to use them and very considerable sums are paid for these rights. A trade mark has similar properties.

Few believe that British companies are about to start licensing their trade marks to enterprises in Rhodesia at this time. Nevertheless, it has been possible to do so under the existing sanctions order. It would not have been possible under exchange control regulations for payments for their use to have been transferred, yet there might be companies that would have been prepared to see the payments accumulate in Rhodesia against the day of a settlement. Such a procedure would, after all, not cost the owner of the trade name anything.

A trade design can refer, for example, to a textile fabric or a piece of machinery that has been produced and registered by a particular manufacturer. This is a field of considerably more importance to the illegal regime. The increasing effectiveness of sanctions is forcing it to manufacture a growing proportion of its requirements, and in order to do so it has to try to buy the necessary know-how. Again, this kind of transaction was not covered by existing legislation and the same considerations and did not come under sanctions. However, the same considerations apply under the terms of the exchange control. It is right that we should close these loopholes. We expect other countries that have not yet done so to take whatever action may be appropriate in this regard.

Mr. Peter Rees (Dover and Deal)

I did not quite follow the Minister's argument about know-how, which is only in connection with the sale or distribution of goods and has nothing to do with manufacturing. Will he touch on that in greater detail?

Mr. Rowlands

Matters such as trade designs are a very important part of the transfer of know-how. An intrinsic part of the establishment of companies and the use of trade names and trade designs is the passing on of know-how. It is the development of that know-how that is used, for example, in the manufacturing of fabrics or the manufacturing of textile machines. If the hon. and learned Gentleman considers the matter closely I think that he will recognise that it is a reasonable point.

The order is not retrospective and is completely comprehensive. Nor does it do anything about trade names already in use in Rhodesia. There is no way that we can enforce compliance in Rhodesia and it would be unfair and unavailing to proceed against the British owners of the name for agreements made, many perhaps before UDI, prior to this order. The same considerations apply to the unauthorised use by a Rhodesian firm of a trade mark.

As to the general question of tightening of sanctions at a time when renewed efforts are being made to reach a settlement, the order is completely in line with our overall approach to sanctions, which emerged in the debate last October when the main sanctions order was renewed. Indeed, it has remained consistent throughout. It is that we favour the speedy lifting of sanctions if and when a satisfactory settlement is reached and Rhodesia is irrevocably on the path to majority rule.

I can assure the House that once we get to that stage we can and will lift sanctions speedily. Until that time, we believe that the full rigour of our sanctions policy must be maintained. That has been the basis upon which Governments of both parties have approached negotiations concerning Rhodesia. Any weakening would, I am sure, be harmful to our efforts. Indeed it has never been the policy of either party to weaken on sanctions during the search for and before a settlement has been achieved.

11.51 p.m.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The order is not of itself a great thing. Its impact will be limited and it will be evaded or avoided by the Rhodesians, On the substance of the matter, therefore, I do not wish to waste the time of the House.

There is an issue of principle involved with which, perhaps, I ought to deal. When we debated the matter in October last year—and here I hope that the Minister will allow me to correct what he said in his closing remarks—there was great uncertainty, certainly on the Conservative side of the House, about the line we should take.

Dr. Kissinger, with the full support of the British Government, had reached an agreement with Mr. Smith on the basis and terms on which an interim Government might be set up. Mr. Smith was assured that, if this could be achieved, sanctions would be lifted and terrorism stopped. Of course, it was never within the power of the British or American Governments to stop terrorism, but it was within their power to stop sanctions. On this issue some of us on the Opposition side took one view and some took another.

Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)


Mr. Amery

I have not yet said anything controversial. I will give way to the hon. Gentleman later. I am merely retailing the background.

Some of us, myself included, took the view that we wanted an assurance from the Government that if the Geneva conference, on which the Government were then embarking, were to fail through no fault of Mr. Smith, sanctions would be dropped. Some of my hon. Friends and I voted to that effect. The official position of my party, as put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), was that if the conference should fail through no fault of Mr. Smith, it would be the duty of our party to move the repeal of sanctions.

I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet, who is no longer on the Opposition Front Bench. He takes the view that the conference at Geneva failed through no fault of Mr. Smith. It failed because of the refusal of the African leaders to accept the Kissinger proposals as a basis for discussion. In accordance with the logic of the position we then took, my right hon. and hon. Friends should be opposing tonight what is in effect a tightening of the screw, an extension of sanctions.

It has been the view of many in this House that if no interim Government were formed on the Kissinger basis, sanctions should be withdrawn. No interim Government on the Kissinger basis has been formed. There is now a new basis. The question arises whether it is appropriate that sanctions should be continued at all and therefore, whether it is sensible to tighten the screw at this stage. Personally, I think it is wrong. The Geneva Conference failed for reasons we all know—because of the refusal of the nationalist leaders to accept the Kissinger agreement as a basis for discussion. They may be right or wrong. But it was on the basis of the Kissinger proposals that the Opposition Front Bench allowed sanctions through last time.

My view is that the stage has now been reached at which we should say "No. No more", because if we continue sanctions at this time, a time when there is mounting terrorist aggression against Rhodesia, we are clearly becoming accomplices in the murder of security forces, black and white, and of civilians, nuns, missionaries and the like. I know that the Foreign Secretary has talked about freedom fighters being men of peace at heart, but I am not so sure about that. I rather doubt whether it is wise to dignify them with that title at present.

We on this side of the House are determined not to be associated in any way with them; yet, by allowing any increase of sanctions to go through, we should be associating ourselves with them and would be accomplices in this development. What the Opposition Front Bench will do I do not know. There are many who say that on Rhodesian affairs my right hon. Friends are so wet one could shoot snipe over them. I do not wish to take that view. I do not believe that they wish to be linked with the murder of missionaries and nuns and the authorities trying to maintain the existence of Rhodesia.

This is not the time—the Foreign Secretary has just come back from an interesting journey—to go forward with some more pin pricks against Mr Smith and his colleagues. This is a time when we want a fairly generous approach. The Government have been too generous to African nationalists. It is surely a time to pay a little attention to the people who have maintained law and order and even relatively civilised standards in Rhodesia.

This order is not a contribution to reaching the peaceful settlement that the Foreign Secretary seeks. Therefore I and any of my hon. Friends who may care to join me will oppose it.

11.58 p.m.

Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

I do not wish to detain the House long. I shall be blunt and say that I am as much in favour of law and order as is the right hon. Gentleman, but I should like to see it more widely spread.

I shall stick to the point of the order. In introducing it my hon. Friend the Minister of State used the expression "know-how" as being part of the services that could be covered. That has a great deal of relevance. It is now 11.59 and for the rest of the world it will shortly be Friday 29th April, although I accept that for our business it is still 28th April.

In the issue of the Accountants Weekly, which will be published on 29th April, a copy of which I have here, there is an article to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention. It concerns sanctions-busting, the very matter covered by the order. It is merely coincidental that the two have come up at the same time.

The article refers to the firm of Price Waterhouse, which is to send staff in a few weeks to Rhodesia to the firm of Price Waterhouse-Rhodesia to use their know-how in making sure that the services provided by that company in Rhodesia are maintained. Other firms of accountants—five of the "Big Eight", I understand—have offices in Rhodesia under the same names. I accept that they are independent companies, but Price Waterhouse has said that it has a duty to its clients and to Price Waterhouse International. That is where its duty lies, and that is why it must maintain services and offices in Rhodesia. To its credit, the firm of Peat Marwick Mitchell has said that it would not send people to Rhodesia because that would be sanctions-busting.

I understand that the Foreign Office was tipped off about this matter a few days ago. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will at least give notice that the Foreign Office will look at the matter and, if necessary, use the powers which it has to prevent this form of sanctions-busting, because it is exactly a form of activity covered by the order. It is the use of a trade name—accountants have little else apart from the name of their company—and it is the provision of services and know-how to an illegal régime and to companies which are clearly not independent in Rhodesia. Otherwise, Price Waterhouse would not be sending people out to Rhodesia because of what it regards as its duty to Price Waterhouse International.

I regard this as disgraceful. It is contrary to the spirit of sanctions anyway, as Peat Marwick Mitchell has said, and it is certainly contrary to the provisions of this Statutory Instrument, which, I hope, will shortly be passed.

12.1 a.m.

Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler (Norfolk, North-West)

I am sure that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) will forgive me if I do not follow him into the intricacies of the affairs of Price Waterhouse. I wish to raise again the general principle which lies behind this sanctions order.

The House has on many occasions reminded itself that the purpose of sanctions is to apply some pressure to the illegal regime in Rhodesia to encourage it to bring about a peaceful transfer of power. That pressure on its own has been unsuccessful in securing any substantial movement by the illegal regime towards a settlement. Indeed—the Minister referred to this—the effect of sanctions on commercial activity inside Rhodesia has been to improve it, because, so great has been the diversification of industry within Rhodesia, that it stands poised, after independence, to expand very rapidly and to become one of the most effective economies in Southern Aferica.

The other factors which have brought the illegal regime to recognise the need for a peaceful settlement have been a combination of sanctions, of armed threats and, more recently, particularly through Dr. Kissinger, the intensive political and diplomatic activity leading eventually to the establishment of the Geneva conference.

What concerns me, and, I think, ought to concern the House, is that the Government are beginning to look as though they are concerned to bring pressure only one way. The truth is that the two parties to any agreement in Rhodesia have both to be pushed towards making a peaceful settlement. It applies to both. It is not enough simply to put pressure on the minority group and say that we shall push them all the way.

The other group needing to be pushed are the Africans. Over the past few years I have several times in the House asserted that no settlement will be possible until the Africans have sorted out their leadership, until they have decided among themselves who will lead them in any negotiations with the illegal régime, with the United Kingdom, or whoever it may be.

In my view it was the disunity among the Africans at Geneva which played the largest single part in bringing about the failure of that conference, because Mr. Smith had taken the great leap forward—it was a great leap and let us give him credit for it—of accepting for the first time the principle of majority rule. He maintains that his maintenance of the principle exists today, but, of course, the disunity of the Africans at Geneva gave him the excuse to back away, because he could not find a body of corporate African opinion with which he could conclude the kind of arrangement which he felt would provide a lasting and stable solution for the future in Rhodesia.

One must not underestimate the rectitude of his judgment in making that decision. I invite the House to consider the fact that there are five African political parties which are concerned with gaining power in an independent Zimbabwe. There is the ANC, ZANU, ZAPU and more recently, the Patriotic Front and ZIPA. The ANC, ZANU and ZAPU all exist inside Rhodesia and the majority of their membership is within Rhodesia. The two latter parties, the Patriotic Front and ZIPA, are representative of external forces which are not active within Rhodesia.

The Government have made a great mistake by under-estimating the feeling inside Rhodesia, because in their negotiations with the front-line Presidents the Government have been giving too much attention to what ZIPA and the Patriotic Front feel about things and far too little concern to what is thought by the members of the African parties inside Rhodesia. I believe that that is the kernal of the Government's dilemma.

From these Benches a few days ago I welcomed the Secretary of State's mission to Rhodesia. I was glad that it took place and I am still glad. I hoped, as did my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), that it would be successful. Personally, as I think my right hon. Friend did, I had some reservations about that. The reason for my reservations was that I do not see how an agreement can be concluded between two sides so long as one side cannot make up its mind about who is in charge and what is the party line. That remains the position among the Africans in Rhodesia today.

In addition, in considering any transfer of power the Government have to consider not only the white population but the other minority groups in Rhodesia, notably the coloureds and the Asians, who are not represented by any political party which has been involved in any of the formal negotiations to date.

That is a mistake, because Asians and coloureds, as well as the whites, no less than the African majority, are citizens of Rhodesia and will hope to become and remain citizens of an independent Zimbabwe. The means has to be found by the Government to involve all these groups in consultations.

After the Foreign Secretary's statement to the House a fortnight ago he suggested that the prospect of an interim Government was still one that was in his mind, that he had not ruled out the possibility of some form of interim Government. But he said that for various reasons, in case the requirement for trust was lost, he would prefer to take the route of a jointly sponsored conference, which he described in some detail in his statement.

Since that time the right hon. Gentleman's proposition has been accepted with some reluctance among the African leaders. Many of them obviously feel that that kind of conference will not give them the opportunity of making their stake for power in the way that they want. I conclude that that kind of opposition, which is really a manifestation of the various ambitions of the leaders of the various African groups within Rhodesia, will continue to be the major obstacle to any settlement.

I believe that the time has come for the Government to take the bull by the horns and recognise that no further progress will be possible until the problem of the leadership and composition of the African negotiating team has been decided by some kind of reference to the people of Rhodesia. I urge the Foreign Secretary to consider again the possibility of taking the path of an interim Government, of deciding the leadership of the African part and the number of participants by some form of proportional representation, and of ensuring that all the arguments among the leaders about their role in a future Zimbabwe are buried at least for the time being, until there is a General Election following a constitutional conference, so that there can be genuine negotiations between a cohesive group of Africans on the one hand, and a cohesive group of other inhabitants of Rhodesia on the other.

I believe that to bring that about it is necessary for the Government, as a matter of urgency, first, to establish some form of British representation in Rhodesia; secondly, to begin making preparations for some reference to the people of the kind that I have outlined; thirdly, for discussions to take place so that any plebiscite or referendum can be supervised by a British or Commonwealth security mission; fourthly, that rights of access and egress for all potential parties or leaders are possible for this reference.

Those are the practical next steps that the Government have to take, and it does not matter—returning for a moment to the subject of the debate—how much more we tighten up sanctions, how much more pressure is put on the white minority in this way. Unless the Government take positive steps to unite the Africans under a sensible leadership, we shall make no progress.

12.13 a.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

There is a great deal in what was said by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) about disunity among the African leaders and the influence that that has had on finding a solution to the problem, but it does not follow in the least from what the hon. Gentleman said that we ought not to approve the order. Indeed, the exact opposite follows, because if Britain, by whatever route, is to have any influence in getting a solution to this problem two conditions must be fulfilled.

First, Africans in general, both in Rhodesia and in the neighbouring States, must have confidence in the good faith of Great Britain. I ask the hon. Gentleman and the House to consider what would be the effect on African opinion if we were to decide at this moment to loosen up sanctions. I think that that would be—[Interruption.] That was the intention of the argument. The right hon. Member for Brighton Pavilion (Mr. Amery) wanted that. If Tory Members do not like the phrase "loosen up sanctions", let me substitute "refrain from taking a step which is a logical continuation of the sanctions policy".

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

It is not a question of tightening or loosening. What we are doing is putting into effect certain regulations, the result of which will be to tighten sanctions at a time when we wish to negotiate.

Mr. Stewart

The point I am making, which the hon. Gentleman does not seem to appreciate, is that if we are to negotiate, if we are to have any influence, at all, one of the things that we have to secure is the confidence of Africans, both in Rhodesia and in the neighbouring States. The failure to tighten sanctions in the manner proposed by the order would inevitably be taken by them as a belief that we were soft on the object of trying to get Mr. Smith to agree to majority rule.

Mr. Peter Rees


Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler


Mr. Stewart

It will be better if I continue my speech rather than have three or four Members speaking simultaneously. Opposition Members will have their opportunity to take part in the debate. I listened patiently to the two previous speeches. If at this stage we were not to pass the order, I do not think there is any doubt about how that would be interpreted by Africans in Rhodesia and in the neighbouring States. That is one reason.

The other thing that is necessary if any solution is to be reached is that Mr. Smith himself should realise that the British Government are not wavering in their determination to reach majority rule and bring the present illegal regime in Rhodesia—because that is what it is—to an end. If we were not to pass the order at this stage, it would be interpreted by Mr. Smith and his colleagues as the first sign that Britain was seeking to wash its hands of its responsibility.

Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)

Does the right hon. Gentleman know why the order must be passed now? It will only be an irritant and make it more difficult for his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to come to an agreement. I understand that a resolution was passed a year ago. Why are we being asked to approve the order now when it will cause the maximum possible damage?

Mr. Stewart

Failure to pass the order would do the maximum possible damage.

Mr. Goodhew


Mr. Stewart

If the hon. Member does not agree, he can make a speech later. Failure to pass the order would do the maximum possible damage, partly because it would lose us such confidence as we have among African leaders. It would also give encouragement to Mr. Smith to think that we were seeking to wash our hands of our responsibility.

One reason why the illegal regime in Rhodesia has continued is the hope that if it continues long enough Britain will throw in the sponge.

Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Stewart

I am not prepared to give way.

One reason why the illegal régime has hung on is the hope that the condoning voices that are sometimes heard from the Opposition will succeed in the end. We should not do anything to encourage Mr. Smith in that view.

The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion used the word "terrorist". If a terrorist is someone who tries to obtain his political objectives by the use of illegal force, the chief terrorist in Rhodesia is Mr. Smith. There is no doubt that he is maintaining an illegal régime. The problem would end if Mr. Smith returned to his allegiance.

Many Opposition hon. Members have been prepared to take the illegal régime for granted and assume that it has legality. They talk about concessions to Mr. Smith. We are making a concession by negotiating with him at all. We should try to reach an agreement. At the point, however, when there is at least a chance of reaching a solution, it would be a major error for the House to do anything that would destroy our good faith with the Africans and encourage anyone in Rhodesia to continue the rebellion and repression.

12.19 a.m.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)

It never fails to astonish me how Labour Members show such tremendous sentiment about Imperial allegiance when they are dealing with Mr. Smith. I have never noticed it in any other context of our overseas activities. I am delighted by this sensitivity towards anyone who may rebel against the Crown, if the Crown means the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson). It is only a great pity that there has not been the same sentiment throughout the period of colonial dismemberment that we have lived through in the last two decades.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) quite misunderstood the effect of the order. It has nothing at all to do with know-how. I excuse the hon. Member. What appals me is that the Minister in charge of the order could have this extraordinary misunderstanding. It has nothing to do with that at all. It is quite typical of the present Foreign Office team that we should have a Minister introducing an order that he does not understand.

The order is all about distribution, franchises and trade marks. That is clear from the wording. If one had the remotest doubt about it, one could look at the debate in the United Nations committee when the order was agreed upon. For example, one could look at the speech of the British representative, who made it clear that it was about insurance, trade names and franchises in connection with the sale and distribution of commodities and services. It has nothing to do with know-how and technical knowledge. It is about distribution.

The order is not, therefore, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) correctly said, of immense importance, because someone else will do the insurance. We shall lose the insurance and someone else will take it on. They will manage very nicely about the trade names. I do not know what we shall do if they use the trade names without the consent of anyone in the United Kingdom. They will be able simply to use them and not pay for them. They will get the benefit and no one will be able to do anything about it. It is, therefore, a very foolish order.

There are a number of matters that concern me. I shall list them quickly. First of all, there is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion said had certainly been made clear on the Opposition side of the House. That is that if the Geneva Conference broke down without fault on the part of Mr. Smith we would think that sanctions were quite wrongly continued. That was our position, officially made and endorsed unquestionably on the Opposition Back Benches.

I realise the embarrassments that constantly attend initiative on these matters and I can quite understand that my right hon. and hon. Friends who now control the direction of the Conservative Party in these matters may feel that this is an inauspicious moment. I shall not say any more about that, except to comment that over the last 11 years when sanctions have been renewed annually I have heard it said 11 times that the moment was inauspicious for the discontinuance of sanctions.

The argument then generally brought up—it may not be brought up tonight, of course—was that the sanctions had been going on for so long that removing them was acquiring a greater significance as each year passed. People shrank from the appalling significance of removing an operation that had been going for seven, eight, nine, ten or eleven years. That is an argument that can last for ever and get stronger.

Speaking for myself, I should think that the earliest possible moment is the right moment for getting rid of sanctions, which have been a mistake from the begining and are now not merely a mistake but an apostasy. Our chief concern should be the British people. I am not saying that we should not have any regard for anyone else, but I believe that the reason why my constituents sent me here was to look after the British, whether in this country, Rhodesia, Australia or anywhere else. We are here to look after the British people, and we are not looking after the British people when we impose sanctions on them. Therefore, I describe this as an apostasy.

The second matter is that the Minister said that the Government's idea was to remove these sanctions when we, or someone, had established majority rule or the course was irrevocably set up it. In that case, however, sanctions will never be removed. There will not be majority rule in Rhodesia. Will the Minister be coming to the Dispatch Box and proposing sanctions against Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique, in all of which countries there is no majority rule? There is minority rule by oligarchy in every case, with an explicit oligarchy in many cases. Even in the case of Zambia, where there was an implicit oligarchy until 10 months ago, when it made the necessary legislation to make it explicit I did not hear a rumble from the Labour side of the House. We know that those countries are either tyrannies or oligarchies, every one of them. There is a question mark about Botswana, but otherwise there is no majority rule anywhere in Southern Africa. So why impose sanctions against Rhodesia?

If there is this dedication to majority rule, why do not the Government make real fools of themselves? If they are going to make fools of themselves with sanctions, why not do the job properly and make real fools of themselves and have sanctions against the whole continent? Why not have sanctions against the major part of the world? There is not much majority rule in the world. Once one gets away from the Anglo-Saxon countries, the Scandinavians and Western Europe, one has the lot. If sanctions are to continue for some inexplicable reason until there is majority rule in Rhodesia, I do not see how sanctions will ever come off.

We have this extraordinary resolution passed by the United Nations on 6th April 1976. I have extracts of what was said by the British representative. It was the usual silly, mean and spiteful stuff about minority and illegal régimes. I disapprove of it intensely.

I understood the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) to ask what other Africans and those in the neighbouring States would think of us if we did not pass the order. My answer is that they would think the same of us as they have done for the last 12 months, if they have directed their minds to the subject at all. The right hon. Member for Fulham and other Labour Members have odd ideas about Africans and the States around Rhodesia. If they think that matters like the United Nations mandatory sanctions order are really discussed in the villages and hutments of the countries around Rhodesia, they have some very queer ideas indeed.

They have a very poor understanding of the wishes and political desires of the majority of people in Rhodesia, as distinct from those of a few political activists.

I have little doubt that what the majority of people in Rhodesia want is a peaceful State in which law and order are established and in which prosperity, happiness and tolerance are with them every week of their lives. That is what they have had, uniquely, in Rhodesia. It is not to be found anywhere else in Africa. It is unique. It is a wonderful thing. Yet that is the one country that we pick out on which to impose sanctions. Truly we must be mad.

The Government's case is that we have to have a settlement. I have taken an interest in this matter over the years. As everyone knows, I have discussed it with Labour Ministers. The Prime Minister was kind enough to write me a letter the other day. I shall not misuse that freedom by quoting the whole of the letter, but the essence of it was that the settlement that he and the Government desired, the only one that they thought meant anything, was a settlement which was acceptable—and here I quote— to all the African nationalists and the frontline Presidents I must tell the Minister of State—he will be able to read it in Hansard tomorrow because he is not listening at the moment—that he will not get a settlement acceptable to all the African nationalists and all the African front-line Presidents. It is not possible. If he obtained a settlement that was acceptable to all those people, it would be a settlement that was also acceptable to the Kremlin. Nothing is more certain. Machel and Mugabe will not agree to a settlement which is totally unacceptable to Russia, and nor, I suspect will Nkomo, although that would not have been a true comment even a year ago.

Therefore, if the Government are insisting on that—and they are so insisting, because it was on this very point that I wrote to the Prime Minister and received that assertion back—there will not be any settlement. If there were it would be totally disastrous for the interests of Britain and for the survival of any white Western civilisation in Central Africa. The Government must face up to that.

I want to conclude with a suggestion. I have been critical up to now. I agree very much with my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler). Like him, I have been saying this for long enough. We have transposed the concepts of European negotiation into Africa, quite wrongly. On the one hand are the Rhodesian Government, who are essentially a white Government. They speak as representatives and plenipotentiaries in negotiations. They negotiate with people who have no authority in that way, people who have two fatal characteristics. One is that they have to go back and discuss what has been agreed with their party, or whatever one should call it, in a sort of African ndaba procedure. That is a traditional procedure, and any terms which are agreed get washed away by the end of the ndaba. The other characteristic is that there is a group of people who are competing against each other in militancy. For those two reasons it is impossible to have successful negotiations.

Therefore, the Government should be doing two things. First, they should be trying to arrange African representation which would be truly significant and which could make an agreement, sign it and keep it. Secondly, as my hon Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West said, they should be exercising pressure not only on Mr. Smith, which is what the order is all about, but on the African nationalists and even, if necessary, on the front-line Presidents. An agreement will never be reached while the Africans believe that they can raise their demands as much as they like and that Britain will always tighten the screw on the other side while leaving them alone. That is the basic error of Government policy.

It does not matter what Mr. Smith says or does; he is always blamed for everything by Labour Members. They start bleating about a white minority racist régime and they do not use their reason in analysing the matter. It is blind prejudice every time.

Mr. Goodhew

Does my hon. and learned Friend realise that the Foreign Secretary, who is the only Labour Member to have been to Rhodesia to see conditions for himself, has withdrawn from the Chamber and is no longer listening to the debate? Is that not a significant factor?

Mr. Bell

I regret the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, and there is a substratum of truth in what my hon. Friend says. Insufficient knowledge of African conditions has been a major defect of the Labour Party, particularly of Left-wing politicians, in approaching these African problems.

There are very difficult problems about arranging for people of widely differing cultural levels to live together. The talk about majority government is absolute nonsense. People seem to think that all Africans are the same and are like the people of West Africa who have had contact with the West for many generations. In fact, only two generations ago the Africans of Rhodesia were living an almost Bronze Age existence. Yet they are expected, two generations away from the most primitive human existence, to be put in charge of a sophisticated, semi-industrial, Western society. This is pure moonshine, and it is simply not practical. It worked in Tanzania, which is a poor agricultural country, and it worked in Kenya, where there is a dominant personality at the top. In Rhodesia it could not even begin to work at all, and it is idle pretence to think that it could.

The Government must realise that they owe as great a duty to white British people in Rhodesia as to black people. When one talks of white people there is a feeling among Labour Members that they should not be in Africa at all because it is not their country, but when the same hon. Members turn their eyes to Britain they take a different view about blacks and whites. They say that black people have just as much right as we have to be here, and they pass legislation to protect them. There are extraordinary double standards between whites in Africa and blacks in this country.

I hope that the Government will correct this state of affairs and address themselves to the real problems. I urge my hon. Friends to join me in voting against the order tonight, not because of its contents but as a demonstration against the whole attitude of the Government Front Bench to the problems of the white man in Africa.

12.38 a.m.

Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)

I agree with the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) on two matters—that aspects of the order are highly technical and that behind it lies an issue of principle. Then we part company.

The issue of principle is the obligation to the United Nations, an association to which we belong and in which we have special status as a permanent member of the Security Council. We initiated the process of sanctions in the United Nations and we sponsored the resolution that forms the basis of the order. It is clearly an international obligation of great moment that we pass the order tonight.

The Minister of State made the point that until there is a return to constitutional rule and legality in Rhodesia we shall maintain the sanctions. I do not think that even the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion would claim that there is any form of constitutional government in Rhodesia now. The illegal régime derives no authority from this Parliament and is accorded no recognition by any country. It cannot even plead that there is some sort of de facto authority arising from recognition by other countries. There is no recognition, legality or constitutional right of that kind. In these circumstances, this Parliament is constitutionally responsible and has an absolute right to continue the sanctions process. That is the underlying reason why we must pass the resolution tonight.

The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion suggested that we could and should lift sanctions. I am not sure, in the strict sense, that we can. Sanctions are imposed by the authority of the Security Council. I know that Conservatives have complete contempt for the United Nations, which is in keeping with the general attitude to other countries, but it is an important body and we are a member of it. It is very important that the House should demonstrate that we uphold the decisions taken by the Security Council, particularly when they are so fundamentally important as this kind of decision and when we not only supported the decision but helped to initiate it.

Mr. Ronald Bell


Mr. Hooley

I shall not give way. The hon. and learned Gentleman has just made a long, tedious and very regrettable speech, and I see no reason why he should interrupt me now.

There is another aspect of the matter that deserves some consideration. I refer to the policy of my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in present circumstances to concert his policy very closely with that of the United States Administration. I am very glad of this. The previous United States Administration passed what I and many others regarded as the deplorable so-called Byrd Amendment, a flagrant breach of United Nations sanctions designed to secure a supply of chrome for the United States economy. I am glad that the present Administration has repealed that amendment and thereby reasserted its support for sanctions as operated through the United Nations. It would seem to me the height of folly in the light of that for our Government and Parliament now to back down in even the slightest degree on the sanctions policy to which we are committed.

Another aspect is that it is coming to light that certain powerful international oil companies appear to have been conniving directly or indirectly at the breach of sanctions by the supply of oil necessary to keep the illegal regime going and to supply its war machine. I am very glad that my right hon. Friend has instituted an inquiry into this so far as it concerns oil companies that have a base in this country. I hope that that inquiry will be proceeded with speedily and ruthlessly to uncover any breach of the sanctions orders made by this House over the past 11 years. But it would be foolish, while instituting such an inquiry, not to pursue the order before us.

Conservative Members have made the extraordinary claim that what we are doing by the order is to exert pressure one way, that there is no pressure being exerted on the other side in favour of Mr. Smith or in support of him. We have had the most peculiar statements about the paradise that has existed in Rhodesia over the past 10 years under Smith and his predecessors. I remind Conservative Members that this paradise has included arbitrary arrest and detention for year upon year without trial and regular hanging of political prisoners without any constitutional or legal authority to carry out such executions. That is the paradise that Conservative Members are so anxious to praise and describe.

I return to the question of pressure. The war in Central Africa is escalating. It is building up. It is reported in the Press only today that South Africa is supplying aircraft and helicopters and the sub-structure for Ian Smith to prosecute that war. We know that he has already been involved in incursions into neighbouring countries in savage attacks that have caused serious loss of life and in which he has used highly sophisticated military equipment. It now appears that Mr. Vorster has taken some sort of undercover decision to back up that process. Those who talk about pressure on one side would do well to examine what is happening in the relations between South Africa and Rhodesia.

A great deal of play has been made on the matter of sanctions and a return to legality of differences of opinion among African leaders. I agree that such differences exist, but on one matter they are absolutely united—that there will be no progress towards constitutional rule in Rhodesia until Mr. Smith and the illegal régime are got rid of. This is common ground between Muzorewa, Sithole, Nkomo, Mugabe and the others. They are absolutely united on that.

Until the pressure in this country, in other countries in the Western world and in Africa is successful in getting rid of this racist régime, there is no way forward towards constitutional rule and legality in a country for which this House and country have legal responsibility. I therefore have great pleasure in supporting the order. I believe, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), that it would make a disastrous impression in Africa and throughout the world if the House rejected it tonight.

12.16 a.m.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

I am somewhat disappointed by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley). Often he makes reasonable and important speeches, but tonight he has just reflected the wooden hatred of the white Rhodesian that characterises so much that we hear from the Labour Benches. I doubt that it stems from natural ill-will. It comes from just ignorance and fashion. Those of us who know Rhodesia well have become sick of that during the past few years.

I shall not detain the House long—what is the point? However, there are one or two questions that I should like to put to the Minister of State. First, I should like to turn to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), who held such high and responsible office. His remarks reflected a wooden ignorance. I hope that he will forgive me, but I must say that. He has received advice from those who must have known what they were talking about, but I have known Rhodesia for many years and I am amazed that he brought himself to make such a speech tonight.

He said that it would ruin confidence in Africa if the order were not passed. That is absolute rubbish. A similar order was passed six months ago. Suddenly, we are told, by some magic process, the confidence of Africans all around Rhodesia will be ruined if we do not pass the order. How can the right hon. Gentleman bring himself to make such a speech? What concerns Africans around Rhodesia today, particularly in Mozambique and Angola, is how they can live from day to day and feed themselves in their Marxist paradise. Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well what has happened in those territories. How can he say such a thing?

The Foreign Secretary has made an initiative that we have all watched with great interest, and I am second to none in wishing him well. If the right hon. Gentleman can produce the answer in this lamentable and miserable story, all credit will go to him.

However, why do we have to put up with this so-called extension of sanctions? We have been putting up with sanctions for 11 or 12 years now without any noticeable effect. If there had been any, perhaps there would be some sense in this debate.

The House knows as well as I do why sanctions have had a marginal effect, if any. The only factor in recent months that has had a profound effect is the intervention of the United States, not the British Government. Kissinger's initiative—and opinions differ on the validity of what he had to offer—began to bring Smith and his Government to take the great step to agreeing to majority rule. It had nothing to do with sanctions. Now we have this order for a so-called extension of sanctions. I am bewildered, in reading this piece of paper, to find out what it is about.

Is there some magical deadline that forces the order to be produced now? It is to the Foreign Secretary's eternal credit that he has actually been to Rhodesia—it would be interesting to know whether the Foreign Office advised him to go—but within weeks of his initiative we are asked to pass this thing. Shall we be thrown out of the United Nations if we do not approve it? What magic quality is there about this little bit of paper?

All the odium is endlessly flung at the white people in Rhodesia as a group. No distinction is drawn between Mr. Smith's Government and the people trying to farm coffee in outlying districts and having to put up with all the misery of terrorist attacks. They are all whites. Hatred can be flung endlessly at these people, but if Labour Members are honest, they will admit—as some of them have—that if the white people leave Rhodesia, there will be murder, bloodshed and misery for everyone. Hon. Members opposite know that.

Why is this ridiculous little measure introduced now? It can serve only to drive a little more despair into the hearts and heads of those who, if human rights mean anything, are the only hope for Rhodesia. Let the Minister explain why we are having this debate now.

12.52 a.m.

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)

This order will enable the Government to enforce by law paragraph 2 of Security Council Resolution No. 388 passed under the Chapter VII provisions of the Charter of the United Nations on 6th April 1976.

Chapter VII provisions are obligatory and binding on member States. The last Conservative Foreign Secretary, my noble Friend Lord Home, speaking to the Conservative Party Conference on 11th October 1973, after expressing his reservations about the wisdom of a policy of mandatory sanctions, said this: The British Government of the day put its signature to a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations which is binding on its members. We are a permanent member and we are in the habit of keeping Britain's word. We do not, and individual Conservatives do not, pick and choose which laws we obey and which we do not, nationally or internationally That remains the position of the Conservative Party.

Mr. Michael Brotherton (Louth)

Did not Lord Home also say in that speech that the time might come when this country might have to go to the United Nations and say that sanctions had failed and, therefore, they must be dropped?

Mr. Tapsell

If I may join my hon. Friend in paraphrasing Lord Home, he said that he did not think it would be right to take unilateral action but that, if the time ever came when the British Government felt that it was impossible to pursue that policy any longer, the most honest and straightforward thing to do would be to seek the permission of the United Nations to change the policy.

That, however, is not what we are discussing tonight. Although the Chair has been generous in allowing us to have a wide-ranging debate, we are discussing a particular order. In the short time that I have at my disposal, and tempted as I am to follow up all the wide-ranging points that have been made about African policy generally, I must confine myself rather narrowly to the order.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said that he feared I might prove so wet on this subject that he would be able to shoot snipe off me. The issue of Rhodesia is a matter not of wetness or dryness but of wisdom and judgment. Much as I am tempted, there is not the time at my disposal to pursue in detail, as I have done on many occasions over the years with my right hon. Friend, the immense complexities of this subject. I spoke at some length about Southern Africa when winding up the foreign affairs debate on 1st March, and I shall leave it there.

It is right for me to reaffirm that the Conservative Party takes seriously our obligations under the United Nations Charter. I certainly do not think that this is an appropriate moment, when negotiations for a peaceful transfer of power are once again at a critical and delicate stage, to go to the United Nations, as my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) has suggested, for a change of policy on sanctions. Nor do I think that this is an appropriate time, for the same reason, for the House to withdraw the consent that it gave as recently as 20th October 1976 for economic sanctions to be continued, for the eleventh time, for a further 12 months. Beyond that, we reserve our position in the light of the circumstances that may prevail.

We noted and welcomed the undertaking given by the Minister of State in opening the debate when he reaffirmed his and the Government's wish to see sanctions raised as soon as Rhodesia is safely on the road to majority rule.

Dr. Glyn

When negotiations are proceeding, is my hon. Friend satisfied that this is the correct moment to introduce this very minor change which could have a disastrous effect on the negotiations?

Mr. Tapsell

If my hon. Friend will permit me, I am coming to that point. I am about to move from the general to the specific.

We have before us an order which, for the first time, forbids the granting for use in Southern Rhodesia of any trade name, trade mark, franchising agreement or registered design. In other words, the order is to some extent extending the definition of "goods" to embrace intangibles. In this connection, I wish to ask the Minister of State a number of questions to which I should be grateful for an answer when he replies to this debate.

First, am I right in thinking that books and medical goods have always been permitted exemptions from the operation of sanctions and that nothing in the order applies either to books or to medical goods? Secondly, as the Minister said in moving the order, there are two substantive paragraphs to Resolution 388 of the Security Council and only the second is covered by the order. The first paragraph forbade the insurance of any commodities or products being exported into Southern Rhodesia or imported from Southern Rhodesia. On the face of it, if one had to choose between insurance on the one hand and patents on the other, the insurance side would be relatively easy to supervise and administer, while, I suspect, the application of the order in the spheres to which it is being applied will be much more difficult and uncertain.

Thirdly this is a point which a great many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have already made—I must ask the Minister why the order is being brought before the House at this time. After all, as has been pointed out, Resolution 388 of the Security Council, unanimously sponsored by all 15 members of the Security Council and binding upon every country which enjoys membership of the United Nations, was passed in New York on 6th April 1976, nearly 13 months ago.

If it is of such importance, why was not an order to implement these matters laid before the House immediately? Why, having missed that first opportunity, was the opportunity of the general extension for a further 12 months of economic sanctions against Rhodesia on 20th October 1976 not taken to extend the sanctions provisions to cover these important matters? Why is the action being taken now, just after the Foreign Secretary's visit to Rhodesia as a peacemaker, just before the possibility of another peace conference and just at a time when conciliation rather than provocation is devoutly to be hoped for on all sides?

At first sight the timing of the order, covering only half the Security Council resolution, seems to pose a double mystery. There is the mystery of why the dog did not bark throughout the long night when horrors abounded, compounded by the mystery of why the dog is suddenly barking now, at the first glimmer of the dawn. Was it that the Security Council resolution got lost somewhere in the labyrinthine corridors of the Foreign Office? Or is it suspected that someone in Rhodesia may have been buying pool petrol in South Africa and selling it in Rhodesia under a particular trade name? I hope that the Minister will include an answer to these three questions in his reply. I conclude by saying that although some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have indicated their intention of voting against the order, I for my part do not intend to do so.

1.2 a.m.

Mr. Rowlands

Some of the questions put to me by the hon. Member for Horn-castle (Mr. Tapsell) have covered matters put to me by other hon. Members. The debate has ranged much more widely than the specific issue of the order. It has gone back to the principles of sanctions, which we debated last October. 1 have noted the main thrust of the argument—put forward by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and picked up in other speeches—that we should accept the failure of the Geneva conference and not now proceed with the order or with sanctions of any kind.

I hope that the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion will agree—because he seemed to imply that I misled the House in my opening remarks concerning the position last October—that I reaffirmed our position clearly. I said that we would not seek to lift sanctions or fail to continue to enforce them in the most practical and effective form before Rhodesia was irrecoverably on the way to majority rule. What we are doing tonight is consistent with that position.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) said that we believe it to be an intrinsic part of the way in which Britain will be able to help and maintain its honour and integrity in the initiative we are taking that we maintain sanctions in the most rigorous fashion.

If we do not do so, our credibility and integrity in relation to sanctions will be impaired, as will our ability to speak frankly for those who want majority rule through a peaceful and negotiated settlement. Only if that can be maintained shall we be able to establish and maintain our credibility.

If we back down and do not continue to enforce sanctions and, where we see that it is practical, extend sanctions by Security Council resolutions, our integrity will be called into question and challenged. Therefore, our effectiveness in acting—not as a mediator, not as neutral agency but as one committed to a solution of the Rhodesian problem by peaceful negotiation to obtain majority rule—will be damaged.

The hon. Member for Horncastle began by saying that he and his party were committed to the implementation of Security Council resolutions which we had either co-sponsored or supported. These are obligatory under the Chapter VII provisions and we should implement them.

Dr. Glyn

The point as I understand it is that when we renewed sanctions we already knew about this provision. Therefore, when the resolution was re- newed, why did not the Government explain to the House that this order was to follow? It could have been mentioned.

Mr. Rowlands

I should like to explain that. It takes time to develop and produce orders. The point was made by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) when he pressed me, among many other things, on the timing and asked why this had taken so long.

The hon. Member for Horncastle put his finger on the matter when he said that by far the most important part of the Security Council resolution was the first operative part on insurance. That was so, and, therefore, we took that as the first matter. By discussion and conversations with the large insurance companies and the British Insurance Association, we got a completely satisfactory voluntary arrangement to cover the first part of that resolution. That was clone as first priority in implementing the resolution.

I think the hon. Member for Horn-castle said—and I agree—that that was the most important part of the Security Council resolution. He asked why we had done that voluntarily and were seeking to implement the second part of the resolution by order. The answer is the complexity of the issue in the second part of the resolution. In relation to insurance, by getting an arrangement with Lloyd's and the BIA we had a total and effective voluntary arrangement.

That situation does not apply to the incredibly complex world of patents, franchises, trade marks and designs. It is a different type of operation, and we could not do the type of operation we did with Lloyd's and the BIA and obtain a satisfactory arrangement.

Therefore the second part, dealing with the complexity of trade marks, designs and franchises, presented us with greater technical problems. We waited and obtained the general sanctions order in the October and November debates. Everybody will know the major pre-occupations we had in the autumn and at the beginning of this year.

It has never been the intention of the Government not to implement obligatory resolutions on sanctions under the Chapter VII determination which we co-sponsored.

I am not quite sure whether right hon. and hon. Members opposite were complaining and saying that the order should never have been brought in. I think that that lay behind their argument, because they have not believed in sanctions at all for 10 or 11 years. They have opposed sanctions in principle, and many of their arguments hung on that.

We believe in sanctions. We believe in trying to implement them in the most effective way, and we believe that we should fulfil and enforce the United Nations resolutions on sanctions.

Mr. Amery

I absolutely accept what the Minister said today is wholly consistent with what he said in the last debate, but it is not consistent with his Department's support of the Kissinger proposals at the time. However, the main point which I put to him is this. Is he happy that a British Government should be acting as an accomplice of terrorism against the Rhodesian régime?

Mr. Rowlands

With respect, the right hon. Gentleman and I argued that matter out almost in the same language, word for word, last October. I do not think that it would be right, quite apart from the lack of time, to weary the House with an action replay of the argument which he and I had in the general sanctions debate then. I am pointing out that our action in bringing the order forward is totally consistent—I think that the right hon. Gentleman agrees—with our view and attitude on upholding both the principle and the details of sanctions, and it is in no way inconsistent with seeking a genuine peaceful, negotiated settlement.

The United States is now fully backing and working closely with my right hon. Friend in the new initiative which he has taken. He had official talks with members of the American State Department this week, and he is to see Mr. Cyrus Vance in London next Friday. The United States is working extremely closely with us, and it also has rightly and properly taken appropriate action in now reinforcing sanctions on chrome.

It is perfectly consistent with our keen support and close working with the United States that we should and will continue to uphold and enforce the sanctions legislation and Security Council resolutions which are binding on us while at the same time pursuing, as we shall, the important initiative on which my right hon. Friend has made such a good start in his recent visit to Southern Africa.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 46, Noes 6.

Division No. 114] AYES [1 a.m. 12
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Gilbert, Dr John Rowlands, Ted
Bates, Alf Golding, John Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Bean, R. E. Harper, Joseph Skinner, Dennis
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Stallard, A. W.
Coleman, Donald Hooley, Frank Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Cryer, Bob John Brynmor Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Cunningham Dr J. (Whiteh) Judd, Frank Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Davidson, Arthur Kaufman, Gerald Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Lamond, James Ward, Michael
Deakins, Eric Luard, Evan Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Dormand, J. D. McDonald, Dr. Oonagh Wise, Mrs Audrey
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Madden, Max
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Michael TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Freeson, Reginald Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Mr. Thomas Cox and
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Mr. David Stoddart.
George, Bruce Rooker, J. W.
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Goodhew, Victor TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Bell, Ronald Hastings, Stephen Mr. Michael Brotherton and
Fell, Anthony Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Dr. Alan Glyn.

Resolved, That the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1977 (S.I, 1977, No. 591), a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th April, be approved.

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