HC Deb 20 March 1978 vol 946 cc1110-54
Mr. Robert Hughes

There is a long way to go before we can say that we have got a kind of agreement which is capable of being accepted in the House and, indeed, by international opinion. Therefore, I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear this evening that he thought that the Anglo-American proposals were still on the table and still provided the best basis for a negotiated settlement. All of us want to see that. It behoves all of us to understand that unless we can reach a negotiated agreement which is internationally accepted, acceptable to the Patriotic Front, the guerrilla war will continue.

The hon. Member for Carshalton said "if a civil war breaks out". Civil war exists. It has already started. As a result, innocent black and white people, people of mixed race, Indians, call them what you like, are dying. There is a heavy responsibility on us. That is why I am glad that the right hon. Member for Knutsford has retreated from his initial position—it appeared to be from the Conservative Front Bench—of total acceptance.

Mr. John Davies

That is incorrect.

Mr. Hughes

The right hon. Member can correct me if I am wrong, but he will recall that he said "Why on earth does not my right hon. Friend welcome this settlement?" If he is now saying that that did not mean that he was endorsing these proposals, which he admitted he had not seen at the time, I would be glad if he would tell me so, and I shall take him at his word. I should not like to misrepresent him. The impression was created that those proposals had the full-hearted support of the Conservative Front Bench. They have responsibility just as much as we have. If a little less rhetoric were used against the Patriotic Front it might be willing to begin to acccept our bona fides.

The Patriotic Front has great reason to doubt whether the British Government are sincere in what they are trying to do. The proof of that, as I have said before in the House, was HMS "Tiger" and HMS "Fearless". So often in the past it has looked as though all we wanted to do was get Rhodesia off our backs, to get the matter settled and get something cobbled together and call it an agreement It has looked as though as long as we could get the matter settled, we could forget all about it. The fact that the guerrilla struggle exists means that we cannot take that kind of attitude.

We must put forward positive proposals and give full support to ensure that the end of the long, long struggle for a free democratic Zimbabwe comes as early as possible and as peaceably as it possibly can. We can then honestly say that we have discharged our responsibilities. Our record throws great shame on the reputation of the British Government and Britain as a believer in democracy.

10.4 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I shall not follow the line of argument of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), but straight away I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) on having been successful in the ballot for selection. He made a very positive and constructive contribution.

I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman), who gave the House a well-thought-out and interesting expression of view on how he sees developments now and in the immediate future in Rhodesia.

It is a pity that some hon. Members, particularly from below the Gangway on the Government side of the Chamber, have not taken the opportunity to go to Rhodesia. I did so at the end of last year and was struck by the basic harmony between black and white there, particularly outside the large urban areas of Bulawayo and Salisbury. Even in black townships outside Salisbury there is considerable harmony, and people there move quite freely. I was much impressed by the considerable harmony everywhere. The media do no service towards solving the Rhodesian problem by blowing up disagreement and conflict and making them seem bigger than they are.

I am pleased that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and his Minister of State have come to this debate. For once I find myself in considerable agreement with what the right hon. Gentleman said and the very moderate and reasonable way in which he put the Government's case. I do not agree with all that he said, however, because, although we are on common ground to a considerable extent on the three points he emphasised two or three times during his speech, we on this side of the House see a slightly different way of achieving the objective that we all want, which is a peaceful transfer of power in Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe—call it what one will—at the end of this year.

Unlike the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North, I have confidence in Mr. Ian Smith, the present Rhodesian Prime Minister. Despite what hon. Members below the Gangway say, I have no doubt that he is desperately keen that the internal settlement that he has negotiated should succeed, that he should step down and that the black leaders of Rhodesia should take over.

In addition, the business people that I was privileged to meet also believed that overwhelmingly the Rhodesia Front party which has controlled the destiny of Rhodesia, not unsuccessfully, for the past 12 years, wishes to see a transfer of power to the black majority. I join it in wishing to see that happen peacefully, and I have full confidence that it will take place on 31st December this year.

I was surprised and a little disappointed that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary did not answer my right hon. Friend rather more positively. To some extent, the whole debate has been latched on to expenditure and estmiates relating to Rhodesia. My right hon. Friend made a positive proposal, that without delay this Socialist Government should send a high-powered mission to Rhodesia to monitor the position and be able to report back to the Government far more accurately and fully than the staff we have there now can about the mood of the country and the feeling of the majority of the people about the internal agreement.

It is important that this debate should take place now because, having made in recent times a fairly close study of the situation in Southern Africa, I do not believe that there is a great deal of time on our side or on their side. Indeed, the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North might point out that Mr. Smith has pontificated, that he has also delayed matters, and that a settlement could have been reached 11 or 12 years ago. I do not think that that is the case. We are not living in the past. We are living in the present and looking to the future.

I am disappointed that the Government did not, while not necessarily accepting everything that goes with the internal agreement, join my right hon. Friend in extending a very warm welcome to this dramatic step forward. It is also strange and a little sad—I address this remark, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the Minister of State—that the leaders of the black nationalists who have made this internal settlement with Prime Minister Ian Smith are now, if a word can be found to describe what is happening, being denigrated by those Labour Members, particularly from below the Gangway, who only a few weeks or months ago would have hailed these people as the heroes of the new Zimbabwe. This is extraordinary.

In my short period in the House I have read Early-Day Motions praising the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole and Bishop Muzorewa, but many of those who signed those Early-Day Motons have been the very Members who in recent times have been very critical of Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole. I believe that Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole probably know more about the situation in Rhodesia, the needs of that country and the aspirations of its people than some Labour Members who sit below the Gangway who have never been to Rhodesia.

It is unfortunate that Chief Jeremiah Chirau has not featured more prominently in discussions with the Secretary of State. Whether or not members of the Government, and particularly Members below the Gangway, like the fact that he is a chief of chiefs in Rhodesia, the fact is that this is the tribal structure and he represents a very large body of opinion in the rural areas and the tribal trust areas of Rhodesia. He therefore deserves respect from our Foreign Secretary and from the Government.

I do not believe that we can divorce Rhodesia from the overall situation in Southern Africa. How right my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford was to mention Zambia specifically. The position in that country is very serious. Not only as regards unemployment but also economically Zambia is probably on the brink of collapse. It would be very unfortunate, to say the least, if Zambia were to collapse, because undoubtedly it would open up another opportunity for Marxists, of whom there are plenty in Africa, to take over control of that country. I do not believe that that would be to the benefit of the people of Zambia or would be conducive to a solution of the problems of Southern Africa as a whole.

Zambia desperately needs a solution to the Rhodesian problem. So does Angola. We know that the regime in Angola is propped up by Cuban mercenaries. We do not often hear that mentioned by Labour Members below the Gangway, but it is a fact. We know that there are at least 15,000 Cuban mercenaries and many Soviet mercenaries in the Horn of Africa at present propping up another Marxist regime in Ethiopia.

We also know that there is considerable Marxist aid for President Machel in Mozambique. Although the South African Government are aiding President Machele to run vital services in his country, again we do not hear much about that from Labour Members below the Gangway.

Therefore, the situation is critical in Southern Africa. We must seek a very early settlement in Rhodesia to prevent a very serious crisis from engulfing the whole of mid-Southern Africa.

We cannot avoid the personalities when discussing this subject. It is interesting and unfortunate that Mr. Joshua Nkomo, who is undoubtedly the more responsible of the leaders of the Patriotic Front and who certainly leads the more efficient of the two guerilla armies based mainly in Zambia, should not have actually returned to Rhodesia to be party to this very important internal settlement. It is undeniably true that he is a key to the success of this internal settlement which has been the major subject of our debate tonight.

The Secretary of State was not regrettably as forthcoming as he could have been. Perhaps he was not in a position to be as forthcoming as he might have been about what approaches are being made to Mr. Nkomo with a view to ensuring that he becomes a party to this settlement.

As a member of the Conservative Opposition, I fervently believe that the internal settlement holds the whole future of Rhodesia. If it is a success, I consider that Rhodesia will go forward to be one of the most prosperous countries in the whole of Africa. As I have said on a previous occasion, I believe that it could turn out to be the Switzerland of the African continent. But we must not throw the opportunity away. Surely it is the ballot box that matters, not the rifle and the bullet. Whether the Government are prepared to accept it or not, the fact is that the black nationalist leaders in Rhodesia, who have negotiated and agreed this settlement with the present Prime Minister, represent an overwhelming majority of black Rhodesians. That is an absolute fact.

When I was in Rhodesia last year, I met representatives of all the factions, of all the Rhodesian nationalist leaders, including those who are now outside the territory of Rhodesia. I think it is terribly sad that Mr. Nkomo has isolated himself from what is really happening—away from reality, away from the ballot box. He would appear to accept that he could not win ultimate power for himself at the ballot box, and therefore he is prepared apparently—I say apparently, because I do not level this accusation at him directly—to rely upon the bullet and the terrorist rather than the ballot box.

Some of the atrocities which have been committed in Rhodesia highlight the type of person who apparently some Labour Members below the Gangway would like to see forming a major part of the security forces of Rhodesia. I refer to an incident on Sunday, 6th February 1977, when a group of 12 Mugabe terrorists, in camouflaged uniforms, murdered seven white missionaries at St. Paul's Mission, Musamie. Four of them were women.

On other occasions, atrocities have occurred in which terrorists have cut off people's lips, their cheeks and their ears, and have then forced the wives of these black Rhodesians actually to eat their own husbands' flesh. Are these really the sort of people who are fit to lead and to form a leading part in the security forces? I do not believe that they are.

I feel that the more responsible elements of Joshua Nkomo's guerrilla army could form a very useful part of the new security forces of Zimbabwe. I hope that, should he ultimately become party to the internal agreement, he will bring with him those people who have been armed by the Soviet Union, at considerable expense, with very sophisticated weapons, so that those people, if they have the best interests of Rhodesia at heart, can then turn those guns on anyone who would seek to invade and take over Rhodesia.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe)

Will the hon. Gentleman who has been quoting some exceedingly lurid tales, tell us from where he gets the information? Will he identify his source? Will he tell us also whether he is seeking to assist the settlement of the situation in Zimbabwe or to exacerbate it?

Mr. Winterton

I reply very bluntly to the hon. Lady that I am seeking to assist the success of the internal settlement. I am also saying—I have said it forcefully—that, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford, I should like to see the Patriotic Front come into the settlement and be part of it so that it could then draw with it into Rhodesia those people who at present are carrying out atrocities internally against the people of Rhodesia.

My information comes to me from within Rhodesia. I declare that it comes from within Rhodesia. That is a very good place for it to come from, bearing in mind that these atrocities are being committed inside that country. I do not think that the information could be supplied from anywhere else. I might say to the hon. Lady that, although there is some censorship and some restriction of Press freedom in Rhodesia—which is to an extent in a state of war—there is probably more Press freedom in that country than there is in any other country in Africa. That clearly indicates that many of these incidents, which are horrific, could be verified.

I come back to the fact that when I was in Rhodesia I went to tribal trust areas, some of them threatened by terrorists coming in from both Zambia and Mozambique. I visited several areas of that wonderful country, and there the people had demanded that the Government provide them with protection, protected and concentrated villages. They are painted in some of the media as concentration camps. That is very far from the truth. These people are happy, but they need protection, and they demanded protection of their Government. Their Government have given them protection with considerable difficulty and at considerable expense. That Government believe that they have a responsibility to all people, black and white alike.

I want briefly to mention the position of Rhodesia's army. I consider it to be a great army, and I have no doubt at all, as I said to the black nationalist representatives whom I met in Rhodesia, that if a black Government took over the country that army would support them as leaders of that country as loyally as they have supported Mr. Ian Smith and the present Administration and the Administrations before Mr. Smith came to power. Therefore, as my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton said, I believe that the army must to some extent remain very much as it is at present to guarantee security and a peaceful election which is so vital to the success of the present internal settlement.

It was with great disappointment, although not much surprise, that I read of the motion passed at the United Nations. I share the view of the Foreign Secretary that it is a good thing that the United Nations exists and that people with all sorts of views should have the opportunity to express those views to the world from that platform. But to some extent the United Nations devalued its own position by refusing to allow Bishop Muzorewa to speak during the recent debate at the United Nations. The United Nations demonstrates double standards when it allows to speak somebody who represents a minority view in Rhodesia and who is outside Rhodesia, whereas someone who is very much in touch with what is going on in Rhodesia and who can be instrumental in guaranteeing the future success and prosperity of the new Zimbabwe is not given the right to speak at the United Nations. What a very sad day for the United Nations that was.

I am pleased that I have been called to make a contribution to this debate. I support the internal settlement. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford, I want to see it work. My right hon. Friend, in his way, has done a very great deal on behalf of the Conservative Opposition to try to stay with the Government and to show a united front to the world over the grave problem of Rhodesia. When all is said and done, Rhodesia is our problem. It is not the problem of the United Nations. It is not the problem of the United States of America. It is the problem of the United Kingdom.

If we had our feet on the floor, if we appreciated that the internal settlement is really the only basis for a successful, prosperous and peaceful outcome to the problems of Rhodesia, and if we could wean Joshua Nkomo back into the fold and possibly get him into some position in the new Government—perhaps even as president—we should make a positive contribution to Africa and guarantee the future of black, white and coloured in Rhodesia.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. Ioan Evans (Aberdare)

The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) will not expect me to follow much of his speech, because he is an apologist for the South African regime. When he says that he has been to Rhodesia, one wonders under whose auspices he went. Was it under the auspices of the South Africa Foundation? The fact that he is in communication with an illegal regime does not help us in our discussions of the problems of Rhodesia today.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

I should like to ask the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) whether it is permissible for me to have friends in Rhodesia who are not members of the Government but who supply me with information which comes from their knowledge of living there. If it is wrong and I cannot communicate with them, what sort of country do we live in?

Mr. Evans

The hon. Member misunderstands what I have been saying. Perhaps he will read what I said in Hansard. I asked under whose auspices he went to Rhodesia.

Mr. Winterton

I shall answer that question directly. I went to South Africa as a guest of the South African Government, and on the way back I took the opportunity of calling in on Rhodesia where I received hospitality from the Rhodesian Government, the Rhodesia Promotion Council, business people and personal friends whom I have known for many years.

Mr. Evans

I had my suspicions and the hon. Member has confirmed them. He went under the auspices of the South Africa Foundation. He has come back here to make an apology for an apartheid regime which has been universally condemned by the United Nations, which has delegated this year as a year against apartheid. The hon. Member says that there is complete harmony in South Africa when we all know differently. As part of a trip arranged by the South. Africa Foundation to whitewash the South African regime, the hon. Member was told to visit Rhodesia to whitewash that illegal regime. I suspected as much and he has confirmed it.

Mr. Cormack

This happens to be the tenth anniversary of the invasion and rape of Czechoslovakia. A vast number of Labour Members strut around at the expense of East European Governments.

Mr. Evans

That is completely irrelevant. I condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia just as I condemn the denial of human rights everywhere. The Opposition seem to believe in one-eyed justice. They see injustice in some parts of the world but deny that it exists in Southern Africa.

On 11th November 1965 the Rhodesian Government, led by Mr. Ian Smith, made its illegal declaration of independence. There have been numerous attempts to negotiate a settlement in Rhodesia and when the final chapter is written about the attainment of their freedom by the people of Zimbabwe there will be some sorry words about the conduct of the Conservative Party in the whole period when Mr. Smith sustained this illegal regime despite universal condemnation by the rest of the world.

We have just heard the Foreign Secretary referring to discussions in the Security Council in which there has been condemnation by France, West Germany and many other countries. Not a single country has justified the illegal regime or recognised it. We know that South Africa is supporting it, but even South Africa did not give it official recognition. Yet time and time again in this House Mr. Smith has had support from the Conservative Benches.

The most recent attempt to bring about a so-called internal settlement has been signed by Bishop Muzorewa, the Mr. Sithole and Chief Chirau, as well as the leader of the illegal regime himself. We know that Mr. Sithole and Bishop Muzorewa have support in Rhodesia and have been recognised as leaders of the people in Zimbabwe. However, the hon. Member for Macclesfield did not say that Mr. Sithole spent years in concentration camps in Rhodesia, imprisoned by Ian Smith on trumped up charges that he had attempted to assassinate Ian Smith. That is the reality of the situation.

Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)

But the matter does not end there. Was not Bishop Muzorewa recently insulted at a Conservative conference by some of the baboon elements in the Conservative Party?

Mr. Evans

Yes, that was the case. We have agreement with certain nationalist leaders inside Rhodesia, but I believe that the so-called internal settlement will be doomed to failure if it is not supported by all the nationalist leaders. This is the old British game of divide and rule. It means that one talks to certain nationalist leaders but tries to exclude others, instead of trying to reach agreement by bringing them all together. I believe that negotiations for a peaceful settlement leading to a free and independent Zimbabwe will not be successfully concluded unless all the nationalist leaders, including the Patriotic Front, are brought into discussions.

It is important that there should be international recognition by the United Nations of a final settlement. There was agreement on both sides of this House—with some prevarication on the part of some hon. Members—to impose economic sanctions against Rhodesia. We went to the United Nations to obtain support for those sanctions. We took action and carried the United Nations with us. I believe that if we are to achieve a settlement, we can no longer say "This is our prerogative", but must go to the United Nations and obtain agreement internationally to ensure that a settlement is acceptable to world opinion.

The Government were making progress following the Anglo-United States initiative launched in March 1977. Following discussions with leaders of Zimbabwe inside and outside Rhodesia, a White Paper was published in September 1977 entitled "Rhodesia: Proposals for a Settlement", Command 6919. At the same time, we appointed a resident Commissioner designate for Rhodesia, Field Marshal Lord Carver.

Mr. Cormack

We know all this.

Mr. Evans

I know, but I am prefacing my remarks with the facts. The proposals were based on the following elements. They included the surrender of power by the illegal regime and a return to legality. However, an examination of the constitutional proposals of 3rd March does not show a complete surrender of power by the regime, and there will not be a return to legality if there is not a recognition of the agreement.

The proposals also included a provision for the orderly and peaceful transition to independence in the course of 1978. We all hoped that by the end of 1978 we could say "Hooray, we have a free and independent Zimbabwe". But how can we say that there will be a peaceful transition to independence if there are forces outside the country, including people in ZANU and ZAPU and the Patriotic Front, who do not accept the agreement made inside the country? In my opinion that condition has not been met.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) has dealt with whether the settlement provides for universal adult suffrage. He observed that 72 seats will be reserved for the blacks and 28 for the whites, the whites having a small percentage of the population. However, it is worse than that. We find that these are to be entrenched provisions that may be amended only by an affirmative vote of not fewer than 78 members. Bearing in mind that there will be 72 seats for blacks and 28 seats for whites, I cannot see how the proposed constitution can be described as a move towards universal adult suffrage.

Will the settlement provide for the establishment by the British Government of a transitional Administration with the task of conducting the elections for an independent Government? Obviously, we shall have no part to play in the transition. Let it also be remembered that we are not merely condemning the proposals made by a British Government. We are condemning the proposals put forward by the Government in agreement with the American Administration.

The hon. Member for Macclesfield keeps talking about the threat from the Soviet Union, but it is not only the Eastern World that is involved in Rhodesia. The whole world outside Southern Africa is involved. We said that there should be a United Nations presence, including a United Nations force, during the transitional period. If there are to be free elections, it is important that there should be some international body to ensure that they are free. However, there is no provision of that nature in the proposals set out in the internal settlement.

It was agreed that there should be an independent constitution providing for a democratically elected Government, the abolition of discrimination, the freedom of individual human rights and the independence of the judiciary. In my opinion discrimination is entrenched in the constitution.

In any settlement for Zimbabwe we must be careful that we do not make the same mistake that we made in respect of South Africa. There was a hurry to settle the problem in South Africa and from that day to this we have had difficulties. It is of paramount importance that we get an agreement that does not write racialism into its clauses.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The hon. Gentleman said that we must be careful not to make the same mistake that we made in respect of South Africa. I understand his point, but what about the mistake that we made in Uganda? What about the mistake that we made in Ghana, where there have been three military coups d'etats? What about the mistake that we made in Nigeria, where there has been civil war? What are we talking about?

Mr. Evans

We are talking about human rights. We do not deny human rights in any area because another regime is not practising human rights. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to condemn what is happening in Uganda, he is right to do so and I join him in so doing. I should be disgressing if I were to take up his point about Uganda. I merely say that we might not have had difficulty in Uganda if Conservative Members had supported Dr. Milton Obote and not the coming into power of Amin.

The internal settlement does not meet the conditions that the Government laid down in the Anglo-American agreement. It does not meet them because it does not have the support of all the nationalist parties, which is essential. It will not lead to a peaceful settlement. That is self-evident. If people are fighting inside or on the borders of the country, plainly there will not be a peaceful settlement. I do not believe that it will gain the recognition of the United Nations. The recent discussions in the Security Council prove that.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

Does the hon. Gentleman welcome the settlement as a useful step on the road to a peaceful solution?

Mr. Evans

I believe that there must be an agreement to bring about a peaceful solution. The proposed settlement does not have the universal agreement of the nationalist leaders. I know that a long journey begins with the first step. The trouble is that all kinds of steps have been proposed time and again. The constitution as outlined will not meet the Six Principles laid down by this Government and agreed by the Opposition at different times. There was the agreement proposed by the Conservative Government. Lord Pearce went out to Rhodesia and found that that agreement was not acceptable to the people of Rhodesia. If those terms were not acceptable, I am sure that the terms of this settlement will not be acceptable.

We hope that there will be a settlement by the end of the year, but the Government must insist that all Zimbabwe nationalist leaders are involved in the negotiations. I am glad that they are keeping the Anglo-American proposals on the table. The Government should seek to bring about a meeting with Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe outside the country, Bishop Muzorewa and the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole inside the country and the representative of the chiefs, Chief Chirau, if that be required, although he is part of the apparatus inside the country at the moment. They should then seek to reach a negotiated settlement. I believe that the African Presidents of the neighbouring States should also be kept fully informed of developments and that we should carry them with us in the negotiations.

It is all very well for the Opposition to talk about the difficulties created in Zambia. Kenneth Kaunda and the other African Presidents know the difficulties that they have had to face. Sanctions have hit them as well as supposedly hitting Rhodesia. They are prepared to make that financial sacrifice, because they do not want to see a settlement in Rhodesia go the same way as the settlement in South Africa, with all the tragedy that there has been in that country since it was given powers by this House.

There should be no settlement without the support of the United Nations. We went to the United Nations and the United Nations gave us support in trying to get a justifiable settlement. We must carry the United Nations with us.

Sanctions against the illegal regime should not end until there is an acceptable agreement. Meanwhile, it is important that pressure be brought to bear on South Africa. I am convinced that there would have been a peaceful settlement of the Rhodesian problem many years ago. The Prime Minister at that time would have been right in saying that it would be weeks, not months, had it not been for the undermining of international sanctions against Rhodesia by the South African regime. I hope that there will be pressure by the United Nations on South Africa to tighten up economic sanctions on Rhodesia until we get a real agreement.

Labour Members above and below the Gangway look forward to an independent and free Zimbabwe by the end of this year. I am pleased that we have had this debate, if only to have heard the Foreign Secretary's statement. We must stand by the conditions that we laid down many years ago about the minimum requirements for granting independence to Zimbabwe. I hope that we shall succeed in the months ahead. We cannot do that unless we carry all the people of Rhodesia with us. The test must be put to the people. In the meanwhile, we must carry the nationalist leaders with us and reach a general agreement before moving to a settlement.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)

I hope that in one matter at least the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) will agree with me: it is something of an indictment of the procedures of the House that we are forced to debate the most important foreign policy issue at such a time and in such a form.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

Get on with it.

Mr. Cormack

I do not think that the hon. Member for Penistone should start interrupting from a sedentary position in such a nasty manner, because he often makes great play of the procedure of the House and the role of Parliament. It is shameful that we cannot debate issues of this prime importance at a different time.

It is a pity that the Foreign Secretary did not come earlier and make the statement that he made tonight. It is a pity that when the internal agreement was first made, the Government did not set aside one or two days for a full debate and that that debate did not begin with a full, firm and resolute statement from the Government. I do not believe that in saying that I am being inflammatory or controversial.

Mr. Mendelson

God preserve us.

Mr. Cormack

The hon. Member for Penistone should make his speech standing up. He looks as though he might have dined not wisely but too well.

Mr. Robert Hughes

My hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) has not eaten at all. That is the trouble.

Mr. Cormack

Bile can sometimes have the same result.

I do not speak as someone who has voted against sanctions on each occasion that they have been debated. Some of my hon. Friends disagree with me and feel that I should have done so. I speak as one who, like my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman), has had great suspicions about Mr. Smith over a long period of time and who feels that we must face up to the credibility gap. At the same time, and I say this particularly to the hon. Member for Aberdare and the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), we have to accept the realities of politics. We have to accept that people do change.

If one takes a good look around the Commonwealth one finds that there are honoured and revered statesmen and leaders who have had backgrounds that have not excluded fierce criticism from parts of the House. Kenyatta is an honoured and respected African leader. Who can forget his background? Last year we mourned the death of Archbishop Makarios, and yet he was a man whose background did not entirely endear him to the House over a long period.

I remember Mr. Smith announcing his acceptance of the Kissinger proposals. I heard the announcement on the radio as I was travelling by car to my constituency. That was a watershed in African history. Mr. Smith said that he was prepared to do a number of things that would lead to black majority rule within two years. The two years are not yet up.

The Kissinger proposals, which seemed to have the total backing of the Government at the time, have been adhered to strictly in the internal settlement. That is a fact that has not yet come out in the debate. It should be borne in mind by all hon. Members. Dr. Kissinger was negotiating not only with the full knowledge but with the full authority of the Government. That was not contradicted at the time. He was attempting to make Mr. Smith face the realities of African politics and that the time had come for change. If one looks at Mr. Smith's statements and actions since that fateful day when he made that broadcast, one finds that he has not gone back on what he promised Dr. Kissinger.

One can argue from all sides in a question like this and say that Mr. Smith should have done this many years earlier. One can say that be brought many of his difficulties upon his own head, that he should have recognised the realities of being in a minority population in a totally black dominated country and should have taken this action many years before he did; but since the day on which he accepted those proposals he has not gone back on them. He has strenuously sought to reach agreement with African leaders within his country.

What is the question to which we in this House have to address ourselves? Above all, it is whether the provisions of the internal settlement meet the Six Principles and conform to the Kissinger proposals. I suggest that to both questions the answer is in the affirmative. It would appear that they meet the requirements of all Six Principles, and I shall come later to the most important of them, which is the fifth.

It would also appear that the provisions of the internal settlement meet the Kissinger proposals, and I hope that most hon. Members will agree that it is desirable that Rhodesia emerges as a free Zimbabwe not under Soviet influence, not propped up by Cuban mercenaries and a Soviet arsenal, but as a free country. I hope that most people will agree that it is important that if Zimbabwe eventually decides to choose a Marxist Government, it will do so in free elections because it wants that Government, and not because it has been imposed from outside.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), in what I thought was a moderate and masterly speech, referred to the meeting, about which we have all read, in Salisbury yesterday. We can argue about the number of people who attend, but Bishop Muzorewa addressed what was, by common consent, a vast meeting. I am not prepared to argue whether it was the largest ever held in Salisbury, but it was a meeting attended by a vast number of people. It was obvious that Bishop Muzorewa was being greeted as a hero by his own people. Here was a man who was being honoured. Here was a man who had brought home the possibility of peace and a real settlement to which they could adhere, in which they would be included, and which they welcomed. I do not think that anybody can lightly set aside that fact.

I do not think that anybody can dismiss the fact that the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole is a man who commands enormous support in Rhodesia and that Chief Chirau is a traditional leader who again has a real role to play. Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe were not excluded from the talks that led to the settlement. They excluded themselves. They could have taken part and, indeed, even now would not, I think, find doors closed to them if they wished to participate in the internal transitional arrangements and in the elections that followed. But if they choose to exclude themselves, much as we might deplore and regret it—and I both deplore and regret it—we should not therefore believe or behave as though the settlement is invalid and worth nothing. What we need from the Foreign Secretary and from the Government is a breadth of vision and a boldness of optimism, which I respectfully suggest have not characterised the right hon. Gentleman's utterances so far.

I believe that the hon. Member for Aberdare is something of an opponent of Welsh devolution. He does not happen to agree with that form of constitutional arrangement within the United Kingdom. Loving his own part of the country as he does, would he accept any solution for Wales that was imposed at the diktat of Plaid Cymru, or of any other small minority group? Of course he would not. He would believe that they should all be given the opportunity to participate both in the moves leading up to devolution and in an Assembly afterwards and that democracy should out.

No doubt the hon. Member also believes that those elected to positions of responsibility should be able to occupy and to enjoy them. But how is that consistent with arguing that the Rhodesian settlement should hinge upon the diktat of those who have voluntarily excluded themselves? That point has not been faced up to sufficiently strongly on the Government side of the House.

It has been made clear time and again from these Benches that we regret that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe have not associated themselves with the discussions. We should like them to participate now and in the free elections, but if they will not, they should not be granted the power of veto.

In order that we can say definitely that the Fifth Principle has been observed, we should try to work out a system to monitor the elections. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will arrange for this to be done. In addition, before monitoring the elections, it is important that we should have a British presence in Rhodesia. This point cannot be made too often.

We want in Salisbury someone of the calibre of Sir Christopher Soames, who has been ennobled today, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, who was his colleague at the European Commission, or perhaps a retired ambassador, such as Sir Frank Roberts, to whom we could look for advice that we could feel able to accept. We want a top level mission and it might not be a bad idea for a Select Committee to go to Rhodesia to observe the elections and the preparations for them.

If we allow this chance to slip away, the whole of Southern Africa could become a cauldron of war, turmoil, confusion, chaos and tragedy, and it could be that my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), who quoted some of the atrocities that have taken place, may have given only a trailer of what could become the general pattern. I want to see a free Zimbabwe emerge from Rhodesia during the next 12 months. I want the target date of 31st December to be adhered to, and I should like the Patriotic Front to be involved, but I do not believe that the Front should be given the power of veto.

Everything possible should be done by the Government to ensure that the settlement is properly tried and tested and encouraged to work. That means a mission, a presence from this House and more than the disdainful agnosticism displayed by the Foreign Secretary. It means that we have to accept that men such as Mr. Smith can change, learn and accept. His actions in the past two years indicate that he has accepted and learned and that he believes in what he is seeking to formulate. He should be encouraged, as should the black leaders who have had the courage to work with him. It is a question of war or peace. When it is a question of war or peace, this House should never be in any doubt where it gives its verdict.

11.0 p.m.

Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)

The future of Zimbabwe is an African problem and in the long term it will be settled by Africans in their own way. It will not be settled by Europeans either here or in Rhodesia.

In a real sense we abdicated our responsibility in 1965 when we failed to put down the white rebellion in the first place. But we still have residual obligations, not least because the international community acknowledges the United Kingdom as the only legal authority for Rhodesia and no country in the world recognises the Smith regime.

In fact, that in a way is the clearest evidence of the bankruptcy of Smith's own policies. It is something of a tragedy that so far no outstanding African leader has emerged in Zimbabwe with the national status within Zimbabwe of men like Kaunda in Zambia, Nyerere in Tanzania, Machel in Mozambique or, in a different context, Makarios in Cyprus and Nehru in India.

But the fault lies with Smith, because Smith has always encouraged divisions between the various African parties. That is precisely what he is doing now. His whole technique at present is to seek to divide the leading African politicians, to create divisions and maintain his own power in that way.

I should like to look quickly at this interim settlement which some Conservative Members are so anxious to rush to embrace. I exempt the hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman), who wisely suggested that we should be extremely cautiously and who expressed a great deal of scepticism about the value of this settlement.

Mr. John Mendelson

The hon. Gentleman knows something about it.

Mr. Forman

Do not overdo it.

Mr. Hooley

That shows credit to the hon. Gentleman's judgment compared with that of some of his hon. Friends. The hon. Member for Carshalton made an extremely thoughtful and constructive speech.

I come back to the interim settlement. First, there is no return to legality. The illegal regime purports to go forward to independence but without the consent of this country or this House. Secondly, there is the racist composition of the proposed Parliament. It is totally absurd to suggest that a 3 per cent. minority in a particular country should have specially reserved to it 28 per cent. of the seats in the national Parliament. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) pointed out, quite clearly this is not one man, one vote. Certain men will have two if not three votes. The whole thing is an absurd concoction from the point of view of any genuine democracy.

Thirdly, there is the racist composition of the Ministerial Council. The idea that 3 per cent. of the population should have 50 per cent. of the Ministers in the Cabinet is the weirdest idea that anyone could possibly ever come across. Not only that, but this weird set-up will not have any real power, because the Green Paper that the Rhodesians have produced makes absolutely clear that any decisions, even of the Ministerial Council, can be over-ridden or referred back to the Executive Council. Since the Executive Council has to work by consensus, that means that in the end Smith has the final veto and can exercise the final power. That is the object of the entire exercise.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has already referred to the control of the armed forces. Here again, under this settlement, control of this apparatus of State power in Zimbabwe remains effectively in the hands of the white minority. In those circumstances it is in no way extraordinary that this settlement is not acceptable to the Organisation of African States or to the United Nations.

Conservative Members have underrated the general wisdom of the United Nations in these matters. The Security Council, the General Assembly and other United Nations' bodies have been dealing with problems of racial discrimination and apartheid for decades. For Conservative Members to condemn any United Nations' decisions and actions merely shows their own lack of understanding of the problems of the African content and of the world at large. I would not argue that the decisions of the United Nations are always infallible and correct, but they are usually more in tune with the reality of the situation than are the ideas of Conservative Members.

Contrary to the interim settlement, the Anglo-American proposals, with which my right hon. Friend rightly persists, contain three important principles which the House should continue to support, which the UN will support and which most of the Zimbabwe African leaders will come round to supporting in due course. The first is the return to legality and the elimination of the power of the Smith regime. The second is an international presence to supervise the electoral process which can establish a properly and legally constituted Zimbabwe Government. The third is free elections under such international supervision to ensure that the people concerned have a genuine opportunity to express their opinion through the ballot box without coercion and without the threat of force. In view of these three principles, we should continue to support the plan and endeavour to encourage my right hon. Friend to pursue the proposals in spite of the present immense difficulties of getting them accepted.

My right hon. Friend was right in stressing the international dimension of the problem. It would be lunacy for this House and any British Government to rush to embrace a settlement concocted by Mr. Smith which was then rejected by the whole of Africa and the United Nations. This country would make itself look ridiculous if we agreed with Smith a pseudo-independence for Zimbabwe only to find it ostracised by all the countries of Africa and not remotely likely to gain acceptance by the UN as an indepedent sovereign State.

That is the kind of cul-de-sac into which the Conservatives wish us to rush as they so eagerly press on us acceptance of the interim settlement. My right hon. Friend is right to press on with the basic Anglo-American proposals, but we should make it clear that until there is a return to legality, sanctions will continue and, if possible, be strengthened.

I should like to know what is happening about oil sanctions, what has happened to the Bingham inquiry, which has apparently sunk without trace, and why the suggestion of oil sanctions seems to have melted away. The oil flowing through South Africa is lubricating Mr. Smith's war machine. Without it he could not conduct his raids on Mozambique and Zambia and the war against the guerrilla forces. It would be interesting to know what we have said to South Africa about oil sanctions and the flow of oil to Smith.

It is essential for the Government to continue to work closely with the frontline Presidents of the five African States that have to bear still the great burden of the conflict. We must also continue to work within the United Nations. It has so far shown itself willing and anxious to support our efforts to get a return to legal government within Zimbabwe and to assist us in achieving a transition to an authentic Government there. We should continue to seek and work for support in the Security Council and, if necessary at a later stage, within the General Assembly. On that basis lies the best hope ultimately for a sensible transition to a truly independent sovereign State.

To rush into acceptance of the weird concoction that Smith has thought up for the preservation of his own power would be a folly by this country and would expose us to ridicule and criticism throughout the world.

11.9 p.m.

Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)

I wish to start by referring to one suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies). It would be incredible, were it not the fact, that there are no effective eyes and ears of the British Government at present in Salisbury. There is an overwhelming case for upgrading and strengthening our present mission in Salisbury. I hope that the Minister will listen to my right hon. Friend's advice and say that the Government have decided to strengthen and upgrade our mission.

I was rather depressed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary's speech. It seemed to me that he was holding out little hope that the agreement reached in Salisbury earlier this month could ever be translated into a free and independent Zimbabwe. I believe that it can and that we should respond to the appeals by the three black nationalist leaders, who have asked for a helping hand from Britain to overcome the immense difficulties that face Zimbabwe.

I have been studying, as the House will have been, the contrast—in so far as there is one—between the principles enunciated in the Government's White Paper and the terms of the agreement signed in Salisbury on 3rd March and in this context the Six Principles that have guided successive British Governments in their policy towards Rhodesia. I think that it is common ground between the Government and the Opposition that the agreement of 3rd March violates none of the Six Principles. It could not violate the Fifth Principle, because that is a test still to come.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Mr. Smith's current proposal is not for one man, one vote. It is for one man, one vote if that man is black, but if he is white, it is one man, three votes.

Mr. Gow

I listen carefully to what the hon. Gentleman says, but if he has studied his own Government's White Paper published last autumn he will have seen that that, too, envisaged a special representation for the European minority in the Parliament for a a period of 10 years. I repeat that the agreement of 3rd March could not violate the Fifth Principle, because the test of acceptability is still to come.

I would much prefer that the referendum to take place among the existing electorate be conducted also among the whole of the adult population of Zimbabwe, because it would be immensely difficult for this House, Her Majesty's Government and the United Nations to refuse to recognise the Government that will be formed on 1st January 1979 if there had been put to the whole electorate and not only the existing electorate, predominantly white, the simple question "Do you accept the new constitution that will be drawn up by the interim Government?" It is very desirable that that question should be put before the General Election takes place, or simultaneously with it.

I turn to the White Paper, Cmnd. 6919, published in September, and look at the seven principles set out in the foreword. I wish to examine to what extent the 3rd March internal agreement does violence to those principles. I believe that on all the essentials the agreement is in conformity with the principles set out by the Government.

The first principle was The surrender of power by the illegal regime and a return to legality. It is true that the Government's proposals envisaged a return to sovereignty of the United Kingdom Government and the presence of a Resident Commissioner appointed by Her Majesty's Commissioner in Salisbury. That was for the interim period only, and I remind the House that the Government's White Paper envisaged that there would be during 1978 a black majority Government and that the interim presence of the Resident Commissioner would come to an end before 31st December this year.

So although of course it can be argued that there will be no surrender of power by the illegal regime, in the sense that power will be transferred to the Resident Commissioner and then to a black majority Government, it seems to me that there is nothing in the argument that there will be no surrender of power by the illegal regime because there is not an interim British presence but we go straight from the illegal regime to the existing Executive Council and then to majority rule.

The second of the principles set out in the White Paper was that there should be An orderly and peaceful transition to independence in the course of 1978. It is just precisely that commitment to a black majority Government in which certainly, as I understand it, there will be no white Minister at all, which is envisaged in the agreement of 3rd March.

The third principle was that there should be Free and impartial elections on the basis of universial adult suffrage. Here again I quote from the agreement of 3rd March: It is hereby agreed that a constitution will be drafted and enacted which will provide for majority rule on the basis of universal adult suffrage". I say to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) that even in the Government's White Paper there was not to be parity of representation by the Europeans as compared with the African majority.

There is, of course, now a departure from the fourth and fifth principles set out in the foreword to the White Paper, for it is not now proposed—to quote the fourth principle—that there should be The establishment by the British Government of a transitional administration, with the task of conducting the elections for an independent government. Nor is it envisaged that there should be, to quote the fifth principle A United Nations presence, including a United Nations force, during the transition period. There again, if the objective of majority rule by a totally black Government is to be achieved, it seems to me that a settlement which as it were jumps over those two conditions going to the ultimate goal on 1st January 1979, with the omission of those two stages, does not violate the principle to which the Government are rightly committed.

The sixth principle is that there should be An Independence Constitution providing for a democratically elected government, the abolition of discrimination, the protection of individual human rights and the independence of the judiciary. Those items are specifically referred to and specifically guaranteed in the internal agreement of 3rd March, paragraph A.3: The independence and qualifications of the judiciary will be entrenched and judges will have security of tenure. Paragraph 2 states: There will be a justiciable declaration of rights. Thus, those principles are safeguarded in the internal agreement.

The last principle is one to which the Foreign Secretary made no reference. I believe it to be of great importance. We have not heard about the development fund to revive the economy of the country which the United Kingdom and the United States view as predicted upon the implementation of the settlement as a whole, I hope that the British and American Governments, if indeed the procedures set out in the internal agreement are implemented in full, will set up the development fund to which we were commited in the White Paper published in September.

It will be argued that it will be an adequate test of opinion whether the internal settlement is acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole, in accordance with the Fifth Principle, if there is a sufficiently high vote in the General Election which is envisaged for the autumn. I repeat that I would prefer that there should be a referendum, not just as the Rhodesian Prime Minister has proposed, among the existing electorate, but among all the adult population over the age of 18. But, if we cannot have such a referendum, then, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford said, if there is a high turnover and if the elections are conducted fairly, that may be the best test that can be obtained.

Concern has been expressed during the debate that the security forces will remain primarily under the command of white generals and white officers. I do not believe that it has ever been suggested that the security forces of Rhodesia, whether under white officers or under black, would be other than loyal to whichever Government takes power on 1st January 1979.

If there is to be a General Election, and if, following that General Election, there are elected 72 Members of Parliament, and from that Parliament there is formed a black majority Government, I believe that this House and the world community ought to recognise such a Government. I believe that sanctions ought then to be lifted, and I believe that there would be a duty upon this House and upon Her Majesty's Government to do all they could to protect that Government if it should be the subject of assault, as I fear it might be, from the Patriotic Front forces operating from Zambia and from Mozambique. That would require, of course, almost certainly the kind of international force which the Security Council proposed yesterday should go into the Lebanon. It would be quite wrong for the world community to say that if the newly independent black majority Government of Zimbabwe were attacked from outside, we could simply shrug our shoulders and allow the forces from outside to seek to overthrow a democratically elected Government.

There is, of course, very grave danger in Southern Africa that the forces of the Patriotic Front, if they refused to participate in the forthcoming elections because they feared that they would not be able to secure democratic approval for their cause, would continue with the war. I share the hopes, expressed by the Foreign Secretary and by my right hon. Friend, that the Patriotic Front will agree to participate in the General Election. I hope that it will do that, because that is the only way in which it can bring itself within legality. If it refused to particpate in a free General Election and continued the war of terror thereafter, I believe that it would be the duty of the international community to protect the newly independent black majority-ruled Zimbabwe against those who sought to destroy it from outside.

11.25 p.m.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) pontificated at length about what various groups of people in Zimbabwe must do and must not do, as though he were one of those directly responsible for representing majority or minority opinion among the people of Zimbabwe. I found it surprising to hear him speak in such a tone because, until very recently, what we heard from the Opposition was full-scale support for Mr. Smith and all his works.

Mr. Gow

What absolute rubbish.

Mr. Mendelson

I shall prove it in a moment. Interruptions are only encouraging.

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham and Heston)

Even from that source.

Mr. Mendelson

From all sources.

The starting point really should be a certain acknowledgment on the part of the Opposition of where the responsibility lies for the changes which have occurred recently in Rhodesia. For that reason, I was glad to hear the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), although he missed the opportunity on several occasions recently at Question Time, for the first time pay some slight grudging tribute to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for having activated American policy in the right direction. There was half a sentence in the right hon. Gentleman's speech today, and it was the first time that we had heard even the slightest grudging tribute from the Opposition for the work of my right hon. Friend.

The right hon. Member for Knutsford referred to American involvement. He ought to have gone much further. Many of the developments which right hon. and hon. Members have been discussing today, as though they had come down from on high, by accident, and with no one having worked for them, are due to the work of the British Foreign Secretary, and it is hard to understand why right hon. and hon. Members find it so difficult to give recognition to the man responsible at this difficult juncture in Rhodesian affairs. When the hon. Member for Eastbourne pontificates about what different groups in Rhodesia should do and praises the advances which have been made, he must realise that they are not the result of the work of the Opposition in forcing many late-night votes in this House in support of loyal Mr. Smith and all his racialist works.

As for the international situation, I regret that the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) is to speak later. I should have preferred him to speak before, because I am sure that he will survey the international scene and give us a speech typical of a leading article in the Morning Post of 9th November 1910. He looks at these affairs in the grand imperial manner. He looks back rather than forward.

Those who care a great deal about the international connection of affairs in South Rhodesia should remind themselves that the position of this country today, having activated American policy, having carried the good will of many of the States surrounding Rhodesia, and having worked closely with a number of the major Powers, due to the efforts of the Foreign Secretary, is much stronger internationally that it might have been if we had followed some of the wild adventurous schemes usually propounded by the right hon. Member for Pavilion.

The people who like least the work that the Foreign Secretary has been doing in activating American policy and the position that he has established for this country in the affairs of Southern Africa are the Russians. Anyone reading translations of leading articles in Isvestia will know that they are critical of what I regard as the successes of the British Foreign Secretary. I had hoped that they would be more co-operative. They are not. But we can be certain that the Soviet Union would have liked the adventurous policies proposed by some of the Opposition, because adventurous policies can be replied to by adventurous policies.

I suggest that the key to finding a reasonable solution to this difficult and intractable problem is to neutralise Soviet influence see to it that the vast majority of members of the United Nations work closely with us and hammer out a policy in which we can take a sensible lead. That is really the motivation for everything that the Foreign Secretary is doing. The Opposition, far from offering the carping criticism that we have had tonight and making statements about not being impressed, should start to recognise the Foreign Secretary's work.

On the political position in Zimbabwe at present, I do not go along with my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), who blamed Mr. Smith for divisions among the African leaders. I believe that Mr. Smith can be blamed for a lot of things, but not for that.

The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) made great play of having been to Rhodesia recently, and he asked Labour Members why we did not go. The fact is that many of us have been, but we do not make a song and dance about it. We do not believe that we have the vast expertise that he attributes to himself just because we have spent a couple of weeks in Rhodesia at some time.

There are deep and profound differences between nationalist groups in Rhodesia and these differences preceded Mr. Smith's time as Premier. I use this example as an illustration. When I was in Rhodesia I found it impossible to meet Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole on the same day. Mr. Sithole agreed to spend the better part of a Sunday with me, at the home of friends, and the next day I met Mr. Nkomo in his office in Salisbury. Even then I could not meet them both on the same day. That cannot be blamed on Mr. Smith. There are profound differences, and these differences are facts of political life in Rhodesia.

These differences have nothing whatever to do with any reluctance on the part of the Foreign Secretary to do more to bring the nationalist groups together. They precede any efforts of any Foreign Secretary and have nothing to do with the work of any British diplomat or political leader. Positions change and new alliances are struck by these different movements.

Nor is Zimbabwe so different from other emerging countries. India has been full of divisions over many years and these have nothing to do with the particular machinations of the district commissioners in India. There are no district commissioners in India now, but that country is still pretty well divided. These are profound differences that must be taken into account.

What is the Foreign Secretary to do? Is he to say, after 30 years of history, that he is to be the authority who decides where all these movements should go? Or should he continue, as he is trying to do—painstakingly, slowly, carefully, with good sense and with hard work—to encourage them to come together?

This is a British policy which I would have thought could be supported by both sides of the House. I find no difficulty in getting support for what the Foreign Secretary is trying to do from people in all walks of life up and down the country. This is not a particularly partisan point of view.

In the United Nations the Foreign Secretary must work with the materials available. I was profoundly shocked that Bishop Muzorewa was not allowed to speak. I think that he should have been invited to speak not just allowed to do so. This is the sort of nonsense that we often get from United Nations committees and organisations.

In this respect I do not share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Heeley that the United Nations always finds the reasonable solution. I remember the United Nations passing resolutions year after year when Franco was in power in Spain saying that we must hand over Gibraltar to Spain next week. We always ignored them, and rightly so. It was better for the well-being of the people of Gibraltar that we did. So, I would not always accept everything from the United Nations as the gospel truth. These are some of the difficulties with which the Foreign Secretary must work.

It is of the utmost importance that the British Government are now working step by step with the American Administration that President Carter is an active participant and that the American Secretary of State works closely with our Foreign Secretary. This is the only way in which success can be achieved.

I go further. I am profoundly convinced that the considerable change, with which I agree, which has occurred in the past two and a half years in the attitude of Mr. Smith is largely due to a radical change in United States policy. I date it from that change. As long as the United States closed both eyes to the breaking of sanctions, Mr. Smith knew that he was safe. Whenever I was in Rhodesia, members of the business community, some of them quite prominent, said to me "This cannot last. It must change and we want it to change"; but they added "But when we tell Mr. Smith that, he does not believe us. He says 'The Americans are on our side, the South Africans are on our side and many British people are on our side. We have nothing to worry about'". When the American attitude changed, all that changed and became immaterial. That is why, to some extent, Mr. Smith has moved.

The Foreign Secretary is working closely with the American Administration, and it will be an historic achievement if we can activate American policy in the right direction. That should dictate our attitude. It was right for the Foreign Secretary and the Government to be hesitant, because how can the British Administration work to encourage the various nationalist movements—which, to some extent, are wide apart—if they immediately embrace a set of pro- posals worked out by some of them against the others? After all, there is beginning—in fact, we are right in the middle of it—not only a struggle for the independence of Rhodesia but a profound struggle for the leadership of an independent Zimbabwe.

How can the British Government hope to encourage Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe to work with the others if they immediately establish themselves as partners of one side only when the discussion begins? It should give us confidence in the work of the Foreign Secretary that he did not immediately commit himself even purely on diplomatic grounds. There used to be a premium on the diplomatic finesse of a British Foreign Secretary. Every specialist in foreign affairs should have welcomed the reluctance of the Foreign Secretary to be embraced immediately by one side or the other. This aloofness makes him attractive—I hope to all sides. It can lose nothing, and it has not lost anything.

Therefore, I do not see why the Opposition are so worried. On the contrary, there is now a growing realisation—some of my closest political friends may not agree with me on this—that if the vast majority of the Africans of Rhodesia are to be persuaded that immediately after independence they should not insist that one man, one vote must mean that there can be no entrenched clauses and no reservations to make the transition easier to give confidence to the white minority, and if the Africans declare that that is right, we shall not stand in the way of such an arrangement.

That is all that can be found in the White Paper. The Government foresaw this and deliberately put it in the White Paper. The White Paper is not an academic document to win prizes at the Academy of Sciences. It is a diplomatic document helping to pave the way for what is beginning to occur. Nothing is gained by trying to create a contrast between what my Friend the Member for Heeley said and what is in the White Paper. The Government showed their good will by being reasonable and pragmatic, as one would expect from a Government who want to make a practical contribution.

All speeches must come to an end, and I conclude by saying that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary may not have impressed Opposition Members. I hope that on reconsideration they will take a more positive view of his remarks. My right hon. Friend was not bombastic but spoke quietly and reasonably. It is the quiet and reasonable tone that is needed in the present situation. Let him succeed first and then the trumpets can be blown.

11.40 p.m.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, who has spoken with unaccustomed modesty in this debate, will be more than usually grateful to his hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) for interpreting the right hon. Gentleman's motivation and for telling us the thoughts and moods that have inspired him in his career up to date.

The hon. Gentleman said that the Foreign Secretary's influence on American policy was one of the things to which we should pay the greatest attention and respect. I wonder about that. The right hon. Gentleman told us earlier that in the debate in the Security Council most of the permanent members were of much the same opinion as he was. That is the first point on which I take issue with him. If he had said over the past few weeks to the United States Government and to European Governments that the Salisbury pact, if I may so call it, was a good idea—in other words, if he had preached its virtues—he would have been given a great deal of support. Because he did not do so, and because he followed in the wake of American policy, which for electoral and international reasons has not been so well-disposed to the agreement, the Salisbury pact has not had such a good Press as it could have had.

I think that it is a very good settlement and I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) that it conforms to the Six Principles, both in execution and to a large extent in intention.

Of course there are imperfections, as there are in any settlement. But they are imperfections very much in the British tradition. When we began to democratise the House of Commons in the last century, we did not take away all the block- ing powers of the House of Lords, and it was some time before the Army and the Civil Service began to reflect the democratisation that had taken place in the House of Commons. Nobody with a sense of history would think that we should have done better if we had accepted the Chartist proposals of 1848.

I believe that the settlement was good for deeper reasons. The deepest reason is that the Salisbury pact was not imposed; it was not a colonial constitution, of which we have seen so many. Indeed, I have been guilty of helping to impose or donate some of them to different countries, and most have gone with the wind. But this settlement sprang from a genuine coming together of hearts and minds in Salisbury between black and white, between the leaders of the black majority and leaders of the white minority. The fact it did so was little short of a miracle. It is not so easy to make a miracle in life.

In the French Revolution the Committee of National Safety put out a competition. It abolished Christianity and said "Let us have a new religion and let anybody bring forward proposals". A young man went to M. Talleyrand, who was the secretary of the committee, and produced a scheme embodying a new religion. M. Talleyrand examined it and said that he was interested. The young man asked if he was convinced, and the reply was "Go and crucify yourself, rise from the dead in three days, and I will believe you. We need a miracle before we can be convinced of a new religion."

There has been something pretty close to a miracle in Salisbury. If the Foreign Secretary had said to me or anybody else a year ago that Mr. Sithole, Bishop Muzorewa, Chief Chirau and Mr. Smith would be agreed—not merely intellectually but with a considerable emotional content, which has stood up to unremitting pressure from Moscow, London and Washington—I do not think that he would have been believed.

The situation was well described in Louis Heren's articles in The Times. It is well known that Mr. Heren is not of extreme Right-wing persuasion. However, what he wrote when he returned from Salisbury seemed to go straight to the heart of the matter—namely, that something had happened in Salisbury not just intellectually, not just emotionally but spiritually.

It would be a great mistake to try to tamper with the arrangement that has been made or to try to impose amendments upon it. I do not know what Mr. Graham's mission was charged to do, but if it was to try to amend or change, that would have been a mistake. If it was to try to disrupt the existing agreement with a view to enlarging it or otherwise, that would have been a crime.

I urge the Foreign Secretary to try to put aside rancour and bitterness. The right hon. Gentleman has been in his present job for only a short time and what I am about to say does not attach to him, but his predecessors and officials have been made to look pretty silly by Mr. Smith over the past 12 years. In the Foreign Office there is bitterness, rancour and a desire for revenge. There is the excuse for that attitude that it would be cosmetically more attractive to other African countries if the Smith regime could be seen to be humiliated. That is why I am glad that in the end the right hon. Gentleman agreed to meet Chief Chirau.

It would be a good thing if we stopped the vendetta against Mr. Smith, Mr. Gaylard, the Chief Justice, and the chief of police, which I gather is still being promoted, or was in Pretoria even at the weekend. If Mr. Sithole, with 10 years' experience of imprisonment under Mr. Smith, having been accused and convicted of trying to murder Mr. Smith, can put up with the settlement, who are we to take objection? Let the interim Government and their successors, when duly elected, deal with these matters.

In the past the right hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends have given credit to the Patriotic Front, and sometimes even to sanctions, for bringing about the move that Mr. Smith has made towards one man, one vote and majority rule. I think that this is true, but perhaps not quite in the sense that the right hon. Gentleman usually invokes. What has brought the leaders of the black majority and the white minority together has been the fear that the Patriotic Front would bring to Rhodesia what Frelimo has brought to Mozambique and what the MPLA has brought to Angola—namely, anarchy, chaos, poverty and the destruction of a civilised Western-type society.

We regret that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe are not parties to the agreement. That is not because I condone their crimes. They have been guilty of terrible crimes. However, I would not worry too much about that. I have shaken hands with more terrorists and murderers in my life than I like to admit, but in the cause of peace who would not?

It may be that the fighting will continue and will even escalate. It does not depend on what we do. It depends on the Soviet Union and the front-line Presidents. If the Soviets do not support the fighting, it will stop in a few weeks.

We need to recognise why the fighting may go on and why it is not so easy to bring the Patriotic Front into the deal. I think that it was Churchill who said about Oliver Cromwell that, obsessed with the power of Spain, he failed to observe the rise of France. It is easy for official thinking to get into a groove.

The crisis and the crunch in Rhodesia today are no longer racial. It is no longer an issue of black against white. Beneath the personal and tribal rivalries there is a whole series of economic and social tensions to be resolved.

The Soviets and their client States in Angola and Mozambique advocate Marxist solutions to these problems. These solutions envisage not elections but a Marxist elite, as in Frelimo or the MPLA, to handle the problem.

If the Patriotic Front were prepared to advocate Marxist views in an ordinary election campaign within the framework of the Salisbury pact, there would be no problem. But if it wants to impose them, first, by taking over the security machinery, that would clearly be unacceptable to this House. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary knows that he would not be able to get the House of Commons to accept a solution of that kind.

The Foreign Secretary said to Mr. Sithole—this conversation appears to have been published in Salisbury—"Do at least try to include Joshua". It is not so easy to include Joshua. I do not take the view that Nkomo is an opportunist who is ready to accept a well-paid honorific job. I think that he is a serious politician who wants real power. But he cannot hope to get real power by election, unless the election were rigged by his having prior control of the security forces.

Mr. Robert Hughes

How does the right hon. Gentleman know that?

Mr. Amery

Every expert opinion in Rhodesia, including Nkomo's, knows that. If he thought that he could get it, he would come in at once and say "I will walk over it". He knows perfectly well that he cannot get it by an ordinary election.

Mr. Robert Hughes rose

Mr. Amery

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman later. Mr. Nkomo has made it clear in private to many people and he has made it pretty clear in public. Both he and President Kaunda have said that they do not want elections until they have the power. He knows that he would not win the power through an ordinary election. He wants an election to ratify his power.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Joshua Nkomo has made it clear that he is willing and ready at any time to submit his views to free, independent and fair elections. That has always been his view. The right hon. Gentleman must believe some very odd propaganda if he thinks that he can say which of the African leaders has the greatest responsibility of winning such an election. I think that he is in great danger of arrogating to himself the divine right of saying who shall be the leader of Zimbabwe without a proper test of electoral opinion.

Mr. Amery

I should not dream of saying who would be the leader. There can be no doubt that for a long time Mr. Nkomo said that he did not wish to have elections. President Kaunda said the same on his behalf. Then, eventually, they compromised on a formula that Mr. Nkomo should have power first and, having got power, should then hold elections to ratify his position. We know what that means—one man, one vote once. We have been through all that rigmarole before.

The trouble with the Anglo-American proposals is that they imply in effect, control of the security forces would be given to the Patriotic Front. That is why, rightly, they were dismissed, not only by the whites but by the blacks. Any chance of bringing Mr. Nkomo in on a lesser basis was ruined by the Foreign Secretary's blatant pursuit of the Patriotic Front. It was bad diplomacy and I am surprised that my old Department did not brief him better.

It is important to remember Burke's old saying: It is fatal to be tied to the carcase of dead policies. The Anglo-American proposals are dead, and everyone knows it. There is a new proposal which is alive and active and other agreements could be made in the future. The Anglo-American proposals are no longer viable.

Too much emphasis has been put on personality. The Foreign Secretary might do well to ask the opinion of the hon. Member for Penistone and others who are more Marxist inclined. Of course human beings are important. But if Mr. Nkomo were to fall under the proverbial bus, to whom would we look? Would the Government change their policy completely, or would they say that the man should be Mugabe or someone else? I do not believe that they would change, because the only point about Mr. Nkomo is that he is identified with the Soviet Union and Kenneth Kaunda. His inclusion would avoid a confrontation with the Soviet Union.

Let us think that through. If that is the aim, the Government are following a Yalta-type policy in Africa. It is interesting to look back on Yalta. After the 1945 peace we arranged in the Yalta negotiations that for Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria Governments should be set up in which the pro-Soviet element had the leading role but the pro-Western elements were included. Within two or three years the pro-Western elements had been exiled, shot, or imprisoned.

There was some excuse for Yalta, because the Red Army was already in position in most of the territory. There is no such excuse this time. In Angola and Mozambique the Soviets' hold is shaky and could be destabilised. In South West Africa and Rhodesia they only have a toehold and there is a case for pushing them out. That would be easy enough. The time has come to draw the line. President Carter's speech at the weekend indicated a slightly healthier view in the United States, though they have a long way to go.

If we decide to draw the line, the terrain and the communications all favour the West; now the Salisbury pact gives us the moral foundation from which to face any challenge from the Soviet Union. The West is beginning to understand. But I am sorry that we lacked the courage in the United Nations to veto the ridiculous resolution passed by representatives of Governments most of whom have no experience of what majority rule means.

We all know that at the end of the day, whether we are talking about Rhodesia or South-West Africa, much greater issues are at stake. We must consider communications round the Cape—the Southern entrance to the Indian Ocean—and the vast economic interests of trade, investment and our long historical relations. How race relations develop in South Africa will depend on what happens in Rhodesia.

I know that there are those who look forward to a crusade against apartheid, to carrying revolution into South Africa; but for the more realistic among us there must be a realisation that if we can find a settlement in Rhodesia where white and black work together, as appears to be the solid foundation of the Salisbury pact, there is a real chance that the influence of it will spread for good to the whole of South Africa, with great advantage to the free world.

Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South) rose

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) will be the last Back Bencher I shall call to speak on this subject.

12 midnight.

Mr. Blaker

I want to make two points. First, I understand the desire of the Foreign Secretary to get all parties involved in the settlement and to get a ceasefire, but I believe that as a result of that desire he is in danger of appearing to give way too much to the parties which favour a violent solution. This seems to be totally contrary to the traditions that we have followed for 30 years in giving independence to more than 30 countries. With two exceptions—and these are not very happy exceptions—Aden and Zanzibar—I think I am right in saying that we have always insisted on free elections before independence is achieved. I do not see how we can fly in the face of that tradition on this occasion.

Mr. Robert Hughes

We are not flying in the face of tradition.

Mr. Blaker

Like the Foreign Secretary, I hope that Mr. Nkomo can be persuaded to come into the settlement, but I am not too optimistic about it, because there is a lot in what my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said about Mr. Nkomo's desire to have the real power. But I think it right that the opportunity for him to come in, and indeed for Mr. Mugabe to come in if he will, should be held open, and I believe that it has been held open over recent months. However, they cannot be given the opportunity to wreck the settlement.

This is the great flaw in the argument that we have heard from so many Labour Members. For example, the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) insisted that all the nationalist leaders must come into the settlement, or there should be no settlement. That is not a tenable position. Indeed, I believe the best prospect—if there is a prospect—of bringing Mr. Nkomo into the settlement is to give the impression that the internal settlement will go ahead anyway, whether he likes it or not.

My second point is that the Government's help may be needed in achieving a satisfactory internal settlement. I hope that if the time comes when the Government should step in in a more positive way, they will be prepared to do that. I believe that the Government bear a responsibility for the failure of the Kissinger agreement because they were too reluctant at that time to come in and do what was required of them by the world.

If, when that settlement was made, if, after we had heard Mr. Smith announce on 24th September 1976 that he accepted majority rule—it was a great announcement and I remember being surprised, astonished and deeply moved by it and believing, as I still do, that he meant what he said about accepting majority rule—if the British Government had been prepared to say "We will convene a conference. We will do everything we can to clinch this deal" things might have gone rather differently.

Mr. Robert Hughes

The hon. Gentleman must not forget an essential fact of that so-called agreement. It was that none of the representatives of the African national parties of Zimbabwe was consulted before Kissinger started, during the time that he was having discussions with Mr. Smith, or afterwards. One cannot have a settlement on that basis.

Mr. Blaker

With respect, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is accurate in his recollection of the facts. I believe that if the Government had shown more willingness at that time to accept their responsibilities we might have had a chance of a settlement then.

I hope that we shall not again reject a British role. I had the impression that the Foreign Secretary was indicating tonight that if, later this year, we are faced with a situation in which it has not been possible to bring in Mr Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, and elections or some other method of ascertaining the opinions of the people of Rhodesia as a whole are to take place, Britain may be faced with a decision to take part in helping that process forward. I should welcome that. The way in which we might be called on to help would be to send observers to the election or to join with other countries in sending observers.

I understand that the Foreign Secretary accepts that five of the Six Principles have been fulfilled by the internal settlement. The only one that has not been fulfilled is the fifth—that Britain should be satisfied that a settlement is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. That has not been fulfilled because the elections have not yet taken place.

I do not understand why so many hon. Members opposite appear to believe that Bishop Muzorewa, the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole and Chief Chirau do not know what their people will accept. They are experienced men. We saw the reception given to the bishop when he returned to Salisbury yesterday. We know that Mr. Sithole was under arrest for 10 years. These men have good credentials; they have struggled hard for a settlement and they should be able to judge what their people will accept.

It is likely that if the elections take place, even without Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, they will show that an overwhelming majority of Rhodesian people support the internal settlement. The problem will be to see that the elections are free and fair. That is why observers will be necessary. If we are to send observers, two things are required—we must have the political will to send them and it must be politically possible for us to do so.

This is where the Security Council vote is relevant. I am glad that, according to the Foreign Secretary, the British permanent representative has reserved our position, but it is a pity that he did not veto the resolution, because the vote has made it more difficult politically for us and our friends who think as we do to do what may be necessary later this year to assist the elections to take place.

The Government should be preparing the way for those elections. The Foreign Secretary said that the French, the Germans, the Americans and the Canadians shared our view in the Security Council. I believe that Britain carries great weight on the question of Rhodesia and the fact that those countries shared our view is probably a reflection of the fact that they believe that we know something about the subject. We certainly ought to—we we have had a great deal more acquaintance with it.

I hope that we shall use our knowledge and experience to prepare those countries for the fact that later this year they may be called upon to join us in assisting the process of achieving majority rule by democratic means. When the time comes, the right course may be for Britain and other countries to send observers so that the people of Rhodesia may show whether they believe that the settlement satisfies the Fifth Principle.