HC Deb 04 May 1978 vol 949 cc455-592

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Coleman.]

3.45 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)

The central issue facing Rhodesia at this moment, and therefore facing this House—since we still have constitutional responsibility for Rhodesia—is how to end the fighting which currently ravages that country. The extent of the fighting is not often understood. To the casual observer based in Salisbury it appears that the country is relatively stable and peaceful, but one does not have to look very far beyond Salisbury to realise that Rhodesia is torn by a war which makes whole tracts of the country answerable to the authority of whichever fighting forces happen to be operating in the area at any given moment.

So far this fighting has been a fight for independence, for freedom—a fight to end the rule of a minority white regime and replace this with a majority government. So far, despite the differences between the black nationalist leaders which have bedevilled the resolution of the Rhodesian problem, the differences have not led to organised open fighting between the nationalists. There have been many and varied differences of policy. There have been personality conflicts and clashes, but until now there has never been fighting organised between, on the one hand, one section of black nationalist leaders and, on the other, the Patriotic Front.

The grave danger which could face Rhodesia in the coming months is that the fighting will change from a traditional liberation struggle into a genuine civil war with fighting taking place between nationalist leaders in the name of a particular path towards independence and freedom. If this happens, and one section of black nationalist leadership is identified with the white minority regime, there is a very grave danger that the other black nationalist leadership—the Patriotic Front—will seek support in its struggle, not just from countries sympathetic to its cause in Africa but also from countries outside Africa.

I do not believe that the Patriotic Front wishes to be placed in such a situation. It has constantly said that it does not want other people to fight battles for it. I have no doubt, that the front-line States do not wish this escalation of the conflict and internationalising of the war. I have no doubt that South Africa does not wish to see this escalation of the conflict or internationalising of the war. It is because many of the countries surrounding Rhodesia, holding differing political views and different forms of government, are aware of the gravity of the current situation that I have recently found growing support for Britain and the United States to continue their efforts towards a negotiated settlement.

It is because people in Southern Africa are only too well aware of the consequences of our giving up our attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement that they believe that we should continue. Some believe that we should do so because they believe the internal settlement to be fatally flawed, wrong in concept, objectionable in character and that it should be condemned outright. Some believe that we should pursue our negotiations because, though they support some aspects of the internal settlement, they fear that it may not be sufficient and that it may not be able to achieve the necessary acceptance from the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Some wish us to continue because they believe, as I believe, that the principles of the negotiated settlement which we have been struggling to achieve for the last year are in themselves right, sound and capable of bringing about an independent Zimbabwe in peaceful and stable circumstances.

Whatever, therefore, the motives of the people who wish us to continue our search for a negotiated settlement, I have no doubt that it is the responsibility of the British Government, with the United States Government, to continue, despite all the difficulties, to try to bring about an agreement which would permit elections under conditions of a ceasefire or, if this is unattainable, to achieve such a measure of political agreement between all the parties as would permit a genuine test of opinion of the people of Zimbabwe.

The history of liberation struggles wherever they have taken place—and this House has had many debates about them, whether in the past over Africa, India, Cyprus, or the Middle East—demonstrates clearly that the error of successive British Governments over many decades has never been in taking too much notice of those fighting for their freedom but repeatedly of taking too little notice of the freedom movements and feeling that their aspirations and their motivation can be brushed aside. Time and again, this House of Commons has witnessed debates where previous Foreign Secretaries or other Ministers—charged with the responsibility of trying to bring about peaceful settlements and independence to the peoples of differing countries—have been attacked for a readiness to talk to people who have been variously described as terrorists or guerrillas. Time and again, those people so described have gone on to lead their countries and have often lived to find their names spoken of in this House with respect and honour.

I do not, therefore, seek to justify my readiness to negotiate with all the parties to the dispute in Rhodesia. I am confident that time and history will show that it is right and inevitable that I should do so. I intend to focus on the outstanding issues which have to be resolved before a negotiated settlement can be achieved. The risks of failure, as I have already indicated, are terrifying for their consequences and, though I cannot guarantee success, the one thing I can guarantee to this House is that were the British Government and the United States Government to give up now our current attempt to negotiate a settlement, the consequences that I fear would be immediate and grave. This is no idle threat, no irresponsible judgment, but a sober recognition of the realities of the situation.

Let this House be clear, let the country be clear, and let the world be clear, that the British Government have no intention of giving up their attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement. We will not change the present situation of illegality in Rhodesia nor recognise any Government there until we are satisfied, and this House is satisfied, that what has been achieved is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Nor shall we contemplate, before being so satisfied, the lifting of economic sanctions. For us to recognise the internal settlement, as some irresponsibly now urge, would be for Britain to go back on the Fifth Principle to which successive Governments have honourably held.

In 1971 and 1972, the then Conservative Government, even though they had negotiated an arrangement direct with Mr. Smith, felt that in order to fulfil the Fifth Principle, the acceptability of their negotiations should be measured by the Pearce Commission. Many people in Africa and some even in this House questioned whether the then Government would accept the view of the Pearce Commission. Many people wondered whether the Pearce Commission would be so arranged that it would be impossible to come to a contrary view. It is to the credit of that Government and of this House of Commons that we honoured the Fifth Principle then.

When the Commission reported, the settlement did not have the support of the people of Rhodesia. When it became apparent that the majority of the 5 million people who lived in the tribal trust-lands did not support the agreement, the Government refused to recognise the regime or to lift sanctions.

We learned then, or we should have learned, that the people of Rhodesia as a whole do not reside in Salisbury. They do not have access to the media. They are largely a rural population who are quite capable of making up their mind whether the form of government offered to them represents their true aspirations for majority rule.

In 1972, the then Government were not prepared to recognise the regime until not only the proposals had been shown to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia but the necessary changes had been made to the Rhodesian constitution and the process which they believed would lead to majority rule had been started. How can it now be seriously argued that Britain should, in the midst of a major conflict which clearly demonstrates a divided nation, unilaterally and in direct contravention of the Fifth Principle recognise the internal settlement and lift sanctions? It would be utterly wrong to do so. It would leave Britain with barely a friend in the world, discredited and despised. It would also, even more importantly, be a betrayal of the people of Rhodesia as a whole. We owe to them a debt of honour, and it is a debt which I intend to discharge.

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)

What form of government does the Foreign Secretary anticipate history would record and our debt of honour would reward if Mr. Nkomo or Mr. Mugabe were to form a Government either by force of arms or by election?

Dr. Owen

It is crucial that they form a Government, if they were to be chosen by the people of Zimbabwe, as a result of an election and not by force of arms.

Mr. Fairbairn

Then what?

Dr. Owen

It is a central objective of mine that the transition period during the period up to that election is one which will allow that election result to stick permanently and not to be overthrown. That is an extremely important reason why we need a stable transition period.

We have no debts or obligations to individuals or to parties in Rhodesia, and I think that that answers the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn). We have never had any interest in choosing between the different black nationalist leaderships. That is for the people of Rhodesia to decide. But we owe to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, black and white, the opportunity to become free citizens of an independent Zimbabwe in a way which they find acceptable.

At Question Time today, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was asked what humanitarian assistance—I assumed what was meant was humanitarian assistance through the voluntary agencies—we could give to the victims of the war in Rhodesia. This is an issue which has been concerning me for some time. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development will, subject to parliamentary approval, provide £238,000 for relief work within Rhodesia as part of her programme of assistance to those affected by the political situation in Southern Africa. This money will be used to support Christian Care, an organisation established by the Churches within Rhodesia in 1967 and which provides assistance to the families of detainees and the families of those executed by the regime and which also helps to rehabilitate ex-detainees and war victims. The money will be channelled through the International Universities Exchange Fund, for whom my right hon. Friend is also providing scholarships. Other Government support, Christian Care through the International Uni- versities Exchange Fund, voluntary bodies such as the International Defence and Aid Fund, Oxfam, and Christian Aid also provide money for it, and the grant from Her Majesty's Government will provide about 17 per cent. of Christian Care's budget this year.

I believe that this is the right way to deal with a very genuine problem of humanitarian assistance and how it can be channelled effectively to those concerned.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

I welcome, applaud and am grateful for the assistance which my right hon. Friend has announced. Will he also recognise that there are many refugees who have had to flee to Mozambique and to neighbouring Zambia? What assistance will my right hon. Friend provide for them?

Dr. Owen

We have already provided assistance for them, and my hon. Friend the Minister of State will gladly give details to the House of the way in which we have tried to channel humanitarian assistance as fairly as we can between all the differing sections in the community.

I have made it clear on numerous occasions, not just to this House but in all my negotiations and to the world, that Britain will honour the Six Principles. Even now, faced by an internal settlement which we believe to be inadequate, which causes us many anxieties and which gives us grave doubts, were such a settlement to be demonstrably acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, despite the fact that it means continuation of the armed conflict, were elections to be conducted which were seen by this House of Commons to be fair and free, and were a new Government to be installed with a new constitution which was clearly acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, we would be bound to honour our commitment.

However, we face a situation where it is far from clear that the internal agreement is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. There are conflicts within Rhodesia, as the dismissal over the last few days of Mr. Byron Hove clearly demonstrates. The armed struggle itself continues, and it is a brave man and, I would suggest to this House, a foolish man who would put his hand on his heart and say that the internal agreement is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. It is not for us to make this judgment, anyhow; it is for the people of Rhodesia. The world will watch closely to see whether, after an initial response by the liberation fighters, the appeal from Salisbury to lay down their arms and support the internal agreement, the process continues. At present, both sides are expressing confidence in their own position and in their own influence over the liberation forces, although Bishop Muzorewa's UANC clearly do not think nearly enough has been done. In this atmosphere, it may well take some weeks before either side is willing to consider compromising previously held positions.

Mr. Michael Latham (Melton)

Without recognising the internal settlement, will the Foreign Secretary say whether he agrees and supports the appeal of the internal Governments to the guerrillas to lay down their arms?

Dr. Owen

I should like to end all the fighting. I do not believe that the way to resolve the issue is through armed struggle. I have made that clear on numerous occasions. However, the way to deal with this situation is to try to negotiate a settlement, and that means that I have to try to talk to people who, obviously, at this moment will not lay down their arms.

For us in this House, for the British Government and the United States Government, our task is not to waver from our objective, which is a negotiated ceasefire and arrangements for a transitional administration which will allow fair and free elections and the emergence as soon as possible of an independent Zimbabwe.

Despite shifting alliances among the parties and various swings of optimism and pessimism reflected in the day-to-day reporting from Rhodesia, it is our task to hold to the principles which we believe can bring about a negotiated settlement. The emphasis on a negotiation among all the parties to the dispute is the essence of the Anglo-American plan. The details of that plan have already been modified in negotiations from that set out in Command 6919 which was published on 1st September last year. I am not, and never have been, attached to all the details of our proposals. The only reason that we felt it necessary to put specific and detailed proposals on the table was the inability of the parties to come together and compromise and negotiate.

Since 1st September we have seen steady movement towards some of the fundamental principles incorporated within the Anglo-American plan. Far from the plan being dead, I see an underlying trend which is steadily moving towards an independent Zimbabwe as a result of free and fair elections. I have placed in the Library the working documents which we gave to all the parties in February. Since then we have had further detailed discussions in March and in April, and I intend to outline to the House those areas upon which we must concentrate if we are to achieve a negotiated settlement.

Under the Anglo-American plan it was always envisaged that sanctions would be lifted at the start of the transitional period. In order to achieve international support for the lifting of sanctions, we had to ensure the irreversibility of the process towards independence. This irreversibility is fundamental if we are to satisfy others that sanctions should be lifted and that recognition should be given to any Government.

Under the internal settlement, there is no such guarantee of irreversibility, no transfer of power and no ceasefire. The commitment to an early election under universal suffrage is crucial, as is the undertaking to release detainees and to start the process of registering voters. Regrettably, however, there is anxiety that it is the wish of some inside Rhodesia to postpone the date so recently fixed for elections and independence for the end of the year.

I note that the UANC has commented that the release of detainees has been only a "partial measure" and that, according to reports reaching it, nothing has been done to create, in the tribal trustlands, a climate conducive to holding free elections. The UANC has also pointed out that moves have not yet been made to end racial discrimination and that—and I quote— If it is expected that the guerrillas should respond to the call for a ceasefire, it must be shown, tangibly, that if they returned home they would not suffer the same racial humiliation and disabilities under which they lived before they took to the bush. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Hon. Members opposite may say "rubbish", but that is what Bishop Muzorewa's organisation thinks at the moment, and we should take this into account.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The Foreign Secretary talks about guarantees of irreversibility. These do not exist in politics. What guarantee of irreversibility was there when we gave independence to Uganda on a democratic basis?

Dr. Owen

The task is to ensure that the transitional period will lead to an election, and one of the ways of getting as good a guarantee as possible—and I agree there are no perfect guarantees in this world—is to ensure the presence of the United Nations throughout the process. The United Nations would be observers of the election and would be committed to the election process, the lifting of sanctions, and the recognition of the Government. That is a concrete way of achieving a fundamental guarantee. This was one of the issues underlying the proposal to bring Namibia to independence. By having United Nations involvement there is a guarantee that Namibia will have elections that will be recognised by the UN. This enabled the South African Government to overcome their understandable reservations about certain aspects of the proposal.

Against this backgronnd of danger and uncertainty it is easy to despair. It is easy to think that there is no prospect of a negotiated settlement. It is easy just to want to give up. I believe, however, that, as so often in these types of negotiations, as more people become aware of the precipice in front, there is a tendency to start making the necessary compromises to achieve agreement. Nothing I have heard over the last few weeks makes me change my conviction that round-table talks are necessary as soon as we can ensure a reasonable chance of success at those talks.

I have no wish to repeat the experience of Geneva. I am determined to try to lay the necessary basis for successful talks by careful and detailed preparation beforehand. I do not wish to pretend that this will be easy, but the areas of agreement are now sufficiently clear for us to have a reasonable chance of building on them and, providing that all the parties will be ready to negotiate without preconditions, quietly and in detail, we could prep are for successful talks. We have had in recent months enough public meetings with extensive television and Press coverage. We are now in a position where we can best make progress by careful preparation on the ground.

The Patriotic Front, whilst reserving its negotiating positions on a number of important points, has expressed a readiness to come to the talks and the parties in Salisbury, though expressing considerable reservations about whether future talks will contribute to a negotiated settlement, would, I believe, be ready to participate if they could be convinced of their value.

I have therefore decided, in consultation with the American Secretary of State, to send Mr. John Graham, the Deputy Under-Secretary in the Foreign Office concerned with African affairs, to Africa to work with the United States Ambassador to Zambia, Mr. Stephen Low, and to stay there for as long as is necessary to carry out the preparatory work for successful round-table talks.

Both will have to travel together extensively in order to keep in continuous contact with all the parties. Their task will be to work towards round-table talks at which Mr. Vance and myself will be present and representatives of all the parties at the earliest possible moment compatible with careful preparation and the emergence of sufficient common ground to give a reasonable chance of success.

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

Will the Foreign Secretary tell the House whether Mr. Graham will be based in Salisbury or in another part of Africa?

Dr. Owen

That is up to the discuscusions that we have with people in Salisbury. I am quite prepared for Mr. Graham to go to Salisbury and base himself there. However, it is up to them, I do not want to force it, and I am prepared to discuss this with them.

The main areas for detailed negotiation are now clear—first, the Council covering the transition. All parties now want to have a Council of Ministers. All parties now believe this Council should effectively have legislative as well as executive powers. The difficult areas yet to be resolved relate to law and order and the constitution under which the Council will operate during the transition and the method of exercising its legislative authority and, of course, the composition of the Council itself.

Law and order has been the area on which the Kissinger proposals foundered and the Geneva Conference broke down. It has always been the most sensitive issue, and it is not surprising that in Salisbury at the moment the internal settlement has found so soon law and order to be the most divisive issue.

The Anglo-American plan had as one of its central themes that law and order and defence should be vested during the transition in a neutral authority. The front-line Presidents have always seen the validity of this argument. At Dar-es-Salaam the Patriotic Front proposed that a resident commissioner should hold reserve executive powers over defence and law and order. This is a very considerable advance and, though we still believe that these reserved powers should also cover external affairs and the recommendations of the electoral commission, and should also include legislative powers in those fields, the concept of crucial powers residing in the hands of a neutral authority has been agreed.

It is true to point out, too, that previously Bishop Muzorewa and the Reverend Sithole in consultation over the Anglo-American plan, supported this principle and indeed both argued at various stages in the discussions over the internal agreement for a neutral chairman and saw advantages in having responsibilities in the area of defence and law and order vested in such a neutral chairman. I have no doubt that in these sensitive areas during the transition it is right for the ultimate responsibility for defence and law and order to be held by an acceptable and neutral figure.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

. The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned the need for an independent chairman. Are we to assume that there is now agreement that he would be backed up by a neutral United Nations force as well? This was a great matter of difference between the Patriotic Front and the internal settlement.

Dr. Owen

I shall go on to describe that. This is another thing which came out of Dar-es-Salaam—that, whereas we have had difficulty previously in accepting the concept of the United Nations, we have now made significant progress in that area, too.

Another major area is whether the Council should operate under the powers of the illegal 1969 constitution and its related Parliament or should have a new constitution specifically designed for the transition. It might be possible to explore arrangements whereby such a transitional constitution, under which the Council would have legislative authority in place of the present Rhodesian Parliament, would be set up both locally and also by legislation approved by the British Parliament. The exact composition of the Council is unlikely to be resolved until the round-table talks take place.

In February we proposed that the transitional constitution should itself provide for the establishment of a governing council consisting of the resident commissioner and of 10, though it could easily be 20 or 30, other members, to represent the parties who participated in the Geneva Conference. In this scheme the resident commissioner would have been required to consult the governing council except in relation to certain specified subjects reserved as his special responsibility such as, at the minimum, external affairs, defence, internal security and the recommendations of the electoral commission and to accept its advice if it represented the views of two-thirds of its membership.

In Dar-es-Salaam the Patriotic Front argued for a majority position on any council but we made it clear to them that the British Government and the American Government could not support effective control of the Council being given to the Patriotic Front, since we felt that this was totally incompatible with the concept of a neutral transitional period and a free choice for the electorate. Nevertheless, it is clear now that all parties want more authority to be vested in the Council. If there is agreement to this, the British Government can certainly accept that, though if there is to be a British resident commissioner with real responsibilities he must have the power to enable him to discharge them.

Since then there has also been a demand by the parties to the Salisbury agreement that they should be treated as a single entity and that we should negotiate with them not as separate parties. It may be that the pattern of future negotiations will increasingly become one between the Patriotic Front on the one hand and the parties to the Salisbury agreement on the other. This is, anyhow, a decision for the parties to take. Hitherto, the British and American Governments have negotiated with the five parties represented at the Geneva Conference. A lot will depend on the cohesion and unity of the Salisbury agreement.

The second major area for detailed negotiation remains the defence and police forces. The ceasefire will require very detailed negotiation. All the parties have had a detailed explanation by Field Marshal Lord Carver of his proposals for creating a Zimbabwe national army and also how the arrangements for the ceasefire could operate. They have had, too, the opportunity of discussing the working of a United Nations peace-keeping force with the United Nations Secretary-General's special representative, General Prem Chand. We have circulated to them a paper describing the concept and the possible working of a UN Zimbabwe force and of how United Nations civilian police observers could be attached to the Rhodesian police force, to help assure the impartiality of any police action. The exact mandate and working of the United Nations, however, is subject to a decision by the Secretary-General and the Security Council. There would, however, be considerable merit in discussing the possible mandate with the parties in greater detail and trying to reach a greater measure of agreement than exists at present.

These issues have always been the most controversial. It was on this issue of integration that the discussions with Mr. Smith broke down in July 1977. In the past, the concept of integration has not been acceptable to Mr. Smith and to many white Rhodesians. It is interesting now that the integration of liberation fighters, prepared to return in peace, is being discussed in Salisbury as part of the internal agreement. The concept therefore of integration, which was always inevitable if there was to be a reduction in the level of fighting and an eventual ceasefire, appears now to be acceptable. This again is an important advance.

The police forces represent a far greater problem. It is interesting that, just as the Patriotic Front has raised questions over the police force, so this is becoming for Bishop Muzorewa and the UANC an important issue. It has always been the view of the British Government and the American Government that a major dismantling of the existing police force in the transitional period was not a practical proposition nor desirable for itself.

Yet it was because we recognised that there were genuine anxieties about the police forces during the transitional period that we proposed the United Nations civilian police observers who have operated in other countries in somewhat similar circumstances and have been able to ensure through their presence on the ground the impartiality and fairness of the police force. They would be answerable directly to the United Nations force commander. Their possible operation was described in the paper given to the parties in February and now placed in the Library of the House of Commons.

It has always been an important part of the Anglo-American plan that a new police commissioner should be appointed. The running of the police is a highly professional business and we have always felt that without professional advice and without studying the position on the ground we could not make commitments as to what restructuring and other changes would be necessary in the transitional period and, of course, the period immediately following independence. One thing is vital—that the police force should be maintained throughout the transitional period as a credible and reliable force giving confidence to the community as a whole. Any transitional period must have some basic stability, which can come only by retaining the Civil Service, the judiciary and the police forces as elements of continuity during the transition.

That is not, however, to argue that there should be no changes. In all these spheres there will, of necessity, have to be adaptation in order to prepare for independence and in order to pave the way for a majority-rule Government. I share the fears expressed by Mr. Byron Hove when he said: What Mr. Smith envisages is a situation in which the civil service, the police, the judiciary, the army, and all the State apparatus remain in the hands of white people. In other words, he believes in the substance of power remaining in white hands, with the shadow of authority passing to blacks. I hope that that is not the position, because it would make for great difficulties. Yet the necessary changes must come by agreement and by negotiation. If this can be done prior to the transition, then the stability and neutrality of the transitional period can be guaranteed.

The thread interweaving throughout the discussion on the issue of law and order and defence is the role of the United Nations. The major benefit to Rhodesia in involving the United Nations is not just that it can monitor and ensure that what is negotiated in detail prior to the transition for the ceasefire is maintained—that is important—and that it can be a stabilising force during the period of the transition, but that involvement of the United Nations is a guarantee of international acceptance and will allow the lifting of economic sanctions to take place at the start of the transition. It also opens up for Rhodesia the possibilities of economic assistance from the World Bank and from member States of the European Community through the proposed Zimbabwe development fund. All of this can lay the foundation for a secure economic future for Zimbabwe. It is in the interests of everyone. It ensures that Zimbabwe, when it reaches independence, can if it wishes be a member of the Commonwealth, the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations.

A United Nations peace-keeping presence has other significant benefits, too, for Rhodesia. An essential part of any ceasefire agreement is that the liberation fighters currently based in Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana should return in an orderly and controlled way to the country. It is vital for the future security of Rhodesia that none of these forces should constitute a threat to the stability of the country as a force capable of attempting to reverse the result of any election.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

Was consideration ever given to the establishment of a Commonwealth peace-keeping force as an alternative to a United Nations force?

Dr. Owen

As is well known, that would have been my preference, but I think that there were formidable difficulties in it—not least the fact that many member nations of the Commonwealth would not have been prepared to partici- pate in such a force under Commonwealth auspices, lacking all the history, framework and structure for having a force that the United Nations possesses. They would prefer to make their contribution—as I think they would be prepared to do—in the context of United Nations peace-keeping, which is how many Commonwealth countries have in the past traditionally exercised that option. I see obvious advantages in terms of acceptability and control in having a Commonwealth involvement and in preserving the concept of Commonwealth responsibility for a country which all of us hope will become a member of the Commonwealth. However, in my judgment, it was not practical politics to achieve that.

Far from United Nations involvement being against the interests of the white Rhodesians—as many of them still think it is—it can truly be argued to be in their interests and in those of Rhodesians of all races. Whereas when the Anglo-American plan was first put forward there was in Southern Africa itself a great deal of scepticism about the possibilities of the United Nations, the Rhodesian people can now see that the South African Government have been prepared to accept a role for the United Nations in the supervision of the elections for the territory of Namibia, or South-West Africa, as some of them would call it.

Furthermore, it has been seen by many of the people in Namibia that a United Nations force can offer them not only fair elections and international acceptance but the assurance of independence. It must be profoundly hoped on all sides of the House that the settlement proposed for Namibia will be acceptable to SWAPO and that it will be carried forward expeditiously and fairly. There can be few better examples and influences on Rhodesia than to have United Nations involvement in the attainment of independence actually operating in Southern Africa. It was a major advance—a point the right hon. Gentleman raised—that at Dar es Salaam last month the leaders of the Patriotic Front accepted the principle of a United Nations military presence.

The final main area for discussion will be how to handle the independence constitution. There are many areas which still need to be clarified and the detailed proposals on the constitution which we sent to all the parties in February should provide the necessary framework for further discussion. It may be that the best way to proceed over the independence constitution would be to leave this to be discussed further during the transition period, perhaps on the basis of recommendations made by an independent commission or other independent experts. It may be, however, that all the parties will wish to clarify in detail the constitution prior to the transition. The main issues have been identified in the documents sent to the parties in February and which have been placed in the Library of the House of Commons. I think that right hon. and hon. Members will see that a great deal of useful and good work has been put in on that, which will be very helpful.

The question which now needs to be asked is how we can achieve the sort of dialogue about which I have talked and which I profoundly believe to be now necessary. I made it clear in my speech to the Pilgrims on 13th March, and have done so since frequently in this House, that no one need come to these discussions conceding in advance any of their previous positions. Attendance at the discussions carries no recognition in any way whatever. All we ask is a readiness to try to put the future of Zimbabwe first, for us all to be prepared to examine the issues objectively in a genuine search for peace. I warn now that unless we do so, there is only one alternative—the continuation of a bloody war. The situation could worsen rapidly. Britain and the United States will approach any discussions firm on principle but flexible, determined only in our belief that it is necessary to negotiate a cease fire and to provide for a transitional administration which will ensure a period of stability and peace in which fair and free elections can take place and the transition to independence and majority rule be carried out in a way which will lay the foundations—

Mr. Michael Mates (Petersfield)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Dr. Owen

—for a prosperous, secure, multiracial Zimbabwe.

4.23 p.m.

Mr. John Davies: (Knutsford)

Let me make it clear at the outset of what I have to say that every day that has been lost and is now being lost in giving some positive encouragement to the immense step that took place in Rhodesia on 3rd March is a damage to the prospects of that country and progress towards majority rule in an orderly fashion.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Davies

Not yet. Later.

I found that the Foreign Secretary's whole speech was of a negative and an unhelpful character in terms of trying to get what we all seek so deeply.

Mr. Faulds

Will the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Davies


Mr. Faulds

Will the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Davies


Mr. Faulds

The right hon. Gentleman might have the courtesy—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. Mr. John Davies.

Mr. Davies

The Foreign Secretary has continually drenched with icy water all that has been achieved in these last two months by the agreement reached on 3rd March. I think that it is, in a sense, lamentable and unhappy that we should sit here listening once again to a recapitulation of all the old discussions that we have heard time after time, without recognising the real achievements which have taken place.

The Foreign Secretary goes on and speaks again of serious flaws in that agreement. What are they? He has not, to my mind, brought them to our attention at all. Does that agreement in any way offend against the six basic principles which we all set ourselves as an objective in this matter?

Certainly in the course of the Foreign Secretary's speech the only issue to which he made specific reference—as I understand it—is a test of acceptability. Of course that has yet to be done. We all know that it has yet to be done. But what we should be about is bringing it about, not deterring it.

Is it, in fact, that the Foreign Secretary has some concern about the provisions under the Sixth Principle in respect of the minority white population? If so, he has already provided not dissimilar arrangements within the framework of his own White Paper. Indeed, let me say quite clearly that all the information that comes to me from black and white alike is about the importance they see of maintaining white confidence in the future of that country and in the ability of the white people who are there to maintain their activity, to continue driving forward the undoubted movement that the country has taken over the years towards real prosperity. That is a fundamental requirement and, indeed, it is part and parcel of the provisions now made.

Moreover, is it perhaps the fact that Mr. Smith himself is continuing within the framework of the Executive Council? But here again, I hear from all sides that there is a strong feeling of need that he should do so, simply in order to bring about the very passage to majority rule which we are all so strongly seeking.

Could it be argued that there is a failure on the part of those who are parties to this agreement to make progress? It is surely hard to say so. There has been formed within the space of two months—two months alone—the Executive Council. There has been formed the Ministerial Council. There has been, in fact, a major release of detainees. I thought that the Foreign Secretary made some pretty grudging remarks on that subject. On my understanding, 700 out of 900 so detained have already been released, and 200 are subject to further investigation. But surely, in the space of two months, this is not a totally negligible achievement. It is something of substantial importance. The proscribed organisations, ZANU and ZAPU, as recently as yesterday, were liberated from that degree of restraint and are open to take active part in any election process that takes place. Is that not a major step? It seems to me that it is.

The Foreign Secretary spoke again grudgingly about the rehabilitation of guerrillas and their integration in the forces. But my recollection is that dating back from the time of the signature of the Salisbury agreement on 3rd March, there was indeed such a provision already envisaged, so it is not just recently that that has taken place.

There is, finally, some start towards the whole process of conducting an election in the country. I shall come back to that matter, because it seems to me that the start is as yet too little.

Of course there is much to be done. Of course the question of the elimination of racial discriminations is an essential. Of course we understand Bishop Muzorewa and his anxiety to see that pushed forward. But in a period of two months only, what has been done is no bad record—quite the contrary.

With reference to what the Foreign Secretary said about Mr. Hove, it is interesting that the UANC, the very party of which he is a member, only yesterday came out with an absolute declaration of solidarity to the agreement reached in Salisbury and an absolute unwillingness to see that undermined or damaged.

In his remarks, the Foreign Secretary undoubtedly puts an immense emphasis on the question of the failure of the Salisbury agreement, as he sees it, to have a chance of procuring a ceasefire. None of us can be in any doubt about the immense importance of that achievement. It is absolutely essential.

Perhaps I may say in passing that the constant reference to liberation fighters, however much the Foreign Secretary may have felt that it was justified in times gone by, seems to me to be singularly inappropriate when three of the major forces and the major parties in the whole of the black side of Rhodesian life have joined in this agreement of 3rd March.

Of course, we understand, agree with and entirely support every effort made to try to persuade the Patriotic Front to forswear the use of force and to return to the negotiating table in a peaceful mind. We think that that action has been undertaken rather belatedly. We must observe that whereas the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister have frequently stressed in the past that that degree of persuasion must not be interpreted as allowing the Patriotic Front a right of veto in the operation, it seems more and more that that is precisely the situation into which we are sinking.

If we continue steadily undermining the confidence of the people in Rhodesia about the possibility of bringing to fruition what they have achieved with such difficulty, it is left for the Patriotic Front, if it wishes, to create a situation where it can overcome by force, where it can hang on and hang on, so that in the end the very people who are seeking a peaceful settlement are prevented absolutely from doing so.

I fear the right hon. Gentleman's view of the matter, however much we may share his desire to integrate the dissident black interests and however much we may hope that he is successful. We must not allow that to become the absolute restricter to ability to move to the proper degree of peaceful solution.

It seems that the right hon. Gentleman's anxiety about Soviet or Cuban interference has exactly the same overtones. It is no good imagining that by insisting on the support ad ultimum of the Patriotic Front we shall avoid the involvement, eventually, of the Soviets and Cubans. It is no good imagining that they themselves have not become so involved already. Indeed, we know that it is otherwise.

Let us consider the alternative if we do not manage to achieve a successful, peaceful passage to majority rule under the terms of the agreement that has now been reached. If the internal settlement were to fail, can the right hon. Gentleman imagine the depths of bitterness and resentment which would exist within not merely the white community but much more among those in the black community who joined in the arrangement?

What chance of a ceasefire then? There would not be a ceasefire of the sort that may exist even today. There would be a ceasefire involving a great confrontation between black and black, with all the depths of fratricidal struggle which could only, I am afraid, bring the most agonising consequences. I am not concerned only about the struggle between the Patriotric Front and the others. We have seen evidence—it exists strongly even today—of dangers of internecine strife within the Patriotic Front.

As for Soviet influence, the same will be true if we push on to a point where the Patriotic Front alone manages to carry its will and obtains by force what it is not prepared to obtain by electoral means. After all, whose force is it? It is the force of Soviet armament that is behind that group. However much we may hope and believe that it is possible to reintroduce Mr. Nkomo into the whole concept of a peaceful settlement, we have only to listen to Mr. Mugabe to be most deeply concerned about his intentions. How can we imagine that if the internal settlement were totally undermined, usurpation of the country would not itself induce a basically Marxist dominated and Marxist supported organisation?

I have the same misgivings about the Anglo-American proposals. They have always had the fundamental weakness of not providing the necessary assurances that any reasonably minded man would seek on the security issue. That is still the position. The right hon. Gentleman has sketched out in considerable detail many of the matters that have been the subject of discussion between the parties. He has placed in the Library the documents that have been submitted and we shall all look forward to reading them. However, underlying all the documents and the discussions is the fact that there is no confidence that the proposals made for the maintenance of security during the period of transition and election will be sufficient to meet the extreme situation which Rhodesia now faces.

I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman's statement of 1st September still subsists as the basic statement concerned with the formation of the Zimbabwe army. That statement has not been modified. To all those within Rhodesia who are parties to an agreement to seek to move towards majority rule, that statement constitutes an absolute obstacle and an absolute objection. What can they expect from an army based on so-called liberation forces? Surely it is an illusion to believe that there is any possibility of those parties, who have now moved so far, starting to walk backwards into a situation that is full of grave uncertainties.

I am sure that there is trouble ahead unless we persuade the right hon. Gentleman and his American colleagues to move away from their present view. I shall quote briefly from a statement that seemed to have much significance. From where does it come? It reads: but a lasting settlement cannot be imposed from outside. It is the people of Zimbabwe who must achieve their own independence. Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that phrase? It comes from his White Paper. Is he now seeking that? It seems that he is not. That is something that causes us deep concern. It seems that it is not the people inside Rhodesia to whom he is looking to achieve a settlement. The right hon. Gentleman's statement can be contrasted bitterly with that which the Prime Minister said recently about the internal settlement. He said: We will not veto the arrangement entered into. Nor is it our responsibility to endorse it until we see how it is carried out."—[Official Report, 9th March 1978; Vol. 945, c. 1603.] There is a great contrast between the positive and helpful aspirations of the one statement and the negative content of the other.

I have deep misgivings about the right hon. Gentleman's proposal of a general conference without preconditions. He may seek very hard to avoid the experience of Geneva being repeated, but Geneva still lives clearly in our minds. To institute a conference at which there is no basic agreement and where there are no basic elements of accord is itself to introduce I fear, a display of confrontation and disagreement.

How can the parties to the Salisbury agreement throw that agreement into the melting pot? How can they, on the principle of there being no preconditions, attempt once again to start de novo the whole agonising process, which we all remember took them so many months of difficult argument to achieve?

I am convinced that every reasonable assessment of the whole situation conducts us to the same conclusion. There should, of course, be an effort—and every effort upon which the right hon. Gentleman insisted—to move towards a negotiated settlement. However, that settlement wants to start with the Salisbury agreement. It should not start with a proposition which, despite all the good will that may have attended its writing, is unfortunately rejected by all. That is no basis on which to reach the negotiated agreement that the right hon. Gentleman seeks.

There is a fatal weakness in standing by and watching the pot simmer. I fear that it will simmer down to a state of icy coldness. It will then move in another and more dangerous direction. Support is now essential. The psychological effect of a word of encouragement from the right hon. Gentleman at this moment would have an immense effect in Rhodesia. I can only plead with him to change his mind, and instead of the con- stant dripping of dissuasion and dissatisfaction to offer some sort of positive lift to the people, who so eagerly and anxiously await that sort of expression.

The right hon. Gentleman has said that Mr. John Graham will be moving into Africa to seek to reach the basis of the conference in which I have such grave doubts. I should be happier if Mr. Graham were going to Salisbury to try positively to assist in bringing about the very agreement that has been entered into, and to bring it to success. There is so much to do. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the problems of the development of an adequate constitution. It is an intensely complex problem and we can do so much to help to try to bring about an adequate constitution.

There is the electoral question to which I referred. I plead with the Foreign Secretary to appreciate that not only his proposals but everybody's proposals and the Salisbury agreement envisage that the ultimate stage must be an election. Surely that is something to which we should be prepared here and now to work towards. We all know the problems involved in seeking to compile an electoral register and to provide all the arrangements for an election involving 3 million electors in a country which has never had an election on that scale. Why should it not be possible right now, whatever the outcome, to move towards assisting in the formation of that register and all the complex arrangements which go into the creation of an election? Does the Foreign Secretary feel that he can respond to my appeal in this respect? It seems so self-evident that that is the thing to do. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] If he will not, I shall carry on.

I think that the virtue of having a positive presence of a senior and competent kind in Salisbury to keep the Foreign Secretary and us informed would be of immense value. The absence of it over all these months seems to be a dismal defect in the arrangements that we have had.

I feel that I must say a word about sanctions, to which the Foreign Secretary alluded. I am well known to be and, indeed, am on record in this House as being no friend of sanctions at any time. I believe them to be a very poor way of trying to induce people to accept unpalatable arrangements, and they have a very dangerous and counter-productive effect.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

The right hon. Gentleman has spoken very sharply about sanctions. Does he recollect that the internal agreement, on which he sets so much store, begins with a statement that one of the reasons why they are entering into it is the effect of sanctions on the country?

Mr. Davies

I understand it. I would only say to the right hon. Gentleman that my constant and absolute conviction has been that the great penalty of sanctions, to whatever country they have been applied, has been on the common people. They have always hit the common people much more strongly than they have hit regimes. I am no friend of sanctions, and in today's conditions there are very strong arguments in favour of rescinding them.

If I look to Mr. Kissinger's original proposals in September 1976 or the Anglo-American initiative, in both instances the initiation of a transitional Government called for the elimination of sanctions. It is in no one's interests, whatever our views on the matter may be, in any way to contribute—I believe that sanctions do cotnribute—to the economic decline of Rhodesia. When there is a majority elected Government, that country will face intense and difficult problems. Therefore, anything which is done now which makes that situation worse is to my mind undesirable.

Mr. Thorpe

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is not without significance that both Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole have expressly said that they do not expect to see sanctions lifted, nor are they pressing for sanctions to be lifted, until independence has been granted after an election?

Mr. Davies

The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt wish to hear me out. Given my views about both the efficacy and the desirability of sanctions at this stage, I still reach the view, on balance of judgment, that this is not the time to lift them. I reach that judgment solely because I believe that it would be counter-productive to the atmosphere of worldwide support, which I believe it is essential to achieve, for the settlement in Salisbury. With some reluctance, I accept that is so. But I add that if we move forward in the autumn of this year to a position where we can see within our clear sights—I hope and believe that is possible with support and help from the Government—an election almost certainly looming quickly on the horizon, it will be with great difficulty that the House will renew the sanctions order. The Opposition would have real difficulty in those circumstances in agreeing to continue to penalise a country which was within touching distance of its own majority rule.

I finish as I began. There is no case for standing back on this issue. It could prove absolutely catastrophic to the future of Rhodesia in which all of us, whatever the differences in cur views may be, have a deep and abiding interest. I appeal to the Foreign Secretary, for the sake of the future, to change his approach to this problem, to hold out a helping hand to these people who are sincerely seeking to move towards a new situation of majority rule in that country, and not continually to visit them with what I can only call the frozen mitt.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. Approximately 30 right hon. and hon. Members are anxious to take part in this important debate. I feel compelled to make an earnest appeal for brevity.

4.45 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough)

Unlike the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), I think that the policy being pursued by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is the right one. I believe that if he followed the advice given by the Opposition there would be civil war. I shall come back later to the possibility of civil war.

Many of my hon. Friends know that I have for a long time taken the view that there can be no peaceful solution of the Rhodesia problem until Mr. Smith removes himself from the position of power and responsibility. I know from my own experience that he cannot be trusted. Ministers of both Labour and Conservative Governments and many others have good reason to share my view.

In 1965 I thought that Mr. Smith had accepted as a basis of settlement for Rhodesia the Five Principles which were laid down by the Conservative Government. My predecessor, Lord Sandys—we were in constant touch about the Rhodesia issue—said to me "If you could see your way to accept those Five Principles and to present them to Mr. Smith, he would think that he was getting off lightly and I believe that he would accept them." I was encouraged by that. Therefore, in 1965, when the Lord Chancellor and I went to Rhodesia, I spelt out the Five Principles to Mr. Smith at a private meeting and he accepted them. Before I left Rhodesia, I took the Lord Chancellor with me so that he, too, could hear what had been said. Mr. Smith denies that he ever accepted the Five Principles. I think that I can say that I had a pretty reliable witness.

The Africans have even stronger reasons for mistrusting Mr. Smith. Their freedom has been taken from them. Their organisations or associations have been destroyed. Their political leaders have been imprisoned, without trial in many cases, and many hundreds—whole tribes and families—have been forcibly removed from their homelands.

The intransigence of Mr. Smith—a litter of unkept promises, harassment and killing of black people, many of them non-combatants—continues. To see photographs of the dead lying in police station yards does not encourage respect or trust.

There are good constitutional reasons for Mr. Smith being asked to stand down. He lied to the Governor of Rhodesia about the state of emergency and he rebelled against the Crown. Let us not be mealy-mouthed. He encouraged soldiers, who had sworn an oath of loyalty to the Queen, to follow his guidance. He really is a traitor.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

I think that the right hon. Gentleman knows that perhaps I understand his view more readily than other Opposition Members. Is he not dwelling in the past? Does he accept that Mr. Smith has now accepted the Five Principles and the Six Principles and that we have to think of the present and the future?

Mr. Bottomley

I shall be dealing with that matter immediately. Let us examine the present Administration. I believe that it stands no chance of succeeding, in spite of Mr. Smith's claim that the three black nationalist leaders represent between them the majority of black Rhodesians. This assumption cannot be tested in the present situation of divided opinion and widespread intimidation of the Africans.

Who are the majority? The right hon. Member for Knutsford obtains his views from a different area. The younger generation despise their parents who are prepared to address the white man as "master". Every year thousands of young school leavers fail to get work. They have become unruly corner boys and material for the militants.

Many of the more intelligent young people listen to Mozambique Radio and are stirred by revolutionary idealism. They are avid readers of black protest literature. By exploiting divisions among the Africans for his own ends and discrediting each faction in turn Mr. Smith has weakened the influence of moderate and informed black African opinion.

A former Prime Minister of Rhodesia whom I was privileged to count as a friend, Sir Godfrey Huggins, was a farsighted man for his time. He said that education would be the basis for a peaceful settlement. He provided education far in advance of that provided by any colonial Power, including Britain. When most other African countries achieved their independence they could count the number of African graduates in dozens. In Zimbabwe they can count them in thousands. Either we persuade those informed people to take a part in trying to build up a peaceful Zimbabwe or we turn them into revolutionaries to destroy everything for themselves and for everyone who lives in that pleasant land.

Because I speak to Africans, I know that there is still much good will towards the whites, despite the whites' contemptuous neglect to encourage it. Rhodesia is now infiltrated by freedom fighters and their agents. Many relatives and sympathisers are now working against the internal leaders. In some ways, although the white man does not appreciate it, the white man is living in an enemy country.

It is unrealistic to think that there can be a peaceful settlement of the Rhodesian crisis without the involvement of the Patriotic Front. That is why I am glad that the Foreign Secretary is doing all that he can to bring members of the Patriotic Front into active co-operation. He is not misled. He knows the difficulties. It would be wrong to under-assess the strength of Nkomo and Mugabe. They both have strong support in the rural areas. Nkomo has an advantage: he also has support in the urban areas. The freedom fighters upon whom they can call are not insignificant in numbers. I am told that when news is given about the success of freedom fighters the Africans in Zimbabwe openly applaud it.

From my contacts I know that many Africans have a growing feeling of hatred and bitterness against the white man. I find that they resent me in a way which they never did before. The highly efficient Rhodesian armed forces and police can contain the situation for some time, but they cannot do it for ever. Rhodesia, like the rest of the world, is suffering from a recession. The arms struggle is taking a heavy toll of the economy. There is an urgent need for a settlement to avoid the Rhodesia problem becoming an international issue between the great Powers.

If that should happen the Patriotic Front would be united and its forces effectively joined together. It would be the end of European influence in Rhodesia. That would be regrettable for the future development of Zimbabwe. European skill and craftsmanship are required for farming and industry. It would be unjust to the Europeans, particularly those who were born in that land. Amongst those citizens are many of the most liberal-minded Rhodesians, black or white.

An early settlement of the Rhodesia problem is vital. We should put Robert Mugabe in a category similar to that in which we put Mr. Smith. I would not trust him to bring about peace and harmony for the people of Rhodesia as a whole. An early settlement is vital if we are to stop him from achieving his proclaimed objective of a one-party State—and that is more possible if we follow the Opposition's strategy. We should do everything that we can to encourage Joshua Nkomo to co-operate. He is a senior nationalist leader. He is probably the most respected and best-known amongst the Africans. He has a vital part to play in bringing about a free and independent Rhodesia.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

Like the right hon. Member, I regard Joshua Nkomo as a friend. Over the years I have admired him. Like the right hon. Member, I have asked Joshua Nkomo to come into the settlement in Rhodesia. But, if he will not do so, for whatever reason, is the right hon. Member saying that the war should go on and that the killings of black and white should continue?

Mr. Bottomley

I think that it is possible that he will come in. I shall explain later why I believe that. I think that Nkomo recognises that if there is to be a free and independent Rhodesia he must play a part. The principle for which he fought all along—majority rule—has been achieved. He told me that that was his ambition and he has therefore got more or less what he wants.

I turn to the way in which the Foreign Secretary has handled the Rhodesia problem. I hope that he will continue his efforts to persuade the Patriotic Front leaders and the interim Administration in Salisbury to work together. My right hon. Friend is engaged in intricate diplomacy. By keeping the talks going he provides an opportunity for the internal settlement to develop. While that is going on the Patriotic Front acts as a pressure on Mr. Smith and his colleagues. By that means the internal settlement can be used to apply pressure on the Patriotic Front.

Robert Mugabe will remain opposed to any agreement. He has said that he believes that there can be a settlement only by armed conflict. There is one hope of avoiding a civil war. It is for the Owen-Young plan to be implemented.

If Mr. Smith was a statesman and farseeing, he would recognise that there is one European in Rhodesia who alone can command the support of the majority of Africans. They trust him to bring about majority rule. That man is the former Prime Minister Garfield Todd. If Mr. Smith could see the wisdom of asking him to assume leadership, it would be revolutionary and would stop the likely civil war.

Another action must be taken. Bishop Muzorewa should invite Joshua Nkomo to join him to bring about the great new nation of Zimbabwe. Together those two men represent the main groups of Africans. They would therefore be all powerful. Some may think that it is naive, but, in my judgment, unless we are prepared to do something striking, away from what is going on at present, civil war is inevitable.

The so-called Rhodesian traditional Government have got off to a shaky start. Mr. Byron Hove, the first Minster of Law, left a thriving practice in the Inner Temple to assist in the peaceful emergence of his people to their rightful place in society in Rhodesia. When taking up his duty he made the very reasonable proposition that more black people should be included in the police forces and that there should be a positive discrimination in favour of some black policemen who should be promoted within the service. This at once resulted in Mr. Hove's dismissal from his ministerial post and his return to England. It appears that even the Bishop was not consulted about the matter.

I conclude with the words with which I began. I am very pessimistic about a peaceful settlement. The only hope we have of securing that is if Mr. Smith were to take a lead and stand down.

5.1 p.m.

Mr. Reginald Maudling (Chipping Barnet)

I shall try not to trespass on the indulgence which the House accords courteously, if somewhat reluctantly, to Privy Councillors. I find my task all the easier, however, because I so wholeheartedly agree with the fine and compelling speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies). So far as it is within my power, I implore the Foreign Secretary to use all his efforts and his undoubted talents and abilities to make the internal settlement succeed. If it does not succeed, the alternative is chaos and disaster.

If the settlement falls apart, it will take many years and much bloodshed before it can be put together again. There are currently difficulties within the coalition. No one in his sane senses expects everyone to agree on everything straight away. Our job, however, is to try to help solve those disagreements, and anyone who tries to exacerbate them is playing not only with fire but with fire and brimstone.

The internal settlement surely meets all the criteria that have been established over so many years—the Foreign Secretary has not denied that—with the one exception, which still has to be met, of general acceptance to the people of Rhodesia. The proof of that could come only from a free and fair election. Surely above all it is our job, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford said, to do everything we possibly can to help such an election to come about. We must make it clear that if the people of Southern Rhodesia freely back the internal settlement, we shall support them, come hell or high water.

I recognise the Foreign Secretary's difficulties. It is clearly desirable to get the agreement of the Patriotic Front. But does the Patriotic Front want free and fair elections? That is a fundamental question. Mr. Mugabe clearly does not want anything of the kind. He has said so. It is hard to judge about Mr. Nkomo. Understandably, he wants power. I have a great respect for him, and I hope very much that efforts will continue to persuade him to support the internal settlement and to put himself and his followers to the test of free and fair elections. That achievement would be an enormous prize. It is worth trying repeatedly to secure it. But Mr. Nkomo should not have a veto. No one should be allowed a veto.

We hear a great deal about freedom fighters. In their view they are freedom fighters, but their tactics are those of terror and their methods are brutal, bloody and indiscriminate murder. All the liberation movements that I can think of have their violent wings. It has been said at times, though it is hard to say whether it is true, that the end can justify the means. But the end has been achieved. Agreement has been reached on majority rule, on free elections and on universal adult franchise. What possible justification can remain for the use of murder, terror and violence?

If the Patriotic Front will come in and take part honestly and openly in free elections, that will be the cause of great joy for the people of Rhodesia, as it will for all men of good will throughout the world. If, however, it intends to use its force to prevent free elections, if it intends to try to impose its power by the use of guns—and Russian guns at that—I hope that to that the British Government will be openly, avowedly and implacably opposed.

5.5 p.m.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

Before I deal with the speech of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, let me say that, in view of his courageous, simple and clear statement of our responsibilities for trying to get the white settler regime in Southern Rhodesia out of its dangers, it was unbelievably irresponsible of the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) to make such a partisan and unrealistic appreciation of the problems in Southern Rhodesia.

My right hon. Friend's speech was excellent. Although I have not always seen eye to eye with him on matters connected with Southern Rhodesia, I believe that in his speech this afternoon he was brilliantly precise about what needs doing and about the contribution that those who care about developments in Southern Rhodesia can make to a possible peaceful solution. I say "possible peaceful solution" because the more I hear of the Opposition arguments, the less likely it seems to me that we shall avoid the holocaust of which my right hon. Friend spoke.

I was pleased and relieved to hear my right hon. Friend make it clear this afternoon that there will be no lifting of sanctions. It would be absolute lunacy to lift sanctions when the combination of sanctions and the guerrilla campaign—and this is an important element in the change of mind of the white regime—have combined to push that regime into abandoning its entrenched racist position. The Southern Rhodesia economy is in a poor state. To allow its succour and revitalisation to take place before the international community is assured that majority rule is truly established would be quite irresponsible.

We know Smith from previous experience. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) knows him from personal contact and has spoken of his "honesty" and "responsibility." The lifting of sanctions would give him the chance to slip out of the commitments he has undertaken. It would enable him, being the man he is, to continue the life of his illegal regime, backed, as some of the Opposition forget, as he still is with the forces under his control. His record of deceit and deviousness must surely prevent any of us here from giving him the benefit of the doubt.

When the internal settlement of 3rd March was announced and questions were put to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, I commented that the agreement would not work. I think that my words are now being borne out. The internal arrangements are hardly showing signs of working. The sacking of Byron Hove, a man who was prepared to work this internal agreement, is an indication of what I mean. He made the point that Africanisation of the police forces was an essential element in moving towards a settlement, and it was for that that he was sacked. His sacking hardly suggested that the Smith regime was prepared to abandon its ability, which it still possesses, to impose its will through the use of those powers it still holds.

The meeting this coming Sunday of Muzorewa's political organisation may well cause him to decide to abandon his involvement. But whether it does or not, sooner or later it will dawn on the responsible black leaders—I say that because I am not sure that Chirau can be spoken of as such—that they are parties to a charade of independence in which the real power still lies in the wishes of Ian Smith and the forces at his control.

Some hon. Members with less knowledge of Southern Africa, borne up by the euphoria of inexperience of it, seem to believe in a settlement in which that arch twister Smith is involved—(HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] I repeat, that arch twister Smith, because that is what he has repeatedly proved himself to be. The naivety of those who believe that any arrangement in which such a man is involved could possibly come to successful fruition is extraordinary. It is all the more extraordinary that they are prepared to exhibit their naivety by that sort of intervention. Sadly, there will be no possibility of a peaceful solution of Southern Rhodesia's problems while Smith is still involved in whatever internal arrangements there may be.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. The best contribution towards a peaceful solution in Southern Rhodesia would be the removal, the dismissal by whatever means, of that gentleman, be cause he is the first and biggest obstacle to a peaceful solution. It is ridiculous and destructive of any hope for the future of Zimbabwe if we believe that we in Britain, we in this House, can wearily wash our hands of our responsibilities there by agreeing to recognise whatever independent State comes out of this current series of talks in the internal settlement.

This afternoon my right hon. Friend made clear that he would accept the outcome of elections arranged in fulfilment of the internal agreement if the Six Principles were met. But I ask him to consider that, if the external forces of the political organisation of the Patriotic Front are not included in that ensuing election or in the arrangements for those elections, the Six Principles will not have been met, because not all the parties to the political future of Zimbabwe will have been involved in those elections.

I am sorry to state my one disagreement with my right hon. Friend, but it is a profound one. I believe that he was wrong and was gravely ill advised to say any such thing. He may wish to get the British Government shot of the whole long drawn out, wearying, damaging dispute and he may feel—this is an element which unfortunately in his position he has to consider—that he could not convince the House of the ill wisdom of accepting the outcome of such an internal agreement, since there is such a body of Opposition Members, as they have exhibited in this debate, who are blind to the realities of the dangers to Western interests in Southern Africa.

I wish to impress on the Foreign Secretary that, whatever his difficulties with the House, if he were to reject an unbalanced internal settlement, that would be as nothing compared to the difficulties he would face with Britain's foreign friends if he were to accept such a settlement.

One of the remarkable things about the Carter Presidency is that he and his national security adviser, whose name I never dare risk, and the admirable Andrew Young, have all come to a full realisation of how damaging the white regimes in Southern Africa are to the real interests of the West. The very existence of those white regimes and their close economic ties with the West enormously advance the philosophies and the policies of the Marxist countries. The only way we can prevent the peoples of that area from falling into the hands of the Communist powers is to help the people there actively, by political and economic means, to evict the white regimes and to set up their own democratic Governments.

Africans who want true independence have already seen that Russia and Cuba have no qualms whatever about intervening militarily to help impose antidemocratic Governments—of the extreme Left, of course—as they have done in Angola and Ethiopia. If we in the West do not help these Africans who want true independence, they will be forced, however much they may detest and see the dangers of this new imperialism of Marxism, to turn to those who will help them. Some of us in the House—some of my hon. Friends who are with me this afternoon—had the foresight to warn of that danger many years ago, and long before it became as apparent as it now is.

If some hon. Members do not understand or accept that argument, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary understands that one Government that does is the United States Government. Most countries will not be prepared to recognise an independent Zimbabwe half free and half in thrall still to the remnants of the Smith regime. I am sure that my right hon. Friend must understand those matters better than most of us do. We shall be isolated in our recognition of that settlement, and that self-inflicted isolation would damage Britain morally and economically.

Finally, let me deal with the matter of the justice demanded by an independent Zimbabwe. As the world knows, there has been much suffering imposed on the Africans by the Smith regime and its various agencies. Many dozens of fighters have been judicially murdered, many hundreds of men, women and children have been brutally slaughtered, and I adjure my friends among the leaders of the independent Zimbabwe—when we get it—to remember the example we set at Nuremberg. I do not think they need my advice, because I suspect that they are already resolved to bring to book and to wreak justice on those in the regime who have been responsible in the judiciary for political murder by hanging, and those in the military who have been responsible for the mass killing of non-combatants by the Selous Scouts and other such dishonourable military organisations.

I hope that these matters will be remembered by the leaders of the independent Zimbabwe, and that, wherever such men who have done that dirty work on behalf of that illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia may seek their funk-holes throughout the world, action will be taken to bring them back to justice in the country where they committed their crimes—in Zimbabwe.

5.17 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

If the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) will allow me to say so, I do not think his final remarks are likely to bring about harmony and a settlement in the peaceful Zimbabwe that we all wish to see.

I speak as one who has listened to every debate on Rhodesia ever since UDI, and I can claim, somewhat immodestly, to have participated in each one. There is nothing unusual in there being a difference between the two major parties in the House, but there are differences which are to the benefit of the discussion of this subject.

The first is that we have seen an exciting and encouraging move towards a peaceful settlement in Namibia—a move for which credit must be given to Mr. Vorster, to the United Nations and to the five permanent members of the Security Council. I re-echo the hope expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary that SWAPO will see fit to accept it as well. I believe that in that case everything which everybody has wanted to achieve could be achieved within the framework of that Western initiative. That is a new development. Therefore, there is the possibility that in part of Southern Africa at least we shall get a peaceful solution.

Another useful and helpful factor in regard to Rhodesia is that there is no need to argue the case for African majority rule. Those in this House who believed in the inevitability and permanence of white supremacy have moved as far as Mr. Smith appears to have moved, and that is a very great improvement indeed.

Therefore, we are discussing not the end result but how to achieve it. There is no disagreement between the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) and the Foreign Secretary that what we all want to achieve is peaceful independence, and an independence which will not result in fighting for the first five years on a Malaysian scale—which is not impossible if we get the position wrong politically.

There seem to me to be certain options. There are those—I am not referring to the right hon. Memer for Knutsford—who say that we should give outright recognition not to an independent Zimbabwe but to the internal settlement. Although I accept that there is no group with any other right of veto, I believe that if that course were pursued any hope of getting the Patriotic Front to negotiate and to get round the table would immediately be dashed. The Patriotic Front would feel well justified in continuing to train troops because there would be no alternative to a military solution. I am referring not merely to those who are in Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia but to those who are being trained by the Cubans in Angola. Therefore, I believe that option should be firmly ruled out.

There are those who then say "Why should not the internal settlement be the basis of talks between the Patriotic Front and the parties to the internal settlement as opposed to the Anglo-American proposals?" The reason I believe that suggestion is misguided is that the Anglo-American proposals contain certain features which are in the interests of Zimbabwe. I refer particularly to the transitional arrangements which require a strong international presence, which is a far greater guarantee that we shall have a transitional period in which we can go to independence in peace.

One hon. Member was right to ask what guarantee there was that any constitution would survive. There is none. There was no guarantee when Mr. Smith asked Sir Humphrey Gibbs in 1965 "Will you please sign a declaration of emergency?" and the Governor said "Prime Minister, will you assure me that you are not doing this as a prelude to UDI?". Mr. Smith replied "I give you my firm assurance to that effect." No sooner had he got the emergency declaration signed than he declared UDI. There is no guarantee in any situation.

There is no guarantee, but the best hope is if one can move to a peaceful transitional period towards that form of majority rule. Therefore, I think that the Anglo-American proposals have the built-in guarantees of the United Nations presence. My only qualification is that it should be strong enough and large enough. Here is a point that I think the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) has perceptively raised in the House. The United Nations is under risk of being very gravely stretched, if it has to have a presence in South Lebanon, Sinai, the Golan Heights, Cyprus, possibly Namibia and possibly Rhodesia as well. That is a problem to which we must address our minds.

In the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Carver, the proposals would also mean that there would be a far greater British presence than has been suggested by the Patriotic Front or by the internal settlement. Therefore, I believe that it has certain built-in advantages which are more likely to bring about a peaceful transition.

I find some difficulty on the question of what should be the position of Mr. Smith. Emotionally, one would say "Let's have a clean slate." Certainly, in the Anglo-American proposals it is suggested that he must go. When I saw President Kaunda a few weeks ago there was no question but that this was paramount in his mind—that Mr. Smith was the symbol of white supremacy and must go. I understand that President Nyerere of Tanzania takes the same view.

I do not take that view. Whatever may have been the sins of omission and commission, if the European vote is to be, so to speak, delivered for any form of settlement on 31st December, I can think of no other European politician who could lock in and deliver that vote. That is one factor on which I find myself in some disagreement with the Anglo-American proposals.

There are those who say that sanctions should be lifted. In fairness to the right hon. Member for Knutsford, I should say that, when he was kind enough to give way, if I had contained myself for another minute and a half he would perhaps have answered the question that I put to him.

First, it is impractical to think that there would be any vote in the United Nations for lifting sanctions. There would not. Secondly, when I last spoke to the three African leaders who were parties to the internal settlement they realised that it was an impractical proposition unless and until there had been independence and recognition. But, as the right hon. Gentleman said, if there is a United Nations presence during the transitional period, and therefore a United Nations and international acceptance of what is happening, the chances of getting sanctions lifted are very much greater, even before independence. That is why, in my view, the Anglo-American proposals yet again have something to commend themselves over and above the internal settlement.

Therefore, I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to do everything in his power to try to bring the parties together in discussion. Heaven knows, if that had succeeded in the case of pre-independence in Angola we should have a very different situation there. I remember seeing the four leaders of the four delegations going in to see President Kenyatta in Mombasa, when a very distinguished political adviser to the President said "If there can be agreement between these four, there will be a peaceful Angola. If not, they will have five years of civil war." That is the sort of problem we face in Rhodesia.

I do not underestimate the enormous change of heart which has taken place in Rhodesia. Let us recognise it—the acceptance of the concept of majority rule and universal adult suffrage, the release of the 700 detainees, the lifting of the ban on ZANU and ZAPU, the request for the end of fighting, although I would wish that it had been a properly worked out amnesty.

But we must realise that this has come about not because Mr. Smith has had a blinding flash of the obvious on the road to Damascus, like St. Paul, but because of the combined effect of sanctions, what has happened in Angola and Mozambique, and the activities of the Patriotic Front, which is not in control of but is certainly operating up to 150 to 200 miles from the frontier around the whole of Rhodesia. There is also the fact of the pressures upon the European population in terms of military training of up to six months, the slow-down in investment and the enormous rate of emigration. That is what has brought it about.

But, having said that and having wholeheartedly welcomed this tremendous advance, I think that Mr. Smith may try to delay the election. That would not surprise me. But I do not think he can go back on the process, because he has nowhere to go back to, unless the inevitability of what he has recognised is actually getting worse. Whether he has left it too late, remains to be seen.

However, I do not believe that we have gone far enough on an amnesty. I have seen—here I agree with the right hon. Gentleman—no move which encourages me on elections, on producing the conditions in which elections can flourish, particularly in the tribal trust areas. I am very suspicious not merely about the fact that Mr. Hove was dismissed but about the issue on which he was dismissed, which was to state what I would have thought was the obvious, that law and order, the police, the army and the judiciary must have a far better balance between the different races.

Therefore, whilst I believe that we are right to say that the internal settlement marks a substantial move in the right direction, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary must realise, as he does, that he must bring the two sides together. If he does not, civil war is utterly inevitable. I do not believe that in such circumstances any internal settlement will work.

I do not know where the conference would be held. I hope that it might be in Kenya, that it might be in an African country where there is a respected Head of State who might at least convene the conference and then hand over to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. I hope that no individual Zimbabwe leader would hope to exercise the right of veto to go to Kenya. I think that a Commonwealth country might be appropriate.

Of course, the internal settlement is an enormous step in the right direction. Just as we cannot give anyone a veto, we cannot give exclusive recognition to any particular settlement. I think that the Anglo-American proposals are the right ones. There is much that the internal settlement has in common with them, so I see no difficulty in getting the two sides together. I hope that they do get together. So long as the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary goes on trying to get both sides together, and therefore trying to avert the alternative, which is the inevitability of bloodshed, so long he is entitled to the support of the House.

5.28 p.m.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

Those of us on the Labour Benches who have followed the saga of the long night of developments in Southern Rhodesia since UDI have argued for many years that the liberation forces, the guerrillas—or the terrorists, they are called by Conservative Members—would lay down their arms if they were absolutely satisfied that there was on the table a proposition which would bring about human, economic and social rights and political power for the majority of people in Southern Rhodesia.

It was Bishop Muzorewa himself who said last July that nothing would stop the guerrillas, nothing would stop the fighting going on, until people were satisfied that there was a Government who were not hand-picked by Ian Smith. The test of what is taking place over an internal settlement in Southern Rhodesia is the question of who are the people who have come together to bring it about why they are there and what are the implications for developments in the future.

Before the Geneva conference the Rev. Sithole was rejected by his own followers and replaced by Mugabe. Having lost his position, the Rev. Sithole decided to return to Southern Rhodesia. But, as every hon. Member should be aware, because it has been well documented, permission for him to return to Southern Rhodesia rested upon his giving certain undertakings to Ian Smith's regime. One condition was Sithole's rejection of what Ian Smith and Opposition Members call terrorism. To the great disappointment of large numbers of his followers who allied themselves with what they and I call liberation movements, Mr. Sithole accepted these conditions and is now a member of the Executive Council.

As has been said, the leaders of the Patriotic Front took no part in this internal settlement and totally reject it. If it is allowed to develop, the tragic reality is that the black people of Southern Rhodesia, under the internal settlement, will have only one seat out of four on the Executive Council and three portfolios out of 18 in the Council of Ministers.

In buying this agreement Mr. Sithole and Bishop Muzorewa have sold out the interests of those whose support they gained because they had promised that they would protect those interests. Mr. Ian Smith has 28 Rhodesia Front seats and for at least a decade, on an analysis of the agreement that is being put forward, they would have the power in Parliament to veto any constitutional change.

The right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said that this was a step forward because it gives people more than they had before. On paper this is true, but we have to consider how the balance of power within the internal settlement would be likely to work. The full terms of the agreement drawn up on 3rd March run to about 1,500 words and those terms are open to interpretation, as everybody who has discussed them would agree. They bristle with problems.

One of the first matters that was mentioned and needs highlighting is that the agreement that there will be no political interference in the composition of the public services, the police, the defence force and the prison service.

Any changes and that this must be accepted was accepted within the internal agreement. Therefore, any necessary changes in the transfer of power—because it is also an argument about the transfer of power—and the change of an economic order are, by virtue of what is said in relation to the control of those forces, bound to be blocked. Any power to be transferred from the minority to the majority will not be allowed to take place in those very important areas.

The agreement says Judges will have security of tenure. That means that those judges who collaborated with the Smith regime in its illegal declaration of independence and who have sentenced to death those who fought against that illegality will be protected in their present positions. That is not acceptable to those who have been fighting for something which gave them a little more dignity and a little more right than that.

When Mr. Byron Hove accepted Bishop Muzorewa's invitation to become joint Minister for law and order, he had either not read the agreement or did not understand what he was agreeing to participate in. He did not understand what "free from political interference" meant. Mr. Hove soon recognised that if the agreement was to be made accepable to the people as a whole, if it was to try to bring in and to keep Bishop Muzorewa, to bring in Joshua Nkomo and to keep Mr. Sithole, but particularly to bring in Joshua Nkomo, the internal agreement would have to point the way forward to real change.

First, Byron Hove attacked the indemnity law which protects security forces against legal action by civilians and said that he would waive it wherever and whenever necessary. He also said that the structure of the police force and the Civil Service needed complete overhaul. He said: The black members of the force are at a complete disadvantage. No sensible person can expect a black man to tolerate this. That was the voice of the people, in my view, trying to woo Joshua Nkomo and others to enter into this agreement.

However, three days later his joint Minister, Mr. Hilary Squires, gave an official reply to what Byron Hove had said. He said: There is, it is true, a movement towards a new political order in this country in response to the circumstances presently dominant in the world in which we live, but the outline for that blueprint for that order, is the agreement signed on March 3rd. This agreement provides there will be no political interference with the disciplined forces of the State. I wish to make it as unmistakably plain as possible that there will be no political interference with the disciplined forces of the State. It follows that any talk of reconstructing the police or fundamentally altering the present make-up by means of political directives would be a flat contradiction of that agreement. He went on to say: The suggestion is such a gross departure from what was agreed, it should not be countenanced for one moment. Indeed, such statements should be positively dismissed … such statements merely sharpened the resolve, if it needed any sharpening, to see that such departures cannot happen. That was reported in the Bulawayo Chronicle of 20th April. Mr. Byron Hove was dismissed on 28th April.

The internal settlement is, therefore, open to wide interpretation. When Mr. Byron Hove accepted the invitation, he believed sincerely that if and when the internal settlement was agreed, it would be possible to use it in order to involve the majority of people in Rhodesia in the sort of deal for which they had argued for so long.

The right hon. Member for Knutsford spoke about the release of detainees. Mr. Byron Hove, on 19th April, also spoke about the release of detainees. Barring unforeseen problems, he saw them all being released before very long. But Mr. Hilary Squires said: The release of detainees depends on the security situation. If they do not constitute a threat to public safety any longer they will be released. The guiding factor so far has been that they support the internal agreement. People who obviously do not support that agreement will just stay where they are. That was reported in the Bulawayo Chronicle of 21st April. If this agreement is supposed to carry with it the means whereby the majority of people will have the right to say whether they want it, and if it carries with it the release of political detainees, that release should not depend upon whether they accept an internal settlement to which many of them now in prison have not been and could not have been party.

Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

Will not the hon. Member accept that, so far as I am aware, not one of the 700 detainees who have been released has suggested that he had to give an assurance that he accepted the internal settlement? The only assurance that they had to give, according to the detainees, was that they would not return to terrorism once released.

Miss Lestor

What the hon. Gentleman says may well be true. However, I am not for the moment dealing with that. We say that we have an agreement and we have two co-Ministers interpreting that agreement and both of them and the right hon. Member for Knutsford say that it is great that so many detainees have been released. But if the only ones to be released are those who support the agreement, we are in the position that we were in before, namely, that those who disagree with the agreement and want to criticise it will not be released. This is bound to cause considerable suspicion, agitation and concern on the part of the people who will lay down their arms only when they are convinced that they have achieved at least the Six Principles for which we all argued for so long. I doubt very much, within this agreement, that they have. It was said when the agreement was made that it must lead to an end to the fighting or it would have failed. That was one of the prerequisites and one of the argument made when the agreement was drawn up.

Mr. Sithole said that he had the power to stop the fighting. He said first that he would do it when the date for the setting up of the new Government was announced. Then he said he would do it upon the setting up of the Minister's conference. So far he has not been able to do it simply because he does not control the guerrillas. He is not in a position to tell the guerrillas to lay down their arms. Until there is as a party to the agreement someone who is satisfied that what the guerrillas are fighting for has been assured, they will not lay down their arms, whether we like it or not.

It has been claimed that the agreement meets all the Six Principles. I do not have time to go into the arguments on that, but a lot has happened since the Six Principles were drawn up and it may be that if a proper agreement in Southern Rhodesia is not reached soon, proposals such as unimpeded progress towards majority rule will be seen not to be giving enough to people in the immediate future. It may be seen that the balance struck in the Six Principles, which did not meet the requests of all the people in Southern Rhodesia, is lost by default because the argument for more is bound to go on.

One of the tragedies since the Six Principles were drawn up is that there has been so much violence, mistrust and harassment and so many problems that the atmosphere in which the principles were drawn up has, to a large extent, been destroyed. We must find ways of getting back to the atmosphere that led to the discussions taking place on those principles.

Mr. Smith bears a very grave responsibility for all the violence that has taken place in Southern Rhodesia. His unilateral declaration of independence brought Rhodesia and all her people great physical suffering and tremendous economic problems. Many people have been killed and thousands of young people, in particular, have lost opportunities that they should have had. The whole population has become brutalised because of the fighting and because of the widening gaps that exist in the various arguments.

It is a tragedy for us all because Rhodesia was fortunate in having large numbers of white people, many of whom have now left, who were prepared to contribute to work for the well-being of Southern Rhodesia and, after independence, for Zimbabwe, on a fair and proper basis.

I agree very much with something said by my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds). Ian Smith is seen as a symbol of white supremacy and suppression of large numbers of people who have been detained and have suffered because of him. I do not believe therefore that leaving Ian Smith in a position where he has to be negotiated with will bring in anyone like Joshua Nkomo or will have any appeal to those people who have suffered as a result of Mr. Smith.

The first of the Anglo-American proposals was the surrender of power by the illegal regime and a return to legality. I still support that proposal, but that statement alone cuts like a knife through the internal Salisbury agreement because there is no return to legality and no basis for involving the overwhelming majority of black Africans in that discussion. Until that takes place and we recognise the legitimacy of the cause that Joshua Nkomo and others are still arguing, the internal settlement cannot lead to peace.

I therefore believe strongly that within the Anglo-American proposals we cannot continue to give Ian Smith a place of prominence that he does not merit and has not earned. We have to start fresh negotiations—certainly on the Anglo-American proposals, but certainly not including Ian Smith.

Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant and Waterloo)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hesitate to interrupt the debate, but the Foreign Secretary said that he had placed in the Library docu- ments that had been produced during the discussions in Salisbury. I have just, at the earliest opportunity, been to the Library to obtain a set of the documents and it is important that the House should know exactly what they involve. There are about 100 pages of detailed constitutional proposals affecting the proposed Parliament, the Presidency, the Public Services Commission, procedures, legislative powers, the summoning, prorogation and dissolution of Parliament, the judicature, public service finance and citizenship.

Our debate would have taken a very different form had there been more than two copies of these documents placed in the Library, had hon. Members had some indication of their importance and significance, and had they been made available to us sooner. It is extraordinary that a debate on Rhodesia can take place and that documents of this significance and importance should be made available only casually by the Foreign Secretary in his speech one and a half hours ago.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am afraid that there is little help that I can offer the hon. Gentleman. It is not a matter for the Chair. It may be unfortunate, but it is not something that the Chair can deal with.

5.46 p.m.

Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)

You have reminded the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that many hon. Members are waiting to address the House. I have therefore undertaken to Mr. Speaker to keep my remarks as brief as possible.

I hope that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) will forgive me if I do not comment in detail on her speech, except to say that she was very negative, as most hon Members opposite have been. I particularly regret that the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds), with whom I frequently agree, made such a provocative speech.

I shall make only some main points. Few, if any, would question the desirability of bringing the Patriotic Front into the Rhodesian settlement, and few would disagree with the proposition that such a development would make the internal settlement more likely to succeed. Meanwhile, one can and should criticise the Government for their halfhearted response to the internal settlement, in spite of the enormous step forward that it has signified. With the full support of the British Government, its chances of success would be greatly improved.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said in his eloquent and forceful speech, until now there has been far too little indication of that support. I hope that the Minister who is to reply will be much more forthcoming than was the Foreign Secretary.

Have the Government taken such a lukewarm position as a result of their own considered assessment of the situation or in order to keep in typically negative step with the present, and probably transitory, policy of the United States in Africa and, in particular, with that of Mr. Young?

It is interesting to contrast the attitude adopted by the United States and the British Governments to the Palestine Liberation Organisation and their stand in relation to peace negotiations in the Middle East with the attitude adopted to the Patriotic Front in the Rhodesian peace talks.

It is beyond dispute that the PLO commands wide support from the Palestinian community, both from those Palestinians under Israeli occupation and those in exile. With the exception of a few fringe extremist groups, the PLO is in control of the resistance guerrillas fighting against the Israeli occupation. The PLO has been unanimously recognised by all Arab States as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. It has been recognised by the United Nations, and the chairman of the PLO addressed the United Nations General Assembly and his speech at the time received wide acclaim. Despite this, the Government of the United States do not accept that the PLO should participate in peace negotiations and refuse to deal with it or to have any contact with its representatives. Such policy is carried to absurd lengths when United States' diplomats are forced to avoid representatives of the PLO when they meet them at official functions.

The position of the British Government, although not quite so extreme, is also unrealistic. It certainly contradicts the comments made this afternoon by the Foreign Secretary about his attitude to resistance movements in general. The contrast between the attitude adopted to the PLO and that adopted towards the Patriotic Front is quite remarkable. After all, it is not in question that the Patriotic Front guerrillas have indulged in acts of brutal violence, nor that the representatives of the internal settlement command greater support within Rhodesia than do the leaders of the Patriotic Front.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Walters

I would rather not, because I am trying to be brief.

Having drawn attention to a particularly glaring manifestation of double standards, I say this in conclusion. It is not in dispute that the participation of the Patriotic Front in the settlement is highly desirable, even though Mr. Mugabe's remarks about his determination to create a one-party Marxist State were hardly particularly encouraging. It is generally agreed that every effort should continue to be made to persuade Mr. Nkomo to rethink his attitude. In the meantime, however, should there not be wholehearted recognition of the remarkable achievement which is the internal settlement and should not, whatever we may decide about sanctions, the more burdensome and irritating restrictions imposed on Rhodesian citizens be eased immediately?

There was a time, not long ago, when Mr. Smith said that he would not contemplate majority rule in his lifetime. He has changed dramatically and signed the document which makes majority rule a certainty, and which could make it come about in a matter of months. The British and American Governments should have the vision and the political common sense to recognise the significance of the progress made and to act accordingly.

5.53 p.m.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

I have listened with interest to some of the strictures on the internal settlement and upon Mr. Ian Smith which have come from my hon. Friends. I can only say that from the beginning of this dispute in 1965 I have taken the view that the people of Rhodesia as a whole, which means mostly the African people of Rhodesia, must decide for themselves the kind of Government that they want. Our role has always been to ensure that they did that freely and that they made a choice which was satisfactory to them. For that reason, I could not accept the original attempts made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) to reach an agreement which I regarded as a sell-out, first on "Tiger" and then on "Fearless". I opposed those settlements. For the same reason, I did not think that the Home proposals of 1972 were right and I opposed them.

I would have been prepared to accept any of those settlements if there could have been seen to have been overwhelming majority support from the people of Rhodesia as a whole, particularly the African population. On every occasion, as I recollect it, the Opposition were unanimous in their view that we ought to have accepted whatever agreement we could get because that was what the African people wanted, because it was in their interests.

The right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) came very near to saying that because the internal agreement was good for the Africans it ought to be accepted. Indeed, at one stage he said that the African people were actually supporting the internal settlement. The truth of the matter is that none of us knows what the African people support or which leaders they support. All I say to my hon. Friends is that if the African people supported Mr. Smith as the Prime Minister of a new Zimbabwe we would have to accept that settlement. All I say is that the African people must exercise their undoubted right to choose for themselves. We have no right to force upon them any kind of settlement which we think to be preferable, which we think is in their long-term interests. It is a matter for them.

I do not, therefore, trouble myself about the details of the internal settlement. If I were an African I would be sceptical about them. An agreement which entrenches the propery rights of whites in a country where the ownership of land is the most dominant political issue—and entrenches them over about 10 years—is something that I would view with a great deal of scepticism. If the African people want to accept that as the price which they think desirable for a peaceful settlement and a peaceful transition, that is a matter for them.

I would go along with anything that the African people choose freely and voluntarily. Before I get to that stage, there is an enormous leap to be made from the current position. Of course I accept that for Mr. Ian Smith to accept, even in theory, that the country might move into a state when it was, within a few months, governed by a black Government elected upon a national franchise and dominated by a majority vote of Africans is an enormous step forward.

I suggest to Conservative Members that Mr. Smith would never have got to that stage if we had not got sanctions and if there had not been the threat which came from his borders from the freedom fighters. I still choose to use that term because I believe that that is what they are. People tell me that they are murderers and terrorists. That is exactly what could have been said of the Maquis in France; it is what could have been said of the guerrilla movement in Yugoslavia during the war. They used the same techniques as are being used by the freedom fighters in Africa. It is all a question of one's point of view. If one agrees with them, they are freedom fighters. If one disagrees with them, they are murderers.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

The hon. Member has said that the techniques of the Maquis and of the freedom fighters in Rhodesia are similar. I know of no instance where the Maquis butchered young children.

Mr. Lyon

The hon. Member's memory is, I think, a little defective. There is a good deal of evidence that some of the tactics used by the freedom fighters in Europe against Hitler were not particularly palatable to decent people. They were regarded as necessary and justifiable. We cannot differentiate between the methods used by freedom fighters in one part of the world and those used elsewhere. What we can do is differentiate between the support for their objectives. I support the objective of an independent Zimbabwe governed by a black majority Government elected upon a universal franchise. If that is the choice of the Africans, so be it.

How are we to determine what is the choice of the Africans? Conservative Members are now claiming that they know because Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole are supporting the internal settlement. It is not long ago that Mr. Sithole was derided by the Opposition as being one of those militant terrorists whom they now seek to clothe in the guise of Mr. Mugabe or Mr. Nkomo. Mr. Nkomo at that time was the Opposition's great favourite because he was one who was engaged in discussions with Mr. Smith about a settlement which was derided by Mr. Sithole, by the bishop and by Mr. Mugabe. Then they said that Bishop Muzorewa was a naïve cleric who had little following inside the country and, since he had left Rhodesia at the time, was of no standing in any future settlement. That was apparently disproved when he went back to Salisbury and was greeted by the biggest turnout of Africa opinion, at Highfields, that had ever been seen.

Then Bishop Muzorewa suddenly became a significant figure. When he agreed to join in discussions with Mr. Smith, he suddenly became the dominant figure in Rhodesian politics. All one can ask oneself is whether we, having made a mistake about the nature of African opinion in the past—and a great many people did it markedly at the time of the Pearson Commission—can say that we know the state of African opinion now. I do not think that we can.

The dismissal of Mr. Hove was significant not simply because he sought to do what I think most of us who want to get a sense of racial justice in Zimbabwe want to do but because of the reaction that came as a result of his dismissal. The leading African newspaper in Rhodesia was inundated with letters of support for him from all over the country from Africans saying that they supported his stand and the attitude he had taken, which was diametrically opposite to the views of the white Minister of Law and Order and, apparently, since he got the sack, to the views of the Executive Council, supported by Mr. Smith and the three African leaders.

In those circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that Bishop Muzorewa, whether he was at that meeting or not, has had to back track upon whether he was supporting Mr. Hove or supporting the Executive Council. The truth is that the bishop has seen the force of opinion from the country which might undermine his position and the position of the African National Council in the part that it is now taking in the internal settlement.

No one can doubt that, of the three African leaders in the Executive Council, Bishop Muzorewa is likely—I put it no higher—to have the greatest degree of support within the country. If he finds that that support has been eroded by his participation in this internal agreement by the measures which the Executive Council has failed to take to advance African rights, I think it is very possible that African opinion will be decisively against him, against the ANC and against the internal settlement.

On Sunday, we may see some kind of compromise in the meeting of the ANC which is to consider its future participation in the agreement. I have not the least doubt that some kind of settlement will be made and that the ANC will go on. But no one can doubt the significance of Mr. Hove's dismissal. Whether he was a newcomer from England, whether he was a thorn in the side of Mr. Smith and the white members of the Executive Council or whether he acted entirely in a balanced and moderate way, all these are matters for discussion. But what cannot be doubted is that to dismiss him was to fly in the face of a good deal of African opinion.

Therefore, if we were to take a clear appraisal of African opinion at this moment, the possibility—again, I put it no higher—is that it would not support the internal settlement and that it would want there to be a continuation of the guerrilla war. In such circumstances, I find it difficult to understand the point of view of the right hon. Member for Knutsford. If that possibility exists, why is it that he comes constantly to the House inveighing against my right hon. Friend to give some word of encouragement, or even to go further and endorse the internal settlement, when in fact we do not know that that is what the African people want?

How are we to know? I think that this is the most important issue—far more important than the mixture of the Army with the military forces outside or than the future role of the police force, or than any of the other factors which are at present a matter of acute discussion.

The real issue is what steps are we to take to ensure that we, and, indeed, everyone else, know that the Africans want a particular course to be followed. At the moment, what Mr. Smith and the internal settlement are offering is an election in due course on a universal franchise after a referendum of white opinion, conducted with all the organs of publicity in the control of the present Executive Council and with no attempt at any impartial arbitration by someone from outside, whether it be Field Marshal Lord Carver, the United Nations, a Commonwealth force or whatever. It is to be done within the present structure of society, with the present police force and the present armed forces. It cannot be doubted what the result of the white referendum will be, but what would the result be if we had a completely impartial referendum of African opinion, which is not even on offer?

I can well understand that some people in the present Rhodesian Government, among them Mr. van der Byl, are quite willing to have a referendum of black opinion on the understanding that it is conducted within the present system, with the present forces of law and order administering it. That cannot be accepted by African opinion. I would not accept it as a genuine expression of opinion by the African voters in Rhodesia.

What I would want before I could be sure would be that the referendum was conducted by some outside agency such as the United Nations. If Mr. Smith is genuine that he now wants a peaceful transition to black majority rule and that he wants the internal settlement to succeed, I cannot see why he would resist a United Nations force being in the country to administer a referendum of African opinion. If we had that—and it would have to come after a period of completely free propaganda for anybody taking part in the referendum debate, which would have to include the Patriotic Front as well—I think I could accept that the internal settlement, backed by such a vote, is the one that ought to be the basis of any constitutional settlement that we would endorse in this House.

If those steps were accepted and put into practice, I would accept it even if it meant that Mr. Smith was to be the Prime Minister of the new Zimbabwe. I would certainly support any move to call on the Patriotic Front to give up the fighting thereafter. But, until we get that clear expression of opinion, I cannot foresee an occasion when I could say that the Fifth Principle had been endorsed.

Therefore, I hope that in any future discussions that go on as a result of the initiative announced by my right hon. Friend today, in Zimbabwe or anywhere else, this will be one of the main features of any amendment of the internal settlement agreement.

6.10 p.m.

Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) made an extremely important point, both at the beginning and at the end of his remarks, when he said that what mattered was that the solution should come from inside Rhodesia. He pointed out that the "Tiger", the "Fearless" and the Home-Smith proposals came from outside. Whatever may be said about it otherwise, the internal settlement has come from inside. It has not just been a deal between four political bosses. At each stage in the lengthy negotiations, beginning last November, they have continually consulted their party committees and the grass roots.

Nothing can be said to be firmly acceptable to the Rhodesian people until there has been an election, but certainly no settlement has ever been produced or adumbrated which had such a volume of support from such very different organisations as this one. I agree, therefore, with the hon. Gentleman on the importance of the first point—that this ought to be an internal settlement coming out of Rhodesian political life.

I disagree with the hon. Gentleman's statement—other speakers have said it in this debate and on other occasions—that it was the freedom fighters who brought about the present situation. Yes, they did, but not in the way that the hon. Gentleman meant. It was the prospect of an Nkomo-Mugabe takeover of power and of a kind of Mozambique-type or Angola-type dictatorship which brought the leaders of the African majority to the point where they were prepared to forget about the past and to think that the danger of the new imperialism from outside was a great deal worse than the vestiges of the old imperialism which still remain.

The hon. Gentleman referred, as did the Foreign Secretary, to the dismissal of Mr. Byron Hove. Perhaps the multinational Rhodesian Executive was showing an excessive belief in the doctrine of collective responsibility—a rather stricter one than is sometimes observed on the Benches opposite. I understand that the matter is to be investigated by a commission on which there will be six representatives of Bishop Muzorewa's party and two representatives from each of the other three parties to the national Executive. It could not be much fairer than that.

The Foreign Secretary also referred to differences between Bishop Muzorewa and his Executive about the ceasefire. My goodness, if other people refused to recognise a Government because the Executive and the Prime Minister did not always agree, there would not be many ambassadors left in this country. I think that we ought not to take this too seriously. These are, I think, little local difficulties. The troubles in Portugal and Spain when democracy returned to those countries were far worse than anything we have seen in Rhodesia so far.

I want to put a point to the Minister of State which I think is important and which I should like him to answer. At the very outset of his remarks, the Foreign Secretary said that the security situation had not yet reached excessively serious proportions but that he was very worried about a civil war between blacks. I came back from Rhodesia on Monday. What struck me most during my visit was that race has ceased to be the central political issue in Rhodesia. It is now ideology, politics—call it what we will. It is not race any more. The leaders of the African majority have joined forces with the leader of the European minority to establish what they think is a pro-Western plurist democracy and to resist the advance of what they regard as Soviet imperialism.

No one wants a fight or a confrontation, but, if there has to be a fight, I would certainly much rather that it was a political and ideological fight than a racial tight. I should like to hear that the Foreign Secretary confirms that view, because Mr. Andy Young has said that the worst thing would be a "black on black" confrontation. I am all against any confrontation, but I would much rather that it ceased to be a racial confrontation. This, at least, seems to me to be a step forward.

The Foreign Secretary reverted to the Anglo-American proposals. He said that he stood by the principles involved and by the conference which he proposed. We ought to be clear as to the basic flaws in the Anglo-American proposals. The first is the installation of an Anglo-Indian raj. Field Marshal Carver and General Prem Chand are to take over the supreme security control. This is a colonial system such as Rhodesia has never had. The second is that the security forces are intended to operate under it.

It is quite clear that this proposal will not be accepted. It was never acceptable to Mr. Smith. It might have been accepted by the black leaders, now in the transitional Government, when they were in opposition, but they would not look at it today. They are in the seats of power today. They have at their command a sophisticated economy, a most efficient civil service, and very powerful security forces. They will not hand them over to an Anglo-Indian junta. It is inconceivable to think that they would. This is a going political reality. The transitional Government are a political reality. This is something which the British Government must understand.

It was a little disingenuous, frankly, for Mr. Secretary Vance and our own Foreign Secretary to say that the leaders of the transitional Government could go to a conference without commitment. What would they have discussed? It is quite clear from what was said at the meetings in Salisbury—and, indeed, before that in Pretoria—that they would have discussed whether the Anglo-Indian junta should have been in control of the security forces, exactly how this would have been manipulated and what influence would have been given to the Patriotic Front.

Had they gone to the conference, they would have been accepting a discussion on their own possible abdication. They would have been putting in question what they regard as a definitive settlement. They thought—and I do not blame them—that the Foreign Secretary and his American colleague were trying to sabotage the internal settlement and to reopen the whole question. I take it that this was in the hope of getting a wider agreement. But I wonder whether the Foreign Secretary and his American colleague really measured the consequences of the internal settlement breaking down as a result of the conference. European confidence was assured, but, if African confidence in the internal settlement had broken down, Rhodesia would have been heading for anarchy on a disastrous scale. There could have been a grotesque barn dance. People talk about it freely in Salisbury, so why not here? There could have been a grotesque barn dance in which different elements in the internal settlement and in the Patriotic Front would have been joining forces to fight against each other.

The Foreign Secretary still seems to have his fixation on the Patriotic Front. The Patriotic Front is itself a fiction. It is a loose alliance punctuated by internecine killings both inside the country and outside it. There is a good deal of disaffection both in Mozambique, in the ranks of Mr. Mugabe's forces, and in Zambia, in the ranks of Mr. Nkomo's forces. Indeed, it would be fair to say that there are about 10 times more political prisoners among the Nkomo forces in Zambia and that almost as many—perhaps more—executions have taken place in both forces than there have ever been in Rhodesia as a result of the law against terrorism.

In their public declaration, the Patriotic Front leaders affect a Marxist view. It is not only Mr. Mugabe. Mr. Nkomo has made speeches of exactly the same kind. In private they may say something different. The Foreign Secretary will know that at the conference in Salisbury, when questioned about the motives of the Patriotic Front, Ambassador Andy Young said "Of course, they are out for personal power." We can take our choice. If they are out for Marxism, I do not quite see why we should fight all that hard to promote their interests. If they are out for personal power, is it really such a noble cause that we should attach importance to it?

It was made quite clear to me by Mr. Smith, by Bishop Muzorewa, by Mr. Sithole and by Chief Chirau that they are still perfectly prepared to welcome Mr. Nkomo and even Mr. Mugabe if they are prepared to lay down their arms and join the Executive Council. There is an empty chair for one of them, and there are two or three chairs on the Ministerial Council for the rest. What Mr. Smith and the three African leaders will not do is reopen their own settlement. Lord knows, it was reached with very great difficulty. They are only prepared to accept and welcome the people who have been killing their women and children and their men on equal terms with themselves.

I do not think it likely that either Mr. Nkomo or Mr. Mugabe will accept. There are many reasons for this. One of them can be put at the door of the Government Front Bench. I say to the Foreign Secretary and to the Minister of State that if they had not run after Mr. Nkomo quite so hard, they might have got him a bit cheaper. But they have inflated his ego to an extent that even the photographs suggest that it has affected him physically. What is more—and this is more serious—he has the backing of the Soviet Union. After what has gone on in Angola and Ethiopia, it is not very likely that he will throw that over for the backing of the right hon. Gentleman and his American colleague.

I should like to say a word about sanctions. The Foreign Secretary said that we ought to keep up the pressure in order to get the election carried out quickly. That is not the view of the African leaders. The right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) spoke about it. He said that, so far as he knew, neither Bishop Muzorewa nor Mr. Sithole was in favour of lifting sanctions. The right hon. Gentleman has told me since that he saw them only before they were in office. Now that they are in office they are feeling a bit differently. They have both told me that they thought sanctions ought to go as soon as possible.

This is part of the old vendetta against Ian Smith. The great joke in Salisbury, among blacks as well as whites—perhaps more among blacks than among whites—is that the Foreign Secretary, with all the energy and vigour of his youth, should have spent half an hour trying to tell Mr. Sithole about the deviousness of Mr. Smith. But who is the greatest expert in the world on Mr. Smith? It is Mr. Sithole. He was for years his prisoner, he was convicted of trying to murder Mr. Smith and he was fighting against him before the right hon. Gentleman knew how to do up his fly buttons. It really is a bit absurd that the right hon. Gentleman should have conducted this kind of conversation. Of course, all Salisbury knows about it and it is the joke of the place.

Sanctions plus the recession lead to deficit financing, which leads to inflation. We in this House all know about it. That means lower living standards, as we have had here when real wages have been cut because of inflation. It makes the situation worse. It makes the security situation worse, because more people are discontented. The effect of maintaining sanctions is to help the Patriotic Front—to help the guerrillas. It will not defeat the transitional Government. It did not defeat Smith. But it makes it harder to hold the elections in a reasonable climate and it makes the long-term situation more difficult.

Under the Kissinger agreement, and under the Anglo-American proposals—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) pointed out—the sanctions would have been lifted. They are not to be lifted now, because the leaders of the majority of the blacks and the leader of the white minority have got together without the consent and permission of the Foreign Secretary and the pro-Soviet elements. This is regarded as all very shocking. But they have accepted the Six Principles. They have done all the things that have been talked about, yet they must go on being punished because they have not had the consent of the Government Front Bench and the pro-Soviet forces. There is no legal difficulty here. For several years Senator Byrd moved an amendment which exempted chrome and other metals. It has now been rescinded from the sanctions resolution. But not a dog barked in the United Nations while it was in force.

We all accept that de jure recognition cannot be given until the elections have come about. But is there not a case for de facto recognition now? Any competent observer would assure the Foreign Secretary that the transitional Government has the support of the great majority of African people. But the right hon. Gentleman need not take my word for it. Cannot we devise a rapid method of taking a rough check, not to give de jure recognition but to give de facto recognition? Would it not be quite a good idea to send out an all-party parliamentary delegation from this House to have a look and to report before the House rises for the recess on whether, in its judgment, the situation was at least good enough to give the transitional Government the benefit of the doubt and to lift the sanctions so that the economic situation might in itself improve?

The transitional Government has not proposed an all-party delegation, but in its reply to the invitation to the conference it has asked "Cannot you make a test of acceptability before the elections to see whether the situation would not warrant your lifting the sanctions, as proposed in the Kissinger and Anglo-American proposals?" The invitation is there. The transitional Government have said that it is up to us to propose the kind of test that we would think useful. I put forward this idea of an all-party delegation—we could have a commission, or even a referendum, but that would take longer to organise—in all seriousness and in the knowledge that it would be accepted by certainly three of the four members of the Executive Council. I think that it would probably be accepted by all, but I was able to consult only three about it.

Mr. Faulds

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can give any idea of the numbers of hon. Members of this House whom he suggests should go on the delegation who would actually be able to assess the feeling of Africans through discussing these matters with them in the African dialects or African languages of Southern Rhodesia.

Mr. Amery

I am not suggesting that we would get a really detailed account. I am not suggesting a commission such as the Pearce Commission. What I am suggesting is that a certain number of hon. Members should go. The House of Commons has a remarkable expertise in almost every matter. I would not have thought it too difficult to put together an all-party delegation which would come back and say "It looks as if the present transitional Government command the general allegiance and obedience of the country and, therefore, the sanctions could reasonably be lifted."

The Foreign Secretary has claimed that he does not take sides as between the transitional Government and the Patriotic Front. That is not true. He has taken sides all through. If one looks at the list of the meetings he has had at the Foreign Office, one will see that the door has always been open for the Patriotic Front leaders, rather less for Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole and only with great difficulty—at my own insistence—for Chief Chirau. When it comes to the United Nations, Mr. Nkomo was allowed to appear before it and not a voice was raised. But with regard to Bishop Muzorewa, who was believed to be the spokesman of the great majority, at least we could have asked for him to be heard. We did not even do that.

With regard to sanctions, the Soviets are helping the Patriotic Front not only with arms but with money. I am not sure what the figure is. I am told £14 million, although £20 million is a figure that is bandied about. Continuing sanctions means that the Patriotic Front is getting massive external support while we are doing everything possible to prevent external support reaching the transitional Government. In fact, we are working for the Soviets against the democrats.

I should like to say a word about security. Everyone knows that security has been deteriorating for several months. However, one should not exaggerate this. I spent last Saturday and Sunday on a farm in Rhodesia, surrounded by barbed wire defences. I spent the whole day driving around in an area of 100 square miles. The place was crowded with happy holidaymakers who were fishing and picnicking. The only difference between them and an ordinary European holiday crowd was that most of the men, and some of the women, were armed. However, I think that the situation may be about to improve.

It is very rash to make a forecast about these things. But Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole have been for some weeks now in close touch with several of the guerrilla leaders, with the help of the local security forces. There are several areas where there is, in fact, a de facto ceasefire, monitored by the security forces themselves—that is, monitored officially, because there are liaison officers with the guerrillas who are watching what is going on. They have been negotiating the modalities of a ceasefire and now we shall see whether it works.

I say only that the pretty sceptical, tough elements in the Rhodesian Special Branch and so on think that perhaps the black leaders know what they are talking about and that rather more guerrillas will come over than previously have been expected.

However, the danger of escalation is very real. I am told by the general staffs in both South Africa and Rhodesia that there is no indication yet of a massive build-up for a conventional war operation on the Ethiopian model. But the facilities exist in Mozambique at Nacala—port facilities, airfield facilities and basic cadres—and after Angola and Ethiopia nothing would be entirely unexpected.

What is the Government's position, supposing that Cubans appear? I learned from American sources that, when in South Africa—the Foreign Secretary may well have been present—Mr. Vance told the South African Foreign Minister that if Cubans appeared in Rhodesia the United States Government would be "very concerned" if the South Africans responded. We must ration our contempt; there are so many people who deserve it. But what do we do if this threat materialises? If we are to do nothing, there is no point in our having this debate at all. If Rhodesia is a British responsibility, we cannot accept foreign intervention of a Cuban or other type. I believe that the South Africans will respond. That is the impression with which I came away.

But it would help if we gave support to the internal settlement. It would give the Soviets pause. It would make them think a little bit before involving themselves in a confrontation with the forces of a Government which we had recognised, even if only de facto. It would help the ceasefire too. There are quite a lot of guerrillas who would be more likely to cease firing if they thought that there was Anglo-American acceptance of the internal settlement. By refusing it, the Government are encouraging them to go on with their war. It would help the prospect of holding free elections. It would help other African States—and there are several of them—which in private have expressed appreciation of the internal settlement to come over. Mr. Kaunda naturally is still shell-shocked by the weakness of the West over Angola, where we left him in the lurch. But there are powerful forces in Zambia who would very much like to see the frontier opened and to have traffic flowing again down to South Africa, if not to Mozambique.

Surely we have to face the fact that there is no chance of the Anglo-American proposals being accepted or of the kind of conference which the Foreign Secretary has proposed.

What, then, is the Government's policy? It is really one of "wait and see". This is the negation of statesmanship. There is a transfer of power already, and it is irreversible in the sense that I can conceive of no political circumstances in which it could be taken back. It is based on the Six Principles, and it is heading for free elections.

I cannot see in these circumstances why sanctions are maintained or why we continue the fiction that this is an illegal Government. There are rumours in Salisbury, on which I hope the Minister of State will comment, that Bishop Muzorewa will not be allowed to come to London when he asks to come quite soon because he is a Minister in an illegal Government. I hope that that is not true. But if it is not true, why should not some of the white Ministers be allowed to come as well?

The same applies to representation. My right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford has always urged very strongly that there should be British representation in Salisbury. However, if there is any question of reciprocity here, the Foreign Secretary has always said that it is not acceptable. Why not?

Moscow gives cash to the Patriotic Front. The front-line Presidents treat its leaders as Heads of State. We go on regarding the transitional Government as illegal and maintain sanctions against them. We are taking sides; yet we have before us the best opportunity that there has been for years in Southern Africa—the best opportunity since the collapse of the Central African Federation. If it succeeds, it will not just bring independence and peace to Rhodesia. It will provide an example of how white and black can work together to South Africa, to Zambia, to Mozambique, to Angola and to everyone else. But, if it fails, we shall be plunging into anarchy the whole area going beyond the borders of Rhodesia, as we have seen in Angola and Mozambique. It will go into South Africa, with all the implications to the vital interests not only of this country but of Western Europe as a whole and Japan.

The decision depends mainly upon the people out there, but it also depends a great deal on the attitude of Her Majesty's Government and on whether they give support to the remarkable achievement which has been made or whether they withhold it.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

I have a list of 23 right hon. and hon. Members who hope to catch my eye between now and 9 o'clock.

6.37 p.m.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) used to have a reputation for being a statesman. I think that the views which he expresses are widely read outside this House. I believe that they are widely read in Africa. However, I think that people are beginning to realise that he is now little more than a poseur.

The right hon. Gentleman's speech today was disgraceful for someone of his ability and supposed integrity and for someone who seeks to give advice to the Government. He could not conceal his contempt for the leaders of African opinion with his fatuous reference to photographs and to the physical stature of an individual who is widely respected throughout Africa and who is, as I hope even the right hon. Gentleman will concede, widely respected in Zimbabwe itself. If there is any comfort in the right hon. Gentleman's remarks for Mr. Nkomo, it is that not so very long ago in this House the right hon. Gentleman was describing Mr. Sithole in similarly contemptuous terms. The right hon. Gentleman described him as a terrorist and a murderer, but now he clasps Mr. Sithole to his bosom as a moderate. Therefore, I think that we shall see in the future that even the right hon. Gentleman will rue his remarks today and that he will find that those for whom he has no time will eventually be the leaders of the new Zimbabwe.

It is not my responsibility to decide what type of constitution sould be set up for the new Zimbabwe. It is not for me to express a preference for the kind of Government and the kind of social policy or philosophy that will be most suitable for the new Zimbabwe. I have my views, but they are not important. The important views which have to be expressed and which for so long have been silenced in Zimbabwe are those of the African people and all the other people who live in that country. Only they have the right to choose the kind of Government they want and to decide the future of that country. It is for them to decide how it shall develop.

The problem with the right hon. Member for Pavilion and many of his right hon. and hon. Friends is that they have always failed to recognise the real purpose of trying to get a transfer of power in Rhodesia. It has not been to avoid Communist influence. It has not been to avoid Cuban intervention. It has been to recognise the rights of the people to democracy.

The reason why the views of the Opposition are discounted in Africa is that they have never once taken the standpoint that the views of the African population are of prime importance. If we go back through history, we find that this was true with the estabilshment of the Central African Federation. At no time were the Africans consulted about this.

We all learn from history and from experience. With hindsight, I believe that it was probably a mistake to break up the Central African Federation, despite the way in which it was established. At that time we thought that the very strong influence in Southern Rhodesia was such that we could see enough progress towards democratic majority rule in the three territories in the federation until it was broken up. We believed that the establishment of an independent Malawi and an independent Zambia would lead to sufficient pressure to bring about change in the situation in Southern Rhodesia. On balance, it may have been a wrong decision to break up the federation. But that is neither here nor there.

Throughout the period since the establishment and break-up of the Central African Federation, there has been total failure to bring in the views of the African people on any proposals. That is one reason why the Anglo-American proposals have been treated with such suspicion. The last people to be told about the contents of those proposals were the leaders of the Patriotic Front, or Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole. All kinds of other people were told. Certainly, the leaders of the front-line States were told in advance. Eventually the views of the Patriotic Front were taken, but by then it was too late because they should have been taken at the beginning.

Even the proposition put forward by the British Government through the Anglo-American proposals is, perhaps, too little and too late. Unfortunately, there is a long record of our saying that we would do something to deal with the illegal regime and the fact remains that we have never actually done anything. In saying that, I am not referring to the former Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), who spoke of the regime being brought down by sanctions in "weeks rather than months". I am talking about the last 12 months when evidence became available after 10 years or more about the way in which oil was being transferred from South Africa to Rhodesia to break sanctions and keep industry in Rhodesia going.

Naturally the Foreign Secretary was upset when that evidence totally exposed the situation, and an inquiry was set up to establish the facts. It is almost exactly a year since that commission was established to inquire into oil sanctions being broken. What has happened to the report? Recent parliamentary Questions suggest that it may never be published.

The right hon. Member for Pavilion complained that the Government are taking sides. My complaint is that they are not taking sides hard enough. If we are determined to press for a peaceful solution, we should be using peaceful methods of pressure, persuasion and influence and taking measures to stop oil getting into Rhodesia. We all appreciate that that cannot be done directly. We have to apply economic sanctions to South Africa.

Leaving aside the general principle of whether applying sanctions to South Africa is desirable, the Government have been seeking, together with other friendly Powers, a settlement in Namibia. In doing so they are playing two different games at the same time. They have been unable to take appropriate action against South Africa because they have sought South Africa's good will both in Namibia and as a kind of honest broker to try to put pressure on Rhodesia.

The Government are not doing enough even now. While I understand perfectly their position, and take the view that by and large their approach is right, they are doing insufficient to bring home to Smith and the illegal regime that at the end of the day his regime will have to end and majority rule must be established.

We have had a lot of debates and discussion about the position of the liberation forces. How powerful are they and what are their prospects of success? Perhaps it is self-evident to say so, but as each day passes their prospects of success grow stronger. I do not necessarily welcome that possibility, but if there is no other way of the people of Rhodesia gaining their independence other than by continuation of the fighting and a final military victor, so be it. I support that without any hesitation. However, I would much prefer that we had a proper negotiated settlement and a proper transfer of orderly power, because that is the best possibility of stability once we have an independent Zimbabwe.

The right hon. Member for Pavilion told us about all his perambulations around Rhodesia last weekend. He spoke of holiday crowds and the happiness of the people. But he told us nothing of the unhappiness of the people in the tribal trust lands or those who are living in protected villages—

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

They are not unhappy. That is why.

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) has a record of collusion with the Smith regime that is unparalleled in this House or, indeed, in the country. If he says that he has been to the 209 protected villages in which there is a populaion of about 580,000, where people have been resettled after their homes were destroyed, where cattle were killed and confiscated and crops were ruined, and if he insists that these people are not unhappy, he is living in a totally different world from those who have to survive under the system.

Mr. Winterton

I have not been to all the protected villages, but I have been to some. I wonder whether the hon. Member has been to any. In the ones that I have visited, the people in those areas indicated that they needed to be there for their own protection and to safeguard their lives because of acts of terrorism of the guerrillas of Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe. These villages were in fact provided for the protection of black citizens by the Government. The Government took the request of black citizens seriously and provided protection.

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Member is so gullible that it is unbelievable. If he is telling me that the 580,000 people in protected villages went to the Smith regime and asked for protection and the Smith regime was so anxious for their welfare that it provided villages for them, he is very naïve. If the Smith regime is so concerned about black citizens, why has it resisted for so long progress towards majority rule?

Mr. Winterton

Has the hon. Member been there lately?

Mr. Hughes

No, I have not been to Rhodesia recently.

Mr. Winterton

I thought not.

Mr. Hughes

Is the hon. Member really saying that he went into these villages unaccompanied? Is he saying that there was no one there with him to interpret and assist him? He should know the answer to that from a recent example from a different country. When a programme was made about South Africa and the conditions of workers there, the company concerned produced affidavits which said that people who had taken part in the programme denied stating the views expressed by them on that television programme. It was later discovered that the affidavits were taken by the security police of South Africa. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman might reflect that the views expressed to him were offered in the knowledge that the security forces would be on the spot the moment his back was turned to pick up and arrest those who had expressed contrary views.

If it is such a free society, why is it that university students who attempted to demonstrate against the internal settlement were set upon by the police, dispersed or arrested? The trouble is that the hon. Gentleman, as with many others before him, visits a country that is in a certain situation and views it with blinkered eyes. I recall some of his hon. Friends coming back from Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau in the days when the MPLA and Frelimo were fighting the Portuguese colonialists and telling us the same story about protected villages in Angola and Mozambique. They told us that the villages had been created at the behest of the local population. We were told that everyone was happy and that the Portuguese would win the colonial war. We were told that the liberation forces would never free Angola and Mozambique.

I wish that the hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends would study history and consider their record. The villages in Rhodesia are under curfew. They are behind barbed wire. The security forces take charge of them. It is said that another 20,000 people are to be moved into new protected villages.

On the one hand, the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion paints a rosy picture of the security situation. He tells us that there is liaison between the two sides with the objective of coming to a ceasefire. He says that there is no real possibility of the liberation forces winning the war. On the other hand, there are about 600,000 people in large areas of Rhodesia who need protection. There is something wrong with the logic of some right hon. and hon. Members. Either the guerrilla forces are being successful, are in the country in fairly large numbers and have a considerable influence in the countryside, or they are not and have not. Opposition Members cannot have it both ways.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) has told us about the things being done by the security forces not only inside the borders of Zimbabwe but inside Mozambique and Zambia. One wonders what sort of civilisation it is for which we stand. One wonders why it is that some Opposition Members prepared, apparently, to condemn out of hand those who have tried every alternative to achieve the transfer of power. Every peaceful alternative has been tried, but agreements have been broken and words have been broken.

Why is it that there are those who are opposed in such root-and-branch fashion to those who seek a transfer of power? It is because Opposition Members have the fixation that there will be a spread of Communist influence. They have the fixation that somewhere there are thousands of Cuban troops waiting to be embarked on ships or aircraft to be taken to Rhodesia or Zambia. There is the fixation that intervention in Africa as a whole has been only from one side. However, there is strong evidence that the South Africans have already intervened on the side of Smith. They withdrew about 2,000 para-military forces in 1975.

Evidence is coming forward from neutral sources—I have also had this evidence from my own sources—that South African troops, military personnel and advisers are now returning to Rhodesia and assisting Smith's forces. The South Africans have never hidden their intervention outside their borders. We must remember that the Cubans did not go to Angola until the South Africans invaded.

Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)


Mr. Hughes

The hon. Gentleman says "Rubbish" from a sedentary position. He will recall a debate which took place some years ago on Angola. In that debate I asserted that the Americans were assisting both UNITA and FNLA. The hon. Gentleman shouted "Rubbish". He denied that the Americans were giving that assistance. Is he now saying that he always admitted that the Americans were assisting FNLA in Angola?

Mr. Wall

I agree that the Americans assisted both the FNLA and UNITA until they were sabotaged by Congress stopping them from so doing. They were asked to do so by the leaders of Zaire and Zambia.

Mr. Hughes

I cannot recall that the leaders of Zaire asked Congress to stop the assistance to the FNLA. I have in mind the close relationship in Zaire between the FNLA and the leaders of that country. However, I acquit the hon. Gentleman in that respect. He will know, of course, that others have said that it is rubbish to suggest that the Americans were assisting to the extent that others have suggested. However, we find the South African Foreign Minister admitting in the South African Parliament that he saw American aircraft delivering equipment.

To imagine that we in the West generally have not interfered in Africa, are not trying to extend our influence in Africa and are not trying to operate in Africa to further our own interests rather than those of the indigenous population is to play exactly into the hands of the Russians. I am the last person in the House to want to see Communist influence spread over Africa. I want to see a democratic advance. I make no apology for saying that I want to see Socialism advanced in Africa as in this country, but not in the model of the rigid system that applies in the Soviet Union.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

What about Angola?

Mr. Hughes

Angola does not have the rigid system of the Soviet Union. I do not want to swap visits with the hon. Gentleman. I have never taken the view that we have to visit a country before we can express a view on it. If that were so, very few hon. Members would be able to express views about Uganda, Russia, Poland, the GDR or anywhere else. It is a curious view that we can express views and ask questions on foreign affairs only if we have visited the countries concerned once, twice, or three times. If the hon. Gentleman were to visit Angola, I believe that he would not find there the system that is operated in Russia. He would find an altogether different society. If there really was a little man sitting in the Kremlin trying to plot a way in which the Communist advance could be furthered, he would have little work to do. He could leave it to Opposition Members to put forward the sort of propaganda that would help extend Communist influence.

Opposition hon. Members have never shown any capability of understanding the situation in Africa. They show no sign, even at this moment, of recognising what the situation is all about. The virtues of the so-called internal settle- ment are extolled from all sides. The sacking of the black Minister, Mr. Hove, is dismissed as a small local problem, an aberration. There is the rumbling of the United African National Congress of Bishop Muzorewa. It is upset about the slow progress that is being made. It is upset about the sacking. It does not believe that the settlement will work. Its reservations about the settlement working are dismissed as being of no importance.

I cannot make precise forecasts, but I should not like to forecast how long the so-called internal settlement will hang together before there is a breakdown. My right hon. Friend should pursue with all vigour the chance of getting a peaceful settlement. He knows that if he can get all the leaders together to arrive at a settlement that will end the war that is now going on and end the killings, he will have my wholehearted support.

As I said, there is much more that we could be doing. I echo only fleetingly the words of some Opposition Members who said that the prize in Southern Africa of obtaining a peaceful negotiated settlement is very great, because it can have repercussions in Namibia. If Namibia comes first, it can have repercussions in Rhodesia. There can be repercussions in the longer term in South Africa itself.

I am sure that all hon. Members believe in democracy, in a free Parliament and in the right of individuals to live their lives to the best of their ability and to have the opportunity to benefit from the great riches which are abundant in society, particularly in the southern half of the African continent. All concerned, irrespective of colour or political life, who want to share in riches of that kind and want to see the African population become part of a democratic society which can contribute to the future development of society in Africa can only hope that there will be a peaceful settlement.

All who look back over history and recognise the aftermath of war and the scourge and the difficulties that it brings would not wish to see that happen in any part of the world if it can be avoided. But the Africans who have seen HMS "Tiger", HMS "Fearless" and the Smith-Home proposals dashed to the ground see the situation in Vietnam, in Angola and in Mozambique as being the key to their success. They believe that the only way in which they can win their freedom is by fighting for it.

Smith has shown no signs of being willing to change his mind and to transfer power. Unless we in this House are determined to see that there is a transfer of power and a democratic society, the Africans will continue to fight, and as long as they continue to fight I shall continue to support them.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. In the last hour we have completed two speechcs. That means that in the remaining two hours we shall be lucky to get in another five speeches if this rate of progress is maintained.

7.3 p.m.

Mr. Michael Brotherton (Louth)

I am grateful for the opportunity to make a brief intervention in this debate.

It is now 12½ years since UDI was declared. Obviously little has happened in those 12½ years to increase interest in this subject on the Government Back Benches.

In November 1965 the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) sent his emissaries scuttling across the Atlantic to the Security Council to complain about what was happening in Southern Africa and to tell the world that Rhodesia was a threat to world peace. I believe that in the Security Council Rhodesia is still regarded as a threat to world peace. Russian and Cuban intervention in the Horn of Africa, in Mozambique and in Angola has not been discussed in the Security Council. Russia, of course, is not a menace to world peace. Russian intervention in Africa is obviously seen as the Russians going their philanthropic way helping the backward people of that continent.

Surely the time has now come—here I must disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies)—as the noble Lord, Lord Home, said some years ago that the time might come, to go to the United Nations and to say "Sanctions have failed. Sanctions should be dropped." I believe that sanctions should be dropped now, because sanctions, if they hurt anyone, hurt not the white minority but the black majority. Therefore, we should go to the United Nations and say "Enough is enough. No longer will this country support the imposition of sanctions."

After all, two years ago we went to the United Nations and said that the Beira patrol was no longer feasible, that we would cease mounting that dreary patrol of ships steaming up and down a patrol line, boring the Navy to death and spending millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on a most futile exercise. Why, of all the countries in the world, should we impose sanctions against Rhodesia but against none other?

If Russia is not a threat to world peace, then Sir Neil Cameron was wrong in Peking the other day. However, I believe that he was entirely correct. We know the way that the Russians treat not only their own people but the people of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the Ukraine. But does anyone in the United Nations in the Afro-Asian bloc think that he should put a motion before the Security Council saying that sanctions should be imposed against Russia because of the way that it conducts itself? Of course not. That merely shows the double standards of the United Nations and the double standards and duplicity of Her Majesty's Government in the way that they treat the people of Rhodesia and in their approach to the problems of that country.

About 18 months ago we had the great breakthrough—the Kissinger initiative: the Anglo-American proposals. The late Foreign Secretary, Mr. Tony Crosland, acted with great propriety at that time, in marked contrast to the conduct of his successor in office today, the right hon. Member—how the words stick in one's mouth—for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen).

The Anglo-American initiative 18 months ago was a great breakthrough. Events have now overtaken even the Anglo-American initiative. We have in Rhodesia a multiracial set-up. The internal settlement has been agreed between black and white. Muzorewa, Sithole, Chief Chirau and Ian Smith sat down together round the table and hammered out a settlement in Rhodesia. I implore Her Majesty's Government to do all they can to give assistance to that internal settlement to make sure that it works. This is an opportunity to show to the world—Rhodesia is showing to the world—that it is possible to have a multiracial society in Central Africa and that it is possible for black and white native Rhodesians alike to work together, to live together and to make their country happy and prosperous.

I believe that the Foreign Secretary is a medical practitioner. Therefore he is presumably interested in and dedicated to the preservation of life. I ask him, in his absence: why does he wish to deal with the forces of murder all the time in Rhodesia? Why does he consider that the Patriotic Front, so called, represents the people with whom he should treat? Why does he believe that he should deal with Mugabe, a man who has many times said that he is dedicated to the imposition of a one-party Marxist State in Rhodesia, and with Nkomo, another apostle of murder, rather than with the moderate black Africans who are dealing with Mr. Ian Smith at the moment?

I ask the Minister of State to convey this message to the Foreign Secretary: "Please, please, why not be sensible about Rhodesia? Please, please, put away your pique. Grow up. Try to become a statesman, if such is possible, and do three things. Go to the United Nations and say 'The British Government now say that they want no more sanctions.' Go to the Patriotic Front and say 'Stop murder; otherwise we shall not deal with you'. Above all else, go to Ian Smith and the three moderate leaders of African opinion and say 'Her Majesty's Government support you, and we shall do all in our power to help'." Further, I suggest that, as opposed to £250,000 for Rhodesia and £17 million for the murderers in Mozambique, we should give Rhodesia a decent sum of money and cut off all aid to Mozambique until that nation stops supporting the forces of murder and tyranny.

7.9 p.m.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)

The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) is one of several Opposition Members who can be relied upon in a debate of this kind to come out unequivocally on the side of reaction—

Mr. Brotherton


Mr. Hamilton

—and on the side of the people in Africa who, if they got their way, would embroil that enormous continent in massive bloodshed.

The problem of Rhodesia must be seen in the much wider context not only of Africa but of world conflict as a whole; not only between black and white, but between poverty-stricken people and those who, for too long, have had too much privilege and power.

When the Foreign Secretary spoke this afternoon, I thought that most hon. Members were impressed. They should have been impressed by an obviously carefully considered and prepared statement of policy which, no doubt, was fully approved by our American partners. I hope that no one in the Opposition will deride it on that count. To me and to most of my hon. Friends it seemed to be a balanced, sober approach to an extremely delicate problem which to date has been approached by the House in a bipartisan manner.

Two successive former Tory Prime Ministers took the view that the Five Principles, and later the Six Principles, must be adhered to. We are not convinced yet that the Fifth Principle will be adhered to in the internal agreement. I recall that successive debates on the continuation of sanctions throughout a decade have led to bipartisan agreement, apart from the lunatic fringe on the right of the Conservative Party. Everyone else has either gone home or supported the continuation of sanctions.

One must add that over that period, ever since the unilateral declaration of independence by Mr. Smith, there has been repeated deception, double talk, and every conceivable action which is bound to lead us and every form of moderate opinion in the world to distrust that man. One simply cannot believe a word that he says. His mind has been known to change almost from hour to hour, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) recounted from his own experience. That is why we and the Foreign Secretary take our present view.

The response of the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) to the Foreign Secretary's speech was a disgrace. It must have been a great source of comfort and satisfaction to Mr. Smith but to no one else, except some Opposition Back Benchers who have expressed approval in measured terms.

The right hon. Member asserted that the present Government should accept immediately, without condition, the settlement which apparently has been reached in Rhodesia. That reminded me of the immediate willingness of the Tory Party to accept the riddance of Obote by Amin in Uganda. Hon. Members should read in Hansard how Amin deposed Obote. The Tories said what a marvellous thing this was. They used the same arguments. They said that Obote was a Marxist, a Communist, and a puppet of the Soviet Union. They said that he should therefore be replaced by this highly respectable soldier, Amin. When they now say that their policy should be accepted and that the internal regime in Rhodesia is satisfactory, we suspect their judgment and ignore it completely.

No one, even in the Opposition, could say with conviction that the internal settlement has been achieved by the genuine conversion of Mr. Smith and his cohorts to the principle of one man, one vote, majority rule and the rest. There is no need to recall yet again the unsavoury record of Mr. Smith and his party. It has been a record not only of deceit and double talk but of repression and murder—a word that has been repeated often in other contexts in this debate. It has been a record of racialism and imprisonment without trial. These have been the hallmarks of the Smith regime in the last decade.

Every Summer Recess we find the Tory Members on the Rhodesian gravy train. They become the guests of this man Smith. They then make the most outrageous statements in defence of the regime. Many of those statements are reported in The Sunday Times when they return. The hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) and the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) went to Rhodesia. They came back and became the Tory equivalent of the Rhodesia Front. They became the spokesmen in the House for the Rhodesia Front.

The right hon. Member for Knutsford said that we should accept the internal settlement. I agree with him to a certain extent. It seems that Mr. Smith has accepted defeat. After all, he said that black majority rule would not come within a thousand years or within his lifetime. Since he has accepted the inevit- able, we should see just how certain we can be that the majority of black Rhodesians accept what is now proposed. That is the crucial issue that must be decided in the debate. I would not trust the machinery for ascertaining those views to Mr. Smith. A prerequisite is that Smith must be got rid of before that process starts.

If he has any influence or control over the machinery for a referendum or election, it will be suspect and will not be accepted by international opinion nor by moderate opinion inside Rhodesia. There must be some form of international supervision. The media in Rhodesia—the newsapers, radio and television—must also be under the control of independent outside bodies. People such as Nkomo and members of the Patriotic Front must be allowed to campaign freely without any infringement of their rights subject to international supervision. The same applies to the police force and the internal security forces. They must not be seen to be, nor be, in the hands of the Rhodesia Front or any body remotely like it.

We do not know when the next election will come. We do not know when the blow-up will take place in Rhodesia. We are sitting on top of a volcano and we do not know how soon or late the explosion will occur. Assuming that we have time for a General Election before that catastrophic explosion, I hope that the Conservative Party will do and say nothing that will give comfort to a regime which has been a traitor to the Crown. I am the best person in the world to say that. The regime has been a traitor to the Crown, and the Tory Party of Britain has been solidly behind it for a decade. I hope that the Tory Party will not go to the country on that prospectus. If it does, our future in Africa—our enormous trade with Africa and the under-developed world—will be put at risk.

I end where I began. This problem is much bigger than just Rhodesia. It is part of a world problem. We had better understand that and be seen to be on the side of the under-privileged, whatever the colour of their skin.

7.20 p.m.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)

; There is an old story of the tourist who was walking down Downing Street and asked a policeman on which side was the Foreign Office. The policeman replied "Ours—I hope." After the deplorable and defeatist speech of the Foreign Secretary, I do not hope—I doubt. It was a curiously racist speech in which he depicted the whole problem in terms of black and white, seeming to see things more in terms of the United States Government's interest than of the interest of the United Kingdom. It was an oddly unrealistic speech. He did not seem to realise that we in Britain do not have the power to force any settlement within Rhodesia.

However, the British Government can make it more likely or less likely that a settlement will be achieved without fighting. They cannot even guarantee—nor can anyone—that if there is a peaceful settlement there will not be fighting. Equally, no one can guarantee whether those freedom fighters who are Cuban mercenaries are fighting for the Six Principles or for supremacy in Africa. Anyone who does not recognise that potential danger is failing to recognise a fact.

We are faced with a coalition Government in Rhodesia which has agreed to discuss its enlargement by the inclusion of Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo, and I hope that Mr. Nkomo especially can be persuaded to come to the discussions and to participate in the internal settlement. The parties to the internal settlement have, however, refused to accept that in the course of this discussion they must agree to reopen examination of all the problems they faced when, over a long and difficult period, they were reaching agreement between themselves.

Many Labour Members have suggested that nothing will be achieved unless Mr. Smith is removed. However, I suggest that if Mr. Smith were to be removed the white community would be in danger of being as disunited as is the black community. One thing that Mr. Smith can do is to retain white unity. That is his great value in the view of his partners in the internal agreement, and it is also of great potential value to Mr. Nkomo, if Mr. Nkomo can be persuaded to participate. After all, that sort of arrangement has come to be accepted in our domestic policies. The Government may not like the policies of some of our union leaders, but the Labour Party has to accept that they can deliver the support through the block vote at the party conference.

The Foreign Secretary has shown that he has lost his sense of timing and balance in dealing with this problem. The internal settlement is there. It is perfectly reasonable to say that we should start working on it and try to include in it the good parts of the Anglo-American proposals if we could secure acceptance for them during the interim period. Meanwhile, it is in the interests of both black and white throughout Africa that the British Government should positively encourage with its backing the internal settlement.

The interim Administration seeks means of satisfying, through a freely conducted General Election, the Fifth Principle, enabling sanctions to be lifted. However, I hope that the Government will follow up the suggestion by my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), supported by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), that we should help to carry these matters forward in a way which will enable us to lift sanctions sooner.

Above all, I beg the Foreign Secretary in what he is doing to think of the future of Europe and of this country. He should bear in mind that if the Soviet Union were in a position to inhibit or interfere in any way with the supply or cost of raw materials from Southern Africa as a whole, the European Community and Japan would be threatened with grave crisis and in danger of losing, if not their political, at least their economic independence. Those are the sort of stakes for which he is playing. I wish that he had given the House some indication when he opened the debate that he recognises that fact.

7.26 p.m.

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

I shall be brief, but I am grateful to have caught your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, since it is four weeks to the day since I and my hon. Friend the Member for Beeston (Mr. Lester) returned from a two-week visit to Rhodesia. It was the first time I had been there. I went with a completely open mind. I went as a bitter opponent of UDI and as someone who had always supported the use of sanctions. I was extremely cynical in my approach to Mr. Smith. However, I returned with the view, in spite of my convictions when I went, that the white population in Rhodesia was totally genuine in its commitment to the handing over of power to a majority Government by the end of this year.

That fact is of vital importance. It is a major shift in the minds of those people in Rhodesia. The internal settlement is a fact. I do not believe that there can possibly be any going back on what has been achieved. I also believe that, in spite of the doubts that many Africans obviously have about the sincerity behind what is happening, the vast majority of them support the internal leaders. I believe that Bishop Muzorewa, Mr. Sithole and Chief Chirau are accurate in claiming that they have the support of the majority. I hope that the efforts that they have made will enable a de-escalation of the war to begin. The Foreign Secretary is absolutely right to do all he can to attempt to persuade Mr. Nkomo to take part in what is happening. However, I say with great respect to him that when he talks of a conference without preconditions he is in danger of ignoring the facts of the last few months. While he appears always to hark back to the original Anglo-American proposals rather than to be willing to build on the agreement which has been reached internally, I fear that the will be unsuccessful in his attempt.

I do not see why it is in any way impossible to attempt to build on the agreement that has been made and at the same time continue to encourage Mr. Nkomo to return. I fear that if we do not give tacit support to what has been achieved internally we shall, perhaps unintentionally, undermine the international credibility of what has happened.

What do I believe should be the role of this country? The first thing about which we should be clear is that our interests and those of the Africans exactly coincide. We must wish to see a peaceful transfer of power to a moderate black leadership that is basically pro-Western and basically pro a free economy. I believe that, if those are our interests, the best way we can help now is by being actively involved in the scene in Salisbury.

We have always said from both sides of the House that any Government who take over in Rhodesia must be shown to meet the principles laid down by this House. Since the present internal agreement claims to meet those principles, I believe that the best thing we can do is to have a substantial diplomatic presence in Salisbury, watching what is happening and assisting towards that transfer.

I do not believe, as some of my hon. Friends believe, that at present it would be right to attempt to recognise the internal Government as it stands. There are still too many doubts in the eyes of many Africans. I do not believe that it would be right at this moment to remove sanctions, but I believe that it would be right to say to those who are trying to achieve the transfer in Rhodesia "We will come in and we will assist—particularly in attempts to achieve a fair test of opinion in Rhodesia—and if we are satisfied that the result of that test of opinion is a genuine transfer of power to black leaders who speak for the majority of people in Africa, at that moment we will go to the international community, we will invite the removal of sanctions and we will undertake to give recognition to the regime that takes over."

I do not see why at the same time it is not possible to take an active, progressive, positive view towards the internal agreement while still trying to widen it by persuading Mr. Nkomo to return. But if in trying to achieve the latter we fail to achieve the first, we shall be in danger of ending up by losing everything that has been achieved.

7.32 p.m.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

The hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) makes it easy to debate with him because he always says something that can be debated. That is more than can be said of some of the contributions we have heard in this debate.

I could not suppress a sense of irony when the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) was battling through a number of formulations to the final threat that, if by the autumn there is no change in the attitude taken by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman and his friends will find it difficult to vote for the continuation of sanctions. He was given loud cheers by a great many of his Conservative colleagues—hon. Gentlemen who have never voted in favour of sanctions. He obviously did not see the irony that he was being cheered by many of the assembled friends of Mr. Ian Smith, men who never cared tuppence whether the Africans were getting justice in their own country, Rhodesia. Those hon. Gentlemen have always opposed sanctions. Let them not be hypocritical, but let them state honourably that they were opposed to sanctions from the beginning, and that they will be opposed to sanctions in October, December, January, or any other month.

The right hon. Member for Knutsford is battling in a difficult posiion. He largely represents a great many Opposition Members who are not here today. They are the people who normally keep away from these debates because they support Opposition Front Bench policy, which is identical to Her Majesty's Government policy, and who when a Conservative Government are in power they pursue a similar policy. But on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman has behind him the assembled platoons of those who have never supported the official policy of the Conservative Party on Rhodesia but who have always identified themselves with the policies of Mr. Ian Smith.

However, that argument does not apply to the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn. His remarks were greeted not with cheers but with painful silence. He said that he did not advise that sanctions should be discontinued. The right hon. Member for Knutsford might have been the only Conservative who cheered him, but he did it so quietly that it could not be heard by an ordinary ear. None of the other Conservative Members cheered the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that if sanctions were abandoned now it would be nonsense and would undermine the position of the British Government and the United States Government. The rest of the Conservative Party know that they want sanctions to be discontinued because they have always wanted Mr. Smith rather than the British Government to succeed.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is pursuing a policy which has as its major aim the creation of a situation in a future Zimbabwe that would allow the people to govern themselves democratically. That also coincides with Western interests. That is a position which I believe could receive the support of both sides of the House. I see no difficulty in that position. I imagine that one or two of my hon. Friends would disagree with certain aspects of my right hon. Friend's policy. I appreciate that a few extreme Right-wing Conservatives—not necessarily Members of this House but the people who act as delegates at annual conferences from time to time; and we all know that political parties have more extreme wings in the country than are often apparent in this House—will disagree with what my right hon. Friend is trying to do. But I do not know how hon. Members who have followed the developments of this policy can be so extreme at this moment as to deny their support to the Foreign Secretary. I find that astonishing and surprising.

We must at this stage closely examine, not the motives of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, which are as clear as daylight, but what is happening in Rhodesia. Those of us who have been to Rhodesia and who know the people and appreciate their aspirations recognise that we must now see whether the present events are likely to lead to success. That would be a proper job for the House of Commons at present, instead of hon. Members trying to pick holes in what the Foreign Secretary is trying to do.

There are a number of encouraging as well as disturbing circumstances. I do not share the pessimistic view of the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) that if Mr. Ian Smith were to remove himself from the scene there would be no European left who could carry the confidence of his fellow Europeans. That is not my experience of Rhodesia. I know many Europeans who would be able to give leadership in Rhodesia at present and who would carry a great deal of support among their fellow countrymen. Therefore, it is not such a dismal one-man situation as some Members have tried to make out.

That is not in itself a sufficient argument for a particular politician to be removed. I am merely saying that the situation is far from hopeless in respect of additional and new leadership. On the contrary, I know a number of industrialists and business men who over the years have always said "If only we could remove Mr. Smith, we might get a much better atmosphere in trying to reach agreement with some of the African leaders".

That brings me to another point that should be examined in this debate against the background of whether what is happening is likely to lead to success. I refer to the difficulties which have recently arisen in regard to one of the black Ministers in the Executive Council. Many hon. Members must have heard that gentleman on BBC radio speaking about his experiences, and they were disturbing. He said that he expected his party, which is the party of Bishop Muzorewa, not to be a member of the present coalition.

Mr. Hove said that his co-operation with the others broke down on a decisive issue. He said "If we are to make progress in reaching an agreed situation at the end of the year we must begin opening the doors of administration and government to all sections of the people of Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe." On that, he was dismissed.

The right hon. Gentleman might have listened as I did shortly afterwards on another station to a statement by Mr. van der Byl, in which he said arrogantly "This was obviously the wrong kind of fellow, so he had to go." What has changed in the past nine months if that is the way in which Mr. van der Byl refers to one of his immediate erstwhile colleagues? He was the wrong fellow, so he had to go: there was no sign there of an acceptance of a new situation of equality between the races and all the people of Rhodesia.

The issue is very important, because the second point we should examine is the preparation of the elections and whether, if we urge my right hon. Friend to abandon his attitude of caution, we can be so certain that there will be equality for all citizens during the forthcoming election campaign. The Minister who resigned wanted to create a certain situation relating to at least some of the sensitive positions which are important in an election campaign, where great emotions might be awakened and aroused on different sides of the argument, whatever the argument might be, in police stations, among superintendents, among administrators who have to do with electoral and administrative law and with law and order. He was dismissed because he wanted to introduce some changes there.

Mr. Hove might be forgiven for feeling rather pessimistic about the conditions under which Mr. Smith intends to prepare for the forthcoming election campaign. After all, I think that it will not be denied by right hon. and hon. Members that even some Frenchmen today believe that it is of some importance in a French general election which party controls the French Ministry of the Interior. You will have heard that argument in recent months, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and over the years. I know that many radicals in the radical party in France believed for years that the first thing they had to do if they wanted to be successful in the next election was to see that the Minister of the Interior was a radical in direct daily contact with the prefects all over the country.

So it is not such an absurd view if this black Minister was concerned that in the preparation for a free democratic election campaign the doors should be open to some of his black fellow countrymen to move into some of those sensitive positions. These are the sorts of things I expect my right hon. Friend to keep his attention on, as he is doing. In our previous debate, he rightly spent a little more time on telling us about the doubts expressed to him in the United Nations and elsewhere, some of which he shared, about whether the texture of the atmosphere that was being created was the right one, and was sufficient to ensure equality among all the people of a future Zimbabwe. Those are serious considerations, which have nothing to do with ideological prejudices or undertones as to what one might eventually wish to see in a future Zimbabwe.

Equally, the white European people in Rhodesia today will, one hopes, begin to differentiate into different groups. We hope that more and more the people will get away from the division into only having an interest in whether one is white or black. To the knowledge of all of us, many Rhodesians are prepared to do that now. That being so, surely it is good and sensible for the British Government to make it absolutely clear to all of them that they are keeping a watchful eye on equality's really being established.

I suggest to those hon. Members who have always been the friends of Mr. Ian Smith that at this moment they are genuinely not doing a service to the white European population in Rhodesia by urging the Government to forget all caution and rush ahead. One never quite knows what they want the Government to do. They have never made it quite clear whether they want them to go to Rhodesia now and say "Everything you are doing now is all right and we give you our blessing." How would the British Government to able to have any influence on Mr. Nkomo if they did that? How would it be possible for the Anglo-American diplomatic initiative to have any meaning to those groups that are not yet associated with the constitutional changes that are taking place if the Government did that? Even on the most primitive problems in diplomatic finesse is it not much more sensible for the British Government to be to some extent on the sidelines and to help from outside?

This does not apply to having people in Rhodesia from time to time. As we know, the Government have sent people to South Africa and to Salisbury. They are in constant touch. It is wrong to create a picture as if my right hon. Friend has shown no detailed interest in what is going on out there.

I would go further. I would claim that one of the best influences in bringing about what has already been achieved has been the attitude of the British Government throughout these months, particularly their activation of American policy. Recently, in the discussion about the attitude of Mr. Andrew Young, there has been a great deal of criticism of some of the statements he has made. Mr. Andrew Young is master of his own statements. He decides his own style. One will not find that sort of criticism among those who make foreign policy for President Carter. They know that what is helpful in the African context and indeed in the context of the Third world is to have an American diplomat who speaks his mind. We do not always have to agree with him. We might sometimes prefer a different kind of formulation. But it has had a very refreshing influence upon the standing of United States diplomacy in the Third world and, in particular, in Africa.

Moreover, it should not be underestimated. I commend this thought to the right hon. Gentleman. If progress has been made on Namibia in recent months, it is very largely due to the work of my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. There should be some recognition of that in this debate. I cannot for the life of me understand why it should not be regarded as a British interest to put on record that the Foreign Secretary has had certain achievements in this extremely difficult field in recent months, and then go on urging him to do better still.

I first knew Mr. Nkomo about 16 years ago, a few weeks before he was first interned in Rhodesia for those tragic years. I remember a conversation with him in his office in Salisbury as long ago as that. If we look back on his experience, the way in which he was treated from time to time, we can understand why he hesitates and we can understand that he feels that perhaps he has as good a claim to lead his people as anyone else has. I think that I shall carry at least some hon. Members with me in advancing that proposition.

Surely it is to take the path of wisdom on the part of my right hon. Friend to give some public recognition to that, which he is doing, by making it easier for a man such as Mr. Nkomo to make up his mind. We are showing that we are serious, that we are not merely saying that because someone else has reached an agreement with Mr. Smith he must be the future governor of Rhodesia, that he and those associated with him must be the future Government in a new coalition. The same applies to others who are associated with Mr. Nkomo.

I believe that the most serious problem we face at present is the test of whether Bishop Muzorewa's party, already in the present coalition, can continue to work with the other members of the Executive Council. That is the most serious immediate political problem. I believe that it will very much depend on whether that particular movement, by far the most important among the African components of the present Executive Council, comes to a firm conclusion that the experiment can successfully continue.

I suggest in all seriousness that the best way in which the House can help Bishop Muzorewa and his movement is to make sure that we shall not leave him alone and isolated, and that we shall never agree to a settlement which does not give an equal opportunity to all his African fellow countrymen. That is a much better message that should go from the House in support of what my right hon. Friend is trying to do than any that I can think of.

7.50 p.m.

Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)

The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) began his speech with a reference to Mr. Smith. So shall I. The importance of Mr. Smith is that he is one of the four signatories to the internal settlement. I want the internal settlement to succeed. I do not believe that it would have a chance of success if any one of the four principal participants in it were to be forced out of office now.

The emergence of a peaceful Zimbabwe would be a great prize for all of us and one of immense significance, as has been said, for the whole of Southern Africa. There is little doubt that a multiracial Zimbabwe, securing the participation and the future of the white minority, would have a welcome influence on the Republic of South Africa, encouraging reform there and the development of a more liberal attitude. There is no doubt either that success for Zimbabwe would be a setback for Russia, which, with the aid of its Cuban mercenaries, is now so intent on establishing its sphere of influence over Africa and the Southern Arabian peninsula.

The Foreign Secretary is right to try to widen the participation in the election processes in Rhodesia. He is right to try to persuade Joshua Nkomo to change from his guerrilla tactics to participation in peaceful elections. My only anxiety is that the Foreign Secretary has tipped the scales so far too much in favour of the militants and the Marxists and in doing so has given comfort only to "our common enemy whose capital is Moscow."

Instead of trying to undermine the internal settlement, why does not the Foreign Secretary build on it? Why does he not at the very least salute the immense advance that has been made? Something of the greatest importance has taken place. The Foreign Secretary will bear a heavy responsibility if, through his insistence on the unrealistic proposals wished on him by the United States Administration, he precipitates the collapse of what has now been achieved in Salisbury.

The right hon. Gentleman's policy is coming dangerously close to an attempt to replace the old white minority rule with a militant, Marxist-inclined black minority rule. The Foreign Secretary even uses some of the same slogans. He said, when opening the debate, "The fight so far has been a fight for freedom." It has not. It has been and is still a fight for power. It is not an independence struggle so much as a power struggle. That is what we are witnessing. I suspect that it is because people like Mugabe know full well that they stand little chance of winning in a free election through the ballot that they are relentlessly pursuing their aims with the bullet.

There are three immediate essentials. The first is that the Foreign Secretary should work to ensure that the elections when they take place are free from intimidation, are seen to be fair and, if this is necessary for that to happen, are subjected to some form of international scrutiny and observation by the United Nations or by any other acceptable agency.

Secondly, in respect of the economy of Rhodesia, I hope that the Foreign Secretary will preserve for himself some flexibility, because changes could well take place in the African continent which would undermine the slender stability of the Rhodesian economy and would adversely affect the emergence of the new independent State of Zimbabwe. The Foreign Secretary must make it quite clear that, as soon as the conditions for full free elections have been established, we will give a firm promise of future economic support for that country.

Thirdly, I hope that the Foreign Secretary will follow the example of Bishop Muzorewa, Mr. Sithole and Chief Chirau. I hope that he, too, will swallow his pride and get the better of any personal antipathy that he still harbours against Mr. Smith. I hope that he will recognise the transitional Government of Rhodesia for the reality that it is. He should give it encouragement and use it for all it is worth—and it is worth a lot. It is the best possible hope for the emergence in Rhodesia of a new independent Zimbabwe which would, happily, be both multiracial and pro-West.

7.57 p.m.

Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)

If nothing else the debate has shown that there would be great advantage attached to more Labour Members travelling to Rhodesia and finding out the situation on the ground. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) spoke with great knowledge of Rhodesia. However, I wonder whether even he has been there recently. The impression that I gained when I was in Rhodesia a fortnight ago was that no Labour Member had been to Rhodesia for months at least and possibly years.

If any Labour Members went to Rhodesia they would find a situation very different from that which they imagine. They would find, in particular, that the internal settlement has the support not simply of the black African leaders, not just of Mr. Smith and his followers but, perhaps more important, of a great number of people who opposed UDI from the beginning. Perhaps of particular interest to Labour Members is that the settlement is supported by a number of white people who have consistently been supporters of the Labour Party in this country.

There are only two courses facing Rhodesia—peaceful transition to majority rule, or a deterioration of the country into civil war, bloodshed and economic ruin. Against the background of those courses there are two reasons why the internal settlement is receiving so much support. First, it has satisfied or is beginning to satisfy five of the Six Principles. Secondly, people are supporting the internal agreement because time and the state of the economy will not allow for anything else.

It was all very well for the Foreign Secretary to propound his views about the scene that he would like to see developing, but the time has passed when it is possible for him to have those ideas put into practice. If he thinks that it is possible to put those ideas into practice, I regret to say that he is living in a dreamland of his own. The internal settlement is the only option open if peaceful transition is to be achieved without bloodshed. I am convinced that if what has been done were now to be undone, the ensuing delay before anything else was agreed would see a major increase in guerrilla warfare and considerable loss of life.

In the meantime, it is not far short of a miracle that Mr. Smith and three of the most important African leaders are sitting together in the Executive Council. If that were to go, in all likelihood there would be a civil war—not between black and white, but between the different black political groups. There would, in addition, be a mass exodus of whites who would lose all confidence in their future in Rhodesia. The destructive effect that that would have on the economy would be cataclysmic and totally contrary to the hopes of the African leaders. They can judge better than anyone else the adverse effect that white emigration has already had on the economies of other African countries, and they know that if Rhodesia is to have a prospering economy the retention of white people is of very great importance.

I am convinced that the internal settlement provides the only basis for peaceful transition. What remains to be done now is to satisfy the Fifth Principle and to obtain international recognition. If, in the meanwhile, other African countries can be persuaded to accept the huge progress that has been made towards majority rule, it will be so much easier to set the stage for the satisfaction of the Fifth Principle, but proof can come only from an election.

Obviously there are arguments in favour of a national referendum, but the memory of the Pearce Commission is too unhappy to make that sort of opinion-sounding an option and time is too short anyway for a referendum to be held if the target date of 31st December is to be achieved. Diversions such as a referendum could slow the course of events and, in any case, before a referendum could take place there would have to be registration of electors.

If there is to be an election, the guerrilla war must be de-escalated. No election could conceivably take place in the present security situation.

Mr. Amery

I asked Bishop Muzorewa that question on Monday and he said that he did not see why elections could not take place now. He holds meetings and buses carry hundreds of people to and fro. He does not see why they should not take people to the polling booths, even in present circumstances.

Mr. Morrison

I accept what my right hon. Friend says. I was about to say that when I was in Rhodesia with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker), the African leaders and the security forces were extremely optimistic about the guerrillas laying down their arms and the situation being improved much more than it has already.

However, in spite of the optimism of Bishop Muzorewa and other African leaders, I believe that it would be extremely difficult for the registration of voters to take place and for an election to be held without detailed intimidation. There is a great difference between the bishop holding meetings attended by thousands of people and individual Africans having to be registered and voting. That is why I believe that an election could not take place unless the guerrilla war is de-escalated. Of course the bishop's own party has reacted against the appeal to the guerrillas to lay down their arms, but it is not unknown for a party organisation to expect much more than even Governments of their own party. Indeed, it is not untypical of the Labour Party.

Obviously, if there is to be a much greater chance of success in de-escalating the war, it must stem, above all, from bringing Mr. Nkomo into the internal settlement. I agree with the hon. Member for Penistone that Mr. Nkomo has claims, perhaps in excess of any other African leader, in respect of Rhodesia and leading a black Government. However, it will be one man, one vote and he will have to take his chance alongside the others. It would be a bitter irony if Mr. Nkomo, as the father of nationalism in Rhodesia, were responsible for a civil war just at the moment when majority rule was within his countrymen's grasp.

I wonder what effort the Government are making to persuade President Kaunda to use his good offices with Mr. Nkomo. We are told that they are very close. All the leaders of nearby African countries must have a vested interest in peace and a settlement in Rhodesia, both because it will benefit their economies and because I refuse to believe that they really welcome a continually expanding Russian or Cuban military presence in their countries. Having rid themselves of old colonialism, it does not seem likely that they welcome the possibility of subservience to a new and, this time, oppressive and harsh imperialism. They know that that is the threat facing them.

The sooner there is a settlement in Rhodesia, the better it must be for those leaders, and for none more so than President Kaunda. Zambia's economy is in poor shape and two of the prerequisites for its resuscitation are capital and a reopening of the railway through Rhodesia. The Government should be trying to persuade President Kaunda to see where his country's interests lie and to lend his support to the internal agreement.

This country should offer all possible assistance with the registration of voters for an election. I have no doubt that, later, British, Common Market or Anglo-American observers of the election should be appointed. All the evidence is that they would be welcomed by the Executive Council.

If the Government are to be fully informed about the needs of Rhodesia in respect of progress towards satisfying the Fifth Principle, it is of the utmost importance that a British mission is established in Salisbury immediately. It is an advance to know that Mr. Graham will apparently be in Africa full time, but that is not good enough. There must be a mission in Salisbury and feel that there may not be too much difficulty about reciprocity, if the Foreign Secretary thinks that this may be an awkward problem.

On international recognition, I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said about sanctions and I agree with the Foreign Secretary, who said that Britain cannot recognise Rhodesia or raise sanctions unilaterally. It is too soon to do so.

It would be nice to do as my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) suggests and to give the transitional Government the benefit of the doubt, but we must accept that, at this stage, there is too much scepticism remaining in the outside world for us to believe that recognition or the ending of sanctions would have any desirable effect around the world.

Lastly, I wish to make a few remarks about the Rhodesians themselves, if I may do so without seeming presumptuous. Compared with South Africa, there is a much more relaxed racial atmosphere in Rhodesia, however much still needs to be done to end discrimination. It is clear that black people, in Salisbury anyway, enjoy a reasonable standard of living and among the black leaders there is a strong desire that the whites should stay There seems to be a remarkable lack of resentment on the part of the black leaders—as there might have been, given their long fight for majority rule and the fact that so many of them have been in detention.

On the other hand, the bravery of the whites, particularly the white farmers, in the face of terrorism is a remarkable advertisement of their character and self-reliance. Whatever mistakes may have been made in the past, their acceptance of the realities now is a hopeful portent for the future. The lessons that have been learnt by all from the experiences of other newly independent African countries are well taken throughout Rhodesia.

In short, all the ingredients for a successful future and a model multiracial State in Southern Africa are there if they can be gelled together and if the elections take place. Whether that happens depends upon the attitude of this Government. At the moment it is clear that they are still totally unprepared fully to face up to the reality of the situation in Rhodesia. It is no use spitting out sour grapes because events have not gone as the Government wished. The Government must be more welcoming towards the movement towards majority rule in Zimbabwe. Time is short. If the Government do not change their attitude to the internal settlement, we shall remain on a course that is bound to end in disaster.

8.11 p.m.

Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

In following my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) I should like to emphasise the sombre context in which his debate is taking place. We are not debating simply the situation in Rhodesia. We are debating the situation in the whole of Southern Africa. We are also debating this in the context of mounting crisis and division within the world.

When we look back at the events of the past 10 to 14 years, we cannot help noting the tendency of many politicians, not only in this country, to have taken one side or the other, rather arbitrarily and emotionally, and to have kept to it though positions might change. This is one of the reasons why I welcomed part at least of the speech of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson).

As Dr. Kissinger said last week in a lecture, it is quite possible to welcome, for example, the internal settlement while at the same time recognising the realities of the Patriotic Front and the reality of the cause for which it stands. There is no necessary division between these views although they seem to be totally opposed.

What is the purpose of Western policy in Southern Africa? It is the creation of a durable, acceptable and peaceful settlement. We must all recognise that the context is worse than it was even five years ago and is bound to deteriorate unless this present opportunity is seized. It is certainly a good deal worse than it was in 1971 at the time of the Lusaka declaration or in 1973 when President Gowon was president of the OAU.

The key point to emphasise is that of guarantees to Rhodesia during the transition period. I disagree with the point made by the Foreign Secretary, not only today but previously, when he referred to the emphasis which he and the Government place upon the role of the United Nations peacekeeping force.

As one with some involvement with United Nations peacekeeping forces in the past, I regard this as a totally impracticable proposal. It is not only impracticable because the United Nations is at the moment severely over-stretched. There is a total staff of only six people in New York dealing with the United Nations' peacekeeping activities. At the moment they are coping with no fewer than four peacekeeping forces, and the idea of adding to that is absolutely impractical. The real problem is that any peacekeeping force has to be created by the Security Council. At the moment in Rhodesia, a peacekeeping initiative would lie with the Western Powers. It would depend upon the vote and veto of the Soviet Union. I know from experience that the vote would be secured at a price. In other words, it would be a peacekeeping force in the main on the terms of the Soviet Union.

In addition, we have to confront the problems of recruitment, command and the financing of such a force. The problems that we have at the moment in the Lebanon are sufficiently formidable and are mounting daily. The problems of role, mandate and command will be key issues. Over the years the Soviet Union has relentlessly maintained its view that the Security Council, on which it has a veto, should be in command of the day-to-day operations of a peacekeeping force. The Western countries have consistently opposed this. As we saw first with the second United Nations emergency force in the Middle East and now with the Lebanon force, the Soviet principle has been carried forward. We would have a position in which, although it might be a Western initiative to have a United Nations peacekeeping force, it would have to be substantially created and run on the terms of the Soviet Union.

Let us be realistic about this. The reason why we need a form of force or intervention in Rhodesia during the interim period is that this is not a country which is going through a mere internal series of difficulties; it is a country facing an external threat. There is also the principle that the United Nations peacekeeping forces go into areas in which there is prior agreement between the parties. This seems highly improbable in the charged atmosphere of Southern Africa.

The one thing we all dread is another Congo. This is the one thing that the United Nations dreads. It is dreaded also by everyone involved not only in African affairs but in international affairs. The United Nations has learnt a great deal from the Congo. It has learnt of many of the perils and difficulties surrounding involvement in such operations. Above all, it has learnt that when there is a situation in which there is ambiguity about the mandate, when there is Great Power rivalry, when there is exploitation of a peacekeeping force and when it is flung into a highly volatile situation, there arise the tragedies and near-disasters which occurred previously. That is the essential point that I wished to make.

I believe that we in the West have to face up to the fact that although the internal settlement represents a considerable advance, it is not by itself enough. There will have to be some form of Western involvement, particularly on the aspect of guarantees. I believe that the United Nations route is impractical. I believe that the House and the country and the Western Powers generally have to face the fact that if they wish to play a part in the establishment of a settlement in an area vital for international peace, we cannot go on any longer trading phrases and arguments. We must recognise that we face hard decisions and that the involvement of this nation and the Western alliance in the affairs of Southern Africa is crucial for the future peace and settlement of that area as well as for international peace.

8.17 p.m.

Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)

I shall be extremely brief, for two reasons. The first has to do with appeals made by the Chair that we should be brief in the interests of other hon. Members who wish to speak. The second is that I thought that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) and the short speech by his predecessor as Shadow Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnett (Mr. Maudling), were completely accurate, factual and objective summings-up of the situation to which I can usefully add little.

I confess that I thought that my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford made the best speech that I can remember on this difficult subject. It was a great advance, if I may say so without being offensive, on the speech of the Foreign Secretary.

I do not believe that the Foreign Secretary and some hon. Members who have spoken yet realise in how much peril the internal settlement stands. If they do realise it and they are still not prepared to do something to sustain this fragile growth, the likelihood is that it will collapse. What such people have not thought through is what would take the place of the settlement. It is because of that that I urge the Foreign Secretary and the Government to review their attitude and begin to give encouragement to the settlement so that elections may be held at the end of the year and so that it does not split but rather gets on with the job before a worse fate overtakes the country. Labour Members will be aware of the internal chaos which has affected other countries not far from Rhodesia.

I ask those who, I believe, are putting the settlement at risk to tell us what they think will happen if the internal settlement collapses. What will be the action and reaction of the Government? Do they not realise that the longer we withhold, not necessarily formal recognition, but support, assistance and encouragement for the internal settlement, the more strength it will give to external forces of terrorism in stepping up their aggression. It has been shown also that the more bloody-minded they are the more Her Majesty's Government hold back from any form of recognition of the internal settlement.

On both sides we are running into very grave risks if we put the settlement, which is not perfect but is a good start, at peril. If we do so, we make the situation worse every day because we have no alternative to offer except internal chaos, and because we are encouraging terrorist forces from outside to step up the aggression which has so far brought them good dividends in that now no settlement is regarded as possible unless they are included.

The Foreign Secretary said that history shows how wrong we have been in underestimating the ultimate results and the so-called freedom fighters. He said that this had always been a mistake. He has his facts and history wrong. Whenever we have given way to violence by abandoning or handing over our responsibilities, the worst possible results have followed. For proof of that we have only to look at the present situation in the Middle East. We yielded there to the pressures of force and abandoned our responsibilities in Palestine, and everything in the Middle East situation has flowed from terrorism. The same happened when we yielded to so-called freedom fighters in Cyprus. Look at what has happened to the unhappy island.

In Malaysia, on the other hand, we refused to yield to attempts to impose a new system by the gun. The result is that Malaysia is one of the most successful democratic States in the New Commonwealth. I suggest that those who may stare at that statement should consider all the alternatives in South-East Asia at the moment and then keep their mouths firmly closed, for otherwise I shall be tempted to start talking about conditions in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

I do not think that the Foreign Secretary realises the extent of the dread and dislike that there is among blacks and whites alike in Rhodesia who want to live their lives in peace. To them the terrorists from over the border are not freedom fighters. They regard them as we regard the IRA in this country. We may not think that they are the same, and we may call them freedom fighters but to the blacks and whites who have seen their wives and children murdered, whatever their colour—I have had letters from the Foreign Office admitting some appalling massacres by the so-called freedom fighters—they are the equivalent of the IRA, and for us to insist that in Rhodesia the equivalent of the IRA must come into any constitutional settlement or else it will not be valid only makes the resistance to any such arrangement all the stronger.

I recently put down two questions. First, I asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to insist on the inclusion of the Patriotic Front military movement in any negotiations for a Rhodesian constitutional settlement; The answer of the Minister of State, was: It remains the view of my right hon. Friend that all the parties principally involved should be included in negotiations for a constitutional settlement in Rhodesia. My second question, put down the same day, was to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I asked him whether it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to insist on the exclusion"— not inclusion— of the PIRA and IRA military movement from negotiations for a Northern Ireland constitutional settlement; The answer of the Secretary of State was: Yes. I have no intention of negotiating with criminals."—[Official Report, 17th April 1978; Vol. 948, c. 16–33.] I put it to hon. Members opposite that to those living on the spot in Rhodesia the terrorists are as abhorrent as we rightly regard the terrorists who are making the lives of innocent people in Ulster unbearable.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. Ivor Clemitson (Luton, East)

I shall not follow the circumnavigation of the hon. Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett), who ranged as widely as from Malaysia and, presumably, Singapore, where he claimed that there were democratic regimes, to Northern Ireland. Both areas are far removed from Rhodesia.

I wish to refer particularly to the question of sanctions, dealing with one particular aspect, oil sanctions. I do not want to become involved in the argument about whether sanctions should continue. I am glad to hear that not only is it the Government's view that they should continue but that at least some hon. Members opposite apparently agree with the Government's position. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) agreed that sanctions should not at this stage be withdrawn.

I make no apology for returning to the subject of oil sanctions because, arguably, they are the most important of all the sanctions. The Smith regime would not have lasted six months if the oil sanctions had been clearly and rigidly imposed. Yet the regime has lasted not just for six months but for well over a decade. Plainly, Rhodesia has been getting and continues to get oil and oil products from somewhere.

In the last two years, two documents have been produced giving evidence of the way in which this has been done. The first was an American publication called "The Oil Conspiracy." It dealt mainly with the Mobil Oil Company and documented in detail what it called a paperchase. The second was a publication by the Haslemere Group, in conjunction with the anti-apartheid movement, which showed that British-based oil companies were engaging in similar practices. I need hardly say how serious this aspect is, since the British public, through the Government and the Bank of England, have the controlling interest in one of these companies, British Petroleum.

Partly as a result of the publication of these documents, partly as a result of pressures in this House, and partly as a result of pressures in other countries of the Commonwealth, the Government decided in April last year to establish the Bingham inquiry. What has happened or is happening to that inquiry? I appreciate that the subject is complex. I appreciate the need for thoroughness and fairness in looking at this problem and examining the allegations which have been made. But surely there is also a need for expedition, especially in the light of the rapidly changing situation in Rhodesia over the past 12 months, and, indeed, over the last two or three months.

Last November my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was asked what progress was being made and he replied: It is too soon to indicate when I expect to receive the report of the inquiry."—[Official Report, 25th November 1977; Vol. 939, c. 949.] More recently, my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) asked a similar question, and my right hon. Friend replied: Mr. Thomas Bingham has made consider able progress with his investigation into the supply of petroleum and petroleum products to Rhodesia. I discussed the timing of his report with him today, and he is aware that I regard his task as urgent, but I cannot yet forecast when he will be ready to submit his report. We still have no date, therefore, for when Mr. Bingham is likely to report. The first anniversary of the setting up of the Bingham inquiry is now well past, but we still have no date and no indication of when the report can be expected.

The reply goes on to state: So far as publication is concerned, the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) (No. 2) Order 1968, under which the inquiry was established, placed certain restrictions on the disclosure of material produced for the purpose of the inquiry. I shall not be able to reach a decision on this until the report has been submitted and considered."—[Official Report, 15th March 1978; Vol. 946, c. 201–2.] I realise the technical difficulties involved in the question of publication, but in a matter of this importance, where a company in which the Government have a controlling interest is involved, surely there is a strong presumption of the right to know. I ask my right hon. Friend for an assurance that the report, when it is ready, will be published, or at least that the major part of it will be published.

Whatever the technical and practical difficulties about completing the report, there will inevitably be a suspicion that the Government do not regard the matter with quite the urgency with which perhaps they ought to regard it and that they would rather that the matter would go away. I am not saying that those suspicions are justified or that they are true, but the only way for such suspicions to be removed is for the report to be completed and to be published as quickly as possible.

I fully support the Government's view that a lasting settlement in Rhodesia is possible only if all the nationalist leaders and their various supporters are brought into the negotiations. I fully support their view that to support the internal settlement to the exclusion of the Patriotic Front leaders would be to invite disaster and almost certainly a civil war of bloodier proportions than is happening at the moment.

I fully support the Government's attempt to act as mediator in the situation on that sort of basis, but there has been, as I see it, great difficulty in their fulfilling a conciliatory role as long as they were and are seen as, if not conniving at, at least not taking serious action against, the breaking of sanctions and particularly the breaking of oil sanctions allegedly by a company in which they have the controlling interest.

The past is past and we cannot make good our lack of action on the subject for so many years, but I believe that it would partially help to retrieve the situation if we were seen to be treating the Bingham inquiry with seriousness and urgency. The sooner the report is completed and the sooner it is published, the more, in my view, will our credibility be strengthened. If the report finds that the allegations made against British Petroleum and Shell are well founded, I hope that the Government take speedy action against those companies.

I wish the Secretary of State well in his extremely difficult task, but I urge him to treat this matter of alleged sanction-breaking by the oil companies with great seriousness. The more he does so the stronger, I believe, his position will be, and the nearer will be a lasting settlement in Rhodesia.

8.34 p.m.

Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

I cannot help recalling the Labour Party conference of about 12 years ago when the then Minister of State was under great attack from Labour Party delegates for having allegedly negotiated with the illegal Smith regime. In replying to the charge, which she denied, I recall her saying—I saw it on television—" We have not negotiated with Ian Smith, and we told him so in hours and hours of talks".

I mention that because it emphasises the somewhat surrealistic nature of the whole attitude of the United Kingdom Government—and, indeed, of successive British Governments—to the Rhodesia problem. It has been a policy which has been based on a rather curious mixture of high principles, political tactics and a sense of utter helplessness. I think that these ingredients have continued until the present day.

There has been a significant amount of mention of the Six Principles as being the basis of the policy of successive British Governments. It is well worth remembering what exactly those principles are, because this emphasises the dramatic changes that have taken place within Rhodesia over the last couple of years.

The First Principle, relating to a guarantee of unimpeded progress towards majority rule on the basis of the 1961 constitution, is clearly to be found within the internal agreement. Again, the fact that there have been no retrogressive amendments of the 1961 constitution is clearly not something that one would question as not being conceded. There have been dramatic improvements in the political status of the African population. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Indeed, there have been. The political status of the African population has been dramatically improved by its participation—for the first time since the foundation of Rhodesia in 1890—in the highest organs of government.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Surely the hon. Gentleman is stretching his logic by saying that the bringing into an arrangement of, at most, 16 people out of a population of 3 million is a dramatic change in political status.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman really should visit Rhodesia, if he is allowed in. I do not know whether the Africans as well as the whites would allow him in at the present time. However, he should pay a visit. He would discover that not only has the Land Apportionment Act been repealed—an Act which all sections of the population critical of Mr. Smith have condemned for many years—not only has there been the release of 700 out of 900 detainees and not only has there been a pledge of full majority rule by the end of this year, but that three out of the four members of the highest organ of power—the Executive Council—are now African leaders. If the hon. Gentleman does not suggest that that is a dramatic improvement in the status of the African people, he really is not interested in the facts of the situation.

With regard to the other principles, some criticism has been made that the internal agreement will give to the Europeans a disproportionate representation in Parliament—greater than their numbers would justify—for a period of 10 years. Certain Labour Members have said that it is unfair that the whites should have a privileged minority position, even for a transitional period. This overlooks the real relevance of the situation, because for the first time in the history of mankind a small minority which had a monopoly of political power is, however grudgingly—and after however long a period—voluntarily transferring that monopoly to a different ethnic group. If the price to be paid is certain slight privileges for a minority—certain purely blocking powers over certain constitutional changes for a 10-year period—that cannot be a price which is too high to pay.

It has been suggested that Mr. Smith is not a man to be trusted. I would not necessarily disagree with that point of view. I think, however, that that is irrelevant to the present consideration of what our policy should be. If there is one thing that can be said of Mr. Smith, it is that he has been entirely consistent. He has been consistent in that the paramount objective which he has pursued has been to protect, as best as he thinks he can, the interests of the European community.

Until the time of the Kissinger proposals, Mr. Smith obviously believed that it was possible to contemplate a perpetuation of white minority rule in Rhodesia. Now he has accepted—for many of the reasons that Labour Mem- bers have indicated—that that is no longer a feasible proposition. Equally, he is consistent in believing that it is now in the interests of the white community that there should be a peaceful transition to a moderate African Government in the very near future.

I do not see that there is anything inconsistent in that approach. Indeed, I cannot conceive of a single interest of Mr. Smith's that would want him to reverse the position and the steps that he has taken over the last few months. The obvious major outstanding point is whether the Fifth Principle will be complied with and whether the settlement which has been reached is acceptable to the population of Rhodesia as a whole, both black and white. Here, I think, there is a fundamental problem.

Although I have not the slightest doubt that both the black and white members of the Executive Council want African opinion to be freely tested, there is the practical problem that as long as a guerrilla war is going on in a large part of the country the circumstances do not permit the full, free and open determination of these issues that both sides would like.

Here we come to a critical problem. It is one thing to say "We will in no way recognise an internal settlement or a Government who have not demonstrated and have no desire to demonstrate that they have the support of the population for that agreement." That is one position which right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber probably wish to take. It is a different matter if one comes to the view that the inability to test that opinion as fully and as freely as one would like is not because of any failure of the will of the Government in question but because of the determination of a small minority of armed fighters to prevent the referendum or poll taking place.

We have to accept that if at the end of the day the internal Government try, with all the power at their disposal, to give an opportunity to the Africans as well as the Europeans to indicate whether they support the settlement, and if all those who are able to take part in such an expression of opinion demonstrate their support for the settlement, Her Majesty's Government not only will have to accept such a settlement but will have speedily to contemplate the demolition of the sanctions apparatus and give full economic and other support to the new Government who emerge. I accept that that cannot happen before independence on a legal basis at the end of this year, but it must be a priority for Her Majesty's Government.

Clearly, there are conflicting African nationalist leaders in Rhodesia at present. But no one seriously suggests that the matters which divide Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe from the internal nationalist leaders concern the principle of majority rule or any basic ideological position. They are conflicting and fighting on the basis of power and of a desire to seek power. It could be said of Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe that the greatest problem is that they will not take "Yes" for an answer. They have been given majority rule—the principle has been conceded and it is an irreversible process irrespective of what the white electorate might decide in a referendum—and in the months which pass before the end of this year there will be the final opportunity available to Rhodesia to achieve what many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have sought for many years—a peaceful transition to majority rule.

When I lived and worked in Rhodesia in 1967, if anyone had told me that P. K. van der Byl and Ndabaningi Sithole would be Government colleagues in the same Cabinet, I would not have been indignant but probably I would have fallen off my chair with hysterical laughter. It would have been an inconceivable proposition at that time. If that can happen, anything can happen in Rhodesia. Anything is possible in terms of the reconciliation of two races which have had a major conflict but which are now struggling to find an accommodation.

There is tremendous hope in Rhodesia. I think that there is an enormous burden on the British Government to ensure that nothing they do hinders that progress towards a system of government in Rhodesia which is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.

8.43 p.m.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

Knowledge and even love of the land which we shall call Zimbabwe is not confined to one side of the House. I have friends in Rhodesia, white and black, and some of those friends are nationalists. However, the last of a number of visits that I have made to Rhodesia was less recent than those of some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and, in deference to them and to the House, I shall take only a few moments of the remaining time available to Back Bench Members.

The hon. Member for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson) spoke of the inefficacy of sanctions. I never supported sanctions, for reasons which I need not rehearse. I am not starting to support sanctions this evening. I believe that the policy and diplomacy of this country should now be directed towards the lifting of sanctions, and I say "diplomacy" as well as "policy" because other Powers are concerned and the United Nations has been brought in.

The lifting of sanctions seems to me to be the corollary of support for the internal settlement, which will not be reversed. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) is not the first of those right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken today to use the term "irreversible". This internal settlement will not be reversed because sanctions continue for a longer or a shorter period, and those who back a political settlement do not undermine it economically.

I have no quarrel with the insistence of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary that the internal settlement should be shown to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. That is one of the principles which are generally accepted. The Opposition want the people of Rhodesia as a whole to choose as speedily as possible their own leaders and their future. It is that for which the settlement provides.

The Foreign Secretary has been running after the Patriotic Front and its rival guerrilla warlords. The Foreign Secretary believes that the Russians have a right to be in Africa. I wonder what the Russians would say if we said that we had a right to be in Central Asia? The Foreign Secretary found common ground with the Russians in Moscow over Rhodesia. However, we recognise signs of progress, and I am glad that the Foreign Secretary now disclaims any preference for a particular national party or leader.

One such leader, under Bishop Muzorewa, is James Chakerema, of the UANC, who said in an interview in the Zimbabwe Times on 6th April: If Nkomo wants to test his credibility with the people of Zimbabwe he is welcome So is Robert Mugabe and everyone else. That makes sense to me. I hope that it makes sense to the Government as well. What exactly is the basis for our opposition to the so-called internal settlement in Rhodesia? That is not my question. It was put recently by Dr. Kissinger. We are inclined to forget that he started all this. We owe much to him for the progress that has been achieved. President Ford's Secretary of State said he favoured an attempt to get all the leaders and factions to participate in the proposed elections. So do I and so do my right hon. and hon. Friends.

In supporting the splendid speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), I urge that there should be no delay in registering electors and enabling the people of Rhodesia to choose their leaders. Britain should give as much help as is required. That is the way forward. I do not believe that a round table conference is the right course of action. It is a recipe for delay and, therefore, danger.

8.43 p.m.

Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

I was in Rhodesia two weeks ago and I came away convinced that Mr. Smith and his colleagues are entirely sincere in their wish to move rapidly to majority rule. That was the view of everybody to whom I spoke—black and white, supporters and opponents of Mr. Smith. That is the basic assumption on which the life of white Rhodesians is conducted.

The danger of the abusive remarks that have been made tonight about Mr. Smith and his colleagues by Labour Members is that they may prejudice the successful conclusion of the internal settlement because they may make the white population despair of getting any support from the British Government.

What has happened is a process which cannot be reversed if the internal settlement survives. If one thing is certain in Rhodesia today, it is the fact that by early next year there will be a majority-rule Government if the settlement survives. I can see why the Foreign Secretary wants Mr. Nkomo in the agreement. I hope he will come in. That is also the wish of Mr. Smith—he told me so himself. But the result of this Government's policies has been to give the impression that they have a bias against the internal settlement.

That is a mistaken attitude, for two reasons. First, there is a real danger that the internal settlement may be destroyed and that would have very serious consequences. I quote what was said to me by a very well informed Rhodesian who is certainly not a supporter of Mr. Smith: a collapse of the internal agreement, is really too appalling to contemplate, for there is little doubt that it will involve grave economic consequences, increasing lawlessness as fewer people are available for law enforcement, more banditry, revenge killings and a general breakdown in social and political institutions. I believe that it would mean a grave loss of Europeans from Rhodesia, whose continued presence there is vital for the country's economy.

The second reason for the Government's attitude being mistaken is that they are breaking what should be a fundamental rule for all British Governments, especially when dealing with Africa: they are supporting the men of violence against the men of peace. That is a bad example in Africa.

The Foreign Secretary has made a reputation for himself as a defender of human rights. In Rhodesia human rights are on the side of the internal settlement. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) referred to democracy. In Rhodesia democracy is on the side of the internal settlement. The right hon. Gentleman is, in effect, signalling to the Patriotic Front that it has nothing to lose by continuing the war. He has given respectability to force.

The right hon. Gentleman referred this afternoon to past examples where guerrilla leaders have become statesmanlike leaders of their countries. That is not relevant in this case. There is an alternative option to the guerilla leader. There is the internal settlement, which is based on peaceful progress.

The Government should be sticking to the Six Principles. I am glad that they have said that that is their policy. I understand that they accept that five of the Six Principles have been fulfilled.

This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman said something of importance. If I understood him aright, he said that if under the internal settlement a new Government is formed which clearly has the acceptance of the people as a whole, the British Government will accept their responsibility and back it. The question is how the support of the people for such a Government is to be established.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) suggested a parliamentary commission. There is also the possibility of a referendum. In due course there will be an election. I am less confident than my right hon. Friend that it would be possible at present to send a commission. I take the same view as that expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) that the degree of intimidation that would be likely to occur would make such a commission's task impossible.

Nevertheless, if the Government want in due course to establish whether an election or referendum is fair, we do not need to control the election or referendum as was suggested by some Labour hon. Members, including, for example, the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton). All that we need to do is to send observers. If the observers report that the election or referendum is not fairly conducted, if it will be null and void and we shall go back to square one.

I ask the Minister of State to say tonight, following his right hon. Friend's statement, whether the Government will send observers to a referendum or election, if one is held under the internal settlement, even if the Patriotic Front has not joined in. Will the Government encourage other appropriate countries to send observers too, if necessary? A statement that the Government would accept that responsibility would have a stabilising effect in Rhodesia.

I can understand the pressures under which the Foreign Secretary feels himself to be. He is conscious, no doubt, of our growing economic interests in black Africa. There are the problems of securing international support. There is the danger that the Cubans might be tempted to interfere. There is the importance of keeping close to the United States in our policy. All those are relevant factors. But for every Foreign Secretary with a really difficult problem there comes in the end—and I think that the stage has now been reached—the need for him to say "I will do what is right".

8.55 p.m.

Mr. William Shelton (Streatham)

I think that this has been a very depressing debate. The Government Benches, empty but for the Minister, without even his PPS or a Whip, show the lack of interest in this vital matter by the Labour Party. It has also been extremely depressing from the point of view of speeches made by Labour Members. Those who have not been dragged in, those who spoke seriously, took a depressing view. The only contrast has been the many speeches made by my right hon. and hon. Friends. It is unfortunate and unhappy that there has been an increasingly apparent division of opinion between Labour and Opposition Members.

I understand the difficulties that the Foreign Secretary has to face. If he supports the internal settlement, he believes that it will probably lead to escalation of the war—escalation and intervention by Russian and perhaps Cuban troops.

We know or are lead to believe that the first deputy commander of the Soviet ground forces, General Petrov, is now in Mozambique. He was the Russian general who spearheaded and organised the Ethiopian advance into the Ogaden. He is now in Mozambique. His apparent role is to organise Cuban involvement in Rhodesia, should it become necessary.

We understand that heavy Russian armour is being shipped in through Nacala in North Mozambique. We understand that there are MiGs at the new Sofala air base south of Beira. Therefore, the Foreign Secretary no doubt thinks that, if he supports the internal settlement, these forces may be unleashed. He also believes, with some justice, that it would gravely disturb the front-line Presidents, that it might risk United Kingdom investments, and that it would no doubt upset the the Left-wing of his own party.

On the other hand, if the Foreign Secretary supports the Patriotic Front, he knows that he will be supporting what is believed to be non-representative leaders in Rhodesia. We all know that, until the elections, it is impossible to gauge the support for the various black leaders. Nevertheless, those who have been there and know the country must recognise the strong tribal elements in Rhodesia. We have some knowledge of the numbers in the various tribes and, therefore, some idea of the support that the various leaders would enjoy. It is probable that Mr. Nkomo, being a Matebele, would not enjoy more than 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. Nevertheless, I hope we shall see at the end of the year.

If the Foreign Secretary supports the Patriotic Front, he will also be supporting the guerrilla force, or whatever one may call it, which has Russian and Cuban support.

Mr. Robert Hughes

indicated dissent.

Mr. Shelton

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I think that it is fairly well recognised that the Patriotic Front is receiving money from Russia and training from the Cubans. Therefore, it has Russian and Cuban support. There is no doubt that he would also be supporting Mr. Mugabe. It is also well recognised that Mr. Mugabe, by his own declaration, cannot be called a thoroughgoing democrat.

The Foreign Secretary has this difficulty. What has he been doing? For the last eight months he has been hawking round Africa and other parts of the world the Anglo-American plan. I tried to calculate how many meetings he had had about it—a good many. Today we heard that he was proposing another meeting to try to sell this plan. He has not been successful so far, and it is doubtful whether, for reasons expressed by my right hon. and hon. Friends, he will be successful in future.

In those eight months I cannot believe that in all justice the Foreign Secretary can regard himself as having been neutral between the two sides. He has claimed that he has taken no side, one or the other. That is not so. For instance, why did he not in the United Nations veto the resolution condemning the internal settlement when Bishop Muzorewa was not invited to speak? At least, why did he not suggest that the bishop should be invited to speak?

Why has the Foreign Secretary not extended any hand of friendship, any word of advice or any comfort to the internal settlement by honest men, as one of my hon. Friends described them, struggling with a difficult problem and needing all the help that they might get? Why has there been no offer by the British Government to help them draft their constitution and to help with the registration for the election which we hope is to come at the end of this month? Why has no mission been sent? Why has no representation been accepted in this country?

These are the questions that my hon. Friends have been asking again and again. Perhaps we shall hear the answers. Why should what the Foreign Secretary calls neutrality be so hostile to these people who, in world terms, are on our side?

If the provisional Government in Rhodesia read reports of this debate, I hope that they will take the message that it would be damaging and dangerous for them to postpone the election after the end of the year. I accept the difficulties involved. I suggest that they should use the system that was used in Venezuela after the dictatorship was removed in 1957. Instead of registration, the voters dipped a finger in indelible ink and were thus unable to vote a second time. It worked well in Venezuela where an election was needed as quickly as possible.

I say to the Foreign Secretary that if the internal settlement collapses through his pressures or interventions, through his lack of help, his lack of decision or his inaction, we shall have some type of Marxist dictatorship in that country, with the holocaust that the Foreign Secretary is so anxious to avoid. If that happens, it will not be in the best interests of the people of Rhodesia, it will not be in the best interests of the people of Britain, and it will not be in the best interests of democracy. If that happens, the Foreign Secretary will carry a heavy burden.

9.1 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

My hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) complained about the lack of interest on the Government Benches in the debate. One charitable explanation might be that the almost ceaseless stream of venom which Labour Members injected into the debate has been too much for their colleagues, and that they were ashamed to come into the Chamber to listen to it.

This is a moment of unique importance in this long and tragic story. It is also a glittering opportunity for the Foreign Secretary. I saw the beginning in July when I was in Rhodesia. When I came back, I tried to explain to the Foreign Secretary, to write about it and to speak about it in the House. We are seeing a true multiracial nation—perhaps the only one in Africa—being forged from the privation and dangers of an armed struggle. Lord Paget made a grim and correct analysis about this in a debate in another place last week. He referred to war as being the midwife of nations. So it is in the case of Rhodesia.

So obvious is this that I came to the House convinced that the Foreign Secretary would respond to it, at least to some degree. Instead, we heard the same sour rejected arguments, the same bleak refusal to face the facts, the same deafness to reason. It was the speech of a man in a dream—in a nightmare. I came here ready to be conciliatory and to try to analyse and sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties because I thought that he had the courage to try to surmount them. But after that speech I do not think that he is even going to try.

In a sane world, the alternatives open to the British Government are obvious and have been mentioned by a number of hon. Members. They are to encourage the settlement, or to abandon Rhodesia and her peoples to the risk of bloody chaos and subsequently to the attentions of the Soviet Union. Either we are on the side of a multiracial democracy or we stand back and accept a further extension of the Soviet empire. The Foreign Secretary knows that as well as any of us, in spite of what he said this afternoon.

What makes the Foreign Secretary hesitate? What is behind this pious talk about a duty to get people round the table again? Certainly it is no longer an issue of principle. All the principles are met except the test of opinion and that is already planned. Indeed, the Anglo-Americans are holding it up The moral case for the internal settlement is now overwhelming. What are the real pressures on the right hon. Gentleman and the Government?

They include the following. First, there is the Nigerian position. There is the oil position. That shrewd African Kaiser N'deweni only two weeks ago said that the Anglo-Americans would sell Zimbabwe for a few barrels of oil. The remark is not inept. Why did President Carter choose to make his speech in Lagos?

Secondly, and more important, there is the apparent fear of the American Government of any confrontation with the Soviet Union in Africa. In so far as one can make sense of Mr. Andrew Young's pronouncements and outbursts, the aim seems to be to curry favour with those African leaders who have already opted for Moscow and to appear to get them into power before the Russians do, in the hope that they will retain some residual affection for the United States. Perhaps they will. But what good will that do either to America or to themselves once they are pressed into the Soviet empire? I cannot believe that this combination of illusion and weakness can constitute American policy for long. If it does, it is our duty to disabuse them.

Next we are told that there is a major American electoral consideration, again represented by Mr. Andrew Young, who is said to command the black vote in favour of President Carter. Sometimes it seems that the Administration in the United States is engaged in nothing more than a permanent supra-national presidential election campaign, and that United States foreign policy is no more than an attempt to make the world fit in with what those who might vote for President Carter in the future would like. This is carrying democracy to the point of absurdity. If the United States Government are so confused about means and ends, it is up to our Foreign Secretary not to go along with them but to explain the difference.

There is of course the pressure of the Marxists within the Labour movement and the Labour Party in this place. Their motives are scarcely concealed; scarcely concealed is their support for Soviet aggression, which luckily is obvious now to the country as a whole. One hopes. One can surely count on the Foreign Secretary to resist that.

Finally, there is what one would term defeatism in Whitehall. I do not wish to be unfair to those who cannot answer back, but I think that I can detect or guess at the advice that the Foreign Secretary may from time to time receive. In essence it goes like this. "It would be nice to do the right thing, the brave thing, but we must tailor our foreign policy to fit our dwindling material resources. We are no longer in a position to do anything really, and it is better therefore to row along with the Americans". That is a baleful comment. If such counsel had prevailed in 1940, we should have surrendered immediately to Nazism. I fear, nevertheless, that it exists today.

These are at least some of the true reasons for the negative speech we heard from the Foreign Secretary today. But if, in spite of everything, it is not too late, I beg the Foreign Secretary, even at this hour, to do something positive. A good many suggestions have been made in the course of this debate—the establishment of a diplomatic presence in Salisbury, the interesting suggestion by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) in a remarkable speech that a parliamentary delegation be sent out, some sort of assurance about the end of sanctions, rather like the Kissinger proposals. At least let us have an end to those petty restrictions which have acted so cruelly on innocent Rhodesians. Lord Goodman mentioned these in a debate in the other place last week, referring to visits by relatives, medical treatment and that sort of thing. It is a disgrace to this country that these things are allowed to continue.

The courage of the Rhodesians, black and white, over the past five years has been remarkable. The courage of their leaders, particularly their black leaders now, in the face of this wall of discouragement is incredible. Surely we who have prime responsibility owe some understanding in return, something more than this cynical defence of a position which the Foreign Secretary knows perfectly well to be without hope.

Mr. Ian Smith has been vilified in this House for years, and not least today. I fancy that history may judge him differently. Whatever is said about him, whatever mistakes it may be conceived that he has made, no one has ever suggested that he lacks bravery. His record in peace and war stands to prove it. In the end he had the courage, momentously, to change his mind. May God grant that our Foreign Secretary, some day, somehow, has the courage, in spite of the pressures I have outlined, to do the same.

9.9 p.m.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

I shall speak for only two and a half minutes and thus allow one of my hon. Friends the other two and a half minutes.

I have just three points to make. I have never known our party, in all its wings, more totally united on the subject of Rhodesia than it was today. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) on his brilliant and uniting speech this afternoon. That fact must be recorded. I wish only that the Foreign Secretary had taken his dinner as a sandwich and listened to some of the authoritative and forceful speeches of my hon. Friends.

It is a pity that the Labour Benches were deserted with only the Minister of State present on the Government Front Bench. With the exception of the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley), the speeches of Labour Members were a kind of vindictive vilification of the white man in Africa and a hate campaign against Mr. Smith. I believe that they are suffering from some kind of ex-colonial guilt complex and to gratify that complex are willing to hand over the whole of Africa to the Marxists, but I wish they would not use the British people as their psychiatrists. I am fed up with the use of the phrase "white settlers". What would the immigrant population in this country think if they were constantly referred to as black settlers?

I believe that there has been a total change in the attitude of the countries of Africa towards politics since the arrival of the Cubans in Angola and in the Horn of Africa. I believe that the attitude of the people of Namibia and Rhodesia has changed because of this new situation. This is an opportunity which we in the West at last can seize upon. We can use Rhodesia and Namibia as examples to start rolling back the onward march of Marxism in Africa. This is a moment which the Foreign Secretary should choose to put his weight behind the internal settlement. Many suggestions have been advanced to improve some of the details. Let the right hon. Gentleman take that step, and let him also see that we believe that there is an opportunity for genuine multiracial, multicoloured rule in Africa.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to make a few remarks in this important debate. I had prepared quite a speech to deliver, but time will not permit me to deliver it. Indeed, many of the remarks I intended to make have already been covered by my right hon. and hon. Friends.

In the period of almost seven years I have been in this House—and the Rhodesian situation has been with this country for very much longer than that—this is the first occasion on which the Conservative Party has been totally and completely united on the subject of Rhodesia.

The message has gone out from this House to the people of Rhodesia that the Conservative Opposition understand the situation of the Rhodesian people and support the internal settlement. I only hope that the composition of Her Majesty's Government will change soon enough to allow us to help the people of Rhodesia to implement a successful and peaceful future—a future not just for the white people of Rhodesia, who are natives of that country too, but for the black Rhodesians.

This is perhaps a unique occasion for me. I have supported Rhodesia in many ways, seeking though the Rhodesian Government to find a settlement which will bring about a multiracial society in that country. I was fortunate to visit Rhodesia at the end of last year. I was no part of the "gravy train" which has been described by some very Left-wing Labour Members. I received hospitality from a number of people, and part of that was indeed from the Rhodesian Government, but they did not extend an invitation to me, and it was certainly not part of any "gravy train". It was part of a duty of a Member of this House to go to a part of the world which is to an extent our responsibility in order to see how we can help to bring about a solution. That was what I did.

As I implied in a supplementary question to the Prime Minister today, if only Labour Members went to Rhodesia and saw the basic harmony that exists between black, brown and white in that country, those hon. Members would be singularly impressed and their contributions to our debates would be very much better informed than those which we have heard from the Labour Benches today.

Rhodesia is a great country. It can set an example for the rest of the African continent by bringing about a multiracial society in which black and white can live together, to their mutual benefit. It can also perhaps stop the rot in Africa and can prevent the further advance of Soviet tyranny, Marxism and the dictatorial regimes financed and supported—perhaps not overtly—by the Soviet Union and its satellite countries, particularly the Cuban Government.

This House has given a firm message not only to the people of this country but to the brave people of Rhodesia—Zimbabwe—black and white, to the effect that at least the Conservative Opposition understand their problems. Those people know that the Conservative Party supports the internal settlement and seeks to build upon it to ensure that prosperity and peace will remain in that country.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Richard Luce (Shoreham)

I think that everyone who has attended this debate will acknowledge that it has been one of the most important debates we have had on the subject of Rhodesia. It has been a unique and rare opportunity—all too rare—for the House to have a full-scale debate on this extremely important subject. It has given us an opportunity to try to influence the Government's approach to these problems. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) that it is very sad that in such an important debate there is an extremely poor attendance on the Government side of the Chamber.

Not only is this a unique opportunity for us to debate the question of Rhodesia, but I believe that the debate provided the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary with a unique opportunity to demonstrate qualities of decisiveness and statesmanship and a constructive approach to the sombre situation that exists in Rhodesia today. That was the very least that we could expect from him. At any time when he demonstrates any of those qualities, he will have the Opposition's full support. But, having listened to the right hon. Gentleman's opening speech today, if I am to put this in a gentle manner, I feel—and I believe that my hon. Friends feel—considerably disappointed that he did not match up to the qualities that are required at the present time.

Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman—I am sure he will be the first to acknowledge this—that we are not forcing a vote tonight because we wish to try to work with him to find a peaceful solution in Rhodesia. Let me assure him again that if he shows the right kind of qualities, the right policies and the right of approach, we shall give him every possible support.

One of the facts known to all of us who have taken part in Rhodesian debates before is that we face a unique accident of history in Rhodesia. It has not been the same kind of problem as we had to face in other parts of our Empire when we withdrew.

It is extraordinary to think that it was less than 90 years ago that the first pioneer column entered what is now Rhodesia and started to construct the country that now exists. We all know the history of the British South Africa Company. We all know the significant turning point in 1923, when internal selfgovernment—or what was then called responsible government—was granted. We are not talking about a situation similar to that of Kenya, India or any of our previous colonies. How many times have we had to remind our friends of this unique fact about the Rhodesian situation? It has been a source of great misunderstanding on many occasions.

But we all also know that the world still looks to us to take a lead in trying to find a peaceful solution in that part of the world, if only because we still have the legal responsibility, however tenuous, and at the end of the day we have to pass the legislation that will provide recognition for the regime.

Many of my hon. Friends—for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden)—have referred to the significance of the internal agreement. This is something that many Labour Members fail to understand. They fail to understand that, despite the fact that Mr. Smith has said over the years that not in a thousand years would he concede the principle of majority rule and despite the fact that he has said that he would never concede the principle of one man, one vote, that principle has now been accepted, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said in his excellent speech. Why cannot the whole House acknowledge that?

We have an agreement between black and white people in Rhodesia—the people who have to live with each other in an independent Rhodesia. They are the people who matter, not us. They have reached an agreement that fulfils the principle for which we have been arguing for so long. As my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) said, five of the Six Principles have, broadly speaking, been accepted, and now they have plans, which we must do everything to help, to satisfy the Fifth Principle—namely, the test of acceptability.

There have been some people who like to decribe Bishop Muzorewa, Mr. Sithole and others as puppets. Many of the black leaders in the Executive Council and in the new ministerial Government have been either in prison or in exile for some offence of terrorism. That fact should be acknowledged. It is not only Mr. Sithole who is involved, but other Ministers such as Mr. Chikerema and Mr. George Nyandoro and many others have been in exile or in prison because they have believed at one stage in their lives that they had to resort to violence to achieve their objectives. Is not that in itself a reason for giving some credibility to these people? Is it not a reason for saying that they are not puppets of anyone but that they believe that they can obtain change by peaceful methods?

As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) rightly suggested, the internal agreement is a foundation on which we should be helping to build. If a plant takes root, albeit in a wilderness as maybe Southern Africa is today, and we want to encourage that plant, which in this case I represent as the beginnings of a transition to majority rule and independence, we do not pour weedkiller over it. We nurture, water and encourage it. That is what the Conservative Party is asking the Government to do today. That is what, so far, the Government have failed to do.

Against that background, we must examine the requirements of our objectives and how they are to be achieved of independence based on majority rule within the Six Principles, holding a clear prospect at long last of peace between black and white in Rhodesia, an end to the fighting and—the implication of that—international recognition.

A factor which has emerged from the debate is the importance of keeping up the momentum of the internal agreement. There are bound to be setbacks and disagreements as the weeks go by. We must also acknowledge, as many of my hon. Friends have done, what has happened. We have a transitional Government. We have an Executive Council. We have a Ministerial Council. We have a decision to end executions. We have a decision to release 700 detainees, with provisions to examine the position of another 200.

We have a decision to lift the ban on the proscribed political parties, ZANU and ZAPU. We have the first offer of an amnesty to the guerrillas. We have, this week, a decision by the Executive Council to start dismantling the protected villages and allowing easier movement of people within these villages. We have a statement by the Executive Council that it plans to forge ahead rapidly with planning a register for all those over 18 years of age to hold a general election. We have an undertaking, which it is essential that they should fulfil, that there will be a general election by 31st December. We have a constitutional commission in operation and working out the details of the constitution.

We should acknowledge all this while at the same time asking and hoping that the momentum should be maintained. Of course, we want to see as soon as possible an end to the laws that imply racial discrimination, and we want a positive reassurance that the general election will be held by 31st December this year.

The question of safeguards for the whites has been touched on by many hon. Members, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) and for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker). There is a desire on the part of all the black leaders in the pres- ent Government for the whites to stay in Rhodesia. Mr. Nkomo is also on the record as saying that he wants the whites, will all their skills, to stay in Rhodesia after independence. The problem is finding the right balance between the aspirations of the black people for majority rule and reconciling those with the genuine fears of the whites as to what this will mean for them.

Surely this is what the discussions that led to the Salisbury agreement on 3rd March were all about. Surely Labour Members must acknowledge that, if the whites are to stay and there is to be no mass exodus, certain safeguards must be provided. I know that the Foreign Secretary acknowledges this fact.

When hon. Members opposite suggest that the most important requirement is that Mr. Smith should depart, I invite them to consider, whatever his record in the past—and we are talking not about the past but about the present—whether his departure would have an adverse effect upon the position of the whites.

There is a credible argument for suggesting that the fact that Mr. Smith will stay, at least until 31st December, may be the way to encourage the whites to stay in Rhodesia and to contribute in the long term to the healthy, independent Rhodesia that we all hope will come about and to stem what could otherwise become a mass exodus of white people.

The question of Soviet policy is profoundly important in assessing whether a peaceful settlement can be arrived at. My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), in a most interesting and colourful speech, and my hon. Friends the Members for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) and Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) referred to Soviet and Cuban policy in Africa.

Of course we all want peace. None of us wants war. We want to persuade the Soviet Union to work more closely with us, but we know that it is enshrined in the Soviet Union's constitution that it will support what it calls liberation movements in Africa—with the criteria for the term "liberation" being defined by itself. At the same time, it denies human rights, freedom and liberation to its own people and is seen to be supporting regimes in Africa, such as the Ethiopian regime, which perpetrate some of the grossest abuses of human rights that one could see.

How can we possibly attach any credibility to the Soviet Union's "genuine desire" to see freedom for the Africans in Africa? The Soviet Union is there to exploit any dissensions—and many dissensions will exist in Africa in future years—and not only to undermine stable African regimes but to undermine the West. The truth is that the Soviet Union is using the Africans ruthlessly as pawns in a game of chess. That game has nothing to do with freedom for the Africans but has everything to do with Soviet imperialism and Soviet interests.

The Soviet Union will use Cubans as mercenaries. We know that the Russians gave $2 billion to the Cubans to undertake the mercenary tasks in Africa for them. They are poised ready to exploit the dissension that exists in Rhodesia and in that part of the world. The notice that we must serve upon them from the West is "Keep out of that part of the world." What we want is a peaceful settlement, and what they want is a violent settlement.

I turn now to the question of the Patriotic Front, which has been referred to by many of my hon. Friends, including my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn and my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James). We can say to the Patriotic Front that, whatever our personal feelings are, if it at one time believed that violence was a way of achieving its objectives, this cannot possibly be justified in the present circumstances when the principle for which it has been arguing so long—majority rule—has now been conceded. The door must be left open for its participation in a peaceful settlement.

But—and here I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet—the Patriotic Front cannot be allowed a right of veto over a final democratic solution in Rhodesia. A violent solution must be totally unacceptable to us in Britain and in the West generally. The Patriotic Front must forgo Russian support and it must realise that, while its freedom is important, it must not be achieved at the expense of the freedom of other Africans, black and white, who live in Rhodesia today.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison), I agree that it is right for the Home Secretary to pursue his objective of a reconciliation between the Patriotic Front, the Executive Council and the regime in Salisbury. It would be wrong to do so on the basis of asking the leaders of the internal settlement to forgo the achievement of the past few weeks. It must be said to our black African friends in Rhodesia, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West and others have rightly said, that unfortunately one of the banes of Rhodesia over the years has been the inability of Africans to reconcile their differences.

Other Africans in other countries—Kenya and the Sudan, for instance—have shown great statesmanship and have overcome their tribal animosities. Sadly, this has not happened in Rhodesia with the enormous tragedies and violence affecting black and white Africans in Rhodesia. They must reconcile their differences. We must ask them to look at the example of other black African States, and perhaps we should remind them of the saying of Benjamin Franklin that: We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. I turn now to the question of the United Kingdom's role. We have to move on to the diplomatic and political offensive in Rhodesia and in Africa as a whole. We have a modest but important role to play as an honest broker in Rhodesia. We have to make it clear that we carry the legal responsibility for the recognition of the regime and that we believe in democracy and in the principle of majority rule, and that these must be obtained by peaceful means, not by force.

We must point out that we believe in the Six Principles and that we believe it is our task to give every facility to help in fulfilling the Fifth Principle, which deals with free and fair elections. Let us allow the Rhodesians to decide their own destiny. We must make it plain, with our allies in America and Europe, that we find Soviet and Cuban destructive military intervention in that part of the world intolerable, that detente is indivisible and that if they pursue this policy we cannot pursue detente with the Soviet Union in other areas.

We must work with our black African friends in Botswana, Zambia and elsewhere to find a peaceful solution. In that connection I welcome the fact that the President of Zambia is, I understand, to make a visit to London shortly. I hope that with him we can find a peaceful solution.

We must do everything to encourage the success of the internal agreement and to help persuade the Patriotic Front to participate in it. We must offer constructive help, whether by registration of the voters, in devising the constitution, in the provision of the trust fund or, indeed, in helping to provide observers for the elections—a matter referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge—the most important point being that the United Nations is over-stretched at present and it may not be possible for it to fulfil that task. But at least let us ask other, outside Powers to co-operate with us in this task.

I would like to have from the Minister of State clarification about Mr. Graham's mission. As I understand it, the principle of a permanent mission in Salisbury has been accepted, but the implication of the Foreign Secretary's remarks is that Mr. Graham's tour out there is not a permanent mission. It was Disraeli who said: To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge. I hope that the Government will acknowledge that fact. If they do, we shall make some progress.

It is the task of the Government to mobilise the Western world, the United States and, indeed, the United Nations in a massive diplomatic effort to get a peaceful settlement to the Rhodesian problem. The prize is tremendous—a multiracial society, a moderate force in Southern Africa and the assets of African skills, including many graduates and many competent business men, and white skills as well. This could be a great example to the rest of Africa. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and I invite the Government to put fear on one side and do their best to help to turn this land of despair into a land of hope and prosperity.

9.38 p.m.

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

I hope in my general remarks to answer the broader issues raised in a succession of speeches from both sides of the House, but I shall deal first with one or two specific questions.

The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) asked me to confirm that race is no longer the main issue in Rhodesian politics. I notice that this is the point that he made at some length in his article in the Daily Telegraph today. He has derived that view from his own visit perhaps, but I must tell him that some of the most recent evidence suggests that race remains the great and fundamental issue in Rhodesian politics.

Yesterday's statement by the United African National Council, Bishop Muzorewa's party—a major party to the internal settlement—three times mentions the issue of race and racial discrimination. I shall quote these three passages because people might not have been able to get hold of the full text. The first is: Hardly anything has been attempted to remove racial discrimination, the root cause of our troubles. Secondly, it calls for the Executive Council to tackle those matters against which the guerrillas left home to fight. The removal of racial discrimination would have made a greater impression than the lifting of the bans on ZAPU and ZANU, which is a cosmetic and peripheral matter. The third quotation was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. Perhaps hon. Members opposite thought that it was his own view, but he was quoting directly from the statement of the UANC. It said: If it is to be expected that the guerrillas should respond to a call for a ceasefire it must be shown tangibly that if they return home they will not suffer the same racial humiliations and disabilities under which they lived before they took to the bush. I do not think that I can confirm the point made by the right hon. Member for Pavilion that racial discrimination and racial matters are no longer relevant to Rhodesian political debate and argument. It would appear, on the contrary, that they are still very much part and parcel of the political issues being argued in Rhodesia at the present time.

Mr. Amery

I am most grateful to the Minister of State for his courtesy in answering that point. I accept that the problem is not yet one which has been finally overcome. The point that I tried to make was that I was worried that the Secretary of State might feel that it would be worse if there were a quarrel between blacks than if there were a quarrel between whites and blacks. I said that I thought the issue had shifted and that this represented a positive development. I hoped for confirmation that this was also the Government's view.

Mr. Rowlands

I am glad to have the right hon. Gentleman's clarification of this point, but the quotations that I have just given show that these fundamental issues are still very much in the centre of politics in Rhodesia.

The right hon. Gentleman cast doubt on the possibility that Bishop Muzorewa would be allowed to come to London. There have been absolutely no changes in our policy with regard to restrictions of any kind. Bishop Muzorewa can, of course, come to London. The provisions governing the travel restrictions, which were laid down in 1968 by George Thomson—now Lord Thomson—remain in force. They remain the policy of the Government and they have been supported by successive Governments since 1968.

I turn now to the general issues. The theme of the debate has inevitably revolved first and foremost around the question of Britain's role. What should we be doing now, given the developments which have occurred in Salisbury and also outside Rhodesia?

I think that in one sense there has been a common point of agreement in almost all the speeches. There is not only the question of the transfer of power, or indeed of the achievement of majority rule and independence as quickly and as urgently as possible. That transfer of power should be orderly and stable. The result of that transfer of power should be the orderly settlement of the Rhodesian problem, and the creation of a new, independent, Zimbabwean State. The result should not just be a transfer of power but the setting up of a stable, democratic, political system under which all Zimbabweans can live.

Hon. Members, in speech after speech today, have raised the spectre of a bitterly divided Rhodesian society—of Rhodesian fighting Rhodesian, of black Rhodesian fighting black Rhodesian. Reference has been made to the problem that these divisions would become part and parcel of a broader global power struggle between East and West. A number of hon. Members have referred to the experience of divisions, both tribal and ideological, in newly created African States. The question of bloodshed and civil war has also figured prominently in the debate.

Everyone has said that we must avoid this in producing a solution to the problem of the transfer of power and the creation of an independent Zimbabwe. Hon. Members on both sides have referred to this over and over again as a common objective.

The differences in emphasis—it is a moot point whether they are differences in principle—lie in how we can best achieve this objective. I would quarrel with a number of speeches made by Opposition Members. I do not believe that we shall achieve this objective or that it will be possibly to achieve it if we ignore the present situation, and if we deny the existence of large numbers of young Zimbabweans, in the bush in Rhodesia and outside Rhodesia, who have felt the need to see a solution through the gun, or been driven to it by internal security pressures. If Opposition Members believe that that situation does not exist, they are denying something which the right hon. Member for Pavilion has admitted in his article in the Daily Telegraph.

Considerable numbers of young guerrillas, young freedom fighters, still do not believe that the proposals which have emerged from Salisbury provide a basis for their return to and participation in the political process in Rhodesia. That is basically the position that my right hon. Friend has taken, and it is the whole basis of what we have been saying. Those who say that this situation does not exist will possibly create a situation in which Rhodesia, internal settlement or no, will become a bitterly divided society.

The misuse of words in general debates on Rhodesia is very important. Certain hon. Members create a division between the words "internal" and "external" as if external meant foreigners. The factor which should matter to us most is that large numbers of young Rhodesians and young Zimbabweans are not foreigners. They are not Cubans.

They are not any external force. They may have come under influences—Marxist or otherwise—but they are first and foremost Zimbabweans who are outside the political system [HON. MEMBERS: "Abducted".] They have not been abducted. That is a nonsense. Certain Conservative Members shelter under the odd incident of 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds leaving school because the repeated presence of Rhodesian security forces has made them decide to leave and take to the gun as a solution.

What I am saying to certain Conservative Members is that if we cannot find an answer to that problem we shall not produce either a stable transitional period or, ultimately, an orderly, stable and democratic Zimbabwe in the time-scale that we envisage. That does not mean—as my right hon. Friend has repeated on many occasions—that we believe that force is respectable or, as has been implied by certain hon. Members, that we are endowing violence with a degree of respectability. Nor does it mean—I repeat what my right hon. Friend has frequently said—that any one side can veto the process. There is no veto. The Patriotic Front has no veto over our proposals and it has no veto over the processes that we are trying to create.

My right hon. Friend made it clear today that if a free and clear test of opinion to the internal settlement—or an alternative set of proposals—demonstrated full support, and met the Fifth Principle, this House would honour that decision. I make this point because we still believe that by far the most important task and role for the United Kingdom, in company with our American partners, is to try to bridge the gap and reconcile the differences between the two major political elements in Rhodesia. We must try to create the negotiations and endeavour to get an all-party conference going.

Certain Conservative Members, even the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), have been rather schizophrenic about this process. There have been more than passing references to the need to bring in the Patriotic Front. In fact, I think the right hon. Gentleman said that it was essential to bring in the Patriotic Front. But if we followed the prescriptions of Conservative Members, the chances of trying to get some sort of reconciliation—of getting some sort of negotiation going—would be dashed. Either the right hon. Gentleman was paying lip service to such propositions, or, if he was serious, I must tell him that if we pursued the course of wholesale adoption of the internal settlement there would be no hope of trying to achieve the negotiations which would bring the two sides together.

We do not support one side or the other. I wish to reject utterly the views that were expressed by certain Conservative Members that we have been one-sided. We rightly claim that we have not taken sides. The right hon. Member for Pavilion cast a slur when he suggested that we had paid far more attention to the Patriotic Front in the number of meetings that we had held. I have not had a chance to tot them up. However, we have had no complaint from the bishop or from Mr. Sithole about the degree of discussion that we have had with or about the amount of attention that we have given all the nationalist parties. My right hon. Friend's door has been open to all, and that policy has been pursued throughout. The discussions that we have had have been extremely comprehensive, and we have never treated one side more favourably than another. I reject utterly that slanderous charge of the right hon. Member for Pavilion, as I do so much of the remainder of his speech.

The difference between the two sides of the House is that the Government think that the major role that we can play now is to attempt to bring about a negotiated settlement. I do not think that there is any division of opinion on that. The main division of opinion is that if we endorsed, backed and supported the internal settlement, as we have been urged to do in speech after speech from the Opposition Benches, the hope that we could play a role in bringing about a negotiated settlement would be dashed.

Mr. John Davies

That is appeasement of the worst kind.

Mr. Rowlands

It is not appeasement. It is realising an essential basic aspect which is missing from the internal settlement in answer to any of the genuine and serious problems of law and order and the creation of a state of affairs which will allow free and fair elections to take place.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Without wishing to be offensive, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he really thinks that he knows how these very difficult problems of the so-called boys in the bush, of law and order and of reconciliation can be handled better than the black African nationalist leaders in the transitional Government who have to live with them? If they make mistakes, they will suffer, not the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues.

Mr. Rowlands

Unlike the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison), I have a slightly humble attitude to these matters. This problem has seen many a Minister come and go in the past 12 years. Many British Ministers have tried to produce a settlement. We do not claim that we have found the absolute prescription, and my right hon. Friend has no amour propre for his proposals. Obviously, we are willing to consider amendments to the principles laid down in the Anglo-American proposals.

We are saying that those proposals address themselves to the major problems, first and foremost, of producing conditions in which free and fair elections can take place. Many of the remarks of Opposition Members imply that all that free and fair elections should consist of is a couple of observers being sent out there to have a quick look at the score and to check to ensure that all is well. That has been the implication.

A number of my hon. Friends, especially my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon), said that the holding of free and fair elections would not involve just a matter of weeks. The holding of free and fair elections will involve the general relationship between administration, authority, power, law and order and security. It will also involve some control of the position of the media in allowing free expression of debate and discussion to occur in Rhodesia in this transitional period.

That is fundamental to the Fifth Principle. It cannot be merely a matter of sending observers. Although at some future time there may be a role for a parliamentary delegation from this House, it cannot just be a question of a few observers going out to check the score. It is a question of the Fifth Principle, and the position of free and fair elections is much more fundamental. That is why the Anglo-American proposals—

Mr. Amery


Mr. Rowlands

No. I shall not give way to the right hon. Gentleman. I have about five minutes left to me. I think that I have done reasonable justice to the right hon. Gentleman both in answering as many of his questions as I can and in commenting generally on his speech.

On the basis of the proposals we have put forward we believe we should try to get a reconciliation and an all party conference to produce a settlement through a neutral Administration, and through the role of the United Nations.

The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) raised some genuine problems and difficulties about the role of the United Nations. Nevertheless, we have seen only recently new proposals, in the context of Namibia, accepted by the South African Government, which are not dissimilar from the proposals put forward in the context of Rhodesia. Through the combination of the neutral administration and the United Nations role, we can create the circumstances in which the Fifth Principle can be tested. We can ensure that there will be free and fair elections to decide who really does represent the overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans.

I appreciate the question raised by the hon. Member for Cambridge about the practical problems of this, but I do not agree with him about the overpowering veto of the Soviet Unions to prevent any such United Nation presence. We have found, as we did with the appointment of Premier Chand, that if we can get African and international support for our proposition, it can be carried through the Security Council.

I was asked by a number of hon. Members whether we should endorse or embrace the internal settlement. I do not think that our attitude has been a travesty of the truth. We have never condemned the internal settlement, nor have we supported it. But we do not believe in endorsing or supporting a settlement that is flawed. There has been a succession of debates and Question Times when this issue has been presented quite clearly to the House.

The right hon. Member for Pavilion goes to Rhodesia quite often. If one goes as he does and finds what he intended to find anyway, one returns home and portrays and describes a situation in which there are no problems and no difficulties. According to him, everything in the Salisbury garden is lovely. That was the theme of his speech today. He does great disservice to the cause that he supports. Fundamentally, we must have a sense of realism.

Mr. John Davies

Has the Minister been there lately?

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Faulds

Of course he has been there and I have been there. I know a bloody sight more about Africa than hon. Members—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Faulds

I was born there. That is more than that fat-arsed twit— [See Official Report, 8th May, Vol. 949 c. 791.]

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker


Mr. Rowlands

We believe that a sense of realism is needed. There must be a realisation that there are fundamental problems that are not answered by the internal settlement or by the present arrangements in Salisbury. These problems need to be resolved and that is why we believe that our role to bring the parties together is the most important one that we can play. That is why my right hon. Friend announced the appointment of a senior official, Mr. Graham, to go to Southern Africa. Where he is based and where he will go are matters for further discussion.

We feel that the most important single thing now is to prepare the ground for a conference which could bring all the parties together and achieve a complete settlement—a settlement based on free and fair elections and one which is acceptable to Rhodesians as a whole. There is no division of opinion in the House about the belief that it is for Rhodesians themselves to decide. What is needed is a situation in which all Rhodesians can make a decision on their representatives and leaders in the freest possible atmosphere.

That is the basis of our policy. That is the reason why we should devote our efforts to the immediate task of an all-party conference which will bring the two sides together. That is why Mr. Graham has been appointed to carry out the preparations to ensure that we get a conference that is capable of gaining success. I accept the point which has been made by a number of hon. Members that we do not want another Geneva. We do not want another conference that fails. Failure now will destroy—

It being Ten o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

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