§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Hurd (Mid Oxon)
For 13 years now, the discussion of Rhodesia in this country has centred on the issue of sanctions—sanctions, present and future—and so, to a large extent, did this debate in its first day yesterday. I should like to say something about sanctions in a moment.
But as one of many—as you reminded us yesterday, Mr. Speaker—who have just returned from Rhodesia, I find it very striking that as one goes around that country the main matter of discussion is the war. That is not surprising, perhaps, because Rhodesia and Rhodesians have found a way of living with sanctions, but they have not found, and cannot find, a way of living with the war. So I make no apology for concentrating, in what I want to say, on the war.
I go further than that. Any debate in the House today on Rhodesia which does 962 not centre on the war and on ways of ending it is not worthy of the name of the debate.
On the Bingham report, we shall listen, obviously with very close attention, to what the Attorney-General has to say. I recall what my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) said yesterday, that the Opposition did not accept that this debate was the end of our discussion of the Bingham report. If anyone thought that at the beginning of yesterday's debate, the very powerful speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) and, for slightly different reasons, the speech by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) will have convinced him that further inquiry is clearly required. We accept that, but we believe that such inquiry should be on a parliamentary basis rather than through a tribunal under the 1921 Act.
I now turn to the war in Rhodesia. After listening to a great many people in Rhodesia and in Lusaka, and visiting two of the operational zones, I came to the conclusion—I think most of my right hon. and hon. Friends would share this view—that the war will not be ended by a military solution. General Walls, of the Rhodesian security forces, made this clear himself in his press statement over the weekend. He would like more equipment and, above all, he would like more skilled men, but even men and equipment would not enable him or those under his command to deal with the main weapon of their opponents, which is intimidation.
That is why Rhodesians, whether European or African, are anxious to have an all-party conference, and that is why we in the Conservative Party, as my right hon. Friend made clear, support that aim. That is why my right hon. Friend yesterday put forward two very positive proposals for action, to which the Government have not yet given a considered reply.
My impression in listening to people talking in Rhodesia about their hopes of an all-party conference was completely different from that which the Foreign Secretary conveyed to the House yesterday. I had the strong impression that the great majority of Rhodesians would make almost any concession to bring the war to an end. I say "almost" because one 963 thing that they will not do—they have shown this—is to give up their country, to be conquered and to be destroyed in the process.
The chief reason why, until now, there has not been a successful all-party conference, and why the prospects for one now are not bright, is, I believe, that there is no similar sense of reality on the side of the Patriotic Front. That is the crux of the matter, in my view. The leaders of the Patriotic Front still believe that they will succeed by military means, and one main reason why they believe that is that British and American leaders, by the bias of their policies, have led them to believe it.
We are concerned here primarily with the Foreign Secretary, and it is necessary to say that, since March in particular, by his actions and inactions, by his words and by his silences—his deafening silences, as the Dean of Salisbury said—he has encouraged the leaders of the Patriotic Front to believe that they simply have to stick it out and work for a military solution.
The accusation of bias, which was made by my right hon. Friend and by everey speaker, I think, from the Opposition Benches yesterday, was countered strongly from the Government side. There are so many examples that it is difficult to choose, but I take two which are very topical. One was in The Times this morning. It concerned the question of petty sanctions, sanctions which are not required by British law, sanctions where the Government have deliberately reserved to themselves some administrative leeway.
There is the question of concessionary passports, for example. We read this morning, as many of us knew, that Pastor Musa, a striking exponent of Rhodesian aims, apparently—the Government will correct us if the account in The Times is wrong—was refused a concessionary passport of the kind that is granted to Mr. Nkomo. It is these examples of bias, sometimes in quite small matters, which make such a bitter impression on those whom the Foreign Secretary is trying to persuade in Rhodesia.
There are so many questions connected with pensions and relatively small sums of money. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton said yesterday, we 964 have all come across these cases. I hope that, regardless of the main principle, the Minister who is to reply will give some assurance that in these personal matters there will now be a little more understanding and a little more sympathy.
My second example is the Foreign Secretary's own speech yesterday. He spent a good deal of time carping at the internal settlement and its progress. However, I do not think that he said a single word in criticism of the Patriotic Front. I may be wrong, but I think that throughout that speech, which was in many ways interesting and revealing, not a word of criticism of the Patriotic Front's tactics or of its violent methods passed his lips.
I believe that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe are wrong if in their hearts they believe that they will be able to fight their way to power. I do not think that they have a hope of a strictly military victory, nor do I think that they will frighten the Europeans out of Rhodesia—certainly some—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I believe that the hon. Gentleman will be trying to catch my eye. I advise him to count up to 100. Then he may be lucky.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
I am listening carefully to the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd). It may well be that white men in the Zimbabwe of the future are as determined and as adamant as he said. But in his next few sentences will he broaden his argument to cover the wider scene of possible Soviet-Cuban intervention if the black guerrillas receive no 965 solace, help, sustenance or consolation whatever from the metropolitan power, which is based in this House?
§ Mr. Hurd
Indeed. I certainly mean to deal with that point before I sit down.
I accept that some Europeans are leaving. But, on the basis of many conversations, I believe that enough will stay, and that enough will stay—this is the important point that I think hon. Members do not yet grasp—accepting the role of a minority in a country where in future the majority will rule.
The guerrillas—the Patriotic Front—have negative power. The hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Davies) showed that in a powerful speech yesterday, although I think that he drew the wrong conclusions from it. The guerrillas can close schools by intimidation. They can disrupt rural transport by blowing up African buses. My hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley) illustrated this point in a striking speech yesterday, and I need not go into it further. As he said, they can ensure that this year 1 million African-owned cattle are likely to die from diseases which in Rhodesia had become almost a memory.
The Patriotic Front can inflict that damage. It has that negative power. It can destroy, but it cannot build; it can kill, but it cannot govern. Its power is negative. It is inconceivable that a military victory, as opposed to this negative work of destruction, is in its power.
The main responsibility for stopping the war therefore lies with those who started it and with those who arm and abet them. But in the search for peace there are things to be done in Salisbury and there are things to be done by the West. I want to turn to the things to be done by both.
As regards Salisbury, we should be a little chary of giving advice in detail from the safety of the Conservative Benches—or the Labour Benches. A little humility in the face of dangers that we do not share would not be out of place. The impression that I came back with, again contrary to that given by the Foreign Secretary, is that the internal settlement has not run out of steam and 966 has not ground to a halt. It is as well to spend a little time on this matter and to he as accurate and clear as possible.
The timetable set on 3rd March has slipped, and it is vital that it should not slip further. It has taken a long time to reach agreement, not only on a constitution but on land tenure, education and local government—on the abolition of discrimination in all those and other spheres. I do not think that that is very surprising. After all, what happened on 3rd March was that people who had never worked together before—indeed, people who had been bitterly opposed to each other before—came together and agreed that they would turn round the pattern of society in Rhodesia in many respects, and they set themselves nine months to do so. I do not think that it is particularly surprising that they should now feel that another three or four months are required.
As far as I could discover, in most cases the legislation is now ready. The principal decisions have been taken, and I think that the next week or so will be a critical period in the history of the internal settlement. The only piece of advice I would give—trying to keep to my own warning about humility—is that I consider it very important that the leaders of the internal settlement should be in Rhodesia, during this critical period, not commenting on events from afar but joining in the decisions that have to be made during the next few weeks, getting the legislation through, publishing the constitution, fixing a date for elections and proving that there is no delay for delay's sake.
I turn now to one of the remarks made by the Foreign Secretary, because I think that it shows a point of great importance. With something of a sneer in his voice, he referred to the "technical difficulties" involved in reaching agreement on the constitution. What he described as the " technical difficulties "amount to a request by one African Minister rather late in the day that the 72 African seats in the 3rd March agreement should be divided roughly in half between the Matabele and Shona tribes. That is not a technical matter. It may be right, or it may be wrong, but it is a major matter, and to dismiss it in that way is once again to do an injustice to the efforts that are being made.
967 The point that I make is that in many respects the faults of Government policy derive simply from misinformation about and ignorance of what is actually happening in Salisbury. Salisbury is a city full of lively political argument at present. There are all kinds of shifts and crosscurrents between parties and within parties. New parties are being formed. It is crazy that Her Majesty's Government are not represented there by a senior and trusted public servant who can listen, learn, and report what is happening.
Mr. John Davies made that point repeatedly on the basis of his own experience, and my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) touched on it yesterday. The need seems to me to be abundantly clear. We are talking now not about a return to legality or resident commissioners but about the absolute need now to have there somebody senior who can have access to all the politicians, get briefings, make his own judgments and report to the Foreign Secretary.
The Government are to a large extent flying blind on Rhodesia at present, and that is very dangerous. It is no criticism of Mr. Graham, whose reputation in Rhodesia is high. but his visits are of necessity fleeting—that is the nature of his task—and it is essential that this gap should be filled.
§ Mr. Roderick MacFarquhar (Belper)
As the hon. Gentleman is in favour of a round-table conference and wants high-level representation in Salisbury in the interim, does he also favour high-level British representation with Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe?
§ Mr. Hurd
No. Mr. Nkomo operates from Lusaka, where we have a highly competent high commissioner. In Salisbury we do not have such a person. That gap has to be filled.
It was not for me to do business with the Rhodesian authorities but to judge from the discussions I had I do not think that the Foreign Secretary would find that he had to sacrifice any point of principle to which he attaches importance in order to have a senior and respected person in Salisbury, so, for heaven's sake, please let him have a try.
In my view, the internal settlement needs to recover its initial impetus, which 968 has, for reasons which should be understood and sympathised with, to some extent slowed down during the summer months. Hideous difficulties are faced. If one looks ahead to the conduct of elections, as one must, one sees that those difficulties are indeed formidable.
As far as one can judge, the security forces would be able to make sure—if the security situation were roughly as it is now—that the polling booths were open and accessible, particularly if polling were spread over several days. But the security forces cannot by themselves get rid of the fear in the hearts of many Africans, or reassure people who are too frightened to vote. That, again, is why Africans and Europeans in Rhodesia accept and, indeed, press the need for an all-party conference so that elections can be held without this tyranny of fear.
If that cannot be achieved—this was not clear from the Foreign Secretary's statement, and I ask him to clarity it—what does the Foreign Secretary expect the leaders of the transitional Government to do? He wants them to come to an all-party conference, and they have said that they will. But if that does not happen, or does not succeed, what does he expect them to do? Does he really expect them to abandon their agreement, to tear up the work they have done, to fail to put dates into the timetable they have agreed?
I cannot imagine any greater disaster in Rhodesia than to do that. It would simply destroy the one authority that does exist, and there is no other authority which could conceivably be put in its place. The Foreign Secretary owes it to those who are struggling for peace in Rhodesia to give a clear answer to that question. Let him by all means press them to come to the conference table, and let him press the others on an equal basis, but they should receive some encouragement from him in the detailed, complicated and difficult work that they are trying to do in changing the basis of society in Rhodesia.
I have talked about the responsibility in Salisbury and what I think could happen there. Now I turn to the responsibility of the West. I use that phrase deliberately because it illustrates a point of difference, essentially on tactics, I 969 think, between my judgment, which is certainly fallible, and the judgment of some of my right hon. and hon. Friends.
On the question of sanctions, on which we shall vote tonight, my right hon. and hon. Friends argue for a unilateral gesture of support—for a sign. They stress the psychological reasons for that, and no one should be in politics who does not understand the importance of gestures and signs. But gestures mean different things to different people. That would certainly be true of a gesture tonight, made before elections were held, before a date for elections was fixed, before a constitution had been approved, before a constitution had even been published.
I have tried to explain that I do not blame those responsible for these delays, but it is a fact that the fifth principle has not yet been put into practice. It is true that a vote against sanctions tonight, even though unsuccessful, would give a boost—although, as my right hon. Friend said, I think it might be a temporary boost—to a lot of honourable people, Europeans and Africans, working now in Rhodesia for the good of Rhodesia. There are times when it is right to make such a gesture. There are other times when it is wiser, on the whole, to keep one's strength for the real thing. I came back from Rhodesia with the rather strong conviction—a good deal stronger than it was when I went—that nothing less than a shift in the position of the West as a whole will actually rescue that country.
I hope that the Prime Minister will accept the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend, because it offers a way forward. But if he does not, I think it will have to be the immediate aim of a Conservative Government when they take power to try their best to bring about that shift in the position of the West as a whole. I believe that it would be somewhat harder to achieve it if we were to vote unilaterally against sanctions now, in advance of the fulfilment of the fifth principle. The shift in the position of the West is the big prize, and I do not think that we should prejudice the chance of gaining it.
What would that shift consist of? Of course, it would include the lifting of sanctions by the West when elections have 970 been held, or even when they are on the verge of being held. But this is not enough by itself. The West has to use its influence and its bargaining weapons with President Kaunda and President Machel so that they dissociate themselves from those who have chosen the violent road. It is precisely because there is no sign of the West's taking this line that we cannot accept the explanations so far given of the supply of arms to Zambia by this country.
But more than that—and this is certainly a task for the West rather than one country—we have to tell the Russians that their part in the present position is unacceptable. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) illustrated the Soviet part in the present war in his speech last night. There are many matters in which it is constantly clear that the Soviet Union wants, and needs, to have normal discussions and relations with the West.
There is a whole range of subjects which the Soviet Union sums up under the title of "detente". It is necessary for the West to say that these normal relationships cannot proceed while there is a war in Rhodesia in which the Soviet Union actively arms and abets one side and the West is at best neutral and, in practice, often biased in favour of that same side. This is what I mean by a shift in the position of the West. We must make clear that our relations in other areas cannot continue normally while that is the position.
If we can achieve this shift we would then show the Africans in Rhodesia, particularly in the tribal trust lands, that they need not be intimidated, because those who seek to intimidate them do not actually have the future of Rhodesia in their hands. If we can achieve this shift, we would put the choice to the nationalist leaders outside the internal settlement in a way which it has not yet been done—that they abandon hopes of a military victory and either fade from the scene or join in the peaceful contest for power, which is how the contest for power will be decided.
§ Mr. Bruce Grocott (Lichfield and Tam-worth)
The hon. Gentleman, in common with most hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches, is continually disparaging 971 about those in Rhodesia who have fought for democracy and freedom in their country. Does he accept the simple proposition that there would not have been the remotest possibility of an internal settlement, or of Smith giving any consideration to democracy for the blacks in Rhodesia, had it not been that young Africans in Rhodesia were willing to risk their lives in fighting against the white tyranny?
§ Mr. Hurd
I have heard and seen enough of what the fighting that the hon. Gentleman praises amounts to, and the effect it has on Africans, to reject that as a way to any kind of answer at all.
We do not say—I do not believe we have ever said from the Conservative Benches—that those who lead and at the moment direct the guerrilla movements should be excluded from power. We have simply said, and it must be right—I cannot conceive how the House of Commons can ever pass a Rhodesia independence Bill on any other basis—that the contest for power cannot be conducted by the means which they are at present choosing.
Now there is an opportunity, and that is the new situation which the hon. Gentleman has not reckoned with. One could understand, though not condone, their belief that the only way to attack white minority rule in Salisbury was by such means. But that is not the present position, and has not been for many months. Now they have an opening. Now they have a way. We must make it clear, by talking firmly to the nationalists and their friends, that this is the only way in which they can express their own legitimate political aspirations. That is the point, and I believe that it can best be done by a shift in the position of the West.
Our main criticism of the Government, therefore, is that their policy bears little relation to reality in Rhodesia, partly through sheer misinformation. It bears no relation to the interests of the West, or to the interests and, indeed, sometimes the honour of this country.
This is a major matter, as the debate has so far proved. It is perhaps the major matter of dispute in the area of foreign policy between the two main parties in the House. That is no satisfaction to the Opposition. A major effort is required, 972 if not by the present Prime Minister, by the next Government. People who know little of Rhodesia will certainly ask if that effort is worth while. But those who have actually been to Rhodesia, as I have recently been privileged to do, and measured the assets of that country—I am not now talking of physical or financial assets—will give the answer that this effort by the West is without question necessary and worth while. That is not just because of the past—although the past is always crucially important—but even more because of the future which that rich and in many ways splendid country can have if it can be saved, or if it can save itself, from its present agony.
§ 4.5 pm
§ The Attorney-General (Mr. S. C. Silkin)
The hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) is aware that I shall not be covering the same ground as he has. Therefore, I hope that he will forgive me if I do not answer the comments which he has made. However, I noted his observations about the Bingham report. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary yesterday reviewed the background to Bingham and dwelt in particular on the political and economic factors which operated during the period covered by the report.
My intervention will look forward from Bingham. It will be addressed to the question "What further steps are needed?" On that question, only three things are certain. First, there is a genuine diversity of opinion and real problems which need to be faced. If that was not clear before, it was apparent from yesterday's debate, in the course of which a number of different points of view were expressed. Secondly, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear yesterday, the path of openness has characterised the Government's whole approach to the events under scrutiny: the appointment of Bingham, for which my right hon. Friend was commended by several right hon. and hon. Members, the speedy publication of the report, its reference to the Director of Public Prosecutions and this early debate, together with the corresponding debate tomorrow in another place.
I may add that the Director has already received preliminary advice from counsel 973 and has arranged for a senior police officer to lead the investigation. That officer has indeed already commenced his task. So there has been no avoidable delay in carrying forward every aspect of this matter.
The third certain fact is that the Government intend to continue on the same course. That is the very reason for this debate. It is for that very reason that the Government are now seeking the views of the House about the right course to follow next. Before they reach their own conclusion, and before that conclusion is put to the House, they intend to listen carefully and attentively, as I myself did for most of yesterday's debate, to the views of right hon. and hon. Members. When the Government have considered those views and what is said in another place, they will come forward with their own proposals, taking the fullest account of the views expressed.
My task is solely to do what I can to assist the House. I do not disguise from myself that it is not an easy task. There is no obvious or perfect solution. I wish to be as objective as possible in reviewing the possibilities. But there is, I believe, one basic principle, which has governed and will govern all our thinking. That is that nothing must be swept under the carpet.
If there has been fault, it must be exposed. If confidence in Government, or indeed in those outside Government, has been weakened, it must be restored. If the law has been broken, those charged with its enforcement must carry out their duty in accordance with the same recognised concepts as in the case of any other breach of the law, that is, without regard to the position or the occupation of the law-breaker and, of course, without regard to considerations of party politics, if such exist. Those decisions will be for the Director, acting on the advice of experienced counsel. But as I shall in due course show, they could be affected by the outcome of this debate.
With that basic principle in mind, I begin my task by looking at the possible scope of any further inquiry. Having done so, I shall move on to the choices available and to their advantages and disadvantages.
974 I do not think that any speaker in the course of yesterday's debate advocated an inquiry which would retraverse the whole area already covered by Bingham. It would be a formidable task, of very questionable utility. There can certainly be no doubt that the Bingham report is a most comprehensive document. It gives a full and detailed account of the facts relating to the supply of oil to Rhodesia from 1965 to August 1978. It is thorough and careful. To assist in carrying out their assignment, its authors were given full powers under article 15 of the sanctions order to obtain evidence by compulsion. These are very special and unusual powers and they exercised them.
The report has an annex containing information and references of relevance to possible criminal offences. This annex is in the possession of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and, as I have said, the questions of criminal liability are already being examined. So the House must ask itself, in the light of the exhaustive nature of the Bingham investigation and report, the police investigation which will follow, and the contributions to the debate here and elsewhere, whether, for this particular purpose—I am not now considering such questions as governmental responsibility; I shall come to that—a further inquiry is needed to elicit new material facts of importance which are not already known.
The suggestion has been made—one or two speakers mentioned it yesterday—that a further inquiry could investigate allegations of breaches of sanctions with a view to prosecutions. But the Bingham inquiry had as one of its express aims the discovery of such evidence. The DPP has taken over and the police have commenced their task. That is the normal procedure. It may be that these matters will ultimately be the subject of court proceedings. So the question is whether some new and different inquiry or investigation could achieve this objective more effectively and without creating an unacceptable risk of prejudice to possible future prosecutions.
As the House is aware, the relevant annex to the Bingham report has not been published, for this very reason of possible prejudice. The Director of Public Prosecutions took the view that the 975 publication of the remainder of the Bingham report would not create unacceptable prejudice such as to rule out prosecutions But the House must accept that if there is to be any further wide-ranging inquiry which includes these questions of possible breaches of the sanctions order, it will be virtually impossible to avoid that prejudice.
It is absolutely essential, in the interests of justice, that the trial of a person charged with a criminal offence should proceed without any taint being cast on the defendant before the proceedings commence. Indeed, the task of the police in carrying out their investigation would be made impossible by any concurrent inquiry into the very same matters. If the possibility of prosecutions is to be left as a genuine one, the Director and the police must be left to pursue it unhampered.
I turn to the objective most frequently canvassed in the course of yesterday's debate and in public discussion. That objective would be to investigate the way in which successive Governments have pursued the sanctions policy, to examine the role of the multinationals, and to determine the responsibility, political as opposed to criminal, of Ministers, officials and those who were giving them information, both for what was done and for the criticism that important knowledge was withheld from Parliament. It has been suggested in some quarters that the Government are anxious to resist an inquiry into these matters. That is quite wrong. The Government have no such wish, and, as I have said, will consider the views of the House. That is the purpose of this debate and the debate in another place, where some of those concerned will be able to describe the part played by them.
Yesterday we had more than one valuable contribution to the sum of the House's knowledge. I listened with particular interest to the speeches of those who were members of the Governments in the period concerned. I hope that today we shall hear more than we did yesterday from right hon. Members who were members of the Government between 1970 and 1974. My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), in a frank and impressive speech, pointed out that that Government maintained in being the Beira patrol, so that their mind must certainly 976 have been directed to the question of oil sanctions.
On these matters the Government's view is that ministerial responsibility and the workings of Government are essentially questions for Parliament. It is for Parliament to make an informed judgment on these matters. It is for the House to express its views whether that informed judgment can be made on the basis of Bingham and the debates here and in another place and the contributions made by Ministers concerned at the time, or whether some further inquiry is needed to enable the House to make a better informed judgment on ministerial responsibility and the other matters which I have mentioned.
Yesterday, several hon. Members took the first view, but the preponderance of opinion was the other way. If the consensus in the House is that a further inquiry is needed for this principal purpose—to bring further into the open these matters of ministerial policy, ministerial responsibility, the responsibility of officials, on which my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray), had much to say, and the role and power of multinationals—that must, of course, have an important bearing on the nature of any further inquiry which would be appropriate.
I must deal with one further and important matter which arises out of the objective of a further inquiry. If that objective is to be a scrutiny of the policies of successive Governments so as to enable responsibility for them to be assessed, the question must arise whether, in order to carry out that function effectively, the inquiring body, whatever it is, will find it necessary to examine the whole record of how previous Cabinets dealt with the question of sanctions.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary yesterday informed the House in some detail of the effect of his study of the relevant papers during the periods of office of Labour Governments. But the actual papers have not been published. I should be failing in my duty if I glossed over this point and failed to remind the House of the long-accepted practice that Cabinet records are afforded special secrecy until they go to the Public Record Office, and of the reasons for that practice. It is an important constitutional question and we ought not to 977 dismiss it as of no consequence. To publish would create an important precedent.
Every Government in their day-to-day operations must reconcile a wide variety of views and opinions among their members and must take into account the sometimes differing views of their advisers. They must also take account of information, for example, about the attitudes of foreign Governments and statesmen, which is often, by its nature, extremely sensitive. Indeed, it may remain sensitive for a long time—for example, for the obvious reason that persons who are still on the international stage may be very frankly referred to. It has been the generally accepted view that publishing such material would risk destroying the quality and frankness of the views expressed, the advice tendered or the information received.
Moreover, in our parliamentary system Governments base their actions on the doctrine that, whatever internal differences there may be about policy before it is formulated, all members of the Government are bound to follow and defend the agreed policy once it is determined, or to resign. These two principles of the collective responsibility of members of an Administration and internal freedom of advice and information have been the long-accepted justification for the confidentiality of Cabinet papers.
I am well aware that there are those who disagree. They are entitled to their view. But if they are right, and the hitherto accepted practice can no longer be justified, the question still arises whether it would be right to abandon, retrospectively and ad hoc, a practice accepted and relied on by those concerned at the time, or whether it would set a precedent that would destroy the fundamental basis for the practice.
These are serious considerations for the House—considerations of which it is my duty to remind it. We must at least recognise what we are doing if we change the rules, and particularly if in doing so we break the understanding of those who accepted them in the past. So the question is whether an inquiry directed precisely to the extent of collective responsibility for decisions on oil sanctions and to the quality of advice given to Ministers would 978 justify a deep inroad into the accepted practice. If the answer is in the affirmative, this factor also must have an important bearing on what is the appropriate form of further inquiry.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
Against the weighty objections of my right hon. and learned Friend—after all, the change is suggested only in this case and not as an abrogation of the general principle—may I put the argument that here is an allegation that the Cabinet either knew and deceived the House—an allegation which is extremely serious and ought to be adjudicated upon—or that it did not know about a major matter of foreign policy, whereupon one should inquire into the reasons why the Government machine failed to convey that information to the Cabinet? Surely that is enough to say that in this case we ought to abrogate the general principle, but that we should recognise that it is a rare—perhaps unique—case.
§ The Attorney-General
I fully recognise that there are arguments in favour of abrogating the practice in this case—indeed, no doubt in other cases. I seek to put the arguments as objectively as possible, so that the House can make up its own mind. I say that these are very important matters which have to be considered when the whole question of an inquiry is being considered by the House. I ended by making the point that a decision to make an inroad into the accepted practice must have an important bearing on the appropriate form of a further inquiry.
§ Sir Harold Wilson (Huyton)
Surely, when the Government set up Bingham they were already halfway along this road. My hon. Friend has given two reasons why there might be a release of documents. I agree that it is a unique case—Bingham was a unique occasion. Bingham has, in effect, made allegations against certain Ministers, politicians and others. Surely they are entitled to have the relevant documents looked at. I have looked at them, and I have asked that they be released to the House.
Secondly, the press has conducted a very high-level, one-sided trial of a number of people. Is not that a reason for people who are being tried and condemned to have their case stated through 979 publication of what they know to be the facts?
§ The Attorney-General
Any member of the Administration concerned is, as my right hon. Friend is aware, entitled to consult the relevant documents so as to inform himself or to remind himself of the events that have occurred. My right hon. Friend told us yesterday that he had in fact done so.
Again, I put it to the House that there is here a question of principle that the House must decide. It is no use burking the fact that it is a question of principle. It may be that the circumstances of this case are such that that principle has to go by the board, but that is a matter that must be considered. It is one of very grave importance, and it would be quite wrong if I were not to remind the House of the position merely because my right hon. Friend had called for the papers to be published.
I turn to the various possible forms that a further inquiry might take. In doing so, I ask the House to bear in mind the considerations that I have mentioned, particularly concerning the objective of a further inquiry, the risk of prejudice to possible prosecutions, and the problem—it is a problem—of Cabinet documents. Those are not, of course, the only criteria. The House will, of course, be concerned with questions of effectiveness, credibility and fairness.
To be effective, the inquiry must be carried out by those with the necessary time and thoroughness. To be credible, its character and composition must be such as to command the confidence of Parliament and of public opinion at home and abroad. To be fair, it must ensure that those who may be the subject of criticism are not only fully informed of what may be alleged against them but are given a full and ample opportunity to defend themselves.
Parliament has always been concerned in particular with the aspect of fairness. It was one of the considerations which led the House to establish the Crown Agents tribunal of inquiry in preference to any of the other possible choices. It is particularly important if an inquiry is to examine the conduct of officials and others who are not Members of this House or the other place and who therefore have 980 no opportunity to reply here in Parliament to such criticisms as were made of some yesterday in the course of the debate.
To satisfy the considerations of fairness, the Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry—the Salmon Commission—recommended that six of what it called "cardinal principles" should be applied in inquiries set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, which are the most exhaustive forms of inquiry—of the Crown Agents type—so far invented. In reminding the House of the six Salmon principles, I should not like it to be thought either that they apply only to tribunals under the 1921 Act or that they can be applied in full to all forms of inquiry. Clearly, that is not possible. But they set a standard which, I believe, is now generally accepted as that at which at least we should aim when reputations are seriously under examination.
The principles are as follows. First, before any person becomes involved in an inquiry, the tribunal must be satisfied that there are circumstances which affect him and which the tribunal proposes to investigate.
Second, before any person who is involved in an inquiry is called as a witness, he should be informed of any allegations which are made against him and the substance of the evidence in support of them.
Third, he should be given an adequate opportunity of preparing his case and of being assisted by legal advisers.
Fourth, he should have the opportunity of being examined by his own solicitor or counsel and of stating his case in public at the inquiry.
Fifth, any material witnesses he wishes to be called at the inquiry should, if reasonably practicable, be heard.
Sixth, he should have the opportunity of testing by examination conducted by his own solicitor or counsel any evidence which may affect him.
As I have said, not every form of inquiry permits the observance of all of these principles to the letter. But cutting the corners must tend to weaken the standard of fairness. The trouble is that, in the ensuring of fairness to all those involved, other problems arise. A procedure which involves the legal representation 981 of all those against whom allegations have been made and allows for cross-examination of all witnesses by all who are represented is a highly complex procedure. The time taken can be considerable.
I am informed that the Crown Agents tribunal, which started with the benefit of the itself exhaustive Fay report, may not conclude its investigations until the end of next year. After that, it will have to consider and prepare its report. It may be well into 1980 before we see it. The demands made on skilled manpower and resources are extremely burdensome. Already 35 lawyers are briefed to represent either the tribunal or those against whom allegations have been made. This number may well increase as new evidence is given and new allegations are made; it is impossible to determine all the allegations at the start of a roving inquiry of this nature.
The Treasury Solicitor's department is heavily extended, with 11 members of its staff occupied in the tribunal's work, and the total cost will be enormous. In the Confait inquiry—which was an inquiry into events within a relatively limited compass—the hearings took three months, 11 counsel were in attendance, and the Treasury Solicitor's staff was heavily employed.
I come to the various possible forms of inquiry. An inquiry may be parliamentary or of an outside character. Those of an outside character may be statutory or non-statutory. Each of them found some support yesterday, as indeed did the view that there should be no further inquiry at all. I shall do my best to look objectively at each of the possible forms of inquiry, judging them against the criteria which I have mentioned.
I deal first with the non-parliamentary types of inquiry. I have mentioned the statutory form of inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921. The House has had recent experience of setting up the Crown Agents tribunal. On the present occasion, so far only one right hon. or hon. Member has directly advocated it. The House will recall that the Act requires both Houses of Parliament to resolve that it is expedient that a tribunal be established for inquiring into a definite matter described in the resolution as of urgent public importance. It would be for the House to 982 consider what are the relevant matters which fall properly within that description. A tribunal set up under the Act enjoys the maximum of powers, rights and privileges, those that are vested in the High Court or Court of Session, so that it can enforce the attendance of witnesses and their examination and compel the production of documents.
This element of compulsion is the very essence of the 1921 Act inquiry and distinguishes it from all other forms of inquiry. Associated with this element of compulsion are the essential safeguards to ensure fairness and the protection of the individual which Salmon described. Whilst the procedure of the tribunal is left to the discretion of its members, it has power to authorise the representation of any person appearing to be interested by counsel or solicitor or otherwise, or to refuse to allow such representation. The Salmon principles are generally followed, and persons liable to be criticised are normally allowed representation. Salmon indeed strongly favoured the use of the tribunal procedure in respect of what the report describes asmatters of vital public importance concerning which there is something in the nature of a nation-wide crisis of confidence",whereno other method of investigation would be adequate.But, recognising the great injury to individuals which the tribunal procedure could do, Salmon emphasised most strongly the importance of the cardinal principles.
The main advantages of the 1921 Act procedure are openness, fairness and thoroughness. The relative rareness of its use and the high standing of the members of tribunals are generally a guarantee of their credibility.
The other side of the picture I have in part already emphasised. To secure thoroughness and fairness, tribunals accept the necessary observance of the Salmon principles. Those principles have inevitably led to the procedure becoming increasingly cumbersome, time-consuming and complex. If a tribunal were established with wide-ranging terms of reference to inquire generally into the way successive Governments tried to enforce a policy of sanctions and into the question whether material facts were withheld 983 from Ministers or Parliament, and into the role of the multinationals, it could hardly avoid examining a large number of witnesses, many of whom would need to be protected in the way suggested by Salmon. Whilst the tribunal ran its course, it could impose a heavy burden on those whose reputations were under inquiry, for mud tends to stick, even if in the end the report exonerates.
In the end, a 1921 Act inquiry could no doubt be effective in ascertaining any facts which are not already known, and I have already asked the House to consider what new material facts require to be elicited. But the House will wish to consider whether the usual form of tribunal, judicial in character, would be an appropriate body to pass what must be a political judgment upon the political handling of these facts.
Then there is the problem of Cabinet papers, to which I referred earlier. These considerations necessarily lead to the question whether the normal composition of such a tribunal would be appropriate in the present case. Although the 1921 Act does not require it, it might be assumed that a tribunal should be headed by a judge, as the Salmon Commission recommended. But there is nothing in the Act to prevent his being joined by other persons, perhaps those experienced in government or administration, or indeed by others drawn from a wider circle. The sole requirement would be that they should command public confidence and respect in the light of their terms of reference.
There remains the very important question of prejudice, to which I referred earlier. Under the 1921 Act procedure, a witness before a tribunal is entitled to the same immunities and privileges as if he were a witness before the High Court or Court of Session. This means that he cannot be sued for anything he says in evidence. But it does not mean that his answers as a witness cannot be used in evidence against him in any subsequent civil or criminal proceedings. For this reason, the Salmon Commission recommended that the witness's immunity should be extended so that neither his evidence before the tribunal nor his statement to the Treasury Solicitor, nor any documents he is required to produce to the tribunal, shall be used against him 984 in any subsequent civil or criminal proceedings, except, of course, for perjury or similar offences. But the Commission went further. It rightly observed:In any event, it has long been recognised that from a practical point of view it would be almost impossible to prosecute a witness in respect of anything which emerged against him in the course of a hearing before a Tribunal of Inquiry … The publicity which such a hearing usually attracts is so wide and so overwhelming that it would be virtually impossible for any person against whom an adverse finding was made to obtain a fair trial afterwards. So far, no such person has ever been prosecuted. This again may be justified in the public interest because Parliament having decided to set up an inquiry under the Act has clearly considered whether or not civil or criminal proceedings would resolve the matter and has decided that they would not.I must, therefore, make it clear to the House that, even with relatively limited terms of reference, a 1921 Act tribunal would render prosecutions extremely difficult. Wide terms of reference would rule them out altogether. Having said that, I must also make it clear that the same difficulty arises with any open inquiry, and the wider the terms of reference, the more clearly it arises.
The House will therefore wish to consider most anxiously whether this really is a case for a 1921 Act tribunal, with its power of compulsion, public proceedings, lengthy and cumbersome procedure and all the attendant complications which I have described, and whether in the end this would be the appropriate body to make a subjective and political judgment on the efficiency and integrity of the Government machine.
Partly because of the defects of the 1921 Act procedure, many recent inquiries have been of a less formal kind, composed of persons specially appointed to investigate, for example, allegations of misconduct, or incompetence. These inquiries are non-statutory, and the tribunal lacks powers of compulsion. The procedure adopted by such inquiries depends to a large extent on the subject matter of the inquiry and is left very much to the discretion of the tribunal. At one extreme we have the example of the closed-door Profumo-type inquiry, a procedure condemned by Salmon and which I doubt if anybody would wish to follow today.
At the other end of the scale, one can have a non-statutory inquiry which 985 attempts to build in many of the safeguards recommended by the Salmon Commission. Although such inquiries have no formal powers and, in particular, cannot compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents, they achieve their purpose through the cooperation of all parties and their wish for full disclosure of all the relevant facts. The Fisher inquiry into the Confait case was such an inquiry. It ensured the fairness of the investigation by adopting the Salmon principles, but did not at the same time adopt the inflexible procedure associated with a 1921 Act inquiry.
The Fisher inquiry sat in private. But that does not wholly dispose of the problem of prejudice. Even in the case of inquiries held in private it is often essential to grant immunity from prosecution to witnesses. Without such immunity, they may be reluctant to come forward or to answer questions which may incriminate them.
The narrower the terms of reference at any further inquiry, the less difficult it will be to proceed without prejudicing the possibility of criminal proceedings should they appear to be justified.
If a non-statutory inquiry is to achieve credibility, its composition must be such as to command confidence. It is no doubt for this reason that some suggestions have been made—for example, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) at the end of his speech—of entrusting the task to a committee of Privy Councillors. Certain types of allegation, particularly those involving security matters or sensitive international relations are sometimes dealt with by such committees. Such a body, particularly if its composition enabled it to sit continuously, could function with relative speed and flexibility. Several hon. Members yesterday emphasised the great desirability of speed in bringing a report before Parliament. Such a committee could adopt a modified procedure following the Salmon "principles" to the extent that it considered essential for fairness.
A flexible procedure would mean greater reliance on the co-operation of all involved, but the procedure might he much less cumbersome than that adopted by a 1921 Act tribunal. Such a com- 986 mittee could have a powerful and balanced composition, combining judicial and political experience. If it were felt desirable, it could be invested with the status of a Royal Commission, with a Royal Warrant giving power to call for information, documents and witnesses. This would not give the power of enforcement, but would add to its authority. The problem relating to Cabinet papers which I earlier mentioned could at least be reduced.
§ Sir Harold Wilson
There are precedents, whether Royal Commission or not. My right hon. and learned Friend will remember that this House set up a Select Committee under my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) in relation to allegations being made. This was a very high-level Committee. I do not know that it had any difficulty in getting evidence.
But another Committee was also set up, not on a matter of this kind but to look at a broad question and to make recommendations. That Committee was set up after the publication, or at the time of the litigation about the publication, of the Crossman diaries. That Committee was made up of Privy Councillors from both Houses of Parliament and presided over by Lord Radcliffe, then alive. He has been on every Committee, and I would not like anyone to think that he can get him now—he cannot. The noble Lord was in charge of that Committee. The investigation was very thorough, and I am certain that every Minister and ex-Minister who gave evidence treated it very seriously. There are a number of possibilities within the area that my right hon. and learned Friend has just discussed.
§ The Attorney-General
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Indeed, since I gave evidence myself to the Radcliffe Committee, I accept entirely what he has said, namely, that that is a possible form of inquiry, and it is the form of inquiry to which I have just referred and which I thought my right hon. Friend had in mind at the end of his remarks.
I shall turn in a moment to the subject of a Select Committee, such as that under my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware in commending the type of inquiry used in the Confait case—I sat throughout most of the six weeks during which that inquiry took place—that one of the difficulties there is that, although the findings were published together with a report, the evidence presented to the inquiry, which was in private, was never published? That does not give the public the opportunity to make a proper judgment on whether those findings are properly based on evidence, especially if such an inquiry is conducted by a single judge.
§ The Attorney-General
I am well aware of my hon. Friend's views about the findings of Sir Henry Fisher on that matter. I have not sought to disguise the fact—I shall be coming back to it in due course—that all the possibilities that I have mentioned have their advantages and disadvantages. I was about to say that the advantages which I have described as regards this type of body, such as a committee of Privy Councillors, would carry its own disadvantage, because such a body would or could be the least "open" of the possible choices.
The House ought none the less to ask itself—and again I emphasise that it is the views of the House which the Government wish to hear—whether this method could more easily than any other form of inquiry reconcile the conflicting requirements of the need to restore confidence as rapidly as possible, the credibility of the tribunal, the avoidance of prejudice and fairness to those whose reputations may be under scrutiny.
I turn last to a parliamentary inquiry. It has been advocated by more speakers in the debate so far than any other form of inquiry. A parliamentary inquiry could take the form of a Select Committee or of a Joint Committee of both Houses, invested with whatever powers are requisite and within Parliament's jurisdiction. Select Committees increasingly play a most valuable investigative role. They normally proceed by examination of witnesses, in public or in private. Their composition normally reflects the political balance of the House. Their members are, of course, responsible for the conduct of the inquiry and so on. En other words, under their normal pro- 988 cedure they combine the roles of inquisitor and judge. In the interests of fairness to individuals, this procedure could be varied and legal representation permitted.
A Select or Joint Committee plainly, therefore, has many attractions, particularly if its role is to investigate questions of policy and ministerial responsibility—a role which such Committees are well used to playing. Such a Committee would report direct to Parliament, which would be in a position to consider its findings.
Having pointed to the attractions, must also point to the other side of the picture. I am doing my best to present the matter as objectively as possible. The Salmon Commission, reporting in 1966, comprehensively reviewed the use of Select Committees to investigate questions of ministerial responsibility over a very long period of time, including the conduct of the war with Napoleon and the Crimean war and ending with Marconi in 1911. The House will, of course, give what weight it thinks fit to Salmon's conclusions, but it ought at least to take them into account.
They were:the record of such committees … is, to say the least, unfortunate … Such matters should be entirely removed from political influences. A Select Parliamentary Committee is constituted of members representing the relative strength of the parties in the House. Accordingly it may tend in its report to reflect the views of the party having the majority of members, or indeed, as in the Marconi case, it may produce two reports and when these are debated in the House, the House may divide along party lines.Since the Marconi inquiry in 1911, the use of Select Committees for this purpose has not been favoured. In 1921, when grave allegations were made against officials in the Ministry of Munitions, the Select Committee procedure was rejected and the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act passed into law. The Salmon Commission's view that Select Committees are in general an unsuitable vehicle for this type of inquiry has not, so far as I am aware, previously been seriously challenged and was not contested in the White Paper of 1973 recording the then Government's views of the Salmon report.
The only recent occasion when a Select Committee has been used for a purpose in any way akin to the present purpose was the Select Committee on the Conduct of Members in the Session 1976–77. That 989 Committee had relatively limited material to examine relating to three right hon. and hon. Members—certainly nowhere near the range of investigation which has been canvassed in the debate so far. It was established by the House on 1st November 1976. Its report, which was unanimous, was ordered to be printed on 13th July 1977. It was debated shortly before the Summer Recess. One, at any rate, of its most important findings was rejected by the House, largely, as I recall, on the issue of fairness in the Committee's procedure.
It is indeed right, and I repeat it, that the House should be much concerned with the question of fairness, not only to its Members but to others. In that respect, the objections to the Select Committee could, as I have mentioned, be mitigated. Contrary to the normal procedure of Select Committees, legal representation could be permitted so as to enable some at any rate of Salmon's six cardinal principles to operate. But if special arrangements of that kind were made we should be moving towards the United States congressional committee system.
The House will wish to consider the full implications of that departure and, in particular, the length and complexity of the task which it would be setting, whether indeed it could be completed during the present Parliament, however long that may continue, and the problems which would arise if in a new Parliament the task had to be taken up again, only partly completed. The time taken to cover the relatively narrow task of the Select Committee on the Conduct of Members—from 1st November to 13th July—is worth recalling in that context.
I have tried to carry out my remit as objectively as possible. If the House, having studied the debates here and in another place, remains unsatisfied that the dark places have been sufficiently illuminated to ensure that nobody can justifiably speak of a cover-up or an "Oilgate", the decision is indeed a difficult one.
But it is, I repeat, for the House to express its view. In doing so, it must understand that there is no solution which combines all the desirables. The House itself must face the question what it believes the priorities should be—openness, speed, prosecutions, width of range of investigation, fairness to individuals, 990 the preservation of the principle of confidentiality, objectivity or political experience. No form of inquiry can combine them all. The Government are concerned above all to ensure that there can be no possible justification hereafter for a charge of cover-up. As they listen to the views expressed, that concern will be predominant in their minds and when they have studied those views they will propose the best solution which seems to emerge.
§ 4.54 p.m
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Sidcup)
I wish, first, to associate myself with the tributes paid by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), the Foreign Secretary and others yesterday to the work of John Davies while in government and in this House. The load of work which he assumed as a member of the Cabinet, very shortly after he became a Member of the House, was tremendous. But I think that he endeared himself particularly to the House by the work that he did as Chairman of the Committee which looked after European legislation. In that capacity he earned the respect of everybody in the House. It is a great loss to us that he should have decided to leave us.
I now turn to the Bingham report. I shall not disguise the fact that this is not the debate in which I should have chosen to speak on the Queen's Speech. I should have much preferred to speak tomorrow on economic matters, but, as he has said, the Attorney-General wishes to hear the views of those who were in the 1970–74 Administration. I understand that my noble Friend Lord Home, the former Foreign Secretary, will make his views known in another place tomorrow. The Attorney-General will then have heard the views of that Administration.
It has been the recognised custom in government for at least 50 years that an incoming Administration does not see the papers of its predecessors. Some have found this custom difficult to understand, and some have asked why it came about only some 50 years ago. The answer is, I think, quite simple. Until 1916 there were no minutes of Cabinet meetings and, when first kept, they were of the simplest kind, merely recording decisions. Moreover, a Minister was able to take his 991 papers away with him so that it was impossible for a succeeding Administration to see the papers with which he had been concerned. In order to avoid papers being either burned or taken away, and so that they should be kept for posterity, it was accepted as a custom—though it is not a law—that an incoming Administration does not see the papers of its predecessors.
That hitherto has been accepted by the House. The matter has been raised on a number of occasions. Perhaps some hon. Members present can themselves recall instances. I can quote a modicum of the number of times when it was raised. It was raised in particular by Mr. Herbert Morrison, who challenged a decision by Mr. Churchill on the matter. Mr. Churchill summed it up on 9th February 1954 by saying:But there is a general custom, and custom more than law, that the Cabinet documents of one Government are not considered by those who are the Ministers in another Government; they are left as their own internal affairs."—[Official Report, 9th February 1954; Vol. 523, c. 1006]Mr. Herbert Morrison replied "Hear, hear", and with that statement by Mr. Churchill was satisfied and let the matter drop.
It was therefore accepted by the Labour leadership of the time and by the Conservative Government of the time that that was the position. There are those who question whether it is, in fact, dealt with by any constitutional historian. In Jennings' "Cabinet Government", Third Edition, page 274, it is written:The Ministers of one Government are not entitled to examine the Cabinet documents of their precedessors though some of those documents without the minutes will be in the secret departmental files.The position was also accepted in the Eleventh Report of the Expenditure Committee, as late as 1976–77 when it made the following recommendation:The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should jointly consider the present rule that no Administration sees the papers of its predecessor of a different party, to decide whether some mutually agreed relaxation of the rule might not be advantageous to Ministers of successive Governments.This is, therefore, a question that is before the House—whether the rule should be relaxed. The Select Committee demonstrated quite clearly that the rule exists. It is, moreover, more accurate—or per- 992 haps explains it more fully—by describing it asthe papers of its predecessor of a different party".It is accepted in government that it is not only Cabinet records and Cabinet committee records but the minutes on which a Minister writes his opinion or asks for advice, and the minutes on which officials advise him, and it has also been accepted that what a Minister says to an official in discussion is also not repeated to his successors in an Administration. I hope the House will accept that this is the position. If it wishes to change it, it can discuss the question of the Expenditure Committee report.
That was the situation in 1970 when my Administration took over.
I should like to refer to one sentence in yesterday's speech of my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson). He said:Clearly the Conservative Government knew as little and as much as the outgoing Government."—[Official Report, 7th November 1978; Vol. 957, c.751.]That is not a correct description of the situation. We did not know what the members of the previous Administration themselves knew, and of which some of them, including the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), the former Foreign Secretary, have already told the House and of which Lord Thomson of Monifieth has told the Bingham Committee, because we had not seen the papers. Those papers were not made available to us—quite rightly. We had no idea of their existence, and it would have been quite improper to ask to see the papers of a preceding Administration. In all my ministerial experience I have understood that to be the situation Nor has any Minister embarrassed officials by trying to insist that he produce papers or give descriptions of conversations that took place. That was the position when we came to office in 1970.
I should have thought that anyone who had read the Bingham report carefully would agree with the Attorney-General that it is a most comprehensive document. The inquiry was carefully and very thoroughly carried through. The judgments Bingham makes are balanced judgments. He was limited by the fact that those who had passed away were unable to contribute, and by the fact that 993 up to 13 years had elapsed and the memories of some of the early periods were uncertain. There was also the fact that some Administrations, particularly those of South Africa and Rhodesia, Zambia and Mozambique, were unprepared to give any evidence at all to him. This situation would apply to any of the kinds of inquiry which the Attorney-General has mentioned. I formed the opinion that the Bingham inquiry was thorough and that its conclusions dealt carefully with the entire position.
We then come to the events which have now been revealed concerning the previous Administration. Those were not known to us, for the reasons I have given. I too have consulted the papers of 1970–74. This matter was not raised—the question of the swap which has been much discussed and which was the key to many of the differences which have been expressed—because we did not know about it. Moreover, because of one sentence in Bingham, I have looked at the actions of the Commonwealth sanctions committee during the period when we were in office.
There is one reference in the Bingham report dealing with the period from 1969. Paragraph 6.87 reads:It would certainly appear that during this period the enforcement and monitoring of sanctions came to assume a lower governmental priority than they had previously done, not only in the UK but also in the United States (where the Byrd Amendment, relaxing sanctions in respect of Rhodesia chrome exports, was accepted by the Senate and became law in November 1971).That is referring, after 1969, to both Administrations.
The Commonwealth sanctions committee continued its activities. At the Commonwealth conference in January 1971 its report was presented to all of us. There was nothing raised in that discussion about the supply of British oil. The subject was not raised with me or the Foreign Secretary. Similarly, at the Commonwealth conference of August 1973 in Ottawa, a further report from the Comwealth sanctions committee was presented. The matter was not raised further there, either. In both cases the sanctions committee recognised that neither British Government had been prepared to blockade South Africa to carry out an economic blockade further to enforce 994 sanctions. Thus, the matter was not raised at the Commonwealth conferences, and certainly at the various meetings I had from time to time with President Kaunda and President Nyerere the matter was never raised.
We then come to the point when the swap arrangement was abandoned.
§ Sir Harold Wilson
Before the right hon. Gentleman deals with that point, may I put a question to him? Of course I agree that there is no disclosure of papers from previous Governments to an incoming Government. That has always been the practice for as long as any of us can remember. Since the right hon. Gentleman has just referred to the swap, which apparently began, we now think, from something we read last week, in 1968, and went on through the period of his Government, apart from what he is about to tell us—and we now understand that it was going on in some form until September of this year—may I ask whether he would agree that nothing was said to his Government during this period of the swap, even though it was a continuing problem? The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he had not seen the papers from the previous Government on his coming to office in 1970. Will he not confirm that he was not told about the swap between 1970 and 1974—because that is what I was trying to say yesterday?
§ Sir Harold Wilson
The swap was a continuing thing. I am not asking whether the right hon. Gentleman knew that a swap had started. The swap continued throughout his Government. It continued into 1976, some might say 1978. We now know from Bingham that the swap was continuing for a long period under his Government. Will he not confirm that he was not told about the swap continuing while he was in office? This is nothing to do with the papers of the previous Government.
§ Mr. Heath
The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct. I said that we knew nothing about the swap.
995 I come now to the point where the swap was abandoned. In paragraph 8.13 Bingham says:Her Majesty's Government was not informed.That was the situation. Her Majesty's Government were not informed that the new arrangement was taking place. Later on, in the conclusions, at paragraph 14.4 (xxiii), Bingham says that it was during visits to South Africa in early 1974 that it came to the attention of various people that the arrangement had ceased and a new arrangement had taken its place. By that time we had ceased to be in office. That is the situation, too, about the ending of the swap.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
Since the right hon. Gentleman has refreshed his memory, may I ask whether he can tell the House whether at any time he asked about the effectiveness of the blockade on oil supplies to Rhodesia or about the ineffectiveness of the naval patrol, which continued?
§ Mr. Heath
As for the Beira patrol, Bingham gives his own view here, which is clear. Paragraph 14.4 (xxvi) states:The volume of refined products reaching Rhodesia through Beira between the 1965 Sanctions Order and the closure of the Mozambique/Rhodesian border in March 1976 was inconsiderable. No crude oil reached Rhodesia by this route.This also raises the question—
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)rose—
§ Mr. Heath
May I finish the sentence? This raises the question of those who say that the Beira patrol was therefore entirely unnecessary and that it was a farce. This is not a view which I can accept, for the simple reason that it made it much more difficult for Rhodesia to get the crude oil it wanted. It had to find other means of getting the oil at considerably greater expense, which we know—also from Bingham—involved a great deal of investment in South Africa and so on. I do not accept the view that the Beira patrol ought to have been abandoned.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
There are two questions being posed to the right hon. Gentleman. The first is whether any member of his Administration at any time during those four years made any inquiries about the effectiveness of oil 996 sanctions. It is necessary to bear in mind that when the Beira patrol was first imposed there was considerable criticism of it from the Tory Benches to the effect that it was expensive and useless. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that during the term of his Administration, while the Beira patrol continued, no member of his Government cared to ask about its effectiveness or what was happening to oil sanctions?
§ Mr. Heath
The facts of history are known. We maintained the Beira patrol, against a great deal of criticism in my own party. That is a matter of history. The effectiveness of the sanctions was constantly examined by the Commonwealth sanctions committee on which we were represented. It made its reports. Where there were accusations of sanctions breaking which were thought to be justified, prosecutions were brought. Reports were made to the United Nations in a regular way. That is the position about sanctions enforcement. Perhaps I may also add that this policy was carried through in the face of a great deal of criticism from our own supporters on the Back Benches. That deals with the questions about the past Administration.
I come now to the question of a future inquiry. My judgment is that if the House wishes to criticise members of any Administration for the way in which they have implemented a policy, or indeed for that policy, it is perfectly at liberty to do so. If it believed at the time that the Administration ought to have followed another policy, it was open to the House to take action. It is also open to the House to try to condemn the Administration after they have ceased to exist. That is a matter for the House. I believe that this is, therefore, entirely a parliamentary matter.
The Attorney-General has outlined with great lucidity all the various forms of inquiry which could take place. If we are to inquire into many things, such as transnational companies, no doubt they are of great interest, but the House surely has to consider whether these are matters to which it wants to devote its time and attention in the immediate future, in the face of other problems which this country is encountering. Mr. Bingham and Mr. Gray have given a very full report on these events. If the 997 House wishes to take part of that report and to censure any Administration or any individual, it is open to the House to do so. The limitations on any further inquiry will be the same as the limitations on Mr. Bingham.
I should like to make one further point on the question of the revelation of Cabinet documents, either records of Cabinet meetings or Cabinet committees. My view is that it is important for the existence of a Government who can freely and frankly discuss matters among themselves that these documents should not be revealed. I know that there are many who would like them to be revealed because, quite frankly, they would like to see what are the contents of Cabinet meetings. I take the view that this would not lead to the most effective form of government.
There are those who say that Governments wish to cover up. The Attorney-General has emphasised quite strongly today that he wants to show that there is no cover-up. With the greatest possible respect, confidence has to be placed in government by somebody. If papers are to be revealed, who is to select the papers? One cannot have the whole of the papers of an Administration, or of two or three Administrations covering 13 years, all open even to a Select Committee so that it can be seen whether a particular item was discussed. A Select Committee can see the papers which are selected for it. In that case, these papers have to be selected either by the members of the Administration or by the secretary of the Cabinet or by another official.
If the argument is that officials are trying to cover up, I would ask how any committee can get away from this, other than by going through a mass of documents relating to a whole Administration. That is just not within the feasibility even of those Back Benchers who are so enthusiastic to see Government papers.
I believe that the House ought to come to any decision it wishes on the record which is set out in the Bingham report. If there are contradictions between members of an Administration, the House must decide whose version of events it wishes to take.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell and Wishaw)
The right hon. Gentleman paid tribute to the thoroughness of the Bingham inquiry. That entailed having access to the papers of BP and Shell in the most remarkable way. The records of those companies are as vast as those of the Government. If Bingham could do that with the companies, why could not Bingham do it also in the case of the Government?
§ Mr. Heath
Because I do not believe, as I have said, that it is feasible to carry on effective government if papers are to be revealed, and particularly, as the Attorney-General said, if they are to be revealed retrospectively, when people have believed that for 30 years these papers were confidential. One can see what will happen. There will be a return to the practice of earlier days. Either things will not be recorded or Ministers will be very careful that what is recorded will be taken away. I do not believe that this would be for the benefit of government in the present or for the benefit of those who wished to form judgments about it in the future. That is my considered view. Of course, I am open to correction, but I believe that for the health of government that is the procedure we should follow.
I wish to deal briefly with two matters affecting Rhodesia in substance. The first is President Kaunda's position in Zambia.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to return to the point that was made earlier? Did not the right hon. Gentleman or any of his Administration—the same question could also be put concerning my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) and his Administration—ask this one simple question: How was it that Rhodesia was being supplied with oil and petrol? Was it not obvious that sanctions were being busted? What was our expensive Secret Service doing? We spend a hell of a lot of money on the Secret Service. Hon. Members can find out for themselves that a certain amount of money is recorded in regard to this particular affair. I ask the right hon. Gentleman—and also my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton—what they were doing. What is the answer to this question about sanctions busting?
§ Mr. Heath
I am not at liberty to tell the hon. Gentleman what the Secret Service was doing at that time. But it did not require a secret service to tell every newspaper in the world that goods were entering through South Africa and going into Rhodesia. Of course, this was well known. This House knew it perfectly well. What was also well known was that neither Administration was prepared to impose an economic blockade on South Africa, nor is the present Administration prepared to do that today. That may be a controversial decision, but it is certainly an attitude which was well known, and it is constantly repeated in the Bingham report.
I should like now to turn very briefly to to President Kaunda's position in Zambia. I hope that some understanding will be shown of the extraordinarily difficult position in which President Kaunda finds himself. It is true that many years ago it was said that if terrorists began to base themselves in his country he might very well find that the situation became intolerable; but that is looking back. If we look at the present, I think that there can be no doubt that for him to have many thousands of armed terrorists on his soil is not only a threat to Rhodesia but certainly a very grave embarrassment to his own position. Perhaps I am in a position to speak rather more frankly than the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister were prepared to do yesterday.
Some say that President Kaunda should get rid of these people. I appeal for some understanding of the difficulty of the President of a black African country in the face of the openly expressed views of other black African countries and the force which is available to the guerrillas. I appeal for some realism.
I therefore feel it right that the British Government should be prepared to help in the defence of Lusaka. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, who made an admirable speech yesterday, that of course safeguards must be arranged. I am perfectly prepared to accept that the Prime Minister cannot tell the House the details of these matters, but I rest assured that the Prime Minister has secured them.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that the position in Rhodesia is indeed griev- 1000 ous, but again there is little point now in going back over the past. If chances have been missed in recent times, I think it could be said that one was missed after Dr. Kissinger went to South Africa and secured the support of Pretoria, so that for the first time Pretoria, Washington and London were in agreement about what could be done. Mr. Smith accepted that there would be self-government within two years.
Perhaps I might add this aside. I think that there has been a genuine difference in attitude towards these potential settlements and, indeed, sanctions between the two sides of the House. Broadly speaking, I think that Labour Members have looked to sanctions to bring down Mr. Smith's Administration. From the Conservative side, as I argued in a speech very soon after UDI, the purpose was felt to be to bring Mr. Smith to negotiation. If Mr. Smith survived that, as a result of the wish of the people there, so be it. This, I think, has influenced attitudes towards possible settlements.
I believe that that was a major chance which was missed in recent years. I believe also that with the internal settlement a chance was missed. It was then a more difficult situation to handle. The strength of the terrorists was greater and the internal settlement was not in all ways satisfactory.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) that a great deal has been achieved, remarkably really, in a comparatively short time. However, I must add that I am desperately worried about the future. It has become a civil war and a power struggle combined. I believe that my hon. Friend was right in saying that any solution depends upon persuading Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe that they cannot win Rhodesia by force. At this moment, I fear that they believe that they can do that. Until there is a change in that attitude, I find it very difficult to see how there can be a successful negotiation.
The answer may very well be in the proposal made yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire and responded to by the Prime Minister—that if Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe become persuaded that all that will be left of Rhodesia if they ever succeed is chaos and destruction, they may 1001 be prepared to work for a settlement with those already in the internal settlement in Rhodesia. I suspect that a great deal of the argument will then be about the nature of the security forces and the defence of law and order internally in Rhodesia. In many ways, that is much the most difficult question with which to deal in any form of settlement for independence. It is to this question that I should like to see further thought being given.
I agree entirely that there ought to be high level representation in Salisbury. On the other hand, it is true that any proposal by a Government from the Labour Benches, and possibly from the Conservative Benches, that a military figure should take control of law and order in Rhodesia is most unlikely to be acceptable because it would be believed that he was under the sway of a Westminster Government. However much we may dislike that, I am afraid that it is the case.
It is, therefore, open to consideration whether someone from outside this country should offer his services in Salisbury to help those working the internal settlement and to help with any further settlement which might be made, if it were possible, with Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe. There may be some whom all would trust rather more. If so, I think that we ought to be the first to say that we would welcome such a situation. If that is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire meant by "a wider approach", again I fully endorse what he said.
However, we cannot disguise from ourselves the fact that the outlook is very bleak. I hope that, even though the possibilities may not seem very great, the Prime Minister will consider his own intervention in order to bring about a meeting and to try to avert the final catastrophe. It is no consolation to any of us to say that many have foreseen the terrible circumstances which have now come about. But nor is it easy at this stage to suggest how the catastrophe can be averted. I should like to be assured that the Prime Minister, with an open mind, is prepared to try to bring together the five or six people most concerned and to work for a settlement which will avoid this very near catastrophe.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
Although this has been a very interesting debate, I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House have found it both profoundly irritating and untidy, because Members wishing to talk about the present situation in Rhodesia have had to listen to long speeches on the subject of the Bingham report. Because of the form of the debate, two quite distinct though related subjects have been muddled up together and speeches have not necessarily followed upon each other. I shall not cast blame for that, but I hope that we do not have debates of this kind in the future.
I want to make a helpful contribution by saying that, although I have prepared notes on both topics, in view of the time and the number of hon. Members waiting to speak, I propose to discard what I wanted to say on Rhodesia at present, particularly as I hope to visit that country and Zambia during the Christmas Recess, and no doubt the House will be returning to that subject. Therefore, I shall cut down my speech and talk simply on the one subject of the Bingham report.
One of the reasons why I believe that a further inquiry is necessary is that, however excellent is the report that we have from Mr. Bingham and Mr. Gray—and it is excellent—the inquiry was a limited one. It was limited by its terms of reference and limited by the fact that it consisted of one lawyer, one accountant, one part-time oil adviser, a secretary and a minute-taker. It did not have the force or authority of any of the kinds of inquiry described to us this afternoon by the Attorney-General. Moreover, the information given to the inquiry was given on a voluntary basis. Much of the evidence is, as Mr. Bingham himself described it, missing from the full document.
Therefore, excellent though the work was that Mr. Bingham did in the course of 15 months—and the amount of information that he obtained is quite remarkable—we cannot say that the matter should rest there.
Moreover, I believe that the form of the report was confusing. The fact that it was published without any prior release to the Press, without any of the Press summary that is customarily given of such documents and without any index meant 1003 that public appreciation of what is contained in the report has not been as full as it might have been. I think that we are all indebted to Mr. Andrew Phillips for the analysis that he has made of the report, published this week. As he is a member of my party, I have had the benefit of listening to his conclusions beyond those which he felt able to commit to paper with the restrictions of the laws of this country.
There are four or five lessons that we have to learn from this report. The first is not, perhaps, a lesson that should directly concern the House, although I think that it ought to concern the House. It is that there is an astonishing degree of what I can only describe as amorality among the officials of the oil companies. Looking back to what the Attorney-General said to the House on 21st December 1965, when he moved the Rhodesia oil embargo order, we find that he said:it forbids any person except under the authority of a licence granted by the Minister of Power, from supplying or delivering … petroleum to any person in Rhodesia or to any person who he knows or has reasonable cause to believe, will deliver it to Rhodesia or to do anything, such as acting as an agent, calculated to promote the supply of oil.…Under Article 1 any person of whatever nationality or citizenship who contravenes these provisions within the United Kingdom is committing a criminal offence. What is more, contravention of the provisions of this Article is an offence if committed anywhere in the world by a citizen of the United Kingdom and the Colonies ordinarily resident here."—[Official Report, 21st December 1965; Vol. 722, cc. 2020–21.]However, if that was not sufficient guidance as to what the state of the law was—and that was what the House was told—a letter was sent by the Ministry of Power direct to the oil companies on 28th January 1966—that is, to Shell and BP respectively. Perhaps I may quote from that letter, which is contained in the Bingham report:It is the case that your company supplies crude and other forms of petroleum to your affiliated companies in South Africa and that a small proportion of those supplies have in the past been used to make onward supplies to Southern Rhodesia. Should such supplies to Southern Rhodesia be made in present circumstances, then it would appear to Her Majesty's Government that the foregoing provisions of the Order in Council will have been infringed.I think that the import of that letter was quite unmistakable to the oil com- 1004 panies. Indeed, in a cable accompanying the letter which went out to the Shell representative in South Africa, Mr. de Bruyne of Shell headquarters in London added:This letter leaves no room for misinterpretation of the position.I should have thought that that was so.
Therefore, the oil companies were under no illusion as to what the legal position was, right at the outset of UDI. Yet one finds from the evidence in Bingham—I shall not quote it in full; I refer to page 349 as an example—letters and memoranda which indicate the closest association with the regime in Rhodesia, and in that particular instance arrangements for representatives from London to meet representatives of the company in Rhodesia in South Africa, thereby avoiding the direct association in Rhodesia.
I hope that that is one of the matters which has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. I shall not dwell further upon it. But the whole tone of these memoranda, coming backwards and forwards from South Africa and Rhodesia, indicates a form of collusion and a desire to avoid the rigours of the law which this House had approved.
We have to ask ourselves "What are the ethical standards on which these people operate?". Although it is perhaps more a matter for the DPP with regard to prosecution, I think there is a lesson to be learned here in industrial and commercial morality.
The second lesson is the extraordinary association—the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray) referred to this at length yesterday—between the oil companies and the civil servants both in the Ministry of Power as it then was and in the Foreign Office. Indeed, twice in the Bingham report there are references to memoranda being sent from the oil companies to civil servants for their eyes only. That strikes me as a very curious feature of Government. Surely information received by Government Departments ought to be intended, at least if not directly then indirectly, for the information of Ministers. Yet these memoranda were intended directly for the information of the civil servants only and were specifically so designed.
1005 Paragraph 6.8 of Bingham states:We do not doubt that there were further discussions between the British authorities and the oil companies concerning this leakage during the latter months of 1966, although we have seen no record of them. At least it does not seem as if anything concrete emerged.This is one further area which a future inquiry must investigate. What other contacts were there after UDI between Government Departments and the oil companies before we get to the period of 1967–68, on which there is some evidence in Bingham? If we are to take what the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) said yesterday, it appears that in some cases civil servants either misled Ministers or suppressed information to them.
§ Mr. Evelyn King (Dorset, South)
The right hon. Gentleman appears to be suggesting, as indeed, did the Attorney-General and the Foreign Secretary, that the directors of these companies may be guilty of a criminal offence. If it were true that either Ministers or civil servants were aware of this, is it not also true that they would be accessories after the fact and would also be guilty of a criminal offence?
§ Mr. Steel
I think the hon. Gentleman ought to direct that question to the Attorney-General, but I hazard a guess that the answer might indeed be "Yes". At any rate, the argument which I intend to develop is that there were clear offences. That is why I read out at the beginning exactly what the order which we approved said as well as the advice which was given. I shall come back to this later.
One of the most remarkable documents in the whole of the report occurs in Annex II. That is an internal Shell memorandum from Shell South Africa to Shell in London two days before the meeting which took place, and which has been the subject of much controversy, between Mr. George Thomson, as he then was, and various officials at the Commonwealth Office. In my view, that memorandum sets out more clearly than any other paper exactly what the position was on the swap arrangement. I should therefore like to quote from it in order to put it on the record. Paragraph (a) of that memorandum states: 1006The 'cleansing' of Shell Mozambique … has resulted in the transfer of activities to the South African companies, which involve their British suppliers in contravening the Order in Council ".Further down, sub-paragraph (1) states:Thomson"—that is, the Commonwealth Secretary—whatever is said or left unsaid, will form the view that Shell Mozambique has contravened the Order in the past and that Shell and BP as suppliers to South Africa are now contravening the Order.This was two days before the meeting with the Commonwealth Secretary.
Sub-paragraph (2) of the memorandum states:Thomson will decide that having been given this knowledge by Shell and BP (though he may already have it from his own sources), he must consult the Prime Minister and the latter will decide whether or not it goes to Cabinent.Again, this is a perfectly clear explanation. Sub-paragraph (4) states:HMG will seek a 'voluntary' gesture by Shell and BP to exert pressure on their South African companies to abandon any share they may have in indirect supplies to Rhodesia, in order that HMG can subsequently use this as a lever in negotiations with the US and France to bring about a similar position vis-a-vis US and French companies".Again, I would have thought that was a reasonable forecast of action which the Government might take. Sub-paragraph (5) states:If Shell and BP were to refuse to cooperate, I believe that, particularly if the matter had gone before Cabinet, there would be a risk of prosecution.There is a most lucid explanation within the oil company itself, two days before the meeting with Ministers and civil servants, as to what the likely course of events was and what the actual position was. That seems to me to be the clearest indication that there was full knowledge by the oil companies here in London that they were in breach of the order and that certain consequences would flow when they drew it to the attention of the Government.
We come then to the meeting which took place two days afterwards and which was attended by Mr. George Thomson and Mr. McFadzean, the managing director of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, to whom the memorandum from which I have just quoted was addressed. Also in attendance were various officials of the Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of 1007 Power and the Foreign Office. This is the minute which the right lion. Member for Huyton said that he saw. I shall come later to the other one. Mr. McFadzean and Mr. Fraser—the managing directors of Shell and BP—are minuted as pointing out to this meeting:It had become clear that the leak"—that is, the leak of oil to Rhodesia—was caused by South African brokers, acting on behalf of the Rhodesian oil cartel, who ordered POL from the South African Shell-BP company to be delivered free on rail (f.o.r) at Lourenco Marques, and then had it diverted to Rhodesia before it had reached its ostensible destination, the Transvaal—if necessary, replacing from other sources in South Africa the oil so diverted. Contracts of this kind between the South African Shell-BP Company and those South African customers in the Transvaal who were judged likely to be acting in this way would from now on be fulfilled from non-British sources at Lourenco Marques.Admittedly, that is not as clear as the internal memorandum which I read out, but anyone reading it at least three times should be quite clear as to what it is saying. It was revealing the swap arrangement.
The minute of the meeting continued:The South African clients would therefore continue to be able to divert oil to Rhodesia before it reached the Transvaal. But the rearrangements made in the modus operandi would prevent the diversion of British oil.It then went on to say:It was most important therefore that in any public statements HMG should not say anything to suggest that action had been taken, still less to indicate the nature of the rearrangements now being made, which must be kept secret from the South African Government—and from Shell-BP's competitors and their governments, including the United States Government.So at that meeting we have the oil companies saying to the Government "It is in everyone's interest to hush this up and to keep it quiet." But at the same time the companies told the officials quite clearly what was going on.
Then, and for me as a parliamentarian I find this the most offensive section of the whole of the Bingham report, it is recorded in paragraph 7 of the minute that a discussion took place between Ministers, Government officials, and officials of the oil companies as to what should be said to the House of Commons.In discussion it was agreed that in any statements in the House of Commons or elsewhere, Ministers would be stating the position1008with complete accuracy if they used a formula along the lines: 'No British company is supplying POL to Rhodesia'. If asked whether POL consigned to the Transvaal by the British companies was being diverted to Rhodesia, Ministers could truthfully say something along the following lines: 'We have of course looked into this possibility. We are satisfied that this is not happening'.There, in black and white, is the content of a determination to tell this House the truth but not the whole truth. That is why we are right, in whatever part of the House we belong, to object to the way in which this matter has been handled.
Moreover, this investigation of 1968 was being relied upon until recently. There is a note sent by the present Government on 2nd September 1976 to the United Nations sanctions committee and from which I should like to quote. This follows the more recent complaints that oil was still getting through. That note sent by the British Government two years ago, stated:The competent United Kingdom authorities have studied the report most carefully, and have discussed its contents with the British oil companies mentioned. These authorities are satisfied that the report contains no evidence of sanctions breaking by any British companies or individuals, and have accepted the assurances given by Shell and BP that neither they nor any company in which they have an interest have engaged either directly or with others in supplying crude oil or oil products to Rhodesia.This is the operative part of the 1976 message:This is the same position as that established in 1968, when Her Majesty's Government investigated similar charges at the highest level"—I emphasise those words—with the same companies.So clearly that minute of 1968 and whatever subsequent discussion took place in the Government was relied on in Government right through to 1976.
When we are told that it was discussed at the highest level and that assurance was given to the United Nations in 1976, the House is entitled to know at precisely what level it was discussed and to what extent there was agreement that the whole matter should be hushed up. The House was clearly misled as a result of that meeting in 1968—precisely how or why we do not know, because we do not have recourse to the papers.
But then we go on to the second meeting, in 1969. This time, Mr. Thomson 1009 was no longer the Commonwealth Secretary but the Minister without Portfolio. The right hon. Member for Huyton made great play of this yesterday. Of course, it raises the question why the pursuit of sanctions had apparently been politically downgraded in such a way that it was being taken charge of by a Minister with no particular responsibilities. However, in fairness, the meeting was attended by Mr. Foley, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with specific responsibility for African affairs, so we cannot dismiss this meeting as of no importance. Again, it was attended by representatives of Shell and BP and by officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and of the Ministry of Power.
It is made clear on page 2 of that minute why complaints were continuing to come from other countries about the British themselves evading sanctions and why it is disingenuous for Ministers then or now to claim that somehow this is an arrangement for which the French were responsible. In paragraph 5 of this minute Mr. McFadzean of Shell is recorded thus:Even though Total's Mozambique associate supplied the oil to meet the order, the sale would be treated as one between the brokers and Shell/B.P. South Africa, who would in this way fulfil South African legal requirements under which oil companies operating in South Africa were obliged to supply oil to any customer who asked for it.So that is the explanation why the rest of the world—although not apparently we—were regarding this leakage of oil through Mozambique as still a British responsibility and not a matter for the French.
I want to read three other passages from that same minute. There was then a discussion about the propriety of the swap arrangement:Mr. McFadzean added that while the position was legally sound, the argument still seemed pretty thin to him, since it depended on the exchange arrangement between Shell/BP South Africa and Total (South Africa), and substantial quantities of 'French' oil were of course going into Rhodesia though officially consigned from Mozambique to South African customers of Shell/BP. If Total were tackled about the arrangement, they would say that they were not sending oil to Rhodesia; it was going in under an exchange arrangement with Shell/BP South Africa.So there again was the director of Shell saying to the representatives of the British 1010 Government "Are you sure that you are really right on this? It seems pretty thin." "Pretty thin" are the words he used.
Then Mr. Bottomley, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office official present, said that,… nevertheless, the legal position was sound and could be defended.I argue that he was actually wrong on that because of what the Attorney-General said in the Ministry of Power letter that I quoted at the outset. But if he had been right, it seems extraordinary that the Government at that stage were giving active and in my view incorrect assurances to the oil companies who themselves were raising doubts.
Mr. Bottomley went on to say:The Shell and BP associates in South Africa were South African registered companies outside British jurisdiction and were obliged by South African law to supply any customer who asked for oil.That is true of course, but it is beside the point. The fact is that the Shell and BP directors here in London were knowingly—to go back to the Attorney-General's words in 1965—contravening the sanctions order.
Mr. George Thomson at that point said that he… agreed that our position was quite defensible. It would, however, be very damaging if it should be discovered that a British registered company (i.e. Shell/Mozambique) had been engaging in direct trade to Rhodesia, or that its customers in South Africa were still directing oil to Rhodesia.Why did he say that? We do not know. Did he say it because it was the advice he was given as a Minister and member of the Cabinet? Was it the outcome of the line taken after the 1968 meeting by the Cabinet collectively?
This is where I must, with respect, disagree with the right hon. Member for Sid-cup (Mr. Heath). I think that the House is entitled to know how these decisions were arrived at. That is why, conscious though I am of the constitutional proprieties of not opening up Government papers, there have to be exceptions when the whole integrity of government is called into question by these minutes.
The Prime Minister at the time, the right hon. Member for Huyton, said that he did not see that minute. That in itself is something that we want explained, 1011 because, according to the notes on the back, it was certainly sent to No. 10, the Foreign Office, and so on. I was not quite clear whether the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) had seen it. I gathered from the tone of his speech yesterday that he accepted that he had seen it, or perhaps that he was not entirely clear. But we cannot leave the matter like that, merely saying "It is unfortunate but it is history. Let us move on to Rhodesia tomorrow". The House has an obligation to go further into the question.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)
I am following the right hon. Gentleman's argument with great interest, in view of the universal respect and affection that we have for the noble Lord whose name he has been quoting. I gather from his remarks that he accepts that Lord Thomson sent round to No. 10 Downing Street the facts that he has just been relating to us, whatever was their fate afterwards.
§ Mr. Steel
Yes, indeed—that is clearly recorded on the back of the minute. But what the right hon. Member for Huyton, the then Prime Minister, told us yesterday is that it never actually reached him. We all have trouble with the post, but this is slightly ridiculous. We want to know why it did not reach him and who suppressed it.
I hope that the hon. Member for for-bay (Sir F. Bennett) will not misunderstand me. I am certainly not casting blame on Lord Thomson, who is a man we all respected when he was a Member of this House and whose integrity I have had no reason to doubt. That is one reason why we must look further into this matter.
I turn now to a related but slightly different point, on which I must say I disagree flatly with both the right hon. Member for Fulham and the present Foreign Secretary—that is, the activities of other Governments in relation to sanctions.
I said earlier that there is no doubt that other Governments regarded the swap arrangement as a clear breach of sanctions by Britain. In the generality, that is how it was viewed. I am supported in that view by paragraph 6.11 of the Bingham report:In early May the Portuguese Minister was even more explicit: the Portuguese had posi-1012tive proof that during the first three months of 1967 85 per cent. of Rhodesia's requirements were being supplied by British and American companies, mainly Shell. At a meeting at the Quai d'Orsay on the 7th June 1967 the French passed on to Her Majesty's Government information received from the Portuguese Government, again purporting to show Shell as the major participant in the rail traffic from Lourenco Marques to Rhodesia Following a written parliamentary answer by Mr. George Thomson … the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, on the 5th June 1967, in which he said that it was not possible to identify vessels which delivered to Lourenco Marques the oil which ultimately found its way to Rhodesia, the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued figures showing the number of tankers calling at Lourenco Marques, with the intention of showing that British companies were involved in the trade and Portuguese companies were not. In September 1967 Dr. Nogueira repeated his allegation of complicity by British oil companies to President Kaunda's personal representative, and repeated the 85 per cent allegation recorded above.It goes on to talk about the accusations from Zambia.
So, in 1967, before those meetings at ministerial and official level took place which I have already quoted, information was coming in to the British authorities from the Portuguese, the French and the Zambians containing these serious allegations. My only query about what has been said about the period of Government from 1970–74 is that it seems extraordinary that no complaints were coining in at any level. I quite accept that the Prime Minister at the time—the right hon. Member for Sidcup—was not aware of any queries on these matters. He has told us himself that the issue was never raised with him. But are we to understand that at no time in that four-year period was there any suspicion that this arrangement was still going on? I find this quite extraordinary. What I find most difficult—and this is a political difference with both the previous and present Foreign Secretaries rather than one of fact—is that it ill becomes us to say that it was all the fault of other Powers that sanctions were ineffective.
Quite clearly, we were in the dock. It was primarily a British responsibility. We took the matter to the United Nations. We had drafted the sanctions order. I wish to refer to part of a speech made by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, as he then was, when he 1013 spoke on the sanctions order in 1973. He said:Every member of the community has legislation under which sanctions are imposed. When we receive an indication that a breach of sanctions may have occurred, as well as informing the committee of the United Nations which is set up to deal with these matters, we bring it to the notice of the Government of the country concerned. That is the only authority which can have influence on the firm which may be breaking sanctions."—[Official Report, 8th November 1973; Vol. 863, c. 1250–51.]I believe that Sir Alec, as he then was, was quite right in theory. The trouble was that no Government put that into practice. No British Government actually took the British oil companies by the scruff of the neck and referred them back to what was said in 1965 and 1966. No British Government told them that they were breaking the law and must desist. Had the Government done that they would then have been in the position to go to the French, the Americans and anyone else and tell them to put their house in order as well. The position of British Governments was hopelessly undermined by the fact that every other country seemed to know that we were responsible for evading the sanctions. That is the political seriousness of what has been done.
I have no explanations to offer or theories to put forward, but I believe that part of the explanation for the extraordinary reticence of successive British Governments, including the present one, was a misunderstanding of the position of South Africa in all of this. We are constantly being told that the only alternative to ineffective sanctions against Rhodesia was some form of naval blockade of South Africa.
I have never accepted that for one moment. I believe that if we had taken the action that I have just outlined against British oil companies and encouraged other States to take similar action against their oil companies, sanctions would have worked. We know perfectly well that before UDI a certain percentage of oil supplies to South Africa went to Rhodesia. We could have told the oil companies to reduce their supplies to South Africa by that amount. Where would South Africa have got the extra supplies from? The Arabs would not give it. Iran was 1014 the only possible source of supply. But I believe that in the period before South Africa had developed the indigenous resources that it now has, that course of action would have had a telling effect on South Africa without any need to talk of naval blockades.
I am reinforced in that belief by a piece of evidence in the Bingham report. In Annex II there is filed a confidential note of a visit to the Secretary for Commerce in South Africa by the Shell representative in that country in July 1974. The significance of this is that that was a long while after UDI, and was well into the time when South Africa was developing its own resources. South Africa was much more confident than it had been in 1967–68. The reason for the meeting was the expectation that the Mozambique route was soon to be closed with the change of the regime there. This minute of the Shell representative in Annex II records the attitude of the South African Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Steyn, whoindicated that any application to divert supplies to South African sources would receive very sympathetic consideration, but at the same time Government would be compelled to take account of the possible implications of such an action. His fear was that if Mozambique was no longer available for supplies to the north then it would become even more apparent to the world at large that South Africa remained the only culprit and this could turn the full spotlight of international wrath against South Africa, with serious consequences. He said even that Iran might be embarrassed in such a situation.So even in 1974 a South African Minister was admitting that it was not all plain sailing and that that country could not just be expected to come to the rescue of Rhodesia. If that were true in 1974, how much more true would it have been if effective action had been taken, nation by nation, in the period immediately after UDI.
I believe that the most important conclusion of the Bingham report is in paragraph 14:18 which sums up the effect of the Total swap and the Government's connivance in it:The Total exchange arrangement plainly did not have the effect of denying supplies of oil products to Rhodesia. That an arrangement having this deficiency was accepted by Her Majesty's Government had, we think, an important consequence. It induced among some of those most directly concerned … a belief that compliance with the Sanctions Orders was to be regarded as a matter of1015form rather than of substance, that it was the letter which mattered, not the spirit.The charge that we must make against successive Governments in their handling of this matter, quite apart from any possible cover-up, collusion or denial of information to the House of Commons, is that throughout there is clearly seen a lack of political muscle and will to make the sanctions work effectively.
That is why we should have a further inquiry. Such an inquiry must be able to send for those papers and all the people mentioned in the Bingham report. Of course prosecution of individual people is important, but I believe that getting at the truth is more important than the prosecution of the minor actors in this saga. Some weeks ago I called publicly for a tribunal of inquiry. Having listened to the debate, I am not convinced now that that is the right course. I can see the case for a Select Committee. However, it is only possible to have a Select Committee if it is one with considerably more powers, servicing and back-up than we normally allow for Select Committees in this House.
One of the lessons of this saga is that we would never have faced this situation if this House had had a Select Committee on foreign affairs. It is inconceivable that at some point such a Committee would not have appointed a sub-committee to see how sanctions were operating and would not have unearthed some of this material. The lack of a foreign affairs Committee has been a great drawback. One of the reasons I am tempted to veer towards the Select Committee course is that I believe that one of the failures of the House has been in fulfilling our prime duty of controlling the Executive.
If we are to seize this opportunity to have a new kind of Select Committee with adequate powers for witnesses to be represented and adequate servicing and backup as well as adequate expertise, I would support it. But I am not in favour of a lame duck committee of the kind that we have had had so often in the past.
The right hon. Member for Huyton suggested that it should be a Select Committee of Privy Councillors who are not involved in any of these matters. My reaction to that is to wonder "me and who else?" There are not enough of us to go round. We must find a method of 1016 making the Select Committee small, and of including on it non-Privy Councillors. We shall also have to consider whether there should be some new form of oath taken by members of that Select Committee with a view to reviewing certain papers.
I believe that this whole issue is not just a political one, and certainly not in any sense a party-political one. It is one affecting confidence in our capacity as a House of Commons to supervise the administration of government. We cannot just let it go. It is also a moral issue. I believe that this unfolds a whole saga of lack of determination to resolve this critical problem at the tail end of our imperial history where we have a large blot still left on our record. That blot is the festering sore in Southern Africa, and particularly in Rhodesia.
It is greatly to the credit of the United Church of Christ in the United States, and of the Catholic Institue for International Relations in Britain that they have been in the forefront of trying to get at the real story of what is going on in Rhodesia. It is right that the missionaries and others working in the churches in Rhodesia should have been the first to rebut what I regard as the blasphemy of Mr. Smith in his claim that he is attempting to maintain Christian civilisation. I think that we have bungled it and this Parliament has a duty to try to redeem our reputation.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)
The last time that I intervened in a debate on Southern Rhodesia was in a somewhat discourteous exchange with the then right hon. Member for Knutsford, Mr. John Davies. I regretted that at the time and apologised, as the House will recall. I still regret that, but more today I regret his absence and the reasons for it. I wish he were with us today, much as I am sure that I would have disagreed with his point of view.
The House will recall that I was the only hon. Member who declared, when the internal agreement was first discussed in this Chamber, that it would not work. Anyone who knew the realities of the Southern Rhodesian situation could only have come to the same conclusion. The internal agreement was a fake, a pretence of a change of policy by the Smith regime. 1017 Bishop Muzorewa, a well-meaning but ambitious man, is sadly simple, and is no match at all for that proven arch-twister, Ian Smith. Sithole is a sharp card, with no following, who had been sacked from the leadership of ZANU. Smith realised how eagerly Sithole would wish to get in on any deal, because there was no prospect whatever of his coming to power in real elections. So Sithole was invited back to prop up the pretence of a settlement—and how well he has done it.
The internal agreement was itself a fraudulent "con" operation, but obviously and disastrously typical of the way Smith operates. Under that agreement there was no intention of true majority rule. That is postponed, under the terms of the agreement, by the pro-white electoral imbalance, for 10 years at least, and there could be no interference by the "conned" black politicians in the real areas of power—namely, the police, the prison services, the security forces and not even in the public service. One has only to witness Mr. Hove's return to Britain.
The welcome was put out, of course, for the Patriotic Front to come in and join—on condition that it disbanded its forces and laid down its arms. The very people whose justified armed struggle had forced Smith, at long last, to accept that his privileged colonial state could not go on were expected to lay down their arms and abandon the liberation struggle and accept 10 years' delay in real majority rule. In addition, they would have put themselves under the destructive control of Smith's security forces. What a stupid expectation of men who had been fighting for their political freedom, and their country's political freedom, for years. There were, and are, many stupid men in this House who thought that all that nonsense of the settlement was a goer. What a comment on their understanding of the realities of the situation in Southern Africa.
I said that the agreement would not work, and, of course, it is not working. The elections have been postponed. What a surprise that Mr. Smith should make a promise which was not kept. Even if elections are held eventually, what validity will they have when no candidates from the Patriotic Front can stand, and when half the country is out of the control of 1018 the central authorities? Bitter recrimination has broken out—that is only too obvious—between the factions to the internal agreement, as they realise that whatever support they had—and this applies to Bishop Muzorewa's position—is slipping away to the guerrillas.
§ Mr. Faulds
I know because I know something about Southern Rhodesia, because I know a great many people in Southern Rhodesia, and because I bother to find out the facts of the situation. The boys in the bush are now the people who represent the real views of the majority of Africans in Southern Rhodesia. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members may not like it, and this is why they are so blind to the realities of the situation, but this happens to be the fact. The sooner they accept it and act on it, the better it will be for Britain's interests in Southern Africa.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)
Order. I think that I had better take over for a moment. I suggest that tempers should be kept under control and that we should be objective in this debate.
§ Mr. Faulds
I am grateful for your protection, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I wish to comment that if that silly, limited hon. Member thinks that I take my directions from Moscow, he does not know much about me. I do not take directions from my own party, and most Members of this House know that I am a pretty committed anti-Communist. That kind of silly verbiage should be kept for the Tea Room and bars late at night. It is not worthy of this Chamber.
These internal factions are being encouraged by the military man, Walls, to set up their own private armies. These armies are not, as claimed by Walls, guerrillas who are returning because they have suddenly seen the light on the road back. There have been few men in the liberation armies who have been "conned" by the internal agreement. These private armies are the foot-loose in 1019 a society that is rapidly breaking up—the unemployed, criminal elements and a few personal followers of the faction leaders. The involvement of these private armies—undisciplined and unprincipled, as they are and, for the look of the thing, supplied with captured European weapons provided by the Eastern countries to the liberation armies—adds horrifyingly to the appalling suffering of the ordinary African in the villages and in the bush.
The promise made at the time of the internal agreement was that the black leaders who were party to it would ensure a ceasefire. That was another totally unrealistic expectation of those who supported that fraudulent Smith "con". On the contrary, the fighting has intensified, and will do so as the rainy season starts again. The repression and brutality of the security forces has also intensified, as have their counter-propaganda operations as fake guerrillas and the ensuing massacres for which they are responsible.
My statement to the House on that topic some months ago was queried and laughed at, and some of my own Labour colleagues doubted that supposition. But now there is growing acceptance by a number of reputable bodies that that is indeed what has been happening under the guidance of that defender of Western values, the criminal Smith.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles (Winchester)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a bit-part television actor to come to this House, disguised as Rasputin, and refer to an international statesman as "Smith"?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Whether the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) refers to Mr. Smith as "Smith" or "Mr. Smith " is a matter for his choice, but I think that the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) does the hon. Gentleman an injustice by casting epithets at him.
§ Mr. Faulds
The wit of rear-admirals has always been rather more well noted and accepted than the——
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I think that the Chair should be left to make 1020 the rejoinders, then perhaps we can get on with the debate.
§ Mr. Faulds
I should have liked to pay the hon. and gallant Gentleman a suitable compliment, but perhaps you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have prevented me from doing that.
Garfield Todd, who is an international statesman in comparison with that arch-criminal Smith, knows a bit more about Southern Rhodesia than do the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) and even the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles). Garfield Todd cares rather more for the interests of the Africans, and he has no doubt whatever that such operations are carried out.
The very composition of the security forces—the so-called "security forces"—throws doubt on the purpose of their operations. There is a large proportion of Africans in them, and they need employment in a way that nobody in an advanced industrial society such as ours can possibly begin to understand. The army is some sort of employment. We have had the same sort of entry into the Armed Forces in our own country in times of lack of work. So one understands why Africans become involved in something as unseemly as service in the Smith regime, but it happens. But of the white members of the security forces at least 50 per cent., on a knowledgeable estimate, are hired mercenaries who join such fights not for principle, not for a true cause, but to knock off as many blacks as they can.
§ Mr. Faulds
It is not a moral or political fight for them, much less the defence of Western values. It is the fun and sport of killing human game—a lesser form of life, which is the way in which they regard the Africans. That is why those mercenaries volunteer for such operations.
§ Mr. Faulds
The noises from Opposition Members suggest that they do not really appreciate what is going on in these forces I am talking about.
§ Mr. Faulds
No, I have not been to Southern Rhodesia since 1966. The simple reason is that I would not be allowed back in. I had a phone call a few months ago after my comments on the Elim massacres and was asked whether I would be prepared to go to Southern Rhodesia. A body called the Rhodesia Promotion Council was concerned that I should go. I replied that I would go there on certain conditions. I wanted to know who was sponsoring me, I wanted to be given an agreed time when I could go there, and I wanted to see anybody in Southern Rhodesia I desired to see. That was the last that I heard of the invitation. I am not averse to going, but they are bloody opposed to having me there, and I can understand that.
The final condemnation of the internal agreement is that those limited and now unsupported political elements represented by Muzorewa, Chirau and Sithole have had to endorse the Smith regime's attacks on Zambia. The attacks, as reports from the headquarters of the United Nations refugee organisation in Geneva made clear although hardly noted by our morally supine press, have not been on the camps from which the trained guerrillas with their Sam Os could retaliate and knock a few of the irresponsible young white pilots out of the sky; they have been on refugee camps full of women and children.
There was an attack on a training camp for women civil servants. That was greeted by a laugh the last time that I mentioned it. Surely even the death of women civil servants is not a matter of jollity for the House. It seems that it is for some Opposition Members because these civil servants were black. If they had been white, they might have just been acceptable. However, they were black civil servants and the whole matter is some sort of sick joke—dear God!
§ Mr. Faulds
It is disgusting. That is the sort of target that the Smith regime has been hitting in Zambia. If Opposition Members bothered to ascertain the facts, they would not make such fools of themselves by making the comments that we have been hearing. What despicable sort of civil and military leadership in the corrupt and sick society that Smith represents could possibly decide that those were legitimate targets for its obscene attacks? Such is the man and such is the society that he represents.
§ Mr. Faulds
I think that there were one or two others involved in the war apart from Smith.
As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stated, it is revealing that 24 hours after Smith had accepted, under American pressure, all-party talks, he launched his attacks knowing that they would obviously prevent the leaders of the Patriotic Front, after the massacre of their people and especially after the massacre of hundreds of women and children, from joining in all-party talks for at least an appreciable period.
The disaster that faces the West in Southern Africa has been largely engineered by Smith, by his backers in South Africa, and by his backers in Britain.
§ Mr. Faulds
Yes, some of them are in the House.
The inevitable development that will ensue from the attacks in Zambia is that every white in any part of Southern Africa will become a target for racial revenge. That will be one of the results of the attacks. How blind are our colleagues in the House and our non-colleagues in the press who cannot see that to which their sympathy for Smith leads?
What will happen now? I am forecasting, as I have done before, on matters in Southern Africa. Each forecast has been proved right. The internal agreement will limp on for a few months. The military victory, inevitable as it is if the Patriotic Front is forced to it, will perhaps take one or two years more. Other 1023 African nations will become impatient to settle the issue and genuine volunteers, not the mercenaries so admired by certain Opposition Members, will join the armed struggle. It may be that they will come from Nigeria, Zambia, Maputo or Tanzania. Contingents from Cuba and other Communist countries will also become involved. That is because we have driven the liberation forces to seek that sort of support. We in the House are primarily responsible.
§ Mr. Faulds
In all likelihood Britain and America—I say this to those on the Government Front Bench with some regret—will still allow our economic contacts with South Africa to continue. They will allow our unwillingness to adopt confrontation with South Africa to overrule and bedevil our appreciation of our real interests in Southern Africa and, perhaps even more important than that, the real interests of the great majority in that area of Africa.
Although our investment in and our trade with black Africa, true Africa, are now greater than they are with white-settled Africa, the Treasury and the Foreign Office appear incapable, with their limited perspective, of appreciating the fundamental and inevitable historical shift that is transforming the future of Africa and the world's contacts with it. Our blindness, the prejudice of unenlightened Opposition Members — there seem to be more than there were two or three years ago—and the hired pens of the mercenaries of the political press in Britain are ensuring only one outcome, the establishment eventually of majority Governments in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Azania as it will be called, that will be anti-West and adverse to the provision of their treasury of resources for our industrial and commercial needs.
I warned 10 or 12 years ago—it is on the record if hon. Members want to check —that our contacts with South Africa and our apparent backing of racism would lead to Communist involvement in that area. At the time that forecast was pooh-poohed by most hon. Members. Now we know the situation. Sadly, there is no great joy and no great consolation, as the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said, 1024 in being one of the few Members of the House with any real vision of what would happen and what is still about to happen in Southern Africa. There is little consolation in having been right when other hon. Members were wrong. There is only increased despair at one's inability to change in time the views of supposedly intelligent men and women. That does not extend to the sick and simple in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
Finally, I comment on the Bingham revelations. I thought that the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) made a first-class and acute analysis of what the Bingham report has pointed out. He argued very well why further inquiries are necessary.
We have heard the lengthy and hovering comments of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson). I did tell him that I should be making some passing references to him. We have had the comments of the then Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart). We have had the external comments of Lord Thomson of Monifieth. Personally, I prefer—I suspect that the majority of the House prefers— the frank words of Lord Thomson to the version of the right hon. Member for Huyton, that past master of the cosmetic operation, whose principles are typified by his acceptance while out of office of Zionist funding and his subsequent subservience to Zionist interests, which were paid off by his final Honours —if one can use the term—List.
There must be further pursuit of the facts through the obfuscation that surrounds the issue of Bingham. Since we are those who were most deceived by the Government's statements of the day, it is only right that we should examine fully the sad history of the oil support operations of the illegal regime and the deceptions practised by the oil companies, and perhaps by Ministers and certain civil servants. We must have a parliamentary investigation of the whole unhappy matter, not only because what happened was of assistance to the Smith regime and improper and damaging to Britain, because the House has to assert its control of the Executive. That is a continuing struggle that we of late have been losing. We must continue and complete the Bingham inquiries.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Chipping Barnet)
I shall concentrate seriously on the current situation in Rhodesia, which is both grave and tragic. I wonder how many people have died in the Rhodesian war since the debate started yesterday afternoon.
Tonight I shall be voting against the continuation of sanctions. I have not done so before. I shall do so tonight for the first time, for two reasons. My first reason is that the situation has completely changed since the March settlement. My second reason is that the Government have totally failed to seize the opportunity presented by the March settlement.
I have criticised Mr. Smith in the past on many occasions, especially about the talks on HMS "Fearless" and HMS "Tiger" and his failures on those occasions. However, his position has totally changed. He has accepted majority rule, which is the objective of the nationalists. That we must not disregard. There has been a total change in the situation. The March settlement fully meets the six principles to which we are committed, except the test of general acceptance which can come only at a free and fair election, which we all hope to see as soon as possible.
If anyone doubts that the settlement meets the six principles, I refer to Hansard of 18th February, when I asked the Foreign Secretary:There has been an internal agreement, which we understand is to be subject to free and fair elections. Should the free and fair elections confirm the agreement, will the British Government defend it come hell or high water?The Foreign Secretary replied:The short answer to that question is 'Yes' ".—[Official Report, 18th April 1978; Vol. 947, c. 261]I suspect that there has been something of a sea change since then.
Surely the job of the Government was to accept the settlement because it met all the principles, except the test of popular acceptance, and to do everything possible to help to get free and fair elections as soon as possible. In July, I and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends tabled an Early-Day Motion which attracted the support of well over 100 Members on this side of the House. The motion read:That this House, conscious of the gravity of the situation in Rhodesia, and recognizing 1026 the universal acceptance of majority rule, judges that the best hope of averting disaster lies in a return to legality, an interim period of self-government based on the internal settlement and the provisional government as a colony once more de facto as well as de jure under British rule, leading to a free election by universal suffrage as the prelude to independence; and therefore urges Her Majesty's Government to make this proposal as their contribution to a peaceful and lasting settlement of Great Britain's last great colonial problem.Had that been followed up and achieved, what a different situation we should now be facing. If we had had a return to legality, based on the internal settlement, there would be no problem with sanctions. Even the United Nations would not expect us to maintain sanctions against ourselves. The security situation would have been vastly improved because the external Governments that are prepared to assist guerrillas invading an illegal regime would hardly continue to support with the same enthusiasm guerrillas invading what was once more de facto British territory. If Labour Members believe that they would, they have a low opinion of some of the eminent men who govern the countries surrounding Rhodesia.
Britain would also have been in a position to help with the elections. We all agree that the sooner the elections are held, the better. Let no one underestimate the reality of the practical problems in mounting such elections. It is silly to pretend that they are being put off for the sake of being put off. If there had been a return to legality, we could have helped with the elections and they could have been arranged far more quickly, efficiently and convincingly.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) made an admirable speech in opening for the Opposition. He said that it was essential to persuade Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe that they cannot win by force of arms. What better way of convincing them of that than by returning to legality under the British Crown? The Government spurned this idea and the reason given by the Minister of State was that everyone in Rhodesia was against the proposal. I did not believe him then and I do not believe him now.
There is great support in Rhodesia for such an idea because it would be the solution and people are desperate for the right solution. Whether the Minister is 1027 right or wrong, did the Government make any attempt to find out the reactions in Salisbury or did they just throw the idea on one side? Have they troubled to find out? Of course not. They have continued to pursue a policy which has contributed to undermining the internal settlement—the most hopeful thing that has happened in Rhodesia in many years.
The leading article in The Times yesterday was not entirely in favour of my general outlook, but it said:The British approach to the March settlement has been aloof, unconvinced and unconstructive. The Government has professed a policy of neutrality, but in a host of minor ways it has revealed that it is neutral on behalf of Mr. Nkomo, Mr. Mugabe and their guerrillas.That is a very good description of what has happened.
I am also concerned about the supply of arms to Zambia. Of course it is right to help a Commonwealth country and that it is better for us to supply arms than for the Russians to do so, but it is fair to ask why this help is needed. We understand that it is assistance for the air defence of Lusaka and the surrounding area. I hope that the Minister who is to reply to the debate will confirm that the arms sent to Lusaka have been concerned entirely with air defence and have not contained any normal infantry weapons.
Why does Zambia need air defence? The reason is that it is providing shelter for the training, arming and preparation of guerrilla forces which make incursions of murder and terrorism into Rhodesia. In those circumstances, the Rhodesians, faced with what happens across the Zambian border and with, for example, the recent shooting down of an air liner, were perfectly entitled to defend themselves in the way they did. That is why I asked the Foreign Secretary at Question Time whether, before he agreed to the supply of arms for the air defence of Zambia, which I accept, in principle, is right, he sought from President Kaunda an assurance that he would do all he could to control the activities of the guerrillas on his territory who have been enjoying the security of Zambian territory —a security now to be enhanced by the provision of British arms.
It is surely perfectly reasonable to say to President Kaunda that, if we are to 1028 provide him with arms so that he may defend his territory against attacks on guerrilla bases from which murderers cross the frontier to conduct their campaign of terrorism, he should try to stop that campaign. The Foreign Secretary did not give me a wholly convincing answer.
The Government continue to pin their faith on an all-party conference. I do not believe that anything is likely to come of that. Meanwhile, they have undermined the internal settlement, which is the most helpful prospect yet seen in Rhodesia. By undermining the internal settlement and by their attitude to the so-called Patriotic Front, the Government have given a veto to the terrorists. It is rather like giving a veto to the Provisional IRA.
If the Government had backed the internal settlement on the basis that we advocated of a return to legality, there would be no problem over sanctions. If they now made any effort at all to do so, I would think differently of them. In the absence of any such effort, I consider it my duty to vote against sanctions.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
When I was at school I was asked to study a text of a man called Pliny who said that out of Africa there always comes something new.
I accept completely the diagnosis of my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) of the continental conflict which is now taking place. The hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd), who opened for the Opposition, is normally a well-mannered man, but he is not listening at the moment. During his speech, I asked him a question which he did not answer. Many politicians do not answer all the questions put to them, but the hon. Gentleman should have answered mine because it related to a matter which is most important and significant for his hon. Friends.
Conservative Members tell us constantly that Smith is the standard bearer of white culture and civilisation, that we should make peace and maintain in Rhodesia the European element in the economy. I asked the hon. Gentleman to widen his statement that the white Europeans in Salisbury were as hard and adamant as he was telling us. I asked 1029 him to consider the wider context and to say how this would act or react upon the black States around Rhodesia or the blacks inside Rhodesia. He did not answer that question.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East, I have not been to Rhodesia for some years, but I have been to other parts of Africa. This year I went to East Africa and to The Horn. I say without fear of contradiction that I met no black leader anywhere—Kenneth Kaunda, Paul Njonjo, Seyed Barr or anyone—who was not on the side of the analysis made earlier by my hon. Friend. That is an important factor.
If we were to leave a vacuum—if we were not to assist the black States—we should leave the field wide open for Soviet and Cuban entry. I cannot speak about Angola or Mozambique because I have not been there, but I have been to other places into which the Cubans and the Soviets have gone. I do not want them to be more involved in this struggle in Central Africa. Therefore, I beg hon. Members to look at this matter in its wider setting when they talk about an internal settlement with a white man and one or two black leaders who themselves have armies functioning in the bush and who are contributing to the disorder, pillaging and vandalism that is going on. I can say nothing new about the situation as a whole, but I beg Opposition Members to look at this matter in its wider setting, because, like the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), I am desperately worried about the situation. Indeed, I am more than desperately worried.
I turn now to sanctions. I have attempted to defend the Labour Government over their policy on sanctions, the Beira patrol and the leakage of oil into the Rhodesian economy. I have received some stick from people in many parts of Africa because of my defence of the Government. Therefore, listening to the debate, particularly the contribution by the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), and looking inside the Bingham report, I am more than a little disturbed about the whole matter. I suggest that an inquiry by a very powerful Select Committee of this House, with full power to get anything that it wants and to order anyone to appear before it, is 1030 essential. Otherwise, some of us will hang our heads when Africans say "You are not doing your job. Why not? These are your kith and kin. You have no guts for the fight." I am always tempted to defend the Government and to say "Yes, we have. We have done this and we have done that." But I am deeply disturbed by the finding in the Bingham report.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), I think that it is impossible to have a blockade of South Africa because of the length of its coastline and many other factors, such as lack of co-operation from other States. But, taking all that into account, whatever oil may go into and out of South Africa, we are accountable for what has happened over the swap arrangement and other matters. No statment has been made in the House while we have had this anxiety over the years.
Last night the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) expressed anger about this matter. I do not think that his anger was synthetic. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) talked about hypocrisy and deceit and my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray) talked about senior members of the Civil Service in Whitehall who were, if not cheating, certainly not collaborating with Ministers. For years we have been challenged about this matter and we have defended the Government. Therefore, let us have an inquiry in depth into this matter.
I turn now to the internal situation in Rhodesia. What I have to say is based on hearsay. I have spoken to blacks who have come out of Rhodesia and to blacks in Tanzania, Kenya and elsewhere. In the debate in the summer I said that there would be no elections this year as advertised. I go further than that tonight. I say that there will be no elections at all in Southern Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe, next year. We shall see. We shall all be here next year, I hope, whenever the election comes.
I do not want to be misunderstood. Elections will not be held, not because Ian Smith and the bishop do not want them but because Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe do not want them. It may be that they do not want them because they feel that they will lose. That is the view of many Opposition Members. I accept 1031 that there are many good judges on the Opposition Benches—Members who spend a lot of time as the guests of Mr. Smith and other whites in Southern Rhodesia. But let us be open with each other about this matter. Because Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe may think that they cannot win, Opposition Members may say that they will not play. They may think that this is unsporting by Westminster standards. I agree that it is unsporting not to have elections whether people think they are going to win or lose.
The Patriotic Front, Mugabe and everybody else, know—we heard this evening how and why they know—that they are winning the bush war, which they are—a war of attrition—and they are moving into the suburbs of the towns.
The bishop and his colleague Sithole also have armies. I cannot compete with the highly coloured language of my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East in describing why they are behaving or misbehaving in the same way as Mugabe's people.
Let us attempt a stocktaking of what is happening. Thousands of white men and women are leaving this territory. We cannot say that a society which is bled on this scale week after week, month after month, is still functioning, is virile and will win out if we give it a lifeline.
I should like to refer to a lady whom many Opposition Members will accept as being a good judge. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have been the guests of Lady Wilson, the widow of the former Speaker in Rhodesia. Yorkshire Members will no doubt get a wonderful paper called the Yorkshire Post. In yesterday's edition they will see a report of an interview with Lady Wilson in the course of which she was asked why she was leaving and for her views about Rhodesia. I hope that hon. Members who have not already done so will read that report.
Lady Wilson—I do not mean to be discourteous—is the archetypal memsahib of Salisbury. That lady, the widow of a former Speaker, had her heart in that territory. She has lived there for 50 years. She now believes that conditions are not what they should be and therefore has left that country. I shall not talk about her having lost her house and farm and how much it cost and 1032 the fact that she had to leave with only £7,000, or less. I sympathise with her. But she is a good indication of how other people feel. I could refer to others who know what is happening and who have made their decision in the light of domestic conditions in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)
It is all very well to talk about the memsahibs of Salisbury leaving. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are about 6,000 farmers in Rhodesia who are not leaving, and they are not leaving because they cannot afford to do so? The memsahibs have nothing to keep them there. But the basis of the Rhodesian economy is agriculture. It is supported by the farmers, and they are staying.
§ Mr. Johnson
Like me, the hon. Gentleman may play football sometimes. Like the 6,000 farmers, he has a Boer laager mentality. If he is in a cup tie, he will fight on until he falls. Whilst I in no way decry that, I am merely saying objectively that those people are fighting a losing battle. I admire them for what they are doing, and I admire their wives for staying with them. Their youngsters are in danger.
With my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley), I was involved in a certain exercise in Kenya during the Mau Mau troubles and I have a slight idea of what guerrillas can do to white people in the bush. I sympathise with what I am being told but, objectively, I cannot do anything other than say that the people in question are in a position where the see-saw is being tipped lower and lower at their end.
Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was implored by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), the Shadow Foreign Minister, who hopes to be Foreign Minister one day, to call a Camp David type meeting. The right hon. Gentleman must know that that is a completely false analogy. The conditions are completely different, with different actors on the stage and a different scenario. It is impossible to compare the two.
Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman cannot expect the Prime Minister to do something of that nature. What we have are horses that will not even go to the water, never mind drink it. To anyone 1033 who thinks that he will get Mugabe and the guerrilla leaders to attend the same conference as the bishop and Sithole, I say that I do not think that that is on.
I end by quoting the closing words of the Shadow Foreign Minister yesterday:We want no more failures. We want a negotiated ceasefire and democratic elections. It may be too late already, though it need not be. Very soon, it will be too late, and that would be a catastrophe which the British people could neither forgive nor forget."—[Official Report, 7th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 735.]I also fear that. I doubly fear it. The only man who can alter the situation, the only man who is at the centre, on the spot, who can do something, is Mr. Ian Smith. If Smith does nothing at this time to ease the situation, I believe that he will never be forgiven.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
I listened with deep interest to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson). Having travelled with him in both West Africa and East Africa in the course of this year, I am well aware of the hon. Gentleman's deep knowledge of the African continent.
Unlike many hon. Members, I cannot claim to have returned from Rhodesia this summer, but I can claim to have lived and worked in that country for two years. Living and working there from 1967 to 1969, I was perhaps in a slightly more unusual position to be able to witness the free flow of oil and petroleum into Rhodesia during the period with which this debate has largely been concerned. It was clear then that oil supplies were coming in in a fairly uninterrupted way, from a number of sources. No one in Rhodesia throughout that period had any serious doubts about the ineffectiveness of sanctions.
The House listened yesterday to the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), and the Foreign Secretary of that time. Most hon. Members will agree that their contributions raised more questions than they answered. They made the need for a Select Committee all the more imperative.
I say "a Select Committee" for this reason. I think that the importance of 1034 the conclusions of the Bingham report is not with regard to the alleged malfeasances of various business men. They are very regrettable and very unfortunate, but presumably the normal course of action will follow and prosecutions will be initiated if they are justified. But what is important about Bingham is the clear indication that the Government of that time were not only aware of but positively condoned the deliberate evasion of sanctions in full knowledge of the significance of that, and deliberately misrepresented to the House what was happening.
It is clear from a reading in particular of the two meetings attended by Lord Thomson of Monifieth that the Government—at least that Minister—were well aware of what they were doing and were aware of the reasons why, in Lord Thomson's view, the House should not be given adequate information as to what was taking place then. I noted in particular the following comment by the right hon. Member for Huyton:It is tempting to ask: what would have happened if someone—a Foreign Office Minister or official—had realised the document's importance? I know what would have happened. The Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), would have dropped everything and come round to see me, perhaps stopping for a moment to telephone me to say that he was on his way."—[Official Report, 7th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 745.]When the right hon. Gentleman made that remark, I suppose he could not have been aware that within a few short hours his right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham was himself to speak to the House and to make perfectly clear that he was aware at the time of exactly what was going on, and indeed that it was going on with the same knowledge and condonation on his part as in the case of Lord Thomson. The right hon. Member for Fulham said:It was at some subsequent stage…that what are called the swap arrangements were developed, and their full nature was not clear to me, nor I think to anybody, until 1969 and the meeting of my noble Friend Lord Thomson and representatives of the oil companies… The record shows that when the nature of the swap arrangements was clear, we attempted to take diplomatic action ".—[Official Report, 7th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 821–22]In other words, the then Foreign Secretary has freely accepted and admitted to the House that he was as aware as Lord 1035 Thomson was of the swap arrangements and of the fact that the Government were condoning them at the time.
If in the view of the right hon. Member for Huyton a Foreign Secretary knowing those facts would have rushed round the corner to No. 10, Downing Street to inform him of the facts, we must presume that perhaps that is what happened at the time in question. Clearly, there is a severe clash of opinion as to the information that has been given to the House. I believe that only a full Select Committee could resolve that.
But these are matters of the past, and we are more concerned about the present. In his speech yesterday the Foreign Secretary made clear, as he has on many occasions, his general disapproval of the internal settlement. I am no unqualified admirer of the internal settlement, and I recognise its deficiencies. But the Government and Labour Members have been less than charitable and less than reasonable in their response to it
The settlement reached on 3rd March was worthy of substantial support, at least on two counts. First, no one can seriously question that for the first time in the history of Rhodesia a white Government, and particularly a Rhodesia Front Government originally elected on a mandate of white supremacy, had reached full and unqualified agreement, not with stooges, not with tribal representatives, but with individuals who no one can seriously question were the genuine representatives of many of their people and who were genuine African nationalists in every sense of the word.
We know that Ndabaningi Sithole was himself a founder of ZANU and spent many years in prison for his nationalist beliefs. We know that Bishop Muzorewa was the man who, more than any other, wrecked the Pearce Commission proposals, wrecked the proposals of the previous Government, and ensured that they were rejected. No one can seriously suggest that those people were somehow stooges, unrepresentative of a substantial body of African opinion. Yet in their response the Government have never been prepared to acknowledge this and never been prepared to give credit where credit is due.
1036 There is a second factor of which Government supporters simply fail to appreciate the significance. I do not believe that there is any precedent for a racial minority with a monopoly of power handing over in a peaceful fashion to a racial majority. It has never happened before. if it is now experiencing enormous difficulties, if there are qualifications, if there are delays and if there are limitations on the effectiveness of that handover process, is it a matter to be condemned or to create surprise, given that what we are witnessing is unique?
I am not suggesting that the white minority in Rhodesia are handing over because suddenly they have become convinced of the desirability of majority rule for its own sake. They are of course responding to realities. But that does not remove the undeniable fact that they have now accepted the need for a handover to majority rule and that they are trying to ensure that it happens in a peaceful and responsible fashion with the emergence of an African Government who genuinely have the support of the African population. That is an unprecedented event. We cannot look to Kenya or Algeria as examples, because there the colonial powers had absolute control at the end of the day. So it is unique and, if there are enormous teething troubles and foolish incidents such as the Hove incident, they should be condemned but they should not be allowed to be excuses for rejecting the significance of the agreement of 3rd March. The Government have failed to appreciate that, and it k a foolish mistake on their part.
It is clear that by their attitude the Government have been more responsible than anyone else for ensuring the failure of the internal settlement. They have done so because in the eyes of the world —in the eyes of the United States and Western Europe—Britain has a special responsibility for Rhodesia. If the British Government are not prepared to give any support to the internal settlement, it is not surprising that other Western administrations are not. Britain has a responsibility which it has failed to live up to in a creditable fashion.
What, therefore, do we do? I accept the argument of many of those who suggest that it may not be possible now for 1037 the internal settlement to succeed. It is a matter of great regret, but it is foolish simply to assume that the internal settlement can go forward now with uninterrupted progress.
In my view, there are three objectives which all reasonable people both in Rhodesia and in this country wish to see achieved over the next few weeks and months. First, we want fair and free elections. Secondly, we want a peaceful handover to majority rule. Thirdly, we all agree that we want to see a secure and fair future for the white minority as well as for the black majority. I do not think that there is any difference of view either in this House or between the various representatives of the African nationalist parties or Mr. Smith on these objectives. They are widely accepted. It is strange in some sense that if everyone agrees on the ends, it appears so impossible to agree on the means to achieving those ends.
However, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) was right when he said at the very beginning of his speech that the crucial question—perhaps the only crucial question—is how to end the guerrilla war. It is that alone—almost—which prevents the realisation of each of these three objectives. We can not hope to have full, fair and free elections while the guerrilla war continues and there is havoc in much of Rhodesia. We cannot have a peaceful handover while guerrilla fighters are operating within the country. We cannot hope to have a future for white or black with any degree of security while that situation continues.
§ Mr. James Johnson
I cannot but agree as the hon. Member goes along step by step. However, we are here in Westminster where the situation is cool and peaceful. Perhaps the hon. Member will say why there is no black leader in any territory—men whom both he and I know, men of varying religions, and men who live decent, dignified lives—whether it be Zambia, Kenya or anywhere else, who does not oppose Smith's regime and support the guerrilla movement.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson) and I were in a country in West Africa where, in private session with certain of 1038 the leaders of that Government, it was made clear to us that their private view was that they would not be at all unhappy if the internal settlement succeeded. For various reasons of African politics, they found it difficult to say as much publicly, but they were prepared to say it to us. I am sure that one would hear similar observations in a number of other African States.
I repeat that the crucial question is how we can achieve circumstances where the guerrilla war is not continuing on Rhodesian soil. Some of my hon. Friends say that the best way to break this logjam is by ending sanctions and giving unqualified support to the internal Government. There is some persuasive force in that argument. However, I do not believe that the ending of sanctions would do other than give a boost to the morale of the internal settlement leaders, and it would not in itself prevent a bullet from being fired or an individual from being killed—either amongst the Rhodesian security forces, the civilian population, or the guerrilla forces. I do not believe that the ending of sanctions can break that log-jam.
For their part, the Government argue that the solution lies in an all-party conference. But there, too, even yesterday, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) called for the Prime Minister to take an initiative on this matter, the right hon. Gentleman indicated that in his view the time was not ripe for such an initiative. What are we to do if the time is not ripe? Are we simply to sit back and watch as Rhodesia slips slowly but inexorably into internal anarchy and chaos? As the bloodshed increases, are we to sit back helpless to intervene?
I believe that there is an alternative way and that it is one to which we should give increasing consideration. In my view, we should not exclude, as too many people have, the possibility of the United Kingdom resuming a de facto as well as a de jure responsibility for Rhodesia. I am aware of the difficulties involved in this, and I comment only briefly on the reasons why I hold this belief.
Clearly, there are an enormous number of advantages which would flow from Britain resuming on a temporary basis the administration of that colony. I say 1039 "resuming the administration" of it, because I do not suggest, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) did, that we should simply have a return to legality and make the internal leaders the legal Government. That would not solve the problem. However, if Britain were itself to become the administrative authority for a temporary period, that might be a way of breaking the log-jam.
The advantages of such a course of action are clear.
§ Mr. John Watkinson (Gloucestershire, West)
Will the hon. Member say whether he is presupposing that Mr. Smith has asked the British to go in, or is he saying that we should invade Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Rifkind
If the hon. Member will be patient, I shall come to that in my concluding remarks. Clearly, it is a very important consideration.
Let us first consider, however, whether there would be advantages in the course of action that I suggest. In my view, the advantages are clear. First, sanctions would lapse automatically. No one would argue for sanctions to continue if Britain became the administrative authority in Rhodesia for a period, so that issue would be resolved.
Secondly, I believe that the departure of Mr. Smith from effective power in Salisbury is perhaps the sine qua non for reconciling those Africans outside Rhodesia to co-operation with the internal African nationalist leaders. Until a few weeks ago, I would have argued that Mr. Smith's continued presence at the helm in Rhodesia was a necessary sine qua non for maintaining the support of the white community. That is no longer a tenable argument. If Mr. Smith's authority could be replaced by the direct authority of the British Government, the legitimate security interests of the white population would be safeguarded in a perfectly acceptable fashion. Mr. Smith's departure, given that he is the object of such extreme mistrust on the part of African politicians outwith the country, would be an extremely helpful gesture.
Thirdly, I think that by resuming such responsibility we could ensure, or at least achieve a high degree of probability, that President Kaunda and the other frontline Presidents would withhold their con- 1040 tinuing support from guerrilla incursions into Rhodesia. President Kaunda especially is anxious as soon as possible to resume normal relations with Rhodesia. His own internal stability depends on it and the economy of his country depends on it. If he could be given what he believed to be an honourable way of ensuring that a peaceful settlement was achieved, clearly it would be in his own interests to do so. That also is an important consideration.
Finally, I believe that the resumption of direct British responsibility in that colony would be the best way of ensuring that the Cubans and the Soviet Union did not become involved on an armed basis in the guerrilla war south of the Zambesi. It is one thing for them to allow their Cuban surrogates to infiltrate into a country administered by an illegal regime. It would be quite a separate matter to allow them to infiltrate into a campaign going on in what was de facto a British colony.
Finally, I come to the point raised by the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Watkinson). If such a proposal as I have made is attractive, is it nevertheless totally infeasible? Is it possible that the Rhodesians themselves would be willing to accept such a resumption of British authority in Salisbury? Clearly, in 1965 it would have been an impossible policy to put forward without supporting an armed invasion of Rhodesia. But a lot has happened in the past 13 years, and, in particular, the objectives of the white minority in Rhodesia have now changed.
Whereas in 1965 the white minority wished and believed that they could retain a monopoly of political power, their objectives today are for their own personal security, a peaceful hand-over to African majority rule and some guarantee as to their long-term interests in that country.
Those objectives would not in any way be frustrated by a resumption of British responsibility in Salisbury. Indeed, many white Rhodesians today believe that it is the best, if not the only, way offering hope of achieving those very ends. Mr. Smith himself has on a number of occasions said that he would not necessarily be averse to a return to legality, and while we cannot be certain that he would go 1041 beyond that at present, what I should like to see the British Government doing—if they have not done so already—is making their own personal inquiries as to what would be the response of the Rhodesian authorities if such a proposal were put to them.
As for the view of the security forces, they know perfectly well, as has been said several times today, that in the long run this is a war which they cannot win. Therefore, clearly, if the alternative is a gradual war of attrition leading to the bleeding away of the health, economy and vitality of Rhodesia, a resumption of British responsibility might be a much more attractive alternative. It would not have been 13 years ago, or perhaps five years ago, but the situation is very different today.
So far, the Government have said that the only circumstance in which they would be prepared to intervene directly in Rhodesia would be to mount some form of rescue operation, if anarchy descended on that country and the rescue of British citizens or large numbers of Rhodesians required such an intervention.
When we are dealing with the last vestige of the British colonial empire, I think it a pity if the only basis on which a British Government are prepared to make a direct intervention in the affairs of that country is a rescue operation when anarchy has already occured. If we are to try to make some helpful contribution—at risk to ourselves, at risk of international criticism—it is, I believe, vital that we make that intervention at a time when we can be of constructive use in dealing with this problem.
I do not suggest that what I have said today offers a simple and straightforward solution to the problem. There is no simple straightforward solution. If there were, it would have happened long ago. But we are running out of alternatives, and so far the only offer that we have had from the Government is to linger on, week by week and month by month, as people are killed, as innocent people are massacred, and as that beautiful country descends into a thoroughly uncivilised and unholy shambles. That is not an attractive scenario, and, unless some other pro- 1042 posals can be put forward, any alternative must be worthy of serious consideration.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
I am anxious to concentrate on the present situation in Rhodesia, as I saw it last week, but I wish to say a word about Bingham before turning to that.
There seems now to be an unanswerable case for an investigation by a Select Committee of the House, or perhaps a Joint Select Committee with the other place, into what took place inside the Government. I would restrict it simply to the conduct of the Government and of civil servants during the time when Bingham suggests there was some defect in the Administration.
I say that having regard to the quite amazing speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) yesterday, which indicated that he, as Prime Minister, was not aware of the enormous loophole in a central feature of our policy in relation to Rhodesia. If that were true, there would be something wrong with the instrument of government, there would be something wrong with the way in which information was passed around in the Government, and it would be essential for us, as the Legislature with some kind of check upon the Executive, to investigate that and to come up with some conclusions.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
Did my hon. Friend hear the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) say that he, too, was ignorant of what was happening? Recalling that the supply of oil to Rhodesia doubled during the right hon. Gentleman's period of office, does my hon. Friend agree that the examination and inquiry ought to embrace the right hon. Gentleman's period of office as well as the previous period?
§ Mr. Lyon
Of course. It need not be thought that I would contest that. But the other factor which seems to me to call for inquiry is that the version of events given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton has been disputed by Lord Thomson and to some extent, impliedly and with restraint, by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) yesterday. It is essential that we know exactly what 1043 happened and to what extent this House was deceived, for it seems to me that the real gravamen of the charge which comes out of Bingham is that politicians acted in a way which is typical of the attitude that members of the public ascribe to us—that we are prepared to tell lies and we are prepared to do all manner of iniquity in order to achieve our political ends. There is a cynicism about politicians simply because that view has wide currency among the public.
If that attitude were to gain ground as a result of allegations in Bingham which were left uninvestigated and our particular Augean stables were not cleansed, this, I believe, would give added support to that cynicism, which can in the end only be fatal to our democracy. That, I feel, is the most important factor which ought to come out of an investigation of Bingham, and that is why a Select Committee rather than any judicial inquiry should do it.
I turn now from Bingham to the situation in Rhodesia. I spent a month going round Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Rhodesia. I spent 10 days in Rhodesia. In the countries outside Rhodesia, I was anxious to ascertain the attitude of political leaders to the next move in the approach to a settlement in that country. I had a long talk with President Nyerere, with President Kaunda and his assistant Mr. Nkomo and with ZANU representatives as well as with some members of the Machel Government in Mozambique.
But when I got to Rhodesia, I was anxious to find out the present state of opinion of Africans in that country. I think that if I came away with an impression of what is happening in Rhodesia very different from the impresions gained by so many hon. Members on the Opposition Benches, the reason was that I concentrated in the 10 days I was there not on talking to the leadership but on talking to the ordinary Africans who make up 97 per cent. of the population.
When we talk about the fifth principle and getting the assent of the people of Zimbabwe as a whole, too many Conservative Members believe that we are talking about white opinion. In fact, what we are seriously talking about are the 97 per cent. of Africans who take a differ 1044 ent view in many cases from the view of the whites in that country, and who do so even today, even after the internal settlement.
What was clear from all sides was that when the internal settlement was made in March there was very little support for Chirau. There was very little support at that stage for Sithole. There was overwhelming support, especially in Mashonaland, for Muzorewa. He kept support for two reasons. One was that he was thought to be a man of integrity who was above much of the wiliness of the nationalist leaders, and he was also thought to be the represertative of ZANU, both internal and external. By many people in the country and in the townships, it was thought that he was really the internal voice of ZANU and Mugabe was the external voice, but of the same organisation.
What is now clear to me—I shall give the evidence as shortly as I can since I do not want to take too much time—is that that situation has changed radically, and if we do not recognise that we suffer from the illusion that has been too much manifest among hon. Members opopsite, the illusion that the internal settlement still has any measure of support. It does not. It does not among any sector of Africans whom I questioned. I spent three days in the townships in Salisbury and two days in the townships of Bulawayo. I was allowed by the Government to go up to a protected village, and there, even in the presence of the district commissioner in a protected village the headmen, the kraalmen, were brought together to tell me their views.
Even in the presence of the district commissioner the kraal heads vouchsafed an opinion which endangered their safety, because it was illegal within the present regime in Rhodesia. They said that they supported the boys. It is "the boys". For them the guerrillas are not the monsters I have heard referred to by Tory Members, the people who kill and maim. For them they are their sons, their husbands, their brothers, the people they are supporting. There are about 8,000 to 10,000 ZANLA guerrillas operating in over 75 per cent. of the tribal trust lands and the rural areas in Rhodesia. The rest are ZIPRA guerrillas. But in both cases they could 1045 not operate there unless they were supported by the rural people. They go across the border with their light arms and nothing else. They live off the land.
There is some evidence of intimidation, but the vast amount of the support comes voluntarily and enthusiastically from the people who are their relatives because they are fighting for their freedom as they see it. The protected villages were not established to protect the villagers against the guerrillas. They were set up to stop the villagers from feeding the guerrillas. What happened was that even in the protected villages, where there could be no question of intimidation from the geurillas, they were putting sacks of mealie meal over the fences at night to feed the boys—to keep them going. The truth is that the guerrilla war had grown to its present level because of the support of ordinary Africans.
Dr. Gabella, Sithole's vice-president, said to me "What do you think of what we have here in Rhodesia? You should go back to your hotel and ask your waiter whether he is going to kill you." So I went back to my hotel, to two waiters in the Meikle's Hotel, and I said to them "What do you think about the war?" Up to then they had been smiling, obliging, Rhodesian African servants. They told me, and the depth of their bitterness was something I shall remember. Each of them said that in their case their relatives had just come down into Salisbury because they had been burned out of house and home and their cattle had been killed, not by the guerrillas but by the security forces.
I went down to the townships. There are 130,000 people living in the town ships in Salisbury from the tribal trust lands all round the country. One can now go round Salisbury and find that opinion over the whole of the country. Everywhere I went I heard the same story. They were there because the security forces had treated them brutally, inhumanly, killing their cattle. There were stories, which I was not able to check, that the security forces had killed people who had gathered together to hear the guerrillas. The security forces had come on to the scene. There was no question of crossfire—it was a deliberate attempt to kill everyone there.
1046 For that reason, everywhere I went the security forces were detested. It is said that the key issue in any further negotiations with the Patriotic Front to do with the internal settlement is the question of who controls the security forces. The whites over there say that it cannot be these monstrous people in the Patriotic Front because they could not have the support of the whites. It is said that the whites dread them. How do they think that the 97 per cent. of Africans regard the security forces when the stories of abuse by the security forces are as common as I have indicated?
Naturally, in such circumstances it seems right to Africans that they should insist upon some kind of control of the security forces in an interim Government leading to free elections. They do not believe that there could be free elections under the present security forces. It is for that reason that this issue is the sticking point. I do not have time to enlarge on why I think the measure of support which has come away from Muzowera is going to Mugabe. It is my conclusion, to which I came only slowly from all the conversations I had, that Nkomo is keeping his support among the Ndebele, but that among Shona-speaking people the great support is going to Mugabe.
In those circumstances, Mugabe not only has control of most of the areas in which he is fighting, he has the positive assent of the people living in those areas. Therefore, any solution which in any way excluded the ZANLA forces and Mugabe would be one which could not last and would inevitably lead to a continuation of the war.
I had discussions with Nkomo. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary sees him as the father of his people. I am afraid that I was not as impressed, in a conversation lasting an hour and a half. My judgment is that if it came to it, Nkomo would go on fighting to the last drop of Rhodesian blood unless he is to be president. Consequently, any settlement must include Nkomo. It must also include the ZIPRA forces. There is undoubtedly a strain between these two.
My view, which is not shared by everyone, is that the major reason for the fragility of the enterprise comes from ZIPRA rather than ZANLA, but it does not matter. The truth is that there are 1047 strains. These groups have been kept together only by the oversight of the five front-line Presidents. What has happened in the past month—I attach no blame here and it would take time to explain why I have apportioned blame earlier—is that the unity of the front-line Presidents and the Patriotic Front has been put under severe strain. It might easily disrupt at any moment. If it does, no one in this House can find any joy in that event. That would be the end of any hopeful solution and the possibility of free elections in Rhodesia. There would be a bloodbath of a civil war.
It is, therefore, essential that those who are doing the fighting, ZIPRA and ZANLA, should be brought together in a final settlement. We have to bear in mind Mr. Smith's present mood, aided and abetted as he is by so many people in this House. When I was in Salisbury he was getting support on Rhodesian television from the Conservative candidate in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and from some completely berserk individual from Yorkshire, who was even suggesting that the Leader of the Opposition in this House ought to sack those around her because they were not sufficiently Right wing. That kind of attitude is maintaining the morale of the whites.
In my view, there are two things that can contribute to a solution which will avoid a bloodbath. Nothing can stop bloodshed going on, but the bloodshed might diminish and end. The tragedy of this whole business is that, if Smith and the whites had recognised it in 1965, they could have gone the way of Kenya and would now be living under a black Government sympathetic to retaining white interest. They would now have, under a black Government, the kind of life style which they have always had. They would not have had political power, but they would have had economic power. It is about time that the whites recognised this.
The best thing that Tory Members could do is to tell the whites to lay down their arms. The time has come to end it. It is all very well saying "How can you expect them to change overnight?" The whites in Kenya had to change overnight and adopt a different life style. They have become used to that. What we have 1048 to tell the whites in Rhodesia is that their only chance is to go to a meeting of all the parties and say to the others "We shall now accept the Anglo-American proposals for handing over control to the Patriotic Front, with other members of the security forces taken in." If that were to be done I am certain that there would be movement, at any rate from ZANLA. I think that there could be movement from ZIPRA, but it would need a considerable amount of pressure from the Americans and the British, and the Zambians in particular, to make that possible.
That is the first requirement. If that does not happen, there is one other way. When Kissinger saw Smith in Pretoria, one of the key features of the proposed settlement was that the British and the Americans were to provide sufficient money to buy out the whites. Nyerere still persists that that is the only way in which there can be a really quick end to this whole conflict. I think that I agree with him.
The truth of the matter is that the whites in Rhodesia still have the technical superiority in arms to go on fighting for some time. Their weakness is in being able to keep the morale of the white population going for very much longer. There are major signs that they cannot. Not only do their own official figures for emigration show that they were the highest last month since UDI, but they are severely understated, because people can take only 1,000 dollars out of the country, and they can get more out of the country if they go out on a holiday. More and more people go out on holidays and do not come back to Rhodesia.
Although it is true that the 6,000 farmers, who are tied to enormous capital investment, are remaining put and have put in their crop for next year, a great many of them doubt whether they will reap it. In addition, the people who do not have that capital stake in the country are moving out enormously fast. The flights are booked up to the hilt for November and December. The abattoirs are also booked up until next May for the slaughtering of cattle.
There was a recent upsurge in the retail business sector because people were buying 60 or 70 suits and other retail goods to take out with them because they could 1049 not get their money out. Every day there are stories, even in the censored press, of people who go to their doctor and find that their doctor has gone, or that their dentist has gone, or that their optician has gone. Artisans are leaving on a much larger scale than the farmers. I was told by one reporter that Mr. Smith is finding it difficult to operate his air force because the pilots are going.
The truth of the matter is that over the next six months the outward flow of whites will increase. If there is not to be a settlement, the one way to bring an end to the violence is for the British and the American Governments to offer money to increase that flow. In the Anglo-American proposals, a sum of £1½million was put aside for ploughing back into Rhodesia after a settlement. We paid money to the white farmers in Kenya some years ago as an inducement to them to leave, in order that the farms would go to Africans after the settlement. The moment in time when we want the whites to leave Rhodesia is now, and if we are not to get a settlement the best thing that the British and American Governments could do would be to make that money available to entice the whites out of Rhodesia, and thereby to crack the morale in Rhodesia.
Not only is there a possibility of a fight between ZIPRA and ZANLA, but Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole, having seen that their support is disappearing, are now paying gangs to go round trying to intimidate people into supporting them. The most significant feature is that those gangs are bitterly resented by Africans, in a way that they do not resent the guerrilla fighters of ZIPRA and ZANLA.
The reason that this is happening is that Mr. Tiny Rowland is providing money extensively to everybody on the African scene except for Mr. Mugabe and ZANLA, who have refused it. I feel that the British Government could curtail the activities of Mr. Tiny Rowland who is intervening so disastrously in Central African affairs and providing money for people who have no political support in order that they can be stooges for some regime that he hopes will come into power.
On the major issue, my thesis still is that the British and the American Governments ought to be pressing for a rapid 1050 capitulation by the whites, and a hand-over to the Patriotic Front.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) has spoken with extraordinary certainty about who is on which side in Rhodesia. I have been going to Rhodesia since 1951. I checked in my diary and found that I have been there 27 times in the last 28 years. I would not venture to give the sort of public opinion poll that the hon. Gentleman has just given, and I think that the arrogance of what he has said is impermissible in this House.
Let us look at the matter politically. If everyone is so much against the internal settlement as he has suggested, it is remarkable that the leaders of the internal settlement have held together as closely as they have. There have been no resignations and there has been one dismissal, that of Mr. Byron Hove. I have talked to the leaders of the internal settlement, black and white—sometimes fishing in order to see whether there was a difference between them—and I think that they could give a lesson in collective responsibility to the Government, and perhaps even to the Shadow Cabinet.
Economically, of course, sanctions have been a great burden; but it is not Rhodesia that is facing economic collapse. It is Zambia. It is not Rhodesia that is facing famine; it is Mozambique. Rhodesia is exporting food. The Rhodesians have been sending food under the counter to Zambia and Mozambique. It is quite jolly to think that some of the charity of the Minister of State for Overseas Development comes back to old Smithy's coffers.
Militarily, the guerrilla war has escalated, but the casualty rate of those of the terrorists killed inside Rhodesia is running at very nearly 5,000 a year, excluding the ones killed in the strikes against Zambia and Mozambique; and, of course, the number of wounded is about twice as many as the dead. This is 10 times the casualty rate suffered by the Rhodesian security forces, over 80 per cent. of whom are black.
When we look at the diplomatic scene, what is the balance that we find? The Patriotic Front is split from top to bottom between Nkomo and Mugabe, as the 1051 hon. Gentleman pointed out. The frontline Presidents are split because of Mr. Kaunda's decision to reopen the border. I should not have thought that this was a picture of a country boiling against the transitional Government. I should have thought that it was a picture of a country which is certainly giving allegiance to the transitional Government and, compared with the past, almost enthusiastic towards it.
What I find very hard to stomach are the comments that the hon. Gentleman made about Mr. Sithole and also the comments that the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) made about Mr. Sithole. Neither of those hon. Gentlemen has suffered very much in his political life. Mr. Sithole was for seven or eight years a prisoner of Mr. Smith and was in the nationalist movement before the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary knew how to do up his fly-buttons. Those hon. Members ought to be ashamed of lecturing and denigrating a man who has fought as he has, and is at last in sight of achieving his aim of one man, one vote in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Grocott
For the benefit of those who were not Members of the House at the time, will the right hon. Gentleman, in view of his clear admiration for Mr. Sithole, tell us what steps he took in the 1960s to get Mr. Sithole released from detention? Will he give the House some indication of the support that he was giving to Mr. Sithole at that time?
§ Mr. Amery
That is a very fair question. I was not taking any part in that. I was in Government at the time, at the Air Ministry, and later at the Ministry of Aviation. It was not part of my job. If it had been, I am not even sure that I would have done anything about it. What I am saying to the House is this. If Mr. Sithole, who has been through everything that he has been through, can work with Ian Smith, why the hell cannot other people do it, too?
I turn now to the general subject of the debate. First of all, I should like to say how very sad I am about the resignation of Mr. John Davies—all the more so as it was precipitated by a meeting in my constituency. It was an unhappy meeting, in which I could not intervene. I 1052 am very grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for having been a more generous chairman than the one in Brighton.
Perhaps I may say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) how much I admired his his speech yesterday and how totally I thought he demolished the Government's policy on Rhodesia. I assure him that I shall be 100 per cent. behind the amendment on which he is asking us to vote today.
I also agree with my right hon. Friend about what he suggested regarding the Bingham report. It would be humbug on my part if I complained too much about what Bingham has revealed. I was always against sanctions. I do not know whether what has been revealed was a matter of evasion or avoidance, but I think that it ought to be looked into from the point of view of the standards of our public life.
There is another aspect to the Bingham report. It has shown up not just the humbug and hypocrisy of the way in which the sanctions have been conducted but the practical difficulties. In a world in which people are seriously talking about sanctions against South Africa over Namibia—although I am sure the Foreign Secretary would veto any such suggestion—the sooner we can disengage ourselves from any attachment to any policy of sanctions, the better.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will understand if I turn to his speech more than to that of the Foreign Secretary. He said earlier that he thought that the sanctions were more symbolic than real. I think that this is true, but, as the leading article in The Times of yesterday pointed out, the symbolism is important because if there were no sanctions, recognition, de facto at least, of the transitional Government would follow. So, by renewing the sanctions or acquiescing in their renewal. we are denying any recognition of the transitional Government.
Of course, I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend, and with Mr. John Davies in what he has said before, that we cannot accord independence to Zimbabwe until the fifth principle has been fulfilled by the holding of a general election.
However, there are two problems which we have to face—one practical and one 1053 moral. Let me deal with the practical problem first.
It is not very easy to hold elections in the present state of Rhodesia. Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe have said that they would shoot anybody who went to vote, regardless of which way he voted. That is their approach. I make no comment upon it. Others will judge for themselves what they think about it. I believe that it should be possible in the urban areas and in some of the European farming areas for the security forces to protect voters against that kind of intimidation. But half of the electorate are in the tribal trust lands, and there are simply not enough security forces, nor have they the equipment, to protect the voters there.
If there were no sanctions and if Rhodesia earned the foreign exchange to enable it expand its security forces a little more, the position would be easier than it is. The whole idea of imposing martial law in certain areas has arisen with this in mind. But, by acquiescing in the renewal of sanctions, we are making the holding of elections more difficult.
Let me turn to the moral question. We are facing a new situation. If we accept the sanctions order tonight, we shall not be renewing the order against the Smith regime, the Rhodesia Front regime—the sanctions were originally imposed to try to bring the regime back to legality and the six principles. We shall instead be imposing sanctions on a quite new Government, a multi-racial Government, a Government who have in their Executive Council three black members to one white, who have a black Minister in every Ministry co-equal with his white European opposite number, who are promoting and commissioning black officers in the army and in the civil service, who have produced a constitution which, as far as I can see, will abolish all racial discrimination, and who are moving forward towards the holding of free elections.
I repeat that I do not ask that we should recognise them as the Government of an independent Zimbabwe until the fifth principle has been fulfilled—namely, the holding of elections. But I really do not see why we could not recognise them today as the lawful Government of what 1054 was the self-governing colony of Rhodesia on the basis of the constitution they now have. We never governed that country directly. The governor had very limited powers.
It seems to me that the transitional Government have achieved enough—and this was the object of the Early-Day Motion which my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), myself and others put down—for us to say today that they could be recognised as the lawful Government of the self-governing colony. If that were so, then the sanctions would fall away.
I say "the sanctions would fall away", but let us be clear about our international commitments, about which my right hon. Friend said something, and about our obligations to the United Nations. It is worth noting in passing that neither the Kissinger proposals nor the Anglo-American proposals paid any attention to the role of the United Nations in this matter. They said quite flatly and simply that, if the Rhodesian regime accepted either of those proposals, sanctions would be lifted. There would be no question of going to the United Nations about it.
I have looked at the United Nations resolution again. It says, in the preamble, that the "rebellion" in Rhodesia is a threat to peace and that therefore the United Nations must take certain steps to end the" rebellion". A rebellion can only be a rebellion against a sovereign power, and only this House can decide whether there is a rebellion. If we say that there is not a rebellion, then there is not a rebellion. [Interruption.]I should have thought so. The United Nations might have a second opinion and say that the situation was still a threat to peace, and then bring in a new resolution. But we decide, we the sovereign Parliament of this country. I am surprised that any Member of this Parliament should laugh at this. We decide. If we say that there is no rebellion, then there is no rebellion.
Let us look at other international connections, because my right hon. Friend said that we must mobilise our friends when the day comes. The Administration of the United States is very much of the same mind as the Government here, partly because they want to mobilise the black vote and partly because they are scared stiff of any involvement overseas. 1055 But the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States damned nearly threw out the sanctions only the other day. It needed all the pressure of the White House to persuade them to change their minds and to accept a compromise resolution. It also needed the full pressure of the Senate, which was successful, to get the White House to bow to the wishes of the Senate and allow Mr. Ian Smith into the United States. That is something which I believe the Foreign Secretary could afford to do over here, instead of maintaining the dog-in-the-manger attitude which he has adopted.
It is interesting to see that though the Administration has not changed its line, Dr. Kissinger, Mr. Ford and Governor Connally all put out very favourable statements about their talks with the members of the transitional Government after they had seen them.
As to the European Community, there have been some very interesting debates in the Bundestag in Bonn, in which the Conservative Party in Germany—and if it were not for proportional representation it would he the governing party—has come out again and again on the side of Rhodesia. Of course, the links of our French and Belgian friends are much more directly connected with black Africa than with white Africa. But it is interesting that France, which openly supported Biafra in the Nigerian civil war, is doing very well in her trade links with Nigeria. One should not worry too much about the embarrassment which arises from political decisions.
When it comes to Africa itself, as has been pointed out, the Nigerians are by far the most important of our trading partners. They are practically broke and are not in a position to withdraw balances from London which they do not hold. As for our other trading partners, they are largely financed by British aid. With regard to the Middle East, everyone knows that the oil-rich countries of the Gulf have been helping some of the political movements in the transitional Government. The task of the Conservative Opposition is surely to give notice of where we would stand if and when we come back to office.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire also said that lifting sanc 1056 tions could diminish rather than enhance the chances of negotiation. Is that true? The Executive Council has already proposed to the Patriotic Front that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe should have seats on the Executive Council and that they should have a similar proportion on the ministerial committee to the parties of Mr. Sithole, Chief Chirau and Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Mr. Smith repeated the offer when he met Mr. Nkomo in Lusaka in August. What happened at that meeting? Mr. Nkomo said that he wanted to be the boss, that he wanted to be the effective Prime Minister, Mr. Smith said he could not accept that because he was only one of four, but he would report it to his Executive Council. He asked whether Mr. Nkomo could deliver Mr. Mugabe. Mr. Nkomo indicated that Mr. Mugabe was his poodle. But it did not work out that way, because the poodle bit Mr. Nkomo sharply on the calf, President Nyerere cracked the whip, they all came to heel and broke off the talks.
What more could one really ask of the transitional Government than to go as far as they have? But they have gone further. They have said that they would accept all-party talks. Of course, they will not accept the ludicrous proposals put forward by the Foreign Secretary under which there would be an Anglo-Indian directorate of Field Marshal Lord Carver and General Prem Chand, or some alternative version of it, and control of the security forces leading to their amalgamation with the guerrilla forces. Of course they will not accept that. I say that these are ludicrous proposals, and my right hon. Friend stigmatised them in similar terms.
But what more can we ask of Salisbury? After all, if we go on with sanctions, why should the Patriotic Front move any further forward than it has? Let us have some respect from Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe. I regard them as adversaries, but I have respect for them. If I saw the British, American and Soviet Governments all lined up together on my side, why the hell should I make any concessions? If one wants to move towards a Camp David syndrome, then the pressure must be put not on the transitional Government but on the Patriotic Front. Even The Guardian recognised that this morning.
1057 It is not easy to put pressure on the other side, but we could do it by with-holding the aid we are giving to Zambia. I am not against giving aid to Zambia. What I am against is continuing to go against our friends in the transitional Government. If we wanted to be evenhanded, the least we could do would be to lift sanctions and enable them to earn the foreign exchange to protect themselves from the attacks which will come from Zambia or Mozambique, while at the same time we helped President Kaunda to defend his air space against any attacks which might come from them.
I want to say a word about all-party talks. I cannot resist rising to the invitation of the Foreign Secretary to comment on option B. Option B, which has been released by Mr. Colin Legum of The Observer—I have known about it myself for some time, but in confidence, so I did not speak about it—in effect says that, if there were a Nkomo-led transitional Government, the British Government would be prepared to accord them independence without a general election. There would be some sort of procedure of consulting the public about the constitution. I cannot think of any greater cynicism or effrontery than that, yet that is what has been put forward.
I thought that the Foreign Secretary back-tracked about option B the other day and did not seem very keen about this. It seems to be the height of cynicism. I have never quite understood his obsession with Mr. Nkomo. I believe that in private Mr. Nkomo says some very sensible things, but let us look at the realities of the situation. He is financed, and his troops are trained and indoctrinated, by the Soviets. His public posture is pro-Soviet. When it comes to a negotiation direct with Mr. Smith under the aegis of Kaunda, he cannot deliver, because he and Kaunda are called to heel by Nyerere and Mugabe. It does not seem to me a very good bet to try to throw away the three Mashona birds we have in the hand for a Matabele bird in the bush. The best we could do would be to warn Mr. Nkomo that the next Conservative Government—I hope that their time will come quite soon—will not go along with the present plan. Perhaps, if we said that, it would have a marginal effect on Mr. 1058 Nkomo and get him to moderate his stand a bit.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire said that ending sanctions might intensify the war, with more and bigger weapons being used. I cannot quite follow that argument. I can see that if sanctions were lifted the transitional Government would expand their forces and would get more helicopters, armoured cars and so on, so that they would be able to protect the civil population better against intimidation and keep the terrorists further off. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend thinks that is a bad thing, but I doubt very much whether this would lead to an escalation. I have never believed in the Cuban bogy which has been waved about by the Foreign Secretary. That is something with which to frighten children.
Let us look at the realities of the military situation. The present Prime Minister of South Africa, who was for 12 years Minister of Defence, has always held, and publicly stated, that South Africa should be defended as far north as possible—that means in Rhodesia and in South-West Africa. I have no doubt whatever that if Cubans, East Germans or others showed their noses in Rhodesia, the South Africans would be there to meet them. The Warsaw Pact forces would have to mount a considerable expeditionary force if they were to take on Rhodesia and South Africa combined. All the logistics would be against them. Where would they base themselves? Certainly not on Zambia, with the Dares-Salaam railway. On Nacala and Beira? Conceivably, but that would be a pretty inferior base compared with what the other side had. Who would be on the other side? The Patriotic Front, split between Mugabe and Nkomo, and the front-line Presidents' line-up deeply split as well.
Of course, so long as the Anglo-Americans and the Soviets side together there will be a great hesitation on the part of the guerrilla forces and others to change sides. But if they were to see that the transitional Government would be on our side, both the local pro-Soviet forces, and the Soviet Union itself, would weigh the risks of confrontation much more carefully than they may do today. I think it much safer to 1059 lift the sanctions than to continue with them if the international problem is regarded as really serious.
In all of this we often forget the international dimension. The Western world breathes from two lungs—the oil from the Gulf, and the minerals from Southern Africa. There is a shadow over the oil from the Gulf at present because of the crisis in Iran. There is not much we in Britain can do about that. But we still have a role to play in Southern Africa. We cannot do a great deal, or help a great deal, but if we were to give the transitional Government in Rhodesia anything like the help we are giving to Zambia or Mozambique, we would put them on the rails to a great future. I am not even asking that. I am only asking that we should stop hurting them. Since we, the Conservative Party, cannot take that decision, I think we should say we want to stop and that that is what we would like to do. It is not an easy position. It is not a simple one.
However, I cannot see the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire in favour of acquiescence in sanctions. If he believes in what he says, he ought to be for them, not against them. But he does not believe in what he says. I do not believe that most of our party believes in what he says. That is why I hope we shall score a very big vote against sanctions in the Lobby tonight.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Roderick MacFarquhar (Belper)
I imagine that the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) will excuse me if I do not follow him in all his remarks, but I wish to make a couple of brief comments. I am intrigued to find him—I believe for the first time—attempting to dispel the bogy of Soviet penetration in Africa, and I must say I take a rather more serious view of possible Cuban intervention in that area than he apparently does. Secondly, I regret his somewhat intemperate attack on the Foreign Secretary and his reference to fly-buttons. I can only assume that is due partly to the fact that the Foreign Secretary took the pants off him when he referred to arms for Zambia last week and he is now trying to get his revenge.
There are two issues we are discussing in this debate—the problem of Rhodesia 1060 today and the problem of what happened on sanctions in the past 10 years or so. As one of the apparently few Members who have not just stepped hot-foot off the plane from Salisbury, I intend to concentrate my remarks on the Bingham report and its implications. Although I understand the vital importance of discussing how to bring an end to bloodshed in Rhodesia, I find it difficult to understand why, as I followed it, the hon. Member who led from the Opposition Front Bench, the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd), felt we should somehow not discuss Bingham, that it was water under the bridge.
It seems to me that the Bingham report raises several constitutional issues. It raises the question of the honour of this House, the honour of individual Ministers of the Crown, and also the relationship of the Executive to the Legislature and of the Executive to civil servants. For all these issues, or even just one, we would be right to spend the whole two days on Bingham if it was not for the seriousness of the situation in Rhodesia.
I approach this matter with some of the humility that the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) professed but I do not think actually showed yesterday. I believe it is very easy with hindsight and without the benefit of having held office to criticise the decisions of some years back.
I do not take up lightly the job of looking at what has been revealed by the Bingham report, but it seems to me that there are questions of great importance involved for politicians. Who was responsible in the fundamental issue at stake—the oil swap arrangement? Was the judgment of Ministers at that time sound? Was it right, either way, that they should have kept the matter from the House of Commons as they did? These questions have to be discussed because they are not answered by the Bingham report.
Yesterday I listened to my right hon. Friends the Members for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) and for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) who held heavy responsibility at the time of much of the events. Today I reread their speeches and the statement by Lord Thomson of Monifieth of 6th September this year. Like the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), I 1061 find it extremely difficult to reconcile the statements of these three right hon. Friends of mine, even allowing for the lapse of time and especially since they have had a chance to refresh their memories by looking at their documents.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton has said that no Minister or official outside—I think he was implying—the Department of Energy was responsible for the oil swap arrangement, including his then Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, and that the latter did not know—or, like Lord Thomson, as he alleges, he did not realise the implications of what was said at the two crucial meetings early in 1968 and early 1969.
Lord Thomson, on the other hand, uses the justification that what he did was based on the collective decision of Cabinet committees and that Ministers were informed. I should like to quote just once from the Bingham report to show that Lord Thomson was perfectly well aware at the meeting on 6th February 1969 of the importance of the oil swap arrangement. It was during a discussion of angry Portuguese allegations that Britain was evading sanctions. He had been informed—he already knew from the year previously but had been informed again—that the oil swap arrangement was still in operation.
According to the minute at page 269 of the Bingham Report:Mr. Thomson commented it was odd that the Portuguese had apparently felt the need to dress up their allegations with false information about the dockets. One would have expected that if they had got wind of the exchange arrangements between Shell/BP and Total (South Africa), they would have regarded this as a sufficiently damaging discovery in itself.I cannot believe that anyone who reads that single sentence, if no other, of what Lord Thomson has said can possibly believe that my right hon. Friend the noble Lord was not aware of the importance of the Total-Shell arrangement.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham also said last night that he knew, certainly at least from the key meeting of February 1969, and that he was aware of the importance of the arrangement, although, in response to a question from myself, he said that he did not remember if he had told other Cabinet col- 1062 leagues. In short, both my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham and Lord Thomson said that they knew about the swap and that they appreciated its importance, but they adduced a number of diplomatic and commercial considerations to explain why they could neither end it nor disclose it to the House.
It is here, when one is thinking about that decision they made, that one has to tread with care, remembering the difficult times they both have described, during which they made their decision. Nevertheless, looking back, one can say quite clearly that the Government of the day were involved in trying to obtain two contradictory objectives—on the one hand, to ensure that British oil did not reach Rhodesia and, on the other, in doing this, to prevent any confrontation that would damage British oil or other commercial interests in South Africa. It was impossible, as the oil executives made clear, or alleged was the truth, to the Government of the day, to square that circle.
As a result, the only thing that the Government of the day could do was to apply cosmetics for the outside world. From the minutes of the vital meetings, there is no doubt in my mind—I think from Lord Thomson's public statement, there was no doubt in his—that, in his words, the politically important thing was to make sure that what could be legitimately described as British oil did not itself reach Rhodesia and that if that could be maintained it was possible at least to defend the British position.
The judgment on that can be questioned, but I say that, as I said, with humility, knowing that I am talking with the benefit of hindsight and without the responsibility of office.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton, who says that he knew nothing of the swap arrangement and that if he had he would have realised its significance, said yesterday that it was only after he had read the article in The Sunday Times which gave details of a new book on the Bingham report that he could come to the conclusion—if not a conclusion at least some preliminary suspicions—about where the guilt lay. This was an article based on a pamphlet called "A Review of the Bingham Report" by Andrew Phillips which all Members of 1063 Parliament received. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton had had the time to look at that pamphlet, he would have seen that it added nothing to the Bingham report. That pamphlet is in fact a guide to the Bingham report. It is not new information. It is like a literary guide, for example, to "Finnegan's Wake". This pamphlet is a guide to a very complex work without an index, and Members of Parliament who have looked at it should be grateful for it.
On the basis, apparently, of only looking at this version of the Bingham report—or rather the version of this version of the Bingham report that appeared in The Sunday Times—my right hon. Friend has been able to say that perhaps some blame should be attached to certain officials in the Department of Energy at the time, and also to the multinationals. This was strongly backed up by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray) in his speech last night.
If it is not possible for the Prime Minister of the day, even with the Bingham report to refresh his mind, to be able to assign guilt or to accept that it was possible that some of his Ministers knew about the swap arrangement, it seems to me that something has gone seriously wrong with the whole process of government and the way in which the Prime Minister is informed.
§ Mr. Evelyn King
The hon. Member's argument is that the Government of the day, or at least some members of it, and certainly civil servants, knew very well what was happpening. But the Foreign Secretary has told us that there is a possibility of criminal proceedings against officials of the oil companies involved. Would it not be a monstrous injustice if they were doing it with the Government as accessories to the fact?
§ Mr. MacFarquhar
I believe that it would be impossible in morality and politically for any official of any oil company to be prosecuted and for there to be no blame attached to members of the Government.
The Prime Minister of the day apparently knew nothing of an absolutely vital element of British policy, and what was going wrong with it. The only previous episode of this kind that I can recollect—and I do not wish to draw too exact 1064 a parallel—was when Mr. Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister and apparently did not know what was going on in the Profumo case.
§ Mr. MacFarquhar
I said that the parallel was not exact, but it is exact enough in the sense that the Prime Minister was not informed about what was going on in something that was extremely vital.
Listening to the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) today I learned that his Administration was never informed about the swap arrangement. We are now faced with the fact that someone who had been Foreign Minister only 15 months earlier has told the House that he had been informed of the swap arrangement, he realised its significance and he wished to try to do something about it, but diplomatically it turned out not to be possible. Despite the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton has told us that any important aspects of foreign policy are always brought to the attention of an incoming Administration, the right hon. Member for Sidcup was apparently not informed about this swap arrangement. If that is the case, and of course I accept what he says, there is a very serious question about the relationship between officials and Ministers and their decision on the information that should be given to new Governments.
There is ample evidence of the need for a further inquiry. Most hon. Members agree that it should be a political inquiry because it is this House that has suffered in this matter through lack of information.
I am not one of those who readily agrees that the ideal thing is to open Cabinet office and other papers at random, let everyone see what is inside and let the bugs crawl where they may. But I believe that there are serious questions of security and, far more important, perhaps serious questions relating to the ease and freedom with which officials and Ministers will talk to each other in future if it is established that Cabinet and other documents are automatically available for the public gaze.
In this particular case, as my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) indicated, the issue of parliamentary sovereignty over the Executive is so 1065 serious that it is essential to leap this hurdle and set up a Select Committee to investigate further. Although I respect the knowledge and experience of the right hon. Member for Sidcup, I do not think that the difficulties are insuperable. Selection of material can be made on the basis of what is relevant to Rhodesia. It is quite clear that my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton did it on that basis. If necessary, a special oath, as suggested by the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), could be used for the back-up officials and staff who would be necessary.
However we arrange it, we must inquire further into this matter. We must not let it appear, especially if there are to be prosecutions, that politicians are immune to investigation. That would be to carry the discredit of what is revealed in the whole Bingham inquiry into the present House of Commons as well.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)
Until the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) had spoken—and I am sorry that he has left—I had intended to concentrate solely on sanctions, past, present and future. However, now I wish to make a few comments as another individual in this House who has been to Rhodesia in the long recess, and as one who has been 20 times before and lived there for a period. I think that it is right to remind the hon. Member for York that it is very dangerous after three-day visits or one-week visits to Central Africa to come to such firm conclusions. Certainly I would not venture to do so.
If the statement of the hon. Member for York that the provisional Government now have no support at all is true, if the bishop, the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, Chief Chirau and others have no support at all, it is rather difficult to conceive how it is that no less than 80 per cent. of the extremely loyal and effective security forces in Rhodesia are black Africans. The hon. Member spoke today as though the security forces were entirely white. In fact 80 per cent., including officers as well as men, are black. It is amazing, if there is no black support for the black leaders of the internal settlement, that there should be 80 per cent. of black Africans in the armed forces, and more 1066 volunteers than can be taken in because of the lack of equipment.
The hon. Member should have gone out from what I call the "talking shops" into the areas where the security forces are operating to see the position for himself. Perhaps then he would have been a little less specific in his diagnosis of the present Rhodesian situation.
The hon. Member mentioned one topic which is important, and which has not been mentioned sufficiently in this debate or in the media. Certainly it has not been taken into sufficient account by the Government of the day. In the history of Africa, when a white colonial power—whether it be France, Belgium, Britain or any other country, or a local colonial power, such as Rhodesia—comes close to the point of abandonment of power, the previous solidarity which has existed among the Africans starts to break up into tribal differences.
It is a pity that we in this country have become used to talking about African tribes in a kind of contemptuous way as though we were talking merely of the African people in general. Those who inhabit the African countries which were drawn up in an arbitrary fashion in the nineteenth century represent just as many differing inhabitants in their midst as do the people of Western Europe today. For example, we would never think of referring to the Austrian minority in northern Italy as "the Austrian tribe", or to another faction as "the larger Italian tribe to the south".
It is now undoubtedly a fact in Rhodesia, as the spectre of continuing white power declines, that 20 per cent. of the Matabele, whose principal leader is Joshua Nkomo, are beginning to assert themselves, as the Kikuyu tribe did in Kenya. One could give a dozen examples of this trend. The differences between such peoples, which go back for a long period in history, start to reveal themselves in factional differences as soon as it appears that they have won, in the sense of getting rid of the white ruler, and when the moment arrives to divide the power among themselves. This is not a partisan point but a real one.
When one examines the situation in Rhodesia, one sees that there are roughly 1067 80 per cent. of Mashona and their affiliates. If one asked those people "By whom do you want to be ruled?" and "Would you particularly tolerate being ruled by a Matabele?", one would be given a blunt and truthful answer. We are avoiding that truth at the moment if we seek to talk about Mr. Nkomo as "the father of his people". I think that Mr. Nkomo was the great figure until Mr. Smith made it clear that white supremacy was about to end. Mr. Nkomo then became only the supreme leader of the Matabele in his country. In the same way the bishop, Mr. Sithole and Mr. Mugabe are Mashona, and the differences in this respect between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo should be taken into account.
If some Labour Members are querying whether the three black African leaders in the executive Government command support, I wish that those Members had attended the rallies to hear the many people who came to applaud their respective leaders.
A few years ago if one word of criticism had been uttered from these Benches about Mr. Sithole or about the bishop, we would immediately have been attacked as stooges of Mr. Smith. Yet now that those persons have decided to unite in trying to form an internal Government, they have become the kind of people which many Labour Members do not like or trust. Those African leaders have made the fatal mistake of wanting to work with the white man in Rhodesia rather than against him. In some Left-wing eyes that is a mortal political crime.
On the subject of sanctions, I think that it would be a pity if we wasted too much time in dealing with the past. It is a pity that the Government have tried to talk about the Bingham report in the context of policy on Rhodesia. It has made the situation difficult for hon. Members on both sides of the House. Both issues are very different.
I content myself by offering one observation to the House. It is no good trying to pretend an injured air of innocence in stating that one did not know that sanctions were being broken throughout these years. It is also pointless discussing which particular barrel of oil came from what place, how it got to Rhodesia and 1068 the methods used. Those questions are secondary to the fact that everybody knew these facts if they took the trouble to examine the situation for themselves. It was obvious, as long as South Africa and Portugal refused to co-operate, that there was not the slightest chance of sanctions becoming effective. We all knew that to be the case—the former Prime Minister has admitted he knew it, and other Ministers have admitted it, too. It is dishonest to pretend that there has been some sudden revelation. Nobody was prepared to take on Portugal or South Africa in a boycott or blockade. Unless people were prepared to challenge those countries, the rest was a mere moral gesture. Everybody knew that oil was getting through, and yet it was decided by successive Cabinets—and I am not making any party point—that we were not in a strong enough position to blockade South Africa and Portugal to stop these things from happening. That is the truth.
I think that it would be wise for us to wait to read what is said about these incidents by noble Lords in another place. I particularly look forward to reading the speech of Lord Thomson of Monifieth. I knew the noble Lord very well, and I am proud to say that he is a friend of mine. He is a man of integrity whom I have admired intensely over the years, even when we have differed. If Lord Thomson says that he sent round the information to No. 10 Downing Street, I shall take the view that he is telling the truth. One does not need a tribunal of inquiry to discover whether in those circumstances the Prime Minister read that information or forgot to read it. That is a question of simple fact, which neither a Select Committee nor any other body is required to investigate.
Much more important is the present effect of sanctions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) admitted that the lifting of sanctions would provide a gesture of encouragement for the internal settlement, but he said that it would be probably only of a temporary nature. I believe that that is a most important consideration. I do not know whether I have the ability to say that it would be temporary or permanent. I know that even a minority vote from this side of the House will give moral 1069 encouragement to the members of the provisional Government, and that is the primary reason why I shall vote against sanctions tonight.
I saw on the "tape" earlier this evening telegrams from the three black leaders of the provisional Government stressing how much they wish us to lift sanctions. If by even one vote tonight I can give those men some encouragement, I shall be proud to do so.
What will be the effect of such action on the Patriotic Front? At present Messrs. Mugabe and Nkomo think they have achieved everything. They believe that they have no need to make any concessions. We have to put in their minds the feeling that perhaps they have not got everything, after all. The only immediate way that we can put that thought into their minds is by voting to lift the sanctions. If Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe are given an inkling of the true strength of feeling in this country against their resort to terrorism as a way of attaining their political ends, I believe that it will have a salutary effect on their policies from now on.
All the Patriotic Front leaders at present think that they "have it made". They all believe that the Foreign Secretary is biased in their favour. We, too, believe that he is biased in that direction, as do those who favour an internal settlement. Therefore, if we want to negotiate a settlement, there is a sound reason to make some gesture in this House. Sooner rather than later a Government will come into power in this country which will not be biased in favour of the Patriotic Front, and I believe that a gesture about sanctions in the vote tonight will be an indication to that end.
Finally—I am not one of those who says "finally" seven times—I wish to record the reasons for the introduction of sanctions. I was in the House in the early days of sanctions and I used to press the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), over and over again to outline his position. I would ask him "Are you trying to bring down Mr. Smith and his Government as an act of revenge?" "No" was the statesmanlike reply.
The House was told that the hon. Member for Torbay had it all wrong. 1070 The then Prime Minister would say "All that I want to do is bring Mr. Smith to the negotiating table." That was said repeatedly. However, Mr. Smith has come to the negotiating table. I do not think that it was sanctions that brought him to it. It was the collapse of the Portuguese Government and the removal of one of the mainstays of support on which he was dependent for maintaining his country's economy that caused him to come to the table.
Nevertheless, if we are to believe the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huyton, on anything, we must bear in mind that he has said over and over again that all he desired was to bring Mr. Smith to the negotiating table and not to bring him down. Indeed, events have gone further than that. I am convinced that at the first possible moment that Mr. Smith can leave behind a suitable administration he will want to get right out of politics.
Mr. Smith has reached the stage when he is at the negotiating table and three of the four members of the Cabinet are black leaders hitherto highly respected by Labour Members, though they are not so highly respected today. The original reason for sanctions has already been achieved or eroded, whichever view we care to take.
What is the present effect of sanctions in Rhodesia? It is a country under siege. It is under the threat of force, and increasing force. Sanctions are doing nothing to increase the possibility of negotiations. As I have said, they are worsening the possibility. Labour Members should search their consciences. By maintaining sanctions today they are not accomplishing a political end. They are making poor men poorer. They are making desperate men more desperate. They are making bloodthirsty men more bloodthirsty. I will have no part of it.
§ Several Hon. Membersrose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
Order. I remind right hon. and hon. Members that the debate must finish at 10 o'clock. We have about 45 minutes left before the winding-up speeches begin. I appeal earnestly to all hon. Members to try to curtail their speeches so that we can accommodate as many who desire to make contributions as possible.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. George Rodgers (Chorley)
The fact that we have had a two-day debate on Rhodesia and that we had a debate on Rhodesia immediately before the recess has enabled a wide range of views to be expressed. Some of the comments that have been made today by Opposition Members seem to be tinged with fantasy. Some Opposition Members seem to have lost touch with reality. They supported Ian Smith, and they have done so throughout. They supported him when he was claiming that there would be no majority rule in Rhodesia for 1,000 years. They did not condemn that statement. They have not condemned him at any stage. They have supported Ian Smith regardless of the consequence. Time is running out for that point of view, and Opposition Members do not seem able to adjust mentally to the changed situation.
The two set-pieces of the debate were the contributions from my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) and the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) since my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman held the centre of the stage for so long during the 13 years in question. Their speeches proved to be rather an anti-climax. The speeches were anaemic. They both appeared to parade their negative virtues. They said "We did not know. We were not told." However, very little of a positive character seems to have been done to acquire the truth. There was no purposeful investigation or probing. It must have been apparent over a long period that oil sanctions had gone seriously awry.
The issues that occasion the debate are melancholy and miserable. There is not much joy in a debate of this nature. There is no joy in the clash of opinion. It has been widely conceded that forces that apparently are more powerful than those of democracy and elected representation have decided the course of events in Rhodesia for 13 years.
I have little doubt that without the armed struggle entered into by the Patriotic Front the illicit regime of Ian Smith would have survived and acquired respectability. It cannot be disputed that the illegal minority Government could not have lasted more than a few months if sanctions, especially oil sanctions, had 1072 been effectively applied. The fact is that they were not. Thus it was that the multinational oil companies were deciding the future of the regime in Rhodesia.
The multinationals decided to support the illegal regime led by Ian Smith. Many of us suspect that that was predetermined before UDI was declared. We suspect that Ian Smith must have received assurances. If not official, he must have had a nod and a wink that his oil supplies would remain intact. The statesmen who represent the free world, especially those who speak for the free world in Britain, should feel sick and ashamed that that circumstance was allowed to develop.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has observed that there was some risk in offending South Africa. I found that section of his speech distasteful. The cruel and brutal Administration which exists in South Africa is, in my view, a passing nightmare. Our allegiance should be to the brave people who have opposed that evil regime, often at fearful risk to themselves. We should remind ourselves of the plight of Nelson Mandela and the death of Steve Biko. It is sad that a Labour Government should seek to defend their position by pleading that we are in awe of the economic might of South Africa.
If sanctions were to apply to South Africa, it would feel the impact as well as Britain. We speak as if Britain exclusively would be affected and that only we would have a deteriorating economy if we applied some degree of sanction against South Africa. It is certain that South Africa has insufficient internal oil supplies and that it depends to an enormous extent on outside suppliers. At least 60 per cent. of its refining facilities are outside South Africa. Had sufficient pressure been applied on South Africa's oil supplies and had they been placed at risk, South Africa would not have defended Rhodesia at the risk of its own existence.
That was never put to the test. It was allowed to drift. I have no doubt that there are other nations that are prepared to provide oil for Rhodesia even if we effectively apply sanctions. Surely that argument is not sufficient. It may be that other nations are prepared to breach sanctions, but this country has a direct responsibility.
1073 There are some who indulge in vandalism or violence, but that does not excuse an honest citizen if he similarly indulges. The fact that others break the law does not give an honest citizen the right to do so. Britain had a direct and special responsibility that we neglected to observe. We did not adopt a craven attitude when the embargo on arms to South Africa was introduced. Nor should we do so in respect of oil sanctions.
When the arms embargo was applied it was said that there would be reprisals by South Africa. It was said that they would adversely affect our terms of trade. It has been clearly demonstrated that we have survived any reprisals. It is South Africa that has, as it were, appealed.
Those who will inevitably come to power in Africa in the fullness of time will remember the attitude of the British Government. They will not forgive and forget. Nor should we expect that they will do so.
I find it comforting to learn from the Foreign Secretary that the flow of oil to Rhodesia from BP and Shell has been brought to a halt, though how this is feasible now when it was not possible for 13 long years has not been explained. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton quoted yesterday the report in The Sunday Times which said that BP was still pumping oil into Rhodesia up to a few days before the Bingham report was published. So much for the regard and respect in which law and order is held by multinational companies.
The voice of the Government has been muted. We have had Government nominess on the board of BP and hardly a squeak has come from them. A couple of muttered protests in 13 years is not sufficient and there will have to be a deep investigation.
The charge that Governments, both Labour and Conservative, have to answer is either conspiracy or incredible incompetence. The Bingham report reveals that democracy is under seige. The ultimate loyalty of every hon. Member is not to personalities but to principles. We must insist that there is no evasion. A further inquiry must be put in hand and I believe that it should be in the form of a Select Committee with special powers to call for any documents.
1074 No question of embarrassment or inconvenience should allow us to avoid this issue. We must cleanse the conscience of the House. All relevant documents must be made available. Only by facing the facts, however unpalatable, and by taking necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of this sort of scandal can we win the respect of the younger generation, not only in emerging countries but in this country.
Many people still believe that the process of democracy is the hope of the world. Perhaps we have become too comfortable in our democratic surroundings. We take our good fortune very much for granted. We must be prepared—aye and anxious—to defend, advocate and implement that democratic principle. No supranational company and no trading or economic tribulation must distract us from this basic, lofty responsibility.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
It is a great pleasure to follow in the debate the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Rodgers). Despite our different political stances, I am much more in agreement with him than he may suspect. I agree particularly with what he said about this being a melancholy and miserable debate.
It is the thirtieth or so such debate that the House has had, reflecting, since UDI, the attempted exercise of responsibility without power. That situation has shamed this country for many years. In addition, we now have the Bingham report. I congratulate the Foreign Secretary on having instituted the inquiry, but it is concerned only with companies.
The people of this country do not want to see the tradesmen hung. They want to see hung the politicians who have deceived them over sanctions for year after year. That is the grim fact which should be faced by both Front Benches. The people have been deceived and the House has been deceived. That is why I agree with the hon. Member for Chorley that there must be a further inquiry into these matters.
I should like to draw the House's attention to the Beira patrol, which is not referred to in the Bingham report but which has been defended as having been of importance. I have a list of the ships that took part in the Beira patrol. They include the carriers "Ark 1075 Royal" and "Eagle" and between 12 and 20 of our frigates and destroyers. The only ships left out seem to have been "Fearless" and "Tiger". No doubt that was because they were being used elsewhere by the Prime Minister of the day.
From the beginning, the Beira patrol was a total waste of money. I have some figures on what it achieved. The responsibility of politicians is not what they said to each other but the questions they failed to ask. Ministers of Defence of both parties should be called before any new tribunal. They were always saying that they had no money to buy new planes or ships. Why did they not ask questions about the Beira patrol? They have reduced this country to 74 front-line aircraft.
Let us consider the Beira patrol. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said that he knew nothing about these matters. If he had made some investigations, surely he would have found that the supply of oil to Rhodesia doubled between 1968 and 1973.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)
This is an important question. Should not the same question have been addressed to Parliament? Why did we not ask that question during the past 13 years?
§ Mr. Fraser
Because, ingenious and clever though the hon. Gentleman is—and doubtless I am, too, in a minor way—we were told by our two Front Benches that sanctions were working and were an essential part of British policy. The fact is that between 1968 and 1973 the importation of oil into Rhodesia rose from 360,000 tons to about 540,000 tons. Yet we had this great Beira patrol. I should like to know how much it cost over those years. It may have been about £200 million.
Let us consider what was happening. We now have all the evidence from Portuguese captains of ships which went out carrying the mail from the port of Beira to the British ships which were cruising about. Any ship could go into Lourenco Marques. Was there any stoppage of those ships? No.
The Beira patrol was a success. Why? There are two simple reasons. First, no one wanted to land oil at Beira. That was because the pipeline had been cut and the refinery was out of action. 1076 Secondly, by 1970, the harbour at Beira was silting up. But the Beira patrol, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money, continued to blockade a port into which, with luck, one could get oil only on a row boat. Perhaps we shall have a further inquiry and shall ask some of the defence Ministers of both Governments why they kept telling the House that the Beira patrol was an essential part of sanctions. That is what makes the public sick with politicians. That is why there must be a further inquiry into these matters.
I turn now to the more important issue of what should be our policy regarding the situation in Rhodesia. We have had important speeches on this issue from both sides of the House. But what stands out beyond measure is that the internal settlement is the best bet that we know. The internal settlement was brought about not by the House of Commons or by the machinations of various Foreign Secretaries but by events in Africa, by the pressure essentially of the South African Government, by the breakdown of the Portuguese Government and by the collapse in world prices. If the Foreign Secretary or Opposition Members feel that they have much influence, let them concentrate that influence on the question of sanctions.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), in a delightful speech yesterday, fell into precisely the same trap, the same elephant pit, as that which has engulfed the Foreign Secretary of the day. That elephant pit is simply the concept that, by industry broadening the British connection, we can achieve a policy.
If we look back at the failure of this country in its post-colonial stage, we see that the reason has been simply that we have had the Garter King of Arms, or some such mythical person—
§ Mr. Fraser
Then devoted to precedent, devoted to the attitudes and aspirations of my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). Such a person, rather than the politician, has designed the constitution governing 1077 the conduct of our affairs with our ex-colonial territories.
Let us take what happened in the case of France. In the middle of the de Gaulle period, France offered to its colonial possessions the Union Francaise. It suggested that they should all come together, that they should all be French. The offer was rejected. It was rejected by Sekou Touré and other leaders in Africa.
The French logically said "That is the end of that. We shall not have between France and Senegal, Chad, Brazzaville and Dakar a confused relationship, a sort of bogus commonwealth. We shall have a direct, unilateral relationship between Dakar and Paris, for instance."
What have we done? We have created the great mystical nonsense of the Commonealth secretariat, of the Commonwealth sanctions committee, the Commonwealth gathering on this and that. We have backed the Organisation of African Unity, one of the most nonsensical organisations in the world. We have gone to the United Nations.
Now what does my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire propose to do? He proposes to go to the EEC. He says that we must have a new Western presence, as though the Germans, the Italians, the Dutch or anyone else would be interested in getting us out of the position that we are in because of our own follies. I have never heard—except from the Foreign Secretary—such an amazingly illogical approach to a world problem.
Therefore, I am distressed. As has just been said, it is a melancholy debate. It is melancholy debate when the best argument that can be put forward by one's own Front Bench for not voting against sanctions is that it has a new mystical idea of bringing in the EEC. My reply is "Go and tell that to the marines."
We have a very simple issue before us on the question of sanctions. Many of us believe, and the Conservative Front Bench believes, that the best chance is for the internal settlement to be backed. I wish to refer briefly to the important speech made by the Foreign Secretary in May, when he said why he thought that the internal settlement should not be backed.
1078 That speech rejecting the agreement of 3rd March ran roughly as follows. The first argument was that the Five front-line Presidents were becoming stronger. But now one of them is dying, two of them are fighting one another and two are concerned with internal rebellions. The five Presidents could not be in a weaker position.
The next argument put forward by the Foreign Secretary, who I regret is not here, was that the guerrilla armies were growing and becoming more and more powerful and that undoubtedly there would be a collapse. The guerrilla armies are admittedly causing a great deal of trouble, but the idea that they would be able to march in in the rainy season is now out of the question.
Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman said that the EEC had just had a great triumph in Namibia, that we had got the South Africans to agree that the United Nations was right and South Africa wrong. Now the United Nations has been seen off.
All those calculations have proved absurdly inaccurate. Yet our Front Bench says tonight that we must balance up everything. Those on the Front Bench say that admittedly morale will be helped. Morale? Why do they not read Napoleon? Morale is as 10 is to one in a war.
The best that the Opposition Front Bench can do tonight, if it is to make any contribution other than making flatulent suggestions about getting the EEC involved in this already absurd situation, is to vote solidly with the party, as the country would like to see it vote, by saying "Enough of sanctions." But let us not only have enough of sanctions. Let us exercise one of the few options still open to us as a nation in this matter by going to the United Nations and saying "Mandatory sanctions were brought in under Article 39 because Rhodesia was a threat to world peace", and let the United Nations consider who is the threat to world peace tonight.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Dr. Oonagh McDonald (Thurrock)
Yesterday, the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) described the internal settlement as "a big stride forward" which had ended the struggle of black against white in Rhodesia, and today the right hon. Member for Stafford and 1079 Stone (Mr. Fraser) said that it was the best bet that we could get.
If anyone is taken in by the way in which the internal settlement is trying deliberately to present itself, that is what he will believe. If anyone is taken in by the fact that racial discrimination apparently has been abolished and that when the internal settlement was agreed in March 800 political detainees were released, he, too, might believe that the internal settlement was the best bet for Rhodesia.
But anyone looking at the internal settlement a little more closely discovers that the ending of racial discrimination has to do with swimming pools and hotels and that it has nothing to do as yet with land and nothing to do with any economic equality. The average wage of whites in Rhodesia is 541 dollars a month. For blacks, it is 49 dollars a month. One Opposition Member asked why some Rhodesian blacks were joining the security forces. I have no difficulty in understanding why. If a man is unemployed and starving, a job is worth having. No doubt that is why some blacks wish to join Rhodesia's security forces.
Anyone who was taken in by that first flush of enthusiasm in the release of prisoners forgets conveniently that there are still between 2,000 and 3,000 political prisoners in Rhodesia and that in September another 300 were rounded up. ZANU and ZAPU were declared illegal, and Smith announced that he would destroy the two wings of the Patriotic Front and their machinery.
Anyone who has been taken in by the internal settlement has failed to notice that military and economic power is still firmly concentrated in the hands of the whites of Rhodesia and that the black participants in the internal settlement are there, apparently, largely for decoration. The judiciary is also firmly in the hands of the whites, and some of the judges there have made their racialist views perfectly well known.
It is no small wonder that many Africans looking at the internal settlement do not find that it is the best bet for them, even though it may be the best bet for some Opposition Members who consider the internal settlement in Rhodesia from the comfort of this country.
1080 Despite all that Smith has said, I cannot see him coming quietly to the negotiating table ready to hold fair and free elections —elections which he has just postponed again and for which as yet no date is fixed. That is why the pressures on Smith must remain if we are to secure free and fair elections and if we are properly to establish majority rule in Rhodesia. That is why the Government were right to withhold their support from the internal settlement and to continue to negotiate and exert pressure to get Smith and the whites in Rhodesia finally to agree, under pressure, to hold elections and to establish black majority rule.
Only by voting for the continuance of sanctions tonight shall we make our position clear not just to Rhodesia but to the whole of Southern Africa. What we do here tonight is important—important not just for Rhodesia but important also to show clearly in Southern Africa that we are on the side of properly elected majority government and that we do not support the white minorities who wish to perpetuate their comfort and luxury at the expense of others.
For that reason, too, it is important for us to look at the past and to hold an inquiry, an inquiry, as has rightly been urged, conducted by a Select Committee properly supported and with access to all the relevant documents. Among those documents the Cabinet committee minutes may not be the most important. Perhaps digging around in the departmental files of the various Ministries involved will prove much more fruitful, and I am confident that those who serve on such a Select Committee, once they have begun to investigate, will begin to see the relevance of this and that document, will ask for the right information, and will pursue their inquiries thoroughly.
It is essential that we have such an inquiry not just because we must put the record straight and exert again the sovereignty of Parliament over the Executive but also because we must have concern for our standing in Africa. We must make plain that we do not connive with illegal regimes and in illegal acts such as sanctions-busting, that we do not connive in deceit by Governments—if, indeed, there was any such deceit, which is a question yet to be settled.
1081 There is one feature which has struck me in both the debate in the House and the debate conducted in the media during the past weeks. On the Government Benches, many of us have called for an inquiry—indeed, that was our immediate response—but although hon. Members on the Opposition Benches belong to the party which describes itself as the party of law and order and their party has said that there must be an inquiry, that has not been said with any great vigour or firmness.
§ Dr. McDonald
The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), speaking on this matter, said that nobody told him what was going on. But he did not trouble to find out. He wanted an inquiry, but he was very doubtful about the release of documents.
The Conservative Party once again shows its schizophrenia on the issue of law and order. Conservatives are vociferous enough in their demands for law and order when the petty criminal or vandal is involved, but I do not hear them shout loudly for law and order when it is a question of oil companies or the possible involvement of their own Government during the period between 1970 and 1974. I did not notice the Leader of the Opposition springing to her feet or rushing to the press to tell us what happened when Castrol, apparently, made lubricating oil available, without which oil would have been quite useless in Rhodesia, from 1966. Although she might have had indirect access to such information, I did not hear that.
The Conservative Party, the party of law and order, so called, had better make sure that it is keen to investigate the operations of its own Government in their period of office and keen also to investigate the operations of its friends in the multinational companies. We must have such an investigation, and let us have it with the strongest support of all hon. Members opposite and not just from one or two below the Gangway who are trying to make sure that their own consciences are clear.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)
Although one would not think it from many of the speeches made in the debate, the House is discussing the present problems of Rhodesia not in isolation but against a background of a world which is getting darker and darker from the point of view of the West. We have seen the relentless pressure of the Soviet Union in the Red Sea and in the Gulf, its mastery in Afghanistan, and pressure now in Iran. We are beginning, albeit in a small way, to feel that pressure nearer home. I saw in the press recently that suggestions are being made to the West German Government that there should not be further NATO manoeuvres in West Germany.
That is the background. Since the Cuban invasion of Angola, the response from the West in Africa has been disorganised and feeble. The United States seems to be disenchanted, Europe disunited and the United Kingdom disarmed and disabled. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) suggested that we should try to mobilise the West. Yes, but I do not think that we in the Tory Party can afford simply to wait for that, because there is one area where we could act now—as a country would, I hope, as a Government can, I would wish, as an Opposition: that is in doing everything possible to remove sanctions as soon as may be.
In the last two years or so, the attitude of the Government and the Foreign Secretary has become more and more hostile to the major interests of the United Kingdom. At the time of the Cuban invasion of Angola, I expressed concern about raw materials. The Government, in the person of the then Minister of State at the Foreign Office, told me that they took very seriously indeed potential threats to our supplies of essential raw materials. I wish I could feel that they took them quite so seriously now, because those threats will not come from the members of the internal settlement or the Governments of Africa; they come, when they do, from outside.
At the time of the Cuban invasion, I was one of those who suggested that we might give arms as well as aid to Zambia against the Cuban threat. In the same letter, the then Minister of State asked 1083 me to note that the then Foreign Secretary had made it clear that the Government would take a very serious view of an extension of the present Cuban role in Angola into any of the neighbouring countries in Southern Africa. Now the Government are supplying arms to Zambia despite the extension of the Cuban role into that country.
So, in this context, the main reason why I put down the amendment standing in my name and the names of some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and why I shall be voting against the continuation of sanctions tonight, is my wish to do all in my power to help secure a settlement which is in the longer-term interests not only of Rhodesia becoming Zimbabwe but also of the United Kingdom itself.
I believe that the arms that are being sent to Zambia will help to keep Mr. Nkomo away from the conference table, allowing him to use his Russian weapons against the internal settlement while British weapons defend him against any counter-attack. He is being positively encouraged by the Government to believe that he must win. No doubt this means that he is beginning to gain support from those who join him not because they wish to but because they are fearful of what will happen to them if they are on the losing side against his terrorists, seeing them supported not only by the Soviet Union but by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Foreign Secretary said in his speech that the internal settlement was losing credibility. I am amazed that it has not lost more in the face of the continuing and relentless hostility of himself and his Government and, presently, the Government of the United States. He said that we could not expect the Patriotic Front to be bombed into submission. We do not. Such attacks by the internal interim Government have been made against those bases which Zambia and Mozambique have allowed to be developed within their territories for raids into Rhodesia. Does the right hon. Gentleman expect the internal settlement, reached with such heart-searching and difficulty among four such disparate interests, to be terrorised out of existence? That seems to be the line of his present policy.
1084 Of course, Mr. Smith did too little too late. We all told him that years ago. But he has acted. He has changed and has brought together people who were fighting him, who have no good reason to like him but who are willing to work together with him for the good of their country. What they ask is that they should be supported by Britain, which, after all, claims responsibility for that country.
The new regime may not have gone very fast, but it is committed in principle to everything that has been asked of it. It is working to the ends which all seek and it is working for the unity of all the peoples in Rhodesia who, we hope, will go to make up the peaceful and multiracial State of Zimbabwe. I say "all the peoples" because there are different peoples among the black inhabitants of that country as well as among the whites.
The only black leaders who are seeking to unite the blacks are those who are working with Mr. Smith in the internal settlement. The others, the so-called Patriotic Front, are engaged not in a war of liberation for their country, not in an attempt to bring a peaceful settlement for their country and not even in an attempt to unite their own black peoples. This war is for them a struggle for power.
That is one of my main reasons for voting against sanctions for the first time. It would be hypocritical to continue them without trying to impose sanctions on South Africa. They hurt the black population far more than the white, preventing black students from coming here, for example. It means white technicians and others who will be indispensable to the future prosperity of Rhodesia leaving that country. It makes harder the most important positive side of activities against the terrorists, namely, raising the conditions and standard of living in those areas where the guerrillas have come in from the bush and are working with the security forces.
These are very good reasons for voting against sanctions. There is another, and it is Zambia. Mr. Kaunda has asked for the boundary to be opened and the internal Government, despite sanctions, and despite all that Mr. Kaunda has done against them, have agreed. They are supplying him. If that is not a gesture towards African unity, God knows what is.
1085 The final reason that I have for voting against sanctions is that it would show Mr. Nkomo that he, too, must be willing to negotiate and to make some concessions. I know that there ale potential dangers in annoying the black African countries, but I do not really believe in those dangers. I ought to declare a personal interest. My firm sells a lot of books to Nigeria and has invested quite a lot there, but I do not believe that it will be affected in this sort of way. The black African countries do not want terrorists, trained and dominated by Cubans, and they do not want to see any extension of Soviet influence in Africa.
Those of us who have from time to time been engaged in negotiations with trades unions know that one of the most important points in any negotiation is that all parties should show some degree of movement, and that the different parties should preferably move roughly by the same amount and at the same rate. I think it is also true of this type of negotiation. The trouble is that only one party has shown any sign of movement, and that is the members of the internal settlement. The British Government have not shown any sign of movement, nor have Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, but those who support the internal settlement have. I wish that this could be recognised in the only way open to us in this House, and that hon. Members will show their support by voting tonight against the continuation of sanctions, which do not work, anyway.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Luce (Shoreham)
This is the fourth time within a period of 12 months that I have caught your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in order to wind up for the Opposition in a debate on Rhodesia. I do not think that anyone relishes such a prospect. Each time that we have had a debate in the past year, the situation in Rhodesia has got graver and graver. Each time that we have had a debate in this House in the past year, the tensions, the sense of frustration, the bitterness, in this House, in this country, in Rhodesia itself and in the international community as well, have intensified.
There has, quite understandably, been much discussion concerning the Bingham report. I do not think that anyone in 1086 this House would underestimate the importance of that report. Of course, the subject is inevitably closely linked to the issue of Rhodesia and its problems, but the report, however important it may be, deals with the past. The most immediate issue, as I believe the vast majority of us think, is the crisis in Rhodesia today, where one person an hour is being killed. That is the issue to which I wish to address my main remarks during the course of my speech.
The debate has certainly not been satisfactory. The House may in some way wish to continue the discussion of the Bingham report. Undoubtedly, there is deep anxiety in the House about its implications. Many questions have been raised, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) has said. Indeed, it is true, perhaps, that the integrity of Governments is under challenge. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) said—reinforced by my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser)—the buck must stop here in Parliament.
I was and am still a member of the Select Committee on Procedure which has been looking at and recommending reforms for this Parliament. I believe that this issue strikes at the heart of the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. I am one of the many hon. Members on both sides of the House who feel that there is an urgent need to redress the balance between the legislature and the Executive.
In the light of these two days and, indeed, of the rather lengthy and copious speech of the Attorney-General as well as all the other contributions, all hon. Members, including my right hon. Friends, will wish to consider very carefully indeed the constructive and important points that have been made in all parts of the House, because anxiety undoubtedly exists not just in this Chamber but outside it as well.
With regard to Rhodesia, I start by talking for a moment or two about the historical perspective. My hon. Friend the Member for Havant and Waterloo (Mr. Lloyd) referred yesterday to the need for historical perspective in the consideration 1087 of this critical issue. In examining the day-to-day crisis that we are facing in Rhodesia today, it would not be responsible of the House to look at it in isolation from the broad historical prespective. It is essential that we should see Rhodesia within the context of our past empire and the post-imperial age.
I was a district officer in the twilight of United Kingdom rule in Kenya and I, for my part, am very proud of the objectives which we had in that country, and particularly those of Conservative Governments in the 1950s and 1960s. The objectives were to provide independence to so many countries based on democratic systems, independence based on respect for the rule of law, on respect for individual liberty irrespective of race, and on equality of all individuals before the law. I am very proud of those objectives, as I was when I was a district officer. It is going back a bit, of course, but the very distinguished father of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) fought similar battles in the 1930s when he fought solidly in favour of the India Act based on precisely those principles.
I am very proud of the record of the Government led by Mr. Harold Macmillan who, in the 1950s and early 1960s, was largely responsible for providing independence to so many countries in Africa based on those principles which I have just enunciated. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), a very distinguished Secretary of State for the Colonies, under whom I myself served, played a leading and distinguished part in that.
For my own part, for that very short period in Kenya, I felt a profound commitment to those principles. By sticking to those principles in Kenya we met with success. It is for that very reason that we are today close allies of that country. That is a matter of profound importance, for when we look back on that period, we see that we could impart only what we believed in, in terms of our democratic beliefs and experience. It would have been utterly arrogant to assume that those countries wanting independence would stick solidly to our own system, because they had different cultural, historical and social backgrounds.
The Commonwealth provides common bonds for us. Of course, there have been 1088 many disappointments, just as we have deplored the disappointments that we have seen this century in Western Europe. But the democratic tradition, of varying natures, endures within the Commonwealth, whether we are talking about India, about Kenya or about many other countries. Our task here, as I see it, if peace is to be fought for, is to stick to those principles and to those practices and to keep them alive, firstly, at home and to fight for them where we have remaining responsibilities abroad.
Following this stage in our history, I believe that there is an enormous fund of good will towards us in so many continents. This has enabled us to enter into a new era of equal relationships with so many countries. Therefore, we must see Rhodesia in the context of that recent history. Having served as a district officer—I know that I share this experience with my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook)—I approach the problems of Africa with even greater humility than perhaps I otherwise would have done. We face a terrible tragedy in Rhodesia, which in my view in large measure stems from the unique history that we face with regard to Rhodesia.
This was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands and, in a very cogent speech, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion. Our unique history is that we here in Westminster have never exercised control in the traditional colonial sense. If we had, I believe the story might have been very different indeed in Rhodesia today. It would have been unlikely that we would have had today's bloodshed in that country. Equally I have to say that to some extent this tragedy has marred—I am not now going over the history of Rhodesia—the smoothness of that transformation to a new important post-imperial relationship with so many countries in so many parts of the world.
I come to the Government's position. We have never chosen to exercise control from Westminster. Yes, of course we retain legal responsibility. Therefore, the world looks to us to take a lead, and we must live up to that responsibility. The best way to discharge that responsibility is to ensure that we see the fulfilment of those six principles of which only one remains to be fulfilled. In my 1089 view, everything else must be seen within that context.
So many people have referred to the tragedy of the present situation in Rhodesia. As I see it, we face there a war of a kind, a war which is also swallowing up neighbouring countries. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire gave a graphic description of the tragedies that are being faced in that country, of the fact that 4,000 people in Rhodesia—black and white—have died in the first nine months of this year, of the grave social dislocation ranging from schools to cattle and the destruction of housing. He told us how this war has embraced not only Rhodesia itself but also innocent lives in other countries—Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique.
I come to the Opposition's case. It would be churlish of me not to say that I believe we have one common objective with the Government. That is the creation of an independent democracy, based on majority rule, in Rhodesia. But, that being said, a fundamental disagreement between our two sides lies in how we can best achieve that objective. That is the reason behind our amendment tonight. I have to say that the Secretary of State's speech yesterday was deeply disappointing and totally discouraging to the people of Rhodesia. Despite that, I believe that there is still hope. I desperately hope that the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister will respond to the constructive views that we Conservatives are trying to put across.
We must examine the Government's handling of this issue, but I shall come on to our constructive views. I shall deal with them one by one. I believe the turning point came in September 1976. That was the crucial turning point in the history of Rhodesia when the principle of majority rule was accepted. Then came the agreement of 3rd March when black and white people got together and said "Right, we accept the principle of majority rule. Let us now work out a plan in order to fulfil that providing, of course, as the Anglo-American proposals do, safeguards for the whites in Rhodesia."
Her Majesty's Government's role at that moment was absolutely critical, because a structure had been created, which, how 1090 ever fragile, did exist. What was required from the Government, as my hon. Friends the Members for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) and for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) have said so forcibly, was active encouragement to the internal leaders to bring out the best in human nature. Surely this is what statesmanship is all about. Ever since that date, John Davies, under whom I have been very proud to work, and my hon. and right hon. Friends, day after day, week after week, month after month, have ben urging the Secretary of State to change course and to give active encouragement to the internal settlement.
On 4th May we held a debate. We did not vote in that debate, in the hope that the Government would respond. Again the Government failed to respond. On 2nd August we held a debate. We forced a vote then in the hope that at least the Government would take note of our views and reconsider, but still they have not responded. In this debate we have had a totally negative and discouraging speech from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The Government take this passive approach. I have to reiterate that, however unintentional it may be, this is encouraging the men who believe they can achieve their ends by the use of the gun.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union sits by ready to watch the apples rot and starting to shake that tree. The credibility of the internal leaders depends on the momentum of the internal agreement. No one would disagree that progress has in some fields been disappointingly slow, but let us also acknowledge their achievements—which the Labour Party time and time again, with its vindictive attitude towards the whites in Rhodesia, has failed to acknowledge.
The internal leaders have formed an executive council, black and white Ministers are working together in a day-to-day Administration. They have made attempts to absorb the terrorists, they have released the detainees and have announced their clear intention, however late in the day, to drop the racially discriminating laws in housing, education and health.
§ Mr. Bryan Davies (Enfield, North)
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that, in portraying this arrangement of shared power, he must come to terms with the 1091 fact that when Smith goes to Lusaka to speak to Nkomo, the blacks know nothing about it; when the security forces attack Mozambique, the blacks know nothing about it; and when the election date is postponed in which the blacks put so much credence, the blacks know nothing about that either?
§ Mr. Luce
I have a great deal of respect for the hon. Gentleman, to whom I listened carefully and with great interest, but I do not agree with the judgment he has made. I believe that the interim Administration has been very slow to promote able black people into senior positions, which is a matter of profound importance. I believe it is regrettable that the constitution is not yet published and that there is to be some delay in the election. The key, to my mind, is the fifth principle.
The action required of Her Majesty's Government—we have reiterated this time and again—is that there must be a mission in Salisbury. The Secretary of State spoke of the lack of information about what is going on in Rhodesia. That is precisely the reason why we want a mission in Salisbury. Surely it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that this Government can find some arrangement whereby they can have some representatives in Salisbury.
Secondly we can give practical advice on the constitution. If there is a major stumbling block over Matabele seats, with all our experience of our past empire, surely we of all people can give practical advice here.
Then there is the question of helping in the preparation of elections. With all our experience we could give help in facilitating the holding of free and fair elections.
The Secretary of State is reported to have said on 28th August that Mr. Nkomo is the father of his people. I ask him who he is to judge who are the fathers of the people of Rhodesia? It is the people of Rhodesia who must have the right to judge who are the fathers and who will be the elected leaders of that country.
§ Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler (Norfolk, North-West)
Will my hon. Friend comment on the fact that many of us on this side of the House feel that far more rapid progress could have been 1092 made in Rhodesia in the repeal of discriminatory legislation and towards elections had the Foreign Secretary responded to the point that we have made consistently for two years now—that we should have a mission on the ground in Rhodesia? If he would give us people in Rhodesia they could actually help to bring about the kind of settlement that we all want. Will my hon. Friend press the Foreign Secretary to answer that question tonight?
§ Mr. Luce
My hon. Friend has entirely endorsed my views. I ask the Minister of State to tell us what he plans to do about this.
I wish to touch in passing on the question of sanctions. There will be, after this, a one-and-a-half hour debate, and my hon. Friends and hon. Members will have the opportunity to explore this question in more detail. There is one question that we must consider. Will the ending of sanctions help to bring about peace in Rhodesia?
I fully understand the deep sense of frustration felt inside and outside this House about the Rhodesian situation. I understand the feeling of my hon. Friends who sense that the only tangible thing they can do in this time of great anxiety over Rhodesia is to vote against sanctions. We have a common bond in desiring to see sanctions removed. The only disagreement is how, when and in what circumstances.
The decision to impose sanctions on Rhodesia or on any other country involves one set of considerations but the decision to remove them involves a completely different set of considerations. In my view, the argument is not economic but political. Sanctions have become a symbol and have been placed on a pedestal, whether we like it or not. The crucial question, therefore, is whether their removal will help to bring about peace.
In my view, no one has a monopoly of good judgment, wisdom or courage in taking this decision. We must make up our minds as to what is the best judgment in terms of trying to bring about peace in Rhodesia. I have the greatest respect for the very forceful arguments that have been put by my right hon. Friends the Members for Brighton, Pavilion, for Stafford and Stone, and for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan), and my hon. 1093 Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett.) However, I believe that our central obligation is to keep faith with the six principles and there is still one principle to be fulfilled—the fifth.
Above all else, on the return of a Conservative Government—the sooner that comes the better—we shall need to mobilise the support of all our allies in the United States, the EEC and the Commonwealth to go to the United Nations and seek the removal of sanctions as an integral part of an inter-related approach to a Rhodesian solution. In my view, unilateral action by our party at this time would weaken the credibility of a new Conservative Foreign Secretary and make a negotiated position that much harder in trying to seek a solution on Rhodesia. We need our allies in this critical time.
I reiterate what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire when he opened the debate. We support the removal of sanctions after the holding of free and fair elections.
In addition to building on the structure of the internal settlement, there are other constructive courses of action that need to be taken urgently by the Government.
First, the Government should seek to mobilise all our allies to lead concerted international action to bend all efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation; to take sides in favour of democracy and against violence; to draw out leadership and the best not only in this country but in the United States, in the EEC, the Commonwealth, among the internal leaders of Rhodesia, the leaders of Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, and the leaders of the Patriotic Front. Has it not been considered that the continuing of civil war based on personal ambition could reduce Rhodesia to a heap of ashes? That was what my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) implied in his impressive speech today.
To buttress this effort, the contact group principle led by the United Kingdom in a sustained effort towards peace could help in this direction. An all-party conference is complementary to an internal settlement and could help to bring about a ceasefire and a United Nations presence in observing the elec 1094 tions and in providing international support. I believe that this is a matter of the highest possible priority.
Let me deal with the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire that the Prime Minister should set a lead. I welcome the Prime Minister's positive response in saying that he will consider the idea very carefully. It may be right to adopt some kind of formula, whether it be on the lines of the Camp David agreement or some other. We all understand that the conditions for such talks must be propitious. Furthermore, the conditions must be secret, well-prepared and based on a sustained effort, but Her Majesty's Government must give a greater lead to create such conditions. This is a possibility to which the Prime Minister should give urgent priority. Our message to the right hon. Gentleman is that he should not miss the boat.
We have put forward constructive proposals—namely, the need for a mission, the need to build on the internal agreement, the need for an all-party conference, the need to mobilise allied support, the need to work on a contact group and the need for the Prime Minister to intervene. We must work, above all else, for a peaceful democratic solution. We must take sides in favour of democracy and against violence. I say with considerable pain to the Foreign Secretary that historians will judge him harshly on his policies on Rhodesia in the past few months. But it is not too late, and we put forward our amendment in that spirit.
Let the Prime Minister be big enough to change course and lift Rhodesia out of this tragic morass. We will respect the right hon. Gentleman if he follows that advice. But if he fails, we stand ready in our party to take on the responsibilities, for the prize is worth fighting for.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Edward Rowlands)
The two-day debate has covered some 16 hours. It has taken in the Bingham report and the issue of sanctions as well as the present position in Rhodesia and the present state of negotiations. Like the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce), I shall concentrate my remarks on the question of sanctions and the present state of negotiations and discussions on the Rhodesian 1095 problem. That in no way diminishes the importance of the discussion of the Bingham report.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said that the Government wished to sound the views of the House on what further inquiries should be conducted. The Government will consider the views expressed during the debate on the possibility and the nature of such inquiries. We shall advise the House of our decision as soon as possible.
I do not wish to discuss further, or in any greater detail, the background to the events described in the Bingham report. The House has heard the recollections and the views of right hon. and hon. Members who have in the past been involved in these issues. I only recall the overriding themes of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General.
The Government took steps to investigate and produce the information. We commissioned the Bingham report and published the report. We have placed upon the oil companies the exacting responsibilities that my right hon. Friend described to the House yesterday. We have made it clear to the companies that we expect our relationships with them in this connection to be based on the fullest possible disclosure.
During the debate and during discussions on the Bingham report, the report itself and the revelations contained in it have affected the views and attitudes of hon. Members on sanctions. That has emerged in a number of speeches. It has been said by some Opposition Members that they will change their minds compared with their traditional positions on sanctions. However, there have been many speeches by Members on both sides of the House to the effect that the Bingham revelations do not invalidate and do not remove the need for sanctions.
The debate on the renewal order will take place after the conclusion of the present debate. During that debate we shall be able to deal with the specific issues of the order, but the importance of sanctions and the importance of their continuance in the context of the situation in Rhodesia has been emphasised by 1096 many hon. Members on both sides of the House.
It would not make it easier to achieve a negotiated settlement if we were to lift sanctions now. Yesterday the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) said thatby lifting sanctions immediately we should be diminishing rather than enhancing the chances of negotiating.Those who oppose sanctions will in the words of the right hon. Gentleman,be diminishing rather than enhancing the chances of negotiating".We agree with that assessment. Majority rule has not yet been achieved. Free and fair elections have not yet been held. The fifth principle has not yet been met. In the light of the present situation, we do not think that sanctions can or should be lifted. We would be opposed by everyone in the international community and we would destroy any opportunity to influence the course of a negotiated settlement if we lifted sanctions.
The hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) made the plea that we should be more sympathetic to what he called "petty sanctions". I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, during the two and a half years that I have been one of the Ministers dealing with Rhodesian affairs, deep consideration has been given to these "petty sanctions". Agonising decisions are made in the exercise of discretion in relation to sanctions as they affect individuals. The problem is to try at the same time to remain fully consistent with the basic criteria laid down in 1968 and supported by successive Governments and in the statements of the Attorney-General of the day. I agree with the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon that we must continue to approach each case as flexibly as possible and consider whether discretion may be exercised.
Inevitably, much of the debate, despite the discusison on whether there should be another inquiry and on the Bingham report, has centred around the conduct and course of negotiations and the need to achieve an all-party conference and a negotiated settlement. I was interested in what the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire said about this aspect yesterday. He said:I support the Government wholeheartedly in their desire to secure and establish that conference and to include in it leaders of the 1097 Patriotic Front. The prospect of setting it up is less bright than it should be but it is the best way forward."—[Official Report, 7th November 1978; Vol. 957, c 730–734.]No hon. Member on either side of the House would not support that sentiment. The debate has been about how we can convene an all-party conference and how to create the conditons that would make a success of such a conference. I shall return to the right hon. Gentleman's views on the function and role of such a conference because they are relevant to the amendment and to the basis on which the Oppositon have sought to challenge us.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
Is it not a fact that the leaders of the transitional Government have agreed to come to the conference? What is the problem, other than the Patriotic Front?
§ Mr. Rowlands
I shall be discussing this matter in detail. Hon. Members on both sides of the House who support an all-party conference have said that we must make sure that the preparations are right, and try to ensure that the conference is successful and that the people who attend it will be able to get an agreement out of it. That is exactly what we have been trying to do in the many months of discussions which have preceded our debate.
§ Mr. Rowlands
Not at the moment. I am trying to reply to 16 hours of debate, and I expect that the right hon. Gentleman will probably interrupt me again before I finish.
The argument in the debate has been primarily about how we can get to a successful all-party conference. There is no longer an argument about that principle —and that is something of a change of heart for many Conservative Members, particularly those who have encouraged the parties to the internal settlement to do anything but attend an all-party conference. That is the present basis of policy and there is a measure of agreement.
How can we reach an all-party conference? There have been many suggestions in the debate about how we can proceed. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) made a powerful and persuasive 1098 speech and the Prime Minister has asked me to say that the Government will study most carefully the considerations and arguments advanced by him, especially on the possibility of a personal intervention by the Prime Minister to bring the main parties in the present dispute together.
Active diplomacy will proceed with the Salisbury parties, the Patriotic Front and the front-line Presidents to see whether the widely differing views can be brought closer in order to halt the present state of near civil war. The Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister will consider whether these contacts can be intensified. That was a key point in the proposals of the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire.
The Prime Minister has also asked me to say that he does not wish to add at present to the intervention he made—and the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire confirmed that it was a positive intervention—in response to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal yesterday. I assure the right hon. Members for Sid-cup and Cambridgeshire that the Prime Minister would not hesitate to intervene personally if there seemed a prospect that private discussion between the parties. conducted by him, would assist in securing a ceasefire, peaceful transition under a neutral Administration to free and fair elections, majority rule and independence.
The right hon. Member for Sidcup identified—other hon. Members have not emphasised this—the fundamental issue and problem facing a peaceful transition, namely, the security situation in Rhodesia He drew on his experience and appreciation of such situations and recognised that unless proposals addressed themselves to the fundamental problems of security and the fact that there is an armed conflict, which we cannot ignore or make disappear, there will not be a successful solution or peaceful transition to majority rule.
Whatever disagreements there may be across the Floor of the House, that is why we made specific proposals on how to control the armed forces during the transitional period and create a Zimbabwe national army that was loyal to the new Government. Whether Opposition Members like it or not, proposals dealing with these matters will have to be made and 1099 agreed if there is to be a successful peaceful transition to majority rule. That is the reality of the situation.
The right hon. Member for Sidcup wondered whether Rhodesians would accept a British figure to be in charge of security during a transitional period or whether we should look for an alternative. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that yesterday my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said:We envisage an agreed figure ".—[Official Report, 7th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 716.]We have not said that it should necessarily be a specific person, although we have had the valuable advice and efforts of Lord Carver. However, an agreed figure to be in charge of security issues would be a fundamental aspect of the discussions either before or during the course of an all-party conference. That vital aspect must be settled. I do not think that there is any fundamental disagreement between us in that respect.
The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire recommended the idea of a contact group modelled on the group which has been working for the last 20 months to two years on trying to resolve the Namibia problem. That is an interesting suggestion. During my time at the Foreign Office the transformation of the argument and issues and the process by which we have tried to find an internationally acceptable solution for Namibia through the contact group approach has been one of the most remarkable pieces of Western diplomacy that I have witnessed and had the pleasure of being marginally involved in. I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman was making a constructive proposal, but I should like to underline the nature of that group and the way that it has worked.
The group not only negotiated with the specific parties concerned—South Africa, SWAPO and the other Namibian groups —but recognised from the start that it was absolutely crucial to work with the five front-line States and that there could be no solution to the Namibian problem if it were not set in the context of the region as a whole. A number of hon. Members in our debates in the last 12 months have denied the value and validity of the role of the five front-line States. But one of the crucial aspects of the contact group 1100 was its relations not only with specific parties but with the five front-line States.
Secondly—this is equally important, especially in view of the Conservative Opposition's position on this matter—the contact group put forward a series of impartial proposals and then tried to persuade people to agree to them. It did not start by supporting one side and then trying to persuade the other side to join.
Although there has not been a contact group in the sense referred to by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, work has been done by the United Kingdom and the United States. In particular, Mr. Graham and Mr. Low have steadfastly and patiently worked over many months trying to identify the differences and broaden the areas of agreement through a low-key diplomatic process akin to the way that the contact group worked on the problem of Namibia.
But the point that I wish to make to the right hon. Gentleman and those who recommended that approach is that the reason for, and the validity and value of, the contact group was the fact that all five Western allies were completely agreed on a common, fundamental principle—that there was no acceptable, stable viable solution to the problem of Namibia or of Rhodesia on the basis of an unviable internal settlement. That is the position that the five have held on Namiba. Our French, German, Canadian and American colleagues have held exactly the same view on the internal settlement in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Amery
Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that the Patriotic Front is split from top to bottom, that the front-line Presidents are split from top to bottom and that this House is pretty evenly divided? The same is true of the Senate and the House of Representatives in America. Had not we better build on the foundation that has been laid in Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Rowlands
I should be very surprised if there were not disagreements among the front-line Presidents at times, if there were not differences of emphasis, and certainly if there were not disagreements in this House. But that has never been a reason for not negotiating, for not trying to seek solutions to the problems, 1101 for not working for them, for not trying to broaden the areas of agreement between ourselves.
The point I was making is that if one wants to use the analogy of the contact group and its work on Namibia one should recognise that the feature of the support for such an initiative is that all five Western members of the Security Council have accepted that the fundamental common objective is an internationally acceptable solution and have entirely rejected an unviable internal solution to the problems of Namibia or Rhodesia.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)rose—
§ Mr. Rowlands
I shall not give way. I do not have much time to answer the rest of the debate, after having been in the Chamber off and on for more or less 16 hours listening to the debate, as has the hon. Gentleman.
We shall look at other ways in which we can intensify our activity to create a chance for a successful all-party conference. At least between the Government and Opposition Front Benches there is no disagreement that there is a need for an all-party conference. That was central to the whole proposition that the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire advanced yesterday.
What has been absolutely baffling is the belief, arrived at with a total lack of evidence, that had the British Government taken a different view of the internal settlement since March there would immediately have been more chance of a successful all-party conference. That is absolute nonsense. There is no evidence to suggest that had we taken a different view of the internal settlement an all-party conference would have been achieved or that it would have been any more nearly possible.
The fundamental mistake repeatedly made by Opposition Members is to think that all that was needed was for the Salisbury group to offer an invitation to the Patriotic Front to join it. It has never been a question of invitations. It has always been, and remains, a question of fundamental negotiation to achieve the sort of agreement that we need. Therefore, I do not understand the basis of the arguments put forward by Conserva- 1102 tive Members who believe that if we had taken a different attitude towards the internal settlement all would suddenly have been well.
The amendment speaks of a need to create the conditions that would enable "free and fair elections" to be held as soon as possible, and condemns the Government for failing to create those conditions. That is absolute nonsense.
This is what the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire said yesterday, discussing the role and functions of an all-party conference:Such a conference has two functions to fulfil. The first is to obtain a ceasefire. If there are to be elections there must be something very close to a ceasefire—obviously a complete ceasefire if that is possible and a minimum level of intimidation. Unfortunately, there are many participants in the war, and to stop it they must all agree to do so. The best way of achieving this is by such a conference."—[Official Report, 7th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 730.]So the right hon. Gentleman said already that the condition on which free and fair elections could take place was a conference necessary to bring together all the parties to create a ceasefire. That ceasefire does not exist. Those who drafted, organised and supported the internal settlement in March—and Opposition Members made speeches to this effect in March and thereafter—said repeatedly " Once there is an internal settlement, the war will stop and the guerrillas will come home." They have not come home. The war has intensified. As my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) pointed out, the attitude of a large and growing number of people in Rhodesia towards the internal settlement has turned sour and more and more bitter, and therefore the guerrilla war has increased.
§ Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)
Is not the point that, during this year, the situation has gone from serious to worse? The Government have failed to bring about that conference. The Government have failed to bring about a ceasefire. Is not the attitude which the hon. Gentleman has taken altogether too complacent? The Opposition say that if he had handled it in a different way and taken new initiatives in the way that I suggested—and obviously he had much sympathy with them—the result would have been different.
§ Mr. Rowlands
The right hon. Gentleman was the first to talk about where the buck stopped. The buck started 13 years ago when Mr. Smith declared illegally UDI. For 13 years he and his people have deprived people of their rights, imprisoned people, brutalised people and have repeatedly prevented initiative after initiative. With other Ministers, I have been responsible for two and a half years, and in that time I have been involved in initiative after initiative. We have had meetings at Victoria Falls with Mr. Nkomo and with Mr. Vorster, but repeatedly these initiatives have broken down as a result of the intransigence of Mr. Smith and the encouragement which Opposition Members have given him instead of encouraging him to exercise a degree of flexibility.
I cannot and will not accept that the British Government in the last few months have not been able to create the conditions for free and fair elections. Yesterday, the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire himself described those conditions. He agreed that there was a need for international acceptability for such elections. He accepted the concept of at least a United Nations observer. Frankly, his policies over the last six months would have made totally impossible the holding of internationally acceptable elections and of an all-party conference to create a ceasefire so that
§ all participants could take part in such elections. At least now we still have a chance; we still have an opportunity.
§ The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire spoke of his humility after being involved in the issue for two and a half weeks. The passage of time should not decrease anyone's sense of humility. I have been involved in it for two and a half years and still feel that humility quite fundamentally. Hon. Members on both sides have endeavoured to solve one of the most intractable problems facing us.
§ The fact that the doors to an all-party conference have not been closed and that we in conjunction with the United States and our other partners can still exercise an influence in trying to create conditions not only for a successful all-party conference but then for free and fair elections is the basis of our policy. The Opposition are bankrupt of ideas in this respect. A number of interesting suggestions were put forward by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire and the right hon. Member for Sidcup to which in some respects the Government could respond. On the other hand, I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 278, Noes 323.1109
|Division No. 1]||AYES||[10.00 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Budgen, Nick||Emery, Peter|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Bulmer, Esmond||Eyre, Reginald|
|Alison, Michael||Burden, F. A.||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Arnold, Tom||Carlisle, Mark||Farr, John|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Fell, Anthony|
|Atkinson, David (B' mouth, East)||Channon, Paul||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Awdry, Daniel||Churchill, W. S.||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Baker, Kenneth||Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)|
|Banks, Robert||Clark, William (Croydon S)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Bell, Ronald||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Bendall, Vivian||Clegg, Walter||Forman, Nigel|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Cockcroft, John||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'l'd)|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Fox, Marcus|
|Benyon, W.||Cope, John||Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Cormack, Patrick||Fry, Peter|
|Biffen, John||Corrie, John||Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Costain, A. P.||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Blaker, Peter||Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Critchley, Julian||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian (Chesham)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Crouch, David||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)||Crowder, F. P.||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Godber, Rt Hon Joseph|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Dodsworlh, Geoffrey||Goodhart, Philip|
|Brittan, Leon||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Goodhew, Victor|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Drayson, Burnaby||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Gorst, John|
|Brotherton, Michael||Durant, Tony||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Dykes, Hugh||Grant Anthony (Harrow C)|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Gray, Hamish|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Grieve, Percy|
|Buck, Antony||Elliott, Sir William||Griffiths, Eldon|
|Grist, Ian||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Hail-Davis, A. G. F.||Madel, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Hamilton, Archibald (Epsom & Ewell)||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Marten, Nell||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Mates, Michael||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Hannam, John||Mather, Carol||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)||Maude, Angus||Scott, Nicholas|
|Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Mawby, Ray||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Hastings, Stephen||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Mayhew, Patrick||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Shepherd, Colin|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Shersby, Michael|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Mills, Peter||Silvester, Fred|
|Heseltine, Michael||Miscampbell, Norman||Sims, Roger|
|Hicks, Robert||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Moate, Roger||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Hodgson, Robin||Monro, Hector||Smith, Dudley (Warwick)|
|Holland, Philip||Montgomery, Fergus||Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)|
|Hordern, Peter||Moore, John (Croydon C)||Speed, Keith|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Spence, John|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Morgan, Geraint||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Sproat, Iain|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Morrison, Rt Hon Charles (Devizes)||Stainton, Keith|
|Hurd, Douglas||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Mudd, David||Stanley, John|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Neave, Airey||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)|
|James, David||Nelson, Anthony||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd)||Neubert, Michael||Stokes, John|
|Jessel, Toby||Newton, Tony||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)||Normanton, Tom||Tapsell, Peter|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Nott, John||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)|
|Jopling, Michael||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Teddy (Catchcart)|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Oppenheim, Mrs Sally||Tebbit, Norman|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Osborn, John||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Page. John (Harrow West)||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Kilfedder, James||Page, Richard (Workington)||Trotter, Neville|
|Kimball, Marcus||Paisley, Rev Ian||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Parkinson, Cecil||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Pattie, Geoffrey||Viggers, Peter|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Percival, Ian||Wakeham, John|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Peyton, Rt Hon John||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)|
|Knox, David||Pink, R. Bonner||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Lamont, Norman||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Wall, Patrick|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Walters, Dennis|
|Latham, Michael (Melton)||Prior, Rt Hon James||Warren, Kenneth|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Lawson, Nigel||Raison, Timothy||Wells, John|
|Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Rathbone, Tim||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Whitney, Raymond|
|Lloyd, Ian||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Loveridge, John||Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Luce, Richard||Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rhodes James, R.||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|McCrindle, Robert||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Younger, Hon George|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|MacGregor, John||Ridsdale, Julian||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)||Rifkind, Malcolm||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey||Mr. Michael Roberts|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Abse, Leo||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Carter, Ray|
|Allaun, Frank||Boardman, H.||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Anderson, Donald||Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Cartwright, John|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Castle, Rt Hon Barbara|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Clemitson, Ivor|
|Ashley, Jack||Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)|
|Ashton, Joe||Bradley, Tom||Cohen, Stanley|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Bray, Dr Jeremy||Colquhoun, Ms Maureen|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Concannon, Rt Hon John|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Conlan, Bernard|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Buchan, Norman||Corbett, Robin|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Buchanan, Richard||Cowans, Harry|
|Bates, Alf||Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)|
|Bean, R. E.||Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)|
|Beith, A. J.||Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Crawford, Douglas|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Campbell, Ian||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Canavan, Dennis||Cronin, John|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Cant, R. B.||Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)|
|Bishop, Rt Hon Edward||Carmichael, Neil||Cryer, Bob|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington 5)||Jeger, Mrs Lena||Penhaligon, David|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiten)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Perry, Ernest|
|Dalyell, Tarn||John, Brynmor||Phipps, Dr Colin|
|Davidson, Arthur||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Prescott, John|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Price, Willam (Rugby)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Radice, Giles|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Deakins, Eric||Judd, Frank||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Kelley, Richard||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Kerr, Russell||Robertson, George (Hamilton)|
|Dempsey, James||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Robertson, J. H. (B' wick & E Loth' n)|
|Dewar, Donald||Kinnock, Neil||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Doig, Peter||Lambie, David||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lamborn, Harry||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lamond, James||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Dunnett, Jack||Leadbitter, Ted||Roper, John|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Lee, John||Rose, Paul B.|
|Edge, Geoff||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Lever, Rt Hon Harold||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Ryman, John|
|English, Michael||Litterick, Tom||Sandelson, Neville|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Lomas, Kenneth||Selby, Harry|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Loyden, Eddie||Sever, John|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Luard, Evan||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||McCartney, Hugh||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Silkin. Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)||McElhone, Frank||Sillars, James|
|Flannery, Martin||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Silverman, Julius|
|Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McKay, Alan (Penistone)||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Smith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Ford, Ben||Maclennan, Robert||Snape, Peter|
|Forrester, John||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||McNamara, Kevin||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Madden, Max||Stallard, A. W.|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Magee, Bryan||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Freud, Clement||Mahon, Simon||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Stoddart, David|
|Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Marks, Kenneth||Stott, Roger|
|George Bruce||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Strang, Gavin|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Or John||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.|
|Ginsburg, David||Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Golding, John||Maynard. Miss Joan||Swain, Thomas|
|Gould, Bryan||Meacher, Michael||Taylor, Mrs Arm (Bolton W)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Graham, Ted||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Grocott, Bruce||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)||Thompson, George|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Hardy, Peter||Molloy, William||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Moonman, Eric||Tierney, Sydney|
|Hart, Rt Hon Judith||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Tilley, John|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Morris, Rt Hon Charles R.||Tinn, James|
|Hayman, Mrs Helene||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Tomlinson, John|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Morton, George||Tomney, Frank|
|Heifer, Eric S.||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland||Torney, Tom|
|Henderson, Douglas||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Tuck, Raphael|
|Hooley, Frank||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Urwin, T..W.|
|Hooson, Emiyn||Newens, Stanley||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Horam, John||Noble, Mike||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Oakes, Gordon||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Ogden, Eric||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||O'Halloran, Michael||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Huckfield, Les||Orbach, Maurice||Ward, Michael|
|Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Watkins, David|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Ovenden, John||Watkinson, John|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Weetch, Ken|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Padley, Walter||Weitzman, David|
|Hunter, Adam||Palmer, Arthur||Wellbeloved, James|
|Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)||Pardoe, John||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Park, George||White, James (Pollok)|
|Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||Parker, John||Whitehead, Philip|
|Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Parry, Robert||Whitlock, William|
|Janner, Greville||Pavitt, Laurie||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Pendry, Tom||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch' ch)||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)||Wise, Mrs. Audrey|
|Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)||Woodall, Alec||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)||Wool, Robert||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)||Wrigglesworth, Ian||Mr. Donald Coleman.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ It being after Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed tomorrow.