HC Deb 07 May 1980 vol 984 cc461-89 11.56 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Richard Luce)

I beg to move That the draft Zimbabwe (Independence and Membership of the Commonwealth) (Consequential Provisions) Order 1980, which was laid before this House on 16 April, be approved. When the Zimbabwe Act was enacted the Government took the view that it would be for the new Government of Zimbabwe to decide whether their country should accede to Commonwealth membership. The Act was therefore drafted on the basis that Zimbabwe would become independent outside the Commonwealth, but a power was included to enable the necessary modifications to be made in the event of a decision in favour of Commonwealth membership. The Zimbabwe Act also contains a power enabling the modification of enactments or instruments in consequence of Zimbabwean independence.

In the event, shortly after his election victory Mr. Mugabe asked the Governor to convey to the Commonwealth Secretary-General an application for Zimbabwe to become a member of the Commonwealth when it attained independence. The Government passed on this request with their wholehearted support, and on 9 April 1980 it was announced that Zimbabwe's application had been unanimously accepted by the Commonwealth members and that Zimbabwe would become the forty-third member of the Commonwealth. The main object of this order is to give effect in the law of the United Kingdom to Zimbabwe's Commonwealth membership. It also contains further provisions consequential upon Zimbabwe's independence.

The provisions of the order are necessarily of a technical nature. I shall, with permission, run through them article by article.

When the Zimbabwe Act was enacted last December, Southern Rhodesia was removed from the list in section 1 (3) of the British Nationality Act 1948, which contains a list of Commonwealth countries. The purpose of article 2 (1) of this order is to put the country back on that list under its new name. In the same way, section 2 (1) of the Zimbabwe Act also provided that the status of British subject—that is Commonwealth citizen—should no longer adhere to anyone who enjoyed that status only by virtue of his citizenship of Southern Rhodesia before independence. Article 2 (2) of this order replaces this provision now that Zimbabwe is in the Commonwealth.

Schedule 1 to the Zimbabwe Act sets out transitional provisions concerning applications by persons with a Southern Rhodesia connection for citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Now that Zimbabwe is a member of the Commonwealth these provisions are largely unnecessary and article 2 of the order repeals two of them. What is retained is a provision of the British Nationality Act 1948 allowing the registration as United Kingdom citizens of certain descendants of persons having a particular connection with the United Kingdom. This provision will remain in force for one year. The number of people eligible is likely to be very small.

Schedule 2 of the Zimbabwe Act relates to the benefits of the status of British subject that were preserved for a limited period for Zimbabwean citizens. Now that Zimbabwe is a member of the Commonwealth, its citizens will be treated as British subjects and the special provision is no longer needed. The relevant paragraphs of the Zimbabwe Act are therefore repealed by article 4 of this order.

Articles 5 and 6 of the order make provision in connection with the Government of Zimbabwe assuming responsibility for the stock and debts of the Government of South Rhodesia. Mr. Mugabe has stated that his Government intend to honour the debts outstanding to Her Majesty's Government and to private creditors in Britain as a result of obligations incurred before the illegal declaration of independence in November 1965. Preliminary talks between officials of the Zimbabwe and United Kingdom Governments to discuss arrangements for the repayment of debts due to Her Majesty's Government are taking place in London this week.

The schedule of the order contains a number of consequential provisions. Paragraph 1 adds Zimbabwe to the list of countries that may be contributors to the expenses of the Commonwealth Institute. Paragraph 2 relates to diplomatic immunity.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

Am I to understand that the outstanding debt becomes the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Government, or do the British Government assume the responsibility for those bond holders—I am not one of them—who have waited for 13 years and who are looking not only for repayment but for future interest payment on loans that are not due to be redeemed?

Mr. Luce

I reiterate to my hon. Friend that Mr. Mugabe, on behalf of the Zimbabwe Government, has accepted full responsibility for all outstanding debts for the period prior to the declaration of UDI in 1965. One of the purposes of the discussions taking place this week is to make preliminary assessments with his Government about how to make satisfactory arrangements in that direction.

Paragraph 3 provides, in effect, that the Acts relating to evidence referred to in the order shall continue to apply to Zimbabwe. Paragraph 4 enables the continuance in relation to Zimbabwe of enactments concerning the reciprocal enforcement of judgments.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

Will the Privy Council be involved as an appeal court for judgments in Zimbabwe in the future?

Mr. Luce

As far as I am aware, the answer is " No."

Paragraph 5 makes provision for the application to Zimbabwe of the Marriage of British Subjects Act. Paragraph 6 of the order has the effect of continuing the application of the Prevention of Fraud Act 1958 to Zimbabwe. Paragraph 7 adds Zimbabwe to the list of Commonwealth forces and Commonwealth countries. Paragraph 8 adds Zimbabwe to the list of those countries of registration whose ships shall not be treated as British ships for the purpose of the safety convention.

Paragraph 9 continues in respect of Zimbabwe the provisions of the Act and orders to which reference is made. Paragraph 10 makes provision for continuing the double taxation relief order in respect of Zimbabwe. Paragraph 11 provides that the provisions of the Visiting Forces Act 1933 shall apply to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is now widely welcomed as a new and full member of the Commonwealth. She has the good wishes of this country and the Commonwealth as she embarks on independence. Equally, the Commonwealth has every right to be proud of its role in helping bring peace and independence to that country and the settlement of a dispute which has bedevilled relations with the Commonwealth for so long.

While this order is largely consequential, it has, therefore, a wider meaning, of which I believe the whole House will approve.

12.3 am

Mr. Edward Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil)

The hon. Gentleman rattled through the order at a fair pace. Towards the end, he acknowledged the importance and significance of the order and the fact that it makes the necessary and consequential provisions on the important and welcome decision of Zimbabwe to join the Commonwealth. That decision, I hope, is welcomed by hon. Members in all parts of the House. It is important in terms of the relationship not only between Zimbabwe and this country but between Zimbabwe and other members of the Commonwealth.

The decision is welcome not only for its intrinsic value but, as the Under-Secretary of State stated, for the role of the Commonwealth in the whole process of the settlement.

It is worth reminding ourselves of that role as we welcome Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.

The prospect of a Commonwealth conference last year had an important effect on the Government's thinking about how to handle Rhodesia. The imperial poet, Rudyard Kipling, wrote " If ", but if no Commonwealth conference had been held in 1979, if the Government had rushed headlong towards endorsing the fatally flawed internal settlement, would we have reached the present settlement? The prospect of the Commonwealth conference at Lusaka was the important brake and obstacle to an endorsement of the internal settlement.

When the Prime Minister got to Lusaka the basic outlines of the subsequent Lancaster House settlement were shaped. The Commonwealth Heads of State helped to shape the outlines and basic structure of the Lancaster House settlement. The roles of the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the secretariat were crucial at Lancaster House when negotiations became deadlocked.

The Commonwealth had a role in the processes that led to the elections. It provided a monitoring, peace-keeping force. Kenyans and Australians joined Britons in the peacekeeping role. The Commonwealth was also important in establishing that the elections were fair.

In acknowledging the importance and significance of Zimbabwe joining the Commonwealth, we must acknowledge the important and unique role that it played in coming to an ultimate settlement. We pay tribute to the Commonwealth, and therefore, welcome the fact that the new Zimbabwe Government wish to join the family of nations that has looked, and will continue to look, for constructive ways of bridging the gap between the Third world and the developed world and to examine the part that it can play in economic and political relationships. We welcome the order.

I have to ask again about the nationality provisions and the effect of section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act on Commonwealth citizens. The Under-Secretary spoke of a small group of people who for 12 months have the right to enter this country. I assume that he was talking about the unrestricted right to enter this country. Who are those people? What type of people are they? We would welcome clarification of that point.

Mr. Luce

May I correct the right hon. Gentleman on one point? We are speaking of the right to acquire United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship, as opposed to the right of abode in this country.

Mr, Rowlands

Ah, so it is not in fact the right of entry. That is important and relevant. Anyone who gets involved in the labyrinthine relationships of the nationality and immigration legislation needs to know that. What the hon. Gentleman has said is important. We are dealing, then, with the rights of citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, as is the case with the Falk land Islanders. However, I understand that that does not confer the right of abode and the right of automatic entry. I am grateful for the clarification provided by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, may I point out—no doubt I shall be corrected if I am wrong—that half the European population of Zimbabwe at this moment consists of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies? They possess British—that is to say, United Kingdom—passports with the full right of abode in this country. No doubt my hon. Friend was talking of those people who may well be Commonwealth citizens and who may be entitled—under certain circumstances—to apply for citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. But that is a different class. Surely, we have not in this legislation changed the existing right of nearly half of the British population of Zimbabwe to come to this country without let or hindrance.

Mr. Rowlands

The hon. Member should either make a speech himself or press the point. I do not answer from the Government Dispatch Box on this point. I am sure that the Under-Secretary, if he feels that there is need for further clarification will say what is the exact position of the large number of Europeans who have United Kingdom passports in the light of the changes brought about either by this statutory instrument or by the independence of Zimbabwe.

I was interested in article 5 of the instrument, which deals with outstanding debts. The Under-Secretary referred to negotiations presently going on in Zimbabwe. One hopes that if agreements are reached we shall not find that the finance for aid projects that has been offered to Zimbabwe will be used to pay off bondholders or stockholders. That money for aid is essentially for the development of Zimbabwe itself. Some hon. Members wish that that were not so, but the Opposition regard those offers as an obligation, on behalf of overseas aid from this country, to the new State of Zimbabwe.

It is, therefore, with great pleasure after the arguments in the debate on the previous order, that the Opposition unreservedly welcome this order, which admits the new and independent State of Zimbabwe, with whom we hope the United Kingdom and the Government will maintain the closest and warmest relationships. We also hope that Zimbabwe will develop close and warm relationships with other members of the Commonwealth.

12.13 am
Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The old self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia was, I suppose what might be called a country member of the Commonwealth club, in that its Prime Minister was admitted to the Commonwealth conference. The same was true of the Central African Federation.

I welcome the decision that Zimbabwe should become a full member of the Commonwealth, but in view of the speeches that I have made during the long saga of Rhodesian affairs, I think I should perhaps briefly explain why.

I first became involved in this problem as far back as 1951, when Mr. Jim Griffiths and Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker, then respectively Secretaries of State for Colonial Affairs and Commonwealth Relations, encouraged me to join a parliamentary delegation to investigate the pros and cons of a Central African Federation. In those days, both of them—they were still in office—were favourably inclined to the idea of a federation. That they changed their minds afterwards is another matter, which I need not go into. I was in a party that included Mr. Stanley Evans and Bill Coldrick from the other side and Mr. Archer Baldwin from our side. We came back strongly committed to the idea of a Central African Federation on economic grounds—that the economic powerhouse of Zambia, the manpower of what later became Malawi and the agricultural and financial expertise of Southern Rhodesia should be linked together.

I suppose we played our own small part in persuading Sir Godfrey Huggins and his colleagues to forgo the option of full independence as a Dominion, which in 1951 was within their grasp, to play a part in the Central African Federation instead. I saw with regret that a Conservative Government dissolved the federation, and when I see that Zambia has declined into a ramshackle dictatorship and an economic slum, I see no reason to change that view. It was a direct result of the break-up of the federation, as was UDI. UDI followed because we broke up the federation, giving independence to Malawi and Zambia but not to Rhodesia.

I have always thought that UDI was a serious tactical mistake on Mr. Smith's part, but I think that historians will perhaps be a little more generous than we were in the House of Commons at the time. The years of UDI were not entirely wasted, as one of my hon. Friends remarked in our earlier debate. Much happened in those 15 years that was positive and constructive. I was going to say that hon. Members below the Gangway—but there are none there now—who advocate protectionist policies might learn some interesting lessons from the impact of sanctions on Rhodesia. It mobilised the human and material resources of the country like nothing else. What had been an entirely primary economy when I first saw it in 1951 became, by this year, a highly sophisticated and largely industrialised economy. Much of that industrial progress in machinery and other things will endure.

I am told that the only gaffe that my noble Friend Lord Soames was guilty of was when he described the wine manufactured in Rhodesia from imported grapes as " weasel piss ". Not having had his advantage of knowing of that latter drink, I can at least confirm that Rhodesian wine is not very drinkable and will probably be extinguished in the future.

But the ingenuity of human beings and the fact that profits were not remitted provided the ability for this enormous development of Rhodesian industry, and that development called into being a racial partnership that had not previously existed. That was intensified by the civil war, because in the civil war the white community and the army and police had to rely more and more on the co-operation of the black community. It was that which brought about the initial success and popularity of the so-called internal settlement.

As we contemplate the prospect of Zimbabwe joining the Commonwealth it is worth remembering the reasons that brought nationalist leaders such as Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole to join the internal settlement. They came to the conclusion that co-operation with the whites was preferable to the kind of one-party system that they had seen in Zambia and Mozambique. They concluded that South African influence was less dangerous than the lengthening shadow of Soviet imperialism. Perhaps Mr. Mugabe is thinking along similar lines.

Just before my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary went to the Lusaka conference I ventured to tell them that they had an opportunity that might never arise again. The poet Dante described the greatest sin in his category of sins as " the great refusal ". He referred to the sin of refusing to take advantage of a great opportunity. I proposed that we should recognise Bishop Muzorewa and his regime and that we should lift sanctions. In my judgment, the moral case here was impregnable. The constitution from which he derived his authority had been endorsed by Lord Home and the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson). They accepted that it conformed to the six principles. Lord Boyd described the election that had brought Bishop Muzorewa to power as free and fair.

I accept that that recognition might not have been universal. Yet the American Senate had instructed President Carter to recognise Bishop Muzorewa as soon as we did. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that other industrial countries, which had been much sharper than Britain in breaking sanctions, would have been slow to establish diplomatic relations. The war might not have stopped immediately, but we know more clearly than six or eight months ago that the Patriotic Front's host countries could no longer support it. Tanzania was exhausted by its war with Uganda. President Kaunda was on his knees, asking Bishop Muzorewa to reopen the railway line to prevent not just bankruptcy but starvation. President Machel was deeply in debt to the South Africans who were running Mozambique's railways and harbour.

If Her Majesty's Government had taken the opportunity, we might have had a pro-Western, pro-democratic—in the sense of a pluralist democracy—and pro-capitalist regime in Zimbabwe. The example that it set would have limited and perhaps reversed the tide of Soviet imperialism in Africa. The Government decided to reject that opportunity. They wanted to meet the requirements of African opinion. Yet only Nigeria could have harmed us, and it did so anyway. Beyond this the Government sought to avoid any confrontation with the Soviet Union in Southern Africa. Little did they recognise that Soviet eyes were already focused on a different target—Afghanistan.

The Lancaster House conference destroyed Bishop Muzorewa's prospects. A skilful and ruthless combination of persuasion and arm twisting led him to admit that the election, which Lord Boyd had found fair, was unfair. He admitted that his constitution, which Lord Home and the right hon. Member for Huyton had agreed conformed to the six principles, did not. He was persuaded to step down from the premiership. His compliance was not even rewarded with a total lifting of sanctions.

The ensuing election resulted in a predictable outcome, along tribal lines. The whites voted from for Mr. Smith. The Ndebele voted for Mr. Nkomo. The Shona, who have always advocated consensus, chose Mr. Mugabe as their consensus candidate. That resulted in a Patriotic Front coalition. The Government had not expected that result. The sorcerer's apprentices in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had not predicted that result. I should be hypocritical if I joined in the general acclaim. Instead of a pro-Western, pluralist, private enterprise regime, we have one which at best will be non-aligned and may be inclined, so many of its more sympathetic commentators say, to one-party Government and which looks to a planned economy in the future.

There is an agreeable British characteristic of making the best of our difficulties. Looking at our history books, the retreats to Corunna and from Dunkirk appear almost as victories. We must learn to live with the consequences of this self-inflicted defeat. We must make the best of it. I, for one, believe that we can make a good deal of it. There are many positive elements in the situation, and it is to those that I turn before I sit down.

Mr. Mugabe has certainly made generous speeches, which show a magnanimity that many had not expected from him. His early actions in support of the Armed Forces and the Civil Service have been statesmanlike. He faced great problems. Some are inherent in the situation—economic, social and tribal. Some are inherent in the expectations that he and Mr. Nkomo inevitably raised in the years of the war. His room for manoeuvre is limited.

It is said that Mr. Mugabe is a Marxist. I have learnt from impeccable Marxist sources—as there has been some public confirmation of this—that his links have been as much with Marshal Tito in the past, and President Ceauseseu and the Chinese Government, as with the Soviet Union. So there is at least a chance that whatever he does on the internal front he may not be a pawn in the hands of the Soviet Union.

It seems right that we should help him with the training of his Army and his Civil Service and should give him as much economic aid as we can reasonably afford. It is also right that we should support his joining the Commonwealth. He will not be the first Commonwealth leader to shoot his way into the club or, indeed, to profit from it. But here I offer a word of caution.

Britain's main economic and strategic interests lie in the Republic of South Africa. Had we been able to support the Muzorewa Government, as I should have liked, we would have had a country aligned with the West and at any rate reasonably friendly to South Africa.

Mr. Mugabe's position is rather different. He is non-aligned, by his own declaration. Material considerations will dictate co-operation with South Africa. Ideology and sentiment may pull the other way. He may even find the need to export some local discontent, which might bring him under pressure to turn Zimbabwe into a platform for operations against South Africa. We must at all costs avoid our support for the new Zimbabwe drawing us into further anti-South African policies and attitudes. Here Namibia will be a test.

I can understand that my right hon. Friends have a public relations interest in claiming what has happened in Zimbabwe as a success, but I see no reason why they should try to inflict a similar defeat upon South Africa. Our task must be to try to foster good relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and here I think that the omens are reasonably good.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

Is my right hon. Friend aware, and is it not a hopeful sign, that South Africa is one of the countries exhibiting in a trade fair now taking place in Salisbury?

Mr. Amery

I was about to say, in support of what my hon. Friend said, that the omens are rather good. Both Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Botha appear to be animated by realistic and pragmatic views. What my hon. Friend said about the trade fair bears that out. Indeed, we have seen very good co-operation developing between Mozambique and South Africa. If we are to help in this process, we must try to match our aid to Zimbabwe by mending our fences with South Africa.

It is time to end the embargoes—for example, the sale of arms—that we have imposed upon South Africa. It is time to try to renew our defence ties with it. They will become increasingly important in view of the shift of the international crisis to the Indian Ocean. In the mounting international crisis the importance of South African resources and the Cape route loom ever greater. Our aim must be to defuse the potential confrontation between Zimbabwe and South Africa and to help Zimbabwe and South Africa—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant God-man Irvine)

Order. I have been in the Chamber for only a short time, but I find it difficult to relate what the right hon. Gentleman is saying to the order.

Mr. Amery

I am drawing my remarks to a close. I was attempting to explain why I support the order and the entry of Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth. I was seeking to say that it is our task, now that Zimbabwe is a member of the Commonwealth, to defuse the potential confrontation with South Africa and to help Zimbabwe and South Africa to live if not at once in harmony at least in mutual forbearance and presently in growing understanding.

12.31 am
Mr. Tom McNally (Stockport, South)

If anyone had to make the speech that we have just heard, it was right and fitting that it was the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) who did so. The right hon. Gentleman has shown consistency over the years. It is only sad that after the lessons of the past few months he should still have an approach to the problems of Southern Africa that is so dangerous and shortsighted. I urge his right hon. and hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench to disregard his advice now as they have done over the past few months.

I cannot go back as far as the right hon. Gentleman in the history of Southern Africa, but I know about the aid and comfort that he and others of his persuasion have given to rebellion. They have helped to bring about in Southern Africa the tragedy of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe.

It was in 1975 that I accompanied Lord Greenwood to Rhodesia. I do not think that I am indulging in prior memoirs when I say that when we met Mr. Ian Smith he said " I think that our little game of UDI is drawing to a close ". Sadly it was nearly another five years and many more thousands of deaths before that little game drew to a close. As my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) said, we pay tribute to the Government for the skill with which they have handled events in Zimbabwe in the past few months. However, we should not forget the aid and comfort and the folly and foolishness of the advice which came from many Conservative Members below the Gangway and which prolonged the little game of UDI.

As you rightly said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are discussing a specific order that gives to the new State of Zimbabwe the happy status of Commonwealth member. About 10 years ago an article appeared in The Daily Telegraph which was signed by a Conservative. It denigrated and cheapened the role of the Commonwealth as a factor in British foreign policy. That Conservative has never been positively identified, although an informed guess is that he does not now take the Conservative whip. It is a happy thought that a decade later he has been proved wrong, because the Commonwealth played a decisive role in bringing about a peaceful settlement that both sides of the House believed was almost impossible.

I spent almost five years in various capacities looking at the problem of Rhodesia. I have no hesitation in paying tribute to the skill with which the present Government guided us through the last few months. There were many personal problems—for example, the capacity of Joshua Nkomo to accept a subordinate post after 20 years, and the tensions of tribal rivalry in that country.

How do we go forward from here? This order gives us a reasonable starting point. I make two specific points. Let us make sure that aid and development are really aid and development. Let them be about nation-building, and not as the technicians want—to pay off one interest or another.

There are others who have debts to the new nation of Zimbabwe, not least the oil companies. If the new nation approaches its debts with integrity, let us hope that the oil companies will apply a little integrity as well. For God's sake let us not now breathe a sigh of relief and think that we can wash our hands of Southern Africa. It is still an area of vital importance to Britain. How can we play our hands? Let us not alienate, let us build. Aid and development will play a key part in that.

The new Zimbabwe and its Commonwealth partners in Botswana and Zambia will need our diplomatic, economic and military support for some time. I hope that paragraph 11 of the order means that the Government are committed to positive thinking about the terrible problems of the new nation in integrating the armed forces. I hope that this will be part of a long-term commitment to training, equipment and the general wish to give stability. There are too many soldiers in that country; too many people who have grown up being armed soldiers. They will need help to return to civilian life.

I urge the Government to give us an assurance that in aid and military assistance this will not be a short-term programme, but real long-term assistance, not only to Zimbabwe, but to the regional concept which includes her Commonwealth partners.

Finally, I take up the point that the right hon. Member for Pavilion made at the end of his speech. It has come home to me time and time again as I have worked with and through Africa over the years that the capacity of the African to forgive is almost inconceivable to the European. A decade ago I was involved in the civil war in Nigeria, when Cassan-dras were saying that it would take a generation to heal the wounds. It did not happen. Even in the last few weeks, the Zimbabweans have been showing a capacity which, perhaps, we Europeans find inconceivable.

If I were to ask the right hon. Member for Pavilion to use his undoubted voice and influence in South Africa, I would ask him to say there " Learn the lesson of Zimbabwe. Learn that there is a peaceful way to change. Learn that the Africans have a capacity to accept change without recrimination." If he will use his voice for that, he will really be contributing to peace in Southern Africa, rather than resurrecting ideas of NATO involvement in Southern Africa and British involvement with arms to South Africa. If he goes that way, he will be treading the path of folly of the last 15 years. If he tells the South Africans that there is a peaceful way to change, he will be making a real contribution to British interests in that continent and to the peace of that continent.

12.40 am
Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

I thought that the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. McNally) was somewhat sanctimonious. I think that he is the first speaker in the debate to bring party feeling and animosity into a debate in which I should have thought that we would all wish to welcome—

Mr, McNally

That is pretty sanctimonious for a start.

Mr. Biggs-Davison


Mr. McNally

Twenty years; not 20 minutes.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Does the hon. Gentleman wish to intervene?

Mr. McNally

I would think that a record of sanctimoniousness applies over 20 years, not 20 minutes.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I thought that the hon. Gentleman was picking me out as a sort of desperado rather than as someone who is sanctimonious. I thought that he was blaming my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and some others of us below the Gangway for the unhappy history of Rhodesia since UDI.

If we are to go back and apportion blame for the bloodstained arrival of Zimbabwe at independence, we might spare a thought for two somewhat discomfited politicians in Zimbabwe now—namely, Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole. If any two individuals are responsible for the unhappy course of events, it is those African leaders, who having accepted a constitution in London in 1961, then went back on it. That was a constitution which would have led Southern Rhodesia to African majority rule without the disturbance and bloodshed which have occurred.

UDI flowed from the abandonment of the Central African Federation and the failure of an earlier British Government to give Southern Rhodesia the independence conferred on the two other units of the former Federation.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Nothing about the failures of British Governments has anything to do with the order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could relate his remarks to the order.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would not have followed this line, but would merely have made a brief tribute to Zimbabwe as it enters the Commonwealth, had not the hon. Member for Stockport, South, made an attack upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion and others of my hon. Friends. I should have thought that if it was right for an hon. Gentleman to depart from the order in order to make a personal attack, it would be in order to reply to that.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the reverse of that coin would be commended.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I welcome Zimbabwe as a fellow member of the United Kingdom of the Commonwealth. Zimbabweans of all races have always felt themselves close to Britain and, through Britain, to the Commonwealth. Although I did not share the view of Opposition Members about what has happened since UDI, it was a matter of deep regret to me when Southern Rhodesia broke with the Crown and set up a republic which owed more to South African than to Commonwealth inspiration. That was a matter of deep regret to me, and I told Mr. Ian Smith so.

Zimbabwe has now arrived in the Commonwealth, after great suffering and much bloodshed. I thought that those of us who were able to witness the independence celebration, whether there, in Salisbury, or on television, must have been particularly impressed by the spectacle of Mr. Mugabe and General Walls walking together to the memorial flame to those who died, on two sides, in a desperate war.

I agree with one remark made by the hon. Member for Stockport, South. It is that there is this wonderful capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation, and all of us in this House welcome that. I hope—and perhaps when my hon. Friend replies to the debate he will tell us when it will happen—that soon we shall find Zimbabwe House in the Strand reopened and a high commissioner here in London.

I shall now sit down, only adding my welcome to the welcome that has been expressed by other hon. Members to Zimbabwe on its arrival in the Commonwealth. May this Commonwealth membership help to maintain the independence of that country, bearing in mind that Soviet imperialism has already destroyed the independence of more than one African State.

12.47 am
Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

I shall keep the House only for the time that it takes to utter three sentences. I simply wish to place on record, as others have done, the welcome that we on the Liberal Bench give to this order and to the arrival of Zimbabwe in the Commonwealth.

I do not think that at this late hour there is any point in rehearsing history, although I understand the desire of, and the tolerance shown by the Chair to, the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) to express his views. I shall not argue with him now. I do not think that we should argue just now.

I am sure that the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) will remember this, because we were there together. To sit, if I remember rightly, on some sort of concrete steps in a great open-air stadium in Gwelo and listen to Joshua Nkomo saying I believe that we must build a colourblind Zimbabwe was an enormously emotional experience. I hope that it works, and I wish it well.

12.48 am
Mr. James Kilfedder (Down, North)

In November 1965, when the then Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Mr. Smith, made the momentous, and I think tragic, decision of UDI, the Prime Minister here, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), was not able to make a statement in this House despite the importance of that declaration. It was discovered that the only way in which he could intervene in the proceedings in the House was to ask the hon. Member who had the Adjournment debate to surrender that debate to him.

I was that hon. Member. I had the Adjournment debate that night. I gladly, of course, handed over my Adjournment debate to the then Prime Minister. I have no regrets about it, even though he did not even have the courtesy to thank me at the time, and even though he then made that rather boastful statement that UDI would end in a matter of days rather than weeks. Sadly, it has lasted a long time. Many lives have been lost in Rhodesia. However, every Member of Parliament welcomes Zimbabwe now as a member of the Commonwealth. The speeches made by politicians in Zimbabwe are very heartening. It seems that Zimbabwe has a role which will not identify it with the Russians. It will not create conflict with South Africa.

The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe has much to learn from Dr. Banda, the lifelong President of Malawi, a country which, when it was granted independence, became a member of the Commonwealth. When it was handed over by this country to the people of Malawi, it had few resources, little in the way of roads and poor prospects. Yet by dint of hard work by the people of Malawi it prospered, law and order was enforced and Dr. Banda engaged—and still engages—in commercial links with South Africa. I hope that Zimbabwe learns from what happened in Malawi. Zimbabwe has great riches. The people have great potential. I am sure that it will play a distinguished and useful part in the history of the Commonwealth.

12.51 am
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip—North-wood)

I had thought that the New Hebrides Act proved the ultimate nonsense of British citizenship law, but, quite honestly, this order fulfils that role. It restores, by virtue of Zimbabwe's membership of the Commonwealth, to citizens of Zimbabwe resident in this country the rights and privileges of British subject-hood that they would have enjoyed had Zimbabwe not become independent. The consequential provisions of this order entail the addition of another 8 million British subjects to the hundreds of millions of other British subjects around the globe, who, if they became resident in Britain, would be able to join the Armed Forces and police here, or vote, once they got on the electoral register. Surely those rights and privileges appertain more properly to a dependent relationship to this country than to independence. Surely these rights and privileges should be consequent upon residence for a stipulated period here rather than the historical accident of an election and the emergence of an internationally acceptable Government in Zimbabwe many thousands of miles away from these islands.

In opening, the Under-Secretary referred to one category of persons who could register as United Kingdom citizens for a year after independence. I presumed that these were people who would wish to become United Kingdom citizens because they had some family connection with Britain. I had assumed, therefore, that they were perhaps either, as of the passing of this order, Commonwealth nationals and patrial, or others who had a close family connection. We see that paragraph 3 of schedule 1 to the Zimbabwe Act 1979 is to be retained. That schedule apparently provides an open-ended entitlement to registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies for all Zimbabwe citizens and any of their minor children as long as their applications for registration are received within a year of independence.

Will the Under-Secretary of State please explain why that is so? It is an extraordinary provision. If the purpose were to enable people of British origin or ancestry, as a protection after independence, to register as United Kingdom nationals and therefore, if patrial, to enjoy a right of entry to Britain, I could understand it. But I cannot understand a seemingly totally open-ended provision of this kind. It is yet another manifestation of the evident nonsense that our current citizenship laws get us into.

12.55 am
Mr. Peter Bottomley (Woolwich, West)

I can summarise my views on Zimbabwe by saying that I have seldom been in agreement with my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) but, like him, I welcome the coming of Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth. I hope that the recriminations which are dying down in Zimbabwe will die down in this country. I hope particularly that lessons can be learned from what has happened in Southern Rhodesia, so that in South Africa it will be possible to move without the intervention of widespread violence to the accomodation of rights for all people that we have now achieved in Zimbabwe over too many years and after too many deaths.

I also hope it will be possible to learn the lesson in Angola, where people like Mr. Mugabe are fighting for the kind of elections that brought ZANU into power in Zimbabwe.

My belief is that Zimbabwe can, but will not necessarily, provide a better model for other countries in Africa, whether or not they are members of the Commonwealth. We may see other elections along the lines of the recent election in Zimbabwe in which people have a genuine choice on tribal grounds—that is of significance in various parts of the United Kingdom—and also between the political approaches and political leaders.

The United Kingdom will be able to play its part in the Commonwealth with Zimbabwe, and I hope that the peace and prosperity which have been brought about by good political intentions and a degree of miraculous intervention from elsewhere will serve as an example for the future, so that many more countries will discover the virtues of relatively free and fair elections. So will the violence that overturns the Governments of many countries die away, and the Commonwealth continue to provide an example for the rest of the world, as the people who set it up intended.

12.58 am
Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

My hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) raised an important point about nationality and the provisions in the order concerning the right of some citizens of Zimbabwe to be registered as citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies within 12 months. This may be legislative tidying-up, but I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will make the position clearer.

It is important to make clear that the citizenship provisions for Zimbabwe are different from those affecting other colonies which have become independent, and goodness knows our nationality law is complicated enough as it is. Exceptionally, Southern Rhodesia as a colony had its own citizenship as far back as 1951, after the British Nationality Act 1948. Every other independent Commonwealth country acquired citizenship on independence, but Southern Rhodesia had citizenship from 1951, even as a colony. As a result, the present nationality situation of the residents of Zimbabwe needs clarification.

It is especially important to establish that those persons in Zimbabwe who hold passports and are citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies are entitled to come to this country and live here. There are perhaps as many as 120,000 such people, which is not a small number. In case the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) feels that it is that should be made clear.

Mr. Rowlands

That is a separate issue.

Mr. Stanbrook

The hon. Gentleman is obviously not confused.

The part of the order relating to additional provisions for registration no doubt refers to those who, for one reason or another, are not at present citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies and do not have the right of abode in this country. For them these provisions will remain for about 12 months—and it is perhaps quite a small number. If that is so, it is not an unusual measure in consequential provisions legislation affecting the dissolution of Empire.

We are again dealing with consequential provisions affecting the independence of a colony. There is no extradition arrangement between the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe as from independence. As from Zimbabwe's accession to the Commonwealth, the appropriate legislation is the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967. Had the draftsman of this order been more anxious to consolidate all the law within one order and not have consequential provisions in dribs and drabs, he would have included a provision to designate Zimbabwe as a Commonwealth country for the purposes of the 1967 Act. We should not then need a fresh order to be laid before this House.

1.2 am

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State on his clear and matter-of-fact presentation of the order.

Unlike the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. McNally), I believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) has performed a service not only to this House but to history in presenting the position of the new republic of Rhodesia. I shall still call it that. I am attached to that country and to that name. I hope that the House will forgive me.

It was a great pity that the hon. Member for Stockport, South took an arrogant attitude to my right hon. Friend's rational explanation. As the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) said, at this time we should not be using angry words. We are here basically to welcome the new country to the Commonwealth. I join all hon. Members who have spoken so far in welcoming the new country. I hope that it will long remain in the Commonwealth, and follow its best practices of democracy and not the worst. I also hope that those countries that support Mr. Robert Mugabe, the new Prime Minister of a country that I hope will turn out to be the Switzerland of Southern Africa, will honour the standards of democracy that they encouraged us to force on Rhodesia. In the next few years I hope that they, too, will move towards true democracy. We often hear in this Chamber of moves to majority rule. I wonder, however, whether majority rule has any relevance to democracy. I am not sure that it has because to me one man or one woman having one vote once is not democracy. It can bring as many injustices as can the limited forms of democracy based on colour which have, sadly, applied in the past.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It may not be democracy, but I do not think that it is in the order either.

Mr. Winterton

I hope that you will agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker that in fairly general terms we are welcoming a new country into the Commonwealth. That is what the order is all about. I am expressing the hope that the best standards and example of the Commonwealth will be practised in Rhodesia. I hope that Mr. Mugabe, who I understand is in this country, will read the Hansard report of this debate. I hope that he will take on board the message from those who, like myself, perhaps have not taken his side in the past but who wish him well as the Prime Minister of this great country.

Perhaps I may reflect the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley), who said that what happens in Zimbabwe—I have mouthed the word at long last, and better than some of my colleagues who have seemed to stumble over it as I almost did—can set the pattern for future evolutionary progress in the whole of Southern Africa. I welcome the decision by Mr. Mugabe and his Government to have proper economic, commercial and political relationships with the Republic of South Africa.

Mr. Mugabe is an important Prime Minister in a vital area of the African continent and I think that he is well aware that the threat to Africa comes not from South Africa, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion has said so clearly, from the lengthening imperialist shadow of the Soviet Union and its satellite mercenary States.

Zimbabwe can do a great deal to affect the future of Southern Africa. I hope that Mr. Mugabe who, as a well-intentioned practical man—certainly since he assumed power as Prime Minister designate and now as Prime Minister proper of that country—has made some highly responsible statements about the way in which he wants that country to be run, has thrown off the Marxist cloak—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can refer me to the part of the order with which he is dealing.

Mr. Winterton

I believe that the Commonwealth involves parliamentary democracy and stands for parliamentary democracy in one form or another.

Mr. Rowlands

The hon. Member is being silly and supercilious.

Mr. Winterton

I am not sure that the forms of Marxist Government in Africa have much relevance to parliamentary democracy, which we believe to be a vital part of the Commonwealth. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) and I have crossed swords on this matter in this House. Does he not agree that the Commonwealth is about parliamentary democracy? He eulogised and waxed most lyrical in his introductory remarks at the beginning of the debate about what the Commonwealth had done. Can we hope that the best standards and examples of the Commonwealth can be practised in Rhodesia and that, within five years, there will be another democratic election in that country? Can we hope that people such as Mr. David Smith and Mr. Norman will be in office in some capacity or other ensuring that the good will that has been shown by Mr. Mugabe to date will continue?

I endorse the views of Mr. Joshua Nkomo, Minister of Home Affairs and perhaps one of the fathers of the new Zimbabwe, when he told an audience of 20,000 in Bulawayo a fortnight ago that independence must be made to succeed and that people who wanted to bring chaos to the country must be prevented from doing so. I mention that because the killing in Zimbabwe has not stopped since independence. More people are now dying in that country than were dying in the previous civil war situation. Political killings have gone up four times. I should like clarification from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary. Not a great deal of what is happening has appeared in the newspapers of the Western world. I wonder why this news has not been appearing—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to refer to the statutory instrument with which the House is dealing.

Mr. Winterton

I am most grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your advice. I shall endeavour in my few remaining remarks to keep closely to the order that the House is debating. The order deals with aid. The amount of £75 million is perhaps not enough. I hope that diplomatic, commercial and economic pressure can be brought to bear on Mr. Mugabe to ensure press freedom and television and newspapers are not instructed about what they can and cannot show and print.

If this country is to set the pace for evolutionary, peaceful change in Southern Africa—I pray that it does and that it can—we have to ensure there is genuine freedom for the people of that country. Otherwise, to take the words that might have been used by the hon. Member for Stockport, South, the people of Zimbabwe will merely have changed one tyranny for a black tyranny. That was surely not our aim when we sought to bring peaceful change and democracy, by majority rule, to that country. My welcome is as warm as that of any hon. Member who has spoken. I shall seek to visit the country again, if Mr. Mugabe and his Government so permit, because I believe it to be a great country that can set the pattern for the whole of Southern Africa in the immediate future.

1.13 am
Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

As the last Back Bench speaker in the debate, and even at this late hour, I welcome the entry of Zimbabwe into the Commonwealth. This is a remarkable order. From listening to the vitriol poured out by the media of South Africa and Rhodesia in the last seven years, one would have ruled out absolutely the concept of a Government led by Robert Mugabe asking, as their first act, to become a member of the Commonwealth. We would have expected Britain to be rejected and for there to have been an embracing of Russia and the Communist world.

On the matter of press freedom, I recount only that on the last day I spent in that country as part of the parliamentary team observing the elections—four of its members have spoken in the debate—I was giving a 15-minute television interview in the middle of which there was a breakdown. There was a delay of seven or eight minutes. Nine white members of the corporation—directors of programmes, producers and technicians—told me unanimously that nothing that Robert Mugabe could do, in censoring or manipulating the news, would be as bad as what had occurred in the last 16 years under Mr. Smith. It is worth remembering that when we welcome Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.

The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) stressed the Coinmon wealth link in the solution to the problem. He was ungenerous not to pay tribute to the role which the Prime Minister played and the marvellous role played by the Foreign Secretary. Nobody detracts from the Commonwealth's role, but credit must go where it is due. That credit is deserved by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.

Zimbabwe's entry to the Commonwealth could be the forerunner to South Africa's return to the Commonwealth. The tragedy of the last 16 years is the missed years that Smith had to create a multi-racial society within Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe. If that lesson could be learnt in South Africa, and if South Africa could bring about a multi-racial society for itself, we might have Commonwealth order for South Africa. That would be another major achievement.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) spoke about sanctions. I agree that sanctions did much to make Zimbabwe self-sufficient. He was deprecating about the wine. He is wrong. The Rhodesian white wine is excellent. I am not sure about the red wine, but I can introduce him to the white wine so that he might change his mind, as perhaps he might about his criticisms of Robert Mugabe wanting a one-party Government.

There was no need, with a majority of 57 out of 100, for Mr. Robert Mugabe to ask even Joshua Nkomo to join him. Certainly there was no need to invite two whites to join the Government. The signs that democracy is being carried out—which my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) wished to stress—have been greater in the last six weeks than anybody could have imagined. Nobody would have believed that Robert Mugabe would have come to Government without any recrimination at all. Not once has he even suggested that certain of the white people who treated his Sho-nas so badly would have to mark their words. We have not even heard a statement such as " We are the masters now". But we hear that from white people here. The black Prime Minister demands unity in an exemplary fashion which could never have been expected.

Of course things can go wrong in the future. No one can look into a glass ball and predict what will happen in four or five years. I asked Mr. Robert Mugabe how I could assure the British people that his declarations about unity and his wishes for the future of his country would be carried out. I said " It might be a silly question, but is there anything that you can tell me? " His answer was " I can do no more than assure people of the truthfulness of my words and ask them to judge me in two, three or four years time when I have proved that I mean what I say." If that is so, for Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, Robert Mugabe can do what Jomo Kenyatta did for Kenya. That would be a major achievement for the benefit of the Commonwealth and the world.

1.19 am
Mr. Luce

With the leave of the House, I shall in these last few minutes respond to the debate. In all likelihood this is probably the last occasion upon which we shall be debating legislation concerning our outstanding responsibilities to the old country of Rhodesia. I say probably. As far as I am aware this is our last opportunity to debate this and it is an historic occasion.

I owe it to my hon. Friends to respond particularly to one or two points made about citizenship. My hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) I know holds extremely strong views, because he and I have taken part in previous debates that have provided for the independence of certain countries. I know that he feels—and I belive that his is probably the view of the majority of the House—that the nationality laws badly need reforming. As my hon. Friend knows, we are pledged to do that. He will then have an opportunity, to make his views fully known to the House.

I do not think that it would be wise for me to be drawn in great detail into the complexities of the citizenship laws, but I think that it is right that I should clarify the outstanding point which was raised by my hon. Friend, and which was more or less confirmed by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stan-brook).

There is no unusual open-ended commitment provided in this legislation. The complex part—which is difficult for anyone to comprehend—is the continuation of section 12(6) of the Nationality Act 1948. This provision has been allowed for in previous independence constitu tions and it means that there is a certain number of people—we think extremely small—in Zimbabwe who are eligible for registration as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. They have not as yet registered. We feel, in the circumstances of Zimbabwe and its history, that it is only right that we should keep this option open to enable those people to register within the next year or so.

We are not talking of the right of abode. We are talking about the right to register as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. I must reaffirm that this is a very small number of people. However, it might be helpful to the House if I state that we have a rough estimate of the number of people who have the right of abode.

We reckon that there are now some 65,000 citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies in Zimbabwe who have the right of abode in this country. The people who are Commonwealth citizens with patriality rights of abode in this country number approximately 60,000. Both these figures include children so we are talking of approximately 125,000 people who have a right of abode in this country.

But naturally, and judging by the spirit of this debate, we all hope that the vast majority of those people will continue to play their constructive part in the affairs of Zimbabwe, thus contributing to the prosperity of that country.

I respond briefly to the points made by the hon. Members for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) and for Stockport, South (Mr. McNally) about aid funds being used for development purposes.

I have made the position clear about debts and Mr. Mugabe has made it absolutely plain that his country will honour the debts to this country which accumulated prior to 1965. As regards the provision of aid to Zimbabwe, we have announced the figure of £75 million for the next three years. That is a commitment for aid for the development of Zimbabwe, whether in agriculture, the furthering of the general development of the country or for infrastructure. It is not related to debts. It is related solely to the development of Zimbabwe.

As for the armed forces, we already have a British Army training team in Zimbabwe which is assisting with the amalgamation of forces. That is of great importance to Mr. Mugabe at present and I hope that we are able to assist him fully in that regard

My hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) asked when Zimbabwe House would open. We have not as yet had an indication from Mr. Mugabe and his Government. As my hon. Friend knows, we now have a high commissioner in Salisbury, and I anticipate that before very long the Zimbabwean Government will appoint a high commissioner to this country. However, we do not know the date as yet.

The remarkable thing about this debate is that, however different our opinions are about the handling of the history of Zimbabwe, the common thread has been the spirit of good will towards the new Zimbabwe entering the Commonwealth as the forty-third member. I think that that spirit will go out to the country of Zimbabwe, will be acknowledged by the Government of Zimbabwe and will be a great source of encouragement to them in their great and challenging task ahead With that, I commend the order to the House.

Question put and agreed to

Resolved, That the draft Zimbabwe (Independence and Membership of the Commonwealth) (Consequential Provisions) Order 1980, which was laid before this House on 16 April be approved.