§ 3.56 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I have made so many speeches within recent months on the subject of Central Africa that I hesitate to trouble your Lordships with yet one more. But there have been developments during the last few weeks which seem to justify—and, indeed, even necessitate—a further examination of the position; and I am sure we are all extremely grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for tabling this Motion and for framing it in such broad terms that it enables every aspect of the problem to be dealt with. I can, at any rate, assure noble Lords that although in what I say I may speak as a moaner and a croaker, I shall not speak as a cynic; for no one believes in the British mission in Africa more passionately than I do. The main new features, my Lords, as I see it, in an already sufficiently complicated situation, are, of course, the meeting of the Northern Rhodesian Conference in London, the decision of the United Federal Party to take no part in it, and the virtual deadlock (one may hope temporary deadlock) which has been reached.
It is my good fortune this afternoon to follow the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who, as always, has been moderate and courteous in everything he has said. He, very naturally, holding the position he does, has dealt principally with the details of the latest scheme for constitutional reform in Northern Rhodesia, which has emanated from the Colonial Office and has the support of Her 306 Majesty's Government. I do not want to discuss that so much as the origin and causes of the present acute tension between Her Majesty's Government in this country and the Federal Government in Africa. Now I believe that it is of first importance that we should clear our minds about this, for, unless we can do that, we are unlikely to find an acceptable solution to our present troubles.
That, as I see it, involves an appreciation of the position, not only as people in this country understand it, but as it is understood by the loyal communities in Africa, white and black, whose position has hardly been mentioned in the original speeches by Lord Listowel and Lord Ogmore, and not very much by Lord Perth, but whose co-operation is essential to any satisfactory settlement—or, indeed, to any future prosperity in the countries concerned. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has given us at length, and with great moderation, what I may call the African view. Your Lordships, will not object, I am sure, if I give the view of other sections of the population whom I believe to be equally important.
The first tiling which it is necessary we should all realise is this: that what we are face to face with is essentially a crisis of confidence. I do not say that There are not wide divergences of view between the two Governments concerned. Of course there are; and perhaps to some extent that is inevitable. But it is not that which has made the situation so intractable. It is the miasma of mistrust that has arisen to cloud the issue and to embitter the controversy. Until only a few months ago, as your Lordships know, the attitude of White Rhodesians to the Home Government was one of complete loyalty and deep affection. I. have been there many times over the last thirty or forty years, and I know that Rhodesia was the most British, in the fullest sense of that word, of any of the realms and territories of the British Crown. Now, within the space of a few months, those feelings have given way to others of a very different kind: of suspicion, of contempt, almost of hatred of the home Government.
How has this terrible thing come about in so short a time? It is essential, I repeat, that we should find out, if confidence is to be restored. And unless 307 confidence is restored, make no mistake, my Lords, matters will drift on from bad to worse. How, I repeat, has this change come about, and who is responsible? I am afraid, my Lords—and I think it is necessary that we should all speak frankly in the pass which we have now reached—that the main responsibility must rest on the present Colonial Secretary. I say this from no desire to belittle the remarkable qualities which the right honourable gentleman undoubtedly has. He is, as we all know, a man of most unusual intellectual brilliance; and he is, moreover, both brave and resolute. Those are valuable and not too common attributes in politics. But the fact remains that I believe he has adopted, especially in his relationship to the white communities of Africa, a most unhappy and an entirely wrong approach. He has been too clever by half.
I will try to explain what I mean in this way, which I hope will not be considered offensive by the right honourable gentleman—it is certainly not meant to be. I believe that the Colonial Secretary is a very fine bridge player. Indeed, in the days before he attained such political eminence, he was (so I am told) the bridge correspondent of one of the leading British newspapers, which makes him a very great authority indeed. Now bridge, my Lords, is a game where two players are matched against two other players. They are not enemies of each other; on the contrary, they are often most intimate friends. But they are opponents, and the aim of each pair is to outwit their opponents. It is not considered immoral, or even bad form, to outwit one's opponents at bridge. On the contrary, the more you outwit them, within the rules of the game, the better player you are. It almost seems to me as if the Colonial Secretary, when he abandoned the sphere of bridge for the sphere of politics, brought his bridge technique with him. At any rate, it has become, as your Lordships know, the convinced view of the white people in Eastern and Central Africa that it has been his object to outwit them, and that he has done it most successfully.
The first occasion on which what I might call the "bridge technique" became apparent, in the view of these 308 European communities, was at the Lancaster House Conference on Constitutional Reform for Kenya, in the early part of last year. That Conference began, so we understand, in the usual manner, by what amounted to a Second Reading debate, a debate in which pretty wide differences of view became apparent. Then, after not very lengthy consultation, the Colonial Secretary planked down on the table a Constitution of his own which, particularly in the very wide franchise which it granted to Africa, went far beyond anything that any of them, even Mr. Blundell and his supporters, expected or thought safe. It is quite true that after the laying of the Macleod proposals further negotiations took place, but they were only on the basis of his scheme. No others could be considered.
Now that, I think we shall all agree, was extremely clever. The Europeans found themselves completely outwitted, and they were driven to the conclusion (if I may revert, for the last time, to the bridge metaphor) that it was the nationalist African leaders whom the Colonial Secretary regarded as his partners, and the white community and the loyal Africans that he regarded as his opponents, in the game he was playing.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Viscount says "shame". I am stating the view of the white communities in Africa.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Then I want to know if it is the view of the Marquess, and if he believes in the complete insincerity of the Colonial Secretary.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
No. I think the Colonial Secretary regards this as the way to conduct the negotiations. If the noble Viscount, or anybody else in this House, thinks that I am being guilty here of exaggeration in the account I give of the views of the white communities in Africa, then he had better go to Kenya or to Central Africa, where he will find that, if anything, I am under-stating their case. They were very indignant, but they felt that all that was left to them was to make the best of a very had job; and that is what they have 309 done. But, my Lords, what happened to them came as a severe warning to others in a similar position.
It is an illusion, I think—one that seems common to Governments of every political colour—that it is possible to deal with problems of this kind concerning particular territories, each entirely on its own, as if it were sui generis; and that one could then, as it were, close the chapter without repercussions elsewhere. In fact, experience shows that the actions of Governments nearly always have repercussions that go far beyond the areas to which their policy was originally intended to apply. What a Government does, say, in Cyprus is immediately noted by people in, for example, Kenya; and what is done in Kenya is equally carefully noted, to take a very simple instance, in Central Africa. That, my Lords, is exactly what has happened in this case. The people of the Central African Federation saw a technique which had been employed in the Kenya Conference, and they saw other evidences of the same kind.
I will give only one instance, because I do not want to take up too much time of the House. There was the unfortunate episode of a guarantee which was given by the Prime Minister to Sir Roy Welensky, that the subject of secession would be outside the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission. I am not going to re-traverse all the ground which was covered in our earlier debates on this subject: I am sure that it is fresh in the memory of your Lordships. I would say only this. It may well be true, as the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons—and I am sure it is true—that the wording of the guarantee which he gave to Sir Roy Welensky was open to differing interpretations. But surely he and the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, equally should have known the nature of the guarantee for which Sir Roy Welensky was asking, what he meant when he asked for it; and if they put a different interpretation on the guarantee which the Prime Minister gave—if they meant something else from what Sir Roy meant—then I think they should have told him so. For by keeping him in the dark about something that he and his Government regarded as a vital matter, they did a great deal of harm. They 310 confirmed the impression that was already in the minds of him and his Government: that Her Majesty's Government were bent on outwitting them, and that they could not be trusted. I am not saying that this is my view, but it is the view they held, and still hold.
The effect of this, and of other experiences of the same kind, has been deplorable. The former mood of trust and affection for the Government here has given way to one of deep suspicion. When the United Kingdom asked the Federal Government (the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has told us about it), at the beginning of this year, to take part in a Conference on the future Constitution of Northern Rhodesia, they were determined not to be outwitted as, in their opinion, other European communities had already been outwitted in Kenya and elsewhere. When they were told, as I believe they were told—I shall be corrected, if I am wrong—that the Colonial Secretary would put forward a plan at the Conference, they decided that they must make certain, before they sat down at the table, what the basis of negotiation was really going to be. Until they were certain that it was one on which they could safely negotiate, they felt that it would be much better not to take part, for they would run the risk of suffering the same fate as Kenya. And, my Lords, holding the views they did, and having the suspicions they had, who shall blame them?
Undoubtedly their decision put the Government, and particularly the Colonial Secretary, in a position of considerable embarrassment. It was evident that to use the method which was quite successful in the Kenya Conference, under which the Colonial Secretary put his own plan on the table and it became the basis of negotiation, would not work in this case. They had to find some other procedure; and so, as Sir Roy Welensky said in his speech in Salisbury the other day—and I have not heard it denied—no fewer than three plans were successively produced and submitted privately to the Federal Government. When I say three plans, I mean three plans or three variations of a plan. But none of them alleviated the anxiety of the Federal Government, and it was eventually decided, it seems, 311 by Her Majesty's Government here that matters must be brought to a head.
So, my Lords, on February 11, the Federal Government were given "the barest minimum of details" (I am using Sir Roy Welensky's own words) of a new scheme, a fourth scheme, and they were told that they must give their reactions to it by February 14, the date of the next meeting of the Conference—that was, in less than three days' time. It was the weekend, and the scheme was of the most complicated kind—based, as your Lordships know, on three different franchises. I am not going into the details. I will say merely that the Palace of Westminster has been filled ever since with Members of both Houses trying, with knitted brows, to make out what it really does mean in practice—and even after hearing the noble Earl's most lucid explanation this afternoon, I still find it very difficult to understand. Is it surprising then that the Federal Government found it extremely difficult to take a decision which was vital to them on it over the weekend?
Faced with that message from the Home Government, as I understand it, Sir Roy Welensky offered to come over himself to discuss the new scheme, and to examine it in more detail to see whether it was in any way possible for his Government to accept it as the basis for negotiation. But, strangely enough, this offer, which one would have expected would be so warmly welcomed by the Government here, was refused. He was not encouraged to come. Why, I do not know. Perhaps the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will tell us at the end of this debate. But the effect on the Federal Government was that the Kenya technique was again to be employed, and they were to be faced, as the Kenyans had been faced with a scheme which represented the Colonial Secretary's own views, which would be laid on the table and become the basis of the final Constitution. And, in due course, on February 14, as we all know, the scheme was laid on the table of the Conference and was published to the world as a basis for further discussions, as they had expected.
So much for the unhappy past, as it appeared to the vast majority of white Africans in the territories of the Federation, who are different from us sitting 312 here in this House only in that they know Africa, as most of us do not. And that is the way that it appeared also, I think, to a great many of the moderate black Africans, who are more silent than they would be in this country because they are more frightened of what might happen to them.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I ask the noble Marquess, who has always been absolutely frank with the House, whether he personally agrees or disagrees with the view that is widely taken: that the Colonial Secretary has ignored his duty towards the European community in Africa? Would he tell us?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Yes, my Lords, I frankly think that he has. I do not think that I have in any way exaggerated the views of those people of whom I have spoken. I am sorry to have taken so much of the time of your Lordships over the past. Now, what of the future?
The main question before us all now, as I have no doubt the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, would agree, and I think we should all agree, clearly is: how is the present deadlock to be broken? What is to be done about the situation? I still believe that an agreed solution could be found, just as an agreed solution has already been found—and all credit goes to the Commonwealth Secretary and to Sir Edward Whitehead for that—for the constitutional future of Southern Rhodesia. But before that can happen in Northern Rhodesia, confidence must be restored. And personally I can only see one way—other noble Lords may feel different—that is, for us to return to the Lennox-Boyd Constitution of 1958 and seek to widen the African franchise within the ambit of that. That is the course I make bold to recommend, with great diffidence, to your Lordships this afternoon.
To start afresh on that firm basis would, I submit, have certain immense advantages. Both the United Kingdom Government and the Federal Government have accepted the Lennox-Boyd Constitution. Therefore, it provides a common jumping-off ground for a further advance. The Federal Government could hardly refuse to talk on the basis of the Lennox-Boyd Constitution; nor would they wish, I feel sure, to 313 refuse. Moreover, to make that the basis of new negotiations would be in accord with all those solemn assurances which have been given only so recently by the United Kingdom Government to the Federal Government. Your Lordships will, I am sure, remember the words in the White Paper published at the time of the adoption of the Lennox-Boyd Constitution in 1958, but I hope that the House will forgive me if I quote just a few of them. The White Paper said:In order to inject stability, certain provisions would be entrenched in the Constitutional instrument so that"—and I ask your Lordships' particular attention to the words that follow:the main lines of constitutional advance would be settled for some time ahead and the confidence of the people would not he continually jeopardised by the prospect of drastic changes every few years.That was the spirit in which both the United Kingdom Government and the Federal Government agreed to the new Constitution; and it is surely the right spirit.
Moreover, the United Kingdom Government, or their spokesman, reaffirmed that position even more earnestly in 1959, which is only two years ago. Early in 1960, less than a year ago, in a speech in Central Africa, the then Commonwealth Secretary, the noble Earl, Lord Home, who is here to-day, gave, I understand, explicit assurances that no reviewing of the Northern Rhodesia Constitution was contemplated until it had run its full course, which I think was five years—I may be wrong about that time. The present Colonial Secretary, Mr. Macleod, also in a speech in Central Africa, reminded the Federal Government that he had already said in the House of Commons that he had no plans for further constitutional reform in Northern Rhodesia (I am not using his exact words, but I think I am giving a fair account of them) except as a consequence of changes that might have already been made in the Federal Constitution. The noble Earl shakes his head. Is that not right?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Something to that effect. There will be opportunity to put me right later in the debate. And Mr. Macleod said that no 314 changes have been made yet in the Federal Constitution. To revert to the Lennox-Boyd Constitution for a solution of the present difficulties, therefore, would be in fullest accord with very recent statements on policy by Her Majesty's Government; and it would involve no loss of face by either of the two Governments immediately concerned. I do recommend it most earnestly to the attention of the Government and of this House.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth just now stated that Sir Edgar Whitehead had agreed to changes in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution after only three years, and asked why, therefore, was it wrong to go ahead with changes of a smililar scope in Northern Rhodesia. But to anyone who knows that part of the world at all it is quite impossible to draw any exact analogy between those two territories. Southern Rhodesia has 200,000 white inhabitants and far more advanced Africans than Northern Rhodesia. Northern Rhodesia has only a small white population and even now a very primitive African population. Such an analogy, if the noble Earl meant it to be exact, would, I am sure, be entirely false. By all means let us go forward—we all agree about this—both in Northern Rhodesia and in Southern Rhodesia, but not necessarily at the same pace.
I would add this—and it is the last thing that I want to say. Do not let Her Majesty's Government hug the illusion that this is a matter on which the Government of the Federation or the people of the Federation are likely to give way beyond what they think right. They simply cannot go beyond a certain point to meet Her Majesty's Government now. For, my Lords, while we may be playing for high stakes, they are playing for far higher: their stake, they are profoundly convinced, is the life and liberty of every loyal African, white and black, within the territories of the whole Federation; it is the very existence of their State as a civilised community.
It may be impressive to us 5,000 miles away here in London to be told that this is a question on which the Cabinet in their combined wisdom are united. But to Rhodesians, and especially to White Rhodesians—those little communities, including wives and children, scattered 315 about among primitive people, in lands bordering on the Congo—such statements are not impressive. They are regarded merely as a yet more offensive example of the doctrine that "the gentleman in Whitehall knows best". In the Lennox-Boyd Constitution of 1958 we have something that does not exist in the Macleod Constitution of 1961 or in any of the Macleod Constitutions of 1961: we have the basis on which a United Kingdom Government and a Federal Government can stand together, and from which they can go forward together. That, and yet more education for the Africans—and here I cannot say how strongly I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—I firmly believe, are the best hope for that part of the world. I beg Her Majesty's Government, and I beg the Colonial Secretary himself, not to let the opportunity slip of reaching a settlement on these lines. For it may be the last chance of clearing up a situation which is fraught with danger, both for the British Commonwealth and, possibly, for the future of the whole world.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, I hope your Lordships will not feel that I am unduly forward in addressing you so soon after my introduction, but I think it only right and proper that, having subscribed to the Majority Report of the Monckton Commission, I should take this opportunity of justifying what I then signed. I cannot hope on this subject to command the assent of all your Lordships, but if I defend the recommendations of the Monckton Report I trust that I shall not be regarded as being unduly controversial. I hope to show that our facts were arrived at after close study and that my conclusions were not lightly or irrationally reached.
We had not been long in Northern Rhodesia before we became aware that certainly more than 80 per cent. of the witnesses who came before were opposed to Federation—I think 90 per cent. would be nearer the mark, but I will put it at 80 per cent.—and those were not the extremists. The extremists, Mr. Kaunda and Mr. Nkumbula, boycotted us. We found that even the Chiefs who came before us took the same point of view; and the Chiefs of Northern Rhodesia, like your Lordships, are not disposed to 316 recommend lightly a departure from established institutions. I think that perhaps a well authenticated but slightly humorous anecdote may serve to point how widespread is this dislike of Federation and the very word. We were told by a certain official who understood the vernacular that he was walking past a house that was being built when a bricklayer's mate dropped a hammer on the toe of the bricklayer, who, in the pain and exasperation of the moment, turned on him and told him that he was an adjectival Federation.
When we began to study the position in Southern Rhodesia we found that the Dominion Party was opposed to Federation; that Sir Edgar Whitehead, leading the United Federal Party, had a majority of only three; that the majority of three had arisen out of the single transferable vote, and that on the first count the Dominion Party, which was openly hostile to Federation, would have had a majority. Before we signed our Report we knew that Mr. Harper had split the Dominion Party in order that the section of the Party which he led in Southern Rhodesia should be able to come out clearly and boldly on "Go it alone". It was because we found that the great majority of African opinion in the two Northern territories, and a very large minority of white nationalists in Southern Rhodesia, were all equally opposed to Federation that we arrived at the conclusion thatThe Federation is too much disliked to survive in its present shape.Like successive Secretaries of State and everybody else who has studied this problem, we were convinced that it was most desirable, in the economic interests of all, that Federation in some form should be preserved. We recognised also that this was a great experiment in co-operation between the races, and we said very clearly and bluntly that it would be a great tragedy if that experiment failed. So it was that in our Report we did everything we could—we applied our minds to every expedient—in order to see how the good principles of Federation and partnership could be preserved. It is not always realised that the Monckton Report is a passionate declaration in favour of the desirability of Federation, and that we were doing our best to preserve it in the only way in which it could be preserved. That 317 was why we recommended the transfer of some subjects from the Federation to the territories, and that there should be in reserve the right to secede.
I do not understand why so many of those who have spoken and written upon this subject always refer to the contingent right of secession which we recommended as arising in five years' time. We said that it might be five years, four years or three years. Our main argument was that it must necessarily be given at the time when the territories reached that independence which the British Government has promised shall be their ultimate political goal. How can those territories have independence without having the right to secede? Independence does not mean only independence from the Government in Westminster; it must also mean independence from a Federal Government if they wish to secede. You have to look at it from a practical point of view. Suppose they were not given the legal right to secede. If you have a nationalist majority, a nationalist Prime Minister, a nationalist Minister in charge of the police and law and order, and a nationalist Minister responsible for finance, then, surely, it would be quite impossible to prevent a territory enjoying independence with a Government enjoying those powers from seceding.
It was because we put forward those recommendations in our earnest desire to preserve the unity of that territory that we have been accused of going outside our terms of reference. We were furnished with very good legal advice on the Commission. There was an ex-Attorney-General of the United Kingdom, an ex-Solicitor-General, an ex-Attorney-General of Southern Rhodesia and a Judge of the High Court of Southern Rhodesia, and they were all of the opinion that it was within our terms of reference to be able to make a recommendation of that kind. I know that the Federal Government have obtained an opinion from a distinguished constitutional expert to the contrary. I have read that document, but it appears to me more of a political than a legal opinion. I should have thought that its fundamental fallacy was to suppose that the Central African Federation, after seven 318 years of existence and containing two Protectorates which are under the control of the Colonial Office, is constitutionally in the same position as the Dominion of Canada, which has enjoyed independence for seventy years.
No Commission worth its salt would have been willing to ask what the meaning of its terms of reference were. It is the right of every Committee and Commission to decide the meaning of its own terms of reference. Had it been the idea that the Commission was merely to act as a rubber stamp for advance towards a further degree of independence, without any right at all to consider the events of the last seven years, we should certainly not have obtained the services of distinguished representatives from Australia and Canada, and ex-Governors to serve on the Commission.
I shall return to the Federal problem, but I want to say something now about the Northern Rhodesian Constitutional Conference. A complaint has been made that a new Constitution is being devised. But even Mr. Greenfield, the Law Minister of the Federal Government, expressed the view on April 6 last year that it was one of the tasks of the Monckton Commission to consider the territorial Constitutions. That being so, it was obviously impossible for any pledge to be given that the Monckton Commission and, thereafter, the Federal Review Conference, would not recommend changes. It was obvious to us, when we were beginning to review the evidence that we had received in Lusaka, that further changes would have to be made.
The Colonial Secretary has accepted for the Northern Rhodesian Legislature one of the proposals that we made for the election of the Federal Assembly. I hope that this will result in an African majority. I do not think that it could be regarded as a satisfactory Constitution if it does not do so. I cannot think that it will be possible, after the Constitution that has been given to Nyasaland, for the Constitution to be given to Northern Rhodesia to fall far short of it. I am aware that the Colonial Secretary said that there are great differences between Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia—and so there are. The number of whites is now about nine 319 times as great in Northern Rhodesia as in Nyasaland, and there is also the great copper industry. But I made special inquiries from responsible people in Northern Rhodesia as to what the effect would be upon Northern Rhodesia of a great step forward in Nyasaland. I was told that in their view it would be essential that the two African territories should be granted reasonable parity of treatment so far as their Constitution was concerned.
I cannot understand why the United Federal Party, which claims to be a multi-racial Party, should take such exception to one-third of the seats being of a multi-racial character, and the electorate being one that combines both whites and blacks. If it were in fact the case that the United Federal Party had a substantial following among the Africans of Northern Rhodesia, a Constitution of this kind ought to be satisfactory to them. I think that in point of fact it serves to show that they have not forgotten the results of the last election in Northern Rhodesia when the following they had among the Africans turned out to be extremely small. And I believe that further confirmation is given to that in the speech of Sir Roy Welensky in the Federal Assembly about a fortnight ago, when he said that it appeared to him certain that this Constitution which has now been proposed by the British Government would result in an anti-federation majority being returned in Northern Rhodesia.
Paragraph 4 of the White Paper shows why the crisis has arisen, and here I venture to give an answer to my noble friend Lord Salisbury. Paragraph 4 of the White Paper says:The United Federal Party representatives challenged the view that there was any justification either for a substantial increase in the number of Africans in the Legislative Council, or for an extension of the franchise.There are one or two more sentences, and then it goes on:The time was approaching when Northern Rhodesia was entitled to make the advance to responsible government, which should be established on the basis of the franchise and electoral arrangements laid down in 1958.My Lords, the present Prime Minister has stated in terms that the undertaking that the protectorate status will not be withdrawn from the Africans of Northern 320 Rhodesia without the consent of the inhabitants meant of the inhabitants, and not merely of the voters. Therefore the claim made by the United Federal Party that the time has come for advance to responsible government on the basis of the present electorate, with 68 per cent. of the voters representing the 72,000 Europeans while 25 per cent. of the voters represent the 2½ million Africans, would be a clear breach of the pledges that have been given by this and previous Governments to the people of the Northern Protectorate. The United Federal Party representatives have not only walked out of the Conference but have deliberately put forward a claim which Her Majesty's Government in honour could not possibly accept. And, therefore, my answer to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, is that the responsibility for this crisis in the Northern Rhodesian Conference rests fairly and squarely on the United Federal Party and the Dominion Party who are supporting them.
We hear much about the need for responsible behaviour by African politicians. I cannot avoid drawing attention to the action of the Ministers of the Northern Rhodesian Government. One of the provisions of the 1958 Constitution was that there should be collective responsibility. I do not know how Mr. Roberts and his colleagues were able to justify to their consciences continuing to remain Ministers in the Governor's Cabinet while at the same time boycotting the Conference in which he and their other colleagues were taking part. If I wished to criticise Her Majesty's Government it would be that, despite this boycott by the European Ministers, Her Majesty's Government continued to negotiate with them down the back stairs. Very harsh things have been said about Africans when they have been guilty of boycott—even as recently as last December when they walked out. How much more reprehensible is it that Ministers of the Crown should behave in this way!
It is not only the United Federal Party Ministers and the Northern Rhodesian Government who I think are open to very severe criticism. It is also the intervention of the Federal Government. In 1951, at the Victoria Falls Conference, when the Africans expressed the fear that federation would result in a holding 321 up of their political advance, this statement was incorporated in the proceedings of that Conference:The political advancement of the peoples of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, both in local and territorial government, must remain as at present (subject to the ultimate authority of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom) the responsibility of the Government and Legislature of each territory and not of any federal authority".That I regard as a pledge that was given to the Africans. But in case what I might call the "Hailsham doctrine" should be said to apply—that, because the Africans did not co-operate, therefore the pledge ceases to operate (and I would say in its other connotation I respectfully agree with the Hailsham doctrine)—on this occasion, in order that there should be no doubts about this being an abiding and binding principle of the Constitution, it was incorporated in the Preamble to the Constitution.
It is quite true that an undertaking was later given thatas regards amendments of the Territorial Constitutions, the existing machinery and the responsibility of Her Majesty's Ministers in the United Kingdom remain unchanged, but Her Majesty's Ministers would naturally seek the views of the Federal Government before advising Her Majesty.Clearly, that explanatory statement afterwards in no degree reduces the binding force of the pledge or diminishes the ultimate authority of Her Majesty's Government. I read that Sir Roy Welensky said last week—he quoted the latter part but not the earlier part of what I have quoted this afternoon:It was never meant to imply that the views of the Federal Government would merely be sought and rejected.But that is just what those words say, and just what they mean in appropriate circumstances. After all, it is common in Statutes here that a Minister of the Crown is put under an obligation to consult, say, county councils or trade unions, or whoever it may be; but the responsibility for the final decision rests with Her Majesty's Government. I fear that this flagrant and open intervention, similar to what has been suspected by Africans on previous occasions, can only harden African hostility to federation.
That comment, my Lords, brings me back to federation and to the final words I have to say. The Monckton Report was, of course, advisory. We repeated 322 that on a number of occasions. But Africans will not accept less than the recommendations that we put forward. That, I think, is because we were an impartial body, including nominees of the four African Governments, and, perhaps I might also mention, four members of the Conservative Party. Sir Roy Welensky's anger at the recommendations that were made is due to his recognition, as a realist, that it will not be possible to secure African agreement to anything less than our recommendations. But there is one, and perhaps the most important of all, of our findings in regard to which I rejoice that Sir Roy Welensky is in agreement with us. We said thatto hold the Federation together by force we regard as out of the question".Sir Roy Welensky speaking in the Federal Parliament on October 25—it is at Column 3146 of Hansard—said:I would he the first to agree. Clearly, the Federation cannot be held together by force, and no sensible body of people would attempt to do so.I can only hope that all those responsible for conducting these negotiations will steer a course that will not involve us in any effort to hold the Federation together against the wishes of the great majority of Africans. History, from Ireland to Cyprus, has warned us of the dangers of doing so; and it is because I am confident that Her Majesty's Government do not intend to do so that I am glad to assure them of my support.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, it is my good fortune to follow what I think your Lordships will all agree is one of the most remarkable maiden speeches we have heard in this House. The noble Lord, Lord Molson, came to us with a great reputation for independence of mind, judgment and courage. Now he has shown in this speech that he will be a great asset to your Lordships' House. It was a speech that, while out of the ordinary run of maiden speeches, could not have been called controversial because it was factual; it was authoritative and based on experience and hard fact. From that point of view, it seems to me that it was a devastating answer to the critics of the policy that Her Majesty's Government are now pursuing. We congratulate the noble Lord.
323 My Lords, a number of criticisms were brought out by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I am sorry that he has just left the Chamber.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
Some of the statements the made—I do not think they were really arguments—were statements of the state of opinion among Europeans in Rhodesia. As to his criticisms of Her Majesty's Government, I do not think it is for me to answer for the Government; I think they can deal with his criticisms themselves. With regard to the criticisms that have come from Sir Roy Welensky, I think that those also can be answered by the Government. But sonic of the statements made about the Northern Rhodesia Conference do deserve an answer. One is the complaint that it was too soon to convene a Conference to review the Northern Rhodesia Constitution. It was curious that the noble Marquess thought it was not too soon in Southern Rhodesia to review the Constitution. As a reason for the difference between the two countries he said that the Africans were entirely different: that the Africans in Southern Rhodesia were so much more advanced than those in the North. The Southern Rhodesian Governments have never thought fit to give them the vote, which perhaps is strange. In Northern Rhodesia, thousands of Africans have for decades been working in the mines and have reached quite high levels of skill as artisans; they have lived urban lives, and I think if is a quite untenable position to take up, to suggest that the difference between the Africans in the North and the South gives any reason for complaining of the Government's action over Northern Rhodesia.
Moreover, the fact of the Conference being held in 1960 at all was, it is generally believed, at the express desire of Sir Roy Welensky. By the Constitution of the Federation the Review Conference need not have been held for another two years, until the 9th year after the Federation came into effect, but it was at the urgent representations of the Federal Government and Southern Rhodesia that, we believe, the Conference was brought forward to the earliest possible moment that it could be held; and the Northern Rhodesian Con- 324 stitution obviously had to be reviewed and reformed simultaneously with that of the Federation.
Another thing the noble Marquess and others who have taken part in this controversy elsewhere have complained about is that the present proposals of the Secretary of State for Northern Rhodesia constitute racialism—or a retreat from nonracialism. "Non-racialism" is a fashionable word just now. All these words have their day and then they go out of fashion. Originally we had "partnership", and then it got discredited and blown upon, and it gave way, I think, to "multi-racialism", and now multi-racialism has given way to non-racialism. There seems no doubt that the use of that phrase "non-racialism" covers a plain desire to retain domination of the country by the white inhabitants. But, frankly, it is pure humbug to say that the Constitution should be on a non-racial basis in order to allow Africans to take more part.
Another point the noble Marquess brought up was that Sir Roy Welensky had himself offered to come to London to take part in the discussions on the Northern Rhodesian Constitution. Sir Roy Welensky himself, in a speech in the Federal Parliament, mentioned that too, and he seemed to think it almost an insult that he had suffered at the hands of Her Majesty's Government that his offer had not been accepted. I think it needs saying again, although the noble Lord, Lord Molson, said it quite plainly, that the question of the territorial Constitutions is a matter to be settled between the territorial Governments and Her Majesty's Government here, and the Federal Government has only to be consulted. Sir Roy Welensky, no doubt, would have been most welcome in London, but he had no part constitutionally in the discussions that were going on at that time in London. So I think Her Majesty's Government can be acquitted of any desire to insult him or to be rude to him.
We had brought in once again—and I have no doubt we shall hear it later in this debate—the question of the Congo. The Congo is something used to make our flesh creep. It is used as an awful warning. On this occasion the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, used it as a warning of what would happen if we were to go too fast in Northern 325 Rhodesia. I think we want to look rather closely at this analogy of the Congo. It seems certain that horrible events, outrages and other things have been taking place there; but ever since last autumn information has been so scarce that it is difficult to be sure of the extent of these outrages, and by whom they have been committed. What is certain is that the country has lapsed into a state of chaos, with warring tribal or provincial leaders. But whose fault was that?
Was it because Africans were given the vote and responsibility in Government? It was the precise opposite. It was because the Belgians, although they had for many years pursued an enlightened policy in health, welfare and primary and secondary education, and economically, had kept the inhabitants of the Congo completely backward politically. I can only say it would appear to the ordinary newspaper-reader that when the Belgians felt that the rising tides of nationalism were getting too much for them, they panicked and abandoned the country in a great hurry. So bad was the condition in which they left the Congo that magistrates and doctors quitted their posts without leaving the means for their successors to carry on and even without appointing their successors. Administrators left without providing the means of continuing the administration.
That was in no sense a result of excessive speed in handing over to Africans; indeed, it was the precise opposite, and shows what would happen if the extreme white nationalists in Central Africa had their way. Africans have been gaining power all over that Continent in the last year or two, many of them within the last few months. Something like a dozen new independent States, entirely African, have resulted from the ending of the French Community in Africa. There is no disorder there, so far as we know. Most of them never get into the newspapers—and that is generally a good sign. And although they may not have Constitutions and democratic systems precisely on the London pattern, they appear to be getting along, whether, like Guinea, they choose to be associated with the Communist countries or, like many of the others, with Western countries; so there is nothing inherently wrong or dangerous in giving power to Africans. Some noble 326 Lords may say that those are countries where there is no colour problem, and no white immigrant problem. That is true. But the country where there is a white immigrant problem is Algeria; and there, if you like, is an awful warning of what might happen in Central Africa if the brake is applied too rapidly.
The noble Marquess and I would agree that there is a crisis of confidence, that the basis of many political troubles in the world is mutual distrust and fear. I cannot help thinking that the noble Marquess does not appreciate that the lack of confidence is mutual; and some of the things that some white leaders say are at least as alarming to the Africans as what the most extreme African nationalists say. The Acting Federal Prime Minister last December talked about the Red Flag flying from the Cape to Cairo within ten years if the Federation was "sold out". He talked of Mr. Macmillan fanning the wind of change into a hurricane. He said that the Federal Constitutional Review talks could become an African "Munich" if Britain's leaders were to give in to the demands of African "demagogues". That kind of wild talk on the part of responsible Ministers in the Federal Government keeps alive the fears of the Africans, that the white inhabitants of the Federation are out to keep them in a position of subjection.
There is one other instance, and this brings up the question of defence. The Monckton Commission, in the course of their Report, mentioned defence, pointing out (as is obvious from a study of the Constitution itself) that defence is a Federal subject. They said that Africans strongly criticised the use of Federal forces in emergencies in the Northern Territories. In fact, they said, Africans described them as "Southern Rhodesian troops" although technically they were Federal troops. The Monckton Commission recommended that defence should remain Federal, but on the following conditions:
327 The question I want to ask (and I have not seen it asked or answered anywhere else) is why, when Sir Roy Welensky decided to call up some of his forces in Northern Rhodesia a few weeks ago, did he call up Territorials? The Federation maintains a Regular Army. There are four infantry battalions—two former King's African Rifle battalions and two others recruited in Northern and Southern Rhodesia—and, of course, ancillary troops, Regulars, and an Air Force. In passing, I believe (I will not vouch for this but possibly the noble Lord, Lord Robins, who follows me can speak on this) it is a fact that in the Federal Army no black African can be commissioned. When one comes to think of that, it is a curious anomaly, to put it no higher, that of two young Africans who pass out of Sandhurst with the Queen's Commission, one can be commissioned in the King's African Rifles and serve alongside the British officers in an officers' mess; and another who wants to go to a Federal battalion cannot. It is a small thing, but it is an indication of the extraordinary lag in thinking among the leaders in Southern Rhodesia. British units in West Africa for years, and in East Africa for two or three years past, have had African officers brought into the ranks of the army.
- "(a) that 'defence' means defence primarily against external aggression;
- (b) that the defence forces will not be used in any Territory for the purposes of internal security except at the request of the Territorial Government concerned; and
- (c) that the defence forces will not be used outside the boundaries of the Federation except with the consent of Her Majesty's Government."
But to come back to the crisis and to these precautionary measures that were thought necessary to be taken in Northern Rhodesia, if there were four Regular infantry battalions, Africans, why did Sir Roy choose to call out a few hundred Territorials who were Europeans, who had to be taken away from their civilian jobs when they were embodied? That point, I think, deserves a little more attention than it has had up to now.
I only want to say, in the end, that I think many of your Lordships must have been disappointed with Lord Salisbury, having recollections of him as Leader of this House and having had great admiration for him. I think we must have rather regretted the tone he permitted himself in talking of Her Majesty's Government. He is not here, unfortunately, and I come to the end of my speech. But I think that something should be said in this House upon the tone and attitude of the noble Marquess.
328 My Lords, many noble Lords, I expect, say—and it is commonly said in Southern Rhodesia, I am sure—that the Labour Party think only of the Africans. My Lords, that is nonsense. We are thinking of white and black. The white inhabitants of Rhodesia should get it into their heads that they are there to stay by their own wish; they are a minority among Africans. If they rule by force that would mean a small minority holding down an enormous mass of inhabitants by force, by threats. We know what happens when bluffs are called, when threats are no longer of any use: it means shooting; it means killing. And the consequences of a policy that ends in force in African countries with European settlers is too horrible to contemplate. The sooner those leaders in Southern Rhodesia realise that, the better. They have got to move with the times; and, for all their talk about restricting government to responsible people, they have got to take the people who are there and give them the power and work in combination with them. Unless they do that Her Majesty's Government cannot help them, and nobody else can.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ LORD ROBINS
My Lords, I should wish, if it is not presumptuous, to be able to join with the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, in offering my warm congratulations to my noble friend Lord Molson on a most brilliant and informative maiden speech. Unfortunately, he is not in his place, but I hope that to-morrow he will perhaps read Hansard and know that I should like to associate myself with the congratulations which have been proffered. I only wish I could go further and say I agree with all the arguments which he produced. But I know he will understand that it is quite impossible for me to do that, and we appreciate each other's views on the points which he put forward.
I have no wish to be put down at my age as a cantankerous old man, but I must endorse what my noble friend Lord Salisbury has already said about the feelings of distrust and suspicion of Her Majesty's Government which are held throughout the Federation, and particularly of the way in which they have conducted the constitutional negotiations regarding Northern Rhodesia. I say 329 that with the greatest possible regret, because I have spent 33 years of my working life in the Federation. I have grown up with its institutions, and I have come to know a large number of its African inhabitants well and can call them my friends. I have the greatest respect for them. So I think I can speak with some knowledge, apart from political knowledge, of the conditions in that country.
I have just come back from a visit there and I was struck right through, in both Northern and Southern Rhodesia, with the deep feelings of distrust and suspicion which are held by people, quite apart from political life and quite apart from the colour of their faces, on the way in which Her Majesty's Government are dealing with these constitutional affairs. I deeply regret having to say that. I feel very strongly that we shall get nowhere in our further talks or in arranging these constitutional matters for the future unless we are able to dispel the atmosphere of suspicion and distrust which is so prevalent.
May I, before I make my few remarks about the proposed Constitution for Northern Rhodesia, refer to one or two points which have arisen in the course of the debate? In the first place, perhaps I. should reply to the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and the question he asked about the use of military force in Northern Rhodesia. So far as I am aware, military aid of the civil power is exactly the same in that country as it is in this country. The Federal Government would not send military forces to assist the police without the Governor of the territory asking them to do so. There is no reason at all why the Territorial forces should not be called up for training, and, indeed, it is very desirable that those untrained young men from the Copper Belt and elsewhere in Northern Rhodesia should know what they are doing if any crisis should arise when they are called up. That is the only explanation I can give. And there is no reason at all why battalions of the King's African Rifles should not be called up if an occasion should arise.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in the course of his speech, deplored the fact that there was no university, first of all in East Africa, and then he added "or in Central Africa". I should like to place on record that we have in Central Africa 330 a very flourishing institution which enjoys the receipt of degrees from the University of London and which is now starting a medical school and an engineering school, and will, in due course, have all the faculties which a modern university enjoys.
I should like to enlarge a little on what I said about this feeling of distrust, although I do not wish to pursue it for too long. One reason why this distrust has grown up is that the Secretary of State, in both March and May, 1960, stated that no constitutional changes beyond those consequential on changes agreed at the Federal Review Conference were contemplated. That was taken as meaning exactly what it said, without reservation. This, as noble Lords fully realise, has been reversed in the White Paper which has been produced. The second point which has caused a considerable amount of suspicion is that people in the Federation consider that there was no proper preparation for the resumed Northern Rhodesia Conference in January of this year: and that in contrast to the long months of careful preparation, discussion and conference which took place before the 1958 White Paper was published.
Furthermore, this White Paper is, I think, the fourth of a series of efforts to bring about a satisfactory Constitution. Even then, this has been reached only after a lot of consultation by telephone—which, in my own view, is not a very satisfactory way to engage in such negotiations. I am, of course, prepared to be told that one reason why the Constitutional Conference on Northern Rhodesia failed was because it was hindered in its work by the nonattendance of the United Party delegates, but clearly, I think, the Secretary of State had already made up his mind what he was going to do, and those delegates, quite naturally, were not prepared to take the risk of finding themselves committed when they sat down at the conference table.
My Lords, I am going to leave that subject, and I want to say only a very few words about why it is thought that the provisions of this new Constitution are unacceptable. In the first place, they perpetuate racial representation, which the Constitution of 1958 specifically denounced. I hope that I shall not weary 331 your Lordships if I quote one paragraph, paragraph 19, of the White Paper of September, 1958:Constitutional arrangements should ensure that the government of the country will continue to rest in the hands of responsible men, men with understanding and of sufficient education and experience of affairs to be able to reason and to exercise judgment between alternative courses of action. The electoral system must encourage the return of men or women who are prepared and, indeed, disposed to consider and balance the interests of all racial groups, and who are prompted primarily by a spirit of public service to the whole community; it must discourage the return of extremists who would look to sectional interests alone.Paragraph 18 of the same White Paper said:Politics should be encouraged to develop on Party and not racial lines: unless political Parties can eventally cut across racial divisions it will be impossible to achieve a united Northern Rhodesia".In the new White Paper, as your Lordships have already been reminded, it is proposed that membership of the Legislative Council should consist of 15 on the Upper Roll, 15 on the Lower Roll and 15 National representatives—a combination of both Rolls. It is quite clear what will happen. The Upper Roll will be entirely Europeans; the Lower Roll will elect entirely Africans, and I think it is quite impossible to predict who will be elected as the 15 National representatives. To my mind, this, indeed, is perpetuating political apartheid.
Then there is the very difficult question of delimiting constituencies. It is bad enough if you are dealing with 15 on the Upper Roll and 15 on the Lower Roll, but it is complicated to the nth degree if, in addition, you have 15 National seats. Although I have studied the Memorandum to the White Paper very carefully, I cannot see how those 15 National members are going to be elected, and how the country is going to be divided into constituencies which will give proper representation. This may be a matter of detail which will be worked out later by what we are now pleased to call a "Working Party", but it is too complicated for a country like Northern Rhodesia, where the people are simple and have not been educated up to such a standard of politics.
Sir Roy Welensky, who recently arrived in London, has made it quite 332 clear, not only in his recent speeches in the Federal Parliament but also in statements that he has made since he arrived here, that he has an open mind, and that he is ready to reopen discussions on this subject. I do appeal to Her Majesty's Government to look at this matter again, and to revert, if possible, to the principles, if not to the exact letter, of the 1958 Lennox-Boyd Constitution—it has had only two years' trial, and, from my own experience, it is working extremely well—and particularly to reiterate the cardinal principle that Party politics should cut across race and give the country a Legislative Council of responsible people. By all means amend that Constitution in detail, for nobody wants to see the country stand still; expand the franchise, if it is really necessary; set up a Council of Chiefs; have a Bill of Rights; have a Council of State. Nobody can object to those provisions at all—but give the territory stability. There will be shouts of disapproval from the extremists, but, my Lords, they will be drowned by the sighs of relief from the rest of the community
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ LORD SINCLAIR OF CLEEVE
My Lords, may I start by saying for the record, as the noble Lord, Lord Molson, is no longer in his place, that I should like to congratulate him most warmly on his maiden speech. Tried in the fire of debate in another place, I think he gave convincing evidence that he has found the atmosphere in your Lordships' House at least as congenial. Although, like my noble friend Lord Robins, I should not find myself wholly in agreement with some of the things he said, I most warmly welcome his declaration on behalf of the Monckton Commission of their belief in the ideals of the Federation and of partnership, and his declaration of faith, as I think he put it, in the future of a Federation in some form.
On a previous occasion when Central Africa was being debated in this House, I referred to the company in which I have spent most of my working life, and which has had substantial interests in that territory for upwards of half a century; and, from knowledge so acquired, I spoke about some of the things which we and other industrial firms have done to contribute to the 333 economic and educational advancement of the African. There is, of course, an element of self-interest in this, but we have felt, and still feel, that if the progress of the African to political and social maturity is to be sure and lasting, it should march with, or closely follow, economic and educational advancement. To-day, attention is directed to constitutional issues, with particular reference to political advancement. I must make it clear that, in addressing your Lordships on this subject, I am not speaking for the company, for the company as a company has no politics; but it is perhaps not irrelevant to say, as part of the general background to my remarks, that, as a company, we believe in the future of Central Africa, and, so long as general conditions continue to permit it, and so long, particularly, as law and order are maintained, we will continue to operate there and continue to do what we can, whatever the complexion of the local Government, to help to ensure that the tobacco-growing industry, which s so important to that territory, may continue to flourish.
In these days, when nationalism is so much the fashion and when early independence so common an aim (with sometimes little regard for economic viability), it is perhaps natural to say, as some have said, that, for those who have power to influence the pace, it can be more dangerous, politically, to go too slow than to go too fast. That, my Lords, I think could cover a multitude of follies. After all, is it not a matter of degree? Just how fast, or how slow? Many consider, and I personally think with some justification, that progress in the Federation since 1953 towards full partnership between the European and African has been disappointingly slow. But surely, we should not presume to condemn out of hand those who, in theory, have had the power to set the pace, because it is not easy for us here to assess their difficulties in putting theory into practice. Nevertheless, whatever grounds for disappointment there may be, there is no gainsaying the fact that in the last two years the rate of progress in the economic field has substantially advanced; and there is no doubt, too, that in the political sphere, as has already been said this afternoon, the Southern Rhodesian Constitutional Agreement, recently concluded under the 334 chairmanship of the Secretary of State, was a great step forward.
If one could look at this objectively, this would seem to he a time when the dangers of putting on too much pressure from outside would be obvious. But I am afraid that we cannot look at this situation with complete objectivity. This country, the United Kingdom, has special responsibilities for the two Northern Territories. But they are responsibilities which I think we can honourably discharge only in full consultation with the Federal Government; and no one who has read the full 'text of Sir Roy Welensky's speech to the Federal Parliament on February 27 and who believes, as I do, in Sir Roy's absolute integrity and honesty of purpose can be convinced that, as yet, there has been full consultation in regard to the latest version of the Northern Rhodesian franchise proposals.
I am sure no one would wish to minimise the difficulties of recent negotiations. I listened with the greatest interest and care to the account given by the noble Earl, Lord Perth. I have no doubt that what has been done was done not only with the best intentions, but with every desire to secure political advancement without creating or crystallising racial antagonisms. I am sure that was the intention; but I feel that the way in which this thing was done was unfortunate. The feeling on the part of the Europeans and many moderate Africans that they have been let down, and that encouragement has been given to the extremists, is, to my knowledge, very strong. And the fact that the extremists are not satisfied with the situation, believe me, is not evidence to the contrary. If there is anything in these present proposals which increases African representation in a way that plays into the hands of the extremists, I think that much of the ground that has already been gained will be lost and a dangerous situation created.
As I see it, the proposal for the "Three Fifteens" could conceivably do just that, and be a hostage to fortune. They must surely create, as the noble Lord, Lord Robins, said, a racial bloc at each end of the scale, each bloc matching exactly the other in voting power. It does not take much imagination to foresee that the Lower Roll, in these circumstances, could be exploited 335 by extremists who may not shrink from intimidation to ensure that its representatives are of their way of thinking. That, in turn, will certainly tend toward producing a white extremist bloc at the other end. In the middle, the National Roll, which in theory should constitute a balanced bloc of moderate opinion, both European and African, will consist of three representatives of each of the five constituencies, which together cover an area of more than three times the size of the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Even if the voters in these constituencies can be made to understand how this system is intended to work (which is asking rather a lot), it takes a great deal of imagination to see how candidates will be able effectively to canvass their constituencies, or represent them if elected.
My Lords, as I said, I listened with great care to all that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said. I do not think he really gave an answer to what I have just said, but if there is anything wrong in that rather broad interpretation of the proposals I hope the noble Viscount who will reply to the debate will make it clear. However, still more do I hope that Her Majesty's Government will not attempt at this time to nail their colours more firmly to this particular mast, but will show a willingness to listen to further representations.
There must be few who would not agree that the crux of the problem is to have a franchise that reflects the desire to give encouragement to legitimate aspirations on the part of Africans for a greater participation in Government, that makes it clear that what is now proposed is not the limit and that further advancement will be possible as more and more Africans show themselves qualified to take the responsibility, but withal a franchise that does not tolerate violence or intimidation. Northern Rhodesia, as all your Lordships know, is adjacent to the Congo. I am not going to draw the kind of analogy with the Congo that the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, feared might be drawn, but these hard facts are there. In the Congo tribal warfare has been unleashed—for the moment. The border between Northern Rhodesia and the Congo is not drawn on any ethnological, economic or 336 tribal lines. Tribes in one country spill over into the other. Of course, we all hope that without the employment of outside military force the warring factions in the Congo may be reconciled, and that there may evolve a Government, perhaps on some kind of federal system, flowing from these present discussions at Malagasy, which eventually will weld together the different races and tribes into a nation. But that will take time, and until that happens the danger of Congo chaos reacting on Northern Rhodesia is very real.
I submit, my Lords, that we here cannot adequately assess the danger. We know that there are extremists, that there is intimidation, and that intimidation of moderate Africans is by no means confined to Nyasaland. I am sure there are very many Africans in all these territories who have come to appreciate the advantages of education for themselves, and still more for their children; whose standard of life is rising, and who do not regard political power as the first essential. Yet under threats to themselves, their property or their children, they may be forced to join in violent action, or to support those who favour it. Increased political power will come to the Africans: it must. But for the sake of the country and all in it, white and black alike, let it come in orderly fashion. As I said, let intimidation and disorder be not tolerated.
I would not presume to outline any satisfactory alternative to the latest proposals. Various noble Lords have argued for standing on the 1958 franchise. Whether that gives sufficient recognition to African aspirations to-day I should have some doubt, but at least it is free from some of the objections in principle to the "Three Fifteens". It has the merit of a Common Roll, and inevitably more and more Africans will come to qualify as voters, so that one set of constituencies need not indefinitely be regarded as the prerogative of the Europeans. Moreover, one can see in that kind of arrangement some prospect of flexibility which, as I see it, would largely be absent from the "Three Fifteens".
I would not seek to elaborate this point for, in the context of the present situation, the first essential is surely that the views of the people on the spot must be fully considered. Therefore, I 337 would urge that Her Majesty's Government should see fit to ensure that the reference of the proposals in the White Paper (Cmnd. 1295) to Lusaka should be on a wider basis than that implied in the two concluding paragraphs of the Secretary of State's statement—in short, that there should be, in a real and practical sense, full consultation before the die is cast.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, may I first have the pleasure of congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Molson, on a most welcome contribution to this debate. I must confess that in our association over the years in another place, I never thought the time would come when I should say to him that I agreed completely, not only with the form of his speech but also with the substance.
The curtain has been raised this afternoon on a very important debate, a debate on Central Africa, which I believe will attract world-wide attention. While we have been discussing certain aspects of Central Africa—the Constitution of Northern Rhodesia and the position of Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—I think that we should bear in mind that Central Africa is only a microcosm of the whole of the African Continent. Furthermore, I think that we should bear in mind that the attitude of a politically mature Government, such as our own, is being closely observed by all those countries which are desperately trying to establish their own independence. Indeed, I would say that our handling of this problem provides the world with a measure of worthiness in the conduct of international affairs.
There are those, as we have heard this afternoon, who predict disaster if the recommendations in the White Paper on constitutional changes in Northern Rhodesia are followed, who say that here there is too rapid a transition. I would ask your Lordships to imagine what might happen if we dragged our feet on this occasion. Examples in Africa have been mentioned. It has been implied that if the recommendations on Northern Rhodesia were accepted, there might be trouble similar to that which we have seen in the Congo, which is adjacent to these Territories in Central Africa. But surely it was the failure of 338 the Belgians to promote the interests of the Africans in the Congo which precipitated a situation that is to-day so fraught with hazard that nobody can confidently predict what the outcome will be.
Algeria, too, was mentioned. Algeria presents a struggle between the native Arab and immigrant populations, and the position to-day is that those who are responsible have allowed political affairs to drift in such a manner that it now seems almost inevitable that war will continue. In all these circumstances it might have been thought that those closely concerned with Rhodesia's problems would recognise the explosive nature of the situation and exercise the greatest restraint. On the contrary, the speeches of Sir Roy Welensky have been calculated to exacerbate the situation, and the speech we have heard this afternoon from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, which paraphrased the article he wrote in the Sunday Express, could well have been interposed in any of the speeches of Sir Roy Welensky.
Expediency makes strange bedfellows. I am sorry that the noble Marquess went out just as I began to speak. I must confess that I mentioned to some of my noble friends that I was going to raise the points he had made, and I am sorry that he has left the Chamber. When I came to your Lordships' House, I was told that the verbal exchanges were not quite so violent as in another place, but this afternoon I have listened to an attack on the Colonial Secretary by the noble Marquess which descended to the level of gutter oratory. His attack was utterly vicious. The Colonial Secretary was accused of having been a paid bridge correspondent of a newspaper. This in itself implied some disgrace. The "bridge" theme was developed, and it was suggested that the tactics used by the Colonial Secretary were a little suspect.
I would say to the noble Marquess, if he were here, that, though he does not approve of the standards of bridge players, he mixes with prize-fighters, and I take it that the level of sportsmanship among his friends in the prize ring is little higher than that of bridge players. It seems to me that the noble Marquess 339 is establishing for himself a reputation as the modern Canute. In the Sunday Express—and his speech to-day was a paraphrase of his article—he wrote ofthe ultimate attainment of equal partnership between black and whiteNo doubt the Prime Minister of the Federation subscribes to this lofty ideal, provided that the loosest interpretation is placed on the words "ultimate". My remaining knowledge of Latin tells me that "ultimate" means the last thing we may expect. When the noble Marquess pontificates, he shows himself to be blissfully unaware that justice must eventually prevail over privilege.
He has suggested that a great many people will get the vote without understanding—presumably because many of them are illiterate. But the compulsory illiterate are not necessarily unintelligent. Even an illiterate knows on which side his bread is buttered. Furthermore, the literacy of the Africans is not a reflection upon them but upon their oppressors. The argument that the African has not reached an intellectual standard to merit the vote was used by the prejudiced opponents of the franchise for women many years ago. Indeed, it was only two years ago that your Lordships felt that women were fitted to make their modest contribution to the counsels of this House. Now we are warned of the dangers of African domination. But all the Colonial Secretary is advocating, surely, is non-racial control, instead of the present domination by a white minority.
Great emphasis has been placed upon the distrust (the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, called it "the miasma of distrust") which has arisen to cloud the relations between the Home Government and the British people overseas. Is it not more necessary that we should have the minimum of distrust among the Africans? I am pleased to see that the noble Marquess has now returned to the Chamber. I am afraid that I cannot bore the House by repeating everything I have said, but he will no doubt be able to read it in Hansard to-morrow. However, I would say to him that when he talks about the miasma (a delightful word) of distrust which has arisen to cloud the relations between the Home Government and the British people overseas, he speaks as though the British 340 people overseas were the majority and not a very small minority of the people for whom we in this country are responsible. I ask him: is it not more necessary that we should have the minimum of distrust among the Africans—that great majority of people who are looking to us for help and guidance?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Perhaps I might answer the noble Lady. My point was that one must not ignore, as the noble Lady's opinion would tend to, the Europeans, because they are the only people at present creating the prosperity of the countries in question, from which the Africans also benefit.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
If the noble Marquess will be a little patient, I will come to that point, and I hope to satisfy him that the people for whom he speaks, the small minority of whites, have been well represented at all the Conferences that have taken place and are well aware of what has happened. For the noble Marquess to suggest that his friend Sir Roy Welensky is such an innocent surprises me. He is far from being an innocent: he is a very shrewd man of the world, and the noble Marquess must not think that he is not aware of what is happening.
What I want to say to the noble Marquess, again, is this. Surely, although he may feel this (and it is difficult to believe that he really can feel it in 1961), at this stage in our history it is of paramount importance that we should concern ourselves with winning the confidence of the African people, having regard to the Afro-Asian world in the Commonwealth. Does that not appeal to the noble Marquess? He is a great Commonwealth man. Does he realise that tomorrow morning there is to start in London a great Conference, and that we have watched one Afro-Asian representative after another arriving in this country? When they come to read his speech tomorrow, does he think that their confidence in this Government will be increased or decreased?
Furthermore, I would say this to the noble Marquess. It should not be forgotten—he knows this country so well—
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
If the noble Marquess puts his ear instrument 341 up he will hear me better; I cannot shout any louder. It should not be forgotten that there are some white settlers who feel that they have a vested interest in the non-emergence of the Africans, and that it is against their interests that they should emerge. This supremacy of the while settlers can end only when the African has parity of opportunity.
The last speech which Sir Roy Welensky made to the Federal Parliament (it has been referred to by one noble Lord) on February 27, and reported in The Times on February 28, was less bellicose than his previous announcements. Indeed, one is inclined to think that his bluff has been called. He now claims in his latest speech, which I have read carefully, that he has new plans for increasing the level of African representation. He said in that speech that these plans were secret to himself; that he had given no publicity to them before. But what reliance can be placed upon his assurances? His second thoughts will certainly not impress African opinion. One noble Lord this afternoon said that he had complete reliance upon Sir Roy Welensky's word.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
May I remind the noble Earl, who has a better past in this, as I recall, and the House of what happened in 1957–58, and leave your Lordships to judge as to whether a great deal of importance can be attached to Sir Roy Welensky's word? His Government then passed the Constitution Amendment Bill and the Electoral Bill, both of which were designed to minimise African influence and representation. Both these measures were opposed by the African Affairs Board. It will be recalled that the African Affairs Board is a body created to secure less discrimination against Africans; and I am sure that many Lords, when that Board was set up, felt reassured that the interests of the Africans would be protected. Sir Roy Welensky's Government introduced Bills which were opposed by the African Affairs Board because, they said, the Bills discriminated against Africans. Nevertheless, the Tory Government ignored the representations of the African Affairs Board and agreed to both measures. Can you trust somebody who has done that?
342 Furthermore, the Federal Government's refusal to meet the legitimate constitutional aspirations of the Africans led to the disturbances in Nyasaland in 1959. In the Federal Parliament on April 7 of that year Sir Roy Welensky said that some Labour Members' accusations had been evil and foul; and he added:The refusal to accept the undoubted plans for a wholesale massacre of people of all races in Nyasaland shows an irresponsibility which has removed any faith we might have had in the judgment of those concerned.This very offensive speech was, in effect, repudiated by the Devlin Report, which revealed that not only was there no evidence of a massacre planned in Nyasaland, but that Nyasaland was being run as a Police State. Again, Sir Roy Welensky tried to bluff the world.
Now he wants to start discussions all over again. He says—and he is supported by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury—that he has not been consulted, and he asks to start discussions all over again. Those noble Lords who might think that this is a reasonable request should recall that his Party, the United Federal Party, boycotted the Northern Rhodesia Constitutional Conference; and they did this because there was a proopsal to give the Africans increased political representation. Your Lordships have had read out to you an extract from page 4 of Command Paper 1295, but as, in my opinion, this is the very essence of 'the debate I do not apologise for reading the first few lines again. They say:United Federal Party Representatives challenged the view that there was any justification either for a substantial increase in the number of Africans in the Legislative Council or for an extension of the franchise.The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, comes here to-day and tells your Lordships that it has not been fully understood, and that there was not sufficient discussion. Sir Roy Welensky's representatives came to the Conference before Christmas; they heard all about it and knew precisely what was going on, and they then decided not to come again in January. Indeed, Sir Roy Welensky's Party boycotted the Conference because they believed that nothing should be given to the Africans. Therefore it is a little difficult to reconcile the latest change of front regarding the secret desires to increase African representation with this premeditated action.
343 Having regard to this record, we must recognise the fact that the Prime Minister of the Federation is merely adopting delaying tactics, and that the stumbling block in the situation is an underlying determination to resist the granting of human rights to the African population. It might be tempting to the Government to compromise or to delay, because this decision does not command universal approval. Apart from the morals of the situation, about which there can be no question, I would say that the question before us is: Can we afford to take either course? To compromise will inevitably alienate the African members, who only very reluctantly are now prepared to accept the Colonial Secretary's proposal, and to delay may well precipitate a crisis, a situation which is now familiar to us. I would say this, out of my experience of politics: that in politics correct timing is almost as important as the action itself. Therefore it is better to accept now these proposals graciously, rather than be compelled to do so later by the grim pressure of events.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, the noble Lady will, I am sure, excuse me if I do not follow her in her diatribes or her dialectics. Conscious as we are of each other's shortcomings, I still think it is not helpful at this moment, and in this debate, to conduct a sort of inquest into how and why we are where we are. I would say rather that the approach of all of us should be: facing the facts as they are today, what can we each contribute towards a solution which is right in principle and workable in practice—a solution which will preserve the Federation, for the Federation is not only essential to the progress and prosperity of all the three territories but is a great endeavour in racial partnership.
Many views may be taken, and a good many have been expressed, about the Monckton Report. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Molson, on his maiden speech; it was admirable, but one expected that from his speeches in the House of Commons. But I would say, in passing, that, able no doubt as the Monckton Report is, it is not really the ten Tables or two Tables, or whichever Moses brought down from the mountain—
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
It is not that, and it is not necessarily the inspired word. If he will forgive my saying so, it was not the only thing I did not agree with in his speech but the only fault of taste, perhaps, in his speech was when he said that of course the Government had no option except to accept and swallow the Monckton Report whole. But one thing in the Monckton Report and in the noble Lord's speech with which I think we should all agree—he emphasised it himself; let me do him that justice—is that no one could be more emphatic on the importance and the value of the Federation than the Monckton Commission were on both counts. On the economic side they said thatdissolution would lead to hardship, poverty and distress".and on the social side:To break it up now would be an admission that there is no hope for a multi-racial society on the African Continent and that differences of colour and race are irreconcilable.It is in that spirit that I would venture to offer two suggestions. The essence of Federation is racial partnership, and that is declared in the preamble to the Constitution which my noble friend Lord Salisbury and I wrote together. To have in the membership of a legislative assembly, or in voting for a legislative assembly, opposing blocs of black and white, appears to me to be the antithesis of partnership. And racial rolls of electors voting for separate constituencies must tend to perpetuate that division.
I was greatly interested to find the noble Lord, Lord Robins, who knows this country better than any of us and who has done so much for all races, supporting that view. It is for that reason that I am attracted in the Government plan by what is in effect a Common Roll of Upper and Lower franchise groups, voting together for National constituencies. As I understand it, under the Government proposal one-third of the members of the Assembly would be elected on that combined Common Roll. I would much rather see all the members of the Assembly elected on a combined Common Roll. But if it is 345 felt that there must be some constituencies elected by separate electorates, would it not be wiser to have the number of separate constituencies smaller, and the National combined constituencies larger—say one-quarter, one-quarter and one half? That election by a combined Common Roll would be racial partnership in action and, what is more, it would, I am convinced—or I certainly believe—encourage and strengthen the moderate men of both races.
Whatever be the number of the Combined Roll seats, I hope the system of voting will be a fairly simple one. The procedure set out in the Southern Rhodesian White Paper—and I join in congratulating both the Secrtary of State and Sir Edgar Whitehead on that achievement and, indeed, all who took part in that Conference in Southern Rhodesia—as I read it is simple and clear. But when you compare it with the Northern Rhodesian proposal I find the Northern Rhodesian proposal very complicated. Under that proposal paragraph 4 of the White Paper—it says that candidates must obtain the same prescribed minimum percentage of votes cast on each Roll; and that votes on each Roll will be equalised by averaging the percentage of votes on each Roll secured by each candidate. Even after my noble friend Lord Perth's admirable and clear exposition, I still have great difficulty in following that. I suppose it is intentionally left rather vague because it is hoped that the Lusaka meetings will work out the percentages.
But is it not rather unnecessarily complicated? Here in this country we—I beg your Lordships' pardon, not all, but all with the exception of some of the Liberals—have always favoured a simple electoral system. The horse that gets first past the winning post wins the race—unless, of course, it is disqualified by the stewards. I should have thought that a good deal simpler system was desirable where there is a number of new and inexperienced voters.
My other suggestion is this. Certainty and stability are very important factors in framing a Constitution, and in its operation. There is no doubt that there is much anxiety in Africa to-day that Constitutions meant to be tried and proved in practice tend to be ripped up 346 and rewritten before the play is half over. I do not seek to assess the validity of these fears, but they are there; they are a fact, and they are a fact which must be taken into account. When we framed the Federal Constitution it was agreed and laid down in the Constitution itself that it would last for ten years. May not that be a helpful precedent? I believe it would be easier to secure agreement over Northern Rhodesia if that precedent of the Federal Constitution were followed and if it were laid down in the Constitution itself that it should last for a fixed term of years. I put forward these suggestions because I believe they would be right in principle and workable in practice, and I put them forward because I believe that they would encourage inter-racial partnership and responsibility. And surely that must be the goal of us all.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, it was not my intention to occupy your Lordships' time until to-morrow, but the attack which my noble friend Lord Salisbury has made on my colleague the Colonial Secretary is one that none of your Lordships would expect a colleague to let pass and be continued without answer until another day. I have a very simple view of the doctrine of Cabinet responsibility: it can be summed up in the motto of an old French house, "Who touches my brother touches me." And that is a view which I believe calls for an answer from me to-night.
The grounds of the noble Marquess's attack were, in the main, two. He said that my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary was "too clever by half". That remark, which can only be calculated offensiveness, was, I suppose, designed to imply that my right honourable friend was disingenuous; it could not have any other meaning. Then the noble Marquess was kind enough to say that my right honourable friend, as a bridge player, approached probably the most serious problem that faces mankind to-day—namely, how this world is going to continue with different races playing different parts—with a desire to outwit his opponents. My Lords, of course the answer is that anyone else who knows my right honourable friend would not accept that statement for a 347 moment. It is poles apart from his character as his friends and colleagues know it. As I say, I felt—it is not a question of doing my duty—that I could not have rested easy to-night until I had at any rate put my view before your Lordships in contradistinction to that of the noble Marquess.
My Lords, let us look at the evidence which the noble Marquess puts forward. Of course, it is not evidence in the sense of anything that any tribunal or court would look at. But when you are going to make an attack you gather from every hedgerow and byeway anything that you can say which will traduce the object of the attack. The first one was the general allegation which I have mentioned, that my right honourable friend approached his conferences with a desire to outwit his opponents. The only answer one can give to that is that it is entirely untrue, having regard to my right honourable friend's state of mind and proved record of action. The second attack was that he had, so the noble Marquess said, confronted the Lancaster House Conference over Kenya and—I think the words were, if my note is right—"planked down" the Constitution in front of them. Well, my Lords, they discussed the Constitution. The noble Marquess can he assured that he may interrupt me as much as he likes; I have got over that momentary feeling of not wanting to be interrupted.
These are the facts. The conclusions of the Lancaster House Conference on Kenya were accepted by all the Parties except—I think my recollection is right—that led by Group Captain Briggs. It was certainly accepted by the Party led by Mr. Michael Blundell. One ought to use other people's names with great discretion in a body to which they do not belong. But I have known Mr. Michael Blundell for many years. I have discussed African problems with him, in this country and in Kenya, and I think that to say, without further evidence, that my right honourable friend had used discreditable methods in that Conference when it had been agreed to by Mr. Michael Blundell and by others is a use of an opportunity without evidence which I think wants further consideration.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, perhaps I may say to the noble 348 and learned Viscount that what I said was that the proposals went much further than any of the delegations expected, and further than they liked; but they made the best of a bad job. I thought it was common knowledge that neither Mr. Blundell's Party nor any other liked the proposals. They accepted them as the best they could get, but they did not like them. That is what I said.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Will the noble Marquess say how that justifies either of his two suggestions against my right honourable friend; first of all that he is insincere, and secondly that he used these Conferences to outwit his opponents?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I think it justifies my statement. I think they did not expect the plan to be put down. It went much further than they expected, and there was nothing they could do about it, and therefore they accepted it with such amendments and modifications as they could get. I do not withdraw a word of what I said. The noble and learned Viscount can abuse me as much as he likes. I will not withdraw it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I know perfectly well that when the noble Marquess has committed himself to an attack on my right honourable friend he will not withdraw a word of it. But what I am saying is that when one looks at the evidence on which he based the attack, it is non-existent. I say that is the first example.
The second example was an even more generalised remark: that my right honourable friend looked at one Colony at a time and was not able to keep the conspectus for colonial territories in front of him. The noble Marquess spoke of from Cyprus to Kenya and from Kenya to Central Africa. The noble Marquess has been Colonial Secretary himself. It may be that all wisdom deserted the Colonial Office when he left. But I have been a Minister for thirteen years. I have seen a great number of Colonial Secretaries of many Parties, and I have yet to find a Colonial Secretary who found it physically possible to ignore the whole colonial scene in the way the noble Marquess suggested. So I am not putting my case too high. But what I am saying is that wherever you examine 349 the attack of the noble Marquess there is not a jot or scintilla of evidence to support it.
I am not going to use adjectives. I have never used adjectives without regretting it. I always remember the good advice of Ned Carson when he was at the Bar and he was appearing against another formidable opponent, who is also dead but who believed in adjectives. He having attacked Ned Carson's client with all the adjectives that he could find, Ned got up and said:Of course, my learned friend has called him this, he has called him that. No doubt I could reply, but I shall not. I will put the adjectives in my pocket for the next time I have a tainted case.I am simply content with the negative answer so far, to the noble Marquess, that on the analysis that I have given the bitterest attack that I have ever known on a Minister in my 26 years in Parliament is baseless and without foundation.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am quite prepared to leave the dispute between the noble and learned Viscount and myself to the House.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
So am I. That is why I am speaking. I have never been afraid of leaving anything to the judgment of other people; nor has the noble Marquess—and he need not say that in an atmosphere of great triumph. That is what we are both doing, leaving the House to judge. I will go a little further. I will leave the personal and come to the facts of this case. As I say, the noble Marquess has accused my right honourable friend—I use studiously careful language—of being disingenuous. Let us see what happened here, because this was part of the noble Marquess's impassioned oration.
What happened here was that on December 20 of last year my right honourable friend addressed the Conference, which at that time included the representatives of the United Federal Party. If the noble Marquess suspects me of being "too clever by half", he can follow it, if he desires, in the White Paper. But in his speech my right honourable friend laid down six principles and announced them to the Conference. The first was 350It seems to me essential that the next stage of constitutional advance should provide for a substantial increase in the number of Africans in the Legislature. I myself consider"—I ask the noble Marquess to note this because he did not refer us to it—that this should be achieved not by a racial approach, such as rigid reservation of seats in the Legislature, but more flexibly by means which would maintain the development of a non-racial approach towards politics".I have listened most carefully to the noble Marquess. I read his article in the Sunday Express more than once. I never heard him depart from that principle. I never heard him deny to-day that it was necessary to increase the number of Africans.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, my point on that, if I may say so, was that I believe that this new scheme does depart from that principle. It is a matter of opinion. I think the Lennox-Boyd Constitution did not depart from this principle, and I prefer that Constitution. If the noble and learned Viscount tells me that this does not depart from the principle of nonracial representation, then we must agree to differ. But he cannot get very angry with me because I hold a different view from him.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is the last thing I should ever be angry about, because the world is full of people who hold different views from myself, and I take them as they come. What I am saying is—perhaps the noble Marquess will appreciate the point—that these six principles, of which that was the first, were announced by my right honourable friend Mr. Macleod to the Conference on December 20, and there was no question of concealing from the Conference what the principles were which he asked them to discuss. Therefore I entirely refute that, on this contention, the noble Marquess has any right to talk about "outwitting" and being "too clever by half." The second principle wasIt has been the pattern of democratic evolution everywhere to relate political advancement to social responsibility and to proceed to universal suffrage by the gradual road of qualified franchise.The noble Marquess practically took that for his Sunday Express article. He had almost the same words in the article.
351 The third principle wasI understand that it has been already agreed between you in your discussions at Lusaka that there must be a transitional period before the Territory reaches the stage when all Ministers are elected and become solely responsible to the Legislature.I do not suppose the noble Marquess attacks Mr. Macleod for announcing what other people have agreed to; so he cannot complain of No. 3. No. 4 isI also regard it as desirable that in addition to the Governor retaining his full executive powers, with an advisory Executive Council, he should retain for the time being some power of nomination to the Legislative Council, and we should discuss the purposes for, and the manner in which, this power might be used.I did not hear the noble Marquess (because he did not attack that principle at all; he limited himself to personalities) complain that it was going too far that the Governor should have an advisory Executive Council but retain his full executive powers.
Then the fifth principle was that the Conference…may not think it too soon to turn its attention now to safeguards, both for the individual and for the minority communities,and these are the safeguards that find expression in a Bill of Rights and a Council of State. I should be the last to suggest for a moment that my view might be preferable to that of the noble Marquess. He may think that this is a modern fantasy, but I happen to be bred to the Common Law and I think it vital that at this stage in African history we should introduce a Bill of Rights, as something which protects and safeguards the position of minorities—and I am not colour-conscious when I talk about minorities. The minorities may be of one colour in one place and a different colour in another: they may be of one faith when one goes North and another when one goes South. I believe that these are vital matters, and I am glad to see that they are in the Constitution. The sixth principle was that special arrangements must be made to give the Chiefs some special place.
Those are the six principles which my right honourable friend put to that Conference. Having listened to every word of every speech, as I have done to-day, I have not heard anyone, even the noble Marquess, differ or derogate from the principles that my right honourable friend put. That is what he said to 352 them. That is what he asked them to discuss.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
May I ask the noble and learned Viscount a question? All those principles were present in the Lennox-Boyd Constitution. Why has that been scrapped?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am going to deal with that. I will never protest; I want the noble Marquess to interrupt as often as he wishes. But I am going on to deal with that point, and I will tell him seriously, because it is a very important point, that I believe it answers his innuendo that it is the practice of my right honourable friend to try to outwit people by—if I may follow the noble Marquess' reminiscences into my right honourable friend's past—not putting his cards on the table.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, throughout his speech the noble and learned Viscount has dealt with all this as if it were I, and I alone, who thought these things. I stated this, from start to finish, as the view of a vast proportion of the white communities in Africa. That is true, and the noble and learned Viscount cannot refute it. If I happen to agree with that, it is not important. What is important is that Her Majesty's Government have somehow to come to a deal with the white community. That is absolutely vital. The noble and learned Viscount speaks as if I were speaking for myself and for no one but myself.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the noble Marquess did not take any personal responsibility until he was interrupted by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel; and then he did. I am dealing, therefore, with the personal responsibility which he assumed. If, when the noble Marquess was a Minister, someone had attacked a colleague of his, would he not have replied? Surely he cannot object to my doing so.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am quite prepared for the noble and learned Viscount to reply and I will take whatever he says to me and leave it to the House to judge—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
—but when he says that this is only my view—and he has not said anything else from the beginning of his speech—it is not true.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
—and therefore I have dealt with the first point, he having clearly implied that in regard to this Conference my right honourable friend had (and the noble Marquess used the metaphor) not put his cards on the table. I have stated the principles which my right honourable friend announced for discussion. That is the first point.
Let me now take the noble Marquess's next attack on my right honourable friend: his statement that he changed; that having in March, April and May of 1960 said it was not in his mind to change the Lennox-Boyd Constitution, later in the year he did change it. I hope that I have put it fairly.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The position is this. My right honourable friend did say that. There were three speeches. In two of those speeches (and I do not think it matters which, for they were all made within a couple of months) my right honourable friend said that while he did not have this in mind, some things might have to be considered. First, in one speech he said that the position might have to be considered because of the Federal review. In another speech he said that that might have to be done because of the Monckton Report. The noble Marquess can accept that as correct, for I have it in front of me, if he should want to verify it. That was the position in the early part of the year. Apart from general changes of thought with which I shall not deal, 354 because I want to keep this as factual as I can, I should just like your Lordships to remember what ensued during that period.
I believe there were five matters that ensued. There were constitutional changes in Nyasaland. The noble Marquess may remember, because we discussed this very fully, that my noble friend Lord Perth had gone out to deal with constitutional changes in Nyasaland before the emergency started. These were retarded for eighteen months from the spring of 1959, and changes were made in August, 1960. That was the second part, apart from the generally changing scene. In Southern Rhodesia, as has already been discussed, the last change was made in 1957, and the Government—that is, Sir Edgar Whitehead and the Commonwealth Secretary—were engaged in discussions at about the same time, that is, the autumn of 1960. That, then, was the second point.
Then there was the Report of the Monckton Commission, and my noble friend Lord Molson, in the congratulation of whom I join with the greatest pleasure, has explained that the Commission thought that there should be an African minority in Northern Rhodesia. But they also thought—and the Commission say—that many Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland saw the Federation as a road-block in the path of constitutional progress, and that, in order to remove this feeling, immediate political advances were essential in Northern Rhodesia. And the Commission recommended that a Conference should be held. That was the third point, apart from the general one. But the real point, as I believe the noble Marquess—who at every other time I have heard him has been a very fair debater—will know, is that the proposal for consideration of changes in the Northern Rhodesian Constitution resulted directly from local initiative; and I give the noble Marquess the evidence.
In announcing on September 28 of last year that the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State had agreed to the proposal from the Governor in Northern Rhodesia that informal discussions should be held with the leaders of political Parties to prepare the ground for a formal Constitutional Conference, the Governor expressed his satisfaction that 355 the initiative for constitutional discussions had come locally, rather than from outside the territory, and that the leaders of both the Government majority Party and the principal Opposition Party in the Legislative Council supported him in his advice.
My Lords, if any Colonial Secretary had had that general position—Nyasaland, Southern Rhodesia, the Monckton Report and then the Northern Rhodesian people, including the U.F.P., coming and asking him for discussions with a view to constitutional change—is it really fair to suggest that this is all the effort of my right honourable friend to outwit and get the best of other people? I do not think it is. The noble Marquess never dealt with the point that this was a written suggestion supported by the U.F.P. in Northern Rhodesia. Before he makes charges he should ascertain all the facts.
§ TIIE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, if the noble and learned Viscount says that I over-stated the case, of course I will accept that. But the fact remains—and I must say it—that this was said. I have the words here. He is not the only one who has the words; I have the words too. What the Colonial Secretary said only a year ago was that the British Government had no plan for changes in the Northern Rhodesian Constitution except what was consequential on a review of the Federal Constitution; and the noble and learned Viscount has now added, I think, the Monckton Report. Is that right?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I did not know that any of the recommendations of the Monckton Report had yet been put into effect, and certainly review of the Federal Constitution is still completely in the air. I think it was rather surprising that this advance should have gone on over the Constitution of these one or two territories, which was originally, as I understood it, to be carried on pari passu with the Federal review. I still think it was an odd arrangement; and one of the things it shows is how frightfully complicated the Federal scheme was, with two territories under the Colonial Office and one territory having its own Government. I must take as much responsibility as anyone else, because I was one of the delegates; 356 but I still think that, in the light of the quotation I have shown, it was a surprising development that they did go ahead.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am very sorry, but the noble Marquess cannot have listened to what I said. I mentioned these points, and I said that after they had happened there would have been five things: a general change; Nyasaland; there had been Southern Rhodesia; there had been the Monckton Report, and then an appeal from the people, including the U.F.P., in Northern Rhodesia itself. Those are the facts which the noble Marquess did not mention.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am not questioning the facts. All I am saying is that it was a contravention of the Government statement made on that date a year ago.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I know that one has to show a very clear change of circumstances. But if, when the noble Marquess was Colonial Secretary, he had said that he was not going to make a change, and then political Parties in the place asked him to make a change, I think he would have considered it. That is what my right honourable friend did here. So that point goes. The suggestion that my right honourable friend did this out of a desire to outwit or mislead goes. He did it for these reasons which I have mentioned.
The noble Marquess says (I am dealing with the general points) that this Constitution does not carry out the principles of the Lennox-Boyd Constitution. The principles of the Lennox-Boyd Constitution, if your Lordships will bear with me, are set out, as my noble friend Lord Sinclair of Cleeve mentioned, in paragraph 18 of the White Paper. The first is that already mentioned:Politics should be encouraged and developed on Party and not on racial lines. Unless political Parties can eventually cut across racial divisions it will be impossible to achieve a united Northern Rhodesia.And the second was that the basic lines—this is the basis on which it is founded—should be settled and should not be subject to change.
My Lords, I really did think that the best answer to the noble Marquess's fears 357 (and I realise that this is not a personal matter; this is a fear based on the Constitution) is the speech, to which we all had the privilege of listening, from my noble friend Lord Swinton, immediately before I spoke. The noble Earl expressed the principles, and these are principles which we desire to carry into effect—namely, that (I take the first one) politics should develop on Party and not racial lines. We thought that the best way to do that was to try to have some seats—my noble friend Lord Swinton would extend the number, and that is a very interesting point which deserves further consideration—which should be on a nonracial basis. I take the point of my noble friend Lord Swinton. He was rather sympathetic to the view (I am not sure whether he attributed it or not) that it would be a good thing to have all the seats of the non-racial type. I think there is an answer to that: that when you have these definite elements in a country, which are recognised and making their contribution, there is something to be said for ensuring, that both elements are represented in the Legislative Council.
But then we come to the question of deciding how we are going to make our non-racial or all-racial seats. I have lived with this matter and therefore I apologise because it seems easier to me than it does to some of your Lordships who have spoken; but I do not think it is very difficult. One has only to cast one vote. Then you have to get a percentage, which is still a matter of agreement—I want to return to this point, which is very important—on each of the Rolls, the Upper Roll and the Lower Roll. I take this only as an example because I do not want to prejudice the discussion—this is essentially a matter for discussion—but we could take 12. per cent., because we have taken that as the amount on which people lose their deposit; one-eighth. You have to get that percentage on each Roll. Then you count up the votes on each Roll and take the percentage of the votes in each Roll, add them together and divide by two. That is not going to worry the voter; that is a matter of what happens after the vote. And, of course, it has the effect of making them equal, for it affects the Upper Roll and the Lower Roll, because you do it by averaging the percentage of each. That would mean that 358 if someone got 10 per cent. on the Upper Roll and 60 per cent. on the Lower Roll, then you would take an average, as I have said. There is no difficulty about the vote: there is only a difficulty about whether the method of counting is, in the ordinary view, a fair and reasonable one.
Now, my Lords, I come back to the seriousness of this position, and I should have thought that that was a matter which really transcended the personal elements, interesting, sometimes exciting, though they are. What we have now to consider is the next step for considering the scheme. We all agree that there should be two objectives: one, the nonracial or multi-racial (whatever you like) element in the election; the other that that should give a chance of the politics developing on Party lines. I believe that there is still enough to be discussed at Lusaka for that profitably to be considered by people whose views differ, as views must differ, as to the pace of advance.
If noble Lords will turn to the present White Paper, they will see, first of all, that, in paragraph 19, we stress the importance that is attached to this, but it finishes by saying:Her Majesty's Government attach considerable importance to the concept of a group of seats on a 'national' basis as described above, but naturally would be prepared to consider other proposals which would have a similar result.If noble Lords will look on to paragraph 30, they will find that the Secretary of State requests the Governorto give early consideration to all the matters which now needed to be worked out in detail within the framework of Her Majesty's Government's plan—the delimitation of constituencies, the way in which national members are to be returned, and the revised franchise qualifications. The Governor, after such further consultations as may be necessary with the political groups in Northern Rhodesia, will submit his recommendations….My Lords, at the end of the day, whatever views are held by the noble Marquess and by other people, I do very seriously ask him to lend the great weight of his name and his achievements to trying to get people to discuss the form, if you like, in which this can be developed to give the best exhibition of what we both want: the non-racial approach and Party, and not colour, 359 politics. I believe he could do a lot. I know him far too well to believe that any words of mine are anything more than he, with his great Parliamentary experience, would expect after making the speech he has made. He speaks, of course, for himself, and he says there are other views. I say this—and I ask the noble Marquess to believe me. I have worked with Iain Macleod for sixteen years. He is not the man who, to chase easy popularity or make things less difficult for himself, would for one moment consider doing what he thought was wrong; and I assure the noble Marquess that he has the same two ideals as animate the noble Marquess, and certainly animate me. Here we are, at one of the most difficult moments in the history of Africa. It is only ten years since a friend of the noble Marquess and of myself, the late Field-Marshal Smuts, made the great remark:To-day, nobody talks of Africa; in ten years, they will be talking of nothing else.The noble Marquess and the noble Earl who sits beside him were the architects of what I believe is a great experiment in multi-racialism, in non-racialism, in races living together—a problem which no nation has yet solved in the twentieth century. I do ask him to forget all feuds, and to do what he can to help in—
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor? Surely, when he talks of the architects of the scheme, he should pay some tribute to Sir Roy Welensky and his Government, who have done their best to make it work.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Of course, my Lords, I am very glad to do that; but I was dealing with the period before Sir Roy Welensky came on to the scene. I was dealing with the period, when I happened to be a member of the Government myself, when my two noble friends were working very hard—and my noble friend Lord Chandos, too, from the other point of view, was working very hard—to get this great experiment into being. I have the greatest respect for those who have worked it, but I am dealing with the previous period. To-day, at this time, which is so serious for Africa, probably the most important thing for the future of Africa 360 is that a non-racial experiment should succeed, because if it did succeed who knows how widely and beneficially its effect would be felt? So I ask all the parties concerned to see whether they cannot go to Lusaka and consider the wide points I have suggested, and try to hammer out a solution which will be creditable to all. There are many question in the world to-day, and, as I say, there are innumerable questions in Africa. I do not ask for a reply from the noble Marquess now, for he may feel difficulties, but I ask him to look at that point, and see whether, once again, your Lordships' House cannot point a way to sanity and friendship.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I can speak only by leave of the House, but what I have to say is very brief; and it is this. My noble friend the Lord Chancellor has made a very moving appeal to me and to people who think like me. As he knows, and as I think many of your Lordships know, I cannot be regarded as an enemy of federation. I am one of the pioneers of federation: I gave a great deal of my life to it. But I think, as I said to-day, that what is at present threatening it more than anything else is what I called "a crisis of confidence". I think that if we in this House ignore, or if anyone else ignores, the reason for that mistrust and that lack of confidence, we are not getting to the bottom of the problem. The object of my speech was, as it were, to get it out. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor did not agree with what I said: he thought it was unfair. But what I said is what is believed by the great majority of younger people in Africa, and by a considerable number of people in this country. I do not think it is a bad thing that we should have it out in this House. All I can say to him at the moment is that I still feel as strongly about the importance of the continuation of federation as I have ever done, and anything that will help toward making it a success and a model for Africa should be done.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, may I ask the noble Marquess, before he sits down, whether he proposes to withdraw his malicious attack on the Colonial Secretary?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I think the noble Lady is rather foolish to raise that issue again at this moment. I never said that the Colonial Secretary was disingenuous, as I was said to have said. I think he was rather unscrupulous, and I will not withdraw that. I regret greatly that the subject has been raised again, and I think it is a great pity that the noble Lady has raised it.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Silkin, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(The Earl of Lucan.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.