HL Deb 08 March 1961 vol 229 cc363-93

2.6 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by the Earl of Listowel: That there be laid before the House Papers relating to the situation in Central Africa.


My Lords, I rise to continue the debate, which was initiated yesterday in such remarkable terms by my noble friend Lord Listowel, and which followed its course during the day with a great deal of drama and many highlights. In the course of the debate, we heard one of the most remarkable maiden speeches that I have heard since I have been in this House from the noble Lord, Lord Molson, whom I wish to congratulate both on the speech and on being here. We had many associations in another place and I look forward to further association with him here and to hearing many more speeches from him. And, of course, we heard the drama of the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the spontaneous reply from the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor.

I think that every noble Lord who spoke yesterday spoke with an intimate knowledge of the position in Rhodesia. Everyone had some personal experience. I am afraid that, in leading off the debate today, I cannot claim any personal knowledge of Rhodesia. I had hoped to rectify this in the coming autumn by paying an unsponsored visit and finding out for myself what is going on, and I hope that it may not be too late—that events will not overtake us before that time. Nevertheless, I can claim to have made some study of the matter. I have read every document that has been published and read it intelligently.

A great deal of the speech of the noble Marquess was devoted to a personal attack on Mr. Macleod. We on this side of the House have our little difficulties; we sometimes attack members of our own Party. But I am bound to say that the attacks we launch against our own colleagues are amateurish compared with the attack which the noble Marquess delivered. We have a great deal to learn from him.


The noble Marquess is not listening.


That does not matter. It is quite common to launch an attack and not listen to the reply. We have a lot to learn in the way of invective against our colleagues, but I hope we shall not learn that particular lesson. Certainly the noble Marquess made himself a sitting target for the noble and learned Viscount by the form of his attack—indeed, so easy a target that even the noble Earl, Lord Home, could hardly have missed him. Nevertheless, the noble and learned Viscount had so many weak points in the noble Marquess's speech which he was able to answer that, like the skilled and practised advocate that he is, he omitted to deal with the stronger points—and in the course of my remarks, I want to refer to some matters which the noble Marquess, and other speakers, put forward and which still require to be dealt with by Her Majesty's Government, and which we must deal with if we want to bring about an understanding and a settlement between the different Parties in the Federation.

I am not going to accuse Her Majesty's Government of any bad intention. I think they have acted in good faith. At least, I am going to assume that, because, unless I have evidence to the contrary, I think it is right that that should be assumed. But think that the whole business of our relations with the Federation has constituted a tragedy of errors. I believe that the Colonial Secretary has acted with courage and sincerity and with great ability, an ability which the noble Marquess referred to as cleverness. But there has been a tremendous amount of what I regard as ineptitude in the course of which the Government have aroused suspicions and fears of the white people by the Africans and vice versa, and they have quite failed to satisfy either party as the result of all the deliberations.

The tragedy of errors goes back, in my view, to the time of the allegations in Nyasaland of mass conspiracy to murder. Noble Lords will remember that Mr. Justice Devlin (as he then was) was appointed in charge of a Committee to carry out investigations in Nyasaland; and he made a Report. I think the first mistake that the Government made was to treat this Report much too lightly and to shelve it. We had a debate in this House on the Devlin Report and the Government could hardly be polite in expressing their thanks to Mr. Justice Devlin and his Committee for carrying out their task. The impression must have been given to the Africans that the Government were whitewashing the whole matter and refusing to face up to the true position.

Then we come to the time of the appointment of the Monckton Commis- sion and the settlement of the terms of reference. There is no doubt that the intention was so to limit the terms of reference that it would have been impossible for the Commission to discuss the question of the continuation of federation, or the basis on which it should be continued, or to do anything but accept Federation as an established fact. I remember taking part in the debate when the Commission was set up and asking the then Leader of the House, the noble Earl, Lord Home, whether it would be possible for the Commission to make any recommendations regarding federation; whether it should be limited in any way, or whether there should be any conditions made in that respect; and he replied, quite categorically, that that was not so. But surely the Government ought to have realised that once they had set up a Commission it would be an independent body entitled to use their own judgment, as the noble Lord, Lord Molson, has reminded us, in interpreting the terms of reference and in forming their conclusions. I do not want to be accused of wisdom after the event, but I myself, even when I had received the reply from the noble Earl, read the terms of reference again and came to the conclusion that it would be within the scope of the Commission to go into the question of federation. And obviously that was so, because the distinguished legal membership of the Commission came to the same conclusion.

I think that in the case of both the Devlin Commission and the Monckton Commission the Government have gone wrong. They have assumed that they could set up a Commission which would, to a large extent, act as their agents. I think they failed to appreciate one of the characteristics of our people, which is that when you give them a job to do, whatever their political views may be, they will act with objectiveness, courage and sincerity and make the best job of it they can. I know of no committee which has been prepared to act as a body of "stooges". While I do not suggest that the Government appointed a Committee of "stooges"—because if they had, they would have had to look for a different kind of composition—nevertheless, I think they underrated the integrity and objectiveness of both the Devlin Commission and the Monckton Commission and failed to appreciate that they might have a different view.

The result of their conviction that they had so tied up the terms of reference that it would be impossible for the Commission to make any recommendations about federation (and here I speak only of what is reputed to be the case) is that the Prime Minister is reputed to have given assurances to Sir Roy Welensky that the subject of federation was out of the question. Whether that is so or not, I do not know; the Prime Minister has never denied it. Sir Roy Welensky is certainly under the impression that he was given assurances: he honestly believes it, and says so, and I accept from him that he does. It is an unfortunate fact that the impression was created in Sir Roy Welensky's mind, and thereby transmitted to the Federal Government, that federation was ruled out of this inquiry.

One can therefore understand the feeling that arose when the Commission, quite properly and within their rights, made recommendations which appeared to conflict entirely with the assurances that had been given to Sir Roy Welensky. In passing, I should like to say a word or two about Sir Roy Welensky. He is one of those characters who is described in extreme terms—either black or white. My own view of him is that he is a courageous, sincere, honest and good man. I do not know him very well personally—I have met him only casually once or twice—but that is the impression he has made on me. I have, however, talked to a great many people who know him intimately, and the first adjective (the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will forgive my using adjectives) that is used about him is that he is a "good" man. As to his courage, of course we all know about that.

The next adjective which is used about him is as to his sincerity. He has a most difficult task to perform. He has his extremists, just as we have our extremists in this country. He has to try to hold a balance and to proceed in a way which will not cause the extremists to rise up against him, possibly to destroy the Federal Government. On the other hand, he recognises the need for progress towards self-government in the Rhodesias. He has a most difficult task to-day, and to my mind it serves no purpose whatever to describe him as in any way a bad man, or a vicious man, or to speak of him in terms of contempt. It is true that he has used rather strong language at times, presumably under provocation. But he is not unique in that. We had some strong language used yesterday in this House on both sides—I mean on the same side of the House, but in different sections of it. I understand perfectly the feelings of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and I equally understand the feelings of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack in coming to the rescue of his colleague who had been, in my view, quite wrongly attacked. Perhaps I might say a word about that in passing.

The noble Marquess rather gave the impression that there was something disreputable about a man being a skilful bridge player. I see nothing wrong with that whatever. It is true that a skilful bridge player learns to use his wits just as a skilful chess player does, and I have often in this House expressed the regret that we in this country do not develop our skill in chess as much as the Soviet Union people do. I think it would help us to look ahead a few moves, and we could see much more clearly what was going on. The same applies to bridge, and I think that to have attacked a man on that score is quite out of keeping with the characteristics of the noble Marquess. I think it is quite unlike him. To say that the Colonial Secretary is not trusted because he is so clever that he can outwit people, is only saying what everybody else is doing in this world. We all of us, in order to earn our livings, have to outwit somebody. If we are in politics we are constantly trying to outwit, and nobody is better at that than the noble Viscount who leads the House and who is the most skilful outwitter who exists. So I think it is a pity that we should have had introduced that kind of criticism of the Colonial Secretary.

I have mentioned a number of points in which the Government have shown their ineptitude in dealing with this problem. Another is their departure from the 1958 Constitution for Northern Rhodesia. I do not say for a moment that that was wrong—I think that circumstances overtook them. I think that the 1958 Constitution was admittedly out of date at the time when they considered its revision. But their handling of the matter was most inopportune. After all, here was a Constitution which had been settled only two years before. Time and time again the Government had stated that they had no intention of amending it; that it was going to stand for a number of years. Yet almost before the ink is dry they find it necessary to amend it or to introduce a new Constitution. I accept the need for it; I believe that it is right. But I think that in those circumstances there should have been a much clearer explanation of the need for doing it than was actually given. It is not a thing that should, in those circumstances, have been flung down with the implication, "Here we are. Here is a new Constitution. Will you come to discuss it?" I think a great deal of preparation was necessary and should have taken place before this new Constitution was presented.

Then there is the question of consultation with the Federal Government. It is admitted that there was a duty on the part of the Government to consult the Federal Government on this Constitution. It is alleged that such consultation took place. Sir Roy Welensky was given from February 11 to 14, inclusive, to express his views. He was told that the Government wanted his views by the 14th or the 15th, as the Conference was then starting. He, of course, had no right to appear at the actual discussions, but his view would be taken into account in those discussions. The noble Marquess made this point quite specifically. It was a point that needed an answer, and the noble and learned Viscount did not answer it at all. I think that is a pity, because if it goes out to the world that this was the consultation to which the Federation was entitled and this is what they had, it gives a bad impression and that is the last thing we want to do. There may be a perfectly good answer to this, and no doubt we shall be given this answer. But as the matter stands, that is the view which holds; that is the view which has been put forward: three days, which includes a week-end, in which to study this complicated White Paper—and it is complicated.

Since it was not possible in the course of that week-end for Sir Roy Welensky to study the Paper, form a view, consult his colleagues and so on, the consulta- tion came to nought, and there was, in fact, no effective consultation. I was reminded of the old German saying:

"Keine antwort ist auch ein antwort".

That is to say, if you do not reply to a thing, that itself constitutes a reply; and the fact that no reply has been given by any spokesman of Her Majesty's Government, neither by the noble Earl in his opening speech nor by the noble and learned Viscount, certainly gives one the impression that this so-called consultation was not an effective consultation. That is not the way in which to create that feeling of confidence which we all want to inspire in people who are being asked to make great sacrifices—necessary sacrifices, but great ones—in the interests of the peace of the Federation.

Did Sir Roy Welensky offer to come to this country to discuss the Constitution? If he did, why was his offer not accepted? There is nothing improper in discussing a thing verbally with a person who is entitled to be consulted. I cannot see that any harm would have been done, if indeed he made the offer to come to this country and discuss matters, by accepting his offer. Again I have it on the word of the noble Marquess—I have no more information—that he did make this offer and that it was not accepted; and so far that has not been disputed.

Now a word about the talks with Mr. Julian Greenfield, of which we know nothing. We do know that talks have been going on, simultaneously with the discussions on the Constitution, between the Prime Minister and Mr. Greenfield, on behalf of Sir Roy Welensky. What were those talks about? If they were about the Constitution, then it seems a curious action, and one which must have been calculated to arouse suspicion in another direction. To have two discussions going on simultaneously and in parallel, without either of those discussions meeting, seems an odd way of proceeding, and I am sure the noble Earl will forgive many of us if, in the absence of any explanation, there is a certain amount of suspicion about this. I am sorry to disturb the noble Earl's sleep.

Finally, may I refer to the terms of the White Paper itself? The noble Marquess rather complained that this White Paper had been presented to the negotiating committee, and be rather implied that it was in the spirit of "Take it or leave it". It was a basis of discussion, and there is surely some great advantage in the preparing of a document as a basis of discussion. I must say that here I do not follow him. After all, in any orderly discussion, especially in complicated negotiations of this kind, it is of advantage to have something on paper which constitutes a basis of discussion. Of course, it was open to the Conference to refer the document back, to say that they did not like it, and that it could not possibly form a suitable basis. They could have done so. We have heard of that procedure before, and I have no doubt that the Africans, those who were there, were quite competent to take that line if they thought it necessary to do so. It is, of course, to be regretted that there were no representatives of the Northern Rhodesian Government present. Why they boycotted the Conference I do not know. But if it was in protest against having the document put in front of them, I think they were wrong; and it is a pity that a decision more or less had to be taken in their absence. But it all brings out the inept way in which this matter has been conducted; there has been a chapter of ineptitude. Every single step seems to have been fraught with misunderstandings. Even a simple Conference of this kind should not have taken place without both parties being present, and it should have been the business of the Government to see that they really were present and not to antagonise one side or another.

Now, my Lords, I want to say a word about the terms of the White Paper itself. As I have said, I think it is quite proper to have a White Paper, to have a document which would form the basis of a proper discussion. But there was too much left in an indeterminate state. Take, for instance, this particular expression; that what is proposed is … something like equal numbers of European and non-European members in the Legislative Council, or something short of that, or something going a little beyond it. That, surely, is the essence of the whole thing. What is it that the Government are proposing? Are they proposing that there should be a majority of European or a majority of African members?


My Lords, I am anxious not to interrupt the noble Lord, though a great deal of what he says is, I think, open to criticism. But what he has now read is not the Government's proposals in the White Paper but the reprint in the White Paper of what the Colonial Secretary said at the outset of the Conference. That is on page 2. I am anxious not to interrupt the noble Lord's argument, but it is not a valid point to say that the White Paper leaves points indeterminate, that the proposals leave points indeterminate, when what he is doing to substantiate that is simply to read the words that were said at the beginning.


I was, of course, going on to refer to the actual proposals themselves, but I take it that what the Colonial Secretary said at the outset was the keynote of the proposals: that he was trying to explain the proposals. And if we look at the details of the proposals themselves they do not help us, because everything turns on the last 15 members and what is going to happen about them. And while it is open to the Government to say that they do not know, I think they ought to have had in their own minds an idea of what, in fact, they are proposing. Is it intended to give the Africans a majority on the Legislative Council? Is it intended to give the Europeans a majority? Or does it not matter one way or the other? I think they ought to have made up their minds on this subject in their proposals. It gives one the impression that it might be open to the interpretation of meaning all things to all men: that the Europeans can interpret it one way and the Africans another. I am sure that was not the intention of the Government and it is a great pity that they could not have been rather more definite.

Yesterday we had, as I have said before, a little blood-letting by the noble Marquess. I think blood-letting is a very good thing; it relieves the pressure; and I hope that the noble Marquess feels better to-day, having got all these things out of his system—I am sure he does; he certainly looks better. But there is no doubt that in whatever form the noble Marquess put his case, whether he was expressing only the views of the Northern Rhodesians or of the Rhodesians as a whole, or whether he was expressing his own views and those of a number of colleagues, there is a strong cleavage of opinion, and it is no good getting away from it. There is a strong cleavage of opinion, certainly in this House and also among the 90-odd (I do not know what the score is at the moment) Members in another place. This cleavage of opinion exists not only in this country but also in the Federation. When the noble Marquess tells us what are the views of the people in the Federation, I think he would agree that those are the views of a number of people, but, quite obviously, there are others who take a different view.


My Lords, obviously one could not say that everybody takes the same view. But I believe I am right in saying that the vast majority of the European, white, Rhodesians take the view I take.


I am not in a position to challenge that. No referendum has taken place, and certainly the noble Marquess knows more about that territory than I do. But there is a minority, and, from all that I can ascertain, a very strong minority, that takes a different view; and, accepting the noble Lord's great care about the rights of minorities, their views are entitled to be considered as well.


My Lords, I interrupt the noble Lord as one who has had an interest in Rhodesia for nearly 60 years. What is this minority among the Europeans which takes a different view? Except for Sir John Moffat and his small following, who are they?


Sir John Moffat is Sir John Moffat, and he carries a certain amount of support. He does not speak only for himself. He is the Leader of a Party which happens to have been successful in the recent elections. However, we are not counting heads to-day; but I think we should all concede that there are different opinions in the Federation and not merely one opinion, and while the noble Marquess spoke for one of the opinions I only wanted to put on record that there are other opinions in the Federation as well.

Many people realise that what is happening in Central Africa is merely representative of what is taking place all over the world; there is nothing unique in the position there. Peoples who hitherto lived in subjection are rising, determined to secure at least equal treatment with their former masters. Of course it is understandable, and we ought to appreciate, that sometimes the demands that the hitherto subject people make may be exaggerated and unreasonable. That is not peculiar to them. Most Parties have their extremists and, quite often, people make unreasonable demands. But it would be foolish to resist this strong wind which is blowing to gale force all over the world, to treat it as if it did not exist arid to close our eyes to it.

What, then, is our proper course? First, I hope that we can stop bickering among ourselves; and, having expressed my view of the ineptitude of the manner in which this matter has been conducted, I would then say, let us drop that and start afresh. I think we all realise that if the Federation is to be maintained--I think most of us recognise that it is a good thing for all three territories that it should be maintained—it can be maintained only by agreement. That is fundamental, and that is something which the Monckton Commission made abundantly clear. We have to realise also that agreement can be secured only by recognising the right of the Africans to self-government. It is no good saying "ultimately". It may be that in Southern Rhodesia we are not prepared to say "self-government now". If the Constitution put forward by Mr. Duncan Sandys is accepted by all Parties, well and good. But I think even for Southern Rhodesia it is essential, as we have learned from the example of Cyprus, that a date should be fixed. Whether it is three years or five years or seven years, there should be a date when the Constitution will be such that, if the Africans desire to have a majority, they will have the opportunity of having it.

I believe that if we are to remove any feeling of suspicion in the minds of the Europeans as regards the Northern Rhodesian Constitution, we ought to be prepared to start again, in view of the fact that these allegations of lack of consultation have been made and have not been answered. There ought to be proper consultation, and then we ought to try to secure that all Parties are present at any Conference. I understand, of course, that having made to the Africans the offer that we have made in the Constitution we can hardly go back on that in principle; but there are a great many details which still have to be settled, and those details ought to be much more available for discussion than appears to be the case.

There is the question of non-racialism. Here, I should like, if I may respectfully say so, to pay a tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, for the most statesmanlike speech that he made yesterday on this matter. I think we all believe in non-racialism; that is obviously the course that events ought to follow. We do not want Africa to be perpetuated into a country of black people and white people, and it is my belief that if we set things going in the right way, eventually exactly what will happen is that the economic and social conditions will prevail over the colour of people's skins. But we must be quite sure that we start off in the right way if we are going to secure it, and I do not think that necessarily the right way is at this moment to ignore the fact that ingrained prejudices are so strong that you have at the outset to elect people on that basis.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord for what he has said. He will appreciate that I said that while I should like to see a basis of non-racialism, I thought it might be necessary to have minorities of one-quarter black and one-quarter white, with a larger number on the mixed franchise. I do not think he would disagree with that.


Not at all. If I did not refer to it, I had it very much in mind as one of the possibilities. I think that is so, and if agreement could be reached on that, I think we should be making fine progress. I would beg of those who, like the noble Marquess, oppose these changes to think again. We all understand their fears and suspicions. Where you have a European population which has settled down in these territories and made them their home—their only home in many cases; they have been there for some generations, and many of them do not even know this country—and we are now asking them, they having been in the ascendancy, to accept the status of equality, it is only natural that they should view the matter with fear, with apprehension, and with a certain amount of suspicion. We have to do everything we can to alleviate this fear and suspicion.

We might have to consider more specific safeguards in the Constitution than are actually included in the White Paper at the present time. I think that these safeguards are reasonably satisfactory but a little vague and not calculated to make a real appeal to those who many be affected. I would beg all noble Lords who are opposed to the move that is taking place to realise that the days of privilege are over; that one has to accept a new series of values and status, however difficult it may be. But, after all, true greatness lies in anticipating the inevitable. We have so often done this, though sometimes in the past we have failed to do so. But where we have anticipated the inevitable, as in the case of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, we have never regretted it.

There is still hope if all parties refrain from extremism and accept that each has a point of view which must be respected; and if we allow some time for adjustment of each other's minds to new circumstances we may still, before it is too late, arrive at a peaceful settlement which will secure stable conditions for all Central African citizens of all colours and which will set the world an example of how civilized people are able to settle their fundamental differences. I fervently hope that the path of wisdom will prevail.

2.52 p.m.


My Lords, I have asked leave to intervene for a very few minutes, and that with a hurriedly prepared but not, I trust, ill-considered speech; and I regret that immediately after I have said what I have to say, I must leave to go to another engagement. I have for very long had a great personal interest in the affairs of Africa. I have visited in most parts of it, once if not twice. I know the leaders in most of the African territories, white and black, Christian and non-Christian. I have spoken more than once in this House about the affairs of Africa, and there is a word which perhaps my office especially enables me to speak. I know my words sometimes give help and encouragement to some Africans and to some Europeans.

When I read the newspapers this morning I was deeply distressed by the possible damage being done in Africa and here, to this country, to Africa and to the Commonwealth. For I do not believe, any more than I believed at the time of Suez, that denunciation and counter-denunciation does anything but harm; and the better the cause, the worse the harm. Let me say at once that I am not primarily addressing myself to the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I am, on the whole, glad that it was made, for it took us all straight to the feeling and atmosphere in Africa itself.



My only regret was that there was not an African here among us able to make a similar speech from his point of view, so that we might have had both before us. The noble Marquess claimed to be speaking for many Europeans in the Federation. He was entirely right in that claim, although not if he was claiming to speak for all Europeans. The noble Earl, Lord Winterton, asked: "Who is this minority?" I know many of them. Most of those I happen to know are Christians, for naturally I come across them, but I find divided opinion just as much among Christians as among non-Christians. But there is a very solid body of opinion that things have gone wrong, are going wrong and look like going worse. That is an opinion which must be respected. At the same time, I am glad the noble Marquess spoke as he did, for I have had precisely the same thing said to me in London and in the Federation itself, and there is no exaggeration in what he said. He said there was suspicion, contempt and almost hatred of the Home Government, and I recall that that is exactly what was said to me by many Europeans in Southern and Northern Rhodesia and by one man who attracted me enormously in Tanganyika.

I have heard Mr. Macleod denounced there in a way to which I have never heard any parallel except (and this came at once to my mind) in the denunciation I heard by a most cultured and high-minded American of the late President Roosevelt. The language, the denunciation and hatred and the spiritual torment in both cases was precisely the same. But, as your Lordships know, neither denunciation nor (to quote another saying) patriotism are enough—nor even argument and counter-argument which never alter opinion very much. Let me remind your Lordships that all leaders in the Federation and here are agreed on the end: a condition in which African voters will be in a vast majority. That is accepted by all; and, roughly, all are agreed as to the political means to that end: the extension of African voting powers and/or of representation in the Government.

It has been said very often that the problem is how fast to travel. Which course entails the greater risk: to go too fast or too slow? All of us here—and I wish to say this bcause I want Africans and Europeans in Africa to know we believe this—the Government here and in the Federation, and most leaders, African and European, are equally idealist; and, as always (and even in ecclesiastical affairs we are not without heat), the fight is between going to fast and too slow. There are always the short-sighted and those who feel, but cannot prove, that theirs is the honest side. Ultimately, the struggle is between those who will take courageously the risks they see and those who feel it is better to keep the present security.

What of this matter in the Federation? I know there can be peaceful and really fruitful development only on one condition—if on all sides the question is not: "What has the other side done wrong? What wrong things have been done by Mr. Macleod, Sir John Moffat, Sir Roy Welensky or Mr. Kaunda?", but rather, "What have we on our side done wrong, not only within the last few months but within the last few years, of which today is the result?". Some of us have been watching with agonised hearts the result of what has been happening for at least five years past; and everybody must ask, "What have we done wrong? What opportunities have we missed, what errors of judgment have we made, and how can we correct them?". Looking back over the years since federation, that is one question I want everybody to ask: "What has been done wrong, by commission or omission, and where does the fault on my side lie?"—and never mind about the fault on the other side. To talk of that is not really worth while, because it merely invokes self-defence on the other side.

I am not going to answer this question. On earlier occasions I have tried to do so but I am not now concerned with the answer but with the question. I am being careful not to make a case on one side or on the other. I am indicating that all must ask these same questions before they can fairly consider how to go forward in amity. Of course, the European leaders have done much good and have striven, all of them in their several respects, to move—some will say "too little"; some "too late". There it is. They have tried to move. In general, I agree with the Monckton Commission in believing in the Federation. I want to see it succeed. I want to support the good cause which is embracing all of us: an accepted, well-balanced, multi-racial society with its own integrity and its own heart (the important word there is "integrity") as a nation.

I feel in duty and affection bound to say that over six years the European leaders—and I have talked to them about it—appeared to produce much less in the way of serious and imaginative progress than the situation required. They have given, if I may say so, very much ammunition to the African extremists to use against them. They have "dropped bricks" and the people in power are chiefly responsible for seeing that bricks are not dropped. My Lords, I pray that this debate may not injure an already badly wounded cause. There must not be a "too fast" or "too slow". All are deeply serious and sincere and passionate on either side. I hope that Africans and Europeans alike will start from the same question: "What have we done wrong; what unnecessary fears have we aroused; how can we allay them; how can we construct, build quickly and build together?" My Lords, that is a very Christian point from which to start, and we have every religious reason for believing that the right point is: where is my own fault in this matter?

3.3 p.m.


My Lords, until yesterday I had no intention of taking any part in this debate, but as there is no other member of the Liberal Party down to speak to-day I hope that I may speak, quite briefly and in much the same spirit, the Liberal spirit, as that in which my noble friend Lord Ogmore spoke—but with one difference; that is, that I have had the chance of studying, with great care, in Hansard, practically all that was said yesterday.

I should like to begin with a sentence from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 229 (No. 48), col. 306]: … I know that Rhodesia"— Northern Rhodesia, I think he means— was the most British, in the fullest sense of that word, of any of the realms and territories of the British Crown. That set me asking myself: What is the full British view about Colonies? I suggest that the full British view about Colonies is that colonisation of any country should always end in independence and equality of all the people of that country, whether British or native in origin, and in equal self-government and a choice of being within the Commonwealth. We may take as an example of that the country in which I was born, India. After 60 years of British Government, India was made fully independent in 1947. There were 60 years of preparation for self-governing democracy. We have all seen in the recent Royal visit, the result of what we did in India. We see it every year in cur universities, in this endless stream of eager Indians coming voluntarily to our universities.

Of course, we must recognise the differences between India and Central Africa. India is a home of age-long civilisation and learning, though not of democracy and not of self-government. We set out to help them and we succeeded. Central Africa, though it is probably the birthplace of mankind, remains, for whatever reason, nearer to nature, with inhabitants in some way more primitive and less modernised. But though that is true, the aim of our colonisation should be the same in Central Africa as in India: democratic self-government within the Commonwealth, democratic self-government with equality of all races. But the method and time for that, and the time taken to reach that, must take account of the differences. Democratic self-government needs learn- ing. I remember emphasising that only recently, in a debate on February 8 of this year. I emphasised it on the authority of no less a person than Mr. Stanley Baldwin—later the noble Earl. People do not know by instinct how to govern themselves. More education must accompany the setting up of self-government. I know that "education" is an unpleasant word to those who are not university people like myself, but I have not yet found another word to substitute for it.

Let me refer to a statement made by my noble friend Lord Ogmore. He said that there was no university in Central Africa. I am not sure that they would not say that in Salisbury there is a very good beginning to an approach to a university; at any rate, university teachers of university standing are taking their task of teaching there most seriously. But I would urge that there is a need for more universities in Central Africa and for an increase of knowledge among all classes; a need for preparation for its future rulers, and, above all, a need for what is the essential characteristic of every university in Britain—namely, no racial discrimination at all. You could abolish racial discrimination in universities completely, and you should, so that if there is any discrimination that remains it is outside universities. I hope that before long we shall have African students coming here as hastily and easily, in friendship, as the Indian students do.

At a recent conference Her Majesty's Government set themselves to propose a scheme for continued federation of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, with growing self-government and diminishing racial discrimination. From Northern Rhodesia two of the main white Parties, one led by the Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky, and the Dominion Party, refused to take part. Yesterday, in defending this attitude the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, urged adoption of the Lennox-Boyd Constitution of 1958 and asked why had we not adopted it. Let me quote one passage about that Constitution to show its aim. The opening page says: The proposals of 1958 were designed specifically to present a balanced scheme which would take account of Northern Rhodesia's past history, its present actual condition and its needs as part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland"— and I underline the ensuing words— committed to a policy of partnership between races. The only question for Rhodesia, as for other parts of Africa, and for every other place in any way under British control, is how to get that partnership between races. It must be, most certainly, most completely, by agreement.

With that aim, the Northern Rhodesian Conference opened on December 19, and the Government set out their thoughts in Command Paper No. 1295. Those thoughts, let me point out, had a very definite recognition of the special difficulties of Northern Rhodesia. They rejected utterly the idea of universal suffrage; they preferred the gradual road of qualified franchise. They rejected immediate universal franchise for self-government; and, after they had made that clear, they adjourned over Christmas. But, unfortunately—I think most unfortunately; I regret it deeply—on their resumption on January 30, the United Federal and Dominion Parties took no part in the Conference at all: and the Government, after explaining that, felt hound to set out their own plans in detail. If those plans appear unacceptable, as I know they do, to the United Federal and Dominion Parties of Northern Rhodesia, may that not be to some extent their own fault for declining the opportunity to give their views before the plans were made?

Your Lordships may ask what should happen now. My answer is that we must insist on the ending of racial discrimination in any part of the Commonwealth for which Britain is responsible. That must be accepted as the aim. And it must be carried out by stages ensuring its success. If we are going to consider this matter again—and I trust that the Government will be prepared to consider it again—I hope that all persons and parties concerned, including the Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia, will be ready to put their views. Further, I hope that the door will be kept open by Her Majesty's Government for the views of those who, while accepting the final aim of non-racial discrimination and full self-government for what are now Colonies, feel that the methods are too hasty or should be revised in some way. As page 6 of the White Paper states, Her Majesty's Government, while responsible for the ultimate decision in regard to Northern Rhodesia, as with other countries in the same position, can decide only after seeking the views of the Federal Government.

My Lords, I hope that, somehow or other, we in Britain shall find a way, not of agreeing to differ but of differing only to agree. I am old enough to have had more experience than most of those now in this Chamber of differences of opinion in public life which appeared to be absolutely incurable but which yielded to British common sense in frank discussion. I ask for a renewal of that attempt, in the belief that success will follow, as it has done in all other cases that I have known.

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like to express my gratitude to the noble Earl for putting down this Motion on Central Africa. Although, at the moment, Northern Rhodesia must be uppermost in our minds, I think it is clearly right that, in speaking in this debate, we should address ourselves to the problems of the Federation as a whole. It is not the occasion to reopen the debate on the Monckton Report: that has already been debated in your Lordships' House. Unfortunately, I was absent in Africa at the time, and was not able to take part. There was much in that Report with which I fully agreed; and especially the conclusion that the Federation ought to be maintained. There were also sections of the Commission's recommendations with which I strongly disagreed.

In one vital respect, however, the Monckton Report is now out of date. The Commission made it quite clear that, in their view, the opposition of Africans, particularly in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, to federation, was based mainly on fear and dislike of the régime in Southern Rhodesia. It was this dislike of the native policies of Southern Rhodesia, and the fear that the two Northern protectorates would be assimilated to that territory, which led to the original opposition among African leaders to the idea of federation. These fears have, unfortunately, been fostered among Africans ever since by a continuous stream of propaganda, internal and external. Of course, things have gone more slowly than we should have wished; but even before the Monckton Commission's Report had seen the light of day, there were already outstanding changes in Southern Rhodesia. Africans had been admitted on an equal basis into the Civil Service; African workers had been accepted into the trades unions; and teachers' salaries had been raised to the level of those of Europeans. Above all, a report on the Land Apportionment Act, that highly unpopular measure, had been published, recommending the gradual repeal of the provisions of that Act—and, on this report, some legislative action has already been taken.

During my visit to the Federation in November, in my capacity as Chairman of the Joint East and Central African Board, I had the privilege of attending the plenary meetings of the National Convention of Southern Rhodesia, which is more popularly known as the "Indaba", which was held in Salisbury under the chairmanship of the former Governor, Sir John Kennedy. The Convention, which took place with the blessing of the Southern Rhodesian Government, was attended by about 200 representatives, of all races and of all sections of the community in the whole of Southern Rhodesia—Europeans, Asians, Africans and coloureds. Big industry, commerce, the trade unions, the farming communities of all races, the Churches, the professions, teachers, journalists and social workers—all were represented. During the course of a week of the frankest possible discussion, they hammered out a Report which was agreed to almost unanimously.

From this Report three main features emerged. The first was that the Convention unanimously deplored unfair racial discrimination in Southern Rhodesia. The second was that it generally recognised the desirability of participation by all races in all spheres in the country's life, and, in particular, the critical importance of early participation by Africans in the Legislature. The third was that this participation would best be achieved by widening the qualitative franchise on a multi-racial common roll. The Convention worked out in very considerable detail how these aims were to be achieved.

My Lords, I am firmly convinced that these recommendations and aims represent the views of a very large body of European opinion in Southern Rhodesia—those people to whom, I feel very regrettably, the noble Baroness opposite referred yesterday as "the oppressors". The proof can be seen in the recent successful Constitutional Conference in Salisbury, under the chairmanship of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, to whom, with Sir Edgar Whitehead, I should like to pay special tribute. Many of the proposals of the National Convention, such as a provision for a Declaration of Rights and, in a modified form, the arrangements for the franchise, have been embodied in the Report of the Conference, which was accepted by all Parties except the extreme Territorial Dominion Party. One of the main features of the new Southern Rhodesian Constitution is the provision in the franchise for cross-voting by A Roll and B Roll electors for all 65 constituencies. This provision was certainly borrowed from the Northern Rhodesian Constitution of 1958, for which my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton was responsible.

The new Southern Rhodesian Constitution provides a tremendous step forward for the, Africans of Southern Rhodesia, and I believe that when it is implemented it will go a long way to change the views of Africans in the Northern Territories toward the whole concept of Federation. But do not let us forget that this has to be approved by referendum, and that, every time additional fear is generated by events elsewhere in the breasts of the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia, this is likely to increase Sir Edgar Whitehead's difficulties in getting it through. The principle that every elector should vote for every candidate is of fundamental importance if we are to pursue a non-racial approach to the political problems of Central Africa. It is the departure from this principle, as we see it, that has caused many of us the gravest concern in the proposals for constitutional changes in Northern Rhodesia put forward by my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary.

Here, my Lords, I should like to say this. I had not intended to be drawn into the issues of personalities which were prominent in yesterday's debate but they have been referred to again in speeches this afternoon. I have known and worked with Mr. Iain Macleod in the closest terms of friendship and, indeed, intimacy for 16 years. I have the highest respect for his sincerity and integrity. I am certain in my own mind that he has no desire or intention of selling the Europeans down the river in East Africa or Central Africa. But, having said that, my Lords, I should not be frank or candid with you if I did not say that, from my own personal observations in the Federation and in East Africa, up and down those countries, the great majority of the Europeans living there do hold the views to which reference was made by my noble friend Lord Salisbury yesterday.

I think everyone is agreed that some broadening of the 1958 Constitution was right and necessary in the light of recent developments. Sir Roy Welensky, in his recent speech in the Federal Parliament, made it clear that the Federal Government were not opposed to additional representation for Africans in Northern Rhodesia. Indeed, he said that during the recent negotiations with Her Majesty's Government he had put forward several suggestions which would have had the effect of producing a spectacular increase in the level of African representation in the Legislature of Northern Rhodesia. Why, then, was it decided by Her Majesty's Government to put forward a new basis for Northern Rhodesia, and one which, in spite of the careful explanations given by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, I still feel will be unworkable?


My Lords, may I be permitted to ask the noble Lord a question, because it has not been replied to from what might be called "his side of the debate" yet? Yesterday, the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, pointed out that the proposal for consideration of changes in the Northern Rhodesian Constitution resulted directly from local initiative. Would the noble Lord answer that point, because it is obviously of first importance?


Yes, my Lords, that was true. I was out in the country at the time when these matters were being discussed. It arose from local initiative, and everyone, I think, is agreed that there had to be some change in the franchise and some change in the Constitution, but not necessarily a radical departure from the 1958 basis. Now, my belief is that the decision to make a change originated from the sentence in paragraph 114 (I think it is) of the Monckton Report, in which some member recommended that there should be an African majority in the Northern Rhodesian Legislature. I am by no means clear that such a recommendation in fact fell within the terms of reference of the Commission. One thing is certain, however: that it cut the ground from under the feet of many moderate leaders in Northern Rhodesia, both European and African. It became the starting point from which African Nationalists went forward to make further and more exaggerated claims.

It appears to me to have been this what I must say was a rash recommendation which has bedevilled the whole of these negotiations and which has led to the tragic dash of views between Her Majesty's Government and the Federal Government in Salisbury. There is no need for me to repeat the train of events which have led up to the present situation. The plan which has been put forward in the White Paper, Northern Rhodesia (Cmnd. 1295), is not merely a departure from the principle of a nonracial approach; it appears to me also unlikely to lead to a genuine Party system on non-racial lines which was beginning to emerge under the Lennox-Boyd Constitution. The new plan, it seems to me, will inevitably lead to the election of 15 possibly extreme Europeans on the one hand, and 15 extreme Nationalist Africans on the other. In between, you will have these 15 National members, elected jointly, with a minimum percentage of votes cast on each Roll. I cannot, for the life of me, see how this percentage can be fixed high enough to elect anybody but a set of nonentities (with one or two notable exceptions such as Sir John Moffat) who would hold a balance between the two extremes.

Can this really be considered a satisfactory method of electing a strong and effective Legislature at a critical time in the constitutional development of the territory and in the history of Africa? Is it really too late to reopen the whole matter on a basis which would extend a non-racial principle to the whole area? The simplest way, I should have thought, would have been to make a considerable increase in the number of special constituencies provided for in the Lennox-Boyd Constitution which would be expected to return African members. I quite understand, as the noble Lord said this afternoon, the political difficulty of going back to the 1958 Constitution now; but it cannot be beyond the wit of man to find the solution to this matter.

Do not let us underestimate the gravity of the situation. The Federal Government and the United Federal Party in Northern Rhodesia have rejected the plan in its present form. What is it that they seek? They—the United Federal Party and the Federal Government—seek that government in Northern Rhodesia should remain in the hands of responsible men, European and African. They seek that the standards of integrity in public life, and so far as possible of administrative efficiency in the Protectorate, which have been preached and practised over many years of British rule, should be maintained. They seek to ensure that moderate Africans, who, with great courage, uphold those standards, should be enabled to play their part in public life without fear and intimidation. For, my Lords, intimidation there undoubtedly is, and even with the most watertight constitutional safeguards it will continue to play a part. Last year in Northern Rhodesia 403 officials and members of the United National Independence Party were convicted of offences, including many cases of personal violence.

I know it will be argued that these acts arise out of the frustration of Africans in their inability to secure an African majority or "One man, one vote —now." Mr. Kaunda, who I much regret is at the moment apparently seeking aid and comfort from President Nasser, recently issued a warning that if Africans were not given a clear majority there would be a mass rising "which, by contrast, would portray the Mau Mau as a child's picnic." It is very easy to discount such statements from a distance of 5,000 miles, but how do they sound in the ears of Europeans and moderate Africans who live in the country and have their homes there, and have the example of the Congo on their doorstep?

What is going on is essentially a struggle between moderates and extremists of all races. Where should the British Government and the British people stand in these matters? There was a time when we stood for stability and responsibility, and it was on that that our Commonwealth was founded. Where do we stand to-day? The plain fact is that, among the Africans in Northern Rhodesia, there are not at present enough men of maturity and responsibility to undertake the task of running the Government of the country. There are those who would say that we have not moved fast enough, and have not given the Africans the education and training to enable them to do this. Let us admit that this is true, that we did not do enough in the past. But if we have failed, surely that is no reason for abandoning them now to what may turn out to be chaos and bloodshed and make them an easy prey to international Communism. Surely the duty of the British Government must be not to appease the extremists but to bend all their efforts to provide the Africans as rapidly as possible with the material improvements and the necessary education to enable them to take their proper part in the political life of the country. And on that I warmly welcome the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, yesterday afternoon.

I repeat: the issue is between moderate men and extremists. Sir Roy Welensky has made it clear that his policy is multi-racial partnership, and neither he nor those who support him desire to practise, still less to perpetuate, "white domination". He also fully concedes, in the matter of the Protectorates, that the last word lies with the British Government. He has said again that the door is open. I appeal to the Government to take the opportunity of Sir Roy's presence here to work out a practical solution for Northern Rhodesia which stands a chance of acceptance by all Parties and which will give the Africans a considerably increased share in the Government, but one commensurate with their present qualifications.

I do not wish to weary the House, but I feel it is necessary to turn to one aspect of this question which has disturbed me greatly during the past weeks. It is the attitude of the British Press on these issues. Sir Roy Welensky has been widely portrayed as a sort of ogre and his policy as reactionary and intran- sigent. This seems to be the reaction of almost all sections of the Press, with one notable exception, whether they belong to the school of thought of those who hold that the white man is always wrong, whether they are independent or whether they belong to the Right. Frankly, I believe that the British public have been given a most one-sided picture of the state of affairs in the Federation and in Northern Rhodesia in particular. Surely the time has come when they should be given the Federation scene in its proper perspective.

Here we have a multi-racial community advancing after only seven years of existence, towards full political, social and economic equality. It is led by men who have partnership as their aim and a non-racial state as their ideal—and in this I would certainly include Mr. Winston Field and others of the Federal Dominion Party. Here Africans are being given, step by step, increased political participation in the affairs of the country. Here social and racial discrimination is disappearing month by month. What a contrast to the Union of South Africa, where exactly the opposite process has been taking place! Of course mistakes have been made. Of course the speed at which these things are taking place is not always to our liking. But surely it should be the aim and object of every politician in this country and of every newspaper to foster and encourage these porcesses, not to hinder or to denigrate. In my view, we should express our pride in what has been accomplished and our faith in what can be done in future; and, while not losing sight of the goal, we should afford all encouragement to the men and women of our own race, as well as to those of other races, in this great experiment in inter-racial co-operation.

3.34 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise to the House and to those noble Lords who spoke yesterday for not being able to attend the House then. I hope that I may be pardoned if I repeat anything that has been said and also if I repeat things which I myself have said to your Lordships on earlier occasions, for I have ventured on more than one occasion to emphasise the strength of African opinion and the weight that we in this country ought to attach to it. Not in Central Africa, but in West Africa and to some extent in this country, I have lived with African nationalism for some twenty years. I say "in this country", because it has been my privilege to know for a number of years some of the leaders of African opinion, including, for example, Mr. Kaunda and Dr. Banda, and I feel a deep sympathy with this African nationalism which is now so strong throughout all parts of the continent of Africa.

I sympathise very much with those Africans who feel that the concessions that have been made to nationalism—and of course many have been made, including the supreme concession of sovereign independence to Ghana and Nigeria—have been slow. The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, referred, quite rightly, to the advances that have been made in the Federation, but I must say that I felt sad when I read the paragraph at the top of page 77 of the Monckton Report, which said that in the year 1960, seven years after the policy of partnership had started: There are at present no non-Europeans serving in the Southern Rhodesia Civil Service, though the Southern Rhodesia Government have announced their intention of taking early action to admit them. I am glad to say that that action has since been taken. But can one wonder that the seven years between 1953 and 1960 have been referred to by a local observer of great distinction as "the wasted years"? It would seem to me that to have left the Civil Service of Southern Rhodesia without any non-Europeans for seven years after partnership was introduced indicates a blindness which I can only call Belgian.

We hear references made to the extremists. The extremists are the young men whom I myself used to help to educate in Ghana and in Uganda, the men whom I have met and liked in London. I wish to say that these men are not ogres and that extremism is not something that is alarming. They are men of responsibility. If I may respond to the challenge given by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and dare constitute myself a speaker for the African nationalists at the same time, I must dare to confess that where this side has gone wrong is in extreme speech. I bitterly regret the remark made by my friend Mr. Kaunda which has been quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton. I am sure that it is not his desire—indeed, he himself has emphasised this—that there should be any violence in Northern Rhodesia. It is a pity that he spoke violently.

But, my Lords, in 1952 and 1953 I used to get up and trouble the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who were at that time on the Front Bench, by making quotations from the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern (he was at that time Sir Godfrey Huggins). When I made these quotations from the noble Lord I used to see my noble friends on the Front Bench give a kind of sigh and shake their heads as much as to say: "Doesn't the man know that of course Sir Godfrey Huggins says extreme things that he does not mean?" May I make the same plea on behalf of African so-called extremists?

What is this African nationalism aiming at? It is aiming, of course, at independence from the rule of another people—and that is something with which we can sympathise. It is aiming at some form of representative government—that is very dear to our hearts. And it is aiming at what one might call racial recognition, a desire to receive the respect which Africans rightly consider is their due. I do not wish to seem to suggest that there is no other opinion than African opinion which should be listened to in Africa. Some of your Lordships, and notably the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, speak on behalf of the white settlers, and it is right that that is so; and it is right also that others should speak on behalf of African nationalists, and even the extremists.

But the beauty of the Monckton Commission Report is that it deals with both those types of opinion. Having studied them both, the majority of the Monckton Commission said that they hoped there would be a legislative body in Northern Rhodesia containing a majority of Africans. In other words, their recommendation goes further than the recommendation contained in the White Paper. One might, therefore, have expected that Sir Roy Welensky and his supporters would have been praising the Secretary of State for not going so dangerously far as the Monckton Commission did. But alas! that is not the point of view that they have so far shown: and I think that is because they do not understand how strong African opinion is and how much weight must be attached to it.

The Africans, one might have thought, would have been very disappointed with the Government's proposals in the White Paper; and, indeed, we know that some of the delegates at the London Conference expressed their disappointment. Yet, in the height of their disappointment, they spoke well of one man—namely, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Why? Because he was a bridge player? No. And, my Lords, may I say on that, that I would rather have a statesman who had mastered bridge than one who was content with nap or with snap. But the point that appealed to the Africans at the Conference was that this man was a bridge builder. He is a bridge builder trying to construct a bridge not between two fixed points, but between two islands which float sometimes nearer together but more often further apart. When the islands float further apart, is the Secretary of State to be charged with inconsistency and with former statements that he has made, or with not having fulfilled pledges that he gave earlier? He is then facing a new situation. I would suggest that if Sir Roy Welensky and his followers are statesmanlike they will help to build the bridge, as I think the African extremists are already showing a willingness to do.

We have been asked to see the problems of Northern Rhodesia in the perspective of the Federation; and that we should certainly do. But ought we not also to see them in the context of the twentieth century? Can anybody in the middle of the twentieth century serously suggest that any large body of people, be they highly educated or be they ill-educated, can long be left without a form of government which is acceptable to them?