§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Marquess, but it seemed to me that in the concluding passages of his speech he had left out one essential feature of the situation; that is, that the position was brought about not by any other Government but by the Government of South Africa. He said that one must not look into internal conditions. That would not have arisen if South Africa had not chosen to become a Republic and so had to make a new application. In effect, this was a new application by a State to join in the community of the Commonwealth. In those circumstances, the other members were certainly entitled to look a little closely at its credentials. When we found that a State which wanted to enter into the close and friendly community of the Commonwealth would not even receive the representatives of other States, we were certainly entitled to look twice before agreeing to their admission.
That is how the matter arose. In fact, this possibility has been hanging over us for some time. I had to preside at 1256 a certain number of Prime Ministers' Conferences, but in those days I had to deal with a very great Commonwealth statesman, Field Marshal Smuts. No difficulty arose then. But as the progress of fanatical apartheid has gone on, we have come down to the present representatives.
There has been a good deal of talk about what are the binding links between the Commonwealth. Over the years they have been of different strength for different members. There was the link with the Crown, which was always very strong in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, but was never so strong in South Africa and, naturally, was not so strong in the expanding Commonwealth, though recent events have shown the enormous importance of the position of the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. That has been witnessed by what occurred in India. There were other links, some trading, some common language, but never quite the same overall link, I think, with South Africa.
When we examine all these links, we find one, I think, of supreme importance, and that is a recognition in all the States of the Commonwealth of the dignity of the individual; and as the Commonwealth expanded into Asia and Africa, that became of supreme importance. Therefore, when a new application was made and it was found that one Government denied that altogether, it became difficult to accept a State which denied the dignity of the individual and, I would also say, to a large extent denied the rule of law. It may be said that there is a good deal of truth in the saying that the bonds of unity in the Commonwealth are intangible, but they have proved very strong. The fact is, that the prosecution of a policy of apartheid denied the fundamental principles of the Commonwealth. Nor do I think we can say, as the noble Marquess said, that this is purely a matter of internal policy. The repercussions of what was said in the Union of South Africa affected the whole of Africa, and there is now all over that continent a crucial position in the relationship between the white and the coloured races. It cannot be said that apartheid is solely a matter of internal policies. You might just as well say that the existence of an extremely dangerous and infectious disease, which might spread 1257 from one country to another, was the purely domestic concern of the country where it started.
I am entirely in favour of the general principle that matters of internal policy should not be discussed at formal meetings of Commonwealth Conferences. I have had to preside when there were difficult questions of that kind and, although they were discussed away from the Conference, we successfully kept them out of the main Conference business. I agree that that is important, and I hope it is preserved for the future. I do not think that, when this issue was raised by the Union of South Africa Prime Minister himself, you could suggest that that was really a breach of the hitherto custom or policy. We must all deplore the weakening of the Commonwealth, though I am bound to say that for many of us the existence of these policies within the Commonwealth was a source of weakness. We felt that it weakened our argument all over the world, where we had to stand up against other injustice and tyrannies. We felt that we always had this weak point in our armour. From that point of view, I think the Commonwealth is strengthened rather than weakened by the departure of South Africa.
What we most deplore is the fact that we lose not only a comparatively limited number of persons who support the present South African Government, but the whole of the African population and a large proportion of the white population as well. I should like to say one word of caution. There may be a tendency to suggest that this apartheid attitude is purely a matter of people of Dutch descent. That is a profound mistake. I regret to say that there are people of British birth who are quite as reactionary as some of the most reactionary of those, of Dutch descent; and there are many honourable Dutch exceptions from the rule of what we consider as the Dutch reactionary policy. There is the late Mr. Hofmeyr and Laurens van der Post. In fact, it is not just a division, as one might sometimes gather from the Press, between Boer and Briton. It is rather ironical when a person of my age looks back at the South African War to see that, after all these years, you now have on a larger scale what President Kruger dreamed of. He dreamed of this in the Transvaal. Well, Krugerism has 1258 got not only the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, but Natal and the Cape. That is an ironical outcome of the war against Krugerism.
The Act handing back the Government of South Africa came at the time of very great magnanimity and generosity by the Liberal Government of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Looking back, one realises that at that time the idea of any power in the Government by the Africans was not thought of. In effect, we handed over the Africans to their masters. In the debates at that time congratulating the Government on its great liberal measure, warnings that this was handing over the Africans were made by one or two, by Keir Hardie and others, but in the main it shows that practically no thought was given to the Africans when we handed back the Government of South Africa to the Boers.
One or two points arise on this. There are very difficult questions which will have to be worked out. There is the question of national rights, and of the British in South Africa. There is the question of the territories, Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland. I hope that the Government will stand firm on our responsibilities to those people. I remember being approached once by one of the South African representatives, and I said that so far as I was concerned I should not be prepared to hand over to the present Party in power in South Africa what we denied to General Smuts. South Africa has produced great broadminded statesmen like General Botha and General Smuts, and I am sure there are such men to-day. It is unfortunate, in my view, that government has fallen into the hands of a narrow and illiberal section, and they have during these last years been out of step with the rest of the Commonwealth. Steadily all over the Commonwealth there has been this growing recognition of the rights of men and women, whatever their colour. There has been steady retrogression in South Africa.
Our Prime Minister spoke of "the wind of change". Well, let us hope that in the Union of South Africa their Government is not sowing the wind and going to reap the whirlwind. I cannot say that I look forward with any confidence to the future of the Union of South Africa so long as this kind of policy is carried on, right against the 1259 whole progress we see in the world to-day. I do not think that "wind of change" of which the Prime Minister spoke is going to alter in our time. The "wind of change" will continue to blow ever stronger and stronger, and I do not think that a small collection of rather reactionary people can stand against it.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD BRAND
My Lords, I am going to speak to you only for a few minutes, and I speak at all only because I have known South Africa well in the past and should like to put a certain South African view before the House which perhaps has not been expressed this afternoon. But I certainly shall not emulate the great speeches which I have heard this afternoon.
I think it is too early yet to calculate all the pros and cons of the decision which was taken by Dr. Verwoerd. Probably he could do no other than he did. But I greatly regret the decision and the result of the Conference, and I greatly regret also the circumstances which led up to it As to its results, I agree with what Mr. Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister, said, and I agree very much with a great part of the sentiments that my noble friend Lord Salisbury has expressed this afternoon as to the consequences.
I have always thought, and think now, that the South African Union faces the most difficult racial problem in the world. I do not think its difficulties are at all understood by the British public. If apartheid were to mean that the natives should, and could, live satisfactorily in one part of the country and the white men in another, I should be in favour of it. After all, are not most of the Africans, whether in Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Kenya, Tanganyika,Uganda, Ghana and so on, really seeking for apartheid for themselves; that is, to have the country for themselves, with the advice and help, no doubt, of white men in trade and industry, and in administration. But while apartheid in South Africa is not, in my opinion wrong in principle, if it could be worked out with justice to both races, the trouble is that it is quite impracticable and cannot be 1260 achieved. For both black and white races are now too dependent on one another.
Apartheid has been invented largely, in my view, because the white people see more and more clearly every year, as the native population increases, how great their difficulties are. The native population is, I think, 9 million; the white population nearly 3 million, and the coloured population about one million. And the white people see the number of the natives growing larger in proportion every year. Perhaps I may here repeat what Dr. Verwoerd himself said to me, some five or six years ago. He said: "Do you realise what, in fifty years time, the position in this country will be? There will be 20 million natives and 6 million white people. We must separate them. We cannot have 20 million natives ruling 6 million white people." Your Lordships may laugh. But if in this country the British public woke up tomorrow and found that they had 35 million natives, Africans of the same calibre as the Africans in South Africa, and 15 million white Englishmen, they would find it very difficult to support a principle of "one man, one vote", unless the Africans were clearly as civilised and cultured as they were.
§ LORD SILKIN
May I ask the noble Lord whether, in what he is saying, which is very interesting, he is assuming that even in 50 years time the Africans will not have reached a stage of education such as to render them fit to play an equal part in the affairs of South Africa?
§ LORD BRAND
I do not know. It is very difficult to say. I think one can say for the Verwoerd Government that they are spending more on education than any South African Government have even spent. As for the difficulty of the problem, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, referred to the great statesmen South Africa had—namely General Botha and General Smuts, whom I knew well. It was General Smuts himself who saidThe native problem is so difficult that I am glad to think I have to leave it to others to settle.It must be remembered too, that the Afrikaners, particularly the farmers in Africa, have for two or three hundred years, from the beginning of their entry there, lived the most isolated life. They 1261 pay no attention to the rest of the world. They live on the great farms on the great plains of the Transvaal, Cape Colony and the Orange Free State, and they do not concern themselves with modern movements at all. They are educated largely by the Dutch Reformed Church, most of the members of which hold a strong view that God made the black man to be the servant of the white—they are the sons of Ham. Although on my last visit two or three years ago, I met some professors in the Dutch Reformed Church who have most enlightened views, Professor Keek, in Stellenbosch, and Professor Pistorius, in Pretoria, the great mass of the Dutch Reformed clergy are still entirely, from our point of view, on the side of darkness, and on the side of Dr. Verwoerd. Also the Afrikaners feel that they have as much right to the country as the natives. It is true that the Zulus and the Transkei Tribe were coming down the East Coast, but the plains of the Free State and the Transvaal were practically empty at the time the Voortrekkers went there.
I have a most interesting book, written in 1939 by a Captain Harris, an English soldier in India, who was given two years leave to travel in South Africa. He gives an account of his journey in a wagon, just at the time of the great trek through the Orange Free State plains up to Mosilikatzi's Kraal, near to what is now Zeerust, He and his tribe, the Matabele, were fleeing from the Zulu Chief, Chaka. The plains were practically empty except for Hottentots and Bushmen. It is natural, therefore, that the white Boer farmers feel that they are as entitled to be regarded as much the original inhabitants of that part of the country as the Bantu. The Afrikaners, like the British, come from the Northern European races. It is a curious fact that the Northern European races feel quite differently from the Southern. European races, the Portuguese or the Spaniards, about the intermixture of races. The Portuguese get on much better with the natives in their colonies, because they are more or less unconcerned about intermarriage. But that is hopelessly different from the Afrikaners and the British.
At the bottom of apartheid is not the wish to overpower or rule, but the fear that giving political equality to the natives will undoubtedly end in a complete mix- 1262 ing of the races; and that they cannot face. I am not saying that these are sentiments which are now held by people in England or in other European countries, but they are firmly held there. That is why apartheid gets such a volume of support. It is supposed to be a means of saving the white races, as well as of giving freedom to the natives in their own sphere. As I have said, the trouble is that it is not practicable and cannot succeed. Therefore, the South African Union will ultimately be faced with finding another solution fair to all races.
How is this terribly difficult problem to be solved? The natives must ultimately be given political rights. But you cannot expect a highly developed European minority of 3 million running a great commercial, industrial and financial state, to accept the rule of a large native majority elected on the principle of "one man, one vote". To my mind, that is totally impossible at present and would lead to great conflict or to dictatorship. Somehow or other, some other solution must be found. This is the great South African problem—the problem, as I have said, that General Smuts said was so difficult that he had to leave it to others.
It is not possible to apply to South Africa the methods which we are now trying to apply to Central and Eastern Africa. The only conceivable solution would seem to me to be on the lines of Cecil Rhodes' statement:Equal rights for all civilised men.The problem then is to decide what the word "civilised" means. It would have to apply to both white and black races. In some form the voter would have to show that he was educated, had some property, and possibly that he could pass other tests—something like the old Cape Colony franchise, which was abolished at the time of the Convention. I admit that this is all quite vague, but that is the direction in which I think the country would have to proceed. Yet I am quite doubtful whether at present the plans recommending such a development—here I support what Lord Attlee said—would get a majority of votes in favour of it, even among the British population. In any case, I believe we must assume that both white races in South Africa will resist to the death their complete submersion by other races.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, my interest and my deep concern with affairs in Southern Africa, arise out of the fact that relations of mine and of my family started a business in Basutoland some 80 years ago; that it has flourished and spread into South Africa itself, and that I myself, though born in England, have a South African domicile of origin and a dual citizenship. I mention that to conform to the rule about declaring an interest in both these countries; but also for another reason, because there may be many others like me who would deeply regret it if they were put to the test of deciding which citizenship should be retained.
But I regret the loss of South Africa for other reasons, primarily for the great majority of other people in South Africa. It bas been well said that Governments come and go, but the nation goes on. And it seems to me that the long history of 50 years has its importance, perhaps a greater importance than the sentiments of the last two or three years, which, rising to a pitch of anxiety, and even hysteria, have brought about this result. It has been my observation in Parliament, where I have sat for nearly 40 years, that policies which divided people, and seemed to divide them irreconcilably, have faded out as time has passed; or have been absorbed, agreed to or changed. Governments are mortal; so are men. And I could have hoped that more tolerance and more patience could have given the great majority of people who live in South Africa the opportunity of thinking out for themselves what was their best course, rather than that their association with us should have been terminated so abruptly. I should like to pay my tribute to Mr. Macmillan, to Mr. Menzies and to Dr. Verwoerd for having tried their best in this matter, though without success.
I do not want to dwell at great length upon the merits or demerits of the policy of separate development which is called apartheid, but it is not morally different, in essence, from partition, a policy that has commended itself in India, in Ireland and in Israel—to mention but three examples. We tend to forget that within the lifetime of the youngest among us India entered a new phase in her life, 1264 and that possibly a million men, women and children were dispossessed of their homes; abruptly moved from the places to which they were accustomed, and perhaps died of starvation in the process. I am not saying that the end result of what occurred in India may not be right, and that perhaps these sacrifices have to be made in the making of history. But history is lightly forgotten.
Apartheid, then, with all those aspects which are disagreeable to us who have been brought up and lived in Britain, has its positive side. And it is not inconceivable that when history comes to be written, after, say, another 20, 30 or 50 years, those who then judge the matter may be glad that there is a strong nation preserving law and order at the southern end of the African Continent while much blood may have been shed in the centre and middle of that Continent. At any rate, no example has yet been shown where men of all colours and of such different traditions, history and developments, have found a way of living together satisfactorily. Pray God the British may find it in Central Africa!
I am surprised at the intolerance, lack of understanding, or even of intention to understand, of some of our people in Britain, and particularly of members of the Labour Party. I wonder whether they realise that a large part of the political difficulty in South Africa arises from the fact that there are tens of thousands of men, both Afrikaans-speaking and English-speaking—men who work in the mines and in similar employment; who are used to being foremen or managers—who fear for their jobs if the black man, who is becoming very skilled, is allowed freely to compete with them. I am not defending the absolute ban upon free competition in these matters. I would solve the problem by removing that bar and ban, step by step over a long period of time.
It should be realised, however, that a Government is the servant of its voters—that is the essence of the matter—and it would be impossible for any Government to be returned in South Africa which did not take account of the strong job-reservation resistance of white artisans. And what surprises me about the Labour Party is that they do not see the 1265 beam in their own eye. Do they not, in all their craft unions in Britain, support exactly this same idea of job-reservation? If a man does not belong to a particular union, he must not bore holes, or fill them: somebody else must do that. It is net entirely a matter of colour, it is a matter of preservation of the job. I am not saying that it is right. I do not believe most leaders of the Labour Party think it is right when it occurs in their unions. All I am saying is that a little tolerance and self-thought might have made them a little more understanding of the difficulties of the Government in South Africa.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, whose personality and view I greatly regard, mentioned that it was the British, in a great act of statesmanship by a Liberal Government, who in 1909 passed the South Africa Act, and thereby placed the power for the governance of South Africa in the hands of the whites. Why did they do that? To quote the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, this very afternoon, from memory, it was because they had not thought of handing over any power to the blacks. And that is only 50 years ago. Is it all that surprising, let me ask in passing, that only a very few years afterwards, at the end of the First World War, when the Territory of South-West Africa had to be put under the trusteeship of one of the winning nations, it should have been put under South Africa? They were only following a good Liberal precedent, supported by the Labour Party of those days, and it would have been surprising if anything else had been done.
I warn Her Majesty's Government, and I warn all of my friends, that while there may be some theoretical and legalistic considerations to be brought to hear upon this South-West African problem, there are also some commonsense, realistic ones. That territory is a part of that sub-Continent. It is more and more integrated with it. It accepts the governance of South Africa as well as any other part of South Africa accepts that governance; and it would, in my judgment, be quite absurd and very dangerous to put some other nation there to manage that trusteeship. Who are we going to put there? I cannot think of anyone who would be acceptable to the South Africans. Surely, we do not want to put the United Nations into more trouble than they are in 1266 already. I think that if they did better some of the jobs they have in hand, and did not interfere so much with other people's business, it might be a good thing.
Now, what is to be our attitude towards South Africa? Is it to persecute the country and the Government: to defile and denigrate the name of that land? Or is it to give them a chance freely, now that they are out on their own, to work out their own salvation? I feel that so long as we persecute them, denigrate their ways and habits and show no sympathy (unlike the noble Lord, Lord Brand, whose speech warmed my heart), we harden their hearts; we turn them more in upon themselves and defeat the very purpose that we have in mind.
I, also, attended the debate in the other place last night, and at one stage heard members of the Labour Party behind their Leader shouting out "Boycott! Boycott!" and it was taken, up all round the place like hounds chasing a fox. The Leader, Mr. Gait skell, showed statesmanship in indicating that, in his opinion, this question of boycott was not one which should be a matter of State policy but for the choice of each individual. The Co-operative Society took the same view last year when various elements in this country were passing resolutions about boycott. The Co-operative Society most wisely said, "This is a matter for individual choice."
I beg leave to warn any of my friends or political associates in this country not to pursue this matter. They will do no good if what they have in mind is to create a different situation in the mind of South Africa—I repeat, if that is what they have in mind. If all they have in mind is to shout some noise that will be congenial to their audiences throughout the land from time to time, that is a different thing. But if they have in mind to help South Africa, shouting to others or urging others to boycott will do no good—no good whatever. Nor, indeed, was it successful in any sense last year: it was a complete failure. And all that South Africa did about it was not to get cross particularly at that time but just to laugh. Moreover, if boycotts are recommended as between Britain and South Africa, and recommended by other countries, too, as I 1267 have heard said, the example may be taken up by less wise people than the English. The English generally buy canned fruit because they can get good canned fruit at a cheap price and it suits them. They do not buy it because they like or dislike the people who canned it. They generally do not know or care who canned it. But if boycotting became a fashion all over Africa very much harm would be done to some people. I will venture to mention one people.
This brings me to the principal matter to which I want to devote myself to-day, and that is the country of Basutoland, which I know very well. I want to beg leave to bring to your Lordships' notice some of the fundamental facts about Basutoland. I should say that I am under some obligation, having promised leading people of both Parties in the Basutoland nation that if ever the occasion arose when the future of their country was under discussion or in peril in any degree, were I alive I would speak for them in the Houses of Parliament.
Basutoland is about one-and-a-half times the size of Wales and it has a population of a few hundred whites and Indians and 750,000 blacks. The people are among the most friendly, lovable, hard-working persons one could meet. There was traditionally, and still is, an extremely good feeling among all the people who live in that land. It is a little apart from South Africa, though it is an enclave in the middle of it; apart from it because on two sides it is cut off from the Union by a range of mountains called the Drakensberg on the Natal side and the Maluti Mountains on the Basutoland side. There is only one railway, three or four miles in length, into one edge of this Territory; there are only four main roads, and they are not roads which one can use at all times of the year.
This Territory is not viable. At all times they have to import mealies—"mealies", my Lords, is the South African word for "maize". They have to import mealies to live. They also have to export cattle to the Union of South Africa to add to their meagre living. They export wool and mohair. But were it not for the employment of 1268 very large numbers of them in the mines of South Africa, under conditions which they like very much (and I was glad that the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition referred to the skill of the Basutos in this connection; he was well-informed and quite right), which brings, I estimate, something like £1 million a year into the Basutoland economy; and were it not for the Customs Union with South Africa, whereby Basutoland shares the Customs and obtains a very small percentage, and has no overhead charges to run a Customs service (it is a very small percentage they get of the total fruits of the Customs), which brings them in another £1 million—were it not for these two factors, the country would be in an extremely difficult economic position.
The revenue of the country was £1.9 million in the last financial year, and expenditure was £2.4 million. So there is £500,000 deficit, which is met by Her Majesty's Government by a grant in aid. Also, a grant of £1 million has been given from the Colonial Development Fund for capital expenditure during the five years commencing last year. Without these forms of aid, this country is not viable. Nevertheless, it is a British Protectorate; and we are responsible for protecting them, but quite unable to have access to them to do it. There is no way in which the British could protect them from the Russians, the Chinese or the South Africans—no way whatever, because the railways and roads run through South Africa and there is no aerodrome capable of taking more than a Dakota. Therefore, our protection of Basutoland is by the good will of South Africa and the example we can set or the influence which we can exercise.
I should add that Basutoland has a new Constitution. It has been running for just about a year. I visited their Parliament and sat in it with them. It is a non-racial Parliament. The electorate of a few hundred white men, along with hundreds of thousands of black men, have one vote each, on equal terms. There is no loading of the vote. A white man, the Resident Commissioner, acts as Speaker, and does it most capably. This almost entirely African Council is a model of a young Parliament feeling its way. The Executive Council is composed of white men and 1269 black men in equal proportions. This is a good experiment which needs carefully watching and carefully helping.
But what do the facts of geography and history and economics suggest? It seems to me that they suggest that the three countries of Britain, South Africa and Basutoland must remain friends. The Basutos themselves are not so foolish as not to realise their dependence upon the protection of Britain and the prosperity of the country that surrounds them. They know well that there would be no market for their beasts, no transit for their wool and their mohair, hunger when their mealies failed or were short, as they nearly always are, and poverty to an exceptional degree if their employment in the mines were cut off. To exacerbate feelings between South Africa and Basutoland or between South Africa and Britain can do nothing but hurt this small, dependent territory—dependent on our good will, on the good will of South Africa and on the friendship between the two countries.
Now I want to ask Her Majesty's Government one specific question, which I hope the noble Viscount will be good enough to answer when he comes to reply. It has been made clear, I think, in the other House and here, that talks will proceed during the period while the temporary legislation, the stand still legislation, lasts. These talks will be between Britain and South Africa, to find out what is the fair way for these two countries to continue their friendship, their trade and their relations. South Africa will want help and a friendly hand from us, and we may want to continue some of the trade and commercial arrangements which are helpful and useful to us. Both sides will be wanting something, and both will be talking. In that give-and-take, in argument and discussion, let item No. 1 on the agenda, I beg, be the needs of Basutoland and, to a slightly lesser extent, of Beohuanaland—for some of the trade of Bechuanaland must go through the Union and to the Union, as well. When we are talking about relations between Britain and South Africa, let it he known that we want first to know about these territories.
What we want to know about the Basutoland is: will they continue to 1270 adopt the policy which was announced by Dr. Verwoerd on February 9 last, a very short time ago, when he said that the British method was different from the South African method, and that there will "never be incorporation of the territories"?—and have quoted those words. It was a long statement made by Dr. Verwoerd, in which he justified to his own people, in his own Parliament, this change of policy. It is vitally important to these countries, and particularly to Basutoland (which is right in the middle of South Africa, even as Rutland is in the middle of Britain), to know these three things. Is their integrity to be regarded by the South African Government? Is their protection by Her Majesty's Government to continue? And will Her Majesty's Government see to it that the Customs arrangements, the freedom of trade between Basutoland and the Union, and the freedom of movement of Basutoland citizens to work in the Union and come back again, are recognised? Those things are vital to the life of Basutoland, and, whatever else we owe, we owe a responsibility to those people to continue to look after them.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I recognise that I am following two speakers who are particularly well-informed on South Africa. We have just listened to the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, and that convinces us of his knowledge; but particularly, I think, we should be grateful to him for having drawn attention to the position of the Protectorates. I ask myself the question: Is it likely that those who have been fulminating against the Union, and who have written so energetically to the Press, have taken into account much of what he has told us with regard to the position of the Protectorates, which any of us who have been in, and know, South Africa recognises is a regrettable factor in this change? The noble Lord, Lord Brand, as we all know, is one of those surviving people of great ability who helped Lord Milner in the early days in South Africa, and we naturally respect his remarks.
My Lords, I find myself in the position of seeking your Lordships' indulgence in any comments I may make, in that I have just returned from six weeks out of the country in North America; 1271 and, until last Tuesday, I had been entirely out of touch with the political centre here. But I naturally took the opportunity of reading The Times when I could get it, and the letters that one saw addressed to the Editor—and I think particularly immediately of the letters from the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Earl, Lord Selborne. I saw his last one. So it is that I came here with a burning desire or a wish that I had the eloquence to say what has been said by Lord Salisbury. I did not know that he was going to speak, even, and all I can do, therefore, is to associate myself with so much of what he said. Some of that I will try to add to. First of all, however, I should like to pay my own tribute to Dr. Verwoerd for what seems to me to be the dignity and patience which he displayed under great provocation, as has already been said by our noble Leader. In his absence at this moment, I should like to add that, to my mind, he made a remarkably fine advocacy of his Motion with a moving peroration, and we must feel glad that, at the beginning of his speech, he paid that tribute to Dr. Verwoerd.
My Lords, when reading those letters while away one felt regret about a great deal of what had been said, so much of it by those who probably let their sentimental feelings with regard to South Africa outrun their discretion, and certainly their knowledge of the details of this subject. Anyhow, my Lords, I should like now to add a little to what Lord Fraser of Lonsdale has just said. It is these sentimentalists, these Bishops, of high theological knowledge—and perhaps less practical experience—these cranks, these sentimentalists, these Socialist Communists who advocate things like boycotts. What a silly thing to do! It is regrettable that such idiocy should receive support of or from people who have held ministerial office.
But the point I particularly want to make is that, viewed from a distance, this Commonwealth Conference, which has resulted in this Motion, really was evidence of astonishing hypocrisy and cant. In his speech, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, took these points, of course, which many other Members of 1272 your Lordships' House must have had in mind. Any one of these members of the Conference, put under the microscope of analysis, would not be able to stand up to reasonable criticism, and certainly could not claim immaculate rectitude.
Let us take Nehru. What about the hyprocrisy of Kashmir? What about the caste system? What about the utter poverty of millions in that country? He should address himself to trying to improve conditions in his own country, instead of trying to busybody into the affairs of others. What about Nkrumah? He does not even give the right of freedom of the individual from imprisonment without trial, or the freedom of the Press, et cetera, et cetera. What about Diefenbaker? What about Canada, with its colour bar against black people? And it is this body of Ministers who are the ones who really forced the ejection of the Union!
The spokesman for the Government would deny that it is a case of the ejection of South Africa. My authority is the Prime Minister of Australia. Others in your Lordships' House will doubtless have heard Mr. Menzies make a speech to the Australia Club on Monday night. There were no doubts as to what his feelings were. Did he not say, with emphasis: "Let anyone interfere with the internal affairs of my country; I would walk out of the Conference at once"? That is what Dr. Verwoerd did: because there was interference with the internal affairs of his country The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, without need of any addition from me, has already made that clear.
What is the use of trying to castigate the Union because of her policy? I, like everyone in this House, am against apartheid. I go further. Is it not incredible that their Government should be so stupid as to have taken the votes away from the coloured people? They are just as intelligent as any whites, and it was a stupid thing to do. But feelings seem to run strongly, as I see it, and particularly in your Lordships' House. I read the debate on March 16 with great care. I have been a Member of your Lordships' House now for over 30 years, and I have attended many of the historic scenes of passionate feeling. Before that I was a Member of another 1273 place, and I remember much of Lloyd George's attitude and his method of commenting upon critics and others. But really feel that the tone of the exchanges of feelings in this House has been different from what, historically, has been the case. Surely there can be criticism of Ministers. It is not in accordance with the traditions of the House to say that no Member should criticise a Minister personally for his policy. We have heard that said continuously, both here and in another place.
If I may be permitted to go back, I remember the great scenes which took place between Birkenhead and Carson in your Lordships' House. Of more recent date, may I instance another case? Unless ray memory plays me false, I remember Lord Beaverbrook, with his rasping incisiveness, addressing himself to the Lord Chancellor on the Woolsack, who was then Lord Simon, as that master of distortion, that arch-appeaser from Manchuria to Munich. I would call that pretty strong language. Certainly nothing like that took place to call forth the comments—I must not say "admonishments"—of those who took part in the debate on March 16. It is because of the traditional character of the debates in this House that I presume to ask the indulgence of your Lordships to permit me to refer to it.
How will turning the Union out help them? It is not going to help the Bantus in South Africa. It is not going to help the white people who are not of Afrikaans origin. It is not going to help the Indians. It seems to me a completely impracticable position. Surely, patience with something with which we disagree would be more likely to bring some improvement. I cannot help returning to the fact that it is claimed that the Commonwealth is a "club". What about U.N.O.? Why did we not turn Russia out of U.N.O. for what she did to Hungary? Do we feel any less intense in our feelings about the people murdered in Hungary than about the people subjected to apartheid? The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, referred to the inevitable "man will be free". What about Poland? What about Hungary? The overwhelming majority of the people there are against the Government. Do our representatives criticise Russia in the United Nations every day? My Lords, I had never been 1274 to the United Nations until I went there two weeks ago. I listened to the humbug of its proceedings, and to all this criticism about Portugal, Angola and Africa which, by chance, was being raised at the time. Anyone who goes there and sees its whole operations will lose the respect which one had for it.
There is no doubt—I must say this, in spite of what was said about restricting our debate—that the colour question must inevitably dominate this whole matter. I suggest (and I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, who referred to this) that at the bottom of the thing is this question of intermarriage. I am referring to the people who say: "We must have no discrimination between colour, race or creed", and then go on to say, "Yes; as our black brothers, but not as our black brothers-in-law". Hypocrisy again! My Lords, it is because I have recently come back to this country and have just heard about this that I feel so intensely about it. As I say, I feel a great sense of appreciation of the fact that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, with his eloquence, should have been able to make the case he did to-day.
The noble Viscount referred to the financial aspect of this matter. I cannot help saying that he did not answer my question, which he said he would promise to do. He made light of the fact that loss within the Commonwealth of gold production must be of some weight; he disregarded it entirely. Because of that, I want to add a few words on the financial aspect. With regard to the Bantus in South Africa, your Lordships will doubtless have heard of the housing developments in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Salisbury, and elsewhere. The houses are very nice, with their own garages and privileges and there are shops nearby. What humbug it is to say that they are not getting good treatment ! What about the amount of money the Union of South Africa has spent, per capita, per annum, on the education and housing of the non-whites, compared with what is spent in any other part of black Africa in or outside of the Commonwealth? I understand it is something of the order of £20 per capita in the Union, as against 7s. in most of the other black countries in Africa.
My Lords, to recapitulate, there was undue haste, I think, in trying to force 1275 the Union out of the Commonwealth. I repeat Mr. Menzies' words—"interference with the internal affairs of a member of the Commonwealth." I feel equally strongly—and coming back to this country after an absence, I feel entitled to express it—that the Government's policy is going too fast towards putting white minorities under strong non-white authority. The spirit of adventure, which after all built the Commonwealth, and the prosecution of trade under the Union Jack should not result in white betrayal.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ LORD BRABAZON OF TARA
My Lords, I address your Lordships with some trepidation because I have not been to Africa, certainly not to darkest Africa; and, consequently, speaking among so many who have intimate knowledge of Africa is a little difficult. But I think that perhaps the views of the man in the street, who does not even live in Paddington and has little knowledge of the blacks, may be of interest to the House. I am nervous for another reason. Apparently, if one criticises a Minister, one has the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition and the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, all on one's head. It looks to me as if some of the practices of our new Dominions, such as Ghana, are spreading into this country, and that I find very tiresome. It certainly seems to endanger my position, if I say a word against the sacred Government. But I am not going to do that, so the Front Bench, exiguous as it is, need not get nervous.
First of all, I should like to say that I think that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House expressed very well the feeling of the House, which is one of deep sorrow in our hearts at what has happened. I must say that I think that a great deal of the blame attaches to Dr. Verwoerd for having gone in for a Republic. There was no need to go Republican, no advantage, and if he had not done that this question would never have arisen.
In these days, when it is fashionable to run ourselves down, I think that it is nice sometimes to draw attention to some of 1276 our good qualities, and one of them is that we forget and we forgive. That is one of our great characteristics. Look at our present attitude towards Germany. No country in the world has suffered more than we have suffered from her. But we forget and we forgive. That is the British way of looking at things. But it is not like that throughout the world. If you go to Drogheda, in Ireland, you might think that the massacres by Cromwell occurred three weeks ago. It is perfectly astonishing. And that sort of thing happens up and down the world. When I was a boy I remember that a great friend of mine was blackballed from the Jockey Club in Paris because one of his ancestors had fought at Crécy.
We have forgotten the Boer War, but the Dutch in South Africa have never forgotten it. It is a live thing in their hearts that they were defeated. And I maintain that when the Prime Minister of South Africa went Republican, he really did it to spite the British there. It is one of the tragedies of that country that these two white races have not lived together more amicably and have always been fighting against one another. Here, indeed, I blame the British a good deal, because they have not played a part in the public life of South Africa as they should have done; and if they had done that, we might have been walking together in peace and amity.
In the case of a country like Ghana, which has always been inhabited by blacks, we went into the country for good, sound motives—to stop the slave trade. But there comes a time when we say, "This is your country; govern it." Of course, one might make the mistake of saying that too early, as was done in the Congo, but it does credit to everybody that such a thing should happen. But it is not quite the same in South Africa. My noble friend Lord Brand pointed out, with great force and with truth, that when the whites went into South Africa, there was no one there. They built up the country. It was through their initiative and their work that the Transvaal and the Free State became prosperous countries, and the Bantu came down to get jobs there. I can well understand the disinclination of the whites to hand political domination to people who do not belong, who have come down to South Africa just for jobs.
1277 In regard to the policy of apartheid, I would point out that in other countries in the world segregation has taken place. I do not think that there would have been this outcry against the policy of South Africa had it been administered well; but it is administered cruelly and badly. Much of the feeling against South Africa is entirely due to the purely administrative side of this policy. Segregation is not peculiar to South Africa. I am reminded of the amusing story about Vice-President Nixon who, rather delicately I thought, was at the commemoration of the independence of Ghana. He turned to a buck nigger and said, with exaltation, "How does it feel to be free?" To which he got the disconcerting reply, "Well, massa, I don't know: I come from Alabama." As we know, they are struggling still with this difficult problem in America. Canada will never be bothered very much, I suppose, because the pernicious climate will defeat any idea of large numbers of blacks going there. But what about Australia? She goes the whole hog. She bars not only what we call "coloured people"; she bars yellow, brown and black. Segregation can go no further than that. Yet nobody seems to object to that policy.
Here I must draw attention to something which is happening in the world and which we may just as well face that is, the grave embarrassment from having so many separate small countries. My noble friend Lord Barnby said that he had attended a meeting of the United Nations in that hideous building in New York. I have done the same. As I went to it, I really got the impression that there was a convention of nigger minstrels going on. That is the situation we have reached in the United Nations. Are we not in the British Empire drifting towards exactly the same situation? At present there are more non-white members of the Commonwealth than there are white. It is all very well to say that the member States are not going to be allowed to interfere with the internal policies of each other. But supposing the coloured members of the Commonwealth say: "We are going to interfere and vote to do it", and supposing they come and say, "We want free entry into Australia", what is the Government's answer going to be? This is a hypothetical question, and one that need not be answered from the Front Bench. But it is one which is 1278 going to give a good deal of concern, and to which thought must be given, because it is going to become a live issue.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I do not know what the noble Lord is saying. What is who going to do about it?
§ LORD BRABAZON OF TARA
What are we as the head of the Commonwealth going to do about it? But I have already told my noble friend that he need not answer it; so he need not get embarrassed.
Now, my Lords, at one time, when the British Empire existed, and we talked about the British Empire and the word "Empire" without any shame (now, we are so ashamed of it that we have to call it the Commonwealth), we governed the whole thing from here, from this country. Then we said very wisely: "You are of our flesh and blood. You have started New Englands in this country and in that country. You are as capable as we are of governing yourselves." That was a very wise thing to do and it may well have been that, had we been wiser earlier, the centre of the British Empire would be at Washington to-day. But never mind; we were not too late over Canada, over Australia, New Zealand and others. But, my Lords, those were our people, our coloured folk, of our blood, and of our flesh. That was the British Empire as we adumbrated it should be.
Then the spread of self-government went on, and when we gave self-government to other countries, we let them into the Empire. That was a grave mistake. That is where I think we have gone wrong. There certainly should be a link between these countries, but nothing so intimate as there was in the original Empire of white people, among ourselves. Some people go so far as to think that the future of the Commonwealth should be a race of brown people. I find that thought wholly repugnant, and I believe that we have to give thought to a new conception of British people throughout the world. Let us call them a League of Britain Overseas, or something like that. It does not matter what name we give it. That, I think, is what is needed; because although the present set-up sounds all right, in fact it is not. It is not at all a satisfactory state of affairs. Because 1279 we have to face the fact, my Lords, that to-day the Empire, as we know it, the Commonwealth, is a piebald set-up, and a piebald set-up is a poor form of organisation that will never last.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, as when I last addressed your Lordships' House, I must begin on three personal notes. I have always thought that it was right for anyone who had the privilege of taking part in your Lordships' debates to be present when the closing speech of the Minister took place. I cannot be present tonight, but as I do not think my noble friend the Leader of the House is on the Bench, it does not really matter so much, because if he is not going to hear my speech I need not hear his. Incidentally, I am not attacking my noble friend, but I wonder what would happen if we had a procedure in your Lordships' House similar to that in another place, where the Minister in charge of a debate is supposed to be on the Bench for most of the time. If he is not there, the Members of another place can move the adjournment of the debate, to call attention to the absence of the Minister in charge of the debate. I hasten to say that I am not making any attack upon my noble friend. He is a very dangerous man to attack, because he bites back rather fiercely.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, in case it is of interest, my noble and learned Leader is, in fact, in the Cabinet at the moment.
§ EARL WINTERTON
We seem to have quite a lot of Cabinets nowadays. I am very much obliged to the noble Lord. The second point which I wish to make is this, and it is another rather personal one. I am delighted to have followed my noble friend who has just spoken, because on another occasion we had a rather serious difference of opinion and perhaps were rather rude to each other. I should like to say, if he will allow me to do so, that he has made a most delightful speech, with almost every part of which I am in agreement, except this: that he most unfortunately told a story that I was going to tell, and he did not get the story quite correct. I think it was not Mr. 1280 Nixon who asked the question; it was a gentleman who is known to his enemies as Mr. Soapy Williams, a calamitous envoy of the United States.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: No.
It may have been Mr. Nixon. At any rate, the story is a very good one. I was told it was not Mr. Nixon, but Mr. Williams. However, it is a matter of no account.
My third point is that it is one advantage of being old—if one is reasonably fit, which I am, except for defective vision, which I hope will soon be cured by an operation—and having spent one's time in public life, to be able to look back and compare the past with the present. I am in complete agreement with what my noble friend Lord Salisbury said when he made one of his admirable speeches earlier in your Lordships' debate, that there has been, in fact, an almost complete reversal of the original idea of the Commonwealth, and I would ask your Lordships, including those on the Benches opposite, whether you would not agree with me on this point. Suppose that in, say, 1926, when I believe the first Commonwealth Conference was held, a representative of His Majesty's Government had got up and said: "It is very embarrassing to us, being responsible as we are for Indian and African Colonies, that in Australia they operate an effective colour bar, which prevents any Indians or Africans from emigrating to Australia." Just think, if I may use a vulgar phrase, what a row there would have been. And yet that is exactly what has been clone at the recent Commonwealth Conference. It is an exact parallel. I am astonished at the blindness which people show to that state of affairs.
On the question of apartheid we are all agreed on both sides of the House, however strongly we may differ on other matters—and let there be no misunderstanding; there is disagreement on certain other aspects of the position of South Africa. We are agreed that apartheid is unjust, immoral and economically unsound. But I am not fully convinced, though here I probably speak in a minority, that there will be this outburst or attempt to overthrow it by the force of African and coloured opinion and any methods which they may use, which most people in this coun- 1281 try seem to think will happen. I say that for this reason, and I will support this argument, which I think is a sound one, to your Lordships. I think they are judging the situation from the point of view of what we in this country can do and what we cannot do. We could not apply really drastic methods in the countries from which, quite frankly, we have been turned out—Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt and other places—because public opinion in this country would not stand stern methods.
But public opinion in South Africa is prepared to stand almost any methods to prevent the Africans from becoming the dominating element in the country. When people say—and I think it is one of the many, nonsensical things that are said to-day—"You cannot keep the people down by force; a small minority cannot do that", do the people who talk like that realise what has been going on behind the Iron Curtain for the last fifteen years, where huge populations are kept down by force, simply because the small governing minority know how to shoot and have the weapons with which to do it? People talk as if that could not happen in South Africa; but of course it could, if the worst came to the worst. Therefore I am afraid that those who hold the opinion that eventually the coloured people and the others will get their rights—and undoubtedly they are their rights—by any method of using force or even passive resistance, are not likely to be right.
I pass from that to another consideration connected with apartheid. We have been told again and again in the Press and by politicians that now that South Africa is out of the Commonwealth it will be easier to bring moral pressure to bear upon her. There, again, I would venture to submit that moral pressure has not much force in the world to-day. If it had, there would not have been the appalling treatment of the Hungarians or the appalling massacres in Tibet by the Chinese. Where is this world moral suasion that can be applied? You can talk of the United Nations as much as you like, but its moral suasion does not seem to have much effect: nor, for that matter, do its physical abilities appear to be very great, otherwise it would be doing something at the moment to prevent the dangerous situation arising in Laos, where it looks as if there might 1282 be a head-to-head meeting between the forces supported by the Americans and those supported by the Russians. I arm afraid that moral suasion is not likely to have much effect.
The last argument used—and it has already been referred to by others of your Lordships—is that the United States may be able to do a great deal; they may be able to bring pressure to bear upon the Union Government. How are they going to do it? And what if they do? Dr. Verwoerd is a very able man. I imagine that if the United States did that, he would immediately demand an inquiry into segregation in the Southern States, where, in many respects (I hesitate to say this, because I am a great believer in Anglo-American friendship, but I have to say it for the sake of my argument), the coloured man, as he is called there, the negro, is worse off, both economically and from the point of view of justice, than he is in the Union. In fact, it may well be that the South Africans might answer the cry, "Africa for the Africans", by saying, "The United States for the Red Indians", or "Canada for the Eskimos and Red Indians". The Americans who talk in this way should remember that the European inhabitants of the Union are in many respects descended from people who went to that country before the ancestors of the majority of Americans ever went to America: and, as the noble Lord, Lord Brand, said in his admirable speech, they went to practically an empty land.
I do not want to be a pessimist, but I see little hope that all these alleged methods of trying to influence the Union now that she is out of the Commonwealth are likely to succeed. Like I think almost every speaker in the debate, I regard it as an unmitigated calamity that circumstances have forced this to happen, whether it is Dr. Verwoerd's fault or the fault of the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers. Here I should like to pay tribute to our own Prime Minister for his valiant efforts to save the situation; to Dr. Verwoerd, however wrong his policy may be, for what the Prime Minister so properly and generously described as his courage and courtesy; and to two men of whom we have heard not very much, but who also have played a fine part in trying to avert the tragedy—namely, Mr. Menzies and Mr. Holyoak of New Zealand. It is 1283 said to be not a goad thing to be discriminating, but I am afraid that I cannot extend praise to any of the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
My second point (I do not want to detain your Lordships for long) is one that has already been taken up in the debate, and I need refer to it only shortly. There is no doubt that what has been said so courageously, in view of the attitude of so much of the Press, by the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express and by a few—but only a few, and tao few—politicians, and what was also said by Dr. Verwoerd, is absolutely true: that now that the witch-hunt is on, it is not likely to stop. I am afraid that at some future conference there will be attempts by the members of the Commonwealth in Africa and Asia to raise the question of what is, in fact, a very strong colour bar in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Of course, if they do so, there will be a counterattack which could be a very formidable one, as has already been mentioned by other noble Lords, over the attitude of the Indian Government towards the Nagas; over Kashmir and the imprisonment of one or two people, really on political grounds; over the position of the Tamils in Ceylon; and, most of all, in regard to Dr. Nkrumah's totalitarian r?égime in Ghana.
It is in order, I think, when we are discussing this question of apartheid, to consider the relevance of the situation in Ghana, in view of the fact that Dr. Nkrumah is one of the principal opponents of apartheid. Thirty members of the Opposition are in prison. There is no Press liberty at all. A correspondent (I think it was of the B.B.C.) said that there was the most disgraceful intimidation during the Referendum. A very intelligent and, as it appeared to me, competent and charming young African gave an interview not long ago on television. He is the leader of the Opposition in Ghana. When asked why he came here, he said: "I might be accused of being cowardly. I thought I was going to be arrested" (I am not giving the text ipsissima verba)" and I thought I could best fight against the Hitler-like methods of Dr. Nkrumah in this country." Not a word do we bear about this in all these discussions. It is really a very serious situation.
1284 My last point is this. I have referred to the way in which the truth is being blanketed or submerged in far too many quarters in this country. I think it is worth inquiring why that is so. I have already referred to the attitude of the Daily Telegraph, and I should like to commend the admirable leading articles in all of the papers which have appeared in what is known as the Beaverbrook Press in recent weeks. They have dared to tell the unpleasant, unpalatable truth, which apparently the people in this country do not want to hear and of which they get very little, and not as much as they should get from their political leaders. They have pointed out the danger to which my noble friends Lord Salisbury and Lord Brand, and in fact everyone who has spoken, have referred to in their speeches. What is the reason for the existence in this country of what is vulgarly known (and I am only using a phrase which is common parlance in Fleet Street) as the "Black Lobby"? It is not an organisation, but it is a body of some politicians, some political parsons and some dons, who write fantastically silly letters to The Times and other newspapers, usually knowing nothing whatever about the subject, and others who invariably, although they pretend to be merely attacking apartheid or some other thing with which they disagree in the Rhodesias or Kenya, are really working for the domination of the black African over the European African. It is a serious thing that these people should exist. They may rest assured that some of us who have access to the Press (I have been all my life an amateur blackleg journalist) will do all we can to fight them.
A particularly bad example—I referred to this in a previous debate—of their utter illogicality is that they continue to talk about the outrage at Sharpeville. They are almost completely silent on the infinitely greater outrages which have occurred in the Congo where, as I said in a previous debate, a hundred women have been raped, sometimes before the eyes of their children, and where terrible things have gone on. If South Africans are rather concerned about the fact that the other day there was a march in connection with this Sharpeville episode and that it was led by the leader of the Liberal Opposition—whom I do not wish to 1285 attack, because he is a personal friend of mine—I would say that Mr. Grimond has about as much chance of being Prime Minister of Great Britain as Colonel Nasser, and that is being excessively complimentary to him. The South Africans need not worry about that situation.
Nor need they really worry about what is, in the main, a minority opinion. But I was very sorry—again I do not want to attack three people who in private life are friends of mine—to read that Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, Mr. Jo Grimond and Mr. Duncan Sandys, apparently said the same thing in a debate in another place yesterday: namely, that there was, as I understood their arguments, some universal system of morality upon which the Commonwealth was founded. As I have said, and as we have all said in our speeches, how can there be such a thing when this kind of behaviour goes on in so many of these Commonwealth countries? However cruel apartheid may be, can it be worse than some of the other things That other speakers and I have mentioned?
I should like to say this in conclusion. Perhaps I ought to make a disclosure of some modest interest in South Africa in the field of some interests and a bank account. I do not believe that the Union will softer seriously economically from the situation. I was delighted to hear, and I should like to commend, the attitude of the Government, in that they are going to do all they can to maintain friendly trade and defence relations with the Union. It is obviously to the advantage of both countries that they should do so. I hope that, partly as a result of the debate in your Lordships' House (which has, I think, to a great extent been more friendly to the Union than the debate which took place in another place) and partly as a result of the action of my noble friend Lord Salisbury and others who have addressed letters to the newspapers, the people of South Africa will feel that we are anxious to be friendly with them, and that even the Afrikaners who dislike us, and always have, and whose policy we dislike—those who are supporters of Dr. Verwoerd—will know that we are anxious to continue to be friends with them. After all, if we can be on friendly terms with the Germans, we can be on friendly terms with them, Of course, 1286 that friendship extends to all people of all races in South Africa, both of British descent and the Africans and coloured people.
My last sentence is this. We are told that the situation in Africa generally—and I think we are told too much by the Government and leading members of the Opposition—is a menace and fraught with danger of all kinds, and, so far as the Union is concerned, is cruel and unjust. There is infinitely more menace to the peace of the world East of the Iron Curtain and infinitely more cruelty and injustice than there is in South Africa. I would respectfully say—and I think I have the assent of your Lordships here—that it would be as well if the people of this country now forgot, at any rate for the time being, what has recently occurred over the Commonwealth Conference, allowed the people North of the Limpopo to get on with the job of trying to find a reasonable arrangement for the future, and gave their minds to the infinitely more dangerous international situation, and especially the situation in Laos. That is a thing which should frighten us. That is where the danger comes from, and it is East of the Iron Curtain where the greatest amount of cruelty and oppression exists.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, it is nice to be able to say that I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, on one sentence, anyhow, of his speech when he said that we must all try to let the South Africans know that we have friendly feelings for them. That is the thing which, at the risk of repetition (and in a long debate like this one should not repeat what has been said already) I must make clear for my noble friends on these Benches concerning the feelings we have over the situation of South Africa. There is certainly a feeling of regret and sadness that the association of one of the older members of the Commonwealth is broken—perhaps not permanently, perhaps only temporarily. That feeling is tempered by considerable relief—a relief from the embarrassment that was caused to the United Kingdom and the rest of the Commonwealth in their dealings with other countries.
My noble friend Lord Attlee expressed that some weeks ago in the Foreign 1287 Affairs debate in your Lordships' House, and there is no doubt that while we had one of our fellow members of the Commonwealth prosecuting policies that were so far opposed to the general climate of opinion it was an embarrassment. I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, who mentioned the Congo and what goes on behind the Iron Curtain, that those are countries for which we have no responsibility. All we can do is to say that we disapprove.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but I never referred to the Congo. Is he prepared to tell your Lordships' House that we as members of U.N.O. have no responsibility for what goes on behind the Iron Curtain? If we hear of atrocities have we no right to raise the matter? What does the noble Earl mean?
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I think there is some misunderstanding. I understood the noble Earl to say that Sharpeville had been outdone by happenings in the Congo and behind the Iron Curtain and, for that reason, we had no business to complain of Sharpeville. I say that the fundamental difference is that, while South Africa was a fellow member of the Commonwealth, we had more responsibility for what went on in South Africa than we did in countries with which we had no connection.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I am sorry again to interrupt the noble Earl and I am most hesitant to do so, but it is a point of principle. I should like him to answer this question. Does he, or does he not, agree that we as members of U.N.O. have a responsibility for atrocities which go on either behind the Iron Curtain or in the Congo and we ought to raise the matter?
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I really cannot be drawn into a discussion of what the powers of the United Nations are. The fact remains, as I said, that while we were fellow members we had every right to say that we disapproved of what went on. That point brings un what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said about interference: the question of interference in what may be considered domestic affairs in other 1288 countries. Surely there is a point where domestic affairs have repercussions outside that country and in the world at large. It was for that reason that the policies of South Africa were, indeed, as I said, an embarrassment to her fellow members of the Commonwealth.
Two noble Lords mentioned the boycott. I am not sure whether it was the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, or the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, who said that he heard Members of the Opposition in another place using the word "boycott". That word was not used in any speech that I have seen.
§ LORD BRABAZON OF TARA
My Lords, I never used the word "boycott" in my speech.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
I am sorry. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale. This famous boycott that is being talked about now has been going on for over a year. It was an individual movement instigated, not in this country, but by people from South Africa, the Liberals and progressives from South Africa, who asked their sympathisers in this country to do everything they could to put pressure on the South African Government to bring home to the South African Government the depth and intensity of feeling in this country against their policies. Accordingly the movement grew, and the first manifestation of it was an appeal to anybody of the same mind to refrain from buying South African goods. It was an appeal to individuals to express their individual opinion in a way that was suitable in a democratic country. So do not let there be any confusion. There w as never any question of Party policy; never any question of its being proposed as Government policy. It was an individual movement, and it arose, of course, when South Africa was a member of the Commonwealth. Whether it will continue now I cannot say.
Another point which I think should be mentioned is that of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, about South Africans' participation with us in two world wars. "Sharpeville and Delville" is a striking phrase, a combination of words which conjures up very many memories on both sides. In our recognition of the gallantry of the South African troops, do not let that bring a sort of rosy haze 1289 across our eyes to hide the truth, because in both wars there was considerable opposition in the country to South Africa's entry into the war. In both there were armed rebellions against the Government that brought the country into the war. I can remember long ago hearing General Smuts himself telling the story of how the rebellion on the Rand in 1914 arose and why it failed. Do not let us forget that even Dr. Verwoerd himself in the Second World War, while he was editor of De Transvaaler, I think, was convicted actually of pro-Nazi activities.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think it is a little ungenerous of the noble Earl at this moment to belittle the help we got from South Africa in our extremity. He is painting the blackest side. They did come to our assistance and did fight at Delville. Noble Lords and other members of the Opposition Party are always mentioning Sharpeville. They never mention things like Delville Wood. If they want a fair account they should mention that.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I do not think that anybody has attempted to minimise South Africa's part when she fought in the two wars, but it would frankly not be a fair picture to leave it as the noble Marquess did, and so I think it necessary that such things should be remembered as well as the other side. So we have no hard feelings against the South African people, but against their Government and particularly their Prime Minister.
So many noble Lords have spoken as if what happened was the fault of the British Government. But, I must remind noble Lords of what the Prime Minister said last night. He said [OFFICIAL. REPORT, Commons, Vol. 637; col. 445]:But…had Dr. Verwoerd shown the smallest move towards an understanding of the views of his Commonwealth colleagues, or made any concession, had he given us anything to hold on to or any grounds for hope, I still think that the Conference would have looked beyond the immediate difficulties to the possibilities of the future. For, after all, our Commonwealth is not a treaty-made league of Governments; it is an association of peoples.That also, I think, should not be forgotten: that it was the determination of Dr. Verwoerd to follow the path that he thinks is right; it is his firm belief that his policy is right; he believes that his policy has Divine approval, one hears, 1290 and he is obviously not going to be deflected from it. So, my Lords, do not let us put too much blame on the shoulders of Her Majesty's Government.
I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, has gone. He gave us a version of the history of South Africa which I really think would not stand up to any verification: that we went in to suppress the slave trade, that when we went in the country was empty. I think he should go to South Africa in the first week of December when they celebrate Dingaan's Day, the great victory of the Boers over the Bantu Chiefs. That is a national holiday in South Africa, and he must not think that the country was occupied without resistance.
My Lords, would the noble Earl also mention the cause of Dingaan's Day, which was the murder and slaughter of the Boer trekkers a month or two before, just to even it out?
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
Certainly there were savages occupying the country, but my point was that the country was occupied.
The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, mentioned something else that I think ought not to go unmarked. He talked about this country being Head of the Commonwealth. I think he said that Her Majesty's Government should have done something to enforce discipline among members of the Commonwealth. "Head of the Commonwealth" is the title that Her Majesty The Queen bears; and, as for the Governments of the Commonwealth, their status is laid down in the Statute of Westminster, which Lord Salisbury quoted. That is:…autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another, but united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.I think those points should be corrected before they are more widely circulated.
I should like to say how much I enjoyed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale. He spoke with such deep feeling about Basutoland, a country that he knows so well and of which he is so fond. Of course, that brings up the question of the High 1291 Commission Territories. He was concerned—and rightly so—about the future of those three Territories because, quite obviously, their existence depends on friendly relations and co-operation with the Union of South Africa. He mentioned that in Basutoland a large number of the men go out to work in the Union. The same applies in a smaller degree to both the other Territories, Bechuanaland and Swaziland. In Basutoland no less than 43 per cent. of the adult males are generally away working in the Union. In Bechuanaland it is something like 20 per cent. of the adult male population. In Swaziland the proportion is smaller, but still a significant number. Of course, what is also most significant is the money that those workers contribute to the income of their countries. Altogether, getting on for £2 million comes into the economies of the three Territories.
We have to face the fact that those three Territories have not had as much money spent on them as they should have done. They are poor in resources; they have little possibility of material development. In fact, last year a remarkable Report was published by a Committee set up by the World Bank, reporting on an economic survey they had made. I think that Her Majesty's Government should tell us whether they propose to follow any of the recommendations of that Committee. The High Commission Territories are a large and enormously important subject, and a debate like this is not the occasion for going into any detail on them. Somebody described them as "windows looking out on the Union", where we display the British colonial system. They have lagged behind in money and development, and I think it should be one of the first tasks of Her Majesty's Government to step up aid, both financial and technical, to those three Territories.
The Government should also reconsider the organisation, because when South Africa ceases to be a Commonwealth country Her Majesty's High Commissioner will become an Ambassador. Presumably, an Ambassador cannot exercise administrative functions over a number of colonial territories. So it seems that there must be a complete reorganisation. Some people have said that there should be a separate High 1292 Commissioner as well as an Ambassador. It has also been suggested that the Territories should come directly under Whitehall, with a Governor instead of a Resident Commissioner for each Territory. For myself, I can never see why they should continue to be treated as one unit. They are totally different in population, economy and problems, and it seems that they might well be administered as are many of the other smaller Territories in the colonial sphere.
I should like to end with another reference to the Prime Minister's speech, in which he talked of "the new type of Commonwealth". Of course it is new. It is so new that many people have not caught up with the idea that the Commonwealth, as we knew it in our youth and as we were taught about it at school, is passing. It has almost passed now. What the Prime Minister said is [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 637 (No. 79), col. 449]:This association must depend not on the old concept of a common allegiance, but upon the new principle of a common idealism.Those are fine words, and we agree with them wholeheartedly; but we should like to know in due course, and perhaps this evening, whether Her Majesty's Government really mean them, and mean to act on them.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, I came here less to give my own opinions or my own ideas than to make comments upon what I have heard and have learned from others. I was always taught at school that that was what was meant by the word "debate", and I understood that this was to be a debate. Of course, before I end I shall say a few things on my own account: but I shall talk then not about the Congo, or Malaya, or the United States of America, as several noble Lords have done before me, but about the subject of the debate, which is South Africa.
Let me begin with comments upon four of the earlier speakers, the speeches of two of whom I am happy to find myself able to approve of completely, and two of which I have some doubts about. To my regret, I begin with one of those with whom I find myself unable to agree—the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. He was a most distinguished figure in this House when I first entered it in 1946, and, let me add, a very 1293 friendly person to myself. He taught me a great deal about this House. That makes me all the more sorry not to be able to agree with what he said to-day. In effect, he said that he was an optimist about the Commonwealth; that it could survive, but only on one condition—that it adopted the principle of non-interference by one State with another. I wonder whether it is worth while for a Commonwealth to survive on the principle that every State shall do just exactly what it likes, without comment or criticism from any other.
After all, the Commonwealth ought to exist not simply to create power and wealth in a big organisation, but to make a better world; to show the way to peace with freedom and to the brotherhood of man. I suggest that a Commonwealth worth having is one which has some principle as its ultimate aim, and that the ultimate aim of this Commonwealth ought to be, as the Prime Minister of this country has stated, to work out the principle of getting rid gradually, stage by stage only, of racial discrimination.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, as my noble friend is not here, and I agree with his views, may I ask the noble Lord a question? My noble friend's point was whether this was to apply only to the question of racial discrimination. If so, would it be open, at future Conferences, for the question of racial discrimination in Canada, Australia and elsewhere to be raised—and would it apply also to the complete absence of freedom in places like Ghana? May I respectfully ask the noble Lord to address himself to that argument?
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, I do not suggest that the absence of racial discrimination means that every country must be free to unlimited immigration of other people. But when there is a large population settled in a country then that country should seek to avoid racial discrimination. I most profoundly believe that that is one of the main purposes for Which Britain exists, and the British Commonwealth has existed in the past. That is quite different from anything that can be said about Australia and other places.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, what about Ghana? Would the noble 1294 Lord answer my question as to whether he is in favour of the system in Ghana, where there is no political liberty of any kind?
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, I am not at all defending everything that Ghana or others do—certainly not.
Let me come to my second comment which is on the statement by a former Prime Minister, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. He emphasised that the important thing was the dignity of the human individual, and that that should not be regarded as a matter for internal decision by every country in the Commonwealth. In other words, he was in favour of having no racial discrimination in the sense in which I have put it. Let me come to my third comment, on what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, whom I hope I heard aright. I understood him to say he had never been in Africa, but that some of the troubles there were due to the British people there not having played their part adequately. Well, I have never been in Africa but I know a great deal about the British in South Africa, and I should say that if the noble Lord did say that (and I believe I heard him quite accurately) it is a statement utterly unfounded and unjust.
The people that I know best in British South Africa are the people who have taken part in organising universities—the very distinguished open university of Cape Town, and that of Witwatersrand—both of them bringing white and nonwhite students together on absolutely equal terms, thus enabling the man who is going to be the ultimate leader, shall we say, of the coloured people to be treated like a gentleman and enabled to make friends with the white people., and not treated like a dog, as he will be under apartheid in future. That is 'what these people have done, and I want to mention one of the really big practical problems—as I believe was recognised by our Prime Minister in what he said in another place the other day: the importance of considering the interests of the people of British descent and British outlook in South Africa. I am very glad to have seen that, and I hope that a message of cheer and goodwill will go out to people of British descent in South Africa in the trouble in which they are now and in the future troubles with which they are threatened.
1295 I come now to my fourth comment, which is naturally upon what was said by the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House, and by the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister in another place. I agree, of course, with the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, that none of us can part with South Africa without a pang. He asked: "Are we to blame for the failure?" I want to suggest that we in this country are not in any way to blame for that failure. I think we might, from this House, send a message of encouragement to our Prime Minister for the magnificent effort he made to get a friendly settlement, as a mediator between the competing parties, those who wished to turn South Africa out at once and the Prime Minister of South Africa. I entirely agree also with what was said by the noble and learned Viscount when he asked: "Has the Commonwealth a future, or has it foundered?" He answered "No": and I, too, am sure it has not foundered.
Let me come for a moment to what was said by the Prime Minister. We all know what a magnificent speech he made in the other place. He wanted, and frankly admitted that he wanted, to keep South Africa in the Commonwealth while expressing strong disapproval of its racial policy. I believe he would have done that if only the Prime Minister of South Africa had given any ground at all for hope, or had offered any concession. I believe that he would then have got agreement which would have worked out so that South Africa was kept in and we could ultimately get some kind of modification of apartheid. Our Prime Minister may do it still, because the Prime Minister of South Africa may very well find that apartheid is dangerous and unworkable in practice.
I will ask only two questions. First, can South Africa maintain its economic life without coloured labour? That country depends enormously for its economic life on coloured labour and if it does not get that labour, what will happen? But can South Africa count on getting coloured labourers indefinitely while she treats coloured people as dogs? I assure your Lordships that what he proposes for the coloured people—giving them education in what he calls "university colleges"—is value- 1296 less. Nobody who knows anything at all about university education would think anything whatever of what could possibly be done there in education.
The Government of South Africa are not proposing to give to those objects any money worth speaking of—and I know, for my subject is the study of universities. I can assure you that those places would be simply ridiculous from the point of view of being the equal of the universities from which all the coloured people are being removed: the Universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand and Natal. I think that one of the former speakers (I believe it was Lord Fraser of Lonsdale) suggested that this was merely a system of partition. I suggest to him that partition is not practical unless you are going to get an entirely different kind of labour to do the essential work of South Africa. It is not really partition at all, and I am afraid that I think it just would not work out.
In spite of all, I look forward to even a man like the Prime Minister, Dr. Verwoerd, doing something at last. When I spoke here on this subject on February 8 I urged that he should be begged, or at least persuaded, to leave the open universities self-governing and free from race discrimination, so that the future leaders of the coloured people could be brought up as friends and not as enemies. That. I believe, is vital to the future of peace between coloured people and white people in South Africa. But the Prime Minister of South Africa cannot see it, cannot understand it. He is lost in what is in practice an absurd idea.
I think that if our Prime Minister had not found in this Conference this strong body of anti-apartheid in favour of turning out South Africa he would have got something. But now we have nothing. The Prime Minister of South Africa has gone, and we are left to deal with the practical issues of citizenship and currency and the High Commission, and a variety of other things like that. Above all, those in South Africa of British race and British peoples—I think they number merely one million out of three million whites there altogether—are the ones who need most consideration. I said that once before; let me return to emphasise it. It may be that you will have to find some plan of dual nationality—I believe that that was posed by a Times leader the 1297 other day—some means, not of forcing them all to give up South Africa, where they are living happily and being useful, but of saving them from being turned out. At any rate, I suggest that for consideration.
Let me come to a few points of my own. Government means power. Government, we all agree in this country, should be democratic; that is to say, not government by tyrants for their own glory, not government by one race over another, but government by all the people, when the people have learned to govern. And all colonisation should end in self-government. But government, to be good, needs learning and does not come by instinct. That is why I hope that in another part of Africa, that with which we are directly concerned in this country, we shall aim at giving more and more power of government to the coloured people, more than they have now, but only at stages, only after the arts of government have been taught and learned. I need not repeat what I said before about how long it took us to learn the arts of government in this country. If in South Africa they can do it in one-tenth of the time, in 50 years instead of 500, that is the best that we can hope for. That is the time taken in India. In the meantime, we must keep relations friendly with South Africa. Let us have no discrimination, no recrimination. Failure to-day illustrates the need for broad-mindedness in dealing with other men, in seeing their point of view.
I confess that it seemed to me, in reading published accounts of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, that those against any form of racial discrimination did not understand the reasons for which others wanted it and needed to have some racial discrimination for their safety; and those in favour of apartheid did not see its impracticability and danger. My final plea is that we should take thought and take enough time for thought. Our final aim is the end of racial discrimination. But in so far as that means no race inequality in governing, it means equality among all in understanding the arts and the purpose of government. We can reach that only by very slow and regular and designed stages.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ LORD RATHCAVAN
My Lords, I was anxious to take part in this debate 1298 because I have business connections with the Union of South Africa and have visited many of its towns. I have many friends there, and I have a great affection for that wonderful country, which could be one of the richest and most prosperous anywhere in the world. To me, it is a tragedy that South Africa is to leave the Commonwealth. It has been stated in this debate by some speakers (and I think that in some sense the Secretary for Commonwealth Relations in the House of Commons said it yesterday) that the British Commonwealth would be stronger without South Africa. I cannot agree. I think that Sir Roy Welensky was right in a television interview the other day when he said that people here hardly yet realise what has happened.
It seems to me that the consequences of what has happened are these. First, one of the old, original European-governed Dominions has gone: the country, as has been stated by many speakers this afternoon, which stood by us in two world wars and which has produced such Empire statesmen as Rhodes, Botha, Smuts and Deneys Reitz. There now remain, of the old European-governed Dominions, only Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The Commonwealth is becoming more and more an association of non-European controlled States. I feel that there may be a danger in this as time goes on.
The second consequence of recent events is that the principle has been established that at these Commonwealth Conferences it is legitimate to discuss, and even to wrangle over, the internal policies of the member States. This also, I think, may lead to trouble in the future. Thirdly, what has happened may bring despair to many in South Africa, both white and black, who are working for an improvement in race relations in their country. That was brought out very forcibly by that remarkable letter which Dr. Joost de Blank, the Archbishop of Cape Town, wrote to The Times a few weeks ago. The fourth result, in my view, is that the South African Government are less likely to change their racial policy when they are out of the Commonwealth than they would have been if they had remained in it. But, as things developed at the Conference, Dr. Verwoerd had, I think, no alternative but to withdraw his 1299 request to remain in the Commonwealth. This is clear from what Mr. Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia, said when he stated that, if he had been in Dr. Verwoerd's shoes, he would have acted in the same way.
The cause of all this, as we have heard over and over again in the course of this debate, is the South African Government's policy of apartheid. I have never been able to see anything immoral or degrading in the principle underlying this policy—namely, the separate development of the Bantu people and the creation of self-governing Bantu States. This is what we are doing in the High Commission Territories, and what, on a larger scale, we have done in countries like Ghana and Nigeria. Apartheid has got such a bad name throughout the world because it has conveyed to most people, not a policy but a pattern of what have seemed unjust laws and practices, a harshness of treatment and a harrying of the African in the cities. The police have often been much too severe; but, I believe that in all this there has been (so I have heard) a definite change for the better since the Sharpeville incidents.
My Lords, apartheid might work if there were in the Union two separate population groups, one practically all white and self-contained and the other practically all black and self-contained. But that, of course, is not the case. There are the tribal areas, where I suppose it might succeed, but what knocks the whole policy endways is the existence of millions of Africans and Asians living in what one might call the white areas—the great centres of population and industry in and around Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. These people are essential to the economy in those areas, and, without the work and the wages which they themselves receive there, they would be destitute. This is where the policy of apartheid completely breaks down.
I must say that I think Dr. Verwoerd is a remarkable man. Anyone who has met him must have been struck by his sincerity, his humanity and, I think I may say, his charm. He does not at all give the idea of a tyrant or a bully. I do not believe he has any hatred of the black man, but honestly and sincerely 1300 believes that his policy is best for both white and black. But he must also be a man of great obstinacy and determination. One would have thought that the world-wide reaction to Sharpeville would have shaken him; but, on the contrary, it seems to have increased his determination to stick rigidly to his course. When Dr. Verwoerd was in hospital after the attempt on his life, one of his Ministers, Mr. Sauer, made a speech of great moderation, indicating that changes would have to take place and that Sharpeville was a turning point in the history of South Africa. That was said by one of the Nationalist Cabinet Ministers. He must have received a rap on the knuckles from the hospital in Pretoria, however, because neither Mr. Sauer nor any of his colleagues has made such a speech since.
But, my Lords, I feel that there is a brighter side to this picture. Noble Lords who have taken part in the debate have referred to the welfare work that is being done in South Africa for the Africans, and I think it has been stated correctly that more money is spent by the South African Government on welfare work for the African natives than in any other part of Africa. Two years ago I was in Pretoria, and I went at my own request to see what they call the native location near Pretoria—the native, African township. I was amazed to find what a tremendous amount of welfare work has been done. There were good houses, small but modern; schools for boys—with all the little black boys dressed up in nice-looking school clothes; schools for girls; hospitals; clinics; crèches for the mothers, to take care of their children while they were working in Pretoria; a recreation hall, where the Africans could have cinema performances, concerts and lectures; and a lending library, where they could borrow and read books. I was shown over the clinic and the crèche by a very charming Afrikaner girl—a girl of, I suppose, about 20. She was in charge of this children's crèche, and I was greatly impressed by the extremely nice way in which she talked with all the mothers of these children, and what a tremendous interest she seemed to be taking in it all. Yet in everything that is said about South Africa in the Press, the credit never seems to be given for all this work that has been done.
1301 Of course, there are still some very bad slums. They carried out slum-clearance operations in Johannesburg, when the terrible shanty town, Sophia-town, was demolished, and the inhabitants were all moved to a much better, modern quarter called Meadowlands, where they were far better off. But in the British Press at the time, that which was a slum clearance operation was blazoned forth as "a most cruel and harsh treatment, by turning people out of their homes". Then there are, in the mining areas, in the Rand and around the Orange Free State, the new goldfields. There are some remarkable developments there. I am sure that many noble Lords who have been there have seen that wonderful native hospital at Wellcom, in the Orange Free State, which I think is one of the finest hospitals in the world, entirely for Africans. It is largely financed, through the late Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, by the Anglo-American Corporation. They now have hostels in the mining areas, instead of what used to be called compounds, and they are beginning to build married quarters for married miners, with a view to trying to encourage them to become more permanently employed. That is all on what I may call the credit side.
In conclusion, I would say only this. Dark though the overall picture may seem at the moment, let us not despair. There are a great many splendid liberal-minded men and women among the Afrikaner population. In time they will make themselves felt. Possibly, after many trials and tribulations, a change of heart will come, and better times may lie ahead for that great country whose destiny we are discussing this afternoon.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I wish could claim the personal experience of Africa of the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, who has just resumed his seat. My only experience is of a rather different nature, as I shall hope to indicate. First of all, I should like to say that in thinking over the pattern that this debate might take I had anticipated that there would be considerable appreciation of Dr. Verwoerd's extremely dignified approach to this problem. Personally, I find myself rather bewildered, yet heartened, at the spectacle of a man, 1302 whose policies we have all so fearlessly condemned, at the very last moment capturing our sympathy in a way which would have been quite impossible about three weeks ago.
In October, 1959, I found myself absorbed with South Africa's problems when I was with our delegation at the United Nations. Therefore, I thought I could usefully give a purely personal view of some of the international implications, if only to underline how very easy it is to say the obvious things about South Africa, but how in doing so, we really only just scratch the surface of what is a very long story. An immediate instinct is to say that as South Africa is no longer with us, therefore we can now plunge into a more honest and forceful condemnation of her policies. The familiar refusal to condemn at the United Nations, in the form of a vote against a popular resolution, or an abstention, can no longer apply. That, indeed, was my first reaction. Then I had second thoughts. To move from a vote for South Africa to an abstention, perhaps, yes. But to swing right over and to join suddenly in an international chorus of condemnation, I consider would be most unwise, as I hope to show.
May I first say one word about the whole South African position at the United Nations, which is frequently misunderstood? Year by year, three items come up. They are: the question of South-West Africa; the question of the racial policy of apartheid; and a rather more obscure item, the fate of the Indian minority of some 380,000 in South Africa. It came as a complete surprise to me to discover that the item of South-West Africa, which is comparatively unknown in this country, and most certainly will never cause a Downing Street demonstration, is absolute dynamite at New York—certainly far more explosive than the more familiar item of apartheid. The reason for that is this. Since the United Nations is regarded as having inherited the rights and obligations of the old League of Nations, South Africa, having previously been accountable to the League of Nations, is to-day regarded as equally accountable to her successor. In other words, a direct relationship between a member 1303 State of the United Nations and the United Nations as a whole is involved.
The trouble all began when South Africa never recognised that these obligations had passed to the United Nations after the Second World War, and proceeded to administer the territory of South-West Africa as though it were an integral part of the Union. The matter was taken to the International Court in 1950, and the Court ruled, in face of a South African denial, that South Africa had accountability to the United Nations, but that that accountability need go no further than did her previous obligations to the old League of Nations. The present United Nations' trusteeship system, as your Lordships will know, is far more exacting than the old mandatory system. But the fact is that, in the opinion of the International Court, although South Africa can be condemned for having washed her hands, so to speak, of the United Nations, she is not condemned for a refusal to do all that the United Nations now requires of her; and Her Majesty's Government's attitude in this matter has been merely to support the view of the International Court. So that when, year by year, an annual pilgrimage takes place of witnesses to the United Nations, usually led by the Reverend Michael Scott, we have opposed the process because, first, nothing in the Charter permits an individual to give evidence before a Committee of an Organisation which is an Organisation of States, and, secondly, because oral hearings were precluded, because in the opinion of the Court they go far beyond the processes of the old mandatory Agreement.
We should now ask ourselves, how much of all this is altered by South Africa's leaving the Commonwealth? I would say, very little indeed. The opinion of the International Court is not invalidated merely because South Africa is no longer a Commonwealth member. I submit that it would hardly be a process of political morality to act now as though a coming change entitled us to attack where previously we had protected. I say this because there will be pressure put on Her Majesty's Government to yield to extreme, irresponsible demands. In fact, the matter has been taken back to the International Court by two former members of the League of 1304 Nations, Ethiopia and Liberia. Presumably, the hope is that South Africa will be arraigned before the world. Indeed, the United Nations passed a resolution congratulating, I think, those two countries on their initiative. This matter is sub judice; but that did not prevent the passing of that resolution at the United Nations a week ago. My own assessment would be that any arraignment of South Africa before an International Court is going to get us absolutely no further.
All our efforts hitherto at the United Nations sprang from the supposition that the two parties were in negotiation. We were aiming at a helpful, constructive approach to assist negotiation. We were trying to use all our powers of persuasion and diplomacy, both inside and outside the committee room, and trying to play down wild moves which would heat up the temperature and ruin negotiations. I find none of that changed in virtue of Dr. Verwoerd's decision.
The item of apartheid is on quite a different footing, because here the controversial Article 2 (7) of the Charter is involved. May I quote? It says:Nothing contained in the present Charter"—that is to say, in Articles 55 and 56, which come after—authorise the United Nations to interfere in matters which are essentially within the jurisdiction of any State.That Article was placed in an important position at the beginning of the Charter, and I am informed that, if that had not been placed there, the Charter would never have been signed. Here I come to the point at which I cannot go all the way with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. The question now arises of to what extent South Africa's exit from the Commonwealth affects our attitude to the Union in respect of her racial policy. Put it this way: how much does a domestic affair also become an affair of international interests? Because, since the "wind of change" speech, I imagine that most of your Lordships feel that an international interest must be accepted. No longer now can we be tied to a rigid technical interpretation of Article 2 (7).
Here, as I see it, we have two principles in almost complete conflict. On the one hand, we have the need to support the Charter until it is amended. It may be wrong, but if we start to play fast 1305 and loose with the Charter, goodness knows where it will end! To-day it is often completely ignored and in many cases has become meaningless, but these are no reasons for us to go further and add ridicule. The other principle, which has so often been proclaimed recently, is of a multi-racial multi-coloured Commonwealth as the foundation for this emerging and unique family of ours. If we set true partnership as the goal in countries such as East and Central Africa, which one day will be full members, surely we cannot do otherwise than condemn the very contradiction of that partnership when, it happens to be the policy of another member State of the Commonwealth.
In fact, we have expressed this condemnation, but we have expressed it hitherto rather discreetly. I looked up what I had to say at the Fourth Committee of the United Nations in 1959. We were supporting the Charter, and I said that we had not voted against the resolution because we did not accept that the General Assembly was competent to intervene, but I added that that did not mean that we were not in agreement with many of the sentiments of the resolution, and I quoted our own colonial record as proof of our faith in the principle of the right of all men eventually to take charge of their own destiny. Again, I find not very much of all that altered in regard to Dr. Verwoerd's decision. One would not deny freedom to condemn, but we have to remember that the door is still open for South Africa's return.
As I see it, that return can be effected in either one of two ways: either the Nationalists in South Africa will change their policy or there will be a change of Government in South Africa. Personally, I cannot see that first choice ever coming about. The Nationalist leaders have inherited a deep tradition, which may not fit the modern world but which is rooted in the memory of past times, since 1652, when Jan van Riebeek, with his three small ships, anchored in the great bay sheltering under Table Mountain and founded there a nation at a time when, I think I am right in saying, there were no others an the coast. They will not change.
It is the other aspect which could change. Conditions could bring about a change of Government in South Africa.
1306 I think that_here we are justified in being a little speculative and in asking what sort of policy would be likely to encourage all those in South Africa who still cherish the British connection, and who perhaps are prepared to initiate real reform in order that they may secure the support of the Afro-Asian sector of the Commonwealth for South Africa's eventual return? I do not think that one can answer this question without going to South Africa and moving around and being close to the minds of political leaders. But my guess would be that a "get tough" policy with South Africa now would only alienate friends and unite potential friends and foes within South Africa. So, while we have greater liberty to speak our minds today, I would say that it would be wise to have also a very sensitive concern for the future.
If I may indulge in a little crystal-gazing for a moment, I would submit that South Africa's real test, and indeed our test, is going to come at the time when there is a change of heart in South Africa, when a new Government comes in, bent on reform; when perhaps the franchise is extended to include the African, on an initially limited basis, perhaps African representation in Parliament, perhaps even Africans in the Cabinet. Because it is when pressure is released that the rampant nationalist, with the Communist in the background, sees and seizes his opportunity. It is then that one can see the clamour arising from Africans, maybe a long way away from South Africa, actuated, I would submit, by little more than a motive of supremacy of black over white.
To this extent I would think that the policy of Afrikaans nationalism is based, not on racial discrimination, but on fear. I think that that fact has to be recognised. Fear of the African extremist would derive as much from outside influences as from many of the indigenous, legitimate groups inside. All this could happen from that moment when the first concessions were made; and it is then, as I see it, that South Africa will need all the sympathy and help we can give her.
In viewing this problem within its international context, I submit that we cannot underestimate the danger and evil of apartheid in reverse. No one enjoys criticising another Commonwealth Prime 1307 Minister, but when Dr. Nkrumah says words to the effect that he is not going to rest until the last vestiges of colonial imperialists are swept off the African continent, I think that we are entitled to ask him exactly what he means. If he claims that apartheid in South Africa justifies his answering for all Africans, wherever they may be on the African Continent, we are entitled to reply that we are answering for all Europeans. Exactly why the eventual freedom of some corner of Africa, which may be 3,000 miles away from Ghana, is of concern to Dr. Nkrumah—who yet has much to achieve within his own country—is no more comprehensible to me than if Mr. Nehru came to speak on behalf of the whole of Asia, or if Mr. Macmillan chose to speak on behalf of the whole of Europe.
For those reasons, while insisting that we do not approve of Dr. Verwoerd's policy, I say that we must make it abundantly clear that we are not going to tolerate a policy which refuses the white man's legitimate and established position in Africa, wherever it may be. In November, 1959, at the United Nations, Mr. Krishna Menon was mainly in charge of the Indian support for the familiar item on the agenda of apartheid, and I pay him this tribute. He was statesmanlike. He made it quite clear that he was not going to stand for apartheid against the European.
I have raised these matters, my Lords, because you will readily understand how the South African position will be used to foster hatred of white men wherever in Africa they may be. There is to-day starting up in Cairo an Afro-Asian conference, and Mr. Mboya has said that he intends to raise the question of expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations, and it is said that he has the full support of the United Arab Republic in doing so. That is just the kind of way that movements inimical to the European and his future initiate and are built up, even though the European concerned may be a very long way away from Cape Town.
Many of your Lordships have raised the many aspects and problems which arise, and which are of mutual concern to ourselves and South Africa in the future—citizenship, passports and the question of the three Territories; even 1308 Test Matches are to be considered—and I would refer to only one aspect. That is the aspect, with which I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan is mostly concerned; and that is trade. Doubtless there will be pressure put upon us to sever the trade links and to join in some form of a boycott. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, I know, said that this boycott was only a matter of individuals, and that it was not organised. But it could happen the other way in the future; and as I see it, bearing in mind that South Africa exports 50 per cent. of her exports to the United Kingdom, a complete boycott of her goods could have a completely crippling effect. May I put this issue in my own way, and say this? To me it would be quite fantastic to refuse, on moral grounds, to take South Africa's fruit, wine or wool, while very conveniently, completely by-passing morality, seeking to expand, on economic grounds, our trade with such a Government as that of Eastern Germany. I say that, having in view two rather pertinent questions which came up yesterday in this House.
From that, I am led to one further reflection. I would hope that now, having made our position quite clear in regard to racial discrimination, we shall be able to inject that same clarity of moral consideration into other international fields, without any inhibition. Again, if I may quote a speech I had to make in New York, I said:Quite frankly, the assumption that anything said which exposes the alleged conditions in one country—South Africa—is in defence of human rights, while any reference to alleged conditions in other countries increases tension, and is part of the cold war, is a proposition with no appeal whatsoever for us.To me, my Lords, that is an understatement. I have one final word, and again it concerns principles. Dr. Verwoerd's view has been that his decision initiates the break-up of the Commonwealth, and our view has been that by his decision the Commonwealth is saved. Lord Salisbury touched on this in a most challenging way. This may hold that a mere functional association will survive.
I can remember that in 1950 a great servant of the Commonwealth, Mr. Menzies, in a speech in Adelaide, used words to this effect when he was considering the Indian-Pakistan position, and 1309 the decision that they should become a Republic. He said:No longer are we aware, as we were in former years, that wherever we might be we were the King's servants and the King's men. No longer are we that. We are, perhaps, just only a functional association.Well, he may be right, but I would say that the recent Royal tour of India and Pakistan might indicate that there is a good deal more left over than just mere functionalism. I do not know if a multi-coloured, multi-racial Commonwealth can survive. I only know that, cutting as it does across ideological, regional and international loyalties, if it can be preserved it gives to a very harassed world the supreme example the world has yet had of co-operation between colour and race, and between "haves" and "have-nots": a supreme example of how nations can get together. Therefore, it is certainly worth while making the attempt to preserve it.
§ 7.27 p.m.
My Lords, like other noble Lords, I feel that this is a very sad occasion when one discusses the question of one of the oldest members of the Commonwealth leaving the family. As some of your Lordships already know, in 1955 I married a South African, and since then I have twice visited that great country, once for three months and once for two months. But I would hurry to assure your Lordships that I do not speak as an expert on South African matters, because I was there for such a short time and, except for five days in Cape Town, I spent most of the time in Durban; and, as most of your Lordships will know, Natal is one of the parts of South Africa where the Opposition Party have a majority. So I refuse to count myself as an expert, and I would just, therefore, give you my own views upon one or two matters.
I know that in South Africa at this minute there are literally thousands of people, European, native and coloured alike, who are really terribly upset at this latest news. Thousands, I know, thought that for South Africa to be a republic was bad enough, but for her to be outside the Commonwealth—well, that is the end. Many of your Lordships have already expressed sympathy with these people, many of whom are of direct British descent, and, as has been 1310 said before, many of whom fought in the First World War—and even more fought in the last one. Any of us who served with them can say nothing but good of the character of their services.
I, myself, fought alongside them. I was flown by them many thousands of miles, and they were really wonderful comrades in arms. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, quoted one example by reading a letter. I remember that in Italy there was a Guards' brigade working with a South African armoured division. It was at the time when the Guards' chapel was bombed on a Sunday morning, when a service was taking place. A great many people were killed, and the chapel was destroyed. Within a very few days of hearing about this, a large sum of money was collected by that South African division, and it is going to be used for the inside fittings of the chapel when it is rebuilt. That is an example of what they are like: generous, and wonderful soldiers and comrades.
Of course, the difficulty is that the Nationalist Govern rent—Dr. Verwoerd's Government which is in power—have a very large majority. Apartheid is their policy, and that, as has been said again and again in this debate, has really caused all this trouble. Several noble Lords have wondered what can be the outcome; whether, perhaps, the Government may have a change of heart. The noble Earl, Lord Winterton, and the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, both expressed doubts about it; and I, too, have my doubts. I feel that the only way by which it will come, as the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, said, is if the present Government are defeated and another Government come into power. But we must remember, at the same time, as my noble friend Lord Rathcavan said, that a great deal of good is being done by the present Government in that country. I have not the experience of my noble friend, but I visited a lot of hospitals in the Durban area, and I was struck by the great strides that they are making. They are desperately keen to learn and they are doing a great deal in teaching doctors and nurses. To see their keenness in things of this sort is a delight.
The first time I went to South Africa was in 1957, and I went out there again 1311 in the winter of 1958–59. It was remarkable to see the change that had occurred in the City of Durban in so short a time. They had done an immense amount of building, and were doing all they could to do away with the slum areas, just as other countries, including ourselves, are trying to do. So do not let us think badly about the normal working of this present South African Government. It is the racial policy that has been the real trouble.
With regard to the Conference, the Prime Ministers of the other Commonwealth countries do not like South Africa's racial policy; and we do not like it ourselves. But it is a tragedy to me that some of those who are most vociferous against South Africa have not in their own countries everything as one would wish it to be. Some of the countries whose representatives spoke rather loudly and fiercely have not got this problem at all; and others have it in a different form. As I say, it is a pity that all the objections could not have been made with perhaps a little more thought. But I suppose that that cannot be really true, because the Prime Ministers could not have come all this way without having thought about it. But maybe their views should have been put in a different way. On the other hand, if only Dr. Verwoerd's policy had not been so rigid, and he could have given an inkling that his policy was only a means to an end to bring about a better understanding, things might have been different.
I must say here one thing which has not yet been said, and which I may be told has nothing to do with this debate. I feel that these tricky discussions and negotiations were not made any easier by the behaviour of the Independent Television Authority and, to a slightly lesser extent, the British Broadcasting Corporation. Some of the questioners at London Airport seemed to me to be really trying to cause trouble. These Press conferences at airports are, I think, the very devil! The people who are really interested in this subject would be perfectly willing to leave it to the people who are going to take part in the Conference; and those who do not take an interest in the subject do not care about it, anyway. So why is it done?
1312 I think that every noble Lord who has spoken has made reference to the future. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will—as they have said they will—do all they can to help South Africa, even although she is no longer going to be in the Commonwealth. I am sure that South Africa needs not only our help but the help of the rest of the Commonwealth. It is no good our now turning against South Africa, for she has really done nothing wrong to us. It is her own racial policy that has caused the trouble. We must continue to help South Africa. It is my great hope that the people of British descent, and the natives, to whom this country has meant so much in the past, in the Services and other ways, will not lose heart; and that the day will come when they change their policy and can rejoin the Commonwealth. I am sure that everyone will then welcome them back.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ LORD BADEN-POWELL
My Lords, the subject matter of this debate, following as it does so closely upon the recent Prime Minister's Conference, has created a great deal of interest and speculation in many quarters. This is well indicated by the number of noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. But as it is getting late I will not weary your Lordships with a long or controversial speech. Other noble Lords who have already spoken, as well as those who follow me, have covered, and will no doubt cover, all the salient points of this engrossing subject.
I would at once declare a special interest in South Africa and its affairs, for my family have had very close contact with that glorious country for many years. I refer principally to the services of my father, both during and after that small but unhappy war which took place at the turn of this century. As a boy I was always greatly inspired by my father's tales of his exploits. So I was, as it were, brought up with South Africa as my background; and in fact I received some of my education at a well-known school in the shadow of Table Mountain. Later I visited the Union of South Africa on many occasions when I was resident in Southern Rhodesia.
In the great amount of discussion that has taken place in newspapers and elsewhere it has been rare to meet any 1313 reference to the position of the large number of people of British descent who have their homes in South Africa. Many of such people are of the third, fourth or even the fifth generation of their families there. It gave me some satisfaction to note the allusion made to those people of our own race—our own brothers and sisters, as it were—by the Prime Minister in his statement made in another place last Thursday. I most earnestly hope that this large body of our own kith and kin will never be lost sight of by the Mother of Parliaments.
I wish, therefore, strongly to emphasise the need to give full and, indeed, affectionate attention to the English-speaking people in South Africa. They began with the settlement in 1820 of 4,000 people from this country in the Eastern Province of Cape Colony. Here I might perhaps add that my wife is a direct descendant of one of those intrepid British settlers. This settlement of Britons overseas was one or the few sponsored by the Imperial Government, and it has probably been the most successful. There are now about 150,000 descendants of those 4,000 settlers of 140 years ago. They are spread throughout the Union, and all over Rhodesia.
In addition to these descendants, there are probably about 1 million other English-speaking South Africans. But there are many Afrikaans-speaking South Africans who think as we do; who share our way of life and our outlook on the world.
All these people were recently deprived of their allegiance to the Queen, and the fact that this was done against their will is amply shown by the fact that the majority in the recent referendum, when about 1,600,000 people voted, was only about 75,000. These figures also show quite conclusively that many Afrikaans-speaking South Africans must have voted in the minority. Now these people have been parted from the Commonwealth. If they are for the time being dispirited, and if they are questioning whether Britain has any regard for them and pays any attention to them, who can wonder?
Why has this unfortunate position come about in recent days? The reason is plain: because South Africa would not change her ways to suit the demands of other States. Where has there been another instance, in recent years of an 1314 attempt being made by a group of countries to compel another country to alter its way of life and to accept the philosophy—if such it can be called—of the countries opposing her? It is most important to bear in mind the fact that the vast majority of those who were in the minority in the referendum about the Republic hold the same views on native policy as those who voted in the majority do. I do not pause to discuss whether those views are right or wrong. But I would submit that the fact of their being held by virtually the entire white population of South Africa is a strong indication that there is much to be said in favour of South African native policy, more especially when one remembers that South Africa is as much a Christian country as any other member of the Commonwealth, and much more so than many.
My Lords, we must now look to the future. I would propose that every avenue of contact between members of the Government of the two countries should be kept as open as those avenues are now. There should be frequent visits by Ministers of the one country to the other to discuss details of their political association. There should also be frequent visits by the industrialists of the two countries, and 'the long-established trading and commercial connections between the two countries should be strengthened by every possible means which will promote the wellbeing of both. The voluntary organisations, too, existing in this country for promoting interest and good will in the Commonwealth should continue to look upon South Africa as a focus of their interests and as a place for expanding their membership. Sporting teams must continue exchange visits.
Finally, my Lords, all individuals in the United Kingdom who have contacts with South Africa should write to their friends and relatives there to assure them of their interest and of their desire to continue to regard them as an important part of the great community of British people, and people of British outlook, all over the world.
§ 7.44 p.m.
My Lords, this is a sad occasion for me. In common with the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lansdale, I have dual citizenship. After the war, I went to South 1315 Africa for a period of six years, and I earned my living there working in a humble capacity as a contractor up and down the country. I made many friends with whom I have since kept up, and I have been back twice at periods of three and four years. I was there a year ago. I think the future is all that matters. Recriminations are futile, and I think one ought to try to say nothing, do nothing and even, if possible, think nothing, that cannot help the future. When speaking of the future, I think we should try to make use of the events that have taken place, to see if we cannot benefit from them, and get South Africa back into the family of the Commonwealth at the earliest possible time.
I want to speak for a short time on observed facts. I do not want to put any label on them at all. I started in South Africa under Field Marshal Smuts and his régime. During that time, the treatment of the African (the Bantu as he is now called) was pretty tough. It was not necessarily unfair, although there were cases of unfairness. During that time I became a member in Johannesburg of the Citizens' Housing Group—a pressure group—trying to get something done about the appalling slums which existed in these shanty towns. Under the Smuts régime it was utterly hopeless and impossible. The buck was passed from one to the other, and nothing was done for the wretched natives. It was only later that this frightful word apartheid was coined. I said that I would not use a label, but I must point out that that was when that word was first used. In the years that followed, the safety regulations, the health regulations and the housing regulations, none of which applied in the early days, were stringently enforced by the Native Affairs Department, as they should have been. I must point out that none of that occurred until after the Nationalists came into power.
The other thing I want to say is this. There is now being built up a body of well-to-do natives. For example, when I was in Johannesburg last year, I would say that there were at least 1,000 natives riding their own motorcycles from their homes to work; and for the native labourer the average wage to-day in Johannesburg is a little over £5 a week. That is something, and I 1316 am not going into the morals and rights, because I think that aspect has nothing to do with what I am talking about. But there is a body of satisfied opinion—a large and ever-growing body. Strangely enough, one effect of the policy which is being pursued at the moment is that it is producing more rapidly a body of natives who will be able and fit (I emphasise the word "fit") at some future date to undertake the responsibilities of government. It is one thing to give people self-government; whether or not they are fit to exercise that power is quite another. It is quite a difficult practice to train them up to that.
So far as oppression is concerned, we have been misled very badly by the Press in the past. Appalling ignorance has been shown by the sensational Press, and it is only recently that that policy has apparently shown some signs of being reversed. Perhaps I may quote one case. Last year, in the heart of Johannesburg, in the Rand Club, I found a native carpenter fixing a window in the cloakroom. That was absolutely unheard of three or four years ago. When I was working there a Bantu was allowed to finish concrete or cement, provided that he did it with a bit of bent tin. If he used a trowel, there was trouble from the unions. I was "falling over" Bantu in Johannesburg last year using trowels in the streets. So, in spite of what is supposed to be happening, what interests me much more is what is really happening. I am saying this because I think that it would be valuable if we could stop criticising this policy of apartheid, and would realise that it can have in it a large element of good—though I agree that it has regrettable features.
I would point out that there is a third possibility. If we do not criticise we shall find, I think, a gradual easing up of the restrictions, as indeed is happening at the moment, and I think that a gradual changeover might take place. I should like to associate myself with the remarks that Lord Rathcavan made about Dr. Verwoerd. I think they were very just remarks. Nevertheless I cannot regard him as immortal, and there must come a time when, for one reason or another, he will have to retire from politics. But I think it would be a mistake to suppose that a Nationalist 1317 party is not going to be in power in South Africa for a longish time to come, because the opponents are hopelessly split; and a split Opposition is not an Opposition at all—we see that in this country.
I should like to end on a plea for complete tolerance with a view to the future and for no recriminations or anything that could possibly damage this cause. The only other matter I would mention is the question of nationality and citizenship. Would it be possible to become a citizen of the Protectorates and thereby have a British passport, as indeed some have already, and remain a citizen of South Africa at the same time? I do not know whether or not that will still be possible. At the moment it is.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I think that this is an occasion when the friends of South Africa who can understand and appreciate the sincerity with which her present Government pursues its present policy of apartheid and the depth of its belief that it is in the ultimate interest of the citizens of whatever race who live there, should publicly say so. I do not myself support this policy of apartheid, nor do I think it is likely to prove ultimately successful or workable, but I am no more qualified than the rest of your Lordships to be dogmatic about it. It is not impossible that the South African Government, which has to live with the policy and the problems involved, may after all be proved to be right. It is some of the perhaps temporary and avoidable injustices associated with the policy which we are entitled to condemn.
But I strongly feel that the South African Government has never received fair treatment in the Press of this country or in that of America. Amid much that seems to public opinion here to be deplorable, there is also much that is creditable, but attention has always been concentrated on the deplorable side while that which is creditable has been ignored, with the result that, as a recent writer on South Africa said, the conception that the rest of the world has acquired of South Africa is compounded of misconceptions.
The best way to learn the truth about the great benefits brought to its Bantu 1318 citizens by the South African Government in health and education, in housing and better standards of life, is to go there and see for yourself, as I did a few years ago. The classic instance of misrepresentation was occurring at that time, some six years ago, and that was in the clearing of the slums in Johannesburg, to which the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan referred earlier this evening, when the inhabitants of Sophiatown and Shantytown were being moved twelve miles away to Meadowlands from the incredible squalor of their corrugated iron sheds there to rows of small houses with gardens on wide, paved streets. At that time that policy was attacked bitterly and was denounced in the English and American Press as an instance of gross suppression. Sixty-thousand Bantu were moved in this way, and however uncomfortable they may have said they were at the time, they now are all loud in their praises of what was done; and the person who did that, the person who was at the time Minister for Native Affairs, was Dr. Verwoerd.
I mention just one more thing which should have a world-wide reputation and does not get mentioned. I am thinking about the one the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan mentioned, the amazing hospital at Welkum in the Orange Free State, the Oppenheimer Hospital, which is the finest hospital for non-whites, or where non-whites are treated, in the world, and I am not at all sure it is not fit to rank with the best hospitals anywhere else in the world. It has recently been described by a writer who went there and was astonished in these words:Cared for as the Bantu workers in Anglo-American mines are, it is at the hospital where the humanities reach the zenith. Beautiful in appearance, ultra-modern in design, it houses all that is latest and best in the sublime art of healing.This is not the occasion to go into any more detail about the miraculous progress of South Africa in the last 50 years. It is a young country, with immense potentialities and an assured future. She is working out her own problems in her own way, and very naturally resents interference with her sovereign rights over internal affairs. There is nothing I can add to the grave expressions of regret at the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth. We all share that feeling. Once there was discussion, of this policy permitted 1319 at the Prime Ministers' Conference, I suppose the emotional reaction of some members of the Commonwealth is easy to understand and to sympathise with, especially that of the Asian and African members. It was inevitable and I suppose natural. But, as has been mentioned this evening, it is always dangerous for those who live in glass-houses to start throwing stones. There is hardly a country in the world whose internal policies would not in some aspects excite hostile comment from external observers—I had almost said impartial observers, but in racial matters it is very difficult to be impartial.
The Commonwealth has hitherto been regarded as a group of Governments representing peoples whose common belief in certain principles like liberty and justice made them willing to stand together and to exchange views, and, after such discussion, possibly co-ordinate their approach to world problems, whether they were financial, economic, ideological or otherwise. They originally had a common code of behaviour. It was then understood, too, that the internal affairs of each member country were the business of that country and not open to interference or dictation from other members. Dr. Verwoerd, finding that at this Conference certain members were so actively hostile to the policy of apartheid as to resent his country's membership of the Commonwealth, naturally withdrew his application for membership. He acted, as we all agree, with great dignity and forbearance throughout. His farewell words are, I think, noteworthy, in which he said that his Government would still continue with its—I quote his words:… policy of doing justice to both black and white by creating for each full opportunities for happiness and prosperity and self-government.His Government retains its belief in the separate development of the African and the European; and may I say that many thousands of Africans in South Africa are with him.
We can now count the cost of this tragedy. In the case of the United Kingdom it will probably make little difference politically, economically or socially. In regard to the position of the High Commission Territories—Basutoland is entirely enclosed in South 1320 African Territory, Swaziland has it on three sides, and Bechuanaland borders it to the north—there is not much more one can say than that they will depend in the future largely on the relationship between the South African and the United Kingdom Governments.
Several years ago, when I was in South Africa for a few weeks, I asked Dr. Malan, who was then Premier, why he wanted the High Commission Territories. His reply was that he needed them to complete his Bantu Reserves, and that if the United Kingdom handed them over to South Africa he would at once declare these Territories native reserves and would buy out any European settlers at a fair valuation of their land. It shows how firmly they believe in this policy. The policy of forming five or six Bantustans, governing themselves, and managing their own affairs, where no Europeans can own land or businesses or do professional work, may seem to some of us a fantastic dream; but it is a policy which appeals to the present South African Government and, indeed, as I have already said, to large numbers of Africans also.
Incidentally, during my visit I had the opportunity of several talks with Dr. Verwoerd, who was then Minister for Native Affairs, and with other South African Ministers. I found them extremely courteous and sincerely anxious that we should understand their point of view and the fact that their idea of helping the African to develop his own culture and his own way of life, bringing him un to modern standards, was one that they genuinely believed to be the best for both races which at this stage they do not envisage as capable of partnership owing to their different outlook on life and their different traditions.
My Lords, so much for apartheid. It is largely some of the crude administration of the details of this system by bigoted and ignorant underlings which has been seized on by its opponents to condemn the whole theory of separate development. I can fully appreciate and sympathise with the emotional and very natural distaste for apartheid felt and expressed by many Commonwealth Prime Ministers, but I think that it was a mistake to allow this feeling against present Government policy in South Africa to be translated into 1321 an attack that made it impossible for Dr. Verwoerd to maintain his request for continued membership of the Commonwealth after South Africa becomes a Republic. As has been said repeatedly, the Commonwealth is not a league of Governments; it is an association of peoples. And what, in effect, the Commonwealth Ministers who objected to South Africa's continued membership were demanding, was a change of the duly elected Government in one of the member States of the Commonwealth. No one knows where this kind of interference might end. In the future many other members may find that their Government's policy is distasteful to fellow members. Must the Government of each member adjust its policy, then, to the views of a majority of fellow-members on pain of dismissal? This, indeed, is a strange modern metamorphosis of democracy.
I note that the Prime Minister, speaking yesterday in another place, referred to our chance to translate theories into facts and to establish in Central Africa a practical example of a non-racial society that works for the benefit of all its peoples These are sentiments we all endorse, but many of us think that the United Kingdom Government's present policy is directed towards an entirely different end, which is the surrender of power to African extremists who make no secret of their desire for racial domination, not partnership. It is easy, I suggest, to practise an elastic policy at long range, but those who live on the spot find no room for such manæuvres and compromises. Incidentally, I myself cannot see that it is a shining virtue to be an African nationalist, and a sinful shame to be a British nationalist.
Concerning Kenya and the Federation. I am tempted to quote these words which were written by Lord Milner 50 years ago. They also make some reply to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who said that in 1906 the Africans were handed over to Boer control without its being thought what would happen. These are the words that Lord Milner wrote. They seem to me to have a terribly prophetic application to some of the things that are happening to-day—I quote: 1322What are you going to do about the new British settlers upon the land, about the British teachers in Government schools, about the constabulary, about the officials, high and low, but especially the humbler of them, who have served with you with so much devotion during these last arduous years? Are you just going to hand them over like that without any further concern as to what may happen to them?Remember, this is no case of gradual constitutional development. It is the case of a sudden revolution. Loyalty to the old system will be a black mark against any man under the new. The Government must surely feel that if it is a question between the grant of full responsible Government and this country's keeping faith, they should choose the latter.The words I have quoted were written by Lord Milner, as I say, 50 years ago. The same question that Lord Milner asked has been asked in very recent times in Kenya.
To turn back to South Africa, the native problem has been the heart and crux of the South African problem for many generations, and if we look back to the time of Milner, we can see that he tried desperately hard to ensure conditions after the South African War which would protect the African from injustice or exploitation by anybody, whether he was Briton or Boer. But Milner and all his plans for the future of South Africa and the safeguarding of principles of fair treatment according to British ideas, were sacrificed on the altar of Party politics in England, and South Africa was handed over to the Boers five years after the war. It was actually the result of an Election which the Liberal Party are probably to-day rather ashamed to remember. It was not the high-souled action which, on the surface, it appeared to be. It was a desire of the new Government to get rid of any trace of the work for which the Tory Government had been responsible. The Union of South Africa has made marvellous industrial, mining, agricultural and every other kind of progress; but the policy of apartheid is believed in with a fervour that is religious, and it holds the field to-day.
I want, in conclusion, to say one or two words about law and order. It is much the same, in ordinary conditions, as the pursuit of peace by the United Nations. It is of supreme importance. It has been well said by an acute observer recently: 1323Peace can in fact be secured. But it can be secured only by the use of force. It cannot, in a word, be bought."—by appeasement or otherwise—It can only be imposed—an unnatural condition imposed by natural means, and at the most of a quiet life. Only the strong among those who desire peace are in a position to impose it. Thus even if it is argued that the first duty of a modern statesman is to strive for universal peace, in practice this comes to the duty of making his country strong in order to impose its will for peace on others who lack that will.We cannot buy peace by appeasing an enemy at the expense of our friends. As I see it, it has been a Conservative principle to believe in conservation and a slow extension of the island of order and decency, while, on the other hand, the extreme Liberal and Socialist wants to leap forward, regardless of consequences. I regret to say I think the present Conservative Government seem to have been infected with some of the failings of the Opposition. In this connection, may I say I fear that the Prime Minister's hope that the Federation will become a shining lesson to South Africa of what can be done by true partnership may be doomed to provide an object lesson of a very different kind, unrelieved by the threatened collapse of law and order in Kenya.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, we have had an interesting and quite long debate, and I think almost every point of view that is held in this country about this tremendous event in the history of the Commonwealth—the withdrawal of South Africa after its long association with us—has been expressed. It only remains for me to take up one or two points made by noble Lords in the course of the debate and sum up for the Opposition; and I will do both these tasks extremely briefly.
I want, first, to take up a point made by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. He said that the Commonwealth had been weakened by the lack of a common allegiance. I venture to disagree with that proposition. I think that the lack of a common allegiance has strengthened the unity of the Commonwealth and has also strengthened the position of the Crown as a unifying factor in the Commonwealth. I happened to be in charge of Burma when it was a pre- 1324 requisite of Commonwealth membership that there should be allegiance to the Crown. Burma wanted to become a republic and wanted, also, to stay in the Commonwealth. At that time these two things were incompatible, and therefore Burma left the Commonwealth and became a foreign country. If this prerequisite of a common allegiance had not been waived in the case of India, then India, Pakistan and Ghana—all Republics—would have had to leave; and Ceylon, when it becomes a Republic (which is its intention) would also have had to leave. In fact, the Commonwealth would be very much smaller and weaker than it is at the present time.
Again, the position of the Crown has been strengthened because Her Majesty the Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, has become the symbol of Commonwealth unity to those Commonwealth countries now Republics. The best example of the practical application of this new status of the Crown is the Queen's visit to India and Pakistan, which has already taken place, and her coming visit to Ghana. So I venture to think the Commonwealth has been strengthened by the fact that there is allegiance to the Crown in the realms of the Commonwealth, and allegiance to the Heads of State in the other countries, with the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. I hope your Lordships will pardon that rather long constitutional argument but it seemed to me to be a matter of very great importance.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I must not be taken as accepting the noble Earl's argument, but it is far too late to refute it now.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Marquess; I did not intend to take advantage of the lateness of the hour. Listening to the debate, it is quite clear, I think, that we all agree that withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth does not mean that the Commonwealth has any quarrel with the people of South Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, I believe, suggested that we on this side of the House were persecuting and harrying the people of South Africa. That is not the case, and I am quite sure nobody wants to do that. We all hope that they realise that they are still our friends and that the fact of South Africa 1325 leaving the Commonwealth will not alter any personal ties such as those which several noble Lords who have spoken in the debate must have, or the spirit of friendship that will inform all our relationships with them in the future.
The day may come—we all hope it will come—when the people of South Africa choose a Government that discards apartheid and removes the only barrier that stands between South Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Bird-wood, gave us some thinking aloud about the conditions under which an anti-apartheid Government might be returned. Of course, there is nothing in the Commonwealth relationship (although it has not happened up till now) which would prevent a country which has left the Commonwealth from returning to Commonwealth membership; but what we cannot ignore is that the racial policy of the South African Government is totally opposed to the moral ideas of the rest of the Commonwealth.
Racial discrimination, of course, is not peculiar to South Africa, and many noble Lords in the course of this debate very rightly emphasised that point. There is racial discrimination in other Commonwealth countries, and in a number of foreign countries. But in other countries it is steadily diminishing because people regard it as an unhappy relic of the past and as something of which they are ashamed. It is only, I think, in the Union of South Africa that this policy has become an ideology and a faith—and that is something quite different from what has happened anywhere else. That is what has brought about, as a matter of historical fact, this tragic clash between the Government of South Africa and the Governments of other Commonwealth countries.
If the Commonwealth is to be a bridge between the races of the world, and if that is its most important contribution to world progress and racial understanding, and its essential and primary function, then the belief in racial equality, and effort to secure this equality where it does not exist, is a principle of faith and action which all must share. For my part, I believe that the unity and strength of the Commonwealth have been preserved by what has happened, and that anything else would have led to a progressive weakening and a disruption of 1326 our unique association of peoples and nations. This view, I think, was expressed by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, if I interpreted his words rightly, in winding-up the debate which took place yesterday in another place.
After all, my Lords, let us look at what is likely to happen in the not too distant future. The countries that will soon reach independence among our present Dependencies in West, Central and East Africa, and in the West Indies, are all countries in which the vast majority of the inhabitants are not Europeans by race or origin. When these countries are independent, they will, of course, choose, like all the other Commonwealth countries, between staying in or going out of the Commonwealth, and I am pretty certain that some, at any rate, of these countries would decide not to stay in the Commonwealth if they had to do so in the company of South Africa. So in this historic process of the transformation of Empire into Commonwealth, it is a positive asset to us, sad and regrettable as it is in many ways, that this obstacle to Commonwealth unity has been removed.
In the international field it will surely be an advantage to our relations with many other countries that we shall no longer have our hands tied at the United Nations on account of our natural loyalty to the members of the Commonwealth, and, in particular, to South Africa whilst she was a member. Our neutrality over South-West Africa has brought us into conflict with most of our fellow members of the United Nations. We have abstained from voting when even our Commonwealth friends were against us; and I hope the Government will revise their policy at the United Nations in the light of what has happened. It will also help us to retrieve our reputation at the United Nations for always lining up with the colonial Powers, whether or not they are carrying out an oppressive and reactionary policy towards their colonial subjects.
In the course of the debate, noble Lords have raised a number of practical problems arising out of the withdrawal of South Africa. I am not going to discuss them in detail, as it is obviously much too late, but we all hone that these matters—economic, strategic and political matters, the question of citizenship, 1327 and so on—will be settled with good will on both sides between the Governments concerned and to the advantage of both the South African and the British peoples.
There is only one matter to Which I would refer, quite briefly, and that is the High Commission Territories. I am glad to hear that our responsibilities will not be diminished. I think it essential that those territories should understand quite clearly about their political future; and it was reassuring to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, that Dr. Verwoerd has said that there is no longer any question of incorporating these Territories in the Union. As the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said, the attitude of Dr. Malan, when he was Prime Minister, was rather different.
This is not only reassuring from their point of view: it is reassuring also because it will prevent what might otherwise be serious political friction between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of South Africa when they are dealing with other matters of great importance to these Territories. We hope that the economic ties of these Territories with the South African Union will continue as they are at present, and that the friendly relationship on which they are based will also continue. We on this side of the House feel—and I hope the Government will give serious consideration to this—that there will be need for alteration in the administrative arrangements whereby we deal with the Protectorates at the moment through the High Commission to the Union. I will not go into this, because my noble friend Lord Lucan has mentioned this point, but I am certain that there will have to be considerable changes in the existing arrangements, and we feel that it is extremely important and for the welfare of these Territories that such administrative changes should be made.
My Lords, I promised to be brief, and I hope I have not broken my promise. I would merely repeat what I said at the outset: that I am certain—and I have listened to this debate carefully; I think I have missed only one or two speeches—that we all wish to hold out the hand of friendship to South Africa, and to tell them that we hope that they 1328 will one day be back again in our Commonwealth family.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I do not think that much purpose would be served at this hour in inflicting upon the House a second instalment of views from the Government, because I think I said in my opening speech all that I wanted to say about this unhappy situation. I should like to thank those noble Lords who have taken part in what has been a debate of great importance, and for the high tone and great variety of knowledge brought to bear on the subject. I should also like to apologise for the period of time in the middle of the debate during which I am afraid I left the Government Bench insufficiently garnished—a fact which was adverted to, I think, by two of my noble friends. The fact was, my Lords, that I had made arrangements to be here myself throughout the period, and I was unexpectedly the recipient of a specific summons which I could not ignore. I am therefore hopeful that I may be forgiven in this instance.
My Lords, I began by asking and proposing an answer to four questions. The first was whether we had been right to try, as we did try, to keep South Africa in. My Lords, I think the House has given a unanimously affirmative answer to that question. I do not recollect a single speech in the other sense. Coupled with that has been an echo of my own feeling of melancholy and sorrow at the outcome of the Conference which I felt was universally shared. The third of the four questions, our future relations with the Union, I also thought was, happily, not the subject of very much controversy, and the view expressed in my own statement of the Government's attitude was generally shared.
Two separate points were, however, raised. Several noble Lords—the noble Earl who has just resumed his seat, my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale and the noble Earl, Lord Lucan—all adverted to the position of the High Commission Territories and, I think, approved the statement by the Government that their position remains unaffected and that we intend to carry out our obligations. I would agree that 1329 there are a number of individual questions arising—such as the position of the Ambassador, raised by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan—which will have to be discussed with the South African Government; and, because such matters will have to be discussed, I feel that I should be imprudent to say anything more about them this evening. I should like, in this connection, only to reiterate what I said to begin with: that the very fact that we have accepted the continuance of our obligations—indeed, we could, in honour, do no other—means that we must retain friendly relationships with the South African Government, because it would be unthinkable that those obligations should be carried out except in a friendly atmosphere. It can be done only in that way.
I think that has a certain bearing—I do not want to say more than that—upon our attitude towards the second of the two questions which have been made the subject of comment on this aspect of the matter: that of the South-West African mandate.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, would my noble friend, before he goes to South-West Africa, add one word about Basutoland? I did ask him whether the Government would put this question on their list of priorities for discussion with South Africa, because there we have (I do not quite know what is the word) an inalienable obligation.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I thought I had done so. I did not mention the word "Basutoland", but when I spoke of the High Commission Territories I would have meant imprimis Basutoland, for reasons which must be obvious to the House. I would say that I do not know about priority of time, but in priority of importance Basutoland will obviously rank very high in the matters we have to discuss. None the less, the position is that we do not regard the status of any of these Territories as impaired by what has happened. We intend to carry out our obligations. What we have to discuss is the means whereby we do something which we are already under an obligation to do.
That, as I was saying, my Lords, has some bearing on the other point which has been made, under this head, a matter 1330 of comment. Of course, we are very much aware of that which some people may regard as the scandal of the mandate, and I think in some ways it is. But there are two or three things which have to be said about this. Whilst one may approve of the purpose of some of the resolutions which have been put down, I am not sure that any of them could really have been justified.
My noble friend Lord Birdwood referred to the opinion of the International Court. I think that has to be borne in mind, since on certain aspects of the question it was quite unequivocal, and we must have regard to it in determining our attitude toward any particular resolution. Secondly, up to the present time we have had to bear in mind the position of South Africa as a member of the Commonwealth. In the ordinary course of consultation between members of the Commonwealth, I think it is both more convenient and more proper that any representations which may be made should, wherever possible, be made in private rather than in public; and I will, if I may, revert in a moment to our special position in the Commonwealth in this connection.
Moreover, as my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale said in this connection, if one is going to support any particular remedy proposed in a resolution, one really has to think the thing through and he willing to accept the political implications of what is proposed. There are very considerable difficulties in the theory that another Power, or group of Powers, should be responsible for the carrying out of the original mandate. These are things which will have to be considered and discussed, and I think it is far too early to ask Her Majesty's Government to give a defined view about this. I would, however, say, as I said at the beginning, that certainly nobody on our side would regard the present situation as a happy one, a nd very largely we sympathise with many of the underlying comments which noble Lords opposite have been inclined to make.
That brings me to the other two questions that I proposed, and it is on these that there has been a certain amount of discussion. A number of noble Lords have associated themselves with the criticisms of the Government made by the noble Marquess below the 1331 gangway. My Lords, may I thank him, to begin with, for his gracious and courteous reference to my own speech, which, if I may be allowed to say so, I very much appreciate. If he will also allow me to say so, without impertinence, I was most impressed and moved by certain parts of his speech which he evidently spoke with very deep and great feeling. But I think it is my duty to say that when he tells us, as he did, that we should never have permitted discussion of this matter at all, that idea really was never a starter.
The subject came up for discussion because South Africa had decided to make a Republic, and on all the precedents her application had to be discussed. I do beg the House to believe me when I say that to suggest that we could have stopped the other Prime Ministers from discussing this subject at a time when South Africa's application for readmission to the Commonwealth was before them is to suggest that we should have attempted the impossible. It may have been desirable that it should not have been discussed; but, so far as we were concerned, that was not a starter. Therefore, I do, with respect to the noble Marquess, reject that critcism as unfounded. I would say that all the evidence is this way. All those who were present at the Conference—among whom I do not number myself—have given expression to the same opinion. Dr. Verwoerd (again may I pay my passing tribute to his consideration of the matter) accepted the view that discussion should take place. He accepted it, either because it was desirable or because it was inevitable; and I know of no contrary opinion among any of the nations who took part in the Conference.
Then, it is said—and the noble Marquess has said it in terms—we ought to have accepted, instead of what he describes as the danger of impairment of the structure of the whole Commonwealth, the danger, which he did not rate highly, of one or two of the newer members leaving the Commonwealth because of the continued membership of South Africa. This again is a judgment of fact, and I can only record my own opinion of the matter once more. My own opinion of the matter, and that of my colleagues, is that the position is approximately reversed; that what 1332 would have happened if we had taken any other course would not have been the loss of one or two of the newer members but the disintegration of the whole family sooner or later—and sooner rather than later; and this for the sake of the retention of a highly valued member but still one whom, on this issue, every single Member of your Lordships' House this afternoon has declared to be in the wrong. That is to say, they were pursuing a policy with which each individual speaker personally said he did not agree.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I interrupt the noble Viscount only to say that I did not suggest it should be done in order to retain a single member but that it should be done because I believed it to be a vital principle for the continuation of the Commonwealth.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, the noble Marquess made his point abundantly plain, and I am glad he has reasserted it. All I was saying in reply was that the consequence of the action he proposed would have been approximately the opposite of what he believed.
I should like now to come to what the noble Marquess has described as a vital principle—the forbearance to discuss the internal policies of one another. I do ask the noble Marquess to believe me when I say that it has been the endeavour of Her Majesty's Government to curtail discussions of this kind. I think I was being fair when I indicated in my opening speech that should any other issues arise it would still be our endeavour to pursue that line of country. But I think we deceive ourselves if we suppose that on this particular issue—perhaps on others; I do not know; but certainly on this particular issue, which is what we are discussing—we could have held the line proposed by the noble Marquess in the face of the particular general doctrine of racial superiority and separation which was followed by the South African Government and applied in such an acute and uncompromising form that they refused to admit even High Commissioners from Ghana on to South African soil. That was because, of course, the presence of a dark-skinned man, receiving the courtesies at European tables, and the hospitality which a diplomatic representative would have 1333 had, would have been repugnant to them. I do not think that that could be held, and I say that in all sincerity to the noble Marquess. It is very important to the world that we should not even appear to be hypocritical about this matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, in a speech which I unfortunately missed, was recorded in my note as saying that everyone in Britain had forgotten the South African War. I had not forgotten it when I made my opening speech. Sixty years ago, my father went to South Africa because of acts of discrimination against people of British birth, which were far less serious than acts of discrimination which are perpetrated in the name of apartheid.
We all know the story, even if we are apt to forget it. It is all very well for British people to say, as that pillar of democracy, Kaiser Wilhelm, said sixty years ago, that acts of discrimination towards people living in South Africa are purely internal to South Africa. When directed against our own fellow countrymen, we did not tell the same story. And it is all very well to assume that general racial or social doctrines are always internal matters alone. The bloodiest war of all time arose out of the doctrine of the Herrenvolk, which emerged in its earlier stage largely as a persecution of Jews within German territory. We tried to hold that line, too, and I am far from saying that we were wrong in trying to hold it. We incurred a great deal of criticism for doing it, but in the interests of peace, compromise and tolerance and of all the things for which this country stands, I think that we were right in trying to hold it. But it proved untenable. There is one other historical example that I would press on the noble Marquess.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I would say that the Herrenvolk policy had nothing to do with bringing us into the Second World War. We had a treaty with Poland, and by virtue of that treaty we were obliged to come in because Poland was invaded. The cause of our entry into the war was the sanctity of treaties: it had nothing whatever to do with Herrenvolk.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, this is rather a late hour to indulge in historical speculation. What I was saying was that I should have thought that our own experience in relation to Nazi Germany was sufficient to make it a dangerous and controversial thing to say that a general racial policy applied internally is necessarily something of which other countries can take no cognisance. I will not put it higher than that. This has emerged many times in modern history. Only a hundred years ago the whole of the United States was convulsed by war between the States because of what the Confederate States, with some reason, urged was a matter of policy entirely internal to themselves. Incidentally, it had a very great deal to do with race. Therefore, I would say to the noble Marquess—though I deeply sympathise with what he said and very largely agree with him, although I would go further and say that the principle he urged us to adopt is precisely the position we have adopted and indeed pressed—that we absolutely deceive ourselves if we think that it is a line we can hold in the face of a rigid, uncompromising racial policy based on a superiority of white over black.
There is only one other thing I want to add. All noble Lords who have taken part in this debate have stressed the sincerity of those who hold the doctrine of apartheid. That is perhaps the most poignant and tragic thing of all. It is precisely that which makes it so difficult to deal with it. When had men err, they can often be persuaded out of it by persuasion, by moral force, by moral condemnation, by the adoption of superior attitudes; but when good men err in all sincerity, and cannot be convinced—or refuse to be convinced—then, indeed, it is difficult to reach their minds. Unhappily, the logic of events is less merciful than the persuasion of friends, for the logic of events has a habit of teaching men in the end, in a hard way, the lesson which the persuasion of friends would have seen them learn more gently. I would ask the permission of the House to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.