§ 3.38 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL rose to draw attention to the urgent need for Her Majesty's Government to revise its policy in Central Africa; to dissolve the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; to secure continuing economic and administrative relationships between the three territories; and to obtain constitutional reforms to enable them to achieve early independence under representative Governments: and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I think your Lordships will agree with my noble Leader and with the noble Lord the Leader of the Liberal Party that this is a convenient moment to discuss Central Africa. Three important events have taken place there since our last debate. First, there has been the Nyasaland Constitutional Conference in November which resulted in agreement about external self-government for Nyasaland. Secondly, there has been the General Election in Northern Rhodesia which has been followed by the first African Government in that territory. Then there has been the overwhelming victory of the Rhodesian Front Party in the elections last week in Southern Rhodesia. These, I think, are three events of great importance of which we must take full account.
§ Finally, we have before us this afternoon a policy statement of Her Majesty's Government of extreme importance, because it represents the first substantial change in the policy of the Government since Mr. Butler took office and the most important change in policy since the Federation was set up nine years ago. Therefore, I think your Lordships will agree we have a great deal to think about. I must apologise in advance, because I am usually not an offender about the length of my speeches, that on this occasion I must ask your Lordships' indulgence if I speak at rather greater length than usual, and my plea is the complexity and difficulty of the problems which confront us in Central Africa.
§ I suggest that, in the light of events that have recently taken place in Central Africa, there should be a reassessment of Government policy, both in relation 1149 to the Federation and in relation to the territories. I believe that the change of policy just announced by the Government, which is most satisfactory—I say that immediately—as far as it goes, will be wholly inadequate to deal with the new situation. Other noble Lords will take a different and, indeed, perhaps an opposite point of view. But I think the House will agree that this is a good opportunity for noble Lords—inasmuch as we are fortunate enough to have among our Members many noble Lords with special knowledge of Africa, such as the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, whom we are delighted to see with us again, and other noble Lords with great experience in handling colonial affairs. I can count no fewer than three ex-Colonial Secretaries on the two Front Benches below the gangway—to offer the Government their considered advice about the next move in Central Africa.
§ It is because I want to start some constructive thinking about the future that my Motion is in the ordinary form of a Motion for Papers and is not a Resolution of censure on the Government for the failure of its policy of federation in Central Africa. This is not because I do not think censure is deserved. On the contrary, this policy of federation in Central Africa, which the Government have now abandoned after nine years of mounting African opposition, will be remembered, I believe, as the worst error of judgment in colonial policy that any Government here have committed since the war. indeed, it was more than an error of judgment: it was a surrender of a basic democratic principle of government by consent, which we apply here, which we have always applied here, and which we have applied in every dependency overseas apart from Central Africa. The effect of this disastrous policy has been to build up a degree of hostility between the races in Central Africa that may still lead to bloodshed and violence. We all trust that this final disaster will be averted, but we cannot be certain.
§ There is acute political uncertainty, and this uncertainty about the future of the Federation has dried up investment and paralysed business. Of course, the three territories have become much more prosperous since the Federation was established; but how much better if this prosperity had been brought about in East 1150 Africa by the closest possible economic co-operation, without interfering with their separate evolution to independence!How much better if the Government had followed the wise advice of the Bledisloe Commission's Report and had used the Central African Council as the organ for economic development and cooperation between the three territories!How much better if the next task of the Government had not been a salvage operation to cushion the adverse economic effects in Nyasaland of breaking up the Federation and to prevent the three territories from drifting completely apart!
§ That is as much as I have to say about past mistakes, and it is certainly as much as I would dare to weary your Lordships with on that subject. What we have to do now is to find a policy that will match the new situation in Central Africa. While I welcome again, most warmly, the decision to allow Nyasaland to secede, why is it that the Government stopped there? Why do they not go a step further—a logical step—and do as the Monckton Commission recommended, by making a declaration of intention to allow any territory to secede if it so desires on reaching a stage of internal self-government?
§ There are two reasons for taking this further step at the present time. The elections in Northern Rhodesia have produced an African Government with an anti-federal mandate. The basis of the coalition between the two African Parties there is the common desire to get out of the Federation. How can we deny to Northern Rhodesia, when the time comes, what we have just granted to Nyasaland? The other reason—and this, again, stems from recent events to have changed entirely the political atmosphere in Central Africa—is that for the first time since the Federation was set up all three territorial Governments are opposed to federation. Sir Roy Welensky fought the election in Southern Rhodesia on the federal issue, and his Party has been heavily defeated. How can you maintain a Federation when the majority of the elected representatives of three territorial units are against it? What is more—and this, again, is a new factor—the Federation would now be maintained in defiance of European as well as African opinion, 1151 because the great majority of European voters are in Southern Rhodesia and they have shown by their votes that they are against the Federation.
§ To give this option would, of course, be tantamount to saying that the Federation will soon be dead. I believe this should be said, because it is a necessary condition for further progress. Mr. Kaunda of Northern Rhodesia would be most willing to start talking about economic and administrative co-operation with Dr. Banda of Nyasaland and with Mr. Winston Field of Southern Rhodesia, but only on the condition that he is allowed the right to secede. I am quite certain that Mr. Kaunda will not even consider means and methods of cooperation with his neighbours until he is sure that the British Government will allow him to leave the Federation. This is the only way to create a climate of goodwill in Northern Rhodesia which we have been, I am thankful to say, so successful in creating in Nyasaland.
§ The other reason why I believe it is most important for the Government to admit the moribund condition of the Federation is that this will help to clear the air of political uncertainty; and, as I said earlier, what is paralysing the economic development of the Federation is this atmosphere of political uncertainty. Uncertainty at the present time is bound to continue until business knows what the future is going to be, and it is surely better for business to face an unpalatable political issue than to face the unknown—and the position at the moment is that it is facing the unknown. Once this issue of federation has been settled, once it has been cleared right out of the way, then the leaders in all the three territories will be able to get together to plan their future relationships on the basis of their most important common interests. It would, for example, be greatly to their mutual advantage to retain free movement for labour and the products of industry and the soil within the whole area. This would preserve the economic benefits of a common market without any of the political drawbacks of which I think your Lordships are vividly aware in another connection.
§ To give a further example, some of the existing powers of the Federal Govern 1152 ment relating to common services, such as inter-territorial highways, railways, aviation, post and telegraphs, and higher education, might well be transferred to a common services organisation which would function in the same way as the Common Services Organisation in East Africa. The Kariba Dam and power station supply another common service, an absolutely basic and common service for the copper belt of Northern Rhodesia and for the factories of Salisbury and Bulawayo. It would also be a good thing for the economic development of the three countries, although perhaps even more difficult at the present stage, that these should be co-ordinated at Ministerial level by some sort of inter-territorial Ministerial committee. But all this depends on the willingness of the political leaders in these territories to work together; and I am quite certain they would be much more willing to do so if the issue of federation were cleared right out of the way. It is extremely encouraging to hear that Mr. Winston Field is already on friendly terms with Dr. Banda and that Mr. Kaunda has welcomed the victory of Mr. Field's Party in Southern Rhodesia. I am sure that there is a basis for discussion, understanding and agreement between the leaders of the three territorial Governments.
§ It may be said, of course, that economic co-operation is not a substitute for political integration and that the break-up of the Federation is another step in the Balkanisation of Africa, but it should not be forgotten that there are other ideas of federation besides the existing Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya want to form an East African Federation; and the other day I was talking to a very responsible Somali who told me that the Government of Somalia would like to join an East African Federation—which shows the remarkable potential extent of such a Federation. It would, of course, leave the door open to any territories in Central Africa, once they are independent and outside the existing Federation, to join if they so desired.
§ My Lords, may I say a few words in conclusion about the three territories? The agreement last month about internal self-government for Nyasaland does 1153 a great deal of credit to all concerned, including those responsible on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, but I think that Dr. Banda and the Malawi Congress Party deserve special credit for their willingness to accept continued control by the Governor over finance and the public services. It is most encouraging that Dr. Banda seems to be in no undue hurry about independence; that he recognises the need for expatriate officers during the next stage and after independence, and that he is not too proud to go on accepting budgetary aid. In the statement to which we have listened it is perfectly clear that Nyasaland will have to shoulder a much heavier financial burden after it has left the Federation. It will lose the federal contribution to its budget; it will have to take responsibility for its share of federal loans: and it will have to take over those of the federal services which function in the territory of Nyasaland. It is very satisfactory that Dr. Banda has shown his willingness to face up to these commitments and his desire to meet them
§ But I should like the Government to consider very carefully this matter of finance for Nyasaland, because it is perfectly evident that Nyasaland will continue to require budgetary aid after it becomes independent. The effect of a drastic cut in expenditure when independence comes about would be very serious indeed, and I really cannot see (and this is a suggestion I should like the Government to consider) why Her Majesty's Government should not subsidise the budget of Nyasaland—that is, the budget of an independent Commonwealth territory—and go on doing what it is doing at the moment. After all, it has happened elsewhere in Africa: the French assist a very large number of former French African territories and we contribute to the budgets of foreign countries in Africa, Libya and Somalia. I hope very much the Government will give serious thought to this proposal, and in the knowledge that both Nyasaland and Kenya will face insuperable financial difficulties unless the Government can continue to help them in this way to meet their commitments after independence I sincerely hope that this is an aspect of policy with which the Government will ultimately agree.1154
§ I should like to say one word about the expatriates, the British civil servants in Nyasaland. It is said in the White Paper that the scheme of compensation for overseas officers will be negotiated with the Nyasaland Government. It will take a very long time to train Africans to take the place of British officers in Nyasaland which, from that point of view, is far the most backward of the three territories. I hope that whatever scheme is worked out it will not offer more attractive terms for these British officers to retire with their compensation than to continue in the service of the Nyasaland Government.
§ The other point is this. It would be grossly unfair, in my view, to expect such a poor country as Nyasaland to pay even half the amount required for compensation, which is what we have done in Uganda and which was the usual practice up to the present time. I hope, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government will offer either to meet the whole cost of compensation or at least to give Nyasaland a long-term loan at a nominal rate of interest to cover its share of the cost. That is all I have to say about Nyasaland, except that we are all delighted that Nyasaland is making such steady and satisfactory constitutional progress and that now there is an African Government in Nyasaland conditions there are peaceful and entirely satisfactory.
§ A word now about Northern Rhodesia. The elections in Northern Rhodesia have surely sealed the fate of multi-racialism in that territory. The voting went on strictly racial lines. Sir John Moffat and his Liberal Party have vanished from the scene, after failing to secure a single seat. Ten of the so-called "national" seats, which require a minimum of votes from both races, remain vacant after the second time round. The case of that distinguished elder statesman Sir Stewart Gore-Browne is an interesting illustration, just one, of voting on racial lines, because he was standing for U.N.I.P., Mr. Kaunda's Party, in a "national" constituency. He got only 55 European votes, with 5,000 European voters on the roll of the constituency. The present Constitution of Northern Rhodesia was based on the assumption that voting would be non-racial and that, therefore, there would be a balance between the races in the Government of the country and possible participation be- 1155 tween both races in the Executive Council. This assumption has proved entirely false.
§ The voting has also shown that the Macleod Constitution makes fair representation of the electorate quite impossible. For example, U.N.I.P., Mr. Kaunda's Party, received nearly two-thirds of the votes cast, yet it has fewer seats than the United Federal Party, which is the largest single Party in the Legislative Council. Mr. Kaunda has had the good sense to form a Coalition Government with Mr. Nkumbula, which, of course, put him in a much stronger position to press, as he is now doing, for a new Constitution. This new Constitution should at least represent the will of the majority in Northern Rhodesia as faithfully as the Constitution of Nyasaland. Furthermore, I hope that it will give Northern Rhodesia control, as we have recently done in the case of Nyasaland, over its internal affairs. That would be the logical next step to the constitutional development of Northern Rhodesia. I hope, therefore, that when Mr. Butler goes to Lusaka he will start talks immediately with the Parties in Northern Rhodesia for the next stage of constitutional advance.
§ Mr. Kaunda, as I know from personal experience—I should like to mention this because he has been attacked in your Lordships' House and I think it is only fair to say that my view is different from that of the noble Lord, Lord Colyton—is a man of great moderation, and I believe that if Her Majesty's Government meet him over secession and a revised Constitution, the two things he wants, then he will guarantee equality and tolerance between the races. I think that he will also, like Dr. Banda, be in not too much of a hurry about independence.
§ The most important event of all, I think, in Africa, and indeed the most surprising, too, has been the victory last week of the Rhodesian Front in the elections in Southern Rhodesia. Let us be frank; let us be courteous; let us be realistic. This victory is, in my view, a victory for white supremacy, which will call a halt to the concessions to racial equality and non-discrimination made in recent years by Sir Edgar Whitehead and the United Federal Party. I believe that this vote is basically an expression of fear and distrust, fear of African 1156 domination of the Federation, fear of African domination of Southern Rhodesia, fear that Southern Rhodesia may go the way of Tanganyika, Uganda, Ghana and Kenya. I believe that was the basic thing behind the minds, or rather the emotions—because the emotions are far more important than other mental processes—in determining how people voted. Sir Edgar Whitehead talked of African majority rule within fifteen years. Now that danger—speaking from the point of view of the supporters of the Rhodesian Front—has been averted for the foreseeable future. The Land Apportionment Act will not be repealed. There will still be separate benches in the parks for blacks and whites. It is important for us to understand that this is the point of view of the average Englishman, the average English woman, in Southern Rhodesia.
§ All the 35 seats won by the Rhodesian Front were won by Europeans in European constituencies. Out of the 29 seats won by the United Federal Party, which on the face of it is a fairly narrow majority, only 15 were won by Europeans; the remaining 14 seats went to Africans standing in African constituencies representing no more than a handful of African voters, because the great majority of Africans responded to the appeal to boycott the election, and I do not believe more than 1,000 or so recorded their votes in the African constituencies. This shows an overwhelming, European support for the Rhodesian Front, but also of course, unfortunately, the hostility and repugnance towards it of even the few Africans who defied the Z.A.P.U. boycott and gave their votes. But, while the growth of non-racialism in Southern Rhodesia has been halted, it will be difficult for the new Government to introduce fresh measures of racial discrimination.
§ The new Constitution provides effective safeguards against discriminatory legislation. But of course everything will depend, as it always does, on the spirit in which the Constitution is worked. We shall only know that after the new Government has been in office for a reasonable period of time. The new Ministers are untried men without administrative experience, and I am sure we all wish that they should be given a fair chance of showing what they can 1157 do for their country. After all, a team can be judged only by its performance. One can judge the performance of an untried team, like the team of Ministers in Southern Rhodesia, only by giving them the chance to show how much they can do for their country. I am sure, incidentally, that we are all glad that a Member of your Lordships' House, the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, is among their Ministers. I hope we shall hear a great deal about this from the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, and I shall stand to be corrected, certainly in the minds of most of your Lordships, if his view differs from mine. Although primarily I believe the Rhodesian Front stands for white supremacy in Southern Rhodesia and for a society based on racial separateness or segregation, it also represents a revolt against Whitehall, against British colonial policy.
§ The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has told us often—and I have no doubt this will be among the things he will tell us this afternoon—that the white Rhodesians feel they have been let down, or perhaps even betrayed, by Her Majesty's Government. I believe he is perfectly right. I think that is one of the reasons why they voted as they did. This means that the new Government will press more urgently than did its predecessor for independence for Southern Rhodesia. And here I am sure Her Majesty's Government will show a great deal of respect and a good deal of firmness. In any event, Southern Rhodesia cannot become independent while it is in the Federation, and it will take a considerable time even if the Government were to adopt our policy, which I dare say it will not do immediately, for the Federation to dissolve. But when the time comes to consider independence for Southern Rhodesia we surely can say that we cannot discharge our responsibility for both races in Southern Rhodesia, unless something is done between now and then to lessen our fear of a head-on collision and to remove or lessen tension between the races.
§ Our judgment on the timing of independence must therefore turn on race relations, and primarily on race relations in Southern Rhodesia. The new Government could help us, and I think themselves, in this way, by repealing some of the repressive measures of their 1158 predecessor. And, of course, it is much easier for them to do it than for another Government of the same Party. They could also remove the restrictions on Mr. Nkomo and other leading members of his Party, and release all political detainees who cannot be charged with complicity in acts of violence. If they desired—and I hope that this is a matter which they will consider—to give a constitutional outlet to African political aspirations, to prevent those aspirations from going underground, as they are otherwise bound to do, they could then remove the ban on ZAPU, the principal African Party. These are all things which, if done, would contribute to better race relations.
§ Another fact that we are bound to point out to the new Government in Southern Rhodesia is that our responsibility for their external relations means that we shall continue to have to answer for them at the United Nations if there is any deterioration in race relations, and, indeed, if there is not any distinct improvement. That is as awkward for us as it is for Southern Rhodesia; because we get blamed for a policy which is repugnant to the majority of members of the United Nations, and to most of world opinion, although, of course we cannot control this policy and have no say in it. To put in a nutshell what I am suggesting to the Government, I think we should show the Southern Rhodesian Government that we are willing to help; that we are willing to co-operate, especially with the economy of their country which has already run into serious difficulties, but that there must also be a willingness on their part to meet us half way on matters which are our concern as well as theirs.
§ Finally, my Lords, let me say this. I believe that the initiative in all these matters, federal and territorial, should continue at the moment to come from us. But whatever we do should be done obviously after the fullest consultation with the federal and territorial leaders and, if possible, with their agreement. I am therefore more than delighted that Mr. Butler is himself going to Central Africa at the beginning of next year. I cannot imagine any better way of achieving the object I have just stated than for Mr. Butler to pay this visit, and to have 1159 intimate private talks with the federal leaders and with the political leaders in all the three territories. We wish him the utmost success in dealing with what he himself has described as the most difficult and intractable problem in the whole of his political life. On his success depends the reputation of this country as a Colonial Power, and the fate of all three races in Central Africa. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I should like to extend my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, on his speech. This Motion comes, I think, at a most opportune moment, because we go into Recess to-morrow and we have had the benefit of a wide and well-informed survey by the noble Earl and also of some wise counsel; and no doubt the same will be true of many other speeches which we shall hear this afternoon.
It seems to me that with the statement to-day we have come to a parting of the ways in Central Africa. From this statement we learn that Nyasaland will be allowed to withdraw from the Federation. I join the noble Earl in welcoming that statement and in congratulating the Government on having had the courage, albeit somewhat belatedly, to make it. One factor which I do not recall the noble Earl mentioning is that the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia meets next month. Mr. Kaunda, the President of the United National Independence Party, will move, and Mr. Nkumbula, the President of the African National Congress, will second a Motion calling for Northern Rhodesia to secede from the Federation. So that is two of the component parts of the Federation: one is being permitted to secede, and the other will call upon Her Majesty's Government next month to allow her to secede. As your Lordships know, the two Parties I have mentioned form the first African Government in Northern Rhodesia, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the British Government will agree—I cannot see how they can do otherwise. Once they have allowed Nyasaland, rightly, to secede, they cannot prevent Northern Rhodesia from seceding. This means that the statement to-day is the death knell of the Federa 1160 tion: in other words, the days of illusion are over. Those who wrapped themselves up in a comfortable illusion are now left naked to the winds of change. They can say good-bye to the tine, misguided hopes of the British Government and the Conservative Party so far as this Federation is concerned.
This is not unexpected. Like the noble Earl, I do not wish to spend any great length of time in going back into the past; but I think I must spend a little time, as he has done, and I would recall to your Lordships that in Parliament, outside Parliament, and not least in this House, the Government were warned years ago—in fact nine years ago, of the danger of forcing federation against the will of the Africans. We had a powerful debate in this House, which those of your Lordships who were Members at that time will remember, on the 1st and 2nd April, 1953. In the course of that debate Lord Noel-Buxton, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, my noble friend Lord Rea, Lord Ammon, Lord Winster, Lord Hemingford, the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, Lord Faringdon and the noble Earl, Lord Longford (or Lord Pakenham, as he then was), all warned the Government against the imposition of federation. That was a pretty powerful team, I would say, although noble Lords were speaking from different parts of the House. For example, Lord Hemingford was, and is, a Conservative peer.
Speaking on April 1 for the official Opposition, I said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 181; col. 512]:In conclusion"—this was the view of the Opposition at that time—I beg the Government to pause while there is yet time, and not to blunder on with this plan, irrespective of African wishes. And I say to the Government: 'Pause until you can take Africans with you. If you cannot do that, drop the plan'. It would involve no loss of prestige—indeed, the Government would gain prestige. To go the other way means disaster: disaster for the Africans and disaster for usWho can say that either I or the other noble Lords who pressed that point of view at that time were wrong? In fact we have been proved right.
As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has said, we now have two African nationalist Governments representing a 1161 majority of the population in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, and we have a Right Wing, white Government in Southern Rhodesia representing a small proportion of the population, although of course an important one. I am given to understand that the Rhodesian Front, led by Mr. Winston Field, is supported by about 40,000 European voters out of a population of some 300,000 whites and 3½million others. Of the Opposition in Southern Rhodesia, half of the members of the United Federal Party, led by Sir Edgar Whitehead, were elected in African constituencies with 1,500 votes in all, six of them being elected with fewer than 100 votes apiece. As the noble Earl said, no doubt that was due to the African boycott. Some of Mr. Field's followers, so it is reported, undoubtedly favour apartheid.
So much for the past; so much for the present. Now what about the future? The first problem that is presented is what replaces the Federation from an economic point of view. This is of the utmost urgency and importance. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and I fully support the advice he has given to the Government—namely, that we must strive to create a common services organisation as in East Africa, to replace the economic services and to take over the economic commitments of the Federation. I think that is of vital importance. I am not sure whether this is the view of Her Majesty's Government, because in the statement to-day, although we have not had a great deal of time to consider it, this particular portion arouses some concern—namely,Many matters will need to be examined and negotiated, including in particular those arising from the Nyasaland Government's obligation to bear its due proportion of the Federal debt, and to assume its proper responsibilities, financial and otherwise, in respect of the problems which may arise over the transfer of present Federal functionsI am very much hoping that in regard to economic affairs these responsibilities and functions will be continued by some sort of common services organisation rather than be split up. I should have thought it is physically impossible, certainly most inconvenient, to try to split them up among the various territories. They have developed as a whole their posts, services, telegraphs, airlines, and all the rest of it, and I should think it would be most difficult to split 1162 them up. How do you split up an airline? I should not like the task of doing it. I am sure, as is the noble Earl. Lord Listowel, that the financial aspect will loom large, and if the Nyasaland Government has to bear a proportion of the federal debt and to assume responsibility for federal commitments, I know who is going to bear that burden: the British taxpayer. Nyasaland will be quite unable to bear a liability of that kind. It is a completely undeveloped, poor country. How on earth is it going to bear a burden of this kind, in addition to the normal budgetary problems which it has to carry?
The next problem is as to what politically is to replace the Federation. I have no doubt that Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia will follow the normal colonial pattern, and, in my view, no special constitutional or political problems will arise. There are a lot of difficulties, but no special problems, because they are basically colonial territories which have achieved, or are achieving, self-government and which will achieve independence.
When one comes to Southern Rhodesia, it is a different matter. It is still a Colony, and Great Britain is still responsible for it at the United Nations and before world opinion. But what is its future with, as is the case to-day, a small group controlling it? Already I see, according to the Daily Telegraph, that Mr. Kaunda has threatened to impose a barrier between Northern and Southern Rhodesia to stop imports of manufactured goods, unless Mr. Nkomo is released by Mr. Winston Field. All Sorts of problems of that kind can arise. It is our duty—and when I say "our duty", I mean the duty of the British Government—to bring statesmanship to bear in order that there shall be consultation and co-operation with Rhodesians in all sections of the community in Southern Rhodesia, especially with the leaders of the overwhelming majority of the African people: that is to say, the leaders of the African Nationalist Party, some of whom are now in detention.
I do not by any means think that all is lost in Southern Rhodesia. We have to start again, with fresh hope and a fresh outlook, and must ensure that the people of the territory shall have just as 1163 much right to exercise their political judgment and just as much political power as people in other territories. That will mean, of course, an African Government in Southern Rhodesia. That is what Her Majesty's Government will strive to bring about. I think that the British Government must not be deflected by the interests of a small minority, however important economically that minority is.
There are wild rumours in Salisbury, according to the Press, that the Rhodesian Front is likely to resort to open defiance of the British Government's colonial policy and to retain, at all costs, white supremacy. I doubt that. It will be interesting to hear what the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, has to say on this matter, but I very much doubt if that is so. It must be remembered that, in the last resort, the Government of Southern Rhodesia is entirely dependent upon British power, and none other, to support its measures. It is the British Government that is behind it, whatever it does. I think that the British Government could insist on the implementation by the Southern Rhodesian Government of the human rights legislation which is in the Constitution and the repeal of the Land Apportionment Act, and on doing away with the surviving vestiges of racial discrimination.
I should like, as I have done previously, to thank Sir Edgar Whitehead for what he has done in those fields. He has never had a great deal of credit for what he has done, and he did not go as far as many of us would like, but he did go some way—and it is because he did so that he was rejected in the recent elections. Unless these various measures are reformed then neighbouring African States will react sharply against them; and they can be, as one can imagine, fairly drastic reactions too. I think we should insist on the reform of the franchises both in Northern and Southern Rhodesia, so as to do away with the fancy, loaded systems which exist there—matters of high complication which appear to work out so that the people with the majority of votes do not get the majority of seats. If the British Government do not do these things, then we shall be regarded by world opinion as living in Central 1164 Africa not under the Southern Cross but under the "Double Cross".
Before I conclude I should like to says a word or two about the Congo, which, so far as I can recall, the noble Earl did not mention but which is very important in this context. What is the situation between Katanga and Northern Rhodesia? I have heard that just recently Mr. Tshombe has met Mr. Nkumbula and Mr. Kaunda in Northern Rhodesia. I do not know what they decided, or whether they decided anything. There is no reason why they should not meet; they control neighbouring territories and it is advisable for such people to meet to discuss matters. I have no objection to it at all, and I think that it is an interesting development.
The United Nations has suggested that Katanga copper and cobalt should be exported through the Port of Matadi so as to obtain revenue from it. We are very interested in this proposal, because Northern Rhodesia, as a present outlet for Katanga copper and cobalt, will be affected. In fact, if there is any forceful attempt to stop the export of copper and cobalt, we shall be expected to assist by blocking that route. We are also interested as taxpayers because we are one of the countries paying very heavily for the Congo operations. Several countries—Soviet Russia, France, Belgium, Portugal and others—pay nothing towards these operations. I believe that those countries which pay nothing should have no vote or say in regard to what happens in the Congo or in regard to other actions which may arise from the Congo; otherwise we shall find that those who do not pay the piper will call the tune.
The Congo involves a great crisis of confidence in the United Nations. I feel that we should give the Secretary-General all the support we can, in cooperation with the Government of Northern Rhodesia. The United Nations is a human institution and therefore fallible, but it is one of the main hopes for the world so far as earthly instruments are concerned. We must not let it go the way of the old League of Nations. I am quite sure that Mr. Kaunda will fully share this view; and our attitude in Northern Rhodesia, and his, 1165 may have a very important effect upon the future of the United Nations.
My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in wishing well to these new Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I hope that with statesmanship and with courage the British Government will be able to bring these three territories into the future in a democratic manner, with great benefit and prosperity to their people.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in the remarks with which he introduced his Motion this afternoon, and the noble Lords Lord Ogmore, who has followed him have welcomed warmly the statement on the future of Nyasaland which was made earlier this afternoon by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is of course fully entitled to his views; and we all, if I may say so, respect his sincerity, even if we differ widely from his conclusions. But to many of us, I am sure, this debate is, in one respect at any rate, the most painful of all those that we have had in this House during the short but troubled history of the Central African Federation. For we have been told this afternoon that Her Majesty's Government have decided unilaterally to agree principle to the secession of Nyasaland from the Federation. That, my Lords, was the one thing which the Conservative Government, at the time when the Federation was set up in 1953, pledged themselves not to do. This has been plainly stated by the Federal Government, and it will I am sure be confirmed this afternoon by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, who was the main delegate of the Rhodesias at the Conference and, as we all know, is a statesman most highly respected in the whole Commonwealth, with his stalwart sincerity and integrity.
My Lords, I too, can confirm what was said at that Conference, for I also was a representative of Her Majesty's Government at it. I have been at pains to refresh my memory as to what happended there, and I can assure your Lordships that there can be no doubt at all that British Ministers at the Con- 1166 ferenoe gave most explicit assurances that the Constitution of the new Federation that was being set up would not be liquidated without the free assent of all the Governments concerned; and that included the Federal Government. Yet, my Lords, that is just what has been done by the statement we have heard to-day.
It may, of course, be argued that to-day's statement does not of itself bring the Federation to an end. But that, if I may speak plainly, I believe to be a completely specious argument. If it does not actually bring the Federation to an end, it goes a very considerable way towards it. For not only must it be obvious to anybody that the action that Her Majesty's Government have now announced, in cutting out from the body politic of the Federation one of its main members, must strike a severe blow at the existence of the whole institution, but also, what I think is even more important, it may well, whatever the Government statement says, by creating a precedent open the door to similar action in the case of Northern Rhodesia. I think that is a point already mentioned by the noble Earl. If Northern Rhodesia, too, were excised from the Federation, the Federation would automatically cease to exist.
Nor in my view is there any more validity in the argument, if that be advanced, that legally and constitutionally it is within the competence of any Parliament in this country to undo what has been done by preceding Parliaments. No doubt from the strictly legalistic point of view that is perfectly correct; but it does not, I suggest, provide ground on which any self-respecting country could stand in practice. For if it were generally applied, it would deal a death blow to the whole principle of the sanctity of treaties and other international engagements, which is, as we all know, the main base on which peace, and indeed civilisation itself, rests. Especially, I think, is that true of this country of ours, where our whole moral position in the world has always rested on the fact that our word was our bond.
Why then have the Government done in the present instance a thing so contrary to our whole traditions? One can only conclude that it is because they 1167 have more recently involved themselves in some conflicting obligation with Dr. Banda. They are, in fact, in the uphappy position of having to break their word to somebody, and they find it less embarrassing to break their word to their own kith and kin than to him. But even if that be the case—and one can understand their dilemma—could they not have asked him to wait for just one month before claiming his pound of flesh? It may well be that, if and when the assurances were given to Dr. Banda, Ministers had forgotten how binding were the earlier pledges which were given in 1953. One can understand that. But now that they do know about them, surely they could have asked him to wait just those few weeks. That should have been enough to save them from charges of bad faith, for I understand that in less than a month's time, at the end of January, Mr. Butler is to visit the Federation, and the whole position could then have been discussed with all the Governments concerned, just as was envisaged in the White Paper of 1953.
Who knows, my Lords, whether, had that been done, some new relationship between the constituent states of the Federation could not have been worked out, which would have commanded general assent? For everyone, I think, agrees—I would agree with this as much as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, does—that, things having reached this pass, changes, and possibly major changes, are now necessary. There would, at any rate, have been a fair chance of negotiating what I think is now called a package deal, which might have secured the assent, if not the enthusiastic assent, of all concerned. But all the prospects of negotiating such a package deal have, I suggest, been inevitably gravely prejudiced if one of the main elements of a bargain has been given away before the negotiations begin; and Her Majesty's Government ought to have known that.
That being the case, I repeat: Could Dr. Banda not have been asked to wait until Mr. Butler's visit in January? Perhaps he was asked and perhaps he refused. But in this case, where our good faith was involved, could we not have insisted? Surely, my Lords, that would have been the right and proper thing to do. And even if the talks in January failed, the situation would have 1168 been no worse than now, and we should at any rate have honoured those obligations we undertook in 1953. It is, of course, possible that the Government regarded the Federation as dead, anyway—although I am sure we were all glad to note (and I would put this especially in the mind of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel) that Mr. Field, in his first speech, said that he would not take the initiative in breaking the Federation. Yet in the light of what has happened in Southern Rhodesia over the week-end, no one can now rule out the end of the Federation. It could happen.
For it must be clear to everyone—and I think this is almost the only point on which I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel—that the Government's policy in Central Africa has failed, and failed disastrously. With all the shifts and shuffles, with all the chopping and changing that we have seen, what has it achieved?—the establishment in two States of the Federation of Governments wedded to the domination of the black man, and in the third of a Government wedded to the domination of the white man. The only political leaders who seem in a fair way to being driven into the political wilderness, at any rate for the time being, are Sir Roy Welensky and Sir Edgar Whitehead—the two men who have stood throughout unflinchingly for that true non-racialism which I have always understood to be the official policy of Mr. Macmillan's Government.
No wonder, my Lords, the Rhodesians feel disillusioned. The vote in the Southern Rhodesian elections this week-end must, in my view, be regarded not as a vote against Sir Roy Welensky or against Sir Edgar Whitehead. To quote the words of the Times' Salisbury correspondent in an article he wrote in their issue on Monday, it was a vote against outside;interference in their internal affairs";against all the meddling and the muddling to which they have been subjected in the last few years. They have seen, those Rhodesians in the Northern Territories of the Federation, Constitution after Constitution scrapped almost before the ink on them was dry. They have seen something to which I am afraid the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is wholly blind: Kenya dying economically before their eyes, facing an immense 1169 disaster, and possibly civil war. They feel that they themselves are on a very slippery slope, and they have decided to call a halt to this interference from outside. Whether they are right or whether they are wrong, that is what they have done. And none of us yet knows what can be saved from this hall, against British colonial policy.
Some people, I notice, reading in the Press, seem bleakly to say, "But the whole conception of a Federation is doomed"; and no doubt there may be a very considerable measure of truth in that, so far as the Federation in its original form was concerned. But, personally, I refuse to take so defeatist a view as that. I still hope that it may be possible to create some interrelationship between the territories of Central Africa. I take it that Mr. Butler's visit to the Federation will still take place—indeed, it is probably more necessary now than ever it was; and it may be that Dr. Banda, who speaks for Nyasaland, and Mr. Kuanda and Mr. Nkumbula, who speak for Northern Rhodesia, may be brought to see the advantages of a continued co-operation between States so interdependent as those of Central Africa. And Mr. Winston Field, whom I know as a sincere and patriotic man, will, I am sure, do his best to induce counsels of moderation among the more extreme of his supporters. In addition, they will, of course, have the support, if I may say so, of that great man Sir Roy Welensky, who, in spite of what is said about him in this country, has always been the champion of moderation in Central Africa.
Finally, there is Mr. Butler himself, who has long experience of negotiations of all kinds and who has not been personally involved, except as a member of the Government, in the errors of the past. He, one can be sure, will do his best. I do not pretend that the good impression he had previously made during his visit to the Federation will not have been tarnished, in the eyes of Rhodesians, by his action this week in advising Her Majesty's Government unilaterally to agree to the secession of Nyasaland. That is inevitable, since it means a conflict with all the solemn undertakings on which they were relying and which were entered into between all the Governments concerned in 1953.
1170 But one must recognise that he may have had this position wished on him by his predecessors, and one may fairly hope that it will not provide a precedent, and will not be regarded by him in particular as providing a precedent, for similar action in the future. In that spirit, I think we can all bless his visit.
But, my Lords, I am very sure that there is a lesson which we simply must learn from these melancholy events if we are not to drift into yet further disaster. It is the same as that which, I believe, our country had to learn so painfully at the time of our troubles with our American colonies 200 years ago—and I would say this in particular, if I may, to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. In dealing with remote places where conditions are so very different from our own, we must not always smugly assume that we who live many thousands of miles away know better than those who live on the spot what is the right way of tackling their policies and their problems; what is the right pace for them to advance. That, I believe, is an essential lesson for all of us; and if we do not learn that lesson now, after this experience, I sadly fear that all we stand for and have worked for in Africa will disappear into the limbo of the past, and the wind of change will end by blowing us all away.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MALVERN
My Lords, I have come quite a long way just to say one thing. When I saw the Motion which was on your Lordships' Order Paper, I was reminded of the fact that there has been a very bad attack of amnesia over recent years in this country which has caused nearly all our troubles. I know that there was considerable opposition in certain circles to the formation of a Federation—you get that in every Parliament. But what was always stressed was that this opposition all came from the African people. As a matter of fact, the number of Africans who opposed it was comparatively small, and the number of Europeans in Southern Rhodesia who opposed it (they are now in power) was also comparatively small. I have said that I have come over to say one thing, and it is this. As one of the principal delegates to the Federal Conference, and one whose signature was necessary to enable the Federation to be brought about, I wish 1171 to say that if I had known that all that had been decided in committee was to be repudiated by the British Government, I would never have signed.
The strange part of it is that I do not think there is any viciousness in what they have done. I think it is their system of Government. For many years, as some of your Lordships know, I had to carry on negotiations with this country and its Government as Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. Secretaries of State, of course, at the beginning, seemed to change fairly frequently, but there was one feature of stability which was that the permanent staff stayed for quite a long time in the same office. That has all been changed. I mention that because, how did it come to pass that the Prime Minister of England allowed the Monckton Commission to inquire into the question of secession? The noble Marquess has already told you that we spent two or three days discussing the wording of the review clause to make perfectly certain that the question of secession could not be discussed when once the Federation had been brought about—and, after all, it is just common sense. You cannot possibly carry on a federal system if any one of the States can blackmail you. The thing was very ably put, as you would expect, by the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, in his Memoirs, when he described how, at the Nigerian Federal Conference, he insisted that the question of secession, once Federation had been brought about, could not be discussed again.
My Lords, it is quite true that in our discussions I do not think we ever thought that any of the States would try and blackmail the Federal Government and break it up. But we had another great anxiety and that was, how were we going to make this new State creditworthy? We all agreed—the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was for most of the time in the chair, and Lord Chandos and Lord Swinton assisted to their utmost—to ensure we got wording whereby no question of secession could possibly take place. Then why would the Prime Minister of England give the Monckton Commission permission to discuss secession? I believe him to be an honourable man; it simply means he was never informed. He went off on his own, but he has caused the present impasse. It all 1172 dates from then. And the situation has deteriorated almost weekly because these ambitious gentlemen who wanted to become kings of the castle or Messiahs or something like that cottoned on to that, and the whole thing has gone on because of the fact that they have only to be a sufficient nuisance and they will have the right to get out of the Federation to which they belong.
We have heard this afternoon that it would be a good idea to have again something like the Central African Council or the East African Commission. Well, of course, the Central African Council was unilaterally torpedoed by Southern Rhodesia. There is not much stability there. The only reason why the High Commission in East Africa has not been torpedoed is that they had until recently not had any sovereign, independent Government concerned in it. There was still an element of control from the United Kingdom. How long it will last when that is withdrawn it is impossible to guess. The noble Earl who introduced this Motion thought, or hoped, that something could be rescued and there could be some arrangement other than federation by which the economic and administrative relationships could continue. Hopeless!You cannot have these things. They cannot work unless there is some constitutionally-formed body that has the power; and if they have the power the constituent parties could not be in a position to blackmail them and destroy them whenever they feel like it.
As I have already told your Lordships, naturally I am not disappointed at what has happened because I realise that other people have messed it up. But I am disappointed when one finds a country like the United Kingdom letting us down in this way. There is a possibility, of course, that some of it was deliberate, because you have to remember that, at any rate since the beginning of the century, it has been the traditional policy of the United Kingdom Government to make certain that she is on friendly terms with the majority of other nations; and she has allowed nothing to stand in the way of achieving that end. I will not go through some of the incidents that have happened in the world in the last fifteen years which show that policy is still the policy they have adopted. The unfortunate Southern Rhodesians, and 1173 others, have been accused from time to time in this country of racial prejudice. There, again, I should like to put the blame where it lies, because I know it is customary now to say there is no racial prejudice here, it could not exist. Racial prejudice started in this country. It was rampant when I was a young man living in this country and I do not see why I should deny it because, after all, I am quite convinced it is one of the terrible things which will be the very last to be eliminated on the earth before Man can be perfected and all men become members of one nation. I believe it is almost a religion.
In spite of that, we can overcome it and gradually educate the people to drop it. For myself, I have no difficulty. As a medical student in London I worked with all sorts of colours. I never had any prejudice against them. I merely regarded them as curios. I remember that. There was no racial prejudice in it at all. In our part of the world, particularly in Southern Rhodesia, it is not so much racial prejudice to-day as social prejudice. I realise that your Lordships on the Benches here might think that is worse—I do not know.
The recent election in Southern Rhodesia was almost a natural reaction. We got them to accept the new Constitution. It was a great battle but it was won two to one. Your Lordships may wonder why we who have retired took part. It is very difficult to retire completely in our part of the world; and I did take part in that campaign, and we persuaded the people, largely European, to accept that Constitution. What did it contain? Among other things, apart from the Charter of Rights and so on, it contained a provision which would ultimately (and nobody could say when) hand over the control of Southern Rhodesia to the African people Nobody seems to remember that. It was a tremendous advance. How soon? Only a crystal gazer could tell this. I am inclined to think that the late Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia unnecessarily fixed a date. He said fifteen years, and I think that was one of the things that probably drove a bit of a nail in his coffin. It was not necessary to mention the period. It was accepted that as we could afford to spend more money on the education of the African people, they 1174 would be in the majority before very long.
It was not a question, under that system, of having African supremacy. The idea was that in this period while more and more of them were qualifying, we should get together; we should goven together; we should understand one another. Therefore when the time came for the Africans to be in the majority on the electoral roll they would no longer, neither the Europeans nor the Africans, vote on colour. It is all very tragic that this has been upset. I am not particularly worried about the change in Southern Rhodesia. It was a natural reaction. They had been very good at the referendum and done the right thing, and I think they were asked to swallow rather too much in one gulp at the general election. However, there were many considerations. This was not the only one. I am sorry to come back to the same whipping boy, but a good deal of what has been said in this country was responsible for the result. After all, the people out there can read. Papers and telegrams are published and all the unpleasant remarks made about them, just when they thought that they had been rather good, had their effect. You in this country are partly responsible for the result.
However, they are not much of a show. I do not think they will last very long. I think that they will be lucky to last two years. Perhaps it is a good thing to have somebody else in power occasionally: it is part of the system. I was asked by a newspaper reporter, before I left home, what I thought of this, and I replied, "This is democracy in action. We are not supposed to have one Party. We can have one Party only when the Government is not sufficiently advanced to realise that there must be more than one" Of course, all these African Governments have gone in for one Party. They could not work any other system. It is not in their make-up. They do not understand it
I have noticed some of the things they do not understand at the University College at home, where we are educating Europeans and Africans together. It only highlights the problem. The Africans play soccer; the Europeans play rugger. The Europeans have "rags" 1175 and the Africans think they are mad for not studying. We get all this sort of thing, and it takes time. I am afraid that everything is being rushed on the altar of keeping in with the majority of the other nations of the world. That, to-day, means UNO—phew!a body that breaks its own rules, as often as not, and goes to war in the Congo for the sake of peace! It has to go on. We need something. I do not want to be too tough about that. We have to have something to fall back on, but it is not shaping very much better than its predecessor.
What was feared at the time of federation, especially by those in the Protectorates, was that reactionary Southern Rhodesia would hold up the development of a united Africa. Of course, those of us who have taken an interest will know what a tremendous advance has taken place, not only economically, but also socially and politically. It has been a tremendous success: and if it had been allowed to simmer a bit longer that success would have lasted and we should have had a wonderful state in what was, only 70 years ago, savage Africa.
I should like to detain your Lordships a little longer, if I may, to pay a testimonial to those Africans who stood by Whitehead in the last election: they practically took their lives in their hands. But what is of extreme interest is that they all got in, except in one constituency, where we had a rather eccentric European, who I think had 46 votes and got in by 4, while 650 other voters in the constituency, practically all Africans, did not vote at all. From time to time those Africans who are prepared to co-operate are called "stooges". I suppose that some of your Lordships heard of one African police reservist who recently, not five miles from Salisbury, while cycling back to his place of work, was seized by four other Africans, thrown down, had petrol poured over him and was burned to death. I say, "some stooges," people who will stand up against that sort of thing. There is a very large friendly section of Africans who could have been brought on, as they are being brought on, and made this federal scheme work.
I am not going to speak much longer, but I would say this before I sit down.
1176 The main thing is that in the course of her general policy Great Britain has repudiated a signed Agreement by making this statement this afternoon. I have a copy of the minutes, but I am not quite sure if they are secret or not—it does not matter. I do not expect some of the other noble Lords who were there to get up and support me. We are far too near a General Election in this country at the present time. And I have no particular feelings about either side. I have worked officially for them both and have found them on both sides a mixed bag. You get good and bad Secretaries of State. You get knowledge-able ones and ignorant ones—just a cross-section of the people.
Many of us have a tremendous admiration for the new First Secretary. We believe that he is a man of integrity, who has a tremendous experience and has displayed great ability. We hope that he is coming out in January, in spite of the statement made to-day, to see whether he can possibly get something out of this mess and get them together again. Of course, we are all assuming, after hearing the statement, that Dr. Banda will secede. I do not know. Some people, as soon as they get the right to do a thing, give it up. It ceases to be a hobby. So we cannot tell what his views are. But I must say that the African scene to-day is quite weird. There is a Messiah in the West, but then there is only one Party there. Again, we have Nyasaland led by a Messiah. When I was home earlier in the year I was asked if they were inspired here by the Malawi Party's great victory. I said, "Yes, it is quite clever, but is it quite fair in Party politics to have one Party led by a god?" That is the sort of thing you have to put up with in Africa.
I hope that the First Secretary will come out and try to rescue some of it. I do not think it impossible, so long as they slow up a bit, to produce a reasonable settlement. But all the pressure from the commercial men is to get on with it. A couple of years wasted now in a standstill might solve the whole problem. What is needed is calm and deliberate consultation between all Parties. I believe that we have now reached the stage that, if any Party 1177 refuses to attend a conference, they should be ruled out. Over the last few years we have had this Party and that Party going to London but not going into the Conference. I call that playing a nursery game, and it cannot get anywhere. But unfortunately the British Government rather encourage them: "We cannot go on without all these people in"—and all these people decline again next time. They have every encouragement. I know that some of them think that they can get their way by abstaining. I hope that the First Secretary's State visit will produce something and I hope that it will not be necessary for me to return to this matter. I am getting a bit old, but perhaps I should be here. I have always shown great loyalty to this country and have always thought that the French description of it was very badly placed. I had to live to nearly the age of 80 to find that it was an accurate description.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I feel that we should all wish to say how delighted we are to have heard my noble friend Lord Malvern, who, with his usual inimitable charm, has given us a speech of great courage and sincerity. Of all the great debates which have been held in your Lordships' House during the past years on the subject of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland this is certainly the most crucial. We must be grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for putting down his Motion, and also for his prescience in fixing the date. It could not have come at a more opportune moment, when these events of the utmost gravity have occurred in Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia, culminating with the statement this afternoon to which I shall revert later.
As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, we have come to a parting of the ways. The British Government have to take a firm decision now to keep the rest of the Federation in being, though perhaps under a different name and in another form, or to face the consequences which would flow from not doing so. A joint announcement made by Her Majesty's Government and the Federal Government in April, 1957, following the talks between my noble friend Lord Home, my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton, and 1178 Sir Roy Welensky, stated that the progress made by the Federation since 1953had justified the hopes of its founders and provided a sound basis for future development of the policy of partnership between the races which the Federation is pursuing.Where does that policy stand to-day? Thanks to what I am afraid I can only describe as the weakness and misdirection of British Government policy during the past three years; thanks to the pressure of extreme African nationalism and to the sinister intervention of the United Nations, the theory and practice of non-racialism and partnership is dangerously threatened in Central Africa. Non-racialism is the crux of the problem in Central Africa to-day, just as it was in 1960, when the Monckton Report said of the Federation—this was only two years ago—To break it up at this crucial moment in the history of Africa would, we believe, amount to an admission that there is no hope of survival for any racial society on the African continent and that differences of colour and race are irreconcilable.I do not think that that is a thesis which we can accept, any more than the Monckton Commission accepted it two years ago. I believe that it applies equally strongly to-day, and I hope that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, when he comes to reply for the Government, will be able to give us a categorical assurance that those are the lines on which they still intend to proceed.
To do so, we have to face up to this fact: that the system of Pan-African racialism, which has had such disastrous effects in Ghana and in the Congo, and may, indeed, one day have in East Africa, is simply not acceptable in Southern Africa where a mixed racial society exists and will remain. It is, I submit, absurd to suggest that every African state must be treated exactly alike, on the basis of "One man, one vote" and the now somewhat tarnished export "Westminster model", quite irrespective of the history of the country and its racial composition, its geographical position and state of development. We have an obligation to these countries to achieve genuine political, economic and social progress and prosperity, but not to give way to demands for immediate independence and so-called democracy, if that means chaos and disaster. It seems to me largely because, after the famous "Wind of 1179 Change" speech three years ago, these objectives were abandoned or lost sight of, that the First Secretary of State today finds himself confronted with what he has described as the most intractable problem in the whole of his political career.
However, we have to take the facts as we find them. We have been told this afternoon of the Government's acceptance of the principle of secession for Nyasaland. Whatever the merits or demerits of that proposal, I have to say that I deeply regret the manner and timing of its announcement. My noble friend Lord Salisbury has reminded us of the pledge given by the representatives of Her Majesty's Government at the Conference in January, 1953, to the then Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, my noble friend Lord Malvern, and to other representatives of Southern and Northern Rhodesia. I was present throughout those meetings and I remember very well what was said. The British Government's representatives stated categorically that the federal Constitution could not be liquidated or upset without the concurrence of all the Governments involved.
As regards the legal position, we all heard the views of my noble and learned friend Lord Kilmuir in our debate in March of this year; and we all know that the Federal Government hold somewhat different views. However, one thing is clear: that in the last resort, as has already been said by my noble friend Lord Salisbury, the British Parliament can do anything it wishes in this respect, in just the same way as it could technically have abrogated the Australian or Canadian Constitution before the Statute of Westminster. But the moral obligation of Her Majesty's Government in his matter is, I submit, absolutely clear. They have no right to undo or loosen the ties of federation without the consent of all the parties to the 1953 agreement.
It really is ironic that Her Majesty's Government, who, together with other Governments, lay such stress on the importance of conforming to the terms of the Loi fondamentale in the Congo when it comes to the secession of Katanga, should act in a totally different 1180 manner when it concerns our own people in the Federation. Whatever private pledge may have been given to Dr. Banda, it could not supersede pledges formally given at the 1953 Conference. Then, again, as my noble friend said, what was the hurry in making this statement this afternoon? Could the Government not have waited until the First Secretary went out to the Federation for talks in three weeks' time, or preferably, perhaps, until a formal conference had taken place? As it is, there is bound to be a further loss of faith in the words and intentions of Her Majesty's Government, which throughout the whole of the past three years have bedevilled our relations with the Federal Government and, indeed, members of all races in Central Africa.
We are vary fortunate, I believe, in having in Sir Roy Welensky one of the outstanding statesmen, not merely of the Commonwealth, but of the whole world. He is a man of complete integrity and high idealism and wholly dedicated to the cause of non-racialism. It seems to me tragic that in these crucial years Her Majesty's Government have not found it possible to walk step by step with him. It is all very well to say that we have obligations to the two Protectorates. Of course we have. But that does not mean that we have any lesser responsibility to the Government of the Federation, which we ourselves established and for the continuation of which we are morally committed.
It was only to be expected that once an extremist-dominated Government was set up in Northern Rhodesia one of their first acts would be to call for secession. This is apparently to be done in a Motion to be moved in the Legislative Council in Lusaka next month. I hope we may have an assurance here to-day that the official members of the Legislative Council will be instructed to vote against that Motion, and I trust that the nominated members Will do likewise. Those of us who wished to see a steady evolution towards self-government in Northern Rhodesia on a non-racial basis by expanding the Lennox-Boyd Constitution have always deplored the makeshift Constitution which finally emerged. But having regard to the results of the election—the United Federal Party, 16; the United National 1181 Independence Party, 14; the African National Congress, 7—it is surely very strange that the Governor did not in the first instance send for the leader of the United Federal Party and call upon him to try to form a Government, particularly as they had an electoral alliance with the African National Congress. Surely, this would be the usual constitutional procedure in this country.
I realise, of course, that in the strictly legal sense the decision is one for the Governor, but I know from my own experience that in practice he is guided by the views of Her Majesty's Government. I recognise fully the task with which the First Secretary is faced, and I am conscious of his earnest and tireless efforts to find solutions, but I feel it was regrettable that he should have seen Mr. Kaunda and Mr. Nkumbula while the final results of the election were still in doubt, without at any rate inviting Mr. Roberts, the Leader of the United Federal Party, to come to see him as well. It was bound to lead to further regrettable and, I think, unnecessary suspicion in Northern Rhodesia and in Salisbury.
Now we have this uneasy alliance between Mr. Nkumbula and U.N.I.P., a Party which he himself told me last spring had organised attacks on his person and which has since been responsible for the death or injury of dozens of A.N.C. members—and, of course, vice versa. I see that it is announced to-day that Mr. Kaunda has been asked by Moscow to report on his policy. It does not surprise me. Although he now says that his Parity is not in any way associated with Russia, the fact remains that Mr. Nkumbula told me last spring that U.N.I.P. had accepted funds from behind the Iron Curtain, and that he himself, on behalf of A.N.C, had had similar offers and had refused funds from the same source. I think we must hope that, as has occurred elsewhere, office will bring a fresh sense of responsibility to these leaders, and that the wiser members of their Parties will help to sway their counsels and the behaviour of their adherents.
I now turn to Southern Rhodesia. Here we have seen, in the election results, the effect of drift and weakness in recent years on the part of the British Government and the extreme demands of 1182 African Nationals. Again and again, I and many others have warned the Northern African leaders that this would follow from their policies and their attitudes. I remember as long ago as 1952 begging Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland not to ignore the interest of their brothers in Southern Rhodesia and to drive that country into the arms of South Africa. I do not say that that has occurred, but I have no doubt whatever that the defeat of Sir Edgar Whitehead—to whom I should also like to pay a very special tribute—was directly due to the combination of events in the Northern Territories, to the vicious attacks made at the United Nations, and to what must appear to Europeans in Southern Rhodesia to be British pandering to African extremists.
I have the highest respect for Mr. Winston Field and many of his associates, whom I am happy to number among my friends, and I feel sure that they will discharge their duties ably and wisely, but it would be useless to deny that this Party and supporters include some white racialists who, to my mind, are just as dangerous as black racialists. It is only a year and a half ago that the Southern Rhodesian referendum, by an overwhelming majority, approved the new Constitution put forward by Sir Edgar Whitehead, with all that that implied in the movement towards the abolition of all racial discrimination. Without in any way wishing to get involved in Southern Rhodesian politics, I think it is tragic that this healthy trend, with such measures coming along as the repeal of the Land Apportionment Act, has been halted or slowed down. In the long view, Europeans and Africans must learn to live and work together, whether in the Northern territories or in Southern Rhodesia; and in order to do so without suffering grave economic, social and, I would say, political troubles, they must also learn to do so within the framework of some sort of association of the three territories, call it what you may.
In the case of Nyasaland, it is primarily in economic matters that some form of association is desirable. The recent Constitutional Conference in London terminated most successfully, and we should all wish to congratulate Mr. Butler and Dr. Banda on this happy outcome.
1183 Dr. Banda has always made it clear that he stood for secession. Although for many reasons—to which I should like to refer briefly—I regret this, the fact remains that Nyasaland is overwhelmingly an African State, and if Dr. Banda and his Party wish to "go it alone" they should be allowed to do so, provided, of course, that the proper constitutional procedure was followed.
I was glad to see from the First Secretary's statement in another place on December 3, that he has received from Dr. Banda a plan for raising finance which is realistic and which will help to alleviate their difficulties in the event of their leaving the Federation. That is all to the good, but there are many other aspects of this economic matter which are open to question. We must not underrate, for example, the really formidable problem of the need for the Nyasas to seek employment outside their own country. In fact, as many as 200,000 out of some 750,000 adult males are employed outside Nyasaland at any one time, including, in 1958, some 123,000 in Southern Rhodesia. Having regard to Southern Rhodesia's own unemployment problems, which are very great, it seems to me essential that close arrangements and agreements should exist between those two countries in this matter. It is here, of course, that the long-established friendship between Dr. Banda and Mr. Winston Field may help to play a useful part. I know that Malawi leaders are sensitive about these matters, and I certainly should not wish to see economic difficulties being used to try to achieve political aims. But we are dealing with the harsh facts of economic life, and for this reason I most strongly hope that new ties of some sort can be negotiated freely between Nyasaland and whatever new form of federation may emerge.
The position of Northern Rhodesia is, at first sight, similar to that of Nyasaland, but there are many very important differences. There is the long, historical connection between the two Rhodesias which, after all, were both developed as a result of the vision and energy of Cecil Rhodes. There is a large white population in Northern Rhodesia, and the copper mines which are the main source of wealth are entirely dependent 1184 upon European skill. Northern Rhodesia's access to the sea lies through Southern Rhodesia, from which it also receives all its coal and most of its electrical power. When copper prices fell in 1958, the effect in Northern Rhodesia was largely cushioned by the more buoyant situation in Southern Rhodesia. In short, the economics of the two territories are complementary, and any attempt to break them up would diminish markets and seriously endanger the credit-worthiness of the whole Federation.
Contrary to what most people believe, it is Southern Rhodesia which would suffer the least from a dissolution of the Federation, but here again a most serious economic setback would certainly occur, particularly in the field of the rapidly-growing secondary industries. It has been suggested by several noble Lords this afternoon that a common services authority, such as exists in East Africa or, perhaps, the revival of the old Central African Council, would fill the bill. I do not for a moment believe that either of these would meet the case. It was because there was no central political power that the original Central African Council failed and the plans for federation were put forward. Then again there is this question of the Federal National Debt. Clearly, as the Monckton Report stated, the United Kingdom would incur heavy liabilities under the Federal loans already guaranteed, and, of course, an additional moral obligation to prevent an economic collapse. The announcement of unilateral action by Her Majesty's Government in regard to Nyasaland which we have heard this afternoon seems to me to lay upon them additional moral responsibilities in this connection.
So, to recapitulate, it is vital, in my view, that the federal structure should be preserved for both political and economic reasons. To allow it to break up would be a tragic and perhaps final blow to the conception of a non-racial society in Southern Africa, with incalculable consequences for the rest of the world. At the same time it would involve a serious and perhaps disastrous set-back to the great economic progress which has been achieved during the last nine years; to an economic progress which has led to a vastly higher standard 1185 of living which, in turn, would suffer.
In my view it is something which we cannot contemplate, and I hope Her Majesty's Government will be able to make it clear to us this evening that it is something that they, too, cannot and will not contemplate. The difficulties are enormous, and the First Secretary has all our sympathy and good wishes in his tremendous task. We can rely on him to put the arguments fairly and squarely to all those with whom he is to have consultations next month. Is it really too much to ask that, whatever the differences there may have been in the past, the necessary goodwill should now be forthcoming from all the political leaders, European and African alike, to enable Mr. Butler to bring this task to a successful conclusion?
§ 5.32 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I had intended to make certain of not trespassing on your time as I did on the last time I had the honour of speaking, and I wrote out a speech which was duly timed. But it fell into a swimming bath about midday and I had the choice of making the wettest speech I have yet made or doing without notes altogether—and I am doing without notes.
I feel from the tone of this debate that one must ask: where are we going? I thought that we ware all united in seeking to bestow upon Africans, who so evidently and ardently wish it, freedom from colonialism and imperialism; that that was being applied steadily and planned with the idea of the minimum loss of efficiency throughout all the territories of Africa which we control; and that in those territories where there are a small number of white people (the maximum, I think, is one white person to twelve black in Southern Rhodesia) this principle should not be indefinitely held back because those white people, no matter what benefits they have bestowed, do not want it.
Therefore, I am wondering whether, when the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, says, in the case of Southern Rhodesia, that it is a mistake to put a date, he intends readily that the date should be the Greek kalends. That is what most of the Africans fear; and from contacts I have had with Africans I am convinced that the existence of the political element in this Federation has been a 1186 great impediment to gaining their confidence. What are their views on this Federation? They say: "We do not like it. Is not Africa soon going to be ours? Why do you force us into this Federation?" This is the fee-ling I have gathered from discussions with Africans anywhere between the Horn and the Cape. I feel that it is a great impediment to their sense of the speed at which they are gaining freedom. But I do ask what is the meaning of non-racial? What is the meaning of multi-racial? Does it mean a modification of the plain to bestow upon African territories in some good time or other, the Uhuru which they are demanding and which I thought we were preparing to give? Is non-racial a qualifying factor on the programme of independence or is it not?
It seems to me that this freedom which they are demanding is no different from the freedom which my ancestor, Byron, asked for the Greeks, or for which my grandfather, Blunt, was imprisoned in Ireland for speaking in favour of Home Rule. In my early days I thought that Blunt was probably wrong and that Byron may have been wrong. But when I was sent to Ireland to suppress the activities of the Sinn Feinners, and so on, it was one of the great disillusionments of my early youth that the man upon whose head £10,000 had been placed, and who was described to me as one of the bloodiest of murderers and a traitor, should be the man to whom the noble Viscount, Lord Fitz-Allen handed over the keys to Dublin Castle in 1922. Ever since I have wondered: are these so-called Messiahs today who were murderers then?
I have come to the conclusion that these leaders who have appeared in Africa are the people we have to deal with. I hope that any suggestion that this Uhuru—which is not anti-British, not anti-white, not anti-European and, happily, not anti-Christian; but is for freedom and is the same thing that others have been fighting for all over the place—is a Red movement may be discounted by the very appropriate Indian proverb:He who finds himself in the mouth of a lion will appeal for help, even to the tiger".That is a truth. Of course they will go to Moscow if we do not give them what 1187 they want, especially as we have said again and again that it is right. I am wondering whether there is any real difference in this House except a difference of timing. If so, a great deal of the heat that has been exploded might have been less: because if we are agreed so far, then it is only a matter of time before the Africans will get what they want.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that there are federations in mind. There are indeed, and I cannot myself help being aware that the federations that the Africans have in mind are totally different from any of those that we have in mind. At least that is my information. For example, I noted that in the last few days of July this year Mr. Jomo Kenyatta—a man we may not like; who has a standing in African eyes from the Cape to Cairo and is among a small body of people who are national heroes, and one has only to hear the speeches made to him and about him by other Africans to be aware of this—made a speech, which was reported in the Somali News of August 4, giving his ideas of a federation which he had discussed with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Somalia. He said:We have touched, as your Prime Minister has just said, on a federation including those territories such as Ethiopia. Somalia. Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Nyasaland and the two Rhodesias.He mentioned another territory, which I will mention later, in talking to Press correspondents. There are great obstacles to that particular federation coming off, but it has been discussed by an independent African State with one of the two most prominent leaders in Kenya.
The same thing has, I know, been discussed in Addis Ababa with the Emperor of Ethopia, and at a conference at which Mr. Kaunda was present, that is reported in The Times of February 4, 5 and 8 this year. Why cannot we try to see a federation through African eyes? It seems to me that we as a colonial, imperialist Power have a tremendous influence and great duty in bringing each territory to independence. After that it is not what we say but what the Africans say that counts. Can we not therefore call a conference on a wider basis to include the territories which many Africans have been 1188 talking about as a Federation? It is true there are difficulties: the Emperor of Ethiopia, in spite of his declaration of last February that it was incumbent on the British to apply the principles of constitutional advance in the High Commission territories in a way that has been done elsewhere, is himself an imperialist. The battle is not against anything but imperialism, whether it is black or white or multi-coloured. The Somalis who were over here, and whom we entertained as guests in this country a few weeks ago, said clearly: We are no longer afraid of white imperialism. That is part of our history. We are now grateful. We want to be friends and to continue to be friends".
As your Lordships know, and as I have said before, a great part of their territory is still part of an imperial Power which joined with us and carved it up about 80 years ago. That is the difficulty there. There is the N.F.D., which is a bone of contention between the Somalis and Kenya; between Kenya and Tanganyika lie the Masai, who are cut in half between the two: something should be done for them. The man who has undisputed legal title in the coastal strip of Kenya, is the Sultan of Zanzibar. Going further South there is the Central African Federation, which, in the view of those who regard it as an impediment, is an extraordinary creation. To start with, its name is incredible; it is as far South of the centre of Africa as Khartoum is North; the same distance as between here and Rome, 1,000 miles. It is not African; it is a white creation; it is not a true federation because it has been imposed, and federation implies a measure of equality. Therefore, it is a great relief (I do not accuse anybody) to hear to-day what has been said by the Government.
But there is this bigger thing. Coming to this question of freedom for each territory, there are two points I would make before finishing. The first is this: it is not altogether obvious, or it has not been altogether obvious, that the idea of freedom should have been bounded by boundaries which have been established by the colonial imperialist Powers. I say that it is not obvious, because African politicians have been denouncing those boundaries for years and years, saying that they were wholly artificial. Now they have applied to 1189 them a measure of sanctity, so that it is virtually treason to question them; and that leads to difficulties where an adjustment of boundaries is obviously desirable.
I am impressed with this sense of unity because it is a gift from us to them. Never mind what they say about it. When we went there, even when I went there 40 years ago they were divided, the Masai raided tribes 600 miles from the Wahehe, in the South, to the Boran, in the North; and when they raided they speared every man, woman and child. I had a chief, a colleague of mine—not in raiding—who was a lone raider and did precisely these things, and I had many a discussion with him. But that sort of thing was prevalent throughout whole areas of Africa, in my time. My authorities regarded him as a bloodstained murderer. I reinstated him because his tribe regarded him as a double V.C. and would not elect anybody else. Therefore, we worked together; and he abandoned his habits when I was there.
Shortly after reinstating him I asked him, "What would you do if we were all to leave?" He said, "If you were to leave to-night, to-morrow morning before the sun was up I should be over those hills to the Manyattas land the Suk with my spear". That man became a friend of mine. I am certain he had no further wish after a time to carry on with his old, very hazardous way of life. He called me his brother and walked in front of me garbed in such Western costume as he thought suitable. He insisted on accompanying me to the boundaries of his chieftaincy whenever I went out on safari. His garb was usually a pair of boots and an umbrella.
This unity has been achieved. I give an illustration from Kenya which I know. Sixty-two tribes are virtually united in one administration. That is a tremendous achievement. We have got as far as that, and they regard it as so precious as to call it treason to modify it. It is due to all those incorruptible civil servants who year after year have brought about this change. As a kind of culmination of it I received my first Christmas card from a young African officer of the new 2nd Battalion of the Tanganyika Rifles, which has the same beautiful ribbon as that on my tie, a nice silver elephant and one word: 1190 umoja, unity. That is what we have done there. This principle of freedom must precede federation. That is what every African says—Freedom first, Federation next.
I want to say one other thing in connection with this which echoes what several more learned noble Lords have said, and that is with regard to the Congo. The Kenyatta Federation includes the Congo, although I did not mention it. He omitted it from that particular speech. When we come to the Congo, it is a puzzle to me why we should not apply the principle of uhuru and umoja to Katanga as well as anywhere else. What is the United Nations doing in forcing what is, so far as one can see, an artificially imposed unity—imposing it by force at our expense? Why is this? It seems to me as bad as what is done by the Emperor of Abyssinia in keeping one lot of Somalis from another, who is including Galla, who do not want to be with him at all. It seems a form of transposition of imperialism on to a situation which should be treated quite differently. Why should we not send to Katanga, as we sent to the N.F.D., a Commission to find out what they want before we start shooting them? We have all sorts of dying imperialisms, black in the North, white in the South, and the United Nations on the flank. It is imperialism which is the enemy and not anti-white. Could we not issue invitations for such a Federation of the countries I have mentioned, the Congo if they wish, Katanga separately if it wishes, or discuss this splendid idea of Federation for an area the size of Europe, with the great lakes, the greatest resources of water, which is like gold, deserts which could be improved with water, and with 50 million people in it? The Africans have suggested it; it is not my suggestion. Let us adopt their suggestion instead of fiddling about with our ideas of Federation. Federation is not our business. Uhuru is our business, to give them freedom, and after that it is their affair. I am sure that is right.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, a few weeks ago many people in this country were somewhat upset to have a truth, or a partial truth, told them by a candid friend from across the Atlantic, to the 1191 effect that we had lost an Empire and not yet found a role. Any of your Lordships who have listened to the noble Earl who has just sat down would certainly be convinced, if he was not already, that to have lost an Empire in the way that we have lost it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, it should be our objective to proceed as fast as we can along the path that we have been travelling since at any rate 1945.
When we cone to the question of the role that we should play in the New World, here again I feel that Mr. Dean Acheson was at fault in saying that we had not found a role. We have found a role. Our rôle surely must be the continuation of freedom, as the noble Earl has just said, and at the same time to help to create and keep together and strengthen the successor to the Empire—in other words, the Commonwealth. It is difficult to define what the Commonwealth actually is. It is a voluntary association of free people. It is something which is held together, though certainly not by any overriding economic interests because many of our interests are at variance with each other. It is not held together by our being of the same colour—we have many colours in the Commonwealth; nor is it held together by race or religion because we have many races and religions in the Commonwealth. It is held together by something far less tangible, perhaps far less recognisable; it is held together, I believe, by an adherence to certain principles, to certain ethical standards in behaviour, in political life, in business, in the whole concept of how free peoples should evolve, how they should develop and what their future should be.
That, surely, is our present rôle, and anyone who says that we have no role at all, or have not found a rôle, must have missed what I hope is an obvious truth to most of your Lordships. But they can, perhaps, he forgiven, for feeling that: because although we have this real rôle in the Commonwealth as the successor to the British Empire, we have unfortunately, and to our shame and our unhappiness, failed to fulfil that rôle in the past ten years, and each time more and more seriously. We have had the failure which not many months ago we were discussing in your Lordships' House, of the West Indian Federation—not such 1192 a serious part of the world, though an important part, and important as an indication of how we were proceeding in this new rôle of ours. More recently, we have had our failure in East Africa, and to-day we are discussing our failure in Central Africa.
Even those of us who have welcomed the decision of Her Majesty's Government which the Lord Chancellor read out to us only recently cannot feel anything but unhappiness and shame, when a statesman with the feeling towards this country and the experience that the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, has, can refer to this country as "perfidious Albion" in the closing words of his speech. As I say, whether one takes the view that the Government have done right or not (and I believe that they have done right), the fact that they have done it in the atmosphere of their own creation, an atmosphere which has given rise to an accusation by an old and valued friend of breaking faith and perfidy must cause us the deepest shame and unhappiness.
Federation itself which is close to the centre of this problem that we are discussing now, is a good idea. It is the right thing to aim at, it is right in Central Africa, just as it was right in the West Indies. But again, as the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, has said, without the full approval of the people who are concerned, it is a useless idea. It must he carried along with the consent and the enthusiasm, as well as the approval of those who are most vitally concerned. That is why I welcome the Government's recognition of the fact that, so long as the three members of the proposed Federation are not willing partners to it, there can be no forcing of this particular issue.
Nyasaland itself, we expect now that it has a democratically elected Government on a full franchise, will soon leave the Federation. Northern Rhodesia is moving in the same direction, both as far as franchise is concerned and, so far as one can see, as far as the wishes of those in the Federation are concerned. But Southern Rhodesia is still a long way behind in this process of democratic evolution. I think we are justified in asking what it is that is different in 1193 Southern Rhodesia which has delayed its progress so far behind that of its two neighbours.
Are the Africans in Southern Rhodesia less worthy of having the vote than those in Nyasaland and those in Northern Rhodesia? Are they more ignorant? If they are—and I very much doubt it—are they in fact more ignorant than the voters in, for instance, the West Indies, where there is already a universal franchise; where there is no literacy test—nothing of the kind at all; where many of the voters cannot read, cannot write and have little idea as to what are the issues when it comes to a general election, and yet have been given a vote? If one really comes down to the point, what about some of our own voters at home? I am afraid that some of them at election time are not always clear what they are voting about. Any of your Lordships having experience as candidates for another place will know this well. I have myself canvassed people and asked them to vote for me and for my Party, and one of the answers which comes to my mind, was "I will give you my vote—anything to get that man Attlee out and Churchill back again." Surely that is not a high example of political intelligence. Yet I have no reason to think that we are not more or less democratically governed here. So, my Lords, I would suggest that you cannot justify the fact that there is no universal franchise in Southern Rhodesia on the ground of ignorance.
You may then justify it on the ground of corruption, or on the ground of intimidation. But, again, let us look a little at our own history. We do not have to go back many years, certainly not further back than the end of the eighteenth century, to find a considerable degree of corruption in our Parliamentary elections, particularly when we had nothing like universal franchise, when the franchise was supposedly restricted to those people who could best exercise that right. As for intimidation, I do not think that occurs in this country at the present time. But it is not many years ago that tenants on farms and in tied cottages were turned out of their farms and evicted from their cottages because they had the temerity to vote Liberal instead of voting for a Conservative landlord in the way he thought right.
1194 So we in this country have had intimidation, perhaps of a rather less violent kind than certain types which are reported to be now going on, and to have gone on, in Africa.
Therefore, my Lords, we surely cannot justify this difference in treatment between the people of Southern Rhodesia and those of any other country on the grounds of ignorance, intimidation or corruption. The real reason, I suggest, why they have been treated differently lies in the fact that for the past ten years the Government of this country have been cowardly. They have not had the courage to face a showdown with those in power in Southern Rhodesia. They have tried to keep in with them, they have tried to keep them happy and satisfied, and it is this very cowardice which has led to the state of affairs that exists to-day, where we have had to run the risk of being accused by people such as the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, of breaking our word. The trouble is that the longer you go on being cowardly, the more courage you need to change your attitude when eventually you come to do so. That time has now come, and the Government, I am glad to say, are at last beginning to show some courage in dealing with this problem. But now they must go on and do more.
I suggest that there are four things we should urge the Government to do, with the least possible delay. First of all— and this, in effect, has been done already—we should abandon federation; but only for the moment: we must not abandon the idea of it. We must still make clear that we hope eventually federation will arise, but we also must make it clear from to-day that none of these three territories will be forced into federation against their will. In this connection the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said words to the effect that we must not smugly assume that we in this country know more than the people on the spot how to run their country in relation to federation. I think that that its true; but, equally, we must not smugly assume that the people in those territories of Central Africa whose skins happen to be the same colour as ours know more about how to run those territories than the people whose skins are a different colour. We must pay heed to the views of all the statesmen, the politician's, the potential voters and others, 1195 but it is the greatest error to pay attention only to the voices of the Europeans and to ignore the voices of the Africans who are in such a very great majority.
The second thing I suggest we must do is to insist on a speedy end to racial discrimination in every form in any territory for which we have any responsibility: discrimination whether of a social kind or whether in regard to ownership of land—discrimination wherever it may arise. I was interested, saddened, but in agreement with the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, when he painted out to us that racial discrimination had its roots in this country, and I think it is very much harder for us to adopt the attitude we must adopt in Africa without actually adopting lit in this country as well.
At the same time as insisting on an end to these practices of racial discrimination, we also, in my view, should insist on an end to those practices which curtail political freedom. We must face the fact that in Southern Rhodesia the present time the state of affairs is such that it is not very far removed from a police State. It is an ugly word, a word none of us likes to use, but, my Lards, what is in fact a police State? My definition is that it is a State where the normal writ of habeas corpus does not run; where the ordinary individual does not have unfettered access to the courts to defend his individual freedom, but is subject to Ministerial edict without appeal to the courts; where the police act on behalf of the Minister, and where the individual does not enjoy the protection of the judiciary.
In certain cases in Southern Rhodesia at the present time we are perilously close to that situation. For instance, public meetings may not now be held if there are more than eleven people meeting in a public place, nor are more than 100 people allowed to meet in private. Any appeal against this ban is not to a judge in a court of law, but to the Minister—to the Government itself. There is now a new offence in Southern Rhodesia with a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment—the serious offence of anybody unlawfully ceasing to work or refraining from going to work. That type of interference with the freedom of the individual is some 1196 thing which, I grant, must be allowed at certain periods at times of grave emergency, but it is not an atmosphere which can be allowed to continue month after month, year after year; nor is it the sort of atmosphere in which it is possible to achieve anything like co-operation or confidence in the future, or the right relationship between the different elements, political, social and economic, which is essential if that country is to have any peace and prosperity.
The third point which must be insisted upon by us is a rapid extension of the franchise and a statement that no territory will become independent until it has a full franchise, so that we are quite certain the people have a voice in a Government which is going to demand independence rather than be the voice of a minority Government. Fourthly, we must ensure that the common services, so vital to the economic survival of the area and so vital to any future Federation that may arise, are kept in being. That is a specific, clear responsibility of Her Majesty's Government and must be carried on by them, through agencies, if they like, but with the full acceptance of that responsibility.
My Lords, we all know that the future of these three territories depends, in the long run, upon real co-operation between all the people living in them. The Africans cannot get on without the Europeans; the Europeans cannot get on without the Asians and Africans, and so on. We want them all to remain there; we want them all to work there, and to feel that what work they do gains for them a just reward. But that cannot be achieved until we have removed the barriers which exist at the present time, until we have given confidence (because it has never been there) among the Africans themselves, the overwhelming majority of the people, and shown them that we are intent upon doing them justice and making sure that their standard of living, as well as their freedom, rises at the same time. Our eventual hope must be that the area of federation should be re-established and that it should be enlarged (if not so far as the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, envisages, at least to embrace East Africa also) and that there should be some form of free trade area development—not perhaps a common market, because we know the difficulties there, but a political Federation which 1197 will enable that area to play its part in South Africa and also in the British Commonwealth of Nations. That is the role we must take on for ourselves; that is the rôle we have neglected in the past ten years; that is the role we must succeed in carrying out if this country is to have any standing in future in Africa.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for having put down this Motion, and my noble friend Lord Malvern for having come all this way to deliver his most admirable speech. He is a man who can say things which many of us would not dare to say, and in a manner which does not seem to offend anybody. However, if I may say so, I think the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is as inappropriate, ill-timed and inept as Mr. Butler's announcement which we heard to-day. Both of them suggest that the men in Westminster know best, and all my experience, which now goes hack 50 years in connection with the Colonial and Commonwealth countries, tells me that it is very seldom that the men in Westminster know best. More usually the men on the spot know best. Here I agree very much with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and with others who indicated that.
I think the principal criticism I make of the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is that it is too soon, precipitate. I was in the House of Commons when Mr. Jim Griffiths sold us the idea that Federation in these territories of Central Africa would be a good thing. I was one of those who helped him to persuade the House of Commons that it was a good idea. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, either did not know that or forgot it when he attached the whole of the blame for all that has happened in Central Africa to the Conservative Party.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I admit that I knew that Mr. Griffiths and the Labour Government at that time supported the administrative preparations that were made for Federation. But I am sure the noble Lord would agree that the Labour Party did not support the establishment of the Federation, and voted in both 1198 Houses against the Bill that set it up in 1953.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, they not merely supported the administrative arrangements, they initiated the idea. So we have Mr. Jim Griffiths starting the idea, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, now telling us to abandon it without any pause for consideration. The Labour Party has indeed made a somersault. But I also agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that the Conservative Party, the Governments we have had in the last ten years since Federation, have shillied and shallied and never been able to make up their minds to give Federation a fair chance.
I was on record, at the time of Mr. Griffiths' initiation of Federation as having said in the House of Commons that sovereign power should then have been transferred to the Federation, and I believe that was the best course that could have been taken at that time. At the time of the Monckton Report I went on record, in this House, as saying that it was a profound mistake for them to discuss secession. At the time that the Report came to this House, I again pleaded that any idea that secession should be a matter for the option of the territories in five years should be abandoned, because it seemed to me quite obvious that it would thereafter become the ordinary platform of every demagogue. "I will bring you the dissolution of federation sooner. Vote for me", must be the cry. I mention these two statements only lest it should be thought that I am being wise after the event. For what it was worth, I was wise, or some would think unwise, before the event in both of these cases.
What are we to do now? I should have thought that we could have waited until Mr. Butler had gone there in only four or five weeks; that he might then have had discussions. I could have hoped that if he in his wisdom and his judgment found it inevitable, and perhaps found that the people in Central Africa had all agreed—some reluctantly, perhaps all reluctantly, but had nevertheless agreed—that the present Federation must go, it could then have gone. Then, practically at the same time, we might have had three territories all agreeing, perhaps not to a new Federa 1199 tion, but to a new consortium or association which might be a Federation in everything but name. But it seemed to me that it must have some political content. A mere council such as they have in East Africa, which arranges the railways and posts and telegraphs, would not be enough. In that consortium or association there must be some kind of power, which I would call political power.
It seems to me, in trying to look into the crystal ball, that Nyasaland has been virtually promised the right of secession. I presume it has also been promised independence. I presume, also, that the independence will be conditioned by large grants from the Treasury, but that there will be no control over finance. I cannot regard that as satisfactory, but it has apparently been promised. I suppose it will follow logically that Northern Rhodesia will ask for the same. If that is so, then it seems to me that Southern Rhodesia must also have the right—not of secession, because there will be nothing to secede from when Northern Rhodesia goes, if they go, but the right of independence from such powers and controls as remain from the Mother Country. If then these three units are all free and independent, it is not inconceivable that Mr. Butler, and their own common-sense view as to what is absolutely necessary for them all, might bring them together again. I could have wished that we had waited for that.
One must look at the viability of these three territories, or so it seems to me. A Federation or an association of these three territories could be viable. That means to say, it could support itself politically and economically. I am quite certain that Nyasaland cannot do that economically; I doubt whether it can politically, but we shall sec. Northern Rhodesia probably could support itself economically, and perhaps it can politically, but not, my Lords, as a democracy.
Do not let us be under the illusion that we are planning democracy in Africa. It has been the experience that, wherever freedom has been given to the African people by the British in Africa, Parliamentary democracy has not followed. What has followed has been a period of trial of a sort of democracy, followed by the gradual assumption of power by one 1200 Party, then the elimination of the other Party, and eventually some form of dictatorship. I do not cast stones at those who follow this course. I do not even criticise it. It seems to me that it was almost inevitable. How could you suppose that persons as unskilled in the art of government, and as untutored in the ways of Parliamentary democracy, could possibly run such a system? It is not something that they could understand. Moreover, in many parts of Africa they have lived for 80 years or more under Colonial rule, and Colonial rule is the antithesis of democracy. It is a kind of benevolent dictatorship, something of which I think this nation can be exceedingly proud. Nevertheless, it is the antithesis of democracy.
In those Colonies which were populous and considerable, and which have been in existence a long time, there may have been for their last ten years a system, first of committees and councils and advisory bodies, then of legicos and then, eventually, of something approaching a Parliament. Indeed, to a remarkable extent the system has stuck and has been operated successfully in the Caribbean, but not in Africa—not yet. Nowhere do I know of a territory in which anything like a parliamentary democracy is operating in a free African State.
I do not think we must expect it; but there is no reason why Nyasaland, perhaps under a dictatorship—and let us hope and believe a benevolent dictatorship—and Northern Rhodesia, if it also goes that way, should not join together with Southern Rhodesia, which will be a limited democracy—it never was a full democracy, but it has a limited kind of democracy. At least, it has given an exhibition on how a two-Party system can operate, as we have seen only this last week. As was observed by another noble Lord, there is evidence before our eyes that there are two Parties in Southern Rhodesia, although admittedly it is only a limited democracy. But there is no reason why these three territories, different as they are constitutionally, and more different as they will become, in my judgment, should not come together in something like a Federation, even if they have to look at Roget's Thesaurus to find a synonym for that word.
There are two lessons to be drawn from what has occurred, my Lords— 1201 and these will be my last observations. Only two days ago the Guardian said that a lesson was to be drawn from what has happened in the Southern Rhodesian elections, and the lesson which the Guardian drew was that it was a natural reaction to the interference of UNO. I believe that to be true. Human nature is such that if you are constantly sniped at and criticised from outside, you tend to harden the view you are holding rather than to give way. Nobody likes being blackmailed, or having pressure brought to bear upon him, whether it be moral pressure or force; and the constant interference of UNO, as well as the constant criticism (much of it untutored and unfair) which emanated from many in the United Kingdom, are in my opinion responsible for the result of the election which took place only a few days ago in Southern Rhodesia. But do not let us despair of it. These men love their country; and let us remember that it is their country. They have been there—and their fathers and grandfathers before them—for quite a long time. Among their ancestors were those who pioneered that country and went up there, bearing great hardships, to civilise it and to bring the land, as well as the primitive people, into some sort of order and civilised shape.
The other lesson we have to learn is one that I have mentioned before and will only extremely briefly refer to again—that is, we must not assume that those countries in Africa to which we give freedom, or which acquire freedom, will be, or will remain for any length of time, democracies. That may not be a reason for stopping the process, but do not let us assume that it will be so; and do not let us blame them if it is not so.
Finally, if we are witnessing the demise of the Federation—and I think we are, in its present shape and by its present name—let me say just one sentence of praise for the Federation and for Sir Roy Welensky. Those who know Southern Africa, who have been there and have seen the country and have lived in it, must know what an extraordinary change has taken place in that country. There has been a change in social attitudes among the people, among the various classes and races; 1202 a change in the standard of living, in opportunity; for the poorer people, who are mainly the black people, a change for the better. So much so, indeed, that Sir Roy Welensky was able to say, only a few weeks ago, "We" (meaning the Federation) "have the highest standard of living amongst black people in Africa, the highest pay for our servants and the best opportunities of any country in Southern Africa except South Africa itself." He was able to say that. Let us give praise both to the Federation and to Sir Roy, and let me express the hope that, even if it be by another name, at least some semblance of strong political and economic association between these three territories may be revived. It is in that hope that I wish Mr. Butler good luck on his errand.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in congratulating the noble Earl who moved this Motion I should like to prelude the remark that I disagree with most of what he said by saying also that I have always deeply admired his sincerity, I appreciate the loftiness of his sentiments, and I almost invariably disagree entirely with the conclusions which he draws from them. But the terms of the Motion which we are discussing to-day seem to me to be themselves open to criticism. The policy of Her Majesty's Government, so far as I know, has always been since the inception of the Federation to encourage the advance of these territories to self-government—and, indeed, to ultimate independence—on a basis of racial co-operation, with the emphasis taken out of race and placed on merit and capacity. The political failure of this policy against a background of remarkable economic success is the tragedy which we are facing to-day.
I do not propose—nor, indeed, would time permit—to trace in detail the reasons for this apparent failure, except to remark what I feel ought to be stated: that a major contribution, as I see it, to this failure has been made outside of the Federation by irresponsible speeches, in this country and elsewhere, as well as the general encouragement given to the flamboyant claims of African leaders; by weakness and indecision in Westminster and Whitehall: and by the growing popularity of the doctrine which is inscribed, as we 1203 all know, in a famous place in Accra,Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things will be added unto you".Set against the inevitably slow movement of real progress, naturally, that motto, if accepted fully, has caused a lot of trouble.
I have wondered, my Lords, in what way the noble Earl who moved this Motion wants Government policy to be revised. Does he want the whole idea of qualified co-operation jettisoned, and to see in its stead a policy of government by right of unqualified numerical superiority—just that? Surely we have had enough examples in recent times of the difficulty of safeguarding the rights of minorities, however entrenched in constitutional provisions. I am as sincere a believer as the noble Earl in the equality of rights and opportunities for all citizens, of whatever race; but we certainly do not agree on the best way of combining such equality of rights with the selection of a competent and just Government.
To pass on to the rest of the Motion, which calls for the: dissolution of the Federation and at the same time insists on the need to secure continuing economic and administrative relationships between the three territories, I would simply point out—though it ought to be unnecessary to do so—that, it is easier to say that than to do it. The economic and administrative stability of the territory and its international credit are bound up in the Federation, and it seems to me that working out the economic and administrative partnership would have to precede any action on dissolution in order to avoid the inevitable chaos which attends on uncertainty; and would certainly attend on that order of priority in dissolving the Federation before working out what happens next and securing agreement to it.
Apparently Nyasaland, with its 2.840,000 Africans and 9,500 Europeans, and 13,200 of other races, is to be given the right to secede. In itself, as has been pointed out to-day, this is a breach of the Federation. Although Nyasaland is the smallest unit, with its 46,000 square miles (of which 9,300 squares miles are water), the consequent problems of finance, of the public services, of employment, and indeed of unemployment, 1204 are very grave and difficult to settle. Who will subsidise this new State? Who will pay its debts or keep it solvent? The new African Government of Northern Rhodesia will apparently claim an equal right to secede; and this is a far more serious proposition, because the affairs of Northern and Southern Rhodesia are so interlocked as to make the severance as dangerous to the health of the two units as a similar operation is on Siamese twins.
The Federation we are so lightly talking of dissolving comprises 485,000 square miles—a country larger than the Whole of the British Isles, France, all Germany and Holland. It is sad to think to-day of the great experiment of 1953 when we all, the British Government and the four Governments in Africa, put our hands to the plough in a high endeavour which is now ending in disaster. The concluding words of the Sunday Telegraph editorial last Sunday seem to me to sum up the position. They said, referring to Mr. Butler:If he and the recent Commonwealth and Colonial Secretaries who preceded him had given a little more encouragement to the efforts of Sir Roy and Sir Edgar, Britain might have left a worthier legacy in Africa.My Lords, no amount of Constitution-making can alter the hard fact of life: that educational, medical and health facilities, and agricultural progress, have to be paid for. The needs are immense and so must be the cost. It is also clear that a rapidly growing African population demanding a better life will remain an explosive element politically under any Government, unless the economy of their country expands in such a way as to provide them with the things which their education and a longer expectation of life make necessary for them. One of the main objects of the Federation was to do just that; and its strength was able to attract the necessary development capital from outside. It was never, as the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, pointed out, intended to be a temporary arrangement or to rest on any optional suspension of a right to secede. The right was never there until it was recently, and, I think, very unwisely, given.
The practical problems involved in this dissolution are immense. Fifty per cent. of the capital in the Federation is owned by non-residents and repatriation 1205 of capital and the drying up of fresh investment is likely to follow. I understand the public debt is over £300 million. A considerable amount of that is specifically guaranteed by the British Government. Under European guidance the agricultural potential of the country has been vastly improved; but what will happen to that under other auspices is a matter which one fears. It would seem that African leaders of to-day are prepared to pay for present power by mortgaging the future prosperity and progress of their people. The British Government have apparently decided to acquiesce in this and to abandon any ideas of their responsibility for it. If, in addition, the British taxpayer is expected to foot the immense bill for this retreat, the consequences of this policy will, at long and miserable last, become clear to people in this country.
So, my Lords, the first request of this Motion is being forced upon the attention of the British Government by their agreement to the rights of secession for the weakest and smallest members of the Federation. The problem of how to make Nyasaland into a viable State without cutting down present standards and eliminating hope of early future progress remains. I thought the noble Earl passed rather lightly over this tremendously difficult administrative problem. Northern Rhodesia, now with an African Government, is making secession her first aim. Her internal resources place her in a more hopeful economic position, but again there remains the public debt of the Federation and the tremendous, interlocked common services and trade with Southern Rhodesia. I agree that its Constitution—that mathematical misfit which seemed designed to perpetuate and accentuate racial feeling—cries out for reform. Mr. Butler, looking at the unpromising picture, has said that the Central African problem is the most intractable that has came to his notice in the, course of a long political career. One hopes he will bear in mind, if I may say so respectfully, the wise words of Sir Edgar Whitehead:The common sense of geography is the thing to believe in—and the common sense of the people. After all, whatever our political form of Government, the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland will be next door to each other for all time. The Zambesi will not cease to be there because of a political change. For 1206 next-door neighbours not to work together in unity and amity for the common good is foolish.The greatest contribution we can make to the maintenance of the federal association is to show that we in Southern Rhodesia, of all races, can reach agreement amongst ourselves and work to a common end, and set the example that will help the larger unity.It is easy to talk of freedom and self-government, but what does this mean? You cannot be free, either as a nation or as an individual, unless you are economically free, and the only hope for the members of the Federation is a collaboration in economic partnership, which will inspire confidence abroad and at home and produce the capital investment without which the menace of unemployment, hunger riots and unrest will certainly stalk the land. So far as I know, unemployment has not been mentioned to-day as part of the likely legacy of secession, but it is a very grave and serious menace for the future.
The British Government, while paying public tribute to the ideal of racial partnership, have in practice seemed to disregard the advice of those with long experience of the territory and to regard the loud claims of African nationalism as irresistible and the European community, which has built success, as expendable. My noble friend Lord Malvern has reminded us that promises and conventions have been destroyed, apparently drowned in the flood of events.
Why has Sir Edgar Whitehead been defeated? Nat, as I suggest, for the reason given by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, but surely largely because Europeans have lost confidence in the British Government's good faith and have begun to feel that they could not rely on a proper appreciation by Her Majesty's Government of their role in Southern Rhodesia. They voted, surely, against a premature surrender of Government to untrained hands rather than for any particular policy. In 1953, we put our hands to the plough together to build in Central Africa a miracle of prosperity and multi-racial partnership in industry, agriculture, commerce and politics. What happened? Those in command in Whitehall and Westminster lost the vision, lost their faith in the mission of their own countrymen and decided upon the premature surrender of political and administrative authority 1207 to the advancing demands and ambitions of loud-voiced, self-appointed African leaders, whose methods of violence and intimidation silenced the dissentient voices of their own people and misled the ignorant majority.
The three curses of Africa have been said to be ignorance, disease and poverty. In the case of Central Africa, the attempt to deal with them has been hampered by political animosities and weakened by public ignorance and poverty of imagination in this country. This debate has rather taken on the tone of, "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him". But I should like to conclude my contribution to the funeral oration this afternoon by paying a tribute to the two men, Sir Roy Welensky and Sir Edgar Whitehead, who have so gallantly and single-heartedly tried to bring to fruition the dream of racial co-operation to which their political lives have been devoted. It is not their fault that this set-back has occurred. It may be that in the more distant future the co-operation which they have tried so hard to establish will emerge perhaps under African leaders, who have learned by experience the secrets of successful administration. It was long ago that these proud lines were written:We sailed wherever ships might sail;We founded many a mighty State;Pray God our greatness do not failThrough craven fear of being great.It has failed for precisely that reason and the debate on this Motion is in the form of a memorial service.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CHANDOS
My Lords, I intervene for only a few minutes because I was Secretary of State for the Colonies—in fact, I represent about one half of the 13 feet of Secretary of State on the small Bench—at the material time. An hour or two ago, a copy of the speech delivered by Sir Roy Welensky, the Federal Prime Minister, came into my hands. I followed the practice, which I have no doubt many noble Lords do, when they get a copy of a book of contemporary memoirs: I looked at the index to see how I myself come out. I have not had time to study the speech in detail, but I have had time to see where Sir Roy quoted me. He 1208 has quoted me quite widely and I think out of a document which I regard as confidential. I am rather sorry that he has done so, because I feel that the precedent may be unwise.
In what I have to say, I assure your Lordships that I am relying entirely on my memory. My memory of ten years ago may be blurred, and an old man forgets; but I think that on this occasion my memory is correct—for two main reasons. I may say that what I am talking about is the fact that the Constitution of the Federation cannot be brought to an end except with the consent of the four constituent Governments in Africa, acting in concert with His Majesty's Government, as it then was. Why do I rely on my memory that in fact these pledges were given? First, my memory accords exactly with that of the principal delegate from Africa, my noble friend Lord Malvern, who spoke this afternoon and who made it quite clear that he would not have signed the federal instrument if the possibility of secession had ever been conceded by His Majesty's Government. That is the first reason why I think my memory is correct.
The second reason is that it is my profound political belief that no federation or federal instrument can subsist if the right of secession is ever written into the Constitution. The centrifugal forces that are released will always render the Federal Government impotent if any of the constituent parties to federation have the right of secession. It is for this reason that, if the documents are examined and they do not constitute a pledge, I should greatly regret it and should regard it as a failure on my part that it was not written in. But I think that my memory is correct.
The right way to deal with this situation, I believe—and I have some reason to think that it became difficult for the Government—would have been to call a conference of all five Governments. I do not think they would have found any opposition to the secession of Nyasaland, and they would then have had a conference at which the future course of co-operation between these three territories could have been plotted in a sober atmosphere. But that has gone by. All I can say is that I wish the First Secretary of State every good wish in the 1209 difficult task that confronts him. He is a man of great integrity and adroitness; and he, if anyone, may be able to erect a new structure on the ruins of that which has been destroyed, largely, I think, because of the disregard of the pledges given in 1953.
§ 6.52 p.m.
LORD BOYD OF MERTON
My Lords, I, too, will detain your Lordships for only a moment or so. First, may I warmly endorse all that my noble friend Lord Chandos has said? I was Minister of State during the early days of his service with the Colonial Office, and at that time I was closely involved in the earlier talks preceding federation. I was away in the year 1953, the year to which reference has been made, because I had been appointed to another Department, but during that period so great was my interest in federal development that I kept in close touch—and as Minister I was able to do so—with the developing story at the start of federation. Then, in the following year I came back to the Colonial Office as Secretary of State and had some close associations with Central Africa for five years. I, of course, knew of the undertakings about secession that had been given during the course of the various discussions, and I realised that these undertakings were regarded as pledges (as we ourselves regarded them) by the people to whom they were addressed. It was in the confidence engendered by these pledges that federation was born, that investment was encouraged and that plans for a liberal and progressive policy in Central Africa were laid down.
This is, to many of us, a very melancholy occasion. But it is the future that matters much more than the past, as the welcome voice of my noble friend Lord Malvern has reminded us. Our thoughts will be with the First Secretary of State when he goes in a few weeks' time to Central Africa. I wish that his statement of policy, which we heard to-day, had not been a unilateral one, and that it had been found possible to delay the statement until he had reached Central Africa, where there would have been discussions on many other aspects of the federal scene apart from the Nyasaland one—and when, let us pray, a wise solution for all the territories can be devised. I share with my noble friend Lord Chandos the belief that, if this is 1210 possible, the First Secretary of State, perhaps more than anyone else alive, is qualified to bring this about. If so, it will be a solution in which the work of many devoted people, and not least that of Sir Roy Welensky and Sir Edgar Whitehead, to build up a strong, viable, multi-racial State in Central Africa will not in the end be frustrated.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I do not wish to delay the House for any length of time, especially after the last two speeches. I just want to add my support for the Motion before the House and to say how much I agree with my noble friend Lord Listowel in the course he has proposed. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, thinks that this is entirely wrong. However, I am even more convinced that we have been right, in general, in the policy put in our Motion, now that the ex-Colonial Secretary, the noble Lord, Lord Boyd of Merton, has made it so clear that we have to direct our attention to the future, as well as to the past, in this critical situation which has now arisen. I very much want that to happen. I listened with great attention to the quite stirring speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. It was not quite so personal as some speeches the noble Marquess has made, but it was a really interesting speech. I have thought a great deal about it. I do not agree with him altogether, as he well knows. On the other hand, he has undoubtedly the grounds of a serious quarrel with members of the present Government in regard to what he indicated as more or less a breach of faith. I am not going to enter into that particular difference of opinion between the noble Marquess and the Government.
I can see, too, that there is very much in the speech that was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, this afternoon, thinking on the same lines. But, as the last speaker has just said, the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, himself, in a speech which I thought added, if I may say so, to the enjoyment this House always has from some basic and sound humour connected with a speech, has referred to the need for looking to the future as well. I hope that we shall all direct our attention in that sense. On the other hand, I am sure that noble Lords 1211 present will not mind if I cast my mind back a little to the year 1953.
The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, would, I am sure, concede this to us: that we were never unmindful of the great economic advantages which could be obtained from united action by the three territories, in federation or otherwise, because of the early talks my right honourable friend in another place, Mr. James Griffiths, when Colonial Secretary, had with that very idea of getting unity of purpose and harnessing the economic resources of the country to industrial, economic and agricultural success. But when we got as far as 1953, conditions were rapidly changing in the world at large. The effect of the drive among the native populations for a quicker accession to liberty, and of the new world organisation, the United Nations Organisation, upon public opinion, meant that we had to look again at this matter very seriously.
I would remind the last two noble Lords who spoke that in the debate at that time there was a considerable dubiety in the utterances of the Government. I think the Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1953 himself said (I believe it was in about June or July of that year) that he had to recognise that there was a hard core of African opinion against federation. It was my noble friend Lord Attlee, then still in the other place, who praised the idea of federation, but said that he wondered whether the Government were not rushing it, and suggested that, even at that late hour when the final measure was being discussed in the other place, it might be worth while to delay a little to see whether there was any possibility of coming to a better state of relationships between the races in Central African territories before this step was finally taken. I remember, also, that the late Lord Jowitt, in this House, in July, 1953, spoke to the same effect and gave warning that he thought matters were being rushed too quickly in this direction.
Now we have come to the situation when we, at any rate, must regard federation, as such, as dead, unless there is something made to arise again from the dead. It seems clear from the speeches to which we have just been listening that any act of secession from 1212 such a Federation itself finishes the Federation. It cannot be the original Federation if one territory among the three is allowed to secede. Therefore, we must leave it very largely on the basis of deciding in our own minds, awaiting the Report of the First Secretary, as to what he is able to obtain in progress towards a solution from his visit there.
But also I have to say to the House, and to Parliament in general, that we can of course say this. There is no doubt that the Government have taken the steps that would, in our view, have had to be taken in any case, and which we should wish them to take in view of the events which have occurred, and we are only doubtful whether they have yet gone far enough. On the other hand, while I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Listowel that perhaps we might have gone a little further at this stage, may I say that if we can bring the right views before the Government, and if the result of the visit of the First Secretary to Central Africa is further to advance the relationship between the different people's out there, then we shall be only too glad to see the most intimate and co-operative arrangements between the three territories, independent if you like, to harness for the benefit of all the economic resources of all the three territories. In the meantime, if there are questions arising, such as would be indicated from the Government statement, in regard to, say, the commitments which would have to be entered into by Nyasaland, to whom the promise of secession has already been made, then we should not be in any way mean or stingy about our help to Nyasaland in that direction.
Finally, I always feel that we are sometimes perhaps inclined on the Left—I am speaking generally on the Left—to accuse our own country of not being sufficiently alive to the urgency of extending freedom within our Commonwealth. I am not sure that we are always 100 per cent. justified in what we say. But we have a general principle. I would say, on the other hand, that if you will look back at the speech at Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1843, I think it was, which was made the basis of Winston Churchill's great appeal to this country at the beginning of his term of office as Prime Minister in the last Great War, you will find 1213 that Emerson quotes this country as beingold but not decrepit, with a heart that beats the strongest in times of cloud and difficulty.He hails Parliament and this country as Mother of the Free, in a year when the United States was still sunk in slavery. I am not altogether without pride at the extent to which liberty has been brought by this old country of ours to many of the territories who are now surging forward in massive formation to achieve the independence that they desire.
I would end by quoting a very short idea that was always with us in the Labour Party with regard to this matter. You may think it is idealistic. Perhaps it is, if one examines one's own personal life and mind in relation to it:Is true freedom but to breakFetters for our own dear sake,And with leaden hearts forgetThat we owe mankind a debt?No; true freedom is to shareAll the chains our brothers wear.And with heart and hand to beEarnest to make others free.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD DILHORNE)
My Lords, this debate has covered, as I am sure your Lordships will agree, a very wide range. Some hard things have been said, both in your Lordships' House and outside. I myself do not believe that they are justified, and I shall seek, so far as I can, to satisfy your Lordships that they are not. Before I deal with that matter, may I first say something about the decision of Her Majesty's Government to accept in principle that Nyasaland should be allowed to withdraw from the Federation? I ask your Lordships to consider that question without regard, for the time being, to any question of pledges, or right to legislate, or conventions, or anything of that kind. I would submit to your Lordships that two questions fall to be considered and have been the subject of debate to-day. The first is: Was the decision of Her Majesty's Government, annouced to-day, right? And, secondly, is it a decision that Her Majesty's Government are free to take? A great deal of what has been said to-day has been on the second issue.
I should like first to say something about the question, looking at it objectively, was the decision announced today right? Your Lordships will remem 1214 ber that the Nyasaland Conference in 1960 produced an agreed Constitution, which for the first time gave a direct vote to Africans in electing representatives to the Legislative Council, and that at the elections which ensued in 1961 the Malawi Congress Party, campaigning on a clear platform of removing Nyasaland from the present Federation, secured an overwhelming majority. Of those enfranchised on the lower roll, who were mainly Africans, 95 per cent. voted, and 98 per cent. of the votes cast went to the Malawi Congress Party. They won all the 20 lower roll seats. They also won two out of the eight upper roll seats, and the third went to an Independent with declared Malawi support.
We are often reminded that Nyasaland is a Protectorate: its inhabitants are under the protection of Her Majesty. Some of your Lordships, some of us, may regret the manifest attitude of the majority there. Some may think that it is not in that country's best interests. But, however that may be, I venture to say that few, if any, of your Lordships, looking at this matter objectively, would contend that this country should ignore that clearly expressed opinion of the people of Nyasaland. I would myself put it as high as to say that that mandate of the Nyasaland electors is one that we cannot ignore. Indeed, we could ignore it—and I would ask your Lordships to consider this—only if Her Majesty's Government were prepared to embark on a policy of repression. The consequences of such a policy would surely be incalculable; and such a policy would be wholly inconsistent with those that Great Britain has followed for so long with regard to dependent territories.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, reminded us of the American Colonies and of the lessons of history from our treatment of them. He might also have mentioned the sad history of our relations with Ireland in years gone by, when we sought to impose policies contrary to the wishes of the inhabitants. Surely by now we have learned those lessons. Such a course of action in regard to Nyasaland—a policy of repression—would surely end any hope of achieving in Central Africa the broad purposes we had in mind when the Federation was formed and which, I submit to your 1215 Lordships, should not be abandoned now.
In these circumstances the decision to recognise in principle that Nyasaland should be allowed to withdraw from the Federation is, so it seems to us, an inevitable one and also the inevitable starting point for the consultations on the future of the three territories which, now that there are new Administrations in office in Northern and Southern Rhodesia, my right honourable friend the First Secretary of State proposes to initiate in the New Year. As the statement I read to your Lordships makes clear, a great deal will have to be done before effect can be given to the decision that Nyasaland should be allowed to secede. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in the course of his most interesting speech drew attention to some of the problems involved. But our acceptance of that principle that Nyasaland should be allowed to withdraw from the Federation does not of itself, of course, operate to make any change in the Federation itself; nor does the secession of Nyasaland of itself in law operate to terminate the federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia.
My Lords, nine years ago we embarked on what I think everyone would regard as a great experiment. We hoped, by creating the Federation, to establish a non-racial society in which peoples of all races would live and work together in peace and friendship and mutual understanding. Our ideals were high, and certainly they were not selfish. We hoped that we had laid the foundations of a secure and stable society and to enable the inhabitants of the three territories to gain as well the great material advantages of close association. My Lords, should we abandon those ideals, either now or on the secession of Nyasaland? I sincerely hope that your Lordships will agree with me that the answer must be, "No". Do those ideals become impossible of fulfilment if Nyasaland secedes? Again, I hope the answer is, "No". I propose to come back to this point later in my speech, if your Lordships will permit me. I would just add this now.
I know that there are many people in the Federation who have worked hard throughout the last nine years to realise 1216 the hopes which were held when the Federation was started. I know that there will be a great many of them who will regard this secession as a serious blow and a grave disappointment. It is not perhaps unusual, in such circumstances, to seek to blame Her Majesty's Government. My Lords, we should, in my view, be blameworthy if we failed to take account of the wishes of the population of Nyasaland. I would submit to your Lordships that we have no moral right to take that course. And, really, in all justice Great Britain should not be blamed for recognising the views of the vast mass of people of that country and recognising that she may secede. I do not propose to say any more on whether, viewed objectively, the decision on this of Her Majesty's Government announced to-day is right. I submit that it is not only right but inevitable, in view of the wishes of the inhabitants for whom we, despite the creation of the Federation, remain responsible.
I should now like to turn to the second question I posed at the outset of my speech—namely, is this right and, as I think, inevitable decision one that Her Majesty's Government are free to take unilaterally of their own initiative? May I break this question down a little further? First, as a matter of law, can the British Parliament effectively provide for the secession of Nyasaland? Secondly, if, as a matter of law, the British Parliament can do so, are Her Majesty's Government inhibited by any convention or by any pledge from introducing legislation for that purpose? The Rhodesian and Nyasaland Act of 1953 was passed after, I think, the Conference (I am not quite sure about this, but it was certainly at about the time of the Conference to which your Lordships referred), and made provision for the creation of the Federation by Order in Council. Section 1 (2) of that Act provided that the Order in Council might authorise the amendment or revocation of any of its provisions in any manner specified by the Order in relation to those provisions. The Act went on to say:save as may be so authorised that Order in Council shall not he capable of being revoked or amended except by Act of Parliament.It thus appears that from the time of the passage of this Act and before the Federation was created the right of 1217 the United Kingdom Parliament to revoke the Order in Council creating the Federation—and that, of course, would bring the Federation to an end—or to amend the Order in Council, was clearly recognised.
As a matter of law, it is in my view clear beyond any doubt that the United Kingdom Parliament can, by the passage of an Act, revoke or amend the Order in Council which created the Federation. It fell to be my duty to consider this question some two years ago, and I am glad to say that my opinion on it was endorsed by my predecessor, the noble Earl, Lord Kilmuir, in your Lordships' House on March 27, 1962, when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 238, col. 957]:As a matter of pure law, I entertain no doubt that the power of the United Kingdom Parliament to legislate how it wishes for the Federation remains unfettered.Indeed, that is recognised in the Constitution of the Federation annexed to the Order in Council made under the 1953 Act. Article 29 (7) of that Constitution reads as follows:Nothing in this Constitution shall affect any power to make laws for the Federation or any of the Territories conferred on Her Majesty by any Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom.My Lords, I have taken up some time to deal with this point because there have been suggestions—not I think put forward by anyone except the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, to-day—that we really are not free, as a matter of law, to legislate on this matter. I must confess that I have never heard that seriously asserted on behalf of the Federation. I have never heard it suggested that, as a matter of pure law, the United Kingdom Parliament has not the power to legislate to provide for the secession of Nyasaland if it chooses to do so.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord for giving way. I did not suggest that, as a matter of law, we had no right to pass legislation repealing federation. What I did suggest was that as a matter of custom we have no proper authority for doing so, any more than we should have had the right to repeal the Constitution of Australia or Canada before the Statute of Westminster in, I think, 1926.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am coming to that, but I must say that I 1218 listened very carefully to the noble Lord's speech and I heard him make some reference to a matter of law in this matter.
I now turn to the second question which I posed: Are Her Majesty's Government inhibited from so legislating by any convention or, as the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, likes to call it, custom (I do not mind) or, indeed, by any pledge? I know that a view has been put forward in some quarters that there is a convention or understanding to the effect that we should not so legislate except at the request or with the consent of the Federation, that for us to do so would be a breach of a recognised convention and so a breach of faith, and it is to that that I should now like to devote my argument. I should like, if your Lordships will permit me, to examine this contention somewhat closely, because, as I am sure your Lordships will agree, a charge of bad faith cannot and should not be lightly dismissed, and I hope to satisfy your Lordships, as I must confess I am satisfied, that such a charge in relation to a breach of convention is without foundation.
Conventions, of course, play a large part in our constitutional relationships both at home and overseas. They develop gradually from usage, from custom, and, as is stated in Halsbury's Laws of England if I may quote the passage:From the middle of the 19th Century, however, there was a convention against Parliament legislating for the self-governing colonies without their consent.And, again quoting from that same work:The power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to revoke or amend the constitution of overseas dependencies knows no legal exceptions, but there is a convention that in the case of a self-governing colony the power shall not be exercised without the colony's consent.Your Lordships will note that the convention is stated to apply to self-governing Colonies, and it is from the practice of consulting the self-governing Colonies before legislating that the convention was gradually established. In the case of the Dominions it was embodied in the Statute of Westminster, 1931. That Act, as your Lordships know, applied to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Irish Free State, as it then was, and Newfoundland. Those 1219 countries, with the exception of Newfoundland, had then reached a stage of recognition internationally as independent States. The Preamble to that Statute recognised that it was—and I quote from the Preamble—in accord with the established constitutional position that no law hereafter made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall extend to any of the said Dominions as part of the law of that Dominion otherwise than at the request and with the consent of that Dominion.That was enacted in Section 4 of the Statute. I ask you to note that one does not find any similar provision in the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation Act, 1953, nor in the Order in Council made under it. If it was the intention that this convention should apply to the Federation when it was formed, then one would have expected a clear reference to it either in the Act or in the Order in Council. It is not there. On the other hand, the 1953 Act recognises that the Order in Council can be revoked or amended by Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, and, as I have said, Article 29 (7) expressly reserves our right to legislate for the Federation and the territories and does not make that power exercisable only at the request or with the consent of the Federation. The passage I read to your Lordships from Halsbury makes it clear that the convention applies to self-governing territories. It does not and has not, so far as I am aware, applied to all territories having what is called a responsible Government: that is to say, a Cabinet system. That is stretching the convention too far.
There are a number of territories which enjoy or have enjoyed responsible government in this sense—many of the West Indian territories, for example—but it has never been the case that we have passed Acts here applying to them only at their request or with their consent. The Federation itself cannot be regarded, in my submission, as equivalent to a self-governing Colony. It is composed of three territories, one of which can appropriately and properly be described as self-governing, namely Southern Rhodesia, the other two of which have not up to now possessed a Cabinet system and for whom Her Majesty's Government have had direct responsibility.
1220 In the White Paper introducing the recent changes in the Southern Rhodesia Constitution it was stated that:The Constitution of 1923 conferred responsible government on Southern Rhodesia. Since then it has become an established convention for Parliament at Westminster not to legislate for Southern Rhodesia on matters within the competence of the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia except with the agreement of the Southern Rhodesian Government.This convention has never applied in relation to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and if on those two territories and Southern Rhodesia joining in the Federation while keping their separate and distinct identities it was intended or agreed that this convention should apply to the Federation, then I must say I should have expected some express reference to it in the Order in Council such as one finds in the Statute of Westminster, or at least in some public document such as a White Paper. One does not find it.
But the matter does not rest there. In 1957 there was a joint announcement by the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Federation on certain matters. I will deal with them, if I may. Paragraph 1 of that announcement records that discussions were held between Sir Roy Welensky and Mr. Greenfield on the one hand, and the noble Earl, Lord Home and the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, on the other hand, about certain aspects of the Constitution of the Federation. Paragraph 7 of that announcement reads as follows:The Federal Prime Minister drew attention to doubts which had arisen in regard to the purpose and effect of Article 29 (7)"—the Article to which I have already referred your Lordships—of the Federal Constitution and to the subject of legislation in the United Kingdom for the Federation.The announcement went on:United Kingdom Ministers made it clear that the United Kingdom Government recognise the existence of a convention applicable to the present stage of the constitutional evolution of the Federation whereby the United Kingdom Government in practice does not initiate any legislation to amend or to repeal any Federal Act or to deal with any matter included within the competence of the Federal Legislature, except at the request of the Federal Government.That was the convention we recognised, and so the question falls to be considered: does legislation by us for secession involve any breach of that convention recognised in that announcement?
1221 The inclusion of Nyasaland in the Federation was not the result of any federal legislation, and so to secure the secession of that territory does not involve the repeal or amendment of any Act of the Federal Government embodying Nyasaland in the Federation. But we must also, of course, consider whether provision for the secession of Nyasaland was within the legislative competence of the Federation. If it was, it would be a breach of the convention, a breach of faith, for us to provide for secession except at their request.
I maintain, after giving the matter the fullest consideration that I can, that it was not, and is not, within the competence of the Federation to provide for secession. Article 29 of the Constitution specifies the matters within the legislative competence of the Federation. They are pretty clearly defined. It is true that by Article 97 special provision is also made for the amendment, subject to certain conditions being satisfied, by the Federal Legislature of the Constitution annexed to the Order in Council. It might be argued that, because it is within the power of the Legislature to amend the Constitution, legislation by us to provide for the secession of Nyasaland without the request of the Federation would be a breach of faith. But to amend the Constitution of the Federation created by the Order in Council is one thing; to reduce the Federation to one of two countries and not three is another. In my opinion, the Federal Legislature have no power to provide for secession, just as they have not under Article 97 power to break up the Federation entirely.
I think it is pretty clear, too, that the announcement to which I have referred, from its terms was directed to what I may call the ordinary normal legislative acts under Article 29, the Article which the announcement shows was under consideration at that time, and not to Article 97 at all. it is also clear that this topic was raised by Sir Roy Welensky because of doubts that had arisen as to that paragraph of the Article. I understand that certain politicians in Southern Rhodesia were constantly proclaiming that Article 29 (7) enabled the British Government to interfere by their legislation with the internal affairs of the Federation. It vas to put these fears 1222 at rest that the announcement was made—an announcement directed to internal legislation under Article 29 and not to any amendment of the Constitution or alteration of the territory of the Federation. I am fortified in the view that I expressed by the fact, as I understand it, that the Federal Government do not seek to maintain that the Federal Legislature can provide for secession. As the 1957 announcement was directed to internal legislation, as the Federal Government do not claim that they can provide for secession, there is surely no shred of a foundation for any allegation that legislation by us for secession without the request of the Federal Government is contrary to that announcement.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am sure that we have all listened with immense interest to the legal opinion which the Lord Chancellor with all his ability has given. But my point was a much simpler one than this. What I said was that British Ministers gave most explicit assurances—that was, during the discussions in 1953—that the Constitution of the new Federation which they were setting up would not be liquidated without the free assent of all the Governments concerned, and that included the Federal Government. That is the statement I made, and it was, in effect, confirmed by Lord Malvern, by Lord Chandos and by Lord Boyd of Merton, all of whom were in one way or another connected with the negotiations. Does the noble and learned Lord deny that during the conversations that undertaking was given, and that it was the basis on which, as Lord Malvern said, the Rhodesian Government accepted the White Paper?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, as I had already said, I was dealing with this in the following order: first, whether the decisions were right; secondly, whether Her Majesty's Government were inhibited by any convention or any pledge from initiating this legislation. I prefer to deal with it in order. I have dealt with it so far on the question whether the decision was right; and I have turned, secondly, to the question whether any breach of any convention was involved. The third subject that I was going to come to was the question whether there was any breach of any pledge. But before I 1223 come to that I did want just to say this. I have listened with care to the noble Marquess's speech, and I am going to say something about that, if he will allow me, but I would rather clear these matters out of the way first.
I was saying that secession of Nyasaland will inevitably alter the character of the Federation. It may necessitate some amendment of Federal Acts by the Federal Legislature, Acts like the Income Tax Act, which now applies to Nyasaland as well as to other territories, if certain provisions on the Federal Statute Book are not just going to become a dead letter. But so far as secession is concerned, that in my submission can be effected by the United Kingdom Government without any breach of any convention. I am sorry to delay in replying to the noble Marquess, but I am seeking to cover in the course of my reply not only points which have been raised in your Lordships' debate but, if your Lordships will permit me, other points which have been raised in the Press and also in conversations with me.
Before I leave this question I must refer to an argument which I have heard advanced, which I think perhaps was touched on slightly to-day, based on the Petition which Parliament received from Western Australia. Your Lordships will remember that in 1933, two years after the Statute of Westminster, Western Australia petitioned the United Kingdom Parliament to be allowed to secede from the Commonwealth of Australia. It was decided that that Petition was not receivable. It is on that precedent that it has been sought to found an argument in relation to the problem your Lordships are discussing. But that argument really will not stand up to examination. This Parliament could, under the Statute of Westminster, legislate for Australia only at the request, and with the consent, of the Dominion. That Petition came after the Statute was passed, and long after Australia had become an entirely independent country within the Commonwealth. Of course, the Federation is not an independent country.
I think I can now come to the question which the noble Marquess raised in his speech, and which he raised again 1224 in an intervention a few moments ago. If I understand it correctly, it is said that pledges were given in regard to secession in the course of the discussions in the Conference concerned with drawing up the Constitution—pledges which prevent Her Majesty's Government from acting unilaterally now without the consent of the Federation, except at the expense of a breach of faith. That Conference preceded, I think, the 1953 Act, and certainly the Order in Council because the Order in Council embodied its results. In dealing with this, I must confess that I am in some considerable difficulty because, in all the public documents and in all the public announcements made after the conclusion of that Conference, one can find no indication in any contemporaneous document of the existence of any such pledge. There is nothing that I can find in any contemporaneous public document which supports the secession.
I wonder—and it does bother me, because I have listened most carefully to what your Lordships have said—why, if such a pledge as is suggested was given and accepted, it was kept secret and not embodied in the Act or in the Order in Council. It is not a question, as I think the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, indicated, of inserting a provision for securing the right to divorce. If such a pledge was given, it was to secure that there should be no divorce.
When one comes to look at the Act constituting the Commonwealth of Australia, which was passed in 1900, one finds these words in the Preamble:Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and under the Constitution hereby established:This is my difficulty, my Lords. In no public document—not in the Act, not in the Order in Council—is there any reference to, any indication of indissolubility. That does not quite conclude the question, and I recognise that perfectly well. The noble Viscount, Lord Malvern who said that he was the Minister at the Conference, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos and the noble Lord, Lord 1225 Colyton, attended it, and the noble Lord, Lord Boyd of Merton, who I think was not present at the meetings in question, made himself familiar with what conversations took place. My Lords, as I understand it, the purpose of the Conference was to thresh out the Constitution, and I imagine—though I was not there—that arguments went backwards and forwards on the different points with regard to that. The purpose of the Conference, I am sure noble Lords will agree, was not for the purpose of giving secret pledges. Lord Malvern did indicate that at the time these assurances (if one can use those words) were given, they were concerned about the right of review which is contained, I think, in Article 99 of the Constitution. As I understood his speech, he was concerned to make sure that the question of secession should not be raised at that time.
I can well see statements being made by Ministers at that time in that particular context and with reference to what should take place at the review when the Constitution was being drafted. I wonder whether anyone contemplated then that 90 per cent. or so of the electors of one of the territories would be voting against remaining within the Federation. Was that ever considered? I wonder. It would require a remarkable degree of prescience, although it would require no considerable degree of prescience to say, when considering provisions for the review: "Let us make sure what can be reviewed at the time of the review; let us reach some agreement, if we can, about that".
My Lords, I do come back to this. The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, in his usual both persuasive and attractive style, if I may say so without impertinence, talked about an old gentleman's memory; he said that old men forget. He also spoke about Sir Roy Welensky having revealed passages of confidential documents, and thought that the precedent was unfortunate. I am in some difficulty over this, because what is said in confidence—and these discussions at this Conference, I understand, were in confidence—surely should not be used for the purposes of public discussion. It is surely not a matter that can be lightly brushed aside by saying that it does not matter whether they are secret or not. Surely it is much to be deplored, 1226 for this reason. If confidential discussions are to be disclosed at the instance of one of the parties to them, then that must prejudice the freedom of discussion in any future confidential meetings.
Sir Roy Welensky, I gather during the course of the debate in this House, has made a number of quotations from the confidential reports of what was said in the course of the Conference. I would just say this, if I may. The special and unique value of the Commonwealth rests to a very great degree on the basis that member Governments can freely exchange views and ideas among each other, with the assurance that, however much they may differ from time to time, those confidences will be respected. Once that principle is breached, the very value of such a special relationship is brought into question; and one can be astonished that the Federal Government, who are well aware of these traditions and conventions, and who have such experience of the machinery of Commonwealth consultation, should have chosen deliberately to disregard these fundamental understandings. I would only add that what has happened can only make more difficult the conduct of future consultations with the Federal Government.
My Lords, I am in difficulty in dealing with this matter, because I do not think it would be right for me to quote verbatim from those documents. I will just say this. The noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, no doubt was concerned, as he clearly indicated, with what should take place at the Review. I myself doubt whether anyone contemplated the situation that has now risen, and I doubt whether anything was said or accepted as a firm pledge that this country would abandon its right to legislate, as it clearly had the right to legislate, on such a matter without consent. However, I do not believe that it is fruitful to pursue that matter. Suggestions of breaches of convention or of breaches of faith or broken pledges, and controversy about them, cannot help the future of Central Africa or of anyone else. It can only make even more difficult the constructive work that lies ahead.
My Lords, of course we should have liked to have the agreement of the Federation to the recognition of the principle that Nyasaland may secede. Of course, we should have liked that, and 1227 we have done our best to proceed throughout by agreement, but it has, I am sorry to say, been impossible to secure it. It became clear in the recent discussions with the Federal Ministers that Her Majesty's Government could not secure the agreement of the Federal Government to the statement to be made to-day because they, for their part, would not agree to terms which would have been acceptable to the Federal Government. In their White Paper issued this afternoon the Federal Government have made public what those terms were. They wished the statement to incorporate satisfactory guarantees for the continuance, as they put it—and I quote the words:of a strong political and economic association between the two Rhodesias".I feel sure that your Lordships' House will agree that Her Majesty's Government could not possibly give such a firm pledge in advance of the further consultations which we now propose to initiate. But their own White Paper does show that it is completely inaccurate for anyone to suggest that no consultations have taken place on this matter with the Ministers of the Federal Government.
My Lords, we have done our best to proceed to get agreement. We have not succeeded, and the position with which we are now faced and which I ask your Lordships to consider is that we nave the choice either of ignoring the views of Nyasaland, or, without the agreement of the Federation, of proceeding to recognise that Nyasaland may secede. If we, in these circumstances, took the course of saying that we would not proceed without the Federation's agreement, that would mean that the Federal Government has a veto on all constitutional developments in Central Africa; and that Her Majesty's Government cannot for one moment accept.
My Lords, in the situation that faces us to-day, in view of the clearly expressed wishes of the people of Nyasaland, it would not be compatible with our responsibility to that country to seek to prevent her from leaving the Federation, to seek to ignore or to overrule the clear and unequivocal expression of determination not to remain within the framework of the present Federation. 1228 But to accept in principle that Nyasaland should be allowed to withdraw from the Federation is not, in my belief, the end. I do not accept the view that it means writing "Finis" at the end of a historic chapter of achievement and endeavour over the last nine years. In our long history we have witnessed before a divergence of political and economic interests, and here we have the political interests of Nyasaland pulling one way and the economic interests constantly pulling another. As the statement I read to your Lordships says, the financial and economic consequences for Nyasaland will be serious and substantial. If Nyasaland is to progress, we must see if some new kind of association with the Rhodesias cannot be evolved. If the Rhodesias are to progress there must continue to be association and co-operation between them, too.
I said earlier, my Lords, that as a matter of law the present decision on secession related to Nyasaland only, and not to the present constitutional relationship between Northern and Southern Rhodesia. The form which future association of the territories may take will, of course. be covered by the consultations which we now propose to initiate. The task before us is formidable, and one calling for great wisdom and statesmanship on all sides. What we want to do, and what my right honourable friend will seek to do, is to find an acceptable solution which will maintain the very real advantages of association. We want to put an end to uncertainties, and to ensure for the people of Central Africa, of all races, a peaceful and prosperous future. Those are our objectives, and in an endeavour to Promote them my right honourable friend the First Secretary will visit Central Africa early in the New Year. I listened to your Lordships' expressions of good will towards him, and I am sure he can count on the support and good wishes of your Lordships' House.
My Lords, I should like to conclude by thanking the noble Earl for raising this Motion, and for enabling us to have an opportunity of debating this most important subject.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I was rebuked by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for interrupting too soon, and I therefore 1229 waited till he had finished his remarks. But do I understand his contention to be that, if a pledge is contained in a confidential document, it does not count as a pledge? Perhaps he will allow me to finish. The noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, who spoke to us this afternoon, said that a pledge was given and that it was because of that pledge that he agreed to the terms of the White Paper. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that he has looked in the Order in Council, he has looked in all the legislation connected with it, but he cannot find the pledge. On the other hand, the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, and the noble Lord, Lord Boyd of Merton, all say that the pledge existed. It seems to put us in a difficult position, because this is not really a question of law: it is a question of ethics. Are the Government bound by something which they said in private, or are they not?
What I want to ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, or possibly the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, is: will they agree to the publication of this passage? There is nothing secret about it. It may have been confidential, but I can assure them there is nothing that is secret: and it may even be regarded as ancient history now. But during the proceedings of the Conference, notes were taken of what was said. Will the Government publish them?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, if I may answer that last question first, I would say that no one knows better than the noble Marquess that publication cannot rest with me or with my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. That is a question which would have to be considered by a great number of people other than those who are now present this afternoon. No doubt his suggestion will be noticed, among others, but, for the reasons my noble and learned friend has said, very serious issues would arise about the publication of a document of this kind. I cannot possibly answer offhand or without proper consultation as to the serious constitutional issues that are involved.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I fully appreciate that an answer cannot be given tonight, because 1230 obviously this is a very large question and it will, no doubt, have to be considered by the Cabinet as a whole. But there is a danger, and a serious danger, that it will appear to many people, certainly in Rhodesia and possibly in this country, too, that the Government are sheltering behind the confidential character of this document. If they are not sheltering, there is no reason why the document should not be published. I only ask that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, or whoever it is. will put it to his colleagues. It would relieve a great deal of anxiety and mistrust if these passages were published.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, now that the noble Marquess has raised the question of publication, it is obviously a matter which will have to be considered. This can scarcely be denied. But I must emphatically repudiate the view that, because we have shown hesitation about the publication of a document, to the confidential character of which we attach vast importance, we are sheltering behind anything. The fact of the matter is, as my noble and learned friend said, we are placed in an intolerable dilemma by this kind of thing. Clearly, as the noble Marquess knows and has said in plain terms, there is a verbatim record of what was said. It is no good talking about one's private recollection of these things. Either one is free to discuss it altogether or not at all. There cannot be a halfway house, and it is the halfway house which has been achieved by these disclosures. We must either stand on the principle of confidentiality, to which we attach vast importance, or we must publish the whole thing. Now that the noble Marquess has raised this issue it will be dealt with, but I cannot take it further this evening.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I should like to thank very much indeed all the noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, which I think has been a great debate on a great theme: the theme of British responsibility for Central Africa. I think the authority of your Lordships' House always 1231 depends on the number of speakers with a special knowledge of the subject under discussion. Looking at the list I see that of the thirteen speakers, four had lived for a rather long period of time in Africa, five had been Ministers at the Colonial Office, and three of those five had actually been Secretaries of State. My Lords, if I Iliad been a referee judging this debate, I am afraid I should have had to decide that the Government, though not disqualified for breaking the rules, had heavily lost on points, because of the thirteen speakers, again, eight were against the Government and five were for the Government. At the same time, I would pay a tribute to the loser for his courage in standing up to seconds, all of whom did their best to talk him into retiring from the ring. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.