HL Deb 27 November 1963 vol 253 cc688-748

4.43 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, no one, I am sure, in this House will complain that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, should at this juncture have tabled a Motion on the Central African Federation and the High Commission Territories, and that he should have dealt with it as fully as he did. Not only has the noble Lord himself, as I understand it, just returned from that part of the world, which makes what he has to say especially valuable, but, in addition, he speaks with a high degree of sincerity which always makes us listen to what he says with sympathy and interest. I am not going to follow him, if he will forgive me, into the subject of the Union of South Africa, for though what he said was obviously the result of much careful thought and, I think, was also thought-provoking to us who listened to him, he actually, as my noble relative the Duke of Devonshire said, went a little outside the strict ambit of his own Motion.

Nor do I want to follow the noble Duke in what he said about the dissolution of the Federation; for some of the aspects of this are, I believe, going to be dealt with in due course by my noble friend Lord Colyton. Neither finally, do I propose to speak of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, though I would say that the rather rosy accounts which the noble Duke and the noble Lord, Lord Walston, gave of the freedom of opinion at present existing in these two Territories have not, I am afraid, by any means been borne out by reports that I have received, not, perhaps, from official, but from pretty reliable, sources of information.

Of the High Commission Territories, I should like to say just this, and it relates to Swaziland. There has been, I believe, a strong impression in that country—Lord Walston probably knows something about it—that Her Majesty's Government are preparing, without consultation, or without adequate consultation, to impose upon the Paramount Chief Sobhuza a new Constitution by Order in Council, without any advance discussion with him and his chief advisers—a Constitution which, rightly or wrongly, is likely to be strongly opposed by them. I do not know whether that is true or not, but I hope that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will say that that impression is not correct, and that, following on consultation with the representatives of the Paramount Chief, a revised Constitution may emerge, which is truly acceptable both to the Chief himself and to the people of Swaziland. They are among the most loyal of the—I was going to say "subjects"—members of the British Commonwealth and Empire, and it would be a thousand pities if, against their wishes, and because we thought something was good for them which they did not think was good, we imposed a Constitution on them which blunted in any way the loyalty which they have.

And now I should like to come to Southern Rhodesia, the other area of which I wish to speak; and on this I shall, if I may, have rather more to say. Southern Rhodesia, though it is not so large as many other States, even in Africa, yet has, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said—for reasons with which we are all familiar—come to occupy a very central position in international politics: for it is the cockpit in which is being fought out in Central Africa the struggle between progress towards what we regard as free institutions, towards the establishment of those principles of toleration and justice which are the very basis of Western civilisation, and on the other side, a rapid relapse into one of those primitive dictatorships, such as we have seen cocking up their heads in other parts of Africa.

The present Prime Minister, in a remarkable speech which he delivered to the Royal Commonwealth Society in June of this year—a speech to which I think the noble Lord, Lord Walston, has already referred—defined the ideas which have always governed British colonial policy in these words: Respect for the individual, each individual being deemed to have not only rights but duties in the community, and government freely expressed through the will of the community expressed in free elections. I think that is a very fine definition of a very fine ideal—a definition to which I think we should every one of us subscribe. But do the Government, in the light of what has happened already in Ghana, the Congo and elsewhere in Central Africa, really think that that, or anything like it, is what the peoples of Africa, black or white, are going to get, at the present stage of their development, if we hand over their countries, now, or even in five years' time, to African majority government? No one, I think, who knows Africa, and the people of Africa, can really believe that. Of course, for a nation so politically mature as, say, our own country, I imagine that very few of us would dispute that Parliamentary democracy is probably the best or, at any rate, the least bad system of government that has yet been devised by the wit of man. But it is also, as we all know, by far the most difficult to operate. It requires patience, and it requires tolerance of the views of others, of a very high order. It has taken us, as your Lordships know, upwards of 700 years of political experience before we reached our present stage of political evolution; and even now we may well sometimes doubt whether we work the system absolutely perfectly. And, my Lords, there are many countries of Europe which have uttterly failed to make a success of Parliamentary democracy and which have reverted during recent years to some system of open or concealed dictatorship. In such circumstances as that, to try to impose—for that is what we are doing—Parliamentary democracy on the still very primitive peoples of Central Africa must appear to many of us, I at any rate feel, if not insane, at least highly irresponsible.

In the case of Southern Rhodesia, in particular, such action is, I feel, even more reprehensible; for, there, there are upwards of 300,000 of our own people, who really have the inherited experience which renders them capable of working a Parliamentary system. Yet we are proposing to take the control from them and put them under the rule of a majority of Africans, the greater part of whom, whatever their other virtues—and I am not saying that they have not many virtues—cannot either read or write, and have not the slightest notion of what Parliamentary democracy means. No doubt even the Secretary of State for the Commonwealth and for Colonial Affairs himself, who is the responsible Minister and who presumably is responsible for this proposal, may well think that it is rather too much to expect the British people to swallow; and so he has evolved, or the Government have evolved, within the last few days an ingenious dodge—that of calling in the aid of the British Commonwealth. That sounds extremely fine; but whatever the other merits of the British Commonwealth, I should like your Lordships to consider for a moment what, in this particular connection, the proposal really means.

The British Commonwealth is not what it was twenty years ago; and, if we are frank with ourselves, we must face that fact. It consists nowadays of a majority of members of African or Asian race who are bitterly opposed to Southern Rhodesia and all that Southern Rhodesia stands for. One, indeed, of these countries, although a member of the Commonwealth, has already offered its territory for training an army to invade Rhodesia by force of arms; and many of the others no doubt hold very much the same views. Even the white members of the Commonwealth, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are too far away from Rhodesia to care very much one way or the other what happens to that country. They have their own problems—very serious ones in the Pacific—which principally occupy their minds.

My Lords, what the Commonwealth Secretary and the Government have it, in fact, in mind to do, however they may wrap it up, is, apparently, to hand over the whole of Southern Rhodesia's future to a jury which they already know is packed against her. Who are to be her judges, the arbiters of her destiny? President Nkrumah, Mr. Kenyatta, Archbishop Makarios—men like that. Those are the people who are going to decide. That is what the Government plan really means. That is what the Government are doing, or proposing to do, or contemplating doing, to the Rhodesian people, who have always been the loyalest of the loyal; who have stood by us in our own extremity in two world wars, and again as recently as Suez, but who are now stigmatised in this country as "settlers"—as if they were, as it were, the locusts and palmer worms of this world.

But, my Lords, who are these "settlers" who are, in my view, being so irresponsibly betrayed, and who are, to be dragooned into submission? What sort of people are they? I wish you could see them, as I have often seen them. Not racial extremists—hard, hitter, savagely biased—but just like ourselves: ordinary, decent English people, with the same ideas of tolerance, freedom and justice as we have; people of an older generation who have spent their whole lives building up their country; young husbands and wives with little children, living, often, away in remote homesteads, miles from any other white man, the husband away all day on the farm, the wife and the little children alone in the homestead: simple people, trying to farm the land and make it more fruitful. And what is the crime they and their leaders are supposed to be committing? What is this retrograde Constitution to which they are accused of so rigidly adhering? It is not a Constitution of their own creation; it is a Constitution that was the creation of Mr. Sandys himself; a Constitution which they agreed to accept at his especial behest and which was the subject, as they understood it, of a solemn agreement between him and them, only one year ago.

My Lords, we used to throw up our hands in shame and horror at the Kaiser's "scrap of paper", torn up in 1914. But that was the Law of the Medes and Persians compared with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations' scraps of paper. If they last a year, they have done pretty well. On such rotten foundations as that, I firmly believe, the good name and fame of our country can never survive. That is what many of us feel. And we feel this, too. Even if the Government take the view that they must, for reasons of expediency, embark on what many of us feel to be a policy of shame, let them at least shoulder their own responsibilities. Do not let them shelter behind this packed jury which they are calling in to do what I can describe only as their dirty work". That, to me at any rate, is the final humiliation.

And, finally, why, my Lords, is all this necessary at all? Why cannot we, in spite of what the Prime Minister has said, leave the destiny of Southern Rhodesia to the Rhodesians themselves? In the present temper of the world, no Government, even a reactionary Government, could hold back from a policy of healthy advance; and that is certainly true of Southern Rhodesia. Why cannot we let them, who know the country and who know the Africans, decide what is a safe pace to go? By trying to force them to go faster than they feel is safe, we are, in fact, I believe, not accelerating but slowing up the rate of advance. For as we push them one way, their instinct, as one can well understand, is to pull back the other way, in order to maintain some sense of balance. If we could only leave them to regulate the pace, I believe that they would go—and I am not the only one to think so—very much faster. I believe, too, that a situation of that kind could not but create confidence and increase the investment in Rhodesia which the noble Lord, Lord Walston, so rightly said was vitally important for its future progress.

The noble Lord, Lord Walston, is himself, as we all know, a moderate and kindly man, and he has made this afternoon, as one would expect, a moderate and kindly speech. With what he said about the importance of more education, more investment and so on, we shall all of us, I think—certainly I do—entirely agree. But he went out to Rhodesia only as a visitor; he was out there, as I understand it, for only a few weeks. How then can he be so certain as he has shown himself to-day about what is the right thing to do? I am pretty sure that very few people who know the Central Africans, and who have lived among them, would think it either wise or safe to hand over all the reins of Government to an African majority now, or even in five years—the period, I believe, that the Government have in mind. They simply are not ready for it. It would mean only an early reversion to single-Party Government and, very soon, to an African dictatorship, which I am sure Lord Walston would regret just as much as anyone else.

My Lords, I do not think that I have painted too dark a picture—I hope I have not; and, that being so, I beg the Government to think again before they pursue further the disastrous course on which they seem to have embarked. If they will not think again, if they insist on going ahead at the pace they seem now to have in contemplation, there will be some of us, at any rate, who would not blame the loyal Rhodesians if they felt that they could trust Britain no longer and that they must take their destiny into their own hands.

I am afraid that in what I have said to your Lordships this afternoon I have spoken very strongly—some of you may feel too strongly. But I feel very strongly, and there are some occasions when it is no use mincing one's words. I entreat the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who I understand is to reply to this debate this evening, at any rate to make it clear that the Government intend to go no further with their ill-considered scheme for calling in the Commonwealth, with all the implications that I have described. If Ministers are not willing to do even that, I am afraid that I am likely to have no option but to put down another Motion, asking your Lordships to refuse your approval to this ill-conceived proposal, and to push that Motion to a Division. If the Division goes against the Motion, there is, of course, no more that I could do; but at any rate I should have done what I could to save this country from further shame, where there has already been so much.

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Marquess because he makes such a strong case; when you agree with him you find fresh reasons for agreement and when you disagree with him, as I fear I do, you find yourself even more strongly in disagreement. But I am grateful both to him and to the noble Duke for the handsome tribute they paid to the well-informed speech of my noble friend Lord Walston. My noble friend spent five weeks travelling round the Federation and Southern Africa and he came back to give us his own impressions of this first-hand experience of those parts of Africa. I know that your Lordships, even when you disagree with the views that are expressed by other noble Lords—and noble Lords opposite are bound to disagree with most views expressed from this side of the House—always listen with respect and interest to an opinion that is based on first-hand experience.

I should like to make two comments, if I might, on the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. First of all, I am glad that he will give us an opportunity of debating the position of Southern Rhodesia on a later occasion. This is a matter of such importance that it certainly should not be brought in this afternoon on a side wind. The second thing is this. I have always regarded him as one of the stoutest champions of the Commonwealth. He has been both Commonwealth and Colonial Secretary, and I suppose that for as many years as any noble Lord in this House I have listened with much sympathy and agreement to the speeches the noble Marquess has made on the subject of the Commonwealth.

I am quite convinced that if that policy he has described, of leaving the pace of constitutional advance in Southern Rhodesia to the Southern Rhodesian Government without any persuasion or influence from outside, were followed, the consequences would be a civil war in Southern Rhodesia, a race war that would be very difficult to localise because help would come in to both sides from outside. I am quite convinced that if there were a war of this kind in Southern Rhodesia it would be the end of the Commonwealth in its present form, because a number of the new Commonwealth countries would wish to break off from the rest of the Commonwealth.

The other thing is that I thought that one of his remarks was really an incitement to Southern Rhodesia to "go it alone", and I must say I was surprised by that because in the Press this morning Sir Edgar Whitehead was reported as having made a speech yesterday in the Assembly in Southern Rhodesia urging the Government not to take the irresponsible course of taking independence into its own hands and without the ordinary legal sanctions.

I would also thank the noble Duke, if I might, for having given us a progress report on what the two Committees to which he referred have been doing about the winding-up of the Federation, which of course has to be completed by the end of next month. I asked him if he would do that and I am most grateful to him for doing so. I should like to say something about the working of the Committee which is dealing with the transfer of Federal functions and powers to the Territories, because that concerns us in this House much more closely on account of the fact that its recommenda- tions will require the consent of Parliament. We have a responsibility in this House and in another place for approving or disapproving the orders which will embody the recommendations made by these Committees, provided of course that they are accepted by the Governments concerned. When presenting these orders, the Government will have to satisfy us that we are being asked to do something we can conscientiously approve. There are several matters about which I and my noble friends will need a great deal of reassurance from the Government if we are to be satisfied.

I should like to mention these matters. The first is this—and it was not dealt with by the noble Duke; I hope it will be dealt with by the noble and learned Lord who will wind up, as it is eminently a legal matter which he is qualified to deal with. It relates to discriminatory provisions in the Federal law. It has been said—and I do not know how reliable the authority is; that is why I am asking the question—that when Federal functions and personnel are transferred to Southern Rhodesia the discriminatory provisions relating to them in the Federal law will apply in that country; furthermore, that these provisions will not be subject to review by the council set up by the present Constitution of Southern Rhodesia to prevent discriminatory legislation there. I know that no one would wish to see more discrimination in Southern Rhodesia, especially at the present time. Nor, of course, does this appear to be in any way the intention of the Government of Southern Rhodesia, and what I am asking for is information, reassurance, on this point.

To take my second query, I am very apprehensive about the transfer to Southern Rhodesia of the bulk of the Royal Rhodesian Air Force, the Federal air force; and of course this apprehensiveness, as your Lordships are aware, has been expressed by the majority of countries in the United Nations. Indeed, we had to exercise our Veto in the Security Council because the majority of the countries there wished to pass a resolution against the transfer of these forces to Southern Rhodesia.

Now I want to ask the Government, in relation to these forces, are they satisfied that Southern Rhodesia can pay for such an expensive force? I and other noble Lords who have visited Africa have seen something of prestige armed forces in African countries. Such prestige armed forces have a crippling effect on public expenditure in other directions, such as the social services. I only hope that we have given Southern Rhodesia no encouragement to saddle themselves with armed forces they cannot really afford. Perhaps the Government are thinking of sharing the cost of maintaining these squadrons with the Southern Rhodesian Government. I should like to know whether that is the case. There would, of course, be an argument for that if they were to be available for the defence of British territories in ether parts of Africa.

If this is the case—if there is any agreement about the use of these forces for Commonwealth defence—I cannot help thinking that the Government are taking a short-sighted view of the organisation of Commonwealth defence in Africa. We have never hitherto been allowed defence facilities in any British Colony in Africa after it has become independent, and Southern Rhodesia is on the way to independence. I think everyone would agree to that. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, would like it to move rather slowly, unless it moves rather abruptly; but I think the difference is one of timing rather than of principle. Surely, if we depend on Southern Rhodesia for air defence, then we are likely to let ourselves in for the same terrible mistake that we made in Kenya, where we spent millions on building up an Army and Air Force base, and now that Kenya has become independent we have had to give up this base and the use of these facilities.

Another reason for my dissatisfaction and alarm at the prospect of these squadrons passing into the control of Southern Rhodesia is this. We shall be giving Southern Rhodesia the most powerful air force in Africa after South Africa. I believe that the Canberra squadrons of this air force are more powerful, because they carry a more powerful armament, than any of the squadrons of the South African Air Force. And, by doing this, we are bound to increase tension between the independent African countries and the area of Africa still under European control, and to stimulate an arms race between these two areas. I greatly hope that this is a matter that will be reconsidered before it is brought before Parliament in the shape of an Order for our approval. Why should not some of these squadrons, at any rate, be put into our own strategic reserve? That, surely, would be far better for the economy of Southern Rhodesia and would take a much longer view of the prospect of stability in Africa and the avoidance of armed conflict and an arms race between the two blocs, white and black, that face one another at the moment in Southern Africa.

The third matter in relation to the winding up of the Federation about which I am still far from satisfied, in spite of what the noble Duke has said, is the Government's treatment of the Federal public service. We shall hear much more about that, I am glad to say, from the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, who has great knowledge of this problem. The noble Duke said—and we would entirely agree with him—that the terms of service of public servants of the Federal Government are quite different from the terms of service of members of the Overseas Civil Service, and you cannot compare the two because it would not be comparing like with like. We would entirely accept that argument—there is no difference whatever between us on that score. But although there are differences between these two types of public servants, there are also similarities, and I should like to point out two similarities. One is that if a man loses a job as the result of Government policy, he loses the job whether he is an overseas civil servant or a member of the Federal public service; and the other is that if this does happen, then there is a moral obligation upon Her Majesty's Government either to find comparable alternative employment or to compensate this man for the loss of his job. Those seem to me to be two obvious and striking similarities, whatever the important differences are, between the members of these two services.

There are two pledges which the Government have given. Perhaps I might be allowed to remind the House and the Government of these pledges. The Government have given these in relation to the Federal public service. Mr. Butler said in another place: The Federal public service is the main human problem posed by the dissolution of the Federation. We shall be judged by how we solve it. There are 35,000 Federal public servants—African, Asian and European, and their future lies in our hands. That suggests to me that the Government accept moral responsibility for the future of these men. The other statement was one made by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, in reply to a debate we had in this House on the Bill to wind up the Federation. What the noble and learned Lord said in July was this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 252 (No. 122), col. 905]: The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, raised the point that … no civil servant should be worse off as a result of the dissolution of the Federation.… Her Majesty's Government recognise the importance of the second point—namely, that no civil servant shall be worse off. Perhaps that is not such a strong acceptance of obligation as that of the Foreign Secretary, but it seems to me to accept the obligation.

Now what is the position? May I ask your Lordships to study what the Government are proposing to do in relation to these public servants, because I think it is for every noble Lord to judge for himself whether the proposals are fair or not. I have done so for my part, and I cannot really see how the two pledges to which I have referred can be honoured by the present arrangements. What are these arrangements? The Government want these Federal officers to go into the Territorial services as a comparable alternative form of employment. So do we all; so do the people in the Federation. That, obviously, is a most desirable thing to do. At the same time, I do not think anyone can really maintain that a European officer will not be worse off in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and an African officer in Rhodesia, than they are in their present employment. After all, it is precisely the Africanisation policy in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland that has led to compensation schemes for expatriate officers in those Territories.

I am not contending for compensation for loss of career on the same lines as that which is offered to expatriate officers of the Overseas Civil Service, who have the choice to retire, if they wish to do so, when a Government becomes independent. That is not what these officers are themselves asking for. The fact that there is no compensation scheme—I am not asking for it—is leading to exactly what a lot of us fear: namely, that many young doctors and engineers are leaving the Federal public service and not going into the Territorial services because there is no compensation, and they have got to get jobs elsewhere while they are young enough to take them. That seems to me to be not only a lamentable result in itself, but an answer to the argument of some people that if a compensation scheme were provided the officers would retire and not go into the Territorial services.

Where there is a very strong case for compensation is when a man is not offered a job, when he is not wanted in any of the Territorial services; that is to say, when he is redundant. I believe there are about 3,000 officers who are very likely to be in this position, half of them African, half of them European —3,000 out of the 35,000 employees of the Federal public service. What is to happen to a man of that kind when he is forced to retire prematurely because a job in the area cannot be found for him by the Territorial Governments? What happens is this. He gets his retirement pension and also one-third of that annual pension as an element of compensation—which shows that the Government accept the principle that there must be some compensation. But this one-third of a retirement pension is entirely inadequate, and I should like to explain why.

The Federal public service is a very young service because it dates from only 1953, so the retirement pension even of senior officers is extremely small. To give one example, an officer with eight years' service earning £1,500 will receive an annual pension of £200 a year, and if he is one of those who are turned down by the Territorial Government he will get a bonus of £66 a year, a third of his basic pension. He could commute that for about £400, whereas an expatriate officer in the Colonial Service in that position would get a lump sum of £5,000 or £6,000. I think your Lordships will agree that the payment of one-third of annual pension as total compensation for redundant officers is really derisory and unworthy of Her Majesty's Government. The average payment for a redundant officer in respect of this element of compensation would be less than £66 a year because the average pension is less than £200; it is about £120. So the sum the average man would get is even more derisory, One word more about pensions. I hope the Government will give us a little more information about pensions than the information we have at the moment, because we should like to know what they have in mind. We want to know what arrangements are going to be made about the security of the pension fund, about the currency in which the pensions will be paid, and about the making of pension increases to match increases in the cost of living. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord who is to wind up the debate can tell us something about that.

The noble Duke said something about citizenship. I welcomed what he said, and I think everyone will agree with it. He did not, however, deal with the really big problem which many of these officers are going to face before very long. Most of these officers will take up posts in the Territorial services; these Territories will become independent, and when they do so they will have their own citizenship. They do not like dual citizenship and clearly will not employ foreigners. So these men are going to be faced with the alternative of giving up their British citizenship or leaving their jobs. I dare say that quite a number of them will take on local citizenship, but in regard to those of them who, owing to changed circumstances in the Territory where they are working, or owing to family connections, want at that time to retire with British citizenship, are we prepared to make our law about citizenship such that they would immediately be eligible? I believe that the Government are considering a Bill to make the acquisition of British citizenship possible without the normal residential qualification of five years. I think this would be very useful; it would exactly suit the position of these men and a lot of other people in other parts of the Commonwealth.


My Lords, I should like to confirm what the noble Earl says. Legislation is planned to take place this Session—I cannot give the actual chapter and verse—to meet the situation outlined by the noble Earl in which people serving in these Territories have been compelled to give up their British nationality. It will be made easier than it is now for them to resume their previous British nationality. I do not at the moment want to say how much easier, but it will be very considerably easier for them to take this step.


The important thing is that there should not be a residential qualification of five years, because these wretched men cannot wait around for five years for British nationality.


I can give that undertaking.


I am very grateful indeed for that very reassuring statement. I will say one simple thing, with which every noble Lord will agree, in relation to this whole problem of pensions and compensation for the public servants of the Federation. The honour of the British Government and of Parliament is at stake in giving those public servants a fair deal. Therefore, I sincerely hope that every noble Lord will acquaint himself with the facts of the situation and will judge whether or not the proposals for the future of these officers which have been made by Her Majesty's Government and by the Committee of officials which has been dealing with the matter, are such as to give these men a fair deal.

I said something about the High Commission Territories, to which the Minister of State referred at some length (and I was very grateful for what he said) during the debate on the Address, and I will not weary the House by repetition. There are only three fresh points I should like to make. The first is this. The strongest card in Dr. Verwoerd's bid for integration of the Territories with South Africa is surely economic. Britain"— he said, if I may quote a speech he made in Pretoria on September 3— might be the guide to their political freedom, but she is powerless in respect of their eventual economic freedom. We still have to prove ourselves right and to prove Dr. Verwoerd wrong in relation to the latter part of this statement. Political independence for these Territories will be meaningless so long as their people are totally dependent on South Africa for their livelihoods. I am very glad that the noble Duke said something about what the Government are doing in relation to economic development. I agree entirely with Lord Walston about the paramount importance of economic development for the future of these three Territories.

I should like to draw attention to one further matter. I do not ask for an answer to this question now, because clearly it could not be given without prior notice; but I do ask the Government to give it immediate consideration. The noble Duke spoke of sugar in Swaziland and mentioned it, I think, as the most important cash crop.


After asbestos.


Asbestos is not a crop. I agree about asbestos, but it is a mineral rather than a crop. But sugar being the most important cash crop, will the Government consider admitting Swaziland to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement when the present Agreement expires in 1965? This, of course, is vastly important to the marketing of Swaziland sugar.

My first point is the one with which I think all noble Lords on both sides of the House would agree: the vital importance of speeding up the economic development of these Territories. My second point is this. We ought to have an Extradition Treaty with South Africa modelled, presumably, on the Treaties we have with other foreign countries. Our decision to protect refugees from South Africa in the High Commission Territories is, of course, a political decision, and this means less security for the refugees than with a Treaty, and might also cause misunderstanding and difference of opinion with South Africa. I think that both of these difficulties would be overcome by a Treaty. I hope the Treaty would protect all refugees, including those in transit who are going to other countries, without their being asked for what purpose they are going—but, of course, on the understanding that they refrain from political activity while they are actually on the soil of the Territory. I should like to know from the Government what they are contemplating about an Extradition Treaty, what the contents would be, and whether they are aware of the urgency of concluding such a Treaty with the Government of South Africa.

My third point is one that has often been made—and not only from these Benches; about the post of High Commissioner for the three Territories which is now combined with that of Ambassador to South Africa. My Lords, as the Territories become more politically conscious—and, of course, this is going on the whole time—so their distrust of this country is bound to increase; because their senior administrator is also accredited to the Government of South Africa. It is difficult, if not impossible, for them to believe that a man who must be on the best possible terms with the South African Government will also put their interests first. I am sure that there are remarkable individuals, like the late Ambassador and High Commissioner, who are able to wear these two hats; but I think that it happens only very rarely. And, even if it does happen, one cannot expect people to believe that it happens; and it is the belief that is the important thing.

My Lords, the resident Commissioners in the three Territories have recently been stepped up in authority, and they can communicate directly with the Colonial Office. I should have thought there was no reason at all why these resident Commissioners should not also deal with the South African Government, which is their immediate neighbour. I therefore hope that this post could either be abolished—which I feel would be the most satisfactory course—or, at any rate, removed from its present position as part of the mandate of the Ambassador to South Africa.

I do not want to detain your Lordships long, because we have a large number of speeches this evening, but I should like to have a final word about Southern Rhodesia. It is on a very specific point that I would ask the Government for enlightenment. Could the noble and learned Lord, when he winds up (perhaps the noble Duke will convey this question to him), clarify the vague and ambiguous statement made in another place by the Secretary of State last Friday, about the part that the Government want the Commonwealth to play in the constitutional future of Southern Rhodesia? The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, seemed to think that the Government expect the Commonwealth to be a sort of jury to decide about Southern Rhodesia's independence. I cannot believe that the Government have in mind anything of the kind, though it is not for me to say that. I have no doubt that the noble and learned Lord who winds up the debate will make the position of the Government quite clear in relation to the interpretation by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, of what Mr. Sandys said. Nevertheless, the fact that Lord Salisbury interpreted in that way what the Secretary of State said, and the fact that it has been interpreted in other ways by other people, shows that at least what I am saying is true; namely, that the statement was vague and ambiguous.

I am glad that the Secretary of State said that there would be full consultation with the Commonwealth. That is something on which we all agree. But what form will this consultation take? A matter of such importance would justify a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, if the other Commonwealth countries wanted it, or at least a Commonwealth Foreign Ministers' meeting. I would ask: is it the intention of the Government to invite Commonwealth countries to attend a ministerial meeting in connection with Southern Rhodesia?

One of the main difficulties in Southern Rhodesia is that the Government of Southern Rhodesia finds it very difficult to make its own supporters realise how far they are out of step with the rest of the Commonwealth. I am sure that, whatever else the Government do, every effort should be made to bring to the notice of Southern Rhodesia the views of their Commonwealth partners. What has puzzled Southern Rhodesia is the statement of the Secretary of State that he would like something more than consultation. This, obviously, is not the "jury system" point made by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in his interpretation of this statement; but it might be something else. What does "something more than consultation" really mean? If it means that other Commonwealth countries could be asked to mediate, or to take part in negotiations for independence, as the noble Marquess seemed to suppose, that would be quite improper without the consent of the Southern Rhodesian Government. In my view, we are entitled to be told either that Mr. Sandys meant nothing when he said that the Commonwealth would be expected to give "something more than consultation"; or, if he meant something, what that something really is, because it has already given rise to an enormous amount of misunderstanding. My Lords, that is all I have to say. I apologise for detaining noble Lords, because the time is getting on, but I should be very much obliged if some, at least, of those questions could be answered by the Government.

5.37 p.m.


My Lords, while I am bound to disagree somewhat with some of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, I join in thanking him for initiating this debate, and in praising the reasonable moderation of his speech. For brevity's sake, I shall devote myself almost entirely to one only of these parts of the world—namely, Basutoland. In that connection I declare an interest, for members of my family have been merchants there for nearly a hundred years. I may also say that we have been very great friends with the Paramount Chief and with members of all Parties in that country. I do not intend to talk about South Africa because, as I think one of the Front Bench Members said, it is probably not wholly relevant. But in so far as the noble Lord, Lord Walston, set the scene in which the Territories of his Motion are established, and made one or two remarks, I want, if I may, most briefly, to call attention to the most misguided or perhaps the least well-informed of his remarks.

There is, for example, the idea of Lord Walston that the Transkei is not big enough to hold all the Africans; that the proposal to give it a kind of nursery Government, or the initial stages of self-government, similar to that we have had in Basutoland for the past five years, must be a mistake or must be criticised or even suspect, because the territory is not big enough. My Lords, that is like saying that if you cannot put a quart into a pint pot, do not put any in at all. It is a most ridiculous argument. If, to persons who hitherto had very small opportunities for consultation and no political power, it is a good thing to give the beginnings of political power in a certain area, it cannot be said that that is a bad thing to do because the area is not big enough to take all of them.

Then the noble Lord said, as to the Transkei territory, that the election held there a few days ago was being rigged. Those are his words; I made a note of them—"being rigged". I should like to give him the opportunity of telling the House what evidence he has for saying that, if he would care to take it.


My Lords, it is extremely good of the noble Lord to offer me that opportunity. I should like to take it, but I do not think the House would appreciate this, because it would take me at least ten minutes to describe the present system of elections in the Transkei. So I must refuse in deference to the time and convenience of the House.


The House will judge whether that is a satisfactory answer. I cannot myself think that it is. That election is no more being rigged than any other election operated by decent, honest civil servants in the European tradition of conducting elections for any of the colonial territories throughout the world. It is quite wrong to suggest that it is, and it is an insult to the civil service of a friendly country, with which we have had lifelong and, indeed, centuries of association. At least, that is the view I take of it.

The Prime Minister was quoted by the noble Lord as saying that racialism was the one besetting sin in the world and the one thing that might cause great trouble for all of mankind. I subscribe to that. But I wonder whether it really tends to diminish the amount of racial feeling to have those persons who are slowly and gradually, and sometimes too quickly, being brought forward to self-government and to various forms of government constantly reminded how slowly we are going when, in fact, we are really going extremely fast. I won- der whether that does not contribute to the very racialism which many of us would deplore.

Turning now to Basutoland, I will, most briefly and for the record, venture to tell your Lordships about it. Some of what I say will have been said already, but other parts will not, and it will not fit in unless I say it. There are nearly one million Basuto inhabitants in this country, and there are 2,000 whites—splendid fellows, too, all of them. The country is 50 per cent. bigger than Wales—that gives an idea of its size—and one-third of it is mountainous. It is an enclave in the middle of South Africa, just as Rutland is in the middle of England. Its frontier is about 500 miles long. That has a certain importance, partly because such a long frontier is quite indefensible and partly because it is in terrain which would make defence very, very difficult, in a land where such defence could not be afforded. It is partly for that reason and partly for others that there is a common customs zollverein between South Africa and Basutoland. This is a very sensible administrative arrangement. Incidentally it brings in over £1 million sterling to the Basutoland revenue, which it sorely needs. It is also impossible to guard that frontier from the point of view of persons running over it for asylum. Whether they seek to leave South Africa to run away from justice or from what they deem to be injustice, it is nevertheless true that they can run over this frontier without let or hindrance whenever they like, and it is almost impossible to catch them—perhaps, sometimes, even to see them.

Now this adds weight to the plea which has already been made to-day in the House that we should be extremely careful what rules we make as between South Africa and Basutoland in respect of the tradition—the good British tradition—of asylum. All of us, I am sure, will want to feel that the old British tradition of offering asylum to persons who suffer political persecution should not be too severely breached. But, on the other hand, if, along this indefensible and undefended frontier, you are going to say that all can come, that all can be welcome and that all can do what they please when they arrive, then you are indeed going to make life quite impossible for the Basuto people, because they know better than most of us how dependent they are on the great country which surrounds them, South Africa.

My Lords, Basutoland has only its labour, to which reference has already been made, its wool and its mohair, a few cattle and its scenery, to gain it the importation of money—in the one case to export and in the other case to exploit. I think the noble Duke spoke of grains being exported. On balance, my Lords, there is no grain export from Basutoland. Some years we have to import it because we do not grow enough food to live on there. That is the desperate plight in which this country finds itself. At this moment, the United Kingdom pays a subvention of £1.6 million, and helps in other ways through the various Colonial funds.

Now I should like to praise the Basuto people—an intelligent, a patient and a charming people—and to praise their leaders, including the Paramount Chief, descendant of a royal house of long standing and one who has been in treaty and in friendly relationships with Her Majesty's Government for a hundred years or more. They now have, and have had for the last five years, the Basutoland National Council, constructed on almost exactly the same model as the Transkei Council which is now to be constructed. It has operated well, and has provided a very good opportunity for learning the elements of responsibility, both for members and for those senior members who have sat on the Executive Committee and who are, in a sense, budding Ministers in a budding Cabinet. The latest evidence of the wisdom and sense of the Basuto statesmen and politicians is to be seen in the Constitutional Report, which I regret to say has not yet been published here in Britain. That is no criticism; I do not know that there has been time: but when your Lordships find yourselves able to read that Report I am sure you will be impressed with the very good sense of the people who sat round the table to make it. They represent all the political Parties in Basutoland. They were entirely alone, save for one European lawyer who advised them and a European who acted as an independent chairman. It is a Report in which they unanimously ask for independence. They talk about a pre-independence period of a year, at the end of which there should be an election on a general suffrage, after which independence should follow within a year.

Now I want, most frankly and in the most friendly way, to comment upon these proposals. Her Majesty's Government have already replied in advance of the debate which is to take place in the Council in Basutoland, that, during the period of pre-independence, however short or long it may be, Her Majesty's Government must have responsibility for law and order and foreign affairs. I am bound to say to my Basutoland friends that I agree with Her Majesty's Government; that must be realised and must be understood. It must be appreciated that these people, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said in another connection, are without, of necessity, the 700 years of experience of political life that we have had in this country. These people are now approaching only the second election they have ever had, and only the first one that they will have had on general suffrage.

It is inevitable that all three Parties are proclaiming that they must have independence; and each of them is saying that they must have it now. Or, if they are to have it the next year, somebody else will say: "We must have it before that." The bidding is: when is independence to come. No one doubts it will come; the question is when. Whatever they say, they will not regard what I say as criticism of them—friends of mine as they are—because they know perfectly well that that is what they are doing in advance of their forthcoming election. Every one of them, in his heart, knows that the power to keep order cannot really be shared; that condominium does not work; and that while Her Majesty's Government are responsible they must retain responsibility for foreign affairs, the power of internal order and the supervision of finances.

Then these gentlemen will come here in the Spring to a conference with Her Majesty's Government when a Constitution will be set; and that Constitution will, no doubt, give them the "One man, one vote", which in this particular country is the most desirable formula; because there are, as I have said, some 800,000 Basutos and only 2,000 Whites. It is quite immaterial whether or not you have multi-racial government in Basutoland because the numbers are as they are. The racial problem does not arise when the numbers are like that; it arises only where the numbers are far more equal and power is more likely to be divided and contested.

The Basutos know also that they must acquire economic independence before they can enjoy real political independence. They are wiser in this respect than some noble Lords here on the other side who seem to think that there is such a thing as real independence without economic independence. I thought I discerned that thought in the minds of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and of the noble Earl in relation to Nyasaland. I do not myself see how you can enjoy real independence if you are not financially free. The Basutos realise this; and therefore in their hearts they must know that it will take some time before they can become economically free. Therefore, with justice and with propriety and good sense, they ask for political freedom.

In what way is it possible that we can help them? It has been said in various parts of the House: "Let us set an example", "Let us not be out-bid by the Republic", and so on, but see "how we can help Basutoland". I have tried myself in my own business there; others have tried; but until and unless we have a great development in roads, electricity and other fundamental provisions, which no private persons can produce, it does not seem possible to establish even the most elementary manufacturing businesses there.

Basutoland, however, is endowed with the largest supply and the richest supply of pure water; and it occurs at high level so that it has a big fall. It has, therefore, all the potentials of a hydroelectric scheme of great importance, not to itself alone, but to the whole Continent of South Africa. It is called the Ox-Bow Scheme, and it is known to the Government here and to the South African Government, and to engineers who are interested in these kinds of schemes. It has been well surveyed; it is at an advanced stage now, and it is ready for the first step to be taken. This first step will cost perhaps £2.1 million. That first step would supply enough water and electric power for the whole of Basutoland. The whole scheme would cost £11 million or £12 million; and that scheme would provide enormous supplies of beautiful water and a great surplus of electric power which could be sold to South Africa.

It has been said by the Government (a Government speaker said it in answer to me the other day in this House) that there was no sign yet that South Africa wanted this water and this electricity. But it is wanting water and electricity all the time. It is one of the driest countries in the world. Water is the only thing it lacks; it has every other gift but not water. And it is needing more electricity all the time and is building stations fired by oil or coal all the time. If its need is a new supply of beautiful—not brackish—water and of electricity at competitive prices it is one of those bets that anyone who has ten or twelve million pounds to spare ought to invest in. Since I do not have this, and usually most of us have not, then we must ask Her Majesty's Government to see to this. They could start this £2 million scheme and then in two or three years' time follow with the £12 million. They would then have provided the Basutoland people with a way of earning perhaps three-quarters of a million to £1 million. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, said that it would be "only" three-quarters of a million, as if that was an insignificant or not very important sum. But it is important; it is half the deficit. We are getting somewhere if we enrich ourselves with water and power in the land and at the same time pay off half the deficit. This is some way towards economic independence, and then we might be able to attract industry.

My Lords, this is not an idle dream; it is the only way, it seems to me, that Her Majesty's Government can honourably discharge themselves from their obligation to Basutoland, which now goes back 100 years. The right way is to start her off in a manner in which she can pay her way. I might add that the Basutoland Mountains are within 350 miles of Johannesburg; they are within 200 miles of the new Orange Free State mining development; they are within 400 miles of East London, where considerable economic development is going on and where new factories are being built all the time. I was at the opening the other day of a £2 million factory in East London; this will be a great user of electricity and water. I am certain that this scheme is a practicable proposition—far more practicable than pouring water down some other less useful sinks.

I therefore ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will do two things: it is a repetition of the Question I asked the other day; but more emphatically made because now I am not subject to the limitations of a Parliamentary Question. Will Her Majesty's Government give the Basutoland people this £2 million investment, or lend it to them, through the Colonial Development Fund or in some way or another, so that this water scheme can be started? Secondly, will they start conversations with the Government of South Africa about the ultimate use of water and power which might become available after three or four years; and will they promise the Basutos that they will give them all possible diplomatic help in this matter of bringing South Africa into sympathy with this scheme?

In the Report to which I have made reference, there is one paragraph which I want to leave in your Lordships' minds, if I may. May I remind you that this is the unanimous Report of a Committee of twelve Basutos, unaccustomed, save in the last four or five years, to public life, not inhibited from saying what is in their minds, and not subject at all to the same kind of prejudices as we are in this House and in this Parliament and in this country. This is what they say: We are willing to trade in friendliness with our neighbours. It is the Basutos' desire to live and let live. Instead of exacerbating feelings between Africans and Europeans, instead of causing more racial unrest and more racial hatred, by making bitter speeches on these matters, as some do from time to time, may we not take the lesson from them, that it is not a bad thing for man "to live and let live"?

6.2 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise to the noble Lord who initiated this debate for the fact that I was unable to be present during the early stage of the debate and therefore did not hear the whole of his speech. However, I heard the latter part, dealing with Southern Rhodesia, and I was informed of some of his other lines of argument. I understand that he was very pessimistic about the general economic situation of Southern Rhodesia, and I would comment on his speech in this way. I would draw his attention to the Newsletter of the High Commissioner of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland of November 8, in which the seven headlines of the first seven items are as follows: £500.000 tobacco factory for Salisbury; Top publishing firm to open in S. Rhodesia"— referring to Messrs. Longman's— £4 million lowveld sugar expansion; Record profit for Central African Airways; Southern Rhodesia electricity sales boom; Record year for many S.R. industries; Work to start on Southern Rhodesia branch line"— that is in the Triangle and Hippo Valley.

I do not propose to follow the noble Lord otherwise in my speech. Indeed, I had not intended to speak at all to-day, having spoken at some length in the debate on the Queen's Speech on the subject of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I had intended just to ask whether I might have answers to a number of the questions which I put to my noble friend Lord Lansdowne on November 14 and which remained unanswered. I hope that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will be able to give me the answers to some of them to-day. However, the extraordinary and, to my mind, disastrous suggestion made in another place by the Commonwealth and Colonial Secretary on the day following our debate, that the whole Commonwealth would have to be consulted in regard to the question of Southern Rhodesia's independence, and might perhaps be brought even more positively into this problem, together with the apparent total lack of success which the delegation of Federal public servants have achieved during their stay this past week in London, compel me to speak at greater length.

The date for the final and tragic dissolution of the Federation is now little more than four weeks ahead, and a number of vitally important questions still remain unsettled. I understand that Committee A is making very slow progress and I urge Her Majesty's Government, and, indeed, all the other Governments concerned, to insist that this work should be accelerated. The questions which I put to my noble friend the other day, and to which I think Parliament is entitled to have an answer before a final decision is taken, concerned the flatter of the public debt and the replacement of existing Federal guarantees; the association of Her Majesty's Government with such guarantees, together with the guarantees of the funds raised for the construction of Kariba; the arrangements for the Rhodesia Railways and Central African Airways, on which I understand some progress has been made; the question of continued co-operation in vital health schemes, such as malaria and tsetse control; the continuation of the right of appeal to the Privy Council and the establishment of a joint Court of Appeal for the three Territories. I very much hope that my noble and learned friend will be able to give me some information on these topics this evening.

I now turn to the question of the claims of the Federal public servants, a delegation of whom have interviewed a number of Members of Parliament of both Houses during the past week and who, I understand, have also had an interview with the noble Duke. I myself have seen the delegation and, having heard their case explained to me in greater detail, I must confess that I feel the way in which they have been treated is little short of scandalous. One is left with the feeling that Her Majesty's Government and the three Territorial Governments were mainly concerned to extricate themselves from this affair as cheaply as possible. The civil servants were never permitted to negotiate, as had been promised, and in fact were asked to give evidence only before the sub-committee. Moreover, the way in which the matter was handled subsequently by Committee A is causing great resentment among the civil servants. I understand that as many as 1,000 civil servants have refused to continue in Territorial service, so that in fact the niggardly treatment which is being offered is having the exactly opposite effect to what was intended.

Shortly before I came to the House this afternoon, I had some fresh infor mation on the subject. It seems that, of 1,400 permanent teachers in Southern Rhodesia, only 134 have taken permanent transfers; 177 have taken provisional transfers, and the other 1,100 are still waiting to make up their minds when they see what the delegation of public servants bring back with them from London after their visit. I also understand that in the Harare Native Hospital, which some of us know, half the doctors have said that they cannot accept the treatment they have received and that they intend to leave. I regard all this as extremely serious. It was inevitable, in Northern Rhodesia in any case, that the greatest encouragement would be needed in order to persuade officers to go on serving. I also feel that, despite what my noble friend said this afternoon, Her Majesty's Government have a primary responsibility in this matter. It was we who set up the Federation in 1953, and the break-up of the Federation is now being brought about by a sovereign act of the British Parliament. I suggest that we cannot, and should not, shirk our responsibilities.

I hesitate to add to the quotations that have already been given to your Lordships, but Mr. Butler also gave the Federal civil servants an assurance that they would be "equitably and generously treated." This, as I shall seek to show, has not occurred. It does not appear to be generally appreciated that two-thirds of the Federal civil servants were recruited after federation—in other words, as the noble Earl opposite said, they have less than ten years' service. It also does not appear to be realised that, of the 35,000 civil servants, 20,000 are Africans; and, as the noble Earl said, of the 3,000 who are expected to become redundant, half are Africans.

When my noble friend Lord Lansdowne replied to me on November 14, he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 253 (No. 3), col. 197] that officers will receive compensation for the abolition of their office. In fact, what they are to receive is only what they are entitled to receive under their existing regulations, whereby an officer who was dismissed by reason of the abolition of his office received his earned pension plus an additional one-third, to be paid at the Governor-General's discretion. In every case, in fact, where an officer in the past was so dismissed he received his third, and I understand the Federal Government's representative on the Committee took the view very strongly that the third should be automatically payable. Under the new arrangements, as has already been pointed out, any officer who refuses Territorial appointment will be denied his additional third.

There is a further point, also of the greatest importance. The provision of this additional third provided under the regulations was perhaps appropriate compensation for the abolition of an individual civil servant's office, because that is a thing which normally occurs when a fairly senior man is perhaps creating a bottleneck and it is thought he should retire. By that time he would probably have earned enough pension so that his additional third would have been of some real value to enable him to retire in reasonable comfort. But most of the civil servants with whom we are now dealing have served only about nine to ten years, so their pension and their additional third are very small indeed. One set of figures was given by the noble Earl, and I have another set. In the case of a man earning £900 a year, he would receive a pension of £120, plus an additional third of £40 a year. The 20,000 Africans concerned in this are, of course, much worse off. Under this scheme, these Africans wilt not receive more than an average of £2 10s. a month.

My noble friend Lord Lansdowne also said that the Governments concerned considered that the settlement provided equitable treatment for the individual officers. As I understand it, it is not accurate to say that the Federal Government think that this agreement provides equitable treatment for all civil servants. The Federal Government at the time considered that this was the best deal they could get. They had previously put in a strong dissenting report on the question of the additional third. In fact, when the Federal Minister for the Public Service made a statement on the subject on September 18, he specifically said that provisions in regard to the third, and especially the lack of freedom of choice involved, did not fully meet the views of the Federal Government.

Then my noble friend went on to say that the settlement sought to secure that as many Federal officers as possible should be able to continue their careers in one or other of the three Territories and thus avoid a disruption of the public services. But it is not so much a matter of being able to continue as being forced to continue through the unwarrantable denial of the additional third to those who do not wish to do so. As I have already said, this has had the effect of driving out a large number of technical and specialist officers who are best qualified and best able to find work elsewhere, and, unfortunately, whom it will be the most difficult to replace.

Then, again, I am afraid I cannot accept the reply of my noble friend, Lord Lansdowne, to my question as to the Federal civil servants' perfectly proper demand for equal treatment under the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1962, and the Overseas Regulations made under it. He said that members of the Southern Rhodesian and Federal public services would not be eligible under this Act, which your Lordships will remember was passed about a year ago, as they were not members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service; that they were selected for appointment by their own Governments and not by or on behalf of the Secretary of State. This argument seems to me to be completely untenable, since under the 1962 Act the benefits were specifically extended to include members of the Sudan Political Service, who were in the same position.

I suppose it can be argued that Southern Rhodesia, with her forty years of full self-government, can reasonably be called upon to accept the responsibility for cost of living increases; but this certainly does not hold good for the Federal public servants. As I said the other day, there is, in fact, no Government to make such increases, and there will be no funds from which the increases can be made. Moreover, the fact that it was the British Government who strongly urged them to go out and take up these posts, after Federation came into effect, seems to me again to involve a responsibility on the part of our Government. The fact that many civil servants will have the opportunity to take employment with the Territories does not mean in this matter of pensions increases that those Territories will look after what might be called the Federal element in their pension; in fact, it is most unlikely that they will do so. So I would beg the Government to look again at this matter.

Finally, with regard to the matter of the Federal public service, my noble friend Lord Lansdowne said, or perhaps implied, that it was impossible to reopen the agreement which had been reached. My Lords, of the delegation's main points two do not involve reopening the agreement. There is, first, the question of security for pensions, and, in particular, the question of a sterling basis of calculation, with a pension fund to be administered from London by, for example, the Crown Agents, and placed in the Bank of England. The Federal civil servants are all the more apprehensive about this aspect of their pensions because they recently learned of the imposition of a tax in Ghana on ex-civil servants' pensions. Then, again, the application of the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1962, was also not involved in the agreement.

Further, there is the question of compensation for redundant officers which formed no part of the agreement. The statement made by the five Governments made it plain that "sympathetic consideration" was to be given to cases of hardship. The civil servants feel strongly that the only proper method of giving treatment in cases of hardship is to make it a generally applicable compensation scheme. This I understand is supported by the Federal Government, and also now by the Southern Rhodesian Government. I would most earnestly urge the Government to reconsider carefully the position of the Federal civil servants and to devise some means for meeting their very real and justifiable anxieties, and, if necessary, undertake the full financial cost of doing so.

I now turn to Southern Rhodesia. The Commonwealth Secretary, as has been referred to by my noble friend Lord Salisbury and others this afternoon, said in another place on November 15 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 684 (No. 4), col. 586]: We are asked by the Government of Southern Rhodesia, what are your terms for independence? What are the changes which would satisfy you? Our answer is that this is not just a matter of satisfying us. Then he went on to say that the question of Southern Rhodesia's independence was one which acutely interested the whole Commonwealth, and that the whole Commonwealth would have to be consulted. He also said that he was wondering whether we might not go further than that, and whether it might not be possible for members of the Commonwealth to help in a more positive way in the task of finding a generally acceptable solution. He was evidently aware of the very serious implications of what he was saying, for he then went on to say that these were what one might call dangerous thoughts.

My Lords, I cannot imagine a more extraordinary and, to my mind, shocking suggestion for a Minister of the Crown to throw out at the end of a debate on a Friday afternoon. He was, in fact, going back on the entire doctrine on which we have been working for years—namely, that the question of independence of any British overseas territory, by precept, practice and ethics, was one for settlement between Her Majesty's Government and the Territory concerned, and for them alone. It was only a few weeks ago that Mr. Sandys turned down, and quite rightly in my opinion, the suggestion that the Commonwealth should be brought in in some capacity to participate in finding a solution for the question of British Guiana. In the case of Southern Rhodesia, the proposal is far more dangerous and, to my mind, inequitable. Among the members of the Commonwealth whom it is proposed to consult, there are ten who have consistently voted against Southern Rhodesia at the United Nations and who cannot, as my noble friend said, by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as capable of giving an impartial view on Southern Rhodesia's future. Five of them are pan-African nationalist States where non-Africans in practice enjoy the status of only second-class citizens. Four of them are Far Eastern nationalist members of the Afro-Asian bloc, and the last is Cyprus.

Finally, and above all, how can we possibly expect to get a disinterested opinion on the proper democratic mode of advancement for Southern Rhodesia, with its history of responsible Parliamentary Government for forty years, from men like Dr. Nkrumah of Ghana and others who, in their brief term of power, have already established one-Party dictatorships, or indeed from such bitter opponents of so-called "colonialism", or "neo-colonialism", as Mr. Nehru and President Makarios. The result, of course, would be a foregone conclusion.

There is another, I think, even more dangerous aspect of this matter. It seems to me that. Mr. Sandys' proposals constitute almost a direct invitation to the Southern Rhodesian leaders to take the law into their own hands. I cannot imagine anything more provocative than what was said, and if they were to do so now no one could blame them. Quite apart from anything else, there is no constitutional basis for Mr. Sandys' proposals, and if the constitutional proprieties are violated by Her Majesty's Government they can hardly be surprised if Southern Rhodesia in turn does not adhere to the strict letter of the law. The Southern Rhodesian Government has rejected Mr. Sandys' proposals, and has suggested that Mr. Sandys did not really intend to go so far—in other words, he did not really mean what he said. If this is the case, I agree with the noble Earl and others who have said this afternoon that we should like made clear to us this evening what was intended on that Friday afternoon, and I hope it will be that these, as I regard them, dangerous and quite unworkable proposals will be dropped.

I must admit that I find Mr. Sandys' attitude towards Southern Rhodesia all the more difficult to understand, inasmuch as the present Constitution was virtually his own. It has been in operation for only one year, and if the African political Parties were to collaborate with it, as they first said they would, it might well lead to an African majority within ten years or even less. This seems to me to be an essentially reasonable rate of progress if the very high standards of living—and here I venture to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Walston—of Africans and Europeans alike in Southern Rhodesia are to be maintained, and if an orderly progress towards a true Parliamentary democracy and not a one-Party tyranny is to be achieved.

There are, in my judgment, certain amendments to the Constitution which could well be made without interfering with this progress. There are also other changes which I should like to see, such as the repeal of the Land Apportionment Act. This might well require ratification at a further election in Southern Rhodesia, but I think these matters are matters for the Southern Rhodesians themselves to decide, and I hope that Mr. Sandys will now revert to the calm and ordered negotiations on this subject which were being pursued by his predecessor. I hope that these negotiations will have as their object the very early attainment of independence by Southern Rhodesia, certainly no later than for either of the other two Territories. Only in this way can the Government dissipate the widespread anxiety and bewilderment which the recent proposals have created in the minds of many people, both in Southern Rhodesia and in this country, and the serious threat to the peaceful and orderly development of that Territory.

6.25 p.m.


My Lords, I rise with confused regrets over the fact that the Federation is ending, and with an awareness that in considering these matters one needs more than ever a dynamic moderation. In listening to the speeches from the other side, one is aware of the great strength of the points made, but also aware that we are considerably back to the same mood as when the Federation was first mooted. One cannot help feeling, with all due humility, that it is much later in time after these ten years than the noble Marquess thinks. Though it is a matter of words to say that one must move with the times, I think a great deal has happened in these ten years to prove further that African nationalism is such a powerful force, whether or not one likes it entirely in current detail, that one must go with it for the sake of the peace of the world, if for nothing else.

Somebody like myself would, in the words of the noble Marquess, be described as only a visitor, though I have been twice a visitor. I well understand the point about denigration and not running down one's own people. But there is a very strong sense there which I perceived, that our own people on the spot are isolated from the outside world and do not read, for instance, what the London Times or the New Statesman or the New York papers say. I think that with the pressure of world opinion it must be very easy to become introspective, fidgety and sometimes very obsessional. Yet one cannot help realising that these are the people on the spot, and in one sense they really know, in the sense in which we in this Island far away do not. The very mood of the place is so entirely different.

But I think that Southern Rhodesia, becoming more and more isolated, must not forget that she is out of tune with the main movement of the African continent. Against the advantages of being on the spot are the advantages of the traditional British eye from afar. I am sure the noble Marquess must have been impressed this morning in reading in The Times what Sir Edgar Whitehead said yesterday in the Southern Rhodesian Assembly, and I cannot resist the point that I think it is dangerous to half encourage the Southern Rhodesians at a given point to act somewhat independently, which I gather is what the noble Marquess said.

Mr. Jan Smith of the Ministry of the Treasury said yesterday of the Africans: They will go on and on demanding until they have the whole cake and every single crumb of the cake. This is not a very successful political angle and obviously encourages the conflict between the races, and it is certainly not the idea of partnership with which Federation was originally conceived. I know the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, mentioned this speech; but if I may quote from it, he said: Southern Rhodesia is one of the few places left in the world where Europeans hold the balance of power, and there are many States conducting crusades against this type of rule. Southern Rhodesia's protection against this pressure is the British Government. He went on: Britain still enjoys tremendous respect and its protection is vital to the colony. When I was last in the Federation two or three years ago I remember his saying—and I recall writing it down at the time: I put safety in the future of Southern Rhodesia before any other consideration in the world. All I want very briefly to say, therefore, is that this idea of safety in the future of Southern Rhodesia or, for that matter, in the future of the world, is related to this idea of moving on in a new way and accepting the African in a new way.

Considering the tone of speeches at the time the Federation was mooted, and without going back to that time, I think it is true to say that one was right to be aware of the fact of African opinion, however inarticulate, then; and one is right to realise now just how much has happened in the ten years. I understand the idea of being fidgety and introspective. It struck me that it is not the old settler who is so fidgety as many people who possibly were in North London, Leeds or Aberdeen in 1946 and are now in a suburb of Salisbury or Bulawayo, and that these people do feel terribly let down; but they are also very ignorant of the trends. With this diminishing citadel—and it is a diminishing citadel—it is particularly frightening to see an acceleration and a further crystallising of the citadel attitude; it is becoming even more vocal and more obsessional.

On one final point relating to the Union, and speaking as somebody with an Afrikaner wife, it seems to me slightly ironical that when the Federation was first mooted it was often said that, by partnership and so forth, it would be a bulwark against the Union. It strikes me, however, that the Union might now be thinking that Southern Rhodesia can now be, possibly is, and might go on, wrongly, being a wall against the host of Africans to the North. This irony does strike one. My Lords, my only plea is that we do understand the tide and do learn to move with it.

6.33 p.m.


My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Duke is not in his place, because I believe that it will be a source of gratification to him to think, as I should have reminded him, and as I am reminding your Lordships' House, that perhaps the most important principle in British colonial policy was stated by a Duke of Devonshire in 1923, when he said that His Majesty's Government think it necessary definitely to record their considered opinion that the interests of African natives must be paramount; and if and when those interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail. That is the statement, made for the first time officially in 1923, which has become, I think, the cornerstone of British policy and accepted on all sides of both Houses.

The white population of Northern Rhodesia is 3 pet cent. of the total, and the white population of Southern Rhodesia is only 5.7 per cent, of the total. Perhaps Her Majesty's Government can tell us what percentage of European population a Territory must have to be entitled to an African Government or, alternatively, to a white Government. For Northern Rhodesia, with 3 per cent., has an African Government, and Southern Rhodesia, with 5.7 per cent., has a white one. It would be interesting to know whether there is any point of principle here which guides Her Majesty's Government.

The economic picture of Southern Rhodesia is at the present time of a privileged white class—many of whom, by the way, have gone to Southern Rhodesia in order to avoid taxation—and an impoverished African and farming class. Mr. Sandys, speaking in another place, expressed sympathy with the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia who, he said, might feel, and did feel, a justifiable pride in the agricultural achievements and rising standards of education and social service which are provided for all races; and again expressed sympathy with them in their fear that these advantages and this progress might be endangered if they fell into irresponsible hands. Not all Europeans share this view. In 1961, the Roman Catholic hierarchy, all of them Europeans, said this of the conditions of Southern Rhodesia. Wages are inadequate, housing conditions in many instances are unworthy of human beings, and terms of employment are such that husbands are separated for long periods from their wives. Such a state of affairs cries to heaven for vengeance and even in the natural order can only breed crime and chaos. Need we wonder if men are incited to subversive activity when there is such obvious disparity in the quality of land occupied by the two major racial groups in the country? This view of the present situation in Southern Rhodesia is borne out by an official publication of the Federal Government. For example, the National Accounts of the Federal Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. 1954–1962, published in Salisbury at the beginning of this year, show that of the 612,000 wage- earners counted in the 1961 census, no fewer than 80,000 received wages of less than £2 10s. per month, and, of these, no fewer than 24,000 had a cash income of less than 30s. per month. Only 17,800 wage earners had an income of over £20 a month, or £5 a week.

My Lords, Mr. Sandys spoke, as I have already said, of the pride of the Europeans in their "agricultural achievements." The Monthly Digest of Statistics for July, 1963, published by the Central Statistical Office in Salisbury, shows that the total area under crops in the European farms amounted only to just over one million acres. Yet 37 million acres are reserved for European occupation. A Committee set up in 1957 by the legislature of Southern Rhodesia found that the percentage of European land under crops at that time was "deplorably low".

But, my Lords, far more serious, to my mind, than these figures applied to European agriculture, are the figures for African agriculture; for the assistance and improvement of African agriculture is a touchstone by which any scheme for improvement in African conditions can be tested. In Southern Rhodesia, while the European tobacco output has increased from 150 million lb. to around 216 million lb., African production has increased only from 48,000 lb. in 1958 to 54,000 lb. in 1962. There has been hardly any increase of cattle, sheep, goats or pigs by either Europeans or African farms. In 1958, the European production of maize amounted to 3½ million bags. By 1962, it had increased to 5½ million bags. In 1958, the African output was 536,000 bags and in 1962, 539,000 bags. That seems to indicate very clearly that, whatever may have happened to European agriculture, African agriculture in Southern Rhodesia has stagnated.

The Secretary of State, at the same time as he made those other remarks about agriculture, spoke of the Europeans' justifiable pride, as I have mentioned, at the rising standards of education … which they provide for all races". The British Government provided much of the finance to set up the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and to provide university training for the Federation as a whole. The population of the Federation is 9½ million, of whom only 310,000 are Europeans. Yet at the University College in 1962 there were 241 European graduates and only 74 African students from the whole of the 9,150,000 African population of the Federation. Southern Rhodesia has an African population of around 3,700,000; yet the latest statistics show that the 1963 enrolment in secondary schools was only 7,045. My Lords, are these figures in any way consistent with rising agricultural achievements for the African population, or with rising standards of education?

In another place the Secretary of State said with regard to the Southern Rhodesian franchise that as more and more Africans came out of the schools and the general level of earnings rose, the proportion of Africans on the electoral roll would increase all the time; and he estimated that without any change this process would produce a majority on the electoral roll in ten to twelve years. This figure was quoted also by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton. But can the Government tell us on what basis they have reached this estimate? The trend of franchise policy in Southern Rhodesia has been to reduce, rather than increase, the proportion of Africans entitled to vote as compared with Europeans. In 1961 the electorate for the 30 seats of the then Southern Rhodesian Legislature consisted of 77,500 Europeans and 4,500 Africans. In July, 1962, the European electorate had increased to 86,816 and the African electorate had declined to 2,562 owing to the higher qualifications required for the new "A" Roll. Presumably the Government consider that under the present franchise arrangements there will be "in ten to twelve years" a majority of Africans on the "A" Roll, which elects 50 out of the present 65 members of the Legislature. Can the Government explain the basis of this prediction, or can they give any figures upon which it is based?

There are three alternative qualifications for enrolment on the roll. First an income of not less than £720 a year for two years preceding the date of enrolment or, alternatively, the ownership of landed property of not less value than £1,500. Since African farmlands are held under a family system, it is hard to see how many of the 2 million Africans living on the African farmlands can qualify through property ownership. According to the National Accounts in 1961, there were only 400 Africans earning wages or salaries amounting to £720 a year or above. So far as the professional classes are concerned, are the Government in a position to give information as to the number of self-employed Africans earning sufficient to qualify under this head? There are only ten African doctors, two African barristers and one African solicitor in Southern Rhodesia.

Secondly (I am still dealing with the qualifications for having a vote, for enrolment), a voter can be qualified if he has an income of not less than £480 or landed property of £1,000 and has completed primary school education. The latest figures show that there are only 1,000 wage earners who qualify with this income. Further, those who complete primary education are only a fraction of those who begin it. The 1962 figures show over 100,000 children enrolled in each of the sub-standard forms but only 15,000 in the final primary school forms. What figures have the Government as to the number of children completing their primary education? Thirdly, an elector is qualified if he has had an income of £300 a year for two years and has completed four years' secondary education. There are 6,100 wage-earners in all among the African population who in September, 1961, earned wages or salaries at the rate of £300 a year. In the fourth year at secondary schools, however, there were in 1961 only 364 pupils.

I would ask, therefore: can the Government state in what category they expect the increase in the number of qualified African voters? For example, do they anticipate a great increase in those who complete four years of secondary schooling, and what evidence have they to suggest that this is likely to occur? Do they suggest that there will be a considerable increase in Africans earning over £40 a month? Can the Government state whether they predict any rise in the number of European electors? At present, the European electorate represents only 40 per cent. of the European population, while the electorate in Britain equals 70 per cent. of the population. My Lords, we owe a duty to the inhabitants of Southern Rhodesia, black or white. Can we flatter ourselves that we are performing our duty?

6.46 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself in the position of being able to make a very brief contribution to this debate, because many of the things that I should have liked to deal with I have heard dealt with by previous speakers, very much better than I could hope to do, and I do not wish to detain your Lordships by saying the same thing over again, with much less force than you heard it originally. I would start by saying that I agree with every word that was uttered by the noble Marquess, and I listened to his speech with deep appreciation. I felt the same also about the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Colyton. I do not propose, therefore, to touch on any of the subjects with which they dealt so comprehensively, with the exception, in relation to the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, that I should like to add one or two words about the position of the Federal Civil Service. Before doing so, however, I should like to make one or two comments on other speeches that have been made.

The noble Lord, Lord Walston, drew what I thought was a very biased picture in relation to South Africa. I do not propose to follow him into what is a somewhat irrelevant field; indeed, it would take too long to go properly into that picture. But when he was challenged by the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, about the amount the South African Government has done for the African, which compares very favourably with what has been done in similar circumstances by any other Government this world has ever seen, I thought Lord Walston's reply was a little unworthy. His comment was that this only showed how ashamed we ought to be that the the High Commission Territories, in proximity to and some of it included in South Africa, should be so backward relatively. It seemed to me a rather unfair (to use a mild adjective) deduction to make. If we talk, as the noble Lord did, about "shop windows", why select that sort of perverted argument and say that it reflects shame on us because we have not equalled the achievements of South Africa in regard to African welfare? Why not look at other shop windows? Look at the countries in Africa which have not had the disadvantage apparently of a British presence. Why not look at the shop window of the Congo or Abyssinia (to mention countries where Africans have had a free rein), and see exactly what they did with it?

I do not intend to say anything more about the High Commission Territories, except in relation to Swaziland. I tried to interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Walston, although I did not wish to interrupt his argument but I think that in spite of his recent visit he was wrong in suggesting South African influence in stirring up trouble in Swaziland, because I thought it was well known that the policy of the South African Government in relation to Swaziland, in particular, and the other High Commission territories was this: if and when they were handed over to them for control, as was originally envisaged by the British Government of a generation ago, they were to be made African reserves. I can vouch for that myself, because in a personal conversation I had with Dr. Malan I asked him, "Well, what would you do if you had Swaziland?" He said, "I should immediately expropriate the small minority of Europeans who are building up another racial problem there. I should pay them fair and ample compensation, and I should reserve all of Swaziland for the Africans." I mention that merely to show that, while I am not trying to defend or go into the question of the general policy of South Africa, I do like to see just and fair views expressed, and when one talks of the defects of other countries one ought, in fairness, to mention some of the good things about them.

I should like to have the temerity to differ from the noble Duke when he said that there is a basic difference between the Overseas Service and the Federal Service. There is a geographical difference in that the Overseas Service covers the world, but morally in both cases men who joined those services did so with the prospect—I should like to say, the promise—of a career with security and a pension, and they knew, or thought they knew, from past experience, that if anything disturbed that career through the action of those who engaged them, they would receive compensation and fair treatment. So I suggest that the principles which were used in paying compensation and pension to the Overseas Service in similar circumstances are still, or should be, valid, morally interbound with the British Government, owing to their connection with the Federation and the circumstances in which it was formed and in which it is going to be dissolved.

I found myself in considerable agreement with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and with what he said in regard to the Federal Civil Service—or should I say "Civil Services"? — except that, strangely enough, I would go further than he did. He said that he was not claiming that they ought to get compensation for loss of a career. I personally think that that is one of the moral obligations in which the British Government should participate, at least. I think that concludes the comments which I wish to make on other speeches. In regard to the moral obligation of the United Kingdom Government, it seems to me so clear that it exists that I feel that the proper answer must have eluded me, and I hope sincerely that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will, in replying to this debate, endeavour to make it clear to people like myself who cannot understand how anybody cannot see this moral responsibility.

The figures have been given to your Lordships by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, and I do not wish to repeat them again; but they are staggering. It is again inevitably a young Service, and you have young married men with children, and with a house carrying perhaps a heavy mortgage and so forth, turned out now with a pension of £200 a year and so on, and the bulk of them, the Europeans, having been recruited from this country, are not even being given repatriation expenses. I suggest that it is quite unheard of in dealing with a situation of this kind.

I am not suggesting that the British Government should shoulder the whole expense. It may possibly be that the Territorial Governments have been most reluctant to incur any of this expense, but I suggest that pressure should have been brought to bear upon them. I am told that the Committee—I think it is Committee A—was not indisposed to have this question re-examined if pressure was brought on them from the right quarters. It surely is reasonable, too, to ask about the pension funds. Obviously, up to date they are not adequate to deal with this responsibility. There are £17 million in these funds, and at the present moment there is considerable squabbling, so to speak, among the Territorial Governments as to sharing this between them. But it seems that the Territorial Governments are claiming participation in all the assets of the dying Federation, but none of the liabilities. This liability to the staff which has served the Federation so well is a pressing one. I am well aware that the fact that you have served the Federation is not perhaps a recommendation in the eyes of some, at least, of the Territorial Governments; but surely that should not influence anybody in this connection.

I do not wish to weary your Lordships by again quoting what has been quoted two or three times by other speakers—namely, the solemn assurances of Mr. Butler that this was an extremely serious question and by this we should be judged. We are now told that this is considered to be a fair and balanced settlement. All that I can say is that, coming from the source that it does, and if that statement is made so seriously as that, then there must be something which has escaped my attention which I ought to have known and which I ought to have seen. I cannot believe that any fair person in examining this question would come to that conclusion. I personally feel that this is not an appeal solely for Europeans. I emphasise that, as other speakers have done. There are several thousand Africans involved in this, too, whose pittance under these terms is even more pitiable than the others. I sincerely hope that we shall get this question re-examined, at a time when this country is so generously pouring out millions in various causes all over the world. Occasionally we should consider how much we owe to our own people who have served us so well.

7.1 p.m.


My Lords, I hope to confine my remarks within five minutes, because this matter has already been so fully discussed to-day. The crux of the debate has been the deadlock which faces us in Southern Rhodesia, and I cannot feel that that dilemma can be dealt with either on the lines recommended by protagonists on the other side of the House or on the lines suggested by some of my noble friends on this side of the House. The constitutional position of Southern Rhodesia is that ever since 1923 we have been debarred from interfering in Southern Rhodesia's domestic affairs; and at the present time, apart from the constitutional position, we lack the power to do it. Therefore, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that when he says we should insist on certain reforms—reforms which I should very much like to see carried out—he is really asking of Her Majesty's Government something which they have no right to do and, indeed, lack the power to do.

I would say to my noble friends on these Benches that I cannot support them when they ask that independence should be given to Southern Rhodesia under the present Constitution. It seems to me that the position of Her Majesty's Government was made absolutely plain in another place by the Prime Minister, quoting a carefully considered speech last summer. He was asked by the Leader of the Opposition [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 684 (No. 1), col. 53]: Will the right honourable gentleman now give a pledge that there will not be independence until there is a democratic Constitution? And the Prime Minister replied: I thought that implicit in what I said. In fact I did say that we accept the principle that majorities should rule. That seems to be an absolutely clear statement of the Government's position, and I have no doubt whatever that they will stand firmly by the principle which they have laid down.

I confess to having been surprised and a little shocked at what my noble friend Lord Salisbury said this afternoon. I thought that his sentence could only be taken to mean that he was encouraging Southern Rhodesia to indulge in another "Boston Tea Party". I hope that the Government of Southern Rhodesia will rather pay heed to the wiser words (if I may say so) of Sir Edgar Whitehead in the Southern Rhodesian Legislature yesterday. He then indicated quite plainly that such an act on the part of the present Government in Southern Rhodesia would be not only wrong but unwise, and would not even command the support of a large number of the people of Southern Rhodesia. He went on to suggest the calling of a conference in Southern Rhodesia in order to find a way out of the deadlock. When a conference of that kind has been called, and when something has been done to meet the conditions that have been laid down by the British Prime Minister, we may see a solution to the deadlock which is at present so difficult.

I cannot feel that Mr. Sandys' suggestion of bringing in the Commonwealth can be helpful to any of the parties. It would be deeply embarrassing to the countries of the Commonwealth, and in any case it has been made perfectly plain by Southern Rhodesia that the proposal is unacceptable to her. I therefore hope that it will be made plain that what Mr. Sandys himself spoke of as the expression of dangerous ideas will be admitted to have been a ballon d'essai which has not gone up very well, and that we shall hear no more about a suggestion which I think is constitutionally wrong, politically unwise and generally unacceptable.



I think I have consistently supported Her Majesty's Government in their handling of this long and difficult affair in Southern Rhodesia. I am therefore going to make an appeal to them tonight on something on which I feel they are wrong. I do not want to go into detail; there is no time to do so—indeed, I cannot think that a matter like the pensions of the Federal servants can conveniently be dealt with in speeches in a debate. At the same time, I feel strongly that the settlement which is being imposed on them is not fair and is not just; and I cannot think that it ought to be left there. I know that my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire has received the deputation which is over here at the present time, and I hope that he will not take it as any reflection on him if I make now an appeal to Her Majesty's Government that Mr. Sandys himself should see that deputation before they go back to Central Africa. My noble friend is a most just-minded and humane person, but in the last resort the responsibility rests upon the Secretary of State, and it is he who ought to see this deputation.

The present Foreign Secretary, when he was responsible for handling this matter, used words which have been quoted by my noble friend Lord Milverton. He considered at that time that his honour was at stake. His honour must be upheld by Her Majesty's Government, and I feel that the honour of this country also is involved at the same time. I therefore appeal to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor to say that Mr. Sandys will at any rate receive this deputation and hear what they have to say. I believe that some other method of arriving at a fair settlement ought to be reached, rather than a discussion between the three or four Governments concerned, with the result being imposed upon those who, through no fault of their own, are being deprived of their careers and their livelihood.

7.9 p.m.


My Lords, the task of a winder-up from these Benches at this hour, after such a debate, is simplified because it would be quite impossible to do justice to the speeches that have been made within a time that would be acceptable to your Lordships. I should like to say, however, that I congratulate my noble friend Lord Walston on his Motion. Some of us had doubts whether it was wise for it to embrace both the High Commission Territories and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but I think that, as things have turned out, he was fully justified, and the result has been a debate that has thrown some light on all these intractable, interrelated, interlocking problems concerning the Southern half of Africa. Of course, as we all know, what differentiates Central and Southern Africa from the rest of the continent is the extent of white settlement and the immigrant communities. That, above all, in Central and Southern Africa is what has caused so many political difficulties. So, my Lords, I think we can be fully satisfied that the points have been brought out and well ventilated.

If I may dispose, first, of the question of the Federal civil servants, I think I can say, speaking for myself and I suspect for most of your Lordships as well, that we feel deep uneasiness at what has been said over the settlement that is proposed by the Government for those officers. We think that the matter really cannot be left where it is, and we hope very much that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will be able to say that the matter is not closed, because it seems, on all the evidence that has come out about this complicated question, that justice has not been done as it should have been.

My Lords, on the High Commission Territories I think my noble friends were fully justified in drawing attention to the position of these three Protectorates. It is a fact that they are outposts of our colonial system, set in the midst of a country which has departed into a system of rule of native majorities which is utterly repugnant to nearly everybody in this country, and to nearly everybody in the rest of the world. It is therefore all the more important that what we have to show in those Territories should be the best of our colonial system. I think everyone would agree that what we have done for those Territories up to now falls far short of what we should have liked to do—economically, politically, socially, and in almost every other respect. There is, perhaps, still time. I think Mr. Sandys said in another place that the expenditure on those Territories was going to be increased by 50 per cents within the next few years.

We hope that that pledge, if it was a pledge—I am not quite sure how definitely it was phrased—will in fact be honoured, and that the next few years will see a great acceleration in the spending for the development of these most under-developed countries.

The other aspect of those Territories is that they present an asylum for fleeing people from the régime in South Africa, and we must, above all things, maintain those asylums for political refugees. When they are allowed into the Protectorates they will, of course, want to pursue political activities, and I think we must accept that it is the right of any citizen to conduct political activities even if it is contrary to the current régime in the neighbouring countries. We should not, I think, be too careful of the susceptibilities of the South Africans. After all, the situation is not going to get any better in South Africa, and it is quite possible that the longer the apartheid régime is imposed on the population in South Africa, the worse the consequences will be; and those consequences will affect not only those within the borders of South Africa but the Protectorates on its frontiers.

My Lords, turning to Southern Rhodesia there seems a certain amount of uncertainty about the interpretation of various phrases used, some by our Prime Minister, some by the Secretary of State. Different politicians have interpreted them in different ways. The political constitutional system in Southern Rhodesia, it is true, was the result of Mr. Sandys visit there a year and a half ago, but no one could say that that is Parliamentary democracy as we know it, when 99 per cent. of the population have a very small share of the voting power. To say that that is interference in the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia seems to me mistaken. It is in fact a matter for negotiation, because the Southern Rhodesians want independence, and independence can be given only by this sovereign Parliament; and it is perfectly within the rights of this Parliament to say under what conditions it will concede independence to Southern Rhodesia. It is, of course, entirely in tune with the prevailing opinion in this country and in the world that the Constitution should be altered so as to reflect more accurately the balance of the population in that country.

As to the present situation in Southern Rhodesia, I noted that the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, quoted from the Federal News Letter some encouraging reports of economic activity and investment in the country. But those very telling figures that my noble friend Lord Faringdon quoted not long ago surely show that it is completely false, completely fallacious, to maintain that Southern Rhodesia is in an economically healthy position. The country may perhaps be climbing out of the depression, but only a year ago, when I was there, there was deep gloom in the whole country. It may be that the tide has turned and confidence is returning, but I suspect that, whatever happens in the investment field, the welfare of the African majority is not going to improve very greatly. I think Her Majesty's Government have this responsibility before them in dealing with the question of Southern Rhodesia.

My right honourable friend Mr. Wilson in another place mentioned the question of a Prime Ministers' Conference, in order to sound opinion in the Commonwealth on the subject of Southern Rhodesia. That seems an entirely right course of action to take when there is a matter so delicate, involving so many burning racial questions, about which nations all over the world, the emerging nations, feel most intensely. I think the matter can be summed up in the words of Mr. Sandys on November 15—not the words that have been quoted extensively this afternoon, but those in the closing paragraph of his speech, when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT (Commons), Vol. 684 (No. 4), col. 586]: Somehow, we must together devise an honourable solution which will be fair to all. That I commend to Her Majesty's Government as the principle on which to proceed; and, interpreted correctly. "fair to all" shows the line that we think they ought to take.

7.21 p.m.


My Lords, after I had listened to the lengthy review of the position in Southern Africa given by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, at the beginning of the debate, and had heard the speech of my noble friend the Minister of State, I felt at that moment that my task in winding up this debate might prove to be rather a light one. But in fact, of course, it is not; and if I were to reply to every point that has been raised in the course of this discussion I should detain your Lordships for a very considerable time—indeed, I think a longer time than your Lordships would desire. I therefore propose, if your Lordships would permit me, to deal with what I think are the main issues which have been raised in the course of this debate.

I should like, first of all, to say something about the position of the Federal public servants, to whom reference was made by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, and my noble friend Lord Milverton. I suppose any settlement of a difficult problem may lead to some thinking that the settlement is unfair and unjust, and that it should be better; but what I should like to say, and to say at the outset, is this: that all the Governments concerned have been intent on reaching a settlement which gave fair and equitable treatment to the individual officers affected by the disappearance of the Federation, while at the same time providing that as many Federal civil servants as possible should be able to continue their careers in one or other of the Territories, helping to secure the orderly transfer of functions to the Territorial Governments and to avoid any serious disruption of services to the public.

My noble friend Lord Lansdowne has already described to your Lordships in the debate on the Address the essentials of the arrangements which have been approved by the three Territorial Governments, the Federal Government and the British Government. I do not think your Lordships would desire me to repeat them; but, in addition to the arrangements which have been made, all the Governments concerned have agreed to consider sympathetically cases of hardship which might arise among officers to whom no further offer of employment is made.

The machinery for dealing with applications for extra assistance on grounds of hardship is now being considered in Salisbury; and, in addition, to secure the terminal benefits and pensions of these officers for the future it has been agreed that a new fund, to be vested in independent trustees, shall be established to continue the present Federal pension fund, and that a pensions authority should be set up to administer the pensions and terminal benefits in accordance with the agreed arrangements. The British Government and the three Territorial Governments have agreed to share fairly in making good any deficit in the fund to the extent necessary for honouring the terminal benefits, and the Territorial Governments will also enter into a public officers' agreement, with which the British Government will be associated, whereby they will provide mutual assurances to each other to carry out the obligations which they have accepted towards the former Federal public servants.

My Lords, no one listening to this debate could fail to be aware that the settlement agreed by all the Governments has been subjected to two main criticisms. The first is that the former Federal public servants should be afforded lump-sum compensation for loss of career com- parable to that available to members of Her Majesty's Oversea Service; and it has been suggested that a responsibility rests on the British Government to afford such compensation. That, I think, was the main theme of the speech made by my noble friend Lord Milverton. On that point I would just say this: that the British Government are, of course, under no commitment to pay such compensation for loss of career except to members of Her Majesty's Oversea Service, for whom they accept responsibility. Federal civil servants were not appointed by the British Government and were not employed by them, and I must say that I doubt very much whether many would accede to the view that, in those circumstances, there is, if not a legal obligation, at least a moral one. The Federal public service has from the first been recruited on local terms as a locally based service, and it contains no officers with overseas status. This is the basis of the agreed settlement, and it would not have been right, in the circumstances, to introduce any distinction between individual officers, so far as their terminal benefits were concerned, on grounds of race, origin or country of recruitment.

The second question which has been raised is whether it is right to differentiate, for compensation purposes, between officers to whom no employment can be offered and those who do not wish to continue service with any Territorial Government. It has been suggested that this involves some coercion of an officer into Territorial service. As I have said, it has been clearly accepted that no officer should be compelled into Territorial service. It is, however, a different question whether any claims to recompense should arise if an officer can in fact be offered continued employment by a Territory (it may be in his existing post) in conditions comparable to those he enjoyed under the Federal service. It was for each Territorial Government to settle its terms of employment; and the Government agreed that these terms should provide a considerable area in which comparable conditions of employment should be available. In the circumstances, it has been thought right to distinguish between an officer who declines such an appointment and an officer who becomes generally redundant because of dissolution.

My Lords, I am not in a position to say any more upon that subject this evening. I shall, of course, draw my right honourable friend's attention to the observations that have been made in the course of this debate, and in particular to the suggestion which the noble Lord, Lord Molson, made: that he might find it possible to receive this deputation. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Molson, is also aware, one of the points of having a Secretary of State assisted by Ministers of State is that Ministers of State should have the responsibility, as indeed they have the ability, to take some of the load off the Secretary of State's shoulders.

Another question was raised by (I think it was) the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, on the question of defence. I shall not, if he will forgive me, deal with that matter at any great length. It was agreed that, on dissolution, the Armed Forces would pass to the control, on the one part, of the British Government in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and, on the other, to the Southern Rhodesians. Each Territory will be financially responsible for the forces appertaining to it; except that the cost of maintaining the defence headquarters for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will be met by the British Government. Any request from Southern Rhodesia for financial assistance towards the cost of maintaining her defence forces, as for any other people, will fall to be considered by Her Majesty's Government in the general context of Southern Rhodesia's possible need for assistance having regard to the Territory's economic position as a whole in the light, among other factors, of the apportionment of assets and liabilities of the Federation.

Then the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked me a question about the application of Federal law within Southern Rhodesia and the other Territories. After dissolution, Federal law which now operates throughout the Federation will, if the normal course is pursued, continue to operate in the respective parts of the Territories. As the noble Earl realises, that is the usual provision made on the granting of independence: the existing law at the time of the granting should remain the law within that territory. The noble Earl put the question: "Would that law, the existing Federation law, be subject to the safeguards against discrimination contained in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution?" That is a somewhat complex question, but, so far as I can see, the answer to that, on the terms of the present Constitution, would be in the negative; because the Constitution Council is charged with the responsibility of reporting on Bills which come before the Southern Rhodesian Parliament, and reporting also, of course, on the laws which were in force at the time of the bringing into operation of that Constitution.

That steps should be taken to ensure that Federal legislation is brought within the purview of the various safeguards and Constitutions of the three Territories is, I would think, another matter; and that will require consideration by the Governments concerned. Her Majesty's Government's view is that the Territories themselves should take the initiative in the matter. In the case of Southern Rhodesia, I believe the question is currently being examined in the Southern Rhodesian Legislature and one will await the outcome with interest.

The noble Lord, Lord Walston, was praised by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for his moderate and kindly speech, and the noble Lord, Lord Walston, asked me for a non-diplomatic and forthright reply. My reply, so far as the rest of it is concerned, may be somewhat forthright; whether it is non-diplomatic will be for your Lordships to judge. But I do not think anyone could describe the speech made by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, as either moderate or kindly. He thought it right to use very strong language indeed. I know he feels very strongly on this subject, but the fact that one feels strongly on one's subject does not really justify the use of strong language unless that language is warranted by the facts.

As I shall seek to show, that strong language was not warranted in relation to the matter to which the noble Marquess referred. I gathered from his speech that it was his view that we should give independence to Southern Rhodesia with the present constitutional arrangements unchanged, and that we should then sit back and watch the Southern Rhodesian Government make such advances that, in the opinion of that Government, could safely be made. If that is his view I am sure he will admit that there are many who are, with equal sincerity, opposed to it; and opposed to it not on account of any self-interest; not on account of disregard of obligations owed to people from this country who have made their homes and their lives in Southern Rhodesia; but because to take that course would, in their view, be doing a very great disservice to all the peoples of that territory.

The noble Marquess rightly said that Southern Rhodesia occupies a central position on the international stage. He may think—I do not myself think that many would share his views—that it would encourage investment in Southern Rhodesia, promote stability and growth, if Southern Rhodesia became independent and at the same time friendless, or almost friendless, among the States of the world. Does the noble Marquess really think that it would be acceptable to the world at large if Southern Rhodesia were given independence under the present constitutional arrangements? How many friends would Southern Rhodesia have in Africa? He made a reference to Ghana. Does the noble Marquess think that all the members of the older Commonwealth would agree with the course he proposes?


My Lords, I would only say that in all our history our Colonies have been our affair, and ours alone. This is the first occasion where a chance has been made, and made, in my opinion, not on principle but on expediency.


My Lords, no doubt that is the noble Marquess's opinion. I think I would say it is as hard to justify as it is hard to justify some of his other observations to which I will now turn. I was saying: how many friends does he think Southern Rhodesia would have if the course he suggested were followed? He talked of betrayal of the settlers—using that as a loaded word—and of their being dragooned into submission. In my submission to your Lordships, there is no ground for statements like that. The noble Marquess has, I fear, failed to appreciate what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and his colleagues are trying to achieve—and to achieve, not by imposing anything, not by dragooning people into submission, but by securing agreement that Southern Rhodesia should become independent in circumstances which would allow her to take her place as a member of the Commonwealth and to enjoy close and friendly relations with other newly independent African territories. That is the way to secure political stability and the prospect of economic growth.

It will indeed be difficult to achieve agreement; the debate in this House at least has indicated that. The speech the noble Marquess has made to-day has, I fear, made the achievement of that task more difficult than it was before. He spoke of my right honourable friend's remarks about the Commonwealth as an "ingenious dodge". Those were his words; and he said it was proposed to hand over Southern Rhodesia to a jury already packed against them. In that, he was no doubt echoing what was said in Salisbury yesterday, when it was said that other Commonwealth Governments were to be asked to sit in judgment on Southern Rhodesia. My Lords, let me say as clearly as I can that there is no truth in any of these allegations; and the fact that they have been made reveals a complete misconception.

I would, if I might, even at this late hour, remind your Lordships of the words used by my right honourable friend. He said on November 15 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 684 (No. 4), col. 586]: We are asked by the Government of Southern Rhodesia, what are your terms for independence? What are the changes which would satisfy you? Our answer is that this is not just a matter of satisfying us. The question of Southern Rhodesia's independence is one in which the whole Commonwealth is acutely interested. Great principles and deep emotions are involved. If we were to give independence to Southern Rhodesia on terms which were unacceptable to our fellow members we would be likely to cause grievous injury to the unity of the Commonwealth, and to the image it presents to the world. It is clear, therefore, that the whole Commonwealth will have to be consulted. I am wondering whether we might not go further than that. Might it not perhaps be possible for other members of the Commonwealth to help in a more positive way in the task"— I ask your Lordships to mark these words— of finding a generally acceptable solution …? My right honourable friend went on to say: These are what one might call dangerous thoughts, but I thought that I might mention to the House this afternoon how my mind was moving. I should like not to be pressed to say anything more precise at this juncture. And it is on that passage of my right honourable friend's speech that it has been thought fit to suggest that the proposal is to bring Southern Rhodesia before a jury which would be packed against it: to bring Southern Rhodesia on trial before members of the Commonwealth.

My Lords, all my right honourable friend did was to put forward the idea that other members of the Commonwealth might be able to play a part to help in the task of finding a generally acceptable solution. I can find nothing constitutionally improper, as was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, or in any way constitutionally wrong, in putting forward that suggestion. I should have thought that all your Lordships would welcome any assistance that Southern Rhodesia and this country might be able to obtain in finding a generally acceptable solution—not an imposed one; not one forced on people, but accepted—a solution which will produce the results that I have already indicated.


My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble and learned Lord again. I would say just this. I do not believe that there is any likelihood of the "generally acceptable solution", of which the Secretary of State speaks, being achieved at the present stage. In this circumstance, the other members of the Commonwealth being almost all—or, at least, a great majority of them—in favour of a course which is totally unacceptable to Southern Rhodesia, the fact that they have been called into consultation will mean that increased pressure is made on that Government to agree to a solution which they believe to be wrong and dangerous.


My Lords, the noble Marquess may be right. I do not know: only the future can show. I am not saying that I do not think one would be able to arrive at a generally acceptable solution. I will go this far with him. I think that that will be very difficult indeed to achieve, but I cannot help feeling that my right honourable friend's suggestion was at least a useful one for consideration. The noble Marquess thinks that it will not help to promote agreement. Others may take a different view. But on one particular point I am sure that the noble Marquess and I are in complete agreement: that it will be a very difficult task indeed to find, if it is possible of achievement at all, a solution which is acceptable to Southern Rhodesia and ourselves and also to the rest of the world.

Having said that, I am sure that it is right to try, and to go on trying, to get it. There were times when some of your Lordships were most pessimistic about securing an amicable dissolution of the Federation. There were moments of great difficulty with regard to that. But in the end, through the co-operation of all the Governments concerned and the work done by my right honourable friend the present Foreign Secretary, we have surmounted those difficulties, and I believe that this ought to give us some degree of hope for the future.


My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Lord one question, because I think that the answer to this question may clear up the misunderstanding that has arisen in this House this afternoon and in Southern Rhodesia? Does the Secretary of State intend to use any other method, other than consultation with the other Commonwealth countries, to secure a generally acceptable solution?


My Lords, I should not like to exclude the possibility that he may think of some other methods than the one he suggested. All I can say is that I know that the idea of bringing (if you would like to put it in this way) Southern Rhodesia for trial at the bar before the whole of the Commonwealth countries never entered his mind. That was never in his mind at all. And it is because that has been misunderstood that I believe a great deal of strong language has been used to-day.

I must say that I think this was unfortunate. I do not remember hearing an attack of this kind made in the short time I have been in this House or, indeed, in another place, and I thought it was particularly unfortunate when the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, both used language which, to my mind, could only be taken as an invitation to the people of Southern Rhodesia to take the law into their own hands. I cannot think of anything which is likely to be more disastrous to the interests of all the people who live in that Territory. I think it was most unfortunate and I hope that little attention will in fact be paid to it.

That is really all I want to say about that, and, if I may, I would conclude with this observation. I think that all noble Lords are fully aware of the intractability of the problem. Even though we may disagree as to what is the right method of approach, as to the best way of handling the situation, not in our own self-interest but in the interests of the peoples for whom we still are responsible, if we can agree that we are all working to secure the same end, then I cannot help but feel that some of the bitterness would go out of our debates upon this subject and some of the language which we have heard to-day would not be used.

In many respects, this has been a useful debate. It has enabled your Lordships to weigh the problems which beset us in Southern Africa. I have not endeavoured to disguise these problems, to underestimate or to overestimate the chances of a solution. It is, I repeat, the policy of Her Majesty's Government to strive to ensure a stable, prosperous and peaceful future for those Territories in Africa which remain our responsibility. There is no simple way through the difficulties; but with sympathy, with understanding and, above all, I would say, with the co-operation of all the peoples who live there and whose only home is there, I hope that we can avoid the pitfalls which surround us and carry out our responsibilities in a manner befitting our colonial record.

7.48 p.m.


My Lords, it has been a long debate but I do not think that any of your Lordships will feel that he has wasted his time in taking part in or listening to the debate. I am particularly grateful to the noble Duke for his comments on the Protectorates and his promise of sympathetic consideration of their case. I would point out that the amount of money involved is a small one: £5 million would make the whole difference, and that is no great sum.

I am grateful, as I am sure are all your Lordships, to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack for the thorough manner in which he dealt with the very serious problem of Southern Rhodesia and I think that the debate was worth while for that reason alone. I must confess that I was shocked at what the noble Marquess Lord Salisbury had to say: that somebody with his long record of public service should utter words which can only be taken as incitement to the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia to act disloyally to the Crown. I do not believe that on reflection he will feel that it was what he wanted to say. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate, and to those who have listened, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at nine minutes before eight o'clock.