§ 3.58 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
My Lords, if it is not inconvenient, may I now repeat a Statement which has been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister? The Statement is as follows:
"The Rhodesia Government have issued a White Paper setting out their views on the economic effects of a unilateral declaration of independence.
"Her Majesty's Government have no desire to try to influence the voters of Rhodesia in the general election due to take place on the 7th of May, and for this reason have not hitherto commented, on what is being said by spokesmen of either the Rhodesian Government or Opposition parties during their respective campaigns. They obviously cannot, however, remain silent in the face of official utterances in Salisbury about the probable content of decisions which would be taken in London. The Rhodesian Government did not consult Her Majesty's Government about their decision to issue such a White Paper, still less about its contents, which completely misrepresent the likely economic effect on Rhodesia of a unilateral declaration.
"The Rhodesia Government White Paper, after referring to the statement issued from No. 10 Downing Street on the 27th of October saysit has been assumed, in some quarters, that the proposals referred to in the statement would be applied by the British Government with a degree of severity designed to collapse the economy of Rhodesia within a relatively short period".It then purports to "evaluate" whether, in fact Britain could or would implement in full what it calls the "sanctions" suggested after a unilateral declaration. By this means the Rhodesia Government are seeking to convey the impression that they and not Her Majesty's Government are the best judges of what action Her Majesty's Government would take in the event of a unilateral declaration.
"Her Majesty's Government adhere to the statement issued on the 27th of October, 1964. It expressed the 732 view that the economic effects of a unilateral declaration would be disastrous to the prosperity and prospects of the people of Rhodesia and that Rhodesia's external trade would be disrupted. Nothing that has happened in the last six months has afforded reasons for modifying this judgment in any way.
"The White Paper states that a great proportion of Rhodesia's exports could be marketed in countries other than Britain with whom Rhodesia has trading relations, and it discusses in particular tobacco which is Rhodesia's chief export. Britain is by far the biggest buyer of Rhodesian tobacco and if Britain were to stop buying Rhodesian tobacco, the effect upon the tobacco growers and upon the whole economy of Rhodesia would be particularly severe. The Rhodesian Tobacco Association is itself reported to have reached the conclusion in January that the imposition of embargoes would be disastrous to the industry. There would be no difficulty in procuring British tobacco requirements from other countries.
"The White Paper seeks to reassure Rhodesians that after a unilateral declaration money will be forthcoming for investment in Rhodesia from what it terms" countries not unfriendly "towards her. Britain has hitherto been the chief external source of capital for Rhodesia's economic development. A unilateral declaration would put a stop to this flow. The statement of the 27th of October made it clear that all financial, as well as trade relations between Britain and Rhodesia would be jeo-pardised, that aid would cease, and that, with one or two exceptions, other Governments would be likely to refuse to recognise Rhodesia's independence or to enter into relations with her. The establishment of an illegal regime in Rhodesia is least calculated to produce stable Government there which the Rhodesian Government themselves recognise to be a prerequisite for attracting investment from abroad.
"Other Governments inside and outside the Commonwealth will no doubt make known their own views on the White Paper. Commonwealth Prime Ministers, in their communiqué of the 733 15th of July, 1964, noted with approval the statement of the British Government that they would not recognise any unilateral declaration of independence, and the other Prime Ministers made it clear that they would be unable to recognise any such declaration. Moreover the entire Commonwealth expressed their approval of the declaration of the 27th of October. There can be no justification for the Rhodesia Government or people to nurse the delusion that they would receive widespread international support. The Rhodesian view of events elsewhere in Africa and their effect on thinking in the West is profoundly mistaken and it would be an error to assume that this view could affect Her Majesty's Government's policy towards an act of rebellion in Rhodesia.
"The White Paper argues that the adverse consequences of a unilateral declaration would be the responsibility of Britain alone. It is not Britain, however, which is contemplating unconstitutional action. If such action were to be taken, responsibility for the consequences would lie squarely on the shoulders of those who took it. The White Paper appears to assume that it would be improper for Britain to react in any way if Rhodesia chose to put herself in the position of a colony in rebellion, whereas Rhodesia would be entitled to take whatever measures she chose against Malawi, Zambia or any other country in retaliation against the inevitable consequences of her own action. No Government outside Rhodesia is likely to share this view.
"Her Majesty's Government remain firmly convinced that the only route by which Rhodesia can achieve independence without grave consequences to herself is by the process of constitutional negotiations. She cannot hope to defy Britain, the whole of the Commonwealth, nearly the whole of Africa and the United Nations. Her Majesty's Government therefore profoundly hope that Rhodesia will not be misled into thinking that she could escape disaster if she were to fly in the face of world opinion. As I have indicated earlier this afternoon, the answer lies in an agreed solution and Her Majesty's Government stand ready to carry forward their not entirely un- 734 hopeful negotiations with the Government of Rhodesia after the election, in order to achieve this objective."
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I am sure the whole House is deeply grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for repeating the Statement made by the Right Honourable Gentleman the Prime Minister in another place. It is clearly a Statement of the very greatest importance and certainly it will be studied with the very greatest care by noble Lords on this side of the House, and I am sure with equal care and attention throughout this country and elsewhere.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends and myself, I would say how glad I am that the Government have given this strong warning to Rhodesia on the consequences of setting up an illegal régime. I am sure it will do a great deal of good. Secondly, we should like to support the view of Her Majesty's Government that the only road by which Rhodesia can achieve independence without grave consequences to herself is by the process of patient and peaceful negotiation. There is one question I would ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. Has his attention been called to the fact that the Rhodesian Government have said that they might deport half a million Africans to Zambia and Malawi? If this is so, does he not feel that the result of that threat may be the most utter chaos in the economic and social circumstances of Central Africa?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Yes, my Lords, my attention has been called to that statement and your Lordships will have observed the reference in the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to measures against Malawi, Zambia and other countries. I do not think any man can well foresee what the consequences of a unilateral declaration of independence might be.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My, Lords, I do not want to make any comment on the Statement made by the noble and learned Lord, except to ask him to give an assurance once more that he and the Government will do everything in their power to get a settlement of this 735 hideous problem by agreement. I understood from the last words of the Statement that such was their intention, and I hope those efforts will be continued and, if possible, increased.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Yes, my Lords, that effort will be continued and I am happy to give the assurance for which the noble Marquess asks.