§ 2.51 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINErose to move, That this House, taking note of the economic measures imposed by Her Majesty's Government in relation to trade with Southern Rhodesia, greatly deplores the prohibition by Her Majesty's Government of the payment of pensions including war disability pensions, to which British subjects now residing in Rhodesia are entitled, regards this prohibition as a serious departure from the policy announced by the Prime Minister on 12th November, 1965, and affirms its belief that at the end of the day the problems relating to Southern Rhodesia can only be resolved by negotiation. The noble Lord said: My Lords, may I first of all seek your indulgence to make, in a sense, a personal explanation, to explain, if I can, the standpoint from which I am moving the Motion on the Paper and the standpoint from which I shall resist the Government Amendment?
§ I have never supported U.D.I. Before it came about I used such modest—such very modest— influence as I possess to try to prevent it. When it was a fact I deplored it with as much sincerity as any Member of your Lordships' House. I do not support the Government of Mr. Ian Smith. I think that in many respects it is a Government which is illiberal and repressive; though in fairness I think that one must admit that there is a little bit of humbug on our part. The rebellion having taken place, and this country having in everything but name declared war on Southern Rhodesia, it seems to me that there is an element of hypocrisy in it when we complain that ade factoGovernment of Rhodesia adopts repressive measures. It does; and the longer the British Government pursue their present policy the more repressive those measures and Mr. Smith's Government will inevitably become.
§ As I have said I do not support that Government, but where I think that I differ from some of my noble friends is that, unlike them, I recognise that it exists; and I will take no part in that sad charade in which we have been engaged in this Parliament, the pretence that the Government of Rhodesia is vested in Mr. Arthur Bottomley. That is 110 as unreal as any children's game that will be played this Christmas.
My Lords, I wonder whether the reflection has ever passed through your Lordships' minds, as it has through mine, that in recent years we have become increasingly the victims of phrases which pass for thought and which act as a substitute for thought. One of those phrases is, "We owe responsibility to the African." I would ask some of my noble friends to face a question that I do not believe they have ever faced. It is this. How have we discharged that responsibility? I expect that your Lordships will have seen the leading article inThe Timesthis morning, headed,
Dr. Banda has taken a dangerous step in making his Young Pioneers immune from arrest by the police.
§ I think that if we were honest with ourselves we should admit that we have not discharged our responsibility to the African. We have slid out from underneath it. We have handed it over to this conjuration of tribal dictatorships masquerading as nation States, with their Presidential yachts paid for by overseas aid; with their jet flights to the Waldorf Astoria, or the Park Lane Hilton, paid for by overseas aid; while the unhappy people whom they are supposed to represent slide further and further back into that morass of misery and poverty from which for a hundred years we have been striving to raise them. We have not discharged our responsibility, my Lords; we have surrendered it unconditionally.
§ There is another of these catch-phrases which is on the lips of everyone to-day that: "Sanctions must hurt". That is not the question that we ought to be asking ourselves. We should not ask, "Do sanctions hurt?" We should not ask, "Whom do they hurt?" The only real question, and we are begging it all the time, is: "Do sanctions help?" Do sanctions help to restore peace and trust and honour again? It is my conviction that they do not. Sanctions hurt; sanctions are cruel. But need sanctions be sadistic? What are we to think of this prohibition on the payments to Government pensioners in Southern Rhodesia? We are invited by the Amendment to welcome the "humanitarian" action which the Government are taking to mitigate their initial blunder. I believe that the Amendment is on the Order Paper 111 only because the Government realise that they made a most catastrophic blunder; and by this Amendment they are trying to do something to restore their tarnished image and the tarnished image of the Prime Minister.
§ How is this humanitarian action to be enforced? What control has Mr. Arthur Bottomley over any means test machinery that he may set up in Rhodesia? Of course it cannot be enforced. As for its humanity, within the last day or two, a retired member of the Colonial Service in Guiana received his usual cheque in payment of his pension in Rhodesia and it was endorsed, "Payable only in the United Kingdom". But this is not only a matter of human considerations. It seems to me to be a matter of elementary morality. On what basis of principle do the Government base this act, that they can deprive people of pensions which they have earned—which are not gratuitous, not acts of grace—in order quite openly, quite plainly, to influence their political views? We talk about a Police State in Rhodesia. What State are we sinking into here? I object to all these sanctions; I have done throughout; and the more extreme they become, the more I believe they will fail in their object.
If your Lordships would bear with me for a moment, I would call in evidence one who may be more eloquent and more persuasive than I. I have here a letter. I do not propose to read it through to your Lordships, but there are one or two passages which I should like to read to the House, because they seem to me to be most moving and illuminating. The letter is from a young man who emigrated to Rhodesia some years ago and he is writing to his family's local newspaper, trying to explain how he sees the situation:
To my friends and family I plead that they do not judge me too harshly in what I am about to write.
I have been in the intolerable and precarious position of divided loyalties. But when the Rhodesian Prime Minister announced to the nation that Rhodesia had assumed its rightful independence—on November 11—I knew where my loyalties must be.
It is horribly painful to realise that our own kith and kin are against us, and that the very friends that I used to go to school with, the friends that I played soccer with and went to the youth centre with—it hurts to realise that they might very well be fighting
on the opposite side to-morrow. That those friends will be, officially at least, enemies.
To those friends I can only say that there is no wish within me to change your point of view even if I could. A man has to make up his own mind, but is there just a slight possibility that you have not truly examined Rhodesia's case?
A little later he goes on:
I became a Rhodesian citizen some years ago and I am very proud of it. This is a very proud nation to-day. There are no regrets and no hard feelings. The obvious hardships that we shall have to face in the future were expected and have been accepted. The people are behind the Government and are determined to defend, and only defend, what we believe is right.
Then, he finishes:
I cannot prognosticate what the future will he. I only know that the people here are determined to make it work, no matter what the cost.
We shall win through—we have to.
§ What are we to do with that young man? Are we to read him extracts from constitutional textbooks? Is that going to change his mind? Are we going to kill him? I suppose it is in our power to do so? Are we going to starve him, bring him to destitution? We can do all these things. But they will not alter the fact that these people, with whom we are at issue, regard themselves as a nation and not, as some of us seem to regard them, as a troop of schoolboys insulting the prefects or as a tribe on the North West Frontier to be quelled by force.
§ I know, and frankly admit, that what that young man has said represents not the whole picture, even in Rhodesia. I believe that there is a darker side, but I do not think that that makes any difference. There are those who realise that unless they win this fight they will lose their standard of life. All their possessions, all their assets, their only means of earning a living are in Rhodesia. From surrender they have nothing to hope for except virtual extinction. From resistance, even beyond any sensible point of resistance, they still have hope—the only hope they have. Do your Lordships realise, for example, that Mr. Joshua Nkomo has publicly stated that the land of every European farmer will be expropriated without any compensation? When these people are faced with that, what interest have they in compromise? How can they surrender? Surey they must go on.113
§ I would maintain that my view of the efficacy of sanctions has been borne out by the record of the past three weeks and even by the record of the past three months. The Government have stumbled from miscalculation to miscalculation, and we are farther away from any acceptable solution to-day than we were three months ago. First, the Prime Minister uttered the most savage threats as to what would happen if Mr. Smith's Government made a unilateral declaration of independence. There were those of us who said that that was the one way to bring on his Unilateral Declaration of Independence. And I think we were right. Then we were told if that gallant man, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, with whom we must all sympathise deeply, stuck to his post in Salisbury, it would become quite clear that this was not a rebellion of the white Rhodesians as a whole but of only a ruthless and unrepresentative minority, and that the loyal Rhodesians would flock to support the Governor, and all would be well again. That just has not happened. Then we were told, "The sanctions that we are putting on are, as they ought to be, swift, merciful and final." They did not work. Now we have the savage sanctions which were, announced last week, and this contemptible measure regarding Government pensioners in Rhodesia.
§ What can we see coming from this? I know what I see. I see two ships on a collision course in a restricted channel steaming towards each other at ever-faster speeds. It is as though you had a 100,000 ton oil tanker laden with petrol steaming down Southampton Water, and approaching it a 20,000 ton freighter, from Rhodesia, loaded with high explosives. Nothing can avoid a collision unless the ships reverse their engines and take some measure to protect us all from a cataclysm. That is why, once U.D.I. became a fact, I for myself resisted the idea that national unity was essential. I believed, on the contrary, that it was highly dangerous, because it would encourage the Government to stay on this collision course, to accelerate the motors and to bring us day by day, and now almost hour by hour, nearer to disaster. In those circumstances, even the humblest deck hand is allowed to sound a note of warning, even if he should be tried for mutiny afterwards. My Lords, I am cer- 114 tain that throughout this country there is a growing feeling that this situation can be settled only by negotiation and conciliation, and I should like to know just what is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government on that.
The Amendment asks us to support
the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to work toward the re-establishment of a constitutional Government in Southern Rhodesia.
§ We have heard those words before, and they have meant unconditional surrender. Do they now, on this Order Paper, mean anything different? Do they mean that there is a door open for negotiation, even with Mr. Smith's illegal Government? Do they mean that if Mr. Smith broadens the basis of his Government, not through the Governor, but of his own act, Her Majesty's Government would not negotiate with that new Government? I think we are entitled to an answer to those questions before we make up our minds on the Government's Amendment.
§ There is another question that I have to put and which must be answered. For some months past there have been rumours that shortly before the last General Election the Leader of the Labour Party wrote to one of the Nationalist leaders in Southern Rhodesia saying that the Labour Party would never accept an independent Rhodesia except under majority rule, and that the Labour Party would do their utmost to change the 1961 Constitution. That letter was clearly of the first importance in the negotiations between the Prime Minister and the Rhodesian Government; and if your Lordships will look at Command Paper 2807, you will find references to it between pages 47 and 51.
§ On November 27, 1964, Mr. Smith wrote to the Prime Minister and said: "What faith can we put in your undertakings as long as this letter is on the record?" The Prime Minister replied to his message, but made no mention of this question; he made no attempt to give an answer. A few days later, Mr. Smith again wrote to the Prime Minister and said: "You have not answered the question that I put to you. How do you reconcile what you are saying with this letter?" And this time the Prime Minister did not answer the question, but made some evasive and quite equivocal reference, which might have 115 been a reference to it or not. Again Mr. Smith wrote and said: "Still you have not replied to my question". And, so far as the record shows, there has been no reply ever since. As I was saying, so far as this country is concerned, that letter has been a rumour, a well-authenticated rumour. It is a rumour no longer, because yesterday, fourteen months afterwards, the Prime Minister tabled it in the Library of the House of Commons: and it is, broadly, just as I have described it to your Lordships.
§ My Lords, do we not begin to see why U.D.I. happened? Do we not begin to see that the Rhodesian Government had little trust in the good faith of the Prime Minister? But that is not the point I want to make now, and that is not the question I want to ask now. The question I want to ask the Government is this: What do they intend to do with that letter? Do they intend just to leave it lying in the Library of the House of Commons, or do they intend to withdraw it? If they do not withdraw it, I do not believe that they will find any white Rhodesian of responsibility and character who will be able to negotiate with them. Because for so long as that letter is on the record, any white Rhodesian must know that, whatever the protestations of Her Majesty's Government may be, they are determined to introduce into Rhodesia African majority rule. If that is not so, let the Government withdraw the letter. I would ask the Lord Chancellor whether he can give the assurance that the Government will withdraw forthwith this letter to Dr. E. C. Mutasa, which is now lying in the Library of the House of Commons. If the Government can give that assurance, I believe there is some hope of reconciliation. If they cannot give it, then I can see nothing but disaster and shame. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House, taking note of the economic measures imposed by Her Majesty's Government in relation to trade with Southern Rhodesia, greatly deplores the prohibition by Her Majesty's Government of the payment of pensions, including war disability pensions, to which British subjects now residing in Rhodesia are entitled, regards this prohibition as a serious departure from the policy announced by the Prime Minister on 116 November 12, 1965, and affirms its beliefs that at the end of the day the problems relating to Southern Rhodesia can only be resolved by negotiation.—(Lord Coleraine.)
LORD CHANCELLORhad given Notice of his intention to move, as an Amendment to the Motion, to leave out all words after "Rhodesia" in line 4, and insert:
is of the opinion that they were a regrettable necessity, welcomes the statement made by the Government that the measures in respect of Pensions will be administered with due regard to humanitarian considerations, and supports the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to work towards the re-establishment of a constitutional Government in Southern Rhodesia.
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, we all know the deep feeling with which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, speaks on this question. and also his great sincerity. On the previous occasion when we discussed the question of Rhodesia, the noble Lord was good enough to say of my observations:
… I listened to his speech this afternoon with the greatest admiration for its objectivity and its absolute fairness."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Vol. 270 (No. 5), col. 374; 15/11/65.]
§ I shall hope to do nothing this afternoon to lose that reputation.
§ There are a great many speakers, and I thought that perhaps I could assist the House best if I started by reminding your Lordships of what I think are the four basic matters in relation to the Rhodesian problem. The first is that, ever since the war, it has been the policy of successive Governments that in relation to those parts of the world which we conquered by force and colonised, we should, to the best of our ability, develop them economically, bring them services of health and education and of law and order (and it is still the fact that two-thirds of the whole of the population of the world is governed by the law that came from England, and I hope I shall not be thought to be too prejudiced if I suggest that among the benefits which we have conferred upon our Colonies has been our system of justice), and, in due time, when they were ready for it, to give them freedom and the right to rule themselves on a Constitution approved by the people of the Colony as a whole.
This, then, has been our policy, and there has been no deviation with different
Governments. As long ago as December 7, 1963, Mr. Sandys wrote to the then Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Mr. Winston Field:
The impression seems to have been created that the British Government wish to lay down conditions for Southern Rhodesia's independence which are more exacting than in the case of other territories. As you know, that is quite incorrect. The present difficulty arises from your desire to secure independence on the basis of a franchise which is incomparably more restricted than that of any other British territory to which independence has hitherto been granted … .
If Southern Rhodesia were to be offered independence on a basis which was unacceptable to Commonwealth opinion, not only would Southern Rhodesia's application for membership certainly be rejected, but the unity of the Commonwealth itself might be seriously threatened.
§ That, and any other quotations I shall read from the communications between the two Governments, are taken from the published Record. I have had them typed only for convenience.
In September, 1964, the then Prime Minister of this country, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, wrote to Mr. Smith:
While we could agree that we had hoped that, when the Federation came to an end, all its three constituent Territories would proceed to independence, this final step had to depend in each case on the consent of the peoples concerned. This fundamental condition could not he overridden or set aside by any prior contract, whether implied or otherwise. In fact, there had been no such contract in 1961; and Sir Edgar Whitehead, who had been the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia at the time, had explicitly confirmed this in a recent public speech … .
… there had been no pledge on the part of the United Kingdom Government to give Southern Rhodesia independence in return for the Territory's acceptance of the 1961 Constitution. Provided that this was clear, it would now be right to turn to the main question, namely, whether the Government of Southern Rhodesia, who already possessed most of the substance of independence, could claim to be given complete and formal independence on a basis acceptable to the population of the Territory as a whole.
On September 9, the Prime Minister said:
… we did adhere to our previous statements that sufficiently representative institutions would be a pre-condition.
To which Mr. Smith replied
that he would accept this. What he would not accept was a pre-condition requiring greater African representation in the Legislature, if the Africans themselves indicated that they did not want it.
The Prime Minister said:
… greater African representation in the Legislature was precisely what sufficiently representative institutions meant—unless the people of Southern Rhodesia made it wholly clear that they did not want this change. We continued to regard an increase in African representation as a pre-condition of the grant of independence …
The present Government have throughout said exactly the same. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has spoken of a letter, not written by the Government, but written by the then Leader of the Labour Party to a Mr. Mutasa, and said that there had been a great many rumours about it. I do not know why he says rumours: it is a well-known matter. Mr. Smith read it in this way. He said, in correspondence on November 25, 1964:
I find it difficult to reconcile this assurance, welcome as it is, with a statement made by you in a letter which you sent as Leader of the Labour Party to Mr. E. C. Mutasa, Salisbury, on 2 October, 1964, in which you say that the Labour Party is totally opposed to granting independence to Southern Rhodesia as long as the Government of that country remains under the control of a white minority.
The Prime Minister at once replied, making it perfectly clear that the Government were making no such conditions. He said:
I have said that we lay down no prior conditions for the talks. It would appear that, for your part, you are seeking to lay down two. First, that I should make plain whether or not the British Government intends to insist on African majority rule in Rhodesia as a pre-condition of independence. Secondly, that I should recognise in advance that your position in the talks will be that independence on the basis of the present Constitution and franchise has been incontestably proved to be the wish of the majority of the population.
We have an open mind on the timing of independence in relation to progress towards majority rule, to which, as I have said, we wish to see a peaceful transition, but the granting of independence must he on a basis acceptable to the people of the country as a whole.
Again, on December 21 he said:
We are prepared to grant independence on any basis which we are satisfied is acceptable to the people of the country as a whole.
§ I do not know what the noble Lord means by asking that the Government should withdraw the letter. I do not know how you withdraw a letter. It was not the Government's letter; they did not write it. The policy of the Government is that for which the Government are responsible, and the Government have made it perfectly plain throughout that they are certainly not insisting on African 119 majority rule before independence, that they went into the talks with no precondition but that the promise of independence must be acceptable to the people of the country as a whole—a policy which has, in relation to our Colonies, been the uniform policy of successive Governments ever since the war.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for giving way. He argues, fairly, that the letter was written by the Leader of the Opposition; and he asks how the Government can withdraw or disown something that was written by the Leader of the Opposition. The present Prime Minister, as the then Leader of the Opposition, was writing on behalf of the Labour Party. The connection between the Labour Party and the Government is well known. If the Government cannot withdraw this letter, will the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor use his influence with the Prime Minister to see that the Leader of the Labour Party withdraws it on behalf of the Labour Party?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I really do not know what the noble Lord means by "withdrawing" the letter. The Government have made it perfectly plain that they are not attaching, as a condition of independence, that there should be at the same time majority rule. They have said this throughout. Even since the illegal declaration of independence my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made it perfectly plain that he is not suggesting that there should be African majority rule, now or to-morrow; and he has made it perfectly plain—and he did so in correspondence to which I referred—that the Government were not laying down any such conditions.
The second important basic fact is that no British Government has ever threatened the Rhodesian Government with anything. Nobody has ever sought to interfere with thestatus quo. The status quo was one under which for a long time the Government of Southern Rhodesia has been internally self-governing and completely independent, in control in all respects, except foreign policy; with its own armed forces, its own police force, 120 its own civil service and its own Legislative Assembly.
It is quite true, of course, that in law the Imperial Parliament could at any time have revoked the Constitution or substituted another, or altered it or instructed the Governor that he was not to assent to some Bill. But every Government in this country has made it perfectly plain to Southern Rhodesia that there is an unwritten constitutional convention by which, since she is self-governing, however much we might disapprove of her legislation, however much we might not agree with the Law and Order Maintenance Act (under which there is the mandatory death sentence for an African who throws a stone at a motor car), we should not interfere so long as Rhodesia acted constitutionally. Her Majesty would act on the advice of her Ministers in Rhodesia and not on the advice of her Ministers in the United Kingdom.
This was made plain by the previous Government. Sir Alec Douglas-Home in May, 1964, said this:Towards the end of your letter you ask me to explain why the British Government is unable to grant independence to Southern Rhodesia … Our reasons were set out clearly in the message sent by Mr. Sandys to Mr. Field on 7 December."—of 1963.In this he said: ' The present difficulty arises from your desire to secure independence on the basis of a franchise which is incomparably more restrictive than that of any other British territory to which independence has hitherto been granted ".The franchise is, of course, a matter for your Government and legislature to decide. We have made it clear that we consider ourselves bound by the constitutional convention that Britain does not legislate in respect of any matter which is within the legislative competence of the legislature of Southern Rhodesia.My Lords, the present Government again followed exactly the same policy as the last Government, and when my right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary and I went to Rhodesia we made it plain, not only to Mr. Smith and his Cabinet but to everyone we saw, that we had not come there with a view to trying to get African majority rule, either then or in the near future; that we accepted the constitutional convention, that nobody was trying to interfere internally with whatever the Government 121 of Southern Rhodesia chose to do; that they had no reason to fear anything; that there was no crisis, unless there was one of their own making, and they could perfectly well continue with all the powers that were in their hands under the 1961 Constitution. Indeed, of course this was the whole of the policy of the Rhodesian Opposition, led by Mr. Butler, who said, "We simply want to go on as we are under the 1961 Constitution".
Having said all this, my right honourable friend, the Prime Minister, wrote when we came back, saying:… The two British Ministers have made it clear in Rhodesia that we do not contemplate the immediate imposition of majority rule, nor the advent to power of persons who have not served a political apprenticeship. We intend neither to impose constitutional change by force, nor to breach the convention that the British Parliament does not legislate for Rhodesia on matters within the competence of the Rhodesia Legislative Assembly except with the agreement of the Rhodesia Government.That, my Lords, is the second point of great importance, that neither our predecessors nor ourselves were at any time threatening to do anything to Rhodesia or to interfere in any way with a status quo under which all the powers in Rhodesia were entirely in the hands of their elected Government.
The third important point is that this crisis has arisen simply and solely because, although they have all the powers in their own hands, they insisted on saying, "Unless we are at once given complete independence on our terms we are going to declare independence unilaterally and illegally", and here again they said just the same thing to the British Government. In September, 1964, Mr. Smith wrote:If confidence in Southern Rhodesia's future was to be restored, the question of her independence must be finally settled. One way of achieving it would be by means of a unilateral declaration.The then Prime Minister—that is, Sir Alec Douglas-Home—repeated thatMr. Smith must try to go further than a mere indaba and must move towards something in the nature of a referendum. Perhaps both parties should now try to summarise the upshot of the discussions in the form of a communiqué which could he released to the Press. In addition, however, he felt bound to make two comments about the much publicised threat of a unilateral declaration of independence. He must make it wholly clear to Mr. Smith that, quite apart from the serious economic consequences of such a declaration. 122 two constitutional results would inevitably follow. In the first place the United Kingdom Government would have to maintain that the declaration had no legal validity and that they were not prepared to recognise it. Second, they would have to emphasise that the Government of Southern Rhodesia would be in revolt against the Crown. There was no means by which that Government could, as they apparently hoped, maintain their allegiance to the Queen. There was no separate Queen of Southern Rhodesia. Her Majesty was Queen of Southern Rhodesia by virtue of being Queen of the United Kingdom and her other territories (which included Southern Rhodesia). It followed that only United Kingdom Ministers could tender advice to Her Majesty on the issue of independence for Southern Rhodesia; and they would be bound to advise her that she could not accept the position of Queen of a Southern Rhodesia which purported to be independent but would in fact be in revolt against the Crown.My Lords, this Government of course was subjected to exactly similar threats by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, and it is to he observed that while the Rhodesian Front found that talking about a U.D.I. was popular, there was never, I think, any mandate for it. Your Lordships may remember the referendum which looked as though it was going to be a referendum on U.D.I., but a few days before polling day Mr. Smith covered everywhere with posters saying, "Yes does not mean U.D.I." One result was that nobody then knew what the referendum was about, but it was quite clear that it was not on U.D.I. Similarly, in the General Election he appealed for support on the ground that he would obtain independence, but he never committed himself to asking for a mandate for a unilateral declaration.
Then, fourthly, the Rhodesians were warned of the consequences. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, says that that probably only made them more antagonistic to us than ever. One is in a dilemma about this. There have been many occasions in history in which it has been said that if only Britain had said what she was going to do in the circumstances the situation would not have happened. But again there is no distinction between this Government and the previous Government. As long ago as February 22, 1964, Mr. Sandys wrote:International reaction would be sharp and immediate. The issue would be raised at once in the United Nations; and we, of course, would not he able to offer any justification. The whole Commonwealth would be deeply disturbed and the attitude of the newer members would be extremely antagonistic. 123 Commonwealth and foreign Governments, with one or two exceptions, would almost certainly refuse to recognise Southern Rhodesia's independence or to enter into relations with her. The African Nationalists in Southern Rhodesia would probably set up a Government in exile, which many countries would recognise. Thus isolated, Southern Rhodesia would increasingly become a target for subversion, trade boycotts, air transport bans and other hostile activities, organised in other African States.In particular. the relations between Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia, which have made such a promising start with the agreements on Kariba, the Rhodesia Railways and the Central African Airways, would be in danger of serious disruption.A unilateral declaration of independence by Southern Rhodesia would not, of course, make Southern Rhodesia legally independent. To take such action would be outside the Constitution which Southern Rhodesia Ministers are pledged to work. The British Government would, therefore, be bound to take the view that this had no legal or constitutional validity … I cannot believe that Parliament would be willing to vote financial aid of any kind. What is more, we should certainly be under heavy pressure to withdraw Commonwealth preferences and to reconsider Southern Rhodesia's membership of the Sterling Area … Ministers who have accepted office under the present Constitution and who were parties to any such declaration would be acting unconstitutionally and in breach of the obligations they assumed on taking office. Notwithstanding sincere expressions of loyalty to The Queen, it would incontestably involve a direct challenge to the authority of the Crown and Parliament.Both in the autumn of last year and the spring of this year the present Government repeated these warnings even more forcibly. And on the four points to which I have referred it will be observed that this Government has acted exactly the same as the previous Government, and Mr. Smith's reaction has been exactly the same. I have been very struck, if I may say so, on re-reading the discussions, to observe that on any point, whether raised by this Government or the previous Government, Mr. Smith's answer has always been exactly the same, and usually in exactly the same words. I cannot trace that he has ever changed his view about anything at all from the beginning to the end.
It is always easy, it is said, to be wise after the event, and naturally one knows now more than one did then. But even in the light of after events, looking back, I cannot think of any single thing which the Government could have done to avoid an illegal declaration of independence that 124 they did not do. Some of the consequences, of course, were obvious. It was because of the consequences that we leaned over backwards to appease Mr. Smith. One saw at once that most countries would not recognise the new régime; that Consuls would be withdrawn by other countries; that Commonwealth Preference would go; that their passports could not be regarded as valid; that the Governor's position would obviously be an extremely difficult one; that there was likely to be more or less an increase in internal disorder; that at the United Nations the position would be such that if we did not take the lead we were not unlikely to lose control of the situation.
I feel, if I may be permitted to say so, that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble friend Lord Caradon are very heartily to be congratulated on their success at the United Nations. We had, on the one hand, to be seen to be taking a lead to obtain support, while, on the other, avoiding a resolution committing us and other countries to the use of force. Of course we do not write the resolutions, and we do not control the United Nations. It is easy to speak slightingly of the Afro Asianbloc, but when you get a vote like 101 to 2 that is the opinion of the world speaking. If one is to speak of the Afro-Asianblocwe should perhaps begin to remember that they are, after all, two thirds of the population of the world, and that it is we, the white people, who are in a minority. But when you get a vote of that kind at the United Nations it is not just the Afro-Asianbloc; it is the opinion of the world.
We had to bear in mind the views which had been expressed in the Prime Ministers' Conference. We had to hear in mind our kith and kin in other African countries besides Rhodesia and the likely effect on them—50,000 Europeans, for example, in Zambia. We had to contemplate the possible break-up of the African Commonwealth and possibly even racial war. It was for all these reasons—and we realised at the time their extreme gravity—that we were so anxious to leave no stone unturned to avoid this happening if we could.
I think even crities of the Government have been unable to make more than two suggestions about anything we could 125 have done. Some suggested that my right honourable friends the Attorney General and the Commonwealth Secretary should have remained longer in Salisbury. What good that would have done nobody has ever suggested. The only other suggestion that has been made is that it was wrong to bring Sir Hugh Beadle here, and on the previous occasion the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, said:My Lords, was it not really a very extraordinary thing to invite the Chief Justice of a fully self-governing country, who had been apointed by a previous Rhodesian Government, to come to London for discussions, over the head of his own Government and against their wishes? Am I not entitled to make the assumption that when the Chief Justice was brought over here over the head of the legitimate Rhodesian Government, he was being used not so much as a channel for negotiation but as an instrument for coercion?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270 (No. 12). col. 1247; 1 /12/65.]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I beg your Lordship's pardon. The second passage was the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine's, and the first was the noble Lord, Lord Colyton's. That is, if I may say so, an absolute travesty of what happened. We did not invite the Chief Justice at all. I got to know the Chief Justice in Rhodesia. He is a man, if I may say so, of the highest integrity and of the greatest courage. They tell me he will be killed some time because he always waits until the elephant or the lion gets so close to him. But he is a man not only of great physical courage but of great moral courage, who says what he thinks. He is also a peacemaker.
When my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was in Salisbury the Chief Justice was, with everybody's approval, acting in a sense as a go-between, talking to the Prime Minister and then talking to Mr. Smith. Both Governments knew that and both welcomed it. They knew his integrity; they had confidence in him and knew he was seeking to arrive at agreement. That is why, when the Royal Commission was suggested, the one thing which both Governments could agree about was that he should be the chairman; they could agree because of the confidence they placed in him. After my right honourable friend returned from Salisbury we knew that Mr. Smith was going on having private talks with the 126 Chief Justice. Ordinarily, I suppose, when you are in an arbitral capacity you do not go and discuss the subject with one party in private, but we took no objection to that. They had no objection to our talking to him privately in Salisbury.
The time came when it seemed to us that it might be desirable—as we knew that since they had to leave Salisbury he had gone on, quite properly, having discussions in private with Mr. Smith—for him to come here and give us the benefit of his opinion. One thing which was worrying us was that by that time there had been a declaration of a state of emergency. This was a matter on which we had checked with the Governor. When he was asked to sign the Order declaring a state of emergency, he asked Mr. Smith whether this was a prelude to a U.D.I., and he was assured that it was not. We know that the country was quiet at that time, but it turned out to be the prelude.
The Prime Minister, on the 7th November, wrote to the Government, not to the Chief Justice (we never wrote to the Chief Justice), and asked him here. My right honourable friend wrote to Mr. Smith:We have already agreed that the Chief Justice of Rhodesia, Sir Hugh Beadle, should be the chairman of the Royal Commission; and we have both expressed our full confidence in him. Since both you and I discussed with him in Salisbury how the Commission might work, and since I understand that you have had further conversations with him since my departure, I suggest that he should now come to London to discuss with my colleagues and myself how the Royal Commission will work in the light of your announcement on Friday"—this was a reference to the state of emergency, because naturally we were not clear how, if people could be put into prison without trial for saying something against a Government, a Royal Commission, which existed to try to find out what people thought, was going to work—I should like at the same time to explore further with him the other issues of procedure which I have suggested in this letter, including the suggestion which I have outlined for dealing with the question of an interim report. I believe that after my further discussion with Sir Hugh Beadle it might be useful if you and I met again, preferably at some convenient meeting place, such as Malta. We could then decide not only the outstanding questions involved in getting the Royal Commission to work, but also the action to be taken after 127 they have presented their final report, consistently with my own explicit undertaking to Parliament.The Rhodesian Government told Sir Hugh Beadle about this. They thought it was not a good idea for him to go. He—and he is, I think, a peacemaker—thought it would be useful for him to come, and he decided to come. The Rhodesian Government lent him an aeroplane for him to collect his clothes from Bulawayo, and he came. In the result, before he returned to Salisbury, he sent them a cable begging them not to take any action before he got back; whereupon they declared U.D.I. two hours before his aeroplane arrived.
I invite your Lordships to consider, if these are the basic facts, why has all this happened. As I said on the last occasion, the only explanation given by Mr. Smith is that they were not getting investment money, but that a great many financiers had told them, "As soon as you are independent you can have all the money you want". I gave the reasons why I did not think that that was sensible; but I give him credit for believing that. But assuming that he believed it, then what it comes to is that all this was done in order that a small European population, of the size of Portsmouth, which already has a high average living standard of £1,250 a year, compared with the Africans' £150, and who mostly have one or two cars, swimming pools and so on, might have an even higher living standard if their already high economy rose even higher. On the previous occasion, I paid tribute to the magnificent job which I think the European Rhodesians have done in their economic development of the country, and particularly in their farming of it. But, of course, they could not have done it without the Africans, any more than the Africans could have done it without the capital and know-how of the Europeans.
But the whole of this exercise which has brought about the situation which to-day exists between us and the remainder of our African Commonwealth, which may, though we all hope not, yet develop into a racial war, has been done with the sole material object of increasing their already high living standard. Of course, they are quite entitled to think of themselves, and they may add that if their standards went up so would those of the Africans. But I do not think 128 any of the small shopkeepers, artisans and small farmers who maintain the Rhodesia Front would suggest that they are doing so for the benefit of the African.
I would respectfully ask your Lordships to consider two observations. One was made by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, on the previous occasion, when he said this—he talked of the American rebellion:But the nub of the argument was the same two hundred years ago as it is to-day. It is simply this: that a people of British stock who had grown info nationhood were not prepared to submit any longer to the control of a Parliament 3,000 miles away in which they had no representation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270 (No. 5), col. 376; 15/11/65.]He said nothing, of course, about the 4 million Africans who were also growing into nationhood. I have stated the position of the Commonwealth as I see it, and the statement which I would contrast with that was one made last week in another place by Mr. Henry Brooke. I would invite the noble Lord to consider this. He said:Let me return to the subject of Rhodesia. The extremists who gained power at the last election there "—
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, would the noble and learned Lord allow me to interrupt? I do not think it is in accordance with the Rules of this House to quote from speeches made by ordinary Members of another place.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I would not myself call Mr. Henry Brooke an "ordinary Member of another place". But I follow the point of the noble and learned Viscount, who need not interrupt again. I will merely invite the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, if I may treat these as my words, to consider whether it is not a fact of history, which we as the Mother Country of the British Empire have had to learn by hard and long experience, that a minority cannot indefinitely try to govern an indigenous majority, without provoking outbreaks which will in the end make it impossible to carry on government without using the methods of a Police State.
One looks at Southern Rhodesia to-day, where 289 children were caned without representation because they made what was a perfectly ordinary and peaceful procession against the Government; where a lawyer like Mr. Baron, who has 129 never himself taken part in politics, and has committed the unforgivable sin of daring to appear for Africans—and not only daring to appear for them, but apparently appearing for them successfully—is now in solitary confinement, with no charge made against him at all, unable to write or to receive a letter.
Finally, as to sanctions—I am sorry to have been so long, and I do not propose to say much about the economic sanctions because my noble friend Lord Shepherd will be dealing with them—I submit that they must be effective. We know now that Mr. Smith ridiculed the original sanctions, and there were recently announced sanctions in the form of exchange control. It was said, quite simply, that in general terms they would include the cessation of payments of dividends, pensions and interest, and when any question of hardship arose it would be humanely treated. In point of fact, as I understand it, the pensions are being paid, which I think is really what we thought would happen. All we were concerned with was a transfer across the exchanges. Take service pensions. They are paid into Barclays Bank here to the credit of the people concerned, and are transferred from Barclays Bank here to Barclays Bank in Salisbury. The money is still being paid into Barclays Bank here. Anybody can take it out here and, as I understand it, anybody can go to his hank in Salisbury and draw against that credit and it will be repaid as soon as constitutional Government is restored. But if any difficulty arises or if there is any case of hardship, arrangements are being made under which the pension will be received in Rhodesian pounds from our Consul in Salisbury.
I do not believe that so far, if I have understood the position correctly, there is any real difference—any difference that matters—between the main British political Parties. I listened on Friday to the right honourable gentleman the Leader of the Conservative Opposition speaking on Rhodesia, and while one may always miss something, I did not disagree with anything he said. There may, of course, be a fair amount of room for difference of opinion—this I think is the real difference between the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and the Government—as to how far sanctions, particularly economic sanctions, may lead people to withdraw from the rebel regimé and how 130 far they may lead them to support it. The object of the economic measures which have been taken is, of course, to make them realise that illegal action is not going to pay; that a country the size of Portsmouth cannot really defy the opinion of the whole world as expressed at the United Nations; that their position will only become more and more difficult unless and until they return to constitutional Government. The Government, as is perhaps natural, probably know more of what is being thought and said in Rhodesia than private sources, and the whole of our information from the loyalist Rhodesians is, "We do not mind what happens to us, as long as it is short and sharp. For goodness' sake do not spin it out." I myself have seen private letters and they are all to that effect.
Then, there is no difference between the Parties as to the use of troops. The action of the Government in sending at the request of Mr. Kaunda the troops and aircraft they had has met, I think, with general approval, as also has the Government statement that they do not intend to impose a Constitution by force. It has led to steps taken or announcements made by the Organisation of African Unity. Well, we must sympathise with them in the very strong emotions which they have. They feel that if this had been a coloured Government which had rebelled they would have been suppressed in no time. They feel that perhaps the object in putting troops into Zambia is to stop African troops from going in. They realise that they themselves have not really the forces which can command an army and an air force the size of the Rhodesian forces. They know that we have. They therefore cannot understand why we do not interfere by force, and they are making threats as to what they will do if we do not. Well, we have had clearly to say that, although we sympathise with and understand the strength of their emotions, we are not going to try to solve this problem by force and are not going to be pushed around by anybody.
Finally, it is said that this question must end in conciliation. I entirely agree with that. There are two objects, a short-term object and a long-term object. The short-term object is the restitution of constitutional government. My right 131 honourable friend the Prime Minister said on November 23:… as soon as the people of Rhodesia are prepared to return to constitutional paths, as soon as the Governor feels that there is an opportunity of, perhaps, forming a Government among those who will act in a constitutional manner, we would want to deal with those people, without any recrimination or any rancour about the past, on the basis of a resettlement in Rhodesia, starting from the 1961 Constitution, with such amendments as, I think, the whole House would agree to be necessary to give effect to the five principles, leading up, I would hope, as quickly as possible to free elections in Rhodesia and then a discussion as to how we can give effect to the question of a gradual and unimpeded progress to majority rule." [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 721 (No. 11), cols. 258–9; 23/11/65.]The question has been raised: Would Mr. Smith be able to make a proposal? Certainly. It is open to Mr. Smith, now, to put before the Governor any proposals which he has to make, and any proposals which he makes will be carefully considered by Her Majesty's Government. But what is quite wrong is to make statements—I think the noble Lord was not making a statement of his own but was repeating something which had been said in Rhodesia—to the effect that the Europeans have nothing to hope for except extinction. This is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made it perfectly plain that there is still no question of African majority rule to-morrow or the day after, and the idea that a return to constitutional government means the extinction of the Europeans is wholly without foundation.
But, of course, if it came to dealing with the Rhodesia Front, it is no good forgetting, and it would not be right to forget, that Mr. Smith refused to accelerate the educational advance of the Africans in order to improve their political status and said that he, Mr. Smith,must make it clear that the Government Party in Rhodesia did not believe in majority ruleAt any rate, he has said, not in his lifetime; and that the reason why he would always oppose the entrenchment of this clause was that, if there was any actual danger of their getting an African majority, they would want to juggle with the Constitution and alter it backwards so as to stop them. He himself has said this quite frankly.
132 I am sorry to have been so long. It is not my intention to move the Amendment which is on the Order Paper. I have given a good deal of thought to this, but any unnecessary Division in your Lordships' House has its affect abroad. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has moved a forthright Motion of Censure on the Government for their handling of the Rhodesian affair, and I think that an Amendment as well might only complicate the matter. I am therefore going to ask your Lordships in all parts of the House, if you so think fit, to vote against the Motion. What is happening in Rhodesia is as tragic as it is unnecessary. We must take such steps as are effective to make a majority of the European Rhodesians realise that their rebellion was a mistake; that, as I have said, a population the size of Portsmouth cannot defy the opinion of the world; that they will have no peace until they return to constitutional government, but that when they do they will find us ready, without rancour or bitterness, to sit down with all sections of the peoples of Rhodesia to consider their welfare and their future. Of course, conciliation is the only possible end.
Perhaps the really serious thing when I was there was that when we said to Mr. Smith, "If Mr. Nkomo is prepared to meet you, will you see him? It will be a private meeting, no one will know you have seen him. He may of course say things with which you do not agree, but your back is broad, you can see what sort of man he is, and you can discuss Rhodesia together", the answer was "No": in no conceivable circumstances was he ever prepared to meet Mr. Nkomo. We said to Mr. Nkomo, "If the Prime Minister is prepared to see you, will you go along and talk to him? He probably will not agree with everything you might say, but you are a big man, you can explain what you think, and can discuss Rhodesia together." But no, in no conceivable circumstances whatever was he prepared to meet Mr. Smith. Yet this is a country for which, unless it becomes in substance multiracial, there is no real economic future. The African badly needs the capital and know-how of the Europeans. The Europeans' high standard of living exists because of African labour and the lowness of African wages. At the end of the day the future of Rhodesia can 133 be determined only by men of good will sitting round a table. Let us not forget that apart from the many small artisans and shopkeepers, there are those who include all the more educated white and black people in Rhodesia, the leading businessmen, the churches, the universities, moderate Members of Parliament, both Europeans and Africans, for when the time comes for constitutional government to return I think we shall find from a large section, both European and African, that the will is there to start again and to set Rhodesia out on a road which leads to peace and prosperity.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, it seems to me that this debate to-day has taken a very curious course. I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will not think it amiss, if I remind him that the Question, "That this Motion be agreed to," has not yet been put. Certainly, it was with astonishment that I heard him say—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, if the noble and learned Viscount will forgive me, that is entirely my fault. Of course, I should have put the Question after the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. With the noble and learned Viscount's permission, I will now do so.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, I drew attention to that point, to get the proceedings in order. However, I think that is really the least curious thing about this debate. We are now having a debate on a Motion moved by the noble Lord. Lord Coleraine, which is in precise terms, but the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor spoke for 35 minutes without making any reference to it at all. He had one short sentence about economic sanctions, another short sentence about pensions: and that was all. He treated us to a lengthy, but interesting, historical review to establish the proposition (if I followed his speech correctly) that this Government have acted in the same way as their predecessors did. No one has been challenging that. That is not an issue in to-day's debate at all.
Then the noble and learned Lord asserted that he could not see any single thing which could have been done, and which the Government did not do, to avoid U.D.I. We are not having an inquest to-day on the Government's conduct 134 of those negotiations, which failed—and failed they did. In our last debate I did venture to make a criticism, not so much of what was done, as of the timing of it, and to that criticism there has as yet been no reply. But we are not discussing that to-day. What we are discussing, or are asked to discuss by this Motion, is the steps that the Government have taken since U.D.I. What I thought we were going to discuss—because, after all, the Amendment is tabled in the name of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor—was the content of that Amendment. I must say that I find it extraordinary, having tabled the Amendment, that at the very last moment, at the very end of his long speech, the noble and learned Lord should tell us that he does not intend to move it as any unnecessary Division has its effect abroad. I cannot myself regard that as a satisfactory explanation for what I consider to be somewhat curious conduct.
If I may turn to the speech made by my noble friend Lord Coleraine in moving this Motion, I think that, although many will disagree with what he said, everyone will recognise the sincerity with which he spoke. I was glad to hear him say that he had never supported U.D.I., and deplored it, and that he did not support the Government of Mr. Smith. But then he went on to say that he objected to all the sanctions, and had done the whole way through. I must say that if his conclusion be that when U.D.I. came this country should not have done any thing about it, I entirely disagree with that conclusion, as I indicated when I spoke in this House the last time we had a debate on Rhodesia. Also, it is not right to say that we have declared war on Southern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia is still one of Her Majesty's Dominions. It is British; it is British territory, and it has not altered or lost its character in that respect because some individuals have usurped power in that territory.
My Lords, I have had to say that, because I think I should make it perfectly clear that I for one—and, I think, we who sit on this Bench—do not agree with the approach made to this problem by my noble friend. I take the view, as I expressed last time, that having condemned, as we always have condemned, and still do condemn, the illegal act of 135 Mr. Smith and his colleagues, we simply could not have sat back and done nothing about it. I take the view, too, that it was right, and still is right, to reject the use of force. Therefore, the only step open to us to take was the application of economic pressure, in the hope and desire that it might lead to a change of view in Rhodesia and a return to lawful and constitutional government.
As I said in my speech on November 15, economic sanctions are a very blunt instrument. If effective—and, of course, if they are to serve any purpose they must have an effect—they hit not only Mr. Smith and his supporters but also loyal white Rhodesians and Africans. In the application of sanctions, my Lords (and this is the point which I thought this debate was really going to be about), it is therefore very important to apply only those which are not likely to lead to Mr. Smith's gaining more support in the country; and to apply only those which are likely to be effective and swift in bringing about a return to lawful government and an end to this usurpation of power.
I think that the Prime Minister recognised this in the Statement he made on November 11. If I may, I would remind your Lordships of his words. He said:The right hon. Gentleman "—that was Mr. Heath—said that those measures which I have mentioned to-day and other measures which will follow should be examined on their merits and that the criterion in this examination should be the purpose which we all have in mind. That is absolutely right and absolutely fair. Our purpose is not punitive. We do not approach this tragic situation in a mood of recrimination. Our purpose is to restore a situation in Rhodesia in which there can be untrammelled loyalty and allegiance to the Crown and in which there can be, within whatever rules this House lays down, a free Government of Rhodesia acting in the interests of the people of Rhodesia as a whole."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 720, col. 359; 11/11/65.]Then he said:Every measure has been judged and must be judged against its ability to restore the rule of law and the functioning of a democratic constitution in Rhodesia. They must be judged by this test."—[Col. 632, 12/11/65.]That is a test of general application, and it applies to the stopping of pensions as 136 it does to other economic sanctions. At the same time, the Prime Minister stressed thatit is better for the action taken to be effective quickly than for it to be lingering and involve great and prolonged hardship."—[Col. 634.]It was on this ground that he sought to justify the imposition of the ban on Rhodesian tobacco. Some doubts have been felt, and I dare say are still felt, whether that ban would be effective quickly. The Prime Minister went on to say—and I ask the House to note these words:It is our view that these measures will be effective, not least because of the financial considerations. As I have already said in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, we have no other measure in contemplation so far as we are concerned."—[Col. 635.]Then came the announcement that the United Kingdom had voted for the United Nations resolution, to which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor referred. We voted for it. Perhaps we need not have done so. It was a resolution which asked us, and other countries, to cut off all trade with Rhodesia. Later, on December 1, we had the announcement of further economic measures. We were told that the embargoed items now account for over 95 per cent. of the Rhodesian exports to us. When this Statement was made, and repeated to this House by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, I asked whether this step had been taken in consequence of the United Nations resolution. To that, I did not receive a very definite answer. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, said:Certainly we are not taking these steps simply because the United Nations has called on us to take them … "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270 (No. 12), col. 1272; 1/12/65.]Certainly there has been no attempt to justify these further measures in the light of the test by which the Prime Minister, on November 12, said they must be judged; and this debate to-day gives the Government the opportunity, which I was sorry the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor did not take, of justifying them in the light of that test.
Less than three weeks after he had told Parliament that, in his view, the measures imposed on November 11 would be effective, the Prime Minister announced an almost complete economic embargo. My Lords, I ask this—and I think we should be told: has he changed his views 137 as to the effectiveness of the measures he announced on November 11? Does he now think that those measures, to be effective, require to be supplemented? Or were these further steps taken only in consequence of the United Nations resolution? If these questions are not answered, it is likely to be assumed in some quarters that the British Government, who have always emphasized—and rightly emphasised—that responsibility for Rhodesia is ours, have departed from the policy first announced, and have bowed to pressures applied to them.
On December 1 the Prime Minister said that that evening the Chancellor of the Exchequer would announce the details of further financial measures. He said—and I will quote his words:I will not weary the House with the details, some of which are highy technical, but … a stop is being placed on practically all current payments ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT Commons, Vol. 721 (No. 17), col, 1431; 1/12/65.]to Rhodesia, and remittances, and that money due to residents of Rhodesia from Her Majesty's Government was being held hack for the time being. I do not believe that anyone who heard that statement could have had the slightest idea that what was proposed, among other things, was the stopping of the payment of all Public Service pensions and of retirement pensions; the stopping of all pensions to those who had served in the Forces, and the stopping of war disability pensions. It was only when the Chancellor's Statement was published that evening that that became known. I must say that I find it difficult to reconcile the contents and wording of that Statement, which I hold in my hand now, with the statements just made to your Lordships by the Lord Chancellor in the course of his speech.
The Lord Chancellor said that pensions are being paid. My Lords, so far as this Statement is concerned (it is dated December 1), I would read from paragraph 4:So far as Her Majesty's Government itself is concerned, money due to residents of Rhodesia for pensions or interest on Government Stocks will be held back for the time being, …I cannot reconcile that Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the statement made this afternoon by the noble and 138 learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and I ask that we should have some elaboration of that. I think that the Prime Minister was being somewhat less than frank in not disclosing, when he made his Statement to the House, which was repeated here, that this was being done.
It was stated yesterday in another place, in a Written Answer, that there are 1,071 Public Service pensioners, payment of whose pensions had been stopped, 336 retired Servicemen and their dependants, and 1,542 retirement pensioners. My Lords, let us apply the test that the Prime Minister said should be applied. Is the stopping of payment of these pensions likely to be effective in restoring the rule of law in Rhodesia—pensions payable to people who have served their country, to those who have been disabled in its service and to those who, on account of age, have retired from active life? Is it really likely that any of these pensioners will have much influence on the course of events in Rhodesia? I find it difficult to regard this particular measure as anything but punitive. The effect of it will be felt not just by those who follow Mr. Smith but by those—and I suspect that there are a good many of them—who do not support this illegal régime.
I should like to know under what legal authority this is being done. Service pensioners are paid under Royal Warrant. Are the Warrants being amended? Will any Order come before Parliament in relation to this matter? What statutory authority is there for this action? Is it the enabling Act that we recently passed? What statutory authority is there for the other action that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Statement of December 1? I have heard recently that two grandmothers went to a Post Office to buy two 10s. postal orders to send to their grandchildren in Rhodesia as Christmas presents, and that they were stopped. Is an embargo of that sort likely to bring about a change of rule in Rhodesia? I have heard it said, too—and I should like to know whether or not it is the case—that the claims made upon Lloyds' underwriters are now prevented from being discharged to compensate people for losses that they have established. Under what statutory authority, legal authority, is that being done?
My Lords, I must say that I think that these pension measures are a departure 139 from the policy announced on November 12. I see that Mr. Smith has said that his régime will pay the pensions withheld, and the consequence of this action by the United Kingdom Government seems to me to be likely to lead to Mr. Smith's gaining, and not losing, support, to the contrary effect to that desired from the imposition of sanctions. In my view this action was a mistake; and the Prime Minister went some way to recognising that, I think, in saying that provision would he made for cases of hardship. What must that mean? It means the application of some sort of means test to these pensioners—a means test in relation to pensions to which they are entitled, and a means test apparently to be applied even if they do not support this illegal régime.
Now the terms of this Amendment today ask us to welcome the statement that the measures in relation to pensions "will be administered with due regard to humanitarian considerations." All we are told is that they will be administered by the Consul in Salisbury. My Lords, I cannot see that that will be in the least degree satisfactory. We have no Civil Service to administer these pensions and to issue them in Salisbury. Does it really mean that, to establish hardship, the pensioner will have to make an application, and perhaps go and see the Governor or the Consul, who may be many, many miles away? I cannot reconcile what has been said with the statement by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that anyone can draw against that credit for the pensions in Rhodesia. I do not believe that it will be possible to apply this means test without some of these pensioners suffering a very considerable degree of hardship.
But I come back to this. Is it really thought that the application of this measure is likely to change opinion in Rhodesia in our favour? I do not believe it is. I think it will not help to bring about the result we want but will help in the reverse direction. Therefore I say this in all seriousness to the noble Lord who I think is going to speak on this matter: I believe myself that it would bring not discredit but credit to Her Majesty's Government to say that in this regard they have gone too far, and they recognise it now on second thoughts; and that they will not 140 impose a ban on the payment of war disability pensions, ex-Service pensions and pensions for the retired. The number is not large; the amount involved is not large. The effect that these individuals could have on the policy in Rhodesia cannot be great. Could the Government think again about this? At the end of this debate we shall be faced with a decision, if my noble friend persists in his Motion, whether to vote for his Motion or against it.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
That, I will say quite frankly, places me in quite a considerable difficulty, because I am in agreement with the terms of his Motion. It starts by referring to the prohibition on payments of pensions. It says that it is a "departure from the policy announced" at that time. We will, of course, listen to anything that is said; but it certainly would be a great departure from the policy announced at that time. The Motion goes on to speak about the difficulties at the end being resolved "by negotiation"—and I will come back to that, if I may, in a moment.
I am not so concerned personally here whether one votes or does not vote on that particular Motion. What I am concerned about is the position of the pensioners; and if the noble Lord were to say to me and to the House that he would certainly do his best to secure that this decision was rescinded, I, myself, should not like to make it difficult for the Government to take that course. If there is a vote on this particular Motion, presumably the Government would feel compelled to vote against it. The Government might or might not be beaten; hut, having voted against this Motion relating to pensions, it might be that they would find it much more difficult then to rescind that decision. That is one reason—although I agree with the terms of my noble friend's Motion—that I find it very difficult to say that I should vote for it.
My Lords, there is another difficulty to which I think I should refer. I will speak frankly to the House. My noble friend, in moving his Motion, in no way confined his arguments to the Motion. He went far wide of that. He developed a general theme expressing his views—and, it may be, not only his views—about the Rhodesian problem as a whole. As 141 I said at the beginning of my speech, I do not agree with him on that. I should not like to be thought to be agreeing with him on that. If I vote for this Motion in the light of what he himself has said in support of it, I think that there is a very serious risk of this Motion, if carried, being regarded outside this House, in the country and throughout the world, as a Motion of sympathy for Mr. Smith. I should not wish to be associated with anything that would encourage, or would tend to encourage, Mr. Smith, in the course he is now pursuing. Therefore I am in a difficulty and I have stated it quite frankly: I agree with what is said in my noble friend's Motion.
It is not often a wise course to abstain from voting; but on this occasion I myself feel that it is the right course and the wise course for me to take. And I shall be encouraged to do it if the noble Earl will say—I do not ask him to give a positive answer now because I do not expect that he has the power or the authority to do it—that he will take up this question of the pensions again to see whether he can secure a change of that decision. I emphasise again that if the Government did that, then I am sure it would bring credit and not discredit to them. In deciding whether or not to take certain steps at this difficult juncture, in deciding whether or not those steps are more likely to encourge or to discourage support for Mr. Smith, it is very easy for misjudgments to be made. I certainly would not criticise the Government for vacillating—or on any other ground in relation to this—if they had a change of mind.
My Lords, may I turn to the Amendment that I came here prepared to speak about? I have been robbed of this opportunity. I am very hostile to this Amendment and if it had been moved I would certainly have voted against it. It asks us to accept that all the economic measures taken by the Government—including the stopping of the payment of these pensions—were "a regrettable necessity". But I do not think that applies to the pensions. The Amendment asks us to welcome the steps taken to administer the pensions "with due regard to humanitarian considerations". We have had a great statement of the object; but we have had no indication of how 142 that can possibly be achieved if this ban on pensions remains.
I have left till last what I think is, perhaps, the most important criticism of the Amendment: that there is nothing in that Amendment which really holds out any hope for the future. There is no reference to conciliation; there is nothing to suggest that a way can be found for finding a solution to this problem in the future. I was glad to hear what the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, had to say about the possibility of conciliation. There must be conciliation at the end of the day. I think we are all agreed about that in this House. One does not know with whom one will be talking. I really think that in my noble friend's Motion, if I read it aright, the word "conciliation" ought to have been used instead of the word "negotiation".
As to that, I should like just to say this. We all want to see Rhodesia back in the Commonwealth. I think the Government must make it clear—and repeat it and make it as positive as possible—that they are not insisting on immediate African rule. I do not think it is really enough for the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to say, as he did to-day, that we are not insisting on African rule "to-day or to-morrow". My noble friend referred to the letter written by the Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition. Anyone who has seen the record would, I think, come to the conclusion that Mr. Smith (I am not saying that he was right to be worried) was certainly worried about the contents of this letter and was worried about them despite the Prime Minister's statement. I am not saying that Mr. Smith was right to remain worried—that would be a different matter. What I am emphasising, as much as I can, is that I think the need still is to make it clear that this country is not insisting on African majority rule as a condition of the granting of independence.
My Lords, I think we have got to say what path it is that the loyal Rhodesians should follow. They must be told, it seems to me, what their country will revert to directly this illegal régime ends. Will they revert to internal self-government on the 1961 Constitution—I am sure that they want to know about this—with such safeguards to prevent its being tampered with as what has 143 happened may have shown to be necessary, but basically on the 1961 Constitution, with a wide field of internal self-government? I think they should be told. I think it is the duty of the Government to tell them; and to tell them, too, that directly there has been that reversion to constitutional government there will be free negotiation and talks with all the people concerned with regard to the revision of the Constitution; so that independence can be granted, with Rhodesia in the Commonwealth playing her full part in the world. My Lords, I believe it is important that that should be said, and I think it is very important indeed that it should be said now.
§ 4.41 p.m.
My Lords, looking at this paper in my hand it is impressed upon me more than ever that I should not break my own rule of addressing your Lordships very briefly. But I feel that I must rise to say that we in the Liberal Party feel that we cannot accept this Motion put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and that if it goes to a Division, we must vote against it. In some ways I am sorry to have to say that, because I think we all know the great sincerity with which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and his two or three colleagues have spoken. On the last occasion when the noble Lord spoke I found the way that he put his case most moving, and it was rather difficult not to be carried away by what I may call one's own sentiment about it. I think that, in a sense, the noble Lord has pulled out the same stop to-day; not only in his speech but in the words which he has put down on the Order Paper.
We are maintaining in this House that this subject is not a Party matter. We are all extremely anxious that the best should be done, irrespective of Party policies. We in the Liberal Party sit in opposition to the Labour Party because we do not believe in, and cannot support, their Socialist theories. But that does not mean that on a question such as this, where Socialism does not enter into it in the least, we cannot support in a large measure what the Prime Minister has done, though we do not think him as perfect as some of his followers do. Again we are with our friends of the Left—I call them "Left" though they are on the 144 Right—who also differ on the Motion which is before your Lordships' House. As it is a non-Party matter, I think it should really be a matter of conscience and that we should let it be seen, not only by this country but by the world, that the British Parliament and all the nations of the world, are, for the most part, on the one side. There is a very strong opposition, a very small, strong opposition, to those who feel as we do. I think that it would be unfortunate, almost criminal, to give that opposition any more encouragement than is absolutely necessary; and a Division, my Lords, even a Division on this point to-day, I think would do so.
My Lords, in the discussion on this matter there have been used, loosely, phrases which I deplore. It has been said that we should bring Mr. Smith to his knees, or his Government to its knees. I do not want to do that. I do not believe any of your Lordships do. We do not want any humiliation or any recrimination. We do not want to see that Government on its knees. We want to see it on its feet, and behaving like a democratic Government. But it has been misled by its geographical and historical and inward feelings. It does not see, as the rest of the nations have seen, and shown, that the tide of self-determination in all countries is advancing all the time; and the lowest and most ignorant African black, almost the "out-of-the-tree" savage, is, nevertheless, advancing; and the time must come when he will have not only some form of self-determination, but, when the full time comes, full determination—one man, one vote, and majority rule. But, my Lords, this is obviously impossible in Rhodesia to-day, and we are only asking this rebel Government just to take a check; to look at itself again, and decide whether these 200,000 Rhodesian whites—I do not believe that they are all supporters of the rebel Government—for the short-term gain of getting a little more domination over the African population, or at least not letting that population get any more responsibility itself, are taking a very shortsighted view in going the way they are going.
Those 200,000 people are risking the lives and the existence of 200 million people, two-thirds of the world, if things go on as they look as if they might under 145 this procedure, when racialism will really raise its ugly head and war will break out between friends and enemies, black and white, white and white, and black and black. And it is an incredible thing that these few people should have so much in their power and not be dissuaded.
That, of course, brings us to the question of these sanctions. My Lords, they are deplorable. Discussions were held, long discussions, and they failed. They failed for Rhodesia and for us, and I think that they failed for the world. The next step is sanctions. If those fail—my Lords, I hope they never will there is yet another step; one which we do not want to see taken; one we know that the Prime Minister is most unwilling to take, but one which may have to be taken on moral grounds, as was so bravely said by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury.
I think it is foolish for any of us to try to arrest the momentum towards individual self-expression which I have described. I am not going into any analysis of the actual detail of the points on the Order Paper to-day, as they have been dealt with adequately. But it strikes me that this question of pensions, which of course touches our hearts, is a terrible step to have to take, but the primary responsibility for putting that right falls straight on the lap of Mr. Smith himself. My Lords, retrogression, Rhodesian or any other sort, will inevitably lead us to the extinction of civilisation, or set it back thousands of years. These well-meaning but misled people whom the noble Lord so gallantly and so rhetorically supports must, I think, be told clearly, from here and from all other countries, that their ideas of progress in their little way are, in fact, regression.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD CITRINE
My Lords, I rise to a point of Order. I do not know to whom this point of Order is to be submitted, as I am aware that the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, has not the power of the Speaker in the House of Commons—
§ LORD CITRINE
The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, has intimated the withdrawal of the Amendment, I do not know whether an Amend- 146 ment can be withdrawn without the leave of the House as a whole.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, the Amendment has not been moved. May I perhaps—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
May I explain to the noble Lord, Lord Citrine that I have not withdrawn the Amendment: in fact I have not moved it.
§ LORD CITRINE
I thank the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor. I see the technical difference. It simplifies what I want to say. We are now left with the Motion as it stands, and the Motion expresses no opinion on the matter of sanctions or economic measures generally. It deals with one point only, and that is the action of the Government on pensions. I ask the House whether it is necessary to have 35 speeches, in addition to the one which has already been given, that deal with that simple question, and whether the noble Earl the Leader of the House is in a position to tell us the position of the Government in response to what has already been said.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I do not think that has ever fallen to the Leader of the House. Certainly, I do not think the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, or the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, would ever take it on himself to say in advance that speeches were not going to be necessary. I suppose, if one speech were to be left out it might be the last one, my own, which will not be until after midnight. The House, I am afraid, will have to grin and bear it, unless any noble Lord chooses to move that any particular noble Lord be no longer heard. That remedy is always open to the noble Lord, Lord Citrine.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, if I may intervene. It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Citrine has a point. With the greatest respect, the first two speeches we listened to this afternoon had remarkably little to do with the Motion before your Lordships' House. Neither the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, nor the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack really addressed themselves to the terms of the Motion. I should think that, if your Lordships agree with this, we might try to confine succeeding 147 speeches to the terms of the Motion, rather than have a general debate on Rhodesia.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I sympathise very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said. But I must defend my noble and learned friend here. If, by general admission, the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, made a speech far outside the Motion, I am afraid that it was inevitable that my noble and learned friend should reply in the same way. It was necessary to reply to the previous matter. However, let us all try to be relevant, if possible, bearing in mind the ultimate remedy of my noble friend Lord Citrine—the "H-bomb" which he has mentioned.
My Lords, we have listened to a most interesting and entertaining speech from the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, about an Amendment which has never been moved.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, in spite of the admonitions which have been addressed to me, I propose to address a few observations to the House. Of course, the issues go far beyond the limit to which the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, referred. I should agree that if we were another place, we might be in some sort of technical difficulty. But my noble friend's Motion, while it refers specifically to pensions, does travel a good deal farther. It implies that an entirely new policy is being introduced in the sanctions which are now being imposed. In addition to that, the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor largely dealt with the past, and I should have thought that, if there was to be criticism, that speech was a good deal more irrelevant. Yet he was justifying the Amendment.
One might indeed ask: When is an Amendment not an Amendment? I suppose the answer is: When it is spoken to and not moved, which is what has happened to-day. There is not the least doubt that the noble and learned Lord spoke to his Amendment, although he did not move it (if there were a vote, I should certainly vote against it) and his speech was a justification of the whole 148 of the new set of sanctions. Therefore, I do not think that this debate can be as cabined as is proposed. I also think, votes apart, that these general debates in your Lordships' House, with speeches from people who have had great experience on the whole in these matters, are of enormous value, not just to the House, but to the country and to Africa as well.
The specific question of pensions, with which the Motion deals in the first instance, I can pass in a sentence because when the Order was introduced it appeared to me to be as mean as it was foolish and as foolish as it was mean. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, must be quite wrong when he said that the whole matter rests with Mr. Smith. I am not here to justify Mr. Smith, but it does not rest with Mr. Smith at all. The pensions, I understand, are British pensions, payable under British Warrant, and the obligation to discharge those pensions is on Her Majesty's Government and not in the least on Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith has gone out of his way to say that he proposes to pay the pensions—and, incidentally, has gained a great deal of support in his country, for which he has to thank the Government's foolish and, I think, mean act. The imposition of these new sanctions is a change of policy, and one which I believe is profoundly unwise and calculated to defeat its own purpose, particularly at this moment.
Unlike the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, I propose, in anything I have to say to-day, to confine myself to the situation with which we are faced at present. When the Government proposed the original sanctions, I was prepared to support them, and said so, with some reservation about a tobacco sanction which appeared to me to be much more injurious to thousands of Africans than it was likely to be to the Europeans; but we were then told that those were all the sanctions the Government proposed to impose and thought necessary. They said that they were not to be penal, they were not to be vindictive, and they were not to be coercive. I think that the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, quoted the Prime Minister as having given across the Floor of another place the assurance that the Government had no intention of imposing any further sanctions at all.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble and learned Viscount quoted some words of the Prime Minister quite correctly, but they do not go so far, if they are studied in their context, as the noble Earl has just suggested.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I certainly do not want to misrepresent anybody and perhaps they did not go quite so far. No doubt, when he replies, the noble Earl the Leader of the House will tell us exactly what the Prime Minister did say, but I do not think the noble Earl would deny that the attitude taken by the Prime Minister was that he had no intention of imposing any further sanctions at that time. Well, we are not very far apart in wording, however far apart we are about the sanctions.
What has now been imposed is a complete embargo on all trade with Rhodesia, and cruel penalties on a number of needy individuals. There are now to be no remittances and no pensions, until the Opposition intervened and forced the Government into a very limited action, which is likely to be quite ineffective because there will be no machinery to carry it out. There is to be no interest paid on British securities for which the British Government are responsible, and there are penalties on banks and individuals who try to help the old, the poor and the needy—people retired and living on limited means—who are the people who are going to be hit most by these sanctions. I must say that they are singularly likely to fail in their purpose.
When all trade between the United Kingdom and Rhodesia is to be stopped, this is the time at which Rhodesia is told that she must give power and coal to Zambia and presumably carry the copper upon the Rhodesian railways. I do not believe that Rhodesia ever had the faintest intention of not doing all these things. I do not believe that there is the faintest risk to the Dam or to the power station, or the faintest prospect that Mr. Smith has the desire and intention of cutting off the current. Where the danger lies, as a matter of fact, is in sabotage far inside the border of Zambia. Already damage to the great trunk line of electricity has taken place, nowhere near the Kariba Dam but 150 miles north of the Zambesi on the edge of the Copper Belt—the work of some of those 150 ill-disposed persons who want only to create trouble. I must say that if it is desirable that Rhodesia should continue to supply coal and current and to work the railways, to cut off our trade with Rhodesia seems an odd way to encourage or enforce trade between Rhodesia and Zambia.
One of the things that I complain about with this Government is that they never seem to think out what they are doing. I do not accuse them of being malicious, but I do accuse them of being frightfully muddle-headed. These sanctions which are being imposed now upon Rhodesia are going to hit Rhodesia. But they are going to hit Zambia far harder than they will hit Rhodesia. That has never been mentioned by any speaker on the Government side. It is, however, obvious. Zambia depends on re-exports from Rhodesia. If the exports from here, or from the rest of the world, to Rhodesia are stopped, how will Zambia get them? Of course, she will not. In human nature, the Rhodesians have to look after themselves first.
I would now ask the Government for a little clarification of what has not been clarified at all. What is their policy vis-à-vis Zambia? What advice have they given to Mr. Kaunda? Mr. Kaunda is, in my opinion—and I think most of the House would agree with this—one of the wisest and most responsible of African statesmen. He is certainly under great pressure from extremists on his own side, in Africa, and also from outside. It was quite right to give him the air support, when he asked for it, and to have a unit of the Air Force Regiment there in order to help provide security: because, as I said, there are plenty of ill-disposed persons ready enough to do sabotage.
But what should be the objective of relations between Rhodesia and Zambia? I ask this in the interests of the millions of people who live in both of those countries. This is what matters, not only in the long run, but in the short run. In this do let us he realists. This is not a Chancery suit, a sort of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce: this is—and nobody said it better than the noble Lord, Lord Salter—emphatically an occasion when it is necessary to face up to reality. Rhodesia and Zambia are economically mutually dependent. There is not only the power 151 from Kariba, but the coal from Wankie; and it is only the Rhodesian Railways that can carry the coal and the Rhodesian copper. Interdependence is much closer; mutual export and import trade are vital to both of them.
One thing was agreed upon by the Monckton Commission, whatever else they did not agree about federation: they were unanimous that federation had brought enormous benefits to both Northern and Southern Rhodesia. And so it had. It is vital in the interests of both Zambia and Rhodesia that this should go on. Surely it would be wise for the Government to state these, what your Lordships may feel are self-evident facts. They have not been stated. Surely the Government should state those facts plainly to both countries, and urge both countries to have regard to them.
Let me now turn again to these new penal sanctions which the Government are imposing on Rhodesia. What is their purpose? Is it to starve Rhodesia; to bring the people of Rhodesia to their knees; to force unconditional surrender? I cannot conceive of anything more likely to unite all the people of Rhodesia behind Mr. Smith. It is said that there is a new situation, and that new dangers have arisen. I agree. And I do not doubt that Rhodesia, being a good deal nearer to them, is as aware of these dangers as we are. But in that new situation, what is the right course? Surely it is not at this moment to apply new sanctions. Surely what is necessary at this moment is to say to the people of Rhodesia: "Think again; reopen the doors to negotiation and conciliation" —and I am not ashamed of using that word "conciliation"; it is a better word than "coercion".
I may be asked: what would you do? And I do not think anybody who has had the experience that I have had, of having to administer these territories, is entitled to make criticisms without offering some constructive suggestions. I will therefore tell the Government what I think they should do. I think they should say at this moment precisely what are the changes they would require in the 1961 Constitution for it to be acceptable, on which to reach a settlement, and, indeed, to grant independence. They must know in their own minds. Why cannot 152 they say this openly? If they will say it openly, then everybody in Rhodesia will know exactly where they stand; and, indeed, this would dispose of the "Zinovief Letter" for the time being—the letter to Dr. Mutasi. I do ask the Government to consider this.
There is, of course, great suspicion in Rhodesia, some of it ill-founded and some of it well-founded; but if the Government will say, absolutely clearly and straightforwardly, what are the alterations which are necessary in the 1961 Constitution to make it acceptable, with no generalities such as "Not to-day, and not to-morrow", the terms necessary to be put in the Constitution could be re-written in a few hours. Let the Government make it clear, and then we shall know where we stand. This is not the path of weakness, but, in my view, the way of truth, which may well prove the basis of lasting peace. I have little doubt what our policy should be, and it is what I have said to your Lordships, I hope at not too great length. I imagine that probably many of your Lordships have been thinking on the same lines.
I notice that a number of Members of another place joined together in a letter to The Times to-day. They are a very mixed bag of Members—though none the worse for that—who on other subjects hold differing opinions, as, of course, many of us do within our Party. But they were all united on this, and were asking for exactly what I am asking the Government to-day.
What should we do on this Motion? It is certainly right that we should all state our views fully and frankly; that is the value of this House, as has been shown in the last debate and in this one. The object of this debate, as of that one, is to persuade all those here—and not only those here but in Africa—to wiser courses. Frankly, I doubt whether that which I believe is the interest of us all, and is the desire of us all, is best served by Divisions or Resolutions in this House at this stage. If the Government had moved their Amendment, I should certainly have voted against it; and I should have hoped that it would be defeated.
My noble friend Lord Coleraine will appreciate from my speech that I am very much in sympathy with a good deal of 153 what is in his Motion. But I cannot help feeling that my noble friend (if he will not think it impertinent of me to say so; and he was good enough to see eye to eye with me on certain matters in the last debate) will serve his interest and the interest of getting a settlement on honourable terms if he does not ask the House to divide. I believe that this debate, which will, I am sure, be of value outside this House, will be more effective if no Resolutions are passed though the debate stands on the Record.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, in addressing your Lordships this afternoon, I will try to be as brief as is practicable, though I have a certain amount to say. I shall, of course, support the Motion which has been tabled by Lord Coleraine. I only wish it could have gone further. It deplores the decision of the Government to stop the payment of pensions to war and other pensioners who are living in Rhodesia. I do not imagine that there is anyone in any part of the House who has not deplored that decision of the Government, and does not pray most earnestly that it will be reversed—as a right, and not merely in cases of especial hardship. But the Motion only takes note—if I may emphasise those words of the other measures announced by the Government on December 1: and yet to some of us, at any rate, those other measures are equally deplorable to those that have been levelled against the pensioners.
Indeed (I say this with all deference to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, because I believe it is true), it is becoming increasingly clear that the whole approach of the Prime Minister to this problem—the attempt to bully the Rhodesians into submission, to proceed against them with all the vigour of the law, to beat them to their knees, to rub their faces in the dirt—has been mistaken from the start. Whether he felt morally justified in taking this line at the start, I do not know; I imagine, of course, that he did. But one thing is certain. In dealing with people of British stock, such action can only be calculated to rally all sections of the Rhodesian people to support their Government. I have confirmatory evidence of this from a letter I received only yesterday from a lady in Rhodesia. I should say that both she and her husband are 154 over seventy, that they have both served their country in two world wars, and that he is crippled as a result. She says:We did not want U.D.I., and did not vote for Mr. Smith's Rhodesia Front. But Mr. Wilson should realise that the more he kicks Rhodesia, the more we will stand together and fight back. In fact, even we "—that is, she and her husband—would vote for Mr. Smith now, but would not have done so four weeks ago. When one has served one's country of birth in two wars, to be treated like this is just not British '.It is all very well for the Prime Minister to brand the Rhodesians as rebels and to claim that that has justified him in taking any measures, however extreme, however oppressive, to compass their destruction. But they do not regard themselves as rebels. They regard themselves as free Britons, fighting for their freedom, and each new twist that he has given to the rack has only strengthened their determination. And so he has been driven to further and further excesses, to measures not directed against the Rhodesian Government, but directed indiscriminately against the Rhodesian people whether or not they agree with Mr. Smith. He started with Rhodesian tobacco and sugar. He put an embargo on the export of them to this country. Those were her main products. Surely that should bring her to heel. He did that—and I personally find this especially insulting— under Regulations which had been brought into being 26 years ago for our fight against Hitler. But it had a completely contrary effect to that which he expected. It only stiffened their attitude.
Then on November 12 he found himself obliged to go further. But even then he thought it wise to give an assurance—I have the words here:We have no other measure in contemplation so far as we are concerned.That is just under a month ago, and yet now, in less than a month, in a desperate effort to make his policy effective, he has gone yet further and put an embargo on asbestos, copper, iron and steel, chromium and a multitude of other things, amounting to 95 per cent. of her products, so that now, as he says proudly in his Statement:We, who were her best market, have virtually ceased trade with her"—though whether this is anything to be proud about, I really do not know.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, can the noble Marquess say when Mr. Wilson, the Prime Minister, has ever said that he was proud of the action he was forced to take?
§ LORD SHEPHERD: That is a different thing.
§ A NOBLE LORD: Nor you.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
No, nor me I quite agree. It only means, after all, that Rhodesia will turn her trade to other countries instead of us, and those countries will be very ready, I can assure your Lordships, to assist over that. I know that the Government tried to prevent such a development by bringing the matter before the United Nations. But surely that, as it has turned out, has only made bad worse. For while we continued to maintain—as the Conservative Party to their credit have—that this is a matter purely between the United Kingdom and Rhodesia, we were in a strong position to resist interference from outside Powers. But by bringing the matter ourselves to UNO, the Government have opened a wide breach in our defences, and through that breach the Afro-Asians have been quick to pour, and are pouring through still.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, does the noble Marquess suggest that if we had not, as the United Kingdom, brought this up at the United Nations, nobody else would have done so?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Somebody else may have done so, but we should have maintained the position. It was a matter entirely between us and Rhodesia, and we gave away that position gratuitously.
Indeed, we are surely beginning to find ourselves in very queer company. There is one country, Tanzania, which has condoned or winked at the massacre of many thousands of Arabs in Zanzibar. There is another country, Ghana, which has treated its Opposition Party so roughly that the Leader of the Opposition, a man held in the highest repute, died in prison in circumstances for which no adequate explanation has ever been given. And 156 none of those countries enjoy the least semblance of democratic government as we understand it here. These are things besides which, I submit, the worst misdeeds of the Rhodesian Prime Minister pale into insignificance. And yet the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who threw such tremendous emphasis on the injustices that were happening in Rhodesia, never mentioned what happened in these other States. In his eyes, therefore, and in the eyes of the Government, too, it appears that these States are still the pattern of all virtues, and Rhodesia alone is the arch criminal. This is indeed a strange position into which we have got.
Where do we go from here? What happens if even these severe measures fail to produce the required results? The Prime Minister has said clearly that there must be no resort to force, and I am sure we were all very glad to hear that. But what do the Government do? I repeat, what do they do if these measures fail, as is indeed possible? It must seem to many of us that they will have shot their bolt. It is not as if there were much other action, outside the realm of trade, that they can still take. A stop, we are told, has already been imposed on practically all the current payments by United Kingdom residents to Rhodesian residents.
Among these, of course—perhaps the most flagrant case—is that of those Service and other pensions due to men and women for services done for their country in the past. Even the Government seem uncomfortable about this, judging by the Amendment which they put down and have now withdrawn, and which made a belated attempt to ride off on that issue. But there are many other payments besides war pensions, payments owing by individuals to individuals, by firms to firms—payments in honour, due to be paid. These, we understand, are all to be held up except—and I quote "for a very limited trade still permitted." Whatever the hardship may be to the individuals concerned, and whether the individuals concerned support or oppose the régime of Mr. Smith, all alike are to be starved out if possible. It is true, we are told that the sums of money involved which, after all, belong not to the Government but to the recipients, are not 157 going to be permanently confiscated—in other words are not going to be stolen from them. Theyare to be held back for the time being, and will be released as soon as constitutional government is restored in Rhodesia.But what if constitutional government is not restored in Rhodesia? What if the present Rhodesian Government, as is quite possible, in spite of all the Government can do, remains in power? Are all the payments to these people, the monies that legally belong to them, to be held up permanently?
And what about the funds of the Rhodesian Reserve Bank which belong to Rhodesia, which are the fruits of Rhodesia's providence and industry: are they to be denied to their proper owners just because of the ipse dixit of the Prime Minister? We hear a great deal about the police state in Rhodesia, and I expect under the stress of the emergency a great many things are being done there of which we should none of us approve. But it seems to me—and here again I feel like the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine—that we are getting very near a Police State here, too. Things are being done which nobody would have considered doing two or three years ago.
If I am told that in putting these questions and expressing these doubts and anxieties, which are not held by me alone but by many thousands, and indeed hundreds of thousands, of people in this country, I am fostering the cause of rebellion, I would reply that I am supporting a cause which was championed in the past, nearly 200 years ago, in circumstances not so very unlike these, by such men as the Younger Pitt and Burke, only they called it by another name—"the cause of freedom ". It would be impertinent to refer to what I am now saying or to whatever any of us says to-day as clarion calls of the type made by those giants, but I am happy to think that our small toot is at any rate sounding the same note.
The Prime Minister once described the present Rhodesian Government as "a clique of small, frightened men". But in fact, my Lords, that Government, which Her Majesty's Government have pursued with such savage persistence, is a Government elected by a vast majority of the electorate of Rhodesia—indeed, a far larger majority than Mr. Wilson has.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Marquess for one moment? He may recollect that only last Wednesday the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, described the Smith Government as an "odious Government".
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, would the noble Earl allow me? I am afraid he misunderstood what I said at the time. I did not take him up then, because the questioning had gone on for a very long time. What I said was that if the sanctions succeeded they would produce a desert in Rhodesia and a moral and political vacuum; if the sanctions failed, they would be liable to foist on Rhodesia an odious Government. In other words, they would drive the present Government to greater and greater extremes. I certainly did not say it was an odious Government now.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
In any case, if I may say so to the noble Earl, his intervention was quite irrelevant. All I said was that the present Government of Rhodesia was elected by a vast majority of the electors of Rhodesia—a far larger majority than Mr. Wilson has himself. And what is more, it was elected under a Constitution approved by, nay, imposed upon them by, the Government of this country, And if Mr. Smith remains in power to-day, it is very largely, I believe, owing to the obduracy and lack of understanding of the present Government of this country.
Surely the time has come, my Lords, to stop slinging mud at the Rhodesians and to begin again to treat them as civilised beings, as indeed they are, and finally try to regain contact with them and see whether a bridge can yet be built from which a settlement of this unhappy dispute can be reached. There may be no personage, I recognise, in the world of politics here who would be of any use for this purpose, for personages of whatever political Parties are viewed with very great suspicion by the Rhodesians to-day. But there may be some person, highly respected, outside the world of politics, who can go out and sound opinion, both inside and outside Mr. Smith's entourage, in all sections of opinion in the country, and from that something might flow, and, at any rate, no harm would be done. If I may, with all diffidence, I should like to 159 put forward that suggestion as an alternative to that already put forward to your Lordships by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton.
In the meantime, my Lords, it is, I believe, our duty to proceed with the more immediate task, which is to scrutinise closely the Motion which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Coleraine and also the Amendment to it which has been tabled from the Government Benches. First, I should like to say a word about the Amendment, though I gather the Government have now decided not actually to move it. Nevertheless, I think one must mention it as presumably it represents Government policy and, after all, if I may say so, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said very little about it in his speech this afternoon.
At first sight, this Amendment may seem moderate and harmless. If I may use an old-fashioned expression, it may look "as if butter would not melt in its mouth". But such an appearance, as is well known, is often deceptive; and that, I am afraid, is so in the present case. There are, I suggest—and this applies to the whole of the Government policy—two serious, even fatal, defects in it. The first relates to the earlier portion which deals with pensions. This, if I may say so, rests on a false premise: to me, at any rate, even on an intolerably false premise. It says.Measures with regard to pensions will be administered with due regard to humanitarian considerations.My Lords, it is extremely nice to know that; but it entirely misses the point. The reason why such violent indignation has been aroused throughout this country by this proposal is not that it is going to be administered harshly; it is that the pensioners have here, under the law, a right to their pensions, and the Government have no right to hold them up. To do that is a breach of faith with the pensioners, and I have never heard yet that for a man to say that for him something is a regrettable necessity has been generally regarded by itself as a valid reason for breaking faith. Nor in this case is it in fact a regrettable necessity; it is merely a question of policy. The Government could easily pay the pensions if they wished.
160 That I believe to be the first defect in the Government Amendment; and the second defect I believe is as serious, or even more serious. The Amendment asks this House to supportthe efforts of Her Majesty's Government to work towards the re-establishment of a constitutional Government in Southern Rhodesia ",but what the Amendment does not say is what these efforts are to be. There are, in fact, as your Lordships know, two types of policy that the Government can employ for this purpose. They could say, "Our attempts to beat Mr. Smith's Government to their knees by the imposition of more and more ferocious sanctions are not having the success we had hoped, It is merely consolidating the whole country behind him. The time has therefore come for us to try different and more gentle methods and to try to come to an agreement with him." That, my Lords, is one way to try to re-establish constitutional government.
But there is another, and very different method, as my noble friend Lord Coleraine has already said, which may equally be what the Amendment had in mind. It is to intensify the sanctions more and more, with the object, as I have said, of beating Rhodesia to her knees, whatever the suffering that may be caused to both Africans and Europeans in that country, and to get rid of the present Rhodesian Government in that way. That is the method which the Government have employed up to now. Do they intend to change it, or do they intend to continue it, however disastrous it may be? That is the essence of the whole matter. That is what we all want to know in this House, to whatever school of thought we may belong; and yet the Amendment told us nothing about that.
I strongly suspect, in view of yet further measures which have been announced this morning, that it is that latter method on which the Government have decided, in which case all they are asking the Opposition to do is to support the latest very heavy sanctions that were announced on December 1, and possibly more to come, although, as I understand it, the Leaders of the Opposition have already expressed the opinion that those measures go too far. We must all admire the dexterity with which this Amendment has been drafted, and I should like to 161 congratulate the draftsman, whoever he be, on the skill with which he has performed his task. But I cannot feel it should commend itself to anyone on this side of the House, or possibly some noble Lords in other parts of the House either. I think, if I may say so with great deference, that the Government are being extremely wise not to move it.
Now I would turn for a moment to my noble friend Lord Coleraine's Motion. I cannot say that I regard even that as perfect. It "takes note"—I again emphasise those words—of a number of measures which many of us feel ought also to be deplored. It bears all the marks of compromise between divergent views. But it does, at any rate, one thing; it does clearly and definitely deplore the Government ban on the payment of war and other pensions. It asks the House in no uncertain voice to say that this is wrong, that it is a denial of pensioners' human rights; and for that reason I hope personally that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, will press his Motion to a Division.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I shall vote for it, and I hope that all those who love justice will do the same.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords, I must begin by apologising to your Lordships for inflicting on you a second speech on the subject of Rhodesia within the space of a couple of weeks. I do so only because of a feeling of desperate anxiety to do what one can, as an individual, to help to find a proper and just solution to the problem that we are debating. I should like to begin, if I may, by adding my plea to your Lordships to those already put to you by my noble and learned friend Lord Dilhorne and my noble friend Lord Swinton, that there should be no Division at the end of this debate. I do so in the interests, as I believe it, of the Europeans, as well as of the Africans of Rhodesia, and of Africa generally.
We who are able to regard the procedure in your Lordships' House with proper sophistication realise that a vote in this House on a private Member's Motion of this sort is merely a personal expression of opinion by those who 162 take part in the Division. But the intricacies of our procedure are not readily understood by Europeans, and even less so by Africans living remotely in Rhodesia. They will regard it as a sign of Party divisions here, and of support by influential figures, who have ranked with honour and influence in our political history in this generation, for the Smith Government. It was precisely what Smith and his group hoped would happen. They acted, in part at any rate, upon the belief that they would find supporters here in the political life in this country, and by dividing counsel here in political Britain would eventually succeed in achieving their purpose of establishing independence under a form of Constitution which appealed to them.
It is against the interests of every European in Africa as well as of Africans as a whole in that country of Rhodesia, that anything should be done which is going to prolong for a day or a week more in power the present Smith régime. It is going to be against the interests of this country that we should be portrayed to the world at large that there is an influential section within our population who, not perhaps properly understanding the issues, are prepared to condone the illegality and unconstitutionality of the action done.
I cannot over-emphasise to your Lordships the extent of the evils for Africa as a whole, and for its European peoples throughout the Continent in particular, that will flow from Smith's action. Legality and constitutional practice are brittle, shallow-rooted things in that Continent. The only security which European communities, I would say right from the Mediterranean to the Cape, have for the future, depends upon the maintenance of constitutional propriety, respect for law, Paliamentary institutions and what we regard as the British system of equity and justice. Once these are eroded, as they have been already in many African countries, the prospects of European communities there are going progressively to decline.
It is not for nothing that letters asking for the early restoration of Rhodesia to constitutional relationships with the United Kingdom have been sent by leaders of British communities in Kenya and Ethiopia. They realise that everything they own and possess there, and 163 perhaps their lives as well, depend upon the maintenance of the forms and practices which we regard as part of our constitutional and legal heritage here in Britain, and which we have left, to a very large extent, in many parts—indeed, the major part—of the African Continent. Once there is an example of a European-based Government such as the Smith Government carrying through a revolution which runs exactly contrary to constitutional practice and established forms of legality, there can be no future prospects of security for those who look to those forms for their safety in the future, indeed, for all the European communities and others in Africa who look towards our leadership for the proper conduct of our affairs.
So far as I can remember, Sir Edgar Whitehead and Lord Malvern, although on occasion they took very strong action against disruptive elements in Southern Rhodesia, always did so within the recognised limits of Parliament and the courts. I remember discussing this on many occasions with Sir Edgar Whitehead when he was considering the action that he required to take. Even in South Africa, although, as I think some of us would feel, they have acted against the spirit of the 1910 settlement, they have always been extremely careful to maintain constitutional forms and to maintain the courts, which stand, even to this day, very high in the scales of judicial integrity in that country. Once a country, and a country in Africa, throws legality overboard, the consequences are going to be endless, and can only in the end bring trouble and ruin to those who are affected by them.
I do not believe that this problem of Rhodesia will be solved by this Christmas or by next Christmas. This is going to be a much more long-drawn-out process than many of us had hoped, and this is the view taken by the present régime. Noble Lords who have spoken earlier in this debate have referred to the hardship which has been inflicted upon certain groups of pensioners by the sanction measures of Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government must speak for themselves in this. But I would remind your Lordships that the actions of Her Majesty's Government derive from the act that was taken by Mr. Smith and his colleagues in making a U.D.I.
164 I think that this present revolutionary movement in Rhodesia is the most irrelevant revolution in history. They have taken on themselves the responsibility for the consequences of their action, and their action will certainly inflict hardships on the Rhodesian people. They have realised that it can only inflict hardship on the Rhodesian people. I happen to know that some weeks before the U.D.I., at a time when the date of that declaration was planned by the Smith Government to be October 23, a committee of civil servants in Salisbury were instructed to plan to absorb up to 10,000 white unemployed which they, the Smith Government of to-day, calculated would lose their jobs as a result of sanctions following U.D.I. This was at a time when Mr. Smith and his colleagues and their propaganda machine were asking the people of Rhodesia to believe that this was going to be a nine-days' wonder, and that they would be able to get through their difficulties without any hardships at all.
I have the same feeling as my noble friend Lord Coleraine, who moved this Motion, about the predicament and attitude of that young man. He is one of the dupes of Smith propaganda. He is one of those who have been led, over a long period of time, to disbelieve everything that comes from this country; to believe that Britain would never act, that it was effete, that it was decadent; to believe that Smith and his colleagues could get away with whatever they wanted, and that they would be able to achieve independence for what it was worth; and were made to believe that that would be the start of a new golden age for Rhodesia. He was led to believe all these things; and only now is he beginning to realise that it was all an illusion. Every effort was made over the period when I served in Rhodesia, and subsequently, to make certain that the burden of this, the responsibility for this, would be placed not only on the shoulders of a Conservative Government, or a Labour Government, but on the shoulders of the British people here.
Over a period of time there are going to be a great many other disillusioned young men, and old men and women, in Rhodesia. For not only did the Smith Government in that time plan for 10,000 European unemployed out of a total 165 population of 220,000, but they also planned, since there is no unemployment pay or National Assistance in Rhodesia, to do two things: to absorb them, presumably, into Government service of various sorts, but also to make certain that they did not do what Rhodesians normally do in these circumstances, leave Rhodesia to find a job elsewhere. They had realised that they could not afford any loss of European manpower. They therefore made plans at the same time to keep these men in the laagar by putting an administrative wall round the country. Whether this will be effective or not remains to be seen, but walls elsewhere have failed.
The people who are likely to be hardest hit by the unemployment that is coming into Rhodesia—you can see it forecast already in to-day's papers—are going to be the artisan class, who form the backbone of the Rhodesia Front organisation. I am talking now about the Europeans. What will happen when they find themselves gradually being depressed in substantial numbers towards what I can only describe as a "poor white" category in the country is anyone's guess, but I have no doubt that they will become more bitter against the Africans. African interests will be regularly subordinated to those of the poorer European. Mutual bitterness and oppression will increase, and from there there can be only one outcome—namely, violence.
This is the price which Smith is costing the people of Rhodesia—decent, hardworking people and, in many cases, people unfamiliar with the complications of world politics. That is the price that he is inflicting upon them. The importance of this is that, although I have said to-day that I believe this is going to last a long time, there is no doubt that every effort should be made by the British Government to ensure that their actions operate on Rhodesia as quickly as possible, and that they are able to give to the people of Rhodesia who are going to be affected by what is happening at the present moment, and will continue over a period of time to be so affected, as my noble friend Lord Swinton said, a clear idea of what will be the conditions after the restoration of constitutional relationship with Her Majesty's Government and with the Crown of Britain. I fear that we cannot now go back, as I once hoped 166 would be possible, the whole distance to the situation which existed on November 10. But we can make clear, in the interests of the deluded people of Rhodesia, what sort of future they will have when they return to legality.
There is one other small group in relation to this matter that I should like to ask the Government to consider. There are not only British pensioners in Rhodesia, but also Rhodesian pensioners here. To my knowldege, some of them gave up their jobs before U.D.I., having served in the Civil Service for a number of years, because they felt that they could not be accomplices to an illegal act, and were doing so because of their loyalty to the Crown and to the values of their home country. Some of them have forfeited their pension rights. They are but few in number, no doubt, but these men have preferred what they and I would regard, and your Lordships will regard, as the path of integrity as against the advantages of sitting on the fence and lending themselves to an illegal act.
I hope that the Government will consider their position. I hope they will also respond to the suggestion made by my noble and learned friend Lord Dilhorne in his speech, that they will look again to see how effective the particular item of pensions is going to be in relation to their general overall policy. I make it quite clear that I am in favour of sanctions, and in favour of effective sanctions. But as the noble and learned Lord Chancellor was speaking, and outlining the way in which these pensions were available—that is, that they could be paid in London—I remembered that one of the reasons which led to the great bitterness between Dutch and British (in 1815, I think) was the fact that the compensation for the slaves freed by the British Act was payable only in London. Memories go back a long way parallels are drawn. We must be effective in applying our policy, in which I believe the Government should be supported, but we must also remember that we are dealing with human beings.
My Lords, I would say one final thing. The speech of my noble friend Lord Salisbury referred exclusively to 220,000 Europeans. Apparently to him—and we know his views, because we have heard them on previous occasions—they are the Rhodesian nation. But they cannot be 167 regarded as the Rhodesian nation when one remembers the 4 million Africans.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I know that the noble Lord was not in the House in those days, but for years I fought for multiracial government in Rhodesia—in fact I was one of the architects of the Central African Federation. Why I say what I now say is that I believe that U.D.I., under somebody—not necessarily under Mr. Smith, but under a perhaps more widely based Administration—is the best chance for the African as well as for the European. I should not like the noble Lord to think that I do not think of the Africans. I fought for them for many years.
§ LORD ALPORT
I accept, of course, what the noble Marquess has said, and I am not alleging anything against him. I am only saying that in his speech he made no conscious reference to the fact that there was anyone in Southern Rhodesia except 220,000 Europeans. But not only are there the Africans who follow Mr. Nkomo. There are also Africans moderate, sensible, responsible men—who have not given political support directly but who find themselves in close friendship and understanding with the present African Opposition in what I presume is still the Parliament. I know what their views are. They are these. "We can", they say, "endure twelve months of relative hardship. What we cannot contemplate is ten, twenty, thirty years as third-class people under a racial supremicist régime". I beg of your Lordships—and this refers particularly to my noble friend Lord Coleraine —when deciding what action to take at the end of this debate, to remember that by taking the wrong action, by dividing the House, by pressing this Motion to a vote, we can damage the interests not only of Europeans but of Africans as well.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I know that your Lordships will give your usual consideration to one who is to-day speaking for the first time in your Lordships' House. I have been for but a short time a Member of your Lordships' House, a place so respected everywhere. I know this from having spent many years of my life in the Colonial Service overseas, 168 meeting with races of all nationalities, people who discuss our history, our ancient traditions, and our institutions, including your Lordships' House. I should have preferred to wait a little longer before embarking on a maiden speech, particularly as I know my beloved father would have preferred me to wait; but what compels me to speak to-day is the events with which we are faced and my conscience in these matters.
I am a pensioner of Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service. I served in the Colonial Service for thirty years, and it was only a few years ago that my active life in the country in which I served abroad ceased, but I still write to people in those territories overseas, and among my friends are many Malayans and members of the races of other countries. I want to say a word or two about pensions, as I consider this matter to be an extremely important one. The pensions of retired civil servants stand in a very special category. An officer on first appointment is on probation for three years. The authorities wish to make quite certain that he is in every way, by his ability, his conduct, and his character, a suitable person to be taken on to the pensionable establishment. It is only when all these conditions are satisfied that a recommendation is made to the Colonial Office for that officer to be included in the pensionable establishment. I should like to make a distinction here, for this is different from any other form of pension. It is not an automatic old-age pension: it is a pension for which an officer must qualify by loyal and efficient service.
What is the effect of pensionable status? A young officer, be he civil servant, school teacher or engineer, electing to serve his country overseas, accepts a smaller salary than he might get in industry for what he sincerely believes to be the security of a pension. Therefore he is not in a position to save very much for difficult times, for a rainy day. By colonial regulations, to which he must subscribe, he is not allowed to have shares in industry in the country in which he is serving lest his private interests might bring him into conflict with his public duties. Pecuniary embarrassment, from whatever cause, is held to affect an officer's efficiency.
169 He is required to carry out the policies of Her Majesty's Government loyally and to give effect to them throughout his career whether he agrees with such policies or not, no matter what Government are in power. Failure to abide by any of these regulations could involve an officer in dismissal or loss of pension. I hope that I have made it clear that to be abroad in the Colonial Service is a dedicated career, and that a high standard of conduct and integrity is required for the security of a pension. Financial rewards which might be higher in industry or in another career are something which he must forgo.
What are the facts in Rhodesia as we know them to-day? It has been reported that there are 2,273 British pensioners in Rhodesia whose pensions are affected by the proposals of Her Majesty's Government. In regard to pensioners affected in the category which I have described—that is to say, ex-servants of the Crown—there are 116 of them in Rhodesia, including 14 who are widows. The action of the Government so far has been to deprive these pensioners of the supplements to which they are entitled under the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1962, and will be entitled under the Pensions (Increase) Bill which is now before Parliament. What have these loyal ex-servants of the Crown done to deserve this treatment?
The Prime Minister has stated that the Government will look into cases of individual hardship. How is this to be done, thousands of miles away from this country; and what is the basis upon which hardship is to be judged? How long would it take to rectify various difficulties? British Governments have always adhered to the principle that the pensioner must look to the Government he served for his pension. Nobody in Rhodesia can now be sure that he will get his pension, for overseas Governments which pay pensions may well follow the British Government's lead and apply sanctions against these innocent people. May I suggest that the pensions of loyal ex-servants of the Crown are sacrosanct, and that those who have loyally served their country should not be made to suffer because of a dispute between this country and the Government in a country to which they have retired.
170 In the last war, Colonial Government servants, now pensioners of the Crown, lived up to the finest traditions of the Service. We were savagely attacked by the Japanese in Malaya in 1941, and in five weeks the country was overrun. The Governor and High Commissioner, the late Sir Shenton Thomas, ordered all officers to remain at their posts. No officer disobeyed those orders. At the surrender, we were made to march twelve miles to Changi gaol, and for four years 2,000 of us were incarcerated in a prison designed to hold 600 convicts. I shall never forget the English nursing sisters, now pensioners, marching into that gaol between their Japanese guards, with their heads held high and singing at the top of their voices a song popular at that time, "There'll always be an England".
It is people of this stature and character whose welfare we consider to-day. It surely cannot be beyond our capacity to see that administrative arrangements are made, not only to safeguard the pensions of retired loyal servants of the Crown living in Rhodesia, but also to make certain that they receive, as well as their pensions, the supplements to which they are entitled. It is morally right to do this. I would submit that to do otherwise, to interfere with pensions or deprive loyal servants of the Crown of their pensions, is completely indefensible.
I hope, therefore, that the Government will rectify these matters. "They have been under great pressure these past few weeks, and obviously it is only too easy for mistakes to be made. Somewhere, somehow, reconciliation with Rhodesia must be attempted. The name of this country still counts for something in this world, provided that we stand for things that matter. We have to start talks with someone in Rhodesia sooner or later. Let us be careful of our acts, so as not to exasperate opinion out there by any action which might lead moderate opinion to side with Mr. Smith. He has offered to pay pensioners who may suffer at the hands of the British Government, but I know that pensioners out there would prefer to be paid in the normal way.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, my first and very pleasant duty must, I am sure, be to offer the universal congratulations of your Lordships to my noble friend Lord Gridley who has just 171 delivered his maiden speech. It gives me particular pleasure to do this, because for many, many years in another place I knew his father, and I am sure that if he had been here to-day he would have been very proud of the maiden speech which has just been delivered by his son. I am sure that we all hope to hear him often; and perhaps I may add that the intimate knowledge with which he spoke of pensioners should bear great weight with us.
Earlier on in this debate it was said that the discussion had gone very much outside the terms of the Motion. I say this with some humility, but as an ex-Deputy Speaker in another place I should have found it extremely difficult to restrict this debate on a Motion which takes note of economic measures, which goes on to refer to pensions, talks about a serious departure from policy for the Government, and finishes up with a reference to problems being resolved by negotiation. I think it would be virtually impossible to restrict the debate on this Motion purely to the question of pensions. Having said that, I do not wish to detain your Lordships for very long, because I too, like my noble friend Lord Alport, have inflicted some remarks about Rhodesia on your Lordships on a previous occasion, and I do not want to repeat what I said then.
I have always taken the line that this unfortunate situation in which we find ourselves is partly our fault, and that we should bear that in mind when we are considering what we should do in future. I do not think it can be denied that for some years now Rhodesians have seen Britain constantly shifting her ground, as a result of pressure from the Afro-Asian group. Indeed, one of the reasons why the Africans in Rhodesia, having agreed to the 1961 Constitution, refused to take part in it was that they thought they could get much quicker advancement by going behind the Constitution to Her Majesty's Government. I think they were to some extent entitled to that view, and it bears out what I have said previously: that Great Britain has not for any length of time stuck to one particular theme with regard to Africa. That is one of the factors which enabled the Smith régime to obtain power. However, I developed that argu- 172 ment before, and I am not going on with it now.
I want to come to what has happened since the U.D.I. In the space of four weeks we have seen a complete shift of Government policy. We have gone from the announcement of sanctions which were not penal, would cause no pain and were not vindictive, to the most punitive, penal and vindictive sanctions that one can imagine. There is the treatment of the pensioners which has already been discussed, there is the fact that 95 per cent. of the trade with Rhodesia is to be stopped, there are the financial measures and the rest of it. As I say, in a matter of weeks the Government have completely shifted their ground from what they were saying on November 12. Really, who is to trust the word of the British Government from one minute to the next in these matters if that can happen?
Here, I want to ask a particular question. I gave notice to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, that I was going to raise this matter, but, as I am speaking out of turn, through a private arrangement with my noble friend Lord Colyton. I did not necessarily expect him to be here.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
I am grateful to the noble Lord. I want to refer to what was said in both Houses of Parliament on December 1 on the subject of military intervention in Rhodesia. In the House of Commons, at column 1438, Mr. Heath inquired of the Prime Minister:I ask the Prime Minister to say that, whatever other things he may have in mind, it is not his intention to use British Forces to invade Rhodesia". [OFFICIAL, REPORT (Commons), Vol. 721 (No. 17).]That was the question specifically put by Mr. Heath. The Prime Minister replied:This is of the utmost importance, but I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman the assurance for which he asked, … (col. 1439.)In other words, the Prime Minister came out absolutely flat that he would not give an assurance that British Forces would not be used to invade Rhodesia. Almost simultaneously in your Lordships' House (and I quote from column 1274 of the Hansard of your Lordships' House of 173 December 1) my noble friend Lord Dilhorne said, referring to the noble Earl, Lord Longford:… I am grateful again to the noble Earl for his explanation, but he has not given the pledge for which I asked him—namely, that the troops we are sending to Zambia will not be used against Rhodesia. I did ask him to give that pledge ".And the noble Earl, Lord Longford, replied (col. 1274):My Lords, I give an absolutely firm pledge that they will not be used for any offensive purpose against the Rhodesians ".I am perfectly certain that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, gave that answer in absolute good faith; but it was given at practically the same time the Prime Minister was giving a different answer in another place.
My Lords, what are the Rhodesians, or anybody else, to believe when they are told, "You need not worry; you have only to trust us. You can go on as long as you like under the 1961 Constitution "? And even the noble Lord who sits upon the Woolsack said he could not understand why they did not take that from him. I am perfectly certain that he said that in good faith, but so much has happened in the past, and so much is happening now on which they cannot know where they stand, that we have reached the stage when any statement made by the British Government is suspect. It is a terrible thing to say, but that is the stage that we have reached, and it is half responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. When the noble Earl, Lord Longford, comes to reply, I should like to know which answer is the correct one, the one that was given in the Commons or the one that he gave. No doubt he will deal with the point.
May I now come to the effect of these swingeing sanctions which have just been imposed? I am one of those who, like my noble friend Lord Coleraine and others, believe that the only effect they have will be to add support to Mr. Smith—and I will tell your Lordships why. I think the Government are making exactly the same mistake with the Rhodesians as Hitler made with us in 1940. Hitler then thought that his sanctions would topple the Churchill Government—and how wrong he was ! Perhaps I might remind your Lordships of what the late Sir Winston Churchill said at that time. Hitler had boasted that he 174 would wring our necks like a chicken. Churchill went to Canada, I think it was, repeated that statement and said:Some chicken—some neck !It is my belief that the Government will find exactly the same with the Rhodesians, because they are our people. They are of the same stock as ourselves, and they will react in exactly the same way. I believe that in this effort to topple the Smith Government the adoption of swingeing sanctions will have precisely the reverse effect. There will probably he some defectors—of course there will—but in the main the Rhodesians will react exactly as we did in 1940 in the case of Hitler's sanctions.
§ VISCOUNT STUART OF FINDHORN
My Lords, will my noble friend allow me to intervene for one moment, as an old friend? And he has referred to the fact of his position as a former Deputy Speaker of the other place. Reading the terms of this Motion, I thought that we had come here to debate war pensions, and whether the Government were right or wrong in dealing with the pensioners in Rhodesia in the way they are doing. It seems to me, however, we are ranging over the whole field. I do not know whether there are any Rules of Order, or whether my noble friend is speaking to the Motion.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
I do not think my noble friend heard me. I think he came in only after I had started my speech.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
I beg my noble friend's pardon. Then I think he cannot have understood what I am driving at. In my view, the terms of the Motion are so wide that we can talk about almost anything; but perhaps we must agree to differ over that.
To resume what I was saying, I believe that the present measures of the Government are going to produce precisely the opposite effect to that which is desired. Your Lordships may say, "So what?" Of course, if swingeing sanctions are continued they can bring Rhodesia to her knees. It will take some time, because of the attitude which I have just stated; but of course 50 million people can 175 crush 220,000, if they are prepared to go on. But, what happens at the end of it? I should hope that most people in this country would be filled with shame. But there is another alternative, and that is to resume contacts with the de facto Government in Rhodesia. I will say this to your Lordships, although you may well not agree with me: that if you reject, as I do, these methods of destroying Rhodesia (which you will have to do in order to get rid of the Smith régime), then you must be prepared to resume contacts with the de facto Government, the Smith régime, in Rhodesia. And I believe that most people in this country would far rather see that happen than see Rhodesia destroyed in order to keep Ghana in the Commonwealth.
My Lords, what I fervently wish would come about is that we in this country would say, "Look; we have made a mess of it", and that the Smith régime would say, "We have made a mess of it, too; we ought never to have made an illegal U.D.I." If only both sides were big enough to climb down, we could resume negotiations and get somewhere; and that is what I most fervently pray may happen. It could perhaps happen by the visit of a more or less independent body, perhaps not composed entirely of Parliamentarians, to Rhodesia. But we are going to get into the position that either we shall destroy Rhodesia or we shall have to resume communications with the Smith Government. That is the conclusion to which I have come.
In my final words, what about this Motion? If it is taken to a Division—and I imagine it will be—I shall certainly support it. I really do not see how one can possibly quarrel with a Motion which deplores the way in which pensioners have been treated. I cannot see, particularly after the speech of my noble friend who has just sat down, what anybody could do other than to deplore the mean way in which they have been treated. The last sentence of the Motion affirms thebelief that at the end of the day the problems relating to Southern Rhodesia can only be resolved by negotiationand not by force. How can one vote against that? Therefore, if the Motion is put to this House I shall support it; and 176 I would invite as many noble Lords as possible in all parts of the House to do the same. I believe that if the Rhodesians can see that there are, at least, some friends in this country who are not prepared to take the course of destroying their country, we are more likely to get some way with reasonable negotiations.
§ THE EARL OF LINDSEY AND ABINGDON
My Lords, I decided only in the late hours of last night to speak on this extremely explosive and controversial subject. The reason for this is that this unfortunate affair has occupied my mind for the last two months. I look upon Southern Rhodesia as my second home. Though I was not born there, I lived as well as in South Africa for thirteen years of the earlier part of my life, most of which was spent on my father's farm. That was some time ago, and times have changed, but I still have a lot of Rhodesian friends whom I meet when they come to this country and with whom I still correspond. The impression that I get is (if I may use the phrase) that they are not "with it". This disturbs me. One has only to read the newspapers to realise their complete and utter disregard of what the outside world thinks. Moreover, from the Rhodesians I have talked to, I get the impression that that country is now as England must have been forty years ago.
My Lords, we have to persuade them to think in modern terms. I have given this matter a great deal of thought and I do not think that sanctions are the answer. I hope the noble Lord opposite who is to follow me will not be too kind about my speech, and I hope that he will be able to persuade me that his argument is the correct one. From my earlier experience of living in Rhodesia and of knowing the people there, both European and African, I have discerned their indisputable loyalty to themselves. I cannot help feeling that the effect of outside pressures will only be to push them into a tight little clique. I feel they will resolutely go on fighting the economic consequences of sanctions or any other influence which we can bring on them. They will fight to the bitter end.
§ A NOBLE LORD: My Lords, may I—177
§ THE EARL OF LINDSEY AND ABINGDON
My Lords, what then are we to do instead of imposing sanctions? At this late hour I think there is one alternative; that is, to reopen negotiations. My position is this. I do not support the U.D.I. I was horrified when it was declared. I could not believe that the Rhodesian Government could be quite so stupid and narrow-minded as to declare But I still have a certain amount of reservations on both sides. I do not know the full story. I have read as much as I can on this situation and I think the only way to reconciliation is to reopen negotiations. But, my Lords, with whom? With Mr. Smith; or with somebody else, possibly a more liberal-minded person who might come forward?
I am going to finish by saying that I think that, with sanctions, it is going to be Mr. Smith who will wish to negotiate. I think there is nothing new in the British Government negotiating with rebels—the only difference with this one is that he has a white skin !
I will not keep your Lordships much longer. I am very glad that I have been able to speak to-day because I wanted to get this "off my chest". I hope I have not been too controversial. To sum up, I would say that I think gentle persuasion is the answer. I feel that the Government's idea of establishing a radio transmitter in Bechuanaland is likely to have even more effect on the Rhodesians than imposing sanctions and curtailing the pensions of the unfortunate people there.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I am sure the House will observe in the noble Earl a worried man—not worried in the sense that he had to come to this august House and make a maiden speech, but worried as we all are in regard to Rhodesia. We very much appreciate the way in which he expressed his fears and doubts. Whether I am able to settle some of them we shall have to wait and see; but I think I can say to the noble Earl on behalf of the Members of this House, that we give him a great welcome here and look forward to his coming here and speaking again. If I may say so, he set a very good example to all of us in the brevity and conciseness of his speech.
The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, also gave us a maiden speech. He is (or was, 178 I am informed) a colonial civil servant, and is now in receipt of a pension. The noble Lord has served in Rhodesia. Again, I am sure the House will feel that they have listened to a speech of very great sincerity. It struck a chord of sympathy in all our hearts in regard to the question of pensions which are due to loyal civil servants. In a few moments I should like to answer some of the points the noble Lord made and also some that were made earlier in the debate.
If I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the last time we heard him speaking was in a debate on a similar subject. Since then he has seen the sunshine of Australia and, with a degree of envy, I suppose, all Members of your Lordships' House will welcome him back—although no doubt he will feel sorry that he finds himself having to speak and wind-up on the same subject. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, referred to this debate as having taken a curious course. We had on the Order Paper the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and we had also an Amendment in the name of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. My noble and learned friend indicated at the end of his speech that he did not intend to move his Amendment. It is always open to the Government and to all Members to decide, on reflection, whether they should or should not move either an Amendment or a Motion.
My noble Leader decided that, since this sorry episode has started and since we seem to have been able to keep the three Parties, and I think public opinion generally, in broad agreement (perhaps there might have been a degree of criticism here and there, from one side that we were going too fast and from the other that we were not doing enough) and moving forward, it would be wrong, in the interests of the British Parliament, of the Commonwealth, of Africa and of the world, to force an unnecessary Division. It might have been a Division, as was suggested, on the question of whether a "t" had been crossed or an "i" dotted. It is not always possible to frame a Motion or an Amendment which embraces all the views of all Members of your Lordships' House. This is a case where it was not possible to do so, and we felt that it would be wrong for 179 a Division to occur in your Lordships' House, the reason for which would have been understood by every Member of the House but misunderstood in quarters elsewhere where it really matters.
I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who said that we should not give any comfort to Mr. Smith. A Division in your Lordships' House (this is not a debate taking place at a university teach-in or in some village hall; this is the Upper House of the British Parliament) would be a message of comfort to Mr. Smith and an indication to Africa and Asia of weakness on the part of Britain. I should not like to hazard, no one could hazard, what would be the consequences of such an action. Therefore, although it may seem a strange thing to do, the Government, having tabled an Amendment, decided not to move it. It was done for the sake of retaining the broad unanimity which exists. While recognising the different views which exist and the small points of criticism, we felt that we should keep that broad unanimity and I believe that we were right.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, made one of his speeches which we all enjoy. It was full of punch and vigour. But I think that the noble Marquess showed the weakness of his case when he had to say that a Police State was appearing in this country. I am quite sure that the noble Marquess is not aware of the measure, in which my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has taken such an interest, for the provision of a Parliamentary Commissioner to act as a watchdog for the general public to prevent any abuses occurring within the State machine. I think that the noble Marquess over-stated his case, particularly when he said that Mr. Smith had a greater reputation in Rhodesia than Mr. Wilson—
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The one is true. Mr. Smith received, I believe, 60 per cent. of the votes of the known electorate. But the noble Marquess will know that the electorate that voted for him represent only 1.8 per cent. of the people of Rhodesia. My Lords, when we are talking in this situation, we are not thinking 180 of white Rhodesians, or black Rhodesians; we are thinking of Rhodesians as a whole.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord, but the Minister himself said that those others to whom he referred were not ready to vote, to-day or tomorrow.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I am not aware of that. What we have said, and I propose to come to it, is that the Government do not accept at this stage, at this time, that there should be one man, one vote. The noble Marquess himself recognises that, because I believe it is the general policy of the three main political Parties that there should be an unimpeded progress towards majority rule. For the noble Marquess to suggest that Mr. Smith is in such a dominating position, when he commands only 1.8 per cent. of the votes of the whole of the Rhodesian people, is, I think, an exaggeration.
I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and the noble Marquess, and to other noble Lords who have expressed views with regard to colour, that I have been a white immigrant. For twelve years I lived in a British Colony, which was later a Commonwealth country, as a white immigrant. During that period I heard voiced the same feelings of fear and regret as have been expressed this afternoon, not only from whites, but in Singapore from Malays in relation to Chinese, and in Malaya from Chinese in relation to Malays. All Governments have tried to create a basis on which minorities, whether political, racial or religious, may have a voice.
I remember a debate on Malta which took place two years ago. We were particularly exercised then about giving equality and rights in respect of religion, and we have always felt this to be necessary. On occasions we may have not been successful, but I do not think that we need fear any criticism of what has been done within the British Commonwealth. Mistakes and errors have been made, but they were not of our making. We have done our best. I am quite sure that eventually, when all the passions have died, men of different colours can live together in peace, harmony and co-operation— and I stress the word, "cooperation"—because we know that for 181 many years to come Africa will need the assistance of Europeans, not only in respect of capital, but for their skill and knowledge. I believe that this is possible. I have seen it happen in countries in which I have lived and in which I have had interests.
I suppose that when the issue of U.D.I. arose there were two courses of action open to Her Majesty's Government. They could have taken no action at all, and accepted it. That, I think, is the view of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. But does the noble Lord really believe that countries in Africa and Asia, and other countries which we know are only too anxious to stir up muddy waters, would not have intervened?
§ LORD COLERAINE
I do not think that the noble Lord is justified in saying that I would have accepted that. I would have resisted the declaration so far as possible, but when it came I would have thought how best to meet the new situation. I would have thought that the best way to meet this situation was to play it slow and get to a position to be able to negotiate as quickly as possible, and not to rush into all this quickly, with all this offensive talk.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I am glad of the noble Lord's intervention, because one thing has been clarified. He is not one of those who would have done nothing. Those of us who have studied the situation know that if we had failed to act, then all the muddied water would have been stirred up and we should have had a cauldron bubbling in Africa in which no white man's life would have been safe. If we accept that we had to take action, it had to be either military or economic. Wisely and rightly, we have turned our hacks on the use of military force. We turned to the only other sanction available to us to bring the illegal régime in Rhodesia back to constitutional government—that was, economic sanctions. The noble Lord said that we should have treated them lightly.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
We made our position clear to Mr. Smith, both privately and publicly. If we had failed to react on November 11 and had done little or 182 nothing, what would have been the effect, not only in Rhodesia but also in Africa? It would have been said that the British Government did not intend to act at all to meet the solemn obligation which they gave at the Prime Ministers' Conference and outside.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
We put on these sanctions. The noble and learned Viscount said that they have failed. The sanctions of November 11 were to have a psychological effect immediately, while their effect in terms of economics would have been long-term, but applying with increasing force. Those noble Lords who have said that we should have left it at that must realise that in twelve or eighteen months' time Rhodesia would have been the economic desert that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, referred to the other day. If we allow an economy to die slowly and rot, it becomes infinitely more difficult to resurrect it and relieve all the difficulties and hardships. The Government have taken the view, particularly because we have had information, certainly from letters I have received, that Mr. Smith merely laughed at the economic sanctions we had imposed on November 11, that further action was necessary.
The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, asked whether this action arose from the United Nations resolution. It is not for me to say whether that had an effect, but we were conscious of world opinion. We decided to take further trade measures. We have eliminated purchases from Rhodesia to a total of 95 per cent., but this will take some time to be effective. Therefore the Government thought it right to increase the number of financial measures announced on November 11. One of these has raised a considerable amount of debate this afternoon. On December 1, the Government decided to ban for the time being all payments of salaries, pensions, interest and dividends. This was not done in any spirit of vindictiveness against the people of Rhodesia. The object of a trade embargo is to deny to the Rhodesians foreign exchange—that is, British sterling. We have already stopped the flow of capital from this country into Rhodesia.
I think that I should say this seriously to the House, particularly to those who 183 cry against the severe economic measures: that if these measures fail we shall have an increased demand at the United Nations and from world opinion for other measures to be taken. What is more serious is that Parliament and the Government have decided that the Rhodesian situation should remain a British responsibility. If we fail in these measures, how long can we retain this as a British responsibility? I think your Lordships must face up to this. I do not believe that there is any Member of your Lordships' House who wishes to see the Rhodesian situation taken out of British responsibility.
I must say strongly and sincerely to the House that the economic measures which the Government have taken have been taken to bring home to the people of Rhodesia that, as an illegal régime, unrecognised by all nations except South Africa and Portugal, they have no economic hope for the future. It is hard to say to a person who is being treated harshly that it is for his own good, but this is for Rhodesia's own good, because there is no future for Rhodesia as an illegal régime. Therefore it is right that this country, wishing to retain this as a British responsibility, should take such action to bring home their position to the Rhodesians.
The noble and learned Viscount asked me what statutory authority the Government had used to deal with pensions, interest and dividends. The statutory authority is the Exchange Control Act, 1947. Pensions fall into various parts: those of the military forces are under Royal Warrant and payment is permissive; Civil Service pensions are also permissive, but teachers' pensions are mandatory. Under the Exchange Control Act, it is possible for these funds to be held in suspension but, as the Government have already indicated, so soon as Rhodesia returns to constitutional government, these funds will be paid. I would stress that this is a question of denying valuable sterling to the Rhodesian authorities. I understand that these pensions represent a payment of some £500,000 a year. At the moment, this is a sizeable amount.
To meet the question put by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, in 184 regard to further action on pensions, I would say this. We recognise the point, and we sympathise with the concern that has been expressed this afternoon from all quarters. The Government are anxious to find an adequate scheme that will ensure that no hardship will be caused. Urgent consideration is being given to the administration procedures that are involved. But, as the noble Viscount knows, as Chief Whip I cannot speak with any special authority as to what might be the future attitude of the Government in the line of the noble Viscount's speech. But what I will say to him is this. I will see tomorrow that a copy of his speech, and that of any other noble Lord who has spoken in this matter, and particularly of the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, are handed to the highest authority in the British Government. I hope that will satisfy the noble Viscount.
But I would say this to him. There is not one of us on this Front Bench who is not aware of the hardships that can arise. I am quite sure the Government were aware of these when the sanction was imposed. This and other measures—the denying of dividends and the denying of interests, which can be equally hard on old or retired people—one has to put into line as to what is the long-term objective or the short-term objective in the light of hardship of men and women who by other measures will suffer unemployment.
Then there was the point, made again by the noble and learned Viscount, in regard to postal orders. I did not gather whether the person concerned was a friend of his, but if he is in contact with the individual perhaps he might like to know that the sending of postal orders to Rhodesia has been suspended under the Exchange Control Act 1947; but if the individual wishes to send £50 or less to Rhodesia he is free to do so through any bank.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
I shall be speaking later, of course, and I only mention this for clarification. I am not sure 185 that I understood perfectly what the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack said about this matter. I understood him to say that there was some arrangement between bankers. I did not hear mention of this from the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. Could he perhaps clarify or amplify what the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack said?
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I must admit that I had my mind on something else when my noble friend was speaking—noble Lords may laugh, but it is understandable in a long debate—but if the noble Lord would give me his point before he speaks. I will certainly see that a reply is made by my noble friend who is to wind up.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
It is not my point, but the Lord Chancellor's point, that money would be paid into Barclays Bank in England, and the pensioner could draw from Barclays Bank in Salisbury. I find that difficult to understand. I was asking for amplification or clarification of that point.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I am grateful to the noble Lord. My noble friend Lord Longford has said that he will reply to the point when he winds up the debate. As I say, I did not hear what my noble and learned friend said, and I think it would be wrong for me to answer the point without having heard what was said.
May I say one last thing. I think it was the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who said it was the intention of the Government to beat the Rhodesians to their knees. This is far from the truth. What we wish to see is Rhodesia returning to the Commonwealth and returning to constitutional rule. There is no question of surrender. The moment the Rhodesian people are willing to return to constitutional rule, then all the measures that we have put in force—the economic and financial matters—can be raised immediately.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, is not that rather like an attacker saying to a man, "You can get out of your unpleasant position easily. I will not strangle you if you give in to my demands. If you will not give in to my demands, I will strangle you."? That is what I call beating somebody to their knees.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The noble Marquess is surely aware that Mr. Smith and his friends have taken an illegal action. Whether the noble Marquess sympathises with it or not, the point is that they have taken an illegal action. When they return back to legality, when they are prepared to work under the agreed Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, then all the economic measures, both financial and trade, can be raised immediately. I must say to the noble Marquess that the sooner they do this, the less damage is going to be caused to the Rhodesian economy, for the Europeans and the Africans alike.
It would be wrong for Rhodesia to believe that the British Government in any way lacks determination to see that Rhodesia comes back within the Commonwealth and comes within constitutional rule. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has indicated that the Government are willing to receive representations, through the Governor, by Mr. Smith. Others in Rhodesia are free to do the same. There is no closed door at Downing Street, through the Governor. We are willing to listen; we are willing to find a solution. There is not one member of the British Government, nor, I am sure, of the British Parliament, who wishes to see an economic desert. The choice lies entirely with Mr. Smith and the Rhodesians.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Lord must understand that these people think they are fighting for their freedom. You are saying that the British Government will strangle them unless they give up their demands. That is the clear position. You say that they are doing something illegal; they say they are fighting for their freedom, just as the American colonies did two hundred years ago.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
The noble Marquess seems to get this wrong. The whites appear to be fighting for their freedom. They have no regard at the moment, it appears, for the freedom of Rhodesians as a whole.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
How on earth can the noble Lord say that? Will he explain it? He knows perfectly well that the policy of the Rhodesian Government, and of every Government in that country, has been gradually to 187 train the African up to majority rule. The point is the pace at which it goes. The noble Lord must not say that they are against any form of majority rule. It is not true.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, may I ask one question? Could the noble Lord somewhat help the situation by giving an answer to a question that has already been asked by my noble friend Lord Swinton? When he says "return to a constitutional position", does that mean to the Constitution of 1961; and if it means to that Constitution as amended, how amended? I think it must make a great difference to any reasonable, moderate person in Rhodesia to know what is the Constitution to which he is being asked to return.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I would reply to the noble Lord in this way. The 1961 Constitution is still in being. There is a general recognition, I think, in all quarters that the Constitution would need to be revised to ensure certain protections for the majority people who are to-day in an unfavourable position compared with their white brothers in Rhodesia. I do not think it right for any of us to go into any specific detail as to what the new Constitution should be.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, may I interrupt? This was my proposal, and it was accepted by a great part of the House as a practicable solution. My proposition is this. People in Rhodesia really do not know where they stand. The Government say, "We are prepared to come to an agreement with anybody of reason, including Mr. Smith." What I put—and I do not want to spell out the details now—simply in order that everybody in Rhodesia may know exactly where he stands, is, will the Government say what are the Amendments to the 1961 Constitution which would be necessary in order for them to accept that as a settlement? I do not ask for the details, but I do ask for an undertaking from the Government that they will do that.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Earl for the contribution he has made. He recognises that I could not answer in detailed terms. That is what I was trying to say to the noble Lord, Lord Salter. But I will certainly see that the point he has made is conveyed to the Prime Minister, and perhaps my noble friend the Leader of the House may be able to say a few words this evening. I recognise that the people of Rhodesia should have a clearer understanding. I should have thought that the Government had made their position as clear as communications make it possible.
I am afraid I have spoken a great deal too long, but I want to say this in conclusion, because this is the theme with which I started. This is a very important debate. A decision may be taken this evening which could have very serious effects in Africa and Rhodesia. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, will agree not to press his Motion to a Division, in the same spirit that the Government have decided not to move their own Amendment. There are words in that Motion to which we could agree. Certainly we should wish to see negotiations and conciliation; but the noble Lord in his speech gave us very little idea of the type of negotiation and conciliation he had in mind. My only idea of what he had in mind was the Motion he placed on the Order Paper the other day—negotiation between Her Majesty's Government and the de facto Government of Rhodesia. If that was understood in Africa, great difficulties would arise, and many of our friends in Rhodesia, Liberals at heart, would be very disillusioned. This debate will, I suppose, go on for quite a few hours yet. We shall all have the opportunity to express our views frankly and clearly. It will be within ourselves; we shall understand what we are saying, and we shall understand the man who is saying it. It is not so when it is read outside. In these circumstances, I would appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, because I do not believe he would wish to see the things that might occur if Africa felt in any way that Britain was prepared to weaken its resolve in bringing Rhodesia back to the Commonwealth.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, may I express the satisfaction it gave me that the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, should be making his maiden speech to-day? I knew his father in two Houses of Parliament, and I am very pleased that he has come to join us and speak here. May I say the same for the noble Earl, Lord Lindsey and Abingdon —not that I knew his predecessors. I was moved by his speech, and I want, if I may, to ask your Lordships a question which he was too modest to ask. Your Lordships will have noticed that he spent thirteen years in Rhodesia. How many others among us have spent thirteen days South of the Zambesi, I wonder? We should bear this in mind when we talk about this country so far away, and so difficult to understand.
With regard to the Motion on the Paper in the name of my noble friend Lord Coleraine, I want to say the briefest word about the economic aspects, and then to say a little more about war pensions. On the economic aspect, I will say that Lord Shepherd did his best to reduce the temperature and to make it appear that we are all friends and brothers in this House. No doubt we are, in some ways, but the differences are not just the crossing of a "t" or a dotting of an "i" (those were his words, I think), nor can they be so easily resolved by the argument that if you vote in this House you will upset the whole of Africa. I do not believe it for one moment. I think we pay too much attention to the Afro-Asian group, to the United Nations, and to what is called world opinion. We should do far better to manage our own affairs.
My last word on the general question is this. I apprehend that Britain will lose—I repeat, lose—this cold war with Rhodesia. The reason she will lose it will be either that she will give way in time, or else she will go on for so long that she loses her pound and her own balance of payments here in Britain, and will then be unable to finish the job. I think Mr. Smith and his de facto Government will "sweat it out". I think they will be successful. As I shall say at the end of my brief remarks, it will therefore be my hope that we shall start talking, and talking soon.
190 Now regarding war pensions, I should like to ask some specific questions which I hope the noble Earl may be able to answer later. Have we withdrawn from the disabled ex-Servicemen in Rhodesia the services they have hitherto enjoyed as regards limb fitting and hospitalisation? Such men are supposed to have such services rendered to them by the Ministry of Pensions as a right. Have we withdrawn it, or have we withdrawn money to pay for it? That is a specific question. I have looked up the War Pensions Warrant. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said that many of these payments were made under different kinds of arrangements, and the war pensions are paid by Royal Warrant which he said was permissive. I have looked up the Royal Warrant, and I found that a war pension may be refused to a borstal boy or young man, to someone in a remand home, to a prisoner, and to a person who has been deported from this country or not allowed to enter it. Are those the categories in which we now place the Rhodesians who fought alongside us in two wars? No other persons are barred from receiving their war pensions, so far as I know. Those are the categories against whom the cruel deprivation can he exercised of taking away their wound pension: no other categories.
Now the ex-Service people in this country, and all those who have represented them from time to time, have looked upon the war pension as being payable as an inalienable right. The idea that it is permissive has long ago fallen into desuetude: the idea that it is paid at pleasure—I hardly dare say "the Queen's pleasure". It is an inalienable right, subject to appeals to a court of which the noble and learned Lord Chancellor is very well aware, and, on legal points, to the courts of the land. Therefore it goes back on the tradition of twenty years or more that it should now be pleaded to be permissive. Indeed, it is an offensive, hurtful suggestion to every war pensioner in these islands, and all others all over the world, and I ask that it be completely withdrawn.
Before I say what exactly I ask, let me now deal with exchange control. So the noble Lord has to fall back upon the power which he has used. It is not the permissive one, that is in desuetude; on the contrary, it is exchange control.
191 What do countries properly give themselves exchange control powers for? Not to beat up a few war pensioners, but to protect themselves in case their own currency is in danger. Is that not the reason, my Lords? Each country takes the right, when it enters into contracts and bargains with other nations, to refuse or to delay or to withhold payment if the exchange control warrants it. There can be no application of the vast and enormous machinery of exchange control for so petty and small and disagreeable a task as that of depriving wounded ex-Servicemen of their war pensions.
The word "pensioners" appears in the words which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor read out, and they were repeated by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. I expect it appeared because Her Majesty's Government did not know what they were writing down —and that would not surprise me. I do not suppose there are many men in the Cabinet who know much about war pensioners; certainly not about battles. They would know better than to talk about a man who was a war pilot as a "frightened little man", and they would know better than to put these words in if they had seen service. Not that seeing service in a battle is the only way of serving one's country in war time; I know there are people who do most useful things in the boffins' rooms and in Whitehall. But such words come with ill-grace from Her Majesty's Government in the circumstances. If I had to go lion shooting I would rather go with Mr. Smith.
With regard to the war pensions, the word "hardship" is used. It is an insult. These men do not have to go, as old and sick people unhappily have to do, to the National Assistance Board. And that is what you are saying: that if they are in hardship they will be cared for. After you have taken away their inalienable right to their war pension they may come and plead hardship and get something. "Oh", says the Lord Chancellor, shrugging it off, "Don't you worry; we have fixed it. It's all right. They can go to Barclays Bank ". When did he fix it? I bet it was after we started making a row in the other place and here, because if they had fixed it ab initio why did they put these words in and not explain them? Whether it is 192 satisfactory or not I do not know; I can only guess it must be wholly unsatisfactory, because it denies these people their rights, and also because there is still the question of hardship. If the Barclays Bank stunt was all right, there would be no hardship. Will that be explained, please? I shall feel bound to vote for this Motion unless it is said that the pensions will be paid as of right and not on grounds of hardship, and unless, indeed, that word it taken out.
It is very hard to eat words—I know that—but I should have thought, with respect, that Mr. Wilson had a good digestion; and I suggest that when he eats that word it will help him. I also suggest that a little more eating of words takes place in relation to these matters as a whole, because in every dispute between nations, in every dispute between large groups of men, there comes a time when you sit round a table and talk, unless you are out for unconditional surrender. Otherwise there always conies a time when you sit down and talk. Why should that time be unduly delayed? In my judgment, the sooner the better. If they are to talk, it is quite obvious that there is only one person to talk to, and that is Mr. Smith, so that a little bit of word eating and the talks could start right now. That is what I recommend sincerely as the best course. Otherwise Her Majesty's Government will fail to win the battle or, if they win it, lose it. It is not a battle—call it a cold war, because that is what Her Majesty's Government is engaged in. So settle now is my advice, and my plea.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, the House has listened to a very eloquent plea from the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, as far as the pensions are concerned, and I am sure the Government will treat his and other requests in this connection with the greatest possible sympathy. But on the general matter, I would say that in my view this debate is not about pensions; it is about Rhodesia. I would say also how much I welcome the encouraging and courageous speech which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Alport, who speaks from great experience. I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, who asked how many Members of the House have had even 13 days in Rhodesia, that I have been fortunate 193 enough over the last 13 years to visit both Zambia and Rhodesia, and on business where we have interests, on no fewer than about twenty occasions.
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, are treating this matter with a complete lack of realism. I want to make it clear that I am completely opposed to the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has put down, because I believe that not just the Motion but the attitude which he stands for in this country is designed to undermine the work of those who are trying to uphold the rule of law and justice in the international field. Whichever way one looks at it, the posture which is taken by that group, very sincerely, all adds up to sympathy for the illegal Smith régime and I do not think they can baulk that. As the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, this is not a subject for a union debate. It is a crisis on a par with Munich; it is on a par with the Berlin Airlift, and those of us who were in the Lower House then, realised what a tremendous problem we were facing at that time. It is on a par with Suez, and I believe the facts speak for themselves. The Government of Rhodesia, as it then was, declared Rhodesia to be an independent nation. This is an illegal act, and they have now no power or authority to act. But one would not believe that this was the situation, after listening to the speeches of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale.
The reason Rhodesia declared independence was nothing to do with getting finance from overseas—the U.D.I. stopped them getting finance from mining and many other things, and this was within the knowledge of many people. The reason they declared independence was to make sure there would not be an African majority rule within the foreseeable future. By cutting themselves off from Britain they believed they could retard African advancement as they wished, and they could play around with the rules which govern the membership on the electoral registers. Their act was designed to ensure that white minority rule prevails indefinitely, and those who support the illegal Smith régime, both here and in Rhodesia, are also supporting the idea 194 of a permanent white supremacy and a rate of African advancement which will eliminate the risk of eventual majority rule. I think it would be more honest for such people to state their views quite publicly on this matter, rather than try to undermine the actions of the Government and others of us who want to uphold the rule of law and see justice established as quickly as possible.
I should not like such people to make any mistake: no British Government could possibly turn a blind eye to what the Smith régime has done. If they did so, if they decided to chuck in their hand, as has been recommended from different quarters, certain repercussions are absolutely inevitable; and they cannot be barked. First of all, Britain's standing in the world would slump to its lowest depth. We have no less responsibility to the African and European peoples of Rhodesia than we had to Poland in 1939, and we did not shirk that responsibility because it was a moral responsibility and a legal one.
Secondly, I believe that the leadership in Africa would be assumed with relish by the mischief-makers in the Organisation of African Unity; and they are a very powerful lot, and a pretty nasty lot, some of them. I believe that Zambia would become the advance base for an inevitable black-white clash in Southern Africa from which no one has anything to gain. Thirdly, T believe that it would be the end of moderate and responsible African leaders like Kaunda, Obote, and Kenyatta, who would be replaced very quickly by extremists of the far Left. This is what is at stake when we are told only of the position of the 220,000 Europeans in Rhodesia. And no one, of course, is suggesting African majority rule to-morrow.
I recognise the weakness and the irresponsibility of the African Nationalist leaders in Rhodesia. I regret bitterly that there are not more responsible Africans, highly educated Africans, to take over. There are not, let us face it, at the moment. It will take many years before we get enough highly educated, fully qualified Africans, but it is our job, it is the Rhodesians' job, to see that these people are brought to advancement as quickly as possible.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? 195 He has raised a very important point. How many years? Everybody says, "Not to-day, not to-morrow". But how many years? The noble Lord just now said a great many years. How many years has he in mind?
§ LORD BYERS
The noble Marquess has enough experience of Africa to know that the rate of advancement is directly related to what is done in the form not of primary education but of secondary education, university education, assisting the Africans with technical know-how to get up their farming incomes so that they can make more than £150 to £200 a year. The rate of African advancement depends on us. If we are prepared not to tolerate the avoidance of putting up more secondary schools, if we are prepared to help them with their universities, I believe it can be done in ten to fifteen years—but not sooner, because of the fact that they have been held down so long; and the noble Marquess knows this.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What is equally true is that Rhodesia has spent more on education than any other African State, even those under the Colonial Office. That was done without any assistance from us; it was done out of their own resources. I agree with every word the noble Lord says about the importance of education. I hope that we shall fork out large sums of money to assist it. But it is not right to say that Rhodesia has been backward in that respect.
§ LORD BYERS
The noble Marquess has still not got the point—and it is very important—and he has enough experience of African countries to know this. A great deal of money (22 per cent., I believe, of their budget) is spent on education, a large part of it on African education; but it is on primary education. You try to increase secondary education and university education, which is what is needed for civil servants and administrators. This again is one of the reasons why there was U.D.I. It was because they had to control the spending of the money. It is in secondary education, technical education, that the money is needed. I believe that in fifteen years, perhaps earlier, if the rate of advancement goes as it should, we shall see a responsible body of African people there 196 and a multiracial society. This is what is at stake. There need not necessarily be African majority rule; there can be this multiracial society if we show that we are going to play fair by the Africans as well as by the Europeans.
The simple issue is whether the Government of Rhodesia is to be allowed to declare that Territory independent, in defiance of the Crown, so that it can preserve the privileges of the white minority for all time, or whether the British Government are to be given every possible support to bring about a constitutional Government in Rhodesia, a constitutional Government which will, among other things, safeguard the rights of the African majority while they are advancing to further responsibilities.
It is for this reason that we in the Liberal Party have said that action taken against the Smith régime must be effective; that it should, if possible, be short and sharp. I do not like saying this. I have many friends in Rhodesia, many people with whom I have worked and been in contact over many years. But I am absolutely certain that action must be effective, and that it must be short and sharp. A long period of attrition is quite wrong and will do tremendous damage to relationships and to the economy.
This is not a time for weakening the hand of the Government by criticising. If I were to make a criticism it would be one that would refute the arguments of the noble Marquess, because they are complaining that it is deplorable that the Government have altered their policy since November 12. The fact of the matter is that the first lot of sanctions that were imposed were only on sugar and tobacco, and were going to take a long time to bite. On the other side, there was prohibition of arms. For the rest it was a matter of very weak control by the banks and the Treasury of exchange regulations and the rest.
When I looked into this from a practical point of view, it was quite clear that it was "business as usual", and this led to talk in Salisbury that Smith was going to get away with it. Even people who had been against U.D.I. were saying, "I believe he is going to get away with it". My criticism is that the Government did not put on these financial 197 sanctions right at the beginning, because we lost a psychological point there and gave the opportunity for people to believe that Smith was going to get away with it. By the same token, I believe that it must be right not just to have stiff sanctions, in the hope that they will be short and sharp; we should also go on examining the oil embargo. As I say, we do not want a long period of attrition. If an oil embargo would work, it should, in my view, be imposed. There may be technical reasons why it cannot be, but I think we should do everything we can to make sanctions effective.
When we talk about not standing idly by if power from Kariba is tampered with, let us not put it merely in the context of damage to the British economy. The people of Zambia want to know that we will not stand idly by, not just if Kariba is cut off but in other circumstances, too. In the future although none of us wants force, we cannot ultimately rule out the use of force if certain things happen. I believe it is absolutely vital that we should make these sanctions effective and sharp.
But it is also vital that the Rhodesian people should be able to see a credible alternative. I do not know how this can be done, but in simple terms we must be able to say to them: "You can have Smith and sanctions, or you can have X and the status quo ante". We have to show them what it means to get rid of Smith. While the illegal régime is there, there must be sanctions that work. Otherwise, we shall forfeit the leadership in Africa for years.
I am worried about suggestions that there should be negotiations with Smith. If you are going to do that, you must make it absolutely clear that you are not going to "sell the Africans down the river", because this is what they will think. Here is a régime which has been recognised by everybody as being illegal: and then, suddenly, after a month, we are going to have a deal with them. If you have to find an alternative which is going to become a constitutional Government there—an alternative with which we can properly negotiate on the basis of the 1961 Constitution as amended, to protect the rights of everybody there—you will, I am sure, have to write into the next Constitution protec- 198 tion for the European minority if you do get to African majority rule.
This is the sort of matter that will have to be looked into. I believe that it is vital that the Government should stand firm now, and I hope, with the Government, that there will not be a Division to-night. But if there is a Division to-night, I implore the Conservative Party not to abstain. This is too important a matter. If we want a message to go out to the nations of the world, as we do, we need to have the smallest possible number of people on Lord Coleraine's side in the Division, and the maximum number of people upholding the rule of law and of justice.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I should like to explain to your Lordships as briefly as I can why I intend to support my noble friend Lord Coleraine if he decides to take his Motion to a vole this evening. In his Statement to the House of Commons on November 11 the Prime Minister gave a long list of economic measures which it was proposed to take against Rhodesia, including the banning of further purchases of tobacco and sugar. Reverting to this matter the following day, he said, in answer to a supplementary question by Mr. Amery, that Her Majesty's Government had no other measure in contemplation so far as they were concerned. He went on to add that they would, of course, review the situation in the light of actions taken in Rhodesia and in the light of discussion in the United Nations.
On December 1 the Prime Minister announced another long list of savage economic sanctions against Rhodesia, now covering 95 per cent. of Rhodesian exports to this country. He also announced that a stop was being placed on practically all current payments from this country to Rhodesia; and then we learned later in the day from a Treasury statement that this was to include the payment of pensions to British subjects resident in Rhodesia, including war disability pensions.
Many of us regarded the original list of sanctions, and particularly the ban on tobacco and sugar, as harsh, punitive and calculated to fall, first and foremost. upon those who could least afford to bear them—I refer to the African employees in the tobacco plantations and in 199 the cane fields. I myself asked in our debate on October 15 whether the intention of the Government was to create unemployment, chaos and ultimately revolution. Like almost every other question put to the Government in that debate, no reply was forthcoming. Can the noble Earl who is to reply give me an answer to-night?
Now we have this additional list. On what grounds do the Government justify these new measures? Were they introduced, as the Prime Minister said,in the light of actions taken in Rhodesia"?I can hardly believe that that is so, for the de facto Government of Rhodesia have taken but few actions since November 11 which go any further than the original declaration of independence. Were these new measures introduced, again in the Prime Minister's words,in the light of the discussion in the United Nations "?The noble Earl the Leader of the House, when questioned on this point by my noble friend Lord Dilhorne on Wednesday last, saidCertainly we are not taking these steps … because the United Nations has called on us to take them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270 (No. 12); col. 1272, 1/12/65.]How, then, can they be justified in the light of the Prime Minister's statements of November 11 and 12?
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, I cannot recollect exactly what I said. The quotation that the noble Lord has given is different from that attributed to me earlier by the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, so both cannot be right. I will look up my words and see what I said.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I was not able to hear my noble friend Lord Dilhorne speak, but I did take this extract from Hansard.
The Prime Minister has also shown a similar contradictory attitude in regard to action by force. On November 11 he said he did not think that the solution of the problem was one to be solved by military intervention, unless the troops were asked for to preserve law and order. He added that he did not contemplate any national action or any international action for the purposes of coercing even the illegal Government of 200 Rhodesia into a constitutional position. I find it hard to reconcile this statement both with the subsequent harsh and vindictive sanctions which have been imposed and with the statement on December 1 in reply to a Question by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, that if there should be any interference with the Kariba power station on Rhodesian territory we should not stand idly by but would take whatever action was necessary in order to fulfil the deterrent threat which was involved. He went on to say that if that meant a limited operation we should be prepared to undertake that operation. It is those shifts in the attitude of the Government which have occurred from time to time since U.D.I. that cause many of us to fear, in spite of Mr. Bottomley's brave words on arriving back in London, that Her Majesty's Government will again be intimidated into taking actions which previously they have said specifically they did not intend to take.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble Lord has asked me a number of questions, and as I shall not be speaking until after midnight it may be that I shall not be able to reply to them all. Can he tell us straight out whether he is in favour of any policy of genuine sanctions at all? Because if not, I am afraid to some of us these observations seem rather meaningless.
§ LORD COLYTON
Yes, my Lords, I am in favour of sanctions, but taken at discretion and applied in the way in which they will have the most effect but hurt the least people.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, does the noble Lord mean that he is in favour of sanctions provided they are not effective?
§ LORD COLYTON
Provided that they are not punitive and unfair.
I now turn to a matter which has perhaps shocked me more than any of the other actions taken by the Government in the last few months. I refer to the creation of a purported board to take over the functions of the Federal Reserve Bank of Rhodesia. I am really amazed that any British Government, presumably with the knowledge and approval of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, should have taken an 201 action of such dubious propriety and of such damaging effect to the reputation and prestige of Her Majesty's Government and the City of London. Hitherto, money from abroad deposited in London, from whatever source, has been regarded as safe—as "safe as the Bank of England". Now we know that that is not so.
Under the Order in Council which we passed the week before last, the Government are admittedly in this matter acting legally from a technical point of view. But I am told that as far as international law is concerned, it is most questionable whether this would be regarded as legal. Certainly there can be no moral basis for it at all. The funds of the Rhodesia Reserve Bank, which have now been theoretically entrusted to a board in London, represent the accumulated savings of the people of Rhodesia, their overseas balances, their trading profits, the proceeds of taxation and so forth. These monies are the property of the people of Rhodesia alone and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as funds over which Her Majesty's Government is entitled to exercise any degree of control whatsoever. I have heard it described by one noble Lord as "legalised theft". He said that the Great Train Robbery looked like the work of amateurs compared to it.
§ THE EARL. OF LONGFORD
My Lords, a good example has been set me earlier to-night by perhaps the most revered member of the House; but I would ask the noble Lord, as he is making these remarks about "legalised theft", how is it that the former Chairman of the Conservative Party and other leading figures in the City of London have joined in this enterprise?
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, the noble Earl has anticipated what I was about to say. I was about to say that I cannot imagine what led my two noble friends Lord Poole and Lord Harcourt, as well as Sir Norman Kipping, to allow themselves to be associated with this dubious enterprise. I believe, with my noble friend Lord Coleraine, that the sanctions previously imposed, together with those now introduced I am referring to the ones I have already specifically mentioned in my speech—have had the effect of uniting the vast mass of Europeans in Rhodesia, together with all the coloured 202 and many moderate Africans, behind Mr. Smith. That, at any rate, is the opinion of some Rhodesians whose letters I have seen and who were previously wholeheartedly against U.D.I. Some of the people whose letters I have seen included leaders of the business community in Salisbury, who were also wholeheartedly against U.D.I. The Government's actions have consolidated Rhodesian opinion behind Mr. Smith. I believe they have also had their effect in this country.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said again to-day that there was no difference between the political Parties on this subject. That may be the case in another place, and it may also be the case in this House, but I have no doubt whatever that a deep difference of opinion exists among the public in this country on this subject. From a large number of inquiries which I have been making over the past few weeks it appears that opinion in the factories, in the villages, in the shops, and in the streets, is now, rightly or wrongly, increasingly in sympathy with Mr. Smith. We must not forget that it has been calculated that there are at least 750,000 adults in this country with close relatives in Rhodesia, as well as many hundreds of thousands of others with close friends over there. Nevertheless, I believe that these harsh sanctions have played a great part in swinging opinion in this country over towards Mr. Smith.
There are, of course, many people, including the Churches and many eminent men and women in the world of education, letters, the arts, the Press, and so on, who feel strongly the other way. I respect their views, but I would say this. Tragic as it may be, I fear that a deep gulf is now being driven between large sections of our people. I believe that, little by little, as these matters unfold themselves, there is a greater bitterness growing between different sections of our people than has existed since the Civil War. If, therefore, these sanctions—and no doubt there will be more to come—are simply having the effect of consolidating opinion behind Mr. Smith and dividing opinion in this country, why are the Government pursuing this course? Is it simply and solely to appease the Afro-Asians, or the Organisation of African Unity, or the United Nations?
203 The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor quite rightly referred to world opinion, but why is it that world opinion should be directed solely against one small British multiracial territory in Africa? Of course we all know what has gone on in Africa over the past ten years; we know all about "the wind of change"; we know the feelings of the African people. But why were not similar sanctions imposed against Fidel Castro, with 70,000 political prisoners rotting in the camps on the Isle of Pines and subjected to daily tortures and executions? Why were they not imposed against Zanzibar, whose legally elected Government asked Britain for troops, which were refused, and who themselves were then overthrown to the accompaniment of the slaughter of ten to twelve thousand Arabs and Indians?
Why are sanctions not imposed against Papa Doc Duvalier, of Haiti, who to this day allows or orders tortures and shootings to go on nightly in the cellars of his Presidential Palace at Port au Prince? Why, for that matter, were they not imposed against the Soviet Government for the overthrow of the legal Governments of Lithuania, Esthonia and Latvia which we still recognize de jure and which are now held down by Russian force? Why is it that sanctions are imposed only against this last British territory in Africa where the Union Jack still flies, and nowhere do there exist more loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen?
I put these questions to your Lordships, and I will try to give you my answer. It is, I believe, because this whole question of race, or racism as the Americans call it, has now assumed an importance totally out of proportion to other world problems, many of them far more appalling, more widespread and more inhuman in their results. Nobody seems to be able to think straight on this matter any more. I say this not, Heaven knows ! because I myself am a racialist in any sense. On the contrary, I venture to believe that I have as many close personal African friends as any noble Lord in this House, including the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. I stay with them when I go to Africa, and they stay with me when they come to England. I believe that I fully understand their point of view. 204 But in looking at this problem of Rhodesia, and all the dreadful consequences to which it may give rise, we must, I am convinced, try to keep a greater sense of balance than hitherto.
Whatever people may now say about Rhodesia having become a Police State, I can well recall the time, only five years ago, when they voted by a 60 per cent. majority in favour of the gradual advance of Africans into full equality in the country's political life. That was the opinion of Rhodesians five years ago, the view of the mass of the white Rhodesians, including the young artisans to whom the Lord Chancellor has referred this evening. These people are not basically anti-African. They have been forced into this position by the actions, or inactions, of successive British Governments in the face of external pressure from Africans, Americans and others.
Here I would venture to correct the noble and learned Lord Chancellor (I am sorry to see that he is not at the moment on the Woolsack), who told us that Mr. Smith had said he did not expect to see an African majority Government in his lifetime. Mr. Smith has again and again explained that what he meant by that was a purely black Government. He has repeatedly said that the policy of Rhodesia, unlike that of South Africa, is not apartheid, and that Rhodesians envisage the day when Africans will be playing their full part in the constitutional life of the country.
My Lords, if there is to be any question of conciliation, or any move towards fresh negotiations—and I devoutly pray that there may be—I beg that those who may undertake this task should approach the matter with the thought in their minds, not that Rhodesians are determined to resist African emergence to the last ditch, but that they are committed—as indeed we were committed prior to 1960—to a policy of gradualism, a policy under which Mr. Harold Macmillan, in his famous speech, said the criterion should be merit and merit alone.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am extremely sorry to intervene, but before the noble Lord sits down I should like to take up with him a small personal point. He quoted me and in a slightly different way from the noble 205 Viscount, and in fact, as I supposed, the noble Viscount was correct. I have the copy of Hansard with me, and I see from it that the noble Lord quoted me incorrectly.
§ LORD COLYTON
If that is so, of course I apologise to the noble Earl, but we will both look at Hansard to-morrow.
§ LORD COLYTON: I will look at it to-morrow.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, asked why do we not put right all the evils of the world by applying sanctions to everyone who is wrong. The first answer is, not the one he gave, but that we have a direct moral and legal responsibility in the case of Southern Rhodesia. The second is that we did not declare unilateral independence—they did.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I must take that point up with the noble Lord. Is he quite happy to ignore all these other appalling things that go on in the world and simply to concentrate on sanctions when there is a British interest which is involved?
§ LORD TAYLOR
Not a British interest, but a British responsibility—a moral and legal responsibility, particularly a moral one. We have had various prognostications as to what will happen when these sanctions are biting. The noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, said that Britain will lose the cold war with Rhodesia. The noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, said that swingeing sanctions can bring the Rhodesians to their knees. My noble friend the Lord Chancellor told us that many of the people of Rhodesia who do not support U.D.I. hope that action will be short and sharp. I hope that it will be short, sharp and effective, too; but I doubt it. My feelings are much more with the noble Lord, Lord Alport, in his fears that it will be a long-drawn-out process. I fear very much that it will be long-drawn-out, for a reason which I shall give in a moment. The noble Earl, Lord Lindsey and Abingdon, in his maiden speech said 206 that the Rhodesians were not quite "with it"; they seemed to him to be forty years out of date. I think he was speaking very rightly and very correctly there, and when one speaks with Rhodesians that is exactly the impression one gets. I thought that for a young man to have observed that and recorded it made his speech of all the greater value.
This debate is about how we are going to make the white Rhodesians change their minds, and I am afraid that the great majority have to change their minds if we are to get peace. The difficulties, as I see them, are, first, that they think they have good reasons for their views; and, secondly, that it is always easier to make obstinate people more obstinate than less obstinate. The first essential, of course, is to understand the mind of the Rhodesians. One has listened to many intelligent white Rhodesians, and it seems to me that, given a single false premise, their views are almost entirely logical. They begin from the undoubted fact that they, the white Rhodesians, have built up from nothing in a short space of years a technically efficient and prosperous society. They point out that while they, the white Rhodesians, enjoy the first fruits of this prosperity, the black Rhodesians have enjoyed the secondary fruits in the shape of a high level of employment, relatively high wages, admirable free health services, and a wide measure of primary education; so that the black Rhodesians under them have increased and multiplied exceedingly. "Without us", they say, "these people would have had nothing".
Many good Rhodesians are paternalists. Lord Malvern, I think, was a paternalist and his biographers summed it up very well when they said:He now stands in danger of being remembered solely as the man who said that white and black partnerships should be like the relation between rider and horse. By a queer turn of fate, he was actually pleading the cause of liberal paternalism before white Rhodesians at an agricultural show. Remembering his polo playing days, he thought that rider and horse should form a perfect unit, and that they would rely on each other and win the game by mutual dependence.We know from our own social history, that paternalism is not enough.
However, many white Rhodesians, whether they are paternalist or not, are also convinced that black Rhodesians are biologically inferior and that they always 207 will be. This premise seems to them obvious as they look around them, and they are always quoting examples of it. They are practical people; they are not intellectually curious; most of them have travelled little in the new Africa. Many of them left Britain because they did not like our increasing equalitarian society, whether under a Labour Government or a Conservative Government. Given this premise of biological inferiority, it seems obvious to them that they should never—repeat never—hand over power to the biologically inferior races of their country. They are not very good at verbalising; not good at putting their thoughts into words. When Mr. Smith said that, despite all the long and patient negotiations, despite all the concessions that we had made, we and they were still as far apart as ever, he meant just that; that he would never accept any constitutional arrangement by which power in Rhodesia would in the foreseeable future be transferred to the majority of Rhodesians. One false premise, and all the rest follows apparently quite reasonably.
We know that things are not like that in the real world. We are learning rapidly that black Africans differ surprisingly little from ourselves. Even given education, not all Africans are capable of becoming doctors or politicians or trade union leaders or engineers or nurses or teachers, but this is true of every race all over the world. But those who do get the chance and have the aptitude differ surprisingly little, if at all, from ourselves, from their white counterparts.
The morally wrong part of the Smith régime is not their false basic premise, which is just silly, but their refusal to try to alter it; their determination to make their false belief come true, and this they do by denying to their African fellow citizens the right, as the noble Lord, Lord Byers, said, to full secondary, technical and university education. For what they are doing and trying to do is to build a technically efficient society with white free men and black serfs, healthy serfs, occupied serfs, serfs who know enough to operate the machines of technocracy, but not enough to build them or run them or to take over the country. They have one other false belief; that there is in this country a great number of people who, in 208 their heart of hearts, agree with them. The noble Lord, Lord Alport, emphasised this point. This is quite untrue. One cannot help admiring the achievements of the white Rhodesians, but one cannot excuse or condone what they have done. The danger of such a Motion as the one moved by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, is that it will strengthen Smith and his group in their false beliefs.
How are we to crack this tough nut and to open up the minds of the white Rhodesians to the winds of common sense? I am sure it is wrong to fight them physically unless they cut off power to Zambia, and then I think we have a duty to fight them physically whatever nice phrase one uses about it. But a physical fighting war would solve their internal difficulties. Herd loyalty is extremely easy to get in war-time. I am sure it is right to fight them economically with every weapon which can be effective, for those in power in Rhodesia are greedy people. They are greedy for power, for physical possessions and for prosperity. Economic war is not pretty or nice since it falls on everyone, but it will soon begin, in fact I think it is already beginning, to make them think, and until this process starts there is no hope. Thirdly, we must fight them with a psychological war; a war to win their minds away from their false belief and their false moral judgments.
Here I think the directives for such a war are quite simple. First, there must be the certainty of defeat. We have to make it clear to every white Rhodesian that in a shorter or a longer time U.D.I. will be beaten because the things it stands for are basically bad. We intend to see this through to the end. Secondly, we have to make it clear that there is an alternative to U.D.I., and that Rhodesia need not move to black majority rule tomorrow; that we accept that the process may take a number of years. Thirdly, we must make clear that the alternative offers a fine future for Rhodesia, because Rhodesia can become the first truly multiracial society in Africa, and a real partnership of black and white.
For myself I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Byers. I think it will take at least ten years to do, and I think that until ten years are up it will probably be impossible for Rhodesia to enjoy independence. I think it will take this time, 209 because both black and white Rhodesians have to change their minds and their hearts, and get into new ways of thinking and feeling about each other, and this means a great deal of education on both sides. So far, I must say that I support every step which Her Majesty's Government have taken. I think we all regret that it should be necessary to control pensions, to stop pensions from flowing, but if this is necessary then it must be done. I do not see how any men could have gone further to help the Rhodesian Government to see the light than the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, Mr. Bottomley. Now I think it is war, a non-shooting war which must be won; a war to win men's minds back to decency and common sense and fair play. And, thank goodness!, there are many Rhodesians who, in their hearts, want to see this battle won. For the moment, theirs is the black and hard side of the road, but the harder we bite now the sooner will their ordeal he over.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I think that many of your Lordships are probably in the same difficulty as I am this evening, in view of the whole course of the debate and, in particular, the wording of Lord Coleraine's Motion. I think many of us would agree with much of that Motion, but as the noble Lord, Lord Alport, has said, there is no doubt that if we vote for the Motion it is going to give great comfort to the rebels. I believe that that must be the criterion on which we decide, regardless of the merits of certain parts of the Motion. I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, say at the end of his speech that he thought we were at war—" a cold war, not a shooting war ". My Lords, nobody wins in a war, and I think it is extremely important that we should remember that.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, with due respect, somebody loses in a war. I think that Hitler lost his war—and a very good thing, too!—and I think that the Smith régime should lose this war.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I do not think any of us gains from war. Hitler lost the war but I believe that we were all the losers and have been for the last fifteen years.
210 To-night, I want to put two propositions before your Lordships. One is that sanctions are not going to succeed, if for no other reason than that South Africa will not let them succeed. She cannot afford to have them succeed, because it will be her turn next. Having said that, I should not like it to be thought that I am against sanctions. I am for sanctions, because it will bring home to Southern Rhodesians how desperately seriously we take this matter. Sanctions will undoubtedly hurt them, but so they will us; and to believe that sanctions will enable us to succeed in winning a war is, I believe, wishful thinking. You cannot make sanctions effective when there is below Rhodesia the great area in South Africa represented by such people as the Portuguese and the South Africans.
My second proposition is this: that we are not going to succeed in bringing the Southern Rhodesians to their knees in the sense that they will be prepared to disown Smith; that they will be prepared to agree immediately to the restitution of constitutional Government—in a word, that they will be prepared to accept unconditional surrender. The fact is that the people in Rhodesia who have taken this course fear that their whole way of life is going to be changed. They fear that, very shortly, whatever the Government may say at the present moment, they are going to find the Africans in control, and that, in a desperate state, probably, they will have to leave the country. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that this was nonsense. It may be nonsense to all of us, but I assure your Lordships it is not nonsense to the people of Southern Rhodesia. They believe that, given a chance, the Africans will come into power and their lot will be hopeless.
Now the Southern Rhodesians who have taken this decision to go their own way are people from this country. The great majority of them are people who have left this country during the last twenty years; the great majority of them are people who fought against Hitler; and they are not the sort of people who, at this time, are going to throw their hand in when once again they feel that their way of life is at stake.
My Lords, if these two propositions are acceptable then, of course, I come to the conclusion that what we must try to do 211 is to reopen talks, even with the Southern Rhodesian Government as it is to-day. Perhaps it would be difficult for us to do that. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, suggested that some eminent statesmen might go out and start the ball rolling. That is certainly an idea. There are other possibilities. For example, there might be a Commission of eminent Parliamentarians from this country; or a Commonwealth Mission; and it might even include people from other nations, or the United Nations. But the important thing is to start talking, and sooner, rather than later, more particularly because we at this moment have the initiative.
We have shown that we are deadly serious on this matter. Of all the people who have suffered from the action that has been taken, apart from the Southern Rhodesians, we have suffered most. We shall have to get tobacco from the dollar area, and, of course, we are cutting off one of our most profitable areas of trade. It is quite right that we should do so: it shows our good faith to the world. But it also gives us the right to take steps which we know, though they may he regarded by others as a sign of weakness, are not necessarily so.
I would finish as I began. I hope desperately that there will be no Division tonight, because I know that it will be misunderstood and will encourage the Southern Rhodesians in their obstinacy and determination to carry on as they are now. At the same time, it would be easier for many of us if the Government would say that they are ready to consider talks shortly—and in this the timing is very important. We must do it before there is too much bitterness and suffering. Let us remember that it is not the white Southern Rhodesians who are going to suffer most from all of this: it is the black Southern Rhodesians. This, surely, is the reason why we should start sooner, rather than later. Again on timing, let us move before everybody has hardened to entrenched positions from which no retreat is possible except after bloodshed.
My Lords, I would repeat that it is up to us to take the initiative. We must not say: "First, we must have the Southern Rhodesians agree to constitutional government once again", because 212 for them this is the same as unconditional surrender. Let us rather be prepared to do what may he taken as a sign of weakness but what is really a sign of strength —that is, to send out some people to talk, and to talk now.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ LORD WADE
My Lords, I propose to direct my brief remarks primarily to the subject of how noble Lords should vote on this Motion. I think we must assume from what we have heard that there may be a vote, although I would agree with the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that it would be very much better if there were no Division at all. But before discussing this subject of voting, I have only one general comment. I think it would be clearly unrealistic to regard Mr. Smith and his colleagues as a body of liberal-minded men standing up bravely for liberty and justice. They may believe that they are right and they may be very obstinate, but I do not think they are very interested in the principles of justice.
I have a letter in my pocket from a young man living in Rhodesia. In ordinary circumstances I would give his name and address, but I could not possibly do so in this case as the penalties for any criticism of the Smith régime are much too severe. I merely say that his parents are well known to me. After giving evidence, all too familiar evidence, of life in a Police State, he concludes with this comment:There are many small things I could tell you about—little acts of inhumanity and cruelty, complete disregard for accepted standards of behaviour, abnormality being accepted as so normal that no one notices it. Dr. Niemoller, who stayed with us a couple of months ago, said he had seen it all before in Germany ".This is a sad state of affairs. I do not think it can be easily resolved.
I agree with my noble friend, Lord Byers, that it would be much better that this position should not drag on. If there are to be sanctions, it is better that they should be short and sharp. But I am also inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Alport, that this may be a long process. This quarrel may go on for quite a long time. I hope the public is not being misled by some of the inspired statements that have appeared in the Press and which give the impression that the settlement may be just around the corner. I fear that it may go on for quite a long time. 213 But whether we reach a successful settlement or not, and whether it is soon or later, I am sure that much will depend on the resolution shown by Britain in standing firmly by the principle of the rule of law. That, I think, is really the crux of the matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked us to speak frankly in this debate. I will do so. In my view, a vote against this Motion does not imply a vote of confidence in the Government; and I hope that any Members on the Conservative Benches who are wondering how to vote will keep that in mind. I believe there are grounds for criticising the Government. I think that in the handling of the subject of pensions there are signs of some confusion. Perhaps if there had been greater thought before sanctions were introduced, it should have been possible on the day that they were announced to state precisely what their effect would be on those in receipt of pensions and what was going to be done to try to lessen the hardship so far as possible. I think it unfortunate that it was not made clear at the outset, although, of course, there are bound to be some who will be hurt in a situation like this.
In my view, the whole issue has been presented by wireless and television too much in terms of a confrontation between Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith. That is not being altogether helpful. Furthermore, I am still not quite satisfied that everything possible is being done to make it clear to civil servants who wish to be loyal that they will not be let down. I am not sure that everything possible is being done to make it clear to some of the small farmers who would like to be loyal, that if and when U.D.I. fails the outlook for them will not be hopeless. These issues are important, but they are not overriding issues when we come to decide how to vote, if we have to vote, on this Motion to-night. I am sure that the point of real importance is that Britain is resolved to remain firm in face of that.
We must recognise that the implication of those who support the Motion which is before us is that they are ready to abandon sanctions. I am convinced in my own mind that a vote for the Motion would be taken as a sign of weakness. There are many Rhodesians who have 214 been led to believe that Britain has gone soft. I believe that Mr. Smith is relying on that. In The Times yesterday there was a report from their correspondent in Salisbury which began with these words:Until this weekend, most Rhodesians had regarded British sanctions as through the wrong end of a telescope. They appeared distant and ineffective, something to be laughed at by the virile Rhodesian as the feeble retribution meted out by the effete British in lieu of anything more positive and direct.The writer of the article goes on to suggest that there are signs of a change of attitude. I do not know to what extent there has been a change, but I think there is still a widespread feeling in Rhodesia that Britain is soft and will not stick it out. I do not think that talks will succeed until we have been able to show that this is not so.
I believe that a vote for this Motion, or even an abstention, will give comfort to the rebels and will be regarded as evidence that Britain is divided and uncertain in her intention. On the other hand, an overwhelming vote against the Motion —and I recognise the sincerity of those who put it forward—will help to show that Britain(and I say Britain and not just the British Government) having embarked on this unpleasant but necessary task of standing up to this act of illegality, will stand firm. By doing this I think we shall increase rather than diminish the chances of ultimate settlement. I have no hesitation in voting against this Motion and I hope that many other noble Lords will do likewise.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, this has been a long debate, and possibly will be a longer one. I hope not to be repetitious. This has been an important debate. It seems to me that the importance has been, with respect, unproportionate to the direct terms of the Motion. I regard this Motion as impertinent. I am quite sure that to look at the present situation in terms of some constitutional peccadillo of which a number of our kith and kin are technically guilty; and to say that, because they are decent fellows, they should be treated in no way punitively, but should be treated with understanding and with the prospect that, because they are fundamentally decent people, they will quickly come to some agreeable terms, is 215 untrue. This seems to me to be a criminal conspiracy on the part of Mr. Smith and his friends to bring Southern Rhodesia within the orbit of Afrikaner apartheid. That would be a presumptuous thing to say unless it could be substantiated. And I believe it can. I will briefly say something in substantiation of that in a moment. I will take some courage from the fact that this debate already has ranged very widely.
I am second to none in my appreciation of and recognition of the gallantry and needs, particularly, of war pensioners. At the same time, I think that in such a debate, at such a time as this, it might well have been considered that the condition of, perhaps, 6,000 who are inelegantly called "restrictees" in Rhodesia, and of whom I have quite up-to-date evidence, is more pertinent to our business and throws a much clearer light on the issue with which we should be engaged. I am informed by the Christian Council of Rhodesia that the number of those detainees or restrictees may by this time have increased beyond the figure of 6,000. It may not be within the knowledge of your Lordships that those who are detained have no means of livelihood; they have no money, and they are given a ration. They cannot support their families, who are left with what is called "10s. per mouth per head." They have no opportunity of getting into touch with their families, and their families are afraid to get into touch with them. No outside spiritual ministries are now available; and the process is increasing day by day.
I am, of course, sensitive to the needs of the pensioners. I am much more concerned about the calamitous condition in which so many people find themselves in Rhodesia and the accelerating process which will make it more calamitous as the days go by. I would bring to your Lordships' notice something from the evidence of the Christian Church in Rhodesia. The Bishop of Mashonaland has already demonstrated his courage. The Roman Catholic hierarchy has already demonstrated its unanimity in the utter condemnation of U.D.I.
The Christian Council of Rhodesia has pleaded that there should be no violence. But it has also said (which bears out 216 what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said at the beginning of the debate) that many moderate people of many kinds in Rhodesia hope, even though it hurts them, that there will be the imposition of effective, quick and, if you like, punitive sanctions. For what, after all, is wrong with a sanction that punishes, provided that the end of punishment is reform and that punishment is not merely an end in itself? They think this to be the only thing that can ultimately demonstrate our intention to those who have been refused the abitriment of violence; that is to say, those who have looked to the violent West for the continuation of its age-long policy of dealing violently with such situations; and if we have not exactly encouraged them, we have not discouraged people in Africa from thinking that violence is a way out of the problem. It seems to the Christian communities in Rhodesia that the only way whereby we can retain respect is to make our economic sanctions comparably as effective as violence.
It seems to me that the real problem is not bringing back Mr. Smith to a more amenable frame of mind. The real problem is not to conciliate in the first place the Rhodesia Front which I believe to be bad. The real issue with which this House should be confronted now is this what is going to happen if all remnants of faith in this country are lost by an increasing number of African people, who may not have the ability to think particularly abstractly of economic or indeed constitutional problems, but see life for themselves as squalid and short and the prospect of hope and justice receding? This is the issue with which this House is, properly, engaged to-day.
It is quite right that when you create an omelette you have to crack and spoil eggs. It is true that when you use a blunt instrument, for there is no precise instrument here, not only do those who are guilty suffer but others suffer as well. I have been immensely moved, and were it not for the same kind of prudence that exercised the noble Lord, Lord Wade, in refraining from giving names. I could, from the sheaf of papers I have with me, give a considerable amount of evidence which would go to demonstrate that there is in Rhodesia among many people, not only the Christians, a deep desire that 217 this country should stand firm on economic sanctions. They are willing and ready to be involved in some of the penalties which are occasioned by those sanctions, if indeed it can be demonstrated to their friends the Africans, and to Africans far outside the boundaries of Rhodesia, that this is a recognition on our part of an evil system and demonstrates our desire to put an end to it as quickly as possible.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF VERULAM
My Lords, it is just forty years since my father started in Rhodesia a tobacco farm which is now quite a big, thing of its kind. He was a very practical Christian and laid it down from the beginning that in view of the immense and desperate poverty of the country, money made in Africa should stay in Africa. Since then not one penny in fees, dividends, interest or profit has been taken out. On the other hand, much money and much effort has been put in. I mention this only because it has frequently been said that those people with investments in Rhodesia are there to grind down the Africans. That is certainly not so in our case, and I know of many other cases in which it is not so.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, I find myself as one who for years has done his utmost to persuade his friends in Rhodesia not to support Mr. Smith and his predecessors. Yet, time and time again, we have seen his Party profit from what decent, intelligent men there regard as the unreliability of both Parties in this country. Right or wrong, that is what they think; and in those circumstances I ask, will sanctions be effective? This is the Motion which I think we are talking to. Will they be effective in toppling Mr. Smith, and in the short run? All my information is that it is having precisely the opposite effect. Those people who were doubters are now solidly behind Mr. Smith. Surprisingly enough, the African farmworkers are working better than they have ever worked before, which is some evidence that when Mr. Smith contends that the Chiefs do represent the people, or part of them, he may "have something", because the Chiefs were not impressed by the Prime Minister.
If sanctions are not going to topple Mr. Smith in the short run, what will they 218 do? Some of them clearly will do absolutely nothing. The one prohibiting the export of copper is a nonsense. Copper is desperately needed everywhere in the world. It is freely saleable. It is an element. You do not get a Rhodesian copper element and a non-Rhodesia copper element, and it is laughably freely saleable in London on the London Metal Exchange. That kind of sanction may fool us. but it fools nobody else.
Another type of sanction, namely that on tobacco, will have devastating results, but they will be long drawn out. As has often been said before, the people who will suffer are the Africans. Tobacco is a crop which needs a lot of labour, and already farmers have turned over from later tobacco plantings to food crops. These crops need less labour and consequently there will be unemployment. Furthermore, there will be hunger and all that it will lead to. Rhodesia cannot be expected to be inactive while all this is going on. The prohibition of payments of interest works to the advantage of Rhodesia—they pay more than they receive—so that their reserves will benefit.
It is not only the Kariba power about which we should be concerned. This seems the least likely thing with which they will interfere. Far more important is the supply of coal from the Wankie Colliery. It takes one ton of coal to produce one ton of copper, and this coal serves both the Copper Belt and the Congo copper producers. So by simply raising the price of coal to what would be quite a modest amount in the circumstances, and perhaps raising the rail freight for copper which has to come back through Rhodesia, Mr. Smith could easily recoup himself for the entire loss of his tobacco crop. So we are going to transfer the effect of sanctions from the Rhodesians on to the Zambians, which will present President Kaunda, who in my view is far the best of the African Presidents, with immense problems. He will have to pay the price.
It is only one of the major tragedies of this situation that each side has the power to wreck the other, and it should be none of our aim or interest to promote this. I believe that while it was right to impose sanctions, we should not regard them as in any way being a solution. Indeed, after a short time I believe that 219 they will become a positive danger to us all. If they can succeed only at crippling cost, then clearly the only thing we can do is to talk, and talk to Mr. Smith.
I will not go into all the details. This has been said many times already. But is there not something else that we can do? The noble Lord, Lord Byers, mentioned this. We have got to sell a change in policy, or what would be seen by the world to be a change in policy, to our African friends, and I believe we can do something practical here which would be extremely statesman like: namely, be far more forthcoming than we have been on the projected railway between the Copper Belt and Dar-es-Salaam. Economically this is a nonsense, but I think that nevertheless it is something the Africans are determined to have, because the one lesson which they have learned from this declaration of independence is their dependence on Rhodesia. Would not the use of large sums of money for the building of this railway be a constructive use of money which would otherwise be frittered away in strife?
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, as I have already spoken twice in previous debates on this subject I have no desire unnecessarily to repeat myself, and, in any case, at this late hour, with so many speakers, it would be superfluous repetition for me to be other than very brief. I shall therefore detain the House for a very short time. I want to begin by saying that I am in full agreement with the terms of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and with all that he said in moving it. The difference between the wording of the Amendment, which is now not moved, and that of the original Motion, emphasises, I think, the difference between the mental approach of the Government and of those of us who realise the overwhelming importance of keeping the channels of communication open and of speaking in definite terms.
I believe that the initial steps of enforcing the loss of privileges as a Commonwealth member and the severe economic sanctions against tobacco, sugar and chrome, in particular, were more than adequate to underline the British Government's disapproval of U.D.I. and its desire 220 to create a more temperate approach to the difficult problem of the political position of 4 million Africans. Since then the additional steps taken have partaken, it seems to me, of sheer determination to punish the illegal Government by wrecking the economy of Rhodesia and bringing disaster—perhaps irreparable disaster—to all alike, Africans and Europeans indiscriminately.
As has been emphasised over and over again, it all depends on what our aim really is. If it is to destroy utterly the position of the dominant European minority, then one must envisage the utter folly of creating a desert and calling it peace. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in his speech earlier this evening, emphasised the dangers of the failure of sanctions; and, indeed, he did well to emphasise it. We cannot afford to fail in these. And into what terrible and disastrous alternatives is this sliding down the increasing severity of sanctions leading us? We have declared that we will not use force, but we are in danger of facing a situation in the future when nothing remains but force.
The Government have declared their desire to reach reasonable agreement. If this is a genuine desire and not mere words, then surely one must look at the situation with impartial judgment of what is best for Rhodesia as a country containing both Europeans and Africans, black and white alike. I have been asked what I think the Government ought to have done. From the beginning, I have had the temerity to think that the case has been mishandled—and I speak with a certain amount of administrative experience in that country, as well as in many other countries in the world. The tone of the Prime Minister's references to Mr. Smith and his Ministers seem to me rather to reflect the attitude of an angry politician than of a calm statesman, and if ever a calm statesman was needed in our history, now is the time when that need is only too obvious.
In my view, a genuine spirit of compromise could have ended in agreement without forcing a reluctant Government into U.D.T., in despair of a reasonable political approach to an ultimately dominant African position. The present de facto Government of Rhodesia have declared, and have made no secret of 221 their declaration, that they wish to preserve for their country a civilised Government. And there is no qualification of that. All they seek is that, whoever takes on and is able to take on that Government, should be people who take a civilised view of life.
The African majority has been offered gradual qualification for responsible political power. I was impressed by what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said. They emphasised that it is essential that the Government should stop talking about reasonable constitutional aims and things like that and say definitely what would be acceptable to them and how far they expect the people of Rhodesia to go in order to receive their approval of immediate independence. Do not let us delude ourselves. Immediate independence is a sine qua non of this position. It is no use offering now to anybody in Rhodesia a qualified position, whereby independence may be granted in future. It will have to be part of the settlement.
Any administrator can tell you that, in the circumstances of Rhodesia, it would take at least a generation before the African majority would be able to manage a dominant political position. I speak with a good deal of experience of this, and I have a great many African friends. Ample opportunities to qualify would he necessary. The increase of secondary educational facilities and the training of suitable Africans in responsible positions would be part of the process. After all, with all the educational qualifications in the world, there is needed practical experience in responsibility before these qualifications can mature in practice. We have had some experience of the need of that in this country. The present Government personnel, however, is learning; but I do not want them to learn too much at the expense of Rhodesia. The probable gap between the beginning of political adolescence and maturity would be something between 15 and 25 years. I have said that it would be at least a generation and I think that that emerges as a rational expectation. Then, why not say so? We all know that that sort of period would be necessary. Why not he honest about it? Honesty is still the best policy, even in politics. If the Africans of Rhodesia had not been misled and intimidated into declining to use even 222 present facilities, they would have now been well on the road to the position they are said to be craving to-day.
I repeat that the position of the Prime Minister is still obscure. Is it a fact that he still excludes the possibility of independence for Rhodesia until there is an African majority in government? I have already said that independence is part of any settlement of this question now. We have reached that stage. And we must know the terms of it. The future, as we see it to-day, is indeed tragic and grim. I can only say that I hope it will not be necessary for me to suggest in this House—and I probably should do so—that the words of Tacitus, which I believe he wrote about Galba, can be applied to the present Government:censensu omnium capax imperii nisi imperasset—and in case there are any technological members on the Government Front Bench, may I roughly translate that as: "We all might have thought they could do the job if we had not seen them trying."
§ LORD MILVERTON
I appreciate that this is really no joking matter. Chaos and darkness indeed lurk in the wings of this position; and it is not a case ofChaos and Darkness heardThe Almighty wordAnd took their flight.In this case, chaos and darkness is waiting on the words of the British Government to come in. I agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and I hope the noble Lord will carry this Motion to a Division, when I will have great pleasure in going into the Lobby to support him.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, may I, on behalf of the technocratic Boeotians on this side of the House, thank the noble Lord who has just sat down for his approximate translation? It was courteous of him indeed. In opening this debate, the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, spoke of African countries where the white minority rule had been terminated too early as having slid back into a morass of tribal misery and poverty.
§ LORD KENNET
Sliding back into a morass of tribal misery and poverty. I wish to detain your Lordships quite shortly, because during the last three weeks I have had the privilege of leading a Parliamentary Delegation for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to one of these countries which is "sliding back into the morass of tribal misery and poverty"—that is, to Nigeria. This is a country where there are half a dozen universities, two of them, at least, being of world renown, staffed entirely by "miserable tribesmen"; a country where there is a flourishing and developing modern industry, overseen and directed by "miserable tribesmen"; a country where there is not one bicameral Legislature, but five, making ten Chambers in all, entirely manned by "miserable tribesmen", some of whose debates I had the good fortune to hear. And I think that if any of your Lordships had been there at the same time you would agree that the standard compared favourably with our own here in Westminster. It was not the same, but it was in no way inferior.
Nigeria is a country laced by modern means of communication, driven and organised by "miserable" and ignorant tribesmen; exporting and importing a large quantity of raw materials and manufactured products, handled by these backsliding "miserable tribesmen"; a country whose Press is, in my opinion, better worth reading than the British Press for its independent spirit and its happy turn of phrase, all turned out with, presumably, parchment and quill pens by "miserable" backsliding tribesmen—and so on and so on. Nigeria has its faults: it is not the perfect democracy.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
If my noble friend will forgive me, he has not mentioned the Judges and the Bar, all of whom have been trained in England, the Lord Chief Justice, that very distinguished lawyer and an old Cambridge tennis blue, all of whom are "miserable tribesmen".
It appears not to have been noticed that these "miserable tribesmen", so-called, have achieved the greatness they have done in Government from the fact that they were governed for a number of years by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, may I also suggest that if my noble and gallant friend Lord Montgomery of Alamein were here he might remind us that there are a whole lot of "miserable tribesmen" North of the Border?
§ LORD KENNET
I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and to other noble Lords, for pointing out the full extent of the achievements of the "miserable tribesmen". It is remarkable indeed. I saw there not only the justices on the bench, but five Speakers and five Presidents of Houses of Chiefs, who, I think I may say, correspond to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack: all the most "miserable tribesmen", wearing the most miserable tribal wigs, and conducting their business precisely on the model set by us in this Parliament during the proconsulship of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and others—and they are not forgetful of this—over the past sixty years.
What I want to say about Nigeria is simply this. It is a country with five Governments, one Federal and four Regional. We visited them all, and every Nigerian we talked to, from the highest to the lowest, had this one subject on the top of his mind—Rhodesia. We had it ten times over; that is to say, twice in each seat of Government we visited. It was always in the same form: "What are you going to do? We are not telling you what you should do; what we are telling you is that we expect the Smith régime to be overthrown. What right have we to expect this? We have the right that we are part of a Commonwealth, which to us is not nothing: it stands for a certain tradition of human and political justice." The entire British presence in Africa during this century stands, to them, for a certain political and human justice; and in the case of the one territory, Rhodesia, they see the current of history dammed, reversed and pumped upstream the other way. In Rhodesia the entire Commonwealth development is going the wrong way, and they conceive, rightly or wrongly—I believe rightly—that as members of the Commonwealth they have the right to ask us to reverse that backwards movement and to bring Rhodesia once again into the stream of history.
225 As I say, from the highest to the lowest this was put to us with eloquence and intelligence: by the Premiers in Nigeria; by the Governors of the Regions in Nigeria; by many Ministers; by the Speakers and Chairmen of Assemblies; by industrial leaders, trade unionists, university professors, taxi drivers, market porters, and by simple men who climb up palm trees in order to tap the wine at the top. There is complete unanimity. It may be important; it may not. I believe it is, because Nigeria, although only one Commonwealth country among many, is, nevertheless, eight times the size of Ghana, a neighbouring State, and something like twelve or fourteen times the size of Rhodesia, which is causing us all so much trouble.
If we stand back to look at the Rhodesian problem, I think that it comes to rest in the great question of the settler ratio. Where there are no settlers, independence is easily achieved, and black African Governments take over easily and run the country in a way which they like, although we do not always like it. But where there are settlers there are difficulties; and the higher the ratio of settlers to natives, the greater the difficulties will be. It would be surprising if it were not so; it is naturally so.
When we look at Rhodesia, we see a country with a very high settler ratio which, naturally enough, is having very great difficulties in the institution of the inevitable black majority rule. I think we should not be too downcast by this. There have been countries with a much higher settler ratio and I refer to the former French North African territories, where independence has been achieved (after long and bloody wars, it is true; which I pray God we may avoid) and where viable States have been set up. The ratio in Rhodesia is about 1 in 18. The ratio in Morocco was 1 in 19, in Tunisia 1 in 12, and in Algeria 1 in 6 or 7. The problem was therefore very much graver in both these countries of Algeria and Morocco. Yet it has been settled. The French never made the mistake of allowing full internal autonomy to settler Governments. This is where we went wrong.
I do not want, at this late stage of the evening, to cast stones backwards historically to a certain date, whenever it was—1953, 1961 or 1963. Mistakes were made 226 at every stage, and it does not matter now. We are all in the same boat, and the mistakes have to be put right. It is obviously impossible that the Commonwealth should retain the meaning it now has, if we are attached to that; it is impossible that it should continue to mean the same thing, if Rhodesia is allowed simply to fall into the pocket of South Africa and become part of the racialist bloc on the Southern tip of the continents. What we must obviously do is to hope and hope, and work for the economic sanctions to suffice. If they do not, I agree with the Government that we must not start a war. If anybody else starts one there I think that our duty will be clear, and I hope that this country will be united in carrying it out, as many hundreds of millions of former British subjects throughout the Commonwealth hope that we do.
In conclusion, let me say that, of all the speeches I have heard this evening (I am sorry I was not able to hear them all), I was most impressed by that of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, who spoke out of a full knowledge of the matters he discussed, and whose words seemed to me to be in the true tradition, not only of the Commonwealth itself, but of the entire historical purpose of the British Empire as it was.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships, like me, will have been tremendously impressed by the speech to which we have just listened. The fact that my noble friend has only just returned from Nigeria, and therefore, as it were, has his finger on the pulse as to the feelings there with regard to Rhodesia, must be of great value to our debate. I feel that he has completely exploded many of the things said during the course of this debate with reference to the inability of the dark races to take part in responsible Government.
The more often I hear the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, address this House, the more amazed I am. I can well understand that, having sat on the Benches so long to-day, it has been necessary for him to go for refreshment, but I am sorry that he is not in his place. But I am constantly amazed that a man with his experience of the Commonwealth, as a responsible Governor in so many territories of the Colonial Empire, as it was, 227 can be so reactionary in his outlook towards the masses of dark people of this world. Every other Governor that I have met, particularly in recent times, has proved as a result of experience to be a liberal-minded person, with a full realisation of the difficulties and the handicaps of the masses of people in places like Africa. I frankly admit that when I listen to the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, I get completely out of patience, and I can hardly sit in my seat. So much for that.
I had prepared an impassioned speech for this debate, but as the day has gone by I have heard each point that I intended to make made by somebody else. My noble and learned friend on the Woolsack let me down straight away. I had carefully framed certain passages in the Command Paper which I wanted to quote to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, about the activities of his friends in 1963 and 1964 on this particular issue, and the very passages I had framed were trotted out by my noble and learned friend one after the other. So in that way I was let down.
The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, knows what my noble and learned friend quoted, and in the light of what Mr. Duncan Sandys said and in the light of what Sir Alec Douglas-Home said to Mr. Winston Field and later to Mr. Ian Smith, I will challenge the noble Lord with the question: Had he been Prime Minister himself in November, 1965, what would he have done? Whilst this has been mentioned previously in the course of our debate, with deep respect I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. that he has never answered that point, unless he leaves us to assume that he would have done nothing at all and just let things drift on with the illegal Government of Rhodesia pleasing themselves what they did in the future with regard to the majority of the people in Rhodesia. This seems to he the only reply that he could possibly offer the House when he was challenged with it previously.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I gave the reply earlier in the day, but I do not think the noble Lord was here.
§ LORD ROYLE
Yes I was here when the challenge came from this side of the House. I am saying with deep respect to the noble Lord that this seemed 228 to be the only answer he could give—that he would have done nothing whatever about it.
§ LORD COLERAINE
No, my Lords. If I did not make myself explicit earlier on, I will try to do so now. I think this is what I should have done faced with U.D.I.—that is what the noble Lord is talking about, is it not?
§ LORD COLERAINE
Faced with U.D.I., I should have applied those measures which automatically flowed from cession from the Commonwealth. I would then have waited and sought reasonably to resume negotiations. I would not have called people names. I would not have attacked them with savage sanctions which would have provoked an inevitable and immediate reaction. I would have tried to reopen negotiations, having done those things which naturally flowed from the cession of relations.
§ LORD ROYLE
I am much obliged to the noble Lord, but it does not answer the point at all. It would have meant that the whole problem would have extended into years and years instead of months, and in the meanwhile the majority of the people of Rhodesia would have been suffering under an illegal Government. At least at the present time Her Majesty's Government are really trying to do something about it to see that that situation does not exist for very long.
Because of what has been said, and said so often this afternoon, on the question of sanctions and tensions and the like, I do not want to detain your Lordships more than a moment longer. I wish to say something which has not been referred to, except very briefly in the admirable maiden speech, if I may say so, of the noble Earl, Lord Lindsey and Abingdon. I see that he is not in his place, but at the close of his speech he made reference to the broadcasting station which is being established in Bechuanaland. I regard this as being as important as sanctions. It seems to me that adding this to sanctions is a way, and probably the only way, in view of the censorship which exists in Rhodesia, of getting over to the mass of the people in Rhodesia the point of view of the British Government. I feel that this is 229 not only desirable but necessary, and I therefore welcome the idea.
I am however, concerned about it in one regard. I have been talking to people who are well informed on this matter and they tell me that the probability is that if only the English language is used many thousands, and maybe millions, of people in Rhodesia will not understand these broadcasts and will never get the British Government's point of view on the present situation. That being so, I would ask my noble friend who is to wind up the debate whether the Government have considered seriously this question of language. I am informed, that half the population of Rhodesia do not speak English at all; that in Mashonaland alone, though there is some knowledge of English, there are two and half million people in Umtali and Gwelo who speak the language called Shona, and that one and a half million people in the Bulawayo area speak Ndebale. How do we get these broadcasts over to them by using their own language?
I understand that the illegal Government is broadcasting in these languages at the present time, and therefore it is necessary that we should broadcast our point of view to tell the real truth to the people in their own languages. I may say that there is no doubt that there are in Britain at this time numerous black Rhodesians who are anti-Smith and who would be very glad to serve as announcers in the languages which I have mentioned. I just throw out that suggestion.
I am right behind the Government in what they are doing. I believe that sanctions, and the like, are the only way of tackling this problem. They cannot be avoided. But I hope that action will be short and sharp, and will be completely effective. In conclusion I would say to those noble Lords who support the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, that a small section of white Rhodesians are driving the Commonwealth to disaster and holding it to ransom. It is they who started it, not the Africans and not Her Majesty's Government; and I sincerely hope that if we do go into the Lobbies tonight the Motion will be overwhelmingly defeated.
§ 9.6 p.m.
My Lords, I sincerely hope that if a savage from North of the Border for a brief 230 moment refers to the Motion which is before us it will not be out of order to do so. I wish to refer only to the last paragraph, which says:and affirms its belief that at the end of the day the problems relating to Southern Rhodesia can only be resolved by negotiation.One of the reasons why I dare to inflict a speech on your Lordships to-night is that I know that part of the world reasonably well. I worked up and down there as a contractor, tendering for engineering contracts in Rhodesia, South Africa, Nyasaland, and Swaziland, so I have a running knowledge of the place. I want to put to your Lordships a solution suggested to me by a very dear friend of mine, a black savage and a very wise African indeed. He is a very good friend of mine and I wish to retain his friendship and many other friendships of Africans and Europeans I have met out there and have kept up with, and therefore I do not wish to say anything tonight to upset them.
The fundamental problem in Rhodesia and in all the high-ratio settler countries, is the fear of domination. To me the domination by black over white is distasteful, but it is equally distasteful to have white domination over black. Any domination, so far as I am concerned, is out. Therefore surely one must have multiracialism, and to get multiracialism to work can be done only by real equality, not paper equality. The suggestion that was put to me, and I think is very wise indeed, is that the mistake that the white people are said to have made is counting heads without counting what is in them. The suggestion is this: that if you divide your total Parliament into, say, 60 white men and 60 black men, or whatever the numbers may be, but keep them equal, you then can do away with all your complicated sums which nobody understands, of who can vote for whom. You can have universal franchise and have it tomorrow. You have not got to be educated; you do not create a class of educated native who crows over his unfortunate brother who is not educated. You stick together, you rely on men of goodwill working together; and if you tell me there is not one black man or white man of goodwill, I do not believe it. You could run the country completely on that basis. There is another advantage, which 231 nobody has mentioned: that, with the best will in the world, there is a large proportion of responsible Africans of the age of 40 to 45 who will never be educated; they will never have the opportunity. Therefore, under these complicated arrangements they are never going to get the vote. Why should they not?
As long as you work on that basis you could give Rhodesia independence within the Commonwealth to-morrow, and you would stipulate with their independence that we could not upset this ratio of complete and utter equality, this real practical working equality, unless they themselves voted for it on some formula such as two-thirds majority. I would say that this is worth thinking about, and this came not from me but from my black friend—and there is no reason why I should not name him he is the Paramount Chief of Swaziland, a very wise man indeed. I would leave that thought with your Lordships.
One other thing illustrates a little how cussed we savages North of the Border are. There are a number of us no longer North of the Border, but now in Rhodesia. I was urged not to speak to your Lordships tonight, and I nearly did not, but one of the reasons why I did was that I was urged not to. That is something you can apply in Rhodesia.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ LORD HAIRE OF WHITEABBEY
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, should have been present on earlier occasions when perhaps his excellent suggestion might have had a better reception. Unfortunately, as we have heard to-day from many speakers, there are no longer men of good will in Rhodesia and consequently little hope of his suggestion succeeding.
There is a Member of your Lordships' House who is a cousin of mine, and I guarantee he is a man of reasonable proportion—he is enormous—and of temperament, too.
§ LORD HAIRE OF WHITEABBEY
The noble Viscount should go on the Mission who may shortly go to Rhodesia, in the hope that he can convert Smith and his worthies to being men of good will.
232 This has been a long debate and I do not propose to extend it unduly, except to say that to me the most notable speech from the opposite Benches this afternoon was that made by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, who, it seemed to me, with a good deal of fervour and House of Commons manner, enabled this debate of ours to focus. He did, in fact, give me the reality of the situation, because he made it clear that this situation we are discussing to-day is indeed a dangerous situation: it is highly critical, and we are indeed almost facing a near-war situation. The sooner we can get this realism into our discussion I think the nearer we are to facing up to the situation.
It is almost four weeks since U.D.I. was declared, since the Prime Minister made his last minute strenuous efforts, his courageous efforts, to try to save the white Rhodesians from themselves, and I think that in making these efforts he won the admiration of public opinion in this country and of the world. Unfortunately, he has not won the admiration of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine who has moved this Motion to-day. In the past four weeks the noble Lord, who I regret to see is not in his place, has asked many questions, each more unfriendly, each more resentful, each more damaging than the last, culminating in to-day's near-Motion of Censure, with his statement that the Prime Minister's reputation was tarnished and that all we were doing was engaging in a childish Christmas charade.
The approach of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has been a curious one to all of us on this side of the House. It has been curious because he has claimed that he is not a supporter of the Smith Government, and is not a supporter of U.D.I. Yet he has sought to paint the Prime Minister as deceitful, as a hypocrite, as insincere. He gave the impression that the Government are anti-white and for immediate majority rule; and now, to-day, that we are cheats of the rights of pensioners. Why does the noble Lord do all this? This was the question the noble Lord, Lord Byers, asked earlier this afternoon. Why does the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, do this in the face of world opinion, in the face of majority opinion within his own Party? Does he do it to bolster his reactionary friends in Rhodesia? Is he trying to boost the Smith Government, or is he doing just 233 as Lord Byers hinted earlier, playing coloured politics? Certainly, the noble Lord's ill-judged interventions can only strengthen the rebel Government in Rhodesia, and can only do damage to Her Majesty's Government when, in all the circumstances, we should be showing to Rhodesia a united front—more especially as both Parties are committed to the stand we have taken.
As my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor pointed out to-day, both Parties are committed to oppose U.D.I. Both Parties are committed to oppose the use of force; both are committed to the use of sanctions, in total or in part. Both Parties are committed to the rule of law in Rhodesia. Both Parties accept the Constitution of 1961. Both accept the idea of a gradual progress towards a multiracial society for Rhodesia. We on this side have never asked for majority African control as a prerequisite to the settlement of the dispute.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, may I be allowed to interrupt the noble Lord, to suggest to him that there is also a further possibility—that both Parties might be wrong?
§ LORD HAIRE OF WHITEABBEY
My Lords, perhaps we shall have a Division to-night, and that will settle it in the meantime.
§ LORD HAIRE OF WHITEABBEY
My Lords, it may not, but we are voting in regard to an ugly situation and we must make our judgment felt. We believe that self-government will come in Rhodesia based on majority rule, but only in the fullness of time and when the coloured people there have had political education and experience in Government and administration. We both believe that progress towards this goal has been delayed and deliberately down-played by the Smith régime. Rhodesia is moving towards being a Police State. For a lead it has turned its eyes to South Africa and not to Great Britain.
In the weeks and months before U.D.I. this process towards apartheid has been accelerated. It would be a blot upon the Commonwealth and all that it stands for if we were to stand idly by to-day and let these dictators in Rhodesia have their way. This was the justification for 234 sanctions: to show, in the first instance, that we meant business, and, in the second phase which began last week, that, by keeping sanctions short and sharp, we intend to make sure they will be effective. I believe, with many of your Lordships, that the recent history of sanctions shows the need that they should be short and sharp. It is true that many of our supporters, many innocent people, many coloured people in Rhodesia, will also suffer—and pensioners too, which is partly what this Motion is about, though it is evident that administrative protection can be given in cases of hardship. I look forward to the reply of my noble friend the Leader of the House to-night to indicate what this will be.
If we can make sanctions effective we may yet avoid a conflict, a coloured clash in the heart of Africa. It seems to me, at least, that the Rhodesians are Hell-bent to bring about such a clash. Many say, "Let them express a death wish if they want to". But, say others, "Let us not get involved". There is so much inflammable material around Africa that the risk is too great. This last week-end we have seen a worsening of this threat. The 36 States of the O.A.U. are attempting to call the tune and threatening us as to what will happen if we do not take action. Some threaten to leave the Commonwealth. But must the unity of the Commonwealth be sacrificed for a few power-crazy fools in Rhodesia? Not that the power-crazy fools are all white. There are Nassers and Nkrumahs in Africa. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations did right when he said, on his return last week-end, that we are not going to allow anybody to push us around.
Nevertheless, the situation in Africa is now most delicately balanced. There are many fingers on the trigger there. It will take the utmost statesmanship to avoid a conflict. Another Congo might well be what some other nations—and not necessarily African nations—want. The humiliation of Britain might well be a joy to them. We are all anxious to avoid a shooting war, but the diplomacy and timing to avoid this may not be allowed 'us. If shooting breaks out and the situation becomes serious, the Security Council will no doubt assert itself. The United Nations may well want to send a peace-keeping force and may ask us to 235 allow it to establish a legal Government. Thus, we should lose our British responsibility for Rhodesia, which is an outcome I am certain none of your Lordships wants. We can but hope that good sense will prevail among the O.A.U. and that we shall be given time to prove that the sanctions which we have rightly applied will be effective.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, it is not often that such a large number of Peers wish to express their views as the number on the list of speakers to-day. This debate has certainly ranged widely and, in the main, it would seem that expressions of feelings on both sides of the House coincide—when I say "feelings" I mean those about what should be done in the present situation. Personally, I can understand the difficulty which faced the noble and learned Viscount. Lord Dilhorne, in the line he was to take. Hitherto there has been a generous bipartisan policy, but there are doubtless many of us on this side of the House who take some encouragement from what was said by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, last Saturday, as to the wisdom of some new reservations. Personally, I do not feel that the debate has ranged too widely, or that there can be any justification for Viscount Dilhorne's view that he would not be able to vote for the Motion. I have hopes that my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, having heard the debate, will be able to tell us something different.
The Motion affirms the belief that at the end of the day the problems relating to Southern Rhodesia can only be resolved by negotiation. Personally I dissociate myself from all "isms", whether racialism, Africanism, or any other ideology. I listened with great admiration to the brilliant speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, which was fluent, clear and factual. He did not give us very much encouragement about what was to be done now, but, if I understood him correctly, he at least gave us a crumb of encouragement to feel that talks with Smith were not necessarily ruled out. Personally, I dislike coercion. I am a Yorkshireman and I hate being bullied into anything. I can be led but not driven. I feel that punitive measures—and here I 236 merely repeat what has already been said so often—are only going to intensify resolution. Generally, the more human beings are driven, the more resolute they become.
There are two points I wish to make, and at the outset I would associate myself with the human side of these problems. I read most carefully the last debate in your Lordships' House on Rhodesia, which I myself was unable to attend. I thought that the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, Lord Salter, and Lord Grimston of Westbury lifted the discussion out of the legalities of the matter into an examination of the human side.
There are just these two points to which I am going to refer. My mind goes back to an earlier debate when three past Secretaries of State for the Colonies —the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, and the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton—all testified to what was their understanding of the arrangements which had been made with regard to the Constitution. It is my recollection that at that time the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor took a view exactly opposite to that which the three past Secretaries of State held about the intentions on the Constitution.
I am puzzled about the fifth point, which requires that it be acceptable to the whole of the people of Rhodesia. I cannot see how that could possibly be implemented practically. Anybody who has been over the African kraals and seen the people there will know how impossible it is to get an impression. I come to the point about oppression. What a lot of humbug and insincerity there is on this matter! The people of Rhodesia are not being oppressed. Anybody who has been into the native locations in Rhodesia will know the conditions in which they live, with their gardens and shops, the automobiles and all the attributes of a developing society. If one has been near the factories, one will have seen the work-people who are not interested in making disorders but interested in their daily lives. They are not being oppressed, and I think there is an awful lot of humbug from many who just do not know the country and its habits.
I was impressed by what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, about doing 237 something practical. Let us try to find a solution. I take it that one of the main difficulties is that even the Prime Minister could not get any agreement between the black leaders themselves. So I do not know how on earth anyone is going to make much progress until independence is granted, but let us hope that the problem will be surmounted. I was also impressed by an article in The Times the other day about the agreement on the independence of British Guiana, which is a multiracial society. It quoted the International Commission of Jurists, who said:We believe that until independence is achieved the community will not find the national self-reliance, the common purpose and the cohesion of nationhood that are necessary for the successful pursuit of a racially integrated society.There are many who feel that if there had been greater trust in Rhodesia in what would have been a progressive evolution over the years, this disaster which we all so lament would not have occurred.
There is an angle to this to which there has not been much reference to-day. These measures which we have taken are going to have a disquieting effect on buyers of British goods all over the world. They are going to say, "If a Government can take this action against its own people, what might it do against us?" Before they buy capital equipment they are going to say, "We will have a try elsewhere. Is there going to be an attempted repetition of sanctions, a prohibition of exports to certain countries?" Goodness knows! we want to export. Then, with regard to armaments, we find that other countries are shipping armaments to belligerents all over the world, so why on earth should not we? We have got to live, and we have got to live by exports. At least, we are told that continuously, and I have some conviction that it is correct.
Then take the sterling balances. Mucking around with balances is a very dangerous thing, and will be remembered widely throughout the world. Many countries which might keep their balances in England might have second thoughts about it. I suggest that is one of the things which has been made more difficult by the action with regard to the Reserve Bank. One would think, without technical knowledge, that it is going to cause all sorts of confusion in the City on a wider 238 scale. Incidentally, my Lords, I read with interest the other day that even in the War of Independence Britain paid the interest on George Washington's portfolio all the time; and in the case of Egypt at the time of the Suez incident we did not block the Egyptian balances. It is encouraging that in this debate there has been a moderation of language and an absence of that partisanship or great emotion which stirred us at the time of the Egyptian trouble with regard to Suez.
There was a reference—I forget who by; I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Rea—to minority government. Let us remember that, of course, a minority Government has been governing in Hungary, for instance. What a massacre there was there! And what did we or the United Nations or anybody else do to stop it, or to try to stop it? What about Poland? What about Czechoslovakia? They are all being governed by minorities. What is the true proportion of Communists in those countries? It is a very small one. I have just referred to Nasser. I was recently in Israel looking at the relics of the War of Independence. What futility! There is a continuing state of war between Israel and the Arab countries. Is that all the United Nations can produce? What has Nasser's attitude been? He has said, "Israel must be eliminated at all costs". Is that a peaceful attitude?
Now we have the African States threatening all kinds of things. If we look in yesterday's Hansard will shall see that £22 million sterling, free of interest, is being loaned to these African States that are telling us, Britain, that they will get out of the Commonwealth—£40 million in all. As I said the last time I spoke, before U.D.I., I was recently in Williamsburg, where I saw a film which showed the incidents at the start of the War of Independence. There was a unilateral declaration of intention by action. I do not recollect that there was much objection to taking assistance from the United States in the last two wars even though they had been rebels against us.
Again I return to the human side. Let us look at this matter from a wider angle. There are those who say it would be a mistake to go to a Division to-day, as my noble friend intends. If he does, I will certainly follow him into the Lobby. I say that because, if it is an 239 adverse vote, as it may well be in this House, one may yet think that this House is representative of the feelings of the country. We have recently had evidence of a vote in this House—2 to 1 in favour of the abolition of the death penalty—which the overwhelming majority of the country was against. So I take with reservations, as my noble friend said, what the decision may he. Those people in Rhodesia are closer to the Congo than we are. They have the belief, wrongly, that a dislocation of the existing methods may well lead to another tragedy like that. If we disagree with them, let us at least be human enough to understand that it is possible that others who are nearer to it can have that concern.
My Lords, I well remember the strong feeling in March, 1914, when there was an attempt to coerce the Protestant minority of Northern Ireland. There was no moderation of language in Parliament, as those will realise who care, as I did, to read Hansard on the debates in March, 1914. I had hoped that the noble Earl the Leader of the House might be in the House at this moment. But in his absence I will not refrain from saying that his forbears through many generations have served Ireland well; and we in this House have great admiration for him. I should like to quote the following lines. I am sure he will like them.I met with Napper Tandy and he took me by the hand,And he said how's poor auld Ireland and how does she stand?And now, my Lords, I will parody the remaining lines:And if the colour we must wear is England's cruel red,Let it remind us of the blood that Rhodesia has shed.But till that day, please God, I'll stick to the freedom of this land!That thought must be in the minds of many people in Rhodesia. Let us be human. Let us realise that they are of our flesh and blood. Negotiation surely is possible. Some solution, such as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, suggested, should come. That must be the right solution. There should be no feeling that it would be undignified for a British Government to change its attitude. Let us have conciliation, not coercion; peace, not punishment.
§ 9.39 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has spoken very eloquently and urged us to be human with regard to our approach to Rhodesia. I should like to support what he has said, but in a rather different sense, because I want to avoid being political in any way. Rather I wish to make a request to the Government on humanitarian grounds to be generous about war pensions. The noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, made an eloquent plea for war pensioners which I should like to support. I believe that those who allowed these pension prohibitions to take place have failed to understand the harm that they will do to the Commonwealth cause—harm which will greatly outweigh the small return in money. Among the war pensioners only 476 are receiving war disability pensions; there are only 84 war widows and only 14 dependants.
War pensions have been earned through service under the Union Jack. They have been given as compensation for suffering the ill-effects of war and in an attempt to mitigate some of the hardships which must inevitably be more difficult to bear as old age creeps on. They have been rightly regarded as an honour, and anyone entitled to them is proud to have earned the privilege of his award. In my view they should be continued, no matter what the political situation may be. It is, on principle, wrong that war pensions should be subjected to political vagaries. Once we adopt a wrong principle we shatter something of that precious faith shared by so many comrades in arms of many colours and creeds who put their trust in our leadership. That comradeship, I can say from some years' experience through service with the British Commonwealth Services League, is a tremendous power for good. Built up at a time of war, its spiritual quality rises above all matters affecting colour problems and the African national problem. It provides one of the few bridges between the Commonwealth African and British and those who live in Rhodesia to-day. I believe that the curtailment of pensions, even on a temporary basis, would be physically and morally wrong and would be a serious blow to everything for which the British Government and Commonwealth stands.
241 I believe that the Government will weaken their position vis-à-vis British pensioners in other parts of the world. Recently the Burmese Government decided to discontinue the pensions paid to British pensioners who served in the Burmese forces during the last war. The British Government made strong representations to the Burmese Government for these pensions to be continued, and their representations were successful. Now the boot is on the other foot and the British Government are proposing to stop pensions to Rhodesians who served in the British Forces. If they do this, how can they expect to make representations in the future to other Governments on behalf of expatriate British people?
The offer of assistance to those who can prove that they need it seems to me at this juncture to be adding insult to injury. The Rhodesian Government has been very quick to assume responsibility for our pensioners, but I doubt whether anyone who will have been treated by us in a way which they may consider to be shabby will be so lacking in pride and dignity as to plead with us for support in the present circumstances. For these few reasons, my Lords, I hope that the Government will reconsider their policy. I cannot help feeling that this decision crept in through an oversight, and any mistake is best put right before it is too late.
§ 9.43 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I have listened very carefully to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, as I did to his several other speeches on the Rhodesian crisis. Having regard to the seriousness of the situation, I think it unfortunate that the noble Lord should appear to be only too ready to seize upon any pretext to attack and criticise the Government's handling of the Rhodesian situation. I think that the noble Lord. Lord Coleraine, and those who support him, would do well to keep in the forefront of their minds the fact that the present crisis was not caused by the British Government. It is not of our making, and as your Lordships will know, because you have from time to time been reminded, it began when the Rhodesian Government demanded independence in the spring of 1963 and culminated in its illegal declaration of independence.
242 I feel, and I know that many of my noble friends on this side of your Lordships' House also feel, that had not Rhodesia taken this course, it is unlikely that any British Government would have attempted to force immediate changes in the 1961 Constitution. But the Rhodesian Government decided to act, and it is from its action that the present situation and crisis stems. If the measures adopted by our Government—I say "our Government" because it is not quite clear to me on whose side noble Lords opposite are—are beginning to hurt, then the Smith régime has only itself to blame. The noble Marquess complained rather bitterly about the indiscriminate application of sanctions. I would ask the noble Marquess how one can apply sanctions without their affecting every one. Sanctions are like the natural things of this life they fall on everybody, and, unfortunately, the good suffer along with the bad.
The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, talks about the need for negotiation. What does the noble Lord think the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth Secretary, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General were doing in the weeks before the declaration of independence, if they were not negotiating to prevent what may well prove to be a disaster for Rhodesia? I doubt whether history records a more sincere or sustained attempt by any Prime Minister to bring about a happy solution to a problem than that attempted by the present Prime Minister—if I may say so, the best peace-time Prime Minister of this century. Let it be clearly understood that no one man could have done more than Harold Wilson.
The final outcome of this matter, so we are often told, will either be force or negotiation. While force is sometimes necessary, I think that all Members of your Lordships' House hope that it will be avoided. But negotiation will be possible only if sanctions are effective. It is for this reason that I advocated in your Lordships' House on Thursday, November 25 last, that sanctions must be not only punitive, but catastrophic. They have got to hurt. I derive no pleasure, no joy, no satisfaction, in saying that. Like the noble Lord, Lord Byers I have friends in Rhodesia. I have been to 243 Rhodesia. It is true that I am not an authority or an expert on Rhodesia, but I was there about three years ago.
I think that we have to ask ourselves: Is it likely that the Smith régime will negotiate if they can continue to manage, as they may well be able to do, if we and other countries take half-hearted and ineffective measures? Certain noble Lords opposite—I think that it would be fair to refer to them as the Rhodesia Lobby, and I say, "certain" because I do not want to tar all noble Lords opposite with the same brush—must know this to be true; that sanctions have got to be effective. Or do they want the British Government to go cap in hand to Mr. Smith or to accept the present situation in Rhodesia as a fait accompli and do nothing whatever in the matter? If the Smith régime are really anxious to resolve the present situation successfully, it is difficult to understand why they have dismissed and replaced the Governor and have done their best to humiliate him. After all, he is the Queen's representative. I can well understand the difficulty in which certain noble Lords opposite find themselves, in view of their financial interests in Rhodesia.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
In case noble Lords did not hear that, may I repeat it? I can well understand the difficulty in which certain noble Lords opposite find themselves, in view of their financial interests in Rhodesia, their 19th-century colonial attitude and their obvious desire to placate certain business interests in Rhodesia. May I remind your Lordships that the speeches in this House, the approach to, and the handling of, the Rhodesian crisis, will have to face the judgment of history, and it is to be hoped that, when the time comes, the judgment of history will not suggest that financial interest and concern for profit were placed before loyalty, justice and the rule of law. Nor do I hope that the judgment of history will say that Mr. Smith had a fifth column in your Lordships' House. When certain noble Lords advocate the watering down of economic measures, I hope they will realize—
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
If the noble Lord will allow me to intervene, he has made a very serious attack on the honour of certain noble Lords who have spoken in the debate. I would ask him this. Has he given them notice of the fact that he proposed to make an attack upon them, which I notice he is making in their absence?
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
I am only asking the noble Lord that question because I think it is a well-understood Parliamentary convention that, if a Member is going to attack a particular individual's personal honour, at least he ought to have the courtesy to give the other Member proper notice of that attack.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
I am obliged to the noble and learned Viscount. I was not attacking any particular individual.
§ LORD BARNBY
Did the noble Lord intend to convey that anybody who spoke with views different from his was a member of a fifth column in this country?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I feel that I should intervene. I think that in the ordinary way my noble friend has used language which is not often used here.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Yes. But may I also say that any old Member of this House must have been surprised, to say the least, that a number of noble Lords spoke to-day who are known to have economic interests which they did not declare. We did not raise it—may I be allowed to finish? In a previous debate, at least two noble Lords, I agree, declared interests; but they did not declare them to-day. I am afraid that this is what happens if noble Lords do not declare their interests. It may be as well if we move on to the grave question we are discussing.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
I really must intervene. The noble Earl the Leader of the House has said that these interests have not been declared. I have been present when they have been declared.
245 Is the noble Earl really saying that our memories are so short that they have to be declared in each debate? I should have thought that this was asking too much. But I come back to this point. The noble Lord who is speaking has really abused the privileges of the House by making these personal attacks on the honour of noble Lords without giving any notice at all.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am afraid that I disagree with the noble Viscount. I think it would have been more seemly if the interests had been declared again to-day. I do not think a declaration once and for all is sufficient. I did not raise it at the time, because we raise these things as little as possible. But since my noble friend has been attacked, I feel that I must make this point.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
The noble Earl's noble friend has not been attacked. It is the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, who has seen fit to make these imputations without notice, which I should have thought was contrary to the practice of the House.
§ LORD BARNBY
The noble Earl gave the impression that he rather thought that anybody who had special knowledge—
§ LORD BARNBY
—ought not to be listened to with the same respect. It reminds me of the feelings so often expressed during the war, of the danger of putting into office individuals who had great technical knowledge or large vested interests, because they must be considered not to be representative.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
Would the noble Lord name the members whom he is attacking for not declaring their interests?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
They are perfectly well-known in this House. But it is more proper to declare them.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
When certain noble Lords advocate the watering down of economic measures, I hope they will realize—
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
—that what might well happen if these sanctions prove ineffective, and if the rebel Government is not brought to heel, is that the Organisation of African Unity might well decide to take the matter out of the hands of the British Government. I think it would be advisable for your Lordships to realise that we cannot—
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether the estates which are taken out of British hands would have to pay up debts owing to-day—
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
Do not let us underestimate the potential of the 36-nation organisation, and do not let us underestimate the militant mood that they are in—a mood which could easily give rise to a situation far worse than sanctions. If that organisation decided to take independent action, which we should all regret, the situation in Rhodesia would be far worse than any situation which sanctions could cause. Peace in Africa is much more certain—and I say this believing it to be so—if we pursue a policy of effective sanctions. This may be a bitter pill for certain noble Lords to swallow, but I would remind them that we have both a legal and a moral obligation to the Africans.
For generations the Church has taught, and in my view quite rightly, that Africans are equal in the sight of God. But more often than not our words, and sometimes our actions, have made it quite clear that they are not equal in the sight of mail. Our cause and concern must not be solely for the 200,000 Europeans, but also for the 4 million Africans. I believe that to be the heart of the matter, and the root of the trouble. For the past few years, Rhodesian Governments have moved further and further to the Right, and the future of the Africans under the Smith régime is less hopeful than under previous Governments.
We know the aim and purpose of Mr. Smith, so far as the African is concerned.
247 He has made it quite clear, although many noble Lords opposite deny that he is against African majority. I want to remind noble Lords of what Mr. Smith said. He said this:If we ever have an African majority in this country, we shall have failed in our policy of trying to make a place for the white man.Sooner or later Britain will have to establish a new political and social order in Rhodesia, and in this connection I hope the British Government will soon make known their plans. Whatever is finally proposed, I believe that the 1961 Constitution may well have to be scrapped. It is far from being a satisfactory basis for a realistic attempt to create a multiracial society. Meanwhile, until the Smith régime has seen the error of its ways, I hope the British Government will continue to deal with the situation with resolution, and not hesitate to take all possible steps to impose drastic and effective economic measures, which I trust will cause the Rhodesian Govern-to reconsider its position. May I say this in conclusion? I also hope that some noble Lords opposite will stop behaving in such a way as to cause some of us to think that they are bent in giving comfort and aid to the rebel Government.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat has seen fit to add to such arguments as he put forward charges against the motives of noble Lords on this side of the House who have addressed themselves to the very difficult problem we are debating to-day. In 25 years in another place, and in some four or five years in this House, I can say truthfully that I do not recall any speech to compare with the one to which we have just listened, in attributing base motives to those with whom the noble Lord has political differences.
I would say that, although my speech to-day will not be in support of those who are advocating this Motion before the House, I have complete and absolute confidence in the complete moral integrity and rectitude, and the honourable motives, with which this Motion has been put forward. I should also like to add one thing to the noble Earl who leads the House. The fact that one who is the Party Leader is, at the same time, the 248 Leader of the House imposes upon him a difficult responsibility. It is one of not necessarily supporting those who belong to his own Party but of trying to maintain the high standard of debate which is customary in this House, and I regret to say—and I say this of an old personal friend—that I think what he said to-day, in support of the noble Lord behind him, was not in accordance with the best traditions of the leadership of this House.
My Lords, I turn to the Motion before the House. It falls, I think, into three parts: the first dealing with the matter of pensions, the second with economic sanctions and the third with a future settlement of this difficult problem. I hope that the noble Earl, in his reply, will be able to say something with regard to the pensions, in amplification of what has already been said. I cannot think that to deny the payment of pensions which have been honourably earned by servants of the State, by people who have served in the Armed Forces, some of whom have been wounded in the service of the Crown, can be a useful, effective or honourable sanction. It is not, in fact. in line with what the Prime Minister himself said in an interview which he gave to the Daily Mirror last Sunday, from which I intend extensively to quote. The Prime Minister said:Our aim has been that sanctions should not punish or hurt for the sake of hurting, but make Mr. Smith's economic rule unworkable.I cannot think that the application of that principle can possibly apply to the payment of pensions to ex-servants of the Crown living in Rhodesia.
I turn briefly to the matter of economic sanctions. No one who has spoken to-day has suggested that when there was the U.D.I. no action should be taken. Even my noble friend Lord Coleraine, when he was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, what he would do about it (I noted his words) said that he would not have ignored it but he would have "played it slow". My Lords, what is the meaning of "playing it slow"? Playing what slow? Really! My Lords, an answer of that kind to a clear question as to what he would have done is using comfortable words as a substitute for thought.
249 Sanctions are of two kinds: they are either ineffective or effective. I have always thought that ineffective sanctions do no good and do untold harm. It is therefore essential, if you are going to have sanctions, even if you begin by "playing them slow", to follow them up and make them effective. That is not only my view; it is the view of a very wise and experienced Rhodesian statesman, Lord Malvern. In an interview with The Times on November 14, three days after U.D.I., he said:Half-hearted sanctions would have no effect on Rhodesia. The best hope is for sanctions to work quickly to give the régime a rude awakening.I believe that that is the right course. I believe that is what the Government are doing. In the same interview with the Daily Mirror, the Prime Minister undertook that there would be no invasion, no bloodshed, and therefore the decision surely must come from the application of economic force.
I turn lastly to the matter of a settlement. I think the most valuable speeches that we have heard to-day have been those that are looking forward to the time when it will be possible, through negotiations, to bring this distressing matter to a satisfactory conclusion. Again, the Prime Minister, in that very remarkable and encouraging interview that he gave, said that these negotiations could be resumed "without fear, without surrender, without recrimination". Then he quoted Abraham Lincoln—" With malice towards none "and" Binding up the nation's wounds ". I believe that that spirit is the spirit that we all desire to see. It is the only spirit in which a permanent and satisfactory solution will be found.
But it is no use reopening negotiations at the present time if the almost interminable negotiations, of which this large volume is only one part, are to be resumed, and if Mr. Smith goes on saying, again and again, the same thing he has said to Conservative and Socialist Ministers successively. Nor, indeed, is it any use opening negotiations if his views are still the same as he stated them to be at page 105 of the Blue Book. Talking about when majority rule would be introduced, he said:He himself had estimated anything from 15 to 50 years. But 5 years ago Sir Edgar Whitehead had predicted a period as short 250 as 12 years. The Rhoclesian Government must therefore "—and the word "therefore", of course, refers to as short a period as twelve years—retain their powers in this field, since, if it appeared at a future election that an African Government was probable and the Rhodesian Government felt, in the light of developments in the countries to the .North of Rhodesia, that this would still be premature, they must have the power to delay such a majority by, for example, a reduction in the B Roll seats. In the last resort, this would he their only means of preserving their civilisation.It is useless to reopen negotiations if that is in fact still the point of view of the present régime. Therefore, economic force will be needed in order to obtain such concessions on the other side as are necessary for the negotiations to have any chance of success.
I believe that this policy of economic force is necessary, first because it is right and, secondly, because if it is not effective then Afro-Asian countries will intervene, with the support, I have no doubt, of the Communist Powers. There is no idea at the present time of introducing "One man, one vote", to-morrow, but the new Constitution must be one that contains the support and enjoys the confidence of moderate Africans. Again I quote Lord Malvern in that most remarkable interview that he gave to The Times. He said about his own people:All that we had to do was to build up a strong African middle class and make friends with them.I believe that there will emerge ultimately, as a result of this economic pressure, an authority in Rhodesia which will be willing and glad to return to the path of the Constitution, and that it will then be possible for negotiations to be reopened with the Government of this country—and we have been assured that they will welcome any such offer. I believe, too, that although neither Nkomo nor Sithole can have all that they are asking for, and that equally Smith and Dupont cannot retain all that they have at the present time, when this great operation by this country has been brought, as I am confident it will be, to a successful conclusion, there will be an opportunity for men of good will of both colours to come together, and for a biracial and satisfactory Constitution to be arrived at, and to be constitutionally brought into operation.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I shall not detain the House for long, but I want to make a brief contribution on behalf of many people who must be in a similar position to myself. It seems to me that millions outside this House, and several inside it, have no firsthand knowledge of Rhodesia. We are dependent for information on what we read, on what we hear, and on what we see on television. Noble Lords who come into this category have the privilege of being able to come to this House and to hear what takes place in this Chamber.
This brings me to the debate of November 15 last, when we sat here until the early hours of the morning. I think most of us were so interested that we heard most of the speeches that took place at that time. I can only say that at 2 o'clock in the morning, although I was weary, I was a great deal more knowledgeable than I had been when that debate commenced. I have not been in this House a long time, but I felt on November 15 that this was an occasion on which one could be proud to be a Member of your Lordships' House. Listening then, it seemed to me that the quality of the speeches, and the responsibility of those taking part, showed what your Lordships' House could do, and what I feel is coming more and more to be recognized, is capable of doing.
For that debate I had here in the Gallery some American friends who have still not got over the fact of inter-Party unity, and the responsibility which they felt was shown by speakers on both sides of the House, who came together on a national issue and did not allow themselves to be fragmented on Party political matters. This is something we always very much hope we can do in British politics, but to my American friends this was a complete surprise.
It seemed to me, following on that debate, that one of the greatest tragedies that could arise in this House would be if this inter-Party unity were to be destroyed. Those of us who have been in another place, or who have been Members of this House, for a long time know that it is not always easy for the Back Benchers, and certainly not easy for the Front Benchers. We have seen in both Houses Members who take an extreme position—I am not being derogatory 252 when I use the word "extreme"—trying to prod their Front Benchers at Question Time or in debate into taking notice of their views. It is not always easy for the Front Benchers, bearing in mind the conflicting interests, not to be tempted into making some injudicious comment. The more the matter of Rhodesia becomes involved in Party politics, the greater the danger that we shall make a wrong decision. On Saturday, Mr. Heath said:We are trying to maintain national unity under difficult circumstances. I do not want to see this country split down the middle over Rhodesia.He went on to say:There is a way of safeguarding the interests of all races. The public misunderstanding has been that the only alternative to Mr. Smith seizing independence was immediate African majority rule. This has never been the situation.I think that we would all agree with the Leader of the Opposition that alternatives should somehow be conveyed to the people in Rhodesia. Equally, I think it must have been obvious to us all, even before the Daily Mirror was published yesterday, that the Prime Minister would launch such a campaign at a time when he, on information available to the Cabinet but not to us, felt that the moment of greatest effectiveness had arrived. I think it is also clear that if this type of campaign of peace talks, if that be the correct term, were launched too soon the tough supporters who surrounded Mr. Smith would take it as support for what they have done. I believe it is the last thing that the people of Britain want. I believe, too, that it is the last thing the majority in this House would want.
When I came to the House to-day I came here in a despondent mood because I regretted the support which I understood was to be given by the Opposition Front Bench to the Motion which was before the House to-day. Of course, the Rhodesian problem can be solved only by negotiation. This is what the Prime Minister has been trying to do. I think there are very few people in this country to-day who would not agree that the Prime Minister did everything in his power to prolong this period of negotiations. During these last few weeks, I, in common with other noble Lords, have listened to a number of people expressing 253 their views on this matter. Usually I have listened to people who do not share my political opinions and who were not supporters of the Prime Minister. I am not exaggerating when I say that it has given me particular pleasure to listen to these people, far more than in listening to those who share my views, saying that they think the Prime Minister has done a superb job during these last few weeks, and that he has indeed revealed himself as a national leader.
What worried me today was that such a Motion should come from the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. I know that he explained to us in the House today that he was not a supporter of U.D.I., but I am sure that he will agree that there must be very few people in Rhodesia who do not regard him as a supporter of U.D.I. This is not his fault, but this is how things tend to be reported. I felt that such a Motion coming, if I may say so without offence, from such a quarter and supported by the Opposition Front Bench could only bring comfort indeed to Mr. Smith. But when I listened to the speech of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, I began to hope that what I had understood to he correct was in fact incorrect after all.
I do not know how the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, would feel about it—he would probably think that it was not for me to say—but I should like to say that I, for one, was enormously heartened by his speech. It seemed to me—again, I do not wish to sound presumptuous—to be an expression of responsibility, and I felt that what he said held out hope that we in this House today might be able to get somewhere on this particular matter. Also—something that has not been mentioned today—I felt that this inter-Party unity, if I may call it that, has been revealed by the names of those people who have agreed to serve as directors of the Bank of Rhodesia. This seemed to me to be very much an expression of all-Party agreement, and I thought before I came to the House today that those names, indeed, must provide no comfort at all for any of those people involved, willingly or unwillingly, in what could be, I think, a tragedy of the greatest magnitude, and that is the breaking of inter-Party unity on this explosive issue.
254 Finally, my Lords, Mr. Heath said that this Government must realise that when people took independence illegitimately they would not change their views in the process of three weeks. I think that this is what the Government have tried to understand and have tried to make clear to everyone ever since this happened. I do not think there is a noble Lord in this House who is not glad that he is not today sitting in the terrible position of having to make a decision on this issue. I do not think anybody envies the Prime Minister his position today.
I think that the Government have had to pursue several contradictory aims at once. They have had to tighten sanctions, but as I go about among my Conservative friends—I say that very rashly —I find that most of them think that a tightening of the sanctions was long overdue. That is what I have found among all my business friends. I take the viewpoint that those who object to these sterner sanctions on the grounds that they are punitive would be more honest if they said that they supported Mr. Smith in what he has done, because it seems to me that if Mr. Smith's régime is to be brought down by economic means then there are strong reasons for choosing those that will work most quickly.
If the responsible members of all Parties will continue to refuse to be stampeded by people with extreme views, and if in spite of all these Party political difficulties Rhodesia can gather no grain of comfort for what has been done in her name, and if as I believe will happen at the right moment, the Government will state clearly and categorically what are their ideas for a political settlement capable of appealing to moderate Rhodesians, black and white alike, I believe a tragedy will be avoided. I would hope, speaking very humbly from these Back Benches, that we in this House can avoid a vote to-night. This would, indeed, demonstrate to the world responsibility in British politics to-day.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, there have been some complaints during this debate that speeches have been related to a broader problem than that covered by the Motion. I was very interested to hear the speech of a noble Lord opposite who had some responsibility for 255 guidance in the House of Commons, that, in his view, because of the reference to economic measures and the reference to the need for negotiation, this Motion did justify broader speeches. I want to devote my remarks to the last section of this Motion, which affirms the belief of the House that, at the end of the day, the problems relating to Southern Rhodesia can be settled only by negotiation.
I think we have to ask: by negotiation with whom? I have been a little disturbed, as I have listened to many of the speeches on the other side, that when the term "Rhodesians" has been used it has been quite clear that the speakers have been thinking only of the white Rhodesians; that they have been thinking of the minority of 220,000 in a population of 4 million. My Lords, the Government have laid it down quite clearly—and not only the Government of the present day but the preceding Government—that the conditions of independence for Rhodesia must include a Constitution acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. That involves the 4 million Africans as well as the 220,000 Europeans. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, asked the Government to state the terms of the acceptable Constitution for Rhodesia. I hope the Government will do that; but I hope that, when the Government do it, they will reaffirm the principle which has been accepted both by Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Mr. Harold Wilson: that that Constitution should be acceptable to the view of the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
I do not suppose there is any Member of this House who has been present during every speech in this debate. I was deeply impressed, if I may say so, by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, from the opposite Benches. I was equally impressed—and I am sorry there was not a larger House to hear him—by the speech of my noble friend Lord Kennet from these Benches. My regret is that I did not hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, because from my conversations with Members who heard that speech I have learned that it was one of the widest in conception that had been delivered in this House. I want to try, if I may, to follow the theme which I 256 understand was in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, because in my view this crisis of Rhodesia is more serious and grave than most of the speeches which I have heard delivered have indicated to the House. It has now become not only a crisis for Rhodesia: it has become a crisis for Africa and a crisis for the world.
The Press of this country has been inclined to take lightly the decision of the representatives of 36 African Governments at Addis Ababa to withdraw from diplomatic relations with this country unless, by 15th December, the régime in Southern Rhodesia is crushed. I think that is an unrealistic attitude; nevertheless, we have to understand the depth of feeling that is behind it. I was very glad that when the Minister for Commonwealth Relations returned from his visit, not only to Rhodesia but to East African countries, he said:We must take a serious view of this threat ".The reason for the depth of this feeling among African Governments is that they feel that the crisis in Rhodesia represents the crossroads of history between the two-thirds of Africa which has advanced to self-government and independence and the resistance to that principle which there is in all Africa South of Southern Rhodesia. They feel—and honestly I find it difficult to deny this view—that if an African Government in a Colony, before independence has been granted, had rebelled against the British Government, much sterner action would have been taken than has been taken, even by a Labour Government, against the white minority Government in Southern Rhodesia.
I believe that this crisis is one which will deeply affect our own Commonwealth. There are already suggestions from some of the African Governments that if the ultimatum of December 15 is not met they may be leaving the Commonwealth. I believe that would be disastrous to multiracial and inter-racial sentiments in the whole of the world. But I would say to this House that if we are to retain the confidence of the nine African members of the Commonwealth, we must appreciate the depth of their feelings in this matter. And the first proposal I want to make this evening is that the time has come when our Government should not be content merely 257 with consultations with these Governments, but should call the nine African member-States of the Commonwealth into conference with them with a view to finding some common policy in order to end the Smith white minority dictatorship in Southern Rhodesia.
If we could do that, we should not merely gain the minds of the nine member-States of our Commonwealth, but they should be able to reflect the minds of all the Governments which were represented in Addis Ababa. One of the significant facts is that those Governments which have been regarded as moderate within the Commonwealth feel as deeply and strongly on this issue as those which are more radical. My noble friend Lord Kennet referred to Nigeria, which has been regarded as a country with one of the most moderate Governments. It is feeling as intensively over this issue as the more radical Governments in Africa.
The second point I want to make is this. Our Government is pledged to support the United Nations. I think many Members of this House will feel that the United Nations is the greatest hope of peace in the world; and even when we may differ from its decisions, international loyalty requires that we should pay respect to those decisions. The United Nations has carried a very strong resolution on the subject of Southern Rhodesia. Indeed, it required a great deal of persuasion not to include in that resolution stronger terms. Our Government have taken the view that the responsibility for Southern Rhodesia is ours and not that of the United Nations. May I put this thought to the Government? The situation in Rhodesia is now rapidly becoming not only an issue within a territory under the British Government, but a danger to the peace of the world, and it is quite clear that the United Nations will be involved.
The Prime Minister is intending to go to the United Nations early in the New Year. I would urge that, if possible, his visit should be expedited. I believe that during December and January, before the Prime Minister is likely to reach the United Nations, the crisis may reach a decisive point and, despite our desires, this may entail force and bloodshed. I know that the General Assembly of the United Nations is ending, but I believe 258 that this crisis is so great that the Prime Minister would be justified in advancing his visit. I do not expect an answer to that question tonight, but I hope that the suggestion will be submitted to the Prime Minister.
The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, is not present in the Chamber, but he will forgive me if I say that I regarded his answer to the question put to him by my noble friend Lord Royle, about the policy he would have pursued when Mr. Smith carried out his act of rebellion, as entirely unsatisfactory. The noble Lord said he would have applied to Mr. Smith's illegal Government only the withdrawal of those privileges which belong to the Commonwealth, and he would have continued to negotiate with it. The implication of that statement is that the noble Lord would have been prepared to accept Mr. Smith's régime as an independent Government outside the Commonwealth. The only sanctions he would have applied would have been those which would have been applied to any Government which decided to pass out of the Commonwealth. I say that, despite his declaration of opposition to the declaration of unilateral independence, in practice, that kind of policy would have been an endorsement of the Smith Government in declaring its independence in that way.
I hope that if a Division takes place tonight there will be such an overwhelming majority of Members to defeat this Motion that it will be made clear to Mr. Smith and his Government in rebellion that we are behind our Government in declaring the authority of the British Government until such time as the majority of people in Rhodesia have the right to govern themselves.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat has made a calm, effective and most sincere speech, repeating his performance of three weeks ago. I, for one, do not underrate the gravity of this situation and I shall do my best to shape my speech accordingly. Many speakers during this debate of some eight hours have mentioned the importance of maintaining Party unity and national unity when we are faced with the I Rhodesian problem.
259 I should like to read a few words spoken by myself sometime ago. This is what I said:My purpose in rising this afternoon is merely to express a devout hope that when these subjects—the subject was federation in those days—come before your Lordships, we shall bring to bear upon them an approach as nearly non-partisan as we can achieve.I said that in November, 1957—eight years ago. So, after the speech I shall make to-night, if it is not palatable to all and I am reproached for not maintaining inter-Party unity, I shall reply, with the greatest politeness. Go and teach your grandmother to suck eggs."
The bane and curse of the Central African problem, and in particular the question of Southern Rhodesia, has been the lack of inter-Party unity over the past decade and more. If I may turn to the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, it takes two to make an agreement and if we are going to have inter-Party unity, then that unity cannot be maintained on the terms and conditions that the Government have made. I thought that the noble and learned Lord's speech made it rather difficult to vote, as we have been asked to do, against the Motion. As the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, pointed out, the noble and learned Lord spent 35 minutes going over the past, justifying the Government's action, as though the Government were suffering from a very uneasy conscience, and trying to prove the utter unreasonableness of the action taken by Mr. Smith's Administration. As I listened to that long dissertation, I must say that I felt very depressed, because to me it showed that there was a fundamental lack of understanding of why this declaration of independence had occurred. I shall return to this later.
We are asked by the Government to vote against the Motion, but it contains words which are perfectly innocuous and perfectly acceptable, with the single exception of those deploring the Government's action in relation to pensions. As the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, pointed out—and I am glad to say that he dealt with this matter in detail—these people have a legal right 260 to their pensions. Although we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, under which Statutory Instruments action has been taken, the fact remains that this is a legal right, of which in no circumstances should they have been deprived. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, was good enough to say that he would refer the strong feelings expressed in this House directly to the Prime Minister.
I do not believe there can be many Members, even on the other side of the House, who can support action of this sort. I would simply say that no normal, decent Englishman can tolerate this sort of thing. I would ask the Government and my noble friend Lord Carrington, who in a few minutes is going to wind up from the Front Bench, to take this matter further, and I believe it would be perfectly right and proper that one of the terms on which the official Opposition should co-operate with the Government in their Rhodesian policy is that this prohibition of payment of pensions should be withdrawn absolutely. I very much hope that my noble friend will put that to the Leader of my Party, and that it will be insisted upon.
I turn now for a moment or two to sanctions, but I am not going to discuss them in detail and waste the time of the House. I have, however, two questions to put in this connection. I take it that the Government hope and believe that they can bring down Mr. Smith's Administration and then negotiate a new Constitution. But, of course, they may be wrong; and many of us believe that they will never be in that position. Therefore, they will have to use sanctions as a bargaining counter in order to reopen negotiations, and have something to offer. I believe that this is what is going to happen. If that is the sense in which the Government are applying sanctions, not so much to bring down the Smith Administration or to bring about economic chaos in the country, as in order to have that lever with which they can negotiate a satisfactory settlement, then I think there would be few in your Lordships' House who would oppose the sanctions, although one may have reservations on certain particular actions which have been taken.
261 My second question, arising from that, is this. If the Government should be in this second position, will the terms they try to negotiate, with whatever power it may be in Rhodesia, be the same terms as they would more or less dictate if they succeed in bringing the present de facto Government down'? I think that is important, because the terms should be the same. The point is to produce in Rhodesia a Constitution which is satisfactory to the people of that country, and I believe it would be quite wrong, having brought down the de facto Government, to impose terms harder than would he negotiated if our Government were put into the position of having to negotiate freely. I hope that we may have an answer to this point.
That brings me to the question of the campaign which is to be launched by radio from Bechuanaland. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who had something quite specific to say about this. Although, unfortunately, I did not hear all the noble Lord's speech, I heard him outline a programme of what he called psychological warfare. But we have been given the impression that possibly the Prime Minister himself may launch an appeal over the radio. Here I should like to utter a word of warning. We in this country, of course, are familiar with the television, and we all know that the Prime Minister is a good performer indeed, I read in a national newspaper that he seems to have mesmerised the public. But the radio is an entirely different medium, and if the Prime Minister is going to launch a personal appeal to people 6,000 miles away, an impersonal voice arriving at that distance to a people who, whatever we may accuse them of, we cannot say have been mesmerised by the Prime Minister, then that appeal, in my opinion, will fall flat and do much more harm than any good it might achieve. I hope that this will not be done, and that the directive given to this radio station will be very carefully thought out and worked out.
That brings me to the two really constructive suggestions which I believe have been made during the course of this debate, the first by my noble friend Lord Swinton, who said that in time (and the sooner the better, I think) the precise changes in the 1961 Constitution which our Government require must be made 262 known to the people of Rhodesia. And the second one came from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who suggested that if necessary people outside political life could be used in opening lines of communication for making contact.
I believe there is an idea that a Parliamentary delegation may be sent. If it be a mission of good will, all right. But I do not see how it can be in a position to carry on the sort of negotiations and talks which are required. On the other hand, there are people, both in political life and, more particularly, outside it, who have an intimate knowledge and experience of Africa, and many friendships (I will take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway) not only with the white Rhodesians, but with the black Rhodesians and the Africans who live outside Rhodesia. I believe the Prime Minister would be ill-advised not to use people of that sort in reopening negotiations and, as negotiations go on, developing the sort of policy one might reach and get the Rhodesian leaders—in which I include the leaders of all races—to agree to.
I have referred to the suggestion of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, that the precise changes should be made known. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said that he did not think he could go into details. I certainly do not intend to adumbrate before your Lordships a complete new Constitution tonight, but there are certain matters which I think require very special attention because, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack reminded us, the Prime Minister has said—I think more than once—that he looks forward to the time when Rhodesia will return to constitutional rule (and from this point I quote)starting from the 1961 Constitution, with such amendments as I think the whole House would agree to be necessary to give effect to the five principles.I want to direct attention for a moment to these five principles, because the Prime Minister has said, and quite recently, that he thinks these five principles are absolutely basic and that we are all agreed upon them. I think it is necessary to challenge that statement. I am not at all sure that we are all agreed upon them, and I hope that if the official Opposition are agreed upon them they will take another look. And, more important still, 263 I hope the Government themselves will take another look at these principles. The first one is as follows:The principle and intention of unimpeded progress to majority rule, already enshrined in the 1961 Constitution, would have to be maintained and guaranteed.The second one is:There would also have to be guarantees against retrogressive amendment of the Constitution.It is really on those first two principles that the negotiations broke down.
I was really sorry and surprised when the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack in our debate three weeks ago said this:For some reason which I do not pretend to understand, the clauses which provide for the 50 'A' seats and the 15 'B' seats are not entrenched clauses."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270 (No. 4), col. 231 15/11/65.]Later in his speech he said:Mr. Smith indicated that he did not agree, and the reason why he did not agree really appeared only in discussions with the Prime Minister in Salisbury."—[Col. 236.]My Lords, this very important matter was left to the eleventh hour, only ten days or so before the declaration of independence. This basic matter should have been discussed, I regret to say, years ago, and it certainly should have been discussed before now by the present Government.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, if the noble Lord will excuse my saying so, that is quite wrong. We did, of course, discuss it with Mr. Smith when I was in Rhodesia, and he simply said he would not hear of it for a moment.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I mean discussed in depth, and I will now develop this point, because it seems to me there is an absolutely fundamental misapprehension here on the part of the Government. a misapprehension into which my noble friend Lord Molson himself fell during our first debate, as to the purpose of the 1961 Constitution. The important thing was the franchise qualification, and it was on that franchise qualification that the Europeans in Rhodesia were looking towards majority African rule in due course. It was calculated, in their opinion, that that would come about in a certain period, based on a common roll, which is surely desirable, 264 and that that common roll should be the "A" roll. The "B" roll was a purely transitional device to ensure that the Africans should have a minimum representation while they gained places on the "A" roll. That is why there was no entrenched clause affecting the actual representation and the proportion between the "A" and "B" roll, because the majority rule was to be gained on the franchise qualification, and it has always been the intention that as the numbers on the "A" roll increased, so the numbers on the "B" roll should decrease, not necessarily in strict proportion, one for one—I know Mr. Smith insisted on one for one, but that has not always been the idea. That has always been the principle, the formula worked out on that basis, and the "B" roll should fade out.
I know this is so, my Lords. There is no mystery. I have discussed it time and time again with politicians in Rhodesia, including no fewer than three Prime Ministers, and it is a surprising fact that this should come as a surprise to the Government and to Parliament. Therefore, looking to the future we are in this particular respect faced with a new development, an illegal Government which we cannot recognise. And therefore, because of the illegality of the act, in the future, when it comes to a new Constitution, I agree that we must insist on the blocking third—not even the blocking quarter, which was nearly arrived at. But that blocking third should not, I submit, be in a position to prevent the fading out of the "B" roll; and that, reading this Blue Book, is really what the Government have been insisting on—that the blocking third of Africans should be entitled to prevent the change and the fading out of the "B" roll. If that happened, obviously, requiring a majority of 33 out of a House of 65, the Africans, with 15 seats, would need to gain only another 18 seats out of the 50 on the "A" roll. One only has to say it like that to show that it is illogical and always has been unacceptable to the Rhodesians. I wanted very much to clear that point, because when in future the new proposals are worked out this matter must be considered in that light.
That brings me to the timing. In Mr. Garfield Todd's day it was considered 265 that the Africans would come to majority rule in not less than 20 years. At the time of the 1961 Constitution, formulated under Sir Edgar Whitehead, it was generally expected that it would probably be about 15 years; it is now four years later, and that would make it not less than 10 years. I would say, after the Prime Minister's visit and his statements to the Africans, that this is probably the sort of time that even he has in mind. I think it is essential that we should be prepared to state a minimum time factor. I know this has always gone against the advice of our colonial advisers in the past; we want to retain flexibility. But we have got an absolutely unheard of situation; people want to know where they are. I think it would accord with the best development of Rhodesia, with what has always been acceptable by the majority of white Rhodesians until quite recently, and what would seem to be acceptable now to the Government, that the Africans should not attain majority rule in under ten years. If that is promised and the Constitution set out accordingly, I believe we shall get acceptance from the Europeans in Rhodesia, which is a basic and necessary element in the negotiations.
That brings me to the question of the franchise, which is the third principle embodied in the five principles and says —there would have to be immediate improvement in the political status of the African population. I take it that it basically refers to the franchise. What it seems to me has never been worked out is the relationship between the franchise qualification, the educational and economic standards of the African, and the rate of political advance arising from that relationship. When we have got that relationship right it is not difficult to work out the formula for fading out the "B" Roll—whether it should be two for one, or one for one, and so on. These are studies which could have been made, and should have been made, in the past, and if they have not been made—and I am afraid they have not—I suggest they really must be made now.
I would mention a few figures. The middle qualification for the "A" Roll, which is the average and the most important one, does not depend either on very high income or on a very high standard of education; it depends on 266 having had a full primary course of education coupled with £480 a year income or £1,000 of property. On the educational side, in 1960 there were 33,000 Africans who had qualified for that standard. Now I believe there are 70,000. In five years' time, it is calculated, there will be 155,000. So it is doubling itself about every five years; and in ten years' it should therefore be not fewer than a quarter of a million people. If one can then work out the standards of living and the likely rise of prosperity, and tie that to the educational standard, one can see more or less how the new Constitution will work out, and can build up the formula for the fading out of the "B" Roll and tie the first three principles entirely together; and that is what has not been done in the past but I am sure must be done in the future.
I do not want to go on with the fourth and fifth principles; there is not time. But I felt I must bring up this matter because it seems to me it has been very much misunderstood in the past by the Government and by my own Party; and I think it is the only opportunity I have to put this matter forward and say that it should be gone into deeply and considered before these negotiations take place.
Just to recapitulate my main theme—first of all, inter-Party unity. I am for that. But, as I have said, it is not at all easy—I would say it is not possible—to vote against this Motion. It is not at all easy not to vote for it. The second thing I would say is that the Government really must give an undertaking to withdraw this prohibition on the payment of pensions, because as another noble Lord pointed out—I think it was the noble Lord who made such a well-informed and interesting maiden speech—there are other people in Rhodesia receiving pensions from other overseas Governments who might suffer as the result of our Government's action; and of course there are pensioners in this country who should be paid by the Rhodesian Government. What is going to happen to them? So this prohibition should be withdrawn absolutely.
Then I should like an undertaking from the noble Earl who is going to wind up that he and his Government are seized of the urgency for negotiations, and that they will pursue this by all means avail able, including unofficial contact with all 267 the necessary races, and that they will, as soon as may be, put forward specific proposals based on accurate studies. If the Government can give such strong undertakings, then I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Coleraine, who has moved this Motion, will be inclined to withdraw it; but I do ask for a much more positive and constructive action on the part of the Government if they wish to maintain inter-Party unity and bring about the result we wish to see in Rhodesia, for the benefit mainly of that country, but also for our own benefit and for the benefit of the Commonwealth and of the world.
§ 11.8 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, once again we have had a full day's debate on Rhodesia. It is late, and your Lordships have heard the Motion and a great deal more besides, discussed in great detail. I will therefore content myself with making only a few observations. Let me at the outset make it plain that I entirely agree with the terms of the Motion moved by my noble friend Lord Coleraine. It has, in effect, two parts: first, the condemnation of the Government's action regarding non-payment of pensions and war disability pensions to British subjects in Rhodesia. It is not necessary for me to repeat the points which have been made by my noble friends on this matter. Certainly all of us on this side of the House are agreed that measures of this kind cannot be considered in the same light as the economic sanctions hitherto proposed by the Government.
If—and I understand it to be so— the object of sanctions is to cause a change of heart in Rhodesia and to encourage the more moderate elements, and if at the same time it is not the object of the Government to cause unnecessary suffering or to be vindictive, then proposals of this sort cannot be justified on any grounds. Some of my noble friends have questioned its propriety and many more its morality. One must come to the conclusion that the statements announcing this really had not been fully considered by the Government before the announcement was made. All of us were at any rate glad to see the partial retraction by the Prime Minister of quite a lot of what was originally proposed.
268 We have listened this afternoon to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, reiterating the intention of the Government to administer these measures with due regard to humanitarian considerations. I hope that they can go very much further than that. I really do not think what has been said so far is good enough. It is true that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said that he would see that our view was taken into account at the highest level, by which I imagine he means the Prime Minister. I hope he will make it clear, when that view is taken into account, how very strongly we on this side of the House feel on this matter; and I must tell him that we shall certainly go on pressing him, and pressing hard, until something that we consider to be satisfactory is done. I hope that perhaps the noble Earl the Leader of the House will go further than the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, felt himself able to. I hope, too, that he will take the opportunity of explaining something which I think is inexplicable—namely, what the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had to say about Barclays Bank and Barclays D.C.O.
I greatly regret that the Government found it necessary to issue a statement such as the one they made on December 2. It cannot possibly further the aims which they have in mind. It can do nothing but dismay those who, though they have supported economic sanctions, have always had at the back of their minds the fear that measures such as these, which cause personal hardship and are morally wrong, do nothing but harm, and indeed create resentments against Britain among those who are still well disposed towards us. As I say, we shall continue to press on this matter until we are sure that justice is being done.
With regard to the second part of my noble friend's Motion, I should not have thought that anybody could disagree. We are all of us convinced that in the end conciliation is the only means by which the Rhodesian problem can be solved. I was interested to read yesterday the interview which the Prime Minister gave to the Daily Mirror. The headline says: "No Invasion. No Bloodshed." And it is quite clear that the Prime Minister, as he has done all along, has rejected force as a possible means of solving this 269 constitutional issue. It follows, as the Prime Minister has said, and as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack said again this afternoon, that some form of conciliation is inevitable. The Prime Minister said, and I quote from the article:Now the economic measures are in full force we shall devote more and more effort to telling the Rhodesian people the means by which they can return to constitutional government.And, in another place, he said:Our measures are designed to make the illegally controlled economy unworkable and so bring the Rhodesian people back to constitutional measures.I do not think many of us would disagree with this, but I should be glad if the noble Earl who is winding up would explain a little more fully exactly what the Government have in mind.
The Prime Minister has said that he wishes to impose sanctions only of sufficient severity to bring the Rhodesian people back to constitutional methods. How does he visualise this happening? Is he now satisfied that the sanctions he is imposing will do this, or is he proposing to go further, for he has already gone much further than he originally proposed. At what stage does he intend to intervene and make either an appeal or an approach to the more moderate elements? The economic sanctions he has introduced are very severe. I would have thought that ultimately they will bring about the complete collapse of the Rhodesian economy. Is this what the Government are trying to do? Is there not a very great danger that such a collapse will inevitably lead to a breakdown of law and order, and a situation which would be much more difficult for the Government to control?
All these matters must, of course, be very much in the mind of noble Lords opposite; and I, for one, and I am sure many of your Lordships, too, would like a much fuller explanation of how it is that the Government hope to bring about a change in the Rhodesian Government. What exactly do they see happening; what exactly do they want to happen; what sort of Constitution do they wish to propose; and what sort of amendments do they wish to see to the 1961 Constitution? I hope that noble Lords opposite will have taken account of the very constructive and helpful speeches which have 270 been made, first by my noble friend Lord Dilhorne, then by my noble friend Lord Swinton and finally— a most notable speech—by my noble friend Lord Hastings.
It will be seen from what I have said that I agree absolutely with the words of the Motion of my noble friend Lord Coleraine, and it follows front that that I could not possibly have supported the Amendment which was tabled by noble Lords opposite—an Amendment widely advertised and dismissed in a few words by the Lord Chancellor, on the ground, it seems, that second thoughts made him convinced that one Division was enough. I should have thought that that would have been considered before he put the Amendment down. But I must never complain about this Government having second thoughts: I wish they had them more often.
My Lords, though I naturally welcome the statement which the Government have made about pensions, so far as it goes, I still greatly regret and deplore that they ever made their proposals. For that reason, I could not possibly have' voted for the Amendment. But I must confess to your Lords-hips that I find myself in something of a quandary. I would much rather that thee should be no vote at all. Whatever Motion is passed, implications will be read into it which are not necessarily contained in its words. Though we should not exaggerate too greatly the importance of what passes in this House, we can, I think, be quite sure that a vote will be taken as denoting either support or lack of support for the policies of the Government in matters quite outside and far beyond the terms of the Motion. And I should have thought the wide-ranging character of the speeches that we have heard throughout this afternoon and this evening make that inevitable.
It will be seen as the first occasion on which there has been a vote on the Rhodesian issue, I think, in either House of Parliament. It will be taken that this is the first time that the bipartisan approach to this matter has been broken. I confess that I think that would be a pity. After all, there is so much upon which all of us are agreed. There are so many conflicting pressures on us from 271 outside—the attitude of the African States, the attitude of the Commonwealth, the attitude of the United Nations. All these things make it the more necessary for us to retain national unity if that is possible. We are all agreed that the unilateral declaration of independence by Mr. Smith was a calamitous mistake; all of us (except, for some curious reason, the Liberal Party) are agreed that force must not be used to restore the situation; we are all agreed that some economic sanctions are necessary; we are all agreed that, in the end, the situation can be solved only by conciliation and negotiation. Because some of us are quite genuinely disturbed about what the Government have done on this issue of pensions, I hope that we shall not give the impression abroad that we are disunited on the things that really matter.
I do not know whether, at this stage, it would be possible for my noble friend Lord Coleraine to say that he will not press his Motion to a Division. He has initiated a debate in which we have made abundantly clear the opinion of this House on the pension question. Indeed, we have had a very useful and, in many ways, constructive debate; and there have been many interesting suggestions made which, I hope noble Lords opposite will follow up. I very much doubt whether any purpose can be served by taking the matter further. So far as pensions are concerned, a vote might make it more difficult, rather than otherwise, for the Government to reverse their policy.
But, my Lords, if my noble friend does not feel able to do this (for I know that he and others who share his views feel very deeply on this matter; and I must say that its terms are quite unexceptional; indeed, I agree with every word), I would advise those who sit on these Benches to abstain from voting on this Motion. I say again that I believe the very fact that the House of Lords passed—if it did pass—a Resolution, in face of opposition from the Government, on an issue of this kind would be taken to mean very much more than the actual face value of the Motion. It would be taken as a defeat for the general policy of the Government it would be taken as an end of 272 bipartisanship. That could give nothing but comfort to Mr. Smith and his friends, who would read into it far more than I, or, I think, many of us in this House, would intend it to mean. And such a vote would, I believe, dismay the moderate elements in Rhodesia.
I know that my noble friend will forgive me for saying this, since it is not a criticism of him. But although he is as entitled to his view as I am to mine, there is a major difficulty in the fact that it is he who has moved this Motion, he who is associated in the minds of the Press and the public with an attitude a great deal more critical of Government policy than I, for one, would share. He has made a speech this afternoon on the Motion in which he went much further—as he was entitled to do—than the Motion goes, and much further than I, for one, should be prepared to go. I think the very fact that we had agreed to a Motion which my noble friend had moved would be taken to mean that this House as a whole agreed not only with the terms of the Motion but with his general attitude on the whole Rhodesian question and with that of noble Lords who feel as he does. Therefore I must say again that I shall very much regret it if there is a vote at all. I should certainly not have supported the Amendment put dawn by the Government; as I say, I think it much better that no Resolution should be passed. But if my noble friend[...]esses his Motion to a Division I must advise noble Lords on these Benches—much as it may go against their inclinations, and my inclinations—to abstain on this occasion from expressing an opinion.
§ 11.23 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, we all welcome back the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, to the fort which has been so well-held in his absence by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne. We on these Benches all greatly admire the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—and more than ever after the speech to which we have just listened. If I do not pay him any more elaborate tributes it will not be for fear that I may embarrass him but because I might he administering the kiss of death. I should like to join in the thanks that should be paid to the noble Lord, Lord 273 Coleraine—and I say this in advance of any decision he may reach about his Motion—in that he has initiated a notable debate in this House on which he has expressed a great deal of heart and spirit. We respect him even where we disagree with him profoundly.
The debate was marked, maybe marred, by one occurrence which led the noble Lord, Lord Molson, to rebuke me, in the friendliest way. I feel that one is a very bad judge of one's own actions in these matters, and if I deserve rebuke I am quite ready to accept it and to express my regret to any noble Lord on any side of the House who felt any distress for this occurrence. There have been many notable speeches. If I may, I will take first those on the other side of the House and join in the nice things, the justifiably nice things, said by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about some of his colleagues, But I must say that he did not mention two Members of his own side whose speeches aroused our greatest enthusiasm, the noble Lords, Lord Alport and Lord Molson. They were excluded from his pantheon; I am not sure why. But many people would feel that these were the great speeches of this debate.
I join the noble Lord not only in paying a tribute to certain other noble Lords, but also in what he said about the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who has had, I suppose, a wider administrative experience than anyone here, except perhaps the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I shall come hack later to his main argument, but even if he feels that I do not spell out everything precisely, at 25 past 11 at night, his general point of view, I hope he will understand that it is one I think which has to be attended to with exceptional care. I felt that his was a most valuable contribution.
I should like also to congratulate the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and there was one suggestion from him, one point, with which I felt that I might not disagree—I may disagree, but I am not sure. The noble Marquess seemed to feel that at this juncture unofficial persons could play a useful part in Rhodesia. If he is talking not of politicians, but of business leaders, professional people, Church leaders and others of that kind, I am sure that he is right. But I do not suggest that politicians could be of great 274 value at the moment in some kind of unofficial negotiations. That would not be our idea at all. I hope that, in saying what I have done, I have gone at any rate some way with the suggestion that fell from the noble Marquess.
There was one remark of his which I could hardly let pass. It is already widely publicised on the tape, and no doubt it will be in the papers tomorrow, with the great name and prestige of the noble Marquess attached. People all over the world may read it and take it more seriously, perhaps, than the noble Marquess intended. But on the tape (I take this first in order to tell the noble Marquess how he is adding to his fame) I read these words:Lord Salisbury said that the Rhodesian State could be called a Police State, and he added, ' Well, we are getting pretty near a police state too '.I can only say that a more farcical suggestion I am sure never fell from anyone in the House; and, bearing in mind the great admiration we all feel for the noble Marquess, I can only recall the old saying that the step is short from the sublime to the ridiculous. I am afraid that I must leave my comment there.
There were, of course, notable speeches from my own side, but I have already been accused by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, of being too favourable to my own colleagues, so I will not run through all their names. I will merely mention the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor.
Now, my Lords, we come to the question of sanctions generally, and about these there has not been any real dispute, did not want to trap the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, but I did ask him whether he was himself in favour of sanctions, and he said that he was. So there is hardly anyone here who is not, apparently, in favour of sanctions of some kind. But I am bound to tell the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, and others who think as he does (this, I am afraid, applies also to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine: I do not think he is in favour of sanctions at all, but I believe that he is almost the only one) that in our view it is nonsensical, to use a fairly mild expression, to talk of mild sanctions, or gentle sanctions, or sanctions that operate very slowly. I think that one must assume that sanctions are to be effective.
275 That was the language used last time by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, in a notable speech, and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, last time; and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and the noble Lord, Lord Molson, also stressed that point very strongly.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I think that what noble Lords on these Benches are really concerned about is that sanctions should not apply too hard on the Africans. That is the point that we have been trying to make.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am short of words. I am afraid that I must just carry on and leave posterity to study that observation. I hasten to say that I do not for a moment doubt the noble Lord's friendly personal attitude—he mentioned it earlier. But I am afraid that I cannot agree with his summing-up of his attitude to this great question. If the sanctions are to be of any relevance, if they are to be justified at all, they must be severe.
Without going into the matter at length, I think perhaps that a short quotation from the report from Salisbury, Rhodesia, in the Daily Telegraph this morning, illustrates the kind of point that we have to face. The writer says:Mr. Smith, the Rhodesian leader, may have lost his battle to establish an independent country in the past week,"—that is, since the new steps were taken—according to some businessmen and industrialists. Pointing to growing external and economic pressure, they believe Mr. Smith is faced with the prospect of reopening negotiations with Britain or letting the country collapse.I am afraid that that is very much the course events will have to take. It is no good hoping that sanctions can do their work without anybody suffering or getting hurt. It would be nonsense to imply that that could come about. But let me say that we all realise that some small gifts costs more in terms of humanity than they mean in terms of economic pressure. So, when we say that we must win this struggle, that does 276 not mean that there are no holds barred. We have ruled out force and we do not rule out the possibility that, even on the economic front, there are some steps which, clearly, one would not feel were justified.
I have been asked whether I can say anything more about pensions. I hasten to say that I understand and sympathise with the very strong feelings that have been widely expressed this afternoon. It may have been that they would have been still more widely expressed, if more noble Lords had spoken, but I think that there were enough speeches as it was. Perhaps I should interpret the point made by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, who opened the debate in such a notable way. I hope it is clear that at the moment these pensions are being withheld, but the whole machinery is under review, and I can assure the House that these regulations, even in their present form, will be interpreted very liberally indeed—and am speaking now deliberately and not without consultation. I think that this goes a little further. I have not been idle, though perhaps I have not been in the Chamber so often as I might have wished. The noble Lord, Lord Brecon, had a much better afternoon than I had, at Twickenham, but I have been working, rather than playing, all day.
My Lords, I want the whole House to know this. I shall be much surprised if the vast majority of those entitled to pensions do not receive them without undue delay. That is a statement which, at any rate, carries us beyond what was said earlier. So I hope your Lordships will not feel that all that has been said by them, and by others outside, has been wasted.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, would the noble Earl be kind enough to add to his answer, if he can? Will they get them as a right, and will they get them without a means test?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am afraid that I am not able to add to what I have said. But the noble Lord will see that we are working very hard on this problem, and nothing that has been said to-day will be wasted.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Earl can say if there is a possibility of making a Statement on this subject in the House, when the matter has been gone into more fully?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I could never refuse to make a Statement at any time, if I were asked; and, conversely, if I had something of value to communicate, I would take the earliest opportunity of telling the House. I cannot actually name a date when I could make a Statement, but I appreciate the great interest. I hope that the noble Lord will feel that what I have said distinctly advances the matter and does not leave it where it was this afternoon. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, for example, will feel that we have been trying to move towards him. So much, for the moment, for pensions.
Now, may I come to the other main topic—the question of what in the Motion is called "negotiation", but comes in the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, into the category of "conciliation". I do not want to quibble, but one could draw distinctions there. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, when saying in that very statesmanlike speech that he agreed with every word, said that he was in favour of conciliation; the actual word used in the Motion is "negotiation".
I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Molson, and other noble Lords, have studied so carefully the report of the interview with the Prime Minister in the Daily Mirror, which the noble Lord, Lord Molson, generously described as "most encouraging". Short of reading it out to the House, I can only point out that it is available here should any noble Lords not have seen it. I feel that it is a document of great historic importance, and that as time goes on one will go back to this document, and it may mark something of a turning point in the history of this question. I am not going into it now, but noble Lords are aware that the Prime Minister insisted, above all, that when Rhodesia had returned to the constitutional path there should be no recrimination. There is no question of trying to make people suffer when the constitutional situation has been restored. I should like to emphasise that—and I could go on emphasising it again and again. I say this particularly, because I believe on an 278 earlier occasion I gave the impression to one noble Lord, for whom I have a profound respect and who sits rather close to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that I took some personal pleasure in trying to crush the Rhodesians. I can assure any noble Lords who may gain that impression that it would be due simply to my own inadequacy of presentation.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, if the reference is to me, may I say that I never said that the Prime Minister was getting pleasure out of it. I said that that is what he was out to do.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am afraid my articulation is even worse than I thought. I said a noble Earl sitting close to the noble Marquess; I did not say the noble Marquess.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I was referring to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. At any rate, I want to emphasise that none of us here obtains any pleasure from the thought of squashing Mr. Smith. Any operation which was undertaken in that spirit would be evil in its motivation and would not produce good results. We are anxious to secure one thing only, and that is a return to constitutional life in Rhodesia.
May I say to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, that it would be impossible to-night—and I am afraid it would be unlikely in the next few days—to give a detailed statement of what might be called peace aims. A good deal has been said already about the Prime Minister's article, and in an earlier statement he emphasised that one would be prepared to talk to anybody who was recommended by the Governor, and talk on the basis of the 1961 Constitution, with certain amendments. The noble Earl says: what amendments?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
No doubt in due course that will be amplified. I should like to look once more, if I may, at the statement made by the Prime Minister in the Daily Mirror.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I have seen the Prime Minister's statement in the Daily Mirror, and it does not alter what I put to the noble Earl. This is in order to give the hope of negotiation succeeding. There is a great suspicion in Rhodesia—I am not apportioning praise or blame—as to what the intentions of the Government are. The whole of that can he swept away if the Government will make the simple statement: "These are the amendments in the 1961 Constitution which we regard as necessary, and upon which, if they are made, we will do a deal". If that is said—and what the amendments are can be said perfectly easily—then all the people of Rhodesia will know exactly where they are, and then they can trust the Government.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Well, events may take that course, or they may take a slightly different course. I do not think that at this moment one could be dogmatic. It may well be that, as the pressure continues, leaders will before long be recommended to us by the Governor, and we will be prepared to talk about the future constitutional arrangements. There are many advantages—could I put this in all seriousness to the noble Earl?—in a settlement of the kind which I am now discussing, and one which would be genuinely negotiated, rather than a statement from on high which could take the form ultimately of a dictated settlement. I must put that clearly. Whether it is best to be too dogmatic in advance, or be prepared for talks with those who come forward from the Governor. I think is a matter which will have to be worked out as we move forward.
I want the noble Earl to realise that we are anxious to set minds at rest. I am sorry to say something nasty. I told myself that I would say nothing nasty about any white Rhodesian to-night, but I am afraid I must rebut the suggestion that in some way Mr. Smith's Government are more worthy of trust than we are, or the late Conservative Government were. I cannot accept that view. The Leaders of the two Parties are natural objects of suspicion. We have had endless talks—it is not just Mr. Wilson and Sir Alec Douglas-Homewith the leaders of that country, and I 280 am afraid I must say that if they continue to suspect our intentions the blame must be placed fairly and squarely at their own door. I must say that. I could say a great deal more, and more strongly.
I am anxious to command the noble Earl's attention. I am not going to be very much longer, but I was trying to answer the general reproach which came from the noble Earl. My noble friend Lord Shepherd, who spoke so well earlier, has already set out things fairly clearly, and the Lord Chancellor still more fully. But may I return to something the Prime Minister said when he was leaving Salisbury—something to which I know he attaches great importance? I am quoting his words, which may or may not be familiar to the noble Earl:Although successive British Governments are deeply and irrevocably committed to guaranteed and unimpeded progress to majority rule, the British Government, who alone through the British Parliament have the legal power to grant independence, do not believe that in the present tragic and divided condition of Rhodesia that majority rule can or should come to-day or to-morrow.He went on elsewhere in that statement to stress the necessity of time. He said:Rhodesia, with deep conviction and with all the emphasis at my command, is not faced with stark alternatives. It is not just a simple choice between two extreme courses, between an illegal assertion of independence to-day or an African majority to-morrow or next week. There are other courses open to us. They need to he examined, canvassed and assessed; not dismissed out of hand to letting impatience and fear take command.Those words still stand. If, after the conflicts of recent weeks, anyone is in doubt whether there has been some retraction of those words, let me say clearly to the House that those words, which were said while it was hoped to avert U.D.I., stand to-day as clearly as they ever did. I want everybody here, and in Rhodesia, to realise that we are not trying to inflict a system of government on the white Rhodesian people immediately which they distrust and dislike. That must be said clearly.
My last words to the House must be slightly different. I hope they can be said without offence to anyone here, and I hope without offence to any white people in Rhodesia. I saw a television programme, a teach-in, not long ago, in which a lone representative of the white 281 Rhodesians made a gallant showing. At the end of it all, he finished by saying, Of course you can squash us if you want to, but I do not think you would sleep very well at nights ". We in the Government—and I think this goes also for many outside the Government—have no desire, as I said earlier, to squash the Rhodesians. We have an ineluctable duty to the people of Rhodesia as a whole that we cannot avoid. We do not consider that the view which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine holds with such intense conviction is one which, in the last resort, would give effect to those responsibilities. If we adopted his policy, we should, in the opinion of the Government, be betraying the vast majority of the Rhodesian people (I say that notwithstanding all the international pressures and any votes which there may or may not be anywhere), and therefore we must remain true to our trust.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. I hope that he will not put his Motion to a vote; but that is for him to say. He has a very acute conscience of his own, and I am not going to have the impertinence to interfere with it. But I do echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. All over the world people are wondering whether this country is united in carrying out this policy of trying to bring Rhodesia back to constitutional powers as soon as possible, and if we adopted the motion of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, they would know that we had chucked in our hand, that we had turned back from the plough; and, as I said earlier, we should regard that as a betrayal. I must therefore ask anyone who pays any attention to my views, or those of the Government, to throw out this Motion if it is put to the vote; but I still hope it will not be.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I am sorry, but before the noble Earl sits down I must ask him to clear up a matter which I think is of considerable importance. He has been given notice of the question which I raised in my speech. On November 1 he gave the "firm pledge" to this House (and I quote the words) that they—that is, British troops:will not be used for any offensive purpose against the Rhodesians."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270 (No. 12), col. 1274.]282 The Prime Minister, on being asked the same question, refused to give that pledge. I feel that this point should be cleared up because, I am sure in perfect sincerity, the noble Earl has given this House a firm pledge. Does he stand by that, in view of what the Prime Minister has said in another place? I think we should know.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am sorry that I was not in my place when the noble Lord was speaking. He will remember that he was promoted, no doubt against his will, in the order of speakers, and I must defend myself against the charge of not being in here.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
I was not complaining: I would simply like a reply. I told the noble Lord who was here that I quite understood the position, and asked for a message to be passed to the noble Earl.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I can only assure the noble Lord that none of my colleagues has found any inconsistency between my statement and that of the Prime Minister. Noble Lords may laugh, but I can only assure the noble Lord that if there had been any inconsistency, I would have heard of it.
§ 11.49 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, it remains for me to thank those noble Lords who have participated in this debate and made such valuable contributions. In doing so, I would congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, and the noble Earl, Lord Lindsey and Abingdon, on two maiden speeches, each of which was notable in its own way. I, like others of your Lordships, was a colleague for many years, both here and in another place, of Lord Gridley's father, and I join in the welcome which we all give to his son. The noble Earl's speech impressed me deeply, I think perhaps because his reason and his experience seemed to be leading him to his conclusion against his preconceptions; and perhaps I felt the more attracted by that because the conclusion to which his reason and experience led him was the same as my own. I thank all noble Lords greatly, not only for their contributions to the debate but for having listened with so 283 much attention and so much courtesy to views with which I know they did not agree.
Now I come to the point that I have been seeking to put off. I am in a very difficult position. Like most people, I do not like being awkward; I do not like getting on the wrong side of those whom I would normally regard as my friends. My difficulty to-night is that I am torn between what I should like to do and what my convictions tell me I must do. I listened with great attention and great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, to the noble Earl, to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, when they appealed to me to withdraw this Motion.
I listened, naturally, to my noble friend Lord Carrington with the very greatest respect, and the very greatest regret that I did not see eye to eye with him. My noble friend says that because of my background—and what a pity it was that I did not get somebody else to move the Motion; because if I had done so he would have been able to accept it—it would be taken as a reflection of a lack of unity in this House. I see his point
§ of view. But my own point of view is that his point of view would be more valid if there were not, in fact, a lack of unity. There are, in fact, very deep divisions of opinion, very sincerely held, on all sides, and I do not believe that we do a service to our country, to Rhodesia or to anybody else, in pretending that those differences of opinion do not exist and that they are not real.
§ So much for the background of the Motion. I am afraid that I cannot accept my noble friend's arguments on that point. But as to the substance I cannot see that the Government have met us in any real way on the main point which concerned noble Lords. They have given no indication that they would withdraw this prohibition, and so, with the greatest respect, I must refuse to meet the requests which many of your Lordships have made to me. I cannot withdraw this Motion.
§ 11.55 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 23; Not-Contents, 71.283
|Baden-Powell, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Newall, L.|
|Barnby, L. [Teller.]||Greenway, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Salter, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Killearn, L.||Somers, L.|
|Colyton, L. [Teller.]||Long, V.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Effingham, E.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Verulam, E.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Addison, V.||Haire of Whiteabbey, L.||Rhodes, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Henley, L.||Rowallan, L.|
|Alport, L.||Hilton of Upton, L.||Rusholme, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Holford, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Arwyn, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||St. Davids, V.|
|Asquith of Yarnbury, Bs.||Kahn, L.||Segal, L.|
|Barrington, V.||Kennet, L.||Shackleton, L|
|Beswick, L.||Kirkwood, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Blyton, L.||Latham, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Leatherland, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Bowles, L. [Teller.]||Lindgren, L.||Snow, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Listowel, E.||Soper, L.|
|Brown, L.||Llewelyn-Davies, L.||Sorensen, L. [Teller.]|
|Burton of Coventry, Bs.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Byers, L.||Longford, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Strabolgi, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Strang, L.|
|Champion, L.||Mitchison, L.||Swanborough, Bs.|
|Chorley, L.||Molson, L.||Taylor, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Morris of Kenwood, L.||Terrington, L|
|Collison. L.||Peddie, L.||Wade, L.|
|Crook, L.||Perth, E.||Walston, L.|
|Gardiner, L. (L,. Chancellor.)||Plummer, Bs.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Gifford, L.||Raglan, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Goodman, L.||Rea, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.