§ 7.38 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Southern Rhodesia (Petrôleum) Order 1965 be approved. The object of this Order is to prohibit British subjects from exporting petroleum to Rhodesia and to forbid any person to import petroleum into Rhodesia. It is made under the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965, which gives power to Her Majesty in Council tomake such provision in relation to Southern Rhodesia, or persons or things in any way belonging to or connected with Southern Rhodesia, as appears to… be necessary or expedient in consequence of the unconstitutional action takenin that country.
As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in his statement on Monday, Her Majesty's Government were 1138 not willing to act unilaterally to restrict oil supplies, but once it became clear that the United States Government were in full agreement with the oil embargo against Rhodesia, and were willing and able to give full co-operation and support, both in stopping the flow of oil to Rhodesia and in obtaining an airlift to Zambia, Her Majesty's Government did not hesitate to make this Order which is necessary to hasten the return of Rhodesia to constitutional rule.
The Order was made on the evening of Friday, December 17, and came into operation immediately. I shall hope later, if your Lordships will allow me, to say a further word as to the reasons why, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, it was desirable to make this Order. But it may be of more assistance to the House if I first explain its detailed provisions. The House will recall that Orders in Council made under the Act may extend to Southern Rhodesia and the Colonies as well as to the United Kingdom. This Order applies to the United Kingdom and, in part, to Southern Rhodesia. There is also power in article 7(3) to extend it to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and colonies and protectorates in relation to the carriage of petroleum by ships and aircraft to Southern Rhodesia.
Article 1 operates solely as part of the law of the United Kingdom. It for bids any person, except under authority of a licence granted by the Minister of Power, to supply or deliver, or agree to supply or deliver, petroleum to any person in Rhodesia, or to any person whom he knows or has reasonable cause to believe will deliver it to Rhodesia, or to do anything, such as acting as an agent, calculated to promote the supply of oil. Under the article any person, of whatever nationality or citizenship, who contravenes these provisions within the United Kingdom is committing a criminal offence. Further, contravention of this article anywhere in the world is an offence by a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies ordinarily resident here.
I understand that the question has been asked: is not this a rather limited jurisdiction and ought it not to have applied to a wider body of persons? The limits of the provision are determined by International Law, constitutional practice and the desire to avoid casting 1139 the net wider than the situation required. Since the article operates as part of the law of the United Kingdom, the opening words of paragraph (2) establish that contraventions committed in the United Kingdom by any person, of whatever nationality, are offences against the Order.
That leaves contraventions committed outside the United Kingdom. International Law does not permit us to legislate for things done by foreigners in foreign countries. They are, therefore, left to be dealt with by their own law, or by the law of the country where the act in question takes place. International Law would not prevent us from legislating for things done by foreigners within our overseas territories, but it is our general contitutional practice to leave the Legislatures of such territories to pass the necessary laws to cover this, and also, of course, to cover things done by their own citizens while actually in the territory.
This leaves a theoretical gap, in the case of things done in a foreign country by a United Kingdom citizen or a British protected person not ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom. The existence of this gap is recognised, but we considered that it was not of sufficient practical importance in the present context to warrant special provision. The basis of the provision is, in fact, substantially the same as that adopted in Section 5 of the Emergency Laws (Re-enactment and Repeals) Act 1964.
Article 2, which also operates as part of the law of the United Kingdom, prohibits the use, except under licence, of any ship or aircraft registered in the United Kingdom or colonies for the carriage of petroleum to Rhodesia. Under paragraph (2) the owner and master of any ship, or the operator and commander of any aircraft, which has been used in contravention of the Order will be guilty of an offence unless he can prove that he did not know, and had no reason to suppose, that the oil was destined for Rhodesia.
Article 3 also operates as part of the law of the United Kingdom, but in addition, by virtue of Article 7(2), it also operates as part of the law of Southern Rhodesia. It prohibits any person, except under regulations made by the 1140 Secretary of State, from importing petroleum into Rhodesia or from taking delivery outside Rhodesia of oil destined to be imported therein. Any Rhodesian, therefore, or any other person in Rhodesia who seeks to import oil will be committing a criminal offence both under United Kingdom law and under Rhodesian law and will be liable to be punished by either the Rhodesian courts or, if he comes within the jurisdiction, by the courts of this country.
Noble Lords will observe that the effect of this Order is to establish criminal sanctions against any person in this country or Rhodesia, and against any citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies, or of Rhodesia, anywhere who seeks to supply oil to Rhodesia, but no such sanctions have yet been imposed against, for example, a citizen of the United States who acts in this way while outside this country or Rhodesia. This, of course, is true for the simple reason that we have no power to legislate for such a purpose. However, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in another place on Monday, a great many other countries are also giving us their support. It is for each country to decide the methods by which it will give effect to that support. This Order will undoubtedly assist the Governments of those other countries to arrange for their support of the embargo.
The prohibition of the import of oil into Rhodesia may well render ineffective any future contracts for the supply of oil to Rhodesia and relieve the foreign contractor of his obligations under existing ones. I have mentioned the fact that the Secretary of State has power by regulations to grant dispensations, and if your Lordships ask the sort of purpose for which that will be used perhaps I may say that the Secretary of State has already, by regulations, granted a dispensation in the case of petrol imported by aeroplanes otherwise than as cargo; that is to say, the petrol which the aeroplane is using for its own purposes.
Article 4 prescribes the penalties for a conviction either summarily or on indictment and paragraph (2) contains the common form provision relating to the liability of a director, manager or other officer for the offences of a body corporate. Article 5 provides that the Minister may grant either general or 1141 special licences, subject to or without conditions. Article 6 deals with interpretation and is, I think, self-explanatory. Article 7 deals with citation, commencement and extent. As I have mentioned already, Article 3 and the relevant provisions of Articles 4 and 6 are extended to Rhodesia and there is power in paragraph (3) to extend Article 2 to the Colonies and protectorates with such modifications as may be necessary. Paragraph (4) provides that Orders in Council under the preceding paragraph are to be laid before Parliament after being made.
I think some questions have been asked on Article 7, which may at first sight seem a little complex. First of all, in relation to paragraph (2) of that article the question may be asked: how does this work in relation to proceedings before Rhodesian courts? Article 3, covering Rhodesian law, relates to acts done inside Rhodesia, but it may also apply the Order to acts done outside Rhodesia. Article 4 lays down the rules for proceedings in the United Kingdom courts, and Article 7(2) says, in effect, that in its operation as part of the law of Rhodesia the references in Article 4 to the United Kingdom are to be construed as references to Rhodesia. This means that where an offence against Rhodesian law is committed outside Rhodesia the offender may be prosecuted before a Rhodesian court of summary jurisdiction at any time within twelve months after he first returns to Rhodesia.
As to paragraph (3) of Article 7, it may be asked why such a provision was necessary and what use is intended to be made of it. As a matter of general practice we do not usually legislate for Colonies and protectorates on matters within their own legislative competence. There are some matters, however (of which merchant shipping and aircraft are two), for which it has been customary for the Imperial Parliament to legislate. Accordingly, if legislation is necessary in the Colonies corresponding to Articles 1 and 3 of the Order, they must make it themselves and we shall not make it for them. But they cannot make legislation corresponding to Article 2: only we can do that. Hence, the power conferred by paragraph (3) of Article 7. We are, in fact, in touch with all Colonies and protectorates that are likely to be concerned about the desirability of our making an Order extending Article 2 to them and 1142 also about their passing legislation of their own accord.
Lastly, with regard to paragraph (4) of Article 7, it may be asked why the Orders there referred to are not subject to Affirmative Resolution. The reason is that this is not a power to make new provisions which Parliament would rightly expect to have an opportunity to consider; it is merely a power to extend to certain territories, for the purposes I have mentioned, and with whatever modification the circumstances of those territories may require provisions which,ex hypothesi,Parliament will already have approved. And the only reason why this is being done by Order in Council at all, rather than being left to the local Legislatures, is, as I have said, that Colonial Legislatures are probably not competent on technical grounds to make this sort of law about ships and aircraft.
My Lords, if I have adequately explained the detailed provisions of the Order, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to add a few words as to the reasons for making it. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place yesterday said… if we do not get a quick solution it is much more likely to lead to force being applied externally℄not by us but by others℄and in conditions which will present this country with a most appalling dilemma.ߪ But the additional reasons why I say that we want these measures to be quickly effective is. first, that the hardship will be less than if there were a long-drawn-out agony of slow-working sanctions; secondly, it will be much easier to reconstruct the economy when Rhodesia has returned to constitutional rule and we could cut off the economic sanctions very quickly—as quickly as we imposed them; thirdly, the more quickly a solution is reached the less bitterness there will be and, therefore, the greater the opportunity of creating the multiracial harmony on which we all agree and on which any permanent solution of the Rhodesian problem must depend. As I have said, the quicker the solution, the less danger there is of grave external action.… In our view, these measures are necessary to deny the munitions of rebellion to the Smith régime and to speed the day of the return of constitutional methods."℄[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 722 (No. 31), col. 1917.]I know that in your Lordships' House there are some who are opposed to Orders of this kind; and I recognise fully the honesty and sincerity of their views. But perhaps I may just say this to them: it has always seemed to me that this was a situation in which one could take only one of three courses of action. The first 1143 course possible would have been to abandon the 4 million Africans to their fate, take no exception to the fact that this valuable and prosperous Colony was one which a comparatively few men had seized, being the Government at the time; to raise no objection to their seizing it; and to let the remaining African counties and the United Nations do what they liked while we sat quietly at home. I should not have thought that this was a course which would commend itself to any Government of this country. It is certainly not the view of the Government that that course should have been pursued; nor, as I understand it, is it the view of the Opposition, or of the Liberal Party.
The second course would have been to take such financial and economic measures as would result in members of the Rhodesian Front coming to the conclusion that they had made a mistake, and saying, "We thought that this was going to be a nine-days' wonder. We regarded the present British Government as effete. We did not think they would ever in fact do the things which they said they would do. We thought that, when it came to the point, they would not in fact do anything, and that we should get away with it. We see now that this was not right. In fact, they have done all, and more than all, of the things they said they would do. We see now that the course which our Government followed (though it had no express mandate for it) is one which may lead to the break-up of the whole of the Commonwealth. We see, further, that it may lead to a black and white war in Africa; and we see now that the opinion of virtually the whole world is against us. We see, unemployment coming, and we recognise that we have made a mistake, that we shall not do any good, so long as we pursue the path of illegality. We see that there is no threat that African majority rule will be imposed on us, either to-day or to-morrow; that if we return to the path of legality there will be no recriminations, and accordingly that is what we will do." That, then, was the second course possible; and it was, I think, the course supported by every Party in this country: that we should take such steps, financial or economic, as would lead to a return to constitutional government in Rhodesia.
1144 The third course would have been to remove the illegal régime by military action. This was a course strongly supported by many African countries, and by other people in the world besides. They said, "If you had, in fact, gone straight in with military forces, there would have been no fighting. This is exactly what you would have done if the rebels had been black. This is what you did in Kenya. This is what you are doing now in Aden. It is only because they are your own kith and kin that you are not doing it." But the African countries, not unnaturally, say, "We also have kith and kin in Rhodesia, 4 million of them. Your sanctions are not going to be effective, or they are going to be too slow, and accordingly it is this third course of military force which you ought to have followed." There again, Her Majesty's Government have always said throughout that they will not use military force to impose a Constitution on Rhodesia. That is still their position. I believe that also to be the position of the Opposition. I am not quite sure about the Liberal Party, but they will speak for themselves.
My Lords, I appreciate that those who take a different view in your Lordships' House say, "Well, the action taken will not really be effective for the purposes you have in mind. On the contrary, it is much more likely to make everybody in Rhodesia stick together; and the more you do this sort of thing, the more obstinate they will get and the less likely they will be to return to constitutional rule." Of course, we have always appreciated that the first reaction after an illegal declaration of independence would be that some Rhodesians, while not really supporting it, would say, "Now it has been done, we had better all stick together."
But if one is to ask, "What is to be the future effect of financial or economic measures of this kind?" then, while I recognise that those who take a different view have interests in Rhodesia, or know Rhodesia well, I should have thought that the opinions on that point—that is to say, the likely effect of these measures on members of the Rhodesian Front—was best known to Rhodesians who have spent their lives in Rhodesia and who mix with members of the Rhodesian Front every day. And on this point the 1145 information of the Government is very clear. These men who ought to know (and we must remember that they are the most educated and intelligent people in Rhodesia; these are all the moderates, the recent Opposition in Parliament; men of considerable political and Parliamentary experience led by Mr. Butler; men from the churches, the universities, the leading businessmen) are all of the opinion that the way to end this rebel régime is to take measures of this kind.
I may say that individual members of the Government who have personal friends in Rhodesia all receive letters to the same effect saying: "Step up your sanctions; make them as strong as you can, and make them short and sharp, rather than very long drawn out. If you will do that, members of the Rhodesian Front—perhaps not immediately, but as sanctions begin to take effect; as they find shortages all round, unemployment, and face a world in which no substantial sale of any kind of their tobacco crops is going to be made—will say, as reasonable men ' We were wrong. We thought things would turn out otherwise. We were persuaded by Mr. Smith that this was the thing to do. We were never actually asked to vote for this in an Election; we have never actually given a mandate for it. As it has turned out, the thing has gone wrong and we must get back again to constitutional government'."
It may be that, before this evening's debate is over, those who take this different view will tell us what course they think we ought to have followed. If they say, "Our position really is exactly the same as Mr. Smith's", I would remind them that the Rhodesian Front have said that they do not believe in majority rule, certainly not in their lifetime; they have worked very hard and done a good job developing the country economically; they have high living standards, cars, swimming pools, cheap African labour and cheap African servants, and a higher living standard than they would have here, and have no intention of giving it up.
I do not know whether those who disapprove of any of the steps which have been taken share that view. If so, they would, I suppose, have been in favour of the first course—that is to say, of 1146 doing absolutely nothing at all; of just leaving the matter to the United Nations and letting this handful of men seize this British Colony. But if they do not take that view, then I am not clear on what grounds they do not take the view that the second course ought to have been taken. If one is to apply sanctions at all, I should not have thought that there is any real case to be made for saying, "Yes, we approve of sanctions, so long as they are ineffective." This would merely be the worst of both worlds and would mean falling between two stools.
My Lords, this is going to be a long debate, and I do not want to keep your Lordships any later. We appreciate to the full the very strong emotions on the part of all the African countries, but we must ask them to be patient and to give sanctions an opportunity to take effect, which I think will not now be long. May I conclude by reminding your Lordships of another observation made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, because it is very important—and I think we should continue to assert and make it plain whenever we speak on the subject: that the view which was so widely promulgated by the Smith Government, that there was no alternative between an illegal seizure of power and African majority rule to-morrow, is one which never had any foundation and stiff has no foundation; and that if only they will return to constitutional government, we shall be anxious to it down with representatives of all peoples and Parties in Rhodesia to consider what the future of that country ought to be. If I may remind the House of what my right honourable friend said yesterday, it was this [col. 1931]:I think that this illegal action will come to an end only when the hardships and inconvenience resulting from the economic measures which have been taken—that is which Mr. Smith has taken—begin to loom larger in the minds of the Rhodesian people than the fears they feel—geniune fears, though unjustified—about the consequences of a return to constitutional rule.We have said, and we mean, that once constitutional rule returns we shall immediately act to reverse the economic measures that we have taken—this can be done quickly—and approach the problem of reconstruction, not in any punitive or backward-looking spirit, but constructively. But every week that passes increases the dangers, and I hope that Rhodesians will respond quickly to what we have in mind.1147 My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Southern Rhodesia (Petrôleum) Order 1965 be approved.℄ (The Lord Chancellor.)
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think I am right in saying, and I have no doubt I shall be corrected if I am wrong, that it has just been announced that the noble Earl the Leader of the House has been appointed Colonial Secretary. On behalf of all those who sit on these Benches, I should like to congratulate him most warmly on his appointment and to wish him every good fortune.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
I understand at the same time that he is no longer Lord Privy Seal. I remember that when my right honourable friend the Leader of the Opposition was Lord Privy Seal, he had great difficulty in explaining what a Lord Privy Seal was. He started off by saying that he was neither a Lord, nor a Privy, nor a Seal. The noble Earl will not be a Privy or a Seal, but he is still a Lord, and I hope very much that his new appointment will not mean that he is seen less in your Lordships' House.
Once again we are debating important issues connected with Rhodesia. I hope your Lordship will allow me on this occasion, as the noble and learned Lord did, to stray wider than the issue of oil on which to-day's debate is based. I comfort myself that I do so at the invitation of the Chief Whip who, oddly enough, considering his position, seems to think that we do not already stray far enough from the Rules of Order. I stray this evening because I think it is impossible to consider each individual Order or sanction in isolation. It is perfectly proper for us to look at this situation in the round when discussing and deciding issues of such magnitude.
It has been the object of those who sit on these Benches to support the Government and to maintain the unity of the country in this grave emergency whenever possible, though many of us have had doubts what the outcome of the Government's policy would be. I agree with the noble and learned Lord that it would have been impossible that Mr. Smith's Government should not suffer serious consequences as a result of their illegal 1148 declaration of independence. If force was out of the question, as it was, and still is, then it seems to me that it was necessary to impose sanctions. If sanctions were to be imposed, then it really was quite impossible to differentiate between punitive sanctions and sanctions which were not punitive, since it was hoped that sanctions would bring home to Mr. Smith and his colleagues the consequences of his act of rebellion, and so impress the people of Rhodesia with the gravity of the situation that moderate men could emerge and take over the Government.
I am bound to say, though I know that this view is not shared by some of my noble friends, that oil sanctions do not seem to me to be very different in kind from the other sanctions which have already been imposed. But all along most of us, at any rate on this side, have had misgivings about the effect of sanctions upon the Rhodesian people; and this was said by the noble and learned Lord earlier on this evening. There was, and is, a danger that measures of this kind would unite the Rhodesians behind the Government of Mr. Smith. For myself, I doubt very much whether it was possible to avoid this danger, though it can be aggravated by provocative speeches, by insulting language and by demands for unconditional surrender, none of which we had this evening from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor.
The Government clearly had to take into account not only the reaction of the Rhodesians themselves, but the reaction of the Africans, the Commonwealth and the rest of the Free World. To do less than to impose sanctions might well have created a situation in the United Nations and in Africa which could have got out of control, and perhaps would have entailed the mounting of expeditionary forces, the intervention by mandatory Resolution of the United Nations, and other such catastrophies which up to now have been avoided. It was a balance of disadvantage.
Your Lordships will all no doubt have read the report of the debate which took place in the House of Commons yesterday. The object of my right honourable friends, when they attempted to move their Motion yesterday, was to make it perfectly clear to the Government, although we had supported them 1149 thus far in the action they had taken on Rhodesia, that in no circumstances could the Conservative Party accept the use of force to settle the Rhodesian problem. Some felt that the Government are being dragged, no doubt very unwillingly, into just such a situation. Step by step, it seems, the Prime Minister and the Government have been pushed a little further towards more extreme measures℄pushed by African opinion, by United Nations opinion and perhaps by United States opinion. Each step so far, I think, has been justifiable; but each step, so far as I am concerned, was agreed to each time with more misgiving.
The object of the debate yesterday in another place was, as I said, to make it quite clear to the Prime Minister and the Government at what point the Conservative Party, and I judge the vast majority of the people in this country, would be prepared to support their policy, and also to emphasise that in the end it will be necessary both to conciliate and negotiate. I shall have more to say about this a little later.
TheDaily Telegraph,in its report this morning of that debate, said this:three things…[are]…clearer than they have been since the Rhodesian crisis began: The Government is not seeking a mandate from Parliament to use military force. Its decision to impose oil sanctions will not lead to a blockade of the Portuguese port of Beira, Mozambique. It is prepared to enter into negotiations for a peaceful constitutional settlement.If that is the situation—and I ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House if it is—I am extremely glad to hear it. But I wonder whether he would confirm those three points, since I am bound to say that I did not entirely receive the same impression from all that I read of the debate in another place yesterday.
For example, I understood the Prime Minister to say that, though we had no intention of blockading Beira, it might well be the decision of the United Nations to do so. In what circumstances would the Government support such a proposal? Would it not be in their power to oppose it, if it did not commend itself to them—ultimately, if they so wished, by use of the veto? Would they, for example, acquiesce in such a blockade against the wishes of Portugal? How could such a blockade operate when oil supplies to Mozambique would have to be maintained? These and many other 1150 questions would need to be answered before the Government could be absolved from their responsibility by acquiescing in such action, or, indeed, from their responsibility, the British responsibility, for Rhodesia.
Lastly, I turn to the question of negotiations for a peaceful settlement. One of the things that has been worrying me and, I think, most of us on this side of the House is this. How can you expect moderate Rhodesians, or indeed immoderate Rhodesians, to return to the path of constitutional government if no indication is given to them of the terms which would be acceptable to the British Government? Of course, I realise how difficult it is for the Prime Minister to make overtures to Mr. Smith. It might very well be misunderstood all over the world, and be taken by Mr. Smith as a sign of weakness. Equally, one must appreciate how difficult it is for Mr. Smith or anyone else in Rhodesia to make overtures to us. And it is made doubly difficult if the Prime Minister and the Government are to insist on what one might call "unconditional surrender".
I would think that the experience that we have had with this unhappy phrase does not give us much confidence that it is the right course of action to follow in this case. When people are told that they will have to surrender unconditionally—even if those words are not used they are implied—it is much more likely to firm their resolve to resist until the last moment. In this case, resistance until the last moment will bring with it the most appalling dangers, not only of a complete collapse in the economy of Rhodesia, but indeed, ultimately, the danger of the use of force. I have no doubt that some way must be found of making plain to Rhodesia the sort of terms upon which we can begin negotiating.
I fear, too, that the Prime Minister's insistence upon a return for a period to direct rule can have nothing but a damaging effect, upon even the most moderate elements in Rhodesia. After so many years of internal self-government, I would not have thought that any Rhodesian would view a return to direct rule with anything but implacable opposition. I do not know whether I was right in detecting yesterday that the Prime Minister's attitude on these matters is becoming less 1151 rigid. I very much hope that it is, because I am quite sure that the imposition of sanctions by itself will have no effect, unless it is accompanied by a clear statement of the terms on which we can begin a new chapter in the history of Rhodesia.
I think it will be seen from what I have said that I myself am not prepared to vote against the imposition of oil sanctions, and for the reasons I have given. I have made it clear, too, that I think force must not be used for the settlement of the Rhodesian problem, and that it is essential to negotiate and essential to create conditions which will make that possible. I know very well that there are those who sit on the Conservative Benches who do not share my views, and I do not flatter myself that anything I have said this evening is likely to convince them. But I would ask them before they vote against this Order to consider this.
We in this House are in a very extraordinary position. Because of our composition, it is more than likely that if the Opposition decided to vote against the Government their vote would be successful. All of us have in the past tried to lay down certain guide lines as to how the House of Lords should conduct itself in situations of deep Party controversy. There is no precedent for the situation in which we find ourselves today. Nevertheless, if this Order were rejected by the House, although it has passed the Commons with a large majority, certain consequences would follow. The decision of the Government, taken in concert with the United States and supported by a number of other European Powers and by the Commonwealth, would seem to be rendered inoperative on a vote taken by this House in defiance, in opposition, to the elected Chamber. Of course, the House is entitled to do that; but, my Lords, surely no Government could passively accept such an adverse vote. Either the powers of the House would be further curtailed or, more likely, there would be a very drastic reform of both the powers and the composition of the House.
Noble Lords who feel strongly on this matter should, I think, make up their minds whether this issue is one on which the House of Lords should decide to use 1152 its ultimate power. Will not those who dislike these sanctions have made their opinion abundantly clear by the end of the evening? What can they hope to achieve by a vote? Is this really an issue on which, or is this the right moment, to face a constitutional crisis? To me, my Lords, the answer is clearly, "No"; and, if I have carried any of your Lordships on these Benches with me in anything I have said this evening, I would earnestly beg you not to oppose this Order by voting, but to abstain, as I and my colleagues who sit beside me on this Bench propose to do.
§ 8.21 p.m.
My Lords, after that penetrating and thoughtful speech by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, I think there is probably very little to say, although there are a great many of your Lordships who are going to say it. But I, for one, propose to be really brief. I should first of all like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in congratulating the noble Earl the Leader of the House on his new office as Secretary of State, one of the highest Cabinet ranks there is, and in a subject matter in which I am sure his great gifts will be very well used. We are delighted, of course, that there is no further change in his status, because we very much value him here as our Leader.
My Lords, I must say that I regret these oil sanctions. As Leader of the Liberal Party, I think I can say that. I regret all sanctions. I think they are all most unfortunate. But, unfortunately, we must support them, and this evening we are going to support the Government in this Motion. They impose hardships and difficulty—that is why we loathe them. They impose hardships and difficulty not only on innocent people, but on people who have worked very hard for the good of the country and are yet in a minority position which does not give them the reason to have our respect or our support now that they have gone out of constitutional government.
These are unusual circumstances, and therefore we must use unusual methods to deal with them. It is most illiberal, in the historical sense of the word, that we should have to do these things, but there are special circumstances. There are circumstances in this country where we have to guard certain criminals not 1153 only with the police force but with soldiers and machine guns. This goes against the grain of all of us, but it happens. And here we have an extraordinary circumstance, where we have had to impose these sanctions. Having set our hand to the plough (I dislike using this cliché), I do not think we can turn back. We must go on with these oil sanctions, unpleasant as they are, because they will lead to a quicker settlement, which all sides in this question want in the long run—the peaceful settlement of things in Rhodesia. We know that if the Government of Mr. Smith get their way, it will, in the opinion of most people in the world, lead to chaos—or, if it does not lead to chaos, it will be a very long time before things come right, far longer than we who take the other point of view like to see happening.
My Lords, if you decide to take these disciplinary actions, you have to take them properly. I do not know if any of your Lordships are old-fashioned enough to beat your sons when they have been thoroughly naughty, but if you do I suggest that some of you, if you do not like doing this sort of thing, should take care to beat them with a feather duster because then you go through the actions. Justice will have been seen to be done, but will not have been done. No effect will cover this business at all if this Motion and these sanctions are not put through. If they are defeated there will be humiliation, of course, but, I think, not only humiliation for Her Majesty's present Government, but humiliation, unfortunately, for this country in the eyes of the whole world.
We have been asked why we do not negotiate; we have been asked, "Can we negotiate?"—and here I do have one critical query of the Government. We read and hear every day of the objections to the Government's policy; but I do not think we hear enough, and we do not hear daily, of what remedies there are. I ask that the Prime Minister (or somebody delegated by him) should not merely indicate that when Mr. Smith and his Government show signs of grace we can get into touch with them. What does an ordinary Rhodesian, one like you and me, who wants to be loyal to the Governor, to the Government, to the Queen and to Great Britain, do personally to help things? Cannot the Government put out 1154 some little schedule of procedure that he can get on with? Is there not to be a mission of people from here out to Rhodesia to support the Governor and consult with him, and possibly set up a new Government? Is there no bridge across to some neighbouring country of people of like minds? I think, if I may say so, that in the Press and the publicity of this country we are not giving enough lead about how to come back into the fold. I am quite sure there are hundreds and thousands of white Rhodesians who want to come back into the fold, and I should like to help them far more than we are doing.
I was asked the question: Does the Liberal Party stand for force? They do not stand for force. I think it the most illiberal thing there is, hut I think we admire the brave statement of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury who put forward a hypothetical case. If some moral issue arises which must take force with it, then, reluctantly, we will agree to force. We do not wish it any more than the Government or the Opposition or anybody else, but if things are going to get out of hand, if immediate force is going to save further bloodshed later on, then reluctantly, sorrowfully and regretfully, we might have to support it. In the meantime, all I can say is that we support the Government to-night.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, in rising to oppose the Order which is now before your Lordships, I think I should begin by making something in the nature of a personal explanation. On the last occasion this House discussed Rhodesia I believe the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, criticised noble Lords who had financial interests in Rhodesia and did not disclose them. Though he did not mention any names, I understand that the impression was gained in the House that I might be one of the chief targets at which his shafts were directed. I want to say at once that I make no complaint whatever against his having spoken as he did, whether it was directed at me or at anybody else. He is perfectly entitled, as a Member of your Lordships' House, to say whatever he thinks right. That is our privilege in this place. But I am sure that those who have known me 1155 over the years in this House will absolve me of any intention to conceal anything from your Lordships. The fact is, as some of your Lordships know, I had disclosed such an interest less than a fortnight before and on various occasions before that, and I thought the House did not need reminding once again. If, however, I was at fault, I make my most sincere apologies. However, the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, having spoken as he did, I think I ought to go a little rather more into detail as to the nature of my interest, in order that the House may be fully satisfied.
How it came about was that during the Second World War it was my good fortune to occupy successively the posts of Dominions Secretary and Colonial Secretary. As a result of this, I became deeply interested in the development of our Dependencies overseas; and when an opportunity occurred shortly after the end of the war of acquiring a share in two farming properties in Rhodesia which were to be developed, I jumped at it. From the purely financial point of view, I must confess they have not been very profitable investments. Indeed, up to now I have never had a penny of interest from either of them. But I have never regretted my decision, because the estates have in fact been greatly improved. One is to-day one of the best cattle ranches in the country, with one of the best cattlemen in charge; and we give employment to a small number of Europeans and a large number of Africans, all of whom, so far as I know, are happy and contented.
I think the House was entitled to those facts; and I hope your Lordships will forgive my going into them at such length. At the same time I would not agree, if I may say so with all deference, that the fact that people like myself have special connections with Rhodesia debars them from expressing their views in this House, any more than they should be debarred from expressing their views on Kenya, where I, for instance, have no connections. Indeed, if one's special experience brings one to any conclusions, I think it is perfectly proper that one should express them to your Lordships.
And one of the conclusions to which I have come is that the African in Rhodesia is not yet ready for majority 1156 rule over a large multiracial community. I do not say that he never will be ready; I do not say it will be necessarily long before he is ready; but he is not yet ready. After all, that is not surprising. We tend to forget nowadays how short a time it is since the Africans in Rhodesia first had contact with Western civilisation—indeed, with civilisation at all. I remember talking to an old lady in Salisbury not many years ago—only a few years ago, in fact—who had lived as a child with her father, who was a missionary, in the kraal of King Lobenguela in the years preceding the arrival of Cecil Rhodes. She gave a vivid picture of Matabele warriors in their war-dress, with head-dresses of ostrich feathers and great shields and assegais, moving forward and backward in a great circle before the King, until he gave his word of command by point with his hand; and off they went to a raid on one of the neighbouring tribes. Splendid human figures, but quite barbaric. That was almost within the lifetime of people of my age.
How far Rhodesia has moved since then! And I think it can be fairly claimed that it has moved so far almost entirely as a result of work done by Europeans in the last seventy or eighty years. And the Africans have moved forward, too. I believe I am right in saying that more money has been spent on African education in Rhodesia during recent years than in any of the African Territories administered by the Colonial Office℄and it was all done with the Rhodesians' own money. I do not say that more could not have been done. Of course, it is always possible to do more, but what has been done is a very considerable achievement.
My Lords, in these circumstances one can but wonder: does a dispute concerned not with the fact of African advance but with the pace of African advance justify the mobilisation of the whole world against these people to whom alone, it is generally believed, the greatly improved conditions of the African in their country are due℄without whom, indeed, the Africans would be relatively in the same condition in which they were before the Europeans first came there? If it is pointed out to me that the Rhodesian Government have also done something very wrong in unilaterally 1157 declaring their independence, I would reply: That may well be so. I think they were wrong to do it. But that is a matter which concerns Rhodesia and us alone. It does not, or should not, concern any other nation.
The white Rhodesians, apparently, in the eyes of the Prime Minister and possibly some, at any rate, of the Members in this House, have put themselves beyond the pale by what they have done. They have become, as it were, the embodiment of evil; and the war against them, although up to now it has been cold, has become regarded as a Holy War, a war in which there can be no compromise but only unconditional surrender. One sanction has been piled on another. First, there has been the denial of the automatic economic advantages that flow from membership of the Commonwealth. That, I think all would agree, the Rhodesians have brought on themselves. Then there was the embargo on the purchase of sugar and tobacco, the two main products of the country. Then there was the embargo on the purchase of 95 per cent. (I think it was) of the other products of the country. Then there was the embargo on all trade between the two countries, and the embargo on the transfer of monies from one country to another. And finally, there was the seizure of the reserves of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor (perhaps I did not hear him correctly: I am getting a little deaf, and I hope that he will correct me if I am wrong) said to-night, I think, that all the solid information which has reached the Government was to the effect that sanctions were already, to some extent at any rate, succeeding. My information is exactly the opposite; and I suspect, with all deference to the noble and learned Lord, that my information is more correct. Why otherwise are we now told by the Prime Minister that he has decided to resort, without any previous consultations with Parliament, on the harshest, cruellest and most dangerous of all sanctions, the oil sanctions?
My Lords, I seem to remember that there was a suggestion at one time—at the time of Suez— that we should cut off oil from Egypt. Apparently it was 1158 not at all an impossible operation. But it was vetoed because it was regarded as just too cruel. But it is not, apparently, regarded as too cruel for the Rhodesians. This may be a cold war, but it is a total war, all the same. I have said that the oil sanction is cruel, because nowadays oil comes so much into the lives even of quite poor families. But it is also, I submit, a far more dangerous sanction, for it is liable at any time to bring nations to the verge of war. Take the present case. I imagine that the purpose of the Government is, if that is possible by arrangement with the exporting countries, to prevent oil from being embarked for Rhodesia at all. They hope not to have to stop ships on the high seas, for that would mean a blockade not of Rhodesian ports but of ports of nations at present not involved in the dispute at all: and surely the blockade of ports of friendly nations is almost an act of war against those countries.
Or take another not too far-fetched possibility. Let us suppose that a tanker flying what I believe is called a "flag of convenience" tries to run the blockade; and suppose that, being hailed by the blockading warship, she refuses to stop. What does the blockading warship do? Does it sink the tanker? I hope that supporters of the Government will not regard that as the height of absurdity. It is not really an absurdity at all. It is something which might well flow quite inevitably from the imposition of oil sanctions and might take place even before your Lordships meet again after Christmas. For I would remind your Lordships that we are rising to-day for the Christmas Recess, and it may be that we shall be away for a month. And in a dispute of this kind, especially at the stage it has now reached, much may happen in a month. I thought, if I may say so, that the Leader of the House gave some fairly evasive replies yesterday as to the conditions under which the Government would agree to an earlier recall of Parliament.
Noble Lords opposite may say, quite fairly, that I am barking up the wrong tree. They may point out that the Prime Minister, in his speech yesterday, has already abjured the use of force. They may quote the words of the Prime Minister speaking of the possibility of a 1159 blockade. I will quote him myself. This is what the Prime Minister said:He"—that is, Mr. Heath—fears it will lead to a Naval blockade of Beira. It will not.But I could not but feel, like the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that these words should be read in the light of another passage in the speech of the Prime Minister when he said:If the matter was raised at the United Nations, and there was a decision to stop oil tankers from going into Beira, that would be an international decision."—which is, apparently, in his mind, quite a different thing. To be quite fair, he added [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 722 (No. 31), col. 1919]:We do not ourselves propose to seek such a resolution.But he did not say that we would veto such a decision. He rather indicated, as I understood him, that we should feel unable to resist it.
This, to my mind, is the most formidable and even sinister aspect of the present situation; for the Prime Minister's objective may be comparatively limited in its aim; limited to getting rid of (I am glad to see that he has dropped the word "traitor") the illegal régime in Rhodesia. But the Afro-Asians, who are to-day making the running in the United Nations on this subject, do not care a row of beans for Mr. Smith. They do not care whether he is legal or illegal. They would feel just the same about a Government headed by Sir Roy Welensky or by Mr. Winston Field. Their object is quite different and much more far-reaching. It is, to use a graphic phrase once coined by Mr. Tom Mboya, to "make the white man scram out of Africa". That is their objective; and if they can create chaos and ruin in Rhodesia, they will have gone far to achieve it.
If we, my Lords, by approving oil sanctions, open the door to a United Nations—if not to a United Kingdom—blockade, we shall have gone far to facilitate their schemes. But if we in Britain decide not to approve them, they will, if they intend to pursue their blockade with a view to creating chaos in Rhodesia, have to come out in their true colours and not merely behind the stalking horse of Her Majesty's Govern- 1160 ment. Such being the position with which we to-day are faced—I hope that I have not misrepresented it—I appeal most earnestly to your Lordships to pause before allowing this Order to pass into law.
My Lords, the Chancellor has said that the Government had no practical alternative. But this imposition of oil sanctions which Parliament is to-day being asked to approve may well, I believe, be one of those moments of fate which sometimes occur in the history of countries—what, in the world of the air, is called "the point of no return". The only hope now, I believe, of avoiding an even greater conflagration is not further to intensify sanctions. That, apart from bringing nearer the wider dangers of which I have just spoken, could only create such bitterness that no Rhodesian, whether he was pro-Smith or anti-Smith, would sit down at a conference table with a representative of the United Kingdom Government.
The imperative need now is for a return to the paths of conciliation and negotiation, of which Sir Alec Douglas-Home spoke so wisely yesterday in another place. This is no time for saying, "I won't speak to Mr. A or Mr. B"—or even, my Lords, to "Mr. S". It is a time for saying, "I will speak to anyone if it will serve the cause of peace." But if we agree to these sanctions I believe that the situation will pass out of our control. We shall be swept forward, inevitably, into rapids infinitely dangerous both to our Commonwealth and to our country; into the realm of force, with all that implies.
And, my Lords, it is not only I who see these greater perils looming before us. It will, I am sure, not have escaped the notice of your Lordships that some of the newspapers, even those hitherto most favourable to the Government's ideas, or willing to accept them, have begun to show in the last two or three day a very considerable nervousness as to the shoals and rapids into which the country is now being led. TheDaily Telegraphwhich has always supported—rather to my regret—a bipartisan policy, is beginning to talk about the "slippery slope on which we are all embarking"; and even The Times, which up to now, has supported fully the policy of the Government, is beginning to suspect that the Prime Minister has reached a point 1161 when he is seriously considering the use of force, at any rate by someone, if not by himself.
If there are, therefore, any other noble Lords besides myself in this House who share my anxieties, I most earnestly hope that they will vote against this Order tonight, not simply because it will be harmful to the Rhodesians—that is something about which I fully recognise there may well be great differences of view—but because it contains in it, I believe, the seeds of danger, and possibly imminent danger, to peace. And once peace is broken, my Lords, who knows to where the red tide of war may spread? That is why I am afraid that I personally—I speak for no one but myself—still feel that I must vote in accordance with my conscience and convictions. I believe the issues involved, the very wide issues which I have tried, however indifferently, to describe, are so important that we in this House must take all the risks involved. After all, my Lords, if we are never to vote according to our consciences, we had much better not be here at all.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, although mine is the next name on the list, and much as I should have liked to cross swords with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I would just say, with a great sense of sacrifice, and my eye on the clock, that I do not intend to detain your Lordships with a speech from my lips. I am quite confident that I can leave the reply to the noble Marquess to my noble Leader.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ LORD AILWYN
My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will allow a voice to be heard for a very few moments expressing the view of one with no special knowledge of, or personal interest in, Rhodesia or its people; but one who has followed, as all your Lordships have, the recent events and the situation leading up to them, with ever-increasing interest and concern. My Lords, it is recorded in the Scriptures that at the end of a somewhat lengthy and ponderous speech addressed to Job by one of his so-called comforters, the Lord, answering Job out of the whirlwind, said,Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?My Lords, I hope devoutly that it will not be my fate to deserve or receive any 1162 such imputation this evening. Nevertheless I have something to say.
I find myself, most regrettably, out of step with many of my noble friends on this side of the House and, in particular, with some of those sitting below the gangway, with whom over the years until quite recently I have always found myself in general, and very often in close, agreement. I yield to no one in the great admiration I have felt for the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, over the years; for his leadership both in Government and Opposition; for his courage, and for his statesmanship. One remembers the circumstances of his resignation, together with his Chief, from the Foreign Office in protest against the Government appeasement of Mussolini's aggression in Abyssinia; and how one applauded his action. One remembers his resignation, many years later, at the time of the release of Archbishop Makarios from internment in the Seychelles, in protest against what he considered was Government appeasement during the Cyprus troubles of that time. One applauded his action again, even if one was not completely convinced that such drastic action was called for.
But now, my Lords, we find him fighting against measures—or at least fighting against some of the things—expressly designed to bring back into constitutional relationship an erring community whose leaders have been guilty of a grossly illegal act against the Crown. In other words, after rejecting appeasement stoutly on two major occasions in the past—and no doubt on many more occasions in his long political life—he and his friends now seek to stop, or at least to water down, measures which, in other circumstances, he would have enthusiastically supported. I just do not understand it. Opponents of these Government measures talk about non-punitive sanctions. My Lords, there are no such things. They are a contradiction in terms. Some sanctions are more penal than others, but they are punitive. What point is in them otherwise? It seems to me that if we are going to impose sanctions at all, we must put them on in order to hurt, in the hope that such imposition will bring about the results we are seeking at the earliest possible moment. There is no room for sentiment here and certainly none for a type of sentimentality which, if I may respectfully say so, seems 1163 to have coloured lately the views of some of my noble friends on this side of the House. Milk-and-water sanctions are just a waste of time and are likely to result in hard words, such as "pusillanimity", being addressed to those who are fainthearted in imposing them.
For the reasons I have given, like the noble Lord the Leader of the Liberal Party, I do not dissent from the statement of the most reverend Primate, which received such publicity and criticism a month ago. I thought at the time, and still think, that it was misinterpreted and misunderstood. There is one way to ensure that innocent people do not suffer as a result of their Government's misdeeds —that is, for them to repudiate their leaders who have brought them to that impasse. Far better still would be the solution advocated yesterday by my noble and gallant friend Lord Fraser of North Cape—I do not think I see him here this evening—the top boy of my term in the old "Britannia" some 63 years ago. I echo my noble and gallant friend in saying how wonderful it would be if a message could go out to Rhodesia from this House, "Turn back, Mr. Smith. Retrace your steps from the quagmire into which you are fast leading your gallant people and from which, if you persist, you will sooner or later be powerless to extricate yourselves and will go down in complete disaster. Mr. Smith, you cannot win. For God's sake, take heed in time!" I have done. I do not know whether I have darkened counsel or not, and I hope that I shall be absolved of that: but I have no doubt whatever that we should support the Government in the Motion before the House.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, my one excuse for inflicting any remarks of mine at this late stage of the debate is that I am one of the few Members on either side of the House who have previously refrained from participating in any of the debates on Rhodesia, and tonight, in extenuation, I propose to be as brief as possible.
As the days go on, each succeeding day full of uncertainty and foreboding, I feel that less and less can now be gained by harking back to the past. My chief concern at the moment is the crucial question: What is to happen now? Those 1164 of us who listened to yesterday's debate in another place—and I was one of those who sat through the two main speeches—can only have come away with the feeling of profound uneasiness at the increasing gravity of the whole situation. No tribute ought to be withheld from both the Prime Minister and I think also the Leader of the Opposition, for the attitudes they have taken in this gravest constitutional crisis that has faced our country for the last 200 years.
The Prime Minister was quite right in stressing again and again in another place that the problem of Southern Rhodesia is not only a world issue, but is fundamentally a moral issue. But how does that help us now? If we turn to other areas of conflict in the world to-day such as Vietnam, is that not also fundamentally a moral issue? Our minds almost reel at the moral implications involved in the bombing and brutalities now taking place in that area. But does the dragging in of moral issues really help towards a settlement in Vietnam? Rather the reverse. Is there not a real danger that the raising of moral issues may help to delay rather than to hasten a settlement in Vietnam? Is there nothing still left that we can do, here and now, to help towards a settlement in Southern Rhodesia? To Mr. Smith this is no longer a question of saving his face, but of saving Rhodesia. I would suggest, first of all, a truce to recrimination. That is an exercise in which more than two can indulge, and abuse, recrimination, and misrepresentation, from whatever quarter they may come, can only delay a settlement.
By outlook and temperament I have always been inclined towards the healing of wounds. How can we to-day try and help to heal a wounded Rhodesia? Her wounds, let me hasten to add, largely self-inflicted, seem to grow deeper day after day, and if allowed to run on might well prove fatal to her whole future. Can we do anything to-day in any direction to try to ease the tension between our two countries? I suggest that all our efforts should be centred on one man, the legally appointed Governor of Rhodesia, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, who through the whole of this sad controversy is almost the one Rhodesian who has emerged with increased stature and with added prestige. To-day, he still remains 1165 the rock upon which all our hopes for a happier future for Rhodesia must be centred. It is to him that in the end, or, as we all hope, long before the end, Mr. Smith will have to turn for advice and for help.
It took our own country nine years and required the advent of a new Government before we could attempt to heal the memory of Suez. The policy of our Government towards President Nasser was to let bygones be bygones. So we sent out the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. George Thompson, on a mission of reconciliation to Cairo. The fact that he was rebuffed by Nasser does not detract from the rightness of our action. Over Suez, too, very deep moral issues were involved, and the moral issues were not on one side only. The seizure of the Suez Canal, and its closure to international shipping of all nations, also involved a very deep moral issue. But despite all that has happened at Suez and Port Said, at Aden and in the Yemen, we tried honourably to convince Nasser of our desire to let bygones be bygones.
I would very seriously ask the Government this question. Is not the time shortly to come when we should also be able to say to Mr. Smith, "Let bygones be bygones"? Ought we not very soon to let the dead past bury its dead, before —if I may use a grim Irishism—it has any dead to bury? Must we wait for another nine years and the advent of another Government—and a Tory Government may take even longer than nine years to come into power℄before we deal with Mr. Smith on the basis of, "Let bygones be bygones"? Cannot we offer him petrol rationing with one hand, and an olive branch with the other?
Indeed, after all that has happened since November 11, it is quite possible even for Mr. Smith, deep down, now to have second thoughts. He knows that his illegal act of U.D.I. has been condemned by all political Parties in this country, by the Commonwealth, by the whole United Nations, united on this issue almost as never before, and by the whole of world opinion. Cannot we say to him now, "Let bygones be bygones. Turn to the one rock of Rhodesian constitutional law, to your own Governor, and, with him, try to save Rhodesia before it is too late. You may have to reconstitute your 1166 present Government. You may have to widen its appeal. You may have to bring into your Government other sections of Rhodesian opinion, more progressive, more moderate and less extreme. But this may be your only alternative to direct rule. For this now is really the moment of destiny for Rhodesia. And your country's destiny still remains in the hands of your legally appointed constitutional Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs."?
For Mr. Smith it must never be made too late by us (as has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, in the words that I intended to use) to retrace his steps back to the Governor, and to lead his country back to before November 11. We may very well fail now in our attempt at reconciliation, as we failed with President Nasser; but that, at least, was an honourable failure.
And so I would conclude with an earnest appeal to the Government, as we pass this Southern Rhodesian Petroleum Order to-day, to express their willingness to attempt a new approach between the Governor and Mr. Smith, in order to bring peace to their sorely stricken country, and also to bring peace of mind to our own people here at home.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, there is much in the spirit of the speech to which we have just listened to which I think all of us will feel a warm response. I rise now, however, not to follow the noble Lord's precise line, but to raise just one point. I am hoping that the noble Earl who will wind up this debate (I am very glad to see that, while he has accepted to-day a new responsibility very relevant to our discussion, he is still remaining Leader of our House) will be able to make some useful comment on the point I am going to put.
The Prime Minister last night stated more explicitly and with more conclusive reasons than he ever has before why he has ruled out force altogether in relation to any idea of an invasion of Rhodesia. There have, however, been various suggestions from time to time that perhaps the United Nations would pass a mandatory resolution which might change the position. My Lords, I would point out that the only body at the United Nations which can pass a binding mandatory resolution is the Security Council, 1167 and that it cannot do so without the concurrence of this country. I need hardly remind your Lordships that, while the General Assembly may pass resolutions, they have no legal power to make mandatory decisions.
From the beginning of this trouble in Rhodesia, the position of the Government has always been that this country has a special responsibility in relation to Rhodesia which other countries have not. In those circumstances, can we assume that if some country should try at the United Nations to pass a resolution which is directly inconsistent with what the Prime Minister has stated to be the fundamental position of this country, his Government would exercise the power that it possesses to prevent that resolution from becoming binding and mandatory? Perhaps the noble Earl may be able to make some comment on the point I have raised when he comes to reply at the end of the debate.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Salter, has raised a most interesting point, and we shall look forward to hearing the reply to it from my noble friend the Leader of the House. This is a long debate, and I shall be quite brief. I may say at the outset how much I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn (and it is not the first time) in his most persuasive speech about the question of sanctions. I think everything that the noble Lord has said is absolutely right. I have never been able to understand the point of sanctions if they are not to be fully effective. The whole idea of bringing in sanctions is so that they will have their fullest impact, and thus make the illegal Government in Southern Rhodesia realise the wrong course they have taken and, one would hope, bring them back to reality.
If sanctions are not to be stringent, if one is to have a choice between them and only bring in those that do not hurt, we are in danger of making the same mistake that we made in the 'thirties in the Spanish Civil War, when we had non-intervention which was little more than a mockery. If we are going to have sanctions which are not really stringent, then the only alternative, surely, is that we have to use force. It has been generally agreed by the Government, by the Opposition and by most countries of the 1168 world in the United Nations that the present situation in Rhodesia cannot be allowed to continue. Therefore the only alternative would be that we should have to go in and use force. It has been agreed that this is a course that we should not take. It has been agreed by Her Majesty's Government, and it has been agreed by the Opposition. Therefore, the wisest course, and the one that Her Majesty's Government are taking, is to bring in effective sanctions.
We on this side of the House recognise that on the other Benches there are certain noble Lords who hold views about this crisis. We recognise that their views are sincerely felt, and they have been most eloquently put. But, if I may say so with the greatest respect, I think the great failure of noble Lords opposite who hold these views, however sincerely, is the fact that they cannot see Rhodesia as part of the world scene. They see her as an isolated country taken out of relation to any other part of the Continent, or even of the world. That is really the great problem of Rhodesia to-day.
I think Mr. Smith little knew what he was starting when he took this action. The results of it, of course, will be incalculable. The whole future of the Commonwealth as we know it to-day may be affected, because we are living not in the 19th century, not in the 17th century, but in the 20th century. We are living in the 1960's. We are seeing tremendous changes. We are seeing the wish for independence of people who have never had it before. We have seen the way the world is beginning to divide up in different sentimental ways between races of different colours. We are living in a century of tremendous turmoil, and Rhodesia has to be seen in that background.
Let us not also forget that the responsibility for U.D.I. rested with the Government of Mr. Smith. It was not in any way due to action taken by Her Majesty's Government; it was action taken by the Government of Rhodesia. Indeed, nobody could have done more than Her Majesty's Government, right up to the eve of this illegal declaration, to try to persuade the Smith Government to reconsider their actions. But it appears that they were determined to make this hasty, illegal and, indeed, highly foolhardly 1169 declaration, and they cannot be allowed to get away with it—no responsible Government could permit that. Of course, as has been said before in these debates, we are the trustees for the whole Rhodesian people, for the European stock and for the great majority of Africans as well. It is not a choice between white or African majority rule, but of leading Rhodesia along the path where one day there will come a time when it can be ruled in a majority way of this kind. But, as my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack has put so cogently, it is not a choice at the moment between those two alternatives.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Segal that the way is open for reconciliation. Her Majesty's Government have made that quite clear: that is the only hope. But the wish for reconciliation which has been extended by the Mother Country must also come from the illegal Government of Rhodesia. I understand that Her Majesty's Government are willing to negotiate and to talk to any responsible factions in the country, including the party of Mr. Smith. But it is essential that before this there must be a sincere wish to negotiate, and that the Party of Mr. Smith must realise that the course they are taking is one that is not tenable, and cannot be acceptable in the 20th century. I support the Government in this Order for oil sanctions, and I think it is only through making these really effective that we can bring Rhodesia back to the path of reality, and thus ensure a lasting peace, a stable Government, and the progress of all her people.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I spoke yesterday on the subject of Rhodesia, and I have spoken two or three times in your Lordships' House in the last few weeks. Yesterday, in deference to the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, I again declared my very limited interest in Rhodesia. I had not intended to speak again to-day, and I shall do so only briefly. I am doing so only because I have serious fears arising out of some of the things which the Prime Minister said in another place yesterday, and I am speaking in particular in regard to the possible international blockade of the port of Beira.
1170 I said yesterday, and I repeat to-day, and I think noble Lords in all parts of the House know it very well, that I am opposed to sanctions except for those which were consequential upon the illegal declaration of independence. This oil sanction which we are debating this evening is a particularly bad sanction. It is bad in itself because I believe it to be unenforceable. I remember that the Prime Minister originally said he was not prepared to go in for oil sanctions unilaterally; he said they must be multilateral. So I take it that now that we have decided on this action, this is regarded as a multilateral sanction. We seem to have achieved some form of support from the United States, though I understand that their legislation in fact does not cover an oil embargo. We seem also to have achieved some sort of support from France and Germany and now, I believe, the Netherlands.
But I wonder, when we are told by the Americans that they will give us support and assistance in enforcing an oil sanction of this kind, whether they may perhaps have in mind the sort of assistance that we gave them in enforcing their oil embargo on Cuba. I do not know whether any of your Lordships know the port of Ceuta. It is a Spanish port in North Africa, but if you care to go there you will see tankers flying the British flag, under charter to the Soviet Union, taking up oil from the Spanish refinery to deliver to Fidel Castro in Cuba. That is happening any day throughout the summer that you care to go to that port. I merely mention that as an illustration of how easy it is to defeat an oil embargo. I can think of a dozen ways in which this particular oil embargo on Rhodesia could be defeated. I can see only one way in which an oil embargo could be enforced, and that is by imposing a full-scale naval blockade on the port of Beira and the South African ports.
Although I thought the Prime Minister tended yesterday in his remarks to minimise the importance of the danger of a blockade, a blockade is in fact an act of war. I think we should hesitate a very long time before we take an action which, if it is to be enforceable, may lead us into a situation of war against Portugal and South Africa. I am completely convinced of the Prime Minister's sincerity when he originally said that he had no intention 1171 of using force to coerce the people of Rhodesia into a constitutional line of conduct. I am quite sure that he is still sincere. But I do believe, as was said before by my noble friend, Lord Salisbury, that these oil sanctions are bringing us to the last stage of the slippery slope which could lead us into the use of force and into war.
I would just mention that there is a small clique of people in New York who, from the very beginning of this affair, have been saying that they wanted to use force; a small clique of people—I would call them the same self-deluded fanatics who perpetrated the Congo fiasco —in these rather rarefied international circles surrounding the United Nations, where every one of the events which we have heard of these past few weeks was prophesied, to my knowledge, within a few days of the declaration of independence. The whole lot: the call for British troops to go into Zambia, the call for a force to occupy Kariba, the call for oil sanctions, the call for a blockade, and, at the end of it, the use of force. And that, my Lords, I suggest is something which we should at all costs—at all costs —seek to avoid.
I do not believe that the people of this country would forgive the Government, would forgive the Prime Minister, or would forgive Parliament if we did something which led us into the use of force and, above all, in the last resort into conflict, physical conflict, with our own flesh and blood in Rhodesia—and, indeed, in South Africa, for do not let us forget (as we sometimes do tend to forget) that there are at least a million people of our own British stock in the Republic of South Africa. I think it is something we must have in mind: that there are people who are using Rhodesia, who have used Rhodesia, as part of a plan for a concerted attack on the whole of South Africa. I do not want to be unduly pessimistic, but I can see this happening. That is why I feel myself bound, if a Division is called tonight, to vote against these oil sanctions.
May I, in conclusion, say one word on the constitutional point which my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition mentioned in his speech? He referred to the fact that if we were to defeat this Order to-night it would place the Govern- 1172 ment in a humiliating position—I think somebody used that expression—and it would place this House in a very difficult position. I would beg leave to draw the attention of your Lordships to Section 5(2) of the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965, which we passed into law on October 15 and which said specifically that if an Order in Council under this Act fell there was a power to make a new Order the next day. So it is true we should have expressed our disapproval of the policy of sanctions, but it would not, as I understand it, prevent the Government from immediately making a fresh Order in Council the next day.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, in supporting the Government on this issue, which as a member of the Liberal Party I am bound to do, I should like to make a very few remarks from the angle of the United Nations. But before doing so, I would say what a tragedy it is that we have not been able, or apparently will not be able, to arrive at a common, I might even say a national, policy on this tremendous issue. With a little good will it might even be possible to get such unanimity or apparent unanimity tonight, and I do greatly hope that the noble Marquess will not divide the House in spite of what he has said in his speech, to which I listened with such great attention.
From the point of view of the United Nations, the position is this. The Security Council either decides, under Article 39 of the Charter, which is the beginning of Chapter 7, called the enforcement chapter, that this matter is a threat to international peace and security, or it does not. It has not done so yet, but of course one day it might. it is not impossible. If this situation drags on, the pressure on everybody in New York may be very great, and it is quite possible that the point will come up before the Council. If it does pass it, it must pass order to be valid, with the consenting voices of the five permanent members, including ourselves. But under a practice which has been observed for a long time in the United Nations, an abstention is equal to a consenting voice. Therefore, if it does come up, the point really is whether or not the Americans come to the conclusion that this is a threat to international peace and security.
1173 At the moment, I think there is not much likelihood that they would come to such a conclusion; but, on the other hand, it is always possible that they might. If they did, given the obvious sentiments of the other members of the Security Council, it seems to me pretty clear that no Government in this country could possibly veto the proposal that this is a threat to international peace and security, for pretty evident reasons. Members of your Lordships' House sitting below the gangway may think we should veto it, but I suggest we could not do so in practice, for one very simple reason.
For if we got to the point at which the United States said that, in its view, it was a threat to international peace and security, and we vetoed, what exactly would happen? Under the Resolution "Uniting for Peace" this matter would at once go to the General Assembly; and since there would be virtual unanimity, apart from ourselves, presumably under the leadership of the United States, that it was a threat, then the Assembly would be in order in taking all the measures that are necessary in order to bring Mr. Smith to heel, for that would clearly be the object of the exercise. Of course, action would not be actually mandatory under the Resolution "Uniting for Peace" on any member of the United Nations, but in practice, under that Resolution, any States which wanted to could vote for the nomination of a United Nations Commander in charge of a United Nations force—this is all laid down in the Resolution. I do not say that it would be right, but they would in such circumstances undoubtedly take the action which was required. There is no doubt about it at all.
So it seems to me that, at the moment, all we can do is to see what the effect of these new sanctions is upon Mr. Smith. I think the great majority of your Lordships agree with what the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack said, that in practice we could not have avoided, even if we had wanted to, taking some sanctions against Mr. Smith. The middle course that he said the Government took, and which it seems to me that everybody should agree to, was the only reasonable course that could have been taken now. If that is so, then you take sanctions and presumably you want them to have some effect, otherwise you would 1174 not take them. In a sense, therefore, any sanctions mean using a sort of force in order to bring Mr. Smith into line with what you think is desirable. But if that is so, and the sanctions taken, including oil sanctions which we are now proposing should be approved in this House tonight, do not take immediate effect, not even in a few months—which I think is quite probable because, after all, enough oil to keep them alive will probably get in somehow or other through the Union or through Beira or somewhere else—then we shall in a few months' time be in a position in which Mr. Smith is still there defying everybody, including ourselves.
In those circumstances, I think it is quite possible that the really crucial issue —namely, whether it is a threat to international peace or security or not—will come up in the Security Council of the United Nations. And at that moment we shall have to show our hand. We shall have to say whether we are going to veto or whether we are not. I think we ought to think clearly about our attitude now. I hope and believe that the Government are indeed now thinking about it. I rather doubt whether the Americans will go so far as to say that in their view it is a threat to international peace and security, but if so we go on as we are now: no particular harm would have been done; there would be no more, and no less, danger of war than there is now. But supposing the Americans do come to the conclusion that a threat exists, I think that what we should have to do then would be to abstain, and not to veto. Having then shown willing, so to speak, to go along with the majority view, I think we ought to turn to Mr. Smith and say, "Mr Smith, the game is up. It is either the Ethiopians or the Scots Guards. Which would you prefer?" Personally, I believe that he would choose the Scots Guards.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships long, but I feel that I must speak on this matter for a short time because, as I have said previously, I have many friends in Rhodesia, though I myself have no interest there. In a previous debate in November, I expressed the view that an oil embargo would not be practicable; and I have not changed that view. I did not vote against what 1175 I shall call the consequential sanctions, such as the withdrawal of Imperial Preference,et cetera,but, personally, I think that if those consequential sanctions had had a chance they might have brought the Rhodesians back to what is called constitutional rule, provided that Her Majesty's Government had at the same time said, perhaps not publicly but through private channels, on what terms; but they should had been prepared to climb down—to give way a bit.
We in this country have a great reputation for compromise, and I should like to see the Prime Minister prepared to compromise here. But he does not appear to wish to do so. Although I completely appreciate what my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition has said—and if I were in his shoes (which, of course, I shall never be) I should probably have said exactly the same—my own conscience tells me that if this Order goes to a Division, I shall have to back up the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury.
I am really frightened of this oil embargo, because one of two things will happen. Either it will be very successful, or it will be a farce. If it is successful, the economy of Rhodesia, presumably, will be completely ruined and there will then be great disorder. If there is great disorder, and a breakdown of the existing Government in Rhodesia, what will Her Majesty's Government do? They will have to rule that country through the Colonial Office, and they will probably have to do so for a long time. I am perfectly convinced that the Rhodesians —and by "Rhodesians" I do not necessarily mean white Rhodesians—will be so disgusted with Her Majesty's Government that the Government will find it very difficult to get any co-operation. They will be able to find a few university professors, I suppose, and a few Leftist dissidents, but they will not have the people behind such a Government. So I fear that it would be disastrous if the oil embargo is successful. If it is not successful, it will only be, as I say, a farce; and it will bring nothing but humiliation to Her Majesty's Government. And none of us wants to see that. Although it is a Labour Government, it is still the Government of Great Britain; and I should certainly not want to see Her Majesty's Government humiliated.
1176 We are always reading in the Press that we must have the restoration of law and order. I receive quite a lot of correspondence from Rhodesia, and I am told that since the unilateral declaration of independence—which, as I said in previous debates, I regret—Rhodesia has been the most peaceful place in the whole of Africa. I could read your Lordships several letters which I have on me, but I will not weary you with them. But apparently, owing to the state of emergency which the illegal Government presumably had to call, the agitators, backed by Communist Party funds, have been restricted, and the African can now go about his daily work without being terrorised and without his home being stoned or his children being molested. I believe Her Majesty's Government are making a great mistake if they think that the whole African population are behind them in their attitude, because I can assure Her Majesty's Government, from my information, that hundreds of thousands of Africans are behind Mr. Smith's Government.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said in his speech that we had two choices: either to abandon 4 million Africans to their fate—though he did not say what their fate would be—or to take the steps which Her Majesty's Government are taking. The fate of those Rhodesian Africans is to have the highest standard of living in Africa, apart from South Africa. In our last debate the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor gave some figures about the average income of the African and the European in Rhodesia. I am only quoting from memory, so perhaps the noble and learned Lord will forgive me if I am wrong, but I understood him to say that the average income of the African in Rhodesia was £120 a year, and the average income of the white settler was £1,200 a year. But what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor did not go on to say was that the average income of the African in the independent republics is only £30 a year. That is a very important point.
I quite agree that it must be a great disappointment to so many Leftish intellectuals in this country, that there has not been a spontaneous uprising in Rhodesia. People will say that it has become a Police State, but if we call 1177 Rhodesia a Police State, what on earth can we call the other States to the North of her? In those countries, without any need for emergency laws, their leaders have for years thrown their political opponents into gaol to rot, and have rigged elections and generally carried on in a manner entirely abhorrent to our way of thinking. I really plead here for some fairness, because I do not like injustice, and the amount of hypocrisy and cant that you read in the Press, and which is spoken in both Houses of Parliament, over this Rhodesian question is disgraceful. It does democracy no good.
Regarding this question of calling Rhodesia a police state, I should like to quote Lord Lambton's article in theEvening Standardof December 13. I see the noble Lord at the Bar of the House. He wrote:When I drove past the Prime Minister's House …"℄of course, he was talking about Rhodesia℄…at eight o'clock in the evening there was no guard on his gate, and when I talked to Mr. Rudland, the Minister for Trade, any African, if he had wanted, could have walked straight into the room".My Lords, how can you say it is a Police State? Do you think that President Nkrumah or Dr. Banda or the Premier of the Sudan—any of those men—can live in their houses without guards? I have been in one or two of these countries. If they had no guards they would be murdered within an hour. Yet we accuse Rhodesia of being a Police State. We really must not be so hypocritical. I think it is utterly disgraceful.
I must cut out some of my speech; but I should like the Prime Minister to come out of his fairyland and to look realities in the face. He appears to have been doing his best to frighten the British electorate. He speaks of Russians wearing blue berets, and all that sort of nonsense. But the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that there cannot be any question of Russians wearing blue berets because, as everybody in this House knows, under the laws of the United Nations, the Big Five (or is it three?; I always forget)—the Permanent Members of the Security Council; and we are one—have to agree to any action of that sort. What is the Prime Minister frightened of? Is he frightened of the 1178 Organisation of African States? But they have been proved to be men of straw. I cannot see why the Prime Minister has retreated in this manner. I only wish he would tell us. We hear a lot about the whole of the world being against Rhodesia, but I do not believe this is so. As I have said before, this situation has been built up by the Prime Minister—in my opinion, quite unnecessarily—into a world crisis.
To conclude, I would say that if we are to make the oil embargo effective it will mean blockading South Africa and the Portuguese territories in Africa; and, if we do that, we shall be in a state of war. It is perfectly absurd to imagine that we can go to war with Portugal, our oldest ally and one of our allies in NATO, and at the same time go to war with South Africa, which is our greatest market for exports. This really isAlice in Wonderland;this is Cloud Cuckoo-Land: it is complete nonsense.
When the Labour Government came into office I said that, whatever the Prime Minister might be, he was evidently not an eccentric. But now I am beginning to think he must be. He is obviously a very intelligent man, but I cannot understand his attitude on this matter. I would ask the Prime Minister to move Heaven and earth to negotiate, before it is too late—because time is running out. Of course, if you are going to negotiate, you must negotiate with the people in power. You cannot negotiate with a few university professors who have nobody behind them. You must negotiate with the people in power. I personally think that the Prime Minister is getting out of his depth, and that if he is not careful he will end up like Robespierre—who died by the monster he created. I do not say that the Prime Minister has created a monster; but he is creating a situation which may, if he is not very careful, destroy him. As time is short I will sit down.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, I have addressed your Lordships on only two previous occasions, and each time on the subject of Rhodesia. I must admit that so far I have not been very successful; but, perhaps, given time, I may gain from the eloquence of some noble Lords 1179 and be able to make my points more clearly. Yesterday I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and I should like to congratulate him on the way he replied to the Motion. I think he showed great patience and skill in answering most of the points put to him and, at times, in dealing with a virtual barrage of questions. I may hope that the noble Earl, to whom I should like to add my congratulations, will despite the late hour deal with the points I raise.
In my maiden speech on November 15, I suggested that a delegation from Parliament should go to Rhodesia to try to resolve the terrible position. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, reminded us yesterday in his reply that this problem was not a Party matter. I was very glad to hear this. I had thought that my suggestion that Sir Alec Douglas-Home should lead a non-Party group to Rhodesia would not be acceptable as, if successful, it could mean political kudos for the Conservative Party. Therefore, in view of Lord Shepherd's remarks, my suggestion may now perhaps be given some serious thought by Her Majesty's Government.
I was even less successful the second time I addressed your Lordships. On that occasion I tried to elicit from Her Majesty's Government the basis on which this matter could be resolved. The brief reply I received was that that can be considered only when constitutional government has been re-established. Unfortunately, the matter was then taken out of my hands by other and more capable noble Lords. I cannot see this problem being resolved until the people of Rhodesia know under what conditions they will have to live in the future. Mr. Heath stressed again and again to the Prime Minister in another place the need to state the path by which Rhodesia can come back to legal constitutional government. I am sure that a return to constitutional government—which I know is what all noble Lords desire—is not helped by the threat that the first step would be a dictatorship from London.
I should like particularly to address myself to the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack because, having listened to and read everything that he 1180 has said on Rhodesia, I am convinced that he has a very thorough knowledge of the situation. My Lords, all my efforts in and out of this House have been directed, not to the embarrassment of Her Majesty's Government, nor to the support of Mr. Smith and his Party, but to stress the need to settle this matter as quickly as possible. The longer it is left, the worse it will become and the more embarrassing it will be for Her Majesty's Government. Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, stated, rightly, that the Rhodesians are not material that will quickly capitulate, despite the sanctions which we are now told are beginning to bite"—what a horrible word! May I suggest "to have effect"? But, please, not "bite". We are not vicious animals and I am sure that we do not wish to bite anyone.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, may I suggest to the noble Lord that we leave biting to the police dogs?
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
Thank you. I cannot help wondering at the wisdom of this particular sanction, the oil embargo, as the Prime Minister stated in another place that it must be multilateral. I know that he further stated, when he was pressed, that it was a joint operation taken by Britain with the full support of America. But we are still bringing foreigners into what is really a family problem. The next possible development could be that the matter will be taken out of our hands, and then anything could happen. This is the trouble when you try to resolve this type of issue by force—maybe not yet by force of arms, but sanctions of this kind are force. This unhappy and desperate problem will finally be resolved only round the conference table.
Lastly, my Lords, may I humbly beg permission from the Leader of the House to say how much we in this House admire the courage and maturity shown so far by President Kaunda in these troubled times, which are going to be made even more difficult by the oil embargo? He has resisted heavy pressure both from inside and from outside his country and, as one of the newspapers stated, from hotheads who want a crusade rather than a solution.
§ 9.53 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I wish to start by offering the noble Earl, Lord Longford, my congratulations and to say that I hope for great things from his new appointment. Secondly I should like to refer to a quotation made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor during his speech. This afternoon he quoted the Africans as saying, "If they"—the white Rhodesians— "had been black you would have sent your armies in and crushed them." I think, and I will say it to my own African friends, that if they look at the circumstances carefully they will see beyond a question of doubt that had the white Africans been black instead of white they would have been granted independence at once; and moreover they would have been the first country in Africa to receive independence instead of the last. It is in order that the black African may come into his own inheritance that we have done what we have done.
My Lords, a month ago I came my usual 400-mile round trip in order to support Her Majesty's Government in the handling of the Rhodesian problem, and, as I understood it, the three main planks for doing so—that there should be no military operations to crush the Rhodesians; that the matter should be kept in British hands; that sanctions should be applied in co-operation with other countries at our request. I have come to-day to do the same as last time, but to express the fact that I share misgivings about the use of force which have been expressed most eloquently by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and also by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and in the legal sense by other noble Lords.
I think the use of force is contemplated as a possibility in four different circumstances. First of all, the United Kingdom might go in; and that we have said we will not do. Secondly, the United Nations might pass a resolution to that effect; and I think most of us assume that, if necessary, we should use the veto to stop it. Thirdly, the Organisation of African Unity, self-appointed constables of Africa, might move in something themselves; and in those circumstances, I personally have assumed—and I would not ask for confirmation because it is a military matter which should be secret—that the Scots Guards would go in, not as an 1182 alternative to the Ethiopians, but in the unlikely event of Mr. Smith not being able to deal with them, to keep them out.
There is one other possibility about the use of force, and that is the naval blockade, which I personally regard with extreme apprehension. I assume that it is not the intention to allow a United Nations force to blockade Beira, South Africa or anywhere else. In any case, I do not myself think it is proper to ask for what is really information about military decisions and dispositions at the present time. I am here on these Cross Benches because of force being used at Suez. I have heard the professions of the other side that they intend by every possible means to keep force out; I trust them to do this, and, therefore, again I shall vote for them.
There is one further matter, however, and it is that I agree with those who say that these sanctions will not be likely to have a decisive result. I understand that, although the word "penal" is now accepted—whereas it was used with anxiety, and people tried to avoid using it, in the last debate—it is not intended that these sanctions should be ruinous. The intention is to produce keen discomfort so that every Rhodesian knows that the world is against him, and that every circumstance of his life reminds him of it, so that he contributes to the decision of the future. But from this, I do not see that it is intended to bring the Rhodesians to stark and horrible economic ruin.
But hand in hand with that, a month has gone by, Mr. Smith is still in the saddle, and it is our custom to deal with thede factoauthority, whoever it may be. There have been many people with blood on their hands—and Mr. Smith has none—with whom we have negotiated and dealt. Surely this is the time to do it, and to put forward that question which divides us—time. We are all agreed, I think, as most of the Rhodesians are, that in time majority rule must come. The difference is this: if it is more than five years, the Africans will be passionate with anger, and if it is less than twenty years, there will be no co-operation from the Rhodesians. However, that is the gap to be bridged, and we must go in and negotiate so that something is there before they are asked to come in and eat 1183 humble pie and be constitutional once more. If Mr. Smith does not agree, then let our plans be known, and perhaps somebody called Jones will come up and agree with us.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ LORD REAY
My Lords, I should like very much to add my congratulations to the noble Earl the Leader of the House on his new appointment. An embargo on the supply of oil to Rhodesia has always looked a good sanction if it could be effective, and since no striking event has occurred since Mr. Smith's declaration of independence, to make it look more likely to be effective now than it looked then, one's principal surprise is at the delay in its imposition. I assume that the responsibility lies either in the dilatoriness of Government initiative, or in the dilatoriness of the United States response, or in some indication that Her Majesty's Government have received that, contrary to what would earlier have been the case, South Africa is unlikely to do all she could to assist the Rhodesian Front. If the latter reason forms any part of this explanation, then it is highly germane to this debate, and I hope we shall hear from the Government something on this matter. An embargo on oil has looked a good sanction because it would, in the case of Rhodesia, combine the minimum disruption of industry with the maximum inconvenience to Smith's ordinary supporters.
Oil is not the principal source of power in industry in Rhodesia, but white Rhodesians are highly dependent on their cars, and Smith will be forced to impose stringent rationing. It reinforces the prospect that Smith's supporters will desert him on a review of where their better economic interests lie, it being perhaps for them the first indication they can feel of the determination of British policy and of its consequences to them. It is far better if a situation of disintegrating support for Smith, and of deteriorating confidence in his capacity to guarantee them their standard of life, can be exploited for the purposes of negotiating the re-entry of Rhodesia into effective constitutional government, than that such negotiations should have to proceed from a situation in which law and order had collapsed.
1184 Before considering the question of a threatened escalation into physical intervention in one form or another—which in general terms has so aroused the indignation of Her Majesty's Opposition—it is proper to pay attention to the degree of effectiveness that we could arrange or expect for this embargo on oil, short of the imposition of a naval blockade. In this respect, I shall have certain questions to put to Her Majesty's Government. Given certain factors, and given the vigour of Her Majesty's Government in the exercise of their influence in certain respects that I shall attempt to specify, there are grounds for a reasonable optimism about the effect of an embargo without a naval blockade.
In the first place, there is the question of Rhodesia's current stocks of oil. It has recently been widely believed that these stood at around six months' supply. But according to to-day'sFinancial Times,there is evidence for believing that Rhodesia's oil stocks, including crude at Beira and in the pipe-line between Beira and Umtali, are not sufficient to last her for more than eleven weeks. Perhaps Her Majesty's Government could let us have their own estimate on this point. For Rhodesia to acquire additional supplies, the routes along which they could come pass, with one exception, either through Portuguese territory or British protectorate territory. Portugal has a very good reason for not being seen to give Smith conspicuous help. Because of her long frontiers with Zambia, both from Mozambique and from Angola; because she is already stretched by her military commitments to holding over 100,000 troops in Africa, and because of the frightening possibility, to them, of the extension to her Zambian frontiers of what she already suffers along her Tanzanian frontier behind which militant Nationalist camps operate under Tanzanian sponsorship, Portugal is naturally susceptible to external pressure.
Will Her Majesty's Government (and the United Kingdom and the United States together form Portugal's principal customers) exert all possible influence on the Portuguese Government to deny the passage of oil into Rhodesia, either along the railway from South AfricaviaLou-renço Marques, or along the pipe-line from Beira, if there were grounds for believing such a passage was occurring? 1185 The only direct line with South Africa that does not pass through Portuguese territory passes through the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland. I understand that the Protectorate Government has announced that it will not deny transit rights to South Africa, including the right of transit of oil. Could we therefore have an indication of Her Majesty's Government's policy in this respect'? In particular, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give a categorical affirmation that, in the event of their knowledge that without their intervention oil is, in fact, passing along this railway, or is likely to pass, they will instruct the Government of Bechuanaland to prevent its further passage? The exception I referred to earlier is the broken railroad link through Beitbridge, which is the only method by which oil could pass from South Africa to Rhodesia without going through either of the territories I have mentioned. Perhaps we could have Her Majesty's Government's estimates of the practical feasibility and the political likelihood of its use in any substantial rescue operation of the Rhodesian Front?
To turn now to non-African factors of influence in this situation, I should like first to ask Her Majesty's Government about the policies of other nations towards this embargo. It is now reported that Belgium, Holland, Italy, France and Japan have agreed to join the embargo on oil. Would Her Majesty's Government confirm this? Would they also indicate whether these Governments have already secured the compliance of their respective national oil companies in the embargo or whether, at least, Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that they rapidly will?
Secondly, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government what is the number of British Nationals working at the Umtali Oil Refinery and what is their position in view of the conflicting instructions they have received: on the one hand, under the British Order in Council to discontinue their work at the refinery, and on the other hand, by the declared threat of sanctions to be applied against them if they follow these instructions, announced yesterday by Smith? Further to this, will Her Majesty's Government reveal whether the consortium of oil companies that own the refinery at Umtali have accepted and 1186 themselves issued instructions for the closure of this refinery, and if not, why not? And further to that, will Her Majesty's Government reveal whether the British company of Lonhro, which has a majority holding in the company owning the pipe-line which runs between Beira and Umtali, has itself accepted and issued instructions for the closure of this pipe-line?
My Lords, this is a matter of great importance. If the route by which oil can reach Rhodesia across the lands of Africa can be closed, by instruction where Her Majesty's Government have power to instruct, by the exercise of pressure where they have not the power to instruct, for they are in the position to exert powerful pressure in all relevant respects, then action on the sea will not be necessary. And even if there were the small, high-priced, bootlegged leakage of oil into Rhodesia, it might even be wiser to let Smith further exhaust his foreign exchange in buying it. But, my Lords, if in the end—and I should like to emphasise that I believe there is a good chance that the necessity for this can be avoided—it should be necessary to divert tankers from reaching Beira by physical intervention, then this course should unquestionably be adopted.
The word "force" encompasses an enormous range of imaginable operations, some large, some small—small for the protection of the Governor's person, or for the provision of Javelins to Zambia; large for the re-establishment of order on a chaotic Copper Belt—some defensive, some offensive: defensive for the protection of the Zambia frontier, offensive for the seizure of Salisbury. The justification of any physical operation must be made or denied by arguments derived from the circumstances at the time. When we consider physical intervention where that might be putting at risk the lives of British soldiers, or of white Rhodesians, we must remember on the other hand the quality of political life under the Rhodesian Front, we must remember those hundreds or thousands in the Rhodesian detention camps, whose numbers are not published and whose names it is a criminal offence to mention. Above all, we must calculate the consequences of any failure to act, and of any threat that might contain of lawlessness, disorder, impoverishment, and death.
1187 Suppose that at some stage we were to withdraw from this confrontation because our further participation involved the despatch of our troops to Africa, and suppose that the risks of our withdrawal were seen to be the destruction of Kariba, or the cut-off of electricity to the Copper Belt, and its consequent incapacity, or the explosion of racial rioting in Zambia or Rhodesia—if, in short, we were to leave this problem to its solution by the interaction of inflamed and irreconcilable local forces, and suppose that these were the consequences that followed, then, my Lords, who would be prepared to stand up in this House and say that we were right to withdraw from this engagement because for us to have continued to attempt to contain these consequences of our withdrawal would have involved us in the use of "force"?
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, may I point out to the noble Lord that before you commit forces to do battle you have to be reasonably sure they have their heart in the fight. It is a matter for argument if you ask forces to fight their own blood—
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor opened the debate with a speech with a lucidity which I can only envy and a fairness of mind which I hope I shall always seek to emulate. The noble and learned Lord suggested quite fairly that those of us who disagreed with the course which the Government had taken over the past six weeks should state what we should have done had we been in their place. I hope the noble and learned Lord will believe me when I say that I could answer that question, but everybody is trying to curtail their speeches to-night, and perhaps I could leave the answer to some other time or give it to him privately.
There is, however, one point on which I should like to take up the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. He 1188 said—this is, of course, a paraphrase of his words—that we who disagreed with Government policy should reflect whether the Government did not have better sources of information than we had; we should reflect on the fact that leaders of business, leaders of the churches, the judiciary, all the most intelligent elements in the country, had consistently assured the Government that the policy of sanctions, of the ever-tightening screw, which they have been pursuing was the right one. By a very curious chance I had lunch to-day with a man who had just returned from Rhodesia. He was a man who knew the country well—as well as those individuals whom the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor mentioned. He was himself a leading businessman, and he told me that he wished, beyond anything, that the view which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor expressed this evening was right. He told me that in his judgment this minority of intelligent men in Rhodesia were living in a world of pure illusion. These sanctions were going to bite; they were going to bite harder and harder; but they were not going to have the result that the Government's advisers in Rhodesia expected they would have. And I must say that I think there is some evidence to support this view against that of the Government.
What has happened? I remember well being in the Gallery of another place on November 12, six weeks ago. I remember hearing the Prime Minister say that the tobacco embargo, though it would not become effective for some months, must have an immediate effect upon Mr. Smith, because the whole financial structure of the Government and of the country revolved round tobacco. I heard the Prime Minister say that there would be no need to introduce any further measures, because the measures then being introduced on November 12 would be swift, merciful and decisive. The Prime Minister then was presumably relying on the same advice on which he relies to-day. That advice was proved to be wrong then; I believe myself that it is wrong now.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, since the noble Lord is giving the House the gist of what he recalls of the Prime Minister's remarks, would he care to quote them? I can quote them.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, they may not be the same remarks. I am procuring the document, and perhaps I shall be able to satisfy the noble Earl later.
I realise that in recent weeks, at any rate, I have been one of the heaviest crosses that the noble Earl, the Colonial Secretary, has had to bear. Nevertheless, I hope he will allow me, before I put the couple of questions that I have to put to him, to congratulate him on his appointment. I hope that it does not mean we shall lose him as Leader of the House, but, equally, I hope that we shall not have him, or anybody else from his Party, for much longer.
The questions that I put to the noble Earl are mainly two. I think I am right in saying that the communiqué from Washington explaining the support of the United States for the oil embargo used the word "advise". It said that the President would advise American oil companies not to send oil to Rhodesia. Has that word "advise" any significance? I would assume that it has. I may be wrong. The noble Earl will probably remember that some weeks ago I suggested to him that in fact the President had no constitutional power to force American oil companies to refrain from exporting oil. At that time the noble Earl did not know the answer, and I had not given him notice. But I have no doubt that he must know the answer now.
Is it, or is it not, the case that the President of the United States cannot enforce oil sanctions against American oil companies; that he can only recommend a certain course of action? That is one of the questions that I wanted to put to the noble Earl. The other is this, and it concerns the airlift to Zambia. Is he satisfied that the condition of the runways at Zambian airfields is such that they can carry this airlift? If not, what is the position of Zambia going to be under the oil embargo? I have put two questions to the noble Earl, and I have no doubt that he will be able to answer them quite easily. But there is another question which we ought to ask ourselves and it is this: what was it that made the Prime Minister change his mind about an oil embargo? When he left London Airport last week he was reported as saying, if my memory serves me, that he 1190 would have an oil embargo only if it was universal in its application. Within 48 hours the announcement was made that there was to be an oil embargo which was not universal but which everybody hoped everybody else would muscle in behind.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, because it might prolong his speech, much as we like to hear him, while more documents are produced, but could he quote the Prime Minister on that?
§ LORD COLERAINE
I suggest it is common knowledge that the Prime Minister has always taken the line that an oil embargo would be of no effect unless it was universally applied.
§ LORD COLERAINE
It may have been multilaterally, but I should have said that there was a very marked change of policy, and I think most of your Lordships will agree with me. I do not believe this change of policy was dictated at all by the consideration of increasing pressure upon Rhodesia. I think it was dictated by the walk-out of the African States before the Prime Minister's speech at the United Nations. It was an attempt to relieve the pressure to which the Prime Minister was being subjected by the African States and to free him from the odium which he had evidently incurred with those States. I suggest to your Lordships that that was the reason, not the effect on Rhodesia, which prompted this deflection of policy.
If that is so, it will have bought off the hostility of the African States for a week, two weeks, or perhaps three weeks, but the bill will come in again, and next time they will not be fobbed off with sanctions. Next time they will demand force. I cannot help wondering what the Prime Minister will do then. I am sure the Prime Minister does not mean to use force, but I am equally sure in my own mind that, unless he changes his policy, he will be driven into a position where, if he does not use force himself, he will have to invoke the force of others. That is the dilemma which faces him and which, unfortunately, faces us. My noble friend and Leader, or occasional Leader, 1191 Lord Carrington, asked why we fastened on this Order for our opposition.
§ LORD COLERAINE
I am sorry; I thought the noble Lord had said that. I must have confused him with somebody else. I need not pursue that argument. This oil sanction seems to me to represent a milestone. I think it marks the end of the road, so far as any possibility of a negotiated settlement is concerned. I think it marks the beginning of the road to war.
My noble friend Lord Salisbury explained why, in his view, this sanction differed from the others—the question of the blockade, the question of enforcing it on recalcitrant countries who wanted to send oil in to Beira. But there is another aspect of it, and of all these sanctions, and of this policy of which the oil sanction is now the sort of spearhead. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, when he spoke, was confident that these sanctions would work. But how soon does the most optimistic among us suppose that they will work? I imagine that most people would say that it is very unlikely that they will produce the desired result before the tobacco auctions in March. Others would say that they will work, but it will take six months. Others would say that it may take nine months.
We have not got the time. The sand is running out of the glass. The situation is not standing still. The world is not going to wait while our sanctions begin to bite. Somebody is going to move into Rhodesia. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, hopes that it will be the Scots Guards—I do not. But somebody—the Organisation of African Unity, the United Arab Republic, troops from the Congo—will move in in the intervening months, and once that happens no one can see the end. South Africa cannot stand by, Russia will probably move in, the United States may move in. You have started a war which you cannot confine to Africa and of which no one can see the end.
There is only one wav out of this impasse, out of this deadlock: it is to negotiate together to an accommodation. And there is only one man, only one Government, with which you can come to an accommodation, and that is thede factoGovernment in Southern 1192 Rhodesia. This insistence of Her Majesty's Government in saying that they will not negotiate with Mr. Smith, or, if they do, only on procedural matters, on matters of mechanics; and that he and his colleagues are not to be trusted—that attitude of mind rules out negotiation altogether. I can assure the noble Earl that he is going to be faced with a choice between war, of which no one can see the end, and negotiation with thede factoGovernment. If he is faced with that choice, I suggest it would be very much better to begin negotiations sooner, rather than later, because there may not be a later.
My noble friend Lord Carrington has given his advice to your Lordships on this side of the House. He has developed the constitutional argument, of which I can see the force. It is not for me to advise your Lordships. I can only say what I will do myself. If there is a Division I will vote against this Order. I will vote against it, because I believe it to be highly dangerous. I believe it to be leading us down a slope at the end of which there is a precipice. There are some issues, I think, on which one can consider only the merits of the issue itself: one cannot afford to be led away into subsidiary considerations. There was such an issue in 1938 and in the early months of the war. One had to take one's stand then, no matter what the consequences might be. I believe, my Lords, for my own part, that this is another of those occasions when one has to do what in one's judgment one believes to be right, and leave the issue to fate.
§ 10.31 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I apologise for a very brief intervention, but not more than an hour and a half ago I stepped off the plane from New York, having come from the United Nations, and I wish to refer to the Afro-Asian walk-out, which has produced such a flurry in the Press. I was there when the Prime Minister made his speech, and, whether or not it was because it was badly stage-managed—because they began to walk out before the Prime Minister spoke and while he was receiving the most tremendous round of applause—I do not know, but in the General Assembly the walk-out was really rather a failure, and the speech was extraordinarily well received by everyone.
§ 10.32 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, my intervention will be very brief, but I think that, because of the nature of the debate, it might be appropriate that those of us who sit on this Bench should express a view. But before I do so, may I, on behalf of the Members of this Bench, say to the noble Earl how much we join with other noble Lords in the House in congratulating him on his appointment? We on this Bench know that a flight to the Colonies usually demands a stop at Romeen route, but, even so, we warmly congratulate him, though he make that stop.
My Lords, when I spoke on Rhodesia a month or so ago, I said that my own motive then was that of conciliation, not least because, like many of your Lordships, I have friends in Rhodesia, both white and coloured. At this time, one's whole thoughts and heart go out to them. That they should be divided, or that one should do anything to increase division, is a matter of pain. Nevertheless, speaking as I do from this Bench, and I believe on behalf of most of the Prelates, if not all, who sit here. I wholeheartedly support Her Majesty's Government in what they are doing with regard to oil sanctions.
May I very briefly take one or two of the points of the noble Marquess—and I am sure he will understand how, even though we may differ from him in this debate from time to time, we hold him in the highest regard and respect? Yet the question I kept asking myself as he was speaking was: what do you want? What is your answer? You say that the Africans are not yet ready for majority rule. I do not think many people have said that it should now be "One man, one vote": it is a question of motive.
Not long ago in your Lordships' House, just before the U.D.I., I was asked to meet a deputation of Rhodesian business men. I went into the bar to meet them. They had arrived before I had. I walked across the bar. A man got up and looked at me and he said: "I thought I was going to meet the Bishop of Southwark. You are Mr. Stockwell." I replied: "I happen to be both." He said: "You used to teach me thirty years ago." I said: "That is splendid, beause this puts us now on the right basis to talk. Put away all those files you have on all the facts 1194 and figures. These things mean nothing. You could produce a housing estate under the Hitler régime in Germany or a housing estate under Stalin in Russia. Facts and figures of this kind mean nothing. I want to know just one thing. What is your motive? Do you or do you not believe that coloured people are second-class citizens and that white people are to stay in a position of permanent supremacy? That is the one and only question to which I want an answer. Facts and figures mean nothing at all to me. Give an answer to this question." He said: "I cannot lie to you."
I put this question to the noble Marquess. I say to him that I respect his point of view and honour him; but does he really believe that the white people represented in the Smith Government believe that the day will come when the white people will no longer be in a position of supremacy? What is their attitude towards education? I would agree with the noble Marquess in what he said about the need for going slowly; but I would say that, if you want to go slowly and to make progress, the first thing to do is to educate the Africans to take over positions of responsibility. This is the one thing that the Smith régime is not doing. What it ought to be doing is precisely that. That is the question I have kept on asking myself as the noble Marquess was speaking.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, may I make an intervention merely to say that the African Nationalist Party never tried to work with the 1961 Constitution at all.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
I am not wholly briefed at this moment. I am just dealing with one point and one point only. It is: Is the Smith régime really trying—
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt. But is the right reverend Prelate aware that last year the Smith Government doubled the amount of money spent on African education? It now represents by far the biggest item in the Rhodesian Budget.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, I learned all the fact about that before I came here this evening. I am asking this one question. Does the noble Lord really believe that the Smith 1195 régime is preparing the Africans to take over Rhodesia'? Answer.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I certainly do think that if the Africans were willing to play their part the advance towards taking over would be a much more rapid one. Any noble Lord who has been to Rhodesia knows that the Africans have never really co-operated. That is the reason why they have made no advance in co-operating in the Government.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, the noble Marquess says that they will not co-operate. I ask him (and, I repeat, I respect his point of view), if he were in the African position, what would his reaction be. Would he want to cooperate?
May I point out to the noble Marquess that these are facts which I am sure he knows already. We in the Church are well-briefed by the Church in Rhodesia. We know what is happening out there. Take the instance recently when 239 boys demonstrated against the Smith régime, the sort of demonstration that most of us at university either took part in or witnessed ourselves when we were undergraduates. What happened? They were all caned on their bottoms by policemen. Does the noble Marquess approve of that sort of thing?
§ T1IE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Would the right reverend Prelate tell us about a little of what is happening in Ghana and in other places?
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
It so happens that I have this written down, and therefore I am not putting it in my speech to please the noble Marquess. There are many things that happen in Ghana, in Russia, in Franco Spain and in South America of which, as a Christian, I strongly disapprove. But one thing wrong does not make another thing right. Also we are being told by the noble Marquess that these Africans were more or less savages about a generation ago. If that is true, perhaps they may be excused for their uncivilised behaviour. But the white people, we 1196 assume, have many generations of civilisation behind them, and I say to the noble Marquess straight out that their conduct is not as excusable as that of the coloured people—the noble Marquess is hoist on his own petard.
My Lords, I do say, with respect to the noble Marques and to others, that if one was in the position of the Africans could one expect them to want to cooperate with us? This is a serious point, and I can speak with first-hand experience. One of the great griefs to me in my diocese at the moment is that my clergy are telling me that in places like Brixton coloured people who were formerly members of our churches and came to the Sacrament are now withdrawing and are no longer coming to the Communion table because they believe that we, the white people, are not in earnest and that we are turning Christ into a white man's God. That is happening. It may disturb your Lordships or it may annoy you; but as a pastor I have to deal with this situation. They just do not believe that we are in earnest in this matter. I agree with the noble Marquess in that. I understand completely what he means when he talks about Ghana and the excesses on the other side. But I would say that surely we, who have the benefits of a long history and great traditions, have a heavy responsibility put upon us.
To the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, who has talked about flesh and blood and British stock, may I say, with respect, that he cannot expect sympathy from this Bench? We are not concerned, as members of the Episcopal Bench, with British stock and flesh and blood. We stand for something else. We are reminded of something which will happen in two nights' time. In 48 hours many of your Lordships, like myself, will be going on your way to our churches and cathedrals. I make no apology whatever for bringing this up just a few days before Christmas. This is not sentiment; I believe that the Christian way is the only way to deal with this situation realistically. On Christmas Eve we shall be making our way to our churches and cathedrals for the Midnight Mass, when we shall be reminded of an occasion when, according to legend, three Kings, white, black and yellow, gathered together before the Child who was the Prince of Peace. To me 1197 "flesh and blood" means being a member of that catholic community, and I stand here as a member of a Christian community which takes precedence over all other loyalties, and I believe that that would be the view of most of us in any case on Christmas Eye That is what we shall say when we say the Creed, that we believe—
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
No; I am not going to give way—that we believe in the Catholic Church. So it is for this reason that I look forward to a conciliation, to a move towards this community—perhaps by way of a committee which will be comprised of people from different Parties, different groups, both in this and in the other House. But let our whole purpose be the conciliation which will bring white and coloured together in one living community.
§ LORD COLYTON
I must say this, because I am sure he would not want to misquote me. When I referred to British flesh and blood, I said that we did not want to kill one another. That is all.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF KILMUIR
My Lords, I hope that even at this late hour your Lordships will bear with me for a few moments; I have not spoken here before on the Rhodesia issue. I cannot help feeling that when we look to the future it is possible to find a united position. I ought to say to the noble Earl the Leader of the House that I have a minute interest: a company of which I am chairman has one-quarter of one per cent. of its net assets in Rhodesia. Otherwise, I have no further interest. I want to say something—and I think I can—of the view of the ordinary person on these issues. I would ask my noble friends who are sitting near to me to consider the view that I say affects the ordinary person. He is, first and foremost, determined that this country and its people will not be pressurised (use any phrase you like) by Mr. Smith taking illegal action and using illegal means to form a Government. Equally, he is not going to be pressurised by the attempt to change the whole back 1198 ground of our Commonwealth and its relations.
Here I would ask my noble friend Lord Salisbury to consider once again the point that he made. He said that this is not a question of stopping an advance of Africans; he said it was a question of timing. But I would put to my noble friend that if you come to a position when you say, as Mr. Smith has said, "This is not going to open in my lifetime", or, as one of his colleagues has said, "This is a matter of two hundred years", you move from a matter of degree into a difference in kind.
Where I differ from my noble friend Lord Coleraine is that I am extremely proud of the rôle that the British Commonwealth has taken over the last few years. I think it is the greatest nation-making mechanism that the world has ever seen, and that—I do not say it boastfully—no other empire of the past can compare with the work we have done in that way. To us it is matter of being asked to go back on the creation of a multiracial country, to give up what we have worked for and towards, unless we can see that there is acceptance of a gradual advance within a reasonable time. That is the difference.
We had to show that these things were wrong; and I believe the Government had to take action by way of sanctions in order to demonstrate that they thought that these things were wrong. But at the same time I want to make the point that this country is determined not to be pressurised into the use of force against Rhodesia. We will not have any countries, wherever they are, using us as the cat to take their chestnuts out of the fire of war—and that gives us the other side of the picture. In these circumstances, I find it difficult to see what the alternative to sanctions could be, and I find it difficult to suppose that if you are going to impose sanctions they should be any other than effective sanctions.
I now come to the point which again I would ask my noble friends to reconsider. I believe that the two things are not alternatives; that it was necessary to show our disapproval of the action taken and the attitude behind it. But, at the same time, I profoundly believe that we ought to take the preparatory steps for negotiation. I think that the Government 1199 should be ready now to show us the broad lines on which negotiations should take place. I am without responsibility. May I give my own suggestions? The noble Earl can pay to them what attention he thinks they deserve. I should say you start from the 1961 Constitution. It is, though I say it who should not, as I was one of those who helped to frame it, a good Con[...]on, and I think it is generally accepted. Chen you must now, as the distrust has arisen, get some basis for ensuring that the Government of Rhodesia will not depart from that Constitution. You could, of course, have a treaty and the undertaking. I think now you would have to go further. I think you would have to get to the blocking third in the Constitution, by which the Constitution could not be altered to the disadvantage of the Africans by a Resolution of the Legislative Council.
That is my only suggestion—others can be found. Surely some basis can be found to-day on which there will be respect and honour, but also the guarantees that you must have when you have moved into such a position. That is my middle way—compromise, if you like. I say the sanctions are right. It is necessary to have oil sanctions to make them effective, but, surely, the time has come when we can simultaneously do something to restore peace.
By a curious chance, one of Mr. Smith's Ministers is a Member of your Lordships' House whom some of us have heard speak here, the Duke of Montrose. His most famous ancestor in the history of my country, known as the Great Marquess, had the distinction that at a time of unexampled faction and political and religious differences, he stood just as fiercely and strongly for moderation as any fanatic stood for his extreme. I do ask all Members of the House, and especially my noble friends with whom I have worked in the past, to consider whether, even at this moment, it is too late to find that middle course, to find the marking of our disapprobation, but at the same time the basis of negotiation. My Lords, that is the message I venture to put to your Lordships to-night.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships more than 1200 two minutes, but I should like to raise just one point which I think has not been mentioned during the entire debate but which I feel is of the greatest importance. I am not arguing whether sanctions are the right method, or whether they be successful: the decision to apply them has been taken. But supposing that they are successful, supposing the Smith Government is crushed and has to resign, I think the Government should bear in mind what will be the first thing that will happen. To my mind it is just this. The African Nationalists who are there, just waiting for this to happen, will rush in at once, take control of the country and will thereafter consider themselves the Government of Rhodesia. On what Her Majesty's Government intend to do after that I do not presume to advise them; but that is a fact which in my view should be borne in mind.
§ 10.57 p.m.
My Lords, I have been at this Despatch Box rather too long to-day. Because of this, and because we have had a long discussion, I am going to be very brief—though I will prolong my few words for a moment by offering the noble Earl the Leader of the House my sincere and affectionate congratulations on his new appointment.
I rise to ask my colleagues on these Benches not to follow my noble friend Lord Salisbury, should be decide to divide your Lordships' House this evening, and I would still express the hope that he may decide not to do so. Like my noble friend Lord Ailwyn, I have a deep respect for the noble Marquess, and it is deeply distasteful for me to ask my noble friends on these Benches not to follow his advice. I recognise full well the passionate sincerity with which he and those who feel like him have spoken. I recognise that that sincerity and those feelings are based on a deep and intimate knowledge of Rhodesia and the Rhodesians. I cannot claim such knowledge. Yet, my Lords, I can claim to speak with equal sincerity, if less passion, because we are all keenly and intimately caught up; and whether or not we have special knowledge of this problem, we are all deeply and intimately involved in it.
On sanctions, I find myself very close to the position which has been taken up 1201 by my noble friend Lord Kilmuir, yet on this issue I share many of the doubts and qualms which have been expressed. Like my noble friend Lord Coleraine, I am concerned about how the path of conciliation can now, in these circumstances, be found, and whether, indeed, it is really consistently being sought. I am worried, too, whether we are not approaching the point of no return. I do not feel, like my noble friend Lord Salisbury, that we have yet reached, or that we are about to reach, that point; yet we are certainly very close indeed to the brink of the slippery slope which could lead to the use of force, which we all, or almost all of us, wish to avoid.
I have some doubts, but this will not lead me to vote against this Order. That is because of two main reasons. The first is the constitutional point which was advanced earlier by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition. He put it so well that I will not elaborate on it. But my noble friend Lord Colyton made the point that, under the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965, if we reject this Order—if your Lordships' House were to reject it—the Government could always reintroduce it. But I do not see how that advances his argument. Surely then, my noble friend, and those who feel like him, would again move to reject the new Order. I cannot believe that the constitutional issue can be dodged in this way. So I must ask my noble friends: do they now really wish to precipitate that constitutional issue?
My second and concluding reason—I will put it quite bluntly—is this: I should like to emphasise the dangers of allowing national unity to be broken, perhaps irretrievably, on this issue. I have my doubts on this Order, and I have expressed some of them. Yet I say to those who share my doubts, perhaps in an accentuated form: let us pause before we break national unity on this matter. Let us just recall (and it is perhaps particularly fitting that Members of your Lordships' House should recall) how British policy on another great issue many years ago, yet within the memory of some Members of your Lordships' House, and I speak of Ireland—how our policy on Ireland was darkened and bedevilled over the years by lack of a united national will; and how our ability to influence and control events there was weakened by that lack of national will.
1202 The moral which I should like to draw is that responsible members of a responsible Party must feel utterly and completely convinced that the British Government of the day are wrong, and dead wrong, before we break, or contribute to a breach, on a major issue of real international gravity—and, Heaven knows! this is such an issue. My noble friend Lord Salisbury appealed to your Lordships to pause before allowing this Order to pass. I should like to appeal to those noble Lords who may feel inclined to follow my noble friend into the Lobby, should be go into the Lobby, to pause and to consider most carefully, not only the almost inevitable and fateful constitutional consequences of their action should they succeed in defeating this Order, but also—and this is equally important, and it applies whether they defeat it or not—the consequences abroad of such a visible breach in national unity.
§ 11.4 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has shown a statesmanship which I would venture to compare with that of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. But I must be careful not to bestow these compliments too freely, because I may not make his task any easier to-night, or on any other occasion. We certainly feel that most sincerely on our side, and I believe that it will be felt on all sides of the House.
I should like at the beginning to thank noble Lords, beginning with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who congratulated me, as did the noble Earl, on my new appointment. Naturally, I regard it as one of the utmost honour, and I feel that perhaps the House will be glad to see one of these great Departments of State, so to speak, restored to your Lordships' House.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
It is a particular privilege for me to feel that in past times this office was held with such distinction by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and other Members of the House.
I will not thank any noble Lord more than any other for his references to me, except that I should like to say how much I appreciate the particular type of compliment that came from the right reverent Prelate. I only regret that I 1203 was not confirmed, or prepared for confirmation, at any rate, by him, though I feel that it might have been a traumatic experience. Certainly we all admire very much what he said to-night. I should like, also, to thank in particular the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, for what he said about me. I can assure him, although he said he might have been a cross of mine in the last few weeks, that if I never suffered any heavier cross than that, my life would be almost indecently free of spiritual mortification. But I am very grateful to him for his observations. We were all very pleased to see the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, back in such cogent form, and the noble Baroness who has at this very moment returned from New York. We were also, of course, very pleased to listen to many other speakers.
With the permission of the House, I shall not seek to reply in any kind of detail to many of the points. I hope that those who feel they have not been answered will therefore tackle me in one way or another, and I will try to give them all satisfaction later. One reason for not dwelling at length on the Government's case, is that it was explained both clearly and effectively by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor at the beginning of the debate, and supported later from this side by the noble Lord, Lord Segal, and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi.
If I may say so, invoking someone who sits opposite, I have never heard the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, speak more powerfully. I am not sure whether I was surprised or not, to hear that in his particular form, and in his term, the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of North Cape, was ahead of him. He was in fact top, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, was second. After the speech yesterday of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of North Cape, I think I can say that it is very hard to choose between them. At any rate, we have had many notable speeches—I cannot, of course, acknowledge them all in detail—including the speeches from the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and his Liberal colleagues.
My Lords, there is one aspect of the discussion on which I find it unnecessary to say any more than was said by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and that is 1204 on what may be called the constitutional aspect. Some Members of the House, particularly the older ones, perhaps remember that passage inTom Brown's Schooldaysin which Tom Brown's father is wondering what to say to Tom Brown as he goes off to Rugby for the first time. Father Brown, Mr. Brown, says something like this: "I will not tell him to say his prayers. If he will not say them for his mother's sake, he will not say them for mine." I venture to say, as regards noble Lords opposite, who may be in some doubt as to whether to vote against this Motion, and particularly who wonder what would be the future of the House if this Motion were rejected, that if they will not listen to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, they will not listen to me. So I think that I would simply wish to underline all that he said, and then underline it again.
But certain questions which were quite central to our discussion were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and I hope he will not mind if I answer them rather briefly out of the mouth of the Prime Minister. I have been accused at least once in recent weeks (though mercifully, perhaps, only once, in all these simultaneous Statements that I make alongside the Prime Minister) of departing from his language. I will not pursue that with the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, now: hut, at any rate, the Prime Minister did speak at considerable length yesterday, and anybody who really wants to know where the Government stand on a great many of these matters will no doubt have read, or will read, the very full statement of the Prime Minister. But the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who I think found the Prime Minister's statement, on the whole, encouraging, raised three particular points which I would venture to think were answered in summary yesterday. I would therefore just repeat what the Prime Minister said on three of the noble Lord's points to-day.
There was first the question of military force. The Prime Minister said it was suggestedthat we are asking for a mandate from this House to use military force. We are not asking for that mandate."℄(OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 722 (No. 31), col. 1933: 21/12/65.]The Prime Minister made that plain again yesterday, and it is my duty to make it 1205 plain yet again to-day. We are eschewing military force. I gave an answer yesterday, and I will give it again now. I think there is no doubt in the minds of Members of the House. Even those who were critical of the Government to-night, I believe—the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and the noble Lord, Lord Colyton—will agree that even on their analysis the Prime Minister is most anxious to avoid military force.
Then there was the question of the blockade. The Prime Minister said:He fears that we plan a British naval blockade of Beira, but we do not." [OFFICIAL RFPORT, Commons, Vol. 722 (No. 31), col. 1933: 21/12/65.]Again, I repeat what I said in this House yesterday: that there is no question of our undertaking or promoting a blockade ourselves. Finally, upon the question of negotiations—and I shall have a little more to say about that at the end—the Prime Minister said:He fears that we are not prepared to enter into negotiations with those who can bring peaceful constitutional rule to Rhodesia. We are prepared.Nothing could be much plainer than that. That is the brief answer given by the Prime Minister to some of the issues which have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and which are in the minds of many noble Lords to-night.
I come to the wider issue of sanctions. We have discussed it so often in recent weeks that perhaps the principle does not need much more underlining to-night. The noble Earl, Lord Kilmuir, summed up the matter perhaps as effectively as anyone, as did the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, earlier; and, of course, those who believe in this course of sanctions℄and that applies to the vast majority of the House, on past showing℄all take this point of view: that these sanctions, if they are going to be any use at all, if they are going to be in any way justified, must be effective. I do not know that that was put better than it was put by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne. I did not give him notice of this, but, at least, it is entirely to his credit, so I do not think I need apologise for my mentioning it when he is not here. But he said at the beginning that we should apply this test to sanctions: are they likely to be effective, and effective quickly? That was the test applied by 1206 the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, from the very beginning of these discussions, and it is applied by all of us who support sanctions to-night.
So we come to the oil sanctions; and, as the Lord Chancellor explained, and as many other speakers explained, if sanctions are going to be effective, they must include oil sanctions. The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, whose speech I followed, as I always do, with exceptional attention, because he gives so very much thought to anything he says on these matters to the House, if I may say so, rather disparaged, scoffed at, the amount of help we were likely to obtain from the Americans. He asked whether that is to be compared with our own attitude in respect to Cuba. He was obviously pouring cold water on the idea that the Americans were likely to give us great help. That is not at all the view of the Government, or of their advisers. We consider that this American assistance will make the whole difference. After all, we must bear in mind that they are going to help with the airlift, which is a tremendous event in co-operation between our two countries.
The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, asked me a particular point about the legal position. I am perfectly ready to give him a full legal answer afterwards, but I think that perhaps I can put it briefly in this way. There are certain legal difficulties, as we understood it, which stand in the way of the Americans giving legislative effect to an oil embargo in the United States. It is not, in fact, impossible. There are ways in which it could be done, but there are these difficulties and the ways which are, in fact, open would not seem appropriate. But the Americans assure us that they will use their best endeavours to ensure that U.S. oil companies subscribe to an oil embargo on a voluntary basis. They drew the attention of the American companies to the British Order in Council. This is a point which I want to place before the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and particularly the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, because he seemed to play down the help that the Americans were likely to give or would wish to give or are able to give. The reality of the collaboration has been demonstrated in the last 24 hours by the stopping of an American company's cargo of oil on its 1207 way to Beira. We must not minimise this, since in the view of the Government it makes the whole difference.
I was asked about the attitude of other countries. The only other major country about whose attitude there is any uncertainty at the present time is the Netherlands; but in other cases the collaboration is forthcoming or is about to be. So I think we can take it—and certainly this is the view of the Government, and one which I am convinced is right—that this oil embargo is going to be effective. It will be very surprising if it requires a blockade, very surprising. I should be amazed if it requires a blockade.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl the Leader of the House? This is a very important point. He says he would be very surprised if it required a blockade. I understood the Prime Minister to say that he has no intention of imposing a blockade. On the other hand, he left a loophole by saying that it might be rather a different matter if there were an international blockade by the United Nations. I asked the noble Earl a number of questions about that which he has not answered. It may be that he cannot answer this evening; but I should tell him that these questions will require an answer at some time.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am not quite sure how profitable it is to anybody to spell out the conditions under which an oil embargo would be rendered ineffective in the absence of a blockade; but certainly if one or two countries were actively engaged in frustrating it, it would be difficult to make it effective without a blockade.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
May I finish the point I was making? I return to the point that we do not in any way desire to have a blockade. I can do nothing more than repeat what the Prime Minister has said; that we shall play no part in promoting it.
§ TILE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, all I was going to ask was: Are we to understand to-night that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government 1208 that we shall not institute a blockade in any circumstances? I do not say that that would alter my previous view; but it might alter several other people's previous views. If we are going to vote on this, we ought to have a clear and definite answer to-night, and not merely be told that some day we shall have a good answer.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I was trying to paraphrase, which is dangerous, what the Prime Minister said yesterday. There is no secret about what he said. Perhaps I could just read out what he said. I am not trying to add anything new. I cannot find it.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I seem to be more lucky than the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, with his documents, which never arrived—I see they have arrived now—but he had no collaborator.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Here it is. I am most grateful to the noble Lord. The Prime Minister said:I hope, therefore, that there will not be the seepage or leakage which was referred to in the quotation from my broadcast last night. If there is, we shall have to decide how it must be handled, and it will be decided internationally. Certainly we have no intention of imposing a naval blockade round Beira, and we never have had. I do not know whether that is the fear that the right hon. Gentleman had. "℄[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Col. 722 (No. 31) col. 1919: 21/12/65.]He then goes on to explain that it is not a matter in which we should take the initiative ourselves in the United Nations. I hope that has made it plain, in case there is any possible argument afterwards that I said something different from the the Prime Minister. I am simply trying to repeat to the House what the Prime said yesterday, so there is no question of my modifying, or altering, or altering, to something he said.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think that this is an important point. The Prime Minister then went on. if I may say so, rather to obscure the issue. In the same paragraph (I will quote it if I may) he went on to say:If there is a decision under Chapter VII in which it is suggested that a couple of frigates 1209 be placed outside Beira to stop oil tankers going through, this is what will happen, and it will happen by international decision. We do not ourselves propose to seek such a resolution. We certainly do not propose to take individual unilateral action to blockade Beira."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,ibid.]Does that mean that the Government will not in any circumstances be party to a blockade, or does it mean that they would be party to a United Nations blockade?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, if I may say so, the noble Lord, who is very experienced, knows that am not in a position to add to the words used by the Prime Minister. That is, I think, perfectly obvious to everybody in the House. I think that the meaning is perfectly plain. Everybody may not have read the Prime Minister's speech, but the meaning is perfectly plain; that we would not in any circumstances welcome a blockade. We would not take steps to promote a blockade. If the whole world decided on a blockade, we should have to cope with that situation when it arose. We cannot give guarantees, but we do make it plain that we are not in the least enamoured of a blockade in any circumstances. I honestly do not think that noble Lords will want me to go further than that to-night.
My Lords, the House wants to vote and I shall not say much more. There is just this question of our attitude to the peace. Here I hope that I shall not be regarded as treading on ground so well covered by the right reverend Prelate. But we are approaching Christmas. I do not mind saying that I pray for our leaders in this situation. I pray for our own Prime Minister night and morning, and I pray for Mr. Smith. I do not know whether that is thought to be the right thing or the wrong thing. I am only indicating what I mean by the Christian approach to the Rhodesian issue. I do not know what is the future for Mr. Smith or for anyone else, but we must approach this whole matter without any trace of vindictiveness or a desire to defeat or crush a noble people like the Rhodesian people.
§ Here I must pay tribute outside this House to the leaders of the other Parties. The Prime Minister paid one yesterday to Mr. Heath, and I pay one to him again, and also to Mr. Grimond. But this is a national policy. I think there are many difficulties before the Government, and the difficulties before the Opposition Parties have perhaps been almost greater, but we have all tried, it seems to me, to collaborate. There are some noble Lords here who feel that they cannot join in that act of collaboration. It would be impertinent, in a matter of this kind, for me to try even to suggest to noble Lords opposite how they should vote. I cannot tell what the consequences would be of any vote in any form which it took in this House. But I am sure of one thing. Throughout the world the unity of the British people on this issue is a tremendous source of strength, and I should think that the disunity of the British people would be a crushing blow to those who care for justice and for absolute equality between human beings of all races, whether they be white, black, yellow or brown.
§ It is not for me to make a final appeal to noble Lords whose consciences are disturbed by this Order. It is absolutely essential to have this Order, in the interests of the agreed national policy of trying to bring Rhodesia back to a constitutional position. I am sure there cannot be any two minds about that. I can only hope that if this question is pressed to a Division—I hope it will not be, but if it is—the message that will go out from this House will not be just a triumph for one Government or one man, even a great Prime Minister like Mr. Wilson—that is the last thing that he would want—but that it will be a message of British conviction that there is a duty to be performed and that we must see the job through without breaking our ranks.
§ 11.24 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided:℄Contents, 108; Not-Contents, 19.1211
|Asquith of Yarnbury, Bs
|Bowles, L. [Teller.]
|Burton of Coventry, Bs.
|James of Rusholme, L.
|St. Davids, V.
|St. Just, L.
|Saye and Sele, L
|Cohen of Brighton, L.
|Lloyd of Hampstead, L.
|Longford, E. (L. Privy Seal.)
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.
|Sorensen, L. [Teller.]
|Morris of Kenwood, L.
|Southwark, L. Bp.
|Fraser of North Cape, L.
|Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.)
|Haire of Whiteabbey, L.
|Hilton of Upton, L.
|Robertson of Oakridge, L.
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.
|Grimston of Westbury, L. [Teller.]
|Portal of Hungerford, V.
|Massereene and Ferrard, V. [Teller.]
|Russell of Liverpool, L.
|Monk Bretton, L.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.