§ 2.47 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY rose to call attention to the situation in Rhodesia; and to move for Papers. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name. In doing so, I suppose that I ought to declare an interest—indeed, a double interest. First, as I am sure most of your Lordships already know, I have, like a number of other noble Lords, a share in some farming operations in Rhodesia; but that, I hope, should not debar me from speaking about a country of which I have the good fortune to have some personal experience. The second interest is that I am President of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society. But for this I hope I shall not be criticised, for the Anglo-Rhodesian Society is an organisation which exists to promote good relations between Great Britain and Rhodesia; and that, too, is my own aim which I have steadily pursued, and shall continue to pursue, for I believe it to be in the interests of both countries.
§ I may be asked why I have kept this Motion on the Order Paper now that it has been announced that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, is going to Rhodesia. I have, indeed, considered very carefully whether I should postpone it, but I have come to the conclusion that, in effect, to suppress free and frank discussion of the realities of the Rhodesian situation at this particular juncture, when no final decisions have yet been made, would be in the interests neither of Parliament, nor the public, nor of Lord Alport himself. Surely we should all better recognise What the true situation is, or we are very unlikely to come to the right decisions.1389
§ Indeed, I believe, for reasons which I hope to explain to your Lordships, that this is the worst possible moment for playing Rhodesia down. For what are the hard facts? I am not for a moment going to suggest that sanctions have had no effect at all. Your Lordships will have read in the Press quite recently of the decision of the Rhodesian Government to cut down the acreage to be devoted to the production next season of tobacco and sugar. But the Government in this country would, I believe, make a very great mistake if they drew from this news the conclusion that Rhodesia is on the brink of imminent collapse. I believe, on the contrary, that the very opposite is the truth. It is evidence, if that is needed, that the Rhodesian Government and people are tightening their belts and preparing for a long struggle, just as when we in this country introduced rationing during the last World War it was not a sign of our weakening in our attitude to the war, but of our invincible determination to fight on to the end.
§ Indeed, it is clear, my Lords, from every report that I get from Rhodesia—and they come from many sources—that Rhodesia is very far from the brink of collapse. In most ways, indeed, it is still entirely normal. The shops are still full of goods—though not, alas!, of British goods—and they are well supplied, too, with people buying them. Petrol may be more expensive, but there is no shortage of it. The Rhodesia travel allowance is, I am told, £150 a year, as compared with our own £50. There is said to be a shortage of whisky, which must be a bore to those who like whisky; but a shortage of whisky will not break a country. Nor, as I understand it, has the security position deteriorated. It was pointed out in an account which I got last week that there is in Rhodesia at the present time only one policeman to 680 inhabitants and 29 square miles, as compared with our own country's one to 568 inhabitants and one square mile.
§ I repeat, I do not say that sanctions have had no results at all. Of course they have, and the effects may well increase as time goes on. But there is no sign at all that they are going to break the country or bring it to its knees. What to me, at any rate, is alarming (for it is a new development) is the increasing num 1390 ber of foreign businessmen—and this is common to all reports—who are making their appearance in Salisbury. No doubt they are not trading yet on any large scale, but they are preparing the ground, and they are likely to find fertile soil. And, make no mistake, my Lords, much of the trade we are losing to-day we shall not get back again—and with every month that passes without a settlement that will become truer.
§ Finally, what to me, at any rate, makes the holding of a debate now really essential is one further new development which I have not yet mentioned. It is the setting up by the Rhodesian Government of a Commission to draft a new Constitution. What the character of that Constitution is going to be I do not know. It is a matter for the Rhodesians rather than for me. But that there is to be, probably before the end of the year, the text of a new Constitution seems pretty certain. In due course, presumably, that Constitution will be brought to the attention of the Prime Minister and his colleagues here in London; and presumably, too, as it has been drafted by those whom the present Government of this country regard as rebels, it will be rejected.
§ What recourse, my Lords, will the Rhodesian Government then have but to declare a Republic and cut their last links with the Commonwealth? That, to my mind, and I am sure to the minds of many others, too, would be a tragedy of the first water. The Rubicon will have been crossed. There will be no going back. We shall have lost for good and all a faithful friend and one of our most valuable customers. It would mean, too, the loss of millions of pounds to us at a time when we could ill afford that.
§ We have probably about six months, more or less, to avert so lamentable a catastrophe. Is it not worth while for us in these circumstances—and I say this to noble Lords in every part of the House, whatever their views about the present Rhodesian Government—to do all in our power to achieve a settlement while we can and on the best terms we can get? Possibly the Government spokesman will say: "Are we not doing our best? Are we not sending out Lord Alport?" My Lords, I should hardly have thought Lord Alport an ideal envoy, for he has been, as we all know, an outstanding critic of the 1391 present Rhodesian Government. But what is much more important than the choice of Lord Alport is the spirit in which he is being sent. Does it herald any change in the attitude of Her Majesty's Government here?
§ Up to now, as your Lordships know, the policy of the Prime Minister and the Government has been largely based on two assumptions, neither of which I believe is valid now, or ever has been. The first is that Rhodesia, under her present rulers, threatens the peace of Africa. That was the basis for the application by Her Majesty's Government to the Security Council to impose mandatory sanctions on Rhodesia under Chapter 7 of the Charter. I do not want to say very much about that assumption to-day, for we discussed it at some length in our last debate in this House, when I argued that Chapter 7 of the Charter existed only to restrain aggression, and that in applying it to Rhodesia, which was a small country anxious only to remain within its own borders, the Prime Minister was guilty of just as great an illegality as any which might have been committed by Mr. Smith. For this, I was soundly trounced by the Lord Chancellor. But I am glad to say that since I spoke I have received most valuable support from a quarter which I am sure the noble and learned Lord himself will treat with the respect it deserves. I refer to Mr. Dean Acheson, who is both a most distinguished lawyer and a past Foreign Secretary of his country, and who, within the last few weeks, has written a review of a book on the Rhodesian question by Mr. Charles Burton Marshall.
Mr. Acheson's comments relate to what he calls the
assault of the United Nations and the United Kingdom against Rhodesia",
and to—and I quote his words:
its patent illegality despite a layer of bland sanctimony".
My Lords, "sanctimony" is a new word to me, but I know what it means. Mr. Acheson supports Mr. Marshall's view that Rhodesia—and again I quote his words—
has made no attack or threat of attack against anyone. The British Government has denied any threat to attack Rhodesia, and the suggestion that Rhodesia's neighbours might be driven to attack her for failing to practise universal suffrage seems improbable since, as already pointed out,"—
he comments drily—
they do not practise it themselves".
To this, the reply",
Mr. Acheson says,
is made that the existence of a threat to the peace may not be questioned once the Security Council has stated its conclusion. In short"—
I still quote him—
the physical integrity of a small country and the wellbeing and livelihood of its people may be attacked by the United Nations if only the Security Council states the unsupported conclusion that it threatens the peace".
That is, as I understand it, exactly the argument put forward by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor at our last debate. I may therefore, I hope, be allowed to quote Mr. Acheson's comment:
One would not be willing to accept so monstrous a doctrine as seriously advanced if Mr. Marshall did not tell us that just this has occurred in the present case.
May I recommend Mr. Acheson's words on this aspect of the Rhodesian problem to the attention of the Government? In the light of what he has said—and, my Lords, he speaks with very great authority—are they still so certain that their own legal position is any stronger than that of Mr. Smith?
§ Now I should like to turn to the second assumption which has up to now underlain Government policy towards Rhodesia and which is, if I may say so with all deference, equally fallacious and, I believe, even more dangerous than the other. It is that Rhodesia has not yet got her independence and can be prevented by the Government of Great Britain from getting it. That is the basis, as we all know, of the Prime Minister's latest and most far-reaching pledge—"No independence before majority African rule".
§ I am afraid, my Lords, that that pledge is likely to go down in history as about the most unrealistic pronouncement made by any responsible leader in this country since the days of King Canute. For what is the hard fact?—and it is becoming clearer with every week that passes. Rhodesia, whether legally or illegally, has already got independence. An independent Government, de facto, if not de jure, has been in power in Salisbury for over a year and a half, with the support of the vast majority of the 1393 white population, of the African Chiefs, and (as is becoming more and more evident) a very considerable portion of the African population—and this, in spite of all that Mr. Wilson and his colleagues have been able to do to unseat it. And they have certainly done their best. There is not the faintest likelihood of her surrendering that independence. Indeed, a point, I believe, has now been reached when the only real question before Britain is whether Rhodesia shall have her independence inside or outside the Commonwealth. That is the decision that the United Kingdom Government have to take; and they will have to take it quickly, in view of the setting up of the Commission, to which I have already referred, to consider the drafting of a new Constitution.
§ The Prime Minister may, of course, decide to dig in his toes and let Rhodesia go her own way, as the American Colonies did 200 years ago. But I do not believe for a moment that that is what the British people want. And, indeed, what should we have achieved by such a policy? We should have lost one of our best customers and most loyal friends and got nothing in return. Already there are those in Rhodesia itself who are pressing their Government to take that course and to declare a Republic. But it is clear that Mr. Smith himself does not want this, if it can possibly be avoided. Are we going to force him into the camp of his own extremists? That, my Lords, would be the final folly, the very bankruptcy of statesmanship.
§ That being the case, let us face the fact that the real problem now is, I repeat, not whether Rhodesia can be compelled to abandon her independence—which she clearly will not; and I do believe cannot be made to—but what are the terms that will enable Her Majesty's Government here to recognise that independence. That being the problem, surely the time has come when we should turn our backs on the past and face realistically the completely new situation which now confronts us. I hope most sincerely that that is the spirit in which the Government are sending out the noble Lord, Lord Alport.
§ For why must we always be looking back? Why must we always interlard any proposals that we may grudgingly make with words like "illegal" and "treasonable"? To continue to do that is likely 1394 to make successful negotiations almost impossible. No doubt many of the points that have arisen in the past will crop up again; but let both us and the Rhodesians approach them with an open mind. Do not let negotiations be hamstrung from the start by past declarations which are no longer relevant. The past no longer matters: it is with the future that we should be concerned.
§ My Lords, there is another point that I would diffidently make. If we are going into new negotiations—and we shall be mad not to—let those new negotiations, after Lord Alport's visit, be carried out, on both sides, until the last stage, by officials. It was, I believe, a very general practice in the diplomatic world in earlier days that the principals in any international negotiations remained in the background until the very last stage when the terms of an agreement were practically settled—when it could almost be said that all that was still needed was the signatures of the countries concerned. I believe that there is still much to be said for that; and especially in a case like the present.
§ Great men always tend to want to secure a victory—and, if possible, a spectacular victory—for the country they represent; and even, low be it said, for themselves. Yet in the present case the victory of anyone is the very last thing we should want. What we must hope for and work for is a settlement that is no victory for either party: no victory either for Britain or for Rhodesia, but a settlement which is acceptable to all concerned. I believe that that could still be obtained and that it is, to say the least of it, as much in our interest as in that of the Rhodesians that it should be reached. I beg of the Government that that should be the spirit which will govern their policy in the coming crucial months.
My Lords, may I conclude my remarks with two quotations from British poets? The first, which is very famous, even hackneyed, is from Shakespeare. It is this:
In delay there lies no plenty.
That, my Lords, I submit, is as true of politics as of love. The other, which dates back, I believe, even further, almost into the mists of the Middle Ages, is this:
The falling out of faithful friends
Renewing is of love.
May that, even now, my Lords, be yet the end of this unhappy story! It is at any rate my hope and my prayer that it may. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.7 p.m.
My Lords, I rise to say only that we on the Liberal Benches regret that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has not thought fit to postpone his Motion to call attention to the situation in Rhodesia in spite of the pressure that has been brought upon him to do so. I read the noble Marquess's letter in The Times to-day, and I have heard the reasons that he gave in the earlier part of his speech. I am not convinced. I disagree entirely with the noble Marquess; I do not feel that to have postponed this debate to-day would have been to suppress free and frank discussion on Rhodesia. It seems to me that there is nothing that can profitably be said in a debate at this moment, and that there is nothing new in the situation. In fact, the noble Marquess said that there was something new; but he has not produced anything which sounded new to me. And if there were anything new in the situation, it certainly does not seem to me that this is the right moment to debate it. We ought to debate it after Lord Alport's mission, and not before.
It seems to us on these Benches that any debate in this House which takes place before the conclusion of Lord Alport's mission must make relations between Rhodesia and Her Majesty's Government more difficult and Lord Alport's inquiries less likely to be of use in helping towards what the noble Marquess wants; that is to say, not victory or defeat for either party, but an honourable settlement without loss of principle. For that reason, we did not want to take part in this debate. But as we have in the past said so much about Rhodesia we ought at least to get up and say why we did not wish to do so. I do not think that it is too late even now for the noble Marquess to ask leave to withdraw his Motion before anything else is said which might prejudice Lord Alport's mission. We on the Liberal Benches hope very much that he may do so.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, we have all been greatly occupied during the last few weeks with other troubles round the world. Our thoughts have been almost exclusively directed to the Middle East, to Vietnam, to China, to Hong Kong and to the problems of the Common Market, and I think that we in this House should be grateful to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for reminding us, if we need to be reminded, that the problem of Rhodesia which, until the announcement of the visit of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, had been rather in the background, is still unsettled and still a potential menace to Africa, to our relations with the people of Rhodesia and the African members of the Commonwealth. I must say that I do not share the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Henley. It seems to me that the speech made by the noble Marquess can be considered by everybody in this House as nothing but helpful, and I should have thought, if I may say so, that the only reason we could welcome the content of the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, would be that since there are 29 speakers it means that we can get home a little earlier than we otherwise might have done.
I do not intend to speak for more than a very few minutes, not only since I agree with a great deal of what was said by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, but also because I do not think that at this particular moment, when the prospect of negotiations is not ruled out, it would be wise to take up positions on difficult issues which we know still divide Her Majesty's Government and Mr. Smith. It is really those unsettled issues on which we hope there will be negotiation, and I for one do not in the least want the Government to declare themselves on those issues this afternoon. In fact, I think that I would very much rather they did not. But there are a number of questions which I should like to ask, and one or two points which I should like to make.
There are a number of your Lordships, perhaps, or at any rate a number of people whom one knows, who have recently visited Rhodesia. I have not, and therefore I cannot judge at first hand what effect sanctions are having on the Rhodesian economy or whether there 1397 has been a marked deterioration since the United Nations mandatory sanctions were imposed. The latest report which I have seen (though it may well be that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor can tell us something further) is that of the 131 members of the United Nations or related agencies, 92 have replied to the request of the Secretary-General for a report on the implementation of mandatory sanctions. This leaves a total of 39 who have not replied. Can the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor tell the House whether among the 39 there are any countries which do a significant trade with Rhodesia, or are they all of economic insignificance?
Incidentally, it seems rather strange that almost one-quarter of those countries asked the question by the Secretary-General on March 9 have not by June 21 bothered to answer it at all. If, as we are so often told, this is a matter of global importance, and with the gravest implications, it seems to me a little odd that 25 per cent. of the members of the United Nations do not seem to care about it at all. Of those who have answered, it seems that there are a number who cannot, or who are not prepared to, implement sanctions. Malawi, Switzerland, Portugal, South Africa, West Germany, Zambia and Botswana have all answered either with a refusal or with reservations. Can the noble and learned Lord tell us whether, in the view of the Government, these refusals and reservations have not largely neutralised the measures taken by other countries which implemented the United Nations resolution? I am told on good authority (and the noble Marquess bore this out in what he said this afternoon) that one will find the shops in Salisbury well stocked with goods, not from Britain, but from any other parts of the world: France, Japan and so on, and no doubt Switzerland; that there is no critical shortage of consumer goods; that petrol, though expensive, can be easily acquired, and that, generally speaking, it does not seem that sanctions have been very effective.
My Lords, it is of course true that the Rhodesian Government has just made public the difficulties it has had with the sale of tobacco and sugar, and has announced quite a considerable curtailment on the acreage to be planted next year. But if sanctions were working, as the 1398 Government seemed to expect at the time of our debates six months or so ago, how can the Rhodesian Government have disposed of as much of their tobacco crop as they have done? Where has it gone, and how has it got there? Here again, perhaps the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor can give us the Government's assessment of the latest announcement from Rhodesia about these commodities, and their assessment of the effect on the Rhodesian economy in the next few months. Can any other crops be substituted for tobacco and sugar, and, if so, can they be sold in the world? Speaking, as I say, without first-hand knowledge, it seems to me that although sanctions may very well lower the standard of life in Rhodesia and damage their economy, in the long run they will by themselves not be of such effect as to force Rhodesia to alter the policies which she is now pursuing; and this surely is a factor which the Government must take into account.
The Government may have later figures, but the latest figures I have seen show that in 1966 Rhodesia had a favourable trade balance of £20.5 million as compared with £44.9 million in the previous year. But the figure in the index of industrial production, though down by 6.8 per cent., was still above that of 1964. I read, too, that since U.D.I. the price index has risen by 3.4 per cent, to Europeans and 3.7 per cent. to Africans; while in this country in the same period there has been a rise of 4.7 per cent. To have contained the cost of living in that way more successfully than the Labour Government here have done, with the wage freeze and income standstill, does not lead me to suppose that there is any evidence to show that economic pressure is likely to be decisive in leading to any political reappraisal; and I think perhaps it is possible to argue (though I do not altogether share the view) that it might have the reverse effect.
Your Lordships have heard from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, of his belief that a settlement must be reached between Her Majesty's Government and Mr. Smith on the basis of a compromise for both sides and a victory for neither. I doubt whether there are many people, in this House or outside it, who would disagree with that—at any rate, I very much hope not. It is therefore all the 1399 more welcome that, presumably as the result of information coming from Rhodesia, from the Governor and others, the Prime Minister has thought it timely to send the noble Lord, Lord Alport, to see whether or not negotiations are possible. Everyone will wish my noble friend success on his mission and hope that he may be able to come back with the news that he believes there is some prospect of a successful outcome to this tragic story. As I understand it, and I think that I am right, the noble Lord, Lord Alport, is not going to Rhodesia in any sense to negotiate, and what his personal views may be is therefore irrelevant. In any event, I know that the last thing my noble friend would do would be to allow any views of his own to stand in the way of any possible compromise, if indeed they would be likely to do so. He, I know, is as anxious as all of us to see an end of this trouble.
I agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that some compromise has to be found; but it must be said, and I think it must be said plainly, that no compromise is possible if the Government maintain their attitude of "No independence before African majority rule". We recollect that no such stipulation was made at the time of the "Tiger" talks. The Constitution which was worked out on board the "Tiger" contained no such provision—indeed, quite the reverse. There would have been a quite considerable period of time which would have elapsed before African majority rule and this, at that time, was acceptable to Her Majesty's Government. It is no good hiding our heads in the sand and pretending and hoping that any agreement is possible on the basis of "No independence before African majority rule".
I do not know whether I should be encouraged or not by the statement of the Prime Minister in another place on June 13, when he said that if there was a substantial change in the circumstances he would be prepared to discuss the situation with the rest of the Commonwealth, but there would have to be a substantial and guaranteed change in the circumstances. On the face of it, that does not look a particularly encouraging observation, but I think that it does mean that the Prime Minister is leaving himself some room for manœuvre. But as a result of even that rather modest remark 1400 a large number of Labour Back-Benchers made it clear that in no circumstances would they agree to the abandonment of the "No independence before African majority rule" provision.
I think that the Government have to be bold and brave, if they are to break the deadlock. They have to override those of their supporters whose insistence upon this provision would make any agreement wholly impossible. What I should like to see, and I have no doubt that this goes for probably most of your Lordships, is for negotiations to start with the "Tiger" proposals as a basis. Of course, they are not the final word—by no means. But agreement was so close on the "Tiger" that it would seem right to start from that point. There are, of course, many explanations given as to why those talks broke down, ranging from the personal position of Mr. Smith vis-à-vis his more extreme colleagues to the suggestion that some of the proposals were not fully understood, or the implications of them were not understood, until Mr. Smith arrived home. I do not know; but one thing seems to me clear—that is, that there was a genuine misunderstanding about the question of direct rule during the interim period. Mr. Wilson said in another place that he had given assurances about this to Mr. Smith, and I am sure he did; but it was the working document which would have been discussed in the Rhodesian Cabinet, and I think there was a fear that submitting to the authority of the Governor would have been a form of submission to Her Majesty's Government in this country, and that Mr. Smith and his Cabinet might have been throwing away the substance for the shadow—a substance which might not have been returned to him at the end of the four-month period.
Regretfully—and I have said this before—we have to admit that neither side much trusts the other. It well may be that in order to get a settlement sanctions must go on until Rhodesian opinion is consulted, and Mr. Smith's independence, in exactly the same way, must be left as it is until the final settlement is reached. Surely that would not be too high a price to pay for a settlement. It does not seem to me an occasion on which we should rely or insist upon legal niceties.
I believe that there is a great deal of urgency. In January, Mr. Smith 1401 announced that the Rhodesian Government were setting up an independent and impartial Commission to devise a new Constitution. As I understand it, this Commission will probably report sometime in late August or September. It will probably recommend a Republic—at least, I imagine so. It seems—and if it is true, I greatly deplore it—that there may be at this moment a tendency in Rhodesia to racial segregation. Mr. Smith said in Parliament in Salisbury the other day:I believe the ideal after which we are striving is a system which acknowledges our different communities and provides safeguards which will enable the different communities to live according to their own wishes,That seems to me—I may be wrong and I hope I am—a bit like the beginnings of apartheid. And there have been other indications. I find this very disturbing. The indications are that the decisions which would be taken as a result of this Commission will be very far-reaching indeed. Certainly they would make settlement of the problem very much more difficult. And I do not believe that we have much time.
It should not be taken as, and it is not, a sign of British weakness that we are prepared to negotiate. Far from it. It is a sign of political maturity and acceptance of the facts. Great damage is being done in the long run to Rhodesia and her economy. We, on our part, are suffering a considerable loss of trade. Our relations with the African Commonwealth are, to say the least, uneasy. No good is coming to either side from this dispute. Let us hope not only that the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government realise this, but, just as important, that Mr. Smith realises it. If we and he leave it too long, it will be too late.
§ 3.26 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, we have listened with close attention, as we always do, to the observations made by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. We know the degree of sincerity with which he holds the views which he does hold on this subject. But, for my part, I am inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Henley, that a debate on this subject to-day is not taking place at a helpful moment. The difficulty is that when widely differing views are expressed on occasions of this kind, it tends to make these views harden. As the noble Lord, Lord Carrington said, 1402 at this particular moment it would not be wise to take up positions. But I am afraid that is just the sort of result which a debate like this almost inevitably has.
There is another possible disadvantage. It is the habit of political Parties to maximise the differences between them. Here there is not really all that difference about Rhodesia between the views of the Conservative Party, of the Government and of the Liberal Party. But there is a pretty wide difference between their views and those of a small number of Right-wing members of the Conservative Party, personally sincere, holding views they are quite entitled to hold, and of whom a high proportion are in this House. We have to remember that Rhodesia is a country where newspapers are censored and blanks appear in them every day. Naturally enough, the views from England which get the major reporting are the views of this small group, and this may very well lead the mass of small businessmen and small farmers who form the bulk of white settler population in Rhodesia to think that these are the men who speak for England.
I hope not to say a great deal, because everybody's views are well known. The noble Marquess has said to-day what he has said before. He repeated his views about the decision of the Security Council. He does not agree that the Security Council are right in saying that the situation in Rhodesia was a threat to peace. Apart from Dean Acheson's views, I do not think he said anything more than he said when we discussed this last February. There is nothing I can say which I did not say then. When one joins an organisation, one accepts the rules. It is clear from the Charter of the United Nations that the only body which can decide whether a given situation creates a threat to peace is the Security Council, and the Security Council decided that in this case it did.
As I said last time, there are only three alternatives in regard to Rhodesia. First, we may say that we have done our best. As the noble Marquess put it, we must take what terms we can get; we must give in; sanctions have not succeeded and we must just recognise the Government as the legal Government of Rhodesia. But I think that all three political Parties believe that this would not be right, and not right because there is here a moral 1403 issue, so clearly expressed the last time that we discussed it by the most reverend Primate. It has ever since the war, if not before, been the policy of successive Governments in this country, of whatever political complexion, that we now hold our Colonies in trust for the inhabitants of those Colonies; that we bring them to self-government in due time when they are ready for it, and it would be a gross breach of that trust to hand over 4¼ million Africans to about 65,000 male adult white settlers. It would be a betrayal of the trust which for the last quarter of a century at least we have said is upon us in relation to that Colony.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble and learned Lord, but his figures for Africans include women and children, and his figures for the white population are quite different.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is quite right, and for a very good reason: that the people who will decide will not be the white women and children, but the white male adults, and what they do will affect men, women and children who are Africans. The second alternative is to use force to remove the illegal régime. I know that it is the view of the Liberal Party that the Government ought to have used force at the outset. On the last occasion I remember the noble Lord, Lord Reay, saying that he still thought that less harm in the end would be caused if we used force now than if we went on with sanctions. But neither the Government nor the Opposition agreed with this.
The third alternative is to use sanctions. Nobody has suggested any fourth course. Nobody likes sanctions; but they are better than physical force. The object of sanctions is to make those in control in the illegal régime realise that this is not, as they once thought, going to be a nine days' wonder; that it is going on; that there is no future in the position as it is; that things, from their point of view, can only get worse, they cannot get better, and that the only sensible thing for them to do in their own interests is, on their being asked to do it, to return to legality.
I do not want to miss an opportunity—because since before the Declaration of Independence I never have missed an opportunity, whether in this country or 1404 in Rhodesia—to emphasise that the Government have never looked for immediate majority rule. Of course, it is a matter of opinion in every Colony as to when they are ready for self-government; and if anything we have been inclined by pressures of events to grant self-government too soon. Most of these new independent countries wuld be better off today if they had delayed their independence. The Government have always said that the Africans in Rhodesia are not ready for self-government, and that before that time arrives they must show by their actions that they are ready. I believe that many white settlers in Rhodesia quite honestly feel that if a settlement is made with Britain there may be a black man in the bed tomorrow, or majority rule tomorrow. That has certainly never been the position. We want to see an honourable settlement. But there are no negotiations going on; and it would be wrong, I think, to be too optimistic about the result of the visit of the noble Lord, Lord Alport.
Your Lordships will have noticed various disquieting developments in Rhodesia in the past few months. It is true, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, that there is this constitutional Commission and some move towards republicanism. I must make it plain that the mere fact that the illegal régime passes some invalid Act of Parliament has no validity at all. Nevertheless, a move of this kind would have far-reaching political effects within Rhodesia. It is, of course, impossible to say what decision will finally be taken, but the setting up of a so-called constitutional Commission, and the remarks of members of the régime, lead one to believe that there are some people, at least, in Rhodesia who would wish to see that country a Republic, whatever may be the wishes of the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
I think that nothing has really changed, and that all that has happened is that as the Rhodesian Association in London, and those Members of both Houses who may belong to it, appear to be of the opinion that Mr. Smith wants to talk, or has some proposals to make, Lord Alport has kindly gone out there (he knowing everybody in Rhodesia, having been High Commissioner) to see whether or not anybody wants to talk, or to receive any proposals which anybody 1405 may have to make. We shall not know until he comes back whether or not negotiations are possible.
So all I need do now, I think, is merely to mention the very few changes in the situation which have taken place since February. There have been some developments in Rhodesia. There is the move towards residential apartheid, and Mr. Smith's observations, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said, pointed in that direction. There is the proposal to make the temporary emergency legislation a permanent feature of Rhodesian law. This is because, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, there is no natural disorder, and the pretence every three months that there is an emergency situation is wearing extremely thin. That is why they propose to make a permanent part of their law the right to restrict and detain people in prison without trial.
Then they are seeking to discourage a few European schools who admit some Africans from allowing inter-racial sport. Then we have the Property Owners' Residential Protection Bill. That, I think, has perhaps been a little misunderstood in this country, because I have seen observations which say that people think this is a move against the Africans. Of course it is nothing of the sort, because under the Land Apportionment Act the Africans are already discriminated against racially, so far as housing is concerned. But this is a movement to apply the principle of apartheid to Asians and coloured people—the coloured people for whose existence the male white settlers are responsible.
It would not be right for me to comment further on the Madhzimbamuto case. Noble Lords will have heard the answers that I made to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, on that subject. It is of course a matter of some importance to anyone who cares about the liberty of the subject. According to figures given in January by Mr. Lardner Burke, the so-called Minister of Law and Order—I do not accept them—there are now 170 who are detained in prison without trial, and 450 who are in restriction without trial. The Constitutional Council which still exists, according to the Rhodesian Herald of April 26, has said:The Council have become increasingly concerned, as the public should be, over powers taken under emergency regulations to prohibit a detained or restricted person over prolonged 1406 or indefinite periods from communicating in any way with, or receiving any visits from, persons outside the place of detention or restriction, whether such persons be his legal adviser, wife, children, parents or anyone else.Nine and a quarter years is, I suppose, something like an eighth of an African's life. In the last nine and a quarter years Mr. Madhzimbamuto has been either in prison or in resriction for seven years. These are the unhappy features of the revolution which has taken place in Rhodesia. The noble Marquess said that it was tactless, or something, to call it a rebellion or revolution. But we must recognise what has taken place, and what has taken place is a revolution.
If I may quote two sentences from a judgment of Mr. Justice Lewis, delivering the leading judgment in a case which is not altogether irrelevant, because this is the Madhzimbamuto case, which is the only case in which the Rhodesian Courts have yet expressed an opinion, he said:For the above reasons, I feel constrained to hold that the 1965 Constitution"—your Lordships will remember that the only lawful Constitution is the 1961 one, with such amendments as this Parliament has made to it, and that the so-called 1965 Constitution is one with no legal validity—is not at the present time the lawful Constitution of this country, and that the Government set up thereunder is not the lawful Government.We must all, I am sure, have great sympathy with Her Majesty's Judges and their difficult position when a revolution takes place. The second sentence from the judgment which I wanted to read is this:Those who embarked on the present revolution were not deterred by the illegality of their actions at the time, and it would be naïve to suppose that if faced now with a decision of the court that nothing whatsoever done by the present Government could be recognised the Government would tamely capitulate. The only course open would then be the drastic one of filling the vacuum by replacing all nine of the existing judges with revolutionary judges who regardless of judicial conscience, would be prepared to accept without question the 1965 Constitution as the de jure Constitution of this country despite the ties of sovereignty and despite the anomalies in the Constitution itself to which I have already referred.The situation from that point of view would, I suppose, have again to be considered if the white settlers were so foolish as to pass some invalid Act declaring themselves a Republic.
1407 My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has asked what has been happening and what changes have been made in regard to sanctions; and it has, of course, been said by those who share the views of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that sanctions are not really having any effect at all—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
—that nothing was having any effect. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asked about replies to the United Nations and whether any of those who had not replied had significant trade with Rhodesia. I am told that the only ones who had any significant trade with Rhodesia and who have not replied at all are South Africa, Iran and the Congo Republic. Portugal replied but is not going to comply. But, so far from saying that they are making money out of trade with Rhodesia, they have put in a claim to the United Nations, saying they have lost £1 million by it. So far as Spain is concerned, which I think the noble Lord specifically mentioned, Spain has informed the Council that trade with Rhodesia, which has always been very limited, has now been suspended. I think that the noble Lord's figures about the cost of living were quite right. He asked about the trade balance. To the best of our knowledge, exports in 1965 were £143 million, and in 1966 £80 million. Imports in 1965 were £119.8 million and in 1966 were £84.2 million. So imports have been cut by about one-third compared with 1965. Those figures are, I think, taken from the publications of the Rhodesian régime.
There is another, perhaps more compelling, reason for the régime's frankness—because this is the first time they have published figures at all—and that is that I think it is no longer possible to maintain the pretence that sanctions are only a short-term problem, or to hide from the various sectors of the economy that Rhodesia faces a prolonged and grave economic struggle. Mandatory sanctions, we calculate, should reduce Rhodesia's exports by up to a further £30 million. The prospect of such a substantial further reduction has undoubtedly given Mr. Smith and his colleagues in the régime 1408 serious cause for reflection, to put it no higher. The reaction, particularly since April, has been the issue of numerous warnings about the new situation which has to be faced. These have chiefly stressed the need for greater efforts to overcome the effects of sanctions and for greater resolve in coping with economic stringency. A further prominent feature has been the institution by the régime of a campaign to guard against gossip—the "GAG" campaign—the chief object of which is to deny us information which would be of value in defeating attempts at evading the sanctions.
But in parallel to these exhortations from the régime has been a succession of warnings to the régime from organisations such as the Association of Rhodesian Industries and Chambers of Commerce. A number of such bodies have made clear in recent weeks the considerable anxiety felt in their respective sectors of the economy about the present situation and the likely prospects under mandatory sanctions. One pointed out that it was not sufficient to withstand a blockade over a period. They said, "A lasting solution has to be found". Other organisations have been expressing forcibly considerable disquiet over the ways in which the régime have, or, rather, have not, been coping with the problems which sanctions are posing for Rhodesia. One example is a call by the Association of Rhodesian Industries to the régime to take measures to ensure full employment. The Rhodesian railways are, as at present constituted, expected to be faced at the end of this year with a loss for the current year of about £8 million, as compared with a profit last year of £2 million, and the whole of this loss, of course, is being borne by Rhodesia.
As to the previous uncertainty about the future of the motor assembly plants—Rootes, B.M.C. and Ford's—it always seemed to us that sooner or later, if sanctions were being properly applied, they would run out of assembly kits and have nothing to assemble. This has now happened at all three plants: there is nothing left to assemble, and they are on a purely maintenance basis. New cars arrive spasmodically in small numbers, but they are in such demand that they are sold before they can be displayed, and prices are very high.
1409 In order to conserve foreign currency reserves, import quotas have had to be considerably pruned for the four-month period April to July. This drastic pruning has been aggravated by the rundown of the very healthy stock levels of November, 1965, which appears to be almost complete. The resulting situation is naturally creating difficulties in every field of domestic consumption. The noble Marquess mentioned wines and spirits. Well, that is true. They are now down to a very small proportion, and this has naturally given hotel proprietors and others concerned with tourism, to say nothing of their clientele, much concern.
As to prices, the régime are finding it necessary to appoint officials in each of the main centres of population to deal with the numerous complaints which are being made about profiteering and overcharging. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asked me particularly about tobacco and sugar. In one of the recent warnings to the régime to which I have referred, and which, incidentally, the régime found it necessary to try to censor, the President of the Rhodesia Tobacco Association warned Mr. Smith and his colleagues of the consequences of cutting the 1967–68 tobacco crop to less than 200 million pounds weight. Such a reduction, he said, would bring financial ruin to hundreds of growers, bring wholesale unemployment to rural areas, impair the livelihood of many people in commerce and rock the foundations of the entire agricultural industry in Rhodesia. That would be if it were cut to less than 200 million pounds. An announcement broadcast by Mr. Rudland, the so-called Minister of Agriculture, a week ago decreed that the crop for 1967–68 is to be 132 million pounds. Even on the basis of the régime's own figures, this is a swingeing reduction of 68 million pounds on the current crop target of 200 million pounds and of no less than 118 million pounds on the 1965–66 crop of 250 million pounds.
This statement has been commented upon as being notable for its frankness. It recognises, for example, that some 500 or 600 growers may not find it economic to continue production. It admits that a great proportion, namely, 130 million pounds, of last year's crop—that is, the crop for 1965–66—has remained unsold in Rhodesia. My Lords, this admission 1410 came as no surprise to us, since it bears out our own estimate. The statement goes on to say that the régime expect to sell some 120 million pounds of the current crop by the end of this selling season, leaving unsold some 80 million pounds plus the 130 million pounds carried over from last year. This, Mr. Rudland notes, is equivalent to a whole year's production in current circumstances.
This calculation implies, of course, that, despite mandatory sanctions, Rhodesia expects to succeed in selling the same amount, but a greater proportion of the current crop than she was able to do under voluntary sanctions last year. This may strike your Lordships as being somewhat unrealistic. We, for our part, expect to see much more than 210 million pounds of unsold tobacco on the régime's hands at the end of the current season. This latest shock compounds the difficulties of the Rhodesian tobacco growers who, over the past three seasons, have suffered, first, a voluntary cutback, next, a voluntary reduction in the number of acres and, last year, the system of control imposed by the régime.
Moreover, they must find it extremely galling to read that as against the meagre return of 28d. per pound which their own high-quality leaf is now fetching on average in Salisbury, prices of anything between 40d. and 90d. per pound are being realised at the Zambia and Malawi markets for tobacco which is of lower quality. In 1965 two-thirds of the farmers' output consisted of tobacco and sugar. The amount of both crops has declined by a third or more; income from tobacco alone has dropped from the £34 million sterling received by farmers in 1965 by about 30 per cent. It will be less than £16 million, on the régime's own figures, next year. That is less than half.
Then the noble Lord asked about sugar. The position about sugar is that, there again, most of the crop they simply cannot sell, owing to sanctions. They were becoming very great exporters of sugar. The Chirundi sugar estate has simply had to close down, and at the large Hippo Valley Estate, which I saw myself last year, they have had to leave a great deal of the crop in the ground, and last year they lost £921,000. The noble Lord asked about other crops. Of course, maize can be grown, but it depends very much on what the season is like. If it is a 1411 very bad season in South Africa the régime may be able to sell maize to South Africa. The Chirundi Estate has now been up for sale for some time, but nobody has made any offer to buy it.
May I turn to industry? Much of the propaganda which has been broadcast about diversification is, in the view of the Government, very much exaggerated. For example, many of the new developments are of derisory value. As one critic in the Rhodesian Legislative Assembly put it (and I quote):Some of the so-called factories are making babies' napkin pins and toothpicks. Is this a major diversification?So far, it is true, the reduction in economic activity has not been matched by a proportionate fall in the employment levels. There are several reasons for this. Firms have been forced by direction orders to keep on redundant staff, and many jobs have been created, both in administration and in the armed forces, and particularly in the police. There has also been a substantial increase in emigration. Afrikaners are going back to South Africa, where they came from. However, the régime have now ended the farce of keeping staffs idle at, for example, the Umtali oil refinery which has now been closed since January, 1966, and in the various motor vehicle assembly plants. The régime have now allowed them to leave. This may well be a further, if belated, recognition of the realities of the situation.
Very shortly the régime will have to introduce the budget. It may be that, despite some admitted leakages, its terms will provide further convincing proof that sanctions are indeed having their effect. What is certain is that a great many Rhodesians are apprehensive about the prospect of increased taxation. We, for our part, shall await with interest the régime's budget proposals.
My Lords, of course nobody likes any of this at all. We are losing trade: they are losing trade. Sanctions, in the end, will hit the Africans nearly as much as they hit the white settlers. All the régime is being asked to do is to return to legality. That is all. There is nothing really difficult about that, and the sole 1412 object of sanctions, as I have said, is simply to make the régime realise how wrong Mr. Smith was when he told me that he thought the whole thing would be a nine days' wonder and that neither we nor the United Nations would ever do anything when it came to the point; that within a few weeks something else would have turned up in the world and the world's attention would be directed to that, and then Rhodesia would be able to do what she liked. This at least is clear: that he was wrong and this is going on. We have already had the 5,000 signatures from Lord Malvern's group, and I think it is clear that the businessmen in Rhodesia now realise that what is going on is just no good: that it is not going to stop that things are not going to get better, they can only get worse, and that there is no future for Rhodesia in continuing in illegality, particularly when all they have to do is simply to return to legality.
I am not at all optimistic about the visit of the noble Lord, Lord Alport. I am sure we are all very grateful to him for going. If anybody even suggests that Mr. Smith has some proposals to make, then that is not a thing which we ought to ignore, because of course it is to everybody's interest to settle this matter promptly. The reason I am not optimistic is because I believe it is too soon. I think—but I express this only as a personal opinion—that by November things will have changed. The difficulty is that the ordinary members of the Rhodesian Front are small farmers, small artisans and shopkeepers, and a situation which may be known and appreciated both by Mr. Smith and by an intelligent businessman takes much longer to get through to them. But I hope, as we all hope, that this may be capable of a sensible settlement. It is no longer any good saying, as many people in this country have said, that sanctions have had no effect at all and that they are just an appalling waste of time. The business interests now realise what the position there is, and I am not unhopeful that before long the white settlers of Rhodesia as a whole will realise that there is no future for them in continuing as they are, and that in their own interests the only sensible thing to do is to return to legality.