§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, in this resumed debate I will seek to modify and limit my own remarks, as have other speakers, not merely because of the length of the list of speakers which is before us and the familiarity of the subject, but because none of us would wish to say anything that in any sense interfered with any possible discussions or negotiations which might result from Lord Alport's visit to Rhodesia. Indeed, we all wish him well in this extremely difficult undertaking. He will be as aware as any of us of the complexity of this matter and the fact that the breakdown of negotiations has tended to harden attitudes on both sides. Anything he, or anybody else, can do to keep open the lines of discussion and exploration we must support.
I think there are still many thoughtful people in Rhodesia who, while they feel bound to support the Smith régime, perhaps because of a lack of any visible alternative, are still, in the absence of any proper communication with us, completely in the dark as to what Britain intends to do and what it has undertaken or promised to do, or have not had its case presented to them otherwise than in a grossly misrepresenting way. Perhaps over there they may say the same about this country, though if that be true it is not for lack of advocates in this country, which has a freedom of expression which does not obtain over there. That is the difference. But we all wish that what the noble Lord, Lord Alport, can do to keep open this debate to the point of a renewal of negotiations will be done.
We must hope that in the process of listening to what may be said to him he will not suggest that we are prepared in any way to go back on the position which has been taken by successive Governments and which, I suppose, has been given expression to, with the fullest possible accommodation to other views, in the "Tiger" proposals. I hope, also, that he will make clear that our difficulties arise not only out of constitutional questions or the hurt pride of the Mother Country or anything like that, 1428 but from some genuine disagreements on what seem to us matters of principle and over which there may still be considerable misunderstanding.
There is misunderstanding, I think, about the weight of importance which many of us place upon the Rhodesia question in this country. As the noble Marquess said, Rhodesia is a small country and it is not directly threatening the peace of its neighbours. Yet Rhodesia cannot be isolated from the much larger question. Increasingly, as the crisis goes on, it will become a kind of focus for African self-consciousness. The comparatively peaceful surface of events in Rhodesia is, in this respect, entirely misleading. It will become—it cannot help becoming—a symbol of the conflict between races when they meet together, and in which the opposing interests clash in a very vivid black and white picture. I know that the Rhodesians themselves disclaim that this is so. They are not concerned with it. For them the issue is an internal matter of the development, the self-government and the order of their own country. And yet it remains, and will remain, a testing point. The Rhodesian minority will become to very much of the world the representatives of the white and, indeed, the professedly Christian part of the world. We cannot avoid this global aspect of the situation, seen in Vietnam and seen in the Middle East, and it will be seen in the context of African self-consciousness and African pride.
We have always hoped in this country, in view of the importance of Rhodesia in the whole scene, that it would move towards an integrated and multiracial society which could give hope in other places also. We must hold on to that hope—with whatever prospect now of achieving it we cannot say. But if we were to give it up or renounce the objective behind it, or to disclaim the responsibilities which we can exercise, then we should be doing a real disservice to those in Rhodesia and to ourselves, and to any contribution we can make to this whole question of race throughout the world. I hope that we can in some way clear the air on what we are so concerned about.
There is misunderstanding also (and I hope this may be cleared up) as to the objective which has been expressed in the first principle—advance towards majority 1429 rule. We know that white Rhodesians claim that they are aiming at this, too. One correspondent—incidentally a Christian correspondent—writing home to take to task the British Council of Churches for its own, as he called it, intolerant attitude, stated:Rhodesia is committed to following Britain's example; to an expanding, qualified franchise leading to universal suffrage as soon as this is compatible with stable and responsible government.That is fair enough, but we must be realistic about this question. It is sometimes suggested in this kind of letter that the real difference between, say, the Smith régime and ours is one of timing or degree. We are pressing, it is said, for full democracy—one man, one vote— at once, whereas they are working to bring the African steadily forward at the kind of pace which can best be gauged by those on the spot. It is, they say, a matter of timing. We, like some States, are for hurrying them onwards, even, as it were, to a Congo; and they are for a more steady rate of growth which accords with experience, but towards the same end. If this were really the case, discussion and agreement would certainly not be impossible. But is it really so? Is it—and this is where we should like some clarity—a difference not of timing but of intention?
The rate of civic advance towards the political maturity of the African will be determined by a number of things outside his own control. It will be determined by education and by economic progress—and here the rate will depend primarily not upon him, but upon Government policy and national stability. It will be determined, also, by the kind of opportunity which he has. For, on the whole, men learn responsibility by having to assume it, and the chances for the African to do this will, again, be under the control of others than himself—governmental powers and social progress. Unless there is a genuine will for this to happen, growth will not happen. It has been our aim to build into any Constitution which there might be some guarantees, so far as Constitutions can give them, that this progress will go on.
But we must say to them that to promise political freedom in due time may be just an empty promise. It is like St. Augustine praying for chastity, but 1430 not yet. It is precisely in this kind of way that we find ourselves at loggerheads. Have we had, can we see, sufficient ground for hope; some firm sign that if Rhodesia were left to work out constitutional advance according to its own judgment or such opinion as it elected to take, the present Government could be relied upon to mean business? After all, it takes a great deal of enlightenment to surrender or even to share power voluntarily, and what reason can we get for confidence that the power which operates in Rhodesia at present, and which, as other noble Lords have remarked again to-day, operates under safeguards of very rigid censorship and control, will be prepared to take the kind of legitimate risks which any extension of freedom implies?
We should be failing in our duty if we did not explore the intention rather than just the promise that lies behind the principle which we have set out in our six points. The intention is surely the third area of misunderstanding which may arise. At the present time there are indications, which have been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, that so far as there is a movement it is in a different direction altogether; signs that seem to point very much more to what might be a deliberate policy later of separate development or apartheid, which we have condemned so roundly elsewhere. It is a process which, we recognise, ought not at this moment to be exaggerated. It is not perhaps a deliberate policy; at least, it is not one which has been deliberately assumed by the people as a whole, or even understood by them. It is not a doctrinaire policy based upon some kind of ideology as with its Southern neighbour. But it may none the less be real.
There is a kind of logical sequence in this process which may carry people forward from one stage to another without any apparent change of direction at all. It may start with, say, education, which touches people closely. At a young age, boys or girls of different races mix freely in games and studies with the ease and familiarity which, if it persists into later life, might have awkward consequences for this kind of policy. It might start, of course, in other spheres, such as property, housing and the like, to which 1431 reference has already been made and I shall not weary your Lordships by referring to them again. But it is a kind of logical sequence from one thing to another; and while in its initial stages it has a certain convenience and even a certain making for peace, the consequences later on, as it gathers momentum, are disastrous.
Wherever there is any suggestion that there cannot be freedom of association between peoples of different races in one place or another, we are up against this problem. It has received much notice and has been the subject of protest by numbers of people in Rhodesia: by Christian groups, by the Christian Council there, by Roman Catholic Bishops and by a number of individuals. I have seen a number of letters from men and women expressing the gravest unease and concern at what seems to be the tendency. While recognising the fears which are dominating people at this time, while recognising the difficulty of making any kind of public protest about it, and while working, with great credit to themselves, in most difficult situations, to try to uphold the kind of fairness and equality in pastoral care which ought to be there among all races, they are uneasy, and they have expressed this. I believe that we have a right, knowing that we are thinking not only of the present but of the future, to explore this, since its consequences later on may be of a dimension which we could not bear to see fastened upon a country so close to us as Rhodesia.
Still less do I want to suggest that we in this country, in our present delicate situation, ought to be lecturing, denouncing or obstructing these people, or even adopting that "sanctimony" for which we are indebted to the noble Marquess, particularly, perhaps—I do not know—we on these Benches. We all of us wish for their future well-being, and we ought to pledge ourselves to any possible help in resources which the renewal and building up of their economy will later demand. But surely we must say to them that fundamentally it is not our choice, but theirs. Theirs, in the end, is the decision as to what Rhodesia will be like in a generation's time. We can spell it out to them if we can, but we cannot make the decision—not unless we enter upon that policy of direct intervene 1432 tion against which, although it has been demanded elsewhere, we have set our faces.
Whether or not the sanctions to which we have given our assent are being effective now, they will, as I believe, bear very bitter fruit later in the effect they will have on the economy of the country. Whether they will have an effect upon the situation, it is impossible for us to say. We are, as it were, making this decision more costly for them to make. But it is still their decision, and the only way in which it could not be their decision is if we accepted the alternative of a virtual acquiescence in whatever the present régime chose to do and thereby, as it were, threw the mantle of our own authority over the actions of a Government which we did not control. I cannot believe that that way holds out any future, but any way that could bring about an honourable settlement is one which surely would receive the full endorsement of this House.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I listened to something of a political chastisement from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack of my noble friend Lord Salisbury for holding this debate to-day. I bow to the Lord Chancellor's great legal knowledge and experience, and I hope that I pay due respect to the high Office he holds. But when it comes to experience as a Member of Parliament, of either House, the Lord Chancellor is comparatively young. Had the Lord Chancellor had the benefit of the experience of a good many years in another place which many noble Lords have had, or possibly longer in your Lordships' House, he would know that debates on critical issues are very rarely convenient to Governments and rarely welcomed.
It is the usual form of Government protest, when something occurs that is not to their pleasure, to say pontifically, "This is an entirely wrong and inappropriate occasion on which to hold such a debate". I think this debate is appropriate, for the reasons my noble friend Lord Salisbury gave, and because, even though the Government can make no declaration of policy to-day, even if we cannot hear from the Government, the Government can at any rate hear from 1433 us, who represent an increasing number of persons in the country who are sick and tired of the Rhodesian unsettled issue dragging on to an unknown end, except for one certainty—that the end will bring no joy to anyone.
My main purpose in speaking this afternoon is to put one big question to the Government, as simply and as briefly as I can. The Prime Minister is beholden to the pledge, given by him to the Cornmonwealth Conference, known by those unpleasant initials, NIBMAR—"No independence before majority African rule". With that pledge in force, what do the Government see at the end of the road?—because Rhodesia is not going to accept that. Let us analyse it for a moment. Sanctions must either fail or succeed. Let us take the first possibility: that sanctions fail. While the damage to the economy is obvious and severe (and it is not underrated by my noble friend and those who support him), the degree of such damage is to some extent in dispute; and certainly there are no signs of any imminent economic collapse in Rhodesia. At the same time, the cost to us in this country is very great; and while Rhodesia may take in her belt several more notches, I question how long our knife-edge economy can go on sustaining these self-inflicted wounds.
If economic sanctions fail, what then? Rhodesia is militarily inviolate. There are voices crying in U.N.O. and voices crying in this country that the pledge to use no force should be amended, should be abandoned. One has only to listen to Dr. Hastings Banda to realise the complete folly of any idea of mounting military or air operations against Rhodesia. The extension of sanctions against South Africa, which may be called for, is just "not on". The United States would not have it; we would not have it. Even if the hot-heads of U.N.O. tried to force that idea forward we know that it is quite out of the picture. So, I repeat: If sanctions fail, what happens? There is stalemate. We drive Rhodesia out of the Commonwealth; there will be an indefinite position, probably with various countries in the world, one by one, dropping the impost of mandatory sanctions.
Let us take the second alternative—which I think the Government certainly prefer to dwell on: that sanctions succeed. 1434 The confident list of injuries done to Rhodesia, which we had from the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, I think justifies my saying that the Government prefer to dwell on (I do not say, "rejoice in"; I say "dwell on") the possibility of sanctions' succeeding. If sanctions cause the economy of Rhodesia to grind to a standstill, the Government will still have failed. Because though you can deprive men of their material comforts, and wreck their commercial life, you cannot deprive men of their determination and you cannot crush their spirit of resistance to what they feel is wrong. You cannot force men to surrender who feel that their cause is right and just: just for themselves and just (except for a comparatively small number of highly politically minded Africans) for the vast majority of the inhabitants of the country.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS (LORD BESWICK)
Would the noble Lord be good enough to say whether he accepts that the proposition he has just stated about the impossibility of depriving men of their spirit applies equally to black as well as to white men?
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
Certainly, my Lords. The success of sanctions would only, I believe, harden the resolute in Rhodesia and rally the doubters. The final outcome of the success of the Government's policy of sanctions may be to drive an impoverished and embittered—but united—white population into the arms of South Africa, and very much on the South African terms. How will that help the Africans in Rhodesia? I say this to the Government: Sanctions fail or sanctions succeed; but where, oh where! is the victory for the Government?
My Lords, there are some 50 Members of another place who have put down a Motion urging the Prime Minister to stand by the principle of "No Independence before majority African rule". By doing this the Prime Minister and his Party may gain the plaudits of the Commonwealth new territories, several of whom, let us remember, accept our money but never cease reviling us. My question is: Will this pledge benefit the Africans in Rhodesia for whom, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack reminded 1435 us, we are the trustees? Are we certain that in this pledge of NIBMAR there are not the seeds of betrayal of the true interest and orderly progress towards eventual self-government for the Africans in Rhodesia?
As a test of progress, the record of some of the new States is not exactly impressive. Internal law and order; open political institutions; political stability; economic stability—Rhodesia has all these; others have not. It is true, as the noble and learned Lord said, that Rhodesia now has legislative provisions which I think all of us abhor—the detention of men without trial. But other countries also have this. Our own country is really not quite pure in that respect. It is within the memory of most noble Lords here that during the war, when this country was in a state of emergency—and Rhodesia feels that she is—we had Regulation 18B, which kept people in prison without any trial.
I believe that under premature and imposed majority rule the Africans are likely to shape an economy which may not compare with that which they enjoy at the present time. Under African majority rule, will there be faster building of houses? Will there be more and better schools? Will there be more hospitals? Will there be greater employment or a higher standard of life? In all these things today Rhodesia compares well with other developing countries of the world. All this has been built up by white settlers who found primitive savagery, and what they have done might well be jeopardised by the fulfilment of the pledge of NIBMAR.
I believe that those who call for NIBMAR should wonder where they are leading the Africans. If their voices win the day, I believe that they will bring them dangerous chaos and economic misery. I hope that, before it is too late, the Prime Minister will face the reality of the position, which my noble friend, Lord Salisbury, deployed, with Rhodesia, the reality with the Commonwealth, by saying to the Commonwealth: "It will not work as I said it would. Now it is better for Africans and for whites in Rhodesia that NIBMAR should be abandoned as a policy and that a fresh start should be made to come 1436 to reasonable agreement with those of all colours in a brave land whose people, of all colours, have stood with us in two world wars at those times when we needed all help." My Lords, let us give them the help they need while it is within our power to do so.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, from the Back Benches on this side of the House may I begin by expressing some resentment at what the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, had to say in criticism of my noble and learned friend? With the knowledge we have of my noble and learned friend's experience and life it seems to me most uncalled for that he should be subjected to that kind of attack at the commencement of a speech.
§ A NOBLE LORD: Why not?
§ LORD ROYLE
We in these two Houses of Parliament have no monopoly of political knowledge. There are many people in all parts and in all classes of our society who are very interested in these things. There is no doubt that the experience and knowledge of my noble and learned friend is unsurpassed in this way. There is his experience of international law and the fact that he has been in Southern Rhodesia negotiating with the Smith régime. I say, with great respect to the noble Lord, that I feel great resentment that he should have thought fit to start his speech with that attack. Moreover, the noble Lord at the end of his speech talked about the number of Southern Rhodesians who helped us in the war. I wonder whether he would let me remind him that they were not all whites.
§ A NOBLE LORD: He said that they were not.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Royle has got it wrong. I did say brave Rhodesians of all colours had helped us.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, I am sorry; I accept that. I did not hear that word. But nothing can highlight the difference of thought and mind in your Lordships' House more than this subject. It maybe it was because of that that I felt some resentment about what the noble Lord said at the beginning of his 1437 speech. We have discussed these things over the past months with completely different feelings and outlook. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and his noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye, have once again shown their minds on these matters in a way which proves that they have not yet got away from the ideas of white rule and the Empire.
Salisbury being the capital of Southern Rhodesia, it perhaps calls for some sympathy towards the noble Marquess, but I am one who cannot understand this outlook of his in the second half of the 20th century. I am sorry to have to say it, but the noble Marquess has brought no more clarity or hope to this distressful situation by raising the matter again this afternoon and I should be inclined to agree to some extent with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, except for the fact that we on these Benches cannot possibly allow the noble Marquess to get away with it without expressing other points of view. My views on these matters are not moderate—not moderate at the opposite end to those of the noble Marquess. In the main, what I want to say in a very short time is to some degree following the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester, whose speech I appreciated tremendously. I shall say it in different words, but perhaps ultimately they will mean the same.
The Smith régime has given no indication of a change of heart, and its general attitude towards the majority of its people shows no improvement. There has been no step towards unimpeded progress to majority rule; no guarantee against retrogressive amendment of the Constitution; no improvement in the political status of the African population; no progress towards ending racial discrimination; no satisfaction that any basis for independence should be acceptable to the people as a whole. But there is still a state of emergency; there are still regulations to control the movements of people; to detain people; to place cordons round certain areas; to limit the publication and sale of newspapers; to prohibit gatherings; to impose curfews and deny access to detainees and to allow house arrest. There is still the provision of the detention camp; and how this afternoon we were all struck by the Answer given by my noble and learned friend to the Ques- 1438 tion put by my noble friend Lord Brockway! What an extraordinary and outstanding case, and what an illustration it was of the situation which exists! What a régime the noble Marquess is extending his sympathy to!
My Lords, because there are a number of speakers who wish to take part in the debate and time is going on, I will concentrate only on one point. May I turn to the constant argument that the African population is unready for participation in Government. This was very well skated over this afternoon. There has been hardly a reference to that basic fact, but this is what it is all about. This is why Her Majesty's Government oppose the U.D.I. Government, so-called, of Mr. Smith. This is where it began, because the African people were not being given their opportunities. In my reckoning 22 Commonwealth States have achieved independence since India and Pakistan achieved it in 1927, plus the associated States of the West Indies—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, does the noble Lord hold that that has always been a success, or that the people of those countries are better off than they were before?
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, perhaps the noble Marquess will allow me to finish, and I will tell him what I think about that. All those States have an overwhelming proportion of non-white population. Zambia and Malawi were in the Central African Federation. Why is Southern Rhodesia so different? Why is it a State apart? Why will not adult suffrage and majority rule work in Southern Rhodesia as it has done in 22 other States?
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh!
§ LORD ROYLE
—I know that the degrees of success have been varied, but we have had constitutional problems in this country. We had a Civil War which resulted in the execution of a king, and we had had centuries of Parliamentary rule when that happened; we were not a brand new country. But generally, full democracy prevails, with adult suffrage, in this Commonwealth of ours. The other two States from the Federation have 1439 achieved these things, perhaps not with perfection, but great improvement must and will come. And so I ask again, what is wrong with Southern Rhodesia that they cannot adopt the same method?
Is it right to assume, my Lords, that among the Africans of Southern Rhodesia there are no leaders of integrity and intellect? Every other independent State has thrown up such men, many of them educated and trained in Great Britain. The difference is that in Southern Rhodesia they have not been encouraged; and, my goodness!, that is an understatement. They have been denied experience and education by the ruling white classes who insist on retaining power by I.D.I. I believe this is a denial of everything in the concept of the modern Commonwealth. It has been proved that multiracial societies can and do exist. My analogy is in the West Indies, which I know so well. Trinidad and Jamaica achieved full independence with the collapse of the West Indies Federation. Leadership of integrity and intellect, irrespective of colour, has attained success. The best men for the task have been appointed, and it has come about by full democratic agencies, and only in that way.
My Lords, another Federation broke up. Zambia and Malawi, with all their difficulties and lack of perfection, and with their teething troubles, established full democracy and produced leaders. Why should Southern Rhodesia be permitted to stand out, not only in Central Africa but as an exception in the whole Commonwealth of newly independent States? To me, the thought is preposterous. In my view noble Lords who support Mr. Smith and his friends are assisting in the survival of white supremacy against the huge majority of the population, against everything that is right in the Commonwealth and in the world of to-day.
I will say only one or two words in conclusion. The Smith régime ultimately rejected the proposals worked out in the conference on the "Tiger". Everybody has agreed that they were generous proposals. On the other hand, NIBMAR was a solemn pledge to the mass of the people of Southern Rhodesia and I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that it still stands as a pledge. 1440 Her Majesty's Government are not looking for a precipitate majority rule, but majority rule based on achievement and constitutional evolution. But it must remain the firm and basic objective in any constitutional settlement.
My noble and learned friend has shown this afternoon, and independent observers have confirmed, that sanctions are becoming effective. I believe that this will lead ultimately to the overthrow of the illegal régime. Of course, we should all welcome any efforts to bring about a solution. But this, I suggest, will not be accomplished by any signs of weakness, as envisaged in at least two of the speeches we have heard this afternoon and inherent in the Motion before the House.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, I have not previously taken part in debates on Rhodesia, having been content to leave it to others well qualified to speak on the subject. What drives me to speak this afternoon is the deadlock we have reached. I am one of those who would like to thank the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for having initiated this debate this afternoon, because I firmly believe that it is better to discuss things in an up-to-date way and have the latest views of people, which can be properly reported. If there is any doubt about what is said this afternoon Mr. Smith has only to pick up Hansard to find out.
In my opinion, this deadlock is getting beyond the control of our Government. I do not propose to deal, as previous speakers have done, with the content of the subject, on which we all have our views, but I should like to discuss whether there is some way out of the deadlock. We handed over the chief load on this problem to the United Nations not long ago. At that time many of us thought it a somewhat doubtful procedure, but we were prepared to wait. The doubt in my mind about that action of broadening the problem, of passing it on to the United Nations from the British Commonwealth, where we had previously discussed it, was not in relation to that action in itself, but whether we could ever regain control of the problem. I think that some of us may now be regretting that we cannot quite control it.
The fundamental questions remain with Britain and Rhodesia, not with the 1441 United Nations. And at this point, I think it is just as well to remember a few of the fundamental features of the present situation. It is sometimes forgotten, for example, that the British Government's objective in this exercise is not a single one but two-fold. It is, first, to grant independence, preferably inside the Commonwealth, to a country which has earned it and has had home rule for more than forty years; and, secondly, at the same time—and not necessarily in order of merit—to ensure majority rule, which in practice means rule by the Africans.
We have granted independence to many countries since the end of World War II and in every case we have handed over a Constitution, nicely written out, usually by a Don from Cambridge—and not necessarily everlasting. We have seen violent changes in a good many of these countries once they have passed outside the control of this country, and if the Constitutions have not been torn up, they have certainly been put in pigeon holes. At the time we granted independence to these countries, we counted the cost of postponing independence. For example, in Burma, with which I was connected, we estimated that it would take 12 British Divisions to occupy the country if we did not grant independence. The Dutch, who were faced with the same problem in Indonesia, came to the same figure—12 Dutch divisions. Apart from the fact that we decided that it would be wrong to delay independence, we also said to ourselves that we could not afford it.
That is the situation to-day so far as Rhodesia is concerned. That would have been the cost to restore law and order. But it has not been necessary, because we decided not to use force to ensure African majority rule. We came to the question of something less than force. As the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said, sanctions are only slightly less than war. They are a form of economic and financial blockade which is usually part of an act of war. In other words, we are conducting a war against Rhodesia, except that we are not suffering any casualties. People may disagree about the facts on sanctions which have already been outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, but my view is that sanctions have never yet worked. They 1442 are not likely to work in the case of an open frontier, and here we have two, even three, open frontiers. It does not make any difference who organises the sanctions, whether it is Britain or the United Nations: they are still not likely to have an immediate effect. I suggest that they are bound to have one of three effects.
The first is that they might achieve complete surrender by the Smith régime, which is highly unlikely, in spite of the list of successes we have heard about this afternoon. Secondly, we may admit that sanctions have failed and cancel them. That, I think, is equally unlikely in the present temper. The third possibility—which I think is the certain result—is that they will drag on, and we shall drive Rhodesia ultimately, unwillingly, into the arms of the Union. That means apartheid for an indefinite period, which is the opposite of our intentions In other words, sanctions will lead not to surrender but to bitterness
Theoretically, of course, it is right to stick to our principles I am one of those who entirely agree with the first principle of unimpeded progress toward majority rule, but in practice we are not achieving that object. Politics, we often say, is the art of the possible. This deadlock is a classic example of this. Please let us return to the practical before it is too late. The practical course now, in my view, is to accept some diminution of our original objective There are, of course, tremendous pressures. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said that the future was much more important than the past; and with this I entirely agree. The numerous new African States whose weighty opinion, in numbers of States, rather forced us to go to the United Nations, having no military forces cannot in fact invade Rhodesia. A company of white Rhodesians, with air support, can defeat any single fighting African army that I have heard of. This has been admitted by one of the black leaders (I forget which one it was), and he is quite right.
Hitherto, all the negotiations—and they have been pursued with the best possible intentions to arrive at an honourable settlement—have been, in my view, bedevilled by details. For example, we have six principles laid down in our White Paper, but in my view the last five are contained in the first. If we achieve 1443 the first principle, then that is enough: the rest follow. We could quite well, in negotiation, if we achieve the first principle, "scrub" the rest. The two countries are rather like two football teams, both of which are determined not to be beaten, and determined not to have a goal scored against them, irrespective of whether they win the game or not. I would implore this Government to change their mind and be ready to compromise a little in order to achieve the objective. Incidentally, they have changed their minds quite a few times recently—there is quite a list; but I will not give it to your Lordships.
I have a plan to offer, which is only a personal plan, but it illustrates this giving way of principle a little on either side. So far as Britain is concerned, we should first of all withdraw the refusal to grant independence before majority rule, in return for a firm date for majority rule. We nearly got this in H.M.S. "Tiger"—we got it except for the date. Secondly, Britain should not insist on complicated procedures for return to legality, which are only a method en route to the final objective. Rhodesia, on her side, must do three things. First of all, she must repeat the assurances given in H.M.S. "Tiger" about majority rule, with a date: and the terms could be a matter for discussion. Secondly, she should accept educational assistance in order to improve the status of Africans and so accelerate their readiness for majority rule. That proposal was rejected outright by Mr. Smith in the original negotiations, and it seems rather to have been forgotten. But they should swallow their pride and accept educational assistance in order to hurry the date.
Then, both the Prime Ministers should meet in a neutral place—perhaps Malta—and discuss the principles in private. And if they agree the principles, then the British Government should promise to use their best efforts to have sanctions lifted. If they do this in private, and succeed, then they should publish the results. This should be followed by another conference, of officials. One of the earlier speakers (I think it was the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury) said: "Please leave it to the officials." But the officials are powerless unless the points of principle have been decided and 1444 agreed. I think this conference of officials should be allowed to operate in private, if necessary for weeks on end, and not publish their deliberations until they have finished. If neither side gives way, then neither will achieve its object; and there will be no victory on either side. We shall not achieve our desired object of majority rule in Rhodesia, and, so far as the Rhodesians are concerned, they will have to give up their independence and join forces with the Union.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, I am in fundamental agreement with my noble and gallant friend; I agree, too, with most of his specific plan, though I should have one or two reservations with which I do not think it is worth while to burden your Lordships to-day. I want to approach the problem of Rhodesia from a rather different angle, and I propose to make my comments to-day by discussing three questions. The first question is about the effect of the Government's policy on our own domestic situation; the second is about the consequences of this policy to the African residents of Rhodesia, who are a majority of at least 16 to 1 of all the residents of Rhodesia; and the third is about the legal questions involved in the present situation and policy.
I do not ask the Government to answer these questions to-day. I discuss them now because I believe that they are questions which all of us who are either responsibly concerned or seriously interested in the Rhodesian problem ought to ask ourselves and try to find an answer to through whatever sources are available to us. The sources of our information will, of course, differ widely with our respective experience and occupations, but I think we can all get enough information to form the basis for a reasonable, well-founded opinion if we really try.
My first question is: what is the real cost to ourselves of the present policy, and what effect has this had and is it having on our domestic situation? We all know that the cause of our fluctuating domestic policy, alternating between "Stop" and "Go", the vast foreign loans, which must be repaid, borrowed to support the pound at its present level; and the alternation between freeze and inflation—is the recurrently serious deficit in 1445 our external balance of payments. I am myself convinced that this external deficit, even in its worst periods, is scarcely, if at all, greater than the contribution to the deficit made by the policy towards Rhodesia, past, present and prospective.
My reasons for this conviction are, first, that South Africa had hitherto been one of our three greatest external markets, and our market there has been largely, and will be increasingly, lost. We are suffering similar though smaller losses in other markets, such as Portugal. In the second place, while this country, as the initiator of a policy of mandatory sanctions, is doubtless obeying them herself, they are notoriously evaded directly or indirectly elsewhere, with corresponding loss to us. Thirdly, we have incurred immense expense and liability, with the opposite of a grateful attitude in return, in subsidising Zambia.
If I were a member of the Cabinet, I should ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give my colleagues and myself a frank answer on the question that I have just raised, with all the advantage of his own personal judgment and the information accessible to him, and I should expect to find the answer convincing. He cannot possibly give such a candid answer to anyone outside the Cabinet, and it is of no use putting down Parliamentary Questions. Those of us who are outside the Cabinet, whether supporters of the present Government or not, must seek our information elsewhere. But many of us have available sources of information which are enough to give us a reliable answer. Those, for example, who have wide interests and experience in international trade can answer the question with some certainty. I ask them to do so, and to inform the rest of us of their answer. In any case, all of us, if we take enough trouble, can learn enough to enable us to form a reasonably certain answer. I hope that we shall do so, and I believe that most who do so, without prejudice from what they would like the answer to be, will come to much the same conclusions as I have come myself.
If indeed I am right in this opinion, what a terrible price we have paid in the consequences of our "Stop-Go" policy, to deal with a recurrent external deficit which, but for the Government's Rhodesian policy, need not have existed! So much for the cost to ourselves.
1446 My second question is about the consequences to the vast majority of the African residents in Rhodesia, what are their wishes? I believe that, except for a very small number—some African, some white (those whom the present de facto Rhodesian Government consider, rightly or wrongly, to be politically dangerous), the present régime is both more beneficial and more acceptable to the resident African majority than any that we could conceivably secure to replace it. This takes into account a comparison with other African countries, as to both the standard of living which it has made possible and the basic justice it affords in all the disputes and difficulties of ordinary human life. I also believe that the present régime is more acceptable than any practicable alternative to the resident African majority. Some agitators have, of course, been infiltrated from outside into Rhodesia, but they have had little success; and many residents in other parts of Africa, with little or no interest in Rhodesian residents as such, have been vociferous in their protests. I am now speaking of the attitude of African residents in Rhodesia.
I would also suggest to all interested in Rhodesia that they should compare the situation there, as I think the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has clone to some extent, with that in the many former African Colonies which we and Belgium have made independent in the last few years. There are indeed some ex-Colonies which compare favourably, or at least not unfavourably—Malawi, for example. But look at them all: at Ghana; at Nigeria—yes, even Nigeria, once thought to be the most promising of all. In how many has the régime which has emerged been more favourable, and more acceptable to the mass of African residents, as distinct from a handful of politicians who have seized power? On such a review of subsequent developments, can the Government still hold that the countries to which they granted independence were more fitted for it than the present Rhodesian régime? If not, what right or reason have they to continue to refuse independence to Rhodesia?
Now for my third question. What are the legal factors involved? First, of course, is U.D.I. I have myself always regretted its illegality, and so declared 1447 as early as when we debated the problem in December, 1965. But I thought then, and still think, that this particular legal factor has bulked too large in the practical question of the formation of policy. It is a part of our Constitutional and historical tradition that the rôle of law is to set the terms and conditions within which, when a later political problem arises, the statesmen of the time should mould their own task of solving the essential political problem; that is, of finding the solution which is most to the interest of those concerned. It is not that the law itself should dictate directly what that solution should be. In the present case of Rhodesia the dominating objective should surely be to maintain at least the civilisation, which, if imperfect, is better than the country has ever known before, and much better than it may easily become in future.
But in the present situation there is one question of illegality beside which that of U.D.I. falls into microscopic insignificance. We have all listened to, and been greatly impressed—though some may also have been much upset—by what my noble friend Lord Salisbury quoted Mr. Dean Acheson as having said. I should like to say just this. If it had been asked anywhere, before this Rhodesian affair arose, who was the best living person in the world to express an influential and authoritative opinion on such a question, I think the universal opinion would have been Mr. Dean Acheson, in view of his great legal experience, of his eminence in his profession and world-wide reputation, combined of course with his having held the very responsible position of Secretary of State in his own country. It must therefore have come, I think, as a very great shock to those who have supported the policy of the present Government in initiating and securing a resolution in favour of mandatory sanctions to be told by such an authority that, in his view, it is definitely illegal under the Charter of the United Nations. Well, my Lords, I have little more to say on that point, except that, while I will not now quote other authorities of great world reputation in support of the same opinion, I could do so; but I think that what 1448 has been quoted by my noble friend Lord Salisbury is enough to make this point.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone who seriously asks himself the questions I have raised can fail to come to the conclusion that the Government's policy as it is should now be changed. But we deceive ourselves, as my noble friend said, if we think that we have a choice whether we should continue the dependence of Rhodesia or whether we should grant independence. Independence is there, and nothing we can do can take it away. That is a basic fact which I think we ought all to face. Where we have a choice is about the conditions under which that shall take place and the consequences afterwards. It is still possible for us to terminate the question, to agree to independence in such a way that we shall be on good terms both with the previously loyal and very devoted citizens of Rhodesia itself and also with the many other countries with whom we should like, and with whom it is in our interest, to remain on good terms. That is still within our choice. It is still possibly within our choice to act in such a way that Rhodesia, in maintaining her independence, will do so not as a republic, but remaining a member of the Commonwealth and a loyal subject of the Queen. That may be within our power. But that is all.
May I trespass on your Lordships' time for another moment to speak in a rather wider perspective? At this time, when we are conscious that grave perils threaten every nation upon earth, would it not be a good thing to see whether we can use such influence as we still possess—reduced, indeed, but still not without significance—not to maintain or leave in existence this open sore, but to do our modest best to help to save the world?
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I must start by admitting a rather odd kind of personal interest. My wife was recently travelling towards Botswana—where they are getting along quite nicely, in spite of all the nasty things we have been hearing about the emergent countries—and was searched by the Rhodesians in a train. These are our faithful friends. The two girls who carried out the search did it quite nicely. 1449 They found upon her the portraits of her grandchildren, who I can assure your Lordships are a very dangerous lot indeed, and something even worse than that—two portraits of an Anglican Bishop in full canonicals. It sounds a laughing matter but it had very serious results. She was promptly declared a prohibited immigrant. She still is. Some time ago she was declared a prohibited immigrant in South Africa, too—but all the best people are that, and the Rhodesian distinction is just a little more exotic.
Now, my Lords, having declared my personal interest in this enlightened country and the people who are now running it, I am wondering why we are having this discussion to-day. What is it all about? I had a great deal of sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Henley, who got up at the beginning of the debate and said he did not see the point of it at the moment. Neither do I. I have been listening to all the speeches of the noble Lords who are colloquially known as the "Rhodesian Lobby", and no doubt they are demonstrating once again to their entire satisfaction that the British Government can do nothing right. But what else are they suggesting? I love them very much in many ways. I should not like to see them disappear completely. They really have some value in the world. But, of course, if Mr. Ian Smith picks up the Lords Hansard, which he always keeps by him (we heard this from one of the speakers) I am not quite certain how much attention he will pay to what his friends here are saying, because they have failed in one conspicuous respect. They have all said that the Government were wrong, but they have none of them said what the Government ought to have done.
§ LORD MITCHISON
They have walked delicately along the path towards a complete surrender to Mr. Ian Smith's régime. I wish the noble Lord would stop waving his hand—it puts me off.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, I was trying to remind the noble Lord of what the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, said just now.
§ LORD MITCHISON
All right, my Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Bourne, made some suggestions and I did not think much of them. We will leave it at that. But, seriously, in my view there has been no practical suggestion at all, and certainly not from any other speaker. We have just heard the noble Lord, Lord Salter, for instance, explaining a number of reasons why the Government were wrong, why the country was going to the dogs, why we were all going to be ruined; and I was waiting anxiously for him to tell us what we ought to do. It seems to me the problem is exactly as it was some time ago. If you choose, either side in this dispute—I call it no more than that—can surrender completely. Otherwise you negotiate and come to terms.
But, it is said, you cannot force people to terms by means of sanctions. This is a very serious proposition, if it is true. Of course sanctions will have difficulties at the end of them. So have wars. We have just seen an exceedingly successful war in another part of the world, and we are now seeing the difficulties that every war brings at the end of it. Sanctions do exactly the same. But do noble Lords opposite seriously think that war would have been preferable to sanctions? And if they do not (and I do not believe they do), then what alternative was there?
Look what we had to deal with. How slow noble Lords opposite are to recognise a clear moral question when they see it! This is a simple question of right and wrong, as I see it. The economic effects are extremely interesting and extremely important. They are rather difficult in many cases. There is no doubt that sanctions are working to some extent. It is difficult for those of us who at any rate have not got much more detailed information than most of us have, to know how far the success is going. We are told that their position is not as bad as all that. It is true that there is a shortage of whisky, but the Smith régime say that Switzerland is still dealing with them, and I suppose the inhabitants of Salisbury are drinking Swiss whisky. I agree with the noble Marquess that this will not bring them to their knees. It may knock them flat, but that is another matter.
Is not this a perfectly plain moral issue, and has it ever been anything else? Here 1451 is a country where a very small minority of people are ruling by force a very large number of Africans who have practically no rights, and the few rights which they have are going to be reduced. It is a police state. There are Smith's spies in all the towns and villages all over the country, and there is no sort of equality of treatment. The amount spent on education is no doubt comparatively large, but that is only because there are so many Africans, and there is no opportunity at the end of the education. This is plain apartheid and nothing else, and if it has not gone quite so far as South African apartheid has it is going there as fast as it can gather momentum.
In a case of that sort, is it right that people should provoke a debate here, simply in order to say that the Government are wrong? And do they really mean that the only alternative is to support a régime of that kind? Are they really supporting, among "our faithful friends", as the noble Marquess has called them, an apartheid which we have condemned again and again in South Africa? And if that is not what they are supporting, what is it that they are?
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? The noble Lord has said that the Smith régime is holding the country down by force. If that is so, is it not remarkable that Mr. Ian Smith is guarded, I understand, by only two sentries at his house, whereas in Tanzania and in other African countries—for instance in Zambia—the dictators of those countries, to which we have given majority rule, are guarded by between 200 and 400 troops at their palaces, with machine guns, barbed wire, searchlights, and similar paraphernalia? My Lords, who is holding the Africans down by force?
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, that was a very long interruption. I could understand most of it, and so far as I did, I did not think it was very relevant to what we are talking about. I am going to take leave—and I am sure the noble Viscount is the last person to take offence—to postpone the answer to it until I have had the opportunity of reading it in full in Hansard.
If I may now continue, surely the practical position is perfectly clear. We 1452 had conversations on the "Tiger", and those conversations involved at that stage, I think I am right in saying, the abandonment of NIBMAR. They resulted in six principles being laid down by the British Government, and I wish that somebody out of the Rhodesian Lobby would tell us how many of those principles they object to, because Ian Smith's régime would not accept them. The first one was this:The principle and intention of unimpeded progress to majority rule, … would have to be maintained and guaranteed.We were told by one noble Lord that he did not object to that one. If he does not object to that, what about the next one?There would also have to be guarantees against retrogressive amendment of the Constitution.Is there any objection to that? Is it an altogether unreasonable thing to ask from people who had already broken the Constitution by the U.D.I. or the I.D.I., whichever you like to call it?
The next one was:There would have to be immediate improvement in the political status of the African population.Perhaps that is what the Rhodesian Lobby are really objecting to. They want them kept down—well down.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I heard that speech but I did not think much of those suggestions. They were his own and nobody else's. I have had to say this twice, and I do not want to waste time answering one noble Lord when a good many others have spoken.
There would have to be progress towards ending racial discrimination. Do they object to that? The British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Do they object to that? It would be necessary to ensure that, regardless of race, there was no oppression of majority by minority or of minority by majority. I should like to know from 1453 some noble Lord—particularly from the noble Marquess when he replies—which of those principles they really object to.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord would say something about the proposals for the interim period, which were the point at which the talks broke down, that is, the interim period before the "Tiger" constitution was put into effect. Perhaps he has not heard about it.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I have read the whole of this Book. If in fact the Smith régime accepted those six principles there would be no serious difficulty, at any rate in my opinion, and I hope in the noble Marquess's opinion, too. May I take it from the form of the noble Marquess's interruption that he and his friends accept all those six principles?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I made it perfectly clear when I spoke in this House on the "Tiger" talks that the interim proposals were the ones which I thought made it impossible for the Rhodesians to accept; and this is what the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, conveniently ignores.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I am not conveniently ignoring anything, with respect to the noble Marquess. I hope I shall never agree with him and that I shall always like him. I should like an answer to this question, because this is the fundamental thing, and it is not, as I see it, on the intermediate proposals, but on these principles that the breakdown has occurred.
§ LORD MITCHISON
I have heard noble Lords opposite saying that there was some profound disagreement in principle. It must be on one of these things, as I have said.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord is not right. I do not propose to interrupt any further, because he was good enough not to interrupt me, but I do not agree with him.
§ LORD MITCHISON
Well, my Lords, I cannot carry this any further. But I do not think this is a question of the interim period, I think it is a question of a profound difference of view. I 1454 think the difference of view is enshrined in the continued refusal by the Smith régime to accept these six principles; and it is perfectly obvious that they do refuse to accept them because at the moment they are doing things which nobody who accepted these principles could possibly support. What I am asking the Rhodesia Lobby opposite, and would very much like an answer to, is whether they do or do not accept those six principles.
As to NIBMAR, at the end of these discussions the Prime Minister pointed out quite clearly—and this is in the Blue Book—that this was not an issue, and he also pointed out that if these principles were not accepted (and that was what he was talking about) he would have to go back to NIBMAR. This is really a method of adapting NIBMAR, something that went beyond what had been said at the Commonwealth Conference. In those circumstances, I cannot see the object of this debate to-day. If noble Lords opposite are prepared to say that they, like the vast majority of people in this country, accept these principles and understand that if they are not going to be accepted then we shall have to go back to "No independence before majority African rule", well and good. Otherwise, what is it? Do we depend on what the noble Lord suggested just now by way of proposals? If not, what are noble Lords opposite suggesting?
I said that this was a moral principle, and surely it is. We in this country have had to fight for freedom. I hear people talking to-day as though freedom for Africans was no freedom, had no moral value; that you had to weigh the cost, count the pennies, recognise no virtue in it. Surely in this country we know better than that. Surely we know that it is dead wrong to deprive people of their liberty year after year, to imprison political opponents, to censor the Press, to send police spies about in the country, to pervert justice as it is being perverted in the case we heard to-day, to pay no regard to the opinion of the rest of the world as to whether you are a Government or not, to pay no regard to the opinion of the rest of the world as to the circumstances in which peace and security in the world can be endangered. All this seems to me plain straight 1455 tyranny, tyranny by a majority of not very satisfactory or faithful friends, white in colour, who live in a country peopled for the rest by an overwhelming majority of Africans who ought to have freedom just as much as any other human man.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, what guarantee can the noble Lord give that majority rule does lead to freedom in Africa, as he has just said, and for that matter in Asia? What guarantee? He made the most wild statements.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ LORD SINCLAIR OF CLEEVE
My Lords, for many years I was connected with a company which had a considerable stake in Rhodesia. That connection no longer exists, but I still have an interest in and a feeling for the country, and I hope that I will have that as long as I live. In spite of, and not because of, the first part of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, if I may say so, I believe that the feeling predominant to-day in the minds of all those—and there are many of them in this country—who really care about Rhodesia, is the earnest hope that at this eleventh hour (and it is the eleventh hour, with the report of the Constitutional Commission due in a matter of weeks and not months) some way will be found of breaking the deadlock. I am very conscious of the fact that the last thing those of us who care for Rhodesia would want is that anything should be said in this debate to-day which, if reported in Salisbury, would tend in any way to complicate or prejudice the discussions which the noble Lord, Lord Alport, is about to undertake, and I will try to avoid any such statement.
I have never myself been able to hold a brief for U.D.I. Yet I share the fear of the lasting harm that would be done by accelerated majority African rule. I have always felt, and I still feel, that the right objective must be progress, and progress as sure and rapid as possible, towards a truly multiracial society. That, of course, predicates increasing African participation in government. Despite some statements attributed to those who are understood to be on the extreme Right Wing of the Rhodesian Front, from such experience and contacts I myself have had I am convinced that the 1456 great majority of Europeans in Rhodesia believe that the best hope for the future of their country lies in rapid progress towards a truly multiracial society founded on a sound economy.
From my own experience, necessarily in this respect somewhat limited, and from the opinions I have had from those whose experience is much greater than mine, I think it is true to say that in general—and I emphasise in general—the African child is extraordinarily quick to learn; and equally (though of course there are exceptions), in general the African adult is very slow to take responsibility. I certainly know of at least one company, who would be regarded as good and enlightened employers, who have really tried to make appropriate opportunities for, and to give training to, Africans who they thought might be suitable for positions in junior management. They found it hard to get men prepared and able to go further than supervisor and foreman. This is merely symptomatic of a stage in evolution, and education is an important part of that process. But I think the fact, or opinion, that I have just expressed is something that we can well bear in mind.
Inasmuch as from time to time assertions are made that in recent years, before and after U.D.I., Europeans have been positively retarding African advancement, or, particularly since U.D.I., have been pulling out and shirking their responsibilities, it might help to get things into perspective if I were to give a few facts. First of all, in the last three and a half years there has been no significant change in population. There has been an increase of 4 per cent. in the number of Europeans and of 7½ per cent. in the number of Africans, and the relative proportions are still about 20 Africans to one European. In 1966, there was a net decrease of some 16,000 in the number of non-indigenous African males. This is interesting, but it is not too significant; it was due probably to fewer opportunities for temporary work under present conditions. But so far as population is concerned, the position is extremely steady and the proportions of the two are unchanged.
Secondly, as regards education, the enrolment of Africans in schools continues to grow steadily. The annual rate has slightly increased since U.D.I. The great majority, of course, are in primary 1457 schools. In the last ten years the number in primary schools has risen from 369,000 to 672,000—an increase of about 85 per cent. But the number in secondary schools, which ten years ago was under 2,100, is now 15,600. Although that is still a low figure, judged by our standards, it indicates quite considerable and real progress; and when one considers the magnitude of the problem (and we have to look at this country dispassionately), the limitations of the resources, and the difficulty of rapidly increasing the number of qualified teachers, what has been achieved is by no means negligible, and compares favourably with other predominantly African territories.
Rhodesia currently spends about 18 per cent. of its budget on education. The budgeted figure for 1967 for African education is 11½ per cent. of the total Rhodesian revenue. Admittedly, that 11½ per cent. represents only £7 million, but it is a sizeable figure. In the University of Salisbury the number of African entrants is increasing both absolutely and as a proportion of the total. Out of the total registered of 970, which includes Europeans, Asians and Coloureds, as well as Africans, 24 per cent. are Africans. This makes a valuable contribution to the supply of teachers.
Thirdly, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, mentioned earlier, the cost of living has kept remarkably steady. In the last three and a half years (my noble friend was giving the figure for the last 15 months, I think) the increase in the Price Index has been just on 5 per cent. in total for each class, Europeans and Africans. I only wish that we could say the same here.
Lastly, the economy of the country has shown remarkable resilience. After 15 months of sanctions the gross domestic product has fallen by only 7½ per cent., after allowing for the slight increase in prices. We may deeply regret U.D.I. We may feel that detention without trial has exceeded the reasonable requirements of security, though it is not easy for us to judge the circumstances of it. We may rightly feel that there is still great scope for further improvement in African education. But I do not think we are justified in denigrating the genuine efforts that have been and are being made, particularly when one considers the number of Africans still living, and living not unhappily, under tribal conditions.
1458 Over a quite short period of history, 70 years—as one noble Lord said, for over 40 years of which Rhodesia has been self-governing—the inhabitants of that country (I am not here speaking particularly of Europeans) have contrived to build together a sound and prosperous economy. They have played their full part in two wars: two wars in which they were not threatened in the way that we were threatened. They have—and, strangely enough, this applies to a great many Africans as well as Europeans—a great pride in their country. I do not think they are going to be beaten to their knees by sanctions. As one speaker said, mandatory sanctions may be illegal, but anyhow we know that they are not at the moment effective. Our sanctions are certainly less ineffective and in so far as sanctions hurt, we have seen that they stiffen resistence and reduce, rather than increase, the chance of the sort of agreement on which the future of the country and its peoples, Africans and Europeans alike, must be based if it is to endure.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am glad to have the opportunity of following the noble Lord, Lord Sinclair of Cleeve, in this debate. I understand the deep feeling that he has for Rhodesia, expressed in the speech he has delivered. I particularly welcome the fact that he not only regretted U.D.I. but also spoke of the hope of a multiracial society being realised in Rhodesia. The term "multiracialism" may be interpreted in different ways. A society might perhaps be called multiracial which still had segregation of its communities. I hope that the noble Lord did not have that in mind—and I see by the way he shakes his head that he did not. I want to put to him this difficulty. All the present tendencies in Rhodesia among those who govern, and among the white population at their meetings, are against progress towards a multiracial society. One of the disturbing facts in recent months has been the increased tendency towards segregation and towards adopting the South African system of apartheid. It is that tendency—a tendency reflected in many measures of the Rhodesia Government, in speeches by members of the Government, and particularly in resolutions carried at conferences of those who support the Government—it is this 1459 development which makes us so fearful of the future of Rhodesia whilst it remains under a Government of the present character.
Our debate to-day reflects a difference of opinion which is more fundamental, perhaps, than any which normally arises here. My noble friend Lord Mitchison has said that it is a moral issue; a matter of right or wrong. I think that those of us on both sides in this debate feel that it is an issue of right or wrong. The moral issue, as it appears to us, is this. We believe that all human beings, whatever their race or their colour, are in personality equal; and we do not believe that any race because it happens to be of a particular pigment of skin has the right to rule over those who do not share that attribute. And that is the essential issue in Rhodesia to-day. It is the issue that a white minority believes that it has the right to govern a large non-white majority. Those of us who accept the principle of the essential equality of all human beings cannot accept the system which is being applied in Rhodesia and which is proceeding even to the more extravagant forms of the Republic of South Africa.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Is the noble Lord not, in effect, bringing racialism into this matter? Is not the most important thing, and the most important issue, what is the best form of government for Rhodesia?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I am bringing racialism into it because racialism is reflected in the government of Rhodesia. People there have the right to vote not on an educational test; people there have the right to political equality not on the grounds that they are of a certain character. The discrimination which takes place is a discrimination based on race. It is the difference between the whites and the non-whites. I am not bringing racialism into the debate. Rhodesia itself is bringing it. Rhodesia is a racialist society. It is racialist in its government, its administration, its segregation, its Land Apportionment Act, its residential segregation, its refusal to allow children of different colours to be at one school. It is Rhodesia which is racialist, and I am not introducing racialism when it is not there.
1460 I should like to turn to the suggestion which has been so heavily criticised by some speakers—the present decision that there should not be independence in Rhodesia before majority rule. The noble Marquess in opening the debate described it as "irresponsible". All through history Governments in this country, whether they have been Conservative or Labour, have recognised that principle when they have extended independence to another country. The only exception has been South Africa; and how disastrous have been the results in the humiliation which is poured upon the non-white majority by the system of apartheid there! Naturally, it is our fear, as we see the conditions in Rhodesia, that there will be repeated there exactly the same tendencies as have taken place in the Republic of South Africa.
I want to say a few words about the visit of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, to Rhodesia. I was a little surprised that the noble Marquess in his speech described it as an unsuitable choice because Lord Alport had criticised Mr. Ian Smith. I should like to ask the noble Marquess and those associated with him: who, except members of the small group to which they belong, has not criticised Mr. Ian Smith? The Conservative Government criticised Mr. Ian Smith in very strong terms when they had to face this issue before a Labour Government came to office. Labour have criticised him, and so have the Liberals. Is the noble Marquess really suggesting that anybody who has criticised Mr. Ian Smith is not a fit representative from this country to carry on any negotiations in Rhodesia? I would add that I am not very hopeful about the results of his visit. I am certainly not hopeful if the condition which has been laid down by the British Government, and which so many of us support, that there should be no independence before majority rule is maintained. It is perfectly clear that Mr. Smith and his colleagues will not accept that condition.
I should like to ask the Minister who is to reply to this debate whether he saw in last Monday's Guardian the alleged terms of a letter which Sir Humphrey Gibbs, the Governor-General, has sent to Mr. Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister. Before I say a word of criticism let me say this: I have a tremendous admiration for the way in which 1461 Sir Humphrey Gibbs has carried out his duties in Rhodesia during this difficult period. He has shown a courage which all of us must deeply respect. But I was a little disturbed by the terms of this letter, as they are reported. It is not indicated how a confidential letter—which it must have been—from Sir Humphrey Gibbs to the Prime Minister came to be published; it suggests that the Secret Service of the Rhodesian Government must be very efficient indeed. What disturbed some of us was the statement that the Governor-General is urging Mr. Harold Wilson to withdraw NIBMAR, and to revise the time scale for achieving majority rule in Rhodesia; and, also, his insistence that further entrenched clauses should be introduced into the 1961 Act to reassure Europeans. I hope very much that this report is not true and that it will be possible to say so to-night.
I want to conclude with a feature of this discussion which I believe is more important than any other. We are thinking of Rhodesia, but it is not only in Rhodesia that deep feelings are aroused on this issue. I know Africans and African leaders from most of the territories on the continent. It would be difficult to describe the disillusionment which is already in their minds as a result of weakness of policy towards the Smith régime in Rhodesia. That sense of disillusionment will become deeper and wider, if there is the beginning of a suggestion that we should surrender to the illegal independent Government in Rhodesia. Mr. Harold Wilson gave his promises to a Commonwealth Conference. He has indicated that if there is to be any revision of terms they will again be submitted to Commonwealth members. I wonder whether the Minister could indicate to us whether there is to be a meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in conference this year, as there was last year?
I love the Commonwealth. I have tremendous pride in the fact that it has developed from colonial States into self-governing States. But if we appear to desert the principle of human equality, and the right of a majority to govern a country when it becomes independent, then the continuance of the Commonwealth itself will be in doubt and will be in danger. The Asian and African coun 1462 tries which are in our Commonwealth, who are already feeling intensely on this issue, will feel that the very basis of the Commonwealth is being destroyed.
My earnest appeal to the Government tonight is to maintain the principle on which they have stood, to maintain the equality of all human beings, and to think not only of Rhodesia but of the effects of any possible change of policy upon all the peoples of Africa, upon the peoples of Asia, and, indeed, upon so many peoples throughout the world to whom this principle is dear.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, may I begin by saying that we owe a deep debt to the noble Marquess for having made this debate possible to-day? I feel that this is a most opportune moment to review the situation, whose termination may come rapidly in a way which would not be acceptable or agreeable to us. Therefore I want not to go into any details, but to try to sketch some of the background, emotional and otherwise, which those whose privilege I hope it will be to reach reconciliation with Rhodesia in the early future will have to take into consideration and deal with.
The subject matter of our debate to-day has occupied the attention of this House over the past two years on many occasions. Therefore I regard it as impossible, and indeed not desirable within the acceptable limits of short speeches, to go into any of those details again. I remain as sad as ever at the miscalculation and misunderstanding, and perhaps even the personal prejudice, which has disfigured the British Government's record in this matter. Time is running out, and the hope of a statesmanlike reconciliation has almost faded. So we ought to take this last look at the facts of a situation which need never have reached this pass, and emphasise that it is here, in Whitehall, that the blame lies, and it is here, in Whitehall, that a change of heart and the process of healing statesmanship can even now save us and Rhodesia from what I regard as an impending disaster.
I know that I am not in a position to argue legal questions, but I imagine that the way in which Mr. Smith and his Cabinet look at these matters is this. To begin with, the Legislature of Rhodesia was lawfully elected under a Constitution 1463 lawfully established, and that Legislature presumably remains a lawful body until it is lawfully dissolved. They regard themselves as the legal Government vested with the control of the machinery of government in Rhodesia; and that Government has constantly opposed the British Government's insistence that it should surrender its powers to a new Administration.
It does not accept, and never has accepted, the contention that it is an illegal Government or an illegal régime. So until such time as the form of the Constitution for an independent Rhodesia has been determined, it sees no point in discussing the question of what the British Government is pleased to call "a return to legality". Nor could it consider for a moment the abject surrender demanded by the British Government, leaving itself helpless in their hands with the British Government free to go back on all the proposed constitutional amendments and to do whatever they pleased. That is really the answer to the point which was put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, earlier in this debate.
For 43 years Rhodesia has had responsible self-government, and its record stands out above practically all the rest of Africa for contented and happy inhabitants with—as I think was mentioned by the noble Marquess—a lower proportion of police to population than there is in Britain. In recent years, particularly, much attention has been given to helping the education and the practical ability of black African cultivators and farmers, and excellent relations exist between those Africans—who, after all, constitute the bulk of the community—and the Ministry there. In addition, the Indaba of Chiefs called by Mr. Smith was a far-reaching and sincere attempt to sound the broad feelings of the tribal masses on the independence question, and had the British Government been better informed on the general Rhodesian outlook and on what was possible, they would have accepted the validity of that lndaba, as those of us who happen to know something about the atmosphere and conditions in Africa would readily have done.
The Rhodesian Government has expressed a determination to keep the Government of that country in civilised hands, 1464 whether they be white or black. They have not said, "There shall never be a black Government". They merely insist that the Government in their country, so long as they are in any position to affect it, must be a civilised Government. Admittedly, my Lords, that means that for an immediately uncertain future the Government must remain largely in the hands of the white Africans. But is this so unreasonable a determination? According to conservative estimates, well over a million people have died by violence in Africa North of the Zambesi in this decade alone—and the end is unfortunately not yet. This takes no account of the numberless thousands who have died of starvation and disease; and, as Mr. Du Pont has pointed out, most of Africa to-day is sick—sick of a contagious disease caused by the germ of responsibilities prematurely granted or assumed and spread by the winds of change. This germ is known as "immature majority rule", and it is with this germ that the present British Government seeks to infect Rhodesia.
It is quite obvious that the British Government and their allies in the sanctions war are in no way concerned with the wellbeing of Rhodesia or Rhodesians, whether they be white or black, despite their assertions to the contrary. Sanctions, if they bite as Rhodesia's enemies hope, must first affect the African. In fact, one could almost legitimately surmise that the object of sanctions is to upset the harmony between African and European which has existed in that country since the turn of the century, and never more so than to-day. Rhodesia has been fighting the battle against ignorance to the best of her ability with her educational programme, against disease very successfully with her health services, and against poverty by developing her resources, agricultural, mineral and industrial. Surely it is almost a criminal thing for the present British Government and the United Nations to ignore all this in favour of crushing a small, peaceful country to salve the wounded pride of the British Government.
In Rhodesia, it is white Africans who pay over 90 per cent. of the general taxes, and it is their money which has to pay for African schools, hospitals and other welfare services. This means that 230,000 white Africans have to provide not 1465 only for themselves but for 4 million Africans of the other kind—half a million of those from countries outside Rhodesia. All this has been achieved in 43 years of self-government by their own unaided efforts—that is, unaided from this country—while during the past two years Kenya has had £20 million given to it in aid. My Lords, nearly everything the African has in Rhodesia to-day is due to the energy, enterprise and ability of those of European origin. Education is far more advanced than in any other black African State. I could give the figures—and they are very startling figures—but they have been given already, and I will not bother the House with them again except to say that Ghana, Liberia, Ethiopia and other countries have nowhere near reached the same standard. It is the same with the medical services. I could give those figures, too, but I will not bother the House with them at the moment.
The present British Government are spending millions to destroy everything that the Rhodesians have built up. The vindictive imposition (I am bound to use that regrettable adjective) of punitive sanctions is meant to do just that. I have said nothing about the immense damage, much of it likely to be permanent, being done to British trade by the fratricidal folly of this policy. Mr. Wilson and, I think, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to-day, have declared that the Rhodesian question is a moral issue. Is it moral to set out to destroy a Government that was elected by an overwhelming majority of the electorate? Is it moral to seek the destruction of a model African Administration merely because the élite that runs it is white? This is the real moral issue connected with Rhodesia. The Prime Minister's attitude is apparently based on a confused type of racial prejudice that is all the more dangerous because, since it is directed against a minority group of his own race, he feels free to pursue his vendetta.
Perhaps the real moral issue arising from Rhodesia is not the one claimed to have set the British Government on their intemperate course to force the country to its knees. The true moral issue is whether the Africans stand a better chance now of a civilised existence under a white Government than they would under a black one: for that, in the end, 1466 is the only test whether the civilisation we speak of is in fact worth anything at all. And for those who think it really has meaning, this is the answer on the moral issue that has been clear from the start. But is there any morality or justice in a policy which would be immediately reversed, shall we say, simply if Rhodesia's white Africans were turned into black ones overnight?
It was Mr. Harry Oppenheimer, I think, who, in a recent speech, pointed out that a lot of harm was done by the habit of equating the name "African" with the black African. In Rhodesia there are something like a quarter of a million white Africans whose home is Rhodesia and who have every right to call themselves Africans. One might ask: Who is really on the side of the people in Rhodesia? What is the African reality? Is it those who have worked progressively for their welfare and higher standard of living, and have done that until they have placed them far out in front of the peoples of almost all the other African countries in both these matters? Or is it those who, against all the evidence of the rest of Africa to-day, think they would be better off if all of them had the vote at once? My Lords, universal suffrage is the Last Sacrament pronounced by the High Priests of Democracy over Africa in our day. There is no civilised alternative to Mr. Smith's Government today. The Prime Minister's policy leads straight to a premature black domination, usually followed, in Africa, by military rule or chaos, or a mixture of both.
Doubt has been expressed about the real aim of the present Government. The Prime Minister claimed to contain and isolate a purely British and Rhodesian problem by the deplorably dangerous decision to unload it on the United Nations. This, to me, is an incomprehensible action. The treatment of Rhodesia by the United Nations is a blatant violation not only of the United Nations Charter but, more important still, of the principles of justice and fair play. The United Nations appears, under the influence of ambitious schemers, to be drifting away from its Charter and trying to become a dominant world Government. It is also interesting to remember that among these opponents of minority rule—about which we hear so much—are 1467 37, at least, member nations of the United Nations who themselves have Governments based on minority rule.
Mr. Wilson has talked of a "bloodless war of attrition." I am tempted to quote part of the comment of the Anglican Dean of Gibraltar on that. I think it is useful, seeing that we are reviewing the situation, to take note of some outside opinion, that of qualified people, of the situation. The Dean opened an address on, "Peace in Rhodesia" with the claim that the observation of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons that the application of sanctions against Rhodesia was "a moral issue" gave him, as an Anglican clergyman, the right to pass comment in public on the action of the British Government. He said:No doubt, the legality of the action will be debated in the proper place, later on. I am concerned with the moral aspect. I venture to suggest that to millions of people in Britain, including a vast number of churchmen of all shades of opinion, this action appears not merely as immoral but as one of utter folly. Folly because it has laid the seeds of armed conflict possibly more effectively than any one action of a British Government in recent years.He went on to say:Unfortunately it has the ring about it of aggression. And this, when the Prime Minister of Rhodesia has accepted the six points towards African majority rule.Another view which I think is very relevant, part of which I shall quote, is that of a prominent American, the executive Vice-President of the Southern States Industrial Council, who recently visited Rhodesia to see what it was all about. He came away astonished at the British Government's treatment of that country. He remarked that Rhodesia would be all right if only Britain would leave her alone. He went on to say:Moreover, when it comes to my own country, the United States of America, I am absolutely flabbergasted, as the saying goes, why we should join in these economic sanctions. We have asked Great Britain to join us in economic sanctions against the Communist nation of Cuba, 90 miles off our shore; she refused. Now, we have asked her to join us in sanctions against North Vietnam, but again she has refused—to such an extent that more than 50 per cent. of North Vietnam's foreign trade is being hauled in British ships.It is incredible, therefore, and a literal disgrace, that we would join Britain in sanctions against a friendly anti-Communist nation like Rhodesia. The people of Rhodesia are determined, resourceful and plenty capable of build 1468 ing a strong, self-sustaining nation if left alone to work it out for themselves.Incidentally—and I think this is very relevant—in view of the way in which we scatter our largesse he later went on to say:If Rhodesia had a certain amount of Communism in its make-up—which it does not have—we might see the United States pouring foreign aid into Rhodesia by the millions. Instead, being a friendly, anti-Communist country, we join in making it hard for Rhodesia to build a strong nation.My Lords, one final word on trade. Britain is learning the hard way that it does not pay to make trade one of the tools of war; in other words, to damage our own financial position in trying, probably ineffectually, to ruin Rhodesia. The persistently belligerent attitude of the British Government has done immense damage to the whole pattern of Anglo-Rhodesian trade, in the sense that the population is now pointedly refusing to buy British products, as has been mentioned by other speakers this afternoon, in instances where those of other countries are available. The damage to British trade is therefore likely to be permanent. Perhaps, instead of making protests in various places, it would be better to bring home to the British public the cost of our present policy; and it might be worth while for business houses, who are going to be the great losers, to spend some time and money on informing the public.
The high-souled claim which has been made from the Front Bench that the Government are unavoidably acting on the highest principles scarcely bears a moment's examination. But so little time is left before irrevocable decisions will be made. While there is yet time we make a last appeal to the Government to revise their stubborn refusal to put the vital common interests of the people of this country and of the people of Rhodesia, black and white alike, before injured pride and suicidal economics. I think the South African Government is right in holding that trade boycotts and economic reprisals never contribute anything to solving international problems; indeed, history clearly shows that they make those problems more serious.
My Lords, I have finished my brief sketch of the situation as I see it. I emphatically believe that an agreement between Britain and Rhodesia, an honourable agreement acceptable to both sides 1469 and to informed opinion throughout the civilised world, could easily and rapidly be reached if negotiations were kept, as has been indirectly suggested already to-night, on the level of high policy and human realities, and raised altogether from the sphere of personal prejudice and the slogans of international pressure groups, and avoiding also getting buried in detail. We pray that the light of statesmanship may yet illumine all of us—and especially the Government Front Bench. The Government have made a mistake over Rhodesian policy. I hope that they will now try a more humane approach. If they do that they will thereby perhaps win back some of the lost confidence in their management of these affairs. My Lords, we have been told that:There is joy …in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth—There is ample room for the Government of this country to earn a communal benediction of that kind.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, will understand why I do not follow him in his argument when I say that I could not disagree with him more. However, I wish to refer to one point in his speech. I am always shocked when Europeans and people in the West point to the killing that goes on in the Continent of Africa when we know— I am not very good at figures—that in the last war there were, I think, 20 million dead. I do not know the figure for the First World War. Perhaps the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne, knows the number of dead in the First World War. So I do not think we can stand in a white sheet and talk to Africans about cruelty and killing.
Although I have the greatest respect for the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I cannot honestly say that a debate on Rhodesia at this moment is likely to be really practical; though of course we have aired our views, and as the House of Lords Hansard seems to be under the pillow of Mr. Ian Smith he may get some comfort from it. I think at least we should have waited for the return of the noble Lord, Lord Alport. I know that some noble Lords opposite—the view has been expressed to-day—think that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, is too sym 1470 pathetic to the views of our Prime Minister to achieve anything in the way of a solution to this painful problem. I believe that even a harsh diplomatic exchange is better than no diplomatic relations. So I welcome another try at talks and wish the noble Lord, Lord Alport, success in his endeavours.
I was at the United Nations when the big debates on the Rhodesian crisis were taking place here. As noble Lords might imagine, the crisis had a traumatic effect on the General Assembly and contaminated and poisoned every question of human rights that we discussed. I have been refreshing my memory by re-reading the debates of December, 1966, in both Houses of Parliament. What struck me about those debates was that while there were layers of disagreement between Members of the Government and the Opposition, there was a stratum of agreement. For instance, there was really no unbridgeable gulf between the views of the Prime Minister and those of Mr. Heath once the wrappings of Party polemics had been stripped off the fundamental arguments. There was a large measure of agreement on the illegality of U.D.I. and no independence without majority rule. There were differences, but no insuperable disagreements, between the moderates in all three Parties. The serious schisms lay between the extremists on the Right and Left; the Left Wingers in the Labour Party, who were ready to go to the brink with South Africa, and the Right Wingers of the Conservative Party who were in favour of an independent Rhodesia with no prospect of majority rule.
Reading the account of the rendezvous between the Prime Minister and Mr. Ian Smith in H.M.S. "Tiger", I was again struck by the initial promise of agreement on the main problems involved. Of course, my Lords, there was a slight touch of comic opera about the meeting place, H.M.S. "Tiger", and when reading the verbal exchanges it did not seem to me too difficult to put them to music, especially Mr. Ian Smith's constant refrain. He kept saying that he could not commend the Prime Minister's proposals to his colleagues until he had convinced himself about them. But seriously, I believe that it was not Mr. Ian Smith but the extremists behind him who ruined the negotiations. It was 1471 quite clear that it was not Mr. Smith who really had the power in Rhodesia. Certainly Mr. Harold Wilson could not have gone further than he did—and some people think that he went too far. I think it was a tragedy that his moderation did not triumph.
Once the Labour Goverment had ruled out force, sanctions were the only alternative. I have a quite different idea about sanctions. One can argue about sanctions—the strength; the degree; whether they should be selective or mandatory, and how comprehensive they should be; whether they can work or whether they are a complete failure. I do not believe that sanctions are ever imposed (or if they are, they do not work) to bring a country to a state of collapse. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has given us some details about the effectiveness of sanctions on Rhodesia, and other noble Lords have given their views. I have always thought that sanctions would inevitably be slow in action, and as the use of sanctions is a two-edged sword—as has been pointed out more than once—it seemed to me wise to be patient and wait until there was a change of heart or a compromise between the two countries concerned.
My Lords, I do not believe in instant solutions in matters of race discrimination, and I assumed that sanctions against Rhodesia would work slowly by a process of attrition; and I hoped, as I have said, that gradually there might even have been a change of heart among the Rhodesians. But though originally we said that Rhodesia was our problem, and ours alone, once it was decided to embark on mandatory sanctions after the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference the matter had to be taken to the Security Council, because we could not have imposed effective sanctions on our own. I am quite aware that many noble Lords opposite have a great contempt for and impatience with the United Nations. I do not think, however, that they can accuse me of looking at the United Nations through rose-coloured spectacles. The United Nations, as I have said on more than one occasion, is going through a difficult and troublesome phase. In fact, I am as impatient of the anti-Colonial nagging that goes on in the United Nations as any noble Lord opposite, and of the continual harping on the evils of a past Colonialism.
1472 But anyone who is unaware and not in sympathy with the great drive among African peoples for more equality and justice has absolutely no historical perspective. They say that there is a tide in the affairs of men; this is not only a tide, it is a tidal wave that is sweeping over the African Continent. Some, like the white settlers in Rhodesia, may think they can insulate themselves and lock their doors against progress, but there can be no peace for their children and grandchildren in this course. Those white Rhodesians who have declared U.D.I. display what I call a fortress mentality. The first thing they do is to entrench themselves and turn themselves into a police State. They imprison and kill for political motives. Their Press is muzzled. All the blueprints are there for the police State. But in this nuclear age no fortress is impregnable. The principle of majority rule is absolutely crucial in our age and generation. The white Rhodesians can buy a few years of privilege, with cheap black labour and apartheid practices, but all the time they are sowing the seeds of a threat to their peace.
The Rhodesian Government have refused independence with justice for all the people in Rhodesia. One can hope that it will gradually dawn on them, perhaps, that Rhodesia need not tread the road of South Africa, where racial discrimination is the law of the land. Perhaps there will be a revelation that they still have a chance to be an example to the whole world of a multiracial, equal, democratic society, with justice to European and coloured Rhodesian alike. We are concerned about our Rhodesian friends, and customers, as the noble Marquess has said, but there is a firm moral principle here, and we underline the illegality of U.D.I. because if we did not adhere to the principle of no independence before majority rule, we should be giving a helping hand to race discrimination. That is the plain fact.
I should like to make a short comment on the speech of my noble and gallant friend Lord Bourne, whose speeches I always enjoy and find interesting. I agree with him that there must come a time when both Britain and Rhodesia must compromise, but I disagree with him on the compromise which he has suggested. There can be no compromise on this principle of unimpeded progress 1473 to majority rule, and I should like to know whether he really thinks there can be.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, I think that the noble Baroness misunderstood me. I did not suggest giving way on the principle of majority rule, with which I entirely agree. My concession was on the new formula set up since the "Tiger" consultations of no independence before majority rule.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, as I understood it the new arrangement was due to the fact that the six principles were not accepted by Mr. Ian Smith.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, we could go on discussing this for a long time. I read one document in which Mr. Smith said that he did accept them. At any rate, that was not my concession. My concession was on the formula of no independence before majority rule, and then I returned with two concessions by the Smith régime, which I will not repeat.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, due to another engagement, I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to leave before the end of this debate. I have already expressed my apologies to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury.
Three months ago I once again visited Rhodesia. In the first instance I wished to ascertain for myself whether sanctions were really working and, secondly, if they were likely to succeed in future. We have been advised from time to time in this House, including by no less a person than the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, that the Government policy is now working. I can only suggest that those noble Lords who are still of that opinion should visit Rhodesia and see, as I did, that this policy has not only failed but brought about the loss to our competitors of what was an almost exclusive British export market.
I found no shortage of petrol or other commercial goods; nor did I see a shortage of luxury items, such as Scotch whisky—in fact, when I was there you could obtain any brand you desired. The only effect I could see was that a number of British products had been replaced by goods from such countries as Switzerland, 1474 Japan, Western Germany and France. I understand that some of the assembly factories built by our car manufacturers are now busy assembling Japanese cars. A number of goods, particularly in the machinery section, which would have been imported from this country, are now being made locally. During the whole of my stay I asked questions. I spoke to taxi-drivers, policemen, workers in various factories, managers of shops, bankers and, lastly, the politicians. What I wanted to know was whether the people of Rhodesia, black and white, were behind Mr. Smith. I received most emphatic assurances from everyone that they would support him in whatever he did.
I had discussions with various members of the Rhodesian Cabinet, in particular with the Minister and Deputy Minister of Agriculture. I wished to know whether the tobacco crop would bring them to their knees. They are definitely being seriously hurt in this field, but in the circumstances they are coping with the problem surprisingly well. As we have heard recently, they are preparing for the new season at a reduced level. When I was in Salisbury, diversification of their agricultural products away from tobacco was already well advanced. Undoubtedly they are having their problems, and their economy is suffering; but not to the extent that we are led to believe, and certainly not sufficiently to force them to submission or surrender. Being on the spot, I came to the conclusion that the only answer was to settle this problem by negotiation. Therefore I had various discussions with Mr. Smith and his secretary, and finally worked out a set of proposals which I think constitute a reasonable compromise solution.
My proposals were that the Governor should be be requested to call a General Election under the 1961 Constitution. The present Government would continue in office until the election of the next Government, which would be formed by the majority Party. The first task of the newly elected and legal Government would be the testing of the opinion of the people as a whole to ascertain whether or not they wished to have independence under the "Tiger" proposals. With the return to legality, the Press censorship would be raised and a tribunal set up to consider the release of detainees and restrictees, again on the 1475 lines suggested in the "Tiger" document. Lastly, in the event of the answer being, Yes, the British Government would grant independence to Rhodesia on the basis of the "Tiger" proposals, including the six principles and the 1961 Constitution.
Mr. Smith indicated to me that a solution on these lines would be acceptable to him. I also discussed these proposals with Sir Humphrey Gibbs, and he found them acceptable, provided that Her Majesty's Government concurred. This left only the agreement of the United Kingdom to complete the triangle. On my return to this country I submitted these proposals to Her Majesty's Government, and they were turned down. I was advised:As the Prime Minister has made clear, the constitutional future of Rhodesia can only be negotiated with a legal Government. I also remind you that Her Majesty's Government have declared that they would not be prepared to agree to independence before majority rule.This reply leaves no room for, or possibility of, a negotiated settlement. And it does not appear that the Prime Minister has altered his stand from the position he took as leader of the Opposition—a stand made clear in his letter of October 2, 1964, to Dr. E. Mutasa, when he stated that:The Labour Party is totally opposed to granting independence to Southern Rhodesia as long as the Government of that country remains under the control of a white minority.The view expressed in this letter, which has not been repudiated, was in my opinion one of the prime causes of U.D.I. I travelled extensively throughout Africa, and also covered some 300 miles on foot. I slept in native huts, and I shared what little food I had with my African companions.
I assure your Lordships that I am not a racialist, but I cannot help commenting on the views expressed on this subject by some noble Lords who appear to be completely distorted in some of their ideas and do not help the cause they are seeking to champion. What I cannot understand is why the East Africans' attitude to the Indians is acceptable, but the way in which the Ethiopians treat the Eritreans does not cause comment; and also why the Arabs of Khartoum can completely wipe out the Negroid people of Southern Sudan without any outcry. 1476 There are many other similar instances throughout Africa. Yet who could suggest that the treatment of black Rhodesians by their Government falls into these categories?
Again, in all the African countries I visited there was Press censorship of a kind—maybe not passed openly by the Government concerned, but nevertheless effective. Even in our sophisticated society our Government have to resort to "D" Notices. The Ethiopians handle this problem very cleverly: the only newspaper published is by the Minister of Information.
In conclusion, my Lords, I strongly and sincerely urge this House to tackle the Rhodesian problem with a genuine desire to settle the outstanding issues as fairly as possible for all concerned, and not to seek ways whereby a settlement becomes impossible or comes too late.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I am sure there are many in your Lordships' House to-day who are grateful to my noble friend Lord Salisbury for introducing this Motion. Before I proceed on to the main outline of my speech, I should like to pay tribute to the speech which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter. It is too early for me to make any comment on his speech, but I will certainly read it with great interest when it is published in Hansard.
I listened, with respect and some trepidation, to the remarks of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. I would assure him that never on all the occasions on which I have prepared a speech to deliver in your Lordships' House—and they do not amount to very many—have I found one more difficult to make than the speech that I propose to make to-day. The reasons for that are these. I have spent 27 years of my life abroad, and I suppose I know more about the indigenous people of former territories—at least in Malaya and in certain other parts of the world—than possibly I do of my own countrymen Then I thought to myself: what contribution could I possibly make in a debate of this kind? I proceeded from that and considered that the best contribution I could possibly make was to state how some of us look to our friends abroad, and what the fears are of our friends 1477 abroad, and in that way perhaps throw out some reasoning and suggestions to the present British Government which might be helpful to them in coming to some satisfactory and honourable peace, simply because I felt that the issue we are discussing to-day is far more serious than just a question of scoring Party points. What we are discussing to-day is the very lives, the safety, the happiness and the future of the people in Rhodesia. This, to me, is a serious business.
Proceeding from that, I should like to say something about our Commonwealth policy. Have we, in fact, a Commonwealth policy to-day; and if so, what is it? I am sure it appears to our friends abroad, and those with whom we have been associated, that if they got into serious trouble these days we should not rush to their assistance, as we should have done in some former times. They probably see us as having no strength to do that now; they see us rather as sheltering under the umbrella of the United Nations.
The Rhodesian people—and when I speak about the Rhodesian people I am not talking about the white Rhodesians, but about all the Rhodesian people—have only to look at what has happened in two nations in Africa to see military dictatorship. No wonder Rhodesians are rather fearful and worried about their security, in case that, or worse, happens to them. Are not Rhodesians, in such circumstances, likely to think in this way: "It is all very well for you to give us orders and to pontificate on what form of Government you in your country think would he suitable for us. It is not you and your children who will suffer if Britain makes a mistake. It is ours who might suffer, and might possibly die."
There is another point before I leave that matter. In certain parts of Africa international Communism is always ready to exploit a dangerous situation or a possible breakdown. This also causes fear to the people who live far away from this country and by whom we think a certain form of Government should be accepted. If we cannot understand those fears—and I have put these points as I do not think they have been sufficiently understood in the past—then misunderstandings will continue and there will never be a real understanding and an achievement of peace between ourselves and Rhodesia.
1478 Running parallel to fear is the question of security. In our consideration of security I sometimes think we forget that we are on an island surrounded by water and comparatively secure. Rhodesia is not an island; it is a country surrounded by landlocked boundaries. We are not prone to subversion from within and then terrorism from without. Rhodesia has experienced this. So have I, my Lords. I was present in Malaya when our High Commissioner was shot and murdered. I witnessed the terror on the faces of the population when that sort of situation happens. Secondly, I was witness to their overwhelming relief when this was all over and we got on top of the situation. When terrorism strikes, if you fail to act quickly the chances are that your country will go up in flames; murder and terrorism of your civilian population is widespread in a very short space of time.
A part of the organisation you have to set up are security forces, and part of the organisation of a set-up of that kind is detention camps. We had them under the British Administration in Malaya. Mr. Smith has them in Rhodesia, and has been criticised in this country for doing so. I realise the arguments that it is wrong to detain innocent and guilty alike. This is unfortunate; but in the interests of the majority a small minority have to suffer, and in general terms one generally sorts out the innocent from the guilty and, as soon as it is possible, lets the innocent people go. A point I want to make clear is that I do not think it helps in the present situation when people living abroad, in the kind of situation I have described, see the very bitter criticism made in this country to the effect that Rhodesia is an excessive Police State and has detention camps. I am making these suggestions merely in the hope that the British Government will find it easier when they resume their talks with the Rhodesian Government.
Now it is vitally necessary that there should be peace between ourselves and Rhodesia. A continuance of this dispute a day longer than necessary does harm to ourselves and to that country. I think the atmosphere can improve if we frankly take a look at ourselves, as I have described ourselves, and understand the problems as seen, possibly, through Rhodesian eyes. I hope that the Prime Minister will find it possible to drop 1479 the condition that there can be no independence before majority African rule. I honestly do not think that this condition helps the situation. The issue really is the security of all the population of Rhodesia; and that means good and stable Government. In the old days we should probably have been able to go to the help of Rhodesia if she got into trouble when on her own. Today we simply cannot do it. They are on their own; and because they will be on their own in a dangerous world they are more anxious and worried than ever as to what form of Government they are to have. I am sure that this is basic to the difficulty. I think there could be peace on the basis of the "Tiger" proposals, excluding the condition I have mentioned.
I consider that this debate is a very serious debate indeed. This will probably be the last opportunity for discussing, or endeavouring to discuss—as I said, above Party politics—in a national sense an honourable peace in Rhodesia. It is real agony for me, because I have come to love the indigenous people because of my experience of them. To me, everything that has gone on—the discussions on racialism, religion, class—is completely irrelevant in the argument. In this country, on these subjects, intelligent people, in speeches and in letters to the Press, have done irreparable harm; so has the so-called world opinion and the cult of the brotherhood of man. We have to deal with the world as it is, not as we should like it to be. What matters at this stage is not whether there is to be an African Government, black or white, in Rhodesia, but that there should be a Government of that country now and in the future capable of giving peace, security and happiness to all of the peoples of Rhodesia. That, my Lords, is the paramount issue.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, the last time I took part in a debate on Rhodesia was over 18 months ago, in December, 1965, one month after U.D.I. Since then I have visited Rhodesia three times and have had some opportunities for studying the situation there at close hand. But since that time my views still remain substantially what they were in December, 1965. Perhaps I, too, may be allowed to declare my interest. I have no per 1480 sonal interest in Rhodesia whatsoever. I happened to be on three occasions in adjoining territories, once in Malawi as leader of a Parliamentary delegation, and twice in South Africa on private visits. I came to Rhodesia merely as an observer, and each time in a purely private capacity.
To-day I am profoundly glad that a new step has been taken in the sending out of Lord Alport; and we must all of us, whatever our views, hope that it may lead to a successful outcome. All we have to do now is to face the facts—and that is always a useful exercise. To-day our writ no longer runs in Salisbury, any more than it runs in Dar-es-Salaam. It is true that a Government of a different colour rules in Dar-es-Salaam. It is true that the Government there acted legally, though unilaterally, in breaking off diplomatic relations with this country. But, legally or illegally, we are "out" in both countries. That is a simple statement of fact.
What worries me so much to-day is that I fear we may be steering an uncharted course. What will happen now? What if our Government are proved correct in their forecast, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has indicated; and what if mandatory sanctions—which, after all, are our only weapon—succeed absolutely and complete economic collapse occurs in Rhodesia tomorrow, in a matter not of weeks or months but in one day? What will happen in Salisbury then? Can any of us be quite sure? Of course not—any more than we could forecast the outcome of the Arab-Israeli war. How many of us could have predicted an Israeli victory in four days?
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, let us read again in Hansard our speeches in this House on the first day of this month and realise how utterly wrong we were only three weeks ago. And with Egypt defeated, not only economically but militarily, how many of us three weeks ago could have predicted Nasser's resignation? Again, how many of us could have predicted Nasser's return in triumph within 24 hours to lead his people in the midst of utter defeat? Why did this happen? Simply because, in their hour of defeat, the Egyptians had no alternative but to turn to Nasser.
1481 My Lords, we ought to-day to be in a somewhat chastened mood and somewhat subdued by recent events in our powers of prophecy. To me it is just as conceivable that, in their hour of economic defeat, the Rhodesians will still turn to Ian Smith as their leader. And let us remember that if sanctions were to succeed to-morrow Rhodesia would suffer only economic defeat, not military defeat as well. Rhodesia's military forces would still be intact and law and order would still be maintained. To-day we know, more than ever before, that military action by us is entirely ruled out. Public opinion in this country will not stand for the sacrifice of British lives to bring down the Government of Ian Smith.
So, if to-morrow Smith is defeated by sanctions, what then? Let us all be quite frank in the matter and admit that the answer is, "No one knows", any more than we in this House knew on June 1 the outcome of the Arab-Israeli war. All we can say here to-day is that we are convinced—at least those of us on this side of the House—that our cause is a just cause and, being a just cause, must inevitably triumph in the end—just as all the defeated Arab nations are saying in unison to-day in the Middle East. But if Smith in Salisbury is defeated tomorrow, shall we be able to control events from London? I very much doubt it. Events in Rhodesia will still then be controlled by Salisbury—not by London; nor by Lusaka; nor by the United Nations—just as events in Egypt in the midst of utter defeat are still being controlled by Cairo.
I am now merely trying to state the simple facts, not in any way trying to justify them. What then must we do? I believe we are right to have an entirely new look at the situation, to study the facts afresh, to see whether there is any meaningful change. That is always a healthy approach, and a realistic one. I am convinced that to-day U.D.I. is wearing a little thin; that the initial euphoria it engendered in 1965 is now cooling down. U.D.I., whatever else it may have done, has certainly not achieved independence for Rhodesia. Rhodesia to-day is, unfortunately, a political outcast, recognised by no one, not even by its political allies, Portugal and South Africa. Economically Rhodesia to-day is a helot State, forced to pick up the 1482 crumbs it receives from its economic allies, Portugal and South Africa; from its trade with West Germany, and through its illegal commercial relations with Zambia, Malawi and M. Boussac. To-day I believe that Rhodesia would be far more independent if U.D.I. had never been proclaimed at all; if it had still remained within the Commonwealth under the 1961 Constitution, as independent to-day as are Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
I was in Zambia when the "Tiger" talks took place, and I heard of Ian Smith's, "No" in Lusaka. To me the news was utterly incredible, against all the dictates of reason and common sense. But when I was in Salisbury a few days later I found that Ian Smith had gone to extreme lengths to justify his rejection of the "Tiger" proposals. The whole of the Rhodesian White Paper is a collection of forced arguments, based on extreme assumptions, engendered by uncertainty and lack of confidence. I believe that, even now, this uncertainty could be set at rest, all the arguments refuted one by one; and then Ian Smith's whole case for rejecting the "Tiger" proposals would fall to the ground.
What now can be done to help in the matter? The situation to-day calls above all else for cool heads, a measured calm and a reasoned approach. I believe that as a first step we must insist on "back to legality". Even NIBMAR need not be insurmountable, because independence is liable to many interpretations. Rhodesia to-day can be as independent as Australia, but it will still remain subject to the Crown. And even to-day, after all that has happened, Rhodesia yields to no one in its loyalty to the Queen as its Head of State. So that to-day Rhodesia could be granted virtual independence from Whitehall—as it actually is to-day independent of Whitehall illegally—but not absolute independence from the Crown.
From what I have been able to observe on the spot I believe that Rhodesia could gradually be persuaded to renounce U.D.I. (which has now become independence only in name and not in fact) if given certain assurances, and if the present situation is handled tactfully. My Lords, I believe that we should now declare openly what we intend should happen during the interim phase, the transitional period of four months, if supreme power 1483 were to be handed back to the Governor. Those terms must be realistic, and I believe that those terms would succeed to-day if the present Governor, in whom Her Majesty's Government continue to have absolute confidence, were empowered to rule from Salisbury and not from Whitehall.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I declare an interest in Southern Africa but not in the smaller, particular territory of Rhodesia, except, of course, the interest of a friend who is very much concerned because he lives and dwells and has business in Rhodesia's southern neighbour. I think we ought to be most grateful in this House to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for having initiated this debate. I am going to show one or two particular reasons why it has been of the greatest value, contrary to the view taken by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, and by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor. I will come to that in a moment, but I intend to be very brief.
First, I should like to say a word about U.D.I. I share with other noble Lords in this House the disappointment at the Declaration of Unilateral Independence. But I will say this: that if it had not been declared we should not be so near a settlement in Rhodesia as we are now. Contrary to many of the things that have been said to-day, I think we are very much nearer a settlement than most people imagine, and my reasons are that I think Mr. Wilson wants to settle and he has the strength to hold his wild men in, and I think Mr. Smith wants to settle and is in the same position. I therefore do not look upon the position with quite the apprehension that some others do, though I entirely agree that matters should be dealt with as quickly as possible.
I have one observation about trade and morals. The noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, and others on the other side, suggest that it is immoral to put trade before policy. But, my Lords, trade is part of policy. Unless you are strong, or at least fairly strong, you cannot have a policy, or, at least, the means to carry it out. Therefore, to say we must cut off our nose in order to spite our face seems to me a ridiculous morality. It is far better to 1484 remain strong and healthy. Then I would observe that friendship follows trade, and anyone who interferes with trade anywhere in the world seems to me to be sinning against the light.
I said I thought the noble Marquess had done a good turn to all of us, including Britain and Rhodesia, by raising this debate, and the major reason for it is that I thought his speech, moderate as it was, and the Lord Chancellor's speech, important as it was, were both exceedingly well worth having at this particular juncture: the noble Marquess's because it was so moderate and gave a statesmanlike lead; the Lord Chancellor's for quite a different reason. He, of course, restated all the arguments why the Government are right and have been right all along. Everyone would have expected him to do that; although he said he was not going to, that is what he did, and he did it most cogently and agreeably, I thought.
But the important thing he said was this. Mr. Wilson's addendum to his dictum about no independence before majority rule has been viewed by Members in this House differently. The last speaker, for example, thought it important. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, thought it important, the only moral aspect of the matter we must be concerned with, and so on. But the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, presumably with the Cabinet's knowledge, said that Mr. Wilson really meant it when he, Mr. Wilson, said that NIBMAR need not stand in the way necessarily if there have been substantial changes in the situation, and Lord Alport is going out to see if there are such substantial changes. That is vitally important. Mr. Wilson always says the thing both ways, but what is important is that a man of the responsibility of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor goes out of his way, in reading a passage from his speech—as I am sure he did most carefully and word by word; a speech written in advance and very carefully—emphasising that this door is not really closed. I regard that as supremely important, and that alone was worth the debate and may warm the heart of the noble Marquess.
I want to say the briefest word about majority rule in the hope that I may conceivably influence just one member of the other side or one person who reads what 1485 I say to take a more reasonable view about it. I have myself advocated majority rule in the country of Basutoland, now called Lesotho. I have advocated the institution of majority rule in the country of the Transkei, which is a territory within the boundaries of South Africa itself. It is true that the system of majority rule in those two countries is different, but it is only different in point of a few years of time. Ten years ago Basutoland or Lesotho had exactly the same type of majority rule that they now have in the Transkei. Both, I think, will succeed; and so, I think, will the majority rule in the "One man, one vote" that is going to be granted in South-West Africa. That, incidentally, will have the effect of doing what the United Nations wants done better than they could possibly do it, because of course they are not there to do it. So I have supported, and still support, majority rule in those territories in South Africa, in which I think it will work.
But I do not support it in Rhodesia; and if I can very briefly explain that, it might help to convince somebody. Rhodesia was probably the most advanced country in which majority rule has been tried, and genuinely tried, in the Federation, and Britain, I think, made a mistake when the Federation was allowed to dissolve. It is very strange that the noble Lords opposite and the Labour Party generally were so keen to dissolve it, when it was they who started it under Secretary of State Griffiths. However, they did, and we on this side are just as much to blame. That was a mistake. The next mistake was in dissolving this tripartite economic and political territory to give immediate independence to two parts of it and not to the other part—and the other part had been managing itself for over forty years. So we have made mistakes.
But it is no good looking backwards now. Yesterday is yesterday, and we must now look to to-day and to-morrow. Most unfortunately, the leaders of the African Parties in Southern Rhodesia did not fully co-operate with the Government, either in the time of federation or afterwards. They were given an extremely advanced chance for a people who had had no self-government before, an extremely advanced and sophisticated chance of taking part in Parliament and 1486 leading their people along, as they did ten years before in Lesotho and with such success. But they did not take it. They decided, "All or nothing, and we will not co-operate". We may all deplore this and deplore that but it is quite useless; deploring does not ever butter any parsnips—perhaps I have got it a bit mixed, but your Lordships know what I mean. Deploring is a quite useless exercise. We must try to look to to-day and to-morrow and see what we can do; and if we may assume that the Lord Chancellor to-day told us in effect that NIBMAR is so modified that Lord Alport has a chance, then think we may look forward with some confidence.
With regard to voting, I would point out that we have hardly learned to use the vote very sensibly in Britain after 600 years, and it is quite absurd to suppose we can teach people to use it in six years, and all experience has shown that we cannot. Is it not right that the Tory Party and the Labour Party should recognise that all the hopes with which so many of us went forward ten or twelve years ago have been frustrated by events and it is no good trying to follow that pattern any more? We must "play it longer" in the future, and that is what we must do here. I have very little more to say, except to give a quotation to Mr. Wilson which I hope will help him. It is taken from the 25th chapter of Proverbs and it says:Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end …
§ 7.50 p.m.
My Lords, as one who views the present deadlock over Rhodesia with the concern, I would agree with many previous speakers that this occasion has offered a most useful opportunity for expressing opinions at a time when, as has been said so frequently to-day, there are possibly only a few weeks left before what may be irretrievable decisions are made. For that reason I think we should all be thankful to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for initiating this debate to-day, and for his continuing contribution to reason and a peaceful solution of this constitutional issue. May I say how much I agreed with what he said, and add my own congratulations to him for his staunch support for a young country which took its first 1487 steps during the Ministry of the grandfather of the noble Marquess, and which has shown such progress and promise ever since.
Much has been said on Rhodesia in your Lordships' House to-day and before, and in another place, as well as in the country, in the Press and overseas, and the cleavage of opinion, not always perhaps well informed, has been marked by increasing bitterness and, I fear, inflexibility of outlook. At this stage I think it is of no value to add to the political temperature, but it may be of some use to try to assess what have been some of the results of British policies towards Rhodesia, and to try briefly to relate them to the ever-changing circumstances in Africa and Britain.
I think the principal factor is the failure of sanctions to have the political effect of toppling the Government of Mr. Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front. We can all agree, as so many noble Lords have said to-day, that sanctions have done, and may continue to do—though in my view possibly later on with diminishing effect—some harm to the economy of Rhodesia. We heard a few moments ago an oral testimony from the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter, on just how far the effect of sanctions has affected the shopkeeper in Salisbury. Other information has gone to show that exports are down, and some imports under embargo have not been entirely replaced from other sources. But there can be little doubt that it is just a question of time before Rhodesia's export and imports are adjusted to the nation's requirements; and the overall impact of sanctions, far from proving crippling to the point of public action against the Government of Rhodesia, has indeed had the opposite effect and united the people of Rhodesia far more firmly behind their Government than ever before. This is true of both black and white, and all personal knowledge of Rhodesia goes to bear this out.
So let us not misunderstand the position. To-day, Rhodesia is united on a broad front in face of the hostility of this country and any other countries who seek to destroy her independence or ability to choose her own course. Another result of sanctions, and the application of them by the United Nations at Britain's request, has been greatly to increase 1488 sympathy for Rhodesia, both here in Britain and in many quarters overseas, where there is growing disapproval of the manner in which Britain has handled the Rhodesian issue. There is a growing irritation in responsible circles, political and financial, both across the Atlantic and among Britain's prospective partners in Europe, at the prospect of a long drawn-out struggle of attrition without solution, except a growing demand for the de facto recognition of Rhodesia on terms which will be far less acceptable or palatable than those which might still be achieved to-day.
There is one further matter arising out of sanctions which I should like to mention to your Lordships, and it is this. I do not know whether sanctions were legal or not. Many far more erudite minds than mine have given their opinions, and they are conflicting. But whatever may be the exact legal position, I am convinced myself that the United Nations Charter was not intended originally to be interpreted in the way it has been, and many people of many other nations believe that on this occasion UNO went outside its mandate in applying sanctions to a country which, by any comparable events recent in your Lordships' minds, did not pose a threat to peace and was unrepresented when that decision to apply sanctions was taken. The point I wish to make is simply this. I believe that Her Majesty's Government were wrong in their application to the United Nations, and in asking them to stretch the provisions of the Charter were thereby detracting from the authority and the impartiality of UNO which can but have been noted elsewhere by other countries who are now trying to use UNO for other and far more dangerous purposes. There seems to me to be a moral in this, and I believe it is worth notice.
As I see them, these are just some of the results of the Rhodesian policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government. What alternative is there? Many noble Lords have asked that question this afternoon. We must all hope that one may emerge from current probing and from the visit of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, to Salisbury, though one must admit that present reactions are not exactly propitious, and I myself see no possible solution that is going to be 1489 acceptable there so long as NIBMAR is held to by the Prime Minister, a policy that he reiterated in another place a few days ago, and which has been publicly rejected by Mr. Ian Smith as completely unacceptable.
I listened to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, with complete agreement. In what he said I believe he is absolutely right, that so long as the policy of NIBMAR stands there is no possible hope of any settlement. Moreover, I was quite appalled by what we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter about his proposals which were put before Her Majesty's Government, most properly, as soon as he returned from his most interesting and extensive tour of Rhodesia. These most valuable proposals were immediately submitted to Her Majesty's Government, and apparently were rejected out of hand. I think this was deplorable.
To go further, none of us outside Her Majesty's Government can judge what is meant by the Prime Minister's further reference to any "considerably changed circumstances" possibly altering his stand on NIBMAR. But if it could mean re-acceptance by both Governments of the "Tiger" Constitution, and a careful negotiation on the details of its implementation without any of the dubious clauses which, I am sure, wrecked the agreement last December (and I should like to emphasise this, in view of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, earlier on, which were so adequately answered by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton) then there could be real hope. I am sure that it is those extra clauses which prevented the Rhodesians from accepting the main principles of the "Tiger" Constitution. This should be clearly understood by all noble Lords. If there is a change of special circumstances in which the "Tiger" Constitution, or something similar, could be accepted, then I believe that there is still some hope.
What is really needed is a dose of realism to crystallise thinking on Rhodesia. Rhodesia claimed her overdue independence 18 months ago. She is still independent and undoubtedly will continue to be independent. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, the real question is whether Rhodesia is to be independent within the Commonwealth or outside it. The prime fact here seems to me to be whether we recognise that fact 1490 and negotiate on the terms of British recognition, or continue to live in a world of make-believe that Rhodesia can still be brought to heel, and in so doing lose all prospects of influencing future events in Central Africa, and be derided—as we have been—by other African States for our impotence.
It is often forgotten that, despite the differences of political outlook that exist between the Governments of Britain and Rhodesia, there are still many Rhodesians who have been proud of the British connection and who would be very loth to see that connection finally severed. But if it comes to the ultimate choice between the stated policy of Her Majesty's Government and NIBMAR, and independence outside the Commonwealth, then of course these people choose the latter course and perforce cut their loyalties to the Crown and their past associations with this country, and pledge themselves to their country of birth or adoption. They may well be a little poorer for that, but we shall be that much poorer also.
A week ago I had the opportunity, in company with other noble Lords—some of whom are in the House today—of listening to Dr. Hastings Banda, the President of Malawi, when he was speaking within these precincts. He spoke with particular reference to the Rhodesian issue, and what he had to say was forceful, pertinent, and as he frequently emphasised, realistic. He recognised Rhodesia as a country to do business with, and was prepared to welcome visits from her representatives on this basis, as indeed from South Africa or any other friendly country. This, my Lords, not only is common sense, but pays a commendable regard to the necessity for all countries in Central Africa to trade and communicate with each other: trade rather than more aid; and discussion rather than subversion.
Dr. Banda's remarks are one of several indications that the general picture in Africa is changing, and greater interest is now being shown by some of the recently independent African States in good relations with the more prosperous and industrialised countries of Southern Africa. This is logical, for the answers to African problems can be worked out only by those who live with them and must carry the consequences. It is more than relevant to notice that the stability of two 1491 more former British colonial possessions, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, have been threatened this year by the collapse of democratic forms of Government in which once again military dictatorships have taken over. In Nigeria the clash between the two principal tribes has had the most appalling consequences, and may well develop into a civil war, with far worse to come.
I have said before in your Lordships' House that stable Governments in Africa should be supported at all costs. On stable government all else depends. Rhodesia has a stable Government, and a Parliament in which African and European representatives sit down together. This fact is generally forgotten, or ignored, and it is still almost unique in Africa today. We must hope that they will continue to sit down together. I am quite certain that an early settlement of the independence issue on constitutional terms similar to those agreed on H.M.S. "Tiger" would be the best guarantee of a continuance of multiracial Parliamentary institutions in Rhodesia, and such a settlement would take the impetus out of any different approach to political representation which may have gained support while Rhodesia has been the target of international hostility.
Many interesting points have been raised in the course of our debate. Perhaps the noble Marquess will be able to answer most of them. I am tempted, having many years' experience of Africa, to reply to some of them, but I have been speaking for much too long—for which I apologise to your Lordships. But there is one point that I should like to amplify in regard to some remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Sinclair of Cleeve. He gave certain statistics which, from all the information I possess, I believe to be accurate. I would corroborate some of the remarks he made about the African people. He said that the African children were quick to learn, which is perfectly true, but he went on to say that the African adult, unfortunately, was rather slow to accept the responsibilities; and it is the responsibilities of Government which are the prime issue here.
We are about to reach the final parting of the ways. Is it right to insist on a form of government for Rhodesia which we cannot implement and for the success 1492 of which events in other African countries have so far shown little promise? Africa cannot be governed, or made productive in order to support its growing populations, by drastic changes of Government based on political conceptions which need time to mature. Rhodesia has the right to find her own solution to the constitutional problem; and if any country in Africa to-day can find the best way for the two races to live side by side, in harmony and mutual benefit, Rhodesia, through her history and background, has the best chance of providing the answer. It is, at least, a better chance than that which present British policy would have her accept. Finally, if during the next few weeks Her Majesty's Government do not show some degree of flexibility and greater realism, we shall lose our position of mediation in Central African affairs, our influence over a much wider area, and in the process much else that is of material advantage to ourselves.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I also should like to thank my noble friend Lord Salisbury for having introduced this debate to-day. The length of the list of speakers and the speeches we have heard are an indication of how right the noble Marquess was to bring on this Motion to-day. There have been one or two voices against, but we had a notable contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, who has not spoken in Rhodesian debates before. I think he reflected a growing body of opinion in this country which, when it sees what is happening in other parts of the world—in the Middle East, in other parts of Africa and so on—is getting fed up that this quarrel with Rhodesians, who are our old and trusted friends, is being continued. I believe there will be a growing demand that it should be brought to an end.
I want to look, not for very long, at some of the facts of life with regard to the Rhodesian problem, because I think that one of the reasons why we have got into a deadlock is that what I call the mental approach of Her Majesty's Government to the whole problem has been wrong from the start. At the commencement of U.D.I. the Smith Government was characterised by the Prime Minister as a bunch of frightened little men. He 1493 then announced that sanctions would topple them in a matter of weeks rather than months. He now announces that there can be no independence granted to Rhodesia without African majority rule. All that he has really succeeded in doing during the 18 months when Rhodesia has had her independence is to consolidate support behind Mr. Smith from many people who were against him at the start of U.D.I. Now, of course, NIBMAR rules out any possibility of a settlement, and whatever gloss may be put by the Prime Minister or by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack on something which was said after they referred to NIBMAR, NIBMAR is the pledge which has been given by this Government to various members of the Commonwealth. That is what we must go by, and not by any nuance that it might be changed with changing circumstances and so on, which is merely another indication that this Government will never keep a pledge which they make. That, again, makes things more difficult.
Let no one make any mistake; sanctions will increasingly damage both Britain and Rhodesia. And let no one underrate the increasing cost to Britain, directly and indirectly, of sanctions. Much trade has probably been lost forever. And let no worker in any car factory or electronics factory, or in many others imagine that his job is made more secure, or that our balance of payments is helped, or that the end of the freeze and the squeeze is hastened by Rhodesian sanctions and this policy. Precisely the reverse is happening, and the present Rhodesian policy is making quite a considerable contribution to our balance-of-payments difficulties and to the maintenance of the freeze and the squeeze. I believe that every worker in every factory should realise that. The tobacco sanction is hurting Rhodesia, but they are taking steps to diversify, although this will take some time. But we shall have to spend more dollars on tobacco, which is not going to help our balance of payments.
If the Government are thinking—and I believe there were signs to-day that they are—that the recent savage cut in the tobacco crop announced by the Rhodesian Government can be held as a triumph for sanctions, on the way to bringing Smith down, they should think again. If sanctions are felt more, Rhodesia will get the sort of leadership which we got in 1494 the dark days with blood, toil, tears and sweat, and they will respond to it exactly as we did. The Government have made the mistake the whole time of thinking that Rhodesians are different people from what we were in those days. But they are exactly the same. They can see the alternative in other parts of Africa, as we saw the alternative in Germany. As time goes on—
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I am glad the noble Lord interrupted, because I am coming to that very point. I know that he is talking about black and white. As time goes on sanctions will be increasingly breached, unless the Government seek a confrontation with South Africa. That is common knowledge and, I think, agreed upon by everybody. Are they prepared to seek that confrontation at a time when the Suez Canal is closed and when the importance of the Cape to world shipping is going to become more and more apparent? Do they really think that they will get any international support for confrontation with South Africa? But unless the Government have that confrontation, sanctions against Rhodesia can never succeed, and they know it. Also, do they think that they would get support for such a policy of confrontation, just in order to save the face of Her Majesty's Government vis-à-vis Rhodesia? I have no doubt that they could certainly get a meaningless resolution through the United Nations, hut it would be thoroughly impotent.
I now come to the point which I think the noble Lord interrupted me on. I want to turn to what Africans in Rhodesia think, and to the African point of view. Here I am referring to black Africans and not to white Africans. I would just quote again two sentences of a letter which I read in the last debate. This is from a priest who said:After nearly twenty years spent among Africans as a mission priest, eight of them in Rhodesia, I would hesitate to dogmatise about what the Africans think.Many other people are prepared to dogmatise about them. The letter goes on:It is widely believed that by hook or by crook Britain may yet get the nationalist 1495 leaders into power in Rhodesia as elsewhere, and then God help anyone who has openly disagreed with them!Now let us look at some of the evidence of what Africans are thinking. There has been law and order in Rhodesia since U.D.I. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack referred to it; in fact, he said that law and order had been so good that some of the legislation which was being introduced was unnecessary and illegal. That is very different from other places which I need not mention. But there is no doubt that parties of saboteurs have tried to enter Rhodesia in order to disrupt law and order. That is well known. But they have invariably either given themselves up or been picked up by the police. Why is that? They could not have been picked up in country districts, far from towns, without the co-operation of a lot of Africans. The noble Lord seems to find this rather funny.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, anyone who knows Africa and Rhodesia will know what I mean by "bush telegraph". What has been happening with these groups of saboteurs is that as soon as they appear in a village other Africans, who do not want them there stirring up trouble and so on, immediately let the police know by bush telegraph and the saboteurs are picked up. Does anybody really suppose that law and order in country districts could have been kept against those saboteurs by the comparatively small security forces of Rhodesia, unless they had the vast majority of the black African population behind them? I give that as some evidence of the fact that a very large number of black Africans are supporting the Smith régime against terrorist infiltration.
Then there is the African Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, who is still 1496 able to speak in Parliament. He said, apropos the "Tiger" talks:I believe it was impossible for the Prime Minister"—that is Mr. Ian Smith—to have accepted what took place".I know that the immediate reaction of noble Lords opposite is, "He is just a 'stooge'." That is what they will say. But at any rate law and order in Rhodesia is such that the Leader of the Opposition can say that without being beaten up the next day.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
People are interned in every State in Africa. What always irritates me is that when somebody is interned in Rhodesia we get talk about a Police State, Hitler, the Gestapo and what-not, but they can kill and intern any number of people under military dictatorships in other parts of Africa and you never hear a squeak from noble Lords opposite.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Answer, answer!
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
As I say, the African leader of the Opposition will probably be called a "stooge", but be it noted also that Lord Malvern and Sir Roy Welensky, who were no supporters of Smith, have also declared that he could not possibly have accepted the "Tiger" terms. I think there is enough evidence in what I have said to show that the Smith Government is now—I will put it no higher than this—not without support from quarters which will have nothing to do with what the British Government are trying to force on Rhodesia; and they are people who were previously opposed to the Smith Government.
Rhodesians will not put their independence in pawn to Britain, and least of all to the present Government, after seeing what happened only the other day. Imagine asking the Rhodesians now to accept a Commission set up by Her Majesty's Government with the pledge that its findings will be respected. Are they likely to accept that, having seen what has happened to the Radcliffe Commission, with Mr. Shinwell and Mr. Selwyn Lloyd reporting unfavourably on 1497 the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister refusing to honour his pledge that the Government would accept its findings? That is not lost on the Rhodesians.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, would the noble Lord kindly tell us when this pledge to accept the findings of the Radcliffe Commission was made?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My right honourable friend never said anything of the kind. The Conservative Government promised to accept the findings of the Devlin Commission on Nyasaland, and they repudiated them. But it is quite untrue to say that my right honourable friend ever pledged himself to accept the findings of the Radcliffe Commission.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
Of course, if the noble Lord the Lord Chancellor says that, I accept it, but nobody can get away from the fact that the entire Press of the country, including the Daily Mirror, which I read every day, is very much upset by what has happened. As I say, this has a bearing on the settlement of the Rhodesian question by some independent inquiry such as has been proposed under a handback of authority. If the Government want an agreement with Rhodesia (and I must say that one really wonders sometimes whether they do) I have a suggestion to make—and this is my own idea. I have not the slightest hope that it will be accepted, but I believe it would be practicable. What I would suggest is that the Smith Government be offered independence on the basis of the Constitution worked out on the "Tiger", but without any interim period for the hand-over of U.D.I. Personally, I would say to Mr. Smith: "You seek a mandate from your people as to whether they will accept the Constitution which was worked out on the 'Tiger', and if you can get that mandate we will grant you independence straight away, without any interim period, without any handback of authority to Great Britain".
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
Will the noble Lord let me get on with my speech? Because there are a lot of people who want to speak. If that were done, I believe that Mr. Smith would sweep the country with the support of the moderate elements—I think it is quite likely that the extremists would be opposed to it—and that in that way a multiracial Constitution would be enshrined.
§ LORD MITCHISON
May I interrupt the noble Lord? I am much obliged to the noble Lord for giving way. This was a matter to which the noble Marquess referred, and I had not got the quotation:Sir Hugh Beadle reminded Mr. Smith once again that if the constitutional provisions could he regarded as agreed all that was at issue was four months of interim Government, after which Rhodesia could he back to Constitutional Government on the basis of the 1961 Constitution. Mr. Smith admitted that this was a sound point which Sir Hugh Beadle had represented to him several times on recent occasions.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I really do not quite follow the relevance of that interruption. What I am saying, and have said, is that if one looks at the facts of life one sees that Rhodesia will not hand back her independence to this country under any terms. She would sooner die. If we carry on as we are, and if the Government persist in their present policy, all that will happen is that by November Rhodesia will be a Republic with a drift towards apartheid. That is what is going to happen, and that is why I believe it is important to have this debate to show at any rate that a great many people realise it and are pressing the Government to take a policy which will not lead to that.
To-day, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, referring to Lord Alport, said that he thought he was going out too soon. He repeated that he thought that by November—this is my recollection of the words he used—the businessmen would be getting worried, and that by then there would be more chance of the Smith Government coming to heel because of the effect of sanctions. I do not think I have misrepresented what he said, or the 1499 tenor of what he said. All I can say to him is that he is making exactly the same mistake as was made at the beginning. I presume that when the Prime Minister said that sanctions would be effective in a matter of weeks rather than months he had the noble Lord's support at the time. He is making exactly the same mistake to-day.
That is the choice, my Lords. We can give Rhodesia her independence and, I believe, get a Constitution which will enshrine a multiracial society. If we go on as we are, she will become a Republic and she will drift into the apartheid camp. That is the choice. My noble friends and I have warned about these things before, but no notice has been taken. I do not suppose it will be taken now, but it does not make us any the less right, as we have been all the way through.
§ 8.28 p.m.
My Lords, before I say the few words that I have come to say, I should like to apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Segal—although he is not in the Chamber at the moment—for interrupting his excellent speech. The fact is that I never doubted for a moment that Israel would "walk through" her opponents and that the result would be what it has been. So it came as no surprise.
I should like to follow my noble kinsman, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, when he said that the two speeches he appreciated most were those of the noble Marquess who opened the debate and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I should like to add that I think my noble kinsman's speech was possibly the most constructive of all the speeches made this afternoon, and I have heard every word of every one of them. I was enchanted by the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor because he came in the character of a Grand Inquisitor to describe to the conclave the exact effect upon the heretic of the question he was undergoing, and to propose future measures to ensure his ultimate conversion. His ultimate conversion, in the noble and learned Lord's words, was that he should return to legality. I would comment on that only by reminding him of the words of St. Paul:It is the law that kills".1500 In this case, I think that is going to be perfectly true, because I think this search for legality will be fatal. I would also add that I learn to my regret from a great deal that has been said this afternoon that the opinion expressed fifty years ago by an historian that religious wars were over and dead forever was not true. We are engaged at this moment, it seems to me, in a kind of religious war.
My Lords, I know very little about Rhodesia. I have relations there, as I have relations in South Africa; and, as far as the Government will allow me, I preserve my relations with them as well as I can. But I read the newspapers and, as a British citizen and a taxpayer, there is one matter which has always given me cause for great concern. At the beginning of U.D.I.—which I regretted as much as anybody—the Prime Minister made a very carefully considered statement to the people of this country and, of course, to the whole world. In the course of that statement he said that he had warned Mr. Smith that in the event of U.D.I. there would be perpetrated throughout his country every sort and kind of outrage by the incensed coloured African population. Three days later there came a response to that remark from East Africa—"Yes, we will start Mau Mau again. "A little later on, I read in a newspaper (I think it was The Times) that some wretched farmer in Rhodesia had been attacked, that the inhabitants of the farm had been robbed and outraged and, I think, that the farm had been burned down. I do not know whether or not the perpetrators were caught before they escaped across the frontier.
Since then, as the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, has said, there has been reported in the Press the capture in Rhodesia of party after party which had managed to cross into the country. Some of these parties are armed, and some say that they have thrown away their arms. The arms they have are made, apparently, in Eastern Asia or in Russia (I forget exactly where) but they are good arms; they have had to be paid for. Furthermore, friends of mine who are professionally engaged in Portugal tell me that the Portuguese complain of the same thing in Mozambique.
I have always been a little worried about this, and from time to time I have asked the Government questions on the 1501 subject; but always I have been put off. On Thursday, June 8—this month—in a supplementary question to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, I pointed out that we were sending a good deal of money to Zambia, that the arms of these infiltrators cost money and that it was a horrible thought that Britain should be involved, even indirectly, or that Britain turned a blind eye to this. I asked what precautions the Zambian Government took over violation of the frontier; and I asked the noble Lord what he could tell me about it. The answer, which I have here, expressed, it seemed to me, extreme contempt and disregard of the Portuguese and their very justifiable complaints that this sort of thing happens in Mozambique. The terms in which the answer was given, were, I thought, very strange in a Government which had passed one Race Relations Act and was about to pass another. Personally, as a Scotsman, my racial feelings are very small; I think the Portuguese whose farm was burned and whose family were outraged and massacred had just as much right to complain as a Scotsman or a Rhodesian, or anybody else.
I am worried about this. We give the Zambians £14 million a year. I should feel bitterly ashamed if that money or any portion of it were used to enable arms to be purchased and furnished to people who make these border raids.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, while I must say that I cannot quite see the relevance of this to the debate that the noble Marquess has initiated, may I be allowed to say that if my answer to the noble Lord's supplementary question was thought to be discourteous I am sorry. I did not intend to be discourteous. I thought that my reply was a factual one.
My Lords, it seems to me to affect the Rhodesian question very much. It is a very serious question. If the British Government are turning a blind eye to this kind of thing to exercise influence on Rhodesia is is a perfectly horrible situation, and everybody ought to protest against it. I have only what I have read in the newspapers. I put it before your Lordships and it seems to me that the question I have raised before, and which I raise again, deserves an answer. I want to know whether the British Government, who supply a great 1502 deal of money to Zambia, are doing their best to ensure that the frontier is not violated by these raiders—either the Rhodesian or any other frontier. I think it is of the greatest importance.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, if I may, I will assist the noble Lord. On a number of occasions responsible Ministers of Her Majesty's Government have deprecated violent action of that kind.
My Lords, I am extremely glad to hear it.
The only other thing I have to say is with regard to the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison. Of course, I have no title to lecture your Lordships on questions of morals; but the noble Lord said that this is a moral question. In the course of a very long life I have had friends and neighbours who have committed acts which I strongly deprecate. It has been open to me either to resent them or to let them go. In nine cases out of ten it is very much better, morally, to let an act go which you cannot prevent than to try to remedy it and thereby cause much more misery all round. I do not think that that can be bad morals. At any rate, it is the experience of more than eighty years of life.
§ 8.39 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF AILESBURY
My Lords, in this rather lengthy debate we have seen that there are a great many different aspects to the Rhodesian problem. I want to look at it from one aspect only, which perhaps I may term the historian's aspect, because I believe that we have not sufficiently taken notice of the fact that much of this has happened before. We should remember that there was a previous U.D.I. It occurred in 1776; it occurred on the 4th of July of that year. The troublesome colonial leader on that occasion was not named Smith; he was named George Washington.
I know what some of your Lordships must be thinking: that the American grievance that caused that U.D.I. was not identical with the Rhodesian grievance that caused the recent U.D.I. Superficially, I agree that the American grievance was that English taxation was being imposed on them. The Rhodesian grievance is that there is an attempt to force upon them an English electoral system. They are superficially different, 1503 but basically the same; because in both cases what is really being said is this: "We feel that we are an adult people who can manage our own affairs in our own way. We are tired of being bossed by the man in Whitehall, that man who lives 3,000 or 4,000 miles away, and who professes to understand our affairs but who does not". That is the message which reaches us now from Rhodesia and which reached us formerly from the American Colonies.
We should note also the close similarity between the response of the British Government in 1776 and more recently in 1966. Again there are superficial differences. Lord North instituted a hot war against the American colonists. We have initiated only a cold war against the Rhodesians. We seek to bring them to their knees, not by gunfire this time, but by financial ruin; and the Government viewpoint is again closely similar to the proposition that we must punish these dissident people and hammer away at them until they give way and return to our Commonwealth fold. A great similarity then, my Lords, in the cause and in the British Government's reaction.
Now let us look at results. The result of the American U.D.I. we know. We fought a hot war against them which lasted for ten years, from 1773 to 1783; and the result was utter failure. Those colonists were too tough to respond to bullying. So we had ten years of death and destruction: ten years in which our National Debt increased by £100 million—and they were real pounds then. And the result was complete failure. This makes one wonder what result faces us if we pursue our cold war against the Rhodesians.
On this note, a student of history might perhaps end; but I could not help taking, notice of what I took to be a challenge thrown out by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison. He suggested that noble Lords on this side of the House were being purely destructive in their criticism of our Government; and, as I understood it, he challenged us to produce a constructive alternative. I will try to do so extremely briefly. I can state what I have in my mind in a dozen words. It is this. Our Government could respond to a U.D.I. by means of a "U.D.E."—and as we have not yet had a "U.D.E.", may 1504 I say that it is a unilateral declaration of exclusion.
I put that suggestion forward, my Lords, with all modesty, but there are certain points about it. It would provide a prompt solution, and several of your Lordships have said how urgent it is that we should find a prompt solution. It would also give a face-saving solution, and in the political world the saving of face is important. It need not necessarily be a hostile solution. It may sound hostile, but it need not necessarily be so; because if we think of our multiracial Commonwealth as a sort of multiracial club, the club secretary could put it to the dissident member that he had been behaving in such a way that he was no longer congenial to the other club members, and therefore the committee felt that he must leave the club. It could be added that, after all, time moves on; ideas change and develop, and there might come a time when perhaps the dissident member would seem a little more congenial to his fellow members of the club—and possibly they might even move slightly in his direction. Then of course it would be very nice if the member were to rejoin the club. It is simply an idea, my Lords, but a response to a challenge.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, at this stage in a long debate, when there are still several important speakers to be heard, it seems to me inopportune to attempt a set, prepared speech; but in answer to the possible question, "Then why speak at all?" I will first of all say that it is because I feel intensely on this subject and have watched it very closely. I feel that almost all the points which could usefully be raised have been brought out, and now they can only be embellished. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, opened the debate with a skilfully marshalled and moderately delivered speech which gave a high tone to the debate. We may be proud in this House that it was followed by so many significantly informed speeches. It is impressive that this House always produces speakers with intimate knowledge who can make contributions of such high value.
I found that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, also covered much of what I, and many others, 1505 must think, who, in their conscientious attitude, are inclined to follow the views of the noble Marquess rather than the views of the Government as put forward by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor. In addition, there were the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who speaks from such a long experience of colonial administration, and the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, who also possesses intimate knowledge. This is a subject on which having intimate knowledge of the country concerned justifies those who speak. Alas! in another place where there is continual sniping about what ought or ought not to be done, I suspect that only a small proportion of the speakers have ever been to the country.
My Lords, one of the reasons I wanted to speak to-night is that only a few weeks ago I was in Rhodesia, and I took the trouble to go about and to satisfy myself on a good many points. That is what prompts me to refer to a very few of them. First, I would say, because it comes to my mind, that the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, very properly putting the position of the Government so impressively, differed from the noble Marquess in at least three of the noble and learned Lord's statements which, while not inaccurate, were definitely slanted. The first of them he very properly corrected when the noble Marquess intervened. The second was when he referred to the population, particularly the black population. I think he failed to remember that among the population in Rhodesia there are several hundred thousand who have come in from neighbouring countries because they find Rhodesia better and more comfortable and the wages more rewarding. Of the 4 million black population half of them are under 17, so could not be voters.
The third thing he said, referring to the effect of sanctions, was that some 500 tobacco growers had gone out of business. Yes; out of business growing tobacco. But if farmers in England cannot grow wheat, are they prohibited from turning to potatoes? I took a good deal of trouble to go about in Rhodesia and see the effect of sanctions. They are turning from tobacco to mealies, Kaffir corn, sorghum, groundnuts and cotton, all of which are rewarding. Do not let us be under any illusion. 1506 Sanctions will not break Rhodesia. Those who worked in either of the two world wars with the Ministry of Economic Development know how difficult it is to effect a complete control of merchandise. We might just as well try to blockade Switzerland when we know that the borders with France and Italy are both open. So long as South Africa and Portuguese Mozambique are open, merchandise will flow into Rhodesia.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor mentioned a second alternative course, which he did not recommend—the use of force. What stupidity to talk of force! Who is going to apply force? I suppose the idea is that it would be the United Nations. My noble Leader, in his well-reasoned speech, questioned the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor with regard to the United Nations. Fifty-four of the members are behind with their subscriptions, and the organisation is £70 million in debt. It has been a complete failure in so many places. The Prime Minister is entirely wrong in handing this problem to the United Nations, because they are now discredited. The latest report on Israel should be an illustration of the futility of turning to the United Nations.
Countries like Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania are all tinged with Communism. The danger of world Communism is very real to-day. I returned from Greece only yesterday. Look how the British Press represented the position in Greece. If the instability had not been brought under hand, Greece would have been under the influence of Communism. Businessmen in Greece admit what an improvement there is in conditions. There has been an entire change from irregularity.
One of the reasons given for sanctions is that there was an absence of law and order in Rhodesia. In Rhodesia the farmers and managers of the big farms and ranches are members of the auxiliary police. I spoke to several of them and found that none of them had been called out for months. There was a complete absence of any disorders. As my noble friend Lord Grimston of Westbury said, when these infiltrators come in, the black Rhodesians, freed from internal fears between rival parties, inform the police and prevent the danger from spreading. Incidentally, I wonder how many people realise that in the whole cauldron of 1507 Africa it is in Rhodesia alone that the police are unarmed. The suggestion that sanctions were applied because of internal disorders is completely fallacious.
I do not relent on anything I have said with regard to Communism, because we have just seen that the victory of 3 million Israelis over 70 million Arabs, together with what has happened in Greece, has given Communism a big setback. Why should the United States, who are fighting Communism, join with Britain in trying to break the strongest bulwark against Communism in Africa? The danger of all this is that because, inevitably, sanctions will not succeed, it may lead to the use of force. This would bring in South Africa; and let us be under no illusion about the danger to this country. In addition to the great loss that we have suffered by the Government's policy there will be a serious loss of trade to South Africa, which is our third biggest customer. Then there is the folly of our representatives at the United Nations in not more energetically opposing the attacks on South Africa and South-West Africa and the suggestions of an alternative Government, when there is no chance of an alternative Government. Therein lies danger.
The noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, who I am sorry to see is not in his place, said that the overwhelming majority of people in this country support the Government's policy. If we ask the majority of the responsible businessmen in this country, we find that they are all for negotiation: they want to see this thing brought to an end, to save the loss and bring back the trade. My Lords, it is on those grounds that I strongly support the appeals of the noble Marquess, supported by my noble Leader, that we should negotiate as quickly as possible and make the best trade we can. This will be for the benefit of the black African people, who are suffering the most. I conclude by repeating my appeal. What is the feeling of the majority of businessmen in this country? It is that the Government should move quickly towards negotiation.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I should like to apologise in advance to the noble Lord who is to wind up and to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, if I am unable to stay to the end of the debate. It 1508 would be a great inconvenience to me if I missed the night train to Scotland. I think it might be more courteous to your Lordships if I refrained from speaking, but I trust your Lordships will forgive me if I quite briefly take up one or two points that have not been made or which have grown out of the debate.
My other excuse for detaining your Lordships is that I believe it is important for Parliament and the public to know how widespread is the support for the noble Marquess. In this respect I entirely agree with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye: that it is proper that this debate should take place, and that as many Peers as possible should say what they have to say. It would have been wrong to lose the chance of emphasising the strength of feeling of those who are not members of (shall I say?) the Monday Club or the Anglo-Rhodesian Society, or necessarily associated with those movements. I am no Right-Winger, but I hold the strongest view in support of the noble Marquess on this matter. With due respect, I feel that I must contradict the implication in what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said: that those who hold views like mine are a small Right-Wing, interested group. I beg to differ.
In some measure I support what the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has just said. Throughout the country I sense an increased feeling of anxiety about the whole situation, and a desire for a settlement in Rhodesia before it is too late. In the leading article of June 14 The Times contains these words, right at the beginningMr. Ian Smith's friends in Westminster have for weeks been running a campaign for new negotiations…This, for all I know, may be true; but it is only a fraction of the truth. I am no friend of Mr. Smith, though I cannot help respecting him. Like many another friend of peace, I should like to see new negotiations as I dare say he would, and I support any move to this end. Surely only the friends of strife are prepared to sit back and let the situation simmer to disaster. I believe that the great bulk of the people of this country feel as I do, particularly worrying about the poor people, as the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, did, and as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury. I am 1509 sure that the great bulk of white Rhodesians would like to go back to legality, if I may call it that, provided, and always provided, they are not threatened with "one man, one vote" too precipitately.
I have here a letter from a neighbour of mine, a Rhodesian. Her husband, like his father and grandfather before him, commanded a famous Scottish regiment, and circumstances were such after the war that he went to farm in Rhodesia, intending eventually to return to this country. She writes:My husband and I never voted for Mr. Smith. We did not want him to declare U.D.I. But now that the deed has been done and there appears to be no alternative to him or one man, one vote, then we must stand behind Smith, because Rhodesia is not yet ready for the Africans to take sole control of the Government. I have no doubt that they will advance slowly and surely and get more and more responsibility, but chaos and African fighting against African will be the only result of one man, one vote at the present moment. What is more, the large majority of the Africans know this and are terrified lest the white man should go.This checks with much that noble Lords have already said in this debate about the average African, which is that they are content that their wild men are safely under lock and key. If such detention may be outrageous in terms of our standards here—and it may be so—it is not so in countries where the ways of life of many folk are generations nearer to the primitive.
When, last December, we sought more time, we sought more time for a peaceful solution. Even if sanctions are having an effect—and nobody denies it—it looks as if the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, was right when he said about sanctions in our debate of December, 1965:I think Mr. Smith and his de facto government will sweat it Out."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7/12/65, col. 189.]How right he has been. And one hopes that he is right in what he said to-day, when to my pleasurable surprise he said that he thought we were nearer a settlement than many of us believed. Let us trust that he is not in error. Surely, any time in a matter of this sort is time for negotiation. Surely, few people want to fight, and few people want Rhodesia to flee the Commonwealth. Surely, fewer still want to drive Rhodesia into the arms of South Africa, as so many noble 1510 Lords have indicated is more than possible.
I say this because the South African approach to the coloured problem is not the British approach; and it is not the Rhodesian approach, despite what the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said in his speech, when he said that to his regret Rhodesia was drifting towards apartheid. I nearly cried out: "Whose fault is that?" I say it now because, since he spoke, I have received confirmation from one with close ties in Rhodesia that this trend towards apartheid in the threatened legislation to which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor referred is the direct result of the NIBMAR policy.
I also feel some resentment at the suggestion that for us to withdraw sanctions would be a betrayal of the Africans. I do not accept this view at all, and I prefer the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye. Noble Lords may remember that the only time I have spoken in a Rhodesia debate I made it clear beyond doubt that I have reason to feel most strongly for the poor people—the poor African, the poor people to whom the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, referred in his speech.
Apartheid is not the British way of life; it is not the Rhodesian way of life. Let us strive to keep it this way. But time is running out. Let us remember the hard fact—and this point has only been touched on—that South Africa is not going to sit back and see Rhodesia destroyed, either economically or militarily. South Africa is becoming more and more determined to help Rhodesia in every way it can, and it must help its position by looking past Britain for other sources of supply to replace our massive trade with it; and also, in terms of purchasing machinery, to ensure that it buys machinery for which supplies of spares are likely to continue to be available and not be threatened by an extension of this sanctions system.
To turn to sanctions, with the passage of time one forgets that Mr. Wilson thought that Rhodesia would be on its knees a year ago, last year. The noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, has mentioned that; and I can only go on to say that Rhodesia is in fact "sweating it out". The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, referred to the tobacco crop and alternative production. There is another angle 1511 to that, which is this. This compulsion to diversify in the Rhodesian agriculture policy is in itself a good thing in terms of Rhodesia, and out of context with any of their relations with outside. Here, in this country—and this point has not been touched on—sanctions are bringing cruel injustice to harmless families; people whose only sin is that they dare to be Rhodesians or have Rhodesian connections. There are men who have served this nation in peace and war bitterly hurt by having their passports impounded at points of entry. There are women and children in financial difficulties because of the regulations administered, no matter how fairly, by the Bank of England. There are resources which never stemmed from Rhodesia which are frozen so that families cannot draw from them, for education and the like.
It seems to me that this is another reason why nothing but bitterness can stem from the present policy. And that is what is happening—bitterness on every side. If some of the Rhodesian Cabinet are stubborn, as they are, what end will stubbornness serve on our side? Another noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, mentioned Dr. Hastings Banda's views. It is well to keep them in mind, and it is well also to remember how Israel has shown that a fit, determined and united people can go almost anywhere. Some of the speeches from noble Lords opposite have, quite frankly, made my flesh creep. There has been talk of the surprise at the state of emergency in Salisbury to-day. Of course there must be a state of emergency in Salisbury so long as there is cold war declared against them from here. Surely, it is the only natural result.
It is small wonder that so many pray that an end may be put to it all; and if the noble Lord, Lord Alport, can achieve a renewal of contacts, then he deserves every possible praise and support. If tolerance and common sense can triumph over pride and prejudice, many an anxious heart—and there are many such in Britain and in Rhodesia to-day—would rejoice.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, I trust that you acknowledge my sincerity when I say that I should not get up to speak to-night if the point which I have flown over to make had been made. But 1512 I have studied the various debates, and listened to them, and read them in Hansard, and I am surprised that what I consider to be the most important point in the whole question of our little bother with Rhodesia has not been made by anybody.
In the last few years, as many of your Lordships will be aware, a revolution in thought has taken place. We have come, by the new biology, to realise the enormous importance that territory has and has always had, in our lives and development. When I was a child at school evolution was a "mushy" subject. Some people thought we were descended from apes, and others thought we had just "happened". After a little while it began to become somewhat crystallised and we realised that we have evolved from some very simple form of life and that we had with us in our evolution certain basic instincts which had caused this evolution and carried us through the years to our present development as a species which we now see around us to-day.
The next interesting point came in the 'twenties and 'thirties. It is amazing to me that I have lived a life in which so much which is truth has only so recently been discovered. In the 'twenties and 'thirties various people started prying about and they came to the conclusion that the basic instinct which has carried us through life from the earliest times was sex. They came to that opinion by prying about with neurotic patients on couches in semi-dark rooms; by looking at animals in cages and observing their behaviour, and I think with a certain amount of bias.
In the last ten years a revolution in thought has taken place, for the biologists have stopped looking at animals in cages, the psychiatrists no longer worry too much about neurotic women on couches. The biologists have gone out into the open and observed animals as they really live—the birds and all the creatures and the life from which we have sprung—how they really behave and live in the open. They have found out (and this has not been generally known in the last few years, as many people have not had time to read the recent discoveries; but it is definitely true) that territory is the strongest instinct that we human beings possess in this world and in this life, and it is the cause of evolution. I should 1513 like to talk a lot more and give a lot of evidence on this subject, but it is already late at night. I dislike boring people; and I should hate to bore your Lordships by my long account of how this discovery has come about; but I will try to explain in a simple way.
You and I—most of us in our lives have had the desire to go and fight for our country. We have left our homes; we have left our sweethearts, our families; we have not cared very much whether we were killed or not. We cared for our countries. We, my Lords, who survived have had many friends, relations and children killed fighting for their country. In fact, in the world millions of people have been killed fighting for territory. How many people have you, my Lords, known in your lives who have been killed fighting for a woman? That is the point. The instinct of territory comes much stronger than sex, than self-preservation, than life itself. It is the strongest instinct that we have; it sways us all.
In all these discoveries, and in all this new biology, people have gone back in life. They have studied little colonies of living things which one would hardly call "life" but which move under the oil-immersion lamp and the oil-immersion lens of the microscope. People have seen that they form colonies, and that the colonies squeeze each other out. The defence of a colony is the most important thing in this life, as we know in this country. Have we not fought wars to defend our territory? What about the Battle of Britain? What about all the other battles? That is our strong suit.
Now we come to the question of Rhodesia. The noble Marquess, Lord Ailesbury, has unfortunately left, but he drew a comparison—I was going to say that it was obvious, but I should not say that—between Mr. Washington and Mr. Smith. We know very well that George III thought it would be a good plan to put a token tax on the Americans to see if he could tax the Colonies, and Mr. Washington and his friends did not like it. We thought they were acting illegally, and we fought a little war against them. But we lost it. To-day, most people think that Mr. Smith's ideas are wrong. We want to bring in our own views about democracy, and I must personally declare that all my life I have 1514 believed in democracy—I do not want there to be any mistake about that. Whatever the colour or anything else, I believe, in democracy.
When I was a little boy at a private school I wore the suffragette tie, and I was "had up" by the master who wanted to know why. Ladies were padlocking themselves to railings in Palace Yard and jumping in front of the King's horse. I said I could not understand why married women of thirty should not have the vote. I still cannot understand it; and I declare that. But when it comes to Mr. Smith, who is playing "Mr. Washington" to-day, his view is simple. He says "One man, one vote, once, and then dictatorship". If you look round Africa you see it is a continent that has always had dictatorship of some sort or other.
It may be that Mr. Smith is right. But that is not the point of my speech. The point of my speech is that it has been found quite recently that in a case of territory—and our deepest instinct is the defence of territory—the persons who defend territory always win. The noble Marquess mentioned America. They won. I am certain that we have got up against the force of evolution. It is Ascot Week and people are making bets; there is the Tote "treble" coming up, and they are hoping to win. We are all working on form. The form is this, that we are playing against the whole evolution system and we are bound to lose.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I shall not follow the noble Lord, Lord Strange, in his lecture on biology, but I should like to say this. I understood him to say that the greatest thing in our lives is territory. If that is so, it cannot have applied to the British race in the last twenty years because in those years we have handed over about a quarter of the world.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, if I may intervene, I said "our own territory". What we have taken from other people is not necessarily our territory. This island is our territory, and the Isle of Man.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, if I may return to the subject of the Motion, I should 1515 like to thank the noble Marquess for introducing this debate, in spite of everything Lord Henley said. I have always been an incurable optimist, but even I am getting rather downcast. I do not think the Prime Minister really wants a settlement in Rhodesia. From reading the Blue Book on the talks in the "Tiger" and the suggested Constitution, it appears to me that in actual fact Mr. Smith had accepted the Constitution proposed. The part of the conversations which he could not accept was in regard to the interim period. You cannot blame him for that. The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, said in his speech that all Mr. Smith has to do is to return to legality. Of course that is so, but the Prime Minister, with due respect, has made it, so far as I can see, extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Mr. Smith to return to legality, because the conditions laid down are conditions of unconditional surrender. The real power was going to be handed to the Governor. The Governor is answerable to Whitehall, and Whitehall is answerable to the Prime Minister. So I cannot see how Mr. Smith could possibly have accepted the suggestions as to the interim period.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, may I intervene to say that this is often said and it is quite untrue. May I just explain the situation? Before U.D.I. there was law and order, there was a Governor, and there was a constitutional Government which could do exactly what it liked; and, under the constitutional convention between us, whatever Acts of Parliament they passed, whether we agreed with them or not, there was no way in which we could interfere. All that was suggested on the "Tiger" was that they should return to the constitutional position which they had previously occupied under the 1961 Constitution, when we had no right to object about what the Governor did.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, surely under the suggestions for the interim period the Ministers to be appointed were not to be appointed by Mr. Smith; they were to be appointed by Mr. Wilson through the Governor.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the position was to be the same as in 1961. It was for the Governor to decide 1516 who to send for, but certainly not on the advice of anybody in Whitehall.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
Well, my Lords, evidently I read the Blue Book wrongly. I must in some way have read it wrongly, because from reading it it did not appear to me that that was the case. But there is one point which I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord on paragraph 17, which refers to an agreed settlement to be submitted by a Royal Commission to the test of acceptability to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. I should like to know how the Royal Commission could explain to the average African in Rhodesia the extremely complicated terms of an agreed solution. It does not seem logical. The average African in Rhodesia, from my slight experience of Africans, particularly tribal Africans, would be completely unable to understand what was being proposed. I think that the suggestions will fall down on paragraph 17. I must not be too long, but as I say, from my point of view it seems that the Prime Minister has, through his insistence on the terms laid down for the interim period, thrown away a great advance. The agreement to the Constitution which I understood was come to by Mr. Smith was a great advance; it was a great achievement, and I think it is a great pity that it appears to have been lost.
What is to be done? Is the Prime Minister going to change his mind? So far as I can see, nothing is going to be done until we have a change of Government. If one analyses the situation, it is really quite tragic, and is at the same time almost absurd. What on earth are we fighting about? Here one has two Governments, both loyal to the Crown, both constitutionally elected. All that the Government in this country are fighting about is how much control the Rhodesian Government shall have in their internal affairs. We really have made a terrible mountain out of a molehill. It is terrifying to see how far the Prime Minister has gone in taking the question to the United Nations and in blowing it up into a great world issue. This appals me. Rhodesia is now the only part of Africa where the Union Jack still flies. Why are we trying to destroy the last bastion of civilisation in Central Africa?
1517 Several noble Lords—the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, and, I think, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and others—have spoken about the moral issue of majority rule. But majority rule is not a moral issue; it is a political issue. You can read the Bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Koran, almost any religious or philosophical book you like, but the principle of majority rule has never been described to my knowledge as "a moral issue". As I have often said before, majority rule is a very good principle in theory, provided that everybody is well educated and reasonably intelligent. On that basis it is an excellent principle. But we have tried majority rule all over Africa and in Asia, and in the great majority of cases all that has happened has been the complete destruction of democracy, the complete destruction of individual freedom, and dictatorships arising everywhere. Therefore, I cannot understand the argument that the Rhodesian question is a moral issue. I cannot understand this slavish adherence to the Fabian idea that majority rule is the end-all and be-all of everything. It may be so one day, but for the Prime Minister to threaten the Rhodesians that there will be no independence before majority rule is extremely irresponsible.
Another point which I should like to make, having read the Blue Book, is this. The Prime Minister said a great many things, but I was surprised when he said that the British Government cannot be pushed around. He is quite right in saying that generally, but the present British Government and the Socialist Government previous to it have been pushed around by every little "tinpot" country in the world, and we are paying them to push us around. Our nationals are insulted everywhere. We are insulted in Tanzania and we are insulted by the Egyptians. The only people the Prime Minister appears to be able to stand up to are Mr. Smith and the Rhodesians. If only he had not been pushed around by everybody else I should take off my hat to him. But he is saying that to the wrong person.
I do not know what is going to happen. I suppose it will be the same old story, and in the end the British will be the great losers. I have heard the figure of £200 million quoted as the cost through the loss of our trade and through help to Zambia. 1518 The position is quite pathetic. I should have thought that when we have so few genuine friends in the world in these days it was complete madness to alienate Rhodesia. She is really one of the last outposts of civilisation in Central Africa. The whole of the Middle East is on the boil, and the Suez Canal is closed again, so it is extremely important for us by all possible means to ensure stability in the southern half of the African continent. We are not achieving that by our present attitude to Rhodesia. It is true enough that sanctions are hurting, but I am quite sure they will only make the Rhodesians more firm in their resolve to resist. But if sanctions continue to hurt and increase in their severity, it is the African who will really feel the pinch.
Before I end, I should just like to say that the Government ought now to become practical in this matter, and they could do worse than take a leaf out of Dr. Banda's notebook, because he is at least a realist. The Rhodesian problem has become too serious to be the plaything of Party dogma, but I fear it has become too much an issue of Party politics. If only the Prime Minister could show real statesmanship, it would be quite possible to reach an agreement. At any rate, if an agreement is not reached the judgment of history will be extremely harsh on the lack of British statesmanship. I think it will end in disaster, as things are going at the moment.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, these debates on Rhodesia seem to have a somewhat timeless air about them. The last time I spoke on this subject, which was, I remember, 18 months ago, I did not speak until 11 o'clock at night, so I feel I have a bonus of time ahead of me. I only hope that it is not a prophetic omen for the future. I remember the cartoon that one sees occasionally produced of the juror in the Tichbourne case. One sees him going in as a sprightly young man, and then one sees him come out at the end of the case as an old man with a long beard. I had an awful vision, listening to some of the speeches to-day, thinking of the possible war of attrition, with sanctions, that we may well be in this position in a few years' time, still discussing the same subject.
To come more immediately to the point, I speak as one who has many friends in 1519 Rhodesia; and, as a citizen of this country, I feel I have a right to speak my mind freely on something about which I feel strongly, as do many other people. I regard it as a moral issue, as do other noble Lords, but I do not draw the same conclusions as certain other noble Lords. But the principle of doing the best good to the most is still basically what is wanted by everyone. I do not feel myself to be part of a "lobby", which I always thought to be something which was organised by particular people for a particular purpose. If that is thought to be the case, I personally know nothing about it. I have occasionally sought information from people who know Rhodesia better than myself but that is the sum total of what I have ever taken part in.
The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, whose speech, I must confess, I listened to with tremendous admiration, because I thought that the depths of sincerity came from his soul, spoke of the sense of disillusionment which was appearing in the African nations about the Commonwealth, and what he interpreted their views of it to be. With great respect, certain other noble Lords possibly, including myself, feel that some of the emerging nations have caused other people a certain amount of disillusionment, which is precisely why some of our friends in Rhodesia—whites, perhaps—were a little worried and upset about their future. But I do not want to be controversial.
We all agree—or most of us on this side—as the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, said in his remarkable speech, that unimpeded progress to majority rule is the desirable object of everyone. My noble Leader, Lord Carrington, has said this many times, and I do not think there is any argument about it. Therefore much of what has been said, as though we were some odd sort of people from the backwoods, living 400 years ago, does not seem to apply. Common sense tells us that not everybody has necessarily a 100 per cent. right to rule himself. We should never dream of letting small children in a primary school run the school. With an emerging people, when they have not been long out of the jungle, such an analogy is not meant to be insulting.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, since the noble Lord has referred to me, I want to assure him that many of us are deeply disappointed at what is happening in many African nations. But we have to look at the position historically. They cannot leap into democracy over a weekend; and if you take the similar period in Europe you find that there was much more violence, much more bloodshed, much more that was cruel then, than in the events in Africa during the present stage. Surely democracy is the way in which one learns. They will have to pass through that stage.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
I thank the noble Lord for those remarks, I appreciate those points completely. I think the words he used were "times of emergence." Democracy is a splendid word. We have all studied what the Greeks did and what a perfect system they had in the early days in the Republic of Athens, from which the word came. In theory, it seems to me a perfect way, given certain basic facts. This seems to mean a certain amount of basic education and responsibility. But I think we are talking basically on matters of timing—timing of emergence. I do not want to get bogged down in detail. We are agreed that eventually majority rule is wanted; and this is what must happen.
The only point I would make is that Rhodesia, as we know it now under the present Constitution, is pledged to this ultimate aim. The noble Lord, Lord Royle, accused the Rhodesian Government of dragging its feet in respect of educational policies. He suggested that they wished to keep the Africans back unnecessarily. I raised this point 18 months ago when I spoke last about education. My noble friend Lord Sinclair of Cleeve has already mentioned certain points (I have had to jettison my notes because other speakers have said most of the things that I was going to say), but perhaps I might just amplify one or two points on his educational theme.
The noble Lord told your Lordships that there were now only about 15,000 to 16,000 African black children in secondary schools, as opposed to 680,000 in the primary schools, which for Africa is an astonishing feat to sustain, when 1521 one realises the numbers involved. But one must say again that in Rhodesia half the population of black Rhodesians is under 17 years of age. In Britain, I think the proportion is one under 17 to three over. So in Britain, there are three adults paying the taxes to support one child. In Rhodesia, with much less wealth, one grown-up has to pay for one child. Obviously it is a much heavier burden on the adult.
Despite this, there, in Rhodesia, is a plan, which is due to start in 1969 and to be completed by 1974, that of the children leaving primary school—and by 1969 there will be 80,000 a year leaving, all of whom will have done six or seven years in primary school—the brighter half (there will be educational and intelligence tests) will go on to a further four years of secondary school education. Owing to the lack of teachers and other facilities not all of those 40,000 can be given the full, what we should call academic, secondary education. They are proposing to skim 25 per cent. of that 40,000 and send them to a full academic secondary education, leading to sixth form and university standards.
This is not the action of a reactionary Government, trying to hold back an emergent people. They are honestly trying to do a job. For the 25 per cent. of the 40,000 who have been chosen out of the 80,000 school leavers they will have 300 secondary schools finished by 1974. The Government are guaranteeing the teaching facilities and payment to the teachers. They are guaranteeing capital grants for each of the 300 schools; and this in a country being pressed down by the outside world for reasons about which we differ. They are still planning ahead to help the black African children with secondary education; and remember, my Lords, that secondary and primary education are among the qualifications to get on to the vital voting roll which they have always said is the way to future equality and majority rule. This is the way of progress. It may not be exciting and revolutionary. Certain noble Lords seem to like the word "revolutionary" because it sounds exciting, but often steady progress is better than jumping too quickly.
I should like to mention some points about sanctions. Arguments on this subject seem to me to bounce in two directions. On the one side there are 1522 people who say that sanctions are having no effect, and therefore—"Ha, ha!"—the white Rhodesians will be happy. There are people who cry woe, and say that sanctions are awful and that white and black Rhodesians will suffer a ghastly fate and that then we shall be able to have our way. Obviously both these are extreme views and are rather pointless ways of looking at it. I should like to mention one or two things which have come to my notice. The noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, was worried that those Rhodesians who like whisky would be unable to get it, and having heard that Switzerland was among the countries not to adhere to certain regulations he thought the Rhodesians would have to have Swiss whisky, which he felt would bring them down more quickly than anything else. It is rather sad to have to say this, but I gather that there is a saying in Salisbury that good Rhodesians drink brandy, by which they mean South African brandy. Noble Lords may remember that Sir Winston Churchill once said that which was the better between whisky and soda and brandy and soda took a long time to decide; that whisky was slightly better, but if there was no whisky, brandy was good. I think the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, may be happy to know that that is what is happening.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor mentioned that certain new cars were in rather short supply in Rhodesia. I have someone from Rhodesia staying with me who assures me that there are large quantities of Japanese, French and Italian vehicles—commercial vehicles and cars—coming into the country. Not only that, but there are spare parts and servicing facilities which even in this country are sometimes not available in respect of some makes of vehicles. I am assured that this is happening. There are French textiles in the shops in Rhodesia. I am told that there are arrangements to provide French textiles for Rhodesian tobacco. Some countries are not encouraging trading with the Rhodesian Government, but they seem to be turning a blind eye to certain goings-on.
Finally, my Lords, on the question of sanctions I wish to mention something which I do not think is known. I have not seen or heard any mention of it. I am told that during the last twelve weeks 1523 a very large American syndicate has invested something like £12½ million in dollars in Rhodesia which will be used mainly to promote the manufacture of fertiliser. That has not been published anywhere, and seems to be unknown. America has subscribed to the imposition of sanctions, yet they seem to be turning a remarkably blind eye to such goings-on.
The result of this will be that at the end of the day B.M.C., Ford, Rootes, I.C.I. and Fisons will find that other people have taken their markets. So even if we do succeed with sanctions, we end up with the achievement of our markets having gone, because in a democracy we cannot force people to buy our goods. Basically, the ruling class in Rhodesia—which I admit at the moment is the white population—are loyal to the Queen, fond of Great Britain, and wish to do the right thing. They are united, with a large part of the native population, behind Mr. Smith. If we go on pushing them, there is a danger of pushing them into the Union of South Africa. They do not want to have apartheid, though I believe the 1925 Constitution would allow it, but if we go on with this war, without constructive results, South Africa is bound to receive them in the end, and not on the best terms. Therefore I beg Her Majesty's Government to give every possible consideration to this, to be generous, and not to stand on petty points of political advantage. The long-term advantage to any Government which succeeds in bringing peace is far greater.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, it is over seven hours and 28 speeches ago since the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, opened this debate, but we still remember the sincerity with which he spoke. Many points have been made, and they have ranged widely; and I am sure that I shall be excused if I do not attempt to answer all the matters that have been put before us for our consideration. With part of what the noble Marquess said, I think we shall all agree: we all deplore the fact that this sterile conflict should continue. There is no dispute at all between any of us in this House, especially at a time when there is so much bloodshed in other parts of the world, that this dispute should be 1524 frustrating constructive economic and political advance in Central Africa.
There is waste—though in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Salter, and to the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, who made comments to the same effect, I would stress that we should not exaggerate the economic effect on the United Kingdom. It is not possible to give the noble Lord any reliable estimate for 1967 as a whole, but assuming—as I very much hope will not be the case—that the crisis continues for the rest of this year, the net cost, excluding any effect on the price of copper, to the balance of payments may be somewhat larger than £40 million, the cost in 1966. This is mainly because Zambia has only this year begun to make drawings against the emergency assistance of up to £13.85 million which we offered to her last autumn, and because of the prospect of increased imports of higher value tobacco from North America in substitution for Rhodesian supplies.
My noble friend Lord Brockway asked about a report in to-day's Guardian which purported to refer to a letter from Sir Humphrey Gibbs to the Prime Minister. It is not the practice in the House for correspondence with the Governor, which is confidential, to be disclosed, but I can assure the House on this occasion that this report in the Guardian is not to be relied upon. The noble Lord also asked me about plans for a future meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, and I have to say that no decision has been taken about that.
Hitherto doubt has been expressed, particularly on the other side of the House, about the effectiveness of sanctions. Now it seems that we all—with the possible exception of the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, who has just spoken—agree that sanctions are biting; and the detailed report made to us this afternoon by the Lord Chancellor must have removed any lingering doubts which any noble Lord held, or wished to hold, on that point.
But the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who I think in this was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, went on to say—and it was a good point, so far as it went—that the people who are facing this economic threat, as a result of sanctions, 1525 are the same sort of people who in this country faced much greater hardship during the war years. But, of course, that argument cuts both ways. We did face much greater hardship in this country during the war. We are a people like that, who do not give up easily; and it would be a great mistake for anyone in Rhodesia to believe that, simply because the problem is a difficult one to solve, and because there are certain material losses in the course of the struggle, we shall give up.
There has been a difference of opinion during the course of this debate about the wisdom at this point of time, while Lord Alport is taking the temperature in Rhodesia, of holding the debate at all. I quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that this is a free country, and that it is the duty of those who feel strongly about matters to state what their views are. But surely we also agree with what my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said about the danger of Mr. Smith's régime interpreting what has been said by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and his friends this afternoon and this evening as representing a significant, let alone a majority, view in Britain. There can be no question of responsible people here in this country seeking to give up the struggle to bring back Rhodesia to constitutional rule.
The noble Marquess has said that some compromise is essential; and I agree with him. But the greatest critic of the present Government cannot say that we have not made concessions, that we have not been ready to compromise. The "Tiger" proposals went so far that many responsible people in this country, and in many countries of the Commonwealth, felt that we were too ready to make concessions. But, taken as a whole, those "Tiger" proposals, rejected by Mr. Smith, did open the way for unimpeded progress towards majority rule. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested that there was some misunderstanding over what the situation would have been in the period before independence, under the "Tiger" proposals. I think that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor made some reference to this same point; but perhaps I could deal with the question, as it was put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington.
1526 Those "Tiger" proposals were rejected by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, after he returned to Salisbury. The fact is that Mr. Smith and Mr. Howman, aboard H.M.S. "Tiger", had every opportunity to discuss these matters, and there was never any indication then that they were in the least uncertain about what the position would have been. Subsequently, the régime in Rhodesia, presumably for propaganda purposes, produced a document containing questionable interpretations on points on which they affected to be concerned. These included the point made earlier to-day by the noble Lord. But they chose to ignore the statements which had in fact been made by British Ministers which clarified these matters. As regards the question of the power of the Governor and direct rule, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on December 8 last year—and I quote:At no time since informal talks began in May has there been any suggestion by the Government, of direct rule from Whitehall, or of Governor's rule in Rhodesia".And he has since reaffirmed this position.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Marquess, spoke about the obstacle presented by the policy of NIBMAR. I agree that this is one of the crucial issues with which we now have to deal, but I also believe that there has been a good deal of misunderstanding—and misunderstanding deliberately fostered within Rhodesia—as to the British Government's position. Probably I can try to make this clear. Majority rule is our objective, but we do not demand, nor do I think it would be wise or right to demand, that there should be a headlong rush in this direction. Never at any time have we sought, unduly or unwisely, to accelerate constitutional progress to this end. We have made it clear that we accept the criterion for advance to full democratic government in Rhodesia should be that of achievement, and that the maintenance of economic and social stability is the cardinal objective of our policies. NIBMAR therefore cannot, except in the minds of those who do not want to understand, mean precipitate advance to majority rule. Moreover, if the principle of NIBMAR is now an obstacle to fruitful negotiations with the illegal government in Rhodesia, the responsibility for this rests squarely on the régime.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, could the noble Lord clarify one 1527 point further, if he would be so good? If NIBMAR does not mean there is any stoppage towards self-government, does it also mean a deferring of any recognition of independence for an indefinite time ahead until the progress of self-government has gone forward?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, it means no independence before majority rule; but it does not mean premature majority rule. But I was going, if the noble Lord will allow me, to repeat almost word for word what the Prime Minister had said about our attitude as regards NIBMAR. He said that if there was a substantial and guaranteed change in the situation in Rhodesia he would be prepared to discuss the question of our Rhodesian policies again with the Commonwealth, to whom our intentions in this respect were stated at the meeting of Prime Ministers in London last September.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made some play about the precision of the words used by the Prime Minister; but I am sure, although he seems on the point of getting to his feet, that he will not expect me to add to them, and I certainly am not—
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I do not in the last want the noble Lord to add to the Prime Minister's words, but I would ask him to clarify his own words, which I do not really understand. He seems to me to be saying that NIBMAR does not mean NIBMAR. Surely if he says: "No independence before majority rule", and then says, "But that does not mean you are going to accelerate majority rule, that means you are going to postpone independence.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, NIBMAR means no independence before majority African rule; that is what it means. But when subsequently the Prime Minister was asked about his attitude to this, he gave an explanation, to which I do not myself propose to add anything. The noble Lord himself said earlier that he thought the Prime Minister's words gave some room for manœuvre, but the extent to which this freedom is used depends entirely on the constructive response which is made by others.
My Lords, if we are looking for concessions, why is it that noble Lords in this House cannot bring themselves to appeal 1528 at least once to the group in Salisbury to make such concessions as would enable meaningful talks to take place?
From time to time in this House I have to answer questions about incidental developments in Rhodesia consequent upon the illegal declaration of independence. For example, the other day we had a Question about the Agricultural Research Council of Central Africa, and the fact that its excellent work had been obstructed by the withdrawal of Zambia. On that occasion, and on other occasions, certain noble Lords have been at pains to say that the disadvantages or hardships caused are due to the intransigence of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. But the world does not consider it is our intransigence. Only two countries in the world speak favourably of the Smith régime. Not one single country has recognised the Salisbury Group as the legal Government of Rhodesia. Therefore, why cannot certain noble Lords of the Opposition occasionally call attention to the fact—
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I really do not think he is entitled to say that. I have made it clear from these Benches, time and time again, that I thought it was a great mistake that Mr. Smith did not accept the proposals which were nearly agreed upon on board H.M.S. "Tiger". I said again this afternoon—and appealed again this afternoon to Mr. Smith as well as to Her Majesty's Government—to come to some negotiation and agreement. I really do not think the noble Lord is entitled to use the words he has just used.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, I would say that I am quite entitled to address noble Lords in this House without his necessarily thinking that I am addressing him.
§ LORD BESWICK
I referred to certain noble Lords of the Opposition, and there are certain noble Lords who on several occasions recently have put down Questions, one of them on the Research Council, for example, and other of the former Federal institutions set up in the days of legality, and those noble Lords 1529 have complained that, when the days of the useful work of this institution were brought to an end, it was the fault of Her Majesty's Government. I am addressing myself to those noble Lords—and I agree readily that they do not include the noble Lord opposite—and I ask them why they cannot, on occasions, accept the fact that the difficulties and consequences stemming from the illegal declaration of independence are matters which Mr. Smith himself can resolve.
The noble Marquess pleaded with us to look forward to the future and not to dwell on the past. I quite agree. But what is the future for Rhodesia if there is no return to legal rule? What chance have they of building up a prosperous and stable community if they face the world as an outcast of international society? Noble Lords may say that the great international machine of economic sanctions, which is now slowly and inexorably working, may run down as the years go by. But even in that case can anyone think that there is a real future in the modern world for a country in which 220,000 of one race regard themselves as superior to the four and a quarter million of the other?
Mr. Smith himself, when justifying his I.D.I., spoke especially about the long-term necessity for investment capital. No businessmen, he said, could ever seriously contemplate massive long-term investment unless—and I quote his words—"we are masters in our own house". Now they are the masters. Emergency laws keep down all opposition. But can anyone say that any businessmen seriously contemplate nowadays massive long-term investment under present conditions? And if a Republic is declared, if they get away with it for years ahead, even if we gave up the struggle at some point, it is as certain as night follows day that the majority of human beings there who happen to be coloured, and who now live in Southern Rhodesia under the domination of the white race, will declare that they can tolerate this doctrine of racial superiority no longer, and no businessman investing could ever feel secure while that position remains.
The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, himself emphasised how deeply men cherish things of the spirit. Referring to the effect of sanctions, he said that material standards are not all. When 1530 I challenged him, he accepted that these propositions applied equally to black men as to white. And it is because they do apply that we believe there can be no real long-term future; there can be no political stability; there can be no significant economic development, unless there is a clearly seen way forward for the majority in Rhodesia to have some say as to how they are to be ruled.
When those in Salisbury who now have the power to make decisions contemplate these alternatives, I hope they will ignore what the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, said about the dangers of premature majority rule, because those dangers, as I have said, and as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has emphasised, of rushing into premature majority rule do not exist. Not by the clock nor by the calendar, was how the Prime Minister put it, are these things to be judged, but by achievement.
I much appreciated what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about our noble colleague Lord Alport. Whatever we may think about his opinions about this particular matter or that, none would challenge his integrity and his independence of mind. They are recognised by all. And what he has to say will be considered with great care and attention. I am sure that all men of good will will hope that he will be able to make a hopeful report.
The noble Marquess said that there were some similarities between the Rhodesian position and that of the old American Colonies, and he ended his speech, rather movingly I thought, with a quotation. I, too, will venture for the first time to end what I have to say with a quotation, and it is from the American Declaration of Independence of 1776. And that Declaration, noble Lords will remember, said:We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among those are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure those rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed".My Lords, if any indication were given to Lord Alport that those who now hold power in Salisbury are ready to act within the terms of that Declaration, then meaningful talks may well indeed be possible.
§ 10.18 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, we have now come to the end of this long and, I think, important debate, and if your Lordships will permit me I shall be very brief in replying. I should like first to thank all those who have taken part in it. I have sat through practically every speech that has been made to-day, and there were very few of them I should willingly have missed, whether I agreed with them or not. I do not regret having gone ahead with this debate.
It has, I think, been valuable, and though it has been commendably frank it has not, on the whole, been at all bitter, with the exception perhaps of the speech from the noble Lord, Lord Royle, whose sincerity I deeply respect, although I did not agree with him, and also perhaps the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison. Lord Mitchison has kept slipping in and out of the Chamber all evening, and each time I rather hoped he had gone to bed, but each time he came back again, and I suppose I really must say something about his remarks, to which he obviously expected a reply.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If I may say so, the noble Lord said at the beginning of his remarks, I thought rather pontifically, that this was for him a moral issue, and that seemed to justify him, if he will forgive me for saying so, in talking a great deal of nonsense, which he proceeded to do.
He painted a picture of Rhodesia which I thought had no relation to the truth. He did not say that there was a far higher degree of African education in Rhodesia than in any other Central African State. He did not say that the standards of the health service and the individual security of the African are higher, equally, than in any other Central African State. He did not even mention the hundreds of thousands of Africans who have been slaughtered by their fellow Africans in the States North of the Zambesi. He just ignored them. I should like just to say this to him—I do not want to have an argument with him at this late hour. This is for me a moral issue just as much as it is for him, and in my view I 1532 have far better grounds, for I stand for that ordered liberty by which real civilisation can alone exist.
Now I would say one or two words on the special points he made. He said that the "Tiger" talks broke down on the constitutional proposals, and not on the proposals for the transitional period. I know that this is one of the subjects about which people will argue to the end of time. But in fact I do not accept this interpretation, and the quotation that he made later in the debate has not altered that view. As I understand it, these Rhodesians were required to agree to an abrogation of their existing Constitution, even if it was for only four months, and revert to the status of a Crown Colony governed by the Governor and with no Parliament. That was what they simply could not, and would not, do; and I do not blame them for that.
So far as the Six Points were concerned which he also mentioned, I do not think I disagree with them, although so much has been changed since they first saw the light and though I personally would make this reservation, which I make for myself and not for what he calls the Rhodesian Lobby. It concerns Point 6. I feel personally that I must make the reservation that those to be consulted under Point 6 must be such as are capable of understanding the issues involved in their vote. I do not yet know how that is to be ensured; and as I say, I make that reservation. The noble Lord may not accept it. He may not think that it matters very much whether they understand it or not. But I do think it matters whether they understand the issues, and that is why I make that exception.
I had hoped to get something rather more definite from the replies of the Government spokesmen, indicating a more open frame of mind. But I did not get much encouragement, I am afraid, from the speech of the Lord Chancellor who, if he will forgive me for saying so, made me rather sad. He seemed to have one policy: to accept an indefinite continuation of the present sanctions, whatever misery might be caused to the population of Rhodesia, black and white. From the point of view of the Africans it seemed to me to be a case of "Save me from my friends".
1533 Nor did I think the House got much more out of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. His policy appeared to be just the same: "Keep on sanctions and hope for the best". I must confess that I thought that rather a sterile position to take up, though I can assure the noble Lord that I will read carefully in Hansard what he said about NIBMAR. But whatever the present attitude of the Government may be I hope sincerely that they will consider seriously all that has been said in this debate by men as wise and experienced as the noble Lords, Lord Bourne, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter, Lord Segal, Lord Salter, and the noble Marquess, Lord Ailesbury, in his very original speech.
I thought that Lord MacPherson of Drumochter's speech was especially important, since he had been to Rhodesia and had seen Mr. Smith and brought back proposals—proposals which, one might have thought, whatever the Government's final view about them, must at least deserve serious examination. But he got a reception from the Prime Minister which drove him to the conclusion—and which can only drive most of us to the conclusion—that the Prime Minister does not really want a settlement. His mind is completely closed to any compromise. He wants no part of a settlement; he wants the whole thing in his favour. That would be very sad, for I am afraid that it is going to be all too easy to push these old friends of ours out of the Commonwealth. That is a possibility which, curiously enough, never found a place in the speech either of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor or the noble Lord, Lord Beswick.
Do we really want this to happen? These white Rhodesians are sometimes given a very bad name in this country. Yet they are—as I know, and as I think Lord Beswick knows—our own people, and they speak our own language in the fullest sense of that much-used term; that is, they stand, as anyone who knows them will know, for the same broad principles of ordered freedom as we do.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If the noble Lord will accept that, I am quite satisfied. It is very difficult for many of us to think of them as rebels, and equally difficult to think of them as persecutors of the Africans, which they are not. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, that there must be give and take on both sides if a settlement is to be reached. But do not let us try to make them surrender that independence which they have enjoyed for twenty years. They had it, in effect, years ago when I was at the Dominions Office, and for them to go back, as it were, into the nursery just simply cannot be. Surely the wit of man can devise in some form or other what I believe is now called a "package deal" which would avert that. That is my prayer, and it is also my last word to your Lordships to-night. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.