§ 3.28 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
My Lords your Lordships will remember that on June 17 I moved in this House that the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1968, be approved, and I then explained to the House the reasons why, in the Government's view, it was necessary to approve that Order. In the event, the Motion was defeated by a narrow majority, but I think it was understood on both sides of the House that Her Majesty's Government would be obliged to replace the Order so as to give effect to their international obligations. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said:If it is quite clear that the people of this country are either in favour of the Government's policy or not interested, or are uncertain: or if it is reflected in another vote by the elected Chamber, then so far as I am concerned I do not think your Lordships should persist any further".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18/6/68, col. 576]The Order now before the House has of course already been approved by the other place.
I should now like briefly to explain the ways in which this Order differs from the Order which was before us on June 17 and 18. The differences between the Orders are not differences of sub- 448 stance but arise from the replacement of the earlier Order by the new Order.
I should first point out that Article 1 of the new Order revokes the earlier Order, thereby anticipating its expiry. All the other Articles are therefore one higher in number than in the revoked Order. My Lords, the other differences are as follows. Article 2, paragraph (1), differs from the corresponding Article in the previous Order in that it prohibits the importation of goods exported from Southern Rhodesia after the commencement not of the Order itself, but of the revoked Order. This is to ensure that in a case where there is a time-lag between the various elements in an offence, in which one element occurred when the revoked Order was in force and another after the commencement of the new Order, the continuation of the prohibition is not stultified.
Article 13, paragraph (1)(b)(ii), differs from its predecessor only to the extent necessary to include the revoked Order among the previous Orders to which this Article refers. Article 19 deals with the other more general transitional matters and saving provisions. Things done under the provisions of the revoked Order will have effect after the commencement of this Order as if they had been done under the corresponding provisions of this Order, and the continuity of restrictions affected by previous Orders which are listed in Schedule 2 and repeated in this Order is maintained notwithstanding the replacement of earlier Orders by later ones.
My Lords, on June 17 and 18 we debated every conceivable aspect of this subject for 14 hours. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) (No. 2) Order 1968, be approved.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack for the brief way he introduced this Motion and Order and pointed out the differences between this and the last Order. Your Lordships will no doubt notice, that, in spite of the misgivings of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, we have here, in essence, exactly the same Order as we discussed a month ago, with just enough alteration 449 to make it possible for it to be re-laid. On that occasion we had a very long debate about the merits of the Order and I, for one, have not changed my mind in any way about the Government's policy in Rhodesia, or the merits of this Order, or my action in voting against it. The Government's policy seems to me to be wrong and incapable of successful achievement. I do not believe that sanctions will bring Rhodesia to her knees, certainly not while South Africa and Portugal ignore them and while other countries tacitly allow trade with Rhodesia to continue.
In this view I have not only the support of those who sit on these Benches but also that of President Kaunda who, on arrival in this country, said that sanctions had failed and that they could not work unless they were universally applied by everyone. They are not being, and they will not be, applied by everybody, for if Portugal and South Africa applied those sanctions and the sanctions were successful, then the sanctions would be applied against those two countries.
The conclusion that President Kaunda draws from this is that the only possible alternative is force. I am glad to think that this solution is rejected by the Government, who have said so on a number of occasions, and I believe them. My conclusion is, and always has been, that the only possible solution to this problem is by negotiation; and it is still the view of Sir Alec Douglas-Home that a settlement on honourable lines is possible. The vote of confidence in Mr. Smith and the rejection by his party of Mr. Harper must, I think, be a moderately encouraging sign; and it may be that this test of strength and the victory that Mr. Smith won may enable him to adopt a more positive line if negotiations are resumed. At any rate in my opinion, it is the duty of the Government to try to get a negotiated settlement, and the sooner they set about doing it the better it will be.
The news this morning about the possibility of a new Constitution and the declaration of a Republic I think makes it all the more necessary that we should resume negotiations as quickly as possible before things go too far and before it is too late. Therefore, my Lords, for all the reasons I gave on the last occasion, none of which has been altered by the passage of time, I am convinced that the Government's policy is wrong; that it 450 was right that we should declare it to be I wrong and that none of us who did so need have any regrets on that score.
But there were, of course, other issues besides the question of Rhodesia, and it may be interesting if, for a moment, I trespass on your Lordships' time and examine the repercussions of the Government's defeat in this House last month. The Prime Minister's immediate reaction was to lose his temper and conjure up a constitutional crisis which existed only in his imagination. Of course, when a Government are unpopular, and divided, and unsuccessful, and losing by-elections, it is very convenient to find an issue with which to unite and create a diversion. But, if I may respectfully say so, if only the Prime Minister had read my speech before he lost his temper, he might have seen that so far from those of your Lordships who voted against the Order doing anything unconstitutional, they were doing precisely what a Second Chamber should do, which is to give the Government an opportunity to think again. As I said during the course of that speech, I do not believe that on an issue of this kind, when international commitments are at stake, this House could possibly in the last resort overrule a decision of the elected House. However, it was convenient for the Prime Minister to stir up, or try to stir up, a constitutional crisis.
In my view, he has been conspicuously unsuccessful. His reaction in breaking off the talks on House of Lords reform has been universally condemned, and I do not wonder. Perhaps the kindest,, thing one can say about it is that the decision must have been taken at a moment when the Prime Minister was rather emotional. And he does not seem quite to have got over it. I notice that in a speech he made in Newtown on July 6 he referred to those of us who voted against the Order as "a small minority of racially-minded Peers". My Lords, I should like to say that I greatly resent that remark, even allowing for the fact that it was made at a Party rally. Perhaps the most charitable explanation of it (and I am a charitable man) is that after the Prime Minister's successful farewell television performance at the time of devaluation he went into hibernation, and on re-emerging in July, after what was rather a prolonged winter's sleep, he no doubt felt that he should pull no punches or his reappearance might not be noticed.
451 As the summer wears on one hopes that he may get better, but, as I said on the last occasion, if it is possible for agreement to be reached on the future composition and powers of this House, of the new House, the behaviour of the unreformed House is totally irrelevant. We are now promised a Bill to reform your Lordships' House which is to be presented, as I understand it, in the near future. If, as has been said, the inter-Party Conference were near agreement about what the new House should look like, how will the Government's proposals differ from those to which they are said already almost to have agreed? And why should they differ? And if they do not differ, why should they break off talks? My Lords, all I can say is that I think it was a very regrettable decision on the Prime Minister's part, and the sooner the Government returns to common sense the better it will be. I think—
§ LORD BOWLES
My Lords, the noble Lord must know that the debate is about Rhodesia, not about the Prime Minister's speech.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I notice that when the noble Lord, Lord Bowles, interrupts from a sitting position I am saying something about which he is a little sensitive. Perhaps he will allow me to continue and to make my own speech in my own way, without being called to order about the Rules of this House by the noble Lord.
My Lords, one of the things which struck me most forcibly about this episode was how it underlined the need for a reform of this House. Those who voted against the Order did so because they believed that the Order was wrong and that the whole policy of Her Majesty's Government about Rhodesia was mistaken. Very weighty arguments were advanced to support that proposition, but in no single case have I read a leading article or comment on the merits of the decision that was taken by the majority of your Lordships. No one has argued about the Government's Rhodesian policy, about the rights and 452 wrongs of that policy. The whole of the discussion has centred round the "constitutional crisis" and whether this House, composed as it now it, has a right to take a view about anything. However correct and courageous or however wrong and foolish the decision taken by the House might be, no one will ever discuss the merits but always the question of the House itself and its composition.
As a result, it seems to me that the House is not performing one of its proper functions as a Second Chamber, and I should have thought that this made it doubly important to reach agreement on reform, particularly so from the Labour Party's point of view, unless they wish to see—and I am sure that they do not —the Second Chamber continually hamstrung by virtue of its defects. And everything that has happened in the last month shows that reform is necessary.
One thing that struck me—if the noble Lord, Lord Bowles, will be good enough to allow me to go on speaking about the Rhodesia Order and the effect that the rejection of it has upon this House—is the rather sanctimonious attitude of the Liberal Party. In the course of his speech the noble Lord, Lord Byers, told your Lordships how wrong he felt it would be if the House defeated the will of the elected representatives of the people. I heard the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, in a radio programme in which she frequently takes part, telling listeners (I hope that I do not paraphrase her unjustly; she will correct me if I am wrong) that what we did was a manœuvre by the Conservative Party entirely for Party advantage. Well, I wonder when the action of voting against an Order is Party advantage and defeating the will of the elected representatives, and when it is not. Is it only when the Conservative Party do it and not when the Liberal Party do it? For, in the last few years, the Liberal Party has on numerous occasions voted against Orders. In 1967 the noble Lords, Lord Airedale, Lord Barrington, Lord Carnock, Lord Gladwyn, Lord Ogmore, Lord Ponsonby, Lord Rea, Lord Stamp and Lord Terrington, who was then still a member of the Liberal Party, all voted against the Plymouth Order 1966, and two of that number were Tellers. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Byers, was away. I am told on reliable authority that the operation was under the personal 453 direction of Mr. Jeremy Thorpe from a Gallery above.
Then on two occasions in 1966 the Liberal Party voted against Orders, one on Weights and Measures, in which the noble Lord, Lord Byers, voted with the Liberal Tellers, and one on the Prices and Incomes (Commencement of Part IV) Order, 1966, when again there were Liberal Tellers, and both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, voted against the Order. Were they voting for Party advantage? Could the fact that the West Country is a stronghold of Liberalism have something to do with it? Could the electoral unpopularity of the Prices and Incomes Bill be connected in some way with their action? Or were they voting on principle? Is it only the Liberals who are allowed principles? Or are they going to tell your Lordships that they voted only because they knew that they could not win and that the impotence that the Liberal Party has in this House gives them an opportunity to indulge in irresponsibility and to jump on every bandwagon which looks as if it might be popular? Just one moment and I will let the noble Lord, Lord Byers, interrupt. I should like, if I may, humbly to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, that they should look after the very sizeable beam in their own eyes before they bother too much about other people's motes.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, the noble Lord is enjoying himself, and we have joined in with him, but I think that he is not being fair. I made it clear that the difference between the Orders he has quoted and the ones we were debating on Southern Rhodesia is that the Government were obliged under a resolution of the United Nations to carry out this Order. The suggestion made by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that the Government had to bear in mind whether it could get an Order through both Houses was totally unacceptable constitutionally. That was the difference. I am sorry that I have spoiled the noble Lord's speech.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, that one will not do. Is the noble Lord then saying that on all the Orders which are not mandatory Security Council's resolutions your Lordships have a right 454 to defeat the will of the elected representatives of the people?
§ LORD BYERS
If the Government have no mandate, certainly. May I say to the noble Lord that I hope that this will be part of the arrangement for the reform of the House under the new powers?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, as the noble Lord knows very well, the difficulty is that the Parliament Act does not apply to Statutory Instruments and Orders. What the Liberal Party were trying to do was to upset another place in a decision which was freely reached by the elected representatives of the people. It is interesting that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, should subscribe to that, coming from the Liberal Party with their well-known history on the question of the House of Lords and the will of the people. This is something which we shall remember for a very long time.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, this is a most fascinating business, the ability of the noble Lord to avoid saying anything about Rhodesia. I congratulate him. I do not want to hold him up. I would tell him that he is doing extremely well. But there is one reason he did not give as to why the Liberals might have taken the action they did. They did not do it in order to achieve Party unity, which the noble Lord notably failed to achieve.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves the Liberal Party, may I ask him what second thoughts he believed the Government could have had when they were bound by a United Nations' resolution?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, we discussed at considerable length on the last occasion whether Parliament was a rubber stamp for decisions taken by the United Nations. I do not believe it is. I think that Parliament has a perfect right to reject an Order of this kind if they do not agree with the action taken by the United Nations.
I shall now leave the Liberal Party—even if they will not leave me—and turn to noble Lords opposite. If I may say 455 so, their conduct has been a good deal more consistent. I think that in recent years there probably has been only one occasion on which the Labour Party has opposed an Order. In 1963, on the Prison Commissioners (Dissolution) Order under the leadership of that unlikely revolutionary, the noble Earl, Lord Longford, the House was divided. I think that all of us know how deeply the noble Earl feels on matters of this kind, and no doubt he felt this was an issue of principle which he could not let go by. But what about the will of the elected representatives of the people in another place? Did that come into the noble Earl's thinking? And what would have happened if the Order had been rejected? Or was it also that he knew that it was unlikely that his action would be successful and therefore he could safely vote for his principles?
The attitudes of all three Parties should give us all cause for reflection, and reflection, too, on the very difficult situation that occurs when your Lordships feel strongly about something and are inhibited from making their decision known because of the anomaly of the Parliament Act and the composition of this House. As I said in June, if the Government refused to think again—and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has quoted me—if public opinion did not express itself as being against the Government in this matter, and if another place once more voted for this order, I would certainly not ask your Lordships to vote a second time. Partly for the reason I have mentioned—that is, that the discussion has centred round the composition and powers of this House rather than on the merits of the Order—there has not been very much public opinion expressed one way or the other; and I am sorry about that. The other place has voted once again for the Order, and I do not believe that in matters of this kind, particularly when international obligations are involved, this House should be the final arbiter of Government policy.
Thirdly, the Government have declined to think again. Those of us who voted against the Order are on record as warning the Government that their policy towards Rhodesia is wrong and will not solve this tragic problem; indeed, it will make it more difficult to solve. The res- 456 possibility for ignoring this advice, and the responsibility for continuing along their path, lies firmly with Her Majesty's present Government. We have done what we believe to be our constitutional duty; the consequences are of their making.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, if I may return for a moment to Rhodesia, I had prepared a speech which I hoped and thought would be a powerful one to deliver to your Lordships this afternoon, but I am afraid that what I had intended to say would no longer be appropriate in the light of the news from Rhodesia which has reached us this morning. I shall, therefore, be commendably brief, and will only say this. There must be many of us, in all parts of the House, who must have been deeply saddened by the statement issued by Mr. Smith and his colleagues on the eve of this debate.
It is, of course, for the Rhodesian Government, and not for people like me, to decide what should be the future course their country should follow. Moreover, we must all, of course, realise the difficulties with which the policy of the United Kingdom has faced them. I am bound to say that I think what has now happened has amply justified the warnings that we constantly gave as to the danger of delays in settling this unhappy dispute. It may well be said that the Rhodesian Government have been driven into the position which they have now taken up. But, my Lords, I have always believed that loyalty to a Common Crown constitutes the one enduring link between the nations of the Commonwealth, and so the decision of the Rhodesian Government—if it is their final decision—to sever that link has come as a bitter blow.
If what I have read in the Press is not modified by further explanations, I feel bound to say that though my own affection for Rhodesia remains as great as ever, and my views on sanctions have not changed in any respect, yet the sympathies of some of us, at any rate, who are her warmest friends in this country will have been deeply wounded by this newest declaration of her present Government. I will not say any more this afternoon except to register once more my deep personal grief at this news we have just received, and my hope that even now—and 457 here I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—some means may be found, before it is too late, to reopen negotiations on the basis of the terms brought back by Sir Alec Douglas-Home after his last visit. I cannot believe that the loyal Rhodesians would reject it.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, like the noble Marquess, I also had prepared a speech, but I do not propose to scrap what I had prepared, though I shall, of course, refer to what happened yesterday in Rhodesia. On the occasion of the last debate I was not able to speak, but I abstained from voting. Unlike a silent vote, a silent abstention carries no weight, and unless it is explained in the proper way, one might abstain simply because one had gone to see a cricket match or for some unworthy reason. So I felt I ought to explain to the House and, particularly to my noble friends, why I was not able to supp art them on the occasion of the last Division. I feel particularly anxious to give my noble friend this explanation because I have always been a loyal and devoted servant of my Party, and have even, at times, voted with them when my heart was not with them at all. But on this particular occasion I felt that I just could not support them.
Perhaps your Lordships will allow me a few personal notes explaining my interest in Rhodesia. I have not hitherto taken part in arty debates on Rhodesia, and I feel that I ought to explain how I came to be interested in this particular problem. Last September my wife and I were in Rhodesia, intending merely to pass through on our way from a holiday in South Africa. Unfortunately for me —or fortunately—I was taken ill suddenly and had to undergo an operation in Rhodesia. I was fortunate in one sense, that the particular surgeon who carried out the operation turned out to be a very old friend of my family, who used to visit us when he was a boy. That made life a little easier for us. But the result of my illness was we were compelled to stay in Rhodesia for longer than we had intended, and I spent part of my convalescence in meeting a number of people, people of interest and importance in the subject, and discussing matters with them generally, and in studying the condition of the country as a whole, and what people were feeling.
458 I saw many Rhodesians, Africans and Whites, and I was thus able to get some insight into what is going on, both in Salisbury and in the country generally. I saw no member of the Rhodesian illegal Government, certainly not Mr. Smith, nor Sir Humphrey Gibb. I felt that on a private visit I had no right to give any impression that I was there for any purpose except the one for which I was actually there. I gave some of my remarks in a speech which I made last November in this House on the gracious speech from the Throne. In that speech I spoke about sanctions in the then modified form, and expressed the view that they were apparently ineffective and that I was opposed to them. My views on sanctions have not changed. I am more than ever convinced that the principle of sanctions is wrong. This method of forcing a people to accept a particular point of view, however right that view may be, has never in history succeeded. All it has done is to make people more resistant; and so far as the white population of Rhodesia are concerned, who are almost entirely British, there is no reason why their reaction to sanctions should be any different from what it would be if sanctions were, unhappily, at any time imposed on this country. We all know that it would merely have the effect of stiffening us to further resistance.
Sanctions are a very blunt instrument; they do not more particularly affect the people against whom we desire to impose sanctions. The people who suffer most are the people whom we least want to suffer, and whom in fact our whole policy is designed to help. One result of sanctions so far has been to throw 50,000 Africans out of work, causing immense suffering to them and their families. This number will greatly increase as sanctions become intensified. Surely this is not what we want. Admittedly, sanctions will affect, and are affecting, the tobacco trade, the base metal industries, such as asbestos and chrome, and others. But as the noble Lord said, Rhodesia will still retain trade outlets with South Africa, Portuguese West Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, and possibly others. But, of course, her trade is bound to go on suffering.
459 The Government have throughout contended that they will not in any circumstances use force—meaning, I suppose, military force. But I can see no difference, in principle, between the use of military force which kills people quickly and, if it is successful, starvation through sanctions which kills people slowly. Both are equally iniquitous as a means of enforcing one's views upon another people, especially people of one's own race.
For these reasons, I am opposed to sanctions, and in the recent debate on the Order I abstained. I should Like to say to some of my noble friends who have expressed resentment, though not to me personally, that in another place, owing to the enlightened policy of the Government Chief Whip, Labour Members who are conscientiously opposed to the Government on particular items of policy coming before the House are entitled to abstain; and I should hope that we in this House are equally tolerant. I realise that on the occasion when the Order was last discussed we were committed to the passing of the Order, having ourselves submitted the matter to the United Nations. It was for this reason that I did not vote against the Order.
If I am asked: What would you do instead? Do you support or condone the actions of Rhodesia in declaring U.D.I.; in the detention of large numbers of Africans without trial; in the rigorous Press censorship; in their recent affront to Her Majesty in the exercise of Her prerogative; in the number of equivocal statements made by Mr. Ian Smith, including his interview with Mr. Ian Waller of the Sunday Telegraph; and his attitude to the Whaley Report?—I say, "Of course not". But it is no answer to a problem to put forward as a so-called solution something which does not and will not work effectively, and which is morally wrong.
I am sure that discussions are still the only hope of an ultimate solution. I am afraid that the alternative is violence and bloodshed, which may continue for many years. But I have every reason to believe that, although there have been many negotiations in the past which have been unsuccessful, and in spite of the news 460 reported to-day, to which the noble Marquess referred, that Mr. Smith and his supporters have come out in favour of a declaration of a Republic, further talks may well succeed now. The announcement of the proposed declaration of a Republic should not have taken us by surprise. After all, the imposition of sanctions is intended to strike a mortal blow to bring Rhodesia to her knees. What did we expect her to do? Surely we did not expect her to climb down unconditionally immediately sanctions were imposed, or to sit still and quietly starve to death. This is a perfectly understandable reaction to the imposition of sanctions. However, if the declaration goes through, it will be a serious matter for better race relationships, and will create a solid bloc in South Africa, with Africans facing whites in hostility and probably violence for many years to come. We must do everything possible to avoid this happening.
As I have said, my Lords, I still believe that the only solution is negotiation. It will come to it in the end. Even if we have to wait ten or twenty years, the end must be some form of negotiations. It will be no easier then than it is now. Why not talk now? It has been said that there have been 12 talks already which have been unsuccessful. I still say: "Try again, and try again, until we do succeed, and avoid the misery of bloodshed which looks like being the alternative."
I speak, my Lords, with some ground for hope. I have retained by contacts with people in Rhodesia, who are themselves in the closest touch with Mr. Smith and with the Governor General, Sir Humphrey Gibb. I realise that there are a number of apprehensions about Mr. Smith, which have been strengthened by to-day's news. The noble Lord, Lord Alport, thinks that it is useless to negotiate with Mr. Smith at all. On the information that I have, I respectfully disagree. One cannot enter into the heart and mind of another person and know everything that is motivating him, but it is my belief that, in spite of everything, there has been a considerable change in the outlook of the Government of Rhodesia and in the mind of Mr. Smith himself. His sacking of the extreme Right Wing member of his Government, Mr. Harper, is some evidence.
461 I think that the people of Rhodesia themselves have always been ready to arrive at a reasonable solution. They appear to me to be passsionately desirous of maintaining their tie with Great Britain. There is some apprehension about the effect of a majority of Africans on the electoral role, but in the long run most people regard it as inevitable. But to-day I have it in specific terms that Mr. Smith is prepared to accept the Six Principles upon which we have been insisting, and also the proposals put forward by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, although there are some particular matters which will need negotiation and clarification. But there will be no argument, I understand, about the Principles themselves. I have asked my informants whether assurances can be provided that once an agreement has been arrived at such agreement will not be varied or modified, and still less abrogated unilaterally later on by the present Rhodesian Government or by some future Government. I am assured that Mr. Smith is prepared to give the most solemn assurances on this, and to agree on a built-in guarantee in the new Constitution.
Lastly, I asked whether the Rhodesian Government would be behind Mr. Smith in any negotiations that may take place. I am told that at the Cabinet meeting which took place very recently Mr. Smith was given complete support and encouragement to enter into fresh negotiations. I am given to understand, also, that the terms put forward by Sir Alec Douglas-Home are acceptable in principle, and they, together with the Six Principles, could well be a starting point for the fresh talks, though the new Principles will need some amendment. I think that Sir Alec Douglas-Home accepts that. I was also assured that Mr. Thomson, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, made a very favourable impression in Rhodesia and would be welcome once more as a negotiator on our behalf.
What encourages me most of all is the willingness to face up to ultimate majority rule—and that may surprise some of your Lordships; to make steady progress to that end, and to encourage every possible action towards bringing this about at the, earliest date. For my part, I hope that we shall not be too precipitate and press for African political 462 equality before the Africans are educationally and emotionally ready for it. We have learnt, I hope, the lesson of granting independence too early. If I am right, there is nothing standing in the way of fresh negotiations which could bring about an agreement providing for the end of sanctions, the abrogation of U.D.I. and a new Constitution and steady progress towards equal rights of all peoples of all colours.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I wonder whether I might interrupt my noble friend. He is making a number of important statements of a kind that would suggest that the barriers to an agreement between Her Majesty's Government here and the illegal régime are not serious. It has been the difficulty all along that when one came down to brass tacks, and particularly on the blocking third, one could never gel that positive assurance. Since he is making these rather positive statements, I hope he will not think it unfair of me to ask for the authority with which he is actually speaking.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I can only say—and I hope your Lordships will take it from me—that I am speaking with considerable authority. I would prefer at this stage not to disclose the actual source of my contacts, but I hope the House will believe that I do believe what I am talking about.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, again may I interrupt? Has my noble friend disclosed this particular source of his authority to my right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary?
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I have disclosed the source of my information to the very highest quarters in this country. But I was asked on all sides, from the point of view of both the contacts and here, to be rather cautious in making these personal disclosures; and that is why I am not stating the source of my contacts.
I look forward to a Rhodesia which is free from the racialism which prevails in a great many of our new Commonwealth States. After all, peoples of all colours have many interests in common and ideas which unite them as human beings socially, morally and economically, and which are stronger and more 463 important than the colour of their skin which differentiates them. They all have the same desire for the welfare of the people as a whole. When the vote was extended in this country to working people it was feared in some quarters that they would be the masters, would dominate Elections; that we should never again see a Conservative Government. Unfortunately, this has not happened. I should like to hope that when so-called majority rule takes place in Rhodesia, what was feared in this country will not happen there, but that white people, Africans and coloured people will all be able to work together harmoniously with one consideration and objective in mind: the welfare of their community as a whole as they see it. Indeed, I hope that, with good will on all sides, it may well turn out that Rhodesia will be a model for the whole world of a State free from racial conflicts and prejudices of all kinds. Rhodesia is a beautiful and potentially most prosperous country. We fell in love with it —one of the best to live in in the world. The people have the possibility of leading a peaceful and happy life. Let us hope that this possibility will not be destroyed by the folly of man in not facing the inevitable: equality of rights of all the people of Rhodesia.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, since I came to this House not very long ago I have found it a rather surprising place in many ways. When I was contemplating what I would say to your Lordships to-day I was trying to see how the debate might develop, but I must confess that I did not foresee that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition would engage in an attack upon the Liberal Party. The noble Lord was acting upon the old Parliamentary principle that if you have a good case then propound it, if you have an indifferent case attack the Government, and if you have no case at all attack the Liberal Party. The thought passed through my mind, as I listened to his invective being directed towards us, that the state of the health of the Tory Party would be better to-day if the noble Lord had ever used language as forceful towards the illegal régime in Rhodesia as he used towards us. But I intend to emulate the noble Lord in one respect 464 in that I propose to refer only parenthetically to the matters we are supposed to be talking about.
I wanted, my Lords, to make one or two observations upon the position which has been taken in this matter, this tragedy of Rhodesia, by the Tory Party in general and by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition in particular, because the decision which he has announced to-day, that he is not going to advise his noble friends to carry this matter to a vote to-day, is of course in accord with what he told us on the last occasion; that is what he said he was going to do if the Order was relaid in the House of Commons and was there reaffirmed. I did not understand the logic of that attitude at that time, and I do not understand it now.
At the time of our last debate on this subject back in June the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition rested his case upon a tripod argument. The question, then, is why it was necessary to divide this House and if possible have an adverse vote against this Order. He put the case on three grounds. He said that in his view this Order was wholly bad; he expressed himself in very vigorous language. He said that the Order was bad, that it was wrong, and in his view was likely to be disastrous for black and white alike in Rhodesia. My Lords, he has reaffirmed this afternoon that that is still his view to-day. So that leg of the tripod for carrying this matter to a vote still stands.
Secondly, he expounded and explained to us the reason why constitutionally it was perfectly proper for this House to reject the Order if it was minded to do so. As I understand it, the constitutional position remains the same to-day, and it is perfectly within the constitutional proprieties of this House to reject this Order by a vote if it is minded to do so. And the noble Lord rested his argument upon this third plank. He said that it would be wholly wrong if this House was prevented from carrying this matter to a vote out of consideration of what the effect might be upon the proposals for the reform of this House and the inter-Party negotiations which were then going on.
If I may, I should like to quote the words in which he put it, because he spoke with some passion on that occasion 465 and I was impressed at the time. He said:I am as keen as anyone to see that reform should take place, but, my Lords, what sort of people should we be—what sort of a person should I be—if, because of my wish to see a reformed House, I trimmed my sails on every issue which I regarded as being of major importance? I think that people outside would be justified in saying that a body composed of people like that is not worthy of reform or of perpetuation as a Second Chamber."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18/6/68, col. 574.]That is what the noble Lord said, and his meaning was perfectly clear. He was saying that it was not sufficient for members of the Tory Opposition to express their denunciation of this Order. It was not sufficient, to uphold the dignity of the House and the reputation of the House, simply to express their verbal opposition; it was necessary to uphold their reputation lest they should be accused of trimming their sails by not carrying this matter into the Division Lobby.
As I said before, I did not understand his attitude then, and I do not understand it now, because the noble Lord knew then, and he knew perfectly well, that what he was inviting his friends to do, was to engage in an empty gesture. He knew perfectly well, with absolute predictability, that the Order would be reaffirmed by the House of Commons; yet he invited his noble friends, for some reason, to go into the Division Lobby against it. He said it was essential that they should carry this matter to the vote, even if the adverse vote could be achieved only with the assistance of so many of those noble Lords that we do not often see in this place.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, what I do not understand about the Leader of the Opposition is this. If it would have been trimming his sails to fail to vote against this Order in June why is it not trimming his sails to fail to vote against this Order in July? If it was cowardly then, and bringing the House into disrepute, not to carry it to a vote—
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I wonder whether I may interrupt the noble Lord. Since he was kind enough to read out most of my speech on the first occasion perhaps he would read out the second 466 part of it, in which I went into this matter in great detail.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I am perfectly aware of what the noble Lord said on that occasion. I have done him the honour of reading his speech with great care, and it is perfectly true that towards the end of his speech the noble Lord gave the reasons why he thought it right to carry the matter to a vote, and he explained then why, if the House of Commons reaffirmed the Order, he would to-day advise his friends and colleagues not to oppose the Order. But if it is a mistake not to oppose the Order to-day by way of a vote, the mistake is not cured by the fact the noble Lord is able to say "I told you a month ago I was going to make this mistake when the Order came up again". All that has happened since then is that the Order has in fact been reaffirmed, as was absolutely predictable and as a result the noble Lord is to-day advising his colleagues and his friends to do the very thing which he said was unthinkable a month ago: he is inviting them to trim their sails.
The only difference in the situation is this: that to have trimmed their sails a month ago, in the boisterous conditions which prevailed in this House at that time, might have been excused as an emergency nautical operation, but the trimming of the sails which is taking place to-day is a calculated and deliberate nautical manœuvre carried out in the calm seas which prevail in this House at this time.
The whole story of the Tory Party's participation in this Rhodesian business has been a story of trimming their sails from the beginning. They supported the original sanctions; they supported the oil embargo—and I was interested to listen to the explanation which the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition gave in this House on the last occasion as to why he had supported sanctions in the first place. May I read the words to your Lordships?Reluctantly we agreed with the official sanctions imposed upon Rhodesia. I, for one, though with considerable misgivings, felt that it would have been difficult for Britain to ignore Mr. Smith's actions and do nothing whatever to mark her disapproval."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18/6/68, col. 567.]That is pretty remarkable language, is it not? I wonder whether the noble Lord is very proud of those words?
467 Here we had an illegal seizure of power in order overtly to perpetuate a white supremacy of a minority in Rhodesia. Here we had a rebellion against the Crown, with no such excuse as was available, for example, to the American Colonies when they rebelled and when they proclaimed that they were standing for the cause of self-government and the equality and the dignity of all mankind. This was a rebellion to maintain a racial domination by a minority, and in what language does the noble Lord condemn this?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I wonder whether I might interrupt the noble Lord again? I do not want to emulate his noble Leader and interrupt too much, but I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Foot, was a Member of this House in the times when we were originally discussing Rhodesia and the first sanctions, and unless he has read the speeches which I made on those occasions, he has no right whatever to say that I condoned, or did not use language, about the illegal régime.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I am not suggesting that the noble Lord may not, on other occasions, have used other language, but this was the language which he chose to use in this House to explain why he had been in favour of the original sanctions, and the words used by the leader of the Tory Opposition—the Party which is supposed to believe in the Crown and the Constitution—were these:I thought that it would be difficult to ignore Mr. Smith's actions and do nothing whatever to mark our disapproval.That is the sort of language that would be suitable, woul dit not, to reprove some minor peccadillo; that is the sort of language one might hear from a headmaster who was reproving a delinquent schoolboy.
My Lords, I suggest it is the authentic voice of the trimmer. Nevertheless, the noble Lord went along with the sanctions in the first place and now, when under this Order it is proposed that other nations should be brought in to share the burden of the sanctions that are imposed upon Rhodesia (the same sanctions that we have been imposing for the last two years); when it appears that the sanctions may have some reasonable prospect of working, then it is that the noble 468 Lord is not content to say that there may be faults in this Order but condemns it out of hand as absolutely disastrous to black and white alike.
On the last occasion the noble Lord succeeded in persuading 192 of his friends to join him in the Lobby. He would not have it, of course, that they were backwoodsmen; he insisted that he knew every one of them by name. One does not know whether to congratulate him on the range and the catholicity of his acquaintances, or whether to commiserate with him that his "buddies" so rarely come here to foregather with him. But he claimed that they were his friends and the noble Lord said: "What sort of person would I be taken for?"—in certain circumstances. May I very respectfully say to the noble Lord what I take him for? I take him for a person who has been driven, against his better judgment, into a false and untenable position. I do not know why he was driven there. He spoke just now of some occasion when apparently the Leader of my Party was up in the gallery, directing operations below. I suspect that the operations of the noble Lord over this business of Rhodesia have not been so directly controlled, but they have been controlled by remote control from another place. I do not know how far the position that the noble Lord has taken is due to his deferring to the worst and most atavistic elements in the Tory Party.
I would say this to the noble Lord, in conclusion. If he supposes that what took place in June, when we had more people in this House than have been seen for many years—and no doubt, more than we shall see for many years to come—was a routine meeting of the paid-up members of the "Carrington Friendly Society" he was making a mistake. It was a meeting of a friendly society of sorts. It was a reunion, and I predict that it may be the last reunion of the Ancient and Antedeluvian Order of Dinosaurs. And the pity of the occasion —and it is a matter of regret to me—was this: that the noble Lord, by gratuituosly putting himself at their head, and by encouraging them in a futile gesture and by the aid and comfort which he gave and they gave to Mr. Smith, and by attempting, however, ineffectively, to thwart the United Nations resolution and to denigrate the authority of the Security 469 Council, the noble Lord succeeded in doing quite a lot of harm to the interests of this country and in the process did not add to his own political stature.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I think it is quite obvious from the speech to which we have just listened that my noble friend Lord Carrington has got under the skin of the Liberal Party. It is a very entrancing thing to follow, but I do not propose to say very much about it except just this; when we come to trimming sails, I shall watch the Liberal Party in the future with great interest, particularly when they have an Amendment down against the Government on some Bill which they are passionately supporting. I shall wait for them to say, "We must not press this to a Division. We know it will be reversed in the other place, and therefore we shall be accused of trimming our sails". It will be very interesting to see their attitude in the future to Amendments in which they are interested, in view of what they have said to-day.
I think it is the mood of the House that almost as much as is possible has been said upon this Order, and as I have troubled your Lordships on previous occasions upon Rhodesia I will not detain your Lordships for very long. But it is said that almost everything has been said and I would stress that word "almost", because there are just one or two things which I think have not been said and to which I would like to refer to-day. Like my noble friend, Lord Salisbury, I have seen with sorrow the announcement that it is the intention of the Rhodesian Government to go forward to a Republican constitution, but like the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who has addressed the House and has now left, I was not in the least surprised, because I take the view, and I think a number of people do, that it is Her Majesty's present Government with their persistent policy of sanctions which has driven the Rhodesian Government into taking that course. I quota the Preamble to the announcement just made. It says:In the knowledge that Her Majesty's advisers in the British Government have denied us the Queen of Rhodesia we have no option but to submit for your consideration the following proposals for a Republican Constitution of Rhodesia".470 I think it is a tragedy that it has come to this, but I still cannot help hoping that perhaps that final decision will not be taken by Rhodesia.
I think that there has been a great deal of use, in the debates which have taken place in this House, the vote that we gave, the two votes which hale been taken against this Order by Her Majesty's Opposition in the other place in that we have at least shown to the people of Rhodesia that it is not the case in Britain that every man's hand is against them, and I think that that is important. I have here a heading which indicates the depths to which the propaganda against Rhodesia will go. Here is the heading: "If you support Rhodesia you are denying Christ".
I think that is a disgraceful headline but it is typical of some of the propaganda which self-righteous people try to whip up against, I will say, our own kith and kin in Rhodesia, and I think it is disgraceful. But I can well understand that there must be a good deal of contempt in Rhodesia for a Britain which in its self-righteousness says, "We intend to 'clobber' Rhodesia into submission in order to support the African", and at the same time they say, "Under no circumstances will we do anything to confront South Africa", which practices apartheid while Rhodesia does not. The only principle in that is that the British Government is saying on behalf of Britain "We are prepared to 'clobber' a little nation for our selfrighteousness because it will not hurt us too much, but a large nation which does far more in the direction which is contrary to what we believe to be right we will not touch because it will hurt us much too much". What moral justification is there for that? Absolutely none at all. And that is why the selfrighteousness of people who are opposed to Rhodesia I find so nauseating.
As I say, I do not want to detain your Lordships. Her Majesty's Government so long as they have a majority in the House of Commons can adhere to this sanctions policy. All one can hope is that it will be realised in Rhodesia that it is not the policy of all Britain and I would say that, if it is put to them, there is a majority of Britons who would say that surely we can have talks before the final decision is taken for Rhodesia to be 471 declared a Republic. We remember our comradeship in the last war. I only hope they will think that if they can exercise a little patience—they certainly will not give in—the day will come when there is a Government in this country who can give them a decent and honourable settlement of this issue. That being the case there is no object in asking this House to divide again. We have made the position perfectly clear and I hope it will not be lost upon Rhodesia.
§ 4.38 p.m.
My Lords, all I have to say will be said in a very few minutes. I have nothing to add to the points I made in the debate we had on the earlier Order last month. I would confine my remarks principally to what we are to do with this Order and the constitutional position. I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the Leader of the Opposition, and what he said in this respect in his most forceful speech, and those of us who do so strongly disapprove of these sanctions, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Carrington does, will regret the final indication at the end of his speech to his noble friends that they should not take part in a Division. The Conservative Opposition in another place voted against this Order earlier this week and were defeated by the Government majority, and to-day this House is now presented with the alternatives of a Division in which many of your Lordships may not take part, or in letting the Order pass.
I do not quarrel with the decision of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. This cannot have been an easy one to take under all the circumstances, and I recognise that to continue to thwart in this House, month by month, the foreign policy of the Government of the day can only be undertaken in the most extreme instance.
For myself, strongly held as my opinion is, I shall not ask the House to divide again. The vote on sanctions was taken on the first occasion, and Her Majesty's Government know fully of your Lordships' disapproval and, as I believe, the growing disapproval of the electorate over the whole policy of sanctions. I am as convinced as ever before, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, 472 said he was, that these sanctions will fail in their target and will lead to most deplorable and possibly unforeseen consequences.
It is now plain that no settlement of this dispute will take place while the present Government holds power in this country. Inevitably, Rhodesia will continue on her own way and, alas! according to to-day's reports, finally decide her constitutional future as a Republic. This is a sad moment, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said in his most moving speech this afternoon. But I hope with all my heart that that future will be one in which men and women of all races will have an honourable and worthwhile part, secure in common justice and freedom to live happily and prosperously, and secure from all external threats and ill wishes. Eventually, as Lord Grimston has just said, another British Government will alter present policies and have the sense to repair the damage of sanctions, and actively encourage, as in the past, those multiracial principles and practices on which Rhodesia was founded and under which, I believe, it still seems possible that she may well flourish.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I rise to make a few brief comments on the Motion before the House. Before doing so, I should like to say how deeply I appreciated the courageous speech of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in so honestly placing before this House the views that he obtained from a personal visit to Rhodesia. I do not propose to take up your Lordships' time with a detailed repetition of my views which have been ventilated in your Lordships' House over the past three years. But I feel in honour bound to record my deep regret over the impenitent obduracy of Her Majesty's Government, supported as they are by certain other Members of your Lordships' House.
My mind turns to the recent emotional appeal concerning Nigeria and the starvation of thousands of Nigerians. In that connection, we were told by certain Peers that political questions are irrelevant in face of the overwhelming importance of providing the means to keep alive innocent sufferers, no doubt per se a creditable sympathy with human needs and human suffering, however much it 473 ignores, in that case, the realistic appreciation of the facts which have caused this tragedy and which perhaps obstruct its immediate relief. With Rhodesia what do we see? On the other hand, we find the intervention of the United Nations, solicited in an act incidentally, of dubious legality, to enforce mandatory sanctions. And what do those sanctions mean in fact? A deliberate attempt to strangle the economy of over 4 million people, black and white alike, and to ruin their means of livelihood. The indirect encouragement of murderously trained saboteurs, specially termed "freedom fighters", is another feature of this policy. I am appalled by this selective perversion of humanitarian principles.
In passing, it may be worth while to show the views held outside this country. These are the views of a distinguished American, Dean Acheson. These are just two sentences from an address which he delivered in May to the Bar Association in America. He said:It will surprise some of my fellow citizens, though hardly anybody here, to be told that the United Nations is to-day engaged in an international conspiracy, instigated by Britain and blessed by the United Nations, to overthrow the Government of a country that has done us no harm and threatens no one. This is barefaced aggression, unprovoked and unjustified, by a single legal or moral principle.
§ LORD WILLIS
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me? Can he tell me whether that reference was made to Rhodesia or to Vietnam?
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, it was in reference to Rhodesia. We have been repeatedly reminded by the Press that this is an age of double thought and double talk. But we still have the right and the duty to express our disagreement with this regrettable dissent from straightforward recognition of realities. We have already done that in this House in our rejection of the Motion now before us. Mandatory sanctions are not a civilised method of warfare any more than the use of poison gas is a civilised method.
I appreciate that we in this House cannot at the present moment stop this reckless method of compulsion and this vindictive interference in the domestic affairs of a country whose Government's only offence is the desire to manage its own affairs in a way that insists upon the retention of the powers of Government in 474 civilised hands, whatever may be the colour of those hands. It is no use, in these circumstances, maintaining the strange theory that there are norms of civilised conduct, universally accepted by all Members of the United Nations, which warrant and can be used to dictate such a breach of civilised action as the imposition of mandatory sanctions.
I have said nothing—enough was said in our previous debates—about the squandering of our own slender resources in the pursuit of so ignoble and unrewarding an end. I remain unconvinced by the arguments of those who defend this stillborn policy, and I can only conclude by saying that if the Government still refuse to resume or reopen negotiations, I regard our debate to-day as just a memorial service for the demise of statesmanship.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, the developments in Salisbury during the past 24 hours do not affect the points I have prepared; in fact, they make them more urgent. All I intend to do this afternoon is to ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor two questions. First, do Her Majesty's Government really wish to settle this impasse by negotiation and, if so, with whom do they expect to negotiate? The noble and learned Lord stated in this Chamber on June 17 (column 322) as follows:My Lords, the problem of Rhodesia is one which the Government have always thought and said, and I have always thought and said, has only one right solution, and that is the solution of agreement by negotiation.And again, in column 324, he said:If I am right in thinking that the only right solution is a settlement by negotiation, then no doubt in those negotiations there will be questions of principle and questions of detail. On all questions of detail I would hope that everybody concerned would always he prepared to compromise to the greatest extent possible.I wish, with the greatest of respect, to challenge the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on those statements, because I believe that Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to negotiate at this time. If he can convince the House to-day of the sincerity of the statements I am sure that most of your Lordships would take a different attitude to the whole position.
475 My second question is: With whom does Her Majesty's Government expect to negotiate? There is to-day only one person with whom anyone can negotiate in Rhodesia, and that is Mr. Smith, the Prime Minister of the de facto Government. One may not like or agree with Mr. Smith, but that is not the point. He, and he alone, is the person with whom a final settlement has to be worked out. The leading article in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday of this week emphasised that the ranks are closed up behind Mr. Smith, and he now has received an almost unanimous vote of confidence from the ruling Party.
Again, one may dislike and violently disagree with the Rhodesian Front but. my Lords, we must face facts; the Party which Mr. Smith leads to-day governs Rhodesia and is recognised as the de facto Government by such fair and honourable men as Sir Hugh Beadle. If the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor really desires to negotiate a settlement, would he tell us this afternoon with whom he expects to negotiate? At the same time, he could advise your Lordships of the current position of Her Majesty's Government in relation to NIBMAR. It is no good saying that you consider the only solution is by negotiation if you are not prepared to put those words into action and negotiate. I there-for urge Her Majesty's Government to have one more serious try to settle this problem by negotiation before it is too late.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I did not trouble your Lordships when the first Order came before the House, and I do not think I would have troubled you this afternoon had it not been for a reference which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made in the previous debate, a reference to the "Rhodesia Lobby", a reference with which he was good enough to couple my name, a reference which I thought offensive and which I thought was intended to be offensive. In the context in which the noble and learned Lord used the term it is an American importation, and it means, broadly speaking, that members of a Legislature represent some interest outside which is separate from the general public interest and which is 476 probably opposed to it. I therefore feel that I am entitled to declare my interest in Rhodesia.
My interest in the Rhodesian problem is simply this: I passionately desire a settlement which will lead to the social, economic and political advancement of all the peoples of Rhodesia; and I believe that the policy of Her Majesty's Government, if it has not made that settlement impossible, will make it impossible unless that policy is changed. Like the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who made such an impressive speech earlier this afternoon—a speech which one would hope might influence the obdurate obstinacy of Her Majesty's Government —I think Rhodesia is a lovely country. I think it held, before U.D.I.—and still holds, if only the policy of Her Majesty's Government would change—the possibility of a multiracial society in Africa which exists nowhere else in Africa today.
When I visited Rhodesia, like the noble Lord, Lord Silkin—and this is some years ago—I felt that the African in Southern Rhodesia had a far better chance of advancement, had far deeper hopes for the future than the African in the Colonial Office territories to the North, and all that hope, if it has not been destroyed, is being destroyed by Her Majesty's Government. There was one point on which I differ from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and I do so with deference because obviously he was speaking with authority. I must say that he surprised me as much as he surprised the noble Lord the Leader of the House when he said that Mr. Smith was now willing to accept the Six Principles. All I know is that if I were Mr. Smith I would not be willing to accept them.
I simply cannot understand, my Lords, from where these Six Principles derive their sanctity. To hear the Prime Minister talk of them one would think that either he or his predecessor had ascended Mount Sinai and received them graven on tablets of stone from the hands of the Almighty. But that is not so. I do not know where they came from. I suspect that they emanated in the Commonwealth Relations Office—that storehouse of political wisdom and sagacity which has given us such treasures as the banning of the ploughing match in Rhodesia, or the confiscation of Sir Frederick Crawford's 477 passport, or the vesting of the Government of Rhodesia two and a half years ago in Mr. Bottomley, or the appointment of Sir Sydney Caine as Governor of the Rhodesian Bank. I think that it must have come from there.
If I were in Rhodesia, and I think that if most of your Lordships were in Rhodesia to-day, and if we had built up that country, when we looked North and saw what was happening in Nigeria, when we looked even nearer, to other countries to the North, when we looked at what had happened in the Sudan or in Zanzibar, or in Kenya, I think that there is not one of us who would give an unequivocal pledge that, come what may, however things might go, we would never retreat from the principle of unimpeded advance to majority rule. I am sure of that, and I think that it is sheer humbug for us to pretend that we would. But I may be wrong: it may be that majority rule has done better in Africa than it seems to have done.
But on one thing I am quite sure that I am not wrong; and here I join completely with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. I am sure that you cannot bully British people. You cannot bully them whether your name is Bourbon, or Bonaparte, or Hohenzollern, or Schicklegruber—or, for that matter, Wilson. We talk derisively about those who describe the white Rhodesians as our kith and kin, but they are the same stock as we. They inherit the same tradition; they have the same spirit, and they simply are not going to be bullied. The most the Government can hope to do by continuing this process of bullying is to wreck central and southern Africa. They can never hope to get their way by these tactics.
We shall hear in a moment from the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, about the high moral purpose which animates the United Nations. We shall no doubt hear how it is impossible for any right-thinking human being to go against that purpose. For my own part, it would be an impertinence for me to say that I was one of the architects of the United Nations, but I think that I can say that I was an assiduous and dedicated bricklayer. Twenty years ago I believed that in the United Nations we had created an international organization 478 which was freed of the weaknesses of the League and which had strength of its own. I have now learned that that is not so. It is true that the United Nations has more power than the League had: it has more power for mischief. But the League at least had a moral basis: the United Nations now has none; it is without any moral basis whatever. I think the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made that clear in an earlier debate, when he said that a threat to peace was simply what the Security Council decided was a threat to peace.
The Security Council, at the instigation of Her Majesty's Government, has decided that Rhodesia was a threat to peace. Yet every single Member of this House knows that Rhodesia has threatened nobody. It is a travesty of words and is an example, not of "doubletalk" but of "double-think" to pretend that Rhodesia is a threat to peace. President Kaunda takes that view—and, indeed, it is exactly the same view that Hitler took about Czechoslovakia thirty years ago, and that Mr. Kosygin takes about Czechoslovakia to-day.
What we are doing in supporting the United Nations in this, as I believe, humiliating exercise is simply discarding any pretence at all to moral credence. It is not only a question of the morality of the thing. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said it the previous debate what a triumph of diplomacy had been achieved by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, in somehow persuading the Afro-Asian and the Latin-American nations not to kick over the traces altogether. What we hay., to realise about the United Nations is that now the dog, if there ever was a dog, is wagged by the tail. One of the reasons why the United Nations has fallen into such disrepute is that the people who are running it are those nations which most of all lack political experience and political judgment, and those nations which are least of all able to run their own affairs. If there are some of us who look down on the United Nations, it is not because we do not want an international organisation: it is because this international organisation has been debased; and it has been debased very largely by Her Majesty's Government in this Rhodesian issue.
479 Burke has often been quoted in our discussions, and I should like to remind your Lordships of one thing he said. All of us in this House deplored at the time the unilateral declaration of independence. I think we all deplore, with my noble friend Lord Salisbury, the possibility, to put it no higher, that Rhodesia will give up her allegiance—I still believe against her will. But I will remind your Lordships of what Burke said in a similar context:The question is not whether their spirit deserves praise or blame, hut what, in the name of God, shall we do with it?That is a question to which the Government have given their answer:… cry havock! and let slip the dogs of war.It is true that so far the dogs have been muzzled, but muzzles sometimes have a habit of working loose. That is one reason why the policy of Her Majesty's Government is so very dangerous.
But surely, my Lords, there is a better answer to the question than that. Is it not possible for Her Majesty's Government to show, even now, a quality which they have never shown in this issue—the quality of magnanimity? Is it not possible for them to show some understanding of the predicament of the white Rhodesians? Is it not possible for them to realise that the African Rhodesian, by comparison with any other African on the Continent, is not oppressed? Is it not possible for Her Majesty's Government, even now, to hold out the hand of friendship and trust? If they did so, I am quite sure that it would not be rejected.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD CARADON)
My Lords, it is certainly not my intention to go over all the arguments which were used when this matter was debated last month in this House, or indeed to comment on the vote which then took place. Perhaps that is best forgotten. But since I have been engaged and concerned in this matter of Rhodesia over a period of some years in the United Nations, I should like, if I may, to speak to your Lordships shortly about the policy of my Government, and indeed the actions of the United Nations in this matter. I would not wish to detain your Lord- 480 ships unduly, and therefore I shall not attempt to deal with the speeches which have been made to-day beyond making a general comment.
I have spent the bulk of my working life in Africa, in Arabia and in the West Indies, and I have been brought up over many years to believe that the interests of the inhabitants should be paramount. I think that I can perhaps speak with a knowledge of the policies we have pursued in our colonial territories as well as anyone in this House. All I would ask of this House, and particularly of Members of the Opposition, is: I beg you to allow the Africans to speak for themselves. Let me assure your Lordships that something which is intolerable to the Africans, both in Rhodesia and elsewhere, is that Members of the Opposition in this House, in their condescending manner, should speak on their behalf. Let them speak for themselves. They are in concentration camps. They are prevented from political association.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has made a speech which I am sure we all admired —and we appreciate the sentiment with which he spoke to us. But when he says that the Africans suffer most from the sanctions—ask them! And if you can get their voice from the concentration camps you will find that they are not supporting the votes of the Opposition in this House. It is well worth remembering that one of the main principles we refer to—
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, would the noble Lord say how many Africans there are in these concentration camps?
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, I do not know the exact numbers, but I know that the leaders of the political Parties of Rhodesia are in concentration camps at this time; I know that political Parties are forbidden; I know that free association with political Parties is not allowed in Rhodesia and has not been allowed for a considerable period.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I do not like to interrupt the noble Lord, but is he aware that ten 481 times as many Rhodesians were in concentration camps before U.D.I. than there are now?
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, I am not going to quarrel with the noble Marquess on questions of detail and of numbers—
SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh!
§ LORD CARADON
—but I tell your Lordships that the leaders of the principal political Parties—and the noble Marquess cannot deny it—are in concentration camps and are prevented from expressing their opinion. One of the principles to which we refer so lightly—
In other countries in Africa there are probably more people in concentration camps than in Rhodesia.
§ LORD CARADON
The noble Lord is entitled to make his point when his time comes, but it is not to be denied that the political leaders of Rhodesia are not permitted to participate in the political life of their country.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord who is making this particular point about the leaders of the Opposition Parties in Rhodesia being in prison whether he will please tell the House why those leaders were put into prison?
§ LORD CARADON.
All I can tell your Lordships is that freedom of political expression and an opportunity for political leadership in Rhodesia are denied to the African people of Rhodesia at this time. This is well known and is indisputable.
I would go on to say that one of the Principles of which we so frequently speak—a principle which is basic to the whole of our policy—is that, whatever solution is recommended to this Parliament, it shall be a solution that is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Therefore I should like to hear a little more talk of consultation with the African people. We get very little reference, except the condescending 482 reference to the Africans from others. I should like it to be borne constantly in mind that we have an absolute obligation to the 4 million and more of the African people of Rhodesia.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
. My Lords, would the noble Lord prefer the situation in Nigeria and Biafra to-day, where the African people are in complete control, to what it was before the white man left?
§ LORD CARADON
We talk about each subject separately, and I am quite prepared to talk about Nigeria, in which I have myself served. We are all greatly concerned about the situation in Nigeria, but it is not possible to draw a conclusion about Rhodesia from the situation in Nigeria.
I wish to refer again to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, because it is one of my main concerns that the African people must be given an opportunity to express their view. When the noble Lord asks about negotiation my answer is: Yes, of course we are in favour of negotiation. There is ample evidence of readiness to negotiate. It is a question of on what you negotiate. If you talk about negotiating on the Six Principles, I reply: Yes, negotiation has taken place, can take place, and I even hope will take place. But it is a dangerous thing when you say that it must be negotiation at any price. It is a very dangerous state to let your mind get into, when declarations have been made by Mr. Smith to the Press and elsewhere that he in fact believes in the perpetuation of white supremacy. Are you going to negotiate on that basis? It is a question of the basis on which you are prepared to negotiate. We are prepared to negotiate. It has been said so often that it does not need to be said again: we are prepared to negotiate on the Six Principles and all the Six Principles, including, particularly, the principle that the rights, needs and wishes of the African population must have due regard given to them.
I was sorry that I could not be in your Lordships' House when this matter was first debated. I was anxious at that time to come and report to your Lordships what had taken place in the Security Council, but in the United Nations at that time we were dealing 483 with three questions of great importance and great urgency: the Middle East, Cyprus and the Treaty for the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons—all matters of some consequence, in spite of the slighting references to the United Nations which have been made by the Opposition. In recent months we have been able to win overwhelming or unanimous votes on all those three matters. We were also able to secure in the Security Council a unanimous vote on Rhodesia. On all these questions, which rightly give rise to intense feelings, I am glad to be able to report that it was proper for the British delegation to take a leading part in achieving agreement.
Here I should like to re-state and to confirm if your Lordships will permit me, what we consider to be our duty as representatives of our country in the central forum of international diplomacy, in the new Parliamentary diplomacy of the United Nations. Others make disputes, others make conflicts; it is our duty at the United Nations to contain them if we can; it is our duty to resolve them if we can; it is our duty to seek to understand the views and needs of others, to ease tensions, to remove grievances, to stop fighting; to find, if we can, common ground of agreement. That is what we are trying to do all day and often most of the night. That is our object wherever there is a dispute or a conflict. At the same time, we search for agreement in the wider field of disarmament, and all the time we are seeking to improve and strengthen the international effort in economic and social advance. Those are our duties: to find common ground on which we may advance together. That is our purpose. We do not always succeed; but we keep on trying.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, if it is the purpose of the United Nations to seek agreement and to get understanding why is it that the Government of Southern Rhodesia was not allowed to put its case at the United Nations? Surely that is an elementary principle of justice?
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, the régime in Southern Rhodesia, as the noble Lord well knows, is illegal and has not been recognised by any Government in the world—
§ LORD CARADON
It certainly could not be recognised at the United Nations.
My Lords, we are searching for agreement on common ground on these many and difficult matters and even where we do succeed we are seldom satisfied. Compromise, respect for the sincere opinions of others, mutual concession—these are the essentials of international negotiations. Among the 15 members of the Security Council, the 124 members of the General Assembly, we can seldom, if ever, expect that the British case will be accepted in full. Nor, indeed, will be the case of the Russians or the Americans or of any other group or country. But, nevertheless, we search—and it is a continuing search—for agreement and common ground. If it were not so we should not he playing a worthy part as members of the international community; we should forfeit both respect and the hope of leadership; we should not help in containing and resolving disputes; we should have no prospect of contributing to peace or of making the peace tolerable.
We have constantly in mind our national interest. We do our utmost to serve it but it may be necessary to state that national interest and international interest do not conflict. To pursue the so-called national interest and to have no thought to international interest is to harbour a most dangerous delusion. It is my conviction—and on this I would not expect there to be any disagreement in this House—that no country in the world has as great an interest as ours in international understanding and international co-operation, in the cause of preserving the peace and the economic and social health of the wider world. These propositions are surely self-evident.
My Lords, I apologise for taking the time of the House to re-state what is obvious, but nevertheless it seems necessary to do so; for while we were working in New York for agreement there were those doing the reverse. They were apparently advocating three things. First, that we should flout and frustrate the unanimous decision of the Security Council; secondly, that we should break our word to more than 4 million Africans —indeed, to all Africans; thirdly, that we should strike at the root of the Charter of the United Nations by denying 485 the obligations of Article 25 of the Charter which states that members of the United Nations agree to accept and to carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the Charter. There were those who sought at one blow to destroy international confidence, to destroy reliance on British good faith and to destroy the Charter itself to which all Parties in this country gave their solumn undertaking of support. If such an act of abnegation was in the national interest then all I can say is that our national interest would have sunk to the lowest level in history.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, spoke of the political repercussions in this country of the vote in this House. I am not qualified to speak on that subject but I would report, sadly, I must say, on the repercussions of the vote in this House in the international community as I saw ii. at the United Nations. I am sad to say that it was, to universal bewilderment, assumed that a majority of your Lordships wished to comfort and support a régime of racial domination which is in defiance of this Parliament and of the Crown. It was assumed that a majority of your Lordships were prepared to betray pledges solemnly given to the Africans and to the Commonwealth. It was assumed that a majority of your Lordships was intent on dismantling and destroying the structure of the international organisation. I do not under-estimate the damage done by that vote. My only consolation in trying to explain in New York what had happened here was that there were sufficient people in other countries who understood something of the strange constitutional impediments of this country.
I am glad to say that they realised that the destructive policy advocated by that vote was the very opposite of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Some of your Lordships may well say that such assumptions were unjustified and unfair and that few, if any, Members of your Lordships' House were, in fact, supporters of white supremacy. I trust that is so; but nevertheless I have to report the impression and the reaction caused in the international community by that vote. It was an impression and a reaction caused not only among those who often disagree with us; it was the same 486 impression and reaction among those most friendly to us.
My Lords, against that general background let me summarise the choices which we faced and the action which we took at the United Nations. We had stated the principles for a settlement; they were stated also by the preceding Government. We had given due warnings of the consequences of an illegal declaration of independence; so had the Government before us. We, and they, were bound by our pledges, and their pledges, to all the people of Rhodesia. There have since been those ready, even eager, to see the British Government break their word and abandon the principles and the pledges. Such a shameful course apparently appealed to some. It did not appeal to us. On the other hand there were those who advocated the, use of force. This course has been urged upon us by Africans and Asians. It is not altogether surprising that they should do so; for Rhodesia is a British Colony and this Parliament is responsible for all its people.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, Rhodesia is not a British Colony and has never been a British Colony. The noble Lord is showing an utter ignorance of the earlier history of Rhodesia which is quite improper in the positior he occupies.
SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, we argue on a question of fact; and I leave it at that. I say that Rhodesia is a British Colony. I have checked the matter and it is as I say. I have nothing more to say on that.
My Lords, we have not hesitated to use force elsewhere in British Colonies where rebellion has been threatened. The Africans and the Asians could not understand or accept that in Rhodesia we should fail to establish our authority by whatever measures might be required. I do not agree with them. For very good reasons we rejected the road of force and violence. We could not disregard political reality. We could act only within our clear capacity. We sought from the beginning, and we have maintained throughout, that our purpose should be to bring about a settlement by peaceful means. I have emphasised it in every 487 speech that I have made at the United Nations. I have no doubt that we were right, but I am even more convinced that to have surrendered would have brought about a disaster to our international interests and our international standing, and to our reputation with the new nations of Africa and Asia, and especially to our relations within the Commonwealth.
I ask the indulgence of the House to repeat here what I said on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in the Security Council on May 29 when the unanimous vote was achieved. I was speaking for my Government and for my country and, I trust, for most Members of this House:What we have to do is to show a steady determination to succeed in the end. We have to show perseverence of sound principles. We have to convince those in the illegal régime that the course on which they embarked on November 11, 1965, is hopeless. We have to convince them that their rebellion can lead nowhere hut to economic stagnation and political isolation. We have to convince them and everyone else that the only way out of the dead end is a return to the highroad of legality and democratic advance.That was the purpose we stated. I went on:It is in accordance with those principles that a quarter of the population of the world previously under British administration has advanced to independence. We have no intention of abandoning those principles now, nor have we any intention of betraying the principles of the Charter which states that the interests of the inhabitants shall be paramount. That is the core and the basis of our policy.My Lords, that was the position and the policy which we advocated and defended in the Security Council and it is the position and the policy which I advocate and defend here.
Your Lordships have been patient and I wonder whether you will permit me to add a personal word. I have, as I said, for most of my working life been engaged on the task of working in the Middle East, in Africa, and in the West Indies to give effect to the principles of which I speak, the principles of democratic government and self-determination and racial equality. I have throughout accepted the principles stated in the Charter, that the interests of the inhabitants, of all the inhabitants, shall be paramount. I have done so under successive British Governments—Conservative and Labour Governments. It has been my consolation 488 and comfort to believe that these principles are principles on which the British people, of all Parties, are in broad agreement. I did not find it unnatural to graduate from the school of colonial administration to the university of international affairs, and in both I have defended the same principles. I did so when i was responsible to the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, when he was Colonial Secretary. I did so when I was responsible to Lord Home (as he then was) when he was Foreign Secretary. I have the highest regard for them both. Neither, I am sure, has anything but respect for the principles which I have stated.
Earlier this week I listened to the debate on the Race Relations Bill and I was heartened to hear one speech after another, from the other side of the House as well as from mine, condemning racial discrimination in all its manifestations. I would not expect to find in this Parliament support for white supremacy. I was encouraged, moreover, to read the account of the recent debate in another place on this subject when Sir Alec Douglas-Home said, in answer to another of my brothers, that advance to majority rule in Rhodesia must be certain—that was the word he used: "certain".
A great deal is at stake, my Lords: our proud record of converting a subject Empire into a free Commonwealth; our good faith in meeting our pledges; our reputation in international dealings; the relationship with all the new nations; the future of the Commonwealth—all are at stake. To waver or weaken now would. I submit to your Lordships, be a denial of all we have worked for in overseas policies for a quarter of a century. As the noble Lord, Lord Alport, said last month in this House, it would make it inevitable that the solution of the Rhodesian situation would be achieved by force. It would close the road to a return to legality and democratic advance. As the noble Lord, Lord Snow, said last month, Rhodesia has become the symbol and emblem of the greatest divide in the world, a divide between north and south; black and white; rich and poor. To falter or to fail in the exercise of our responsibility in that great issue would be to lead straight, so I submit to your Lordships, to a national disgrace and an international disaster.
489 My Lords, I trust I shall be able to go back to New York from this House carrying the confirmation that we shall not now, or in future, abandon the pursuit of an honourable settlement in accordance with the principles and pledges we have stated and so often repeated, and which we are determined to honour.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, it would be natural that members of the Government should think it unnecessary for anybody else to speak from this side of the House. I personally feel that after the admirable speeches that have been made it is really superfluous for myself, or anybody else, to speak from this side. I particularly associate myself with the speech of my noble Leader who so effectively set out the position of the Conservative Party which is united against sanctions, and I would entirely associate myself with the speech which we have just heard from my noble friend Lord Coleraine.
My Lords, I am speaking because I feel intensely on this subject and I exercise the privilege we have of expressing our thoughts. But there is another reason. I believe that bringing in an Order of this character for a second time is most unusual. Certainly in the more than 35 years during which I have sat in this House there has been no precedent and therefore I speak about it now. I have also reason to speak because, with all modesty, I may say that I know something about Rhodesia and also about South Africa, but I admit not as much as some of my noble friends, on this side, who have spoken. But, with the knowledge I have, I am convinced that the Order about which we are talking is completely wrong.
My Lords, we have just listened to a powerful exposition by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who spoke with all his long experience and his conviction that what he was saying was right. He told us a great deal about what might happen to the reputation of this country if we did not seek to exert this persecution of Rhodesia. I will explain. All my life I have tried to be a good Conservative. I have believed in the Commonwealth and the Empire. This is a British matter which ought never to have been handed to the United Nations. Therefore 490 all the explanation which the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, has made is irrelevant because the matter ought never to have been handed over when it was a British matter.
My Lords, I remember, when I was very young, the bitter partisanship between Liberals and Conservatives over Home Rule. I remember the spring of 1914, when this House was vehement in its denunciation of the attempt of the then Government to coerce Northern Ireland. I sat in the Commons with the Irish. The Government of the day capitulated to Rebellion. Incidentally, there are not many in your Lordships' House who were then there, but my eye rests on one, the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, whose long and distinguished service to the Crown we all recognise and whom we are always glad to see active with us.
I am convinced that the United Nations acted contrary to its Constitution. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said on a previous occasion that it had acted only by usage and practice, and not by its Constitution. I should like to associate the noble and learned Lord with that great international lawyer, Mr. Dean Acheson. In a speech to the Bar Association at Washington, he emphasised his belief that this action is illegal. I would quote one sentence:The central issue involved in the assault by the United Nations and the United Kingdom against Rhodesia is a patent illegality, despite a layer of bland sanctimony.My noble friend Lord Coleraine made good reference to the sad past record of the United Nations. What contribution did they make to preventing the loss of life in the Sudan and Ruanda? What action was taken to prevent the loss of life in Hungary? Perhaps we are on the threshold of a repetition in Czechoslovakia of that bloodbath. Would the United Nations go to the aid of Czechoslovakia to relieve them from the oppression of Russia, a ruthless colonial power, the oppressor of many countries in Eastern Europe? But still the United Nations does nothing about that.
Rhodesia, I contend, has been self-governing since 1923. It would be illogical to expect them to accept being brought under Whitehall now. To refuse to negotiate appears to put us on the level of the Arabs, who refused to recognise the 491 reality of their humiliation in the six-day war. This monkeying around with passports is a bad example to the world. To lessen travel and the opportunities of people getting to know each other is folly.
I believe sanctions to be wicked and vindictive. They have never succeeded, and they will not succeed now in destroying Rhodesia's economy nor the de facto Government of the country. What are sanctions going to do? It is the Africans who will be hurt. The noble Lord, Lord Caradon, referred to the 4 million Africans. Two million of them are under 17. He should be more careful about his inferences. The Africans are going to be hurt more by drought than by sanctions. There is likely to be a greater distress in Rhodesia by the action of the British Government than in Biafra by their own actions with civil war. Are not the Africans living in the kraals in Rhodesia on a normal subsistence basis and to whom an act of God has sent this drought, entitled to the same charity as is rightly forthcoming to Nigeria and Biafra. My fear is that if negotiations are not proceeded with, the alternative is force. That would bring a confrontation with South Africa, and we just cannot afford that menace to our industry and to employment in this country. Emotional ideology is out of step with practical reality.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, I should like to be permitted to comment on one remark in the exceedingly powerful but perhaps not altogether fair speech of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. That was his remark (if I do not misquote him) that Rhodesia had not been summoned or allowed to appear before the Security Council because of her status as an illegal régime and therefore outside the law. I feel that to forbid an alleged criminal to come to court to plead in his own defence and give evidence on what he has done is as far as one can go in denial of ordinary elementary justice.
It is clear that to continue to oppose this Order would serve no useful purpose, but it does not follow that it should be allowed to go without remark, particularly if that remark is intended to 492 be constructive. I have such a remark to make, and I would make it in the form of a plea to the Government. I daresay they will take no notice, but as I am convinced that in that case their Rhodesian policy has no chance of success, I conceive it to be appropriate and even a duty that I should make this plea.
My plea is this. Will they please return to the so-called Six Principles which, no matter how much they may talk about them, they have in fact abandoned? I refer to them as the "so-called" Six Principles because there are not really, and never have been, six. The term is misleading. There is only one, the first, to which the remaining five are subordinate. One may think of them as sub-principles or pseudo-principles, or simply as rules of procedure which carry out the first. One can call them what one likes, each according to his own point of view. The first is paramount—"Unimpeded progress towards majority rule." That is the ultimate objective, upon which all Parties claim to be agreed, and it is this that I say has been abandoned. The agency of its abandonment is that other Principle—"No independence before majority African rule", or NIBMAR. This also is a sub-principle or pseudo-principle, but so long as it holds the field—and it still does—the true principle remains in cold storage. Moreover, being a somewhat tender plant in the soil and climate of Rhodesia, if it remains in cold storage very much longer it will die. Indeed, I think it is clear from this morning's newspapers that it is already very near to death.
It may be helpful to notice that both the Principle and NIBMAR divide quite neatly into halves—the Principle into "unimpeded progress towards" and "majority rule" and NIBMAR into "no independence before "and" majority African rule". If we set the two against one another, half against half, perhaps we may be startled by the result of the exercise. That is the exercise I propose quickly to perform.
It goes like this. "Unimpeded progress towards …" In this we all believe, but against it we now have to set "No independence before …" The moment we do that we see that the original positive assertion is gone and a stultifying negative has taken its place. The answer 493 to this particular criticism, I suppose, is that the stultifying negative is necessary in the circumstances of the moment, and in any case is only temporary. Whether it is necessary or not is a matter of opinion, and I am not concerned to express an opinion about that. What I am concerned to do is to show that it is not temporary, it is permanent. Oh, I know the Prime Minister himself has said that NIBMAR is not sacred, but, my Lords, when he said that he was referring to the "NIB" rather than to the "MAR".
Let us now turn to the second halves, "majority rule" on the one hand and "majority African rule" on the other. The only difference between the two, of course, is that the latter contains the word "African", and I have heard it said that it makes little or no difference. Does it not! If anyone believes that, I can assure him it makes all the difference in the world—and quite possibly to the world. Majority rule means rule by an electoral majority, and is the fundamental principle of democracy. Majority African rule means rule by the ethnic majority, and as a political principle it is not democratic at all, it is racial.
At this point, perhaps a little tiresomely, my argument has to make a choice between diverging directions, because I do not think there is any very precise agreement on what really is meant by "majority rule" in any case, qualified or unqualified. I take it as clear, however, that there are only two things it can mean. "Majority rule" must have one of two possible meanings, or conceivably both. These two possible meanings are, first, rule by the majority of the electorate, operating through a free and universal suffrage. Secondly, the alternative, rule by the Parliamentary majority that has been elected under such a system. In fact, in practice it probably means both these things, since it is to be expected that the majority in Parliament will reflect and correspond to the majority in the country. However, it is necessary to consider these two possibilities separately, because they produce different results: and in order to do this it is necessary also to be clear about two things. First, African rule means rule by Africans (and "Africans" in this context can mean only black Africans, otherwise the adjective could have no meaning 494 at all, since I do not suppose the Government could have been so childishly silly as to put it in solely in order to provide a vowel for the second syllable of NIBMAR) and, secondly, of an African majority one thing can be said with absolute certainty: that no non-African can belong to it. If that were possible it would be only a predominantly African majority, which is a different thing.
May I return to the question: electoral majority, or elected majority? Majority in the country, or majority in Parliament? My Lords, of course I do not dispute that eventually under a free and universal suffrage the African majority in country would presumably elect an African majority in Parliament. But I do not see the justification for insisting that they must elect an African majority in Parliament, whether they want to or not. By making this the law we shall be making possible the situation in which a black majority would wish to elect a white man to Parliament, only to be precluded from doing so because of the fact that it would in effect turn the Parliamentary majority from black to white. To that some may reply, "Exactly; that is precisely what we do intend".
If that is intended, I would ask you to pause and consider very carefully exactly just where you stand, and for three reasons. First, this is at variance with the principle of free and universal suffrage, because it forbids the elector to vote for the candidate of his choice. Secondly, I do not see that it would be any more respectable to forbid a man to stand for Parliament in Rhodesia because he was not black than it would be to forbid a man to stand for Parliament in England because he was not white. Thirdly, because the majority in Parliament is, and ought to be, a majority of Party, and not of colour or race.
I incline, myself, however, to the view that majority rule means rule by the majority of the electorate. In that case, the first and instant effect of saying that the African majority must rule, is the automatic disfranchisement of all non-Africans. If any noble Lord doubts the truth of this, I would ask him to consider the position if we had such a law in Great Britain. Suppose the law was that rule must be by British majority, "British" meaning British by race. What a great losing of votes there 495 would be among the Irish and among all citizens of other descents who appear at present on our electoral roll. And so it would be in Rhodesia. No white man would have a vote. I dare say he might be allowed to stand for Parliament, but I cannot easily see anyone electing a candidate who was so second class a citizen as not even being allowed to vote.
I hope I have made it clear why I say that even if the "NIB" of NIBMAR were dropped—that is to say, if for some good reason the Government abandoned their insistence on a return to legality before all else—the principle of unimpeded progress towards majority rule would still be in cold storage. Until the word "African" is dropped, the impediment to progress remains inflexible and unbreakable. For, what white Rhodesian, what brown Rhodesian—and, for that matter, what enlightened black Rhodesian—is going to accept a Constitution that puts all power permanently into the hands of one section of the population, however large that section may happen to be? The whole idea is opposed to our basic ideas of democratic government, of morality, of justice and of common sense. It offends, moreover, against two of what I choose to call the "sub" or "pseudo" principles, No. 4 and 6 in the full list of 6.
The Sixth Principle is:Regardless of race, no oppression of majority by minority or of minority by majority.I hardly think this can be guaranteed under a system in which political authority is reserved to the most numerous race. The fourth Principle is:Progress towards ending racial discrimination.All I have to add to that is an exclamation mark.
My Lords, majority African rule is a principle that explicitly and deliberately entrenches racial discrimination into a country's Constitution, prohibits the emergence of a multiracial society, makes for a lowering of the quality of the Legislature, and handicaps the country as a whole without conferring upon the African any benefit that he would not enjoy without it. It should go, and go at once.
496 I do not think the Government can refute in detail what I have said. They can, of course, refute it in toto by saying that they never had any intention of insisting on African majority rule. If so, I should naturally be delighted, and so would many of my noble friends. But I hope that they would also make the fact publicly known, for that certainly is not known. Only a fortnight ago, for example, on July 4, The Times newspaper stated in a leading article that the first of the Six Principles is:Unimpeded progress towards African majority rule.My Lords, what do the Government hope to see in Rhodesia: rule by the majority, or rule by the African majority? We are entitled to ask for an answer from Her Majesty's Government to that question, if only for the information of the people of Great Britain, of the United Nations and of Rhodesia itself, who will have to pay the bills.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I will detain the House for only a very few minutes. Two speeches have been made in this debate that certainly merit comment from this side. In common with the rest of the House, in all quarters, I found the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, deeply wise and courageous. I was sorry that it proved impossible for him to make a speech on the last occasion, when the first Order was debated, and I should like to think that my encouragement to him to speak on this occasion might have brought some credit to me, if I did not well know that he would have done it in any event, even without encouragement.
By an extraordinary coincidence he was immediately followed by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, who made from the Liberal Benches one of the most curious speeches that I have ever heard. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, explained why he found it perfectly impossible to support the Government by approving the previous Order. I should have thought that, whatever else struck one about Lord Silkin's speech, it could not be described as antediluvian. The noble Lord, Lord Foot, described anybody who is unable to accept the wisdom of this Order as taking an antediluvian attitude.
497 My Lords, I now come to the other brother, the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, from whom I differ with greater reluctance because, although it has never been my experience to have any direct dealings with him, perhaps he will believe me when I say that for much of his previous career I have, in common with many of my friends, a great deal of admiration. I do not feel any such admiration for his conduct of the Government's policy at the United Nations or for that policy itself; and in so far as he prompted that policy, I am quite unable to congratulate him.
The one point on which I agree with the noble Lord completely is that this Order raises a great moral issue. Where I differ from him is in my profound belief that considerations of morality are against this Order, and not in its favour. Your Lordships have only to read the Order to know that its intentions and objects are to ruin the Rhodesian economy, and to bring about the breakdown of law and order in that country. Let me say at once, as I have said before, that one sometimes has to do cruel, horrible and, at first sight, even wicked things, if one believes that that is the only method to bring about some greater good. But in order to justify in morals doing some cruel thing, such as this Order seeks to do, it seems to me that you must have some reason for believing that some good will follow from it. Much has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, about the Six Principles, but not a single word was said by him to show that the accomplishment of any one of those Principles will be brought about by this Order.
§ LORD CARADON
I must interrupt the noble Lord. First of all, his description of the purposes of the Order bore no relation to the Order. Secondly, I have never said one word in favour of disorder or in support of disorder. I must ask him to be more careful when he is putting words into my mouth.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I certainly was not putting those words into the noble Lord's mouth. I did not say that he said these were the objects of the Order; I said that it was obvious to any reasonable man, if he read the Order, that they were the objects of the Order. If the noble Lord wants to know why I 498 argue that, I would refer him to my speech on the last occasion.
§ LORD CARADON
I am very familiar with the Order. I had some hand in framing it, with others, and I am fully prepared to take responsibility for what the Order says.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I have no doubt that that is so; and that is why I am attacking the noble Lord. I say that you have only to read the Order to realise that it is designed to bring about the breakdown of the Rhodesian economy. I do not know whether the noble Lord denies that.
§ LORD CARADON
I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord further, but I fully deny it. The purpose of the Order is set out in the Order: to return to legality and democratic advancement.
§ LORD CONESFORD
To do that by ruining the Rhodesian economy, or to bring the régime to their heels by the threat to do it. If the noble Lord is seriously suggesting that this is not designed to injure the Rhodesian economy, I can only say that his reasoning faculties are not what they were. It is, as I say, quite demonstrable by reading the Order that those ale the objects of the Order. I fully accept that Her Majesty's Government claim to expect that, as a result of this, there will be a surrender by the present Rhodesian Government that either the present Rhodesia Government (or maybe it is preferred to call it a régime) will surrender, or it will give place to some other régime which Her Majesty's Government will find more agreeable. All I say is that there has never been any argument put before this House to indicate that there is the least possibility of that result flowing from this Order. If there is no possibility of that, then I say that by any ordinary consideration of morals this is an immoral Order.
My Lords, when it was first suggested that Her Majesty's Government should go to the United Nations and seek an Order on these lines, I at once asked a Minister in this House, if that were so, whether Her Majesty's Government would do all they could to see that the Rhodesian régime should at least be heard I y the Security Council. I found the answer given by the noble Lord on that occasion very puzzling. He said that it was an 499 illegal régime. So it may be in certain respects. But it has been held by the courts of Rhodesia— and I do not think there is any contrary decision by any other court anywhere—that it is the de facto Government of Rhodesia. Secondly, the present Prime Minister, immediately after U.D.I., asked the civil servants in Rhodesia not to desert their posts.
My Lords, how in the face of that can we treat the Rhodesian régime as though it had no importance whatever as a body? Whatever else this Order does, an Order of which the noble Lord is so proud, I do not think he would deny that it is aimed against the present Rhodesian régime. In fact, that appeared from his whole speech. But, if it is so aimed against that régime, who had a better right to be heard? There is nothing to limit the power of the United Nations to hearing only legally established Governments, or only those who are members of the United Nations. Of course, the United Nations had power to hear the Rhodesian Government; it was obviously not only not contrary to the Charter, but a requirement of natural justice.
Since I have made my views clear on previous occasions, I am not going to repeat them now.
SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD CONESFORD
I am glad that that gives so much relief. I am glad, also, that those who are expressing such relief should know that some noble Lords on this side share their view that moral issues of the deepest importance are raised by this Order. The point on which we fundamentally differ from them is that they regard the policy embodied in this Order as moral, and some of us here regard it as utterly immoral.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, your Lordships will be gratified to hear that I do not propose to reply at any length to this debate. It was opened by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who, if I may say so, made a good start by saying that this was a problem which could be settled only by negotiation. As that was the very first thing which I myself had said in opening the previous debate, I naturally wholly 500 concur. He then, however, turned away altogether from Rhodesia, first to deliver the usual Tory personal violent abuse against the Prime Minister, and then for some reason or other he delivered himself of terriffic onslaught on the Liberal Party; and he did not return from that until his final sentence, when he said that he did not propose to advise the House to divide against the Motion.
I was very saddened, if I may say so, by the speech made by my noble friend Lord Silkin. When I first came into this House I regarded him as my mentor, and there is of course no member of the Party who has a more distinguished or a longer record. But I am afraid that, having gone to Rhodesia and having, I know, fallen ill, and having been most kindly treated by some of the white settlers there, he is under a misapprehension. He referred to assurances he had had from Salisbury that Mr. Smith and his colleagues were ready to accept a settlement based on the proposals brought back from Salisbury by Sir Alec Douglas-Home earlier in the year. My Lords, if that proved to be the case, the inadequacies of these proposals have already been explained by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in the Rhodesia debate on March 27. In particular, he explained that they did not provide for an adequate blocking mechanism. I can assure your Lordships that Mr. Smith has given no sign at all that he is prepared to accept any adequate blocking mechanism. Indeed, he has made a clear statement in public to the contrary. Of course, if he is ready to do so, let him say so, but he has not said so and up to now he has even refused, as also has Sir Alec Douglas-Home, to make public the proposals to which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, referred.
My noble friend then painted an unhappy picture of the effect of sanctions on the Africans, and I can only, with respect, echo what my noble friend Lord Caradon said; namely, why not ask the Africans? Of course, I have discussed these matters with Mr. Nkomo, the leader of the majority Party, with the leaders of the Sithole Party, and I can only echo what my noble friend said. Instead of white people learning from other white people what the Africans think, why not ask the Africans? And, indeed, the African Leader of the Opposition in the Rhodesian Parliament has himself said 501 how greatly they prefer sanctions to losing the prospect of majority rule.
My Lords, we have had speeches which I recognised as very sincere from those who are sometimes referred to as "the Rhodesia Lobby": the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. Lord Grimston of Westbury, Lord Wedgwood, Lord Milverton, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter, Lord Coleraine, Lord Barnby and the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery. We have heard their speeches, if I may say so, many times before, in every Rhodesia debate. We recognise their sincerity, but I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by my replying to them in general. The noble Marquess referred to the news—what the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, called the "announcement of the Government"—that they intend to go forward with a republic. My Lords, this is not known to my Government, and the noble Lord did not tell us where he got it from. All I know is that there are newspaper accounts that certain proposals have been put before the branches of the Rhodesian Front Party. This is a very long way indeed from any announcement by any Government; and in any case, of course, no announcement, if there were one, that Rhodesia has become a republic makes it a republic or has an effect in law at all.
The noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, asked me to explain why the Government do not adopt exactly the same attitude to South Africa as they do to Rhodesia. The reason is a very simple one. We are not responsible for South Africa. We are not the Government of South Africa. We are responsible for some 4¾ million people in Rhodesia, and we are the legal Power. Then the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, told us what he wanted Rhodesia to be, and that is what we all want Rhodesia to be.
I must say something about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter, because he particularly asked me to answer two questions. The first was: Do the Government want a settlement by negotiation?, to which the answer is: Yes, they do, as I previously explained on the last Order. And, secondly: With whom do they intend to negotiate?, to which the answer is: Whoever is in power in Salisbury. He 502 was good enough to quote something I had said before. I said, and I repeat, that I hope when there are negotiations everybody will give way as much as possible on details. But I went straight on to point out what he did not read: that there were principles which we had taken over from our predecessor; and pledges which we must keep. I painted out the reasons why at the present moment it is quite clear that Mr. Smith and the illegal régime are not prepared to accept those principles; and it is of course one of the objects of sanctions to bring them to the view that on the whole it is better to settle with this country than to go on and on in the condition in which they are.
What I said last time apparently did not remove from the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, the delusion that we control the United Nations. When an African country puts down a resolution before the Security Council, which it is entitled to put down, it is really no good talking about our having handed over Rhodesia to the United Nations. I am now going to please the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, very much—
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, if the noble and learned Lord would permit me to say so—and I apologise if I am wrong—I have frequently understood it to be stated that the Prime Minister had gone authoritatively on record as saying that it was his intention to han3 the Rhodesian problem over to the United Nations.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am quite certain that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has never said that he intends to hand Rhodesia over to the United Nations.
Then, I am going to please very much the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, because he will be pleased to hear that there is no such policy on the part of Her Majesty's Government as "no independence before African majority rule". If he will be good enough to read what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said, and to read what my right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary said, he will find that in every case the words are, "majority rule", not "African majority rule". It is only because the Opposition will go on calling it "African majority 503 rule" that even some of the newspapers are coming to believe that that is the policy.
The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, addressed a passionate plea that he should be told what good might be done by the Order, and he said that nobody had ever suggested what good was going to be done by the Order. Of course, the 14-hour debate we had was a very long one, and it would be quite unreasonable for me to expect that the noble Lord had read what I said. But I really did my best. I pointed out how, pursuant to sanctions, and only since sanctions, the leading businessmen were for the first time saying publicly to their colleagues, "We cannot go on like this. We must settle this with Britain"; and how I hoped that that would spread.
My Lords, of course that brings me to what is, after all, the only real effect of this Order and the resolution of the Security Council behind it; namely, that it puts on other countries a burden which so far only we have assumed in relation to the totality of the matter which it covers, and even in relation to those things which are covered by the previous resolution, which in the main was followed by us rather than others. This is the second time this week that we have discussed a problem of race relations. Last time it was the 2 per cent. of immigrants here; to-day it is the 7 per cent. of immigrants in Rhodesia—and of course the native people as well. It has always struck me as rather curious that the Right Wing of the Conservative Party, who tend here to say, "Immigrants go home" do not make a similar noise in regard to the British in Rhodesia.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, would the noble and learned Lord allow me to make a comment on that? Is it not a fact that the great bulk of what he calls the "immigrants" were in Rhodesia before the Africans who are there now, and that it was the work done by the white Rhodesians in building up the economy that drew the African there?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
No, my Lords; I should say certainly not. I know the noble Lord's great knowledge of this subject, but to suggest as he did, if I understood him rightly, that most of the immigrants in Rhodesia had been 504 there before the Africans is really absurd. Quite a small proportion of the white settlers now in Rhodesia were there before the war. Somebody like Mr. Smith, who was born in Rhodesia, is a fairly exceptional person. Most of them went out after the war because they did not like the Labour Government, and to suggest that they were there before the Africans is, I respectfully suggest, quite wrong.
My Lords, I am not going to say any more. My noble friend Lord Caradon has addressed us with such authority and knowledge of this subject that I think it would be an impertinence on my part to say more. All I can say is that if the House does not divide against this Motion, it will have done something to repair the grave damage to the reputation of our country which was done by the hereditary Peers on the previous occasion.
§ My Lords, the Question is: That this Motion be agreed to.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.