§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I will do my best to take the hint and be short. It is a little difficult. This debate has ranged very widely indeed—far, I should have thought, from the particular subject matter we are discussing; and perhaps in the circumstances one is allowed to say a word or two about the merits. There was one thing which was said by the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat with which I agree. There has been a great deal of spite in this. I agree with that. But I heard nothing else in his speech with which I agreed.
I think that moral questions are involved here, and I would say that there are three of them, and not just one. The first is the obvious one, that, after all,A man's a man for a' thatwhether he is white or whether he is black; and those who get up and say that 230,000 (I think it is) whites, who are at present governing a Police State in Rhodesia, are entitled to do so against the wishes of the 4 million—is it?— blacks in the country, seem to me to be talking wicked nonsense. There it is. I should not like to say a thing like that without a certain amount of support from the right reverend Prelates. But they have agreed about this, and I am sure your Lordships know more about what is right and wrong than they do. But I happen to agree with them, rather than with the Rhodesian lobby.
The second of the questions which seems to me to be involved is this. I do not think it is false to say that the position of affairs in Rhodesia at present is a threat to world peace. On the contrary, I think it is a serious threat—though not perhaps an immediate one. But I think: that if we are going to get matters settled as those who are in power in Rhodesia would wish them to be settled, we are going, without any doubt, to provoke war in Africa on a scale that I shudder to contemplate. It will be the beastliest and the nastiest kind of war. There will be no mercy, and there will be little that is conceded by way of 427 decency in its carrying on or in its settlement; and that goes for both sides.
I am far more afraid of what may happen by way of a war on racial grounds in Africa than I am of any conflict between East and West in Europe, or in Europe and Asia. Let us be clear about this. I have had Nehru to dinner, and I liked having him to dinner. I have read Kaunda's stuff. I do not set myself up, by way of intellect or morality, as the equal of either of these two men; and they happen to be two conspicuous instances. But, as I see it, it is nonsense to say that nothing can come from black rule, and black rule at an earlier stage than most people would contemplate. It is better to have freedom, I believe, with a certain amount of blood and muddle at the start, than to put it off until too late and have it turn sour on your hands, and to pretend that there is a racial distinction which has no justification in morals that I can see; nor, so far as I can see, any justification in practice either.
I turn from that to the third moral question. You do not join the United Nations for nothing. You join it because you believe that it is an alternative to the threat of another world war. I have seen two world wars. So have many of your Lordships. Largely, the purpose of the first one was to abolish an aggressive and hereditary aristocracy in Germany, and I am glad to say that it succeeded. The purpose of the second one was, I think, to meet something far more dangerous. It was not merely racialism; it was a belief in privilege and violence of a most curious character. After all, the man whom we now regard as no doubt a gifted lunatic, but a wicked lunatic, succeeded in killing in gas ovens several million Jews in Germany—and that in the middle of the superior white civilisation which some of us say is so wonderful and so faultless.
I believe that these wars do teach us something. Among other things they teach us that if you are to avoid a third world war you must avoid these terribly dangerous errors of thinking—errors, as I see them, partly of selfishness and partly sometimes of failing to look clearly at the question before you. If any of us read Hansard to-morrow I think we shall find a number of things in it that could hardly be defended on any reasonable 428 position at all. So, when you go into a society such as the Society of Nations, you must not assume that you are the only people who are right; and when you come to a settlement in the United Nations you must expect concessions, since people will not all be of the same mind.
I should like to do what I think has not been done for some time, at any rate to-day—to pay a high tribute to Lord Caradon, for the manner in which he managed this most successful result of his efforts. It was a remarkable contribution to civilisation in the world, a remarkable contribution to the cause of peace; and I think we in this country might at least have some pride in our countryman for what he did in that respect. No doubt he did it because, from past experience he understood the people he was dealing with. There is a lot to be said for "Foots". But that is another thing. I hope that we are not going to treat this matter lightly. Those are the three things I wanted to say and, if I may pick them up again, the first one is black and white, the second one is peace and war, and the third one is the position of a country which joins a community of countries, in this case a community which comprises practically the whole of the civilised world.
Having said that, I must admit that, like some of your Lordships, I should have been hopelessly out of order if I had said this in the Commons, and we are getting a long way from the question that has to be answered to-day. The United Nations resolution for mandatory sanctions was, of course, no part of the domestic law of this country, and it did not bite here except to the extent that we applied it. If we reject effectively—I shall come to this in a moment—this Order to-day, it will have no effect whatever on the mandatory sanctions that have been imposed on itself by practically the whole of the civilised world, and imposed because the civilised world thought it right to do so. So if your Lordships think that by rejecting this resolution to-day you are, in effect, rejecting a resolution of the United Nations, then I would say at once that you are doing nothing of the sort and that, so far as there has been argument about this, it has the same value, or thereabouts, as arguments in the Hampstead or Hackney debating societies.
429 On the particular point with which we have to deal in this resolution I would welcome one thing. I took a note of it. I quite understand that the Tory Front Bench must have been having a great deal of difficulty with their supporters. I have seen abundant signs of this. When somebody gets up and says he is going to vote as his conscience dictates, and you know that there is a three-line Whip, you just wonder which is the more effective of the two. The next speaker I think said that he would think once, think twice, and, if necessary, think three times before he came to his conclusion. My advice is this. If it is a one-line Whip, one think will do; if it is a two-line Whip you had better have two but if it is a three-line Whip, three really are required before your conscience functions with sufficient obedience.
My Lords, what I was glad to hear was this. I heard the Tory Front Bench say quite definitely and deliberately, as part of a speech which was obviously very carefully considered and, if I may respectfully say so, I thought was a very good speech indeed from the noble Earl who spoke first from their Front Bench, that they did not hold with the U.D.I.—of course, they have been having a lot of difficulty about that with some of their supporters, including, I think, the last speaker—and they did not hold with a police State. Nobody has said very much about a police State, but it is important. Somebody has said there is no urgency about this matter. Perhaps there is not for you and me, but what about the chap who has been shut up without trial for month after month? What about the man who has been punished without any charge against him? What about the people who have been killed, or who are the relatives of those who have been killed, with, I say, doubtful legality? I say no more because I think at the moment the question is to some extent at any rate sub judice.
The third thing was "no racialism". My Lords, what a time they must have had with their supporters about this one; because there have been some wonderfully racialistic speeches to-day. It really cannot be right. I just wonder what motives the Rhodesian lobby have. Some of it I think is spite, as the noble Lord said. I do not put that very highly, and I think they believe what they are 430 saying. I hope it is not entirely a matter of interest or anything of that sort, and I have come to the conclusion that they sincerely believe that the capacity of people to govern themselves and their right to be free must depend on the colour of their skins. If that is their conclusion, it seems to me, if I may say so, lunatic in this present society in this present age.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he is able to say with conviction his belief that the South African Republic would to-day be governed with greater economic success and prospect of advancement for the black Africans if it were governed entirely by black Africans?
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords. I am not going to enter into a debate on the economic success of South Africa, the price of gold and things of that sort. I say this to the noble Lord, and with a good deal of feeling: I think it right that there should be no apartheid in South Africa and I hope that we do not live in a society in which we are compelled to do something which we believe fundamentally wrong just because it is thought to pay somebody or other.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, if the noble Lord were addressing that homily to me, he still did not answer my question. Does he believe that the black African in the Republic of South Africa would be better off under a black Government than the present Government—that was my question.
§ LORD MITCHISON
What I mean by "better off"—and I repeat it and ask the noble Lord to listen this time—
§ LORD MITCHISON
I think it would be better because it would be doing something right instead of something wrong. I hope that is clear enough and that the noble Lord can understand it. I am sure he does.
My Lords, I must not take too much time. I listened to hear at what point the Conservative Front Bench—because I am replying to them at the moment in a personal capacity—felt that the Government had really gone astray. They conceded that U.D.I. was wrong, that the 431 police State was wrong and that racialism was wrong.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, the noble Lord invited my noble friend behind me to listen; I would have invited him to listen to my noble friend Lord Jellicoe this afternoon.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I did listen to Lord Jellicoe with great attention and I am just referring to what he was saying. He said that the point where they broke away was the handing the matter over to the United Nations. There is apparently a representative of the Opposition, and a vocal representative, sitting on the Front Bench. Would he tell us whether he agrees with that or not?
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I thought it was a perfectly clear question. The noble Lord and I, whatever else we do, are not going to quarrel personally about any of these things, and he need not think so. What I should like to remind your Lordships of, and then I am going to sit down, is this. I am now coming to the difficult problem of what we, in this Chamber, should do about two particular Orders. These were the Orders about petrol and Rhodesia, and I am quoting from column 1157 of the OFFICIAL REPORT for February 6, 1967, Lord Harlech's speech from the Front Bench:I suppose it might be argued that however much we disapprove of the Government's course of action—and we made this disapproval abundantly clear. I think, during the debate in December—the Security Council has now, wisely, or, as we think, unwisely, passed a resolution which makes it mandatory on the British Government to impose precise and rigorous sanctions. If we were now to vote against the Orders and succeeded in nullifying them we should be preventing the Government from acting in a manner in which they are compelled to act by the clear provisions of the United Nations Charter.432 My Lords, is that not exactly the position to-day? What is the difference? Why was the attitude of the Conservative Party so different in those days from what we have heard now, partly from them and partly from their supporters? Lord Harlech continued:I do not know how much weight noble Lords would wish to attach to this particular argument, but what seems to me to be the most compelling argument against refusing the Government these Orders is that it would be an unprecedented interference by this, a non-elected Chamber, in the executive actions of a Government supported by a large majority in another place.Are things any different now? Why have the Conservative Party gone right round? Why is what was right or wrong then so different from what it is now?I cannot feel that this would be a proper exercise of our powers.He rubbed it in.We may think that the Government are acting rashly and foolishly. Indeed we do think so, and have said so.Your Lordships can applaud.But, at the end of the day, in a democracy such as ours, the duly elected majority must be allowed to govern and it must also of course accept the consequences and the blame resulting from the pursuit of unwise policies.I found nothing to disagree with in that at all.I would therefore urge my noble friends not to vote against these Orders, in spite of the concern and even the strong hostility some may have regarding them, and in spite of their doubts about the whole present attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards the Rhodesian problem—doubts which I most emphatically share.My Lords, the position is exactly the same to-day, and I repeat: why have the Conservative Party gone right round? My Lords, I can only find one answer: that they have been led away by their own "wild men".
My Lords, I am just wondering if the noble Lord, in considering the "consequences and the blame", to quote his words, considered that the inability of his friends to win a by-election unless they had a majority of at least 20,000 had no effect at all.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, what earthly right has a non-elected Chamber to decide about by-elections or about the next Election, or about the opinion of the country? In this peaceful place you represent only yourselves.
§ LORD MITCHISON
No doubt. I would concede that. The noble Lord also can read the newspapers, and I hope that he will not be unduly influenced by them. I fear it is the only thing that matters in this place.
I promised that I would sit down, and I will. But I want to point out to your Lordships that by voting against this Order to-day you will not nullify it; none of you expects you will. I tcan be reintroduced early in July. I hope that the Government will not do that. That is simply asking for trouble. I think that the damage that will have been done by your Lordships' action—and quite a lot of the world will have heard about the House of Lords for the first time—to our reputation would only be increased by going on presenting Orders again. I have a much better course to suggest to them.
§ LORD MITCHISON
I drafted a very simple little Bill, and I have two or three copies of it here. There are others to be had in the Printed Paper Office. I shall be only too glad to let the Government have a copy. In Clause 3 they will find these words, which meet the case admirably:In any Public Act a provision requiring the approval by Parliament of any Statutory Instrument or a provision that any Statutory Instrument shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of resolution of either House of Parliament or provisions (however worded) to the like effect shall have effect as if references to the House of Commons were therein substituted for references to Parliament and for references to either House and each House thereof.In other words, as regards the past, the present and the future, the House of 434 Lords' power to deal with these Statutory Instruments should be removed and disappear completely. If the negotiating Peers, here or elsewhere, have nearly come to an agreement, I venture to prophesy from reading their previous utterances that there is not the least doubt that one item of the agreement will be the total disappearance of the power of dealing with Statutory Orders. The instruments of the Executive are not, I think, to be annulled here because, for one thing, the responsible Ministers are not, and ought not to be, here. I hope they will do this and will do it quickly. I see my noble friend Lord Beswick in front of me, and I shall drop a copy of the Bill on him for him to study.
This is quite indefensible. If your Lordships want to keep any powers you had better limit them. The Tory Front Bench may have had difficulty with some of their supporters, but it is nothing to the difficulty the Labour Party will have with some of its supporters if your Lordships get above yourselves.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I do not think that this is the occasion to debate the Bill which the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, has just recommended to the Government, and I do not propose to do so. In his opening remarks introducing this Order the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor expressed the view that sanctions, with the extra twist which this Order will give them, will at last work. We have heard these prognostications before. At the beginning of sanctions there was the remark that they would work in weeks rather than months. That was two and a half years ago. They were not 0 be punitive, we were told. This Order is nothing if it is not punitive. All that has been proved false. It is partly for that reason that we have now arrived at the stage where the policy of Her Majesty's Government has become one of a vendetta against Rhodesia. My remarks will be directed to showing that this is so and that this Order should be thrown out, not only for the reason that it is in furtherance of a policy which has failed, will continue to fail, and is costing: this country millions of pounds in terms of balance of payments, but also that the policy is immoral, inhumane and thoroughly hypocritical.
435 I am supported in this view from a source which, to put it no higher, cannot be lightly brushed aside. In a speech prepared for delivery the other day to the American Bar Association, Mr. Dean Acheson, a former Secretary of State of the United States, said this:The United States is engaged in an international conspiracy, instigated by Britain and blessed by the United Nations, to overthrow the Government of a country that has done no harm and threatens no one. This is barefaced aggression, unprovoked and unjustified by a single legal or moral principle.That was what Dean Acheson said. What this Order which we are asked to approve is really in aid of could not be better described than it has been by Mr. Dean Acheson. He added, by way of comment for the benefit of his own country, drawing attention to his own country's part in the conspiracy:How fortunate the American colonies were to have no United Nations to confront in 1776.Let us contrast the attitude of Her Majesty's Government and the United Nations to Rhodesia with their attitude to other States in Africa. It is said that the Smith régime is illegal. But what about the legality, in our sense of the word, of other African States? There is hardly one which, having been granted independence under a democratic constitution, has not torn it up and had it superseded by a military dictatorship or single Party rule. Does this call forth condemnation from Her Majesty's Government or the United Nations? Not at all. They immediately recognise them. Let us take the case of Nigeria in particular. The present régime took over after two military coups, accompanied by assassinations, and followed by a ghastly civil war. In the eyes of Her Majesty's Government and the United Nations this is all quite legal and, moreover, arms are supplied to stoke up the civil war. In contrast, the Rhodesian Government was legally elected, has not been thrown out by a military dictatorship, but is the only one against which this vendetta of which this Order is a part is pursued. Looking around Africa, what cant it is to claim that this vendetta against Rhodesia alone is in support of a great legal and moral principle! Such a claim is made by Her Majesty's Government, and it is nauseating.
436 To turn to another point, Rhodesians are castigated as rebels. Let me remind your Lordships of what Mr. Ian Smith said on the declaration of U.D.I.:The Union Jack will continue to fly, the National Anthem will continue to be sung.Rhodesians are not rebels at heart, but Her Majesty's Government are doing all they can to drive them into declaring a Republic.
Let us come to what is perhaps the biggest humbug of all in this conspiracy at the United Nations, that Rhodesia is a threat to the peace. They threaten nobody. They are supposed to be a threat to peace, simply because the United Nations says so, for no other reason than a dislike of the Smith Government in certain quarters of the United Nations and by Her Majesty's Government. Let us take the conception of what is a threat to the peace a little further. On the same hypothesis, why should not Russia mobilise the United Nations to say that Czechoslovakia is a threat to the peace because Russia does not like the new régime? Or, to bring one nearer home, why should not Roman Catholic Eire attempt to get the United Nations to declare Ulster is a threat to the peace because she does not like the Protestant régime there? There would be no threat to the peace from Rhodesia if the United Nations did not exist. But if war should come to Southern Africa, it will be against Rhodesia through the agency of the United Nations which Her Majesty's Government called in originally to sanction the use of force to stop seaborne supplies of oil.
Now for another piece of hypocrisy with which this Rhodesian situation is surrounded. Her Majesty's Government know, and so does everyone else, that South Africa will pay no more attention to the U.N. resolution on sanctions than Her Majesty's Government themselves do to the U.N. resolution on handing Gibraltar over to Spain. South Africa has broken, and will continue to break, sanctions—and what is Her Majesty's Government's attitude to that? On no account, and rightly, will they contemplate a confrontation with South Africa—which incidentally, of course, practises apartheid—because if such a confrontation were to occur the jobs of thousands of workers 437 would be imperilled. It has been computed that one in ten of the employed population of this country owe their jobs to trade with South Africa, which is our second or third largest customer. But are Her Majesty's Government quite sure that the United Nations is not going to push them into a confrontation with South Africa?
This brings me to paragraph 13 of the United Nations resolution with which this Order is concerned. That paragraphurges all State members of the United Nations to render moral and material assistance to the people of Southern Rhodesia in their struggle to achieve their independence and freedom.The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, at column 1259 of Hansard on May 30, said this:We are against the use of force; we are against the use of violence. I repeat that had we thought that this paragraph condoned it, or implied it, we should not have voted for the resolution.How naïve can one be? In future the import of arms into Rhodesia by terrorists will be construed, and is already being construed, by those who want to introduce arms as the rendering of material assistance in accordance with the U.N. request. South African assistance to Rhodesia in combating terrorism may then give rise to a demand in certain U.N. quarters for a confrontation with South Africa.
Bearing in mind that at the outset of U.D.I. we were told that it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government that sanctions should be punitive, and now having in front of us this punitive Order, I ask your Lordships: What credibility can be attached to present ministerial statements, that on no account will they be drawn into a confrontation with South Africa? I suggest that that is going to be the inevitable result of pursuing the policy embraced in this Order. But, if that happens, let the Government go to the factories of this country and tell the people that they must walk the streets as a result of it.
Let us take one little look inside Rhodesia, as I do not think anyone else has done that. Let us see what is going on there, and for that purpose I should like to quote a letter from Katuba, Rhodesia, written on May 3, which has come into my hands. It reads as follows: 438The world ploughing match was a great success, in spite of the British Government telling the Scandinavian countries that they could not guarantee their safety here This put them all off, but one of the Swedish executives of the World Ploughing Association decided to come, and who should he meet on the plane but the British team who had defied their Government? The Swede was most annoyed.The whole thing was a great success. Thousands of Europeans and African farmers all mixing naturally with one interest—the poughing—and, of course, a glass of beer afterwards. Here again the black Rhodesians joined in, much to the surprise of our visitors. The visitors have travelled all over the country and will he able to go to their own countries and tell everyone what Rhodesia is like, and not just what the papers tell them.That letter has a very direct bearing on this Order, because this Order is going to prevent people from going to Rhodesia and bringing back a picture of that country which is contrary to what Her Majesty's Government would like them to believe.
I do not think that the general public are fully aware of the extent of the damage which is being done to our balance of payments by this vendetta against Rhodesia, nor of the hypocrisy which surrounds it. So I urge that it is the dui y of your Lordships' House, and a service to the nation, to bring the truth before them in no uncertain way by throwing out this Order.
My Lords, I cannot conclude without a reference to the threat that, in so doing, your Lordships will bring to an end the talks on an agreed reform of your Lordships House. In The Times of last Saturday, it was said that the proposals which may be imperilledinclude payment of a salary to peers in the reformed Chamber—said to be £1,500 a year—plus a daily untaxed attendance allowance of six guineas. There are still signs that sufficient Tory peers, mindful of this factor in the dispute, will abstain to enable the Government to escape with a small majority.If your Lordships' votes, and not only those of Tories, are to be influenced by that sort of consideration—I think corruption and bribery is not too bad a name for it—then the British public—
§ LORD MITCH1SON
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt him for a minute. He is not being fair.
§ LORD GR1MSTON OF WESTBUR
My Lords, I am not giving way. I did 439 not interrupt the noble Lord. As I was saying, if that happened, then the British public, who are not fools, would do well to demand our abolition or the abolition of a Chamber which, by failing to throw out this Order, shows that it can be bought. In conclusion, there is every reason, material and moral, and, also, in view of this threat, for the sheer honesty of your Lordships' House, why this Order should be thrown out. I pray that your Lordships will do so.
§ 8.38 p.m.
My Lords, it used to be a common place of Governments on appropriate occasions to say in your Lordships' House that agriculture was still the most important industry in Britain, but for the past two or three years that truism has ceased to apply. I think your Lordships will all admit that for the past two or three years blackmail has been the most important industry in Britain and, as your Lordships know, the professional tool of the blackmailer is the threat.
I have been under threat ever since I opened my Times on Saturday morning, and my first reaction, as it would be for any one of your Lordships, was to say, "Very well, I must vote on Tuesday against this Order." But then I reflected and noticed that the threat was directed against the Peers who sat by hereditary succession. I realised that we, from time immemorial, have spoken in your Lordships' House upon our honour and that it was not consistent with my honour to be swayed by a threat into voting against this Order. I therefore put that aside and started to consider the matter afresh.
I could not help remembering that on a previous occasion when Rhodesia was discussed the then Leader of the House attacked the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, most violently because he said he had spoken on Rhodesia without declaring an interest. The attack was so great that Lord Salisbury sacrificed that interest in order to free himself to talk about Rhodesia, although, as a matter of fact—and nobody in this House would ever have dared to challenge his honour —he spoke on exactly the same basis as his father, his grandfather and those who had been Lord Salisbury before him. I am bound to say that I resented that 440 attack very much. But I reminded myself that I spoke on my honour and that I must put all these threats behind me and must not leave in my mind any trace of resentment that any Minister of Her Majesty's Government had so far been carried away by his professional enthusiasm as to forget his manners.
To turn now to the matter in front of us, I do not want to go into the early beginnings but I remember that in the first debate upon this matter the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor justified Her Majesty's Government by pointing out to your Lordships that the difficulty of Her Majesty's Government was that we had responsibility without power. Now the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor suffers from a great disadvantage in your Lordships' House in that his speeches are so beautifully put together, so beautifully phrased and so attractively delivered that they remain in the mind long after they have served their immediate purpose, and they get carefully considered for that reason. My reflection, on considering the noble and learned Lord's speech, which was the fundamental support of the Government, was that you cannot have responsibility if you have not got power. The power that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor regretted and that the Government regretted had been given away by Her Majesty's Government forty years before.
It would have been much better, I think, for the moment, and much more likely to achieve a proper settlement, had Her Majesty's Government held their hand at that time, had not been in favour of sanctions and had seen what developments ensued. I think it would have been quite possible. But, instead of that, they imposed sanctions and went to the United Nations. Before turning to that, I should like to say that I listened with great interest to the noble and learned Lord this afternoon, and to what he told us about Mr. Smith. What he said about Mr. Smith convinced me of what I had always thought before, and that is that the personalities engaged on either side are completely incompatible. On an earlier occasion I suggested that it would be much better to explore possible agreement through civil servants or subordinates rather than to bring the principals into immediate and violent contact. I 441 have always thought that that was much the best way to negotiate, if you wanted to.
Now I come to the matter which so many noble Lords have mentioned—I will not be very long over it—and that is the appeal to the United Nations on the ground that Rhodesia was a danger to world peace. My Lords, I must believe that when Her Majesty's Government did that, they must have had some cogent reason to justify them in that course, but I am bound to say that to me, as one who is stupid and slow minded and does not see things very clearly, it seemed the most arrant piece of chicanery that I have ever heard. I must have been mistaken in that, because I am sure Her Majesty's Government would not be guilty of that, but I am bound to say that that is how it must have appeared to the world.
That seems to me to be very unfortunate, because I do not look upon the General Assembly of the United Nations as being a proper, deliberative body like a House of Parliament. Your Lordships' House is a proper, deliberative, constitutional body. Your Lordships are going to vote to-morrow, I presume, on what you have heard in the debate to-day. People say there is a built-in Conservative majority here. I remember a case—I wonder if there is anybody else here who remembers it—when the Liberal Party, led by Lord Beveridge, and the Conservative Party, led by Lord Cranborne, had united and said they were going to put the friendly societies back into a particular Bill. I forget which particular Bill it was, but they had decided on that. It happened, unfortunately for me, that I was on the side of the Government, and I thought that the Bill was right in that respect, so I had applied to me the full pressure of the Whips—and the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and, if he were here, the noble Earl, Lord St. Aldwyn, will know quite what that pressure was. I went into the debate very unhappy, and I sat immediately behind Lord Cranborne. The Amendment was moved and supported, and then the noble Earl, Lord Jowitt, went to the Box. I do not think he uttered ten sentences, but he smashed the Opposition. Lord Cranborne looked round, and thought that if he went into a Division he would not have 20 votes in the House; and I do not believe he would even have 442 had his own. That is what I call being a deliberative Chamber.
Is the General Assembly of the United Nations quite on that basis? I do not think it is. There are speeches there, of course, and one hears them on the wireless. They are a little bit like the speeches in Thucydides. They serve to illuminate a situation or state the policy of a Government, but do they really have any effect on the debate? Surely the votes are cast anything up to 12,000 miles away, and the delegates merely record them. Any body like that cannot be a fully-fledged, deliberative Chamber. For that very reason I should have thought that Her Majesty's Government, who are so eager to support the United Nations, would be particularly careful not to bring before it a case which was so riddled with holes w this case about Rhodesia being a threat to world peace. It seems to me a cardinal mistake.
Now Mr. Dean Acheson, as the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, and others have said, has explained much better than I could possibly do what he thought of that transaction; and it is only fair to say that at a much earlier stage the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, sitting here, did just the same. But the noble Marquess rather forfeited my sympathy, in a way, because it has always seemed to me that the General Assembly of the United Nations has just about the same relationship to a properly constituted political assembly as a Punch and Judy show has to the legitimate stage. The noble Marquess made his point with great lucidity, and I agreed with him entirely, but I could not help reflecting that he had been one of the architects of the Punch and Judy show. I felt that his worldly experience should have shown him that the instrument that he was creating might be misused in the way lat it has been. What I greatly regret is that it should have been misused by a British Government, because it is a precedent which will certainly be followed. There are a great many more people in the world who envy us than who love us, and it is the kind of precedent which nay inure in the end to the great damage of the British people.
My Lords, for the rest of it I want to say only that it always seems to me that the Government, our own Government, have always taken far too pettifogging a 443 view of this matter. I will take one example to illustrate it. Take the little business with the Cenotaph two years ago. Surely that was an opportunity for a certain amount of generous feeling. Mr. Smith has just as much right to the Cenotaph as any one of us. Would it not have been a great opportunity to say: "Your interest in this transcends the quarrel between us. Come over or send your representative, and be represented with us". What happened? Mr. Smith was warned off; you might say that he was warned away from the graveside of his comrades; and we were told that the Commonwealth Secretary is the only legal representative of the people in Rhodesia. Could there be any meaner belly to earth announcement than that? There was no generosity about it.
It hits on a point which was prominent in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Peddle. He always talked about the legal Government of this and that. Legalism is not the rule of law. The law of murdrum after the Norman Conquest did not promote the rule of law in the least. If you make a law that everybody with blue eyes and fair hair is to be subject to instant execution, it may be law but it does not promote the rule of law. The rule of law is a different thing. It is easily damaged by mean, low abuse.
My Lords, I have said everything I have to say except one thing. Even the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor could not refrain from suggesting serious consequences to any hereditary Peer—was it?—who ventured to vote against this Order. I do not need any inducement to vote against this Order; I have been against sanctions all the time. But I say this. I think it is unworthy of the Government to make such suggestions to people who are anxious only to do their duty to the best of their ability in the way they see it.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, is not in his place. I find myself in very unnatural agreement with him—not, I may hasten to add, with his views, but with his plea for brevity. As I am the nineteenth speaker in a list of 43, I think it would be sheer indulgence if I were to make a long speech. I am 444 not particularly interested in the constitutional issue, and I do not propose to speak on that aspect. I love this House but, quite simply, I do not think that it should have powers to overrule a decision made in the other House. The Sunday papers this week-end must have given great comfort to the Smith régime; but I must say that the picture they drew, of many noble Lords swooping down, some, but not all, like absentee land-lords, to defend the freehold of this noble House was not particularly an attractive one, either constitutionally or politically. I shall simply make some rather brief comments resulting from my experience at the United Nations. I am not going to give a lecture to noble Lords about the United Nations. As I grow older I am inclining less and less to lecture people on any issue, for I find that the arguments for and against a particular issue very often balance out; and unless a principle is involved either indecision or cynicism takes over. Here, in this debate, there is a simple principle involved which I will come back to later.
My Lords, everyone in this debate has said that sanctions are rough justice. They can be evaded; they can hurt those who impose them; they can hurt some of those whom one wishes to help—for example, Zambia. I have never myself believed that sanctions were produced to ruin a country. I agree with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor about this. I believe that sanctions are introduced simply to demonstrate that one is serious, that one stands on the principle, and to give the offending country time to think again.
On the question of Rhodesia there is one thing which is very obvious but, somehow, very little understood even in this House. After hearing the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, I am reinforced in my belief that people do not understand how the Afro-Asian countries in the United Nations and in the world feel about apartheid and colonialism. The developing countries in Africa see colonialism and apartheid as the greatest threat to them. They are simply dedicated to stamping out the last remnants of colonialism. Rhodesia is a Colony for which we are responsible and they blame us for the way it is going hand-in-hand with apartheid. From many of the speeches of noble Lords opposite, 445 I felt that they believe still in a kind of make-do-and-mend colonialism. Still believing this, they brush off apartheid as a complex among these African countries. They regard these African countries as being too sensitive about apartheid because South Africa is a thriving, prosperous State. But the Africans see South Africa as a State prosperous and thriving on cheap, voteless, black labour; and unless noble Lords in this House understand how the developing countries in Africa see us and see the West, and see the affluent countries, there is absolutely no communication between us at all.
I wish I could convey to noble Lords the strength of their abhorrence and passion against South Africa and apartheid —and this bears directly on the Rhodesian problem. My Lords, this thing is really understood only by the United Kingdom mission at the United Nations. We cannot do much about South Africa. It may be our concern; but it is not now our responsibility. But the countries in the United Nations see that we can do something to stop Rhodesia going the same way as apartheid in South Africa. So they mobilised all the members of the United Nations, who now agree with them, to take concerted action. The result is that we have this Order, and we have increased sanctions.
If the Six Principles were very revolutionary (and I myself do not think they are revolutionary at all; I think they are extremely moderate), and there had been any sign from Mr. Smith that he would go along with something in them, we should have had a case in the United Nations to argue with other members of the Security Council. The Six Principles are really very moderate and Mr. Smith could have gone along with them. But Mr. Smith and his more reactionary colleagues have decided to live for to-day, and not to give a thought for what happens in the next ten or twenty years—when there is bound to be a threat to the peace.
It is said that Rhodesia is a threat to the peace. Of course it is a threat to the peace—not an immediate threat, for these developing countries are not strong; they are weak. Article 13 of this Order talks about aiding the terrorists, but we must realise that there is this strong country of Rhodesia; there is the strong country of South Africa. And though we talk about 446 these terrorists, of course they are not terrorists; they are freedom fighters. As was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, we should ourselves be doing exactly the same thing were we fighting for independence.
It is difficult for me to understand Mr. Heath, the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, for whose courage and integrity I have an enormous respect. He did not go scavenging for votes after Mr. Enoch Powell's speech, and I simply do not understand why he is supporting the opposition to this Order. He is not simply supporting it; I believe that there are votes in it. Incidentally, my Lords, I respect the Government in that during this phase of unpopularity they are sanding by the principle in the Six Principles and are going to implement this resolution of the Security Council at the United Nations.
My Lords, I wish to comment on only one or two points which have been made by other speakers. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, made a brilliant speech in which his main point was the consistency of his Party, a consistency which revealed absolutely no evidence that the ideas they have about negotiation could be put into effect. The noble Earl objected to our putting Southern Rhodesia into Coventry, but they are themselves becoming more and more in quarantine. They are one of the white enclaves that: we have in Africa. There is Rhodesia and South Africa, white enclaves living in quarantine among a majority of black Africans.
As we did not wish to use force at the beginning, my Lords, we simply could not deal with the problem of Rhodesia by ourselves, and I cannot follow the argument: Why are we going to slither into using force against South Africa when we have rejected it against Rhodesia? We had to transfer our role to the United Nations: it was too difficult for w to deal with alone. Also there was great strength of feeling among the countries in the United Nations and the Security Council. I listened with interest to the speech of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, but I thought he had a completely and utterly defeatist attitude which would simply result in leaving Mr. Ian Smith to go on lust as he is. One thing I am worried about is that I think it would be a great pity if we cut off communications with Rhodesia. There 447 are people in Rhodesia who, presumably, are moderate, and perhaps agree with the Government, but who cannot make their voices heard. We know that. I am not sure that it would be a good thing if they were cut off from all liberal opinion. What I should like to ask of noble Lords opposite is, what concrete proposals have they for the solution of this problem? I see absolutely none. They talk about negotiating, but how? They attack the Prime Minister when they should be attacking Mr. Ian Smith. Why did not Mr. Smith accept the "Tiger" proposals when the Prime Minister bent over backwards to try to get a negotiated solution?
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Poltimore, on his charming and gentle maiden speech, in which he asked us to forget and forgive; but there again, he did not suggest that we could do anything to stop the illegal regime. As for the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, I found his speech rather disagreeable, not because I absolutely disagree with everything he said, but because he said—and it was very unworthy of him; I have heard the noble Lord speak before and he has never spoken in that spirit—that the Government did not wish for a settlement. I thought that both unworthy and untrue. What was the gist of the noble Lord's speech? He was simply saying, "Let us string along with South Africa, with Mozambique, with Portugal"—
No, my Lords. If I may intervene, I did not say what the noble Baroness has said. I did not say, "Let us string along with South Africa and Portugal", and after she reads my words in Hansard to-morrow I hope that I shall receive a letter from her saying that she misunderstood what I said. If I may remind the noble Baroness, what I suggested was that the Government should take up the offer of Sir Alec to achieve a settlement which he had said three months ago he believed was possible.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, if I have misinterpreted the noble Lord's speech, I shall certainly write him a letter full of apologies, but I am not sure that I am wrong about this. The noble Lord also said that the Six Principles were outdated. Like other noble Lords, he spoke 448 about Sir Alec's ideas on this, but no one in this House, no one in the other place has said what these proposals are. How can we possibly judge proposals about which no one knows anything? It is simply flimsy, vague ideas floating in the air.
My Lords, I have more or less come to the end of the things I wish to say. I wish to ask only one final question. Do those who oppose this Order believe that their flimsy suggestions and their wishful thinking will get Mr. Smith to the negotiating table? I think that their attitude is absolutely unrealistic and defeatist.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ LORD VERNON
My Lords, like the noble Baroness who preceded me, I will be brief. I myself abhor as much as anyone the system of white supremacy, whether as practised by Mr. Smith and his colleagues in Rhodesia or as practised in the Republic of South Africa. I believe it to be unpleasant in application, morally wrong and, quite apart from its effect on the Africans, contrary to the long-term interests of the white population. I say that because I am not a frequent speaker in your Lordships' House and I think it right to clarify my attitude on this basic issue.
But, having said that, I cannot go along with the policy of Her Majesty's Government. When Rhodesia declared its independence there were, in my opinion, only two real alternatives open to us. We could stamp out the rebellion—and technically it was a rebellion—by force of arms. This was the course recommended by a certain number of people, particularly by certain noble Lords on the Liberal Benches. I did not support it myself at the time because I thought that, quite apart from the practical difficulties, it would not be supported by public opinion in this country. But whatever our view, it was a least a logical attitude to take at that time. The alternative was to express our disapproval of what had happened, refuse to recognise the independence officially, but to take no further action. It will be suggested no doubt that this is a rather cynical attitude. I do not think it is cynical. I think it is a realistic attitude and takes account of the fact that we no longer wield the power and authority in the world which we used to wield.
But the Government took neither of those courses. Instead they adopted the 449 policy of sanctions. First we had what amounted to token sanctions, sanctions which, as the Prime Minister informed the Commonwealth Prime Ministers at Lagos, would be successful in a matter of weeks. Then we had rather more effective sanctions. And now the screw is to be still further tightened. But what evidence is there that these further sanctions will in fact bring about the result that we desire? The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has told us that they will bring about this result, and he has quoted certain articles from the Press purporting to show that the Smith régime is tottering on the verge of collapse. But we have heard all this before. I myself find it difficult to believe, because the contrary evidence is altogether too strong. The Government have been warned repeatedly that so long as the Smith Government has the formidable backing of South Africa on the one hand and of the Portuguese territories to a lesser extent on the other, sanctions will not work.
But they took no notice. I do not believe that mandatory sanctions will be any more effective than the sanctions which have already been applied. The test of sanctions is surely their effectiveness. I do not think that any mandatory sanctions will be effective because only those countries whom it suits will apply them. The results so far have been wholly disastrous. The Rhodesian whites have been strengthened by bitterness in their determination to resist; the Africans and the rest of the world despise us for our half-hearted policy, and we have put further strain on our economic position at a time when we could ill afford to do so.
There is one further aspect of Government policy which I find peculiarly distasteful: that is, the double standards which appear to be applied between Rhodesia and South Africa. If we are not to trade with Rhodesia because of its Government's resistance to the advance of the coloured peoples—and that in effect is what the whole quarrel is about—how much the more should we not trade with the Republic of South Africa for whom the doctrine of white supremacy is enshrined as an article of faith. But we are told by the Government that we cannot afford economically to antagonise South Africa. My Lords, what sort of morality is this? What it amounts to is that only so long as it 450 does not affect our purse are we prepared to stand up for our principles.
§ LORD VERNON
For those reasons, and because I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that the new Order may pave the way for further armed conflict in Rhodesia, I cannot support the Government. Where, however, I disagree entirely with the Conservative Party is in their advocacy of continued negotiations with Mr. Smith. I do not myself believe that any settlement can be had with the Smith Government except on dishonourable terms for ourselves. Nor do I think that any assurance which may be given by Mr. Smith to Sir Alec Douglas-Home or to anyone else will make the smallest difference, because I believe that fundamentally the Smith régime when the chips are down will fight for its own idea of white supremacy, and whatever they may agree on paper they will effectively get round subsequently.
In conclusion, I should like to indicate, as a Cross Bench Peer, my attitude to the vote that will be taken to-morrow night. As I have already said, I cannot support the Government. I must therefore either vote against the Government or I must abstain. The point has been made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and by other members of the Government, that a vote against the Order may well prejudice, the all-Party agreement for reform of the House which is now near. I am personally strongly in favour of this reform; and I am also in favour of the abolition of the hereditary element in the House, of which I am a representative, but I fail to see what it has to do with the matter which we are discussing this evening. Until I am finally disillusioned, I shall continue to believe that any reputable Government of this country will look at such an important matter as the reform of this House on its merits and will not kick the issue about like a football in the political arena.
What does sway me, however, is the subject of the Order on which we shall be voting. A parallel has been drawn in this debate (I think it was by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe) between this Order and the Order which might have been 451 made on Stansted, on which a majority of the House, I think, including myself, would probably have voted against the Government if it had come to a vote. But I believe the analogy to be false. I am one of those who believe that where a major issue on foreign affairs such as this is concerned, it would he quite improper for your Lordships' House to challenge the elected Chamber. If it were otherwise, any Government, of any political complexion, could he placed in a most embarrassing and even humiliating position. All the time they would be looking over their shoulder to see whether their policy was being endorsed by the House of Lords. Subject, therefore, to the powers of subsequent speakers in this debate to persuade me otherwise, I shall abstain from voting to-morrow evening.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords. I ought to begin with an apology. It has been impossible for me to be present in your Lordships' House for the substance of this debate because at this moment the Methodist Conference is in session, and I have a responsibility there. It may be, therefore, that I shall reiterate things that have already been said, and for that I should like, also, to apologise in advance. I dare say that my noble and ecclesiastical friends, whom I am much fortified to see in such august and splendid array, have already pointed out that there is widespread opinion, amounting to conviction, in the Christian Church, both inside and outside of this unhappy Southern Rhodesia, which would commend the passing of this particular Order.
I should like to begin with the Methodist Conference. It so happens that this morning a resolution was proposed at the Conference supporting entirely this Order as consequential upon the attitude taken by the Security Council. The vote was overwhelming. There are 646 delegates, or rather representatives, to that Conference: 644 voted in favour and two voted against, though one of them was not, I think, fully conscious of what was going on. I am quite sure of that, but I will not go into that particular matter as it raises other issues. But it may be argued that here is a cross-section of the godly which is not necessarily a cross-section of the com- 452 munity. Yet when I have heard what I have heard in your Lordships' House to-day, the assumption being made by those on the opposite Benches that they are the custodians of an enlightened public opinion which is being travested by an arrogant Government, I find this so far from the truth that it strikes me as having almost the air of being completely ridiculous.
I wonder whether noble Lords realise to what extent this vote of the Methodist Conference reflects a greater amount of public opinion, and informed public opinion, than perhaps they have been prepared to realise. This is at least my experience; and it is the experience of a group of people who to-day come not necessarily from Left-Wing allegiances, for although the Primitive Methodists have a tradition of Left-Wing enthusiasm, the Wesleyan Methodists, I have to say with some regret, have a strong capitalist background. Nevertheless, it is, I believe, one of the essential characteristics of this debate that those who speak in favour of this particular Order should speak from the basis of an enlightened opinion, fortified in their judgment by what has in fact been the studied and careful examination of the facts.
I believe that that careful examination of the facts yields nothing less than a very fervent and convinced idea on the part of so many people that this Order is relevant; a rough justice, if you like; a rough weapon, if you please; but a necessary one. This is not, in my judgment, a constitutional peccadillo; this is a profound moral issue. I have had the opportunity to-day of listening to missionaries and others, teachers, who have just returned from Southern Rhodesia and who are in no doubt, as I am in no doubt, that there has been a slow and inevitable process towards apartheid ever since the first days of U.D.I.; that the number of those who are in detention tends to increase; that the prospects of any speedy trial for those who are kept in prison recedes; that the continual process is away from any prospects of some kind of agreement, and that any slight winds of change which may appear on the horizon have no real substance and do not presage any real difference at all, except that Southern Rhodesia is becoming more 453 and more a northern extension of the South African Republic.
This is documentary; it is not just the wild enthusiasm of one who is not prepared to face the facts. There are innumerable facts which could be attested to demonstrate that this has in fact happened. Therefore, 1, like the overwhelming number of my compatriots in the Methodist Church, regard this as a moral issue, and one on which we are confronted with four options. First, we can seek to resolve this matter by force. I, as a pacifist, reject that. Your Lordships' House has rejected it; the country has rejected it, and I believe will continue so to do. Yet to venture into Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon is to be made well aware that the more articulate Africans in this country are quite sure that it is the only answer, and they are telling us that if we wait long enough —and it may not be too long—we shall see that violence will in fact be the last arbitral. I cannot accept that, and therefore I must turn to one of the other three options.
Am I, as has been suggested by the last speaker, to leave the matter alone? I find that idea intolerable. I could not look the black man in the face again if I were prepared to accept this as an inevitable evil in which I could take no part except reluctantly to acquiesce in it. Then, am I to regard the matter as still a matter open for negotiation? I see not the slightest evidence, and I have heard not the slightest evidence in your Lordships' House to-day while I have been here, that there is any prospect that negotiation will prove in the future more fruitful than it has been in the past.
If there were a tittle of such evidence surely we should have heard from those who have had correspondence with Mr. Ian Smith in the last few weeks. We have heard nothing, and I cordially agree with my noble friend Lady Gaitskell in her assertion that it is a little impudent to parade in some mysterious way the prospect of negotiations without adducing a tittle of evidence that those negotiations have the slightest chance of ever coming so fruition. I do not believe that Mr. Ian Smith is amenable to such negotiations, because I have every confidence that if he were to yield he would be replaced by the Rhodesian Front, of which he is not the leader but the megaphone.
454 Finally, the question becomes one as to the last option. What about sanctions? I am well aware that hitherto sanctions have not been fully effective. One thing that commends this Order to me immediately is that if the United Nations can make sanctions more effective by collaboration then it is of the very nature of the case that if these sanctions are the only way to preserve our dignity and our honour, and to present an alternative attempt to that of violence. I must accept them. Of course, they are a rough weapon. I recognise that there are people who must suffer, but the idea that in this wicked world any particular action can be 100 per cent. effective is a will-o'-the-wisp; it is living in Cloud Cuckoo-land.
I have been a pacifist for many years and only recently have I learned that there has to be a compromise in any absolutist position. I accept that compromise, and I accept that there w ill be people in Rhodesia who will suffer, and it will be black people who will suffer. But there is a difference in the suffering that will be inflicted in Southern Rhodesia and that which would tie inflicted in South Africa by the imposition of sanctions if they became more punitive and effective. For one thing, the larger proportion of black people in Southern Rhodesia live in rural communities, whereas a large proportion of the Bantu in South Africa are urbanised, and it is highly likely that the rural community would stand a much better chance, even if crippling sanctions were imposed, than those people living in the shanty towns of Johannesburg. That may or may not be a pertinent point, but the whole idea of sanctions is not to bring Southern Rhodesia to its knees but to bring it to its senses, and I could not tolerate the situation in which there was the alternative of doing nothing or using violence. Here is an opportunity for us to look our black friends in the face again and say, "We are genuine and sincere. We have not been genuine and sincere If you level at us the accusation that if this had been a black revolution we should, in past years, have adopted a different technique, then I accept that, with shame." If I am told, "You are not consistent because there are other places in the world where similar actions which are right should be taken", I accept that as 455 well. But I cannot accept that we should not seek to do something which approximates to the right thing in one situation merely because we have not sought to apply it everywhere.
For that reason I hope that those who are susceptible to this kind of argument will think again, not for the constitutional reason (which I do not propose to deal with to-night), but for the deep moral issue that is involved. If there is to be a conflagration in Africa (which please God there will not be) it is much more likely to come when they have completely lost confidence in our credibility than when, even with blunt instruments, we seek at least to justify our honour. For that reason I hope very much that those who have hitherto believed that sanctions are an imperfect and a disagreeable Weapon will, as a pis aller (if that is what it is), regard it again in the light that it is the one thing in a highly complicated and tendentious situation that can offer a glimmer of hope, a ray of honour reclaimed. And maybe out of it can come a new understanding, as those in Southern Rhodesia who are now opposed to the Smith régime—and there are many of them—will feel strengthened that we are neither going to war with them nor sitting back and doing nothing, but are, indeed, applying the only constitutional instrument that is available, and are doing it, together with other countries in the world, unanimously, seeking to right a very great wrong.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, I do not propose at this hour to inflict upon you the speech that I had contemplated had the circumstances been different and the hour at which I was called been earlier. I will limit myself to making just a few remarks. I think that the extent to which our external balance of payments has been adversely affected by the whole Rhodesian affair is a very serious factor indeed in the whole of our economic position at this moment, of which I will say now no more. I would only remark that almost exactly a year ago, on June 21 last year, I entreated the Government to assess what was the effect upon our external balance of payments, and when they had come to their conclusion to inform this House and the world. That question has never really 456 been answered. I hope that it will in time be answered.
I do not ask that it should be answered now, or in the debate which will go on to-morrow. But I want to express my conviction that it is a very serious factor indeed in the whole of our economic position at this moment, including the restriction of our trade, the question of prices and all the "stop-go" and other matters which constitute the immediate problems of this country. It is a very serious factor indeed. I cannot now, as I say, give the reasons, but anybody who would care to follow up the matter will find in the debate that took place on June 21 last year the reasons why I hold these opinions. I propose to add nothing to what I said then.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ LORD ANNAN
My Lords, I shall be not only brief but very brief. All I want to say from these Benches is that I am astonished that the Opposition should wish to create a constitutional issue by pressing this matter to a Division. I can understand that they want to express their disapproval of this Order. I can understand that they think it misguided. I can understand that they want to humiliate the Government and make it appear weak and impotent in the United Nations and throughout Africa. I do not happen to share these aims, but it can be argued that it is the duty of an Opposition. But what the Opposition is doing is claiming to dictate foreign policy and to dictate it, not from the elected Chamber but from your Lordships' House. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, called on the Government to resign and get a mandate from the electorate for their action. This seems to me very odd. The present action of the Government, whatever one may think of it, follows naturally from their Election Manifesto of 1966. Perhaps Lord Dilhorne's memory was short or his sense of drama too great.
I would describe this particular decision to divide your Lordships' House as an act of astonishing arrogance, and it is an act which should put an end to any agreed policy between the political Parties for the reform of your Lordships' House. If the hereditary Peers want to see themselves totally excluded from sitting as of right in a reformed House of Lords they could not have chosen a better way to bring this about.
457 There is a further point. What will happen if, with their built-in majority, the Opposition reject this Order? What will happen when the Government pass this Order again in another place and send it back to your Lordships' House? On this matter the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, held his cards very close to his chest, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in winding up, will tell us what they feel about this matter. If the Opposition decide to reject the Order each time it comes up, that will simply bring Parliament into disrepute. This is the kind of political manœuvre which people in this country are getting very tired of, because it seems incomprehensible to the general public. If, on the other hand, the Opposition allow the Order to pass when it comes back to us, what will have been achieved? Dismay abroad, and yet another piece of evidence that Britain is not really consistent in her dealings with the Rhodesian problem or sincere in her attempts to safeguard the interests of Africans.
I may be prevented to-morrow, by reason of carrying out another statutory obligation to the University of London, from recording a vote in your Lordships' House; but if I am able to do so, I shall cast it for the Government, because despite the grave and moderate words of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, about the extraordinary circumstances in which the Opposition feel themselves, I do not think that those on the Cross-Benches should give their support to a Party manœuvre on an Executive issue of foreign policy.
§ 9.37 p.m.
My Lords, I had intended to take no part in this debate. I have not taken any part in any of the debates on Rhodesia up to the present time. At the same time, I want to declare that I have no interest whatsoever in Rhodesia; I have no financial interest, nor, I believe, have I even a distant cousin there. But I have many happy and lasting memories of my visit to that country, and of the tens of thousands of men and boys whom I met as I travelled throughout the whole of Africa, covering many tens of thousands of miles and visiting almost every little village as well as every town and city. What struck me most was the happiness of these people, their contentment and also their loyalty to the Crown. Many of them told me how 458 their relations, going back several centuries, had served the Queen and the King; and they in Africa were proud of that connection with the United Kingdom. They were intensely loyal to their officers and to the officials in the r territory.
If this whole attitude has changed, it must have been a quite sudden change, and there must have been some good cause behind it. But I do not think that that attitude has changed so suddenly as we are led to expect. Is it not ratter remarkable that, with 4 million Africans and only about 200,000 Europeans, there has been no attempt to help the so-called freedom fighters in their attempt to release the people who are supposed to be so oppressed? Is it not rather remarkable that the freedom fighters should have been driven out of the country by Africans themselves in the Rhodesian Army? I notice that noble Lords on the Front Bench think it exceedingly funny, but to me it seems tragic that we should at this time be trying to destroy that country; because, do not let us forget that it is those Africans and Indians who will suffer most and first. As happens in every case where there is insurrection, if not the leaders, the middlemen, those who might form the bridge, those who are trying to bring together tribe and tribe, race and race, and colour and colour are the ones who suffer. It is they who, if this Order is to be a success, are going to be driven into unemployment, who are going to be intimidated and threatened, as has happened in so many of the other African States.
I should like to go back a good many years, if your Lordships will excuse me for a moment. I was in West Africa at the time of the Kibi murders whey certain chiefs were condemned to death for human sacrifice and ritual murder. Day after day the execution was put off, and all the time the supporters of those chiefs were going round to the simple Africans and telling them, "You see, the British Government's 'Ju Ju' is not half as strong as our 'Ju Ju'. Our 'Ju Ju' will not allow them to be killed. You will see what happens when we get our 'Ju Ju' to deal with you unless you fall in with us". That intimidation is going on, I am absolutely certain, in Rhodesia to-day, and yet in spite of that the Africans, the so called suppressed people, 459 are being loyal to their officers and loyal to their friends who are to be found all over Rhodesia in the towns, the villages, and in the countryside.
My Lords, it is for those people that I am anxious that nothing should be done to prejudice their continued standard of life and their continued progress in education. I have counted them my friends. I remember on one occasion when Ham Mukasa, that great Christian and great man in Uganda, said to me, "If only the young ones could remember." I asked him, "Remember what? "He said," What happened before the white man came, when there was human sacrifice and slavery, and nobody was free." are we going to deliver the Africans back into that condition? That has happened in a great many of the so called "free" countries. No man's life is free no man can go to bed at night knowing that he will not be taken away by the morning. Surely to-day the threats that have been made to us if we obey our consciences are one of the reasons why Ian Smith is fearful, as he is, of the consequences for his country, and why many of the moderate men have been driven into his camp.
My Lords, do not let us make another mistake. Let us think of what has been done in the past and not let it drift away into limbo. Let us try to keep these people in the progress that they have already made. Let us bring them up, as we have done to so large an extent already, into an understanding of democracy and freedom, and let us remember that we were responsible for them; that they were happy people, that they were contented people, and let us do the best we can to make sure that they return to that happy condition.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ LORD ILFORD
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken speaks with great and intimate knowledge of the subject. a knowledge which few of us can pretend to possess. It is a long time since I have taken part in a debate of this nature in your Lordships' House. I usually find myself engaged in topics of a more pedestrian character with which your Lordships are called upon to deal. To-night I particularly welcome an opportunity to say something about this 460 matter and I promise that I shall be brief.
I have voted hitherto in favour of the different Orders which have been brought before your Lordships' House dealing with the topic of sanctions. I readily accepted the assurances which were given that sanctions were likely to prove effective in a relatively short time. The noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, to-night asked the question, "What has happened since those votes were given to persuade my friends and myself to change our attitude to-morrow?" It is to the answer to that question that I propose to address myself for a few moments.
Before I do so there is one matter about which I should like to say something. It has been suggested that if this Order is negatived to-morrow afternoon negotiations which have been taking place about the future of your Lordships' House would be prejudiced; indeed, I think it has been put as high as to say they would be abandoned altogether. I was rather surprised to hear that suggestion made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I was astonished to see it made in The Times on Saturday, coupled with a suggestion, which seemed to be altogether unworthy, that in some way your Lordships were going to be influenced by the suggestion that, if these negotiations succeeded, Members of your Lordships' House would be paid on a more generous scale than has been the case hitherto. It would be absolutely wrong for us to be influenced by any consideration about the future of these negotiations. This Order will impose on the people of Rhodesia great hardship. It will vitally affect our relations with them and with the United Nations. Such an Order ought not to be affected by questions concerned with the future of your Lordships' House. Whatever effect to-day's debate or tomorrow's Division may have upon those negotiations, I am sure we ought to disregard entirely any consideration of that nature before we give our votes tomorrow.
I will return to the question which was put by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison. There are two considerations which have induced me to depart from the course which hitherto I have followed in these matters. First, I believe that the Government have been wholly mistaken in taking this problem of Rhodesia 461 to the United Nations. Rhodesia is, of course, a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and our relations with her are essentially a Commonwealth matter. It was not necessary to introduce the United Nations into a dispute between two members of the British Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth still means anything to-day, surely it means that the relationship between two members of the Commonwealth ought to he treated as a Commonwealth matter and not introduced to the United Nations.
A second factor which will influence me to-morrow is the effect which I believe these sanctions will have upon the future of the United Nations. Sanctions hitherto have not been a success, in spite of the confidence which the Prime Minister has expressed in them, and I believe that these proposed sanctions, too, will fail in their intended purpose, as their predecessors have done. I do not think that the nations of the world will be willing for very much longer to enforce a complete embargo on their overseas trade, in a quarrel between Britain and a member of the British Commonwealth in which they feel they have no part and no great interest. The nations will no doubt adhere to whatever legislation they have adopted to comply with the decisions of the United Nations, but the enforcement of the embargo will grow weaker and weaker as time passes, and as it becomes more and more obvious that the sanctions have failed in their purpose.
That is what has always happened to sanctions. It happened with the sanctions imposed against Mussolini during the Abyssinian war. I was in another place when the Abyssinian war was going on, and I remember the uncertainty and anxiety which the employment of sanctions inflicted upon us then. I also remember how they failed. As time passed, the nations ceased gradually, step by step, to enforce them, and I recall how disappointed those Members of another place who had advocated the use of sanctions became. In my view, exactly the same thing is going to happen new. Indeed, the sanctions against Rhodesia are failing to-day.
The United Nations is essentially a diplomatic body which can enforce its authority only by diplomatic means. If the United Nations is to survive, then its 462 more irresponsible admirers must refrain from forcing upon it tasks which it is beyond its capacity to enforce. Otherwise, the result will be that the United Nations will fail as the old League of Nations failed. The United Nations is more likely to be killed by its friends than by its enemies.
The people of Rhodesia are a sturdy, high-spirited people. They are determined that these sanctions shall, fail no matter what the cost or sacrifice to themselves. Failure would bring great humiliation on the United Nations and the British Government, but I am bound to say that it seems to me a humiliation which has been richly deserved. But failure will do worse than that. It will erect a barrier of hatred and mistrust between the, people of Rhodesia and the people of this country, which this generation is not I to see removed. I am sure that this Order is a profound mistake, and that time will show that the Government are completely mistaken in endeavouring to enforce this policy of sanctions against Rhodesia at a time when it has already substantially failed. In spite of my earlier votes, shall vote against this Order to-morrow, and I hope that other Members of your Lordships' House who may feel the uncertainty that I have felt will do the same.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, much has been said in this debate by a number of my noble friends on these Benches with which I profoundly agree. But they have said it much better than I could possibly do, so when I rise to speak at this hour of the evening it is only because, on the subject of Rhodesia and the need for this country to keep its trust towards the coloured majority in that country, I feel as deeply as any of them.
We have been reminded this afternoon that this House has the right to vote against this Order. We have been reminded that this House, if it sees fit, has the right to inflict defeat on the Government. If that happens to-morrow, then, as I see it, we on these Benches have not only a right but a duty to remind the country and the world at large that this House has a large built-in Tory majority. A great deal has appeared in the weekend Press which suggests that many among that majority may not be entirely free of a desire to use this issue to embarrass the Government. Be that 463 as it may, I could wish that there were more sign than there has been this afternoon that we in this House were united in a determination to bring the rebel Smith régime to an end.
As it is, the decision to divide the House seems to me to indicate a fundamental difference between the two major political Parties—a fundamental difference not only so far as means are concerned but, as the debate has continued, in the matter of ends as well. I have found it very difficult, in listening to this debate, to discern what those who want sanctions called off and those who object to an attempt to make sanctions more effective would do if to-day they had the responsibility of power instead of the ambition for it. They would talk, they would negotiate. They would then talk some more, and they would carry on negotiating. But one thing is quite clear: they would do nothing that would hurt the rebels. Some of them, it seems to me, my Lords, would capitulate, and I get the impression that for them capitulation could not come too soon.
As this debate has developed it has seemed to me that far too often there has been more enthusiasm for attacking the British Government than for attacking the Rhodesian rebels, and what many noble Lords have said from the Benches opposite—and, indeed, what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood—can only give comfort to the caucus in Rhodesia who stand in defiance of constitutional law under the Crown. My Lords, it would be tragic if this country failed to act on the United Nations resolution. I shall go into the Lobby tomorrow in support of that resolution, content in the belief that it is right so to do.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, having listened to the noble Lord who has just sat down, and having read over the weekend the newspapers to which he and other noble Lords have referred, one would think that every opponent of sanctions must be a supporter of Mr. Smith. But this is not—I repeat "not"—so. To oppose sanctions is not to be pro-Fascist, as one of the papers described it. Indeed, the reverse is the case—a point which was very well made by the noble Earl, 464 Lord Jellicoe, in his opening speech. The way to promote in Rhodesia what people call Fascism is to thrust more power into the hands of Mr. Smith's Government, encouraging that Government to believe that they are—as in fact at the moment they are de facto—the Government of Rhodesia. Sanctions are driving more and more Rhodesians into Mr. Smith's camp. That is why I oppose, and have always opposed, sanctions.
It is nonsense to talk wildly about a Smith lobby. I expect that several noble Lords in their ominium gatherum references to a Smith lobby would include me in it. I do not regard myself as one of a Smith lobby. I always thought that his action in proclaiming U.D.I. was a stupid mistake, and I think that nearly everybody is agreed that the declaration of independence was a mistake. Are we not capable of forming our own individual opinions? The noble Lord, Lord Connesford, put very precisely what I have in mind. Surely we are entitled to form our own opinions without being tagged with some label such as the Members on the other side of the House seem so glad to apply to anybody—especially when, like myself, they are people with no investment or interests in Rhodesia.
Like most people in this country, I have friends and relations in Rhodesia. I also have contact with people from that country, with one of whom I happen at the moment to be in close touch. He is an ex-Regular soldier who has property in Rhodesia, which he himself created, and he now finds himself with an ancestral property in Scotland. As a result of sanctions his affairs are in complete Gilbertian disorder. How they are to be disentangled, I do not know; although perhaps the difficulties of this ex-soldier may be overcome by finding himself bound to live abroad. I would say that he was not for many years a supporter of Mr. Smith. Moreover, he has another point in his favour to which I would make reference, as it is relevant to something said by noble Lords opposite this evening. To his credit, he is desperately concerned, through loyalty, about his staff of several hundred Africans, men whose livelihoods stem from his brains, his energy, his skills and his capital. As I say, he was at first opposed to the Smith regime but is gradually being driven to believe that there will soon be absolutely 465 no alternative but to find himself aligned with the present Government. Meanwhile, the most practical solution for him is to live in a foreign country.
My Lords, some newspapers have suggested that our best course is to go to the races to-morrow and to come back too late for the Division. What rubbish! Anyway, I am simply not made that way. I did not accept the task of being a Life Peer—a task, I may say, whose image has been somewhat tarnished as the years go by by the inclusion of Life Peerages in the Honours List. In my view there should be a separate list altogether. I did not accept this task and all that goes with it (or, at least, all that I thought went with it) to trim my sails over matters of conscience. For instance, on the occasion of Lord Harlech's speech, to which reference has been made and which has been quoted more than once this evening, I frankly did not agree with him. I abstained from voting in that Division. I spoke and voted against the War Damage Bill, which our Front Bench did not support. I divided the House against the British Standard Time Bill for which in fact the Opposition voted. So what do I expect myself to do in the present issue? The point I make, my Lords, is the one which was described so well by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford—it was also referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood—that we have come here on a Writ from which it is perfectly clear that we should vote according to our conscience, regardless.
My Lords I am not a member of the Monday Club, but that does not mean that I do not greatly respect the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I am not a member of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society, but I have lived so long in underdeveloped countries that I am constantly amazed at the apparent absence of real consideration for the really underprivileged, for the really poor—what in India we used to call the Gharib-log—the illiterate masses who know nothing of politics and care less (this point has already been made), but who suffer most from the effect of Orders like this or when there is a famine. Their worry is to secure a square meal, a roof over their heads, justice and freedom from oppression by their own people.
I am satisfied, my Lords, that in the Rhodesian way of life most of them find 466 just that. Not only that, but there is a real chance of their children growing up in peace and having the education which was denied their parents. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, made that point, but he could have added that had it not been for sanctions a great deal more could have been done for these poor people; there would have been more money available.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I thoroughly respect the views of the noble Lord, but I should like to know the alternative to sanctions, not only in this case but in others. It seems to me that it can be only war or the rule of might.
§ LORD FERRIER
Perhaps noble Lords will allow me to digress in reply to this rather irrelevant question. I take the view that sanctions imposed by the United Nations are becoming rather a giggle; in fact the United Nations is becoming rather a giggle, and have to face it. I know that it is marvellous to have this organisation which may be in a position some day, God grant, to lead to World Government. But at the moment they are a giggle. Some other speaker, whose name I regret I cannot recall, pointed out that we pay as much attention to their rules about Gibraltar as South Africa pays to sanctions against Rhodesia.
I do not think that sanctions have ever proved successful. Surely the Government to-day is led by a leader who says, "Let us be pragmatic". Well, for goodness' sake! let us be pragmatic. Sanctions simply have not worked. Two-and-a-half years have gone by, and Rhodesia is doing all right; and the more her people are tormented in this way (this is why I am going to vote against the Order) the stronger they will get in their determination to resist any attempt to interfere with what they believe to be, and what I believe to be, the best way of doing good to the humble people in Rhodesia.
I am sorry, my Lords, for that digression, but the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, led me a little up the garden path. I was 467 talking about education and the availability of money being affected by sanctions. The right reverend Prelate's letter from his brother Bishop illustrated the point which I now want to make. It is that the pressures of the last two and a half years are making the whole position more and more difficult for Rhodesia. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, and other noble Lords made this point. Sometimes I feel that we are like Alice Through the Looking Glass. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, said that from U.D.I. the condition of the people had begun to deteriorate. Surely it was not from U.D.I., but from the sanctions imposed thereafter. I remember saying, ten years ago, in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland when the Church was raising objections to the Central African Federation, "Look out; if you go on like this, you will drive the Rhodesians into the arms of South Africa." Let us be pragmatic. That is what is happening.
When people talk gaily about the nearness to a system of apartheid, I feel so downhearted because we just go on with this programme of sanctions and this pressure, when we know perfectly well what is happening. There is less and less freedom in Rhodesia for the African. The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, asked what noble Lords on this side have done to help towards a settlement. What is there to be done without power? More especially, what can we do when our approach to the whole subject lies so far apart? I try to help our unfortunate countrymen who have got into the meshes of sanctions. It looks to me as if I shall end up in "jug" if I go on. What about some of the mischiefs and "tizzy-snatching" things that are going on? Am I right in thinking that pensions paid in pounds by the Rhodesians to their pensioners in this country are paid out in devalued pounds in Britain? Perhaps some noble Lord opposite might care to look into that point.
I feel that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, was grossly misleading and, indeed, offensive. It was misleading because he said that the white Rhodesians ruled "against the will of 4 million Africans". This is simply not so. Noble Lords who know more about it than I will support me, I feel sure; and my friends and contacts in Rhodesia 468 say that since the Smith regime have got under lock and key the African agitators, the law-abiding, hard-working, sensible common people have been very much happier than they were before. The one anxiety they have is that circumstances may so change that these agitators will be let out. The noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, has already made the point of how the guerrillas, the so-called "freedom-fighters", get rolled up pretty quickly as soon as they cross the frontier. We all know. It is because the Africans catch them.
I say that the noble Lord was in a measure offensive because of the implications in what he said about the Opposition Whip. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, was not here when the noble Lord was speaking because I am pretty sure that he would have got a Roland for his Oliver. What he said is no more acceptable to me than the extraordinary remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Annan, whose speech seemed to me quite terrifying in its pusillanimous sentiments which he set out. When I think, too, that he is in charge of some university education, it terrifies me.
As to the constitutional issue, I speak from a slightly peculiar position in that I am one of the original Life Peers, and one of the few on this side of the House who have had no connection with the House of Commons. Indeed, I can say that I regard the House of Commons with somewhat less respect than I did when I joined your Lordships' House some ten years ago. It is all very well to strike attitudes about the powers of the House of Lords. But what are we discussing tonight? We are discussing an Order which the Government can introduce, consulting Parliament later, and then go on and on applying the sanctions. This smells to me of dictatorship. Apart from the sanctions issue, per se, if this debate and the Division to-morrow bring home to the people at large the risks they run under this Government, then it will not he for the first time that your Lordships' House has stood between the people and unfettered power, whether from below or from above.
The noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, made some reference to force, as did the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. Everybody seems to say: What is the alternative to force? Of course, 469 force is simply out of the question. I personally would rather be hanged as high as Haman than draw a bead on a member of Mr. Smith's Government. And I am the sort of chap, like a lot of others, who would not ask anybody else to do what I would not do myself. So force is right out. That is my feeling about it, and it is no use talking about it. And sanctions are also out.
In his, to me, quite delightful maiden speech, the noble Lord, Lord Poltimore, said what he thought General Smuts would have said on this issue, that is, "Get round the table and talk about it, and let us cut out our pride." As for the constitutional issue, I am thinking particularly of the closing sentences of the Lord Chancellor's speech, and also the speech over the weekend by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which seemed to me to be made with something closely akin to a bludgeon. It was quite the other way with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, but no matter how exquisite the texture of the velvet glove with which the noble and learned Lord conceals his mailed fist, I am quite unimpressed. But I was immeasurably heartened by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford.
I am, of course, not indifferent to the possibilities of what may happen if the vote goes one way or another. Who would be? But I do not propose to let any such hypothesis weigh with me in the honest concern for the merits of the case. As I say, and as I have said before, in a matter of this nature, I did not accept a seat in your Lordships' House to pass by on the other side.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, after what is now quite a long period of service in this House, I reflect again what a pleasure it is to listen to speeches made by those who one has good reason to know speak with authority and knowledge, rather than from ideology. So it is that today we have listened to some who are outstandingly qualified by their experience and their knowledge to express views to which we should pay attention. My noble friend who has just sat down has a long period of administration behind him in the Indian area and speaks with that particular knowledge.
470 On the other hand, I have been rather surprised at the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, in referring to past Divisions in this House on the subject of Rhodesia. I thought he made a point of a rather insinuating derogatoriness in referring to the fact that among those who voted a very large proportion were hereditary Peers. I should not have thought it necessary to insinuate that those of us who are hereditary Peers have any less intelligence or experience by a long stroke than those who have just come up from another House. It is the same with regard to the manner in which we are recommended to vote. I was not particularly impressed with the advice given in the Press by some who sit on this side of the House, particularly after a very short period of service in this House, who are presuming to give advice as to what should be the manner in which we should vote.
I have voted consistently against sanctions. I do not believe in them. I do not believe they are practical; I do not believe they are going to succeed. They certainly have not succeeded up to now. I have also felt great regret that the Prime Minister saw fit to renounce this, question to the world, to say that this was not a matter for the British Government to settle, and to shovel it off on to the United Nations. He took the decision. Whatever may be the merits—and there are many—of the United Nations in social questions, certainly in political questions they have been a miserable failure. From Kashmir to the Congo or to Israel, they have produced as much bloodshed as success.
The Press being my informant, I learn that it is Mr. "Mannie" so well known and whom we all admire, who is credited with the statement, in a retort to the Prime Minister, that lie was beholden to a leader older than he, as he was a descendant of Moses. That brings me to Israel and the Six-Day War. The United Nations had a distinct part in causing that, and I think that here is an outstanding example where matters have been left to the United Nations, and they have been a particular failure. So it is that I think Israel presents another example of a difficult situation, and one certainly which can best be healed by patience. I have taken the trouble to go to Israel several times 471 lately. I am dedicated in my respect for the State of Israel and I admire what it has achieved. I have travelled recently from Habbaniyah, in the North, to Eilat, in the South, seeing what is being done, and I think it unlikely that any pressure through the United Nations will swerve them from their intention of holding on to their position until they get what is suggested consistently with regard to Rhodesia; namely, negotiation rather than pressure of any political kind.
So I come to the course of the United Nations in its actions, continually hostile to the South African Republic. It is not unnatural that the South African Republic feels a growing resentment at the sort of attacks that it receives from the United Nations. There is the absurdity of what we have done towards South Africa, allegedly at the dictation of the United Nations, stopping the shipment of arms to South Africa while at the same time expecting her to implement the Simonstown Agreement and to keep open the sea routes to the West. I think it was only yesterday that I read in the Press that 50 million tons of shipping have passed round the Cape since the Six-Day War—50 million tons more than would have passed had it not been for the war and the closing of the Suez Canal.
I wish to return for a moment to South West Africa. The United Nations have presumed to say that they should take steps to give substitute rule for South West Africa. Everybody knows that it is absolute nonsense, because you could not possibly get any other form of government when you have not got the ports and have not got the rolling stock. That is why I suggest that there is hypocrisy with regard to this fuss about white minority rule. We want to trade with South Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Mitchison said (and I see that he has now left his place), that the South African industrial complex could be just as well run by an African Government as it could by a white Government. What utter nonsense ! The unpracticality, the hypocrisy, the abysmal ignorance of those who would suggest it ! If you are going to recognise South Africa as needing a white Government it is equally true of Rhodesia. You cannot have a black Government right away. The fact 472 of the matter is that Africans in South Africa and in Rhodesia are not yet fit for sovereignty.
I seem to recollect a time when Hungary made a great bid for freedom. Perhaps at that time the right reverend Prelate might have given expression to the thoughts of what salvation could have been offered to the Hungarians, but white minority rule over white majority non-Communists is something that appears to arouse no objections. I turn to Mozambique for a moment. Mozambique, as a metropolitan province of Portugal, has presented the United Nations with a bill for the damage caused to it by these sanctions. Nothing has been paid. No respect is made to it. The Beira patrol, causing them a great disadvantage, certainly is piracy on the High Seas by international rule, and is not the intention of that patrol the application of force? Of course it is, by all international law. We want normal trade with South Africa. South Africa intends to have normal trade with the Central African areas. Portugal intends the same. As my noble friend Lord Ferrier said, those two countries are not likely to give it up. They will continue to trade with Central Africa, be it Malawi, Zambia or Rhodesia, just as they have always done—and how, with a long frontier like that, can you expect sanctions to succeed?
The question of terrorists, whether from Tanzania into Mozambique or Zambia into Rhodesia, is equally a matter for the South African Republic. Remove the protection of the troops that Portugal is mobilising and paying for in Northern Mozambique, and the pressure is bound gradually to come down to South Africa, and it is natural that they are not going to surrender their need for defending their people.
Reference has been made to a Police State several times. Incidentally, I wonder how many of those who are going to vote tomorrow remember that Rhodesia is the only one out of, I think, 44 States on the Continent of Africa in which the police are unarmed. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor gave us a good example of how we should read from quotations. I take his example by reading from a letter from Mrs. Elspeth Huxley, who certainly is a person 473 of compassion and a well known public character. She said:Rhodesia is labelled a Police State, but detention Acts operate with greater severity in most of the African countries we flatter and subsidise. Legality, presumably, cannot spring from revolution, so what about Russia and its satellites, or France even for that matter? We should save a lot of money in the Diplomatic Service if we dealt only with countries whose Governments conform to our standards of legality and constitutional government.No more need be said about that.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, I do not think I used the expression "Police State". I thought a Police State was Mr. Heath's description of Rhodesia.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, when I quoted the Lord Chancellor it was not in the sentence where I referred to a Police State. My memory may not be right. But he has no monopoly of the phrase "Police State"; I have heard it said by many, but if he has a claim to monopoly of it I withdraw.
If sanctions succeeded, undoubtedly any other Government than the Government of the day in Rhodesia, constitutionally elected, would result only in grave disorder and chaos—and who would be hurt most? The Africans. What hypocrisy to suggest that this action is going to defend the Africans when everybody knows that in a state of chaos and disorder you cannot get improved education, higher economic conditions and greater agricultural instruction. And these are the conditions we want.
I have been travelling widely in Rhodesia as well as in South Africa. I have this year travelled hundreds of miles in Rhodesia, to a great number of stations, and have spoken with the managers on stations employing hundreds of black Africans and I have some little knowledge of the situation. The tribal influences are the problem. Whether in Rhodesia or in South Africa the differences between the Basutos, the Zulus and others are as wide as the differences between the Finns and the Portuguese, or the Chinese and the Indians. It is wrong to regard them all as one people because their skins are black. Do we regard the nations in Europe as exactly the same? Surely their customs, religions and influences are different. And so it is in Asia.
474 Drought has been to Rhodesia a greater disaster than sanctions. Perhaps the right reverend Prelates will E ay that the Rhodesians have brought this on themselves; but it is a fact that the drought has been more serious than have sanctions. Many of the difficulties of sanctions have come more certainly through drought. One has only to travel to see the effect of the drought. One has only to see how the first crap was destroyed to realise that. The noble Lords, Lord Wedgwood, Lord Milverton and others, who have great experience of the conditions, have given us, I feel, a true picture of the situation and I associate myself entirely with what they have said.
I do not agree with sanctions. They are morally vicious, and quite contrary to the spirit of compassion and of the age. The Rhodesians are of British stock and they will never surrender, just as we should not surrender in equivalent circumstances. They will not capitulate. I am not one who believes that principle and conviction and tradition should be sacrificed for expediency. Nothing, not even the suggestion that it will imperil the future existence of this House, will daunt me from saying that we must vote against this Order. We should vote as our consciences dictate, and in accordance with the knowledge that God may have put at our disposal.
This is what happened in a previous crisis with another Government. The Asquith Government was trying to coerce the North of Ireland. Anyone may read Hansard of the Spring of 1914, and from that can realise the attitude of this House. The forefathers of many who are here and who may vote to-morrow had no hesitation then in expressing their feelings. The feelings were intense, so much so that a whole brigade at the Curragh thought it necessary to resign their commissions. That was thin the strength of the convictions of our forefathers. In these conditions, my Lords, I have not the least hesitation in following the lead and advice of my Leader on this side of the House in recording my vote against this Order.
§ 10.39 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, your Lordships have been discussing this matter for nearly eight hours, and during 475 that time all that can be said on this matter has, I think, been said; and since we have a good distance to go, it is not my intention to speak for any length of time. Let me confess that I rise with some apprehension, because this is the third speech that I have made in your Lordships' House in the last three years on the Rhodesian question. On the last occasion, in December, 1965, a fair number of noble Lords opposite walked out in protest. I was grateful to them at the time for the compliment they paid me. But I am hoping that I shall not say anything this evening which is going to bring about a recurrence of that kind of situation, although I confess that, having re-read that speech within the last two or three days, I am sorely tempted to make it again.
I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, who has just sat down and who talked about the possibility of what would happen if there were an African majority to-morrow, that there cannot be an African majority to-morrow because the Prime Minister and the members of the Party of which I am a member have have made it perfectly clear that in our view the Rhodesian Africans are not ready to take over the Government of Rhodesia; this must be a planned, longterm matter. So the question of having a Rhodesian African Government in the near future does not arise.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I liken that to the State of Israel. The persecution of the Jews has been a long-term problem for nearly 2,000 years.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I do not see the relevance of that, if I may say so. As I, too, have been in Israel quite recently, I would agree that they are doing a magnificent job. I do not know whether that is a suitable answer but it seems to me to be just as relevant as the noble Lord's intervention.
I rise to-night, not out of any sense of emotion, not because I have to support the Government on every occasion—the fact that I have not always supported the Government has on more than one occasion been the concern of the Front Bench—but in this matter I believe that they are absolutely right. The Order before your Lordships to-day seems to me 476 to be the logical outcome of a series of unpleasant (I admit this) but, nevertheless, necessary actions. When the Smith regime behaved illegally its action was strongly condemned by all Parties in your Lordships' House, as well as by all Parties in another place, and it was generally agreed then that something had to be done, and done quickly, to bring Rhodesia back to legality.
Every effort was made by the Government to do this, and I find it a little surprising that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in his opening speech should make reference to the need for further negotiations. I find it a little surprising that the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, should quote from a speech of another noble Lord that we should "get round the table". I wonder what noble Lords think the Prime Minister, a number of Commonwealth Secretaries, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, and the Attorney General have been doing over the period of the last two and a half years. They have made repeated efforts. They have been out to Salisbury. They have met Mr. Smith time and time again, with the very purpose of trying to negotiate something which would be acceptable to all sides: but the fact remains that all efforts have proved unsuccessful. I want to say this, and say it quite bluntly: the utterances and attitudes of some of the noble Lords opposite have not helped the situation. The present situation has not been created by the Government of this country. They have done everything in their power to find a solution, but we have to face the fact that Rhodesia has shown little desire to find a solution to this problem.
In such a situation what can be done? Noble Lords, one after another, have said, "We must not apply sanctions. We must try to negotiate." How do we resolve this situation? Not a single noble Lord opposite has come forward with a suggestion as to how the matter can be resolved. Are we merely to accept the situation, to surrender, and to say, "All right then, have your own way"? Do we not have some responsibility for the 4 million Africans at present living in Southern Rhodesia? I suggest that in the circumstances sanctions were, and still are, inevitable.
477 But if sanctions are to work, they must be applied effectively; and we have to face the fact that they have got to be punitive and must be used for that purpose. After all, this is the object of the exercise. The steps which we are being asked to take in this Order should have been taken a long time ago. It is all very well for the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, to talk about the failure of sanctions. Of course sanctions have in some measure failed, because they were never applied in the extreme. This Order is a sincere and determined effort to do what perhaps has never been done before; that is, to apply sanctions in such a way that they will be felt. The noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, said that to increase sanctions will put Smith more firmly in the saddle. I suggest that if noble Lords opposite vote against this Order tomorrow it will be they who will be putting Smith more firmly in the saddle. This is something I ask them to think about very carefully.
It may well be that noble Lords opposite, or some of them, have lost sight of the real position. It has been referred to in your Lordships' House today that this is Human Rights Year. To listen to the speeches of some noble Lords opposite, one would not think so. One would think that human rights meant the rights of whites, and certainly not of the blacks. We on this side of the House are concerned, and always have been concerned, for the 4 million Africans who have less hope under the Smith régime than they have had under any other previous Government in Rhodesia. Some of us may be a little out of date, but we see in this a grave moral principle. It is on that score that I feel as strongly as I do about the whole Rhodesian question, and in particular on the need for this Order to go through.
The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, said (I think I am right in quoting him) that principles should not be sacrificed. I suggest to noble Lords opposite who are thinking seriously about opposing this Order that here is a moral principle which should not be sacrificed for the benefit of a mere handful of people. I think that we have a moral responsibility not only to look after the health, the wealth and the happiness of four million Rhodesian Africans but also 478 to see that they too ultimately have a say and a share in their own government.
We in this House, and particularly on this side of the Chamber, are very familiar with Mr. Smith's view—a view which is shared not only by his supporters hut, I strongly suspect, by a number of noble Lords opposite. Let me quote what he has said, among other things:If ever we have an African majority in this country, we shall have failed in our policy of trying to make a place for the white man.The more one thinks about it, the more disgraceful it is, and I should be ashamed if I found myself for a brief second even beginning to accept a statement of that kind. Mr. Smith probably sees—and, again, I am sorry to say that I think a number of noble Lords opposite also see—Rhodesia as a white man's private profit-making preserve which must be protected, at the expense of 4 million Africans who are living in appalling conditions (because I, too, have been there to see them for myself) with appalling standards and a complete absence of education in the real sense.
I agree—and I am sure the noble Marquess will take me up on this unless I say it—that Southern Rhodesia is probably spending more on primary education than any other African country. I accept that. But they are taking jolly good care that they spend precious little on secondary education, because if they spent more, more and more Africans would qualify for the vote.
VISCOUNT MASSEREENE, AND FERRARD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? He said that the Rhodesian African had an extremely low standard of living. I have pointed out several times in this House, although it never appears to sink in with noble Lords opposite, that the Rhodesian African has an average income of £112 a year. The Africans in the Republics of Africa—many of them our former Colonies, and in spite of the vast amount of free aid that the British taxpayer pours into them every year—have an average income of only £30 a year. So put that in your pipe and smoke it!
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I am always grateful to noble Lords who presume to give me advice and information. But the noble Viscount might have been more correct if he had said that 479 the average income of an African family working in the towns or urban areas was included in that figure. The figure he gave is not the average income of the African, because if he investigates the matter I think the noble Viscount will find that his figure relates only to a very small percentage of African families. The present situation has been brought about by the unwillingness of Rhodesia to face the situation. I think that the ultimate peace of the world is much more bound up with what is happening, and with what will happen, in Africa than with capitalism on one side and Communism on the other.
I think noble Lords opposite have not been wise in their choice of a battleground today. It would have been much more to their credit, and perhaps more understandable, if they had chosen one of the pieces of legislation which they are constantly complaining has been ill-conceived or ill-scrutinised in another place. There might have been much more justification for taking action there than in this connection. I believe that noble Lords opposite, who are threatening to vote against the Order, are doing a very grave disservice to the international image of this House and of Her Majesty's Government, even if one does not agree with all that the Government are doing. I believe that by voting against this Order—and I think somebody has to say it—they are in fact, whether they recognise it or not, giving aid and comfort to the Smith régime; and if they decide to throw this Order out they must not mind if somebody levels the accusation against them that Mr. Smith really has a very good "fifth column" in the British House of Lords.
§ 10.56 p.m.
My Lords, after the last speaker I will certainly declare that I have an interest in Rhodesia. I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes, but as I have only recently come back from Rhodesia there is one point that I should like to make. When out there I rather sensed that the British were becoming less popular. I think one can hardly blame the Rhodesians for that. I tried to make the point to them that these vindictive measures, these sanctions, were not the desire of the British people but of the 480 British Government. Of course, I got the answer that a people get the Government they deserve.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
Could I ask him by what yardstick he is able to judge what the British public really think about sanctions?
Recently I have been travelling a great deal. I went down one very full train the other day asking everybody whether he was for or against these Rhodesian measures. I had an 80 per cent. count in my favour. A country may get the Government it deserves, certainly, but I think that that lasts only for a year or so. I think that after two and a half years the electors may wish otherwise. I think it would give enormous relief and pleasure (I am not talking so much now of Mr. Smith) to the many liberal and middle-of-the-road politicians in Rhodesia—and there are a great many of them—if they heard that this House had thrown out this Order. It would give them heart not to become a Republic, not to join the Union, but to "hold their horses" in the high hopes that some day, and anyhow at the next Election, a peaceful solution will be reached.
I am not going to talk any more about sanctions: that subject has been covered time and time again. As regards the constitutional issue, surely it is up to us to vote for what we think is right, not what we think is expedient. I leave that sort of chicanery to another place. There is only one other thing that I should like to say, which I think will please some of your Lordships here, though it may surprise some on the other side. When I came away, petrol was 3s. 6d. a gallon, and I was offered as much as I required.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down I think he ought to withdraw his remark about "chicanery" in another place. It is not the custom of your Lordships' House, or indeed of another place, to cast aspersions of that kind.
§ 10.59 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I have too much respect for this House to wish, at this late hour, to repeat many of the arguments which have already been urged. I have had some sympathy with the Opposition Front Bench during the last three speeches which have been delivered from that side of the House. I hope that the tone of those three speeches may, even at this late hour, make them reconsider their decision to vote against this Order.
Because I do not want to repeat what has been said at some length to-day, I propose to approach this issue, at least at the beginning of my remarks, from the point of view of political philosophy, rather than from the point of view of a protagonist. I recognise that in the Rhodesia issue we are faced with a conflict between principle and realism, between moral values and what is practicable. I recognise the European point of view in Rhodesia. I remember reading the biography of Sir Roy Welensky in which there was an illustration of the town of Salisbury 60 years ago. It was a ditch in a marsh. There was also a photograph of exactly the same place today, with a beautiful boulevard and modern buildings. No one who is looking at the issue of Rhodesia can fail to appreciate the attitude of the European minority community there who have seen the advance of their country under the European enterprise which has been practised there. And I want to say that I recognise it at once.
My Lords, the Europeans take the view that although they are a minority of little more than 200,000, compared with 4 million Africans, they are the civilised community and that the future of Rhodesia must be in the hands of those who are civilised rather than in the hands of the great majority of Africans, many of whom are illiterate. I want to contest that view from the point of view of political philosophy. The illiterate man has as much right to decide his future as the educated and intelligent man. The illiterate African in Rhodesia, living in his village, denied his land (a case was reported in the Guardian this week of the eviction of an African family whose land had been appropriated by Europeans under the Land Apportionment Act), has as much right to express 482 his view about his future as the most educated and the richest man in his territory.
This is the fundamental issue of democracy. It was an issue in this country when the Chartists at the beginning of the last century first demanded democracy in Great Britain. Most of the British people were then illiterate; but they were suffering appalling injustices: children working in the factories; women working down the mines; the appalling slavery of our working class; and the Chartists demanded, in the name of democracy, that they should have the right to vote. That is exactly the situation in Rhodesia today, with 4 million Africans exploited; their land taken from them; those in towns living in conditions which are just shocking for any civilised human beings, and those in the villages denied even the land for subsistence. They are demanding the right to express their grievances in a democratic way by the vote. A minority of 200,000 Europeans are asserting the right to dominate them and control their lives. Everyone who is supporting the white dictatorship of Ian Smith in Rhodesia is claiming the right of a small privileged, rich, exploiting race over the vast majority of the people there whom they dominate.
My Lords, I wish to say at once that although I have been very closely associated with the struggle of all the African peoples for their right to self-government, I am deeply disappointed by what has happened in many of the independent African States. It is the most disappointing fact of my political experience. But I would say to the House that there are two points that we should bear in mind. One has been made by Mr. Iain Macleod, one of the best Colonial Secretaries that this country has ever had. I pay my tribute to him as a Conservative, as I pay it to Mr. Oliver Stanley who preceded him as a Conservative Colonial Secretary. Mr. Macleod made the point that even though independent African countries have shown us some disappointment, the position would have been immeasurably worse had we not recognised their right to self-government and independence. We should remember the eight years of war in Algeria and the Mau-Mau crisis in Kenya. If British Governments, beginning with the Labour 483 Government which followed the last war and continuing with subsequent Conservative Governments, had not recognised the right of colonial peoples to self-government, we should have had in Africa a continental scene similar to that of Vietnam at this moment. No one can possibly look at African history without recognising that, with all the disappointments which have occurred, it has been a progressive act to recognise the right of the African people to self-government and independence. My Lords, the other point—
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Lord. Would he not agree that we have, systematically over the years, trained the people for whom we were responsible up to self-government? I think the noble Lord would admit, even in the case of Malaya where we have Chinese Communists and terrorists, and infiltration internationally inspired, we had trade union advisers from this country out there helping the people and representing their views at that time. The noble Lord indicated that we have held these people down. I think that all the time we led them on.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am not going to reply to that intervention in detail, but I could do so. I was putting a point to the House which was reflecting not only my view but also the view of Mr. lain Macleod, who was a distinguished Colonial Secretary representing a Conservative Government.
The other point I want to make is this. When we are thinking, as the white Rhodesian minority are continually thinking, of the failures of African independent Governments, we should recognise that these territories are now passing through a stage of political development similar to that in Europe when national States were being created. It is quite accidental that I am writing a book at this moment which has compelled me to look at European history. If one looks at European history during the period similar to that through which Africa is now passing, the conflicts, the massacres, the wars, the religious intolerance, the brutalities and the revolutions make what is happening in Africa seem 484 almost superficial. If one looks at Africa with an understanding of history one sees that the difficulties, the disturbances, the civil wars, like that in Nigeria at this moment, mark a historical period which is necessary for ultimate self-government and democracy in these territories. That is a consideration of our problems from the point of view of political philosophy.
When I begin to look at them in a practical way, may I remind your Lordships that no Government in this country, either Conservative or Labour, has ever recognised the right of a colonial territory to independence before majority rule has been granted in that territory. There is only one unhappy exception—the independence which was given to the whites in South Africa, not by a Conservative Government or by a Labour Government, but by the Liberal Government at that time.
I admit that the present policy of sanctions has largely failed. It has in fact succeeded to a greater degree than is recognised, but it has taken a much longer time than was anticipated. We have had the statement of the Prime Minister that it might operate within months. We have had the anticipations of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. But it is clear from the attitude of businessmen in Southern Rhodesia today that the effect of the present sanctions has been greater than is generally recognised. Now the Government are asking this House to pass an Order which will endorse a decision of the United Nations, not only for mandatory sanctions, but for comprehensive sanctions: that is to say, that the United Nations will have the responsibility of seeing that every Government in the world applies the same sanctions which this country has applied during the last two and a half years, very often defeated by the aid which other Governments and countries have given to Southern Rhodesia.
I regard as one of the most important items in the resolution carried by the United Nations the instruction to the Secretary-General to survey the situation so that he can report when Governments of Member States of the United Nations do not fulfil the decision which the United 485 Nations has laid down; not only to report those failures to the United Nations, but to recommend actions by which the decision of the United Nations may be carried out. I do not think we recognise the significance of the fact that this resolution was carried unanimously by the Security Council. It is a quite extraordinary event. No one who has followed the discussions of the United Nations can fail to be aware of the opposition of Governments like that of France. One finds it particularly remarkable, in view of the present situation in France. Here is the French Government for the first time supporting the resolution of not only mandatory but comprehensive sanctions. I hope I am not being ungenerous if I say that a good deal of the breach of the economic sanctions in Southern Rhodesia in the past has come from France.
I see the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in his seat. Will he, before the Division tomorrow at five o'clock, begin to realise the critical significance of a vote being given in this House against the unanimous wish of the Security Council of the United Nations? It is a defiance against the world, of which no Party in this country, and no responsible Opposition, should for one moment be guilty.
I recognise at once that even the comprehensive sanctions, which are now made mandatory, may have their flaws in the refusal of both South Africa and Portugal to co-operate. I would say this: that if the Secretary-General of the United Nations is to be given power to report to the United Nations the failure of any Governments to co-operate in the resolution which it has carried, that must apply to any supplies which can reach Southern Rhodesia either through Mozambique or through South Africa. I do not take the view that it is impossible for the Secretary-General of the United Nations to be able to identify breaches of its decision. Assistance goes through the Portuguese Colonies, mostly through Lourenco Marques. I do not know why, if you apply United Nations authority for a blockade of Beira in Mozambique it should not be applied also against Lourenco Marques in Mozambique.
So far as South Africa is concerned, every business company in this country or in any other country which supplies goods to South Africa destined for 486 Southern Rhodesia is breaking the decision of the United Nations. I know that British and other businesses may say that they are just exporting to South Africa, but noble Lords on the opposite Benches who have such close knowledge of company practices know very well indeed that no company which is exporting to South Africa is innocent of the ultimate destination of goods if those gods are to be sent to Southern Rhodesia; and no one who is making an investigation of this issue, as the Secretary-General has been asked to do, can fail to recognise those breaches of the United Nations resolution.
It has been urged from the opposite Benches, and urged even from its Front Bench, that the Order which is before the House to-day will encourage the use of force in Southern Rhodesia. I say very sincerely indeed that this Order is the last opportunity which our country and the United Nations will have to avert the use of force in Southern Rhodesia. Already there are guerrillas in Southern Rhodesia; there are formidable revolts in Mozambique, in Angola, in Portuguese Guinea. There are beginnings of revolt in South-West Africa. Let the African nations which are in the United Nations, and which have accepted the resolution which is the basis of this Order in Council, feel that the official Opposition in this country, reflected in the Vote in this House, turns down the United Nations resolution, and definitely the effect will be that they will become cynical about this country's using its influence at all, and it will encourage them to turn to force.
I wonder whether the Opposition will accept that I think from their own point of view they are making an extraordinary mistake in urging that this House should vote against this Order. They are adding to their opposition to democracy in Southern Rhodesia opposition to democracy in this country. I am going to admit at once that it is possible that apathy in this country might lead to indifference on the issue of Southern Rhodesia. But I say to them definitely that there will be no apathy in this country if those in this House who are hereditary Peers, who have the right to vote only because they are the sons of their fathers, turn down democratic decisions by the elected House in this country. 487 They will do a great disservice to their own cause about Southern Rhodesia if they submerge it in the right of this House to reject what the democratically elected House has carried.
I want finally to say this. I have in my hands a letter which has been issued by the Anglo-Rhodesian Society to its members. It is a confidential letter, and the members of the Society are requested to make no mention whatsoever to the Press of its contents. This letter indicates in detail the campaign which the Anglo-Rhodesian Society proposes to carry out in this country. It involves the collection of signatures to a petition. I want specially to draw the attention of this House to one sentence in this letter:Collectors must explain that we, the British can no longer afford sanctions against a friendly State.A friendly State! A State which is in rebellion against the Government of this country; a State which has ignored the Prerogatives of Her Majesty the Queen; a State which is expanding apartheid, to which all our Parties have been opposed!
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Order!
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I will sit down as soon as I have finished what I am saying in this paragraph. I will then give way to the noble Viscount, but it is not gentlemanly courtesy to attempt to interrupt me in the middle of a sentence. What I was saying is that this is described as a "friendly State"—a State which is in rebellion against the Government of this country, which has ignored the Prerogative of Her Majesty the Queen; a State which is extending the vicious practice of apartheid; a State which has denied the right of a majority to rule for another hundred years.
This campaign by the Anglo-Rhodesian Society is a campaign against all the 488 principles and all the tolerances for which this country has ever stood, and the vote which is given to-morrow in this House against the Order which has been introduced by the Government will be interpreted everywhere as a confirmation of the doctrines which that society is advocating. My Lords, I will now give way.
§ VISCOUNT DAVENTRY
My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord for one moment, he has talked about Rhodesia as a country which is against us. This was a country which was for us during two world wars. I am old enough to have fought in both wars, and to abuse that country as the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has done, revolts me. They are our friends, and he should realise it, instead of thinking only of his particular coloured friends. I think it is really dreadful.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I will make only one point in answer to that. Rhodesia has only 200,000-odd white people, with 4 million Africans; and among those 4 million Africans there were those who fought and died in the war, equally as there were among the minority of white people.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down I should like to ask him a question, which I can do as a Life Peer. He seemed to indicate that no hereditary Peer, whether in receipt of Her Majesty's Writ or not, has the right to take part in a Division such as we have to-morrow, despite the fact that he may, like the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, the noble Lord, Lord Forester, and half a dozen others, have an intimate knowledge of the matters being discussed in your Lordships' House. I understood the noble Lord to say that nevertheless, because they are hereditary Peers, they ought not to be allowed to take part in the Division.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
Not a bit, my Lords. A hereditary Peer has, under the present rules of this House every right to vote. But I say this: that if it becomes an issue between the right of those who are Members of the House for legislative purposes only because they are the sons of their fathers and a democratically elected House of Commons, the electorate of this country will decide 489 in favour of democracy rather than in favour of the maintenance of hereditary powers.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I should like to take a certain amount of heat out of what has transpired in the recent speech we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and I think I would try to be constructive in this matter. I think it would be easier for us on both sides of the House if we tried most sincerely to take class politics out of the consideration of the Rhodesia situation. The fact that there happen to be Europeans settled in Rhodesia who may at the present time enjoy a higher and better standard of living than the Africans is simply because they have gone out to that country and have taken responsibility out there, in which situation they are at present. If one brands all of them as exploiters of people in holding down the Africans, it does not make it one whit easier in a situation of this kind to get a settlement, which I am sure both sides of the House most sincerely desire.
I well remember, I think about 10 or 15 years ago, when my father was a Member of the other place and I used to come home on leave from Malaya, where I served as a colonial civil servant. In those days, and even in the earlier days when debates were held in another place, the House seemed to be empty. The situation then would appear to be that there was very little with which Parliament at that time concerned itself with our overseas relations, or anything in the Commonwealth which really caused us great concern. The facts were that over a great area of the globe there was peace and contentment, and people were being steadily led along under an enlightened paternal Administration towards their own interests and their eventual self-government.
I want to emphasise that I suppose our experience as a nation in dealing with colonial Commonwealth matters must be second to none, and must certainly be the envy of some other nations. Certainly I cannot conceive that they know anything like as much about these problems as we do. Our policies have always been for most of these areas to lead the peoples to their own self-government, giving them independence, 490 understanding their problems and so on. If I may mention this in a constructive sense, Britain has been most ably served by her colonial servants. If I may draw a parallel, I believe that if it were possible for British colonial servants under an able Secretary of State for the Commonwealth to be sent into South Vietnam tomorrow, in no time we should have peace in that territory. I say that because this is an experience we have, and I say it not wishing to cast any aspersion against our American friends.
In the time I served in Malaya we had a distinguished Member of another place, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. James Griffiths, who I believe is still in the House of Commons and a member of the Labour Party. We had the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, who was formerly Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd, and the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, who was formerly the Right Honourable Oliver Lyttelton. Both are now distinguished Members of your Lordships' House. The accumulated experience of this country was, and still is, enormous. These are the facts.
I well remember the time when the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, came out to Malaya. It was after our High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, had been shot and murdered by Chinese Communists, and we were in a state of some concern and turmoil at the time. This was when Chinese international Communism was trying its best to get a foothold in South East Asia, and to establish Malaysia as the thirteenth province of China. It had nothing to do with any of the ways in which we were administering those territories. I wish to emphasise that. I wish it to be borne in mind, whatever may be said about us in this day and age, that these were the facts operating at that time: that we had an enlightened Government, we had policies that were enlightened, passed by this Parliament and given executive form by whatever Government happened to be in power.
After that experience in Malaya it gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, and even happiness, to think that tomorrow we have the Prime Minister of Malaysia, an independent country, Tunku Abdul Rahman, here to receive the Freedom of the City of London.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but may I remind him that this is a debate about Rhodesia and not about Malaya? I think he is out of order.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I am coming to my point now—is just this. I hope to show that, with our accumulated experience, it would be possible to achieve an understanding and a settlement with Rhodesia. I am coming to that particular point at this moment.
At the beginning of this debate I listened with care and respect to what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor had to say. It seemed to me that the Government have no intention at the present time of entering into any form of negotiation with Mr. Smith, and that their main concern was to make the imposition of sanctions more effective. My noble and learned friend Lord Dilhorne called attention to some Articles of the new mandatory Sanctions Order, which seemed to him, and seem to me, to make it more permissive in facilitating the African nations to take up arms by armed infiltration into Rhodesia.
In reply to a question the noble and learned Lord said that Mr. Smith was worried about early majority rule. There was some conversation in which Mr. Smith suggested that, conditions being different, others might want to impose a Constitution at a time when Mr. Smith's children had grown up. In the early part of my speech, when I was interrupted in my theme, I had said that from my experience I could well understand the fears of the consequences that could follow on armed intervention and infiltration; and I sometimes wonder whether members of Her Majesty's Government, whether they be Conservative or of any other Party, fully understand those fears when they go out and are considering self-government for some part of the world. The conditions are so entirely different from those in this country, especially in a country like Rhodesia where people have severed all their connections with their homeland and have decided to live and work there and even educate their children there. These fears must be understood, and if there is to be some guarantee of safety and protection to them in the future they 492 must understand clearly what this will mean.
I regret the tendency there is in arguing this matter to bring class into it. That has happened in speeches in this House, and I honestly do not think that it is particularly helpful in considering the situation. If we want to consider this problem of Rhodesia dispassionately, can we not ask ourselves, "Have we made any mistake whatsoever in the case of Nigeria?". At the moment, the Nigerian Government is faced with a most terrible civil war. Were we right at that particular time to give self-government to Nigeria? Is there anything we have done which is wrong? My Lords, I can only say that if one has been abroad in the conditions which I have described as affecting myself, these things are burned into one's mind. One wonders, one asks oneself, is one's country doing right? I am not here to fight against the Government or noble Lords opposite. I bring what experience I can as an hereditary Peer in your Lordship's House to put these points to you and to try to be constructive. It is not a question of class with me. It is a most sincere desire to try to be helpful in this matter.
In the case of Rhodesia I know the situation is more difficult than with many territories. In our own case in Malaya we were working towards our own destruction, if you like to put it that way. We were working ourselves out of a job. We were training up people to take our positions. The last position I had was filled by a Malayan. That was the logical sequence of events. But in Rhodesia the Government is faced with a more difficult problem. They have their own white population there, their own white kith and kin of European descent, and it is infinitely more difficult and harder; and, as I said, with all the accumulated experience we have which I was trying to illustrate earlier in my speech, that is the way I should like to see the matter settled, and I think it could be done.
My Lords, I have come to the end of what I wanted to say, but I should like just to refer in this debate to what has appeared in the Press. I am not going to do it at great length, but I see it is reported that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, has been on the wireless purporting to represent certain views held 493 by the Conservative Party. Well, I do not know for whom he speaks. I should not have thought he was speaking for the Conservative Party but was possibly speaking for himself. He said in a radio programme that a confrontation with the Commons on the Rhodesian Order would do great damage to the Conservative Party:If there is a recovery of the Labour Party it will date from the day that action was taken in the House of Lords.… We are on the edge of getting agreement",and so on. He referred to a certain madness on the part of Lord Salisbury, and more or less indicated that the noble Marquess had used his best endeavours with Peers as to how they should vote in this House. There is not one word of truth in that. I have the greatest respect for the noble Marquess, who will be speaking to-morrow. Let us get it quite straight that the noble Marquess has made no attempt to influence any Conservative Peers in the way they will vote.
Hereditary Peers who regularly attend your Lordships' House come here in an honest endeavour to make a sensible contribution to your Lordships' discussion—I am talking in that sense about regular hereditary Peers. They try to do that out of a sense of duty and in a sincere desire to be helpful. I thought it rather deplorable, judging from reports of certain speeches which appeared in the Press, that some pressure was put on hereditary Peers as to how they should vote, with certain possible inducements. This will not influence the way I vote. I would never compromise with my principles. I have always endeavoured to be sincere and constructive with your Lordships. But I believe firmly and with deep conviction that, with all the accumulated experience we possess, it is possible, with determination and will, to get an agreement with Rhodesia. I do not believe in these mandatory sanctions by the United Nations, I think they complicate the issue enormously, and therefore I shall vote against the Government tomorrow.
§ 11.48 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, I do not want to be a bore, but I thought that I would say a few words, if your Lordships will allow me to do so, about this little pamphlet 494 called Statutory Instrument No. 885. That is the Order in Council which forms the subject of this debate. To that alone I mean to confine my attention, and I hope—I do not know—that your Lordships will be slightly obliged to me for doing so. I do not propose to argue much about the sanctions or to go through them in detail. My concern is not to argue that they are immoral in intention, which I do not believe they are, or even that they are counterproductive in effect, which I do believe they are. But I should like to show why I believe that the Security Council resolution is a prescription for disaster for all the Rhodesians—and therefore, because there are more of them and they are more vulnerable, chiefly for the African Rhodesians—and why I oppose the Order that dispenses the prescription.
May I say that, in common with the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, I have no connection whatever with Rhodesia. I have never been there and I do not know anybody, so far as I am aware, who lives there. I am opposed to the Smith régime and I deplore the fact of U.D.I. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, will be delighted to know that I have nothing whatever to do with the Rhodesian Society. I speak as well as I can and reason simply from the facts as they appear to me from where I sit. These two documents, the resolution and the Order, have one aim only. Whatever the long-term aspirations of the men who drafted them, they are designed in themselves solely to end the rebellion in Rhodesia—in themselves they are purely destructive. I do not criticise them on that score. I simply state it as an essential and perhaps obvious fact. They inflict damage, but they do it in order that good may come.
The question is, how great will the damage be and upon whom will it chiefly fall? It appears, though I am not certain about this, that Her Majesty's Government would not negotiate with Mr. Smith and his Government even if they returned to legality. So if I am right in thinking that, what is required is the fall of the Smith Government. That, therefore, is what these documents are intended to bring about. I believe it will be generally agreed that there exists no external force of any kind that can ever bring about directly, and by its own 495 agency alone, the fall of any Government in Rhodesia or anywhere else. The one absolute prerequisite for the fall of any Government is the existence of a body of people able, ready and willing to take its place. In this case something else also is required if our Rhodesian policy is to succeed. It is required that the potential alternative Government shall immediately renounce U.D.I. and return to the 1961 Constitution.
If the Smith Government resigns or falls, it must be succeeded by one that will run immediately into the arms of the British Government who have set out deliberately to destroy the status of Rhodesia as a viable independent State. Do your Lordships think that that would happen? I am inclined to regard it as a non sequitur based, I am afraid, on wishful thinking. I think that they would turn South, not North. I am thinking of an alternative Government of no particular colour or race though presumably it would be predominantly white, and I take it that the Government are thinking of the same thing, and not of an overthrow of whites by blacks. Perhaps all this is a little academic, but I do not think that the sanctions will succeed. I will not repeat the arguments concerning the great gap in the cordon sanitaire that is represented by South Africa and Portugal, and very likely Zambia, though those arguments are probably conclusive, but I have two more to add to them. The first can be simply stated in the form of a question. If the United Nations have failed to persuade member States to apply fully the milder sanctions already called for, what makes anyone think that they will succeed in persuading them to apply the full treatment?
The second of my two extra reasons for thinking that sanctions will fail is a little less obvious. We are still a responsible Power, so it is vital that we should be meticulous in carrying out the United Nations' requests, for if we do not obey it is hardly reasonable to expect anyone else to do so. What is our record in this respect? The Government may fairly complain that the record is good. We have done what we were asked to do and have done what we asked others to do, and have done it at great cost to ourselves. We may feel that our standing with the United Nations is beyond re- 496 proach. If we do so feel it may be with sensations of pained surprise that we read the General Assembly resolution of November 8, 1967, in which we learn that the General Assemblycondemns the failure and the refusal of the Government of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to take effective measures to bring down the illegal racist minority régime.Perhaps the Government are not, after all, the blue-eyed boys of the United Nations. Not that I make any general complaint on that score. I should be the last to insist on their regarding everything that fell from the General Assembly as sacrosanct.
Resolutions of the Security Council, on the other hand, are another matter. Let us therefore turn to the Security Council resolution of May 30, the one on which the Order in Council is based. In the second paragraph of the preamble, we find that the Security Council takes note of Resolution 2262 of the General Assembly, and 2262 is the resolution from which I have just quoted. So the Security Council is so far from thinking that resolution negligible that it takes it as one of the bases on which to found the demand for full-scale mandatory sanctions. I presume that "takes note" has some meaning, and, in fact, it can have only one of two meanings. The first possibility is that it means "takes note and approves or confirms". In that case, the condemnation of Her Majesty's Government that was voiced by the General Assembly is implicit in the resolution, which means that the United Kingdom stands branded as a defaulter in its obligations to the United Nations. This, in turn, means two other things: first, that Her Majesty's Government have already brought the United Nations into some measure of contempt, thereby undermining the authority of the resolution in advance and making it less likely—a good deal less likely—that other member States will comply with its requirements; secondly, that Her Majesty's Government are not setting quite such a good example after all, with similar results to be expected.
The second possible meaning of "takes note" is simply, "takes note": simply that the Security Council notes what the General Assembly has said without committing itself to either agreement or disagreement. It sits on the fence. In that 497 case—and I must say that I find it less probable than the other case—the whole document is founded on a piece of equivocation that is bound to render it suspect and correspondingly less likely to be regarded with respect by those member States who find it unattractive in any case.
Taking all these factors together, I find it almost totally impossible to believe that the proposed sanctions have any real chance of success. In this view I enjoy the support not only of my noble friends and others but also of the General Assembly of the United Nations, as endorsed by the Security Council, for the same resolution. No. 2262, in paragraph 7, says—and I quote again:Affirms its conviction … that sanctions, in order to achieve their objective, will have to be comprehensive and mandatory and backed by force.My Lords, by limiting their efforts exclusively to the application of comprehensive and mandatory sanctions, while ignoring the widespread belief held even at the United Nations that without the backing of force they cannot succeed, the Government are playing with fire, are they not? For, supposing sanctions do not succeed, what then? There is no further step in the same direction which either the Government or the United Nations can take, for only force remains.
This point has been made before, and it is worth making again, I think: that the Afro-Asian nations will put down again the kind of resolution from which so far they have been dissuaded and restrained. Backed in advance by Resolution No. 2262 and other resolutions, they will call again for the use of force, and the United Kingdom Government will have no option but to block that resolution by means of the veto, thus conceding victory in the Wilson-Smith struggle to Mr. Smith.
But that is far from being all, for nobody, I take it, supposes that the frustrated Africans will shrug their shoulders resignedly and quietly go away. When the British veto comes down in New York, that will be the signal for the turning on of the taps of the blood bath. British colonial policy in Africa will have ended by turning her most successful Colony into a second Congo.
And what if the sanctions were, against all probability, to succeed? In that case, the virtually certain outcome would be, I 498 believe, the one I adumbrated at the beginning of my speech—a Rhodesian Republic linked not with Great Britain but with South Africa. That, my Lords, would be the price of so-called success—total failure for Great Britain and a situation calculated in time to set the whole of Africa ablaze.
I further believe that the whole of this policy is not only materially but also morally and spiritually pernicious. Your Lordships are perhaps all too familiar with the seventh paragraph of the preamble to the resolution, which reads as follows:The Security Council … condemning the recent inhuman executions carried out by the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia, which have flagrantly affronted the conscience of mankind and have been universally condemned…".This follows almost exactly the wording of the original British draft tabled at the Security Council on April 23. The one difference is that where the original had the word "deploring", the final resolution has the infinitely more powerful "condemning".
Let us look a little more closely at this paragraph. It says, "condemning the … inhuman executions". My Lords, these were no more inhuman than any other executions, and a great deal less so than many, including many that pass totally unremarked. What was inhuman was making the condemned men await execution for two or three years; but that is unremarked. What was inhuman was the Security Council. The executions were illegal; but that is a matter between Rhodesia and ourselves, and in any case is not mentioned in the resolution. That by their inhumanity they have "flagrantly affronted the conscience of mankind", I simply do not believe; while to say that for the same reason they have been "universally condemned" is to say something that we all know to be untrue. Do the Government not understand that to confer the status of martyrs in this way upon particularly disgusting murderers is to foment inter-racial hatred? Is even that stick to be used to belabour the Smith régime? Is that the way to found a happy multiracial State? I am deeply saddened that a British Government should have lent itself to a trick so wrong in its intention, so devious in its method and so evil in its inevitable effects.
499 I have concentrated on this one passage because for me it epitomises the whole of one unpleasant line of policy that finds its culmination in this Order. To encourage the exploiting of animosity and hostility where they already exist and to spread them into quarters where they do not exist; to use questionable methods for the purpose, and to do all this as a means of considered policy in time of peace—this is not only opposed to all morality; it is deadly dangerous. For it foments the evils of hatred and bitterness not on one side only but on both.
My Lords, do I exaggerate unjustly in saying that this is the policy of the Government? I call the Foreign Secretary as witness and leave the judgment to your Lordships. On April 24 Mr. Stewart spoke these words in another place:I believe that it is of vital importance to make quite clear to the whole world that, however long it takes, the illegal régime in Rhodesia will not get recognition, investment or support, but will continue to attract the hostility and detestation of mankind."—[col. 236.]I do not want the illegal régime to get recognition, investment or support, nor am I saying that existing sanctions should be removed; but a policy of drumming up "hostility and detestation" in the hearts of all the world is something that I passionately condemn.
If possible, I condemn it all the more because the Government have long since forsworn negotiations. As long ago as November, 1966, the General Assembly was already recalling in its resolutions—as it is doing still—that the United Kingdom had declared on several occasions that it would not negotiate with the illegal régime. That was even before the "Tiger" talks. Yet all the time, right up to the executions of March 6, the Government have been telling us, the Prime Minister has been telling us, that the door to negotiations was still not closed.
My Lords, are we to believe the Prime Minister in England or Lord Caradon in New York? Or are there times when we are supposed to believe what the Government says and times when we are not? And how can anyone in Rhodesia be seriously expected ever to believe them at all? Everybody has been told 500 in the course of this debate that all kinds of things are at stake—from the future of the House of Lords to the preservation of the prestige and standing of Great Britain at the United Nations. These things may or may not be true. So far as the preservation of the prestige of the United Kingdom is concerned, I think the Government might have thought of that long ago. But what I am certain of is this: what is chiefly at stake and has been all the time is not some silly question of prestige or of who trusts or talks to whom; it is not even solely the political future of Rhodesia. It is the future well-being, living standards, even the lives, of 4½ million men and women and their children. It is against these that this Order advances like a juggernaut, using not justice but hatred as its motive power. My Lords, the time has come to say "No", and I believe that most of our compatriots will say the same.
§ 12.5 a.m.
My Lords, I must report briefly to your Lordships the impressions which I gained in Southern Rhodesia at the beginning of this year. I have been to Rhodesia three times altogether, and I say this briefly to give your Lordships an idea of my perspective. I was first there when the Central African Federation was being mooted in 1953, when I spoke in your Lordships' House violently against that Federation. I was also in Rhodesia in 1960, when the Federation was in full flow, and I spoke in your Lordships' House, perhaps less basically and obsessionally pro-African. I should like now to report what I feel currently, having seen Mr. Smith and most of his Cabinet and having loitered in the bars of Salisbury and around and been pledged or obligated to no one about anything.
There are so many threads to this debate that I should like to leave out from my speech, which will be as brief as possible, any direct reference to the constitutional issue. I think, late as it is, that we must concentrate on Rhodesia, as it is a Rhodesian Order we are debating. I must say that when I look at this document I think that it is strange that so much tragedy should be concealed in so much words. I should report on my view of Mr. Smith, as such. 501 One is apt in Europe to get a false impression, as indeed in Rhodesia one probably gets a false view of the Prime Minister. I found Mr. Smith essentially worried about the deterioration of relationships between our two countries. He emphasised to me, very patiently and at length, that this was not a quarrel with Queen or country but with successive Governments, as Desmond Lardner Burke also emphasised. It is not a quarrel with one British Government but with one attitude. I think one must realise what it is to be in seige. In a sort of miniature way—and comparisons are invidious—they are now in a 1940 situation of their own. My Lords, it is strange that in 1890, when the pioneer column first reached Salisbury, or fought at Salisbury, they were then in danger from the Matabele tribe and, to a lesser extent, from the Mashona. Now they are in danger from sanctions supported by their own Mother Country, and it is not surprising that there is a certain confusion of thought.
I should like straight away to say something about Mr. Smith which I think is relevant. It is that he has a very good television performance and a relaxed attitude; but I regard one or two other people who are in the background as more important and older. I do not think there is anything directly sinister about any of them, but when you have your back to the wall you cannot progressively and properly think about your own attitude, least of all can you think something with which I do not agree; namely, that majority rule must come at some specific time in the future.
In the main, the African is still a bush African. The township African probably has heard of a unilateral declaration of independence. Most of our own Europeans, to whom, in my view, our major obligation is due, are not necessarily statesmen. I do not want to imply an insult to Mr. Smith when I say that I know of replicas of that attitude of mind, in New Zealand for instance, where I worked on a sheep farm. It is the attitude of ourselves gone overseas that now leads to certain troubles when seen in another race. It is O.K. in New Zealand; it is all right in Australia, but I think that in Africa you have to be either a saint or, up to a point, prepared to change your view about Africa when 502 you get there. I would guess that almost every noble Lord, if he were to spend the next month in Salisbury, when he woke up in his hotel bedroom every morning would gradually find himself having to take a different point of view from that which we have heard from so many to-day.
There is a certain imprecision that comes about in words, and I thought of this while I listened to the speeches to-day. How does this compare with passing an African in Baker Avenue or in Thames Street, and what is the truth of it? Again, it is not meant to be an anti, a hostile, thought to say that we must give them the benefit of the doubt over their strategy. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, has not spoken in this debate, as he was in Rhodesia at the same time as I was. I found it interesting when he said that, short of the Simonstown base, it was 10,000 miles from Plymouth to Sydney.
When I say "give them the benefit of the doubt", I mean that and Big Brother South Africa. They are not being forced into the arms of South Africa. Big Brother is already there. We must give them the benefit of the doubt of being at the bottom of a vast continent. It is vital not only to our own welfare but obviously to that of all the Western World to have stability based on the Anglo-Saxon at the bottom of Africa. I know how tragic it is to think of the detainees and the Government security that exists in Rhodesia, but I feel that they will never start thinking seriously about African education or befriending an African middle class while they feel they are completely on the defensive and imagine the world to be against them.
But they have also a rather false view of us. I came back thinking that they thought of everybody in Victoria Street as pale and casual and that in a sense the only true Britishers were now abroad. I do not agree with that, but it is important that we should think clearly about this matter. We cannot buy democracy this afternoon like a television set. They must via the Rhodesian Herald, which is a smaller version of our Guardian, begin to learn more, now that censorship is ended. They must learn more, particularly of your Lordships' debate to-day. They must learn more of what 503 we really think. They must learn that we are not weak. And we must begin to realise that they are not weak and far from being entirely sinister.
§ 12.13 a.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I will be brief, as I have spoken on this matter a few times before. If I had not a great respect for my own Front Bench, some of the speeches I have heard from the Government Back Benches would have made me physically sick, but I should like to congratulate the noble Lord who spoke last on his speech, which I found interesting. I shall vote against this Order because it is a very bad one. I happen to have read the Charter of the United Nations once or twice and it is definite in the Charter that the United Nations cannot interfere in the internal affairs of a country; it can take action only if a country threatens another country with war. Nobody can say that Rhodesia is threatening any other country with war. The reverse is the case. Rhodesia is being threatened. It is because of that that I intend to vote against this Order. We have had some very emotional speeches to-day. I should like to mention a secondary factor which is perhaps not very important. The Prime Minister assured Parliament over two years ago that he would not bring this matter before the United Nations, but he has not carried out that promise.
Another point which has been mentioned several times is that if these further cruel sanctions are to become valid, it is bound to drive Rhodesia into South Africa, and they will have apartheid; and it is bound to make a lot of the moderates in Rhodesia go over to the the extremists. It is for those reasons that I think this is a bad Order, and I will vote against it. I cannot help thinking that the United Nations would have been far better occupied if they had tried to do something about the terrible holocausts there have been in Africa—in Zanzibar and Southern Sudan, and recently the civil war in Nigeria, the slaughter of the Watutsi in Ruanda-Urundi. There have been terrible blood baths in Africa, and the United Nations appear to have done nothing about it. I should have thought that those 504 events were far more dangerous to the peace of Africa and the general peace of the world.
I cannot help thinking that if this Order is accepted it will be very hypocritical. I never thought that politics would get so hypocritical. It has surprised me, because we have had a United Nations resolution on Gibraltar—and I am glad that the Government have rejected it. I have to be tactful here, but the conscience of the Government appears to be rather elastic. Perhaps I should not say this, but I have wondered privately (I am sure I am wrong) whether, supposing the Government of Spain were a very Socialist Government, an extreme left Government, would Her Majesty's Government have then rejected the United Nations resolution on Gibraltar? I just put that forward as a point. It do not want to be rude, but it occurs to me that the conscience of the Government is a little elastic.
We have had several speeches from noble Lords opposite, and to hear them one would think that the Rhodesian Government was the most brutal kind of oppressor of the African. I can only think that those noble Lords who have said that cannot ever have been in Africa. We have heard frequently about 200,000 white people dominating 4 million black people, but in actual fact the figures are wrong, because the white people in Rhodesia now number 270,000, and of the 4 million black people I am told that about 3 million are under 21. I agree that material prosperity is not everything, but we must bear in mind that the Rhodesian African has far greater material prosperity and a higher living standard than the Africans in the republics. Another point is that the Rhodesian Government spends more money on primary education than any other Government in Africa, perhaps apart from South Africa—I do not know the figures. Certainly it spends more money in this way than many parts of Africa.
One always tries to be constructive in a debate. If this Order goes through presumably we cannot come to any agreement with the Smith régime. Although it has been cut down slightly, we grant to the underdeveloped countries every year about £200 million in aid. I am wondering whether we cannot offer the Smith Government £1 million, £2 million or £3 505 million, or just £500,000, of that aid, free and gratis, to help them in secondary education and with education generally
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, if the noble Viscount will allow me to say so, that is exactly what we did. We offered increased aid to Mr Smith to help him with education, but he replied that he did not propose that they should have further education because he did not believe in that; the Africans would then be given the vote sooner.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
It is true, as the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, says, that we offered further money for education, but I thought that we had several strings attached; I thought there were all sorts of other reservations that had to be made before we gave that money. But could we not offer this aid free of any strings? It would obviously have to be spent on further education, but could it not be offered with no other strings attached? I put that suggestion forward. But I am afraid that if this Order goes through, and if this United Nations resolution is implemented, any hope of coming to an agreement is out, and I suppose that in self-defence the Rhodesians must go into the arms of South Africa eventually. They cannot have all their imports and exports stopped without some such result, and of course it is going to hurt the African a great deal.
I deplore apartheid; I should hate to see Rhodesia practise apartheid. I think it is perfectly appalling that the African cannot travel in the same bus, or cannot sit on the same park bench, as a European. But I really fear that we are doing a very foolish act here. It rather amused me to hear the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark refer to one matter. Perhaps I did not hear him aright, but I thought he was objecting because some students had had six with the cane on their backsides for being unruly. I know at any rate of one African country where at one time if the President dictator was driving along the road and you did not drive in smartly to the verge and jump out of your car and bow, you were liable to be flogged. It is all very well to criticise the Rhodesian Government in these matters, but African Governments are far more tyrannical.
506 There is a point on which I can never see eye to eye with the Government. It would appear that they get independence and freedom completely mixed up. I have always been interested in the freedom of the individual, but the Socialist Party appears to be more interested in the independence of a country. I cannot see how you gain anything by handing a country over to a clique of tyrants who completely agree with the enslavement of the individual. We have done that a great deal in Africa and I hope that this will not happen eventually in Rhodesia, with the whole breakdown of law and order ensuing. It is a fact that there are quite a few terrorists now coming into Rhodesia, but the Africans are coping with them, and the average African in Rhodesia is loyal to the present Government there.
I conclude by saying that I was rather surprised to read in the Press the things that Mr. Jenkins and one or two other people have said. Mr. Jenkins appears to object to the fact that a non-elected assembly should veto the Order. I might point out that the majority of members of the United Nations represent Governments that are not elected by popular vote, so I do not think he was on very sound ground there. People in glass houses should not throw stones. But if this House is just to become a rubber stamp, always to do the bidding of the Government, you might as well do away with it. If we cannot vote according to our consciences and what we believe to be right it is utterly absurd.
I shall certainly vote against this Order, but I should like to repeat the words I have uttered before. When the first crisis came up, two and a half years ago, I likened the Prime Minister to Robespierre, in that to a great extent he has created this crisis, and just as Robespierre was destroyed by the guillotine which he created I think that if the Prime Minister is not careful he will be destroyed by the Rhodesian crisis.
§ 12.28 a.m.
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, it is difficult for those of us who speak at the end of a main debate to present a new line, but a great many of us wish to participate in these major issues and can do so only by speaking, even if our contributions 507 are small and it means delaying the proceedings. I made my maiden speech on November 15, 1965, on the first main debate on Rhodesia, and if the threats that have been bandied about come to pass this could well be my swansong. I am one of the lowest category—a hereditary Peer who intends to vote against the Government. No doubt my name will be entered by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, in his little black book, as I notice he keeps a record of these things.
My main reason for not agreeing with the Government is that, like my noble friend Lord Wedgwood, I am not convinced of the sincerity of Her Majesty's Government's wish to settle this unhappy issue by negotiation. When I heard the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack state that the only solution is an agreement by negotiation, and then later an agreement based on the Six Principles, I wondered whether that was a true reflection of Government policy. I make this statement with some justification, as I negotiated what I considered a reasonable compromise solution with Mr. Smith in April, 1967. I reported this to your Lordships in the debate last June. I quote from Hansard of June 21, 1967. I said at col. 1474:My proposals were that the Governor should be requested to call a General Election under the 1961 Constitution. The present Government would continue in office until the election of the next Government, which would be formed by the majority Party. The first task of the newly elected and legal Government would be the testing of the opinion of the people as a whole to ascertain whether or not they wished to have independence under the 'Tiger' proposals. With the return to legality, the Press censorship would be raised and a tribunal set up to consider the release of detainees and restrictees, again on the lines suggested in the 'Tiger' document. Lastly, in the event of the answer being, Yes, the British Government would grant independence to Rhodesia on the basis of the 'Tiger' proposals, including the six principles and the 1961 Constitution.Mr. Smith indicated to me that a solution on these lines would be acceptable to him. I also discussed these proposals with Sir Humphrey Gibbs, and he found them acceptable, provided that Her Majesty's Government concurred. This left only the agreement of the United Kingdom to complete the triangle. On my return to this country I submitted these proposals to Her Majesty's Government, and they were turned down. I was advised:'As the Prime Minister has made clear, the constitutional future of Rhodesia can 508 only be negotiated with a legal Government. I also remind you that Her Majesty's Government have declared that they would not be prepared to agree to independence before majority rule'".This reply which I received from Downing Street made it quite clear to me that this Government do not wish to settle this problem by negotiation except by complete and absolute surrender of the Smith régime.
I suggested in November, 1965, that a mission of respected Members drawn from both Houses of Parliament should visit Rhodesia, led by someone such as Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Sir Alec has made the trip and returned with some sort of solution. What I cannot understand is why we have this prolonged secrecy. In view of the importance of these proposals, would it not be possible for either the Prime Minister or Sir Alec to inform us of the details before the close of this debate, as it may have a profound effect on the outcome. I regret that on this all-important issue I must vote against the Government unless they convince me before the end of this debate of their genuine desire to reach a negotiated settlement.
§ 12.34 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LINDSEY AND ABINGDON
My Lords, I came here this afternoon still to be convinced that this was an issue on which I was prepared to vote against Her Majesty's Government. I still wish to reserve a decision, and I will make up my mind tomorrow. Having said that, I would remind your Lordships that in my maiden speech just after U.D.I. I stated that I had lived 13 years of my early life in Southern Africa, some of which was spent in Rhodesia. I therefore felt at that time that I was able to assess an unbiased attitude towards life in that country.
Furthermore, as a young hereditary Peer, I should like to state that I have voted only once against Her Majesty's Government on the various debates and Orders that have passed through this House since U.D.I. That one occasion was after the debate on whether mandatory sanctions should be imposed through the United Nations; and now we are discussing the consequences of that ill-advised move. To me, the political and economic consequences to this country and Rhodesia are frightening, because I 509 believe, rightly or wrongly, that the issue should be a domestic affair between Her Majesty's Government and Rhodesia. These mandatory sanctions are an incitement to rebellion from without, and if it starts as a black versus white civil war, it will surely end, because of the tribal traditions in Rhodesia, as a black versus black civil war, and I want no part in having contributed to that.
§ 12.36 a.m.
§ LORD BOLTON
My Lords, your Lordships have listened to a great many people on this subject in this House and in another place, not only to-day but on many occasions since U.D.I. I think that we must now have before us all the facts and figures explained from every possible angle. Therefore, I do not intend to weary your Lordships with repetition. This is a subject which, to those of us who know and love Southern Africa, tends to make us emotional. It is also easy to become emotional when one remembers that many of the Rhodesians whom we are discussing fought for us between 1939 and 1945, and for that alone we owe them a debt of gratitude.
It is also hard for those of us who go out there to think of the sane, reasonable and nice people that we know as the ogres that they are sometimes portrayed from this country. I have visited many of the Southern African countries, and I have always noticed that the lot of the black African in Rhodesia is, if anything, far better than the lot of the African in some of the countries to which we have given independence in that Continent. For instance, I would 510 rather be a black African in Rhodesia than a black African in Biafra. Many times in this debate it has been said that it is the Africans who are suffering most from sanctions. This is extremely noticeable to those of us who go out to Rhodesia. This applies not only to the Africans in Rhodesia, but particularly to those in Malawi and Zambia, too. It is most annoying to hear criticisms by people from this and other countries, who have never visited Rhodesia before, and who would pull that country down like termite ants pull down the work and the progress of some seventy or eighty years.
I am going to vote against the Government tomorrow for three reasons. The first is that my conscience tells me that mandatory sanctions are not the way to achieve the end which we all desire, which is an honourable and a just settlement between the two countries. The second is that I genuinely and honestly believe that the bulk of the population of these Islands would be behind us if we rejected this Order, and I would not vote for rejecting it if I did not feel that the country was behind us. The third reason is that, bearing those two first facts in mind, I think that if we were not to reject the Order we should be betraying both this country and Rhodesia.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
On behalf of my noble friend, Lord Shepherd, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.