§ 2.10 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved yesterday by the Lord Chancellor, That the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1968, laid before the House under Standing Order No. 62 on Monday, June 10, be approved.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS (LORD SHEPHERD)
My Lords, we had a long debate yesterday, and in view, too, of lengthy business in your Lordships' House this afternoon, clearly we should like to have an early Division if a Division is called to-night. For that reason, therefore, I will so far as possible make a short speech, and I will limit my remarks in the main to the speech that was delivered yesterday afternoon by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. I think I should say in passing that the debate 516 showed little new thinking, but I must say that some of the speeches deliverd indicated that some noble Lords do not now realise that they are living in the latter part of the 20th century. But the new element was the declaration by the noble Earl of the intention of the Opposition to divide.
I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that I thought his speech very strange. Certainly he selected his words carefully; but I am bound to say that they lacked the conviction to which we are normally accustomed from the noble Earl. We had from the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, one of those performances of a polished professional advocate, but even in his case conviction came out only when he was talking about the constitutional crisis. I do not intend to follow the noble Viscount and to discuss the constitutional issue, for to me the importance of the fate of this Rhodesian Order transcends the constitutional conflict. If there is to be a constitutional confrontation, that can be solved: but if there is an adverse vote to-night on this Order there will be far-reaching effects in Rhodesia, in the Commonwealth and, in fact, throughout the world.
In our decision tonight I hope that the House will bear in mind the words of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in 1965, when he said that no action of ours should give comfort to the illegal régime; and also the words of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, yesterday, that whatever we do we should not expose the nerves of racial conflict. My Lords, this is a matter in which race and colour are very much involved. Therefore let there be no doubt about the consequences of the act which the Conservative Party are contemplating to-day.
As it has been since 1965, the challenge that confronts us is the illegal seizure of independence by the representatives of a white minority in Rhodesia. It is not the illegality that arouses world opinion; it is the determination of these people to hold in political bondage some four-and-a-half million who are of a different colour and race from the minority. It is this, more than anything, that arouses world opinion. But for us in the British Parliament the issue has greater consequences. It is the British Parliament that 517 bears the ultimate responsibility for all Rhodesians. It is only the British Parliament that can change the Constitution of Rhodesia. It is only the British Parliament that can grant independence—and neither the Conservative Administration nor the Labour Government were prepared to grant independence under the 1961 Constitution.
My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, speaking yesterday, described the history of this affair. He reminded the House of the very clear warning given to the Rhodesian authorities by Mr. Sandys—a warning that went unheeded. If there is a choice to-day, if there is a decision to be made, it is the same as it was some three years ago. The passing of time has not changed the issue or the principles that are at stake. We were confronted with I.D.I.; and Parliament therefore had to make up its mind what action it should take. Should it condone? Should it wash its hands of its responsibilities? Should it abdicate to the white Rhodesians or should it take steps to return Rhodesia to constitutional rule?
The vast majority of both Houses, by their votes and by their speeches, have said that Parliament must retain and assert its authority in Rhodesia. That, I believe, is still the feeling in most quarters of this House. But what steps should then be taken? The vast majority believed in peaceful action and the rejection of force. Talks by both the Conservative Administration and the Labour Government to prevent I.D.I. failed. Therefore, if negotiations were to be possible it was clear that some measures, some sanctions, would need to be applied on those in Rhodesia if they were to come back to the negotiation table.
It is agreed on all sides in both Houses of Parliament that economic sanctions should be applied. The Conservatives supported sanctions and, until now, have never in this House challenged their imposition. By the term "Conservatives", I mean the official Opposition. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, speaking with the authority of the Front Bench opposite and with his long experience (having been Lord Chancellor during the period of the Conservative Administration at the time of their talks with Mr. Smith) was concerned about how effective those measures were.
518 The original sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom were selective, but in the end they did not bring meaningful talks. With the passage of time, despite every effort by the Government, it is still not possible to find a solution. Should we now capitulate, as some noble Lords suggested yesterday afternoon? Or should we make our chosen instrument more effective? As we sought so make sanctions more effective by asking others to share in bearing the burden the Opposition became more restive. I think this raises the question whether the Conservatives, in order to achieve Party unity after the three-way split in the House of Commons, were prepared to accept sanctions only so long as they were ineffective. If this is so, it would be an act condoning the seizure of independence in Rhodesia. I do not believe that that was the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington; but it may be a factor which has forced him, in order to maintain his own Party unity, to agree to a Division to-night.
Noble Lords opposite are opposed to international co-operation in this matter. They object to our going to the United Nations. If they still support sanctions, but not of an international character, it follows that it is the British industrialists and traders who must bear the entire burden, leaving their competitors free to develop their trade in Rhodesia. It makes it possible for overseas buyers to buy at much lower rates because of the effect of the United Kingdom sanctions on the economy of Rhodesia. Without international co-operation the burden would be entirely ours and sanctions would be less effective than they could be. Is that the intention of the Opposition? If the intention is to bring Rhodesia back to constitutional rule, why deliberately seek to make sanctions ineffective and so prolong the period of illegality? Is that the intention of the Opposition?
In any case, although we have direct responsibility the Commonwealth is concerned. It is no good thinking that this is a little local problem; it trains the very heart of the Commonwealth. Sanctions hurt Rhodesia and affect our trade, but few realise what could be the consequences to our international trade if we appeared to be condoning I.D.I. Noble Lords opposite never cease to express their fears over our trade with 519 Spain and South Africa. There would be a great risk not only to our trade but also to our private invested assets overseas if we took a course which gave great affront to world opinion by appearing to wash our hands of Rhodesia and default on our responsibilities. We could not survive trading only with white countries.
We do not pursue this policy for this reason: that we have a moral responsibility that Parliament so far is not prepared to give up. We must pursue this policy. We must be ready to negotiate at the first sign of meaningful negotiatiations. The door is not closed. In passing, if I may say so, we had a difficult time at the United Nations to keep this approach open and we got no praise from the other side. In the meantime we must continue sanctions, not in a punitive sense but solely to bring home to those in Rhodesia that there is no future in their present state. Sanctions hurt, often indiscriminately, but this must be so if they are to be effective. Noble Lords opposite have their doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions but no one has yet suggested an alternative other than force.
My Lords, why should the Opposition decide to divide on this Order? Articles 1 to 9 are broadly similar to Orders already passed and never challenged by the official Opposition in this House. Articles 10 and 11 affect airlines but have little practical effect in this country because there is no British air services to Rhodesia. I know that Article 12 caused disquiet. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor explained yesterday the reasons for action and the form it would take. I hope that what he said has gone a long way to allay the doubts and anxieties which have arisen. I want to make three points clear regarding this Article. First, although this part of the Security Council resolution picks up the wording of our own draft, that wording was put forward against the background of a demand in New York for a much wider range of measures under Article 41 of the Charter. Secondly, it is quite wrong to say that all persons now holding Rhodesian passports will be denied entry into this country. A large number of Rhodesians can claim United Kingdom citizenship and these will be allowed in. 520 So will people qualifying on humanitarian grounds; so will those Rhodesians who will be eligible to receive British passports in accordance with what my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said in his statement yesterday. Third, the categories of people to whom Article 12(1)(b) will apply have now been publicly defined and, as was announced by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, an advisory committee has been set up to review this small and limited class.
I do not believe it is this Order which has caused the threat of a Division. I think that threat is striking at the United Nations resolution from which this Order springs. The burden of the noble Earl's complaint was that we had taken the Rhodesian issue to the United Nations. As the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said yesterday, with his long experience as a Minister of State, it was a Conservative Administration who took the question of our dependent territories to the United Nations and the Committee of 24. Whether or not noble Lords opposite recognise that Rhodesia is an international problem, it is. We made it clear to Mr. Smith that if we could not get agreement we should have to go to the United Nations. I want to make this clear. If we had not taken this matter to the United Nations, others would have done so. By having taken it we are able to effect control over the proceedings. Had it been taken by another country the control would have been infinitely less. Perhaps in the end it would have been a question only of veto.
My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor referred to the negotiations at the Security Council. Let us be under no illusion. The illegal executions in Salisbury raised bitterness and hatred, but by patient skill and diplomacy my noble friend Lord Caradon was able to get an agreed result. Even France was prepared to accept it. There may be some aspects which we should have preferred to be without, but we agreed, and by that agreement we were able to get rid of the worst features of the original draft.
I should like to say something now about Paragraph 13 of the resolution which refers to moral and material assistance to the people of Southern Rhodesia in their struggle to achieve their independence. A lot of fuss has been made 521 about this paragraph, and it has been described as an incitement to terrorism. It can be interpreted as an incitement to terrorism only it we assume that the people of Southern Rhodesia as a whole are terrorists. That is not the position of Her Majesty's Government and I do not believe it is the position of noble Lords opposite. No delegate speaking in the Security Council in his explanation of vote suggested that this paragraph condoned or encouraged violence. I am told that the Guinean representative at the United Nations to whom the noble Earl referred hold this view, but there is another African representative from Tanzania who is reported to have taken a completely opposite view. For our part we have made our opposition to violence quite clear. It would be absurd to suggest that any Government that is not already encouraging terrorism will now begin to do so as a result of this non-mandatory paragraph. If there is any risk of this it would be increased by the interpretation, a totally unnecessary and distorted interpretation, placed on the paragraph by noble Lords opposite.
At the United Nations we still have control of Rhodesia. Rhodesia is a British responsibility and we have not handed it over to the United Nations. But, my Lords, events are not controlled by flouting world opinion but by containing it by negotiation. If we could have had half the sense of realism from Mr. Smith as was displayed at the United Nations I believe that we should not only be at the conference table but could well have our solution. Every noble Lord has spoken about the need for new negotiations. It seemed to me that many noble Lords were totally ignorant of the past events. We have had twelve special missions to Rhodesia to find a solution. We have never failed to react to any glimmer of light. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, expressed confidence in the Home proposals. He admitted he did not know what they were. I suppose there are only three who know—the Government, Mr. Smith and Sir Alec; and Sir Alec will not disclose them, nor will Mr. Smith and therefore the Government cannot. But one fact is known, that the Home proposals fall far short of one of the five principles of the Conservative Administration which the Opposition still continue to support; that is, the second 522 principle, that there should be no retrogressive amendment to the Constitution.
My Lords, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor quoted speeches which have been made by Mr. Smith when he made quite clear that be would change the Constitution, that his children might wish to change the Constitution. If that is the view now held in Rhodesia, then quite clearly the proposals of Sir Alec, while they may be helpful, do not meet what Parliament has laid down. This is the view that Mr. Smith has held consistently. I do not see how the Opposition can agree to a settlement that did not provide for the second principle. What is the position of Her Majesty's Government? The Prime Minister and other spokesmen for the Government have repeatedly emphasised that the Government are anxious to reach an honourable settlement by negotiation. On March 27 the Prime Minister said this:The Governor, to whose courage and steadfastness all of us in the House pay tribute, especially in these past weeks, know that we shall always be ready to consider the possibility of a settlement on the basis of our agreed principles.… The House will insist that a settlement which is based ultimately on trust can be made only with people who can be trusted to make it effective. The Governor is there and is authorised to pursue any meaningful development which satisfies these principles and the necessary requirements of trust. If and when, at any time, soon or late, he should so report, that will be the time for decision."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, col. 1570, 27/3/68.]That is the position of Her Majesty's Government.
As I see it, Mr. Smith is subject to conflicting influences. In the first place, while he does not himself regard majority rule within a foreseeable future as a really desirable goal for Rhodesia, he realises that there can be no settlement on any other basis and that without a settlement Rhodesia cannot prosper. He has said, and I have no reason to doubt his word on this, that for this reason it might be necessary to agree to a settlement which would involve unimpeded progress to majority rule. What he has not yet been prepared to do is to agree to the measures that would in fact provide for unimpeded progress. The other influence is the pull of Right-Wing extremists inside the Rhodesian Front and outside it. They see the future in terms 523 of unrelieved White domination, possibly disguised under the doctrines of South Africa. Mr. Smith is also sensitive to their pressures.
If noble Lords to-day reject this Order the Government will take the necessary steps to discharge their obligations to the United Nations and to implement the policies which it has decided upon. But that action by this House would have the effect of weakening the incentive for Mr. Smith to come to a just and honourable settlement and would strengthen the influences of those who urge him to reject all thought of a settlement and to follow their own Right-Wing extremist policies. Rejection of this Order, with the resulting polarisation of the whole situation, would greatly damage the prospects of the Governor being able to report, as indicated in the quotation I have just given, that there could be meaningful developments.
That is the seriousness of the position this afternoon. I would stress that what is vital, if negotiations are to succeed, is that Mr. Smith must never be permitted to believe that he can succeed, that this country will weaken in its resolve to bring back constitutional rule to Rhodesia. There will be no conference, there will be no solution, if Mr. Smith feels that he can succeed. Does the House seriously believe that if sanctions were lifted Mr. Smith would change his position? Why should he?
In view of the fact that yesterday's debate was wide-ranging and that no doubt it will be so again this afternoon, there is a danger that the real issue before the House will not be recognised. What is the issue? It is in essence to continue seeking to restore constitutional rule in Rhodesia through peaceful means. If the Order in Council we are debating is not approved, the House will be rejecting an Order designed to give effect to a recent Security Council resolution. What possible construction could be placed on such a defeat? It could only be said—and let there be no illusion about this—that this House was prepared to acquiesce in 'illegality in Rhodesia. There is no use saying that this is not the intention, that this House is simply voting against an extension of the Government's policy on sanctions. The stark fact is that if this Order is 524 not approved, the action of this House can only be an encouragement to the illegal régime in Salisbury. If the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has any doubt on the point, I hope that he will read the article in the Evening Standard.
If we reject this Order, it would betray those in Rhodesia who have loyally stood by the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, and the legal Constitution there. It would betray the future of the 4½ million coloured people in Rhodesia for whom we are responsible. It would also be a betrayal of a principle to which all fair-minded people in this country, irrespective of Party, have subscribed to since the war in respect of our dependent territories—the principle of majority rule. What a terrible step that would be. It would be an indelible mark on the liberal record of this country which could never be erased.
Some three months ago in this House, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, expressed concern for the future of some 2,000 Falkland Islanders. He spoke with feeling and carried with him the sympathy of the whole House. Is there any reason why such concern should not now be extended to the 4½ million black Rhodesians?—unless there is to be one principle for the whites and another for those of another colour. What would be our standing internationally if this Order to implement a United Nations' resolution, which had been reached by patience and skill, give and take, were to be rejected? Equally, what would be our standing within the Commonwealth? I known that there are some who regard the Commonwealth as the old Commonwealth, but they are few in number. The reality is the new Commonwealth, which has grown up from the end of the Second World War from our former Colonial territories. The Commonwealth is far from a united or perfect organisation. There may be no common policy and on many issues there may be distinct division of thought, but the important feature is that it is a family of nations of many colours and many religions that remain in touch with each other, and as such it is a force for good. Would not the world be weaker and more dangerous, if the Commonwealth, nebulous though it may seem, were fragmented?
Let there be no shirking the fact that if in the face of international opinion this House frustrates the implementation of 525 the United Nations' resolution, the joy of 200,000 White Rhodesians would have to be balanced against the betrayal of the 4½ million Rhodesians of another colour for whom we are responsible. It would do irrevocable damage to our international prestige and might lead to the possible break-up of the Commonwealth. I cannot think of a more sombre fact. I say bluntly to noble Lords opposite that if this Order should be defeated tonight by an unrepresentative House, composed of many Peers who like myself are here merely by birth, that action could have only one construction and end. It is not use saying that this is an expression of view, an expression of disagreement over Government policy and that a new Order can be laid. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, knows as well as I do that if he wishes to censure the Government, there are procedures for doing it. He may have considered this course but he has decided for direct confrontation.
I cannot emphasise strongly enough that an adverse vote to-night could be construed in only one way throughout the world—the vindication of all those who have opposed sanctions and supported the illegal régime in Rhodesia. Some of us are deeply involved in Party politics, and there is nothing dishonourable in that. Many of us have been through the heat of battle on many important issues and have suffered defeat in good humour, conscious of a battle well fought. But to-day the importance of the issue transcends all other considerations. If a narrow Party line is taken on this issue, the House will forfeit the right ever to talk of honour and principle. If the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, whose liberal views were made abundantly clear in the Rhodesian debate of 1965, when he said: "All of us feel there must be majority rule", and others whose honour and integrity are undoubted are to be seen voting in the same Lobby with those who have consistently supported the illegal régime and are opposed to sanctions, the clock of progress will be put back, and our claim as a nation to be in the van of civilisation will have no substance.
My Lords, it is my earnest plea that this House should stand by the principles which it has always upheld; the principles which always govern our relations with the peoples of dependent terri- 526 tories; the principles on which independence has always been granted. I would ask the House to mark these words, which I quote:We have regarded it as our sacred trust to protect the poor and the weak, to provide for the defences of the country against foreign aggression, and to promote the general prosperity in the Indian communities. That was our duty, which we have performed, I think everyone will agree, to the best of our ability."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16/7/47; col. 860.]I repeat, "our sacred trust to the poor and the weak, and our duty." My Lords, those words were spoken in this House 21 years ago by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury; and perhaps he will remember them.
There comes a time in public life when one may be required to stand apart from one's friends. There comes a time when principle requires one to say: "This I cannot support, despite my loyalty to my Party." To-day that moment has come. I appeal to this House, I appeal, if necessary, over the head of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and his Chief Whip, to those on the Conservative Benches, not to treat this as a Party issue. What is at stake to-night is something more vital than that. It is that we should fulfil our obligations to all Rhodesians, but particularly to those whose only hope is their faith in the Crown and the British Parliament.
§ 2.42 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I intervene in this debate with a feeling of great diffidence for it must seem, I think, to many of your Lordships that every point that can be made on this difficult subject has already been made by other speakers and that all the House really wants this afternoon is to come to a vote. I can promise your Lordships that I will try to he as brief as I can. Arid yet I feel that I must say a few words, my Lords, for the very simple reason that I believe profoundly that your Lordships are being asked by the Government to come to your conclusions on entirely wrong premises. The picture that has been drawn of Rhodesia, and which is held to justify these new I and severe measures, is, I believe, however sincerely put forward—and I am not questioning that—an entirely false one; and I say this even after hearing the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd.
527 We had descriptions last night by some speakers that seemed to depict a state of conditions in that country which appeared to me to bear no relation to reality: a picture of a Police State based on terror and oppression; of the grinding down of the African inhabitants to a condition of abject poverty and misery and of holding them back from any social advance Even the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who spoke just now, painted a picture rather of that character. Every effort, it seems to me, has been made to stoke up bias against the white people of Rhodesia. And, my Lords, these things are simply not true.
I am not going to suggest that things are perfect in Rhodesia, any more than they are anywhere else—even here. But the lot of the average Rhodesian African is far better than he would find in any of the neighbouring black controlled States. The liberty he enjoys is far greater; his standard of life, at any rate until the imposition of sanctions, was steadily rising. And, my Lords, the average African appreciates this. There is, indeed, remarkable evidence of it. I would only mention, because I do not want to take up the time of the House, two examples. First, in Rhodesia alone in Central Africa, among all the States there, the police go about unarmed. Secondly, the tracking down of the terrorists, who lately invaded the country from the North, has been very largely done not by Europeans, but by Africans. Surely, facts such as those do not accord with the grim picture which has been painted by so many opponents of white rule in Rhodesia.
I do not ask your Lordships to accept what I have said on my own evidence alone; I recognise that I am regarded as a very biased person. But, if I may say so in his presence, those who heard, or have read, the recent remarkable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, after his visit there, will, I am sure, agree that what he said confirms everything that I myself have said this afternoon. I do not want—it is a bad thing to do in a situation such as this—in the graphic modern phrase, to "over-egg my pudding". No doubt it may be argued that there might be more rapid advance in various directions than there has been. But I still maintain—and I hope that the 528 noble Lord, Lord Silkin, still shares that view—that the sombre picture which is being painted to many people in this country is so dark as to be almost unrecognisable, and certainly does not justify the new Draconian measures which your Lordships are being asked to approve this afternoon.
But I may be asked: In that case, why did the United Nations take so strongly a different view? Why did they feel so violently that, as we have been told, Lord Caradon had to fight very hard to get even this compromise? I hope that supporters of the Government are not so naïve as to think (and I say this particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd) that it is the legality or illegality of Mr. Smith's Government that is really worrying the United Nations. What they (and by "they" I mean, in particular, the Afro-Asian States and the members of the Eastern bloc; and I should say that most of them themselves started as illegal Governments: they may be legalised now, but they were very much in the position of Rhodesia when they started) are after is much bigger game than that. What they want—and make no mistake about this, my Lords—is the expulsion of all Western influence from Central and South Africa. That is the aim and object of all their African policy, and they will stick at nothing to achieve it. To them, if I may use a famous old saying by Mr. Philip Guedalla:Any stigma is good enough to beat a dogma.I simply cannot understand why the Government, with all the information they have, do not understand this.
I may be asked: But was not the Security Council unanimous? What about that? Well, my Lords, I am afraid that I have not been so impressed by the unanimity of the Security Council as the Prime Minister, judging by his statement of May 30, apparently is. No doubt it is open to him to view with more enthusiasm than some of us the singularly unconvincing spectacle of such nations as Russia and Hungary, of all nations, appearing as leading champions of legality and free institutions. But, after all, this unanimity is not really so surprising, for we have it on the authority of the Lord Chancellor himself that the decisions of the Security Council need not be based on the principles of equity 529 and justice; that it is a purely political body. If he would like me to quote the passage, I shall be happy to do so, because I have it here; but I am sure that it will be fresh in his memory and probably in the memory of most noble Lords who are here to-day.
If that interpretation holds the field—and it may well do in the United Nations at the present time—it surely is not necessary at all that the Security Council should take into any account the rights or wrongs of any question that is brought before it. All it has to consider is what is the most convenient course to take from the purely political point of view. And very often, my Lords, it may be extremely convenient for great nations and great international bodies to bully a small country so long as it is too small to hit back. And there is another point, I think, which follows from this. If the Lord Chancellor's view, that the Security Council is merely a political body untrammelled by any moral considerations, actuated by only political considerations, be accepted, the attitude of those of its members who belong, broadly, to the Eastern bloc becomes very comprehensible indeed; for to them the passing of this resolution may very naturally be regarded as a very considerable triumph.
So, though I be told that these steps that have been taken have the approval of the Security Council itself, I still maintain, with Mr. Dean Acheson, that the action enshrined in the resolution of the Security Council, to give effect to which this Order in Council is being introduced, constitutes, by any true interpretation of the principles governing the United Nations' Charter, an act of naked aggression against a small peaceful country, with no moral or legal justification; and that for the Security Council to lend itself to such a thing makes it still worse. It is like a criminal putting on a policeman's uniform to make it easier for him to commit his crime.
That is the international position, as I see it. What they want is to drive Western influence out of Africa. That is their reason for all the actions that they have taken in the Security Council. If they wish to do that; if they want, in Mr. Tom Mboya's vivid phrase, to "make the white man scram out of Africa", they cannot but regard this resolution as a notable step in the right direction. After all, my Lords, they have 530 not done so badly in Africa. Tanganyika and Zanzibar themselves are largely now controlled by the Chinese. Russia, so we read in the papers, is contemplating a base in Aden, and we are at present making room for them in the Persian Gulf. And now there is this additional prod at Rhodesia. They have not, I repeat, done so badly.
But even if it is natural that the opponents of Western civilisation are happy to see the passing of this resolution, is that any reason why we in this country should equally rejoice over it? Our policy towards Rhodesia is calculated, as I understand, to have cost us already upwards of £200 million; and if we continue it now it is going to cost us a great deal more, and it is losing us, all the time, valuable customers and valuable friends. Nor is it, in any case, likely to be successful in its purpose of bringing Rhodesia, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, wishes to do, to her knees. South Africa and Portugal are not likely to be very enthusiastic about a policy which is, in effect, aimed by the Afro-Asians as much at them as at Rhodesia. And now there have been clear indications, both from Malawi and from Zambia, that they would regard the application of this policy as likely to constitute a real economic disaster for them. If, then, we approve these new measures this afternoon, it is we only who will suffer; and we shall suffer more and more.
Lastly, my Lords, I would say this. I know that your Lordships haw already been subjected to horrific threats, both by members of the Government and by others belonging to the Party of noble Lords opposite, as to what will happen to us if we reject this Order. No doubt we shall have more of this—perhaps when the Leader of the House comes to reply to this debate. We have had one example already of what can only call this môt d'ordre a particularly revealing one, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech which he made on Saturday last and which we may all well ponder. He spoke of a threat to an elected House by an unrepresentative one.
This remark, my Lords, seems to be based on an assumption that an elected body, an elected House, must be taken as always continuing fully to represent 531 the views of those who elected it, however long the period since the preceding Election and whatever it may have done, good or bad, in the meantime. But that is, of course, by no means true. An elected House, as we all know, may entirely cease to represent its electors. That is, of course, one of the main reasons why countries—not only our own but other countries, too—have included Second Chambers in their Constitutions. It is just because the Governments of democratic countries which were representative at the time they were elected sometimes become entirely unrepresentative of those who elected them that it is felt that there must be some check on such Governments if the will of the people is to prevail.
But, my Lords, such checks, however salutary, are perhaps never very popular with the Governments to whom they are applied. What the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and no doubt many of his supporters, really seem to want now is that there should be single-Chamber government and that if the House of Lords is to continue at all it should be merely on the basis of a smoke screen behind which a single-Chamber Government can operate. Indeed, some of the supporters of the Government, I understand, have already gone even further, judging by a Motion which, I gather from the wireless this morning, has been tabled in another place, to the effect that unless we always and immediately agree to accept everything that comes to us from the House of Commons, the House of Lords should be abolished altogether. But that is not, in my view at any rate, a threat which should break our hearts or shake our courage.
If that is the Labour Party's real view, it is surely better that the British people should know it. It is valuable that we, too, should know it, for it indicates clearly that even if a clash be avoided on this occasion the issue will not have been permanently solved. The flashpoint happens to have been reached over Rhodesia, but if we give way over Rhodesia there is likely soon to be another exactly similar crisis on some other issue.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There is the Transport Bill, which your 532 Lordships will possibly wish to amend pretty drastically on one or another important point. If we do that then, according to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, we shall have exactly the same speeches as to-day, the same threats hurled, the same fists brandished at us.
This seems to be almost a classic case of a situation in which the functions of a Second Chamber ought to be brought into operation. It is a situation involving vitally important issues of policy on which the views of the British people are not yet known. We on this side of the House believe that the great majority of the British electorate are in favour of an immediate resumption of negotiations between Great Britain and Rhodesia to bring this miserable quarrel between them to an end; and we believe, too, that on the lines of the proposals that have been brought back to this country by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, after his recent visit to Rhodesia, that result could be achieved.
If I understood the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, correctly, he seemed to indicate—and I very much regretted to hear it—that he thought Sir Alec was seeking a settlement which did not accord with principles to which he had already declared his adherence. I do not believe that that is true. It is quite out of character with Sir Alec, and I do not believe anybody in this country would think he would do such a thing. Noble Lords on the other side of the House, on the contrary, if I understand them correctly, think the British people would favour a further tightening of the screw of sanctions so as to bring Rhodesia to her knees. Only the British people themselves can finally decide which of us is right. That being the case I would, if I may, in all seriousness urge this House to throw out this Order and by so doing give an opportunity to the Government, by going to the country—
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh!
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Noble Lords may laugh at that. The only reason they will not do it is because they know what will happen; but perhaps I may finish what I was saying—by going to the country to give practical application to that great principle of majority rule to which their lip service has so long and so powerfully been paid.
§ 3.3 p.m.
§ LORD HUNT
My Lords, I will be very brief. The noble Marquess started his speech by telling us that everything has already been said, but he went on to say quite a lot. But then the noble Marquess has a great advantage over me in that he knows his subject and he has a much greater experience of your Lordships' House than I have. If I may borrow an analogy from a field of activity with which I am much more familiar than I yet feel in your Lordships' House, I agree that it would be hard indeed to find any route leading towards the summit of this exceedingly difficult mountain which has not been thoroughly explored and every crevice and every crack worn smooth by the passage of numerous feet.
In my short stay in your Lordships' House I have learned the wisdom of silence on both these counts, but I have also observed that there are occasions, and last night and this afternoon may provide more of them, when even an inexperienced tyro without particular knowledge—and my knowledge of Rhodesia is limited to some very good friends, white Rhodesians, who were comrades in arms in the war—can make a contribution towards reaching a decision, and for such a person to stand up and be counted ahead of a Division; and, greatly presuming though I may be, I am so presuming now.
I have listened with the deepest interest to the numerous speeches, and I have read the ones to which I could not listen personally. All of them, so far as I could judge, were spoken with sincerity, diametrically and irreconcilably opposed as they must be, by people sitting uncomfortably on either horn of such a decision as this. I recognise that whatever decision we, as a majority, reach in this House this afternoon, it will carry serious snags in its train. But having said that, I have no hesitation in declaring that for my own part I am completely persuaded to support the Government on this issue.
Whatever might have been the possibilities of another policy so long as Rhodesia was held to be still an internal matter for the British Parliament, that situation no longer obtains. That is a simple fact and, as I have understood it, that is the crux of the matter. Rightly or wrongly, for better or for worse, the Government accepted the view of other countries that this was a problem affecting 534 the human rights and impinging on the liberties not only of the black Rhodesians in their own country but of other people beyond the frontiers of Rhodesia. I am convinced that that is a basic truth.
It has been claimed by several noble Lords—the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, the noble and learned Viscount Lord Dilhorne (incidentally I am disappointed that he is not in his place, no doubt for an excellent reason, but he said yesterday after his speech that he remained to be convinced by subsequent speakers) the noble Lord, Lord Grimston, and others to whom I have listened—that Rhodesia presents no threat to any, other State. We have just heard the noble Marquess say the same thing. Indeed, in the physical sense that is true at the moment, but the persistence of racial injustice there as an act of deliberate policy is deeply disturbing to human relations far and wide, and, above all, to race relations. We have seen this effect on other issues which trouble the conscience of every community, simply because the seeds of injustice exist everywhere and they can be germinated into the thorns of hate and violence, despite distance and natural obstacles, by actions which go unchallenged and undeterred by people who ought to know better.
No one has disputed the examples of flagrant wrongs given by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Southwark, and the noble and reverend Lord, Lord Soper, and maybe one of two other noble Lords. They have not been disputed, simply because these and other actions are known and recorded and could be seen, and because they are true. It may well be, as the noble Lord, Lord Grimston, said, that injustice as between man and man is practised elsewhere around the world, and he instance I particularly black Africa. There is no doubt about that. But the fact that it is not possible to act everywhere simultaneously to remove injustice a id to right wrongs has never yet been a justification for doing nothing, especially in a particular case where, as in Rhodesia, we still have a responsibility.
But, my Lords, I return to what I see as the crux of the matter: the simple fact that the Government, with the mandate of its majority, accepted the proposition about 18 months ago that Rhodesia is a problem of international con- 535 cern, and with that mandate the Government have taken the problem to the United Nations. The consequences and the sequel to that mandate were a Security Council resolution for which the Government representative voted and which was unanimous, and whatever the noble Marquess may say about the unanimity of that resolution I think it is highly significant. It was not simply a majority with some abstentions. It was not a resolution reached by the pressure of the black African vote, as has been suggested. Every member State supported it in their own right including France. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in, if I may beg to differ from the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, what I thought was a quite outstanding speech, traced the Opposition's defection from sanctions, from a bipartisan policy, an all-important decision, to that decision of Parliament, but so far as my information and recollection goes his Party did not register any effective dissent at that time. But whatever views may be held about that now by noble Lords, with the wisdom of hindsight, it is a very grave matter indeed to act against the Government of the country now.
There may be rare and exceptional occasions when the Parliament of a nation may be right to refuse to ratify its Government's support for a Security Council resolution, even though, as we are reminded here, in this country it would set a precedent; it has never happened before. But this is surely not such an occasion. Leaving completely aside the internal political consequences and considering only our position in the world, to do so would not simply be folly, as Mr. Jenkins said in a speech over the weekend, in the former context of internal consequences. It would lay this House open to a charge of hypocrisy on our previous stands for human rights, a charge of prejudice in favour of white Rhodesians and their policies which would reverberate around the world. What is even more serious is that those charges would rub off on the name of Britain. Our standing as a nation may not be particularly exalted in the world at the present time. We should certainly forfeit any remaining respect that we may hold, particularly among our coloured friends around the 536 world, if we were to shrink back from the consequences of this resolution now.
I recognise that there is a deep and sincere division of convictions about this Order. I applaud noble Lords opposite for their rejecting completely out of hand the threat to the future of your Lordships' House. If I may say so, I was surprised that the noble Marquess spent so much time lecturing your Lordships on this subject. I do not think it deserves a second thought. I respect the right of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and his Party to dissociate themselves from a course of action which, as he pointed out, is not theirs to take, it is the Government's. But what I cannot respect is a decision to vote against this Order. Some very hard words have been used in the course of this debate, and I will use some hard words now, and I use them advisedly. I would say that if a vote is to be taken against this Order with the full weight that the Opposition Party commands it would be an act smacking of sheer sabotage.
When all this started three and a half years ago, all Parties agreed that there was no incompatibility between the imposition of sanctions on the one hand and the search for a basis for an honourable settlement on the other. And presumably in accepting sanctions at that time all Parties concerned wished those sanctions to have their effect. Sanctions have continued, they have grown, and they have grown stronger simply because they need to be made more effective. But discussion has decreased to a trickle and now it has dried up. There is no justification whatever, short of war, for ceasing to talk.
I do not accept the contention of my noble friend Lord Wedgwood that the Government do not want a solution by negotiation. It is all too easy to forget and ignore the Herculean efforts made by the Prime Minister only a year or two ago, and the much more recent diplomacy of George Thomson in the same sense. We need to remember that they have made these efforts. But I still can find no excuse, despite what we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for not following the lead in the pack ice spied by Sir Alec Douglas-Home only a month or so ago. There may still be open water there. No fair-minded person can doubt that if a statesman as wise and 537 experienced and of such integrity as Sir Alec Douglas-Home thought that there was a basis for a settlement, and thinks it now, it is very probably the case. And let us remember that he said he thought that then, and he thinks that now, against the background of continuing sanctions. Negotiations in a matter such as this can be undertaken with any prospect of success only from a position of strength. All the member States of the United Nations Security Council voted for the resolution; they are providing us with that strength. Can it be that this House would wish to influence our country to break ranks with them? I urge that we stand firm. Twelve previous occasions or not, I urge that talks begin again.
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, it makes me sad to discern, as I think I do, having listened to most of this debate and read the rest of it, that many Members opposite in this House and, as I have read, in another place are much more concerned with politics in Britain than they are with the wellbeing of millions of Africans. It seems to me that those most concerned in a heartfelt way for millions of Africans are those who have been there, not those who know so little about it. And then we are told by one speaker after another that we on this side, or some of us, are wanting to hand over—that is the word—the Africans to these Rhodesians or to these South Africans, the minority of white men, as if the white men in those countries were bad men. My Lords, they are not bad men; they are as good men as any of us, and very much wiser and better rulers than are to be found elsewhere from Cape to Cairo.
These criticisms of Rhodesia and South Africa in the governmental and managerial spheres do not help the millions of Africans to eat more or to get better education or to learn how to take their place as equals; they hinder them. Sanctions will not help. In Southern Africa the black men are better off than in any other place in Africa, though I am afraid that the situation is deteriorating in Rhodesia. I promise to be extremely brief. I will be almost so brief that I hope I may not be misunderstood and thought to be rather arbitrary. I shall vote against the Government, but 538 for slightly different reasons from those which are moving so many of my colleagues. The main reason is their whole misunderstanding of the position in Southern Africa. I do not think they understand it.
My second reason is that "settlement" is now out. It is not a word that means anything in the context of to-day. In my judgment, for what it is worth, Smith does not have to settle. We, on the other hand, have lost the battle of Rhodesia. It is not dishonourable to lose a battle. I have been in battle, as other noble Lords have been, too, and many of us have lost battles—in life, in war, in politics. Politics is a business of winning and losing battles. It is not dishonourable to lose a battle, but it is extremly silly not to recognise when you have done so. I would not call Mr. Wilson a wise General; I would not go so far as that. But I do affirm that a wise General knows when he has lost a battle and that he has in fact lost the battle of Rhodesia. There may be a war going on between Southern Africa and what might be called some parts of world opinion, a cold war supported by Goebbels-like transmissions from Botswana, aided and abetted, and paid for, by the B.B.C. and Her Majesty's Government. There could be that. And this cold war may end one way or another in decades to come. Which way it ends is immaterial to my argument; but the battle of Rhodesia is lost.
My Lords, when you lose a battle, if you are a wise General what do you do? You withdraw, perhaps to fight again another day on the same battlefield, or perhaps to fight in another battle or in another place. But you are not such a fool as to go on fighting a battle you have lost. So I say to Britain, "Call it a day". I say the same to U.N.O. I assert that there is nothing dishonourable about this, but only real wisdom.
One may say that by calling up reserves—that is a thing that megalomaniac generals do ad nauseam. But who are the reserves? There is U.N.O.—vou think you can still win the battle. But no; I do not think so. By calling up our reserves in the shape of further and better sanctions? I do not think so, either. To my mind, there is no evidence whatever that they will be effective. By engaging in sanctions against South Africa and Portugal? It is quite 539 certain to me that South Africa and Portgual will not obey this ruling from the United Nations. They will break the blockade; I am quite sure they will do that.
There are perhaps only four honest people in the world just now. They are the Rhodesians, who know where they stand; the British Government, who think they know where they stand, or at any rate honestly seem to believe it; Portgual and South Africa, who are quite determined to know where they stand. The rest of the world, including the United States, will cheat more or less. They have done it already, and I am quite sure that they will do it again. So calling up the reserves will do no good. The only way to bring about a settlement by bringing Southern Rhodesia to her knees is by force, or by applying sanctions to the whole of Southern Africa, which means a shooting war. There is no force in the world capable of or willing to undertake it. So victory is out, and therefore I repeat that we had better call it a day.
I have only one last thing to say, my Lords. I have said, "call it a day". This much is certain. The Europeans in Rhodesia will continue to govern and manage Rhodesia, whatever we do. That is only an opinion but it is one that I firmly hold, and it is one that we had better heed. Maybe I am a little before my time and it will take Her Majesty's Government a little longer to find out. But I am quite certain that that is what they will find out. Lastly, I am going to vote against the Government because I do not like being bullied and dictated to and threatened.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ LORD SNOW
My Lords, I have listened to a number of debates on this subject in this House over the last two and a half years, all of them curiously emotional by the standard of your Lordships' House. I have sat here listening, and this is the first time that I have said a word, for the simple and sufficient reason that I thought any word I said, or indeed any word that anyone else said, was much more likely to do finite harm rather than finite good. I believe that still to be true. I have no doubt whatever that a great deal which has been said already in this debate has done 540 appreciable harm round the world. The House had serious warnings of that yesterday from many noble Lords who are experienced in international affairs and aware of the international communications which come about as a result of speeches here. Too frequently noble Lords give me the impression that they are talking only to themselves, or perhaps to Rhodesia. In fact they are talking to a much larger world—a world which is listening most carefully, a world which is judging us, I must say, without much mercy. So, since the harm is done, perhaps I shall not do any further harm if I join in now.
I have listened here, as I have said, for two and a half years, and with increasing despondency. The despondency comes chiefly for two reasons. First of all, I was sure—in fact I was sure before I came to this House at all, and certainly before November, 1965—that both Government and Opposition, and succeeding Governments and Oppositions, have been far too optimistic about Rhodesia. The Governments and Oppositions in this country seem only to believe that many white Rhodesians genuinely wanted to accept the Six Principles. I could not believe that for an instant. Let me be clear: I am not making moral accusations—they are all too easy to make and they do no good. We are all caught in historical traps, and our morality largely comes from that.
I was thinking of this as a purely historical matter. I cannot think of any single case in history where a white community, living alongside a black community and having power over it, has ever voluntarily relinquished that power. I should be most interested if noble Lords could produce an encouraging example. All the evidence seems to point the other way. White communities have always tended not to decrease their power over their black neighbours, but to increase it. To think otherwise is to fall for one of the liberal illusions. Societies do not automatically get more just and as a matter of course. There are many examples where, over hundreds of years, groups or classes of people have had their liberties and rights progressively reduced. I might also remind your Lordships that it took a major war to abolish Negro slavery in the United States, only a hundred years ago. Sometimes, when 541 I travel in the Deep South I feel that if that war had not been fought Negro slavery would still be in existence there.
§ LORD SNOW
My Lords, I certainly recall the case of India, but that was not where communities were living side by side. It was an ephemeral and entirely superposed rule. These are people living on the same soil. Incidentally, I have had the curiosity to look up some of the debates in your Lordships' House about the American Civil War, and I recommend that study to noble Lords. They are curiously interesting. Your Lordships' predecessors were, as you probably know, absolutely and fanatically pro the Southern States, and some of the speeches could have been made in this debate, though I suspect that one or two of the speeches that have been made in this debate might have seemed rather old-fashioned, even at the time of the American Civil War.
But the most relevant example of all, when one thinks of the behaviour of a white community to a black one, is South Africa. Here, again, we come to a beautiful example of the liberal illusions in practice. After the South African War, a Liberal Government here made what is probably the most generous peace settlement ever made by victors in war. It was made with the ultimate in good will. There was no attempt to obtain any guarantees for the behaviour of the whites towards the black community. It was assumed that, with generosity on our side and good intentions, things would get better. That was quite natural in the climate of sixty years ago. Men were not exactly born free, but they were bound to get freer. Political liberties and personal liberties for the black people of South Africa must ultimately arrive. Many people here made cheering speeches, very much like the cheering speeches with which we have been entertained during the course of this debate. General Smuts made cheering speeches to us about how all this would in due course happen. I heard many of them because I knew him quite well.
Well, we know what has happened in South Africa. Once again I am not 542 making a moral statement; I am just reminding your Lordships of what exactly happens, not only in wish-fulfilment but in actual fact, in such societies. I have little doubt that a similar process has been taking place in Rhodesia for years past. White politician after white politician has fallen, and they have fallen because there is a tendency, which appears to be inevitable, to turn towards the ultra. Right, meaning, of course, white power for ever.
Now, if Rhodesia and South Africa lived in a universe of their own, then that might easily happen, at least for a very long time. But they do not live in a universe of their own. They live in a much larger world, a world which is scrutinising both them and us, since by a piece of what I must say I think to be bad luck we are saddled with some of the responsibility. All other considerations apart, that obliged us, and still obliges us, to take what action we could. I shall come back a little later to our part in the present division of the world. If we had not taken action, even with very slight hopes of a good end, then such influence as we still have would have gone, and in many respects gone for good. Abdication here would have been the worst of disasters, which is a passive disaster.
The real condition and direction of Rhodesia have been one of my reasons for despondency. The next, I am afraid, has been the attitude—sometimes the words but more usually the tone underlying the words of noble Lords directly opposite. I am thinking of them in the first place, although I believe their particular passions have gradually infected the rest of their Party. I should say that this includes many noble Lords for whom I feel respect and, if I may say so, in many cases affection, but your Lordships' House is usually a fairly reasonable and certainly not an overemotional one.
The degree of emotion on this issue has surprised me, and what has surprised me even more is the degree of emotional identification with the Rhodesian Front that noble Lords opposite have managed to achieve. I do not think that anyone of average detachment could have listened to these debates for two-and-a-half years 543 without feeling that emotional identification every time this issue has been raised. There has always been something irrational about it, and that is distressing when experienced and intelligent men show themselves blown about by gusts of irrationality which, if they were demonstrated by student protestors they would not be slow to deplore. In fact, there is much unreason blowing dangerously round the world, perhaps from the same cause or set of causes, and it has now reached your Lordships' House and is triumphantly producing an extremely irrational political action—probably the most irrational political action of recent years. Your Lordships' House has done some very odd things in its time, but I doubt whether it has done anything more irrational than this.
For what are the real consequences of what noble Lords appear to contemplate doing? First of all, in the immediate practical terms of which noble Lords have spoken, precisely nothing. It will not affect by one day the kind of measures which the Government are obliged to take. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, who usually speaks so moderately and sensibly on international affairs, said yesterday that it would give the Government time to think. In cold blood, does he really think that any Government, this Government or any other, would alter a major step in foreign policy simply through being refused an Order in this House, particularly as this Order can be reproduced time and time again in—I must say—a manner which will make our Parliamentary procedure look more than usually foolish?
No, the consequences are not practical except for those the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, told us about in terms of human relations, but they are deeply psychological. This action will give great pleasure to much of the white population of Rhodesia; it will give great pleasure to much of the white population of South Africa, though not quite all, because there are some wise and farsighted people there; it will give great pleasure to some Portuguese and to the supporters of Governor Wallace in the United States of America. I am quite sure that if your Lordships do what you appear to be thinking of doing, then there will be mild celebrations in Montgomery, Alabama, 544 and in Memphis, Tennessee, where the citizens had wild celebrations for the deaths of both Kennedy brothers. And I have here to remind your Lordships that this was not done carelessly, for already they have made Mr. Ian Smith a folk hero.
On the other hand, this step will produce nothing but distrust and dismay in almost all other quarters of the world, particularly in America where men of goodwill are confronted with a coloured problem of great difficulty which persons on both sides of politics are trying with enormous effort to attempt to conquer. This step to them will be a real handicap; a real rebuff for Nelson Rockefeller, Senator McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey. Any one of them will feel that this country has shown a complete lack of faith. For—and here I am in complete agreement with the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, with whom I disagreed a moment ago—there is no doubt that Rhodesia has touched one of the exposed nerves of the contemporary world, perhaps the most exposed. That is why Rhodesia has taken on a significance far greater than in itself it would justify. If it were not for this particular complication it would not have occupied anything like so much of our time in this House. And that is why no responsible Government here, even if it wanted to, could just push the problem under the carpet.
For Rhodesia has become the symbol and emblem of the greatest divide in our world. That divide is not between East and West, it is not between capitalism and communism, it is between North and South, black and white—or, it you like it better, between the rich and the poor. About 1,000 million of our fellow human beings, what the Americans call a "billion", live in reasonable comfort. By that I mean that they have enough to eat, they have roofs over their heads, they are usually literate and they live into their sixties, all things which were unimaginable in any large group of people until quite recently.
These fortunate people all, or almost all, live in the northern hemisphere in a belt from North America to Europe to the Soviet Union, then including Japan. All of them, except the Japanese, are white. The rest of the human race, twice as many, have none of these advantages. Their lives have always been nasty, brutish, toilsome and short; and they are 545 nearly all coloured. That is the great threat and horror of the social condition of our world. Do you wonder, my Lords, that when white and black live together in the same country that country becomes an emblem and a symbol of this threat? Do you wonder that Rhodesia has become to all the coloured people of the world a token of the white man's good faith and in particular, since we have the legal responsibility, of this country's good faith?
That is why, if Her Majesty's Government had not taken action, or the sequence of action it has done, we should have lost whatever hope we had of playing a mediating part in this confrontation, the ultimate confrontation of the rest of this century and beyond. As one of the major secondary Powers in the world, as probably still the stablest country in the West, as one with a direct African and Asian experience behind us, it is our plain duty to play what part we can—however slim the hopes—in taking some of the horrors out of that confrontation. No responsible person wants to say a word which will, even vestigially, bring racial conflict nearer. We can all imagine it. Unless we are very lucky, or produce more foresight than we have yet shown, the last years of this century may be a dreadful time. We have to do our best.
For purely selfish reasons, we have to do our best. I admit that noble Lords opposite have not in general talked about the economic cost of our Rhodesian policy. To those, like the noble Marquess, who have harped on it, I will say this. The economic cost of doing nothing, of quietly abdicating to the Rhodesian Front, would have been much greater. To the whole of Africa and Asia, that would have been the final bad faith, and it would have been our trade that would have paid part of the bill.
But the real point is our plain duty. It is very hard to carry out a thankless duty with slender hopes. I do not pretend to your Lordships that this issue of black and white is going to disappear in two generations. What I am afraid of is that, almost without knowing it, people in fortunate countries are letting themselves get into a state of siege. They are becoming hypnotised by the pressure of the unfortunate all around them. I believe this to be very true in America, 546 both internally and externally. I believe that it is true of many of us here, including noble Lords opposite. It may be a prime cause of the malaise of the West. We can do so much: technologically we can do almost anything, yet we cannot do enough. We have not the political skills or the human concern really to cope with the world social conditions.
We feel impotent. And it may be that that impotence is the cause of these gusts of irrationality that are blowing round so strongly. People react to this particular impotence in various ways. Students demonstrate vigorously against all structures of society. Noble Lords opposite identify themselves with persons who are nearer to an actual state of siege the white populations of Rhodesia and South Africa. I am sure that they are not calculating. If they were calculating, I should be much happier. It would be very much less dangerous if they were calculating, instead of letting their emotions run away.
What they are doing—I admit this quite freely—is not egocentric. In effect, it is helping to destroy what hops there are, and as a minor consequence it is helping to destroy this House. I do not want to say much about that. I am speaking as a private citizen, and I know no more than I read in the newspapers. But I feel rather sad about it. On this matter I disagree with a good many of my friends. I believe that a society like ours, which is going through violent changes without revolution, is probably unwise to change its institutions too causually, even in the name of logic. Often, as with the Monarchy, a style that the country is used to brings its own comfort long after the original function has departed. So I had hoped that we could produce an acceptable Second Chamber which would keep some of the style of this House as we now know it.
Further—and I suppose that on this matter I am like most people in this Chamber—I have sometimes toyed with the thought of how your Lordships' House would meet or bring about its end. But I confess that, if this is to be the end, I never for one single instant thought of anything so fantastically improbable. I imagined that perhaps noble Lords opposite might turn down a Government Bill which there was reason to think had 547 pretty wide electoral unpopularity. I should not have thought that specially noble, but it would be all in the game, and at least it would be completely rational. Or I fancied that your Lordships might conceivably act as the guardians of public amenity if some peculiarly crass, non-political administrative decision came before this House—as, for instance, Stansted. If that had been the case, as I have already said here, you would have had my support. But this, my Lords! After all the good sense that has been talked in this Chamber for years—this! A subject which can be made electorally interesting only if there is a deliberate attempt to poke into the ugliest side of race conflict in this country. A subject on which, so far as we know public opinion there is overwhelming pressure for the Government to be more and not less active.
I commend to your Lordships' attention the result of a Gallup Poll on Rhodesia which appears in a rather inconspicuous place in to-day's Daily Telegraph. It shows that 41 per cent. of persons tested wished to criticise the Government for not being active enough; 15 per cent. thought it had been about right; 12 per cent. thought the Government had been too active; and the rest neither knew nor cared. Noble Lords sometimes speak as if they have special knowledge of the wishes of the British people about Rhodesia, as though by talking to themselves and vilifying the Prime Minister enough they come away with a sense of public opinion. I would commend this particular Gallup Poll, which I confess surprised me, to their close attention this afternoon. It is also a subject which can only degrade us in the opinions of those people of the world whose opinions we ought to respect; a subject which can only make our world more hopeless. It is so irrational that even now I can scarcely believe it. It seems that, after all the civilisation and sophistication of the last decades, your Lordships have suddenly had a brainstorm, as though you had learnt nothing and forgotten everything. To be driven by some passionate return to an atavistic impulse which would have been slightly old-fashioned a hundred years ago. Good God, my Lords, what a way to go
That, though, is a small matter by the side of the world issues which hang over 548 us all this afternoon. I should like to end with one final word to my noble friends on this side. I have said that noble Lords opposite have identified themselves emotionally with the white Rhodesians. That has led them into sheer unreason. It is no good our falling into the same mistake. We cannot identify with the black and unfortunate of the world. That kind of emotion never wears well. If we try, they will not think we are genuine. They will trust us less than they do now—and that is little enough. Whatever we do, we shall not get much thanks. We are in the classical position of the intermediary. So, I think, are all people in the privileged world who try to find some resolution, or at least some fragment of hopeful action, during the next ominous twenty years. We shall not be thanked. We shall probably come out of it badly. All we can do is our duty: persevere over Rhodesia as toughly as we can, and think as hard. That is a bleak and stoical doctrine. But I believe it is the only one which may avoid the worst and give us a little hope.
§ VISCOUNT STUART OF FINDHORN
My Lords, I am not going to interrupt the noble Lord who has just spoken, but would he consider whether it might be a good idea to circulate to a highly intellectual magazine his next speech on these affairs?
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Snow, whose maiden speech on the subject of Rhodesia I think that was, your Lordships have listened to me on this subject with fortitude on many occasions during the last three years. I must therefore start by acknowledging your generosity which enables me this afternoon to address you once again. I realise that the case which I shall submit to your Lordships may appear complicated and the trend of my argument may conflict with deep and sincerely held views in all parts of the House. But the great strength and virtue of this House is that its Members are always prepared to listen and to judge the arguments put forward in debate on their merits. I believe that the case which I shall attempt to deploy is conclusive. If I fail to persuade your Lordships to consider it, it will not be because of the weakness of 549 that case, but because of my own poor powers of advocacy.
I think your Lordships would be mistaken to allow either what has happened during the last three years in the relations between Britain and Rhodesia, or what might have happened had the personalities involved and the political positions of the Parties been different, or indeed what should have happened if everyone associated with the problem had been wiser from the start, to obscure the reality of the situation as it exists on June 18, 1968. Up till now we have hoped that it might be possible, by negotiation and agreement between Britain and Rhodesia, to resume a more or less orthodox process of political evolution from the 1961 Constitution to a state of independence within the Commonwealth. I do not believe any more that this is possible with the Smith régime in Rhodesia. We must face the fact that Mr. Smith, in the political situation in which he finds himself in Rhodesia, dominated as it is by the Rhodesian Front hierarchy, has no power to negotiate an agreement which would be acceptable politically by the present Government in Britain or by any British Government. Equally, it is no longer possible to envisage a settlement with Mr. Smith which would be politically viable in the circumstances in which Mr. Wilson and the Labour Party find themselves in Britain to-day.
It is no good saying that reasonable people should find an escape from the present dilemma. It is no good believing that in Africa, or indeed in any part of the world, things are bound to come right in the end. It is no good pretending that negotiations, as we have envisaged them up till now, will get any easier, when Mr. Smith months ago said that they were becoming increasingly difficult. No amount of negotiation will produce agreement between the Government of Britain and the Smith régime in Rhodesia, and it is a disservice to pretend that at this stage there is any value in starting negotiations again.
Let us examine the evidence. Right from November 11, 1965, I doubted whether any negotiated settlement between any British Government and the Rhodesian Front Government was pos- 550 sible, and I said so in your Lordships' House. I hoped that I might be wrong. When, therefore, the Prime Minister invited me to undertake a mission to Salisbury almost exactly a year ago to-day, I applied such knowledge as I possessed of the personalities, the politics and the problems of Britain and Rhodesia to the situation which I found there. During the month I spent in Rhodesia I think I had a better opportunity of getting into the heart and mind of Rhodesia than any political emissary has done before or since. On my return, I recommended that ground should be prepared for the start of a negotiated settlement 'with the Smith régime. I said that any settlement would involve concessions on both sides. I advised that the longer negotiations were delayed the more difficult they would become. I set out in the verbal report, which I gave to the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government, the considerations which brought me to that conclusion.
The outcome of that advice, which I think was accepted by Her Majesty's Government, was the visit which was paid by the Commonwealth Secretary to Salisbury in November of last year. I know of no reason to doubt the good faith with which Mr. Thomson entered into the discussions which he had with Mr. Smith on that occasion. Your Lordships will recollect that on his return the Commonwealth Secretary informed Parliament that Mr. Smith had added new conditions to the basic terms of "Tiger", which were at variance with the Six Principles and which widened the division already existing between Britain and Rhodesia. That view and that conclusion were, I think, shared equally by all Parties in Britain after they had heard Mr. Thomson's report.
I hope I shall not lead your Lordships to suppose that I pay any particular attention to, or lay emphasis on, any actions which I may have taken in relation to this matter, but in January I felt there might be some value in trying to get a further round of negotiations started, and it seemed to me that those could most easily originate from a nonofficial quarter. I, therefore, in your Lordships' House—and my noble friend Lord Jellicoe referred to this in his speech yesterday—put forward some proposals which might, I thought, lead at 551 any rate to a start of negotiations, if not to any constructive result from them.
Those ideas produced a favourable reaction both here and in South Africa. I believe that they provided an opportunity for the Portuguese Government to make representations in Salisbury. Although they were censored in Rhodesia itself, with the B.B.C. and the S.A.B.C. there was plenty of knowledge of what they were about. Indeed, I sent copies to Colonel Knox the Chairman of the Rhodesian Front organisation, who informed me subsequently that he had circulated them to his six powerful area chairmen. Although the proposals were not necessarily acceptable to Her Majesty's Government, I think it was clear, and certainly it seemed to me, that I received every encouragement in taking my initiative on my own private responsibility. There was no reaction of any sort from Mr. Smith or anyone else in the Rhodesian régime.
Then came the visit of Sir Alec Douglas-Home. After his talks with Mr. Smith he had talks with Mr. Wilson and indicated publicly that he thought he had made progress. I think we must have some reservations as to whether the proposals concerned constitute a basis for a politically viable settlement until we know what they are. But, in any case, they gave an opening for the creation of favourable conditions for the start of a negotiation, an opportunity which any Government or régime which wished to start negotiations in good faith would have been quick to seize.
Instead, and in conscious defiance of the constitutional position of Her Majesty the Queen, the three terrorists, after the Supreme Court judgment, were executed in Salisbury. It is immaterial for the sake of my argument whether Her Majesty's Government in Britain gave the right advice to Her Majesty to reprieve those three men. It is equally immaterial whether they were, as indeed they were, guilty of grave crimes. If there had been any willingness on the part of the authorities in Salisbury to create an atmosphere conducive to a successful negotiation, every reasonable person in this country, and far beyond, knows that they would have had no difficulty whatever in exercising the power of reprieve through Mr. Dupont. Clemency on this 552 occasion would have won to the régime a great deal of sympathy outside Rhodesia: and, my Lords, we know that symbolism is part of the stuff of politics and diplomacy everywhere and at all times.
Then came the interview with Mr. Ian Waller of the Sunday Telegraph, referred to by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in his speech yesterday. Mr. Smith on that occasion went out of his way, so it seemed, to make it clear that he and his colleagues could never enter, in good faith, into an agreement with Britain which would result in practice in eventual majority rule in Rhodesia—the principle to which the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are equally committed.
My Lords, if this evidence is insufficient to convince your Lordships that in negotiations with Mr. Smith Britain has passed the point of no return, there is something which is, I think, even more conclusive. I have here the Report of the Whaley Commission presented to His Excellency the Officer Administering the Government in Salisbury on April 5, 1968. This Report, the publication of which Mr. Smith has many times threatened would mark the point of no return in the political relations of his country with Britain, proposed not majority rule but, as a compromise for the consumption of the Rhodesians and, as they believed, no doubt sincerely, a reasonable constitutional solution to their problems, parity between the two races. Your Lordships will recognise that this goes back to a position, so far as the Africans are concerned, which is in fact less advantageous, less liberal, than the Constitution which Mr. Duncan Sandys negotiated in 1961. That Constitution was intended to lead, and, as was widely acknowledged at the time, would eventually have led in the course of years, to majority rule. But, my Lords, the Whaley Commission Report has now been abandoned because the Rhodesian Front will not accept even eventual parity as a political possibility.
I therefore submit this question to your Lordships: How can Mr. Smith contemplate a successful negotiation with either a Conservative or a Labour Government committed to eventual majority rule in Rhodesia when he cannot even get the acquiescence of his colleagues and 553 supporters in Rhodesia itself to the Report of a Southern Rhodesian Constitutional Commission, composed mainly of strong Rhodesian Front men, which proposes the modified solution of parity? My Lords, how could the British Government, knowing this, enter now into such a negotiation in good faith? I believe firmly now, my Lords, that as long as the present régime is in control in Rhodesia no successful negotiation is possible. And this despite the fact that, as I know from the evidence of my own contacts there, a majority—the moderate, non-political Europeans and Africans—want a settlement and are prepared to pay the price for it. And this is true however many of these folk queue up outside Government House in Salisbury to sign Sir Humphrey Gibbs's book.
No one in your Lordships' House, I think, has given more wholehearted support to Sir Humphrey Gibbs than I have. It was his hope over the last two-and-a half years that he would be able to bring Rhodesia back into full allegiance to the Crown. He has been instrumental personally in creating a series of opportunities from which fruitful negotiations could have been pursued. His behaviour, and that of Lady Gibbs, has won the admiration of people everywhere. But, my Lords, I think that a new situation has now arisen. I believe now that his continued presence in Salisbury—not in Rhodesia, but in Salisbury—raises false hopes in the minds of the general public in Rhodesia which can act positively against a solution to the Rhodesian problem. They feel—and I think they are justified in feeling—that things cannot really be so desperate, or appear so desperate, while Sir Humphrey is at Government House. It is much the same point as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made yesterday, when he referred to talks about talks. People believed that things would work out for the best while the talks were proceeding; and it is the same while there is still somebody of Sir Humphrey's calibre and courage at Government House to keep the contact going.
My Lords, if I were concerned with this—and I am not—I would advise Sir Humphrey to move now to his farm at Bulawayo. I would suggest to him that for the time being, during these next few months, although he would still re- 554 main the Governor, his most effective place in Rhodesia is not at the centre of affairs but in the wings. Further, I would disband the existing Diplomatic Mission, the so-called residual mission, and replace it by two small non-diplomatic information groups stationed both in Salisbury and in Bulawayo. Other countries are to give up their consular missions in accordance with this resolution of the United Nations. We shall have difficulty in persuading then that we are not in the position to do the same.
I frankly do not think that Her Majesty's Government would find this any particular handicap. There are many ways in which contact can still be maintained. An information group would be able to help with welfare cases but would have no political content. The presence of a residual mission tends to persuade people there who see the dangers ahead that, somehow, Britain will be able to find a way out by some comforting diplomatic expedient. Moreover, the personnel of this mission tend to become implicated in and identified with the anti-Rhodesian Front elements of the population. If Rhodesia is to be saved, it must be by the action of Rhodesians in Rhodesia, and in my view the British presence can at this present stage only hamper the process.
For our part, my Lords, if we are to help in Rhodesia, if we are to help prevent the tragedy for Rhodesia which lies ahead of it on its present road, we must, in my view, not only apply but be seen to apply sanctions as whole-heartedly and as effectively as possible. We must not allow our critics and our enemies—and none of us should underestimate their number or their hostility—to ascribe any eventual failure of sanctions, if sanctions do eventually fail, to a lack of determination on the part of Britain to make them succeed.
Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to put my arguments in this way. If sanctions succeed in bringing about a change of political orientation in Rhodesia, the way to a settlement, an honourable and generous settlement, is possible between the two countries. And here may I say that I listened—and I have no doubt that the House did—to the strangely moving maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Poltimore, yesterday. If, however, sanctions were to fail as a result of the 555 demonstrable failure of other countries, members of the United Nations, to fulfil their obligations, it would still be possible to reach a settlement. We should be able to go to the United Nations and say that, although we had carried out our undertakings under the United Nations resolution in the letter and in the spirit, others had failed to do so.
We could present them with the evidence of this failure. We should then be justified, among reasonable people, in feeling ourselves free to negotiate in those circumstances the best possible settlement of this dispute. In both these cases, I think, settlement would take the form of a treaty registrable at the United Nations rather than some domestic constitutional instrument. In both these cases we, Britain, would still have some control over the ensuing situation. If, however, sanctions fail, and it appears that such failure was due to unwillingness on the part of the British Government to carry out their United Nations obligations fully, then we shall lose any real power to prevent the application to the Rhodesian situation of the only sort of expedient which is available: that is, force. Not the force of the British Army; not the force of an organised United Nations contingent; but the force aimed at Rhodesia by a mounting wave of terrorism and insurgency.
It may be that Mr. Smith's policy has already made a solution of the Rhodesian problem by force inevitable. I am certain—and Mr. Smith has already admitted it—that that unfortunate country has ahead of it a long period of terrorist activity and internal instability. Anyone who is tempted to shrug off the African capability for violence and insurgency should remember the seven years in Kenya and the long campaigns that the Portuguese have waged in Angola and Mozambique. They should cast their eyes over the situation in Nigeria to-day. Even with South Africa's help, Rhodesia has not the resources to stand up to the tremendous economic, physical and psychological strains which such an onslaught on it would involve. Rhodesia, isolated, already weakened by the impact of sanctions, the target of insurgency, would eventually be destroyed; and, my Lords, there are plenty of people in the 556 world only too prepared to undertake that with or without any sanctional reference to the United Nations and Article 13. Britain, under a Labour or a Conservative Government, would in such circumstances have little power to mitigate or prevent all this from happening.
My Lords, the alternatives in front of Britain in its handling of the Rhodesian problem are, I submit, these: either she can make every effort to make sanctions effective, going, in my submission, further than is intended at the present moment; or, by the half-heartedness of her application of sanctions, can make it inevitable that the solution of the Rhodesian situation will be achieved by force. Your Lordships will note that in my speech I have not tried to ascribe responsibility for the situation either to Britain or to Rhodesia.
If a vote is taken this afternoon I shall vote with the Government. Many of my noble friends will not feel able to do so. I hope that in these circumstances they will abstain. If they vote against this Order they must realise that they are voting not against the mismanagement of a discredited Socialist Administration, not in support of kith and kin in Rhodesia—their vote against this Motion may inculpate them in the process of ensuring that the Rhodesian problem is settled by force. They will be voting against many of the best and wisest in Rhodesia who are desperate to see action taken by Britain which is sufficiently effective to save Rhodesia before it is destroyed. They will, for all their sense of loyalty and patriotism, be playing into the hands of people outside Britain and Rhodesia who oppose everything that they and this country stand for.
It gives me no pleasure to speak in this debate dissociated from my friends of long standing on this side of the House, or to say things that I know will cause pain and even despair to many people who may hear them in Rhodesia, or to vote with a Government which, at this stage in our history, it might well be the right thing to endeavour to force out of power. But I will vote for the Government to-night because I am convinced that it is the right thing to do; and I only hope that I have helped convince some other Members of this House to do the same.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF HEADFORT
My Lords, may I ask your Lordships' indulgence for a few minutes to tell you about my recent visit to Rhodesia. I left Salisbury last night having spent over a month touring the country. In the course of this journey I had the opportunity of meeting Rhodesians from all walks of life and of seeing for myself how Rhodesia was coping with sanctions. I am able to report that practically nothing is unobtainable, although some prices have increased since U.D.I. If sanctions are supposed to make the Rhodesians turn against the so-called rebel Government, they have certainly failed, and failed dismally. From the conversations that I had with Rhodesians who were members of the Rhodesian Front, and also with those who were not, I found an almost universal acceptance of Mr. Smith's policy and a readiness to continue the struggle, indefinitely if necessary.
What I found so sad was that many Rhodesians who had emigrated to Rhodesia from Britain during the last ten or twenty years were very bitter about the policy of the British Government; and the present confrontation is certainly turning the hearts of these people away from their natural affection for Britain. Possibly of more significance is the attitude of the young Rhodesians in their late teens. Many of these young people, who were born in Rhodesia, have grown up with the economic war that Britain is waging relentlessly against their country and, naturally, this is causing them to regard Britain as their enemy.
Why, my Lords, have sanctions failed? Quite simply, it is that neither Portugal nor South Africa are prepared to see Rhodesia destroyed; and as long as these two countries maintain their support sanctions will never bring down the present Government in Rhodesia. In my opinion, sanctions have mainly been responsible for bringing together, possibly more strongly than before U.D.I., the large majority of the population in support of Mr. Smith's independent Government. Have sanctions had any success at all? Yes, my Lords, they have, in one respect. But it is not one which I find at all heartening. Sanctions have certainly slowed down the development of the Rhodesian economy, and this has 558 adversely affected the rapidly-increasing African population in that not enough new jobs are available for them. One of the effects of sanctions has been the rapid diversification of the Rhodesian economy. Many products which formerly were imported, mainly from Britain, are now made locally. I sampled some of them and found most of them to be of good quality; although some were mere expensive than the previously imported goods that they replaced. To-day, we are asked to make sanctions tighter. But if sanctions have failed, more sanctions are not the answer. Negotiations should be reopened with Rhodesia and a genuine effort made to avoid the personal vendetta which seems to have marred all previous attempts at a settlement.
In conclusion, my Lords, I feel that I should not sit down without giving you my firm opinion that Rhodesia is not a threat to world peace. I toured the African townships of Harari and High-field near Salisbury, and saw ample signs that the Africans living there were well satisfied with their lot. Their schools, community centres, swimming pools and beer gardens were evidence of extensive Government interest in their welfare, and I saw African housing, ranging from flats for single persons to luxurious houses, even better than many Europeans have. I believe that Africans in Rhodesia are far better off, under the stable Government that is existing there now, than Africans in many of the recently made independent countries to the North where the economies are breaking down and where law and order is tending to become a thing of the past.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, it is extraordinarily interesting to get firsthand, from the noble Marquess, Lord Headfort, the very latest report from Rhodesia. I had some doubt whether to speak in this debate. On the other hand, having been associated with Rhodesia for so many years, and having, as a Minister of State in different Offices, been so largely responsible for decisions which were taken before, during and after the war, I felt that I could not give a silent vote.
I shall be very brief as I always am. The first thing I want to say is this. There have been allegations—not so much in the debate to-day and yesterday, though 559 there have been one or two suggestions—that those of us who oppose sanctions are racialists. I do not believe it to be true at all in any case, but it certainly cannot be said with any truth of me. I was principally responsible for establishing the multiracial university in Salisbury and they did me the honour of naming the first hostel after me. I think that disposes of any suggestion that I am motivated (a horrible word) by any racial feelings. But I have become convinced, completely convinced, that sanctions are wrong for this reason: that experience has shown that the people who are hardest hit by them are the ordinary Africans, whose greatest need is employment.
That employment depends entirely on Rhodesian industry and Rhodesian agriculture. Every time an outlet in Rhodesian trade, industry or agriculture is closed or curtailed, Africans suffer most, and more and more Africans are thrown out of work. This emphasises that sanctions are wrong. But surely sanctions are made more ridiculous, or more impossible, than ever by the situation which is developing in Zambia; a new situation which proves the futility and the mischief of sanctions. My Lords, sanctions were supposed to help Zambia, but Zambia refuses to have anything whatever to do with them. Zambia says that she must trade with Rhodesia; she must have Rhodesian coal; she must have Rhodesian electric power; she must have the use of Rhodesian railways and Rhodesian rolling stock, and, incidentally, she must have the use of the Portuguese railway to ship her copper out by the port of Beira. If Zambia refuses to give any effect to these sanctions and, on the contrary, is going to insist, in her own interest, in trading more and more with Rhodesia, does that not make the sanctions futile and malicious?
My Lords, I promised that I would be brief, but I hope that I have put the case from the African point of view clearly. It is in the interest of the Africans that I shall vote against this measure to-night, and I hope that many of your Lordships, for those reasons, will join me in the Lobby.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ LORD STRANG
My Lords, I shall be very brief indeed. Let me say at the outset that it seems to me that our policy 560 in Rhodesia is in a state of sterile deadlock, and so far as I can see there is no prospect whatever of any solution. Unlike the Government, I am not satisfied that the existing sanctions, or these new extended sanctions, are likely to offer any solution. Unlike the Opposition, I am not persuaded that negotiations now offer any possibility of a tolerable solution, whether based on the Six Principles or the Five Principles or anything like them. I hope I am wrong about that, but that is my present view; I should like to be persuaded otherwise. I am interested to note that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, shares my view on that one point.
That, my Lords, is a grim situation; but, however that may be, what we have before us now is this Order and we have to decide what to do about it. I do not know when I found it more difficult to make up my mind. I must confess that I do not like this Order. I think, nevertheless, that it would be a grave mistake for your Lordships' House to reject it. I cannot, therefore, vote with the Opposition against the Order. In coming to this conclusion, I have two considerations in mind. First, whatever one may think of the action of the Government in bringing in the United Nations in the way they have done, a unanimous resolution of the Security Council to which we have given our assent is something which, from the point of view of international relations, ought not to be disregarded. Secondly, I am not persuaded that the Rhodesian issue, which in the form in which it is presented to us to-day is a matter of foreign policy, is a good ground for exercising your Lordships' existing and undoubted power to reject the Order, quite apart from all the constitutional consequences which may ensue.
That being so, my Lords, one's natural inclination would be to abstain from this Division, but with the decision of the Opposition to vote against the Order that no longer seems to me to be sufficient. I have listened with some sympathy, and I hope with due understanding, to the official Opposition case put by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in those grave, measured and moderate tones which are so characteristic of him; but I cannot bring myself to believe that the course which the Opposition have decided upon is the course of wisdom, and 561 so deeply do I feel this that I find myself constrained, doubtful as I am about their policy, to go into the Lobby with the Government. My Lords, let me emphasise that I am speaking for myself alone, and not for any others on these Cross-Benches. We are independent, and each of us makes up his mind in his own way.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, I am glad of the opportunity to follow the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and the noble Lord, Lord Alport, because of the wisdom of the advice which I consider they have given to the House, and I hope that noble Lords are not going to try to salvage their consciences to-night by pleading about the state of unemployment in the African population. There is unemployment for Africans as the result of sanctions: there may be worse unemployment. But against that we have to balance the prospect of freedom and majority rule in the long term; and this is a prospect which ought to weigh very strongly with your Lordships' House.
My noble friend Lord Wade has clearly stated where we stand on the Order itself. We support it, although, like many other noble Lords, we have reservations on certain aspects of the provisions. But this is only one side of the problem. Another aspect, one in which I am involved to some extent, is that which strikes at the fundamentals of the Constitution, though even this is not the main aspect. If there is an adverse Vote to-night, it is likely to distort completely the natural progress towards the reform of this House which we could be so near to achieving. It is no secret that the formal proposal which could be put to your Lordships' House and to another place would provide a workmanlike House for generations to come. I believe that it is the type of proposal which might well commend itself to the vast majority of the people of this country. But if the whole weight of the Conservative Party, animated by its Right Wing, is mobilised in the Division Lobby to defeat the will of the elected representatives of the people, not only will this reform be jeopardised but certain other things must inevitably follow.
First of all, there will be a strong demand from important sections of the 562 Labour Party and the Liberal Party that a sine qua non in any reform shall be the elimination of hereditary Peers from taking part in any of the proceedings of this House. The fact that this is an emotional reaction, the fact that the House would suffer by the immediate elimination of some such hereditary Peers, the fact that some of our hereditary Peers are radicals, and the fact that the weight of Right Wing opinions is not all with hereditary Peers (many of them in the Rhodesia Lobby appear to be Peers of first creation)—all these things would be weighed together and the result on the future of this House is in my view unpredictable.
Secondly, I would say that in the past ten to fifteen years the proponents of a one-Chamber system have been losing ground very fast indeed. I am afraid that if there is an adverse Vote to-night, their arguments will be fortified. I can tell the House one other reaction which is predictable—that is, that in the Liberal and Labour Parties the already strong movement in favour of an elected Second Chamber will gain further ground. To many of us this would not be the proper course to take, because we do not see this House as a rival to the House of Commons. But what the Conservative Party is in danger of doing to-night—and I hope it will not do this—is to revive all the old phobias about the House of Lords and to poison the climate of co-operation which has been established in the past year.
But in the matter of this Rhodesia Order the reform of this House is not the main issue. I have very great sympathy with the position in which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has been placed by the mass of supporters who have appeared from somewhere to support him to-night. He and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, are among the most enlightened Members of your Lordships' House on any question, and I have great sympathy with the position in which they find themselves, because they both have ministerial responsibility of a high quality. I would still plead with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, even at this stage, to change the advice which has been given to his own supporters. I do not expect to influence the Rhodesian lobby in this House in any way, but I would appeal to the rest of the Conservative Party, and to any noble Lords on the Cross Benches who might 563 be inclined to oppose this Order, to think seriously before they do so.
The best argument which can be deployed is that an adverse Vote this evening will not really affect Government policy. The Order will still run to July 8, and it can then be re-laid. But the situation will not be seen in that light outside this House, nor will it be seen in that light in international circles abroad. An adverse Vote on this Order will be interpreted as nullifying the Government's ability to prosecute sanctions. It will introduce a strong element of half heartedness into the opposition which other countries should be putting in to the activities of the illegal régime in Salisbury, Rhodesia, and indirectly might well delay even further the prospects of an agreed settlement. I find it no argument to say that what those who oppose the Order are going to do is to hold up the Order for a few weeks to ensure that the public and the Commons have further time to consider it—and no doubt it will be added that, after all, that is something which might well be contemplated if we are to reform your Lordships' House in future. The difference is profound. Under any reformed system the massive reserves of Tory reaction would not be present in this House. They would not have the power to influence or to reject an Order laid by the Government. The case would be won on argument and not on numbers. And this is what I believe will be virtually resented outside this House as irresponsible action on the part of the Conservative Party, if they go into the Division Lobby to vote against this Order.
I would plead with those who want to see a successful evolutionary reform of this House not to jeopardise it by being party to a gesture that will be interpreted as a determination to defy the will of the elected representatives of the people on a matter of foreign policy, a province in which the Government of the day must feel itself to be supreme. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, implored us to think of what we are going to do about the Transport Bill and the Prices and Incomes Bill. These are quite different matters. By all means let us challenge the Government, as we are entitled to do, on a number of the major issues in the Transport Bill and 564 send them back to another place for reconsideration. But no Government of any complexion could ever tolerate a veto by a non-elected Chamber on its decision to implement an important resolution of the United Nations.
The Conservative Party cannot argue that mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia are in order if imposed and enforced by us but are quite illegal it imposed by the United Nations. The United Nations are entitled to determine the existence of any threat to the peace under Article 39 of the Charter. They have decided, rightly or wrongly, that the rebellion of the Rhodesian régime is such a threat. This decision was made with the concurring votes of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, of which the United Kingdom is one. The country is therefore irrevocably committed legally to the decision that the Rhodesian régime is a threat to the peace. Having taken that decision the Security Council are entirely in order, under article 41, in taking measures not involving the use of armed force to give effect to their decision.
The position is, then, that Her Majesty's Government are legally and morally bound to put the resolution into effect. If they are not able to do so because of the action of this House, it will mean that this country is repudiating its solemn obligation to the United Nations, repudiating the Charter of the United Nations which it signed and ratified in 1945. The violation of the Charter of the United Nations is not something which this country should lightly undertake in any circumstances.
It has been argued that this matter should never have gone to the United Nations. I do not agree. This is a matter in which many countries have a direct interest. They are dealing with the civil rights of their own people, with the problems of different races in different countries. This is a matter in which the United Nations have a very proper interest, and I believe that we should be guided by the words which were uttered by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt: that this action is going to be watched all round the world and it is of vital consequence. We have to recognise that the United Nations resolution received massive support. That is why I feel sorry when a noble Lord with 565 the experience of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, refers to this as "a miserable squabble" between London and Salisbury. It is not looked upon as a "miserable squabble."
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, with great deference to the noble Lord, I never said such a thing.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
No, I do not; I think it is a very serious matter. But I do not take the same view as the noble Lord, Lord Byers.
§ LORD BYERS
I am not asking the noble Marquess to do that. I specifically said that I had no hope of changing the views of people who hold the views of Lord Salisbury. But I must say that to suggest that this is not a matter of important international interest is something which I think should not go without protest. I cannot believe that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, is still sticking to the views that he expressed yesterday: that a mandatory resolution is binding on Her Majesty's Government, but not on Her Majesty's Opposition. This I find to be quite untenable. I cannot believe that he put this forward seriously. Hallo, another correction
My Lords, I wonder whether I could interrupt the noble Lord for a moment in the fine flow of his oratory, which I am admiring. I think probably—and I apologise to your Lordships' House—that in the interests of brevity I did unduly telescope my argument on this point yesterday. I should like briefly to explain my position here.
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (LORD SHACKLETON)
My Lords, may I interrupt? Is the noble Earl rising to make a personal statement to explain something? If so, would it not be better (I am sure the House will give him permission to do so) to make it later, rather than making a lengthy intervention 566 during the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Byers?
§ LORD BYERS
With respect to the noble Earl, perhaps I could complete this argument and then he may correct it. I think it is an important point to get right, because I do not think the noble Earl did justice to himself. When he said first of all that a mandatory resolution is binding on the Government but not on the Opposition, he then went on to say:It is for the Government to consider before accepting these obligations whether they will be in a position to honour them.I want to ask: Does this mean that a British Government, freely elected, with a sizeable majority in the Commons, must always consider in the execution of its foreign policy whether or not it can carry with it the Conservative Right Wing of a non-elected House of Lords?
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear Answer
§ LORD BYERS
I have actually finished that point. But perhaps I should ask the further question: What happens if there is a Conservative Government in power, prepared to negotiate with Rhodesia on the Six Principles, as I hope they might, if they get in? Are they to be at the mercy of their own Rhodesia lobby? Are they to depend on the votes of us and others in order to get their policy through? This is not practical politics; it is not a tenable proposition.
On all these counts I appeal to the House not to oppose this measure. Calm reflection must show that no Government can tolerate such treatment as this from a non-elected House. The resentment which will be felt in many quarters at the interference with the execution of a policy by the Government on a measure which has so much international support cannot, in my view, be measured or predicted. I hope that noble Lords, particularly on this side of the House and on the Cross Benches, will not oppose this Order to-night; and if there is any move by some of them to do so, I hope That others will come into the Government Lobby.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I hope that my noble friends behind me will allow me to survive the praise which has been heaped upon me by the Leader 567 of the Liberal Party. We have had a long debate, and in the course of the last two days we have heard every facet of the case, for and against, put most cogently from both sides of the House. I do not think, therefore, that it is necessary for me to speak at any great length about the merits of this Order. It seems to me, as I think it does to those of us who sit on this side of the House, that this Order is thoroughly bad; that it marks the bankruptcy of the Government's policy of Rhodesia; that it cannot be effective, and that it will almost certainly have the opposite effect of that intended.
I have never been, and am not now, a supporter of Mr. Smith or his régime; and, indeed. I could well have done without the advice which he has tendered to your Lordships, as reported in the newspapers this evening.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
I have made it clear on countless occasions, in this House and outside, that in my view it was most unwise of Mr. Smith to declare unilateral independence; and more recently it was foolish and short-sighted of him to reject the terms which were offered to him by the Prime Minister during the talks on board H.M.S. "Tiger". I certainly do not wish to bring any comfort to Mr. Smith. I hope that noble Lords opposite, who may disagree with a great deal of what I have to say, and, indeed, perhaps with the rest of my remarks, will at any rate acknowledge that what I have said so far is true.
But, my Lords, over the past few months the situation has been changing. Reluctantly we agreed with the official sanctions imposed upon Rhodesia. I, for one, though with considerable misgivings, felt that it would have been difficult for Britain to ignore Mr. Smith's actions and do nothing whatever to mark her disapproval. I do not think I ever felt it was likely that sanctions would bring Rhodesia to her knees, though it is interesting to recall that we were told at the time by the Prime Minister, and indeed by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, that it was only a matter of weeks before the Smith Government would fall as a result of sanctions.
568 Subsequently the Government took the matter to the United Nations and mandatory sanctions were introduced. We are on record as having been opposed to that. We were opposed to it, first, because we felt that once the United Nations stepped into the arena things would go from bad to worse and more and more drastic action would be called for; and secondly, because we felt that sanctions would not be effective, not least because South Africa and Portugal were very likely to ignore the United Nations decisions.
We are now faced with another tightening of sanctions, another resolution of the United Nations. I think it is right that all of us who sit in this House should ask ourselves whether the proposals which are before us this afternoon are likely to do good or to do harm. It has, so far, been abundantly clear that, though sanctions may have weakened the Rhodesian economy, they have by no means brought her to her knees. Quite regardless of whether this is the right thing to aim at, it does not seem capable of achieving anything. The very fact that South Africa and Portugal are still openly trading with Rhodesia makes that a foregone conclusion. And all of us know from references we have seen in the papers, from the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Headfort, this afternoon, and from others who have visited Rhodesia and South Africa, that large quantities of goods are coming into Rhodesia from countries which, though nominally adhering to the United Nations resolutions, are, of course, doing nothing of the kind.
Unless the United Nations takes action against South Africa and Portugal, then sanctions cannot succeed. As I understand it (and I am glad to hear it) it is certainly not the intention of the Government to do that—though by what logical basis you do the one and not the other, I cannot for the life of me understand. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, whose speech I listened to with great attention this afternoon, might ask himself, also, the question: If Rhodesia is a threat to world peace, though not a physical one, why then is exactly the same action not taken against the Republic of South Africa?
At the same time, I could think of some very good economic reasons why 569 you should do none of these things. The tightening up of sanctions proposed in this Order will, I have no doubt, have no more effect, or little more effect, than the previous mandatory sanctions, and if it has any effect it will be, I think, only to strengthen the resolve of the Rhodesians to hold out against the attempt to starve them into submission.
In the Statement which the Government made in Parliament just before the Whitsun Recess which announced their support for the United Nations resolution, we were told, in answer to a question I put, that a part of the resolution urged the members of the United Nations to give material assistance to the Africans in Rhodesia—the opposition to Mr. Smith. I must say, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said this afternoon, that I find it almost unbelievable that the Government should have put their seal on such a statement. While no doubt it is true—and I accept it at once—that they did not have any intention of encouraging subversion and terrorism and aid to the terrorists by accepting this proposal, it cannot surely have escaped their attention that the language used in that section of the resolution would almost certainly encourage the more extreme members of the United Nations to do just that, and to use an excuse for doing so the resolution which was adopted by the United Nations. I think that the words used by the Ambassador to Guinea bear out some of the misgivings that we on this side have. The Government, in my view, are culpable for having accepted those words, and since the Orders which we are discussing this afternoon are an expression of that resolution I must put it on record that we on this side dissociate ourselves from the Government and from the dangerous words to which they have put this country's signature.
Apart from the tightening up of sanctions generally, the main effect of this Order will be to prevent travel by Rhodesians to this country and to countries which are administered by Britain unless they travel on a British passport. I really do not understand the purpose of this. It seems to me mean and spiteful, but it is surely also a counter-productive a proposal as it would be possible to devise. One of the most obvious ways of bringing pressure to bear on 570 people with whom you disagree is by talking to them—all of us have been doing that for the last two days in this House—and by letting them see and hear at first hand the reactions of other people in other countries. And if as a Rhodesian you are forced to sit in your own country, or perhaps just to go to South Africa, is it very likely that you will hear the other side of the case, the case for moderation and the case for a settlement?
Surely, the more the people are isolated, the more they are cut off from world opinion, the more they are made to feel that they have been made outcasts, the more likely they are to become intransigent, resentful and obstinate. One has only to look at the history of the last two or three decades to see what happens to a country which is cut off from contact with the outside world: to take only one example, Russia in the days of Stalin and the transformation which has taken place since then. Free travel and free interchange of ideas is perhaps the most useful way to change people's opinions. Therefore, I must say that, of all the measures against Rhodesia which I have heard proposed, this to me is quite the silliest.
In any event, in my view sanctions will not work. We know that there are some countries which will not carry cut the United Nations' resolution, and we do not believe that the policy will be effective. I believe that there still is a chance of a settlement with Rhodesia. When Sir Alec Douglas-Home was there a few months ago he came back with a very definite hope and belief that even at this stage a settlement was possible, and a settlement to which we could all honourably agree. And as we heard yesterday, both from Sir Alec in another place and from my noble friend, he still takes that view, and I certainly, knowing Sir Alee as I do and as so many of your Lordships do, would feel that, if he thinks that, it is certainly right to have another shot at negotiation. Because, my Lords, do we really wish by our actions to push Rhodesia into the arms of South Africa and apartheid, to form an African white bloc, with all the attendant dangers for world peace which such a move might bring? I beg noble Lords opposite to think again and have another try at reaching a settlement, for I am certain 571 that it is only by settlement that a solution to this problem can be found.
My Lords, if those of us who sit on this side of the House had only to think of the merits of this Order we should not have taken long in making up our minds as to what to do. Our colleagues in the House of Commons had no such difficulty. But because of the composition of your Lordships' House it is likely, if all the Conservative Peers decide to vote in a particular way, that they will defeat the Government. So all of us have to consider a situation complicated by this factor. It is a situation which we have lived with from 1945 to 1951, and from 1964 until the present time. It has always been the case that if the Conservative Party in the House of Lords has taken a different view from that taken by the Labour majority in the House of Commons, there has immediately been an outcry in the Labour Party and in the Press about hereditary Peers, about the unelected Second Chamber—
§ LORD CARRINGTON
—and about the backwoodsmen; and it would interest the noble Lord to know that I was looking round the House earlier to-day and there is not one Peer on the Benches behind me whom I do not know by name.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh
§ LORD CARRINGTON
The influx of Life Peers has been such that we cannot now sit on that side of the House. As a matter of fact, in looking round, it occurs to me that perhaps I was wrong in saying that there were no backwoodsmen—as I look at the Bishops' Benches.
My Lords, this reaction to any action by your Lordships is not unexpected. The outpourings of Mr. William Hamilton, for example, are as predictable and as regular and as numerous as the tides of the North Sea. Usually these speeches and articles have been accompanied by threats about the abolition of the House of Lords and of the hereditary system and, more recently, of the abandonment of plans for agreed House of Lords reform. I must say, in passing, that I very much regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have been one of those who made a speech of that character 572 over the week-end. It might not perhaps be inapt to remind the Chancellor that the House of Lords is not "Mr. Jenkins' poodle".
My Lords, threats do not get anybody anywhere. In any event, in spite of the threats, we have on occasions made known our views, afforded a period of delay for reflection, and we have believed that that has been our duty. But after the matter has been discussed again by the House of Commons, and passed there once again, we have given way to the elected Chamber. We have—and it is absolutely true what noble Lords opposite have said—on no occasion taken the course of rejecting an Order, because as your Lordships know, owing to an anomaly, a rather curious one, which was left unamended in the Labour Government's Parliament Act 1949, Orders do not come under the provisions of that Act. Nevertheless, even on Orders we have on occasions made it absolutely clear what our attitude is; and I can think of one occasion, not so long ago, when the Government, partly at any rate for this reason, decided on a completely different course of action rather than continue with an Order in this House.
My Lords, on this occasion we are faced with a very difficult situation, but not, I think, quite so difficult as I made out in the speech I made in December, 1965, which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack very fairly quoted yesterday. If the House decided to vote against this Order the effect would be this. The Order would remain in force until July 8, when it would be possible, if the Government so wished, to re-lay it; and during the meantime the Order would remain in operation, so that there would be no question of the Order lapsing, unless the Government decided not to re-lay it. I must say that I think that at some later stage we ought to discuss the rather curious position which seems to have emerged from this investigation, which is that, quite regardless of what either House of Parliament does, it appears that the Executive can, if it re-lays an Order time and time again, follow a policy which has been rejected by Parliament. In my opinion, quite apart from the constitutional position of the House of Lords, this is something which we ought to investigate at another date.
573 I want now, if I may, to be very careful in what I say, but I think I must go as far as this: I find it inconceivable to imagine that in any reformed House of Lords which, as your Lordships know, has been the subject of discussion over the last few months, there would be no provision for the House of Lords (or the second Chamber) when seriously troubled on a matter of principle to reject a Statutory Instrument and to enable the Government to have time for reflection and the opportunity for another debate in the House of Commons. Certainly none of us who sit on these Benches would agree that a reformed House should have no say whatever and should not have a constitutional right to record its opinion on these matters. Therefore it would seem to me that if we took the course which my noble friend Lord Jellicoe outlined yesterday we should be doing precisely that.
The fact that under the present system we could throw the Order out again and again is perfectly true, and I will come to that a little later, if I may. Those of us who feel that these mandatory sanctions are likely to be wholly counter-productive and to have the Opposite effect to that which almost all of us in this House want, are placed in a great dilemma. A number of powerful arguments have been advanced on the other side of the House as to why we should not vote.
The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack made a point in his speech of the effect of such a vote on the discussion on the reform of your Lordships' House. I am one of those who, quite openly and for a great many years, has said that I wish to see the reform of this House. If I may say so without offence, I have probably been saying that a great deal longer than most of your Lordships. One of the reasons why I want to see a reform of its composition is that however wise and sensible may be the decisions which your Lordships take, they are always weakened by the attack made on the membership of this House by members of the Labour Party and others, and I cannot and do not try to justify the presence of a permanent majority for any one Party in one of our two Houses of Parliament.
I am as keen as anyone to see that reform should take place but, my Lords, 574 what sort of people should we be—what sort of a person should I be—if, because of my wish to see a reformed House, I trimmed my sails on every issue which I regarded as being of major importance? I think that people outside would be justified in saying that a body composed of people like that is not worthy of reform or of perpetuation as a Second Chamber. If I may I would point out to the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor—and I do not think I need to—that it is certainly my belief that what we have been doing in the inter-Party conference is to devise a Second Chamber which all of us believe to be the one most suited to our needs, one which can be defended both in composition and in powers. I certainly do not believe in that more or less, because of the actions which noble Lords opposite may take from time to time; nor, I think, should they be deterred from what they believe to be the right solution by actions which we take from time to time. We are not dealing at this moment with a reformed House of Lords; we are dealing with the Constitution and the House as it now is, and I very much hope that the members of the Government will continue to strive for the best solution for the House of Lords and not decide to take unilateral action. I am sorry if the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, finds that very funny. I was trying to make a serious argument.
The second reason which noble Lords opposite have adduced, and notably the noble Lord, Lord Rowley, against our voting on this issue has been that of the international obligations of the Government. My Lords, I concede at once that this is a factor of the greatest importance. The Government have accepted the resolution by the Security Council and there is no denying that. But it seems to me there is another side to this argument. The Government have accepted a resolution at the United Nations. In order for that resolution to be implemented it is necessary for legislation to be introduced and approved by both Houses of Parliament. Is it really argued that both, or either, House of Parliament is debarred from expressing its opinion on the merits of the course which the Government have taken? If so, what is the purpose of the Affirmative Resolution procedure? Is it really argued that both Houses, because of the commitment by 575 the Government, are powerless to reject that legislation? What would happen, for example, if both Houses did reject such an Order? I am no lawyer, as your Lordships know, and the last thing I want to do is to tangle with the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, or indeed with my noble friend Lord Conesford, on a matter of law, and particularly on a subject as complicated as this, but to me, as a simple man who was brought up to believe that Parliament is sovereign, I cannot conceive of a situation in which the ultimate control of British foreign policy passes out of the hands of Parliament into the hands of the United Nations—
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I should be grateful if the noble Lord would allow me to go on. Nevertheless, having said that, I concede that this complicates the issue and increases the dilemma of noble Lords on this side. The Government have international obligations and it is something which would certainly weigh heavily with me if, on a subsequent occasion, we had to debate this Order again. But are we, as a House, not even to record our opinion? Are we not to perform the function of a Second Chamber, or at any rate to advise our followers to perform that function?
By voting against this Order, it seems to me, we should be doing a number of things, all of them perfectly and absolutely consistent with the duties of a Second Chamber. First of all, if the House were to reject this Order (and there may be some on this side of the House who do not agree with what I am saying), we should be putting on record that the majority of the House, composed as it now is—and it is, after all, this House that we have to deal with—believe that the Government's policy with regard to Rhodesia is wrong and calculated to lead to disaster for black and white alike in Rhodesia; and by doing that we should be asking the Government to consider the powerful arguments which have been adduced from this side of the House this afternoon, and to reflect upon them.
We should also be allowing time for public opinion to make itself felt. I do 576 not know what public opinion is about Rhodesia. I, too, saw the results of the Gallup Poll in the Daily Telegraph this morning. I was surprised, because certainly the cross-section of people I meet do not seem to hold those views at all. I have no idea what public opinion is, and I do not suppose the Government have; but at any rate such action on the part of your Lordships would enable people to express their views; it would enable newspapers to air their views; it would enable letters to be written to Members of Parliament, and all the other accepted ways of forming public opinion.
Thirdly, if the Government decided, in spite of the advice which we had given them, to re-lay the Order, we should be giving the Commons another opportunity to debate it in the light of what has been said in this House by some eminent people who have first-hand knowledge of Rhodesia. I have always thought that this was the proper function of a Second Chamber. If, as may be the case, it is quite clear that the people of this country are either in favour of the Government's policy or not interested, or are uncertain; or if it is reflected in another Vote by the elected Chamber, then, so far as I am concerned, I do not think your Lordships should persist any further. You will have performed your proper constitutional function. But what I cannot accept is that we who sit in this House have not a right—not just a legal right, but not a right—and indeed almost a duty on occasions of this kind to do what we think is right, to take what we believe is the proper course, a proper course that Members of a Second Chamber should take.
A great deal has been written in the past few days about a constitutional crisis, and if I may say so, I think that a good deal of it has been greatly exaggerated. If the sort of action which I have outlined is going to bring about a constitutional crisis, then I really do not see what the value of a Second Chamber is. I do not think that I would care to sit in a House, in a place which has no power of any kind, which cannot even record its opinion, and which is just a rubber stamp for the House of Commons. So the course that I am going to take—and I take it with a deep sense of responsibility—is to record my conviction that the Government's policy on Rhodesia is wrong, not in support of Mr. Smith or 577 any faction in support of Mr. Smith, not to sabotage anything, but because I believe the Government's policy on this to be entirely and absolutely wrong. I believe that the only chance of peace is a settlement by negotiation, and I believe that the Government should think again about the course that they are pursuing. They should listen to what people are saying. But if in their wisdom the Government decide to reintroduce the Order and it is passed again by the Commons, the factors which I have outlined in my speech would certainly weigh very heavily with me in any further advice I was bold enough to give to your Lordships. In the meantime, I shall do what I believe to be my constitutional duty.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I do not wish to waste the time of the House by making the usual sort of winding-up speech and paying the usual compliments, but there are two speeches to which I should like to refer. I am sure the whole House would wish me to refer to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Poltimore. I think that as our newest, if not youngest, Member he managed in a most admirable way to convey both the strength of his feeling and the depth of his knowledge, without in any way offending the proprieties or causing anything other than pleasure to us all.
I would also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who has managed to put forward his views no fewer than three times in the last 24 hours; first of all in The Times, where he rode the whirlwind—I am rather doubtful now whether he is really riding it; secondly, last night on television, and thirdly in his speech to-day.
When I listened to all yesterday's debate, I must admit that I was frankly appalled by the way in which the debate had developed. To-day, I think, we have hit rather higher standards, and indeed noble Lords have been deliberately and consciously restrained and moderate in their remarks. This debate is taking place not just in terms of the interests of this House or of this country but in terms of the world. There is an agonising drama—and we all agree about this—prolonged, and perhaps, so far as our life- 578 time is concerned, of unpredictable duration, which is unfolding in Africa, and running as a sinister theme throughout all our discussions has been the question of race.
It is not just the fate of 200,000 white Rhodesians or 4 million Africans in Rhodesia that is at stake to-day; it is, indeed, the survival of multiracial policies. And those multiracial policies—despite some remarks from noble Lords which suggested to me that although they would deny that they were racial in instinct indicated a lack of understanding—are still being fought for by men, white and coloured—men like Kenneth Kaunda and Jomo Kenyatta, in the face of actions and in the presence of remarks at times of such provocative-ness that one must despair of the prospect that white and coloured can live together in peace in this world. I of course acquit noble Lords, certainly noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite, from this sort of prejudice, but I was distressed by the speeches of certain noble Lords, distressed as much by the obvious sincerity with which they spoke—that unfortunate reference to ju-ju men, the sort of suggestion that for many years to come the white man has still got to rule.
Then, too, there was the attitude to the United Nations. "A bit of a giggle", the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, called it. He made a point even of repeating it, and boasting of the fact that he was a Life Peer. I find this sort of attitude so irresponsible that I am surprised to find the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe—and it may be that he now regrets it—suggesting that a mandatory resolution (and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, referred to it) of the United Nations is binding on Her Majesty's Government but not on Her Majesty's Opposition. It is Britain on whom the resolution is binding. We cannot have two foreign policies both running at the same time. I had the feeling that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, wished at one time to correct this impression, and if he did I will gladly give way.
My Lords, I did indeed. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, had asked me a question about this, and I was about to give a reply when the noble Lord intervened. But I think I can say quite straightly to 579 him that the constitutional position on this, and how we regard it, has been put by my noble friend Lord Carrington. I entirely agree with what he has said on this point regarding the Opposition's responsibility.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I can scarcely believe what the noble Lord is saying. He went on to say that it is for Her Majesty's Government to consider, before they incur an international obligation, whether they will be in a position to honour it. In this context this can mean only that they cannot enter into arrangements in the conduct of foreign affairs except by the leave of the Conservative majority in an unreformed House of Lords. I cannot see what else it can mean.
Of course, the Government of the day has to carry Parliament with it; and this means in another place. Traditionally she Government of the day stands or falls in the House of Commons. It does not stand or fall in your Lordships' House. It is, I think, part of the difficulty that noble Lords opposite have got themselves into. They are having to erect an ingenious and unconvincing case for an action which many of them wish they were not taking to-day.
Let me now try to establish certain matters on which there is agreement, at least, so far as the Front Bench on the other side is concerned. We are all agreed that the objective must be to end the rebellion, and we agree that we should seek to negotiate an honourable settlement in accordance with the Six Principles. It is, I think, also agreed—certainly it was in the past; though I am not quite sure whether this is the view of the Conservative Party now—that economic sanctions should be used to persuade the régime to negotiate a settlement within this context. We are agreed, for reasons which have been fully spelled out, that force should not be used. We are also agreed that this is primarily a British responsibility; that we should seek to avoid a confrontation with South Africa, that the position of Zambia should be protected and that they should not be forced to commit suicide.
The Opposition apparently seek to distinguish between sanctions imposed unilaterally by this country and sanctions 580 imposed, for the most part on other nations, by the Security Council. Some noble Lords (this suggestion may be unworthy, but it seems so obvious that we cannot but make it) feel that the real distinction should be between effective and ineffective sanctions. We have had arguments as to whether sanctions are punitive, whether they are some kind of petty revenge—I am sure the noble Lord Lord, Lord Carrington, would not accuse the Government of that.
My Lords, the purpose of sanctions is of course to establish beyond doubt that the illegal régime, with all its talk of a nine-days' wonder, cannot hope to build up a prosperous Rhodesia unless it returns to legality. Inevitably, the effect of sanctions falls on the guilty and the innocent alike, Africans and loyal Europeans. But what would noble Lords have? The only alternatives are force in the short run, or, as I sincerely believe, force in the long run against a beleaguered society, by guerillas and freedom fighters constantly harassing the unhappy people who will live in those conditions. I do not think there is a single Member of your Lordships' House who has spoken regularly in these debates who has not condemned U.D.I. and the actions of the Smith régime. Yet this is the moment when they want to call the whole thing off. For that can be the only meaning of a vote against this Order to-day.
The whole object of our policy in Rhodesia is to achieve an honourable settlement. The principles on which it should be based are those which were worked out by the previous Administration, and were agreed to by both sides of the House. So far as sanctions are concerned, we have never looked on them as an end in themselves. We are not trying to punish Rhodesia, still less to ruin her economy and seek to destroy the livelihood of the people who live there. Right from the start our aim has been to use sanctions in order to convince those who have taken power in Rhodesia that the best hope for their country and for their own wellbeing lies in a settlement based on the principles I have already referred to.
I should like to refer in a moment to the interesting speech of the noble Lord. Lord Alport. He certainly did not suggest this, but some noble Lords have argued that sanctions are a farce. This is 581 not the view of those in Rhodesia who are engaged in business there. In recent public statements they have made this very clear indeed. As recently as yesterday, I had discussions with a leading loyal Rhodesian citizen as to just how anxious they are about the effect of the further development in sanctions. What the Government seek, and what is the purpose of sanctions, is that Rhodesian prosperity can be built only on a genuine acceptance (I use those words carefully) of the rights of the majority. Sanctions are there to bring this home to those concerned. It does not make sense to argue that this would be better done if we did it alone, without the co-operation of the international trading community secured by the United Nations resolution.
We already know that, except in one important respect (which I acknowledge and to which the noble Lord referred), this Order adds little to the sanctions that are already in force. What it does is to implement the resolutions which impose them with greater force on other countries. Economic sanctions can be successful only if we have a greater degree of international co-operation; and in practice this means mandatory decisions of the Security Council. As my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack said, it is strange that noble Lords opposite, who have so often pointed to the loss of British trade, should now oppose a measure which would seek to ensure that other countries did not pick it up.
Before I leave the question of sanctions let me say one more thing. Noble Lords opposite have not made as much use of the kith and kin argument as we have heard on previous occasions. Let us also remember—I think it is important that they should know that we are aware of it—that a considerable number of loyal white Rhodesians, headed by the Governor, detest the illegal Government and all that it stands for; but they still look for a settlement, and they have accepted the Six Principles. We regret that the action we are going to take will be painful, and possibly arduous, for them, as it will be for the 4 million Africans. But it is for their joint future that we are having to take this action.
The noble Lord, Lord Alport, put the view that there was now no chance of successful negotiations with the régime, 582 and he argued that the time had come when the Governor should be allowed to retire gracefully to the country. I fully acknowledge the noble Lord's deep knowledge of this problem, and his sincere sympathy with the Governor and those who are standing up for what is right. But our views on these two points are not the same as his. We still hope—and I stress this to noble Lords—that negotiations can be held, and we attach the highest value to the Governor's admirable readiness to stick to his views. In short, the views expressed by a e noble Lord, Lord Alport, are quite different from those of the British Government, and I can assure the House that the Governor himself is far from sharing them.
There was one other point made by the noble Lord, about the residual mission in Salisbury. I think it is relevant that during the discussions at the Security Council it was accepted by all concerned that if we were to be able to discharge our responsibilities in respect of Rhodesia we should need to retain the office we have in Salisbury. This was accepted in New York, and it is the view of the British Government. It is one of the things that Lord Caradon managed to get in the discussions at the United Nations. I do not wish to take up much time, but some of these points need to be emphasised. It does not seem to be appreciated by certain noble Lords (I have in mind particularly the question of the noble Earl, Lord Lytton) that Her Majesty's Government are still anxious to get a settlement by negotiation. In particular, Lord Lytton asked whether the British Government would be prevented from negotiating with the illegal régime as a result of the United Nations resolution, and would not be able to grant independence before majority rule.
The answers are, first, that the resolutions of the General Assembly, unlike the mandatory resolutions of the Security Council, are not binding on Member Governments. Secondly, Her Majesty's Government have announced that they would not commend to Parliament independence for Rhodesia before majority rule. That remains our position. But noble Lords will recall that the Prime Minister and other Government spokesmen have repeatedly made it clear that if there were a substantial change in 583 circumstances in Rhodesia this question could be looked at again.
As regards holding discussions with the régime, I would remind the House that the Prime Minister and other spokesmen have repeatedly emphasised that the Government are anxious to reach an honourable settlement. The Governor is authorised, as the Prime Minister said recently, to pursue any meaningful development which satisfies the Principles and the necessary requirements of trust. If and when at any time, soon or late, he should so report, that will be the time for decision.
Now the position of Mr. Smith, as we see it, is subject to three conflicting influences. In the first place, while he does not himself regard majority rule—and my noble and learned friend made this clear—within the foreseeable future as a desirable goal for Rhodesia, I think he begins to realise that no settlement may be possible on any other basis, and that without a settlement Rhodesia cannot hope to prosper. He has said, and clearly he is right, that for this reason it might be necessary to agree on a settlement that would involve unimpeded progress to majority rule. What he has not been prepared to do is to agree to measures which would, in fact, provide this unimpeded progress. These are two of the three conflicting influences I mentioned. The third is the policy of the Right-wing extremists inside the Rhodesian Front and outside it, and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, should be able to understand what that means. They see the future in terms of unrelieved white domination, possibly disguised with theoretical doctrines of apartheid. Mr. Smith is also sensitive to their pressures.
The House will have seen a report in to-day's Evening Standard that Mr. Smith has said in an interview that he pleads with Peers to vote against the new sanctions Order to-day. My Lords, it is surprising that noble Lords complain about my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and make no complaint—although the noble Lord said with great skill, "Of course we would ignore him", but other Lords have hardly mentioned it—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, may I say something? I am regarded as an extremist of the Right Wing, and I very much regret what Mr. Smith has said.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not think that is quite fair of the noble Lord. I regret it because it is a great mistake for anyone outside to try to influence what we do in this House.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, noble Lords talked about "Mr. Jenkins's poodle". Nobody, I think, would suggest that the House of Lords is "Mr. Smith's poodle." Indeed, noble Lords have done their best to meet an embarrassing situation. But I am leading to another point: that is, that if noble Lords are influenced—and I am sure it was counter-productive—to answer that appeal, then irrespective of what is done later to remedy the situation over the Order their action this afternoon would have the effect of weakening the incentive for Mr. Smith to come to a just and honourable settlement, and it would strengthen the influence of those who urge him to reject all thought of a settlement and to follow their own extremist policies. Rejection of this Order—and I say this with complete and absolute belief; this is my view—with the resulting polarisation of the whole situation, would greatly damage the prospects of the Governor's being able to report, as indicated in the reference I made to what the Prime Minister said on March 27, that there were developments which he could pursue and which satisfied our agreed principles and the necessary requirement of trust.
My Lords, we are in a difficulty with regard to the knowledge that Sir Alec Douglas-Home has, because the House does not know what was said, but it is the opinion of my right honourable friends who have studied the proposals—and if we are to believe Sir Alec Douglas-Home I think it is right that we should believe my right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary—that these proposals still lack the essential requirement of the blocking quarter and the guarantee towards unimpeded progress towards majority rule. When that is 585 forthcoming—and I stress this—the Government will be ready to seek an honourable settlement.
Let me turn now to what has been called the "Constitutional issue", which has rather clouded and complicated our discussions. Noble Lords opposite, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, should not grumble, and I am sure they do not, when Members in another place and elsewhere refer to the "Constitutional issue", because, of course, they were the first people to mention it. They gave as their reason on previous occasions why your Lordships' House should not vote against Orders that it would be unwise because there would be a constitutional crisis. I am being very sparing in my quotations because I know how embarrassing it must be for the two noble Lords opposite, but the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said:if your Lordships were to reject the Order the Government could always reintroduce it. But I do not see how that advances his argument.Surely then my noble friend, and those who feel like him, would again move to reject the new Order. I cannot believe the 'Constitutional issue' can be dodged in this way so I must ask my noble friends, do they now really wish to precipitate that constitutional crisis?I should like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, his own question, because that is precisely what he has done. They have, in fact, unleased a whirlwind, the whirlwind which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was riding so skilfully in The Times—and I pay tribute to the way he has always managed to ride the whirlwind; we know the job of the Leader of the Conservative Opposition in this House is not the easiest one in the world. He has lost control of the situation, and I want to emphasise the consequences, since some noble Lords seem to have failed to appreciate what they will be doing to-day. They have said that they must do their duty and vote as they think fit. Of course they must; and they must also have regard to the consequences of their actions and the interpretations that will be put on them, and I should like to spell them out.
I hope we can forget all this talk about threats and bribes. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, made fun of them. I wish the constitutional issue had not come up. 586 I agree strongly with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and I am appalled that it has now arisen at this particular moment. The noble Lord has attempted to rationalise what the Opposition are now doing. He is saying that they are giving the Commons an opportunity to think again. In relation to an Order he is propounding a novel constitutional principle. It may be familiar to him, the noble Lord, Lord Byers, and others who have been having discussions on this matter, but it is certainly not known as a proposition outside. Furthermore, it was linked only to a greatly changed composition.
Last night the House of Commons passed this Order by a large majority. Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Party voted for the Order. Noble Lords know that the Government cannot think again on this issue. This represents a crucial issue, and indeed it would become an issue of confidence. Some Members may feel that in this tight little island we can opt out of world opinion, we can ignore the unanimous vote of the Security Council. My Lords, we heard yesterday from a former Minister of State for the Colonies, Lord Perth, who begged the House of Lords to support this Order. Some of us remember his father when he was a well known and distinguished Secretary of the League of Nations. My noble friends Lord Rowley and Lord Henderson (whose father, Mr. Arthur Henderson, was such a great supporter of the League of Nations) will appreciate the vital need, imperfect though the United Nations may be, to continue to support it. Do the Opposition really want us now to back down? Do they think that the House of Lords should have been consulted before Lord Caradon pulled off a remarkable diplomatic success at the United Nations? Noble Lords have totally failed to mention this matter, and I am sorry that there has not been a word of praise from noble Lords for what Lord Caradon achieved
There is a further implication in what noble Lords are doing to-day—and I believe this to be a serious matter. The House of Lords has survived by its ability at moments of crisis to accept realities. When, long ago, it did not do so, it paid a heavy price. When the Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister he was a wiser man than certain noble Lords before the First World War. Noble 587 Lords have said that it is right to throw out this Order, and have discussed lightly the meaning of this act, suggesting that they must in fact just vote according to their consciences. I do not know why in the last fifty years—there may not have been many Orders fifty years ago—they have never found an occasion on which their consciences troubled them on a particular Order, but they have argued, in effect, that, although they have never rejected an Order in this House, it is right to do so on this occasion.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, there is a great difference. Indeed, there have been references to Stansted. The great difference between Stansted and this Order is that by discussion and debate on a Resolution, and not on a Motion to reject the Order, this House, and notably the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, exercised the sort of influence which was right and proper; and the Government thought again. But today they are giving the Government no chance. They are saying, "Reject the Order". Until 1909, the House of Lords never rejected a Finance Bill or a Budget. There must have been many Finance Bills that they did not like. I cannot believe that they liked some of Lord Harcourt's proposals. But suddenly, in 1909, such was their hatred of the Liberal Government, such was their conviction of its unpopularity in the country, that they broke with their own precedent to which they had firmly stuck until that moment, and threw out the Finance Bill. This country was then thrown into years of bitter constitutional controversy.
What the Opposition are proposing to-day will be a breach of self-imposed principle. They propose to reject an Order where public opinion has been given a full opportunity to impress itself on the Government—when there have been considerable discussions over years on this subject; when in fact, public 588 opinion polls support the Government; when the whole of the responsible Press advise the Conservative Party not to vote against this Order. For not just The Times, and the Guardian, but the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, the Mirror, are all advising noble Lords not to vote against the Order.
This is not a simple matter. It is no use noble Lords' coming along now and saying, "All we are going to do is to ask another place to think again". Nor am I so certain about the consequence of the defeat of this Order. I cannot at this moment say whether this Order in fact can be laid again in the present form. There are legal difficulties. The fact that the Government undoubtedly will have to persist with their policy does not alter the consequences which can be at least technically difficult. I am sure the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, who is wise in these matters, and the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, would regard it not quite as simply as some noble Lords opposite think.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord, since this is a very important point? Is the noble Lord, the Leader of the House, saying that an Order cannot be relaid in another place giving effect to exactly the same provisions as this Order?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, on the technical point, I am not expert enough to know what the precise consequence is. As I understand it, this Order has immediately cancelled existing provisions under older Orders. Furthermore, I understand that it may be necessary to have a new type of Order. It is not just a question of relaying the Order. It may undoubtedly be a similar Order, but we shall be taking a serious and definite step.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think that this is very important, and I would ask the noble Lord if he would clear it up. Is he saying that it will not be possible for the Government to lay an Order which gives effect to the same provisions as this Order? This really is a very important point.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am not saying that. I am saying that it 589 will not be possible to relay this Order; it may be necessary to lay a different Order. I fully acknowledge this. But the consequences are quite considerable.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, since the noble Lord referred to me would he give way? Is not the position that if this Vote against the Order is carried to-night, the Order will cease to be effective after 28 days? It does not lapse immediately. At the end of those 28 days, another Order in precisely similar terms can be laid. It will not be the same document; but another Order in similar terms can be laid, and that can be brought into force under the same Act, just as this one has been.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Viscount is asking us to continue to administer an Order which one House of Parliament, unrepresentative though it may be, has refused to approve. The Government, clearly, are going to have to consider the implications of that. It is certainly true, as the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, has said, that at the end of the period it will be possible for the Government to lay a similar Order, but it will not be the same Order in certain quite important respects. Certain consequences have already been noted. All I can say to noble Lords is that they are presenting us with a complicated and difficult situation on which I cannot give a definite answer to-day, and on which I should have thought that, before they sought to defeat the Order, they would themselves have found out the consequences.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear
My Lords, I think that it was in 1937 that I moved the rejection of an Order of the Scottish Office. The Order was withdrawn by the Government, and after consideration it was relaid later.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord the Leader of the House is being a little less than fair. Certainly my understanding, and the understanding of my noble friend Lord Dilhorne, is that an exactly similar Order, though perhaps with a few different words, can be laid. If the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, with all the advice of the constitutional lawyers behind him, 590 says that that is not so, then so far as I am concerned that makes a very great deal of difference to the action I should take.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Lord seems terribly worried I about the possibility of not relaying exactly the same Order so that your Lordships can pass it.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, the noble Lord is being very unfair and rather evasive about this. I made a very long speech in which I made my position absolutely clear, and in which I said that, if a certain number of things happened, I would not advise noble Lords who sit on this side to persist in their opposition to the Order if it was relaid. It the noble Lord is now saying that it is not possible to lay an Order with the same provisions as this one, that alters my argument. The best advice that I can get from my noble friend Lord Dilhorne and others is that one can lay exactly the same Order, except for a few words. If the noble Lord is saying that that is not so—and I ask him a direct question—that alters the position.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I can only repeat again that I cannot myself attempt to answer for all the legal consequences of the action to-day.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh
§ LORD SHACKLETON
Noble Lords are seeking to annul this Order. I certainly do not want to mislead the noble Lord, and I will be absolutely fair with him. It is my opinion that it will be possible—indeed, my advice is that it will be possible—to lay, if not the same Order (in fact, in some respects it may be quite significantly different) an Order which gives the same effect as this. I must in fairness say this to the noble Lord, because I should not wish him to be deceived and I should not wish to give him a misleading excuse for not voting against this Order. What I was saying was that the consequences ale of a kind which we shall have to think about very carefully. I hope that I have not misled the noble Lord.
591 I am sorry that I cannot be more precise, but your Lordships have still not rejected this Order—and I hope that you will not do so—and it is really not possible for the Government to decide in advance what their actions are going to be on something which is of such a unique and extraordinary nature. Orders vary—the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, referred to Orders being relaid. It depends. There is a vast variety of different types of Order, and I should hope not to get drawn any further. I have said that what the Opposition are proposing to-day will be a breach of a self-imposed principle, but when I say that the consequences are unforeseeable I beg noble Lords not to consider that as a threat. It is a simple statement of the effects and of the enormity of the steps they are proposing to take.
I have spoken at such length that I shall not have time to deal with the noble Lord, Lord Halifax—I mean the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. The contrast between the two is so strikingly obvious that it was my intention to draw your Lordships' attention to a famous debate in 1947, to which my noble friend Lord Shepherd has already referred when the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury (Lord Cranborne, as he then was), and the Conservative majority in this House were dissuaded by the late Lord Halifax from voting, not on an Order but on a Resolution condemning the policy of the Government in India. On that occasion the noble Marquess and other noble Lords heeded that request. I am sorry that there is no Lord Halifax here to-day. I do not know whether we shall cast the noble Earl, Lord Perth, or the noble Lord, Lord Alport, for that role. But I say to noble Lords that it would have been perfectly possible for them to have moved a Resolution and voted on it, without taking this unprecedented step.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I must say to the noble Lord that we asked in this House, before this matter was discussed by the United Nations, whether we could have a debate here, and it was refused by the Government.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Marquess is making a totally untrue statement. It was never refused, and he knows it is not possible to refuse 592 a debate in your Lordships' House. Any noble Lord can put down a Motion. It may be that his noble friends on the Conservative Front Bench were unwilling to have a debate, but it is really not fair to say that a debate was refused.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, may I put one question to the noble Lord? I think the question is a fair one, and the noble Lord will not hesitate to give his answer. If he says that it is wholly improper for us to vote in the way that we have been advised to vote, why did the Government put in their 1965 Act the power to do so? Why did they not say that the confirmation should be by the Commons House of Parliament?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Lord raised that point last night, and I really did not think it worth answering. He referred to the Industrial Expansion Act, and the reason why that was confined to the Commons was that orders made under that Act will be concerned primarily with financial matters. There is that custom, but, if I may say so, I and former Leaders of your Lordships' House have, perhaps wrongly, continually been jealous to ensure that we had that right. But the Government have always assumed, as have previous Governments, that the House of Lords would not reject an Order, and this is what they are proposing to do to-day.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I must say one word. I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but he has accused me of telling an untruth. If I have, I apologise and I withdraw it, but I believe the occasion to have been in a supplementary answer to a Question. I hope he will understand that I was speaking what I truly thought.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I certainly would not accuse the noble Marquess of deliberately telling a lie. I am only saying that unintentionally he was misleading the House. If the Conservative Peers, and those who are minded to follow their leaders into the Lobby to-night, go in in sufficient strength to defeat the Government, there will be the following consequences. The first consequence will be that it will not damage the standing of the present Government in this country. Indeed, it is even arguable—and this may cause some noble 593 Lords to pause—that it could be a bonus from the Labour Party's point of view. It will not have any establishable effect, although there will be great complications because, as I have indicated, the Government cannot change their policy in this matter. I cannot say what will be the consequences of the adverse vote. The House of Lords, as I said, ought not to assume that we just go on relaying the Order indefinitely. The Conservative Party in their hearts know that if they were in office they would have to continue with the present policy. What noble Lords will achieve by their vote is a great diminution of the reputation of your Lordships' House. They will have revealed a weakness in the leadership of the Conservative Party, and they will have damaged the reputation of this country in the eyes of the world. How can we explain a vote in the House of Lords to the rest of the world? Should we just say that the House of Lords is totally unrepresentative?—in which case they would ask why we have tolerated its existence for so long.
Above all, and I believe this most sincerely, the possibility of a settlement of the Rhodesian problem will be diminished by such a vote. We cannot avoid the fact that this will be an encouragement to Mr.smith
§ and the Rhodesian Front to be more intransigent, rather than less. Time and again the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has advised us not to send a message of comfort to Mr. Smith. I appeal to noble Lords who on the whole, in my experience, bring an independence of mind and judgment on such matters, if they cannot vote for the Order at least to abstain. I suggest that that would be the wise and dignified act for those in doubt.
§ I would only repeat again to those who may be doubtful—and some noble Lords said that they would determine their attitude on the assurances of the Government—that at the moment there are signs of a real prospect of Mr. Smith coming to the conference table and abiding by what is said there, the Government will be prepared to open talks with them. I therefore ask your Lordships to indicate your attitude on this really rather extraordinary and special occasion by supporting the Government and voting for the Order.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 184; Not-Contents, 193.595
|Addison, V.||Carnock, L.||Gladwyn, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Carron, L.||Goodman, L.|
|Alport, L.||Chalfont, L.||Granville of Eye, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Champion, L.||Granville-West, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Chester, L. Bp.||Hall, V.|
|Arran, E.||Chichester, L. Bp.||Hampton, L.|
|Arwyn, L.||Chorley, L.||Hanworth, V.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Citrine, L.||Hayter, L.|
|Asquith of Yarnbury, Bs.||Clwyd, L.||Helsby, L.|
|Barrington, V.||Cohen, L.||Hemingford, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Henderson, L.|
|Beswick. L. [Teller.]||Coventry, L. Bp.||Henley, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Craigton, L.||Heycock, L.|
|Birk, Bs.||Cranbrook, E.||Hill of Wivenhoe, L.|
|Birmingham, L. Bp.||Crook, L.||Hilton of Upton, L.|
|Blackburn, L. Bp.||Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Hirshfield, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Douglas of Kirtleside, L.||Holford, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Hughes, L.|
|Boothby, L.||Esher, V.||Hunt, L.|
|Bowden, L.||Evans of Hungershall, L.||Iddesleigh, E.|
|Bowles, L. [Teller.]||Exeter, L. Bp.||Inman, L.|
|Bristol, L. Bp.||Faringdon, L.||Jackson of Burnley, L.|
|Brock, L.||Fiske, L.||James of Rusholme, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Foot, L.||Kahn, L.|
|Brown, L.||Fulton, L.||Kennet, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Gainsborough, E.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Burden, L.||Gaitskell, Bs.||Kings Norton, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, Bs.||Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Byers, L.||Garnsworthy, L.||Kirkwood, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Geddes of Epsom, L.||Lansdowne, M.|
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Gifford, L.||Latham, L.|
|Leatherland, L.||Pargiter, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Leathers, V.||Parmoor, L.||Simey, L.|
|Leicester, L. Bp.||Peddie, L.||Snow, L.|
|Lichfield, L. Bp.||Penney, L.||Soper, L.|
|Lincoln, L. Bp.||Perth, E.||Sorensen, L.|
|Lindgren, L.||Phillips, Bs.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Llewelyn-Davies, L.||Pilkington, L.||Stocks, Bs.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.||Platt, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Plummer, Bs.||Stow Hill, L.|
|London, L. Bp.||Popplewell, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Longford, E.||Portsmouth, L. Bp.||Strang, L.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Raglan, L.||Summerskill, Bs.|
|McLeavy, L.||Rathcreedan, L.||Swanborough, Bs.|
|Maelor, L.||Ravensdale, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Mais, L.||Rea, L.||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Manchester, L. Bp.||Redcliffe-Maud, L.||Taylor of Gryfe, L.|
|Marks of Broughton, L.||Rhodes, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Maughan, V.||Ripon, L. Bp.||Tayside, L.|
|Milford, L.||Rochester, L.||Todd, L.|
|Mitchison, L.||Rowley, L.||Wade, L.|
|Morris of Kenwood, L.||Rusholme, L.||Walston, L.|
|Morrison, L.||Sainsbury, L.||Waverley, V.|
|Moyle, L.||St. Davids, V.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Moynihan, L.||Samuel, V.||Williamson, L.|
|Nathan, L.||Segal, L.||Willis, L.|
|Newcastle, L. Bp.||Serota, Bs.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Norwich, V.||Shackleton, L.||Woolley, L.|
|Nunburnholme, L.||Shannon, E.||Wootton of Abinger, Bs.|
|Ogmore, L.||Sharp, Bs.||Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.|
|Oxford, L. Bp.||Shepherd, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Oxford and Asquith, E.|
|Aberdare, L.||Coleraine, L.||Gisborough, L.|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Colville of Culross, V.||Godber, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Colwyn, L.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]|
|Albemarle, E.||Conesford, L.||Gough, V.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Cork and Orrery, E.||Gray, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Cottesloe, L.||Greenway, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Craigavon, V.||Grenfell, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Cranworth, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.|
|Atholl, D.||Crathorne, L.||Haddington, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Crawshaw, L.||Harris, L.|
|Audley, Bs.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Headfort, M.|
|Barnby, L.||Daventry, V.||Hives, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||De La Warr, E.||Horsbrugh, Bs.|
|Beatty, E.||De L'Isle, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Beaumont, Bs.||Denham, L.||Howe, E.|
|Berkeley, Bs.||Derwent, L.||Ilford, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Digby, L.||Jellicoe, E.|
|Bledisloe, V.||Dilhorne, V.||Jessel, L.|
|Bolton, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Kemsley, V.|
|Boston, L.||Dudley, L.||Killearn, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Dulverton, L.||Kindersley, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Dundee, E.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Braye, L.||Dundonald, E.||Latymer, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Ebbisham, L.||Leicester, E.|
|Brentford, V.||Effingham, E.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Egremont, L.||Lloyd, L.|
|Bridport, V.||Ellenborough, L.||Long, V.|
|Bristol, M.||Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Lonsdale, E.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Loudoun, C.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Erroll of Hale, L.||Lovat, L.|
|Buckton, L.||Falkland, V.||Lucan, E.|
|Burton, L.||Falmouth, V.||Lytton, E.|
|Caldecote, V.||Ferrers, E.||MacAndrew, L.|
|Carrick, E.||Ferrier, L.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Fisher, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.|
|Chandos, V.||Foley, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Chelmer, V.||Forester, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Forster of Harraby, L.||Mar, E.|
|Clinton, L.||Fortescue, E.||Margadale, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|May, L.||Remnant, L.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.|
|Mersey, V.||Rockley, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Mills, V.||Rothermere, V.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Milverton, L.||Rotherwick, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Rothes, E.||Swinton, E.|
|Monk Bretton, L.||Rowallan, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Monsell, V.||Rutland, D.||Terington, L.|
|Monson, L.||Sackville, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Mountevans, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Moyne, L.||St. Helens, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Nairne, Bs.||St. Oswald, L||Townshend, M.|
|Napier and Ettrick, L.||Salisbury, M||Trefgarne, L.|
|Newton, L.||Salter, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Northchurch, Bs.||Saltoun, L.||Ullswater, V.|
|Nugent of Guildford, L.||Sandford, L.||Verulam, E.|
|Oakshott, L.||Sandys, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Pender, L.||Savile, L.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Poltimore, L.||Selkirk, E.||Watkinson, V.|
|Portal of Hungerford, V.||Sempill, Ly.||Wedgwood, L.|
|Poulett, E.||Simonds, V.||Westminster, D.|
|Rankeillour, L.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.||Willingdon, M.|
|Rathcavan, L.||Somers, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Reading, M.||Stonehaven, V.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Redesdale, L.||Strange, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.