§ 3.0 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House: That this House takes note of the Report on Exchanges with the Régime in Rhodesia since the Talks held in Salisbury in November 1968 [Cmnd. 4065]. On May 7 Mr. Smith, in the course of addressing a public meeting in Rhodesia, said that the constitutional proposals which he advocated would sound the death knell of majority rule, and on May 21, after a Private Notice Question on Rhodesia from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, had been answered, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, asked the Government to give time for a debate as soon as possible after Whitsun.… in the hope that perhaps this may be done before the end of June, when other events are apparently forecast in Rhodesia."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21/5/69; col. 354.]In reply my noble friend said that there would clearly have to be a debate at some time. The Government have now published a White Paper and accordingly this Motion has been set down for to-day.
On Friday a referendum is to be held in Rhodesia. A minority electorate will decide whether they wish to institute in their country a Constitution that represents an effective denial of democracy and human rights. They are also to be asked whether they favour "a republican form of government for Rhodesia". As your Lordships will agree, this is a serious situation; indeed, it is a turning point in the history of Anglo-Rhodesian relations. It is a situation which can be explained only by reference to the past. The last war made it clear that the British Empire could not survive unchanged. The policy of our Government towards the evolution of the dependent territories was formulated over the decade which started with the granting of independence to India. The policy was, and is, based on belief in the right of man to self-fulfilment and of nations to self-determina 912 tion. In short, it is a policy of majority rule. And it is this question which has always been at the root of the Rhodesian dispute.
Since the war there has come about a great transformation from an Empire consisting of a Mother Country and her Colonies to a Commonwealth of free and independent States. As in all human affairs, there have been losses as well as gains; but this transformation has followed inevitably our own adherence to the principles of free political existence, the shunning of all forms of discrimination, particularly on grounds of race, and the rights of all adults to share in the formation of their national destiny. These principles, too, are those of the United Nations Charter and command the support of the great majority of mankind. In this country they have never been questioned by any major political Party.
The Empire left us with a group of Colonies where our Government could control the civil service, the armed forces and the police. Because of this power on the ground, we were able to bring the Colonies along a peaceful road towards independence and majority rule. In Rhodesia we have not had this power. In 1923, Rhodesia was granted "responsible government" as a Colony of Great Britain, and a Rhodesian Government was set up with full control over the internal administration. In 1961, Rhodesia was granted a new Constitution, in which most of the reserve powers hitherto possessed by Her Majesty's Government were withdrawn. Nevertheless, throughout this period Rhodesia has remained in law a Colony of the United Kingdom. Mr. Smith has at various times claimed that it was agreed between the Rhodesian and the British Governments that the 1961 Constitution was to be the basis for formal independence. When I say "at various times" I mean both under the previous Conservative Government and under this Government. That has been shown many times to be untrue, and the reason why Her Majesty's Government refused to grant legal independence to Rhodesia in the 1961 Constitution, and have refused to do so since, is not a matter of legalities but because Rhodesia does not conform to our criteria for independence.
As your Lordships know well, and for the historical reasons that I have just 913 mentioned, power in Rhodesia has remained in the hands of a small white minority of some 5 per cent. of the total population. Although the 1961 Constitution envisaged progress to majority rule, such progress would have required greater guarantees written into the Constitution than the Rhodesians were prepared to accept, if it was to be an independence Constitution. What successive British Governments have always required, and never received, was definite and clear evidence that Rhodesia was making genuine progress towards the enfranchisement of the majority and the involvement of the majority in the business of government: even more important, they required a real willingness on the part of the Rhodesian authorities to further the end of eventual majority rule.
The dispute has not been about forms, not even basically about timing. Mr. Smith's constant refusal to accept a settlement based on the Six Principles and, in recent weeks, his speeches to his supporters, show that throughout he has been concerned to ensure the continuance of white supremacy. Over the past four years, he has done his best to cloud the issue: he has attacked communists and liberals as being the great enemies of Rhodesia, he has selected constitutional pretexts for rejecting our proposals for a settlement: on "Tiger" it was the return to legality, after "Fearless" it was the second safeguard.
Mr. Smith has argued that he has always wanted a settlement, but has omitted to do anything constructive to achieve it. But during the last month he has "come clean": his new Constitution will, he says, "Sound the death knell of majority rule". These proposals do provide for eventual—though extremely remote—racial parity in the National Legislature: to that limited extent they could be represented as being multi-racial. But on June 4 Mr. Smith further said:… only an extreme pessimist could accept the possibility of parity being reached".Remarks such as these surely make it clear what the dispute has always been about, and why we have never succeeded in reaching agreement.
The dispute over the second safeguard goes to the essence of the whole problem. We required a second safeguard to pro 914 tect the principle of unimpeded progress to majority rule, as enshrined in the 1961 Constitution introduced by the Conservative Government of the day in this country. As will be seen from the text of their message of February 13 (on page 17 of the White Paper) the régime rejected the need for a second safeguard out of hand. We were prepared to consider several alternatives but the régime never came forward with proposals of their own. They only said that they rejected our proposals in principle. My right honourable friend the Minister Without Portfolio in Salisbury last November suggested a referendum device which would have begun and ended in Rhodesia. Having rejected it out of hand, Mr. Smith never revealed to the Rhodesian public that my right honourable friend had made it clear to him that the details of our proposal were open to discussion. No, I fear that the difficulty over the second safeguard (and it was only one of several remaining differences specified by my right honourable friend in another place in his speech on November 18) arose because the régime just did not want to be encumbered with constitutional guarantees which would have prevented them from amending the Constitution so as to slow down still further the rate of African advance.
Since 1963 successive British Governments have negotiated with Mr. Smith on the same principles. They were always prepared to be flexible over details, but never on the essential principles of progress to majority rule, of progress towards an end to racial discrimination, and acceptability of a settlement to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. After the illegal declaration of independence, we believed it right to go on negotiating on the same principles, whenever there seemed some prospect of reaching agreement. These negotiations failed, not through any lack of good will or of patience on the part of Her Majesty's Government, not through any failure of statesmanship or diplomacy, but because the objectives of the two sides were too wide apart to be bridged. They failed because the régime and the Rhodesia Front refused to accept the need for progress towards majority rule.
As Mr. Smith has said, the Rhodesia Front was set up to combat majority 915 rule and fought the 1965 Election campaign in order to amend the then Constitution to that end. Their present proposals for a Constitution have been put forward as their idea of the best possible Constitution for Rhodesia; and they are clearly designed to preserve white supremacy indefinitely, to ensure that few Africans ever obtain the vote, and that those who do can elect only a very limited number of representatives in the National Legislature.
Having said so much about the Constitution, perhaps I should just remind your Lordships that there are now believed to be about 4¾ million people in Rhodesia, and that those on the electoral register at present consist of about 83,000 Europeans and 7,000 Africans. Under the proposed Constitution there will be two Chambers—a Senate and a House of Assembly. In the Senate of 23, there will be no ordinarily elected Africans; only some chiefs who are paid by the Government. In the House of Assembly, out of 66 members there will be only 8 ordinarily elected Africans. The proposed Constitution says:"Increase in number of African Members.10. In principle the number of African members in the House of Assembly will be in the same proportion to the total number of members as the contribution by way of assessed income tax on income of Africans is to the total contribution by way of assessed income tax on income of Europeans and Africans until the contribution of Africans amounts to one-half of the total contribution.It then provides that,until the contribution of Africans amounts to sixteen sixty-sixths of the total contribution of Europeans and Africans the principle will not be applied and the number of African members will remain at sixteen.It further provides that when any more Africans can be elected the first two will be two elected by the tribal chiefs.
After providing that the Head of State may at any time declare a state of emergency, it then deals with the Declaration of Rights and says:Declaration of Rights to be non-justiciable.38. No court will have the right to inquire into or pronounce upon the validity of any law on the ground that it is inconsistent with the Declaration of Rights.916Content of Declaration of Rights.39. The new Declaration of Rights will follow the general pattern of the existing Declaration. It will be in a form which is more appropriate to a non-justiciable Declaration. The more important changes which are proposed are as follows …"—then a number are set out. For example:Right to life.(2) The existing exceptions to this right will be extended to permit the use of force where it is reasonably justifiable in the circumstances for the purpose of suppressing terrorism.Right to personal liberty.(3) In order to cure an omission in the existing Declaration the exceptions to this right will be extended to cover arrests ordered by statutory tribunals, quasi-judicial authorities and commissions of inquiry in appropriate circumstances. Preventive detention and restriction will be authorised in the interests of national defence, public safety or public order.…Protection from slavery and forced labour.(4) This right will be retained.…Protection of law.(8) The existing provision will be retained except that the requirement that a person shall not be compelled to give evidence at his trial will be omitted.…Freedom of expression and of assembly and association.(10) For convenience these two freedoms which are set out separately in the existing Declaration will be combined. The existing provision permitting laws made for the purpose of regulating telephony, telegraphy, posts, wireless broadcasting and other matters will be extended to permit laws for the regulation of newspapers and other publications.Freedom from discrimination.(11) The existing provisions relating to freedom from discrimination will be revised.… The existing provisions relating to freedom from discriminatory executive or administrative acts will be omitted from the new Declaration.…Savings for periods of public emergencies and disciplinary laws.(12) As in the existing Declaration provision will be made that laws authorising the taking of justifiable measures during a period of public emergency and disciplinary laws may contain provisions which are inconsistent with certain rights in the Declaration.It is then provided that the voting qualifications, and so forth, will be dealt with in a different new law, and that so far as land is concerned, 91778. The European Area and the African Area will consist of the following land—
and will include, in the case of the African Area, Tribal Trust Land.…
- (a) privately owned land;
- (b) State land which may include—
- (i) forest areas;
- (ii) national parks;
- (iii) wild life areas;79.…(2) State land will vest in the Head of State.(3) Since Tribal Trust Land will vest in the Head of State the present Board of Trustees will be abolished.…My Lords, these are only some of the provisions which this minority electorate is being asked to vote for on Friday.
I have referred to Mr. Smith, but of course it is wrong to represent this tragic dispute in terms of personalities. Mr. Smith is, after all, only the leader of a Party which shares his views and which has insisted on their being implemented. The genesis and inspiration of the Rhodesian Front is not a genuine concern for the welfare and progress of the nation as a whole, but a deep, if suppressed, fear of the population. The Rhodesia Front are frightened of losing control of the wealth, the labour and the profits of the Rhodesian nation. They are afraid of the resentment of the African peoples after fifty years of submission to the more powerful Europeans. Such fear may be human, but it is not a basis for rational and civilised government.
Mr. Smith and his colleagues believe that they can achieve their aim by having nothing to do with international opinion and by using their own power to impose a Constitution that aims at the total exclusion of possible rivals from control. But the price they are paying must, I suggest, be too high. The Rhodesian economy was expanding rapidly until 1965. It has now ceased to expand, while the population—and particularly the African population—continues to grow. A modern economy needs a closely integrated and interdependent society, but Mr. Smith seems intent on dividing Rhodesia into two camps. A modern economy needs world markets, but Mr. Smith's illegal declaration of independence has cut Rhodesia off from the most valuable of these, particularly the United Kingdom which, until that Declaration, was far and away Rhodesia's most important trading partner.
918 Her Majesty's Government have gone to the limit to end this impasse. We have made great efforts, as we were bound to do, because the Rhodesian people have a potentially great future, because they are a British responsibility whom we wish to see welcomed into the world community as an independent country sharing the ideas of freedom, justice and human rights held by the other free nations of the world. On her present course, Rhodesia can never achieve long-term prosperity and stability.
My Lords, we cannot, of course, dictate to the minority electorate in Rhodesia about how they should vote in the referendum, or how they should arrange the future of that country. All I can say is that I hope that a clear message will go out from your Lordships' House to white Rhodesians urging them not to forget the principles upon which their country was founded by Cecil Rhodes. It is not too late for them to switch from the present course set by the Rhodesian Front, which in the view of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom can lead only to prolonged international isolation and racial bitterness inside Rhodesia. Your Lordships will have noted the statement made by Sir Humphrey Gibbs on June 11. The Governor has remained the loyal and devoted representative in Rhodesia of Her Majesty the Queen. I know that your Lordships on all sides of the House will wish to join with me in paying tribute to his courage and to his sense of duty. As Sir Humphrey Gibbs made plain in his statement, one of the consequences of a demonstration by the Rhodesian electorate that they wish to break all ties with the Crown and with Britain would be that it would in all probability be impossible for him to continue in office.
Your Lordships will also have noted the speech made by my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary on June 10, in which he made it very clear that it was not too late for the Rhodesian electorate to take a wiser course than that advocated by the Rhodesian Front. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to quote from this speech. My right honourable friend said:There are people in Rhodesia who have come forward on the political platform in opposition to Mr. Smith. They are taking a very different line from his on the essential need for proper guarantees against the creation 919 of obstacles in the way of the country's progress to majority rule. The people I am speaking of realise that the future safety and prosperity of Rhodesia depend on the electorate choosing now to follow a course which will permit the country's tremendous potential for material development and for harmony between the races to be fully realised.In a word, these people genuinely accept the need for an effective protection against retrogressive changes in the constitution—the sort of protection which we call the second safeguard. If the referendum on June 20 results in the rejection of Mr. Smith's proposals, and if the others of whom I have spoken can show that they have effective support in Rhodesia, we could certainly have talks with them. In such talks, dealing as we should be, with people who accepted the principles to which we adhere, we should not need to be rigid on details, on forms or even—within reason—on timing".My right honourable friend also outlined what our policy would be if the referendum showed that the minority electorate supported the régime's proposals. Her Majesty's Government would have to maintain firmly their stand on the Six Principles as well as, in the words of my right honourable friend,their full and wholehearted co-operation in the action taken by the United Nations to make clear the rejection by mankind as a whole of the doctrine of racial supremacy".Sanctions and the international isolation of Rhodesia would be maintained. But it would remain our policy to seek an honourable settlement when Rhodesians had come to tire of isolation and to realise the sterility of Rhodesian Front policies. When that time came, whether soon or late, we would be ready for it. When there are people in power in Rhodesia who accept our principles, the door, which the régime has slammed, can be reopened. My Lords, I beg to move.
Moved, That this House takes note of the Report on Exchanges with the Régime in Rhodesia since the Talks held in Salisbury in November, 1968 [Cmnd. 4065].—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ 3.25 p.m.
My Lords, this debate is almost certainly the last which our Parliament will hold on Rhodesia before next Friday's fateful referendum, and it therefore behoves us to speak with a proper sense of responsibility. I shall seek to practise what I have just preached, and I shall find it easier because the problem of Rhodesia has always struck me as one of quite unusual 920 complexity. It is ironical that this last major residual problem of Empire should have proved the most intractable of all. The difficulty, of course, resides in the fact that in Rhodesia we exercise responsibility without power. I think it was the forbear of my noble friend Lord Salisbury who opposed the extension of British responsibility in this area because, as he said, it was wrong to accept the allegiance of peoples, whatever their colour, in areas where they could not be reached by the power of either the Royal Navy or the Indian Army. Perhaps that wise man was right.
In any event, at the heart of the British dilemma in Rhodesia has been this divorce between responsibility and power. Therefore if I have criticisms to make of the Government's handling of the Rhodesian problem—and I shall have some criticisms to make—I straight away grant to noble Lords opposite the inherent difficulty of the problem and the Government's difficult inheritance here.
I must also confess that, more personally, I have always found the Rhodesian problem one of very great difficulty. It may be relatively easy for those who believe, with Mr. Thorpe and the Afro-Asian bloc, that white Rhodesia should be brought to heel by British force. It may be easier for those who believe, in greater or lesser degree—as some of my noble friends quite sincerely believe—that Mr. Smith and his régime should have been allowed more or less their own way. It is more difficult, I think, for those of us who find ourselves in a middle position here: who believe that Britain cannot run out on her ultimate responsibility towards all Rhodesian citizens, including the 4½ million African citizens of Rhodesia; who at the same time have held that force was ruled out, and who have therefore sought, in season and out of season, an honourable settlement through negotiation between free and equal parties. Here I should like to echo something which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has just said. Nobody, I think, has done more to strive for such a settlement than the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs. He has shown quite extraordinary consistency and loyalty, and I think we are all in his debt.
Be that as it may, my Lords, the Conservative Opposition, I would hold (or should I perhaps say, in this context, 921 the official Conservative Opposition?), have been consistent. While we were still in office we warned Mr. Smith of the consequences of U.D.I. We condemned it as a foolish and irresponsible act when it was declared. We continue to deplore it. By the same token we have, I hope, not been insensitive to the aspirations and fears of the white citizens of Rhodesia. We recognise the enormous contribution which they and their forbears have made, in not much more than three generations, to the development of their country. We understand their desire for independent statehood in a world of nation States, many of them quite insignificant in resources compared with the resources, actual and potential, of Rhodesia; and we appreciate some of the anxieties which they must feel when, looking North, they see large chunks of Africa engulfed in or threatened by anarchy, by tribalism or by the cruder racialisms.
Nevertheless, we have believed, and we still believe, that for the white citizens of Rhodesia there was, and is, a valid alternative between the opposite poles of abdication and repression; that there is a way of reconciling the legitimate and understandable insistence of the white minority in Rhodesia that the Government of Rhodesia should remain in responsible hands with the equally natural aspiration of the African majority in Rhodesia for unimpeded progress towards majority rule. At the same time, we have always felt that the way forward—and independence, too—could be secured by a negotiated settlement between the British Government and Mr. Smith. That was why we welcomed the "Fearless" discussions and the advance which those discussions and their immediate aftermath represented. Because, my Lords, there was indeed a very great advance during these renewed negotiations last autumn—and that advance came, as all compromise should, from both sides.
The British Government, for their part, dropped the formula for the interim arrangements—the "Tiger" formula, involving a measure of direct rule—which had seemed to be the main stumbling block at the time. This represented a substantial and significant advance. Moreover, the new proposal not only satisfied the Fifth Principle but was also 922 acceptable to the Rhodesian side—and here, parenthetically, I would say that I think the Rhodesians were right to accept it, since there is a good precedent for the proposed Royal Commission in the Cobbold Commission which preceded Malayan independence. There was also in the aftermath of "Fearless" a significant concession from the Rhodesian side in that Mr. Smith accepted the principle—and spelled out his acceptance on paper—of a blocking quarter of elected African representatives in the Rhodesian Parliament. Given these two significant ways in which the gap between the parties to these discussions had been narrowed, given the far better atmosphere on "Fearless" as opposed to "Tiller", I think we all had some understandable grounds for optimism about the eventual outcome. But after "Fearless", negotiations which had seemed so promising appeared to run into the ground. Now we are faced with a new Rhodesian Constitution and Friday's referendum.
Why have we come to this apparent impasse? Perhaps it was due to the inherent difficulty of the situation that the gap between the two sides was always, in the end, unbridgeable. It may have been due to the fact that the Smith régime is quite extraordinarily difficult to deal with and that Mr. Smith is himself a pretty tricky customer. That may b so. I think it was the noble and learned Lord who said that it would be wrong for us to indulge in personalities. I would grant that. But we must remember that it was our Prime Minister, a long way back in 1965, who said "We cannot negotiate with these men." Statements of that sort—and there have been a great many—do not make negotiations easier.
All in all, I cannot bring myself to acquit the Government of their share of the blame. It was they who resorted to these personalities; it was they who confused the issue of sanctions by not making it plain whether the sanctions were intended to act as a lever to negotiations or as a weapon to bring down the Smith régime. It was they who embarked on the slippery slope of mandatory sanctions, thus losing further control of the situation. It was they, above all, who endorsed the principle of NIBMAR—No independence before majority African rule. This principle effectively ruled out a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Rhodesian problem, as Mr. Thomson 923 himself recognised. And all the while the most precious commodity of all—time—was slipping away, and opinion in Rhodesia was hardening and crystallising.
I do not wish to be unfair about this. I believe that, at least since last summer, our Government have pursued the search for a negotiated settlement in a more sensible way. Nevertheless, I give it as my personal hunch that had they not allowed 18 months to slide past after "Tiger", with the two parties glaring at each other across the great divide of Africa: had they adopted the "Fearless" formula and the "Fearless" manner at "Tiger", the prize of a negotiated settlement might—and I put it no higher—have been won.
My Lords, all this, I fear, is speculative. Nevertheless, since we are debating this White Paper we must ask ourselves whether we need have come to this impasse after "Fearless". I have gone through the White Paper carefully, and I have read the Rhodesian White Paper. And, reading these two documents, one gets the impression of a dialogue of the deaf. And the Rhodesian White Paper, I must confess, made a pretty disagreeable impression on this, I hope, impartial reader; it contains what is patently a great deal of very special pleading. Nevertheless, reading these two White Papers it is still hard for me to see why these negotiations should have come to a grinding halt if there had been a real desire for settlement on both sides.
This is not the time for a long inquest, but there are some points that I should like the Government to clarify, if only for the Record and if only because the door may still be just ajar. In the first place—a very small point indeed—I notice that in the Memorandum enclosed in Mr. Marshall's letter of April 16, there is reference in paragraph 2 to a "subsequent communication" from the British side dated March 18, 1969. The reference will be found on page 27 of the White Paper. No such communication appears in the White Paper. I do not suppose for a moment that the omission is at all material; but could the noble Lord the Leader of the House, when he replies, clear up this, I suspect, small matter?
Secondly, I feel that we should know more about the Government's attitude towards what I would term the outstand 924 ing subsidiary issues. Your Lordships will recall that Mr. Thomson visited Salisbury in November after the "Fearless" discussions. May I say that personally I have a high regard for Mr. Thomson and it is perhaps typical of this Ministry, to my mind of so little talent, that they should have allowed a Minister of his undoubted capacity to linger on in no visible employment until Maud came in from the garden to his rescue. In his report to another place on his return, Mr. Thomson stated that not only were these subsidiary points important individually but that, "taken together", they indicated that the régime were not at that stage ready to commit themselves to the necessity of accepting majority rule except in an impossibly remote and indeterminate future. He went on to say that he had informed Mr. Smith in Salisbury that, so far as the British side were concerned, there was no question of our giving way on any of these points.
Mr. Thomson listed seven such "major disagreements", as he termed them, in his report to another place on October 22. All of them, in his view, were major and none of them in his view was apparently negotiable. Do all these subsidiary points fall into this category? Let us examine them for a moment. First, there are ordinary appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council—not appeals affecting the entrenched clauses of the Constitution, but ordinary appeals. Such appeals have been abandoned in the case of many independent Commonwealth countries. Was not this point negotiable?
Secondly, there was the length of the state of emergency in Rhodesia. We have stood out for a maximum of three months, and the Rhodesians want six or twelve months. Was this difference quite unnegotiable? Thirdly, there were the changes proposed by the Rhodesians to the composition of the legislature. They were not, they made it clear, proposing to walk back from their agreement to the elected blocking quarter. Moreover, in the "Fearless" White Paper we had stated in terms that we were prepared to consider variations in the composition of the legislature providing that this principle of the elected blocking quarter was not impeded. Why did this matter suddenly become unnegotiable?
Fourth there were the precise criteria which the proposed judicial tribunal should 925 apply in the interim period to the release of the detainees and restrictees, to use that horrible phraseology. Was this gap so wide as to be unnegotiable? Fifth was the question of the terms to be granted for those members of the Rhodesian Civil Service who remained loyal. Here again, was it quite impossible to find a compromise? My own view, subject to what the Government may say later, is that these five matters at least could have been the subject of further negotiations and that it was not necessary for us, within the ambit of the Six Principles, to stand rigidly on our prepared positions.
That said, my Lords, I would concede straight away that there were two further items. The first was the Rhodesian desire to balance the extension of the Broil franchise by a watering down of the cross-voting arrangements, and the second was the Rhodesian desire to eliminate the so-called delimitation formula. In my view, for what it is worth, significant concessions by us here would certainly have offended against the first and the third of the Six Principles. I would readily concede that here concession from our side was a great deal more difficult.
Then, my Lords, we come to what is commonly agreed to be, and what the noble and learned Lord also has termed, the most important area of disagreement which was outstanding when the negotiations ran into the sand; that is, the disagreement over the so-called second safeguard for the entrenched provisions of the Constitution. Was agreement possible here? In certain circumstances, might it not still be possible? Well, my Lords, the answer to that question is that one must first ask oneself whether a second safeguard is really needed. I have sometimes wondered whether we are not making an undue fuss here, because, after all, once independence had been granted an unscrupulous Government in Salisbury could always ignore an external safeguard. In any event, if such a safeguard is necessary, the question one must then ask oneself is what form it should take. The Government originally proposed that the second check should be through an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Apparently this was not acceptable to the Rhodesians, even in the revised variant of the formula which Mr. Thomson took out with him to Salisbury in November; mainly, I sup 926 pose, because "Privy Council" sure eked to the Rhodesia ear of some residual external control from Britain, and a control in which political issues could play a part. I believe that these inhibitions on the Rhodesian side have been unwarranted. Nevertheless, one can understand them.
What about the other possibilities? A number of possibilities have been mooted by the Government, to whose fertility of constitutional imagination I should like to pay my tribute. But were these alternatives really tried out on the Rhodesians? I assume, of course, that they were explored in "Fearless" and that Mr. Thomson pursued these alternative possibilities in Salisbury in November, but that does not emerge clearly from the White Paper. Moreover, the letter of February 3 from the head of our High Commission residual staff in Salisbury deals with this vital issue very much in passing, as a glance at the White Paper will show. There was, for example, no attempt in that letter to pursue or to elaborate on the other alternative which, at least on the face of it, had much more appeal to the Rhodesian eye than the first British suggestion.
We can, of course, read in the White Paper the flat statement, in the next Rhodesian memorandum, thatThe Rhodesian Government disagree in principle that any second safeguard is necessary".I think that the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack termed that a flat rejection of the second safeguard. I am not so certain myself. I suppose you could feel that something is unnecessary and yet, in the last resort, be prepared to accept it. In any event, can the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, when he replies, assure us that he is satisfied that further exploration of the Rhodesian attitude on this point would have been fruitless? And can he tell us, in particular, whether the Rhodesians have ever, in terms, turned down a British proposalfor a completely effective and democratic safeguard which would be purely internal to Rhodesia."?—here I use the Prime Minister's phraseology. I should like to know what particular safeguard he had in mind whey he referred to this matter in those terms.
My Lords, be that as it may, we are now faced with the new draft Rhodesian 927 Constitution, and I must make my views on that draft Constitution quite plain. I need not do so at great length since the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, has been kind enough to read out a number of extensive extracts from that Constitution. Frankly, the Constitution falls far short—to my mind, quite unacceptably short—of the Five Principles to which the Conservative Opposition is committed. Indeed, the proposals embodied in it run in important respects clean contrary to every one of those principles, and I must make it clear that, at least in my opinion, no British Government which I can conceive (be it a Labour Government, or a Conservative Government; or be it the inconceivable, a Liberal Government) could be a party to a Constitution of that kind.
The issue, in any event, is now squarely before the Rhodesian people, or, rather, that portion which will be able to exercise its vote in three days' time. Broadly speaking, as I see it, they can choose to walk down one of two alternative paths. There is the low road, the unilateral road, which Mr. Smith seems to have chosen. To some Rhodesians this road may at best seem inviting and at worst inevitable, yet clearly it is beset by great dangers. It may well involve a yet deeper isolation of Rhodesia from most other members of the international community. It could lead to an increase of violence both within Rhodesia and from without Rhodesia and to yet another twist of the repressive screw within. Not least it obviously involves the risk of further economic disruption. Those Rhodesians who may be inclined to tread this path must, as I see it, ask themselves, "Is this political posture really sustainable at the end of the day?" Is it really sensible or practicable for the European minority to continue to refuse full political participation to the African majority as and when it comes to maturity?
They may, of course, take courage from the South African example; but, my Lords, the vital statistics of demography read very differently there. In South Africa the European minority stands in proportion to the African population as 1 to 3½, but in Rhodesia some quarter of a million Europeans have to make their lives and their terms with over 4½million Africans. This is no South African proportion; it is a proportion of 928 1 to over 20. I have asked this question; it will be for the Rhodesians to answer it. All I can suggest is that the shortcut road to independence may be illusory and that in the long run this road is bound, for better or for worse, to lead to growing dependence upon South Africa.
It would be a different matter if there were no alternative to this rather desperate course, but, my Lords, I still believe emphatically that there is another path, an honourable and an achievable middle way. If the European population were being asked to abdicate; if it were being pressed to submit to wild and irresponsible government and to accept the rule of the black majority within the impossibly near future, then I could understand and fully share its reluctance. But, as I understand it, that is not what the Europeans and their leaders have been asked to accept. The "Fearless" proposals held out—no, I would rather say "hold out"—the prospect of steady political advance by the African majority, but not at the expense of responsible government.
The gap between the two positions—despite the position of the British Government and the position of the régime, despite all that is said in these two rather sad White Papers—seems to me at least eminently closable. I cannot see how the essential question of a safeguard can be beyond the wit of man to solve, especially since the British Government are now prepared to concede a purely internal safeguard. Likewise, with this issue cleared away, I cannot see why the other seven points at issue could not be satisfactorily settled, provided, of course, that the Rhodesians would accept that there could be little or no tinkering with the formula on the franchise. Then, with these constitutional issues agreed, and now that the British Government have dropped their rather cumbersome proposal for the interim period, the way could be swiftly opened to an agreed Act of Independence; coupled, I hope, with the immediate suspension of sanctions.
By the same token, I trust that, whatever happens, the Government will vigorously resist pressure within the United Nations for the further intensification of sanctions, a measure proposed by the Committee of Twenty-Four, the Special Committee on Colonialism, which could do no possible good to anyone. 929 I am delighted to see that they voted against the appropriate resolution in committee. I hope that they will cast a similar vote if—and I hope this will not be the case—such a resolution is put to a vote in the Security Council.
Finally, there is a further easement for the middle path: the British Government of the day could, I hope would, be prepared, even given their present stringency, to extend a generous measure of broad economic assistance to an honourably independent Rhodesia. I know that we have made the "Fearless" proposals for assistance with educational and allied advances and I support them. Nevertheless, we must remember that educational advances without economic progress sometimes can be positively harmful. In the two decades since the war, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has reminded us, and before U.D.I. Rhodesia witnessed immense and beneficial economic advances, thanks in large measure to British investment. After independence honourably achieved, that advance could and should be resumed. African unemployment—in particular the unemployment of the young African—is already a threat to stable political progress and we could do much to help to remove that threat.
In conclusion, as I see it, those are the broad choices before the Rhodesian electorate in three days time. I cannot possibly foretell which of those two paths they will choose. What I hope—and devoutly hope—is that they will, by their votes, instruct both Governments to think again and to try yet again for an honest and honourable agreement.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ EARL AMHERST
My Lords, I have a brother who is retired and resides in Rhodesia and if that constitutes an interest, I declare it. As your Lordships know, a crisis in these affairs may occur next Friday, June 20, when Mr. Ian Smith is to refer his proposals for a new Constitution to the public in Rhodesia in the form of a referendum. I have a copy of these proposals here, but I imagine that your Lordships are already largely familiar with the details. Indeed, the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack was good enough to quote a considerable number, so I will not attempt to recite them. But I should like to draw 930 the attention of the House to a few of the more sinister and frightening of these proposals.
Chapter 2, Section 8, proposes a legal committee to replace the present Constitutional Council. As at least in the first instance the Senate is to be a governmental organ, the decisions of its legal committee can hardly be expected to be impartial. Section 9, it appears, is to enshrine and perpetuate the principle of racialism. This ensures that political conflict in the future will not be on Party lines but on racial lines. The hatred, malice and even violence that this can all too easily engender does not augur for a happy future.
In Chapter 5, Sections 2, 3 and 11 deal with the suppression of terrorism, which, like the clause, "Suppression of Communism" in the South African Regulations, seem to cover almost any activity which is contrary to the ruling Party's ideology or interests. Under these clauses an accused would not have the right of personal appearance or legal represenation. There does not seem to be any provision for the law of habeas corpus. Surely this is a straight denial of the fundamental doctrines of any civilised law.
There is also provision for the Government to exercise absolute control over all mass media, thereby denying any right of free public speech. Section 11 makes possible the introduction of full-scale apartheid. Surely these sections alone can only mean an outright surrender to the principles of racial apartheid, with all its attendant degradation of human beings and the denial of the rights of man, as is now so tragically on exhibition in South Africa.
It has been recently reported that the World Council of Churches has commendably come out against apartheid—that is, if the newspaper reports I hive read are correct—with the lamentable exception of the Dutch Reformed Church, a Church which surely has been long enough established to know better. I think that we might have hoped that the Churches would now have an important influence among the peoples of Rhodesia in counselling them to vote "No" to Mr. Smith next Friday. Among the things contained in a recent resolution of the Churches Council was one 931 urging the British Government to withdraw an earlier assurance that force would not be used in trying to resolve the Rhodesian conflict. The Government have repeatedly turned their faces against the use of force, and I imagine will still do so. But this resolution of the Churches Council may well be taken locally in Rhodesia to mean that the Council advocates the prospect of violence, and as a result much good influence could be lost just at this moment when it is most needed. It is to be hoped that the Council may be able to remedy this, but time is very short.
At this vital moment, it would seem to be but prudent to leave no stone unturned in trying to ensure that the Rhodesian public is kept in full possession of all the facts of political life on a world-wide scale and not limited to what they may be told by the Salisbury radio, which, as your Lordships know, is frequently heavily slanted in favour of Mr. Smith's views, and quite as much by omission as by commission. When I was in that country earlier this year, I seem to remember hearing that in some districts people have difficulty in picking up the B.B.C. Overseas, News broadcasts, possibly on account of local geographical conditions. Would it not be wise to suggest that the B.B.C. should check on this?
Referring back to my visit in February and March last, I was credibly informed that at that time a majority of people in Rhodesia thought that Mr. Smith will win this referendum. Whether the odds have shortened or lengthened since then, I do not know, but at that time I asked, in the event of his winning, what then? The answer I was given was that he would go all out for the declaration of a republic, introduce full apartheid as soon as he could and establish a virtual dictatorship. He might or might not, as convenient, go to the country. And if he lost, he would go to the country at once for a vote of confidence. On Friday, we shall know.
Even though the question must until next Friday be hypothetical, might it not be wise to try to assess the position of Rhodesia as a republic vis-à-vis this country and vis-à-vis the rest of the world? I am sure that any information 932 that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who is to wind up, can give us will be much appreciated. Whatever the result of next Friday, surely any change of the political climate in Rhodesia could be brought about only by the Rhodesian people themselves in Rhodesia.
From many quarters there is a clamour to intensify sanctions and to cut all communications between Rhodesia and the outside world. I think that this is much easier said than done. We have had sanctions in force now for some years, and Mr. Smith and his friends have not been brought to heel or to book. Why? Mainly, I suggest, because oil, which is a very important drop in any nation's life blood to-day, has flown and continues to flow into Rhodesia from South Africa and from Portuguese East Africa. When I was in Rhodesia, I noticed no difficulty in getting petrol, even though it is rationed. New cars did not seem to be in short supply, even though there were no British cars, and the list of other supplies coming in is not altogether a short one. Apart from South Africa and Portugal, there are other important nations—and I think we all know who they are—who seem to be content to pay lip service to the United Nations resolution but are happy to turn a blind eye when commercial considerations appear. I would suggest an approach, possibly through the medium of Foreign Secretaries, to attempt to induce a better and more honourable support of United Nations resolutions, in spite of pressure from commercial interests.
As to the rest of the world severing communications, I must confess that I cannot imagine how the world would begin to do this. We on these Benches think that there should not be any let up on sanctions at this moment, as to do so would be handing political triumph to Mr. Smith on a platter and gratuitously. We also think that the "Fearless" proposals should be left to lie on the table, so that if and when a final break with this country does come about it will be abundantly clear both at this moment and for the historical record that it was Mr. Smith and his supporters who cut the painter, and no one else.
But, my Lords, there is a new Party in Rhodesia, which has been gaining strength for about a year, and which is in full opposition to Mr. Smith and his policies. It is called the Centre Party. 933 From what I hear, it has been gaining supporters from all sides, both African and white. It may well provide the fulcrum on which a substantial, respectable, responsible and effective Opposition can emerge. While it is, I understand, broadly based on the "Fearless" proposals, the Party would urge that the following main conditions must be framed in any new Constitution: It must not be sold out to black nationalism; it must not introduce apartheid; it must guarantee Rhodesia's independence; and it must entrench security and stability for people of all races. Also, it supports the principle of advancement by merit through qualified franchise, recognising that African majority rule should come about only as a result of such advancement. It would continue the Land Apportionment Act, but modified to allow businessmen of any race to operate freely in any trading or manufacturing area, and would permit free association in education. It would seek to provide for free compulsory education for juveniles of all races from the age of 6 to 15.
It is perhaps not surprising to hear that it is reported that Mr. Smith and his régime are engaged in a programme of vilification of this Party, claiming that the Party is supported by financial help from this country. I daresay your Lordships have noticed that there is an organisation here in England called the Friends of Rhodesia—and some of your Lordships may have seen stickers in the rear windows of motor cars—which I am informed acts as a fund-raising and propaganda machine for Mr. Smith. So it would seem that Mr. Smith is not a wholehearted believer in the saying: "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander".
I would, finally, strongly urge that serious and sympathetic consideration be given to this new Centre Party, in the belief that it represents possibly the only hope at this moment of the creation of a new Opposition in Rhodesia itself, so necessary if Mr. Smith and his policies are to be ultimately defeated, and I hope to obtain your Lordships' general concurrence to that view.
§ 4.5 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
My Lords, I begin with three simple observations, for I believe them to be important. We face the problem of 934 Rhodesia, with its 4 million Africans and its quarter of a million white Rhodesians: we easily think in terms of race and colour, but individuals, whatever their colour, matter most. For instance, there are individual white Rhodesians who accept their African servants as their friends, who have cared for them with understanding, treated them fairly and received from them, in the way of loyal service, more than they can repay. Such an individual, I would submit, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, to whom tribute, in which I would share, has already been paid. Paternalism is under constant attack at present—but a man must have a father. Some of us learn our most useful lessons from our own fathers, and others from men who have stood in loco parentis. From what I have read and heard, a number of our Rhodesian countrymen have shown and still demonstrate the best qualities of fatherhood in their dealings with their African neighbours. I wanted to begin with this tribute, but I have to admit that I have not been to Rhodesia, though I have visited other parts of Africa.
I received this morning a letter from a responsible leader in Rhodesia to whom I had written about this debate. He said two or three things that bear on my first point. He believes that the Rhodesian question has been handled with no regard for basic human psychology on either side. I submit that this is a partial answer to the question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe: why this impasse? He—the writer of the letter—believes that the top five per cent. of people in Rhodesia, both European and African are quite first-class. He believes that a Government by merit and in real partnership could be far better than anything else in Africa, if only it could be achieved. He believes that a far greater number of Europeans than is supposed in England are actually trying to get a "No" vote—possibly he had in mind the Centre Party to which the noble Earl, Lord Amherst, referred. But he added that many of these people have no vote themselves.
My third observation is about the explosion of information—and the noble Earl, Lord Amherst, has already s aid something about the influence of radio. Instant communication flashes round the world. Transistors in every country pick up a torrent of ideas, facts and figures. No one is out of reach of it. A student 935 riot breaks out in some campus, and news of it rushes round the world, starting other outbreaks. A politician addressing his constituents in the Midlands may be sowing seeds of hatred and fear in lands far away, with consequences that he has never contemplated. Our words in your Lordships' House may generate hope or despair in African villages or in guerrilla bands. I read of signs that indicate that guerrilla movements are now infiltrating trained people to establish secret military camps inside Rhodesia. I am not surprised, then, that Rhodesia's former military chief, Major General Putterill, has strongly opposed Mr. Smith's proposal. He believes that if Rhodesia becomes a republic now the country's ability to defend itself will be sharply reduced.
The leaders of the Christian Churches in Rhodesia have urged the rejection of the provisions of the proposed new constitution becausethey involve a racial discrimination incompatible with Christian belief about human dignity, rights and brotherhood.They have issued an appeal to the Christian people of Rhodesia, and I received a copy of it to-day. They make certain claims which I should like to put before your Lordships, so that you can look at this matter through the eyes of people at the moment in Rhodesia. They claim that the Constitution must be examined in the light of God's words. They affirm that it offers no certainty to any section of the population that their opinions would be represented. They assert that the arbitrary selection of income tax as a criterion of the number of seats open to Africans is unjust: it represents neither their contribution to the total tax revenue nor the contribution of their labour to the economy as a whole.
They believe that provisions for the disqualification of voters and candidates are a potential tool of tyranny. They consider that the opportunities for the consent of the governed are also limited by the use of Chiefs as their representatives in modern government. Because they are paid by the Government, Chiefs might be under pressure to speak for the ruling party rather than for their people (Sections 7(b) and 9(b) of the Constitution). No Government that wished to rule as the servant of the people would be satisfied with these proposals as a 936 basis for its power. Then the Church leaders in Rhodesia go on to look at the question of basic rights. Under the proposed Constitution all media of communication would be subject to Government regulation. By such means Governments have been able to distort public opinion to their own advantage.
They make two further points. They say that a minority of less than 6 per cent. of the population would initially have more than 67 per cent. of the members of the Senate and House of Assembly of their own race. The possibility of friendship, co-operation and understanding between races is limited by the land tenure provisions of the proposed Constitution. In effect, they limit the basis on which members of different races will be able to live together to that of master and servant. In support of that contention, they point out that the country is to be divided into European and African areas of approximately equal size. At present this means an average of about 180 acres for each European, and 10 acres for each African. No provision is made for future changes in the proportion of the races.
They conclude that these proposals will entrench separation and discrimination, and are a direct contravention of the New Testament teaching that race, like all other human distinctions, has lost all divisive significance and should not be used to regulate relationships between man and God, and man and man. My Lords, I submit that this statement, issued by representative leaders of the Free Churches, the Roman Catholic Communion, and the Anglican Communion (the Dutch Reformed Church, I note, is not represented among the signatories), is a persuasive document. It is an appeal from Europeans and Africans in Rhodesia.
The Archbishop of Canterbury joined last week with leaders of the Free Churches and the Roman Catholics in signing a letter to The Times urging Christian people in this country to pray—and I quote their words:that even now the electors in Rhodesia may reject a course that would set that country finally on the path of racial discrimination".My Lords, the Rhodesian situation is a world problem. In another place Sir Alec Douglas-Home has said that this country could not be a party to such a 937 Constitution. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has supported that contention.
May I refer next to the Commonwealth Conference? The White Paper reports that most Heads of Government wanted the "Fearless" proposals withdrawn. Any agreement, they believed, must be freely accepted by the people of Rhodesia as a whole, including the 4 million African Rhodesians, and must be seen by the international community, especially the independent African countries, to be so accepted. The Prime Minister could not accept this view, but all Heads of Government were unanimous on the ultimate objectives to he sought. They were—and I quote from the Report:More than ever resolved that whatever the time needed to reverse it, the seizure of power by a small racial minority can be neither recognised nor tolerated".I set against the weight of this authoritative opinion a quotation from Mr. Ian Smith's recent broadcast, and I give his own words:None of you, I feel, will be prepared to accept anything but the best for this country of ours".The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack has said that the objectives seem too far apart to be bridged submit that Mr. Ian Smith's words support that contention. The "best" to which he refers means to Africans the perpetuation of white domination. I appreciate the fears of those who support Mr. Smith; they are understandable in the light of events in other African territories which have now received their independence. Stated simply, the "Fearless" proposals are not acceptable because they must result in an African Government sooner than later. In consequence, Mr. Smith's party anticipate chaos and economic collapse worse than has been seen elsewhere in Africa, where majority rule has been accepted and practised.
So, my Lords, I come to my conclusion. The noble Viscount, Lord Malvern has commented that the only thing this Constitution entrenches is the state of emergency. But one cannot base a constructive policy on a state of emergency, or on fear. I am confident that there will be many white Rhodesians who in conscience accept this truth. I trust that they will make their views known to Africans as the right oppor 938 tunity comes. African history holds out hopes that fear need not determine policy. Fear must riot be allowed to determine Rhodesia's future. My Lords, I support this Motion.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD GARNER
My Lords, I rise to-day to address your Lordships for the first time with something more than the usual sense of diffidence, for there is little new that I can say, and I certainly have no joy to contribute. No one who has been associated over the years with the affairs of Southern Rhodesia, as I have been, can feel to-day anything, but sadness in his heart. I am anxious that no words of mine should in any way add to the difficulties of this critical situation. For that reason I do not propose to traverse what has proved to be so far the somewhat sterile arguments about the mechanisms in the Constitution—the cross voting, blocking quarters, and so on—which play so large a part in the White Paper before us to-day. Rather, I would venture to make a few general reflections which may seem trite—and some of the points have been put already in this debate—but which, nevertheless, I believe go to the root of this difficult matter.
My Lords, I am not sure that it is altogether surprising that the task of reaching an accord has proved so long and so difficult. The plain fact is that the Rhodesian issues bristle with quite peculiar and unique difficulties to which there could never be an easy solution. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, touched on this point, and I have the authority of another expert, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, who has experience enough, in all conscience, of international entanglements and who said that the Rhodesian problem was the most intractable he had ever come across. Why is this? Of course, if there had been no Africans in Rhodesia, doubtless Rhodesia would have taken its place some decades back as a full Dominion, rather like a smaller New Zealand. If there had been no Europeans again, doubtless Rhodesia would have been welcomed, together with fellow full members from Africa, in the Commonwealth. But neither was the else. The basic fact: is that there is a conflict between the interests of the Europeans and those of the Africans (or at least as represented by the vocal representatives 939 in the country) which leaves a very wide gap, and that gap has widened in recent years. This clash, to my mind, has some of the qualities of tragedy in it, because each side has at least an clement of justice in its case. Yet there can be no future for Rhodesia without co-operation between the races, and only disaster faces the Europeans if the Africans are driven to hostility.
In this situation it is never easy to effect a compromise which does justice to the two sides, each of whom considers in his own mind he is in the right. It is this that has made the task of the British Government down the years so peculiarly difficult, since it has a duty to all the people of Rhodesia. Put at its simplest, the basis of the difference between the two sides is that many of the Europeans—not all of them—would claim that it was they who developed the country, administered it and who brought it to a peak of efficiency and prosperity that knew no check until U.D.I. And although I am quite satisfied that no pledges were ever given by any British Government, they felt they had reason to hope—and from their point of view perhaps this is understandable—that when independence was being given to a score of countries to their North it would scarcely be withheld from a territory which had virtually managed its own affairs for forty years, and in its own view managed them very well. Therefore they felt that control would continue in what they would regard as civilised hands. The African viewpoint is at the other extreme. The Africans hoped, and, again, understandably from their point of view, that, in the spirit of 20th century humanitarianism, freedom and democracy—"democracy including universal suffrage, which was being granted to their fellows throughout Africa, at least to the North—would be theirs, too.
I think that a reconciliation between those differing viewpoints should certainly have been possible earlier on. But the situation has tended to polarise, and each extreme has gone further. It has certainly become more difficult since the voice of moderation in Rhodesia has become fainter—with some honourable exceptions, notably perhaps from the Centre Party and its supporters, as has been referred 940 to already—and of course immeasurably more difficult since U.D.I.
Moreover, the situation we face to-day is part of the heritage of the past. Possibly the seeds go back even to the rather buccaneering days of Cecil Rhodes although he was one who was always ready to hold out the hand of partnership to educate Africans; or to the days of the early, unhappy Matabele wars. Certainly a long shadow was cast by the action of the British Government in 1923, when, following the precedent of what had already happened in the case of South Africa, they were prepared to agree that the destiny of the territory should be settled by a referendum on a franchise virtually restricted to Europeans. So it came about that, nearly fifty years ago now, Rhodesia was self-governing in all but name and was accorded the status of a quasi Dominion, as symbolised by the welcome given to her Prime Minister at successive Commonwealth Conferences.
If I may here be permitted an aside on the perhaps curious dichotomy with which the British Government ran their affairs at one time, and be allowed a departmental comment, it would be that one could speculate whether any difference would have arisen if the affairs of Southern Rhodesia during the inter-war period had fallen to be dealt with by the paternalistic Colonial Office rather than the perhaps more diplomatically-minded Dominions Office. In any event, the result was that Rhodesia was given the treatment that I have described.
Then, later on, a chance was missed when all of us, both in Rhodesia and here, failed to impart real vigour into what was the splendid conception of Federation, and to bring about an enduring sense of racial co-operation. Certainly the failure of the Federation and the aftermath of its dissolution caused a feeling of frustration in Southern Rhodesia. Superimposed on all this was what I may call the problem of the time-lag, which seems to me to come out in the White Paper about the exchanges. It is not entirely without significance that the purported declaration of independence by the Smith régime aped the language of 1776, for I have often felt that the spokesmen of the régime really lived and thought in another world and age. They have not grasped that the world has changed and that 1969 is not 1923. Too many Europeans, perhaps, wanted to stay 941 in the comfortable grooves of the past. But Britain, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made clear in his opening remarks, lives in the contemporary world and has a responsibility to provide for the future. A country must look forward, not back, as we ourselves have been learning in these islands, however bright and glorious the past may be. In one sense, it seems to me that the difference that comes out in the exchanges in the White Paper is one that I would term as a time-lag in the philosophies underlying the two points of view.
I have touched on these matters to emphasise some of the factors in the problem and perhaps to explain how it came about that in this, the last major colonial problem for Britain to handle, there has been such a high degree of misunderstanding and suspicion—more, I think, than in almost any other examples that I can recall in the long history of decolonisation over the last two decades, to which the Lord Chancellor referred. But I need hardly say that nothing I have been mentioning in this explanation is intended in any way to excuse what I would regard as the totally unnecessary and futile bravado of U.D.I. On the contrary. If I may venture a view, it would be that, whatever mistakes may have been made in the past (I have touched on some possible ones) and however differently things might have been handled from time to time, Britain's stand under successive Governments has been both honourable and reasonable, and, as the White Paper shows, we have been prepared to go very far indeed in this fundamental task of seeking some solution which both meets African requirements and at the same time satisfies Europeans.
Finally, my Lords, I should like to be allowed to pay my humble tribute to the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, who has given in these dark days such a splendid example of courage and character. It was my privilege to stay with him and his gallant lady both before and after U.D.I., and I was able to sense something of the agony which he had to endure when a barrier was needlessly raised between two of the things which are dearest to him in life: his loyalty to the Queen and his devotion to the country of his adoption and its people. Surely he was right to seek, and to continue to seek, to bring these two things 942 into harmony again. In the long run, Rhodesia really cannot hope to "go it alone", in isolation, and held in obloquy by the rest, or a large part of the rest, of the world.
Nor, it seems to me, is it in Rhodesia's own real interests to become a satellite of the South African Republic—for many reasons, not the least of which, perhaps, is that, whatever view we may take of some of the extremist things said in Rhodesia from time to time (and a number of examples have been quoted this afternoon), nevertheless Rhodesia always has had at least some degree of multiracialism and always has accorded, even if limited, right of franchise to the Africans. She has never trodden the complete and negative path of total apartheid.
The best hope for Rhodesia surely must lie in a friendly relationship with Britain, with whom she has such very close ties—she certainly has had in the past. If I interpret the situation accurately. I should have thought that that was the wish of the overwhelming number of our own people. Therefore one dare only hope that enough of his fellow countrymen will share the vision of Sir Humphrey Gibbs and show that they share it; that no irrevocable step is taken in the days that lie ahead, and that somehow, perhaps in some new atmosphere in Rhodesia, the task may be taken up again between men of good will to ensure a fair future for all Rhodesians, in friendship with Britain.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, before I come to the subject of our debate, there are two things I should like to say. First, in view of the Question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, last week, I think it proper to explain, as I have often done before the time when I think the noble Lord became a Member of this House, that I have an interest in two farms and a timber estate in Rhodesia. I invested in these, having served both in the Dominion Office and the Colonial Office, so that I might have a continuing personal interest in the Commonwealth and Empire. I cannot say that, up to now, I have had any pecuniary advantage from any of them. However, I do not regret that, because it has given me some special knowledge of, and interest in, the country and in the people, 943 black and white, who live there, and I have always considered that to be my main justification for intervening in these debates.
Secondly, I should like to congratulate most warmly the noble Lord, Lord Garner, on his debut as a speaker in this House. I may say that it is a particular pleasure for me to do so, because he and I used to work closely together—a horribly long time ago—when I was a Minister at what was at that time the Dominions Office. I came to know him then, and the great abilities he possessed. Since then he has gone from strength to strength—how far will be apparent from what he has said to your Lordships this afternoon—and though perhaps he and I should not see absolutely eye to eye to-day about everything that has to do with Rhodesia (for, to my mind, it is Her Majesty's Government here and not the Rhodesians who are still back in 1776), I should like to assure him with what deep interest we have all listened to what he said and how greatly we shall look forward to hearing him again on these subjects, on which he speaks with such knowledge and authority.
I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for having put down this Motion for discussion this afternoon. As he himself knows, and as I think the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said this afternoon, he and I have been in communication with each other for some months on the question of a debate on this subject, and up to now I think that, to both of us, it had seemed wise not to embark on such a debate for fear that, while the negotiations between the United Kingdom Government and the Rhodesian Government were going on something might be said which might impair the chances of an agreed settlement. Unhappily that consideration does not seem to apply any longer, at any rate to the same extent. For though during recent months other issues have come more and more into the foreground of the political picture to occupy the main attention of the British people, and as a result the issue of Rhodesia has tended to recede into the background of the thoughts of many people, yet it is now quite clear, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has said, that during those months the situation between the two 944 countries has not remained static. It has quietly but steadily and inexorably worsened and month by month and almost week by week, the two countries have been drifting further and further apart.
Indeed, recent statements by Mr. Smith indicate that he has pretty well given up hope of any agreed solution to the present differences between his country and our own. The referendum which is to take place in Rhodesia within the next few days may well cut the last link between two countries which were until recently such close and faithful friends: and, therefore, if anything can be said or done to prevent a complete breach, it has to be said or done now. The noble Lord the Leader of the House will, I am sure, quite naturally state the case for the Government of which he is a member; but if this debate is not to do more harm than good, I suggest that it is essential that it should be a balanced one and that both sides in this great controversy should be exposed to this House, which has such a reputation for fairness and statesmanship.
In these circumstances, my aim to-day will be to put the other side of the question. I do not intend to go into the details with which the United Kingdom and Rhodesian White Papers have been principally concerned: for even after listening to the speeches of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, I believe that that will get us nowhere. What I am going to try to do, with such ability as I can command, is to return to the basic issues which are involved in this melancholy dispute. I can assure the House that it is not my purpose to endeavour to act as a spokesman for the Rhodesian Government. Indeed, I must confess to having been deeply dismayed by the uncompromising nature of some of Mr. Smith's most recent statements, and he certainly has no idea of what I propose to say to-day. Yet I feel that, if the bitterness is to be taken out of this controversy—and who can doubt, as was so wisely said just now by the noble Lord, Lord Garner, taking the long view, that that is desirable—both sides of the argument should be understood, not only in Rhodesia but also in Great Britain.
No doubt there have been mistakes on both sides; but whatever may be said 945 of some of the latest actions and statements of the Rhodesian Government, which I do not defend, I believe profoundly that it is not on Rhodesia but on us that the historians of the future will apportion the main responsibility for the original breach between such old and trusted comrades. And chief among these errors I should put our insistence on making, as a precondition of any settlement, acceptance by the Rhodesian Government of the principle of majority rule, and by "majority rule" I do not mean majority rule as an ultimate aim. About that I imagine there is a wide measure of agreement among most thinking people, both in Britain and in Rhodesia. I mean majority rule as an immediate policy and, what is more, as a kind of moral principle, incumbent upon all of us to accept almost as an act of faith.
That is a point of view which I believe is held by many people in this country to-day. I seemed to detect it even in the remarks of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor this afternoon: but I believe that such a view is both wrong-headed—if he will forgive my saying so—and dangerous, and the purely selfish motives which he ascribed to the White Rhodesian population are, I believe, an absolute travesty of the facts; and I was very glad to hear what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St. Albans about that.
My Lords, those of us who have reached my age seem to me, if I may so describe it, looking back, to have lived in an era, so far as politics are concerned, of what one may describe as bogus moral principles, by which I mean principles which we have worked ourselves up into thinking are moral whereas in fact they are not. When I was a boy, a great many years ago, there was the question of protection, which was widely regarded by the protagonists on both sides as raising moral issues of the highest order. One of the great Parties in the State felt passionately that it was not only economically but morally right to give protection to British industry. The other main Party in the State at that time felt equally passionately that it was morally wrong—that it was definitely wicked—to depart in any way 946 from the strict principles of Free Trade; whereas most of us nowadays, I imagine, have come to the sensible conclusion that a tariff is not something which is inherently morally right or wrong but is merely an administrative device for the regulation of trade, which can in one case be right and proper and in another not. And it can, I think, well be argued that something of a similar kind happened at a later date over State control.
No doubt we may differ, and differ widely, about the extent of tariffs and controls. They are, however; no longer for most of us a moral question. But I have a horrible feeling that, having got rid of those two bogus moral principles, we are now busily engaged in creating for ourselves yet another. It is that of majority rule., as something that must be regarded as morally right, in all circumstances and in all places. Personally I cannot accept that, and I do not believe it will be the judgment of history. And I would suggest, with all deference, that to regard majority rule as a moral principle, in any real sense of that term, is just as false as in those other cases I have already mentioned.
If I were challenged on this and asked what I would in fact regard as a moral principle, I think I should reply that the best example would be the Ten Commandments—thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, and so on. These, as I see it, are moral principles in the highest and fullest sense of those words, of universal application at all times and in all places. But if I were asked to put in the same category yet another, "Thou shalt have unimpeded progress to majority rule." I should have thought that to be something quite impossible to be accepted in the same sense as the others I have mentioned. For, my Lords, it does not satisfy the essential condition for a true moral principle; namely, that it must be of universal application at all times and in all places. That is certainly not true of majority rule in the world as it is to-day.
Nor am I alone in holding this view. I would remind your Lordships of some words that were spoken by that great political thinker, Edmund Burke. He used them in another context, but they 947 are, I think, equally applicable to Rhodesia; and this is what he said:We hear much, from men who have not acquired their hardiness of assertion from the profundity of their thinking"—and I assure the House that they are Edmund Burke's words and not mine—'about the omnipotence of a majority. Buthe continues…out of a state of civil society"—that is, my Lords, in modern parlance, outside a state of civilised society—majority and minority are relations that can have no existence".And he concludes:Numbers in a state are always of consideration; but they are not the whole consideration.I have quoted that passage to your Lordships at some length because I believe it to be profoundly true, and I would commend it to those who, in our own times, seem to regard majority rule, even in remote and primitive countries, as a panacea for all our ills and the only moral basis for all public policy.
To sum up this argument, what in fact, my Lords, is majority rule? It is not a moral principle. It is—and I will say this particularly, if I may, with all deference, to the noble Lord the Lord Chancellor—a stage in the evolution of a nation from a primitive to a civilised society; and it is one which the great majority of black Rhodesians have certainly not reached yet, and it is very doubtful exactly when they will reach it. And I say that in no spirit of criticism of black Rhodesians, but as a statement of self-evident fact.
What, that being the case, if I may pursue my argument one step further, is the meaning to be attached to the word "unimpeded" in Principle 1, to which the Lord Chancellor attached such importance and which the Rhodesian Government are being asked unquestioningly to accept? The untutored Africans are being told by their own political leaders that it means "One man, one vote, now". That is what they are being told. And then there is Mr. Chad Chipunza, who was reported in the Press not long ago as saying that to him it meant majority rule in ten years. And what do we here in your Lordships' House mean by that word? I doubt whether any two Mem 948 bers of this House would take exactly the same view, or even approximately the same view, on this point. I doubt indeed whether quite a number of us have a very clear view of any kind about it. And, that being so, how is it possible for us to demand of the Rhodesians, as a pre-condition of any settlement—on which, I would remind your Lordships, the whole future of their country depends—that they should accept such a pig in a poke as that, even if it is dressed up as a moral principle to make it look more respectable?
I say frankly to your Lordships that, were I a white Rhodesian, which I am not—and it is from the white Rhodesians that the whole prosperity of the country, for black and white alike, derives and on which its continuation very largely depends—I should find very great difficulty in accepting Principle 1 without a great deal more definition than it has up to now had. And in particular I should want to know on whom the final decision was to rest as to the moment, the exact moment, at which my country was to be regarded as politically ready for majority rule. I certainly should not be prepared to leave it entirely to people living 5,000 miles away, most of whom know little or nothing of the conditions on which that decision depends.
So much, my Lords, for the so-called moral basis of majority rule, of which I have had the temerity to speak to your Lordships to-day, and to which I have devoted all I propose to say; for I believe it to be the crux, the nub, of the whole matter. To attribute to majority rule a moral basis applicable in all circumstances is, I believe, both false reasoning and dangerous reasoning. All of us, I am sure, in this House will agree that majority rule in proper circumstances, under proper conditions—that is, the conditions defined by Edmund Burke—is probably the safest and soundest of all constitutional systems because it rests on a broader basis than any other. But to try to drag in morals to strengthen the case for imposing on Rhodesia a system which may be appropriate for us, who are both homogeneous and highly civilised, but which is certainly not in any way appropriate to a country like Rhodesia, where the majority of the population are still very primitive indeed, has, I believe, been a folly—and a dangerous folly at that.
949 I would ask the Government (and this is the one main point I want to make), in spite of the Lord Chancellor's speech, which, I am afraid, even now seems to me to have been singularly lacking in positive proposals: is it even now too late for them to present majority rule to the Rhodesians in a form which they can honestly and honourably accept; not as a moral principle, not as an immediate aim, but as a natural evolution, to be accepted as such when the country is ready for it and when the Rhodesians themselves regard it as so ready? Is it too late to do that, and to declare Her Majesty's Government's readiness to incorporate that new conception in a treaty? And to accelerate such an evolutionary advance, could they not propose that we and the Rhodesians, as co-signatories of such a treaty, should declare it to be our joint determination to make African education a central objective of our policy? Such a declaration by Britain would surely create an entirely new situation. Nor should we, in reality, be losing anything; for whatever Mr. Smith may say now in his bitterness, about there never being majority rule in his country, when the black Rhodesians are ready for it it will inevitably come—and we most certainly cannot make it come any earlier.
I realise, of course, that in having the temerity to urge such a course on the Government I am asking them to make a very great concession indeed. I realise, too, that they are not likely even to consider such a concession unless they receive an adequate quid pro quo from the Rhodesian side. That being the case, I would suggest, with great diffidence, that the only possible quid pro quo that might be considered sufficient would be for the Rhodesian Government to withdraw their new Constitution—whatever might be the result of the referendum—so as to enable, in the new situation that would be created, new discussions to begin: and indeed, my Lords, is such an offer something which we need assume they would necessarily flatly refuse?
I cannot believe that they are entirely happy about their new Constitution. It seems likely to split their country from top to bottom. It has been denounced by no less an authority than Lord Malvern (who, I suppose, knows more than any other living man about the constitutional history of Rhodesia) as being against the 950 basic principles of the Constitution of 1923, and by Sir Roy Welensky. Moreover, the Rhodesian Government must know that, by making a republic almost certain, the new Constitution is likely to chill the hearts of some of their warmest and most faithful friends here in England. Would they then not have something solid to gain by adopting such a course as I have suggested? And should we not, too?
What I have made bold to propose to your Lordships is surely, if I may diffidently say so, the path of wisdom; and I believe it to be the only path that is left to us. Our efforts to force our will on Rhodesia have failed, and cannot succeed. They can lead only to continuing and increasing disaster, and to Rhodesia breaking her last links with this country and the Commonwealth, which I believe no one, in his heart of hearts, really wants. To let that occur would be the very bankruptcy of statesmanship; and, were it to happen, it would be no good Her Majesty's Government here blaming Mr. Smith or his Government for having done or failed to do this, that or t'other at any given moment. Here, I am afraid, I disagreed fundamentally with the noble Earl, Lord Amherst. What would be said is that Her Majesty's Government here in London had strained too far the frail links which still unite what used to be called the Mother Country to her daughter nations, and that those links had broken.
My Lords, that wise political thinker, Mr. F. S. Oliver, said more than fifty years ago, with regard to the relationship between Great Britain and other members of what was then the British Empire, and is now the British Commonwealth:The equilibrium is so unstable that no argument on tradition can persuade us it has any of the elements of safety. Even with fine weather it is only a miracle that maintains it, and under rain and storm there must be a shifting of the balance that can have no issue but disintegration.That is exactly what is happening now between Great Britain and Rhodesia. Cannot we halt that disintegration before it goes too far?
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I should like to begin, as did the noble Marquess, with two preliminary statements. The first is that I have no pecuniary or economic interest in Rhodesia, but I have 951 a great affection for that country and for its people, and that is why I have chosen to speak in this debate. Secondly, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Garner, on a most remarkable maiden speech. I have not had the privilege of his acquaintance, but I would say that his was one of the most thoughtful, objective and well-informed maiden speeches that I have ever heard in this House; and I hope that we shall often hear him on other subjects in the same spirit.
We have been most fortunate in having a number of speeches in this House where no element of Party has been introduced. I think that every speech made has been objective and sincere. In that connection, I should like to pay a tribute, if I may (I hope my noble friends will not object), to the excellent speech of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. In spite of many possible temptations, his speech was, I thought, restrained, and his criticisms, such as there were, were minimal. May I also pay a tribute to the noble Marquess for speaking quite frankly? I believe that it is the duty of everyone who takes part in this debate to say exactly what he thinks, so long as it is not going to do any harm in the relationships between our country and Rhodesia. So I propose to take advantage of the same privilege, and to say first a few words about the negotiations.
I cannot believe that these negotiations have been conducted in the most efficient way. I cannot help thinking that they have been dealt with as two tough businessmen might have carried out negotiations, each of them standing tight on his own point of view, giving way with the greatest reluctance and standing fast where there was no need to stand fast. Particularly, I am sorry to say, having read the whole of the Papers that have been presented to us, including the Rhodesian White Paper, I must come to the conclusion that we have been excessively rigid in some of the matters which were relatively unimportant, but which have created a feeling that we were reluctant to come to any settlement at all. I know that that is not true. I know that we were most anxious to arrive at a settlement—I can say that from personal knowledge. Nevertheless, the impression created by reading the 952 Papers that have been presented to us is that we have not been willing, and that we have been quite prepared that discussions should come to an end on matters which are not of major importance.
I would associate myself with the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on the question of the Privy Council. I think that it would have been wise for the Rhodesian Government to accept the Privy Council as the final tribunal in cases where there were allegations that the constitutional provisions had not been faithfully carried out. I think that any citizen who had a complaint against the Government might, in the last resort, have had a right of appeal to the Privy Council. I myself can see no objection to that, but evidently the Rhodesian Government did have a strong objection, and I think that we ought to have made much greater efforts to see whether we could not find some alternative to that provision instead of making it a major issue in our negotiations. Likewise, on the same question, to insist, as we have insisted, that the Privy Council should be the final Court of Appeal in all civil matters relating to Rhodesian citizens—nothing to do with the Constitution—and not be prepared to give way on the point, surely indicates a rather rigid attitude.
Again, we have taken a far too rigid attitude on the question of the reinstatement of African civil servants who resigned because they could not accept, on conscientious grounds, the U.D.I. policy. It is right that we should try to see that these people are rehabilitated, but we are insisting on reinstatement; and reinstatement means going back to exactly the same jobs as they had before on the same terms. Years have gone by and other people are filling those jobs, and we do not seem to be prepared even to discuss the possibility of some alternative to reinstatement. I do not want to enlarge on this; it is very much a matter of atmosphere. And I think that the right reverend Prelate made some reference to that. There has been a failing in psychology. In that respect I am bound to say that, reading the documents, I feel that Mr. Smith has been rather more forthcoming than we have ourselves. In these circumstances, it is understandable that eventually he 953 should have come to the conclusion—I do not say rightly—that further negotiations were hopeless. I believe that until about the middle of April Mr. Smith was eager, and sincerely anxious, to arrive at a settlement, and would have gone a very long way to bring it about. I think he would have made a great many concessions on those points which still divided us if only we had been prepared to do the same. After all, negotiation is a matter of give and take; it is not a matter of merely taking. But in about the middle of April he came to the conclusion that it was useless to negotiate any further, and I think that then he lost his head. He was under tremendous pressure from his own people, some of whom never wanted an agreement. They were not prepared to accept anything at all, but we must remember that, after all, Mr. Smith did accept the Six Principles. He did accept them, and said so; and he said also that he was prepared to negotiate on the other outstanding matters and was quite prepared that there should be give and take.
There must be something wrong with our negotiations that, in or about April, if I am right, he should have come to the conclusion that there was no hope in further discussions and that he must now go his own way—and his own way was the way of his Party, the way in which the pressure had been growing on him. I am bound to pay a tribute to Mr. Smith—it will not be very popular—but he showed great courage for months and years in standing up to his own people, many of whom, as I say, did not want an understanding at all. He actually sacked two of his Ministers because they were going too far in this direction. But when, at the end of the day, he found it was useless, then he probably lost his head and made many of the statements which are attributed to him and for which there could be no possible justification.
Now we are faced with this referendum on Friday and the proposed Constitution. It is a very sad thing to have to say that in my view this is a wicked Constitution to place before the Rhodesian people. It transgresses every one of the principles that Mr. Smith had himself agreed upon, and it is one which is condemned by substantially the whole world. I am not sure that even South Africa would support this new Constitution. It provides 954 for apartheid; it provides for 5 per cent. of the population possessing half the territory of Rhodesia, and 95 per cent. the other half; it provides for suppression of views. It takes away the right of free speech, and it does all the things that are abhorrent to every civilised people. I cannot believe that the people of Rhodesia will vote for such a Constitution
Unfortunately, we know what publicity and the lack of opposition in a country such as Rhodesia does, and the views of the Government may well have been so instilled in the minds of the public that they will vote for the Constitution. But it would be wrong to imagine that there is no opposition inside Rhodesia. There is a very strong opposition in Rhodesia among businessmen of all sorts, among the Churches, and I think among many of the population, who would be very distressed at breaking the connection with this country. In my own experience, which I agree is limited and nothing like the experience of the noble Marquess and others, I did not find a single person who had not the highest praise for this country and the strongest desire to continue to be associated with it. I very much hope that this will be reflected in the plebiscite next Friday, but one cannot tell. The powers of propaganda are so great that one cannot say what has been its effect during these last few weeks of the campaign for the acceptance of the new Constitution.
The question of sanctions has arisen. I said quite frankly in the last debate on Rhodesia that I was opposed to sanctions. I thought they were useless, particularly for the purpose for which they have been imposed. They were doing a great deal of harm to the people of Rhodesia, but not so much as to induce them, as we had intended and hoped, to give way, and they were doing far more harm to the people we were out to help, the Africans, than to the Rhodesians themselves. It is true that the white Rhodesians are suffering inconvenience, a lowering of their standard of living and a loss of a certain amount of trade. But they will survive it, and even an accentuation of sanctions will not improve the position and bring about a greater desire to come to a settlement. As we know, the Rhodesians have outlets in South Africa and even among the African countries. They are still able 955 to trade with a number of African countries who have been the strongest supporters of sanctions. So they will survive, even under some difficulties.
Nevertheless, it is only fair to say that throughout the negotiations the Rhodesians have never raised the question of sanctions as an obstacle. Naturally, they would like to have them withdrawn, but I can see no word in any document or statement of Mr. Smith that he regards the imposition of sanctions as, in itself, a deterrent against coming to an agreement. Therefore I should not be prepared at this stage to withdraw the sanctions, nor would I accentuate them. I think accentuating them would be an even greater mistake than withdrawing them, so we should just leave them as they are.
Now, my Lords, what are we to do, on the assumption that the European Rhodesians accept the new Constitution next Friday? Accepting the new Constitution, or voting for it, is not in itself bringing it into effect; that, of course, can only be done by legislation. That will take time and it will give us time, too. I hope that we shall not slam the door on any further discussions. I was glad to hear from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that we do not intend to slam the door, although I have the impression that it is open only very slightly. But I do not complain, so long as the door is not completely closed, because I still hope and believe that there is room for a settlement.
I am not sure that I agree entirely with the noble Marquess about majority rule. It is an unfortunate term to have used, and it gives the idea of domination by one people over another. It is a weighted term. I should have hoped that what we intended could have been described in rather more tactful and diplomatic words, but "majority rule" has come to be in current use. I was glad that the noble Marquess spoke about how he understood the Constitution would in due course develop. In the end, I do not think he differs very much from most of us. None of us is really advocating that there should be majority rule, in the sense in which the term is used, until Rhodesia is ready for it, until the Rhodesian African is in a fit state to participate in it. At one time we used 956 the term "NIBMAR" but we have rather departed from that, and to-day we are not pressing that there should be majority rule at once or at any specific time. What we are asking is that there should be unimpeded progress towards fitting the Africans to take part in government, and I would hope that none of us will seriously object to that.
So I can only express the hope that we shall continue to let it be understood that we are ready to talk, and to talk in an accommodating way; that is to say, that our discussions will be in the form of give and take. I am optimistic enough to believe that, if that is done, we can still come to a satisfactory accommodation with that country, which we should all be sad to have separated from us and which all who know it have come to love.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I shall intervene only briefly, in the hope that I may contribute something to repairing what I think we all regard as a tragic situation. But before I come to the two or three constructive proposals that I want to put before the House I should like to join in congratulating my old friend, the noble Lord, Lord Garner, on his maiden speech. I count one of my greater merits, in a long ministerial career, the fact that I was able on several occasions to promote Lord Garner to higher and higher honour; and he filled every post to which I had the privilege of appointing him with tact, with skill and with constructive ability—in fact, exactly as one would have expected from the speech which he delivered to the House to-day.
I agree that it is very important that we should all say exactly what we feel, and be as positive as possible, because only thus can we raise issues and make the right suggestions. During all the years when I, as Secretary of State, was responsible for Rhodesian policy I always aimed at the creation of a multi-racial society, both in the Legislature in Rhodesia and in the establishment of the University; and I believe that that was right. That is certainly still my faith, and I still hope and believe that that may be possible. It is in that faith and hope that I put forward the following suggestions.
957 Obviously, there must be a Constitution, and there must be what we have come to call entrenched clauses; that is, clauses which cannot be altered, as an Act of Parliament can be amended, and which require special safeguarding. It is common ground that there should be entrenched clauses and that there should be special security for them. But I feel that insistence on appeal to the Privy Council is not the best way. It is obviously very unpopular in Rhodesia, and it is certainly not the only alternative. Surely the best and most effective way is for the integrity of the entrenched clauses to be secured by treaty.
A treaty is the most binding form of agreement that the Government of any country can enter into. It is much the least likely to be broken. There is its inherent character—I would almost say its inherent sanctity. If these entrenched clauses were enshrined in a treaty, I think it most unlikely that there would ever be any breach of that treaty, because it would have been willingly entered into and would be regarded, as I say, with a certain sanctity. Moreover, of course, if there were a breach of such a treaty it would be subject to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. I very much hope that, both in Rhodesia and here, that alternative will be considered.
Finally, my Lords, like Lord Silkin, I want to say a word about sanctions. They have proved ineffective. If they continue, they will go on proving ineffective. I do not say that they are not damaging Rhodesia—of course they are: but they are not damaging Rhodesia fatally. And they are also damaging this country a great deal. But, as Lord Silkin pointed out, and as the Government have admitted—indeed, Mr. Thomson (I forget which Ministry he has now; he is a sort of Pooh Bah, but I have a very high respect for him) has more than once said the same thing—the people who have been by far the hardest hit by sanctions are the Africans. That is undoubtedly true. Therefore I hope that sanctions may be dropped, or at any rate suspended, while another attempt is made at negotiations.
My Lords, I have tried to make a constructive contribution. Nobody who worked with me over Rhodesia or who cares to consider my record there will 958 think that I did not have the Africans most sincerely and deeply in my mind, because the whole essence of my policy and my work was that the whole of the society should be inter-racial. I trust that the Government will give unprejudiced consideration to these suggestions, because I am sure that there must be many in Rhodesia (and I hope that, as they think it over, this debate, which I think has reached the characteristically high level of non-Party, constructive suggestions, may have its effect) who, like the vast majority of people in this country, long for a settlement. The door is not barred, but the situation needs much more than not barring the door. It needs an active approach: an approach not of it's and buts, and of scoring points, but a genuine, determined approach by men of good will who want to reach a settlement; and I believe that in that way a settlement might be reached. My Lords, if hopes are dupes, fears may be liars. I believe that fears will prove lies, and that it is not too late to find the way.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I am not a usual participator in debates on Rhodesia, but I am intervening to-day for two reasons: first, because, like so many others, I am rather exasperated by the sorry mess that the politicians seem to have landed us in as regards Rhodesia; and secondly, because I happen to be one of the comparatively few Members of your Lordships' House who have been in Rhodesia this year—that is, since "Fearless" Looking back at this eleventh hour, perhaps we should not go in too much for recriminations, but I feel that one should never forget that all Parties over here bear a certain amount of blame by way of background. When the break-up of the Federation took place the Conservatives were in power, but Labour were the biggest propagandists behind it. The results of the mishandling of the events at that time, I think, make sorry reading, whether you read the book of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, or the Rhodesian propaganda books Rhodesia Condemns and Rhodesia Accuses. It is more than enough to make one cry.
My Lords, my recent visit was mainly to see an ailing relative—and, I suppose one might say, therein lies an interest—and also the game reserves, in which the 959 Rhodesians are second to none. But inevitably anyone coming from your Lordships' House, especially at this period of time, cannot avoid politics and, to a certain extent, politicians. My first piece of local advice—and this fits in very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has just said—was from a parish priest who, while saying that I should not quote him by name, said that we should make a deal with Smith because if we did not we should only drive him further to the Right, to the great detriment of all peoples of both countries. He was convinced at that time that Smith was a moderate man but that he could not remain so much longer.
My first full day in Salisbury was quite an eye-opener for a newcomer. I spent all the morning with a member of Smith's Cabinet who was on both "Tiger" and "Fearless", and whose sister is a neighbour of mine in Devon. In the afternoon I was with a schoolteacher and his wife, charming people, but both so ultra-Right that I was scared stiff. And in the evening I had dinner with the Governor and Lady Gibbs. Of the latter occasion I now read that Christopher Owen, the A.D.C., is writing a book. I only hope that he is able to give some of his asides on the visits of various politicians to Rhodesia, if only to deflate their egos. Incidentally, I hear that one politician, who I think is known in Rhodesia only because he has recommended the bombing of their lines of communication, has had the effrontery to give them some advice on how to vote. I can assure him that the effect of his sticking his neck out will be the opposite to that which he intends, and for which I hope.
But politically I moved mainly among the Centre Party, in which are my friends who were previously here and of which, if I were a Rhodesian, I think I would be a member. But they are considered "near-Red" by the ultra-Right, and their leader confessed as of March last that they would be lucky if they got two seats in an Election. However, I think this new referendum will probably throw a better light on their prospects.
The greatest amount of damage done from this country, to my mind, is by the extremists of the Left. Even time they have ranted and raved, as I have heard them, about the wicked "farmer 960 settlers" they have sent one more batch of Sir Humphrey Gibbses (who is a farmer-settler) into the Rhodesian Front, or further over. Little do these people realise that the sort of people who make up the strength of the ultra-Right are probably those who always voted Labour before they went out. The plumber's mate from Birmingham goes to Salisbury, becomes a plumber, sees his future threatened by the rising tide of African aspirations and goes politically to where he thinks he will get protection. Sanctions are imposed. Instead of fitting taps imported from this country he starts his own business making taps. Now he has a vested interest in sanctions. And this sort of thing applies to a lot of small businesses.
I am certain that the large majority of the electorate in Rhodesia wanted nothing better than a settlement, want now nothing better than a settlement; but that they are honestly convinced—you can argue with them about it until the cows come home—that this country wants to hand them and theirs over to a situation which they view as being unbearable. They quote with justification the treatment of all those who do not belong to the majority ruling Party in countries to the North of them. So as not to increase the temperature any further I shall not publicly repeat a lot of their statements or the arguments that they use in reference to the situation in which they find themselves; but one obvious one is the treatment of Asians.
We all know that history is such that eventually the greatest number will come out on top. A South African banker of British stock told me that he is going to advise his great-grandson to quit. But in South Africa the population ratio is about 4 to 1; in Rhodesia it is 16 to 1. Yet the somewhat sullen attitude of the coloured population in Johannesburg contrasts greatly with that of Rhodesia. Where else in Africa could three white, unarmed people—myself, my wife and a cousin of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton—walk around, as we did in Hararri, with not a policeman in sight? Being a traditionalist, what appalled me most was to see Ian Smith's photograph in all the places where heretofore one had seen that of the Queen. I expressed my sentiments to a lady who I thought was a moderate and was assailed by references 961 to the Jamaica speech. I admit that I had not heard of it until then. My only comment now would be that the adviser concerned in allowing the speech to be so phrased should be called to book.
My Lords, for a group of people who such a short time ago gave so unstintingly of their services to fight for this country to be forced into the attitude that they adopt to-day shows to my mind that the Governments of this country must have lost the power, the capability or the capacity for tact and diplomacy. One would have thought that the experience of Abyssinia would have taught us the folly of sanctions. But, no! And in those days we had a Navy big enough to do the job. Now I am afraid that our puny efforts make us the laughing stock of the world. One would have thought that the lesson of the American colonies was that we cannot dictate to our kith and kin. But, no! So, Rhodesia with her 3 per cent. to 4 per cent. growth rate—instead of the 10 per cent. that it could be if there were not sanctions—will probably, I regret to say, vote for this new Constitution and the final break. But what a final humiliation for the Government of this country that the Rhodesians will survive—with their brand new Japanese cars and "bags" of petrol from, ironically, pumps marked "BP". And, as Scotch whisky is cheaper there than here, I daresay that they will find life not too hard.
My Lords, it is all so unnecessary. I was told by one who was on "Fearless" that the Rhodesians were convinced that if the negotiations had been with the Prime Minister, Mr. Wilson, alone, there would have been a settlement; but that each time agreement was near one of his entourage would pluck his elbow, and when he returned they were "back to square one". If that be so, if agreement was so near, what a tragedy, what a responsibility, lies on the Government delegation. Eventually, the story of the Tutsi and Hutu will probably repeat itself; but for the moment I hope the Rhodesians will not make this break. But my bet is that they will—and it will not be all their fault.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, before deciding what to say in this debate I pondered for a while whether I should 962 make any mention at all of the moral aspects of this question. I decided not to, and I think that probably I was right. But having listened to the speech of the noble Marquess (and I am sorry that he is not at the moment in his place), I am wondering whether, after all, I was right. All I will say is that if you believe that your morals should be guided by the Ten Commandments, you must surely believe that those two Commandments which contain them all must also guide you—and particularly, in this context, the Commandment to love your neighbour as yourself. That is something which is singularly lacking in the whole approach of the present régime in Rhodesia towards those 4 million Africans who, after all, are neighbours and for whom we have both a moral and a legal responsibility. But I will not pursue the moral aspect of this question because I know very well that on such questions as these it is impossible to convince others. Occasionally, very occasionally, on the practical, the pragmatic, side of matters it is possible to do something in the way of shifting other people's opinions.
I listened with great interest to all the speeches—and there have been some very good ones—but I have been shocked by what I can only describe as a general air of complacency in this debate. That applies to every speech—even, if I may say so with respect, to the admirable speech of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, and to that of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. Both made first-class speeches, but in an atmosphere of complacency as if this were primarily (and occasionally solely) a matter of one country, one relatively small country in the centre of Africa for which we have some responsibility, where our trade with them is to some extent affected, where their relationship with us is also affected; but with no wider implications whatever. I believe that to be absolutely untrue. I believe it to be a very dangerous attitude in which to approach this problem; because what we are discussing here is not solely the future of a country containing over 5 million people but the future of the way of life of virtually a whole continent and, very possibly, the way of life of the whole world as we know it.
In other words, this debate must take place in the context of the whole of 963 Africa South of the Sahara—which at different periods, in different countries, has proved throughout history to have been a dangerous area, because one small group has a monopoly of economic power, of political power, of social privileges, of opportunity; and that has given rise to tensions which have built up over the years, over the decades, sometimes over the centuries. In those countries (I can say, I think, without fear of contradiction that our country is the outstanding example of this) where there have been wisdom and tolerance these tensions, although they have built up have been dissipated. Although they are still to some extent with us, they are not threatening, and never have been threatening to the extent of revolution. In those countries whose destinies have been guided by people determined, come what may, to preserve their own privileges there has been disaster.
We have only to look back to the 18th century and the French Revolution, or to the beginning of this century and the Russian Revolution, to see what happens when a small minority with privileges entrenches its own privileges and defends them to the last, to see the final result of that attitude. That is the sort of thing we are seeing taking place before our eyes to-day in Rhodesia and it is that that we must at all costs avoid. Because if such an event were to occur in Rhodesia it would not be confined, as was the French Revolution—and even, to a large extent, the Russian Revolution—to one area or one part of a continent; it would spread throughout the whole of the vast continent of Africa.
Hitherto Her Majesty's Government have tried (we have learned how from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and the White Paper) to keep the door open. That has been the aim, in our talks with Mr. Smith and the Rhodesians, in the hope that before it is too late Mr. Smith will follow wiser counsels; or, alternatively, that those who believe in wiser counsels will themselves take over power in Rhodesia. We shall know very shortly whether that policy has been a fruitful one, but certainly the tenor of this debate—and I agree with that part of it—suggests very strongly that few people believe that wiser counsels will prevail in Rhodesia after the referendum. 964 Therefore, my Lords, we shall be confronted, after Friday, with a Rhodesia which not only then denies the full rights of citizenship to over 4 million of its citizens but has gone on record as being determined to deny those full rights so tar ahead as anybody can see. This will always be a threat not only to the peace of Africa but to world peace; and I believe that it will, unwittingly but in fact, afford the greatest assistance to those who are seeking the overthrow of Western civilisation as we know it.
If I were the man in the Kremlin in charge of African policy; if I were the man in Peking in charge of African policy for China, I should pray every night to whatever gods I prayed to that Mr. Smith would succeeed in his referendum: that the Africans would be denied the rights of citizenship and that the economic and political control of Rhodesia would remain as long as possible in the hands of a small minority; because, were I in either of those two positions, in Peking or in the Kremlin, I should see that my job would be infinitely easier if such were the case, than if Rhodesia became—as it could become—an example of true multiracial progress.
What can we do, my Lords, faced with the problem as it is to-day? I will not go back over the rights and wrongs of what we have done—this is not the time to do that. I suggest, first, that we must still hope that force may be avoided. None of us wants that. But we must also face the fact that there could be worse things than the use of limited force for a limited purpose. I am not advocating force at the Present time, but I am strongly suggesting and urging on the Government that the pledge, understandably given in the past, that force would never be used should be withdrawn if Mr. Smith is successful with the referendum, and that we should no longer feel ourselves bound by that pledge.
Secondly, we must redouble our efforts to convince the great neighbour of Rhodesia, the Republic of South Africa, of the importance for the internal policy and wellbeing of South Africa that there should be a peaceful settlement of the Rhodesia problem. I was glad to read in the newspapers that the South African Foreign Minister is in this country at the present time. I hope that Her Majesty's 965 Government are making such representations and talking very frankly to him. After all South Africa knows well that it cannot prosper without good relations, and particularly good trade relations, with the rest of Africa. The South Africans know perfectly well that Rhodesia stands in the way of such good relations; and, what is more, Africa knows perfectly well that South Africa has it within her power to solve the Rhodesia problem within weeks simply by turning off the petrol tap. The South Africans do not want to do this for many reasons, some of which one can understand, even though one may not sympathise with them. But it is known that they have the power, and so long as they fail to use that power they cannot expect their relations with the rest of Africa to be as they and we would wish. So it is in their interests that this problem be brought to an end.
As with South Africa, so with Portugal. We should redouble our efforts to convince Portugal that it is in her interests, and in the interests of her overseas possessions in Angola and Mozambique, that the Rhodesia problem should be solved. We should point out very forcibly to Portugal that she also has it in her power to play a considerable part in bringing this about. Fourthly, in the United Nations, we should once more remind all those Governments of countries who are still trading on a large scale with Rhodesia of the disastrous effects of such a policy for themselves as well as for the world. In particular, and I have no hesitation in mentioning it, we should point out to the countries concerned and to the world at large what is being done by French businessmen, Japanese businessmen (this was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, who referred to Japanese motor cars replacing ours) and German businessmen. We should leave the Governments concerned in no doubt that we are aware of what is going on and leave them in no doubt about the long-term implications of the type of sanction-breaking that is taking place at the present time.
Fifthly—and here, if I have not already done so, I may be stepping on controversial ground—we must accept the fact, always supposing that Mr. Smith wins the referendum, that in future the voice of reason will no longer be heard in Rhodesia. We may no longer pin our 966 hopes on the moderate element gaining power, but we must give them encouragement in order to achieve what they and we want. We may no longer, alas! count on any effective help from the good and sensible people in Rhodesia—and there are many of them, including the Church leaders whom the right reverend Prelate so rightly praised. That being so, we must treat Rhodesia as an outlaw; as being outside the community of civilised nations. We must withdraw our Residual Mission, and the Smith Mission here must be closed immediately. All British passports should be withdrawn from those who remain in Rhodesia, and other countries should be notified that they are no longer valid. In other words, it should be made impossible for anyone who remains in Rhodesia—I know this would be hard on them—to travel freely to other countries using a British passport. They may, if they wish, obtain what passes for a Rhodesian passport. It will be up to the other countries they wish to visit to decide whether they are going to accept such passports, but one hopes that no country who in any way supports the United Nations would do so.
I believe that we should cut all communications—telephone, cable, postal services—to and from Rhodesia In other words, from now on Rhodesia should be treated as a complete outcast from decent international society. This would be done, and could be don, not in any spirit of vindictiveness, not as a punishment for what they have done, but as a means of trying to bring Rhodesia to their senses, to bring home to them the real implications of their actions, not only for themselves bat for the whole of Africa. They must be left in no doubt about the dreary and dangerous future that faces them. They must be left in no doubt as to where their present: course is leading them. And the rest of the world must realise that Rhodesia may well be the powder keg which could blow up the whole continent of Africa.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, ever since 1965, the year when Rhodesia made its unilateral declaration of independence, I have ventured to speak on the British Government's Rhodesian policy. I fear that I must now do so once more. It is now evident, from the Government's 967 White Paper and the statement of Mr. Ian Smith, that in June, 1969, a new situation has been reached, and both assessment and policy need to be considered in the light of what has happened this month. I will make my own comments accordingly.
It is now evident that mandatory sanctions, enjoined by the United Nations on the initiative of the British Government, have failed. They have brought no advantage to the African residents in Rhodesia, who form the large majority of the residents of the country. They have done harm to the inhabitants of Rhodesia, both white and African. So far as they have influenced policy there and the relative influence of the different classes which will determine future policy, the effect has been the opposite of what United Kingdom Government have sought to impose. The net result of the United Kingdom's policy has been not merely zero, but minus. On our own country, especially on its external balance of payments, to improve which the Government say they are now giving special priority, the effect has been disastrous. It is obvious now that the United Kingdom Government's policy has failed and cannot be made to succeed by any means within their power.
Rhodesia is an independent country and the British Government have no power to change that fact. At the time of the United Kingdom's intervention, the Rhodesian Government gave its inhabitants, including the African majority, as high a standard of living as any conceivable alternative Government could have done. It was acceptable to the great mass of the African majority, as the fate of the terrorists infiltrated from Zambia, at great expense to this country, proved conclusively. It gave, justice in the ordinary misfortunes of life—burglary, embezzlement and so on—which compared not unfavourably with that in the most civilised Western Powers. Statements at the time to this effect were neither confuted nor even contradicted.
We are also now able to compare the fate of the African residents in the countries decided by the present Government to be fit for independence. Ghana, with independence, had chaos and massacre in quick succession, and Nigeria at once broke into civil war, followed by death 968 in combat or by starvation on a vast scale. Compare this with the lot of the inhabitants of Rhodesia, declared to be unfit for self-government. Where can we find in our history an equal series of disastrous misjudgments?
What has been the financial effect on ourselves? The most precise information as to the relative items in any assessment are accessible to the Government, whom we cannot of course expect to reveal them or to allow any others subject to their discipline and influence to do so. In these circumstances my noble friend Lord Clitheroe, who is also speaking in this debate this afternoon, and I have consulted and have found ourselves in agreement that the damage to our external balance of payments is probably of the same order of magnitude as the actual deficit. If this is true, the loss so caused is a crucial factor in the Government's present economic problems and policy—new taxation, the relations with the trade unions and all the measures increasing local redundancy and unemployment. In expressing this opinion, I may say that anyone interested can ascertain that in the two years in which my noble friend and I had relevant ministerial experience, as Finance Ministers in the Treasury, in the formation of the country's financial policy—my noble friend Lord Clitheroe in 1944 and I in 1952—we did so with personal authority in relation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time.
As to the question of legality, I will content myself with recalling to your Lordships that Dean Acheson, who, in view of his eminence as a lawyer and as having been Secretary of State in the United States, could speak with greater authority than any other living person, declared that the United Nations had acted illegally within the terms of its own Charter. For myself, I will now let that statement suffice. What course is now, in June, 1969, in the best interests of all concerned, including ourselves? Obviously, it is to stop sanctions at once and completely, duly informing the United Nations of our change of policy and its reasons.
In conclusion, I will make one comment of a wider range. Those of British nationality and descent who look back beyond this recent innovation of the overriding sanctity of majority rule with universal suffrage to the previous centuries 969 of British history, will, I think, recall the role of this small Island in the world, not with apologetic shame but with nostalgic pride.
§ 6 p.m.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Salisbury and other noble Lords have declared their interests and I propose to do the same. I have no property in Rhodesia, and although more than one company of which I am a director has had minor interests in Rhodesian trade (as I think is the case with most large companies in the world) none of them has affected my pocket personally in any way. But I know Rhodesia, and I love it; I pray continuously for a settlement of these troubles, and I know something of them from personal experience.
I will not weary the House with a long speech. So much am I in agreement with what has been said by my noble friends Lord Salisbury and Lord Swinton, and just now by my noble friend Lord Salter, that I have very little to add. However, I should like to deal briefly with the point which my noble friend Lord Salter, with ail his wealth of experience of economic and international affairs, has now made. I expressed the view in 1965 that the policy of sanctions was unwise, un-Christian, inhuman and unlikely to succeed. I have always been totally opposed to their use, which I suggested would cause suffering to the poorest people in Rhodesia—as it has done—and would result in enormous cost to our trade, particularly to our balance of payments, a point which my noble friend Lord Salter has developed so well. I suggested that the maintenance of sanctions would create bitterness that would last a long time and would damage the very cause at which the Government were aiming. I concluded by saying that sanctions would either end in war or in the failure of sanctions.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister expressed his views about Rhodesia—and I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Walston, is not here now because he may not have seen what the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister (I quote from The Times) was talking about military action against Rhodesia, and he said:To have waged war in Rhodesia, a country which has enjoyed full internal self-government, including the creation of its own defence 970 services, for more than 40 years, and in which, during all those years, the United Kingdom has been without any local military presence, would have been no police action … It would have been a major military one, involving the risk of loss of life to Rhodesians of both races, and to any forces sent in from outside, involving great risk of the conflict spreading beyond the borders of Rhodesia, and the certainty that when the fighting ended Rhodesia would have been in a state of disunity and distress.I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, will read those words.
Since, fortunately, the Prime Minister has decided that we are not to have war, and as sanctions have failed, the only sound policy now is to admit our error and, as my noble friend Lord Salter suggested, to propose to the United Nations to end sanctions. The effect on our balance of trade of sanctions has been disastrous. They have had a grievous effect on our ability to maintain our standard of life at home, and many of our present day economic and financial troubles stem from that unwise decision. Let us be men enough to admit of r mistake, and to persuade our friends in the United Nations to follow our example. I believe that this would be the first step towards the reconciliation which we all desire, and for which so many (and here I would include Sir Humphrey Gibbs) have so loyally and gallantly struggled. It is a step which would help to remove the bitterness to which the noble Lord, Lord Garner, and my noble friend Lord Salisbury have referred. This is something, at least, that we can do in this sad and disastrous position. It is something that will not only help to end the sad and disastrous position in Rhodesia but also substantially help our own economic position.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, will not think I am impertinent when I say how much I enjoyed his fair appraisal of the situation. But having said that I would add that, since the noble Earl questioned the wisdom of some of the Government's actions, perhaps he will not mind if I join issue with him on this point. He said that the Prime Minister a good time ago said that we could not negotiate with these people. I suggest to the noble Earl that events have proved that the Prime Minister was right.
971 If we can believe the article which appeared in the Observer last Sunday—and I have no reason whatever to disbelieve it: it claimed to be authentic—there apparently exists a secret memo showing quite clearly that Mr. Smith ruled out a deal with the British Government some considerable time ago. The article is long, and therefore I do not propose to read it to your Lordships; but if the information in it is correct it shows quite clearly that Mr. Smith had no intention whatever of coming to an agreement with the British Government. I would go so far as to ask whether there is any real evidence that the Smith Government wanted a settlement on any other terms than that of white supremacy. I do not think it did.
The noble Earl mentioned that we have been insistent on having safeguards in the event of granting Rhodesia independence, and he asked (if I quote him correctly) what was the point of safeguards, because they could go back on them. This is of course true, but, if I may say so with respect, it does not relieve us of our responsibility to insist upon these safeguards, even if they are broken. We have a responsibility to see that they are there.
I want now to refer to one or two things the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said during his speech. He said that he was a little concerned about this bogus moral principle. But what is this bogus moral principle? The bogus moral principle to which the noble Marquess referred is the principle of majority rule. I want to say, with the greatest possible respect to the noble Marquess, that this is a cardinal principle of life. It is something more than a principle. I would argue (not in your Lordships' House, because it would take too long) that it is an absolute. The whole of our way of life is governed by this basic moral principle that the will of the majority should prevail, and this is all that many of us on this side of the House are asking. I think it is extremely difficult to present an interpretation of majority rule when you are faced with a government that will not concede its principle. If the Smith régime conceded the principle of majority rule I do not think it would be difficult to set it out.
The only other comment I want to make on what the noble Marquess said (I hope I remember this correctly) is in 972 relation to his suggestion that the whole economy of Rhodesia—and this includes the 4½ million Africans—depended upon the whites. I should like to ask the noble Marquess what would happen to the economy if the 4½ Africans withdrew their labour.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What I said was that it derived from the white population; and I think that is true. If the white population had never gone there, the African population would have been in exactly the state as they were in when we arrived. I said that the continuation depended largely (I think I used the word "largely") on the whites, too; and I believe that also to be true.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, of course I would accept what the noble Marquess says. I did not write down word for word what he said. I would accept that it derives from the white settlers. If an economy is to be maintained, if it is to be improved and if it is to be increased, then it will depend upon the people who are, if I may say so with the greatest respect, producing that wealth.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I would quite agree with the noble Lord that their co-operation is needed; obviously it must be so. What I said was that the wealth derives from the activities of the white population. I do not think I need add to that at all.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I think we have each made our point, and I am content to let it rest there. I feel it would he a very different story in the future if the 4½ million Africans withdrew their labour from Rhodesia. We ought to face the fact—and I hope the House will accept this—that this is a crisis not of the Government's making. The issues are very simple. So far as I am concerned, it is our concern for the lives and future of 4½ million Africans, and not just the privileged position—and I have been to Rhodesia and have seen it for myself—of the 200,000 white people there, whose apprehensions I quite understand.
We have also to face the fact that under the Smith régime the future of the Africans is less hopeful to-day than it has ever been under any previous Administration in Salisbury. I do not 973 want to quote what Mr. Smith has said from time to time about white supremacy. What I want to suggest to you is this: that there must be something fundamentally wrong with Mr. Smith's new Constitution when three eminent people, Lord Malvern, Sir Roy Welensky, and Sir Humphrey Gibbs, find it necessary to speak out frankly against it, and for them to advise the whites in Rhodesia not to vote for it. Some of you undoubtedly have read what they have said.
I do not want to take up the time of the House, but give a brief quote from a document signed by Lord Malvern, who was, as many of you know, Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia from 1933 to 1953—twenty years—and Sir Roy Welensky, who was Prime Minister of the Federation until it was disbanded. They said:Rhodesians are now being asked to embark on a sea of constitutional uncertainties—among these, in spite of protests to the contrary, will be the denial of some basic human rights which were enshrined under the Declaration of Rights—in effect, we will lose the protection of our courts against discriminatory legislation and will have no rights of redress. We are asked to approve the abandonment of progress on merit, and finally we are urged to support the declaration of a republic based on the belief that this illegal declaration will achieve what U.D.I. failed to do—gain the official recognition of any country in the world.I think we should do well, again if I may say so with respect, to have some regard to a few words uttered by Sir Humphrey Gibbs, when he said:I earnestly pray that in coming to your decision you will have full regard to your obligations to the large numbers of unenfranchised Rhodesians who will have no voice to express their wishes.This is the issue which faces many of us to-day. We have to face the fact that the seeds of major conflict along racial lines are taking firm root to-day in far too many places. I believe, along with many of my colleagues in this House, that this is a far greater threat to world peace than America, the Soviet Union, and China. I think the future peace of the world will be determined not on political "isms", but upon how we, the whites, are able to live with the coloured people of the world. If the Rhodesians are allowed to get away with this—and I put it in those terms—they may ultimately be paying a very high price in respect and in terms of their own security.
974 I hope the Government are not going to weaken. I find it difficult to understand utterances that have come from various Members of your Lordships' House—the most recent from Lord Salter—that sanctions have not worked, that sanctions have failed and that they have not helped anybody. This is perfectly true. I have spoken in each Rhodesian debate that your Lordships have had since U.D.I., and I said (I think it was in November or December, 1965) that I did not think sanctions would solve the situation. But what are we to do? If we believe something is basically wrong, if we think a country is behaving in a bad way, if we think a country is going to introduce something that means suppression for the majority of its people, we must have some kind of sanction. This is the rule of law, and you cannot have the rule of law without having some form of sanctions. I hope the Government, even if there are doubts in people's mind; that sanctions have or have not worked, will not run away from the responsibility of saying that they have to go on and that, if possible, we must tighten them.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I should like first of all to add my felicitations to those which the noble Lord, Lord, Garner, has received on his speech this afternoon. When I saw his name on the list of speakers I wondered how in the world he was going to deal with matters with which he has so recently been so closely associated in his official capacity without either being excessively boring, on the one hand, or transgressing the bounds of propriety, on the other. He said nothing that so eminent a civil servant should not have said, and he was very far indeed from being boring. He gave us from his wealth of experience a very great deal to think about. He gave all sides of the House, whatever our views on this tragic problem may be, a very great deal to consider. What most impressed me about his speech was when he said that the whole situation had been filled with the elements of tragedy. Right from the days of which he spoke, the days of the high hopes which were entertained for Federation on its inception, and which those, like my noble friend Lord Salisbury, who were responsible hoped would lead to real racial agreement in Central Africa.
975 Right from those days each step that has been taken downhill has led inevitably to the next, until to-day we are faced with the tragic situation which we are discussing this afternoon. For my own part I deplore this referendum which is taking place later in the week. I deplore the Constitution which is being put before the white electorate of Rhodesia. I think it is a bad Constitution; I think it holds very little hope for the friendly, co-operative development of the races in Rhodesia, unless it is reversed. But, having said that, I must say also that this Constitution seems to me to be the direct and inevitable consequence of the policy of economic warfare which Her Majesty's Government have waged with the peoples of Rhodesia, black as well as white, over the past four years.
When the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in a most carefully balanced speech (if he will allow me to say so, it was at times perhaps a little too carefully balanced), divided opinions in the House into the sheep and the goats and the others—that is to say, when he described the Government's position, the official Opposition's position, and the position of those of us who shared the views expressed so spendidly well tonight by the noble Marquess—he said that from the outset we were willing to get a settlement with Mr. Smith on any terms. That is simply not the case. Our position was that the Government's policy, which was supported by the noble Earl at that time, if pursued to its logical conclusion, would result in driving Mr. Ian Smith into the hands of his extremists; that it would have exactly the same result as the warning which the parish priest in Rhodesia gave to the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, and it would drive Rhodesia inevitably into an apartheid form of society. What we feared has come about. What we feared has, alas! proved all too true.
I have read the Government White Paper and the Rhodesian documents; and I have re-read them, and read them yet again. They all seem to me to be about as relevant as the disputation of medieval school men. The one side is maintaining a theoretical principle: the principle of keeping Government in what are called responsible hands. The other 976 side is intent only on maintaining a theoretical principle: what my noble friend called a bogus moral principle, of unimpeded progress towards majority rule. It seems to me looking back not only through these papers but through all their predecessors, that there never was any real chance of bringing these two theoretical principles together. I do not believe that agreement was ever possible when we had Her Majesty's Government, with their theoretical predilection to majority rule; with their binding comitment to the black African States of NIBMAR, and with the Prime Minister's dependence on a Parliamentary majority composed as in fact his Parliamentary majority is composed. In those circumstances I do not think there has ever been any possibility of agreement between these two sides.
The noble Marquess this afternoon quoted Edmund Burke, and I too should like to quote him. In one of his speeches, I think on conciliation with the American Colonies, Burke said:The question is not who is right, or who is wrong, but what is to be done.That, my Lords, is the real question that faces us now. My noble friend Lord Jellicoe very rightly pointed out that our troubles with Rhodesia stem from the fact that, in another Prime Minister's words, we were "exercising responsibility without power". The fact is, whatever the eloquence of the speeches we make in this House, whatever the sincerity with which we express them, that we have no power over the white Rhodesians to give effect to our responsibility to Rhodesians as a whole. The great weakness, the cardinal weakness, of the Government's policy throughout these last unhappy four years has been simply that they have pretended to have the power when in fact they have never had it: they have never had it for one moment. They have gone through all the forms, all the denunciations, all the lectures and all the homilies to Mr. Smith's Government; but they have never had the power to make anything effective. Yet they pretended that they had. And we have all, I think, to a greater or lesser degree, joined in the pretence.
What is to be done? My noble friend Lord Salisbury appealed to the Government to make one last attempt to reach 977 agreement by defining majority rule in some way that might be acceptable to the Rhodesians. For my own part, I do not believe that it is possible for this Government now to take any step that can lead to a settlement with Rhodesia; to take any step that can improve the situation in Rhodesia; to take any step that can improve the situation in Central Africa as a whole. It may not be their fault, but they are so discredited in Rhodesia that they are powerless.
There is only one possibility that I can see of influencing the referendum to be held on Friday. Perhaps the speech of my noble friend will have influenced it—I think he is the only man who could influence it. But there is another way in which it can be influenced: if the Opposition were to say that when they returned to power they would seek to reach a settlement with Rhodesia, not on any theoretical preconceptions, not on any five or six principles; only on one principle, and that is that the settlement should hold out to the races in Rhodesia the best hope of a prosperous future together.
One of the things that has baffled me about this whole problem is the insistence of my noble friends and my right honourable friends in another place on these Principles. On the other side of the House, in the Labour Party or the Liberal Party, people believe in principles in the sense that they like to get hold of a nice principle and then pack human behaviour, human nature and everything else into it. We on our side have always taken the view that one cannot handle humanity in that way: one has to take them as they are and do for them what one can. I would implore my noble leaders to drop the insistence on these Principles, which we have no power whatever to enforce and which only stand now as an obstacle, not between us and Rhodesians but between Rhodesia and a tolerable future. Let them declare that they are going to drop them. It would mean eating a lot of their words but, as Sir Winston Churchill used to say, that is a very healthy diet for politicians. They need not be afraid of that. Their problem is not to save their face but to do what they can, when they come into office, to retrieve a situation which perhaps has been irretrievably ruined by the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, this debate inevitably has assumed the guise of something like a memorial service for the last four years and what has happened during them in regard to Rhodesia. It has been, I suggest, a sad story of misjudgment, mistrust and mismanagement, and it threatens to have a rather discreditable ending. Personally, I should have emphasised the reason for the failure of the last four years as being very largely due to mistrust. I think there has been mistrust on both sides.
I have participated in our numerous debates on the subject of Rhodesian independence, and from the very beginning I have steadfastly opposed what I have always regarded as the uncivilised and indefensible use of sanctions to back up a political argument and the Government's attempt to buttress its own intransigence over this matter with the United Nations, in taking the matter to the United Nations (which in my opinion was a grave mistake) and in so doing to capitalise the racial prejudices of that rather misnamed body on the very Dubious ground that the policy of the Rhodesian Government constituted a threat to world peace. To anybody who knew the situation that was manifestly not true.
In our debate on sanctions which took place exactly one year ago, on June 1968, I analysed the position as I saw it. Having re-read my speech, I would not alter that analysis at all to-day but I do not think it would serve any useful purpose if I were to delay the House by repeating it now. I want to be brief in my remarks to-day. As I see it, the Government have been, and remain, blind to certain basic realities. For one thing, it is surely futile to go on asserting that the Rhodesian Government is an illegal Government. It has justified its legality by proving its ability to apply the law effectively, and that it is an established Government likely to last for a considerable time, since it is firmly established in Rhodesian society. Its present proposals result from the insistence of the British Government on conditions which make a mockery of present independence and envisage a relatively early future—and that is where the real danger comes—in which European control would be superseded by black rule. If events and the treatment of Asian minorities in other 979 recently independent African States are a criterion, there would be a consequent set-up which would produce conditions unacceptable to the European minority whose activity and enterprise has given the country its chief hope of a prosperous future.
We are trying to eliminate unnecessarily contentious comments in this debate, but one must remember the atmosphere in which the Europeans in Rhodesia have had to come to these decisions and what they have seen happening around them in other recently independent African countries which are being managed by the African majority there.
In sound administrative practice one must distinguish between ultimate ideals and present possibilities. I have been told that this is a cynical view to take, but having been trained as an administrator I have had to look at a number of problems in the course of my life and at least I have learned that one cannot blue-print an ideal. Rhodesia is an outstanding instance where general principles can be stated as an objective, but their detailed application must be modified by time and experience, with unceasing correction and adjustment. If only the Rhodesian Government could have been left alone to work this out in independence I think it is not an exaggeration to say that the population of Rhodesia, of all colours and racial origins, would immensely benefit, both materially and spiritually, as indeed would this country, too.
Great hopes for Rhodesia must lie in the economic progress and educational advancement of the country. And what do the present proposals of the Rhodesian Government amount to? Mr. Smith points out—and in my view rightly points out—that Rhodesia is independent not only by possession, not only by fact, but also by right. Never in her history has Rhodesia been under British rule. When in 1923 Rhodesia decided not to be incorporated with the Union of South Africa, I understand that a sum of £2 million was paid by Britain to the British South Africa Company, which administered that territory, for the land and all the buildings, and Southern Rhodesia repaid this sum to the British Government. I believe this was the only instance in the history of Britain and her 980 Empire where self-government had to be paid for.
Britain undertook to represent Southern Rhodesia in the councils of the world, as she was only a small and relatively undeveloped country which could not afford such representation herself. That, possibly, was an early mistake made by the Southern Rhodesian Government in accepting that offer. But for forty years thereafter there was never any dispute whatever between Rhodesia and the British over discriminatory legislation, or any tendency of that sort.
Seeing that others who have a poor opinion of Mr. Smith have been quoted, perhaps your Lordships will forgive me if I quote some of the things that Mr. Smith has said himself in public. In addressing the All-Africa Christian Crusade Congress recently, he said:I have often told people that the greatest guarantee that the rest of the world can have that we will play the game to all Rhodesians, black or white, is that we have got to go on living in Rhodesia with the decisions that we make, and therefore we shall he particularly careful that we only make the correct decisions.Mr. Smith also said to the Christian Crusade Congress in Salisbury the other day:I would say to you that I believe there is no finer, no more valid, no more honourable reason for retaining control in the hands of the civilised minority in Rhodesia than the behaviour which we have recently witnessed by certain Governments to the north of us, not only against minority races in their country, but also against members of their same race who happen to be members of a minority political party.He went on to say:And so we are dedicated to our task, clear in our conscience, and we will never give up. Not only do we believe in liberty, but we also believe that no good man will surrender his liberty, save with his life. And so I hope you have seen for yourselves that we, in Rhodesia, are also Christian Crusaders".I quote this particularly because, with a man who can speak like that in public at a time of emergency like this, you cannot brush it aside. We know Mr. Smith well enough to know that he is not pretending; this is what he believes. What I say, in passing, is that when you are dealing with a man like that, with these honest beliefs and this desire to be fair to everybody, surely it must have been possible, with right treatment from 981 this end, to make an honourable settlement with him of the admittedly exceedingly difficult problems which Rhodesia presents.
The material potential for Rhodesian industry is enormous. Its achievement will depend on the country's politics. Manufacturing industry can be the principal contributors to the gross national product of the country, surpassing even agriculture, and it can be the provider of work opportunities for absorbing a considerable number of the annual outturn of its schools; and I am referring, of course, to the schools of whatever colour. An international bank mission, of which your Lordships may be aware, after a detailed economic survey of Rhodesia said recently that they could foresee the future of Rhodesia as the industrial Midlands of Africa South of the Sahara. Given a fair chance it can reach that prognostication. The people of Rhodesia are better off, better cared for and less harassed than those in any one of the countries which put their signatures to manifestos about respect for human rights, and then go and train guerrillas to infiltrate southwards across the Zambesi as disturbers of the peace of the country.
There is no time to go into all the details of the last four years, but I quote with much sympathy the comment of the Rhodesian Government that they noted with scepticism that the British Government are still concerned to achieve an honourable settlement. Mr. Smith said—and I think he had some justification for his anger over it:The British Government appear not to acknowledge the slightest merit in any of the proposals or arguments of the Rhodesian Government, despite the fact that they represent a sincere and constructive attempt to bridge the gap between the two Governments".The Rhodesian Government have demonstrated that stable government in civilised hands is the best for all colours and creeds. An acute observer of affairs once said that when politicians resort to propounding principles and making great mention of the morality aspect of the business in hand it almost invariably means that they have chosen a course that is beyond their powers and, therefore, politically speaking, wrong. Once more may I emphasise that you cannot 982 blueprint the future of a country with the problems especially of Rhodesia, nor can you importunately press a constitutional structure envisaging a dream democratic paradise. The world is littered with proof of this. Such premature insistence is apt to end in escalation with alarming rapidity into a pit of increasing misery for the victims of your haste. The indigenous Rhodesian shape of Britain's Five Principles will doubtless emerge in time, but you must give it time.
During these four years our Prime Minister has played many parts, with inimitable skill, of course, but using—I say this with all respect—principles as counters in a game of chance. The sample sincerity of Mr. Smith has never wavered in placing first of all his genuine views that the future welfare of Rhodesians, black and white, is his chief concern. I suggest, in all humility, that we should ignore the diatribes of rampant racialists of sections of the United Nations. Majority rule is not the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, nor is the counting of heads any guarantee of wisdom. Indeed it is apt to be, as we know, the apotheosis of incompetence. Perhaps I may say parenthetically, and a little less seriously and also somewhat irrelevantly, that it is a little strange that a Government which remains in office in flat defiance of the wishes of the people should now be the standard bearer of a crusade for majority rule—anywhere save at home.
I feel strongly that this Rhodesian question is pre-eminently a British responsibility. I have always felt that the reference of the Rhodesian question to the United Nations was unjustifiable. But what does it mean in essence? Reference to a body containing a number of States whose own internal affairs contain no reflection of the high standard claimed by them as the sine qua non of Rhodesian independence. The present British Government take the stand that independence must be related to provisions for an early and accelerated movement to majority rule. But in Rhodesian terms of interpretation that independence must be geared to economic and political suicide in order to please the Afro-Asian group at the United Nations, whose own domestic management reveals no evidence at all of practising what they so smugly prescribe for Rhodesia.
983 I admit that the future of Rhodesia presents an almost intolerably difficult problem, upon the amicable solution of which the future happiness of the dominant European minority, as well as that of the black African majority, depends. I have always been in favour of leaving the Rhodesians to work out a solution in which their own vital interests must dictate to them flexibility. The words spoken by Mr. Smith over the radio and television the other day have surely a strong appeal. He said:The proposed Constitution epitomises a sincere search for a formula which would reconcile radical differences of race, culture and society of all the people, and it seeks to allow development of conditions under which the two main races could live in harmony without fear of dominance or subjugation. The very essence of the Constitution is the maintenance of stable and progressive government. This is offered to you in large measure for as far ahead as we can see; thereafter, it will be lodged safely in the hands of future generations.My Lords, those are wise and statesmanlike words. In my own small experience I know what a mistake it is to try to prescribe too closely what the future shall be, even if you have the power to make those decisions. Surely something must be left to the next generation to decide for itself. Mr. Smith's proposals are intended to lead, as he told us they do lead, as far as parity between the races. That is an immense advance. Is that not enough to leave to somebody else? To-day we are not wise enough to be able to be accurate prophets of what will be the conditions and what will be wisdom, say, twenty years' hence. Surely there is still time, even now, with good will and understanding—and that has particular reference, I think, to this side—yet to reach an agreement which ought to be reached with Rhodesia and which will lead to an honourable and happy future for that country.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, for not having been present during the whole of his speech. The loud-speaker arrangements in this House are not operating and I did not hear the announcement that he had begun to speak. I heard his later remarks and I shall be making some comments later on in that connection.
984 I want particularly to discuss the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who seemed to me to deal with the fundamental issues which are now before the House. He argued that majority rule does not imply a moral principle. I agree that, mechanically and mathematically, a moral principle is not involved. In our own country we do not merely count heads. We exclude those who are mentally deficient; we exclude those who are in prison, though I think many of them are wronged by society rather than wronging society. We decide on the age at which any individual may have the right to vote. I would not even say that to apply minimum educational tests to those who have the right to vote would imply a moral principle, though I take the view that experience of life is often as important as an educational standard. But I submit to the noble Marquess that the moral issue arises in respect of our value of human personality, and particularly when we judge the right of people to be citizens on the grounds either of their sex or of their colour.
In my view, the campaign for women's suffrage in this country was a campaign with moral issues. It was so because it was a demand that women should be regarded equally with men as human beings, having experience of life, having the mental capacities, equal with men as a whole. I would say that to-day nearly everyone accepts the equality as citizens of women with men. That moral principle was won. It was not a principle of majority rule; it was a principle of the equality of human beings. I want to submit that to-day the issue in Southern Rhodesia is, in principle, the same. It is the issue not between men and women, but between human beings who happen to be of different colour.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
No. I do not accept that. I say, "who are of a different standard of civilisation". Colour does not come into it. I am a multi-racialist, but the noble Lord is completely misrepresenting the issue.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, if the noble Marquess will be patient for a few moments, I will deal with that very issue. I regard the situation in Southern Rhodesia as a moral issue, because it represents a difference between the white population and the coloured population. 985 Take first this fact: it was a coloured territory. The African people in Southern Rhodesia were cheated out of their land—no one has exposed this fact more positively than Sir Roy Welensky—so that to-day 5 per cent. of the population, the whites, own half the land. The inferiority between the whites and the coloureds is illustrated by the fact that a coloured worker receives only one-tenth of what a white worker receives, and is often excluded from opportunity in regard to higher skills. The difference between the whites and coloured in Southern Rhodesia is indicated by the fact that only servants are allowed into certain white locations, and a coloured man is not allowed to live there with his wife.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? I suggest that the noble Lord is drawing a very misleading picture of the situation in Rhodesia to-day. I do not know whether he saw an article in the Daily Telegraph, I think it was, which showed that the literacy rate of Africans in Rhodesia was between 50 and 60 per cent., whereas in Ethiopia, which is one of the sternest of the critics of the Rhodesian régime, it is only about 5 per cent. Does that seem to imply to the noble Lord that the Rhodesian Africans are getting a bad deal?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am vary grateful to the noble Lord, because he has assisted my case very greatly. The noble Lord indicated that 50 per cent. of the African population are literate. If that is a fact, it is an indication that the present rejection of Africans in the electoral sphere is unjustified. I am very grateful to the noble Lord for assisting me so much in my argument.
There is no educational test for whites; the educational test is only for those who are coloured. I find it ironical that there are more African graduates in detention in Southern Rhodesia at this moment than there are white graduates in the Cabinet of Mr. Ian Smith. This is the moral issue; the moral issue that in Southern Rhodesia, as in South Africa, those who are coloured are regarded as inferior human beings to be segregated, and that the white minority, one twentieth of the population, has the right to rule the country.
986 I want to say this more calmly. Those of us who are concerned about racial equality and racial harmony must think very carefully about the situation in Southern Africa, extending from Southern Rhodesia to South-West Africa and South Africa itself, and the very terrible danger that over that whole area there may be a physical racial war. Those of us who want racial equality and harmony must be careful not to advocate policies which are likely to incite that war, because if that war takes place, of which there is very great danger—not merely the guerrilla forces invading Southern Rhodesia and South Africa from other African countries, but the impatience of two-thirds of Africa to a part of the continent where white domination remains—such a war would lead not merely to death and destruction, but at the end of it to a hatred and a contempt by one race for the other which would end the hope of the racial equality and the harmony which we desire.
It is because I desire, almost as much as anything I desire in the world, that that racial war shall not take place in Southern Africa that I take such a serious view of the new proposed Constitution which is to go to a referendum on Friday. I apologise again to the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, for not having heard much of his speech, but what I did hear indicated support of the proposed Constitution which Mr. Ian Smith is submitting to the referendum. That Constitution would mean a permanent dictatorship by a white minority of Southern Rhodesia. Mr. Ian Smith has said himself that there should be no electoral majority for a hundred years. That Constitution applies apartheid in many ways worse than it is in operation in South Africa itself. It is the one Constitution in the world to-day which in the clauses of the constitution itself applies permanent dictatorships and censorships which, everywhere else, apply only in national emergencies. I say to this House that if that Constitution stands, racial war will become inevitable in Southern Rhodesia and in Southern Africa.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, may I take it that the noble Lord has no objection to tribal war such as is going on in Nigeria at the moment?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am again grateful to the noble Lord; he is helping me by every intervention. I am the chairman of the Peace Committee in Nigeria; I think I can say that I have done as much as anyone else to try to bring that war to an end. Because of my own advocacy of African freedom, I have been terribly disappointed by what has happened in Africa, but I try to look at it historically. What is happening in Africa to-day in violence and in persecution is much less than it was at the similar stage in Europe when we were passing from empires to nation States. We have to look at this problem historically in that way. Yes, I am disappointed; I am exerting what influence I can against things of that kind.
I was saying that the present proposed Constitution for Southern Rhodesia is a prelude to inevitable racial war in Southern Africa—
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? Does he know for certain that the Rhodesian white community will not, in fact, reject the proposed Constitution in the referendum?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I was going to deal with that. There are very helpful suggestions in Southern Rhodesia by responsible politicians with whom I am often not agreed—men like Sir Roy Welensky, like Lord Malvern, like the Centre Party; and, while I think it probable that Mr. Ian Smith may obtain the majority vote, there is likely to be a minority vote in the referendum which should be of tremendous encouragement to our own Government in the policies which they pursue in future.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am trying to be, though it is possible that my noble friend may not agree with what I am saying. But as the people of Southern Rhodesia enter into the referendum on Friday, they must be quite clear about the issues that are before them, and I hope I am helping by indicating that the kind of Constitution which is now proposed by Southern Rhodesia has very great dangers for Southern Africa. I take that view so strongly that I say 988 that this Constitution must be defeated. It goes to a referendum—
§ LORD BROCKWAY
Not merely a minority, but a fractional minority, of the people. It goes to about one-twentieth of the people, and if they carry it they will reach a decision in Southern Rhodesia which for the whole of Southern Africa, for the whole future of the relations between white and coloured people, may be disastrous. I am pressing on Her Majesty's Government—and I hope that I do not have much need to press it upon them—that even if that insignificant, fractional, dictating minority in Southern Rhodesia endorses this Constitution in the referendum, the policy of Her Majesty's Government must be to resist it and to organise in every possible way, so that an illegal Government, seizing independence for a white minority and now going forward to a Republic, may ultimately be rejected from office.
Because I feel that situation to be so serious, I am going to urge upon Her Majesty's Government measures that represent an extension of what they have now done. There is in Southern Rhodesia an illegal Government which has defied our Government, and which represents an insignificant minority. We have maintained communications with Southern Rhodesia, because we have our Governor and a Residential Mission there. In these circumstances I want to pay a very sincere tribute to the Governor. His courage in isolation has been magnificent, and I am quite sure that I am speaking for all sides of the House, even those who are critical of what I am saying, when I pay that tribute to him.
When some of us have urged that communications with Southern Rhodesia should be stopped, the argument has been put forward that it is desirable that there should be communications, because of our Residential Mission there. But if this Constitution is accepted by the referendum on Friday then I do not know how our Governor or our Residential Mission can stay, and in those circumstances I suggest to the Government that all the communications with Southern Rhodesia—postal communications, telegraphic communications, air flight communications—should be cut off.
989 I also want to urge upon Her Majesty's Government that the present sanctions applied by the United Nations should be very greatly strengthened. At present there are loopholes and trade is continuing from and with Member States of the United Nations, despite the decisions of that body. I would urge that if the referendum supports the new Constitution the United Nations should be asked to demand an application of those sanctions by all Member States. Certainly, Lourenço Marques, in Mozambique, should be included. We have United Nations' authority to prevent the importation through Beira of essential goods for Southern Rhodesia. Why should there not be a similar rejection of goods passing through Lourenço Marques?
I appreciate that we now have the very difficult issue of South Africa it-self, and that it is through South Africa that the sanctions prohibition is mostly being defeated. But despite the character of the South African Government, I very much doubt whether it wants to see this Constitution accepted on Friday. South Africa has its own problems and does not want to become implicated in the problems of Southern Rhodesia, so I think it likely that a situation may arise in which it will be possible for Her Majesty's Government to have discussions with the Government of South Africa whereby South Africa itself would carry out the decisions of the United Nations.
My next point may be regarded as drastic. The economy of Southern Rhodesia depends largely on British investment in Southern Rhodesian industry and on loans given by British banks. If we are really in earnest in seeking to end that régime, representing only an insignificant minority of the population and bringing about the danger of racial war in the whole of southern Africa, I should like to see our Government using their influence to secure the withdrawal of British investments and the withdrawal of loans from British banks. If that were done the economy could hardly stand.
There are two further proposals that I want to make. The first is with regard to guerrilla warfare. I want to suggest that those who are taken as prisoners in that guerrilla warfare, those who are fighting against this illegal Government which we ourselves have repudiated, should be treated as prisoners of war, 990 and that that proposal should be put forward to the United Nations. The last suggestion I want to make is that the Government should declare that they will disown all sentences which are passed in Southern Rhodesian courts, under this minority, illegal Government, upon political prisoners. Quite frankly, I was very disturbed by the Answer which I received from the Front Bench in the case of Mr. Sithole; and I hope that the Government may decide that they will not endorse any decisions which are reached regarding prisoners in Southern Rhodesia whose motives are political.
My Lords, those are the proposals which I make. I have it very deeply in mind that for many years now there have been detained and imprisoned in Southern Rhodesia Africans who stand for the same principles as those for which we stand. Some of them are my own friends. They are my brothers. They believe in political liberty. They do not want to exclude the Europeans: they want equality between the races in Southern Rhodesia. There they have been for years—in detention and in prison. We are concerned when a British citizen in the Soviet Union is imprisoned. We are concerned when, in Communist countries, those who stand for liberal views are imprisoned. I share that concern because I believe in personal liberties all over the world, and I have done my best to protest and use any influence I have when those circumstances have arisen. But we should be thinking to-day of our allies in Southern Rhodesia, who are Africans in detention, in imprisonment, for standing for the same principles of democracy and human equality as those for which we stand.
My Lords, I have spoken in this way because I am so desperately fearful of the dangers of racial war in southern Africa if this proposed Constitution is allowed to stand. It will be a prelude to a conflict between the white and coloured races which will be not only disastrous to South Africa but disastrous to human harmony everywhere.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I do not intend to detain your Lordship for very long, and certainly not to speak at length, as the previous noble Lord has done. At this hour, and having 991 listened to most of the speeches which have been made here, it is not easy to gather the threads of all that has been said, but I think it is of prime importance that the message which should go out from your Lordships' House to the white community of Rhodesia is that we hope that they will see it in their hearts to reject the referendum on which they are being required to vote by Mr. Smith.
I have dealt at one stage, in one interruption which I made of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, with a point I consider to be of importance: that we should say nothing here which might cause offence to the white community of Rhodesia. I made that interruption primarily bearing in mind the sequence of events which will follow in the course of the next few days. Before I go on—and I must apologise for not having said this earlier—I would say that I most sincerely congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Garner, on his maiden speech. One observation he made was to the effect that he felt there was some facet of difficulty with which the European in Rhodesia was faced, some sort of disagreement, some sort of thing which was worrying him out there.
May I, for a moment, recall my own experience? I have always been a supporter of Her Majesty's Government, no matter what complexion they might have been—that is to say, whether Labour or Conservative—and over the course of nearly thirty years of overseas service in the Colonial Service I have thought that the policies of various British Governments were good. At the same time, I always knew that one day I should be coming back with my wife, children and grandchildren to settle at home in this country. I always knew that it was a cardinal facet of our policy to bring people up to be responsible for their own government and their own affairs. But the white settler in Rhodesia was not in quite the same position. He went out there to live in that country; to have his home there, and to live there with his wife and family. From this white community he sees a certain amount of dislocation, a certain amount of breakdown of law and order, in other African territories which are adjacent to his country. Is it any wonder that what 992 he sees fills him with considerable consternation?
My Lords, with all due respect to some of the views which have been expressed, not necessarily in this debate this evening but at other times in your Lordships' House, I do not think that full recognition has been given to those fears; and if there were a European from Rhodesia who could speak on his own behalf in your Lordships' House to-night, I am sure he would plead to be heard by your Lordships in that connection. Therefore, my Lords, no matter what hard remarks may have been passed in your Lordships' House about the European white community, I hope that it will not influence them, or that they will not act in such a way as will not be in their best interests. I hope, in fact, that they will reject this new Constitution proposed by Mr. Smith.
I am not going to bring up various incidents, though I could bring up three or four. I have never understood—and I say this with all due respect to the Bishops' Bench and to the most reverend Primate of All England—one phrase which the most reverend Primate used during one of our earlier debates on Rhodesia. He said:As to possible action beyond economic sanctions, my own view is known as to what I believe Christian conscience should say if the lamentable necessity arose".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15/11/65; col. 267.]I am not aware of what the most reverend Primate had in mind when he used those words, but from what I have seen of racial tensions abroad I know enough to think that if force were used in connection with Rhodesia it would start a holy war which would blaze from one end of Africa to the other.
My Lords, to conclude, I feel that the British Government have had an extremely difficult task in their dealings with Mr. Smith; and I am also convinced that if the Conservative Party had been in power they would have experienced difficulties of a similar nature. Therefore I would beg that in our consideration of these matters an attitude of conciliation be adopted and that, whatever happens, if the vote for this referendum is passed with only a small majority, Her Majesty's Government keep the door open to see whether we cannot come to some tolerable agreement with Mr. Smith's régime.
993 There is one final matter that I should like to raise. I noticed that during the negotiations with Her Majesty's Government there arose the question of the future of those colonial officers who worked in Rhodesia and who, when U.D.I. was declared, felt that because of their loyalty to Her Majesty and the Crown they could no longer serve under Mr. Smith. This is exactly what i would expect of Her Majesty's colonial servants. I hope that whatever happens from to-day onwards, whatever the future may be, Her Majesty's Government will see that this act, by which the colonial officers maintained the highest traditions of their service, is not overlooked and that they will receive compensation or be reinstated in some other position.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, so many noble Lords have already made observations on the exchanges between our Government and the régime in Rhodesia that I do not propose at this hour to add many remarks of my own. I would, in passing, say that I thought that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, summed up the present position very accurately when he said, "We are now in a position of responsibility without power." That, unfortunately, is true; but it leaves us to-day far more vulnerable than if we were in a position of power without responsibility. I am not quite sure that the answer to my noble friend Lord Brockway is that that is precisely the position in which South Africa finds itself to-day vis-à-vis its own African population. I cannot help feeling that the real reason for the failure of negotiations is a loss of faith on both sides. When, as time goes on, that loss of faith gets progressively worse and worse, it tends to leave one with rather a pessimistic view about the outcome of the present situation. I should like, however, to make some observations on the general overall strategy of the Rhodesia situation and perhaps to ask a few questions of my noble friend the Leader of the House.
To many of those who have followed the deteriorating situation between our country and Rhodesia ever since U.D.I., the news of next Friday's referendum for a Republic has come with a sickening sense of shock, amounting almost to despair. It seems to be the culmination of 994 utter tragedy in the relationship between our two countries. Those of us who have always condemned apartheid in any shape or form—black apartheid no less than white—and who have always hoped that all races, all colours and all creeds in Africa could learn to live together in peace and common accord, must pray that there is, even now, a chance that the final tragedy may be averted.
The stand of the Catholic Bishops and the Church leaders of all denominations in Rhodesia—except, naturally enough, the Dutch Reformed Church—against these new proposals has evoked the admiration of the whole world. Most of us still hope that Rhodesia may yet vote against the final break with the British Crown. But even if Smith's Government wins the referendum for a republic, there is still a hope that Rhodesia may, in the future, when happier counsel can prevail, still remain, as India remains today, a Republic within the Commonwealth. I am glad to have heard that Her Majesty's Government, even now, will still keep the door open, in the hope that better days may yet dawn in the relationship between our two countries.
To many of us the real tragedy of the present situation is the future of the African majority in Rhodesia. How have we been able to help their cause through all these negotiations? Successive Governments, as a settlement has been delayed, have had to deal with Rhodesian Governments, each more extremist and more intransigent than its predecessor. Under Smith's illegal Government the position has progressively worsened, and the attitude of the régime has steadily hardened since U.D.I A Government of desperate men has steadily become even more desperate; policies already ruthless and repressive have become more ruthless as time has gone on.
Even the Chief Justice, Sir Hugh Beadle, who originally was designated by our Prime Minister to preside over a Commission of Inquiry into the new Constitution for Rhodesia, and in whom we once had perfect trust, has now, in sheer desperation, abandoned his staunchest friend, the Governor, and gone over to Smith. Such an act would have been inconceivable two years ago. Why has such a loyal and devoted friendship broken down under the strain of events? 995 All along when I was in Rhodesia, in 1966 and 1967, I felt that the supreme issue was a return to legality under the present Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, to whose sterling loyalty and devotion to the Crown everyone must pay tribute. But although therein lay the only hope of an easier future for Rhodesia, I came slowly to realise that all these pleas were futile. We seemed to be talking in different languages. A return to legality was the last thing that the Smith régime ever intended.
What has happend to our actions, as distinct from our talks, in the meantime? The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor proclaimed on June 21, 1967 (OFFICIAL REPORT, column 1412) that a change in the situation would take place by November, 1967. Did the change that he then envisaged actually take place by November, 1967; or by November, 1968; or even by to-day, June, 1969? Of course our military intervention has had to be ruled out from the very start—and to-day more than ever public opinion in this country will not stand for any further military commitment.
I would ask my noble friend who is to reply on behalf of the Government: are sanctions any nearer achieving their aim to-day than on the day when they were first imposed? Of course they have been made to bite, and to hurt hard, not only Rhodesia but both sides in this tragic dispute. I would ask of the Government: are not sanctions doomed to fail now, simply because South Africa is determined that they shall not succeed, and will throw in all her resources—and no more than 5 per cent. of her total economic resources will suffice—to ensure that our sanctions against Rhodesia must be made to fail?
Another question I would ask my noble friend: are we still maintaining our blockade of the port of Beira and our patrol of the Mozambique Straits, or have we now given it up? And if we are still maintaining it, what is the use of our doing so, if we do not blockade the port of Lourenço Marques at the same time, as my noble friend Lord Brockway has already asked? Of course we cannot blockade Lourenço Marques, because that is also the port of Johannesburg, and South Africa is our third best or perhaps to 996 day even our second best customer. The Liberal Leader in another place was at least consistent in the matter when he advocated the bombing by the R.A.F. of Beit Bridge—consistent, but living in Cloud Cuckoo-land, because there are other ways of entry from South Africa into Rhodesia, and Beit Bridge could easily be repaired or replaced. But even if we were prepared to shoulder the additional burden on our straitened economy and to impose sanctions against South Africa, as I believe my noble friend Lord Brockway seemed to imply, why have we not done so in the name of principle and consistency?
I would ask Her Majesty's Government to say: are not sanctions against South Africa, even if imposed by the whole world, foredoomed to utter failure? Do not the Government agree that the economy of South Africa is almost completely self-contained and able to insulate itself against world sanctions almost indefinitely? South Africa has flouted the decisions of the United Nations again and again, and to-day is more prosperous than ever before. That, I believe, is the answer to my noble friend Lord Brockway when he cries havoc, and warns us against the danger of a conflagration in South Africa because the native Africans are bound to rise up against the injustices under which they suffer. The fact is that to-day the Africans in South Africa enjoy a higher standard of living and greater prosperity than many Africans in most of the independent African States; and their consciousness of what they would stand to lose materially, and what they still stand to gain materially, by continuing the peace even under the present iniquitous régime in South Africa, will act, I believe, as a great deterrent against the risk of a blood-bath occurring in that country.
Even if sanctions against South Africa were ultimately to succeed, would that not do severe damage to our economy as well as impose enormous suffering and hardship upon the native African majority in South Africa? And what if we now impose even more severe sanctions against Rhodesia? What if, as has been suggested, the whole world were to cut off all postal and telegraphic communication with Rhodesia? Would that be likely to succeed? How could it succeed, unless the world cuts off all 997 communication with South Africa at the same time? Because communications could easily be diverted to Rhodesia through South Africa. Is that seriously contemplated by our country to-day, and by the United Nations? I cannot conceive of a more fatuous proposal or one more doomed to failure; but perhaps my noble friend will deal with this matter when he replies.
May I ask another question of my noble friend? When did the last incursion of armed infiltrators across the Zambesi into Rhodesia take place, and why did it fail? Was it because South Africa lent military aid to Rhodesia against these armed incursions? Is it true that any further raids into Rhodesia are still likely to come up against the military might of South Africa?
We turned to the United Nations because we regarded the situation in Rhodesia as a threat to peace. Were we not threatened at the time of U.D.I. with a blood-bath also in Central Africa? And now, after three and a half years of U.D.I., is that blood-bath still likely to materialise? Or are these pathetic suicide-squads coming all the way from China, who succeed in getting across the Zambesi, still in danger of annihilation? So what are we to do about sanctions, faced as we are by the determination of South Africa that they shall not succeed; for Rhodesia to-day is merely an outpost of South Africa, an outpost of apartheid.
We embarked on sanctions in 1965 with clean hands and with the highest of motives. They were an honourable policy to pursue. The Prime Minister embarked on his recent mission to Nigeria also with the highest of motives. That mission failed, but at least it was an honourable failure in the eyes of the world, and it was greatly to his credit that he embarked on it. How much longer are we going to delude ourselves with the hope that sanctions against Rhodesia will succeed? How can they possibly succeed as long as South Africa is determined that they shall fail?
When will the time come when in our actions we shall face the realities of the present situation? Why cannot we, at long last, after three and a half years, become pragmatists and admit openly to the world, and especially to the independent African States, that our hopes of sanctions against Rhodesia have not been 998 fulfilled; and face them squarely with the admission that our failure has been an honourable failure? They have decried our efforts over sanctions all along. Is it any shame to us that the facts are fully known to them, and that we as a nation have striven to uphold their cause?
Finally, why do not the Government agree that the sooner we admit to the failure of our policy against Rhodesia—as we have had to do in Biafra, honourably and with a very genuine sense of regret, but without any sense of shame or reproach—the sooner we shall be able to clear the air and to face a new and healthier relationship with all our friends in liberated Africa, in the United Nations and in the whole of the freedom-loving world?
§ 7.48 p.m.
My Lords, the hour is getting late and I will be as brief as I can. This has been a most timely debate and the quality of the speeches has been high. We must thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for the opportunity to discuss the developments over Rhodesia during the last six months. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor gave us what I thought was a clear picture of the Government's motives and examined for us the past and the present. What I did not discern was any action for the future. Although he told the Rhodesian electorate that it was not too late, he did not say whether Her Majesty's Government were prepared to negotiate any further. I must also say that in his historical review I regretted his reference to "fifty years of submission" as the sum total of Rhodesian white government. I thought it was unfair, and I do not suppose that such great men as Lord Malvern and Sir Roy Welensky will enjoy reading that phrase in due course.
If I may be permitted to do so, I would offer my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, for his excellent speech, which shows us once again his very good grasp of Central African affairs. I agree with him that there has been compromise on both sides and that the issues that remain should be negotiable. After reading the White Paper, I really cannot see why such a fair chance for settlement as we had last November 999 has now slipped through our grasp, and I fail to see, in the pages of this White Paper, the real reasons why failure has occurred again.
In my own view, the reasons for failure to reach a settlement are twofold. In the first place, as so many noble Lords have said throughout the debate this afternoon, there has been a total lack of trust by successive Governments in this country in the willingness and capability of the European Rhodesian minority to govern wisely and humanely in the interests of all the people of Rhodesia—this despite forty years of just doing that, from 1923 onwards. This distrust has shown up continually in trying to bind the Rhodesian Government to a certain formula, such as a return to legality in the course of the old "Tiger" proposals and as shown again in paragraphs (d) and (e) of the White Paper on pages 5 and 6 and again in the top paragraph on page 20, which comes from the detailed reply of the Rhodesian Government.
The distrust shown by successive British Governments towards all recent Rhodesian Governments, from 1962 onwards, has been reciprocated, and distrust of the impartiality and unbiased attitude of the British Government has become deeply rooted in many Rhodesian minds, as the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, reminded us in the course of his speech this afternoon. This lack of trust in Britain by Rhodesia goes back to the days of the old Federation when Her Majesty's Government of the day itself broke faith with Southern Rhodesia by unilaterally arranging the withdrawal of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia from the Federation, without the agreement of all parties and without recognising Southern Rhodesia's independence at the same time as that of Zambia and Malawi. The noble Lord, Lord Garner, in his excellent maiden speech—I wish he were here for the moment because I should like to congratulate him—reminded us of the opportunity that was lost at that time.
Secondly, I believe, like the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that the rigid stand on NIBMAR taken by Her Majesty's Government has undoubtedly been a major background factor in all Rhodesian thinking, and the equivocal-ness of this stand in relation to a settle 1000 ment is clear in Clause 28 of Appendix B on page 12. The attitude of white Rhodesians has always been that, in the circumstances of their country at present, majority rule is not in the best interests of either racial group, and they have never been able to understand the strong belief held in ruling quarters in this country that majority rule will itself bring a solution to any of the problems of Rhodesia, except to Britain in relinquishing a responsibility she can no longer exercise with a good conscience.
I have come to believe, and I have said so before in your Lordships' House, that Her Majesty's Government have never intended to reach a settlement with the Rhodesian Government which would give complete independence without some provision for an ultimate sanction which could demonstrate some control over the acts of an otherwise independent country and which might, in however far-fetched a manner, show that no real independence had indeed been granted before African majority rule. Rhodesian distrust might well be based as much on that as on any other aspect of past negotiations and perhaps has led to their seeing bogies where in fact there may have been none at all.
Paragraph 28 of Appendix B would appear to reinforce the view that reconciling NIBMAR with a settlement on any terms acceptable to the Rhodesian Government has always seemed an impossible task in the eyes of other Commonwealth onlookers. The view of the Rhodesian Government on Her Majesty's Government's willingness to reach a settlement is expressed in paragraph 5 on page 29. Naturally, I too have read the rival document on Anglo-Rhodesian Relations, issued in Salisbury, on recent events covered by Cmnd. 4065. There appears to be no great disparity on the facts, but the emphasis and direction of the wording, of course, reflect the opposing standpoints. Both publications make sad reading, as other noble Lords have said earlier, and they are both sad and nagging in content. But as one individual trying to reach, as I hope your Lordships will recognise, an objective point of view on the facts as presented, I find some agreement with the last four lines of the conclusion in the Rhodesian paper, which indicate that there have been the "Fearless" terms, take them or leave 1001 them in their entirety, that Mr. Smith was expected to accept, and there has been no real further room for negotiation.
We had all this before over the "Tiger" clauses, and it seems that the same rigidity of attitude has prevailed in the case of the "Fearless" proposals. Too much rigidity, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said earlier, an incompatibility of approach to a settlement on the British side and far too little trust on either side, have now precipitated a situation which is far less hopeful politically than what I think we could have had, with greater flexibility and closer understanding of the facts of life in Rhodesia by Her Majesty's Government. It was a depressing experience to listen to the Prime Minister during his recent television interview and to hear him admit that the advice tendered to him in relation to Rhodesia and sanctions had been wrong. I hope, as we all must hope, that the advice which the Prime Minister receives to-day is more soundly based.
None of us can evade the issue that a racial power struggle exists in Rhodesia, with all the consequent hopes and fears of victory by one race group or the other. But I will continue to try to make the point that the attempt to create a successful multiracial society, especially in countries where more than one race lives in substantial numbers, such as in Rhodesia, will not be resolved by a counting of "nobs" rather than by a degree of responsibility and experience in managing the affairs of a multiracial State. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, made the point in his forceful and open-minded speech and quoted Burke on this particular issue.
I do not endorse the latest Rhodesian proposals for a new Constitution, and there are some aspects of which, were I a Rhodesian citizen, I could not approve. But neither do I endorse the viewpoint that ultimately the situation in Rhodesia must give way to African majority rule without regard for the future of the whites there and their legitimate interests and right to he there. This happened elsewhere with inevitable results, and to the detriment of all concerned. While I am not hopeful of any immediate chance of a solution to Rhodesian independence and our national relations with that country. I think it pertinent to say that no situation, even such a one as this, 1002 can remain static, and that sooner or later—and I should hope that it could be sooner—a Government of this country will recognise the Government of Rhodesia as it is then. I have reason to believe, as others of your Lordships have already said, that the inhabitants of Rhodesia, and indeed of other countries in the sub-continent of Africa, would like to see more British participation in the affairs of that part of the world, by way of trade, mutual aid and support. I believe that it is in the interests of the inhabitants of Southern Africa, of whatever colour, that Britain should recover some of her former position of influence and involvement in the future growth and success of this potentially dynamic and strategically vital area.
I do not believe that this constitutional battle with Rhodesia, serious as it is, however fraught with emotional issues and however tinged with bitterness, distrust or should be allowed to obscure the wider horizon. Britain and Rhodesia have spent about seven years in apparently fruitless argument, during which time both countries have suffered reverses and neither country has been victorious. If we in Britain are to steed our own desire for recovery, a solution over Rhodesia will be most helpful. And I think it is still possible that, following a settlement, a time of relief both here and there, and even eventually good will on both sides, could go very far to advance good multi-racial relations throughout the whole of the sub-continent. We all ought to be aware that attitudes and circumstances are changing fast. For, as the younger generation appear fully to realise, ultimately the future of both black and white is interdependent.
In conclusion, I should like to suggest to the Government that if they really want a settlement with Rhodesia, NIBMAR is out of date and, anyway, in the hard facts of the situation unobtainable. Also, the Six Principles need rephrasing to allow a greater flexibility of interpretation without losing the spirit behind them. Finally, I suggest that sanctions should be dropped, in return (and here I range myself firmly alongside the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury) for a withdrawal by the Rhodesian Government of their present constitutional proposals, and a firm declaration by both sides to re-examine and resolve the few remaining differences 1003 without recriminations. I can have no knowledge if such a development is possible. It may be too late for the one matter and too early for the other. But I am certain that any fresh initiative can only be beneficial; it will not be an indication of defeat.
The few differences shown in the White Paper (Cmnd. 4065) may be deep, but in my view they ought to be bridgeable if the will to do so is really there. The alternative, as seems likely to-day, is the worst of the argument for Rhodesia and for Britain as well, with further deterioration in prospect for both countries. I ask Her Majesty's Government to consider these suggestions in the light of to-day's reality, and I call on the Government of Rhodesia to respond. It is very true, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, that Rhodesia has much to lose if she pays no regard to good friends here or to the views of those in neighbouring countries.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, I have listened to practically the whole of this debate, and it seems to me that probably there is only one thing that will be agreed by everybody on all sides of the House; and that is that the Rhodesian situation has developed into a tragedy. That it certainly is. I have been among the minority in political circles, if not in the country at large, which was opposed to the sanctions policy from the outset. I believe that the main mischief which has been in operation throughout these last years is something on which the right reverend Prelate touched in his speech: that there has been a complete lack of understanding or sympathy with what I think he called the psychological situation in respect of the white population of Rhodesia.
Those who have had the power to guide, and who have guided, our Rhodesian policy over these last years (and what I have to say cuts across Party lines), have been obsessed with the idea that the paramount necessity in the case of Rhodesia was to bring about African majority rule in the shortest time possible. They have had little regard for the feelings of the white population in Rhodesia: their pride in their country and their fears when they saw the sort 1004 of thing that was going on in the rest of Africa where independence had been granted to African Governments. Notwithstanding all that, the driving force of British policy has been, in the eyes of the Rhodesians, that they must accept something of the same sort in the shortest possible time. I even remember that when, in 1965, the Prime Minister was trying to reach a settlement in Salisbury he had a telegram from the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury telling him (or words to this effect) that if it was necessary to bring the Smith régime to its knees, the Church would not oppose the use of force. Whether the Prime Minister was very pleased to receive that at the time I do not know, but I can imagine nothing more calculated to sow suspicion and breed distrust of British motives in the eyes of the white Rhodesians.
NIBMAR was at that time the order of the day. We have now arrived at the stage when the policy has been completely counter-productive, and Rhodesia has gradually been forced into the referendum for declaring a Republic. Let me say at once that I detest the Constitution which is proposed. It fills me with sadness of rather an emotional kind that the break with the Crown should be taking place; and there are many Rhodesians who feel the same way. There has been much talk over the years about our trusteeship for the African nation, but nothing about our trusteeship for the stability of the country in the interests of all races there. There has been this obsession—what I might call almost an inverted racialist policy—by Britain in order to force African rule on Rhodesia.
Well, my Lords, what now? Nobody really knows. All that can be said is that after nearly four years of U.D.I., the figures published for the last years show that white immigration into Rhodesia is increasing, the growth of the African population has been at a higher rate than ever, and the putting of capital investment into Rhodesia has almost wiped out the loss of the trade balance. So somebody has confidence in the future of Rhodesia. Is that surprising when the country is possessed of minerals, and so on, which the world must have, notably nickel and chrome? Your Lordships will know there have recently been discoveries of fresh chrome 1005 deposits. Whatever she does, in my view, Rhodesia, having had this independence, and if she declares a Republic, will be gradually recognised by other countries of the world. I am perfectly certain of another thing, and that is that any South African Government which tried to stab Rhodesia in the back would not last for five minutes.
My Lords, those are the realities of the situation, which should be faced. It looks as if we have reached the end of the road. One hopes not, but I must say that the hope is very slim. It only fills me—and I am sure many others—with sadness that this may be the end of the Rhodesian story, a story which might have been so different if only the atmosphere which prevailed in "Fearless", where Smith was treated not as a rebel but as a gentleman, a Prime Minister, treated courteously, had prevailed years back. If that could have been done three or four years ago, before all the other water had passed under the bridges, we could have had a settlement. But that is all gone. Perhaps a miracle may happen. I was much impressed with what my noble friend Lord Salisbury said, that if the referendum does not bring the Republic into existence, there could arise a stage where there might he more time, and that both sides should give something away and try again. That would be something in the nature of a miracle, and one can only hope for it.
The only other plea I would make is that the Government will never yield to the pressures such as were indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Walston (who I am sorry to see is not here now), that we should go in for force, possibly in South Africa, a confrontation with the whole of South Africa. That would be piling lunacy on folly. My last plea is that the Government, who say they will not be piling lunacy on folly, will stick to their guns, and will certainly not allow expansion into force involving confrontation with the whole of South Africa on this miserable and sorry business.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, first of all it is my pleasant duty to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Garner, on a quite outstanding maiden speech; I am particularly glad he should be here. This is partly because of the position he 1006 has held. It is right that there should be a recognition of the great services of the Commonwealth Relations Office which is embodied in his person. He is also welcome for the very high quality of his speech. I think he will find his speeches will be welcome to us all, and we hope he will be able to attend often and stay to the end of the proceedings. I am glad to see a number of your Lordships have in fact been able to do so to-day.
There has been a certain measure of agreement during this debate. First of all, I think I am right in saying that every noble Lord who has spoken condemned the new Constitution and expressed the hope that even at this late hour it would not be brought into force. Although one is always rather cautious—and the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, reminded us of the importance of being cautious—I hope that if there is a message that goes out from your Lordships' House to-night, whatever the differences may be, it is the message that we hope very much that this step, which looks so irrevocable, will not be taken. Even if it proves in the long run not to be irrevocable, it obviously takes us a lot further away from a possible solution.
That is something we should note, and I was glad to hear the noble Marquess's remarks on it; and I should like, if it is not being patronising to a man of his eminence and experience, to congratulate him on his speech. I only wish he had delivered it in quite such forthright terms about three years ago. I realise a at he feels very deeply on this matter. I was a little disturbed by some of the speeches, especially that of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, who really wanted to throw the Six and the Five Principles out of the window. I do not think that is possible, because I believe the positions we have taken, and which most noble Lords on this side of the House, and the noble Earl, Lord Amherst, and others, support, are ones that we believe are fundamental, for the reasons which they gave.
§ LORD COLERAINE
MY Lords, I would certainly throw them out of the window. Could the noble Lord say how he defines "unimpeded progress towards majority rule"? Does he mean that whatever happens in the rest of Africa this progress must go on? Or, does he mean that the Rhodesians to some extent can 1007 judge the situation in Africa? If "unimpeded progress towards majority rule" really means that progress has to go on whatever happens in Africa, whatever happens in Rhodesia, it is surely quite unreasonable to expect them to accept it.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
The noble Lord means the small white minority. Perhaps I had better not be diverted. I will come on to this matter in more detail later. I do not think it helps if we engage in this rather tempting exchange, because we both expose flanks and wish to do a riposte on it.
I must defend the conduct of Her Majesty's Government's policy, not only because it is my duty but because, having gone very carefully into it, I am convinced that the argument that we have not been sufficiently flexible and understanding is unjustified. I think that if there has been one person above all who has tried his utmost to get a settlement, and at considerable personal risk, it is the Prime Minister. He has tried and tried and tried again. I know there are those, not only in his own Party but also others, who have said he should not have done, but he nevertheless really has tried.
The difficulties we have encountered with Mr. Smith and his colleagues have not just been matters of tactics or personality. They have been differences of principle. If there can be any doubt over this, it has been resolved by the statements of Mr. Smith and his colleagues in Rhodesia over the past month, in which they have rejected the whole principle of majority rule in Rhodesia, even as an eventual aim. We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, a paeon of praise for that Christian crusader, Mr. Smith. I found it very difficult to match this with his remarks when he welcomed the new constitutional proposals as the death knell of majority rule. As my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack pointed out, Mr. Smith has also said that it would be only an extreme pessimist who need fear that even racial parity would come about. I repeat these 1008 things to your Lordships because there are genuine differences between us. We acknowledge the sincerity of the views of the noble Lord, Lord Grimston, who has been entirely consistent in his attitude on this matter. But so, I think, have we been; and it is our anxiety and our fears which have been so startlingly confirmed by the publication of this new Constitution.
The régime's White Paper is very revealing. Referring, for instance, to the British proposal to extend the "B" Roll to all Africans over 30 years of age, the White Paper accuses the British side at the Salisbury talks of proposing that a mass of almost completely illiterate voters should have a direct and important influence on the government of the State in another passage the White Paper makes it very clear that the régime are in no hurry for the voters to become literate. It may be that noble Lords who are doubtful about the Government's attitude feel that there is an answer to these questions, but I cannot see the answer. It is worth noting that the régime were prepared to accept our offer of financial assistance towards African education on the understanding that the education programme thus financedwas geared to Rhodesia's manpower requirements and economic capability and was not intended merely to assist people to acquire qualifications for enrolment as voters".The régime again refused to be associated with a statement to the effect that the Constitution emerging from a settlement would make the same provision as the 1961 Constitution for steady advancement to majority rule. Therefore, nobody could claim that their opposition to majority rule has only just developed since the Salisbury talks broke down. I think the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, if he represents their views, would agree that this is their position.
I do not want to go back over the whole of the exchanges. I agree with noble Lords that there is a weary quality about them. There was a very wide gulf. The points outstanding when Mr. Thomson left Salisbury all arose out of the régime's wish to depart from certain proposals made on board H.M.S. "Fearless". I do not want to spend much time on this question beyond making one other general point: that is, that it is the British Government who have repeatedly taken the 1009 initiative in attempting to arrive at a solution.
The noble Earl, Lord jellicoe, made a very skilful speech. With parts of it I found myself in full agreement; other parts of it I admired for the skill with which somehow he managed to differentiate himself slightly from the Government's position and for the skill with which he picked out some particular points, which I admit are slightly awkward, and with which I will do my best to deal. But I think there is a basic agreement: between us that we will not be able to have dealings with the régime if the proposed new Constitution is adopted. I agree with him, though, that given good will, and notwithstanding the apparent difference in principle that has emerged, on the face of it the gap could be closed. There would be no difficulty about closing it if we were dealing with people who, even if they had some reservations, basically accepted our principles. But the difficulty is—and this is why I find it so difficult, and I think those who have dealt with Mr. Smith, like the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, have found it difficult—that one is never quite sure whether he does accept certain principles. Hence the importance of having detailed constitutional safeguards.
The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, seemed to suggest at one point—I do not know whether I followed him correctly—that there was no need for the talks to have broken down on the requirement for a second safeguard because an unscrupulous Government in Rhodesia would not have been bound by one. If that had been lour attitude towards agreement there would have been no point in negotiating at all. We did our best to build effective safeguards into an agreement so that if they ever were broken at least there would be no doubt that they had been broken, and so that it would be possible then to face the issue; and the Rhodesian Government would have had to face the censure of the world, as they are about shortly to do if the answer to this referendum is, "Yes".
The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, asked me about the second British communication referred to in the second paragraph of the Rhodesian Memorandum of April 16. The answer here is that the British 1010 Memorandum of March 11 was telegraphed in cipher to Salisbury in order to save time and arrived with a few ciphering and deciphering errors of a very minor kind, of which I am quite sure the noble Earl, like myself has had experience during the war. These errors were corrected a few days later, and the text of the British Memorandum as reproduced in our White Paper was as received by the régime after the "subsequent communication" of March 18. It is unusual for State papers to go into detail and explain things to this kind, and I can understand the noble Earl's natural wish to inquire into this matter. Indeed, something has been made of it by others, which suggests that the régime were rather keen to give the false impression that their proposals had not been carefully studied in London.
Then the noble Earl raised certain questions about our attitude to some of the outstanding subsidiary issues and wondered whether they were all of such great importance. It is worth making the point that these were very far from being fresh issues which we ourselves raised in an effort to drive a hard bargain some of them—for example, the extension of the permitted period for the states of emergency and the question of the ordinary appeals to the Privy Council—were raised by Mr. Smith and not by us and they represented changes which he wanted to make in the 1961 Constitution, which up to then had been accepted by everybody as the agreed basis for the new Constitution. I do not want to say that none of these points could even be discussed if we were satisfied that we were negotiating against a background of a genuine mutual acceptance of principles. I could go through these matters in very great detail. However, owing to the lateness of the hour, I would only say to the noble Lord that there are perfectly rational explanations for them. If I may take the criteria for continued detention and restriction, this was of crucial importance for the period of the test of acceptability and for convincing world opinion that African leaders would have a chance of peacefully expressing their views. We were satisfied that the "Fearless" proposals provided adequately for the needs of public order.
My Lords, I do not wish to press the noble Lord unduly on 1011 this question, but may I ask him just one simple question with regard to these, what I term, subsidiary matters? I am not querying that some of them are important and indeed may be very important. But what about the question which both I and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, raised? What about the appeal to the Privy Council Judicial Committee on ordinary cases, not those on the entrenched clauses? Was this a vital issue?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I should have thought that this was a rather important issue. It was one that arose rather late in the day, if my recollection is right, and obviously I am not as familiar as is Mr. George Thomson with this question. This was not in doubt at all in the early stages in the "Tiger" talks but doubt arose at a later stage. I can only say that what is at stake here is not ordinary private litigation or ordinary criminal cases, but appeals on questions involving the interpretation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Rights. If there had been some real agreement, particularly as a result of the exploration of the second safeguard, it would have been possible to discuss these particular matters and argue them out on their merits. I therefore think the ordinary appeal—and we are not talking about the second safeguard appeal—to the Privy Council and the Judicial Committee was an important point.
We put forward many suggestions, both in negotiation with the régime and in public statements. We offered an essential internal safeguard in the Salisbury talks. I know that the noble Marquess has taken a great interest in this matter, and has even tried to think out solutions; but Mr. Smith and his colleagues were not interested. We were left in no doubt that they did not want any safeguards, and one is bound to conclude that they wanted to retain the power to amend the Constitution. What Mr. Howman has just said confirms this. He has told the Rhodesians that in their negotiations with the British Government the Rhodesian side made great concessions,always on the understanding…that they would be changed later to Rhodesia's ideas.Those who criticise us for having failed to reach agreement should ask themselves 1012 whether they really mean that we should have abandoned the principle of unimpeded advance to majority rule.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that point, is it not a fact that the Rhodesians did agree to the blocking quarter, and even went beyond it so as to ensure that it would be exceedingly difficult, although I would not say impossible, to amend the Constitution?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
Yes, my Lords, I am well aware of that, and that is why I referred to the second safeguard. It was the second safeguard to which we attached a great deal of importance, and the arguments as to why the blocking quarter alone was not considered adequate have been given on a number of occasions. I will not repeat them now; but the blocking quarter was vulnerable and it was possible that it could have been overturned. For that reason the Government attached importance to a second safeguard, and they have shown flexibility in trying to find different forms for this safeguard. I think that many people were scratching around, trying to find one that would meet the requirements of both sides, but the Rhodesians were not prepared even to discuss a satisfactory second safeguard.
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again, but if he is moving from the purely internal safeguard, as I think he is, may I put to him again the question which I put in my speech and to which I do not think he has as yet replied? What form did the purely internal safeguard take which was put to the Rhodesians by Mr. Thomson in Salisbury in November?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am saying that there was no interest in an essentially internal safeguard. There was the proposal for a referendum, for instance, but for the reasons I have explained it never came under proper discussion. There was no discussion on the details and therefore there was no real advance on this matter.
I feel that probably I have not answered the noble Earl's question entirely satisfactorily and, if he wishes, I shall be willing to try to answer a Question later. On this particular point I am not quite sure how much about this 1013 aspect of the discussions has been published, and that is why I am being careful about it at the moment. I can assure noble Lords that we were investigating a number of possible solutions, but we never got down in detail to anything that was a "runner" at all.
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting again, but in the second communication of February 3 from Mr. Carter to Mr. Clarke it was specifically stated that all the other safeguards which had been proposed by the British side to the Rhodesians were covered by the various possibilities outlined by the Prime Minister on October 22. So far as I can make out, however, none of these possibilities included a purely internal second safeguard.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Earl has made his points, and I am afraid that I cannot give him any further information this evening on that aspect of the matter. All I can do is to apologise to him.
I should now like to come to the crucial question of the approach towards majority rule. Could any British Government, conscious of the principles which have dictated the evolution of our Colonies and our Empire towards independence, conscious of solemn declarations and undertakings to which successive British Governments have subscribed, have reached an agreement which did not seek to safeguard this principle?
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has said that Her Majesty's Government elevated the concept of majority rule into a moral principle. I do not think I will be drawn into the question of what is or is not a moral principle. My noble friend Lord Wells-Pestell, I think the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and others have regarded this as a fundamental principle of the democratic way of life. Certainly, unimpeded progress towards majority rule is the first of our Six Principles, as it was of our predecessors. Majority rule is the principle on which we base our own political life in this country, and it is the principle we have applied in granting independence to our Colonies. As the noble Marquess will remember, the addition of the sixth Principle also took into account the rights of the minority, and again I should not like it to be thought that there was to be domination of them by a majority 1014 unless it meant what we mean by "majority rule".
The noble Marquess was particularly concerned about the timing, and he has made what appeared to be almost an appeal to the Rhodesian people, and to Mr. Smith, to think again about the possibility of withdrawing the Constitution or reopening negotiations in return for some undertaking from Her Majesty's Government in relation to the timing of the attainment of majority rule. Time and time again we have made it clear that in Rhodesia we were thinking in terms not of immediate but of eventual majority rule, and I do not think I can do better than quote the words of the Prime Minister in another place shortly after his return from a visit to Salisbury. He said:We could not agree to early majority rule. As regards time, the principal point made by the honourable Gentleman, I said that time would have to be measured not by the clock or by the calendar; not by weeks or months or years, but by achievement.I do not believe that a statement could go further than that in regard to the question of majority rule.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I should like to ask one question. Who was to take the decision about it?
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, this would ultimately have been a part of the Constitution. With regard to the progress of the negotiations on the numbers of voters on the particular rolls, various figures were mentioned. In view of the Prime Minister's categorical statement I do not think there is any point in my mentioning a particular timing, but there would be a long procedure to go through. There would have to be a Royal Commission; there would nave to be agreement on a Constitution, and the way in which this would be brought about would depend on the drafting of the actual Constitution.
The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, discussed the possibility of a treaty. There are difficulties in assuring that there would be safeguards in a treaty, because Mr. Smith would object to a veto over any amendments to the treaty on the grounds that they detracted from Rhodesia's proper independence. Moreover, Mr. Smith has made it clear that he is not interested in any treaty which 1015 has to be registered with the United Nations; and under the Charter any treaty to which we are a party must be so registered.
Your Lordships are, I think, aware that not only we in this country, but the electorate in Rhodesia especially (and it is Rhodesia of which we have to think to-night) have to face the fact that we must take a decision which is really crucial to the future of their country. I agree with noble Lords, with my noble friends Lord Walston and Lord Brockway, when I say that I look with tremendous foreboding to the future if this further fateful step is taken. It strikes me that there is almost a feeling of frivolity about the idea that in a country of 4½ million people 90,000 voters can decide, and that the régime can claim that these people have a right to speak for, a population 45 times their number. This is approximately the same proportion of electors as prevailed in this country in the days before the first Reform Bill of 1832, when democracy was an ugly word. If there should be any nostalgia for those days, I might remind your Lordships that the British electors of the 18th century belonged at least to the same race as those who had so little by way of vote and they were never called upon to decide in a referendum what the future constitution of the country should be. Nevertheless, I agree with noble Lords that there are many responsible people in Rhodesia who will heed the advice they have been given by the two former Prime Ministers, the former G.O.C. of the Rhodesian Army and the Christian Churches.
It is always rash for people—and I acknowledge this—in one country to offer advice to people in another. But if I were a white Rhodesian (and I have Rhodesian relations, some of whom are thinking of returning to this country) there would be no doubt in my mind—and obviously this is a matter of opinion—about which way I would vote or would advise anybody to vote, taking into account the future of a family that I might have to bring up there, looking at the long-term consequences, and the prospect of the African population going up to 9 million by 1990. By then a child born now will be 21, and the proportion will be 9 million to 400,000.
1016 The one thing history teaches us is that a minority régime, a privileged régime, however high-minded it may be, never in the long run survives. And I say this with all seriousness. If we look even to a military race like the Spartans—and nobody would regard Spartan society or Spartan life as one civilised people would like to have—we see that even they were continuously faced with the threat of revolt from the Helots. I say this not to arouse emotional feelings in those who disagree, but merely as my personal judgment of the risks involved and to which noble Lords on this side have drawn attention. We must therefore hope that the Rhodesian electorate votes "No".
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether majority rule really exists, even in this country? I know that theoretically it does; we have a General Election. But when the Cabinet are appointed they make rules which certainly the majority of the population would never have thought of.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I obviously made a mistake in giving way to the noble Lord. I really cannot go into these fascinating topics, and I do not think anyone in the House wants me to do so.
There was a question about the future of sanctions, and although one could point out the damage and pressure that sanctions have brought—indeed, it has been made clear that one of the reasons Mr. Smith was prepared to enter into negotiations was the hope of getting rid of sanctions—it would be unthinkable that we should now, at this very moment when further progress in the wrong direction is the danger (and I am very conscious of Lord Gridley's warning about not anticipating things) and in face of world-wide opinion, suddenly reverse the policies we have followed.
I hope we shall not abandon for ever the hope that there will be a change of attitude in Rhodesia, even if it has not been reached by the time this particular referendum takes place. I do not accept the figures of the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, or the noble Lord, Lord Salter. I think the noble Lord, Lord Salter may not in fact entirely have interpreted correctly what his noble friend had to say about the damage caused by sanctions to our own balance of payments. Of 1017 course, sanctions are not a very pleasant thing, but he grossly exaggerated the effect. I was almost inclined to say—and I hope your Lordships will not interpret me wrongly—that the Government can manage a deficit on the balance of payments without the help of Rhodesian sanctions.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, in the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Salter, who, as the noble Lord knows, has had to go, would the noble Lord perhaps be so good as to furnish some figures to the House to substantiate what he is saying? Because I am convinced that the effect of sanctions on the British economy is of vast consequence.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I certainly will. It is about £40 million a year on the balance of payments. But I shall be happy to provide the noble Lord with even more precise figures, either by Question and Answer or by letter.
It must be our policy to work for a change of attitude by demonstrating to the régime and to the Rhodesian people as a whole the sterility of their present course. This change of attitude will not come any more quickly if the people of Rhodesia are led, as they have been continually led mistakenly to think, that this is a nine days' wonder, and that the international community will tire of imposing sanctions or that Her Majesty's Government will weaken in their principles. Sanctions are not an end in themselves; they are only a means to an end. And that end is restoration of Rhodesia to humane and rational government, to economic prosperity and to international acceptance. That has been, and remains, the Rhodesia policy of Her Majesty's Government. We will continue to work towards this end, and as soon as there are people in power in Rhodesia who share this objective they will find us ready to work with them.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I would make one suggestion to the noble Lord, which he may think frivolous—though I hope he will not—or which he may think offensive, and again I hope he will not. I wish that the Government would not always speak of the Government of Rhodesia as the "régime". It is a pejorative word. Whether he likes the electorate, whether he likes the Constitution or not, it is a 1018 Government elected under the Constitution of Rhodesia just as much as the Government of which the noble L mid is a member. If they gave up treating it as something responsible to no-one—
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, it is most irregular to continue a debate, and there has been a tendency to do this. If the noble Lord makes these points, I shall have to reply, and we have no Standing Orders to apply in these matters. I would only say to him—and I hope that other noble Lords will accept this—that we have certain procedures in this House and we do not continue the debase. I would only repeat that it is a régime because it is an illegal Government.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, it was meant to be a helpful suggestion, but I see that it is not taken as such.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.