HL Deb 21 October 1969 vol 304 cc1643-78

3.55 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, I intend to speak quite briefly this afternoon, for your Lordships, I am sure, have heard me already far too often on the subject of Rhodesia; and, indeed, I am very conscious that nothing that I or anyone else can say is likely to have the slightest effect upon the policy of the Government. They have chosen their path: they have made up their minds to continue with sanctions; and they are going to stick to that policy, though I wonder whether there is any noble Lord, even on the Government side of the House, who now really believes that sanctions are going to achieve the results for which they were originally imposed—or, indeed, any results which are at all likely to be in any way helpful to this country. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, himself did not really suggest that.

What, after all, was the purpose for which these sanctions were originally put on? It was to bring Rhodesia to her knees. It was to be a matter of months, even of weeks. But now nearly four years have passed, and will anyone tell me that the policy has succeeded or is, indeed, even getting any nearer to achieving success? On the contrary, my Lords, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, though sanctions have no doubt had some effect—and it may be, in some respects, considerable effect—all recent reports that I have heard seem to show that Rhodesia is more able in many ways to stand up to them than when they were originally put on. For at that time her economy was very largely dependent upon Britain: but now she has readjusted it to such extent that she is beginning to do very well without us.

Take only one example, my Lords. The Government thought, apparently, that if we cut off our export of cars to her, she would have no cars. But, in fact, she has plenty of cars. The only difference is that the cars do not come from us. The measures, in fact—and this, I think, is true of innumerable other commodities—which were intended to act as sanctions imposed by Britain on Rhodesia, have turned out to act as sanctions imposed by Rhodesia on Britain. Rhodesia is still getting the cars and most other things she needs, while we are losing our markets, perhaps forever. And when a firm of the highest repute, as happened the other day, tried to save some part of that trade for us, what happened? It was fined £100, 000. No doubt, if a firm contravenes knowingly a law of its country it must pay the penalty. But what an idiotic law! Next time the Rhodesians want that type of machinery no British firm will tender for it—it will be too dangerous—but they will get their machinery just the same, from someone else. All we have, in fact, achieved through these ill-advised measures, which are now very little more than a corpse of a policy, is to alienate some of the best and most loyal friends and customers we have ever had, and handed our trade with them over to our rivals.

Nor, my Lords, have we helped the Africans, whose cause it was intended to serve. On the contrary, as I hope to show in a moment, if anyone has suffered, it is they. And yet we go plodding and plodding on, deeper and deeper into the mire, every now and then hurling a little abuse on Rhodesia to justify our conduct. And this slinging of mud, alas! is true of all our present political rulers, from the highest downwards. None of them seems able to resist the temptation. Last week your Lordships will remember that the Leader of the House, in the debate on the Boundaries Bill, made a great point of saying how wrong it was of us who sit on this side of the House to attribute unworthy motives to those who did not agree with us. But almost the same day the Prime Minister, in answer to a suggestion by a Conservative Member of Parliament that the policy of sanctions was only uniting Rhodesia behind Mr. Smith and undermining British influence—which is, after all, an undeniable fact—replied, as championing the cause of the Africans, that to do what was suggested would be—I quote his words—" a squalid surrender to racialism." If that is not attributing unworthy motives to the Rhodesian Government I do not know what is, and one cannot help wondering whether it is wise of the Prime Minister to say such violently provocative things about a Government with whom, after all, if he is still in office, he must ultimately have to deal.

Moreover, though I do not for one moment question the fact that if the Prime Minister says, in effect, that the policy of sanctions is benefiting the Africans, that is what he genuinely thinks—I am sure it is—yet, my Lords, is what he says in fact really true? There was on October 2 a letter in The Times from a clergyman who had lately been in Rhodesia. And what did he say? I have spent five months among the Mashona and found that the present policy, so far from aiding them, is gradually starving them ". And he went on to add: The missionaries also complain of their inability to get funds out fox building schools, clinics and hospitals ". What a commentary that is, my Lords, on the policy of which the Prime Minister appears to be so proud!

Indeed, I would go further and say that I believe that the charge that racialism is the main motive behind the policy of the Rhodesian Government is, if I may use such an expression in so serious a context, a classic example of barking up the wrong tree. To anyone who examines objectively the course of this unhappy dispute, it must surely become more and more clear that this is not just a struggle for white domination—an exhibition of what the Prime Minister has called "squalid racialism ". It is something more fundamental, I think, and more respectable than that. It is a struggle by the rulers of a country—a small country, but still a country—to run its internal affairs in its own way. The Rhodesians—and I think this applies to all Rhodesians, and not merely to supporters of Mr. Smith—regard Rhodesia as having been virtually an independent country since 1923, when it became an "independent Colony"—a term of art, my Lords, which was applied to Canada and Australia before they became fully-fledged Dominions and which means that the country in question is entirely responsible for its internal affairs. The Rhodesians hold, too, that this has always been recognised by Imperial Governments in the past, and I know that to be true from my own experience as Dominions Secretary over twenty years ago. It seems therefore intolerable to them that the United Kingdom Government should begin suddenly now to muscle in, more and more, on matters which, in Rhodesian eyes, are altogether outside its province. That, and not racialism, I believe, was the inner meaning of U.D.I.

Nor, my Lords, was it a revolt, as has been suggested, against the Queen. It was, as I think I have already said to your Lordships, a dispute between two of Her Majesty's Governments, both loyal to her, as to whether one of them could rightly interfere in the internal affairs of the other; and if the Crown ha; been dragged in more and more, say the Rhodesians, that is our doing and not theirs. This view is, I believe, common to all Rhodesians, even to those who disagree most strongly with the handling by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, and especially their recent handling, of their country's affairs. Such, my Lords, is the not ignoble principle for which Rhodesians stand; and they will, I am pretty sure, never recede from it, whatever we do. This being the case, sanctions, so far from weakening them in their determination, have only forced them, and will continue to force them, into more and more extreme positions, which is, I imagine, the very last thing which the Government want.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, speaking this afternoon, has thrown tremendous emphasis on the new Rhodesian Constitution. Neither he nor I like that Constitution. But I would remind him that if Her Majesty's Government here had been more forthcoming at an earlier stage, this new Constitution would probably never have seen the light at all. To that extent, Her Majesty's Government must, I believe, share full blame for the present situation.

My Lords, I am not going to challenge a vote against this Order this afternoon; for I have learnt my lesson: that it is quite useless to try to save the Government from the consequences of their own folly. But I do warn them that what they are doing is to create—for themselves and for all of us, too—a Vietnam situation. Like the Americans, they have embarked on a policy, believing that it would prevail: like the Americans, they have found that it has failed: and like the Americans, they do not know how to call it off. So this country goes on, committing more and more absurdities in defence of a policy which is really indefensible. And what will be the result? Sooner or later, my Lords, sanctions will simply have to be called off; but by that time we shall have alienated, fatally and possibly permanently, those who were, until we embarked on it, in good times and in bad, our closest and most faithful friends in all the world.

4.6 p.m.


My Lords, those of your Lordships who have attended these debates on Rhodesia may remember that in so far as I have in the past criticised the Government it has been on the grounds that they have not been tough enough; that the general attitude has been somewhat complacent and somewhat easy-going. One thing I am very well aware of is that one of the greatest mistakes one can make in politics, in business and in private life is to adhere to policies which were right at the time at which they were formulated but which may not necessarily be right many years afterwards, when circumstances have changed. I therefore thought it was a wise thing to do during the leisure of the Recess to rethink the Rhodesian situation so far as I personally was concerned.

My thoughts ran somewhat as follows. Our responsibilities in this country, the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government, are primarily towards the people of this country; secondly, towards the Deople, black and white, of Rhodesia; and, thirdly, for the good name of this country and the influence that this country can exert for good in the rest of the world and, above all, in the African Continent and in the complex of countries forming Southern Africa. Those are the three points on which we have to assess our judgment on whether what appeared to be right four years ago still is the right policy to pursue.

My Lords, in so far as this country is concerned, I agree in principle, though not in quantity, with the noble Marquess. Sanctions, so far as this country is concerned, have harmed us. They have certainly not benefited us. They have not harmed us to any very great extent, because, after all, the market of Rhodesia is a very small one—there are only some 200, 000 people among the Europeans, who are the main buyers of what we produce. But undoubtedly there has been some diminution in our trade with Rhodesia; and there has also been some increase in costs for people in this country, because our tobacco, for instance, has had to be bought from primarily dollar sources instead of from Rhodesia. So on that count, the first count, sanctions have worked adversely to the interests of this country, and, the Government's prime responsibility being towards the people of this country, they naturally come in for very severe questioning.

Secondly, so far as the people of Rhodesia are concerned, have sanctions benefited them or done them harm? There again, my Lords, I would agree with the noble Marquess: sanctions have harmed the people of Rhodesia, both the Europeans and the Africans. The Europeans are having a lower standard of living than they otherwise would have; the investment in that country and the economic advancement which was taking place before U.D.I. have very severely slowed down; and the higher standards to which they had every right to look forward have been pushed into the background. The Africans, too, have suffered from this. There is less employment and they are suffering far more than the Europeans because of this. So on the second count one might feel that sanctions have failed.

Then one turns to the third count—our own standing in the world at large and, in particular, the influence that we can exert among the neighbouring countries of Southern Africa. In recent months we have heard a great deal—far too much, unfortunately—about the low esteem in which this country is held among the African Governments because of our failure to take effective action in Rhodesia. We have heard that our influence is at rock bottom; that it could go no lower. If this is true, then we shall have failed on the third count also, not only in our material responsibilities towards our own people, and in our material and political responsibilities towards the people of Rhodesia, but also in keeping the name and the influence of this country high in Africa. This seems to me to be the crux of the situation. If one found that our standing and influence was entirely non-existent—in other words, that it could go no lower—what would be the argument, other than pride, for keeping the sanctions and following the present policy? It is difficult for a private individual to find out what is happening in other countries far from here. In fact, I think it is often difficult for Governments to find out. But I have made such inquiries as I could from friends and acquaintances, by talking and writing to them: friends who live and work there and who know the country. They confirmed to me that our standing and our influence is low, but they also convinced me, so far as I needed convincing, that, low though it was, it could sink still lower; that we still had some influence, and were still regarded with disappointment, but as being a country that stuck to its word, a country that did its best although that best might fall lamentably from the standards they expected of us. They feel that we do our best to fulfil the responsibilities that we have taken on. But if we turn back from Rhodesia now; if we abandon sanctions; if we revert to a policy of letting bygones be bygones and accepting the facts as they are now; and if we make friends in one way or another with the Rhodesian regime, then indeed will our name sink to the very bottom; then indeed will our influence disappear, not only for the moment but as far ahead as one can see.

I confess that those were the views that I had hoped to receive because I did not like to think that this country had reached the end of the road in Africa. I did not like to think that we were no longer regarded as being of any value or of any interest; that our word was worth nothing at all. For that reason I came to the conclusion, after very considerable thought, that in spite of the apparent failure of the Government's present policy; in spite of the inadequacies (and there are still certain inadequacies in our policy) we were bound not only in honour —which I hope comes first of all in your Lordships' minds—but in self-interest and for the welfare of this country, the long-term influence and the effect that we may have in that vital part of the world for the whole of South Africa, to stick to this policy; to continue with sanctions and, where necessary and possible, still further strengthen them.

That, my Lords, is my very firm conviction to-day. There is little else that we can do. We can pursue this policy, we must pursue this policy, if we are to retain any self-respect and influence whatsoever. There are, however, one or two minor things that we can do here and there to alleviate the suffering which has taken place and is taking place as a result of sanctions. I will refer to only one of them—it is a very small matter, but I hope that my noble friend, when he replies, may be able to give us some encouragement in respect of it.

There are at the present time a small number—it may be 50, 100, or 150—of young Africans from Rhodesia who are in this country and who have corns to study and to learn. But they have not been able to do so, largely because of the abysmal educational system for Africans in Rhodesia. They have not been able to acquire their A-levels or any other qualifications necessary to get into a university. It is therefore impossible for them, as things are at present, to get any grant from the Ministry of Overseas Development, or any other Government Department, to assist them in their further education. All they have are O-levels; what they want is to study in order to get A-levels, to go on for higher education or to the various forms of technical training. Simply through the lack of a very small amount of money these young men and women, for whom we are responsible, are debarred from improving themselves and helping whatever country it may be, our own or Rhodesia, to which they may go back and give their allegiance. That is a very small instance where the Government can take a step to help, in a significant way, a small number of people. I hope that my noble friend may be able to give some encouragement in that respect.

My Lords, all I can do is repeat once more that the Government's policy today, belated though it may be, weak though it may have been in the past, is now right and proper and deserves support, not only the support of those who support the Government but from the opposite side of the House, from people who believe in honesty and responsibility and in living up to our responsibilities.

4.18 p.m.


My Lords, in the apparent absence of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, perhaps I may continue the debate. I rise to speak once more on this question of sanctions against Rhodesia because I understand that a formal Division of the House is not likely to take place; and feeling as strongly as I do on the subject I cannot refrain from placing on record my unchanged abhorrence of this policy. Over the past two or three years I have, I think, participated in all our debates on Rhodesia and I shall not attempt to repeat the analysis which I tried to express so forcibly in June of this year.

My Lords, I have now had the opportunity of reading the new Constitution Bill whose Second Reading was moved by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Desmond Lardner-Burke, on October 1 in what seemed to me an historic speech. In it, he gave a very lucid analysis of the events which led up to the present position and of the principles on which that Bill is now based. May I say at once that I appreciate that this is not the occasion to go into the details of the new Constitution; that merits a full-dress debate at a later date. But I venture to think that no one can claim to understand the position as seen by those vitally concerned—in short, by the Rhodesians themselves, whose country we are trying to ruin by the Continuation Order now before this House—unless they study the speech of the Minister of Justice and also the new Constitution.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, if he will allow me to say so, gave a very noticeable example of how difficult it is to exclude colour from a speech however easy it may be to ignore it otherwise. I thought that his selections from the speech of the Minister of Justice scarcely did justice to some of the rather important aspects of that speech which I shall try to mention now. The Minister of Justice, at one period of his speech, said: The 1965 Constitution, as was the case with its predecessor, leads inevitably to African majority rule and contains no guarantee that Government will be retained in responsible hands. Quite the reverse. In fact the provisions could well lead to the Government of Rhodesia passing into irresponsible hands. He went on to say: In any early future African majority rule would result, firstly, in the removal of all European political influence and, thereafter, in a battle for power between the two largest African tribes. African majority would lead ultimately to Mashona rule and the subjugation of all other races and tribes. That aspect of this question has, so far as I know, not even been mentioned to date; but it is a very serious aspect of it. The Minister of Justice went on to say: In Rhodesia we do not have a homogenous population. It comprises people of different races, tribes and religions. There are differences of culture, language and level of education and in people's philosophy and way of life that run deep in our society. People cannot be treated as if they were all the same. He continued: In Rhodesia, I think that most of us, whether black or white, are realists not racialists. We recognise the futility of disregarding racial differences. There are differences between races and they cannot be ignored. They must be recognised and provided for. We have been searching for a Constitutional solution which will minimise racial influence in politics, and will, at the same time, retain the principle of equality of opportunity and reasonable participation in the affairs of the nation by members of all races. My Lords, in common fairness, why is that not more frequently stated as the object of leading Rhodesians? The impression which is so often sought to be given to the people of this country—that the Rhodesians are all racialists with no thought—is quite the reverse of the truth. Now here is a statement by one of their leaders given on the most public of occasions saying what their real position is. The Minister of Justice continued: European Rhodesians do not regard African Rhodesians as racially inferior. They want them to have a square deal. They want the Europeans and Africans to live in racial harmony according to the traditions they have built up for themselves. Tribalism in Africa is an enduring and powerful force, and any political structure which does not take this into account is bound to fail. Our task is to create soundly based dynamic institutions where tribalism is honoured by and reconciled with Government in the Westminster tradition. The solution, and we believe it to be the only solution which will meet the conditions in Rhodesia, is to remove the inevitability of conflict between the races at its source—by eliminating so far as is constitutionally possible, the likelihood of political competition between the races. Under the new Constitution the races will not compete for greater and greater political power and the eventual domination of the other race. The fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are clearly set out and responsibility for their protection is placed on Parliament."— which is where the Rhodesians consider it should be placed, with the representatives of the people.

In concluding his speech the Minister of Justice said—and I think that these are words which ought to receive proper attention: It may well be that some people will claim that some of the provisions of the new Constitution are novel or unconventional. To them I would answer that methods regarded elsewhere as conventional will not necessarily work here. In fact conventional methods in other countries have not solved the problems created by having different races living together. We ask our critics to examine whether methods of overcoming racial problems in other countries have been so successful as to exclude the necessity for new solutions in this area. All we ask is to be given a chance to solve our problems in our own way. This Constitution represents a sincere effort on the part of the Rhodesian Government to ensure that our various peoples will continue to live in harmony and in peace. Rhodesia follows policies towards the black people within her territory regarding qualifications for voting and the apportionment of Parliamentary representatives which do not violate the Charter of the United Nations.

My Lords, I am now passing to the consideration of the question which has been raised: What right has this country or the United Nations to interfere with the internal affairs of Rhodesia? Asserting political independence is not forbidden by the Charter of the United Nations which, on the contrary, takes a benevolent attitude towards the movement of dependent peoples to independence. Furthermore, the Charter sternly enjoins the United Nations not to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State or require the members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter. The reference to that is the United Nations Charter, Chapter 1, Article 2, paragraph 7.

The British Government, however, had not been moved in earlier days by the American Declaration of Independence and was not impressed in its later form by Mr. Ian Smith's. In this case it undertook to suppress the so-called rebellion by an embargo on trade with Rhodesia, in which other States joined. When this showed signs of breaking down, the United Kingdom went to the United Nations for approval in using force to bolster the blockade. Approval was given on the ground that Rhodesia's conduct constituted a threat to the peace. The reasoning whereby organs of the United Nations have concluded that a State acting within the limits of its domestic jurisdiction, where the United Nations may not intervene, is threatening the peace is interesting. The actions are said to incite others to threaten or use force against the offending State. To yield to this provocation is to violate the law of the United Nations. Thus, the argument runs, the United Nations is justified in intervening in a matter from which intervention is expressly excluded because the matter may cause others to do what they are expressly forbidden to do. Could anything be more typical of Alice in Wonderland than that argument?

Since 1923, the British Government have conceded that Rhodesia is not only self-governing but also responsible for its own defence and security. Therefore, to assert de jure as well as de facto independence is not a transgression. Mr. Wilson and the United Nations argue that Rhodesia, in doing what the United Nations has no jurisdiction to forbid, annoys African members to the point where they may transgress against the first commandment of the United Nations (I refer again to Chapter 1, Article 4) which reads: All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or independence of any State.' It was so eminent a person as Dean Acheson, whose career as a lawyer and prominent Secretary of State is no doubt known to all your Lordships, who commented: Mr. Wilson's reasoning is worthy to rank with that of the Red Queen in Alice through the Looking glass." It is, as that distinguished American statesman and lawyer says, to judge the law by the issues and to reject those misguided people who still think that you should judge the issues by the law. As he also says: One of the troubles of this troubled age in which we live is that too many people are trying to achieve harmony of interest by forcing everyone else to harmonise with them. The failure to adopt internationally the principle of universal suffrage has now been elevated to a justification of the use of force. Conscience used to be an inner voice of self-discipline; now it is a clarion urge to discipline others. It took a long time to develop the inter national precept that peace would be furthered by Governments having respect for each other's autonomy. Surely this should also apply to them when they are acting in concert, like the United Nations.

We are all familiar with the terms which have been insisted upon by the British Government. Their terms for acknowledging Rhodesian independence would include a denial of that independence—a basic contradiction which even our Prime Minister could not hope to get away with. I sincerely hope that the increasing pressure which is being brought to bear on the United States Government to withdraw their support of sanctions will soon succeed. Without American support, the iniquitous policy of sanctions is bound to fall to the ground and will only be remembered as a sanctimonious covering of resentful failure to impose an unjustifiable control over Rhodesia.

The United Nations policy, a bogus international obligation sold to them by Mr. Wilson to mitigate his own failure, is the chief threat to the peace and security of Southern and Central Africa. The chief economic victims, incidentally, of this uncivilised policy are black Africans. A distinguished American, speaking on this subject, has said: We are the only Power of general, as distinguished from parochial, responsibility in the Free World. At a time when Arab nationalism has brought on the closing of the Suez Canal, perhaps permanently, and the Soviet Navy has penetrated the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, the good will of Southern Africa, the use of its ports, the co-operation of its Governments—including their participation with immense resources and advanced technology in aiding the development of adjoining black States—would be of immense importance to the Free World. As the principal responsible Power in the Free World, it is our duty and responsibility to encourage good will, co- operation and stability in Southern Africa. It is the height of folly to sacrifice these desirable ends to an aggressive reformist intervention in the internal affairs of these States, an intervention designed to force upon them electoral practices that none of the black African or Communist States and few of the Asian accept. Perhaps I may conclude by quoting a few words from the remarks made in April of this year by Dean Acheson to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He said: Hostile harassment, with our help, of three friendly countries in Southern Africa is still going on. These countries were our allies in two world wars. To-day with the Russian Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean they are more important to us and, as President Banda of Malawi keeps telling his sub-Saharan black neighbours, more important to them than all the rest of Africa put together. Yet these acts of harassment and folly were designed in the United Nations to coerce Portugal into setting adrift territories over which it has had political responsibility for twice the time of our own country's independent life; to separate South Africa from South-West Africa over which its claim to rule is as good as ours over any of our territory … and to change its whole social system; and to pressure Rhodesia into submitting to the colonial rule of Harold Wilson's Whitehall. These matters surely concern the internal affairs of friendly countries and are none of our business. But what is more important is that while the interference in which we are joining has not the slightest chance of accomplishing its purpose, it has already inspired acts of terrorism in Southern Africa, which have been sternly repressed. If we continue this meddlesome folly, it will inevitably instigate a serious blood-letting, armed and encouraged from the same sources that have fanned the flames of war in the Middle East. The responsibility will be ours, for this incipient war would cease if our Government would cut its connection with it. Let us hope with Dean Acheson that the present President of America will recall Lord Rosebery's warning not to hover over the bones of dead policies: and the policy of sanctions is a dead policy. This policy of sanctions is an offence against decent international behaviour.

I would conclude by saying that another person of distinction, who shall be nameless, has suggested an alteration to the Litany. It has been suggested that an additional sentence might be put at the end: F[...] all blindness of heart, from proud vainglory and hypocrisy, from envy, hatred, malice, all uncharitableness, and from the United Nations Charter as distorted by professors of international law, Good Lord deliver us". I should like to add to that—but I am afraid I cannot—" and so say all of us ".

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, I do not know whether it was by accident or design that I was placed on the list of speakers following the noble Lord, Lord Milverton; but we do represent opposite points of view. I would say to the noble Lord that I appreciate the deep and intense sincerity with which he has spoken; on that there is no difference between us. The difference between us is that we hold opposite principles and apply them in different ways. I want to take up the two main points which the noble Lord mentioned in his speech. The first is that, in the conditions of Africa, if liberties were granted to the African race in Rhodesia there would be conflict between tribes.

I want to say honestly to the House that I do not think anything has disturbed me in recent years more than the outbreak of tribal feelings in the continent of Africa. It has been deeply disappointing to anyone who has worked for the independence of those countries. I have given it careful thought, and I have come to this conclusion: that to maintain an alien occupation of those territories, and to deny the rights to people even of potential equality, as in Rhodesia, means an intensification of those nationalist, tribal, violent feelings which ultimately find expression in conflict between the tribes; and that you are far more likely to find your way through these difficulties if you take steps which will allow those peoples to have representation in a constitutional way, which allows persuasion and co-operation, rather than by just maintaining occupation with a view to enforcing peace between them.


If I may interrupt the noble Lord, does he consider Nigeria an adequate example of that statement?


The noble Lord may know that I am deeply concerned about that issue. I am chairman of a British Commission for Peace in Nigeria which contains leading figures from all three Parties and the churches, and two ex-Governors-General. To answer the noble Lord I should have to go more deeply into the subject than I desire to do in a short speech this afternoon. If the noble Lord would like to receive them, I should be glad to send him the documents containing the analysis of that situation which our committee has produced.

The second point made by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, on which I should like to comment was this: that the United Nations has laid it down that there should not be interference ill the internal affairs of a distinct country. That principle applies to sovereign States which are open to membership of the United Nations. Rhodesia was rot a sovereign State. It is perfectly true that we extended responsible government to Rhodesia in 1923, but it remained a British colony.


If I may interrupt the noble Lord, Rhodesia has never been a British Colony.


Perhaps I should say that it did not have sovereignty within the British Empire. I will not quarrel about the term "Colony ". What I am saying to the noble Lord is that that provision in the United Nations Charter applies only to sovereign States, and Rhodesia was not a sovereign State: and, secondly, that the United Nations Charter includes also the principle of self-determination of peoples, irrespective of race or of colour. This has been denied in Rhodesia.


If I may interrupt the noble Lord, he said that Rhodesia was not a sovereign State, and therefore did not come within the usual rules of the United Nations. If it was not a sovereign State, it was a dependency of Britain, and in that case did not come under the United Nations either.


I shall be coming to that point later; I will not shirk it, but will deal with it frankly. I was sorry to miss the speech made by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, but I wanted to hear the speeches from the Front Benches and then to prepare some notes for my own speech.

I felt a little sympathy for the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, when he spoke this afternoon. I do not know how deeply (I will not say sincerely) he felt about the cause which he was advocating. He said he thought it was possible that if the Conservatives had won the Election in the 'sixties an agreement might have been reached in regard to Rhodesia. I will say only that it was a Conservative Government—it was Sir Alec Douglas-Home—which first laid down the five principles. I find it difficult to believe that any Conservative Government could have reached an agreement with Mr. Ian Smith, in view of all his statements and his actions, which would have been consistent with those five principles.

The second point the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, made—and this also applies to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury—was his objection to the reference to the United Nations. At the beginning he and his Party did not oppose sanctions. How could the policy of sanctions possibly be successful if it had not the support of other nations? If it had been applied only by Britain, the possibility of success was nil. In that situation, if we really believe in the policy of sanctions, of course we take it to the United Nations in order to get the co-operation of member States.


My Lords, I am so sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again but this is the same point upon which we were in disagreement before. If the matter was brought before the United Nations, then Rhodesia ought to have been heard in her own defence, but she was not. She was hit both ways; and that was not, I am sure, the intention of the framers of the Charter.


My Lords, that is rather a new point. I would only say to the noble Marquess that I like to see defendants, whether at the Security Council of the United Nations or at any tribunal, having the right to express their views. I should have been in favour, even though Rhodesia was not a member State, of her having an opportunity to defend herself before the Security Council on that occasion.

Fortunately, there is little need for me to add to what has been said by my noble friend Lord Shepherd regarding the new Constitution and the Land Tenure Bill: he has stated it so strongly and so clearly. I only make the point regarding the Constitution that this is the first time in modern history that a Constitution has maintained the permanent features of a police State in normal conditions. It is everlasting. Even the Fascist States or semi-Fascist States of Portugal and Spain, even Greece to-day, do not include in their Constitutions the provisions for detention without trial, the suppression of the Press and all the other—


My Lords—


My Lords, I have given way a number of times.


My Lords, I wanted to point out to the noble Lord that it is quite wrong to say that this Constitution is everlasting and eternal. If the noble Lord would only study it, he would see that there exist elaborate arrangements within it for alteration of the Constitution by the proper democratic methods, if in the future the occasion arises when the people want it.


My Lords, may I say to the noble Lord that I listened very patiently to his speech although I differed from it very much, and it may be a fault of mine but I find that interruptions interfere with the consecutive case which I am trying to make. I say that courteously. In reply to the point which the noble Lord has raised I would say this. Of course the Parliament of Rhodesia can in some future time change the Constitution, but only by a two-thirds majority. And what is the Constitution? The House of Assembly—50 European Members elected by Europeans, one in 16 of the population; 16 African Members, eight elected on a restricted franchise and eight elected by Chiefs and Headmen. I put it in practical terms to the noble Lord that a Parliament which has that kind of representation is not likely to change the Constitution in the terms of the majority rule which we are seeking.

Just one remark on the Land Tenure Bill. This is about the most appalling economic measure that has ever been introduced in any Parliament in the world. Half the territory of Rhodesia is to go to 230, 000 Europeans; the other half is to go to 4, 800, 000 Africans. We are already seeing something of the tragedy of this event: the recent incidents of the Chief of Tangwena and his people evicted from land which they have held for centuries—36 families, 400 people. My Lords, there cannot be a Member of this House—not the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, himself—who could endorse action of that kind.

I go on to say that I recognise that we are now in a crisis regarding the policy of sanctions. Not only in this country is there some discussion on it; there is discussion in the United States of America, and there is a good deal of pressure on those within the Pentagon to withdraw sanctions in order that the United States may buy the chrome necessary for her war equipment from Rhodesia rather than from Soviet Russia. I am going to put it to Her Majesty's Government that we have to recognise that these difficulties and doubts now exist in the world.

There are three possible policies. The first is to abandon sanctions. That is supported by some noble Lords on the opposite Benches. For the reasons I have already indicated, I do not think any of us on these Benches would support them in that view. The second possible course is to maintain our present policy. I want to recognise at once that sanctions have had some effect, but we have to face the fact, as indicated in the United Nations Report, that Rhodesian exports reached £106½ million last year, which was a drop of only £3½ million, and that imports actually rose from £108 million to £120-8 million. That Report indicated that it was not merely South Africa and Portugal which facilitated Rhodesian trade; it named West Germany, Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, the United States of America, Belgium and Luxembourg, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Malawi, and neighbouring Zambia. I put it to my noble friend that if the present policy of sanctions is followed it will be very many years indeed before they are effective.

The third course which is open to us is an intensification of sanctions, and it is this which I am urging. The Commonwealth Sanctions Committee have recently been meeting. Their recommendations have not yet been published. I suspect very strongly that the recommendations of that Committee are for an intensification of sanctions. I want to urge this intensification in four directions. First, there should be an end to postal and telegraphic communications with Rhodesia, and this should be extended to air flight communication. Secondly, the present blockade upon Beira in Mozambique should be supplemented by a blockade of Lorenç o Marques, and the United Nations should be asked to endorse this. It is through Lorenç o Marques that the major trade is now taking place.

Thirdly, I should like to suggest that we should take to the Security Council of the United Nations the proposal that the British action in making it illegal for a ship carrying the British flag to carry Rhodesian goods should, by Security Council resolution, be proposed to the other Governments which have endorsed sanctions. If we did that, there should be the right to search suspected ships. I want to pay a tribute to the British Intelligence Service at Beira. Last year they traced twelve ships from port to port, from continent to continent, but they had no power to act. If such a resolution were carried by the Security Council it might enable us to prevent this traffic which is in defiance of the United Nations.

Fourthly, I want to urge pressure upon the Government of Switzerland. It is not a member of the United Nations but it has a great democratic record; it seeks to be neutral in the foreign policy conflicts of the world. Yet undoubtedly it is the headquarters of the exchanges which lead to trade with Rhodesia. The excuse made by Switzerland has been that there have been consuls in Rhodesia. We had our own until the Governor-General withdrew. America still has consuls there, and so have many other European countries. If we are to be serious with this policy of sanctions I suggest that we should seek to end that kind of association.

My Lords, we are really discussing one of the biggest issues which is now before the decision of all peoples, the problem of the relationship of the white races to the non-white races. It could be dealt with in two ways: either by a recognition of the value of all men and women, whatever their race or colour—that it is the human personality that is important and not the pigmentation of the skin—thus bringing about integration of all peoples, or it could be dealt with by segregation and separation. If we choose the latter it will be a surrender of all that is highest in human principles. When we are carrying this Order to-day I hope it will be an indication that this House, as well as the British Parliament and people, endorse the idea that we have to move towards a society in which it is recognised that men and women of all races and colours are equal.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, it used more frequently to be observed that reference should be made to the previous speaker. In this case I find myself in the somewhat infrequent position of following the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. I never doubt the sincerity of his widely spread humanitarianism, but I shall not occupy the time of the House in discussing what he has said, because his views and mine are wide apart. However, if I understood the noble Lord correctly, he made inadequate reference, in referring to the Continent of Africa as a whole, to the fact that, without the tutelage of the white peoples, the African inhabitants would be far behind the situation in which they find themselves even to-day, far as that is—for instance, in South Africa behind the white man's status.

We want to-day to avoid repeating what has been said in previous debates, of which there have been many. However, it is impossible to avoid some reference to previous speeches. We heard a particularly powerful speech from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury; we have heard a speech from my noble friend Lord Milverton, whose long experience of the administration of non-white peoples qualifies him to give advice to this House. Where do we stand at the moment? My noble Leader has recommended from the Opposition Front Bench that we should not divide on this issue. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in moving the Motion, said that the purpose is to induce a change of heart in Rhodesia. I now address the House because I believe, on the basis of what I have seen in Rhodesia and of my experience in going about and talking to people, that what the Government are aiming to do is to destroy Rhodesia—and what a lovely country it is!—to destroy the present regime. Personally, I would use the word "administration" and would give less emphasis to the French word regime which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, uses so frequently in your Lordships' House. My Lords, I saw a quotation in the Press last week by an eminent divine, Sidney Smith. It read: All great alterations in human affairs are produced by compromise". I speak now because I still hold that it cannot be too late to find some solution to this unhappy affair. I do so because I have such admiration for the territory of Rhodesia, for its people, its possibilities and its future. I feel that there must be some solution. In a long life of business experience and over forty years in Parliament I seem to remember that many difficult situations which were apparently incapable of solution were subsequently settled by compromise. It is in that light that I address your Lordships to-day, because I am so puzzled as to why we are persisting in sanctions. It is futile to believe or to expect that sanctions can succeed. Of course they are having an effect: they are doing more harm to the Africans than they will do to the white people.

I should like to take up a point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and perhaps he will correct me if I have misunderstood him. I understood him to refer to the votes of 4, 800, 000 Africans. In 1923 there were 400, 000; to-day there are more than 4 million, owing to improved sanitation, to education, security and so on. However, about one-half of those 4 million are under voting age—


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, I will certainly correct myself if I said that. I hope I did not mislead the House. Clearly there are not 4, 800, 000 coloured voters in Rhodesia; there are that number of people who are coloured and who, in my view, are being oppressed by just over 230, 000 of European stock.


My Lords, the noble Lord corrects his figure and we will not now debate the rest. I ask myself what was the motivation of those who in this House failed to support a vote taken on this matter before. I respect their emotionalism and, as I understand such, it is for discrimination against Africans. Well, it may be the vote. I understand that in Rhodesia some 60, 000 qualify for the vote and certainly not more than 8, 000 have ever voted, for very good reasons of which the noble Lord is aware. I respect that emotionalism; I doubt its wisdom. Representative of others, I think of one in particular among, I hope, many friends in this House, who is Rightist in most of his views and a good Conservative. When I asked him, "Why do you support sanctions? ", his reply was, "They did wrong; therefore they must be punished." Who is being punished? It is the Africans who are being punished, not the white people.

When in Rhodesia this spring I circulated a lot and sought to learn about the Tribal Trust Lands. As all noble Lords will know, 50 per cent. of the surface of Rhodesia is the property of the natives, and I wanted to study the agriculture, which is the nub of the whole thing. One saw that there in those areas where white guidance had been freely and intimately given to the Africans there were fine crops which stood out like a sore thumb in the whole landscape of miserable crops grown on the traditional basis of the hereditary subsistence economy. As I went round I asked two questions of scores of people, seeking to find their interpretation of the present situation. The first question was, "Do you understand that the proposals of the British Government would put Rhodesia under Whitehall? ". In every case the answer was "Yes ". The second question was, "Would Smith be able to sell that to the electorate? ". The answer was almost universally "No ". There was one exception, I admit, a very prominent industrialist. That, in brief, is the position in Rhodesia, whatever we may think in this House it ought to be. So you cannot expect the effect of sanctions to be anything other than to harden the determination not to be put under Whitehall.

May I remind your Lordships of the White Paper, the last one—the "Fearless" proposals. It said: Where the Constitutional Council has not made an adverse report any person who is a citizen of Rhodesia may within a specified time ask for a certificate from the Constitutional Council that there is a case for consideration by the Judicial Committee. Right or wrong, my interpretation of English seems to side with the general view in Rhodesia. I am sure that the overall position here endangers our trade with South Africa. From considerable knowledge of South Africa—and I have done business there for over thirty years—I can say that the Bantu is not interested in votes; what he is interested in is the pay packet. I do not believe sanctions merit the risk of endangering our trade with South Africa.

I have two reasons for my attitude. The first, as mentioned by my noble friend Lord Milverton, is that the payment of £2 million in September, 1923, bestowed the responsibility of government, such as other self-governing colonies had had, over the then territory of Rhodesia. Secondly, I believe that sanctions have not the validity of law under the Charter. That has been said by the noble Marquess in this House before now. He was present in San Francisco; he should know. They have not the validity of law, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has admitted, but only the validity of usage as progressively built up. As my noble friend Lord Milverton has pointed out, Mr. Acheson, the former Secretary of State in the United States, one of the prominent lawyers in the United States and who, I believe—the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack can correct me—is at the present moment Chairman of the Law Society of the United States, said very definitely that the sanctions have no validity under the Charter.

Terrorist action, whether against Angola, Mozambique or Rhodesia, is all aimed at the South African Republic. And this policy is associated with the Beira patrol. That involves the intense resentment of Portugal, our ally in Nato. She considers it a violation of the Freedom of the Seas. Some people, might say it is piracy on the high seas.

There is complete law and order in Rhodesia, and I wonder how many of the noble Lords who have voted for or against these various measures remember that in Rhodesia, alone of all the Governments on the whole of the continent of Africa, the police on conventional duty circulate unarmed. Lord Milverton referred to a disturbance of the peace, and quoted by comparison Nigeria. There we have seen revolution, assassination, civil war. Here I want to take the opportunity to express my admiration to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for the persistence and the patience with which he has tried to find some solution there, showing a dedication which we admire and which makes him entitled to the thanks of all of us.

What inconsistency there is in the United Nations! Lord Brockway emphasised that we had to have United Nations support, but we surely should not yield to the pressure of the United Nations over Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. Just as much an inconsistency is that we stop trade with Rhodesia but continue trade with Russia, regardless of the vicious terrorism of Czechoslovakia.

Before I sit down I want to refer to one other matter. Last week the Press carried an account of a prominent firm being fined for contravening regulations. My noble friend Lord Salisbury has already referred to this. I now do so from a commercial point of view. I know nothing of the circumstances, nor have I been in touch with any member of the firm; but a firm which does so large an export business, which has earned many, many millions of pounds towards the balance of payments, could well, I think, have been adequately dealt with by admonishment instead of the publicity of a fine. I say that because it seems curious that contemporaneously much publicity was given to another case of a different character, where a law suit promised to be of long duration—I saw a reported estimate of four months or six months—at great cost to the Crown. It is the belief of many that that case ought to have been proceeded with; that the case, if proceeded with, would have produced inconvenient disclosures. Anyhow, it was thought more expedient that it should be dropped.

I say that this should have happened in the other case, instead of permitting the firm's competitors to be able to suggest that, "It must have been for wrong design or lateness of deliveries", or for some other reason, that they should be fined by the British Government.


My Lords, may I correct the noble Lord? The company was not fined by the British Government; it was fined by a court of law. I feel certain that the noble Lord himself would wish to be accurate in this matter.


My Lords, I have evidently failed to make myself clear.

In such cases it is within the competence of the Government which cases should be selected for trial, according to the practice followed in regard to economic warfare in the last two wars.

My Lords, I return to my opening plea. Surely compromise is possible. Compromise connotes further negotiation. It is in that spirit, in the belief that Rhodesia is worth trying to keep under the British Crown, that success of sanctions is unrealisable, that I make that final appeal that a compromise be sought.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, I must first of all tender to your Lordships my sincere apologies for not having been here throughout the debate, and in particular for not having been in my place when I should have been addressing your Lordships. I understood that the debate would be rather later, and the train in which I was coming down from the North was delayed slightly by the fog. I hope that your Lordships will overlook my sin. I am particularly sorry to have missed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Walston. I think that never in my life have I found myself in agreement with the noble Lord. But I have always respected him, and I understand that he is beginning—I may be misrepresenting him—to have serious doubts about the wisdom of the policy which Her Majesty's Government insist on now pursuing.


My Lords, if I may set the noble Lord's fears at rest, I am grateful to him for what he has said but I think that when he reads my speech, if he does, he will not feel that I have any doubts at all as to the wisdom, other than certain doubts about the strength of the action which is being taken.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, and I am sorry if in any way I seem to have misrepresented him.

Of course I am sorry to have missed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, but I am sure that he will not take it amiss if I say that I am pretty certain that I have heard it before. After all, this play has been running for four years; it will soon be opening its fifth year. It has become a kind of Parliamentary Mousetrap or Whitehall farce, and the lines of the principal actors are beginning to sound a little unconvincing; the scenery, the stage props and the costumes are beginning to look a little shabby, a little grubby, and of course the houses are not so good as they used to be. I expect we all remember the "first night" four years ago, how every seat in the House was booked, how demands at the box office could not be met, how unanimous the critics were the next morning in favour of the Government's policy. There was not a vote against that policy. There were some dissentient voices, and I have no doubt whatever that a great many of your Lordships wish to-day that more heed had been paid to those voices.

To-day, the House is not full and there is no public demand for seats. I expect that the play will quite soon be taken off and something more relevant to the situation put on the stage. But still, for all that, this is not a bad time to take stock of the position, to try to strike a balance, to decide where the profit and where the loss from the policy of Her Majesty's Government lie. What has that policy got to show after four years? First, it has united the Rhodesian electorate behind the Rhodesian Prime Minister as they were never united at the time of U.D.I. At the same time, the policy of Her Majesty's Government has effectively prevented the emergence of any central or moderate influence on the situation in Rhodesia. It has effectively prevented any opposition arising to the Rhodesian Front and, more than any other factor I think, the Government here have contributed to this new Constitution which we all deplore.

I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, devoted quite a time to the new Constitution. I am rather surprised about that, because I always understood it was the view of Her Majesty's Government that the Constitution does not exist any more than the Government exists, and I hope that indicates at least some attempt on the part of Ministers to come to accommodation with reality. But the fact is that everything that has happened in Rhodesia, the drift to the right, the drift towards apartheid policies—though I think these have been exaggerated here—was inevitable as a result of Government policy, was foreseeable, and in fact was foreseen. And I have no doubt myself that if the Government had come to a reasonable agreement with Mr. Ian Smith four years ago, or three year; ago, or even two years ago, you would have seen a Government of a very different character, and a much more liberal character, in Rhodesia to-day.

The second effect of the policy of Her Majesty's Government is that it has strengthened, and not weakened, the Rhodesian economy. Of course it has very largely wrecked the tobacco industry, but unhappily the effect of that has been mainly on the black African—though even there the effect has not been as severe as the Government hoped because the black African, in these conditions, just goes back to his tribe. I said, "as the Government hoped", and perhaps that sounds rather unkind; but the plain fact of the matter is that the Government expected that with the breakdown of the tobacco industry there would be such an upsurge of black African feeling that the Smith Government—the noble Lord must forgive me if I do not use the term "regime"—would have been swept away. In fact, the evidence is that the black Rhodesian is as happy as the White Rhodesian with the present situation. Not only is the economy stronger to-day, not only is the country more prosperous, but that prosperity is more widely based.

The third effect of the policy of Her Majesty's Government is that they have debased, devalued and dishonoured the United Nations. The city of Salisbury is swarming to-day with businessmen, not only from Switzerland, Japan, or Germany, but from France, Italy, the United States. Ministers say "Ah, that is because they are not observing the orders of the Linked Nations ". My Lords, it is not because of the wickedness and the duplicity of the Governments concerned—the United States Government, the Swiss Government, the German Government, or the Japanese Government; it is simply because, apart from the Afro-Asian bloc and the Communist bloc, as everyone knows, Her Majesty's Government is thought to have twisted and perverted the Charter of the United Nations to its own particular political ends.

Finally, there is the effect on ourselves, and that can easily be summarised; for one half of the world we are a laughingstock: for the other half we are an object of contempt. They believe that we have betrayed them, and they are quite right. Look at the unhappy President Kaunda, how he has been led along; how he has been put off; how he has been stalled; how he has been bewildered. Why is it that we have somehow come to a conspiracy with these black African States to persuade them that somehow they are exempt from the ordinary rules of conduct which govern international relationships? After all, if Western Germany began sending saboteurs and terrorist squads into Eastern Germany we should not take such a very high view of it. Yet we give these African States the idea that they are completely, for some reason, outside the ordinary laws which govern international relationships.

I should like, if I may, to say a very brief word to my own Party, and I am very sorry indeed that I did not hear the speech of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe. I did read the speech of Sir Alec Douglas-Home in another place, and I read it with the great respect which all of us must feel for everything he says. My right honourable friend abhors the new Constitution; so do I. I dislike it very much indeed. My right honourable friend said that this country could not be a party to the new Constitution; again I quite agree. But so far as I know, no-one is asking us to be a party to it, any more than anyone has asked us to be a party to the Constitution of Czechoslovakia, or the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland, or the Constitution of the United States of America, or the Constitution of any country over which we exercise no control whatever. That is not the question at issue. It does not really arise. But there is another question which does arise, and it is this: are we more likely to influence Rhodesian opinion by continuing this foolish policy which has inflamed and antagonised it, or are we more likely to influence it by declaring here and now that, when we are in a position to do so, we shall end it?

I would ask my noble friend Lord Jellicoe—if he could perhaps listen to what I am saying—to consider for a minute the position of Northern Ireland. There we have a situation in which a majority of the electorate has allowed a situation to arise of which none of us approve. And what do we do? Do we condemn? Do we demand economic sanctions? We do none of these things. What we do is we seek to understand. And because of that, because we try to understand, we are able to influence opinion in the North of Ireland as we should never be able to do if we adopted the attitude to that country that we adopt to Rhodesia. Is it too much to ask that we should show to the Rhodesian Government one half, one quarter, even one-tenth of the understanding we have extended to our fellow-countrymen in Northern Ireland?


My Lords, I was going to ask the noble Lord—and I am very grateful to him for giving way—if he would not agree that the fact that there are now troops in Northern Ireland has some bearing on this question.


Yes; and if we had power to put British troops in Rhodesia that would have some bearing on the question, too. But the plain fact remains that we have not got the power; we have never had the power; and we are in this ridiculous position of assuming responsibility that we have no means whatever of exercising.

My Lords, on this matter Ministers have always addressed us from a great height of moral rectitude, which I am afraid I envy more than I admire. At the present time they are engaged in a gerrymandering operation on so vast a scale as would seem to preclude them lecturing Mr. Ian Smith or anybody else. I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, or the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, ever read Samuel Johnson. If they do, they will be familiar with this quotation from Rasselas: 'Do not be too hasty', said Imlac, ' to trust, or to admire, the teachers of morality; they discourse like angels, but they live like men'".

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few moments because on previous occasions I have made my own position on Rhodesia very clear, and from the start have opposed the policy which has been pursued by the Government. I will refrain from saying, "I told you so"; but my noble friend Lord Salisbury has said everything which I could have said and has expressed so entirely all my feelings in regard to Rhodesia that I do not propose to refer to that any more.

There is just one point to which I do wish to refer, and that arises from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who said that during the Recess he had been re-thinking the policy of sanctions against Rhodesia. I think he very fairly put the case that sanctions had really failed; but eventually, having conceded that, he came down on the side of continuing to support sanctions because, he said, he thought that the prestige and influence of Britain were involved. I think that I have fairly summarised what he said.

My Lords, I cannot agree or believe that the prestige of Britain is enhanced by continuing to pursue a policy which has lamentably failed and which, as my noble friend has just said, is really bringing Britain into contempt in many parts of the world. The ordinary person says that it is a most extraordinary nation which pursues a policy thinking it has the power to get results, which it has not, and goes on pursuing that policy when all its own trade and so on is being filched from it by other people. In fact, I have heard the comment made, "Has Britain gone mad in continuing this policy?" There is no prestige to be got out of pursuing a policy which is absolutely bankrupt.


My Lords, the noble Lord has perfectly reasonably quoted what I said, but in addition to "prestige" I also said "honour ", which is a very important point in this matter.


My Lords, I would not agree that Great Britain's honour is involved in this. I would not ask the noble Lord to read speeches I have made in the past, but I have never regarded honour as being involved in this matter. I believe that we have treated Rhodesia very badly indeed; that the quarrel was not a rebellion but was a quarrel, as has already been said, between two of Her Majesty's Governments; and that it is we who have driven Rhodesia into her present attitude. That is the view that I have expressed on more than one occasion. But, as I say, I do not believe that the prestige of Britain is enhanced in any way by continuing to pursue a policy which has so manifestly failed in every direction.

There is another point. There are double standards involved. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and I have had exchanges about this. Everything that he said to-day about Rhodesia is equally applicable to the internal policy of South Africa, and if it is so necessary to have sanctions against Rhodesia because of her internal policy it seems to me the height of hypocrisy to turn round and say that on no account must we have a confrontation with South Africa. I think we simply bring ourselves into contempt by adopting a sort of bogus, high moral attitude about Rhodesia when we will not do anything with regard to South Africa, I think quite rightly, but because, from the Government's point of view, it would hurt us too much. Talk about British prestige! We are bringing ourselves into the contempt of the world by the at: itude which we continue to pursue with regard to Rhodesia.

Personally, I should have liked to vote again against these sanctions, but I defer to what my noble friend Lord Salisbury and my noble friend Lord Jellicoe have said and will abstain; but I should not like it to be thought that that mean:; that my opposition to this frightful policy has in any way abated.

5.47 p.m.


My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships long but I want to emphasise once again how strongly I feel that this sanctions policy has failed. Not only have sanctions failed overall, but where they have succeeded they have hurt the African most, and have hurt us next. Last year I was in Rhodesia, and one evening my host took me to a country club, outside of which there were 30 cars. Of those 30 cars, 29 were not British; one was. I asked him what would have been the position three years before, and he said, "Twenty-nine would have been British ".

Apart from that, I should like to mention the question of "One man, one vote ". What do we really mean when we try to enforce this system of Government in Africa? I think what it means is, "One man, one vote, once ". How many black dictatorships are there North of the Zambesi? These are two points, my Lords, which I should like to draw to your attention. Like the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, I, too, should prefer to go to a vote against sanctions to-night. However, I will follow his example and abstain.

5.49 p.m.


My Lords, I make no apology for speaking this afternoon because I consider, like many other noble Lords, that this is one of the most important issues your Lordships have discussed. However, I should like to apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for not being in the Chamber when he made his speech, as unfortunately I did not realise that this Order was coming on so soon.

My Lords, there was very little racialism in Rhodesia before U.D.I. In fact, the Constitution was designed to prevent it. An African Rhodesian could have become Prime Minister or Lord Chief Justice. Now, four years later, the position appears to be changing. I made my maiden speech on the inadvisability of sanctions, and I then made a very humble request that this tragic situation be settled by negotiation. I, and I am sure the noble Marquess, do not condone U.D.I.: it should never have happened—and I blame equally both Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith for the tragic position that we are in.

I am mainly a listener in your Lordships' House, but I have learnt which of your Lordships' opinions are worth while and sincere. In this category there are two noble Lords on the Government Benches whose sincerity I feel is beyond reproach. The first is the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and the other, who unfortunately is not in the Chamber at the moment, is the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. I wish that he had spoken this afternoon because I suspect—I cannot put it any stronger than that—that after he had visited Rhodesia himself, while he may not have changed his general views he certainly had second thoughts. I therefore urge Her Majesty's Government on this so important issue to have second thoughts and to try once more to settle this problem by negotiation before it is too late.

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, we have been on this debate for some two and a half hours. In one sense it was a unique debate; for in all that long period of time there was but one question, the question put to me by my noble friend, Lord Walston. I am sure that he knows that we try our best to help overseas students who come to this country. I shall require to look at the particular point that he raised because, as he knows, students fall into a number of classes and I should therefore need to know in more detail who these youngsters are and what it is that they are seeking in their further education. If my noble friend will give me more details I shall certainly see that the matter is looked into.

There was only one thing in the speech of the noble Marquess with which I agreed. It was that nothing that he was likely to say—and I think I shall take that to apply also to many of his noble friends—would change the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I am equally convinced that nothing that I shall say will make any difference at all to the views or sympathies of some noble Lords in this House. For I am absolutely convinced, looking back over the whole period since 1965, that there have been some noble Lords who, while regretting what has taken place, undoubtedly had their full sympathies with the white minority in Rhodesia and who closed their eyes to the iniquities and to all the dangers that may be created for that white minority in Rhodesia if the present course continued. The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, and the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter, appealed to the Government to negotiate. The one thing that the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, cannot say of this Government is that they have not been willing to negotiate. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, my right honourable friend, Mr. Thomson, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General—I could give your Lordships a whole list of members of this Government who have done so—have sought with full conscience to find a settlement on this issue.


My Lords—


Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to continue my speech. I am convinced that the Conservative Front Bench, if the Conservative Party were in Office to-day or if it is returned to Office after the next Election, would not be able in conscience to find a settlement that went beyond the proposals that we put forward on "Fearless". I do not believe that the Conservative Front Bench will go against the five principles that they themselves laid down for the settlement of what in fact is a colonial problem—although I dislike the use of the term "colonial problem ". Of this I am sure: if I were to stand at this Box—


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord. I know that he does not wish to be interrupted, but he has talked about the attitude of the Conservative Front Bench. May I tell him—I merely repeat what I said in my speech—that it is my belief that it would have been possible for a Conservative Government, if one had been elected in 1964, to have reached an honourable settlement, within the five principles, on the basis of "Fearless", in the period succeeding 1964. What I think queered the pitch, where things went wrong, was that "Fearless" was three years too late.


My Lords, when the noble Earl and I are old men, we shall be able, no doubt, to look back at this period with the benefit of hindsight; but I cannot help reflecting on my own experiences in Rhodesia in 1962 and 1963. I had not the slightest shadow of a doubt about where the Rhodesian Front were going. They were going to get what I believe they have always intended to have: the sort of Constitution that they have now put before, and for which they undoubtedly have the support of, the white minority in Rhodesia. This is something on which we can all have our views.

My Lords, what I was going to say was this. There is another very important Order to be considered by your Lordships this afternoon. I am quite convinced that nothing that I can say will swing the views of those noble Lords who are clearly committed in opposition to the Government on this policy and, in particular, on sanctions. I would therefore suggest, since we have had a long debate and have covered much of what was old ground, that since I am unlikely to convince them we might leave it at that and ask the House to approve this Order, so that the House can then move to consider the other important Order. On Question, Motion agreed to.