§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Debate continued on the Motion introduced yesterday by the Earl Jellicoe—namely,
§ That this House approves Her Majesty's Government's proposals for the settlement of the Rhodesian dispute and endorses Her Majesty's Government's decision that they should be put to the people of Rhodesia for their judgment,
§ and on the Amendment moved by the Lord Gardiner:
§ Leave out all words after "House" and insert, "declines to approve Her Majesty's Government's proposals for the settlement of the Rhodesian dispute because they do not fully meet the requirements of the Five Principles."
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN)
My Lords, we have now reached considerably more than the halfway point in this long debate, and perhaps it is a good moment for us to pause a little and for me to try to gather up some of the loose ends and answer as many as I can of the questions and points which have been raised. But, before doing that, I should like to join in the general tributes that have, I think, been paid on all sides of the House to our two maiden speakers yesterday, my noble friends Lord Beaumont and Lord Onslow. I am sure that we all hope, particularly in view of the excellence of their speeches, that they will be contributing to your Lordships' debates very frequently in the future.
My Lords, I am sure the House will agree that it is quite obvious that the debate so far has been of a very high order, and, of course, this befits a matter of such importance as this particular topic, not only for your Lordships' House but for this country and for Rhodesia. So far, the general impression that I have gathered is that there is, on 481 the whole, pretty general agreement that the proposals before us are the best that could have been obtained. At the same time, I think that many noble Lords, will accept—and in this I certainly include the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, to whose most interesting and exciting speech we listened so attentively—that they are not the sort of terms which any of us would have laid down had we been able to dictate to Mr. Smith. The main difference which has emerged is whether we should endorse the package deal as it stands, in its admittedly less than perfect form, or whether we should reject the package in its entirety. For this, my Lords, I believe is the choice before the House. From all I have heard and thought, I see no reason to change my view that we should accept the proposals; and I am strengthened in this by the fact that, although there has been a great deal of serious and genuine criticism of the package, mostly from the other side of the House, relatively little has been said as to what should be done and what the prospects would be for the Africans in Rhodesia if we now reject the proposals for a settlement and simply allow the present impasse to continue.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, very kindly apologised for the fact that he would not be here during the early part of the debate to-day, but I feel that I must take up one or two of the points that he mentioned, particularly because he asked me to do so. He quite correctly drew attention to the fact that previous negotiations were based on the 1961 Constitution, whereas the present proposals started from the Constitution of 1969. He went on from there to suggest that the Five Principles should be read only in the context of the 1961 Constitution. My Lords, I think the answer to that is that, whatever line our negotiators took on "Tiger" and "Fearless", their proposals remained proposals, and, most unfortunately, were not agreed. I am not attributing blame of any sort to anybody for this fact; but it remains a fact. However, this time agreement has been reached, and it would be unrealistic to think that it would have been possible to avoid using the 1969 Constitution as a basis for settlement. It is, I think, true to say, however, that its most objection-able features have been removed; for example, the income tax regulator, the halt at parity, the absence of an effective 482 blocking mechanism and the lack of any bar to increased discrimination. As regards the Five Principles, these are couched in absolute terms, and have not been held to be related only to the 1961 Constitution.
A number of criticisms of the franchise arrangements have been made. The timescale to majority rule has been given particular attention. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, referred in particular to Professor Palley's estimate, and while I certainly have no claim to be a statistician in any sense, it seems to me that Professor Palley's assumptions about the growth of the white population are somewhat at variance with what has happened in the past. Nor can I really quite follow why she assumed that nine years must elapse between parity and then onward progress towards majority rule. But to be honest, these doubts on my part I think only go to confirm to me how careful one must be, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, emphasised, not to place too much importance on any forecasts of this type, simply because the unknowns are so great.
The review of the franchise qualification in the light of increases in the price index, which will remain as a feature of the electoral system, has also been condemned. But in these days of rapid inflation throughout the world, the absence of such a review could render meaningless the whole concept of a franchise based on income, which in any case has for long been a feature of the Rhodesian system and which the previous Administration were prepared to accept. There is consolation, I think, in the fact that any increase in the monetary qualification will lag behind increases in the index. Moreover, similar provisions existed under the 1961 Constitution.
As regards the effect of white immigration on the franchise of Africans, this must be another imponderable factor, as is the question of white emigration from Rhodesia in the changed situation which a settlement will bring. But this does not affect our belief that the proposals provide for progress to majority rule in a reasonable time. There has been criticism of the independence of the indirectly elected members of the House of Assembly, but I think the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, answered that point effectively yesterday. Might I add that the presence of these members does give 483 those rural Africans who will not qualify even for the lower African roll some say in what is done by the House of Assembly. The lower African roll was criticised as having only eight African seats in the House of Assembly, however great the number on the roll. But this measure, too, my Lords, ensures that some hundreds of thousands of poorer Africans who are unlikely to qualify for the higher African roll for many years do enjoy some direct representation in the legislature.
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, implied that at parity the Commission could stop progress beyond parity by recommending that the 10 common roll seats need not be created. This is not the case. Whatever the Commission's recommendation, the Constitution is to provide for this onward progress, which can be stopped only by an affirmative resolution requiring a majority of two-thirds of the House of Assembly, which would require at least 17 African votes. I would stress that, throughout, the blocking mechanism involves the affirmative votes of a substantial number of African representatives in the House of Assembly. As an example, when there are 32 African seats in the House, the votes of at least 17 Africans would be required to pass an amendment to an especially entrenched provision. In short, the blocking mechanism is firmly in the hands of the Africans. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, who is not in his place at the moment, asked about the sterling equivalent value of the dollar totals quoted in the Appendices in the White Paper setting out franchise qualifications. There are just under 2 Rhodesian dollars to the £ sterling and consequently the income qualification for the African higher roil, when the applicant has four years of secondary education, is about £700 per annum.
My noble friend Lord Bethell suggested that Mr. Smith might include an African Minister in his Administration. Unfortunately, this was not a condition which we were able to require of Mr. Smith but in the new, and we must hope better, circumstances which we trust will result from a settlement, I personally think that there might be much virtue in such a step and one would hope that Mr. Smith would give it most careful 484 consideration. My noble friend Lord Onslow asked, on a related point, whether once an African had been registered as a voter he would be disfranchised as a result of changes in his personal circumstances, such as of income or property. The answer to that is no; and that once he is on the electoral roll he stays there.
I turn to the question of aid, important subject. Several speakers criticised the paucity of our aid, while my noble friend Lord Alport, on the contrary, claimed that every pound of aid given by Britain would only help the Rhodesians to increase their defences. I do not think that this latter point is entirely valid, given the wording of the White Paper; namely, that our aid will be appropriately matched by the Rhodesian Government —and by "matched". I mean equal, as the noble Baroness, Lady LlewelynDavies, was in some doubt on this point —in addition to the annual expenditure on African development; that is, in addition to the matched expenditure currently planned by the Rhodesian Government. In other words, it is clear that cur aid will evoke further expenditure by the Rhodesians where they had not previously allowed for it, leaving them less, rather than more, for other purposes.
But even if we are now losing large sums as a result of sanctions, we should not be able, as my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire was suggesting in his interesting speech yesterday, immediately to recoup this sum, given that our commercial rivals have now gained a fairly secure footing in Rhodesia. Some noble Lords, and I am thinking in particular of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, were worried that this kind of expenditure spent on the African sectors alone would only increase the segregation of the two races and lead to a separate development policy, the sort of "Bantustan policy" that we see to-day in South Africa. I think that my noble friend Lord Hastings answered this point when he said that it is not a question of creating a Bantustan: it is a question of meeting the increasing practical problems, including unemployment and a rising birth rate, in the African Trust Lands, where, as noble Lords know, naturally the greater majority of Africans live. I appreciate the point made by the right reverend Prelate about the possibility of giving aid to the Africans 485 through the missionary societies. This suggestion will be considered very carefully.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I interrupt? I am not sure whether the noble Marquess is leaving the financial side but he is moving on steadily. Can he tell us anything about any discussions for a general financial settlement? There are large numbers of outstanding debts for which we are guarantors and there arc investments. It may be that there is a very heavy bill. Can he tell us anything about that?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I was not asked anything about that in the debate yesterday. I know that I am being asked about it now, but I had not intended to deal with this particular matter. I realise, however, that there are heavy problems in this regard, problems both of Rhodesian debts in regard to this country and of our debts the other way round. I think I should like to take note of what the noble Lord has said and hope that my noble and learned friend who will he winding up will deal with these matters.
I thought that the suggestion of Lord Garner (who your Lordships will be sorry to learn is unwell and to whom we wish the best of luck in hospital) was very interesting. It concerned the opportunities offered by the Commonwealth and suggested that those charitable bodies responsible for financing scholarships for scholars from underdeveloped countries should consider whether they could extend the scope of their grants to include Rhodesia even if it is not technically within the Commonwealth. In the event of a settlement we shall need to consider how Her Majesty's Government's contributions to the Special Commonwealth Programme of Assistance to Rhodesian Africans should be related to our aid programme. As my noble friend Lord Jellicoe and, I think, Lord Goodman, pointed out yesterday, more harm has been done to the interests of the Africans by cold-shouldering Rhodesia in the past than good has been achieved. The fact of the matter is that the Africans will get no extra aid at all if these proposals fail; but that, conversely, if a settlement proves possible and sanctions are then dropped, Rhodesia will return to a state of economic norm- 486 ality from which the Rhodesian Africans are bound to benefit, even without the substantial aid we have in mind.
Perhaps I may say a few words about education, which is very much part of our aid programme. Several noble Lords drew attention to this point in the debate yesterday. It may be a help, therefore, if I briefly tell the House something about the situation in Rhodesia at the present time. The educational situation for Africans, as the House knows, is inadequate, both in quality and quantity, and such facilities as there are are run mainly by missions who have given, and are still giving, great service for African education. In the primary sector African councils are beginning to take over responsibility for schools. In September of this year some 825 schools had passed into the control of those African councils. But three times that number were still being run by missions, and a total of approximately 675,000 African children were enrolled in all these primary schools. In the secondary field the Rhodesian Government has concentrated most of its spending on the lower secondary schools, and at both senior and junior levels the vast majority of schools are again run by missions—something like 83 out of 100 senior standard schools in the year 1970. In the field of further education, particularly in teacher training and the technical schools, the facilities available are inadequate even for the few Africans who manage to attain the required entry qualifications.
§ BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Marquess before he leaves the question of the secondary schools? Can he say how many of the secondary schools can provide the four-year secondary education which is necessary to get on to the electoral roll?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I cannot give the noble Baroness that information off the cuff, but I will see that she has it before the end of the debate.
There were about 2,000 African students in teacher training in 1970—a fall, as I understand, of something like 400 compared with 1961. Here again, the missions are responsible for such facilities as do exist. By comparison, the University of Rhodesia is of a high standard. One might mention that it is one 487 of the very few genuinely multi-racial institutions in Rhodesia to-day. But with the expansion of the African education programme, as envisaged, further places will be required as more Africans qualify for entry. The most pressing need, my Lords, is for the provision of more senior secondary school facilities, because attendance at junior secondary schools does not count as a qualification for the franchise, and it is clear that, while these schools may serve a useful purpose in other respects, the future African achievement prospects lie in senior secondary schools. An increase in the number of places at these schools not only will mean that many more young Africans will get better educational qualifications, leading to further training and better jobs, but will also result in a more rapid increase in the numbers qualified to vote. If I may turn, my Lords, for a minute to agricultural development which figures So—
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, before the noble Marquess leaves the subject of education, upon which he has spent some time, can he tell us how much of the £ 50 million which Her Majesty's Government are going to contribute will be used for education?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord that information at the moment, because this is precisely the sort of matter which has to be worked out between the British authorities and the Rhodesian authorities. I think that the noble Lord will realise that this is something which it is impossible to work out in detail until an agreement has been reached.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, would not the noble Marquess agree that the whole case which the Government have made for the increase in the franchise is based on education? If the noble Marquess cannot tell us what contribution is to be made, how can we really consider how the franchise will be advanced?
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, before the noble Marquess answers, may I put this point to him? Surely there must have been some calculation to get at the figure of £ 50 million, and what I think the House is interested in knowing is how that was arrived at and what is the split?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I agree, of course, with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that progress for the African depends on general economic advance. As I say, I cannot give him the breakdown of these figures at the moment. As to how the total figure of £ 50 million was arrived at, this was a figure based, I understand, on the figure arrived at in the previous negotiations.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
Well, my Lords, I would not wish to quarrel with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on that matter but if I may now—
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Marquess from time to time, but we are at a very crucial point. I am wondering whether the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, who has been answering for the Government, could help us on this particular point. We hope very much that if the noble Lord—perhaps in "disguise" again—is not able to, the noble Marquess will see that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor deals with these points later.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
Certainly, my Lords. Naturally I will undertake to pass on the questions raised to-day to my noble and learned friend; and I am sure that if he can deal with them he will do so. I am sorry that I cannot deal with every point myself.
On the agricultural side, perhaps I might stress, as indeed I think most noble Lords will know, that the great majority of Africans are still living in rural areas. Only about 15 per cent. of them have homes in towns of any size, and most of the 41 million Africans who live on the land depend for their living on subsistence farming, using traditional methods which have changed very little. Any significant rise in their present very low standard of living can come, in the short term, only from improved agricultural methods and greater production. So there is an urgent need for programmes of irrigation, soil improvement and quality control. A start has been made in these things. For instance, the Rhodesian Government has instituted many small-scale development schemes in the Tribal Trust Lands. The most notable of these, about which some noble Lords will know, is 489 the Sabi Limpopo Authority, with its extensive irrigation programme which has resulted in substantial sugar production, together with development in wheat, cotton and citrus, supporting over 100,000 Africans. This has shown what can be done in areas with low rainfall but reasonably good quality soil cover.
On the industrial scene, industry in the Tribal Trust areas at present is barely existant, so there is a considerable potential growth in these areas. But that would require the injection of substantial capital aid; and this, I think the House will agree, must be linked very much to the improvement of a communications infrastructure, particularly road communications; because such industrial growth will provide an alternative to agriculture, the sole dependence on which has been the cause of widespread distress in many other underdeveloped areas.
My Lords, I have tried to give a general outline of the present position in this respect and how we hope that it may be improved as a result of the forthcoming aid from this country. Food, education and employment are at least as important to the African as political advance. If he is poorly educated and undernourished, the right to vote is, in the short term, of only limited consolation. Therefore I am sure noble Lords will agree that it is right that we should concentrate our great efforts on improving his material position.
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords, I am loath to interrupt the noble Marquess, but will he really face the fact that what has been offered is £1 per head per annum of the African population—in fact slightly less? Does he really think that this is going to cover all the subjects that he has tried to describe?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, of course one can always say that not enough is being given. But I would remind the noble Baroness that the Rhodesians are matching our aid equally, and therefore I do not think the position is quite so bad as she is pointing out.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
I have done the arithmetic, my Lords, but I still think that one must take these things in proportion. Obviously our aim is to 490 improve the condition of the African, particularly, as I say, not only from the economic point of view but also because of his prospects for political advancement.
My Lords, I have spoken for far too long, but if I may I will speak for an-other few minutes. May I say a word or two briefly on the Fourth and Fifth Principles—that is to say, discrimination and the test of acceptability. I am putting these two together for the moment because I have been asked, in particular by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, why the review of discrimination and, for that matter, other improvements precede the test of acceptability. The answer to this point is that we feel that it would be not only illogical but probably very impracticable to begin implementing some of the proposals before the terms as a whole have been approved by the Rhodesian people.
As to the test of acceptability itself, which I am sure the House feels is probably the most important of all the principles, I was asked for details about the proposed Commission. What I can tell the House at this stage is that there will be a chairman and three or four deputy chairmen, who will all sign the report, and they will be assisted by a number of Commissioners who have wide experience in Africa. The Commission is now actually in process of being formed, but I am afraid that at this stage I am not in a position to give any of the names. What I can say is that the many suggestions that have been made, not only in the House but outside, as to the membership of the Commission will certainly be taken into account. The Commissioners will travel widely throughout Rhodesia, explaining the proposals with entire objectivity, and then subsequently listening to African views on them. This, as was pointed out yesterday, will not he at all the same type of body as the Commission which was led by the late Lord Monckton.
I am sure that your Lordships will agree, because this is really of the essence. that an inquiry in depth of this nature must be conducted in a thorough and unhurried manner. I do not really think that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, was altogether serious in his suggestion that it might be subject to a public opinion poll. The conditions which exist in Rhodesia 491 during the test period, including the ability of Africans to speak freely and the absence of any form of pressure from the authorities, must be to the satisfaction of the noble Lord, Lord Pearce, and of all his Commissioners. If they are satisfied, they will be able to report accordingly, because my right honourable friend is determined that this Commission should be thorough, impartial, entirely fair and open to every view that it wishes to hear.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, before the noble Marquess leaves the subject of the Commission, can he explain in a little more detail what would be the situation if some Commissioners did not agree with the final report which, as I understand it, is signed only by the chairman and the two vice-chairmen? Are we to take it that there will be first-class Commissioners and second-class Commissioners, or will they have some opportunity of making known their disagreement, should there be such disagreement?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I think I can assure the noble Lord on the last point. If there is disagreement in the Commission, it will certainly be known. There will be no attempt to smooth over any disagreement or anything like that. I cannot, of course, tell the noble Lord precisely the way in which the Commission is going to function in this respect, because this is a matter for the noble Lord and his Commissioners to work out for themselves, but I can assure the noble Lord that it will be absolutely open and fair, as he says, and for all to see.
I said that I was going to say one or two words on the question of safeguards, because this is another matter which several noble Lords raised yesterday. One of their worries was what would happen should the Rhodesian Government go back on their undertakings. While I can certainly understand the concern of noble Lords that we should not wash our hands of Rhodesia if the Rhodesian Front were to tear up the proposals, I do not think that so far any noble Lord who has spoken and expressed his concern has been able to suggest any feasible safeguard short of force. My noble friend the Duke of Devonshire did suggest, or inquire, 492 whether we could not arrange to station troops in a neighbouring African State, but I think that this in itself shows how difficult it would be to enforce any external safeguard. Moreover, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, pointed out, the external safeguard which was written into the 1961 Constitution—namely, appeal to the Privy Council—has unfortunately during the past six years achieved nothing and has certainly not led to any improvement in such matters as the release of Joshua Nkomo. It is for that reason that we have concentrated on internal safeguards on the blocking mechanism which I have described, rather than on any probably rather brittle external safeguard. I know that my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack intends to say rather more on this matter when he comes to wind up. and therefore the House will probably be relieved to hear that I shall not do so at the present time.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Marquess for giving way. I would suggest that perhaps the noble and learned Lord will deal with the suggestion I made in my speech about the non-application of Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter. My intention was to suggest the line of thought, of certain matters inside Rhodesia not being considered as quite internal but as having a more inter-national application.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord and I shall make certain that my noble and learned friend, when he comes back, has notice of what the noble Lord has said. Perhaps I may say a word or two about a point which the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and the noble Lord, Lord Reay, raised yesterday, when they asked whether the Government intend to defy the United Nations Security Council's mandatory resolution on sanctions. I think the position is really this. As the United Nations has itself confirmed, and as has been said many times in this House, the fate of Rhodesia is a British responsibility. If the test of acceptability shows that the Rhodesian people as a whole approve the proposals, if the Rhodesians accept the requisite changes to the Constitution and Parliament then approves the granting of independence, a new situation will have been created, 493 paving the way to the termination of sanctions. It will be at that point, but not until then—and we have certainly not got to that point at the moment—that a new situation will have arisen. The rebellion will have come to an end, and at that stage the United Nations will presumably wish to review the whole situation and their whole attitude. I do not think that I can say any more than that at the present time, but that is the situation as I see it probably developing.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I once more intervene, because this is a very important point? I understand that what the noble Marquess is now saying is that should this situation go in the way that the Government envisage, then Her Majesty's Government will present to the United Nations the new situation and will hope that the United Nations will then agree with Her Majesty's Government's contention that the situation is altered and that sanctions should end. If my interpretation is correct, that is not exactly what is said on page 17 of the White Paper. It is a point which I think needs clear clarification.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I hope that I have not misled the noble Lord. That is my reading of the situation. However, I will look at it again, and will see whether my noble and learned friend, who is more qualified on legal matters, can say anything further about it.
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, may I suggest that when a further reply is given it will be borne in mind that there is a mandatory and unanimous resolution of the United Nations calling on all member States to observe the sanctions requirements; that that resolution remains in force until it is removed that it can be removed only by a positive resolution of the Security Council, requiring 9 votes of the 15; that no action by this Government taken in regard to Rhodesia, or otherwise, can affect that decision, which will remain; and therefore that the undertaking in the White Paper, that sanctions will be removed at a certain stage, is beyond the powers of the Foreign Secretary of this Government, unless he proposes to be in breach of the treaty arrangements of the United Nations under Article 25 of the Charter.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I am well aware, as the noble Lord knows, of the regulations in the United Nations. I have not really gone any further this afternoon than to say how I see the situation possibly developing.
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, if I may intervene once again, all I am asking is that a specific answer may be given before this debate is over as to whether that point is fully understood.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
I thank the noble Lord. I take note of what he has said.
The other point I should like to answer is that mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, not only yesterday, but I think last week. He was rather worried that we had ignored the Commonwealth in this matter. That is not true. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers have been kept informed all the way through. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has sent personal messages not only to African Commonwealth leaders, but to leaders of the Commonwealth all over the world. That has been followed up by our High Commissioners with a major operation in an attempt to describe and explain the situation as it has developed to date. I should not like the noble Lord to think there has been any ignoring of the Commonwealth in this regard, because I share his view that that would have been quite deplorable. To conclude, my Lords. it is a sad fact that, not only far away, but close at hand in the world, our humanitarian feelings for our neighbours arc being put upon very hard by insults to justice which we are not, alas! always able speedily to correct. I believe that in Rhodesia now there is a chance for those whose ideals are rooted in our democratic heritage, in our way of life, to act to redress this balance. No one in the debate, I think, has tried to pretend that the proposals that we have been discussing are ideal. But they do represent a considerable advance on the present position. If I may say so, I am quite certain that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary would not have recommended them to the Government or to Parliament if he was not absolutely satisfied that they point the way to the attainment of justice for all the peoples of Rhodesia. To reject them now, to shake off our responsibility for 495 5½ million coloured Rhodesians and leave them to the inevitably increased repression of apartheid, and the possibility, I fear, of eventual bloodshed, would in my view be unforgivable. I have taken up too much of your Lordships' time; I have tried to answer some of the points raised yesterday, and I hope that what I have just said will enable the House to decide to reject the Amendment.
§ House adjourned during pleasure, and resumed by the Lord Chancellor.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, the House has always had a great sense of friendship for the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, and I feel that the kindest thing I can do is to leave any comments I have to make on his speech until later on in my own. I hope the noble Marquess will undertake to see that the questions that have been put to him this afternoon, and which he was unable to answer, are put to the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack so that we may have a full reply.
The debate yesterday was notable for a number of very moving speeches, and in particular the maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, and the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. We on this side of the House congratulate them and hope that we shall hear from them on many other occasions. In seeking to identify the sense and tone of the debate yesterday, I would say that for a few it had perhaps a sense of joy, but only for those who have consistently supported the Smith régime. For the majority, I felt that there was a deep sense of sadness; for some, a sense of shame; and for most, a sense of inevitability and doubt as to what course of action is open to us. Unlike in past debates, there was no bitterness. The noble Earl the Leader of the House, I thought, set the tone of the debate. He was deeply cautious and, I thought, bordered on unease in the light of his previous comments in previous debates about the situation in Rhodesia. I think he was wise, because had he taken any other course I am sure that the ground would have been cut from underneath 496 him by the words of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, when, talking of these terms, he said:I do not feel triumphant or enthusiastic about the terms…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT,1/12/71; col.331.]Later on the noble Lord said that he could notjig through the Division Lobbies in support of these recommendations.Then the noble Lord went on to say, in slight criticism of my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner, who I thought made a devastating speech, that if he, the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, had been criticising the terms, he could have done it infinitely better and deeper in penetration.
If the terms before us are intended to provide new opportunities for Rhodesia, I would point out that everything depends upon the spirit that underlay the Five Principles, when they were laid down by Sir Alec in 1963, and their implementation. It seemed to me that yesterday there was a thin thread of hope among noble Lords—and it was particularly shown by the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian—that Mr. Smith and the Rhodesian Front will now change their whole course and direction of policy towards the majority of Rhodesians. I think we have only hope on which we can rest.
The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, I thought, removed much of that hope when, speaking of the many weary months of his labours in Rhodesia, he said this:… distasteful for a number of reasons: not because they were hostile, not because they were unfriendly, but because they involved such a difference of approach of principle and of social morality between the two sides as to make it necessary to shelve all such considerations in our discussions and to restrict them wholly to the technical issues."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,1/11/71; col.326.]Then, speaking about those who are in detention, the noble Lord, Lord Good-man, said:The fact that they had political aspirations different from those of their Rhodesian masters was enough to stamp them as outside the pale of human intercourse. That we did not accept this, that we found these notions horrible, did not affect the fact that we were unable to make inroads in their way of thinking. It would be hypocrisy to say that we set out on a political mission to reform Mr. Smith and his friends in their way of political thought. If we did so set out, I regret to inform 497 your Lordships that we returned with a total lack of success. I do not think we have persuaded Mr. Smith to a more liberal way of thought."—[col.328.]Those are the words of a man who is perhaps at the highest in his profession, understanding human character, after many months of deep and penetrating negotiation. That was his assessment of those with whom negotiations have taken place and with whom we hope we have a settlement.
The Rhodesian Front Party started many, many years ago. Liberal leaders, such as Whitehead and Field, have been displaced. If there is a lesson to be learned it is perhaps in the displacement of other Liberal leaders in our own country—the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, and Major Chichester-Clark. The racialist policies in Rhodesia, in my view, are based upon the fear of numbers and the desire to maintain a standard of living which the whites in Rhodesia could not achieve anywhere else in the world. Mr. Smith has made it clear—he did so last Friday on television—that so far as he was concerned the Government of Rhodesia was to remain in civilised hands, and by that keep white supremacy.
Is there an opportunity for a peaceful handover of power to a black majority in Rhodesia? The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, explained in most forceful terms the strength of the military and security forces that stand at the command of the Government of Rhodesia. Unless there is a real change of view throughout Rhodesia, this settlement means nothing. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, posed three questions, and they need to be answered. First, was it right to negotiate? The views of my noble friends are that it is right to negotiate. We turned our backs on force, and therefore negotiation was the only way open to us. To negotiate you need a motive. Was the motive in these negotiations to seek a settlement based upon the spirit and intention of the Five Principles, or had there been a political decision taken that so long as terms could come out that could be clothed with respectability it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to relieve themselves of their responsibility in Rhodesia? I suspect that it was the latter. Therefore a distasteful task had to be undertaken. It certainly was not one that could be given to a Minister; it was certainly not one that 498 could be given to a civil servant. Someone had to be found who, if there were a leak, could be disowned. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, is held very high in his profession. He used his skills in negotiation; he also used his skills in drafting the settlement that is before us this afternoon. It just meets the minimum standards of respectability for Her Majesty's Government, but it can be interpreted in any way.
Mr. Smith and his friends are now arguing in Rhodesia, with justification, that he has given away nothing of substance; that the Rhodesian Front may sleep easily in their beds; that their civilised society is safe for all time; that the Land Tenure Act, with all its racialist character and overtones, is secure and will not be affected by the Commission. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, is to be congratulated upon his professional performance.
The second question was: are these the best terms that can be obtained? The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, is convinced, and so are Her Majesty's Ministers, that they are. I suspect that they were the best terms that were available if the Government had made the political decision to withdraw from Rhodesia, provided the minimum terms were available. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, spoke of a moral gesture that is a purely personal indulgence. There is a moral responsibility on Parliament to the five million black people in Rhodesia. There is a moral responsibility in our affairs with Commonwealth countries, and in any other economic facts that have to be taken into account. I could not endorse these terms.
There was the third question—the alternative. Should we endorse the settlement, since it is better than Rhodesia's being confronted with bloodshed, uprising and massacre? Who have created such a dilemma but the Rhodesian Front, with its racialist policies? This settlement will not prevent this catastrophe; only enlightened policies in Rhodesia will do so. For Parliament to endorse this policy and appear to be imposing on the black Rhodesians a settlement could well imperil the lives of Europeans in the rest of Africa. The only hope of avoiding bloodshed and strife is a real advance towards un-impeded progress to majority rule and the 499 sweeping away of discrimination. This has always been in the hands of the people of Rhodesia; we do not have to give it to them.
I do not intend to say a great deal on the details of the Principles. I should like to know what Her Majesty's Government would recognise as a fair rate towards parity and majority rule. The Sunday Times says 64 years, as a minimum, provided that no further actions are taken. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, I believe, assessed it at 15 years. The Rhodesian Front thought it might be 10 years. We do not know, but there must have been an assessment, when that signature was put to the settlement, of what the Government thought was a fair rate and what they could stand and justify. They will not give it. It must therefore be construed that that figure is on the high side.
The rate of development depends upon the franchise, and the franchise depends upon the money that a man may earn and a man may save, and on his degree of education. The House may like to know that since 1961, despite the fact that 300,000 Africans have been educated by either primary school education or two years secondary or four years secondary education, and taking into account 2,000 Africans who have received degrees at university, the African labour force in the money field has not changed at all. No progress has been made. Most of the four-year secondary school pupils, and most, if not all, of the graduates, have in fact left Rhodesia because of the racial discrimination and the unwillingness to give jobs on ability, the bar being the question of colour. We must press the noble and learned Lord as to what part of the £50 million is going to be given to education. Unless we know what it is, unless we can have an assessment from the Government as to the effect it will make on the number of new school places and new pupils who go through the schools, the whole advocacy of the franchise falls away. So I hope that the noble and learned Lord will answer this point.
I should like to say a great deal about this, those dispossessed black Rhodesians and our friend the leader of the Tangwena Tribe, but much was said yesterday with 500 far greater power and eloquence than I have. I will therefore turn instead to the Fifth Principle, the principle of acceptability. In fact, this is the chief principle in our minds to-day. To-day's Guardian editorial neatly sums up the position that we are facing. It reads as follows:Until the Commission reports the argument rests between the pragmatic advantages of deflecting the regime from its present course towards apartheid and the basic injustice of a settlement which, for all the attempts to square it with the Five Principles, will leave Africans without any hope of political power or even influence for as long ahead as anyone can see.Thus, it is the views of the Africans which matter most. Do they accept the risk that the pragmatic advantages of retreat from apartheid may not endure; that an independent Rhodesia may find ways of with-drawing from the bargain and resuming the march towards oppression? Do they, secondly, accept the slim political hopes in return for a more rapid economic advancement that ending sanctions and the pumping in of British money will bring? Do they accept the risk, as the Guardian again suggests, that, with Mr. Smith talking of attracting more white immigrants, they (the Africans) may not after all be the main beneficiaries of the new economic progress and lob creation? Only the Pearce Commission can help us on this point. It will be the Commissioners' job to find out whether in fact the Africans are willing to take the gamble that this settlement involves for them.
I strongly support the suggestion that this Commission should be strengthened, in particular by the inclusion of a distinguished African that it must be free to do everything, to go everywhere, un-escorted if it wishes, to do its job. It must have several months for its work. The Commission is now the key to the settlement. The concluding words of the Guardian to-day echo a quotation taken from a speech of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe:The settlement now stands or falls on whether the Commission can demonstrate beyond question that it has the support of the African people.We should take note, my Lords, of the conditions under which this Commission will operate. In any case, it has a superhuman task: to seek to ascertain the genuine views of the people of Rhodesia 501 under a state of emergency, with a Police State intact, the recognised political leaders detained, radio and television available only to the Parties in Parliament and the major political Parties banned. I believe that Parliament should require of the Commission that it reports to Parliament before it starts the test of acceptability that the conditions exist. Until Parliament can be satisfied, there will always be this doubt.
I will say nothing about the Commissioners who have been appointed. I hope that the Government will shortly be able to announce the full team. But may I make two suggestions to the noble Lord for his consideration? The assistants or assessors, I believe some fourteen in number, will have a very crucial part to play in this inquiry. I do not believe that civil servants are the right persons to appoint for this task. It is difficult to know where to look. But there is one quality that we do need, and that is the ability to assess and appreciate evidence. Therefore I would ask the Government whether it is not possible for these assessors to be drawn from the benches of magistrates in this country, who have wide experience in assessing evidence and information. And I think they would show a high degree of impartiality. So far as the interpreters are concerned, I hope that the Government can assure us that they will be provided externally and will not be from the Rhodesian Civil Service.
My Lords, there is to be a Division this evening. I have made it clear that I cannot, and I know that my noble friends on this side of the House cannot, support or recommend these proposals. They fall far too short of those that we had in mind. But the Government may have a case that, having got these proposals, the people of Rhodesia have a right to know them. In what circum-stances should they see these proposals? The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in winding up the debate on the Southern Rhodesia Act on November 10 of this year said this:I would urge any noble Lords who may feel tempted to pass judgment on the attempt now to be made to find a settlement, and subsequently, if this attempt succeeds, on the terms of that settlement, to await the views of the people most affected by that settlement, should it he achieved."—[OFFICIAL REPORT; 10/11/71. col.442.]502 Those people, of course, are the Africans in Rhodesia.
My Lords, last Thursday, on the Statement, I asked the noble Earl to consider making this a debate on a Motion to "take note of" the Settlement Proposals. I pointed out that that would give us an opportunity to examine all the problems and all the proposals, and that we should be responding to the suggestion of the noble Earl that there should be no hasty judgment. I made that suggestion and the noble Earl undertook to consider it. Some 50 minutes later I heard that the Motion was for approval. Some consideration, my Lords!
There is a real fear in my mind that if Parliament approves these terms the Africans in Rhodesia may be told: "The British Parliament has accepted these terms. If you reject them, then you are on your own". That would not be a fair test of acceptability, and it was for this reason that I sought last Thursday that there should be no hasty judgment by Parliament. Responsibility for the fact that we have to pass judgment today rests with the noble Earl, despite what he said a week ago. So, my Lords, what do we do today? I cannot and will not accept these terms, and I will not be party to any form of recommendation to the people of Rhodesia that these terms should be accepted. In these circumstances, recognising that the people of Rhodesia have a choice, and therefore these terms should be submitted to them, but recognising, too, that in the end Parliament has the sovereign responsibility, I will ask those who feel my way to decline to agree to approve the terms so proposed by Her Majesty's Government.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down I should like to put one point. When he was quoting from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, about the strength of the Rhodesian armed forces he omitted to quote what the noble Lord said, to the effect that a considerable part of those forces was composed of Rhodesian Africans who were completely loyal to the Rhodesian Government.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, the noble Viscount has said that I quoted 503 the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. I did not.
§ 4.44 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, my approach to the question we are discussing in these two days is deeply affected by my memory of this time a year ago, when I was on a visit of three weeks to South Africa. There I was trying to be of some help to those in the Christian Churches who are striving against terrible odds to keep alive the multiracial ideal and to bring relief to people to whom the system of apartheid brings great suffering. I came away from South Africa frankly horrified—horrified by the damage done to the human dignity of white people as well as of black people by the smashing of family life through the economic and social system and by the atmosphere of fear among friends and neighbours which a Police State can engender. Is Rhodesia to follow the same path? It has gone some way along that path, but the question in my mind is: knowing where power in Rhodesia now resides, are there any actions which might be taken in this country and which might offer some chance for African advancement?
The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, yesterday deprecated pious moralising. My Lords, you cannot expect me not to moralise, because that is my profession; and equally you cannot expect me not to be pious, because that is my calling, but I am sure that in the Rhodesian tragedy any moralising can only be distributed over a long period of history. Blunders were made at a number of stages, and blunders were intermingled with as many missed chances: hence, tragedy. The tragedy is a country born out of British colonial enterprise with, now, a racialist Police State constitution, and we are discussing an agreement which may modify it here a bit and there a bit, in the hope of seeing some African advancement.
I emphasise the word "tragedy", which has been the accurate description of the situation for some time past. And when it comes to decisions, tragedy rarely means the clash between one course that is wholly evil and another course which is ideal, or near ideal. Tragedy usually means trying to snatch 504 some good, if possible, out of ghastly I did situations by choosing between courses in any of which good and bad are both mixed up. Among the might-have-beens" which historians in after years may discuss is whether, at the inception of the U.D.I. rebellion in 1965, some military action might swiftly and without bloodshed have brought the situation under control. I posed that possibility at the time, and I was interested to hear last night that the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, also posed it to himself in his own mind at the time. I think if he had posed it publicly he would have done so perhaps with more tact and a better choice of words than I used in posing a very difficult thesis. But now, apart from the uselessness of discussing "might-have-beens", war is not an answer, and I wished yesterday and to-day that those who criticised the White Paper—with good reason, and indeed I share with them in criticism of it—had said more about the policies they believed would succeed. But they did not, and thus I feel that we have had something of a lacuna in our discussions.
So, my Lords, if these proposals go to the peoples of Rhodesia, and the peoples of Rhodesia, with whatever hesitations, see in them some chance for African advancement, I am sure that the Churches in Rhodesia will do their utmost to help on any and every chance for African development. But, my Lords,"if"—I have my own "if" about the consultation and my own "if" about the subsequent developments. About the consultation stage I feel that we have been put in some confusion about the African nationalist Parties and their detained leaders. Those Parties have their violent men among them, as most African nationalist Parties do, but they and their leaders cannot be by-passed. When it was pointed out yesterday that the political Parties mentioned in the White Paper as being free to join in the public discussion through the media were not the largest or the most representative Parties, the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, drew our attention to the clause in the White Paper:before and during the test of acceptability normal political activities will be permitted to the satisfaction of the Commission".Yes, but it was also the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, who told us that it was no use expecting detained nationalist leaders to 505 be released just because Mr. Smith was told they ought to be released. It seems to me that here we have a string of propositions which cancel each other out. Is Mr. Smith having some kind of veto at the consultation stage, so far as the really important African nationalist Parties are concerned, on their free activity and participation in discussion? I am left uneasy by the point at which the question now stands.
But we come to the next stage: if the consents are given and the proposals are carried, progress towards majority rule. I dare to believe it will happen. Progress in lessening racial discrimination—again I dare to believe it will happen. But I am afraid I have all along been a bit suspicious and sceptical about the word "unimpeded", because I honestly do not believe that there is any progress in any matter whatever in the universe which is unimpeded. All attempts at progress by anybody or anything anywhere are impeded. What matters is whether the powers are available to overcome the impediments. And there are going to be severe impediments in the progress towards African participation and the end of discrimination. One of the impediments that has been mentioned, but I believe it needs more emphasis than this debate has given it, is Mr. Smith's policy of white immigration. The noble Marquess said that this matter was imponderable—a splendid adjective. I think the adjective "predictable" may be more to the point, because the policy of white immigration can be an impeding factor, for three reasons: it slows down the relative African electoral quota; it gives to imported white trade unionists the jobs which Africans look for; and it increases almost inevitably the white supremacy mentality, because when white people go into a situation of white supremacy to earn their livelihood they are usually very content with the social structure which they find, unless they are very thoughtful people, and most people are not thoughtful, or unless they have a positive vocation towards African people, and most people have not necessarily a positive vocation towards African people. I believe that this white immigration policy is going to be a severe impediment. Overcome it may be, but an impediment it is.
In the crucial years of encouraging African progress against any odds, I 506 believe the Churches in Rhodesia will have a very important role. That has been mentioned a little and hinted at, but I believe it has an importance a good deal greater than the mentions and hints in the debate have given to it, for two reasons: in recent years some of the Churches' leaders have been in the forefront of resistance to acts of racial discrimination; and secondly, in the field of education the Churches have throughout Rhodesia's whole history had a leading role. To-day 75 per cent.—the noble Marquess put it higher, I think at over 80 per cent.—of African secondary education in Rhodesia is under the ægis of the Churches. May we hope that in the locating of its programmes of aid to African education our Government will consult the Churches in Rhodesia about the forms which assistance to education can best take.
In recent months the Churches in Rhodesia have been resisting an educational policy of the Rhodesian régime which spends a lot of money, but under the formula "vocational education" spends it in ways that deliberately do not help African advancement. I should distrust attempts to aid African education which did not go with great care into some of the matters which only those familiar on the spot can really know and understand in their complexity, and that means to a large extent the members of the Churches involved in education. I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will at the end be more reassuring about the matter of education, its complexities and the role of the Churches in it, than the noble Marquess succeeded in being a few moments ago.
To sum up, my Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, in his speech last night, I feel the wish for a number of assurances before being able to vote for the Government. I share the wish that we could have had now a debate to take note that the consultation with the Rhodesian people had gone forward, and then that our decision would be made on the basis of that. But, my Lords, I cannot vote against the Government to-day, because if the peoples of Rhodesia give their consent and the proposals go forward I cannot be one who, by prophesying doom, encourages the worst to follow. Against many hindrances 507 it will at least be possible to be working for good.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD BLAKE
My Lords, it is something of an ordeal to speak after the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose high position, moral weight and intellectual stature must always carry so much influence in your Lordships' House. I only speak at all because chance has caused me to spend probably rather more time than most of your Lordships in Rhodesia during the last three or four years, always excepting the noble and peripatetic noble Lord, Lord Goodman.
I have recently been engaged in preliminary research for a history of Rhodesia. This has caused me to be in that country some four or five times for periods of three to six weeks since 1968. I was in no way involved in politics but, as somebody has said,History is past politics and politics is present history".Therefore, it was impossible not to be interested in the current political situation. In the course of my studies and researches I met many people of "all sorts and conditions", from the hard core of the Rhodesian Front to the liberal wing of European opinion, and at any rate some Africans whom one could meet reasonably easily or naturally.
It is impossible for those who have never been in Rhodesia, or have not been recently in Rhodesia, to appreciate the remoteness of most white Rhodesians from the currents of thought—the whole outlook—of the modern world. It is often said how English the Rhodesians are. This is true in one sense, but it is not the England of to-day or even of yesterday; it is rather the England of half a century ago, or even longer than that. Contemporary Rhodesia is full of pickled pieces of the British past. This is not necessarily a reason for condemnation; the present is not so nice as all that. However, I think it is a reason for taking a realistic view about the immense gulf which has existed between us and them in the course of these negotiations. I think it is a most notable achievement on the part of Sir Alec Douglas-Home, 508 and the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, to have brought about any agreement at all. It is a credit to the trust that Sir Alec inspires both there and here, and also to the shrewdness, tenacity, and toughness with which he has negotiated. I am frankly amazed, after the conversations that I have had with some members of the Rhodesian Front, that they have moved as far as they have—albeit in so very limited a fashion from our point of view—from their seemingly entrenched position. I would have gambled heavily right to the end that there was no prospect of such a rapprochement. However, there are occasions when it is a pleasure to be proved wrong.
I intend to vote for the Motion and against the Amendment, and I am convinced that however far the suggested settlement falls short of what we would want in a perfect world, it would be a disaster to reject it. Nine times out of ten decisions in politics are choices between evils rather than between ideals. We have to weigh in our minds not simply the balance between the possible systems of government in Rhodesia which we would have chosen if we could have dictated a settlement, but the balance between the continuance of the present dismal impasse and the proposed terms before us now. These terms are the result of protracted negotiations in which our leverage and bargaining power have been very severely limited. Yet I think they can be honestly claimed to accord with the Five Principles. The Five Principles do not come down from Mount Sinai. One could argue about the wisdom of their original promulgation and the interpretation of their meaning; but it would be impossible for this, or any British Government, to come to any arrangement with the régime in Rhodesia which palpably contravened them. I do not think that this can be said in the case of the suggested settlement.
But your Lordships have discussed and heard enough about this aspect of the proposals, and I certainly do not intend to go over that ground again now, but merely to reiterate one point which has been made by many noble Lords already: that the Fifth Principle is the one of paramount importance. All the others fade into insignificance in comparison with that one. I should like to make three or 509 four points, quite briefly. The first is to try and put the effect of sanctions into perspective. Noble Lords who argue that sanctions have played an important part in bringing Mr. Smith to the negotiating table are of course quite right. There is no doubt that they have been biting during the last 12 months. I was out there in September 1970 and again in September of this year, and there certainly were signs that the economic situation in Rhodesia had become more difficult. The change had been markedly greater than it had been in the previous year,1969– 70. But it is a far cry from that to argue that the situation is desperate, or that to postpone negotiations for two or three years or more would enable us to drive a better bargain. Sanctions have never done much more than mildly inconvenience the very comfortable—and I must say very boring —lives of white Rhodesians. The essential fluids on which their lives depend—petrol, whisky, gin, beer, in that order—flow freely, and flow considerably more cheaply than they do in this country, and there is no sign that sanctions have had any serious effect upon that flow. On the lives of black Rhodesians they have indeed had an effect, and a very adverse one. I do not think this would be disputed at all.
I think to begin with sanctions had less influence on Rhodesia because the loss of foreign currency earnings caused by the inability to sell tobacco after U.D.I. was largely compensated by the boom in base metals, and also the discovery of greater mineral resources in Rhodesia. There has, however, as everyone knows, been a severe slump in the last 18 months, and this has undoubtedly been a factor in pushing Mr. Smith to the negotiating table—and particularly in pushing his advisers to advise him to negotiate. It has also affected the Republic of South Africa, and helped to make the Government there less willing to bail out the Rhodesian economy. But it by no means follows from this that we ought to wait. Economic trends can change, and can change very quickly. A war lasting for any length of time would set commodity prices soaring, metals not least, and who can say that this may not happen? There are many signs that sanctions themselves, which have never been very effective and have always been evaded by a number of nations, are be 510 ginning to crumble. The American decision about chrome is a case in point. There is never a perfect moment for striking a bargain of this sort, but I see no reason to believe that there was any obvious advantage to be gained by delaying.
The second point I should like to make —and it is prompted by a glance at the recent history of Rhodesia—is that if ever there has been a case of "the best being the enemy of the good", it is the story of British, and African, efforts to advance the African population's political claims over the last 10 years. It would have been possible, before the disastrous Rhodesian Election of 1962, at the end of that year to have given Southern Rhodesia "independence"—that is to say, dominion status—on better terms for the Africans than the present proposed settlement. The Whitehead Constitution of 1961 was far from perfect, but I think any British Government now would be only too glad to settle for a franchise which, on some estimates, would have given majority rule in 15 years, or on other estimates in 25 years. Of course progress under that Constitution depended on white Rhodesian bona fides and good will: but then it does now, and always will; and the white Rhodesians of the Government Party of that day were very much more liberal, in the Rhodesian sense of the word, than are their successors to-day. If Sir Edgar Whitehead's request for independence had been conceded he would have won the Election of 1962 and, what is more, he would then have repealed the Land Apportionment Act, the predecessor of the justly disliked Land Tenure Act. He nearly won. Why did he lose? Not only because of his inability to secure independence, but also because the African Nationalist Parties boycotted the Election. It is a cruel thing to say, in view of the circumstances in which they now find themselves, but a very heavy responsibility lies with Mr. Nkomo and Dr. Sithole for this euphoric miscalculation.
The purpose of this historical excursus is not merely academic, my Lords. The point is that time has been operating against us for ten years. We could have got a better settlement in 1962 than today. Even in 1963–64, when Mr. Winston Field headed the Rhodesia Front Government, it would have been possible to 511 obtain better terms. Since then, the whole situation has deteriorated. But at this moment we have something which, however remote from the ideal, represents a hope for African advancement. Of course, like every previous set of proposals, it depends on the white Rhodesians' playing the game. But when has this not been so? Given the past history of the country, the nature of its settlement, the strange hybrid Constitution of 1923, the total lack of internal control by Whitehall, when could Britain ever have imposed her will? Southern Rhodesia has never been like a Crown Colony in 'the ordinary sense. It was, and is, peculiar and unique, and I believe that the division which has opened up between the white Rhodesians and Britain was, in a sense, implicit in the very origins of the country, conquered as it was by a chartered company and settled by them with minimal control from the Crown.
It would be a tragedy to let the chance of a settlement, however imperfect, go by in the hope that something better would be gained by waiting for another five or ten years of stagnation and depression. which would still, at the end, leave an ever more illiberal white world in charge of an increasingly helpless, hopeless and impoverished black world looking only to revolution as its sole recourse. Our self-imposed limits of power are very narrow. There was only one moment when we might have turned the course of history. Force was perhaps a possibility—just a possibility—in 1965. I think it would have been wrong to use it, though I am not sure that it was wise to announce in advance that one was not going to use it. But whatever one's decision on that point, force is inconceivable now.
It is in many ways morally more comforting to let things go on as they are. Relations with Commonwealth countries would be less prickly; likewise with the United Nations. We should escape an uproar from the countries North of the Zambesi. And, after all, the economic loss incurred by us as a result of sanctions is not so very great. But, my Lords, while respecting those arguments, I do not accept them. I believe that in at least one country—Zambia—there will be a sigh of relief at the relaxation of sanctions, if and when that comes. Whatever public 512 manifestations of disapproval the Government there may feel it its duty to make, deeply dependent as the Zambian people are on Rhodesian trade, custom and communications, I believe that Zambia will gain a new stability from a settlement in Rhodesia; and this may well be true of much of Southern Africa.
I do not think it is right to sit back, encased in a sort of armour of self-righteousness, and to disregard the consequences of doing nothing. The practical consequences would be a Rhodesia in which, although the level of life of the Europeans would become depressed and diminished, that of the Africans would become much more so; a Rhodesia whose laws and customs would become more and more like those of South Africa, even though I think the racial balance there would probably prevent them from ever quite adopting that odious system in all its details. It is very sad that we cannot prevent these things happening. If we could, I should not support this settlement. But we cannot; and it is no fulfilment of our duty to the 5 million African Rhodesians if we allow them to drift into these worse conditions, merely because we do not wish to acquire the international odium of negotiating an admittedly unsatisfactory settlement.
I should like to make two final points before I sit down. There is much talk about the bona fides of Mr. Smith and his followers. I doubt whether shouting to the house tops one's distrust of the man with whom one is seeking to strike a bargain much enhances the prospect of that bargain succeeding. But setting that point aside, I think it right to remember that in a country of 250,000 Europeans and 5 million Africans it simply is not possible for the Europeans to govern indefinitely without some consideration for the interests of the governed. There are limits beyond which common prudence must stop any white Government from going, and I suspect that the present leaders of the Rhodesia Front are well aware of this. This settlement, if the Africans accept it, will constitute a new situation. Unlike the 1961 Constitution, it will be something which Mr. Smith himself has accepted. To tear it up would be a very grave political risk for him, and I do not think we should forget that.
513 Finally, let us not forget about the Fifth Principle. This settlement has to be acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole. I have seen it alleged in some quarters, though not in this House, that this will be a mere formality. I am sure that it will be nothing of the sort. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, is the last person in the world to take his duties in that spirit. Let me take this opportunity of saying how delighted I am that someone of his integrity, ability and acumen should be Chairman of a Commission charged with this task. It is certainly no formality, and if, in the end, the Commission decides that the settlement is not acceptable to the Rhodesian people, then we go back, as they say, to "square one". But if it is found acceptable, then all else fades into insignificance. The exact correspondence of the terms with the other Principles is nothing like so important if the Rhodesian people genuinely accept the terms.
Mr. Garfield Todd, whom I am happy to count as a friend, is about the last person in Rhodesia to underestimate the interests of the Africans. For many years he has been their principal and most eloquent advocate in an ever more illiberal white world. I should like to quote what he is reported as saying in Monday's, The Times. After commenting that the crucial question was whether the 5 million Africans had sufficient patience and faith to accept the proposals, he went on:if the Africans accept, then the people of Rhodesia are given a final opportunity to build a society in which opportunity to advance will no longer depend on race; where land, educational opportunities and rates of pay will no longer depend on colour.My Lords, it is in the hope that he is right, and in the belief that any practical alternative is far worse, that I shall vote against the Amendment and for the Motion this afternoon.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ LORD TREVELYAN
My Lords, I speak this afternoon with great diffidence, as my ignorance of Rhodesia is as profound as the knowledge of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, and the noble Lord, Lord Blake. However, I should like to offer very briefly a few general reflections in the light of my own experience in international affairs. I find myself thinking very much along the 514 lines put forward by the most reverend Primate and by the noble Lord, Lord Blake. In international affairs there is never one right and one wrong solution. There are nearly always two or more unpalatable solutions and you have to find which is the less unpalatable and go for that. I shall try to fix my attention on the political realities of the situation. In other countries in the past we have sometimes ignored them, with predictable results. We have constructed perfect documents which were doomed to extinction because they were not supported by the trend of events. We made an elaborate agreement with the Egyptians for the independence of the Sudan, providing for the withdrawal of British and Egyptian forces and a long subsequent process of Constitution-making, leading to independence. As soon as the troops had gone, the Sudanese took their independence, which was not surprising. By that, I do not mean that I think Mr. Smith is going to overturn this agreement as soon as it has been accepted. I do not think so because I think that, on the whole, his interests lie on the other side. In Aden, two British experts compiled an elaborate Constitution, but by the time I arrived it was already politically irrelevant because the trend of politics had gone the other way. In the end, it is not the documents alone which count.
How, then, should we assess the political realities of the Rhodesian situation? We were not prepared to use force—rightly. As a result, I believe it is correct that neither a Conservative nor a Labour Government could have achieved a better agreement with Mr. Smith on this occasion, and I think we owe a great deal to the Foreign Secretary and to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, for having got as far as they did. I do not subscribe to the view that the white Rhodesians are "on the run", and that if we waited another year or two we could get a much better agreement. I think the noble Lord, Lord Blake, has dealt very fully with that question and I shall not try to repeat his arguments. The question before us, then, clearly is whether to have this agreement or no agreement. I accept the statement by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that it is not a "sell out". The way in which 515 it works will depend not on a theoretical calculation requiring a number of arbitrary assumptions, but on the way in which the political climate develops. Surely, for reasons of hard interest it is likely to develop rather more favourably to our ideas if the agreement is accepted than if the agreement is refused.
Mr. Smith has had the choice between renewing Rhodesian links with Britain and the West, and accepting some concessions to our ideas—though opinions of course vary very much on their probable effect—or isolating himself from the West and identifying himself with the politics and social system of South Africa. He has chosen the former, doubtless from no very noble motives. If we accept the agreement and it is accepted by Rhodesian opinion, there will be practical incentives for the white Rhodesians to work it, and there will still be a chance to construct a reasonable Rhodesian society. If we rebuff them, they will know that only intransigence pays, and the Africans will have no chance to get a fair deal except through revolution—and to those who prefer this the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has pointed out that it is highly unlikely that they would he successful in it. Of course, we shall have difficulty in the United Nations, but that should not deter us from doing what we think right for the people of Rhodesia. However, the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, has raised a point of great importance which I feel sure must have been very thoroughly considered by the Government before they reached this stage with the Rhodesian agreement, and I, too, shall be very interested to hear what their reply will be.
Let us, then, he practical and concentrate our minds upon the situation in the years ahead, and not try to calculate minutely the long-term effects of a constitutional agreement in political conditions which we cannot at present foresee, when the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, expects that Nigeria will have the atom bomb and apartheid will be dead—both factors likely to affect the Rhodesian situation, to say the least of it. What the bulk of the Africans need first is the elimination of racial discrimination, a reasonable share in the land, real opportunities for higher education and 516 good jobs, and the opportunity to ventilate their grievances in Parliament. If the agreement comes into force, they will have support in their legitimate demands from many, including ourselves, who can apply, not power but, in the right political atmosphere, influence. If we refuse it, their way may be very much harder. For these reasons, without great enthusiasm, I think that the proposals made by the Government are the less unpalatable of the two possibilities open to us, and I therefore support the Motion that we should accept the agreement and put it, in the fairest way possible, to the Rhodesian people.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, I trust that noble Lords will be patient with me if I speak from my own concern, my own experience and my own conviction on a matter with which I have been associated for many years. It was some eight or nine years ago that I resigned my post as an Ambassador to the United Nations because the Conservative Government of the day then refused to bring the African nationalist leaders into consultation on the future of Rhodesia. One might reflect and say that there would have been a very different state of affairs now had my recommendation at that time been accepted. Moreover, I had the responsibility to move in the Security Council of the United Nations over a period of years a series of resolutions leading to the mandatory resolution unanimously passed by the Security Council which is binding to-day. I have also had a recent opportunity to visit a number of African territories, and there to be made very well aware of the alarm felt throughout Africa at the policies of appeasement which are now being pursued by Her Majesty's Government. It is against that background that I wish to speak in this debate.
I would also say that, having spent some ten years at the United Nations working in or for United Nations, before that my whole working life was involved in the task of attempting to work with and to assist the Colonial peoples under our charge to achieve self-determination and independence. I worked under Governments of different Parties. I worked closely and in full accord with different Secretaries of State, some of them Conservative Secretaries of State. 517 We all of us had the same purposes and the same understanding. We worked together in order to give the best possible start in freedom to the people who were under our responsibility. We had certain accepted (so accepted that we scarcely needed to state them) purposes. First of all, we were determined that we should in every possible case—and in practically every case it was achieved—have a system of full adult suffrage. We wished to have a system of independent courts and a system of free Parliaments. I would claim that the achievement, within a quarter of a century, of bringing a quarter of the population of the world from the status of subject colonies to the status of a free Commonwealth is one of the achievements of which this country can be most proud. It is against a background of that recollection that I wish to speak of the Rhodesian capitulation with a sense of contempt and a sense of shame.
I wish to stop for a moment to reflect with Members of this House on a subject on which I have been much engaged in different parts of the world—in the Caribbean, in Africa and in the Mediterranean. It is the question of the suffrage—and on this matter, as I read the extraordinary provisions which have now been set down. I am amazed that they are apparently accepted on all sides without serious question. I have sonic experience of this matter, and I would put it to your Lordships that there can have been some circumstances where, as a transitional measure, it was as well to have a restricted franchise. But to have a restricted franchise as the ultimate purpose, to pin one's whole constitutional effort on the restricted franchise, is, I suggest, worse than an error—it is an evil. The whole thing, of course, is fantastic. To suggest that when your income is 1,500 dollars you are incapable of participating in the Government of your country, but when your income reaches the stage of 1,600 dollars, suddenly, in a flash of blinding light, you see everything clearly and you are then qualified to take part in the government of your country is as insulting as it is ridiculous.
I wish that the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, were here—I warned him that I might have to make some reference to him. I tell him that the Constitution that he has made is the worst Constitution 518 that I have ever known. I have known of no Constitution to compare with it in the whole of my experience. It is a Constitution under which, at the end, millions of Rhodesians are for ever and ever denied participation in the government of their own country. The provisions of the restricted franchise on the two rolls; the provision for the ultimate ten, if it can be approved by the special Commission; the perpetuation (and this is the most serious charge) of the division between whites and blacks, instead of getting to a stage at which people can participate in political activities without a barrier between the two races. All that is provided in the new Constitution. And when it is achieved, the final, ultimate result will be that Mr. Smith has succeeded in making it unworkable; and I suggest that Lord Goodman has succeeded in making it unintelligible. We have something which, in the end, is not worth it. All that can now be promised is an unimpeded wandering in the wilderness for 40 years or more. Therefore I would say that these questions of suffrage which we are now considering and which are to last for 40 or 50 years—indeed, for ever—is shown up in the provision for a Constitution where there is disquality between the two races, a Constitution which places one against the other, with a small balance that precludes all possibility of ordinary political organisations and campaigns. It is the worst Constitution that I have ever heard of or dreamt of. That such a Constitution should be accepted by noble Lords as if it were something on which they can make no comment—
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, the noble Lord says that he has never known a worse Constitution in all his experience. How about the Constitution under which the white countries controlled by Russia exist to-day?
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, I am prepared to talk of other matters on other occasions. I am attempting to-day to confine myself to the problem we are charged with discussing here this afternoon.
I would speak for a moment about the position in the United Nations—and I hope to hear later an answer to a question which I raised earlier. The situation is perfectly plain. There is a mandatory unanimous resolution of the 519 Security Council. Practically the only requirement on every member of the United Nations—that is in effect, a treaty requirement—is that under Article 25 of the Charter any mandatory call from the Security Council is binding, is mandatory —and is mandatory on us. It can be removed only by a resolution carried by nine votes out of the 15. The nine votes are not available. We have to face that fact. Therefore I say again that the Foreign Secretary, in promising that sanctions would be removed, was going beyond his authorisation unless this Government propose, in order to satisfy Mr. Smith, to break their solemn obligations to the United Nations. If that happened, it would be a great blow coming from a permanent member of the Security Council, the greatest blow yet delivered; at the whole system of international security.
My Lords, I turn to the wider context. I see Africa, as I think we all see it, with its 200 million or more Africans North of the Zambesi in charge of their own destinies facing great difficulties, no doubt many making serious mistakes. Making mistakes, certainly; but in charge of their own affairs. South of the river are the white supremacy forces of South Africa with her apartheid and the Portuguese fighting their colonial war in Angola and Mozambique, and in South-West Africa there rages another struggle that we shall have to look at very soon to see whether we shall adopt a policy of appeasement or not. And in Rhodesia we have a white minority which is determined, and remains determined, and has made it clear that it is determined, to maintain white supremacy indefinitely. That is the confrontation in Africa.
What are the alternatives? We have had some talk of them. To me, they appear to be: first, the policy of appeasement. That is the policy adopted by this Government. Secondly, the policy of violence. I do not advocate it. I respect those who are willing to give their lives for their country and would never criticise them; but I do not believe that the time is ripe for violence. Violence will come only if the policy of appeasement is pursued. The third course, and one which we constantly advocate—and we may have been 520 in error in not carrying it through effectively—is persistent, constant, mounting pressure, political and economic, on all the white supremacy régimes of Southern Africa. That is the course we advocate and that is the course we have pursued up to this moment. Now this Government turn round and take the pressure off and, indeed, subsidise the very régimes which are determined to maintain white supremacy. It means that we are on their side now. That is the situation as it has come to be. We have become the known supporters of the white supremacy régimes in Southern Africa. The three policies that I speak of, and the policy that we should have followed, and still should follow, is the policy of mounting pressure, political and economic. These people will not answer to kind words. Nor will they be overthrown in a short time by guerrilla action. All that they will understand is the necessity to answer political and economic pressures, directed to what?—to no more than the necessity to bring into consultation and co-operation the African people and their leaders. Therefore, we turn to the policy of appeasement.
We watch the four acts in the tragedy. The first act took place within days of the new Government taking power. The first act was a declaration that they proposed to break the United Nations embargo on the supply of arms to South Africa. That was within a day or two of the Government taking Office. The second act was when the Foreign Secretary proceeded to Lisbon in order to pat on the back the Portuguese colonialists, to encourage, support and to give them succour in their colonial war. He went out of his way to go to Lisbon to tell them that he was with them and that he admired their activities in Africa. The third act was in regard to South-West Africa. I saw in New York the other day the report of the vote in the General Assembly. Most of the world were voting on one side and there were three opposing countries: South Africa, Portugal and the United Kingdom. When we get to that position I suggest that we have sunk very low in the world. We have taken the side of the white supremacy régimes of Southern Africa.
Therefore, when I talk about the Rhodesian capitulation, I go on to the 521 fourth act in the tragedy. In speaking of the fourth act, I will speak plainly. It is necessary to do so. I do not believe that it is wise to indulge in a fear of using plain words. What of discrimination? What did they do about discrimination in the capitulation negotiations in Salisbury? Nothing! Failure! They failed even on the actions which were proceeding in the missionary territories. It was failure, or, if you like to use "Goodman" terms, it was total lack of success. We talk about assurances and guarantees when the regulators, the controls, are all left in the hands of the Smith régime. They have complete power, once they are independent, to do what they like. Therefore, I say to your Lordships that the assurances and the guarantees included in these negotiations are a sham.
Then, on the test of acceptability, you get an amazing state of affairs. I am amazed that people in this House can talk as they do when it is specifically provided in the document, signed by our Foreign Secretary, that the Nationalist leaders shall remain in detention until after the test; when it is specifically and positively provided that the emergency under which the Nationalist leaders are banned shall remain in effect until sanctions are removed. This is not something of an interpretation; this is nothing you can shift on to the wishes of the Commission. This is something which we have put our signature to—the British signature—agreeing that the Nationalist leaders should be ruled out of activity. It is said that they can be brought back, like an animal in a cage, to be presented to the Commission. But to go and speak to their people—that is denied; and denied by British signature. It is a question that we have deliberately so agreed and it is written into the document. So I say that the test of acceptability, with the Nationalist leaders and the Party organisations banned and excluded, is a farce.
We come, then, to the question of unimpeded progress. And here, my Lords, we have to stop for a moment; we really must assume that words mean something. Unimpeded indeed! I have never seen so many impediments—impediments of time; impediments of indirect elections; impediments of immigra- 522 tion, as was pointed out just now; impediments of the final Commission to look at the question all again. This is a monstrosity of impediments. To say that this is unimpeded—I speak respectfully—is a lie. There is no other word for it—it is a plain lie. This is an impeded advance—impeded by every ingenious method of impeding.
So what do you get, my Lords? You get the failure on discrimination; you get the sham on the guarantees; you get the farce on the test of acceptability and you get the lie on unimpeded advance to majority rule. What does it come to altogether? I found the word the other day. I do not often take a word from the leader in The Times, but I found this word—it is "fraudulent". It is a fraud. It is a cunning fraud, and there is nothing in this for the people of Rhodesia. The Smith regime has been able to win its maximum advantage with a minimum of expenditure. So that is the situation we are faced with at this time. And now we have, therefore, come to a situation where we have betrayed the Africans; we have flouted the Commonwealth and we have undermined the United Nations. We have forfeited the possibility—this I think is the most serious of all—of British leadership in the Third World for a decade or more, maybe for the rest of this century. These things have been done. That is the charge. What is the answer?
The answer was given yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. Let us look for a moment or two at the answer. The first answer is that it is the best we could get. If the Foreign Secretary of this country were advised to go to Salisbury, knowing that on the essentials he could get nothing, and being prepared to accept what, in his generosity, Smith is prepared to give, the right honourable gentleman should never have gone. The acceptance of the crumbs which fall from the table of the Smith regime to be brought home to be made a feast for the Conservative Party, with the champagne and the hand. shaking—white hands only of course—all this is surely nauseating. Then we are told, the next thing is that this prevents a drift to apartheid. On the contrary, my Lords, it gives a licence; and what is more we subsidise it. British money is going to a regime which has not the slightest intention, let me assure your Lordships—although I do not believe that 523 many noble Lords are in doubt about it—of giving way to majority rule at any stage.
The next argument we had is that we avoid bloodshed. I am sorry to say that what is going to be done now does not avoid bloodshed. It may postpone it, perhaps. Certainly what is going to be done will cause great misery in the hearts of many millions of Africans and Asians throughout the world. It is a setback, yes, my Lords, for all of them. It is going to cause great joy in Pretoria, in Salisbury and in Lisbon. But the bloodshed will not be averted, let me assure your Lordships. We have put off the evil end, but, when it comes, the end will be far more evil. This is an insurance that in Southern Africa bloodshed will take place; and the responsibility will lie on those who to-day are saying that they have taken this action in the interests of the Africans. That sort of cant is, I think, the most terrible thing to listen to—to say that they do it for the Africans.
Now the Commission go out, carefully picked, in order to distribute the British bribe. They go to the country districts and they say, "We have £50 million for you and lots of money will flow in once we take the sanctions off." Can you expect the simple people of Africa to be given a reasonable test when that is what the Commission are going to say? That is what the Foreign Minister said yesterday. It is jobs they care about, and what they want is for the African people to barter away their right to independence, their right to freedom, their right to equality; to barter away the right of freedom for a Tory mess of pottage.
These are the arguments: That it was the best they could get—they should never have gone if they knew that they could get no better. That it is going to avoid bloodshed—not at all; it is banking it up for the future. And to say that it is done in the interests of the Africans is, I say, no more than cant.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, leaves this point may I ask whether he would not consider that there is all that chance of further sanctions continuing to bite? Is it not true that sanctions are beginning to break down? Is not this the bog in 524 which the policy of sanctions has landed us?
§ LORD CARADON
No, my Lords, I do not agree for a moment. Indeed, I hear many statements from the Government side of the House that it is now apparent that sanctions have been having an effect. We have heard, from someone who speaks with authority, that sanctions now are beginning to have an effect; and it is just when they are starting to have a full effect that they are going to be taken off.
§ LORD CARADON
Of course they are; the proposal is that they should be taken off. It is also clear—and this has been admitted in many sections of the House by those who know the situation —that they have had an increasine, effect. I go back to my three courses, my Lords: the course either of appeasement, which has been followed religiously in all matters in Southern Africa since this Government took over; or violence, which I do not advocate. It is mounting pressure that I advocate. Instead of which the Government have decided to take off the pressure and return to subsidisation. I think—
§ LORD CARADON
My Lords, I think that the United States' action on chrome was deplorable and regrettable. I think that we should have gone—I do not know whether we did—to protest and complain that they had taken action contrary to the mandatory call of the United Nations. They are in trouble, too. They also are bound by the mandatory call. I very much doubt whether they will wish to flout it. I think you will find it very interesting to see what action is taken in regard to the whole Rhodesian question by the United States; and particularly by Canada, where I was a day or two ago. We shall see, my Lords.
525 I finish by saying that I think, in spite of what we heard just now, that it is a duty on those of us who have any knowledge in this matter to state an opinion. I think it is right that we should say to the people of Africa that there are some people in this country who detest the settlement and the capitulation which has been made. I think that they should know. I hope that they will hear. I would further say that it may be that those who are in charge of our destiny in taking this vital decision, which will affect the good name of this country for long into the future, may be too cynical; too timid; too tired to face up to the challenge of Southern Africa. But I would tell them that I believe the younger generation in this country will not have it. This week I have been in several places, including my own university. I find that there is an overwhelming opinion among the younger people in this country that this is a contemptible act on which our Government are engaged. I hope that will be increasingly felt, as I believe that it will be, and that the sort of statements such as we have heard from several sections of this House, and the action to which we are now, I suppose, committed, will earn, among the younger generation in particular a lasting disgust.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, sits down, may I ask him one question? Is he aware that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, on radio, on the news at one o'clock, said that not only were sanctions biting, but that if we had waited two years, we could have made a far better settlement than we have made to-day?
§ 5.50 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, in the office at the British Mission in the United Nations where I am currently working there is a photograph of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. I am extremely glad, for my peace of mind and for the exercise of my daily duties there, that the face worn by that photograph is not the face that we have seen to-day. I am very hesitant to pursue debating points against the noble Lord because, quite apart from any difference in skill, talent or training, the noble Lord has one of the most distinguished records at the United Nations of anyone 526 we have ever sent there, and I have been there for but two months. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the noble Lord has done damage to-day to that hard won distinction.
We are obliged by the United Nations to do all we can to discharge our moral and legal responsibilities in Rhodesia. To-day we are imposing no conditions, insisting on no settlement. Rather, have we taken part in negotiations and reached agreement on such terms not as we could get, but as we could reach agreement upon. Having reached such an agreement we could have opted out. We could have signed ourselves out of the scene in Southern Africa, and I believe that we could have signed ourselves out without too much dishonour. Nevertheless, we insisted on pushing such agreement to a more logical and also, I would say, to a more dangerous conclusion. We pushed it to that conclusion with great seriousness and, I think, moral responsibility in suggesting that it should be submitted to the closest possible test of acceptability that I would say any normal brain could devise.
In the context not so much of this White Paper but in the context of the United Nations, is this not a recognition not only of our responsibilities towards the peoples of Rhodesia, black or white, but also of our responsibilities to the United Nations as well? Does the noble Lord think that the only way we should, or could, have discharged such responsibilities to the United Nations is by the exercise of force of arms in Southern Rhodesia? Could not the noble Lord have made almost the same speech that we have heard this afternoon to this side of the House had the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, been sitting here —in 1968, let us say—rather than my noble friend the Leader of the House to-day? It seems to me that in the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, we have someone who is really heavily opposed, not simply to this agreement or settlement but to the possibility of there being a settlement with the present Smith réegime at all. That, of course, is his right, and I am sure that all of us honour him for saying so, but I do not think that he should have described, or was in any sense right in describing, this attempt, this earnestness, as being worthy of contempt and a sense of national shame.
527 Other predecessors of mine from your Lordships' House are remembered at the United Nations, if not as widely because of the more limited duties they performed, but with as much affection and respect as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. I am thinking particularly of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, who endeared herself enormously to the Third Committee on which I sit, particularly because she had a tendency to shout down the civil servants when she disagreed with what they were giving her to say. I think that my noble friend Lord St. Oswald has less affection on his side for the United Nations than those on the Third Committee have for him. People come up to me and ask me." How is Lord Oswald?", decanonising him for the occasion. Indeed one member came up to me and said, "How is Sir Oswald?", and when I looked rather rattled he was bewildered until I explained that that name and title had a slightly different connotation politically in this country than those borne by my noble friend. It is a great pleasure and it makes my job much easier to follow people who, whatever the state of Britain's reputation politically at the United Nations at any given moment—and at any given moment it is not very good—are remembered with affection and esteem.
I want as quickly as I can to try to give some idea of the reactions, as I have seen them from my limited, indeed obscure, position at the United Nations. It will hardly come as a surprise to your Lordships when I say that they are suspicious and hostile, to put it mildly. My task is made slightly difficult by the fact that I have to go back there next week, and while I do not think that Hansard is daily reading on the Third Committee, there is always the possibility that I may say something which will embarrass me later. In making that point, I am anxious to avoid the air of self-importance, the halo of the "hush, hush", which comes over even the obscurest people when engaged in any kind of Government service. I would not want your Lordships to think of me as they might think of the two old ladies in the cartoon of the last war, sitting under a pulpit, who said to each other, "Since the dear vicar was made chaplain to M.I.5 his sermons have 528 become so non-committal." There is something in any kind of overseas work, perhaps because one has a car or one is wined and dined constantly, which is apt to raise the temperature of one's own self-esteem. Therefore anything said has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
The issue at the United Nations, as I see it, is that though we have been, are and will be attacked in very forceful terms, in language of extreme emotional bitterness, there is a certain recognition of the situation as it is, and this recognition is based not simply on an understanding of the limits of British power, but of the wise and constant insistence by both Governments, the former Government as well as that of my noble and right honourable friends, that they were committed to Principles which the majority of African States have declared they find not acceptable. So everybody knew where they were in advance of this proposed settlement. If I may say one more thing to the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. it seemed to me from where I was sitting that he was speaking as if the Five Principles—or even to some the Six—were not acceptable. That, again, is his right and the right of most of the African nations in the United Nations. Nevertheless, the British Government—both British Governments—decided to limit their attempts to what was possible for them, and in doing so I think that they discharged their responsibilities.
The Security Council, as your Lordships will probably be aware, have met only three times. One of the meetings is to-day, so we do not know what is going on and it would be bland of me to suggest that this proposal has been received with moderation or that it would continue to be so received. The Organisation of African Unity declared its colours on November 27 by saying:The so-called settlement arrived at yesterday, that was so blatantly against O.A.U. resolutions and decisions on decolonisation and apartheid, can hut have ominous implications for both the Commonwealth and future relations between the United Kingdom and independent Africa.I may be taking a risk by saying so, but I have certainly found that although our proposals have been attacked, and though the idea of our even having proposals was attacked well in advance, I 529 have suffered no personal bitterness nor severance of any relations with my O.A.U. friends in the Third Committee.
The O.A.U. also said that it appears that the only guarantee to Africans to achieve unimpeded progress towards immediate majority rule is to take matters into their own hands and to assert their rights by whatever means. I have also found that the suggestion that it is both impossible and undesirable for any British Government to preach such a doctrine is listened to with some attention and respect. I would say that, though we are being attacked, we are being taken seriously; that the response to these proposals has been a serious one. They have wished to study them closely. I think we owe this to people like the noble Lord, Lord Caradon; I think we owe it to the fact that, even when we are politically in the wilderness —and, as I said, we are always to some degree politically in the wilderness at the United Nations—we are recognised as being good United Nations men: we pay our dues; we are infinitely patient and courteous in the way that we present to the United Nations information about what is going on in this country and as to our foreign policy. It is probably not for me to say so, but I cannot resist saying it. The presentation and the timing—the time coinciding with the Secretary of State's speech in the House of Commons—of Sir Colin Crowe's outline of the proposals to the Security Council was, I think, a masterpiece of tact.
There is also, I think, a recognition that there is a new kind of spirit abroad in England; that it is good to know where you are with England; that it is good that England is recognising the limitations of its power and is helping as one nation among many, and not in a kind of imperial trusteeship, paternalistic way. This became clear in an incident that happened to me. I was having a drink with an African delegate friend and he was saying some slightly less than complimentary things about the Tory Party. I said that the Tory Party, of course, was full of admirable people to know. He then said: "Well, your Prime Minister was rude at the Singapore Conference". So I said—and would have done the same for Mr. Wilson in the same position—"My right honourable friend is never 530 rude; that is quite an impossible thing to consider". He said, "Well, were you at the Singapore Conference?", and I was forced to deny it. He then elaborated a little more, and I said: "It occurs to me that my right honourable friend was talking as one politician to another politician. The trouble with you is that you will not treat him as an equal, and you expect him to treat you as if you were not his equal". He said he would go away and think about that. The next day he sent me a note saying that he agreed, and that from then on he would look upon himself as a politician rather than as a black African, and on Edward Heath as a politician rather than a white Englishman.
Many members of the United Nations, although they have views about Rhodesia that have for a long time been fixed and predetermined, have noted the Secretary of State's emphasis of the sombre prospects for the Rhodesian Africans themselves if things go on as they have been without some sort of settlement. There is no pretending that this would convince extremists in any way. It seems to me that at home people talk to you about the United Nations—one's friends; people, say, not politically very acute—and think of it as a kind of rather generalised body of goodwill; as a sort of international convention of do-gooders. It seems to me that the United Nations is much closer in spirit to a vigorous Party conference, where the faithful are rallied, resolutions are drawn up, and nobody's Government is going to pay all that much attention to the resolutions that come out. I have certainly noticed at Party Conferences the same slight discrepancy in language between people rallying the faithful and getting their political standards raised to the mast, and what they say privately and in the Lobbies outside.
There has also been, I think, a seriousness. We have been taken on trust vis-à-vis our emphasis on the test of acceptability. There have of course been suggestions—and your Lordships will be aware of them, I think—that the United Nations should in some way be identified with the Commission's work, or identified, anyway, by sending along observers. One must say that there are presentational advantanges to our case in going along with that; but it seems to me that the United Nations should not have it 531 all ways. They have consistently, in resolution after resolution, insisted that this is a British responsibility, and it seems to me that our job is to discharge our responsibility, and then it will be clear to all that if a settlement is found acceptable, if the independence of Rhodesia is made legal, Rhodesia is then, whether she joins the United Nations or not, a member of the world, and world organisations can deal with her. She will not then have the protective buffer of Britain to take some of the blame. That bringing of Rhodesia into an international community, even if it is not formalised, seems to me to be one of the greatest reasons in favour of reaching some sort of settlement.
My Lords, to return to the super Powers briefly, needless to say, the Russians condemned our proposals almost unread, since there was a large, prepared speech on the desk of M. Malik while Sir Colin was reading out his suggestions. The Chinese have made it an exciting year by their being sent to the United Nations. I cannot tell your Lordships what their response will be, but on a "Buggins's turn" principle, they appear to have attacked all the permanent members of the Security Council so far except us, and we must be coming up for it now. To sum up, I would say that in spite of virulent protestations by the Russians—and these will probably soon be latched on to by the Chinese—and in spite of protestations by the whole of the Third World, most countries may well end by coming to terms in practice with the solution that has been suggested. We shall he under heavy attack in the United Nations, but I very much doubt whether. with deference to the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, British influence and contacts in Africa will be seriously reduced.
May I close, my Lords, by giving you, for what they are worth, my own reactions to these proposals? I must confess that not only in my work at the United Nations but as an ordinary person I was not looking forward to the Rhodesia settlement or to proposals towards it. The noble Lord, Lord Caradon. has talked about the attitudes of the younger generation. I am no longer in the league to be called a member of the younger generation, but when I was at university some ten years ago, 532 one of my best friends was Lord Caradon's son, Paul Foot. He has remained a good friend of mine, although ever since we met I think I have disagreed with almost everything he has said. But one thing that we have in common, and one thing which all this generation have in common, is that we were the first to become enormously conscious of race in its widest and most global political aspects. I do not mean that people were previously indifferent to racialism. What I am trying to say is that we realised that there would have to be a global politics specifically attacking this problem. The noble Lord, Lord Snow, has written about this in terms of the younger generation. I was at Eton as a schoolboy and I came under the influence of Mr. Robert Birley (now Sir Robert Birley). The last time that I went to see him, before he retired from being headmaster, I said, "What are you going to do now?" He replied, "I am going out to Johannesburg to prepare for what may happen, or will happen, after any disaster". That kind of attitude informed the whole generation there. I absolutely reject, and have always rejected, the argument that in some way Africans are not ready for self-government, that they cannot rule themselves. I might equally say that in some way the noble Lords who sit opposite are not ready for government—I certainly feel it—but I have no dogma that they cannot, or may not, govern.
To be perhaps less lofty, the other matter which bothered me was our trading position. I have always thought that this country as a manufacturing country was ideally suited to attempt to get markets in the Third World. The Japanese have been less than officious in their zealous pursuit of maintaining sanctions, but their trade with the Third World countries is rapidly approaching 2,000 million dollars. Nevertheless, my misgivings were overcome because I found, like many of your Lordships, that these proposals were much better than expected, and it seemed to me that we owed it to the Rhodesians, and ourselves, to take a long-term political view and to realise that the growth of freedom in this country was based on increasing wealth. I cannot see where a curtailing of the wealth of the peoples of Rhodesia would in any way improve their social or political system.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, the House will wish to come to a decision on this matter in the Lobby in the very near future, and I do not propose to detain it very long. At the end of this two-day debate I speak with a very heavy heart indeed. I have a horrible feeling that whatever we decide to do we are going to be wrong. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, made a powerful and persuasive speech yesterday. He spoke as a man who had, with the British team, accomplished a very distasteful mission with little satisfaction and with a great deal of humility. I believe I know what he has gone through in the past few months. In my own way I had a great deal to do with Rhodesia, and Rhodesians, in the period from 1953 until U.D.I. I visited the country between 20 and 30 times during that period, and nude many friends of different political opinions. I have declared my interests in Rhodesia on other occasions.
It is a very difficult problem—one could philosophise and moralise for hours over it. In the last resort I believe that we have to satisfy ourselves that we are doing the best that we can in very difficult circumstances to discharge our responsibility to the minority in Rhodesia. I say "minority" deliberately because the Africans are a political minority, and will be so for some considerable time. No Party has a better claim to speak for political minorities than my own. To my mind that is the question. It is not, "What is your alternative?" but, "How can we discharge the moral responsibility which is on our shoulders?" That is quite different from what the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said yesterday when he referred to moral gestures which make you feel good, or are matters of personal indulgence. There are gestures which may help towards a better solution, and I shall refer to them later.
I want to pay tribute at the outset to the British team who undertook this task. I know three of them: the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, Sir Alec and Sir Denis Greenhill. I would never accuse any one of them of having anything but the sincerest motives, and I commend them for taking on this distasteful task of negotiating any settlement at all. The background was forbidding; I did not expect any result from these negotiations, 534 and the reason that I did not expect any result was not difficult to find. First, there was no hope of getting better terms than the Smith regime were prepared to give. We had no military presence, no British sanction to trigger anything off. We had the United Nations sanctions which, with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Caradon—and I speak as one who has supported sanctions throughout—were crumbling. I believe that sanctions were being totally undermined by the action of the United States. Not only that, but the reports of the activities in Rhodesia of the Germans, the French, our allies, were enough to show to me, at least, that sanctions were not a force that we could use. If I could be convinced of the opposite, if somebody can tell me and give me the evidence that sanctions really are likely to bite deeply to the point where you feel you have a power over the person with whom you are negotiating, I should take an entirely different view from the one I am in the process of forming.
It is a tragedy that with the United Nations mandatory sanctions we have not been better supported by other countries in the world. In these circumstances, the achievements of the negotiators, with no power behind them, were remarkable. The question is: Can we support these terms as being the best that we can get in the circumstances? The answer must be that we must regard these terms as the best that can be obtained, awful as they are. We must also ask ourselves what the chances are of the Smith regime honouring them. At this point we have a number of serious doubts. I am not going to refer to them all—many of them have been expressed already. To approve the terms at this stage would lead the Africans of Rhodesia to believe that they have been completely deserted by those of us who have pledged ourselves to African advancement, both as individuals and as a Party. We are not going to do that, and it is quite wrong for us to vote for approval of these proposals to-night.
Some people will vote against the proposals whatever improvements are made because they think that no matter what the test of acceptability shows, this sells the Africans down the river, and I respect that view. On the other hand, it may well be that this settlement provides a 535 breathing space to make the coming white European generation, if it is any better than the last, realise that the reactionary attitude of their parents must inevitably end in bloodshed if they continue with it. I know that this is a generalisation: I know that there are some progressive Europeans in Rhodesia; but the fact of the matter is that unless there is fairly rapid progress to majority rule, there will be civil war. The more impediments that are put in the way of majority rule, the worse it is going to be for white Rhodesians in Rhodesia. I believe that the writing is on the wall now and must be recognised.
On the question of the vote tonight, I can only say what one has to say so often in business: if you want an immediate answer it must be "No". That will be the attitude tonight of noble Lords on these Benches, and it is what we shall say in the end unless we are convinced that there is a good chance of the Smith regime, and its successors, honouring not just the settlement, but the spirit of the Five Principles and the unimpeded movement towards majority rule. Another reason why we cannot vote for the approval of these proposals tonight is that we must be satisfied that African opinion is genuinely ascertained, and that we are sure that in the terms that are put to it is really prepared to accept the settlement, and to make it work.
I believe that the Smith regime should be put on probation for the next few months. I hope to hear some assurances from them that they genuinely mean to make this settlement work. I have not heard much in those terms since the settlement was announced. But I do not think we are going to fool ourselves on these Benches that the settlement complies with the Five Principles or that it would have been accepted by Rhodesia if it had complied with them. If there are no hopes of improvement in the agreement, there are at least some things we can do on the British side. Immediately we can try to ensure that the test of acceptability is made a reality and not a sham—and this is vitally important. In my view, the least we need, in addition to the other suggestions that have been put forward, is that the composition of 536 the Commission must include at least one African and also radical-minded politicians, either from this country or from other parts of the Commonwealth, in order to demonstrate that this is a genuine attempt to find out what the Africans really think. It is important that these people should be on the Commission so that they may have a real say in the way in which everything is presented to the Africans when trying to test the acceptability of the proposals.
I want now to make this point. This Commission in my view must be serviced by a non-Smith regime secretariat. Why should not this be set up under the auspices of the Commonwealth Secretariat—Mr. Arnold Smith's organisation —which could assemble a team which would be confidential to the Commission itself, which would not report back to the Rhodesian security system everything that the Commission was doing, which is what happens in a police State. I do not know what the correct noun is for people who are expert in "de-bugging", but I would take a couple of them with me if I were Lord Pearce. I should expect to have an independent secretariat capable of finding independent and reliable interpreters. These are all points which to my mind will increase the credibility of the Pearce Commission, and in my view are a minimum in the requirements. I am fearful that the prospects of reprisal and intimidation against witnesses will distort the evidence and the findings of the Commission if one merely allows a secretariat to be provided by the local people on the spot. Also, I believe that the Peace Commission should be told to take their time. This is not the sort of thing one can do in a country such as Rhodesia in a few weeks or even a few months. I should like to see them really getting down to this task, spending time on it, and obtaining a result which at least will be credible, whatever the conclusion may be.
I hope also that the suggestion that my noble friend Lord Wade made yesterday will be taken up seriously. That is that big business, and not-so-big business, will accept the challenge of bringing Africans up to the high economic levels so that the electoral roll multiplies rapidly. But I do not believe that this will be done unless business is organised to do it. I believe we ought to offer 537 aid funds to provide an institute for economic advancement of Africans, started on a multi-racial basis. Bring in Rhodesian and British businessmen and say, "Now look. Find out what can he done to create jobs, to put Africans up to higher jobs, to represent the interests of Africans against too much white immigration which goes in and creams off the best jobs". I believe that money spent in this way will be used very valuably indeed. Moreover, the response it will get from big business and from the Rhodesian Government will be a test of their sincerity in wanting to advance the Africans economically.
Above all, we should look for some affirmation of good faith from Rhodesia over the coming months. If this Commission to test acceptability, if the Commission to reduce discrimination, and the Commission to revise land tenure, turn out to be whitewashing missions, then the moral credibility of this country will take one of the greatest blows it has ever had in its history. My Lords, I am afraid that I have little faith in this settlement despite the integrity of its author. I have no hesitation to-night in voting against the Government, and I think we should put people in Rhodesia on notice that they are on probation.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I should like to begin by congratulating the two maiden speakers—first, the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, whose name appeared on the Order Paper at least once before and I was under the impression that it referred to another Lord Beaumont. I congratulate him on actually succeeding in making a really excellent maiden speech, like the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, whose father we remember with affection. It was particularly striking how much knowledge they had. I only wish that more of your Lordships had heard their speeches, which contributed very much to the debate. It would be fair to say that both of them will be voting to-night for a settlement, with many doubts and fears still unresolved but in the belief—what I think can be fairly called the Goodman thesis—that these proposals represent the best that can be achieved, and that the alternative is the perpetuation of bondage and a distinct possibility of civil war and massacre. I shall seek to face these 538 issues as fairly as possible, for I think we shall agree that it has been a very fair debate. It was a particularly fair debate, if I may say, in the small hours of this morning, when noble Lords like Lord Lytton, Lord Gridley and others were still sticking it out.
I should like to pay a tribute to the sincerity both of the Foreign Secretary and of Lord Goodman and the other negotiators. I believe they are entitled to a tribute for what they have actually succeeded in achieving. There is little doubt that some real progress was made. I confess that when I first heard of the proposals I had a wild hope—not a very great one—that we might have achieved an honourable settlement and not just the best settlement that could be obtained. It was for this reason that my noble friend Lord Shepherd, my noble friend Lord Shinwell, and others, pressed the Government that this debate should take place on a Motion "to take note". But for reasons which the noble Earl the Leader of the House fully explained—and I acknowledge this—the Government felt obliged to seek approval of the policy. In these circumstances, we have had to make up our minds on the Government Motion. I would say to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop that had we not put down an Amendment, he would not be in the happy position of being able to abstain, because in fact he would be approving these proposals.
The noble and learned Lord who sat on the Woolsack—sits on the Woolsack: I beg his pardon; and I appreciate that both he and my noble friend Lord Gardiner have been very busy in the courts—made a rather important intervention during the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, yesterday when he said (col.320):The Government Motion simply asks the House to endorse the putting to the Rhodesian people of the proposals, and that, of course, does not mean that the package deal is endorsed except for the purpose ad referendum under the Fifth Principle.This point is, I believe, of fundamental importance, and I am bound to say, with the greatest respect, not to mention with the greatest caution also. that I believe the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is wrong. As the noble Lord, Lord Wade, said last night—
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am loath to interrupt the noble 539 Lord the Leader of the Opposition, but he will also have observed the answer that I gave to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, which I think did modify to some extent what I had said. What I did say was, of course, that when we refer the proposed agreement to the Rhodesian people we are doing it on the basis in which the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, commended it to the House; namely, that it would be, to quote Lord Goodman, consummate folly to reject it, but that one of the essential parts of the proposal is that it should be referred to the Rhodesian people.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am grateful. I was aware that the noble and learned Lord produced an additional qualification. But it is important. For what the Government are asking the House to do is to approve their "proposals for the settlement of the Rhodesian dispute", and, in the second leg to this Motion, to endorse the decision to put it to the people of Rhodesia. We are not being asked to "take note of" the Motion and approve a decision to send the proposals to the people of Rhodesia; we are asked to approved the actual proposals.
My Lords, we have had to do this in the context of the Government's own Statement last Thursday which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, gave to the House, that the proposals are fully within the Five Principles, and that is why our Amendment is worded as it is. It is because we do not believe that the proposals are fully within the Five Principles that we have felt compelled to put down our Amendment. Having heard the devastating speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner, not to mention the other speeches, including the remarkable speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, I do not believe there could be many people in the House who now think that these proposals are fully within the Five Principles.
The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, did not in fact attempt to answer all the powerful arguments (although time was a little short for him) that my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner put before the House. The noble Lord answered certain points and there are certain points —and it would be surprising if there were not some points—which were success 540 fully answered by the Government, but it is unfortunate that we were not able to have a general debate for clarification before we were asked to approve. Many questions are still unanswered. The noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, was asked a number of questions which he was not able to answer, as he freely acknowledged, Land I doubt whether the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, will, in the time available, be able to do justice to the large number of questions that have been raised.
We need to examine not merely the small print of the proposals but also documents which, as my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner said, have not been available to us. I should have liked first to deal with some of the other remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and I am not sure whether he is here. In the first instance I am prepared to say that his speech, like that of my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner, was quite brilliant. It was a duel of a most exalted kind. But I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, is not here. The noble Lord rather confuses me at times because it is the practice of this House that noble Lords stay to hear other speakers, and it makes it difficult for us to answer when the noble Lord is not present. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, is a man of quite exceptional calibre. The agreement is a tribute to his energy and pertinacity, but he was answered by my noble friend Lady Llewelyn-Davies and others. The noble Lord mentioned in the course of his remarks that he has a capacity for disguise, and I am wondering, with his ability to slip in and out of Salisbury, whether he is not perhaps among us after all. We know he is not on the Woolsack anyway. He has some of the qualities of the Scarlet Pimpernel—he is "demned elusive". I say this with no disrespect, but he did lurk beyond the Bar—
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, in view of some of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, one or two of which I found offensive, I greatly regret that he is not here. I will waste no more time on this matter at the moment.
541 While I acknowledge that the total bar to majority rule that existed in the 1969 Constitution has been removed, I consider that if we really believe that this agreement is going to be honoured it still remains the wildest exaggeration to say that the First Principle, of unimpeded progress to majority rule, has been fulfilled. Other noble Lords have made the point that "impeded progress" is more accurate. Some scorn has been poured on Dr. Claire Palley's analysis, and in fact the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said that it was not possible to make predictions of this precision. But Dr. Palley did not predict with great precision. She gave a number of different options, and the best one, which was described as the most optimistic, was that majority rule might come in about 60 years' time. It may be less, but it may be as long as 60 years, and whatever anybody's guess is on these proposals I think it is unlikely that any noble Lord in this House, except some of our very young Peers, is likely to be alive by the time that majority rule comes to Rhodesia. That excellent reporter, Bridget Bloom, has made clear in the reports in the Financial Times—and we have to recognise this—that Mr. Smith does not see the Agreement as guaranteeing unimpeded progress to majority rule; and it is what Mr. Smith thinks and not what we think that is important in making up our minds on this matter.
I will not go over all the other Principles. I would again ask noble Lords to study closely the speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner. There is no effective guarantee; there can be no guarantee—I welcome the arrival of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, who is certainly arriving undisguised on this occasion. As I was saying, my Lords, there is no effective guarantee, and, whatever the Agreement says, even if Mr. Smith, contrary to all the expectations which I think nearly every noble Lord who knows Rhodesia has expressed, faithfully tries to carry out the Constitution, there is no guarantee that it will not be overturned by an illegal act. A Government which has not shrunk from rebellion against the Crown, or a Prime Minister who has not shrunk from breaking his 542 Oath to the Queen, will not be deterred if he finds that the principles for which he himself genuinely and sincerely stands are not fulfilled.
In regard to the Third Principle, the improvement in the political status of the African population, what is proposed is no better than, and indeed does not bring us up to the standards of, the 1961 Constitution. When we come to the Fourth Principle, progress towards ending racial discrimination, the improvement seems to be so marginal as not to merit any real recognition. We have been told of the new and strengthened Declaration of Rights. We know that in fact it is the same Declaration of Rights as was in the 1961 Constitution, though somewhat worsened, and I think it is disingenuous of the Government, in referring to this splendid new Declaration, that in the White Paper they did not bring this out more clearly and it was left to other noble Lords to point it out. This is a point of some substance because a great deal has happened since 1961, and the Declaration of Rights will bite only in relation to certain legislation which has already been in existence for a certain period. We know perfectly well that there are statutes and laws of the kind, for instance, in respect of which Mr. Justice Treadgold resigned, which will continue and the existence of which, discriminatory and unfair as they are, will be valid within the Declaration of Rights.
My Lords, there is a particular and horrid aspect to this. Every noble Lord who has spoken has objected to the operation of the Land Tenure Act. I do not think it is good enough to suggest, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, did, that land apportionment, land division, has existed in Africa, and in particular in Rhodesia, for many years. It is the recent Land Tenure Act which has produced the worst and the harshest results, and it was this Act which led to the trouble at Cold Comfort Farm—that splendid multi-racial institution close to the new Border between the European and the stony African areas; a multi-racial experiment which led to the expulsion, as part of the general problems which affected Mr. Guy Clutton-Brock's country and which was so rightly and roundly condemned by the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, whose feelings in this matter I fully acknowledge.
543 Here is where some immediate progress could have been made. All right. I recognise that it is not possible, perhaps, to amend fully the Land Tenure Act. But something could have been done; some evidence could have been adduced to show that the sort of action that has been taken in regard to the Tangwena people will not continue. They were moved off lands in which they have been in registered occupation for many, many years; they were the people who lived there. Their claims were upheld by the Rhodesian courts but were then overridden by Government order. It is for this reason that I find that the Third Principle has not been completely fulfilled.
May I ask the noble and learned Lord, when he comes to reply—and on this aspect I agree so much with the excellent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Byers—whether time can be taken to inform the Africans, in concrete terms rather than in vague assurances, what their rights with regard to land will be? Will there be further evictions in the meanwhile? The right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Durham mentioned that there were other evictions pending, and we know that there is an escape clause under the Fourth Principle, on page 6 of the White Paper, where after saying that there will be no further evictions, it adds:with the exception of a limited number of unauthorised occupants in ccrtain areas".Who are these? Are these people like the Tangwena? We want an answer. Otherwise we see no value in the assurance we have been given.
We need to know, first, what is the meaning of the statement that Mr. Smith has put it clearly on record that he will commend to his Parliament legislation to give effect to the proposals of the three-man Commission on discrimination except where there areconsiderations that any Government would regard as overriding.We are not talking about any Government, my Lords. We are not talking about a British Government. We are talking about a Government of a kind in regard to which Lord Goodman said there wassuch a difference of approach of principle and of social morality between the two sides 544 as to make it necessary to shelve all such considerations …" —[OFFICIAL REPORT,1/12/71, col.326.]The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, referred to the story of Mr. Smith's promise to the former Governor that in granting a state of emergency there would be no immediate move to independence. These are matters which we cannot forget when we are asked, as we are to-night, to make up our minds on this package.
In the short time that we have had to consider this matter I believe that we have debated it fairly, but I am bound to say that in our judgment this set of proposals does not meet the test of the Five Principles, as they were related, I may hasten to add, to the 1961 Constitution. We are asked the underwrite it, to recommend it in effect to the people of Rhodesia, but our responsibility must still remain. It is against this background that the Pearce Commission must do their work. Here again I strongly support what the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has said about this. The Commission will have to judge, we are told, whether the issue is fairly put to them; yet the White Paper has already drawn attention to a major restriction which was not going to apply in the case of the "Fearless" proposals, in that broadcasting facilities will not be available to the most important African Parties.
Everybody agrees that Mr. Nkomo is the most important of the African nationalists. He has been in detention for seven years. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, asked us not to make futile moral gestures, but does anyone believe that Mr. Nkomo will ever be let out by the present Rhodesian Government? know that the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, feels as strongly, perhaps even more strongly, the horror of this particular treatment, but I think he was misguided to compare this with President Kaunda's action in Zambia, first of all because so many people say that the reason why white rule has to continue is that the blacks are not to be trusted, and therefore this was an unfortunate comparison; and, secondly, because in fact Mr. Kaunda has not subjected his chief political opponents to the same treatment meted out to Mr. Nkomo, and both Mr. Nkumbula and Mr. Kapwepwe are in freedom at the moment.
545 The noble Lord, Lord Vernon, late last night, and the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, both posed questions which I think it is for the Government to answer. They said, in effect, that their votes would depend on the answers that the Government would give, for instance, if a more extreme Government came into power in Rhodesia, or indeed if the Pearce Commission reports that the African people are not prepared to accept the settlement. I am bound to say that the Government seem to take it for granted that the Pearce Commission will in fact so report, but supposing it does not. Are the Government going to continue sanctions? Are they going to continue to seek to bring pressure to bear on Rhodesia? Are they taking it for granted that the United Nations Security Council will acquiesce in the lifting of sanctions imposed by mandatory resolution—or will they simply ignore the United Nations?
The most reverend Primate asked: what is the alternative? I think we should face this fact squarely. Even if sanctions have been breaking down a little lately, the basic economic position of Rhodesia has been weakening, and perhaps their most important effect has been in the financial field, which is scarcely ever mentioned. We do not know, because no Government spokesman has yet told us, who is in fact going to pay the accumulated debts following six years of U.D.I. The Rhodesian Government cannot get investment funds from overseas on any real scale. They cannot raise funds on the London money market. They cannot get finance from the World Bank, and I doubt whether they will ever be able to do so.
It is argued with great force and with great sincerity, by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and others, that this agreement is the best hope for progress to a decent society in Rhodesia. I am bound to say that the reduction of the period before which parity is attained, from, say,100 years to 50 years, does not seem to me to be a substantial enough gain for us to abandon the course we are on. Much more will happen in Africa before then. Events are moving even faster in South Africa than this time scale, and much may even happen in the Portuguese possessions before this parity it attained. I believe that changes might still come without bloodshed, but by taking the steps 546 we are now proposing to take we are, as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, made clear, putting ourselves on the wrong side.
There are moderate African leaders whom we have a duty to support and encourage. As several noble Lords and the noble Baroness, Lady White, made clear, this action will certainly encourage the nationalists to go all out for a military solution, seeking help where they can get it. We know that China is extending its co-operation in Tanzania and Zambia. A dishonourable settlement, even a settlement which in the short run we believe to be the best we can get, would in fact more dangerously threaten the peace of Africa and of the world, and encourage the spread of violent confrontation throughout the Southern African region. I believe we ought to go on as we are going now; we ought, if possible, even to strengthen sanctions in this matter. Britain has been responsible for constitutional development in Rhodesia since the 19th century. Difficult though the problem is for Britain, I do not believe we can shrug it off.
The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, referred to "making useless moral gestures". I must confess that I consider that to be a somewhat offensive phrase; because I assure the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that we are not taking the view and the line we are simply to indulge in moral self-indulgence. I believe passionately that statesmen, politicians, all of us in public life, must face the consequences of the actions and the courses that we advocate. If we are not going to make moral gestures, or indulge in moral self-indulgence, let us not indulge in pretending that these proposals are fully within the Five Principles. I believe that the members of the Government and the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, are honourable men, but I believe this to be a settlement that is dishonourable to Britain.
§ LORD GOODMAN
My Lords, it might be helpful to your Lordships if I intervene before the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor speaks, purely to provide a piece of information.
§ LORD GOODMAN
The noble Lord was asking about evictions, and the other possible evictions mentioned in the White 547 Paper. It is right to say that in the course of our negotiations we repeatedly came back to this matter, and the other possible evictions referred to are evictions of occasional squatters in agricultural settlement areas. We were assured that the number throughout Rhodesia would not exceed 500.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am bound to say that it is very helpful to have the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, give information to us which the Government have not hitherto been able to give. If I may say so to the noble Earl, it is a very unusual debate when the Government have to rely on the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, to speak for them.
§ 6.52 p.m.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I suppose that in a perfect world I should be the last person to be asked to reply to this debate. I cannot summon —and I do not pretend to summon—the knowledge of Rhodesia which has informed many speakers on all sides of the House. Still less can I display, despite the last observations of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, anything like the detailed knowledge either of the Papers, which I have read, or of the course of the negotiations which the House was fortunate enough to be able to obtain from the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. If in fact the House is looking for that kind of knowledge, alas! they will be disappointed in me. Nor can I pretend to the quite so emotionally involved as, quite properly, a number—and perhaps the majority—of noble Lords have been. I am qualified only because, I would suppose, in a debate of this importance the House would have expected a Cabinet Minister to reply and would have thought it discourteous for one not to do so. As my noble friend the Leader of the House has already exhausted his right of speech, I think it is proper that the Lord Chancellor should be the winding-up speaker. But we are all, for one purpose or another, ordinary people—one qualification I certainly have; for this purpose, I can claim to be the most ordinary of men. In this important debate, and in this imperfect world, it is in fact the ordinary people in Parliament, and the ordinary people in this country, who will 548 have to make up their minds. I can only approach the question from the sort of point of view that I expect they will try to adopt.
How should we approach this problem? I am afraid I cannot answer all the detailed questions. I will ask my noble friends and my own office to go through the debate, with a view to following up such questions as I do not answer with letters, although I shall try to give the best answer I can. But I approach this problem from exactly the same point of view, if he will allow me to say so, as the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, yesterday, and, as I understood him, the most reverend Primate this afternoon. It is this: I do not see this problem in terms of a contrast between right and wrong at all. I see it as a choice between two alternatives—or it may be three, and I will explore that possibility—each of which has manifest disadvantages and advantages both from the practical and the moral point of view. That, I understood, was what the most reverend Primate said this afternoon, and what the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, was saying yesterday. This is exactly the way in which I approach the problem, and in which I think the ordinary man and woman ought to approach the problem.
If he will allow me to say so, I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was a little unfair to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, when he spoke yesterday. "Moral posturing" was one phrase, and, I think, another, "personal self-indulgence by a moral gesture". I did not understand the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, in the least to be attacking morality or moral principle. If he had, I would have thought he would merit a rebuke. But where you have to choose between two alternative courses, each of which has moral and practical advantages and disadvantages, then I think one is entitled to hit out at people, if there be any—and he did not claim that there were—who, instead of applying their minds to the problem as to where the balance of advantage, seen as a totality, lies, try to choose the alternative which puts themselves in a more favourable light, because that is a very common failing in moral judgments. It is to put the image in front of the reality, to choose what enables you to pose as a man of righteousness, instead of trying 549 to find out which is the course of action which, by objective standards, is right.
What are the alternatives between which we have to choose on this occasion? Well, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said, we can go on as we are without doing anything. Sanctions continue, for what they are worth (and that is a matter of controversy); the Rhodesians, black and white, continue on the course on which they are set, and so does everybody else so long as the situation persists. Well, that is a perfectly intelligible course. No one really has disputed that it involves the proposition that Rhodesia at present is set upon a course which brings her racial policy more and more into line with that of South Africa. The only person who has disputed it was my noble friend Lord Alport, who thought it had happened already and the process was complete, which may or may not be true. Those who want to adopt that course must accept the moral responsibility of doing so (and it is a moral responsibility), in the knowledge of all —yes, all—the peril which, in the long run, this must involve for the Rhodesian whites, and of the continuance, in the more immediate future, of the humiliation and loss of human dignity for the Rhodesian blacks; and, in the longer run still, the danger, to which the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, referred, of bullets breaking the bodies of children of the present generation, black and white, in Africa. If that is the least unpleasant of the alternatives, then that is the one which we have got to face. But the moral question before the House in this debate, is whether that is the better of the two alternatives, or whether the alternative which the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, brought back with my right honourable friend offers a better hope.
With respect, what I think would be a mistake is to think that there is an intermediate course. It is not that I reject the moral implications of an intermediate course, but I question its factual assumptions. If it be true—and I accept that it is—that the concessions which were obtained in the course of the negotiations by my right honourable friend and by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, were obtained partly as a result of the effect of sanctions (a view which I must say is quite inconsistent with the view 550 also propounded by the supporters of the Amendment that they are derisory) then one must ask oneself how long the effect of sanctions will continue to operate, and whether any better set of proposals would emerge if they were allowed to operate for a substantial period longer.
I think noble Lords who support the Amendment ought, in all seriousness, to ask themselves the question whether the maximum value has not now been obtained from sanctions—whatever that value may have been—and whether they are not now a wasting asset. The noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, yesterday referred to the American decision to buy chrome. She said that she had regretted it; I suppose we all did. But may it not also be something which indicates the way of things to come? Other noble Lords have referred to the fact that many other trading nations, by one device or another, have been less scrupulous than ourselves and are likely to prove less scrupulous in the future.
If one may just say this in support of several speeches which have come from behind the Government Front Bench. whatever the effect of sanctions may be. and even if they succeed in bringing about a lower standard of life than would otherwise exist for both whites and blacks, I should have thought the balance of the evidence showed after six years that, whatever else they did, they would not lead Mr. Smith, and, still less, the darker figures on his right, to abandon their claim to independence. If that be so, I think we should really put out of our minds the belief that there could be a sort of cargo ship coming home with infinite blessings in the form of a more attractive agreement, if we waited for an indefinite period of time and tried a new set of negotiations. On the contrary, to my mind, all the evidence seems to show that, as each successive set of negotiations has taken place, and as each set of British Government proposals has been put forward, whether by the late Administration or by ourselves—the first two having been rejected, and a series having now been accepted ad referendum—they have successively betrayed a less favourable negotiating position as the time scale went on. I must say that the lesson which I draw is that the House really must make up its mind now whether 551 to accept the view which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, expressed at the end of his speech, that we ought to go on as we are going now, or whether it is preferable to put to the Rhodesian people as preferable—because that is what it involves—the set of proposals which my right honourable friend has brought back.
That leads me to the argument which was presented at intervals during the debate: first, I think, by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner; then, I think, by the most reverend Primate; then, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Byers; and, finally, by the two noble Lords who spoke to-day from the Front Bench of the Opposition. Lord Shepherd and Lord Shackleton, that we ought not to be debating this Motion at all; we should instead he debating a Motion To take note". It is that argument with which I want now to deal. It is perhaps not surprising that the suggestion was made. Certainly, from one point of view, it would have been more convenient to almost everybody had it been possible to accept that course. It is not surprising, as my noble friend Lord Bethel, in a very interesting and excellent speech yesterday, said, considering how fresh in our minds is the procedure that we followed in the Common Market discussions. But, with respect to noble Lords who have adopted that position, and to the most reverend Primate, the situation here is absolutely and wholly different.
In the Common Market sequence, we were anxious not to rush Parliament into a decision of principle which, in the nature of things, we could not digest at the end of July, just before the Long Vacation. But here there is no question of trying to rush Parliament. Before we are asked to legislate, if ever we are, a number of important consequential steps must be taken, both here and in Rhodesia. The British Commission must be appointed, must go out, must collect opinions and must report. The Rhodesian Parliament must legislate. A number of other things will have happened—probably some of them unpredictable—before we can introduce a Bill. It must surely be the only honourable course, and it must be vital, before we put all this elaborate machinery into operation, that we know beyond peradventure whether 552 or not, and, if so, how far, we have the support of each House of Parliament in what we have done to date. It would. in my submission to the House, be wholly wrong—wrong morally and politically, as well as practically; but wholly wrong practically—if we went forward on the controversial path which we now, admittedly, have to tread, without that knowledge of how far we can depend upon the general support of each House of Parliament being available to us and to the world.
I would make two further points to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. The one point with which I agreed in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, was that Rhodesians, and indeed others, arc entitled to know what we think about these proposals, if we have an opinion. I can always remember that when I first went to the Bar my father gave me this piece of advice, not about advocacy, but about advising clients. He said, "They pay for your opinions and not for your doubts". I think we are entitled to come to Parliament, even at this stage and even at the expense of a degree of inconvenience, and to say, "We want your opinions and not your doubts". If I were to put myself in the position of a Rhodesian, black or white, I would, I must say, think rather poorly of a British Government which went to him with a set of proposals asking, "Do you accept them?", and which was unprepared to answer the question, "Is this a good thing, in your opinion, or is it not?". There is one thing, again, of which I have the liveliest recollection. It is that in one of the very few Rhodesian debates in this House in which I once took part, we were told again and again from the Back-Benches that a fundamental mistake which had been made by the Government at that time was that when we presented a series of proposals to black opinion in what I think was then the Federation, we had not expressed an opinion one way or another as to whether we thought they were worth accepting. I therefore do not accept the criticism, although I recognise that it has put me to some inconvenience and that it has put noble Lords to some inconvenience. I think we are entitled and bound both in honour and from every practical point of view, to come to each House of Parliament and say, "We 553 want your opinion and not your doubts". If the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was, as I make no doubt he was, absolutely sincere when he said that we should stay as we are, then this only reinforces the argument that I have been putting forward, that a "Take note" Resolution would have been valueless from the point of view of Rhodesia and might have wrecked the agreement, if in fact it be a desirable agreement to accept. His duty, as he performed it, was to say,
"We do not like this; we are not for it". We are entitled to ask him what his opinion is, and he has given it; but that only reinforces us in the view that we were right to ask it, although it is not ours.
Now I am glad that a number of tributes, at any rate from the Government side of the House and I think from all sides of the House, have been paid to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, for their negotiating skill; and may I say again how very fortunate we have been to have the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, to give us his account of his various Odysseys on our behalf. The first speech which I ever remember to have been delivered in my hearing in the House of Lords, long before I was a Member of it, was delivered by Lord Keynes when he returned, just after the war, from a negotiation with the United States of America which had resulted in a financial agreement which caused many of us, including myself, grave doubts as to whether or not its advantages outweighed its disadvantages. It was one of the most remarkable speeches I have heard in either House of Parliament; but it was a speech precisely of that quality, I thought, which the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, similarly placed but in a wholly different context and with a quite divergent set of arguments, delivered to the House yesterday afternoon.
There is one thing, however, which I must say. I think it was less than generous of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, when they referred to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, in effect as if he were only a negotiator doing a professional job. I once had a terrible row with my noble friend Lord Salisbury, many years ago, because in this House, after I had made 554 an impassioned speech, he described me as an advocate, which of course I am, or was until I occupied the Woolsack. I think in a sense I was right, and one should not talk about people who make speeches in this House as if they were only negotiators or as if they were only advocates. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, presented to the House his opinion as unequivocally, and nailed his colours and his honour to the mast as clearly and irrevocably, as if he had been a Minister or as if he had been a member of the Opposition Front Bench. The House is entitled to take that as his view and as his advice to the House, not as a negotiator, not as a solicitor, not as an advocate, but as a Peer of Parliament. When he said that it would be consummate folly to reject these proposals, we must take it that that is his view.
May I say this to the noble Lord, Lord Caradon? I must say, again approaching the matter from the point of the view of the ordinary man, that I simply do not believe the picture that he painted of the Foreign Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, committing what I think he called "a cunning fraud", and perpetrating what he certainly called "a lie", to deceive other people as the result of these negotiations. I prefer the view of the noble Lord, Lord Byers: their integrity is beyond question. One ought to start this discussion with a belief in the integrity of both sides, eager to make the right choice, in particularly difficult circumstances, of two alternatives, concerning the effects of which nobody can hold very much joy or enthusiasm.
I will make a confession to the House at this stage. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, referred to the negotiations as distasteful, and this afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, reminded us why. I was a pessimist. We in the Conservative Party put in our Election Manifesto the view that we would make one more attempt at a settlement, if possible. I was sure that that was right, and I think now that it was right. And the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, and, I think, all the representatives of the Labour Front Bench, although they did not, I think, put it in their Election Manifesto, committed themselves to the view that my right honourable friend was 555 right to go to Salisbury and negotiate. What that involves is something which I wish to discuss in a moment. They thought negotiations were right. The reason why I was a pessimist until very recently was not that I doubted the integrity of my right honourable friend or of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman; it was that I thought that the parties had drifted so far apart in their standards of belief in politics or social philosophy that, precisely because of the integrity of my right honourable friend, precisely because of the negotiating skill of Lord Goodman, no agreement which we could honourably put before Parliament would be possible.
Now I think I was wrong. I was wrong about this all along; and my colleagues know that almost until the end I was not optimistic. But almost until the end our negotiating team were winning further concessions, some of them of a crucial character; and I was myself very grateful to the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, when these concessions were originally announced, for his generous admission that they amounted to much more than concessions of detail. Therefore I pay my tribute of praise to those who deserve it. But there was one thing, with respect to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham. that we never promised to do. There was one thing, with respect, I think, to the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, that we never promised to do. We never promised, or expected, to make Mr. Smith into a thorough-going British Liberal. The right reverend Prelate complains that he sees no evidence of conversion. We did not set out in the belief that we were likely to succeed in bringing Mr. Smith to the Road to Damascus.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, perhaps I was putting jocularly what the right reverend Prelate was suggesting. What he said was that he saw no evidence of a conversion as the result of our efforts. We never promised to convert him. What we did was exactly what the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said he set out to do. Mr. Smith has a very different set of beliefs from our 556 selves, and he is not, I think, likely to abandon them. It is, I believe, some evidence of his good faith in the matter that he has not professed to do so. What we sought to do was to find a set of proposals which we could honourably put to the Rhodesian people for the acceptability test as coming within the four walls of the Five Principles. Of course, if we had retained the power; of course, if we were going to impose a settlement by military force, or even if we had not enfranchised the neighbouring African nations, the proposal and the demands we should have been making would have been totally different. The question, however, is whether these proposals, which we believe to be within the ambit of the Principles we have enunciated, which we believe to be the last chance of a negotiated settlement which we can get (or which anybody can get), ought to be put to the Rhodesian people. That is the issue—no other—which we are being asked to decide to-day.
For this reason, I would respectfully submit that it is a great mistake to ask, as some noble Lords have asked, for what they call an external guarantee, whether it be in the form of a neighbouring military base—a suggestion which came from my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire—or anything else. It is a mistake because it seems to me that those who ask for it have lost sight of what these negotiations have been about and of what the negotiations on "Tiger" and "Fearless" were about. They have all been about the granting of independence to Rhodesia under its present regime, at least for the time being. Independence means what it says; it is inconsistent with military sanctions of any kind. When you have granted independence to a country which was previously a colonial territory, the new Government, even the new nation, can break the spirit or break the letter of what they undertook at the moment when independence was granted. One has only to look around at various places to which we have granted independence in the last twenty-five years to know how sadly true this is.
But if we were not going to trust them at all, then, surely, we should not have gone at all. It must be consistent with the views to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner. and all the other 557 Peers on the Front Bench of the Opposition subscribe, that we were right to go. To say, when we come back: "Oh, but you cannot trust the man you are negotiating with" is to say that we should not have negotiated with him at all because the only course you can adopt with a man whom, up to a point, you do not trust is not to negotiate with him at all. That was, to do him credit, the view of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. I was very sorry that he had to jettison three-quarters of his notes between 11 o'clock and midnight yesterday when he delivered a fifty-minute speech of great merit, thereby allowing us to continue our debate to-day with a fresh list of speakers.
But the fact is that there can be no ultimate guarantee, when you grant a nation independence, that the bargain will be kept. Either the persons who made the bargain may break it themselves—that is one possibility—or, if they do not, then they may be succeeded either by a military dictator or by some more extremist party who will break it for them. This is inherent in the granting of independence of any kind to any nation, white or black. But there are, at any rate, two things that I would say the House should remember in this connection. In the first place, one has to remember that Mr. Smith and the white Rhodesians will, so far as they are capable of seeing them, pursue their own interests. What are their interests? The Government, I think, believe—certainly I. for what my opinion is worth in this context (and it is not worth a great deal) believe it—that Mr. Smith has been made to see, as a result of the pertinacity of Lord Goodman and the skill of my right honourable friend, that he cannot indefinitely in his own interest flout the moral judgment of the whole of the rest of the world. I may he wrong about that. We may all be wrong about that.
The alternative to that view which noble Lords must accept, and the consequences which flow from that view are that they must go on as they are; and that means Rhodesia approximating more and more to the South African pattern. The other thing that I would say to both the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, who made a surprising point to which I will come in a moment and to noble Lords opposite, is this. One 558 must not suppose that if these proposals go through the situation will remain static. Certainly it will not remain static for 64 years—or is it 100 years? The noble and learned Lord, surprisingly, I think, referred to the possibility that Nigeria might have a nuclear bomb. That is a possibility; but there are many others. A much simpler possibility, one which one hopes will happen—although here I am bound to say that my hopes, until it happens, are tinged with a degree of scepticism—is that the removal of the siege mentality, which inevitably favours extreme Right-Wing views, may prove dynamic in itself; and that moderate opinion will once more become articulate and influential inside white Rhodesian circles. If that happens, I must say that I would expect the progress towards parity and then to majority rule to be rather faster than if one assumed that for the next 64 years not a letter of this proposed Constitution will be altered. When I am asked to tremble before the prospect of the importation of numbers of Greeks and Portuguese who are supposed to back up Anglo-Saxon supremacy without divergence, I begin to wonder whether I am living in the same world as noble Lords. I have very little experience of Portuguese; I have some of Greeks, both ancient and modern; and the chance that they will vote solidly for Anglo-Saxon supremacy is not even borne out in the St. Marylebone constituency which I recently represented.
The situation, we hope, will be dynamic. We hope that the mere fact of the carrying of these proposals will improve the situation. We cannot prove that this is so or that it is going to be so. We may be disappointed in all our hopes. The only case that I am making is that if we do not try, and if the Rhodesian people are not given the chance to pronounce on the subject, then we have, so far as I can see, no hope.
My Lords, that brings me to the Five Principles. My noble friend Lord Blake, in a speech this afternoon which I think we all enjoyed, said that he thought that the Fifth Principle was of paramount importance. I am not going to attempt to draw up an order of merit or of importance between the Five. Our obligation is to put forward proposals which conform with them all. But I would say this. The Fifth Principle is, 559 in fact, in a different position as regards this debate and as regards Parliament from all the other Four. All the other Four refer to objective statements of fact, objective statements of fact about which opinions can differ in so far as they relate to the construction of an intricate set of documents. But the Fifth contains a subjective element which is absent from the other Four; because, whereas the other Four state objective purposes of fact, the Fifth is that the British Government will need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Now, my Lords, this is what makes the Fifth Principle of supreme importance for the purpose of this discussion. I am not saying that it is in abstract of more importance than the others, but I do say that in relation to this discussion it is of paramount importance, as my noble friend Lord Blake told us this afternoon.
Just as we have never agreed to convert Mr. Smith to a view similar to our own about social and racial problems, so we have never agreed, nor did the Labour Government agree, to negotiate only on the basis of NIBMAR. Whoever invented that unlovely word does not deserve the thanks of lovers of the English language. But whether the word be lovely or otherwise, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, made quite clear last night that he would only have negotiated independence on those terms. But that was not our view, and everybody knew that before we started. If I may say so, with respect, to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, I do not accept the premise upon which his elaborate and impressive argument was founded yesterday. His whole argument, it seemed to me, his whole attack on the proposal, was based on the premise that, the only Constitution by which the Five Principles must be measured was the 1961 Constitution. And the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, seemed to endorse this view in the speech to which we have just listened. But that, surely, my Lords, is wrong.
It is of course true that at the time of "Fearless"; at the time of "Tiger"; at the time of U.D.I., the 1961 Constitution, or its deceased successor, were the Constitutions in force. But the Five Principles do not, in my judgment at any rate, tie themselves to either of those. 560 Nor I believe until the noble and learned Lord suggested it yesterday, did anyone think that they did. Certainly I did not, and I do not believe that your Lordships' House did. The fact is that the 1961 Constitution is not specified in the Five Principles. If we had had to negotiate on every term of the 1961 situation, which is now ten years old, and if we had had to justify the Five Principles within the terms of what we should then have asked for—as did the Labour Government as soon as they came to power—before we submitted any proposals to Parliament, we ought never to have gone at all, because anybody would have known that the negotiations were hopeless. And far from having taken a political decision, as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, suggested in, if he will forgive me, what I thought was a rather intemperate speech this afternoon, I can tell him categorically that up until the last moment at which the ultimate drafts were initialled, had we not been satisfied that we could honourably put this before Parliament we should have withdrawn. Speaking for myself, I greatly feared that we should have to do so until the very last meeting came and fresh concessions were made.
Now, my Lords, whether these proposals conform with the Five Principles is, of course, a matter for argument. But who is to judge? Obviously we are entitled to an opinion. We have stated ours. Noble Lords opposite have stated theirs. But who is to judge? Our reading of the matter is that the Rhodesian people ought to judge. If they reject them, well, my Lords, they reject them, and we must, for the moment at ally rate—if I am right, for a long time; if I am wrong for some time—go on as we are. But the case I am presenting to the House at the moment is that we should be wholly wrong not to submit them to the Rhodesian people for acceptance or rejection.
That brings me to the Pearce Commission. The test of the Five Principles is, and always has been, that it is the British Government, and therefore the British Parliament and the British people, who have to be satisfied on this point, on the Fifth Principle. It is not the United Nations; it is not the New Statesman; it is not even the noble Lord, Lord Brockway—or Mr. Crossman. It 561 is the British Government who have to be satisfied that we have put forward a Commission which we think—and in my case, from a long professional experience I know—is chaired by a man of the utmost integrity and experience (at the moment he is concerned with the Press Council), whose advice people are absolutely proud to take and whose integrity, intelligence and impartiality can hardly be questioned by anybody in the world. Obviously I agree that the proceedings of this Commission will be closely scrutinised, and so they should be. But in the end it was the same basic proposal as was contained in "Fearless"—I think also in "Tiger", but certainly in "Fearless"—and we can submit that machinery to the House with the confidence that it has followed the precedent of our predecessors.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, forgive me, but the noble and learned Lord knows that I was on the "Fearless" at those negotiations and I agree with him up to a certain point. I would make it clear that the paper brought back is parallel with much that was done on the "Fearless". The difference is that we felt we could not bring back to this House and to another place peace with honour with the kind of deal we were offered.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the other difference is that a settlement was not arrived at on the basis of that piece of paper, and that is not an unimportant difference. The only point I was making in relation to the test of acceptability was that it was to be satisfied by the appointment of a Commission under a judge. If I were to be asked the points on which I should place most reliance, I should have to select one or two almost at random but of great importance. In the first place, if we had not achieved progress beyond parity, it would have been impeded for ever; and if we went on as we are invited to do by the supporters of the Amendment, that impediment would not be removed, so far as one can tell, at any time in the foreseeable future. That way progress would take place much too slowly from the point of this country and the impediment will have been removed.
Secondly, the Declaration of Rights has been made justiciable. I do not want at this late stage of my speech to be involved in any argument over Rhodesian 562 statute law, about which I am not qualified to advise the House, but I think too little has been made of Clause 11(7)(a) of the Declaration. No fresh written law can be made of a discriminatory nature. My understanding of the matter is that that applies not only to Statutes of the Rhodesian Parliament but to Orders in Council and to subordinate legislation which there, as here, have the effect of Statutes, which means, if I am right, that neither by Statute nor by subordinate legislation can a fresh discriminatory law be made. As the more objectionable features of the Land Tenure Act require subordinate legislation to make them effective, I think that noble Lords have wholly underestimated the wisdom of our negotiators in inserting that clause into the Declaration of Right and seeing that it should be justiciable. But it is the justiciability of the Declaration of Rights which I would stress at the moment, because if we take the course proposed by the supporters of the Amendment, the Declaration of Rights would be in the hands of the white Rhodesian Executive. Here we have a justiciable declaration, which is further subject to a qualification which has been the subject of criticism but is not nugatory, about what any independent Government would insist upon. Mr. Smith has agreed to commend the recommendations of the Rhodesian Commission on Discrimination to the Rhodesian Parliament. if the negotiations are to be about independence, I do not see how one could have demanded from a Government which was to become independent a different kind of assurance.
In the fourth place, we have been willing to back our opinion with £ 50 million, to be matched by £50 million by Mr. Smith to support African advancement. This has been criticised from two points of view. The noble Lord, Lord Caradon, says we are thereby subsidising the Rhodesian white regime, but other noble Lords critical of the Government's policy say that £50 million is not nearly enough. That, I think, was the criticism from the Labour Front Bench and also from my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire. Certainly both criticisms cannot be right. If the money is going to subsidise the Rhodesian regime it is £50 million too much. And I must point out that the "Fearless" proposals contained the same sum, so far as I remember, and for the same kind of purpose, 563 although it was more specifically earmarked for education. Therefore it should ill become noble Lords to support the Party opposite and endorse entirely what the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, has said.
I accept from the most reverend Primate that the Churches have a most interesting and important role to play. I can give him some of the assurances he asked for. It is certainly the case that we will see how far the services of the Church organisations in Rhodesia can be harnessed, and I can tell him without any hesitation or doubt that if he comes either to me or, better still, to Ministers more departmentally concerned with the carrying out of these proposals, with suggestions as to how it can be done, I will do my best to see that they are both carefully and sympathetically considered. I understand that in fact the Secretary of State when he was in Salisbury had the benefit of the views of leading churchmen in Rhodesia at the time he was conducting the negotiations and before he entered into them, and that there has been continuing informal contacts at working level with the Conference of Missionary Societies.
I should have said in relation to the Pearce Commission that of course its secretariat will be British and not Rhodesian. I cannot guarantee that all the interpreters will not be in the Rhodesian service, but I can tell the House that they will be supervised by superior interpreters who are not in the Rhodesian service, and that is what really matters.
That brings me back to the last words that I wish to say. It is possible, of course, that at the end of the day our hopes may be disappointed, but I take the view which my noble friend Lord Onslow, in a remarkable maiden speech yesterday. asked us to take. May I say, in parenthesis, as an old colleague of his father, how glad I was to see his famous title back in your Lordships' House. The question ultimately is what will happen. We have got an obligation from the Rhodesian authorities, from Mr. Smith, to keep good faith in this matter. It may be broken. Obviously, if we thought in advance that it would
§ be broken we had no right to negotiate. If it is—and the noble Lords, Lord Vernon and Lord Gore-Booth were anxious that I should say something about this—obviously I cannot say in a hypothetical situation exactly what we can do; but what is clear, whether or not it imposes an international obligation, which at this late hour I will not discuss from a legal point of view, is that the reliance we have placed on Rhodesian good faith gives us a standing, after the proposals are implemented and not only before; and our standing to complain of any breach of faith would certainly be recognised internationally.
§ The choice therefore, as I see it, is that which was presented by my noble friend Lord Onslow. As matters stand Rhodesia is firmly set on the South African course, with all its ultimate perils for the whites and all its immediate injustices for the blacks. The Right wing is in command. The mentality is that of siege. The Right wing has the initiative. Given a continuation without a settlement it will continue to possess the initiative in the foreseeable future. Moderation—and there is more moderation among white opinion than people are now prepared to remember—is tarnished with the suspicion of treason, and it must be said that treason on white Rhodesia lips has almost exactly the opposite meaning to that which it has on the Statute Book of this country. Given the settlement, moderate opinion may have a chance to reassert itself, and this is my answer to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham. Given the settlement, we hare at least an assurance of a determination to change course. We have had too many disappointments in the history of newly enfranchised Colonies in recent years to indulge in any complacency or optimism whatever; but in the last resort I believe the choice to be between a reasonable hope and a dull, hopeless despair, and I ask the House to choose hope.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 76; Not-Contents,201.565
|Ardwick, L.||Bacon, Bs.||Beaumont of Whitley, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Balogh, L.||Beswick, L. [Teller.]|
|Blackett, L.||Gaitskell, Bs.||Norwich, V.|
|Bowden, L.||Gardiner, L.||Nunburnholme, L.|
|Boyle of Handsworth, L.||Garnsworthy, L.||Phillips, Bs.|
|Brockway, L.||Geddes of Epsom, L.||Platt, L.|
|Brown, L.||Gifford, L.||Royle, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Henderson, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Burntwood, L.||Henley, L.||Seear, Bs.|
|Burton of Coventry, Bs.||Hirshfield, L.||Serota, Bs.|
|Byers, L.||Hughes, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Jacques, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Janner, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Chalfont, L.||Kennet, L.||Snow, L.|
|Chichester, L. Bp.||Leatherland, L.||Soper, L.|
|Collison, L.||Lee of Asheridge, Bs.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Crook, L.||Llewelyn-Davies, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.[Teller]||Summerskill, Bs.|
|Delacourt-Smith, L.||Tanlaw, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Walston, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Longford, E.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||McLeavy, L.||White, Bs.|
|Durham, L. Bp.||Milner of Leeds, L.||Willis, L.|
|Fiske, L.||Morris of Grasmere, L.||Wootton of Abinger, Bs.|
|Foot, L.||Morris of Kenwood, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Fulton, L.||Moyle, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Cranbrook, E.||Hastings, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Crathorne, L.||Hatherton, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Croft, L.||Hawke, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Hayter, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Daventry, V.||Helsby, L.|
|Amory, V.||Davidson, V.||Hemphill, L.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||de Clifford, L.||Hertford, M.|
|Atholl, D.||Denham, L. [Teller]||Hood, V.|
|Auckland, L.||Deramore, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Derwent, L.||Hurcomb, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Devonshire, D.||Hylton-Foster, Bs.|
|Barnby, L.||Digby, L.||Ilford, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Drogheda, E.||Inchyra, L.|
|Beaumont, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Inglewood, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Dudley, E.||Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Berkeley, Bs.||Ebbisham, L.||Jessel, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Eccles, V.||Kemsley, V.|
|Belhell, L.||Effingham, E.||Killearn, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Kilmany, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Kings Norton, L.|
|Blake, L.||Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Bolton, L.||Energlyn, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.|
|Boothby, L.||Essex, E.||Long, V.|
|Bourne, L.||Exeter, M.||Lothian, M.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Fairhaven, L.||Loudoun, C.|
|Brentford, V.||Falkland, V.||Lucan, E.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Ferrers, E.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Brock, L.||Ferrier, L.||Lytton, E.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Fortescue, E.||McFadzean, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Macleod of Borve, Bs.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Furness, V.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.|
|Buchan, E.||Gage, V.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Burton, L.||Gainford, L.||Mar and Kellie, E.|
|Caccia, L.||Glasgow, E.||Margadale, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Glendevon, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Cawley, L.||Goodman, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Chandos, V.||Gore-Booth, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Chelmer, L.||Goschen, V.||Monsell, V.|
|Chesham, L.||Gowrie, E.||Monson, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Grantchester, L.||Morrison, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Greenway, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Gridley, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Guildford, L. Bp.||Netherthorpe, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor)||Northchurch, Bs.|
|Courtown, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Hampden, V.||Oakshott, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Hankey, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Craicmyle, L.||Harvey of Prestbury, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Penrhyn, L.||St. Just, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Perth, E.||Saint Oswald, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Poltimore, L.||Saltoun, L.||Tangley, L.|
|Radnor, E.||Sandford, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Rankeillour, L.||Selsdon, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Rathcavan, L.||Sempill, Ly.||Teynham, L.|
|Reay, L.||Shaftesbury, E.||Torrington, V.|
|Reigate, L.||Sherfield, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Rhyl, L.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.||Trevelyan, L.|
|Robbins, L.||Somers, L.||Truro, L. Bp.|
|Robertson of Oakridge, L.||Stamp, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Rochdale, V.||Stocks, Bs.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs|
|Rockley, L.||Stonehaven, V.||Vivian, L.|
|Rothermere, V.||Stradbroke, E.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Rothes, E.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Runciman of Doxford, V.||Strathcarron, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Sackville, L.||Yarborough, E.|
|St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]||Sudeley, L.|
On Question, Motion agreed to.