§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, in this rather truncated debate I should like to begin by saying that without doubt the subject is a very important one indeed, and I am grateful to the noble Lord. Lord Walston, for giving us an opportunity to discuss it. As my noble friend Lord Lothian is abroad on duty I have been asked to take part in this debate, and I am very conscious that there are a large number of 99 noble Lords in this House who have great experience of Southern Africa, while of the five territories under discussion to-day I have visited only South Africa. Nevertheless, I have tried very hard over a number of years to understand some of the many problems of this vast continent, not least apartheid which is entirely alien to one's own experience and belief.
No-one who has read this book, Violence in Southern Africa, can fail to be impressed by the conscientious and at times obviously immensely difficult process of reasoning that has led the authors to the conclusions that they have reached. For practising Christians to advocate and support the use of violence is a very serious step indeed, and the conditions which have prompted such action must equally be of very considerable gravity. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, was convinced by the conclusion that there is no answer except violence. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham felt that he did not wish to go quite so far, but welcomed the opportunity of this debate —indeed. such a course is mentioned in the introduction to the book—so that we can better understand the problems and consider them more closely together.
On the conclusions of this book, that in these circumstances, which were so fully and aptly described by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and the right reverend Prelate, that there should be violence, I cannot agree, nor can Her Majesty's Government, for reasons which I hope will persuade the House.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Baroness? I hope that I did not give the impression that I was personally advocating violence. I was not doing so, and nor indeed does the book. I agree very strongly with one particular passage that I have quoted from the book, that one cannot sit here in security and encourage other people to use violence. I was hoping to make clear that unless there was a radical change of attitude there which could conceivably be brought about by certain actions here, there would be violence, and we could not blame those who used it.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for making the matter so 100 much clearer, and I apologise to him if I did not fully understand his meaning. As I read the book the general thesis is that if in any society the degree of coercion used to preserve order is such that individual freedoms are seriously curtailed, the use of violence to achieve or restore freedom is just; and the noble Lord said, as an example, "Let us translate our ideas into Europe and think of what we would have done under Nazi Germany". Taken in the abstract I suppose that many of us would support this doctrine. The question to which we must surely address ourselves this afternoon is whether the thesis of this book really applies to Southern Africa in the 1970s.
Of course, conditions vary very much in the different territories that we are considering—South Africa, South-West Africa. Mozambique, Angola and Rhodesia—but a common thread running through them all is that free democratic government as we know it in this country does not exist in any of them; that people—and the majority of people—are discriminated against in politics and in economics, and that in some territories the right of self-determination has been suppressed, a right which we regard as fundamental. All this is bad, and we have certainly often said that it is bad.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, said that he was not addressing himself to the Government, but it is my duty to try to give to the House the attitude of Her Majesty's Government on some of these vital questions to the peace of Southern Africa. In each of the countries which are under discussion in this book there are resistance movements who, using violent means, operate with a varying degree of intensity and a disputed degree of success. Therefore, what we have to consider together is: Should we sympathise with them, or should we support them? I would suggest to the House that any decision to support them must rest upon a combination of moral, practical and legal grounds. If, for example, noble Lords will turn to page 66 of the book under discussion, may I say that I would support the views—or some of them—that are put here. It there says:…we believe it would be morally right, if we saw some practical means of achieving it, to impose total economic sanctions on South Africa and to enforce them by armed action against any vessels or aircraft that were 101 in breach of that blockade. This, however, is altogether impracticable"—it is with that, of course, that I agree. It continues:It is therefore justifiable to pursue policies which are less satisfactory but also less impossible.The moral and practical considerations therefore have a very close interrelationship. Moral justification surely must rest upon the premise that the conditions against which people resort to violence are so intolerable that violence is the only course open to opponents of the régimes concerned. The practical corollary of this position is that if it is established that there is no course open other than violence then the resistance fighters must have a reasonable chance of success. Neither condition, I suggest to the House, applies to the present situation in Southern Africa.
We have as a Government made absolutely clear to all the Governments concerned how greatly we object to those features of their systems which deny freedom to individuals on racial grounds. But, however distasteful some of the policies of the white régimes in Southern Africa may be, they are not necessarily more offensive than those of some other countries in other parts of the world. If we took it upon ourselves to encourage and support violence in Southern Africa, we should in logic have to do the same against many other réegimes which we regard as oppressive. The result, obviously, could only be chaotic. I would suggest that no nation has the right to impose, even indirectly, its own ideas of right and justice upon another. If it had, international order would soon come to an end. And there is, of course, the further danger, which is a tragic reality in some parts of the world—the danger of armed men who have set themselves above the law and who continue as a threat to legally constituted Government, and not only in their own countries.
I am sure that many noble Lords know, probably personally, Mr. Laurens van der Post, who, as a South African, has always fought with the utmost energy and conviction to change the policy of apartheid in his own native country. But he has rejected violence, and in a letter to The Tittles I thought that he put the question very well. He said this: 102To me, the most urgent problem of our time is the problem of discovering a way of overcoming evil without begetting another form of evil in the process. Ever since the war it seems to me that there has been a process at work in the minds and societies of men whereby, under the pretext of liberating man from a tyranny of evil, men have merely imposed other and often greater tyrannies in the place of the systems that they have destroyed.This is something all of us must consider with great seriousness as we debate these questions this afternoon.
If we take the question of the probability of success by violence, I do not think that any noble Lords present would take the view, on the evidence available to us at this moment, that any resistance movement in any single territory in Southern Africa is likely to succeed in the foreseeable future in changing by force the Government of that territory. Even if they did, I believe the legacy of the violence used would long bedevil the future of the country concerned. Therefore, while I understand the feelings and the intentions of the authors of this book, and of others who have felt for long that support for violence in South Africa is morally correct, I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that there is something distasteful about enthusiasts for what they see as justice—encouraging, from the comfort and freedom of this country, the "freedom fighters", whom I believe to be misled, to risk their lives in essentially hopeless guerrilla operations.
From the legal point of view Her Majesty's Government's policy is founded in international law, which in general neither condemns nor commends rebellious movements. Our position is that we are ready to recognise any Government, regardless of its political conviction, which is in full and effective control of the territory or State concerned, and is likely to remain so. We consider that no State is entitled to intervene in the purely internal affairs of any other State. Therefore, whatever the views or behaviour of the Government of the sovereign State with which we have relations, we have obligations towards that State. We cannot, surely, as a Government accord recognition to a State and, at the same time, encourage rebellion within it. Only when a revolutionary movement has achieved full control, with a reasonable prospect of permanency, 103 can we recognise it as an effective Government. And there is no sign yet of any dissident movements in South Africa even remotely approaching that position. We acknowledge and know only too well that normal political opposition, as we know it, cannot under the present Governments of certain territories be organised internally by their inhabitants. But that does not mean we should encourage guerrilla activities. I think that if we are to achieve anything, the only course open to us is the one we have consistently advocated: discussion, persuasion, exposure to liberal ideas in force elsewhere in the world.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham spoke of what he called the permanent subjugation of the peoples of Africa; but might I, with respect, put it to him that surely it is also most important to remember that there are inevitable changes in Southern Africa coming all the time, brought about by domestic economic pressures. I should like to think that the liberal outlook -and the idealism of the young is not necessarily confined to Britain. I do not pretend that the gradual approach will bring about immediate, or even favourable, results, and I recognise that it will need time and patience. But I am quite sure in my own mind that peaceful persuasion is infinitely preferable to an encouragement of the use of violence. Perhaps noble Lords will turn to page 76 of this book, from which I quote. The authors say:We are well aware that armed resistance to a government involves inescapable suffering for many people and the apparent ruin of many lives.They also say, at page 71—and I quote:History shows that violence is seldom a direct path to justice and to the establishment of a higher humanity.There are those who say, "If we cannot advocate violence, why do we not advocate all measures short of violence, such as the enforcement of economic sanctions"—as the noble Lord who opened this debate said— "and policies of boycotting and isolation in every field?" Economic sanctions against South Africa as suggested but rejected in this book, even if they could be effectively enforced, would be most unlikely to produce an improvement in racial attitudes and would do great 104 damage to the Africans themselves. Also we have to remember as a Government the responsibilities we hold to the people of this country. South Africa is an important customer of this country and takes some 4 per cent. of all our exports; it would be a most damaging undertaking to the economy of this country if we were to agree to cut off all exports to South Africa. It would certainly be most unlikely that all other countries would join in imposing an effective economic boycott and it would put thousands of people in this country out of work, while the markets they had supplied would be taken over by other countries. It would hardly be consistent, I suggest, with protecting the essential interests of the British people. In a debate on December 15, 1969, when the noble Lord. Lord Shepherd, was speaking for the Government he said this:… if we stopped trading with all the countries in the world with which we disagreed we should be in a very parlous state."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15/12/69, col. 948.]I must also suggest to the House that sanctions in themselves sometimes have the reverse effect. For instance, if one reads what is written on page 28 of this hook, one sees that while sanctions meanthat the economic development of the country"—this was Rhodesia—has undoubtedly been retarded … the overall political effect so far has been to solidify local white opinion against the Commonwealth and the United Nations.I think this is important for us all to remember. Her Majesty's Government believe that people's minds can better be changed by contact and discussion rather than by boycott and isolation. And there are changes. I will give one small example: this month the Chairman of Barclay's Bank in South Africa said:We have 700,000 non-white customers, some of them very prosperous. We have recently obtained the South African Government's agreement to the employment of coloured girls outside the coloured areas. We believe that we are the first bank to achieve this".My Lords, while we must regret that it was necessary for the bank to ask permission for this to happen, at least it is an advance, however small, and all such advances will, we believe, taken together with contact with the outside world, be much more likely to have a lasting effect and create change within Southern Africa. I believe it is an illusion to think that 105 situations do not change and that oppressive Governments can go on indefinitely. Looking round the world, I am sure all of us must be struck by the constant change brought about, sometimes by political and sometimes by economic forces. Change is everywhere around us.
In conclusion, I would only say that I am not convinced that the use of force can produce change, however spectacular, and bring about any quicker results or lasting peaceful results than natural forces can be expected to achieve. In the particular case of Southern Africa an attempt to change things by force might well produce a conflict of such dimensions in time and space as to prevent, for a generation at least, the establishment of normal successor States.
THE LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM
My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, may I be permitted to say that I think, and I certainly hope, that there will not be permanent subjugation of the African. What I said was that others hoped for this and others wished for it and indeed argued for it on theological grounds. I do not myself think that, nor do I hope for it. My other point was that while I myself thought that there could be a conscientious option for the use of force and others may well wish to take advantage of that conscientious option, certainly for myself I should prefer to be killed rather than to kill.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I am sorry if I also misinterpreted the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Durham. Certainly I know I interpreted him correctly in saying that he did not advocate the use of violence. I picked up the particular point of permanent subjugation, but I am glad that he himself feels that there will be inevitable change, as I do.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE
My Lords, I think we all should like to congratulate my noble friend for raising this extremely important subject and for doing it at such an extremely appropriate date. I thought both he and the right reverend Prelate dealt most movingly with the whole question of the dilemma of the Christian conscience. Indeed, I thought they did so perhaps more deeply than the noble Baroness who followed them. While we 106 have such founts of wisdom with us—and we look forward to another right reverend Prelate, to say nothing of my noble friend Lord Soper, who will I expect, as usual, both dazzle and clarify our minds—I propose to leave the discussion of the moral issue except in so far as it comes out while I discuss the more political side of the situation in Southern Africa.
Although it is our moral duty to consider and to condemn the conditions there, whatever we do we cannot escape the politically explosive situation which threatens world peace, no matter what people may comfort themselves by thinking. Africa is no longer the remote "Dark continent" that it was in the past. The world is inextricably involved in the problems which are there, and particularly this country, not only because of our historical associations but, as the noble Baroness herself pointed out, because of our present-day economic and political involvement in everything that takes place there. In all the five territories to which this book refers, the terrible problems which arise do so mainly because of the appalling and increasingly obvious gap between the economic, social and political development of the white people and those who are considered to be non-white. As the right reverend Prelate has said, the Dean of Johannesburg may serve as a horrible example. He gave warnings over several years that violence was inevitable unless justice was done to all the people, and he has now been sentenced to five years imprisonment as a result of those warnings.
Mr. Theo Gerdener, the Minister of the Interior, in an extremely courageous speech last year, solemnly warned South Africans that unless the gap between black and white living standards was rapidly narrowed, there would be bloodshed. Most of his Cabinet colleagues quickly dissociated themselves from what he said, partly, I think, because of the example of the Dean of Johannesburg. There is of course violence in many of the African States, but it is much worse in South Africa. And as the white oppression increases and as the peaceful means of political and economic advancement seem to disappear, to get even more remote and to be continually denied, so, tragically, this inevitably promotes a kind of countergrowth of violence. The noble Baroness said that she did not think 107 there were really sufficient grounds to provoke violence, but could we not for a moment consider the peculiarly violent situation in South Africa itself?
There is judicial violence. In the last few years, twenty people have died while in the custody of the South African police, and the Government have consistently refused to have any kind of inquiry. Flogging is widespread. It is indeed mandatory for an enormous number of offences, even car theft; even for infringing the pass laws. There are nine capital offences in South Africa—a situation pretty well unique in the world. Noble Lords know all about the technique of the Police State, the horrible tortures; as my noble friend said, fortunately there has been a lot of publicity about it. All this inevitably breeds counter-violence. So does the appalling poverty, to which the noble Baroness did not refer. In Soweto, the large African township near Johannesburg, which is the richest part of South Africa, 70 per cent. of the Africans there live below what the Chamber of Commerce considers the minimum income. Half of all babies in the homelands die before the age of one year, if they are Africans, whereas for whites the survival rate is 15 times higher. No wonder there are continuing reports of violence from the townships and from the homelands, so-called, Bantustans! And perhaps the most shocking of all the policies, because it is being steadily applied in increasing degree, is this terrible constant shifting of populations to which my noble friend referred. He quoted that most moving story of the housemaid who did not qualify for residential permit in the town where she was married. The policy is to move 4 million black people in the early future, and almost one million have already been moved. The right reverend Prelate referred to the very remarkable book, The Discarded People, which is written, as he said, by a very remarkable man. It is a picture of thousands of families uprooted, transported and then dumped—dumped like garbage, as the foreword says—many of them in country which is little better than a desert. Father Desmond describes how on his tour in these terrible lands: 108Time and time again I was told 'We are suffering. We have been thrown away. We have nothing. But what can we do? We are only Africans and there is no one to hear us.'My Lords, underlying all these desperate tragic conditions there is the horrible practice of contract labour, to which again my noble friend referred, and this system the South Africans have taken with them to South West Africa, which we now call properly Namibia. Noble Lords will know that of course South Africa illegally holds South West Africa, that the United Nations and the Court of International Justice have declared that South Africa should withdraw from Namibia. The noble Baroness talked a good deal about our not supporting violence in other people's countries. But the present British Government have supported the South African Government in its illegal flouting of international law. South Africa has not only refused to withdraw she has tried to pretend that the people of Namibia wish her to stay. Your Lordships will know that it is divided into the two zones, the Southern Police Zone, unashamedly so called, and the Northern Zone of native reserves where more than half the population live on less than one third of the arable land, and they are brought down to the mines by the iniquitous contract labour system.
My noble friend referred to the marvellously brave fight put up by the Ovambos when they went on strike quite recently. They behaved with extraordinary courage. They are not allowed to have political organisations or trade unions in any sense of the word, and their achievement was really extraordinary. The control which is kept over the political and religious activities of the South West Africans is worse than anything one can imagine. They are more afraid there of informers and of the Special Branch members than in South Africa itself. Yet these people, by sheer solidarity and courage, have forced the South African Government to give in and to agree to replace the contract labour system by a system of labour bureaux and registration.
One of the most astonishing things about this quite horrible situation in Southern Africa is the simply marvellous courage and the spirit of the people who try to live under such conditions. When you consider that these Ovambos live in a state of near-slavery and degradation 109 and grinding poverty, their action was very remarkable. I should just like to point out that the Government in this country are almost alone in supporting the South African Government. On December 12 last, the Guardian said:The Ovambo strike is a reproach not only to Pretoria but to the British Government which supports Pretoria's line, and the western companies which use the contract labour system.President Nixon told the United Nations General Assembly that he accepts the Court of International Justice's view that Namibia is illegally occupied. He further warned the American companies who work there that their investments could not be guaranteed. This is a far stronger line than anything our Government have done, and without asking the noble Baroness to intervene in any military sense we can beg the Government to support international law and to condemn the whole horrible system of contract labour which goes with the occupation of South West Africa.
There is another astonishing example of courage, integrity and political skill in South Africa itself in one of their own Bantustans, Zululand. Many of your Lordships met last month that most remarkable man, Chief Gatsha Buthelesi, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Zululand. We were all deeply impressed by his constructive hopes, especially about education and about economic and social development, and by his determination that he would carry out his reforms peaceably and that he hoped always to continue to do so. One would expect the South African Government to be proud of a man like that, but we have all read the reports saying that while he was away the South African Government was drawing up a new constitution which would seek to undermine his powers as Chief Executive Officer. The South African Government tried to produce a royal Paramount Chief with greater powers than the Territorial Council wished. At the Installation of the new King, Mr. Botha, the Minister for Bantustan Administration, publicly jibed at Chief Buthelesi; and Chief Buthelesi, I am glad to say, behaved with extreme dignity and refused to shake hands with the Minister—an extremely brave thing to do in South Africa. Since then the Zulu people have won a victory because they have agreed, or rather debated 110 upon and voted through the Territorial Authority, for their Chief Executive Officer to have the power to choose his own Cabinet and to have a constitutional monarch, as Chief Buthelesi said, "like the British Queen, whom I met and admire".
So-called Separate Development in South Africa, most people believe, is a kind of sop to disarm people who criticise apartheid. Zululand is a test of whether the South African Government is really sincere in its wish to grant social development in the separate development lands. If the South African Government does not give substantial economic aid and a substantial allocation of land to the Zulus; if they are not allowed to reform their education system, and if the Government interferes in their elections next October, the whole policy will be seen as a fraud. It is especially important that the South African Government should not block any aid that is sent to the Bantustans by friendly nations or by organisations, and we should like the good offices of Her Majesty's Government in making that clear. I expect many of your Lordships saw the film on "Panorama" of the installation of the Zulu King, and at the end of it heard the distinguished author, Alan Paton, say something which echoed the hopes and fears of many of us:If Buthelesi does not survive, then the whole Bantustan policy will be seen to be fraudulent.Our thoughts go out to that very brave man and his colleagues.
My Lords, most people are familiar with the South African and the South West African picture, but are not so familiar with that in Angola and Mozambique. My noble friend Lord Gifford knows much more about this than I do, and we are looking forward to hearing his speech. But when the noble Baroness says that none of the resistance movements is responsible, or can hope to succeed, I would remind her that in Angola and Mozambique there are areas which have been entirely cleared of the Portuguese, and that we on this side of the House have already sent material aid to start schools, clinics, and things of that kind to help the people in their economic development. There are things that can be done.
111 There is a very disquieting fact which The Times reported last week:Military quarters in South Africa believe the country has no other choice than to wage the war against African guerrillas outside her borders,…That is reported by Rapport, the newspaper which supports Mr. Vorster's Government. It says:The only way to check the guerrillas would be to cut their supply lines. It could be done by severing the Great Northern Road linking Dar-es-Salaam, the Tanzanian capital, with Lusaka, the Zambian capital.We know that this is the way the South African Government is thinking, and that therefore this constitutes a real threat to peace. It has been a bad year for the South Africans. Under the National Government their economic conditions are getting steadily worse; their younger generation are seriously questioning the Afrikaner ideals, and there is grave discontent among the best academic and professional people, and indeed among the industrial people as well. South Africa is growing more and more isolated in world opinion, yet it is at this moment that our Government choose to tell the world—to trumpet it, indeed—that they are going to renew the supply of arms to the South African Government.
Perhaps what is most important as a test of all this is what is happening in Rhodesia to-day. When we debated it last month in this House I think that noble Lords on all sides were astonished that Mr. Smith should have agreed to those proposals, even though we on this side considered them most unsatisfactory. Indeed, the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack said that he could not believe, until the very end of the negotiations, that they could possibly succeed. Since then we have heard of all the tragic happenings, culminating today in the arrest of Mr. Todd and his daughter. I think that what the House has now to ask itself—and indeed what the Government have to ask themselves—is: whatever the original intentions of Mr. Smith, does he now really want a settlement at all? Has he been so frightened by the reactions of his own people that he feels he is not going to get the answer he expected from the people he considered so ignorant who live in the tribal reserves? There is a very 112 revealing quotation from the Sunday Express of this week:Lethargic Europeans, who had been prepared to accept the word of Mr. Smith's 'experts' that the tribal Africans would obey the commands of their chiefs and support a settlement are now beginning to realise the weight of African opinion against the proposals.I believe that the Pearce Commission may well come back with a very different answer from those tribal reserves from the one that Mr. Smith anticipated. I think that may well lie partly behind some of the disturbances which, as I mentioned when we discussed the Statement this afternoon, may well be due to agents provocateurs, and that Mr. Smith really wants to go back on the agreement. All the world knows that this would not be the first time he has done that. The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack said in his winding-up speech on the question of whether Mr. Smith would listen to world opinion:The Government believe … 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 be wrong about that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2/12/1971, col. 557.]With respect, I think that the noble and learned Lord was wrong.
What will the whole world make of Mr. Smith's refusal to allow Sir Dingle Foot to go and represent the Africans, when the Pearce Commission itself had accepted his services before they left this country? What will the world make of the detention of such a man as Garfield Todd? I was not entirely satisfied with what I thought Her Majesty's Government were doing about the refusal of Mr. Smith to have a Labour Party delegation. Is Mr. Smith to choose which Members of Parliament, or which public figures who have a legitimate interest in that country, shall go there, especially in the very Period when our own Commission is there trying to find out what the views of the people are? I hope that Her Majesty's Government will do more over all this than merely send a message to Mr. Smith, as they did over Sir Dingle Foot, and then graciously convey his reply to the British public. The whole credibility of the Government's stand on the proposals will crumble if we cannot have proper 113 answers to these questions. I think we should ask for an assurance from the Government that Mr. Smith has been told something perhaps even more important; that is, that we mean to keep faith with the United Nations and keep on sanctions.
The noble Baroness made great play with her point that sanctions are ineffective; that you could not have sanctions against large nations and so on. But why was Mr. Smith prepared to negotiate at all? It was because sanctions were making him do so. We want an assurance, when the noble Baroness replies, that we shall continue to keep our sanctions on until we are convinced that Mr. Smith intends to maintain his promises. If we give the impression now that we are lifting sanctions, if we give the impression that we support those firms who rushed in to support the Rhodesian economy even before the Pearce Commission had got there, then we are removing the only incentive that Mr. Smith has to get on with the agreement. I think that we are entitled to ask for those assurances from the Government.
Rhodesia is a microcosm of the whole situation in Southern Africa. It is despair and cynicism caused by the despotic, uncaring white Governments that drive people to violence. There was a very moving declaration by the unaligned nations who met in Lusaka in 1969. They said:We have always preferred to achieve liberalisation without physical violence. We would prefer to negotiate rather than destroy, to talk rather than to kill. We do not advocate violence; we advocate an end to the violence against human dignity which is now being perpetrated by the oppressors of Africa.But while peaceful progress is blocked by actions of those at present in power in the States of Southern Africa, we have no choice but to give to the peoples of those territories all the support of which we are capable in their struggle against their oppressors.That is a most dignified and splendid statement. What we ask of the Government is for them to make a stand now; to back the force of international law in South-West Africa instead of flouting it; for the Government to speak up for the unbelievable bravery of those people who defy the apartheid system in those countries and for them to support the economic and social fragility of those new independent countries, like Zambia, who need our support, instead of the rather 114 sneering magnifying of their failures of which other more sophisticated nations are often guilty. That is what we are asking the Government to do. As this remarkable book states, we want a demonstration of the Christian faith in which our Government profess to believe.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, I must ask the indulgence of your Lordships' House as I have a Church meeting which it is imperative for me to attend, and I shall have to go very soon after I have spoken. I hesitate to ask this indulgence again, but it is quite necessary. We are under a double debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, for the two attractive characteristics of this debate. One is that it is possible within its ambit to discuss individual items of violence and problems in South Africa; and your Lordships have just listened to a number of those problems most adequately and movingly discussed. But the purport of the document is of a much more profound nature. It is an attempt to survey an existing problem in the light of the Christian obligation, and in the light of a possible Christian programme.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, very properly remarked that though perhaps this is essentially an "in" document, it has a wide application to those who would not claim themselves to be Christians or those who have forgotten the name of the Church that they stay away from. There is within this document a Christian statement by Christians about a Christian obligation or a Christian problem. Looking at it from the standpoint of the African, this is not confined to a group of people who make pious noises in peculiar places once a week. This is the official attitude that they will take of the country to which we belong. They regard this as a Christian country. After all, is not the Coronation of our Monarch an extended form of the sacrament of Holy Communion? Is not each Sitting of your Lordships' House introduced by a prayer which addresses God as by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, and through whom alone all counsel, wisdom and understanding is to be found?
This is a matter for the whole community, because, in the eyes of the African, we are a Christian community 115 and must therefore either reject the outward and visible forms of our commitment to the Christian faith or tolerate the kind of criticism which they offer as they see the disparity between that which we profess and that which we do. Of course, every African on the streets of Cape Town is likely to be confronted with a British Saracen armoured vehicle, and every South African—at least, those anywhere near the coast—is liable to hear the drone of an English Buccaneer aircraft, and will naturally interpret that as part of the Christian commitment—quite wrongly so, but understandably so. Therefore, what we have to do this afternoon—indeed, what is our continuing responsibility, as I see it, and I hope that I do not speak in any way pompously—is to recognise that we, as a so-called Christian country, must ask the Christian questions about violence as we see it in Southern Africa. Those questions have been asked in this document.
There is irreversible and incontrovertible evidence that violence exists to a very large, and perhaps unprecedented, extent in Southern Africa. Already, the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and others have given chapter and verse for such evidence of violence. At its best, I suppose it could be said that some of the régimes in Southern Africa are prepared to do almost anything for an African if he does not want to do it for himself. This is violence to his membership of a spiritual or a divine society. It is equally true that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights almost precisely lists the number of things that an African is not allowed to do in South Africa. This is terrible violence to his membership of a human society. And there is incontrovertible evidence that all the apparatus of armed violence is there to assist the preservation of this situation, and indeed the extension, if necessary, of the violence which already exists. That is what this document first states; and I would echo, if I may, the encouragement of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that those who have not read it should do so, for it implements every occasion of accusation and is, as in the words of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, a story of injustice and a story of continuing injustice.
116 The second point that this document makes—almost platitudinously, if you like—is that if we recognise this to be an area of profound injustice, then we, as Christian people, are committed to the opposition of that injustice. We regard it as bad. Not everybody in this world at the moment would regard the principles and the operation of the principles in South Africa or Rhodesia as necessarily bad. But this document states that in the name of the Christian faith it must be recognised as bad in itself. That carries with it the third consequence to which the document is committed: that if we believe that the situation is bad, then we ought to react positively as a Christian community against that evil.
What are the options for those who would seek to make a proper response to the recognition of a violent situation which is morally intolerable? They can, if they like, embrace the proposition that they are not entitled by the Christian faith to employ violence in any degree or at any time. They can, if they like, say that in the circumstances of the present disorders and the disasters to come, as well as the present injustices, a Christian community is justified in taking up arms on behalf of the oppressed. They can remain indifferent. This document does not remain indifferent, but it poses the problem rather than answers the question, and it is because the question is so profoundly complex and of such agonising and tortuous difficulty that I would invite your Lordships for a moment to look at it in the light of what is still the general acceptance of official Christian teaching with regard to war.
In the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas lays down the various propositions which will justify a war and entitle it to be called a just war. The first is that it should have a just cause. I think there are many people who would agree that there is a just cause, at least, behind the operations of even the most violent of revolutionaries in South Africa and in other parts of Southern Africa. The second proposition is that this justice must be maintained in the actual prosecution of violence. This perhaps, also, is tolerable. The third proposition is that violence should be used only as a last resort, when every other implement of 117 revolutionary zeal or practice has been exhausted. If you will consult the document, your Lordships will find that the revolutionary leaders in Southern Africa are committed to two quite simple statements: that they see no peaceful means of redress, and, at the same time, by themselves and without aid from elsewhere they do not see any practical chance of violent success. The fourth proposition is that in the light of such a just war there must be just practices by those who conduct that war. Here the trouble starts. Is there anybody who is prepared to say—and certainly the World Council of Churches has not tried to say it—that you can prosecute a war to-day and use those means during that operation which are consonant with the Sermon on the Mount?
But even worse is the next of these commitments, which is that a just war must regard success or victory as sure. This, at first sight, must seem absurd, but the reason for it, of course, is that if victory is not assured then there is the subsequent commitment of the just war, which reads that a just war can only be such a war as, having resulted in victory, produces better results than those which would have occurred had no war taken place; and, obviously, if you do not win the war then that particular proposition is nullified. Finally, a just war must be followed by a just peace. The unfortunate fact is that it is impossible any longer to use the Summa Theologica as a basis for the defence of warfare as we know it, and if anybody thinks that in fact St. Thomas Aquinas was confining his attentions to declared offensive war, he has a footnote in 2(a) of Summa Theologica pointing out that his arguments apply equally radically to armed rebellion, in strict contradiction to contemporary theologians, who under no circumstances are prepared to tolerate armed rebellion.
I do not believe that that just war is now intellectually, morally or practically possible. In fact, the situation as it now appears to many of us is that if we embark upon war we cannot do so without breaking with the substance of our Christian faith. If, on the other hand, we do not embark upon war, and take up the pacifist position, we are largely abdicating our responsibilities in a world where we cannot, if we have any decency in us, sit back and watch the sufferings 118 of other people. I would invite your Lordships to see that, though in many cases the Christian Church has been pretty timid, yet in fact this is a cruel dilemma; and your Lordships will see with what inefficiency this document seeks to resolve it, in endeavouring to oppose the position of the pacifist. They drag out the old stuff about Jesus in the Temple, where the only violence, so far as I can see, was applied very gently to a number of oxen and, much more conspicuously, to a number of tables, of which I thoroughly approve. There is no evidence: it is quite impossible to turn Jesus Christ into a guerrilla leader.
On the other hand, it is impossible to regard the problems which confront society as easily soluble in non-violent terms, and I freely confess to your Lordships that this is the problem which in the past has attracted quite a lot of commentary from those who have written about it in Christian circles because they have asked the right questions. But, my Lords, this is not enough. If we believe—I personally do not, but there are a great many Christians who quite conscientiously do—that in certain circumstances, speaking ex cathedra and on faith and morals, the Head of a particular Church, His Holiness of Rome, is divinely protected from making a mistake and can tell us what is what, then I think a great many of our contemporaries regard his pronouncements about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as infinitely less important than what he might have said about the rightness or wrongness of going to war. I cannot in my own heart find very much defence for the assumption of such powers of absolute authority in matters which are so supernatural as to be incapable of any human refutation anyhow. Furthermore, what seems to me to be beyond dispute is that if the Christian Church cannot, on the one hand, embrace a pacifist faith or, on the other hand, cannot earnestly, enthusiastically and conscientiously support violence in certain circumstances, then the sooner we go out of business the better, because we have rapidly come to the situation where our prestige is in profound danger because we waver, wriggle, twitch and turn when what is required of us, however difficult it is, is to speak the ipsissima verba, the Word of God.
119 I have shared this with your Lordships as a problem because I feel it desperately and have resolved it for my own sake; and therefore I would append to what I have just said what I had hoped, on first reading this document, it might have said. I am a confessed and believing pacifist, not because I can see the immediate results of the total repudiation of mass violence, but because I believe that such an action, undertaken in faith, would open up for to-morrow opportunities which are completely occluded from our gaze to-day. This is not a closed universe, it is an open universe; and the Sermon on the Mount has excellent advice about, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof", because if you do what is right to-day you can expect that to-morrow will provide you with ample opportunities. I believe that. Therefore, it seems to me that the answer in the beginning to this cruel and difficult problem is for a Christian country to make examples of the things which it believes should he operative elsewhere if it cannot actively, by violence, intervene in those affairs in loco. There is nothing, in my judgment, which would be so productive of ultimate good as one country taking the initiative of total and absolute disarmament, phased over a period if you like. I should have thought that we had come to the end of the age—certainly this document suggests that we have—when there is any reasonable prospect, by use of violence, of acquiring the results and achieving the ends which are so much desired.
I have little use for those whose attitude is merely utilitarian. I think the Government are right, but for the wrong reasons. I do not believe in the use of violence, and therefore I am opposed to it and must support those who likewise are opposed to it. But I do draw a distinction which I think the noble Lord, Lord Walston, did not draw. Perhaps, on reflection, I might have to change my mind, but at the moment I should have thought there was a real difference between the application of such force as will bring communities to their senses and the application of violence which may tend to bring them to their knees. Therefore, I believe there is a real place for the extension, the ratification of sanctions with regard to these Southern tyrannies; but as I finish I return to that 120 which is to me much more important. I am not a Marxist, but I hold still that the Marxist analysis is far deeper in most of its penetrative insights than most other analyses; and I believe there is a root economic problem here. If, for instance, some of those countries which are now operating a capitalist system and breaking sanctions—because that is inherent in a capitalist system—were to embrace the socialist faith they would do two things. They would, in the first place, reduce the area of such breaking and such falsification of recognised standards; and. in the second place, they would vastly encourage other communities which have large but as yet unsuccessful Left-Wing groupings in them. But as I sit down I return to this report. This is a document produced by Christians. It is a document which seeks to find a Christian answer to violence. Very properly, it goes back to its Lord and Master. For me and I hope and believe for an increasing number of people—the great adventure for a continuing world, and not a Doomwatch, is the adventure whereby some country will begin to show a new spirit, embark upon a new programme and, once and for all, renounce the intolerable use of violence.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ LORD VERNON
My Lords, I must begin by declaring an interest. I have a South African wife, and my wife is that interesting cross-breed, half Afrikaner and half English. I do not know if your Lordships will regard that as an interest, but I certainly do. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Walston, as other speakers have done, for introducing this debate this afternoon, because I have thought for a long time that it is very difficult to discuss the affairs of the peripheral countries of Southern Africa, like Rhodesia. without looking at the picture as a whole and particularly at the Republic of South Africa, which is accurately referred to in the report Violence in Southern Africa, as "the inner keep of the white bastion". I should also like to pay my small tribute to the lead given by the Christian Churches in Southern Africa. With the exception of certain sections of the English language Press which have very courageously and consistently shown up some of the worst abuses ctf the apartheid system, the Churches are the only organisation that have taken a stand.
121 The canvas of Southern Africa is a vast one and I wish to concentrate on one particular aspect of it which has not so far been covered in this debate. I shall deal with a group of people who live in the Southern tip of Africa, of mixed race, who are collectively known as the Cape Coloureds. They number two million people and they form some 10 per cent. of the total population of the Republic. The Cape Coloureds originated in the marriages or unions which took place between the early Dutch settlers and the local Hottentot population and, later, the slaves imported from Malaya and the East Indies. Later again, those same people inter-married with African labour brought down from the North. The Cape Coloureds are classified under the apartheid system as a separate racial group, but in practice they are lumped together with the Africans as none-whites with all the disadvantages and the deep indignities which go with that classification.
Whatever we may think about the apartheid system in South Africa and the idea of separate development, whether we think that it is right in principle or workable in practice—and indeed whether we think that the Nationalist Government honestly intend to implement that system—it does, at least in theory, provide for ulimate self-government, or some degree of self-government, for the Africans within their own territories; and I think that it is significant that African leaders of the eminence and importance of Chief Buthelesi in Zululand and Chief Matanzima in the Transkei should have thought it worth while to try to improve their lot by working through the Bantustans. But in the case of the Cape Coloureds there is no such possibility because they have no territory; and no territory is going to be allotted to them. Under the apartheid laws they are, in fact, condemned in perpetuity to being second-class citizens in their own country. The number of jobs offered to them is very restricted. They are allowed to bathe only on the worst and most distant beaches. Under the Group Areas Act they are liable to be turned out of the houses in which their families have lived for generations; and many of them in District 6 and in Simonstown have been so evicted. If they try to express their 122 dissatisfaction with this state of affairs they are liable to be incarcerated on the notorious Robben Island or, worse, they may suffer the fate of the unfortunate Imam Haron, a Muslim priest who died while locked up incommunicado after allegedly falling down stairs. After his death it was admitted by the South African police that he had 26 bruises and other injuries which had not been caused by the stairs and his widow was paid substantial compensation. That is not the only case of this kind. There have been many others.
I think that one of the worst features of the whole situation of the Cape Coloureds is the deep sense of hopelessness and frustration which is created, particularly among the educated section. They can really see no light at the end of the tunnel. They can see no future for themselves. Some of them are allowed to emigrate overseas, but if they do so they are not allowed to come back—they get a one-way ticket. Therefore these people can hardly be blamed if they should consider violence—and the Cape Coloureds are not a violent people.
I have concentrated on the coloured population of the Cape because I believe that we in this country have a very special responsibility for them. Under the laws of Cape Colony, the Coloureds had the franchise; they had the vote in just the same way as the whites had it, although there was a property qualification. They had that from 1854 onwards. Under the Act of Union of 1909, which was accepted by the Boers of the Free State and in the Transvaal, this franchise was guaranteed to them. They continued to hold it until they were deprived of it by the Nationalist Government which came to power in 1948. In place of what they had, they have been given the Coloured Peoples' Representative Council which is a glorified form of county council—although, in fact, it is an insult to a county council to make such a comparison. It has virtually no power and it is a mockery of democracy. The actions of the Nationalist Government in this respect constitute, surely, a clear breach of faith with the British Government which negotiated the Act of Union.
My Lords, what can we do about this, bearing in mind that South Africa is an independent territory? I was in South Africa a little less than a year ago and 123 had discussions with various people in different walks of life, and I believe that things are moving. I believe that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir said, a new generation is coming to the fore whose ideas are less rigid than were those of their parents. I think that Afrikaner businessmen and Afrikaner intellectuals are beginning to have serious doubts about the direction in which their policy is leading. But the great danger is that, though the log jam may be breaking up, it is a painfully slow business. The question therefore is: will it break up in time to avoid an eruption of violence? If violence does break out—and anything could spark it off; a serious train crash in Johannesburg, perhaps—the scale of killing could make Sharpeville look like a Sunday afternoon tea party.
My Lords, I think that our country has a special duty to persuade the South African Government to make changes by peaceful means and this would entail hastening the creation of the Bantustans; ensuring that they were given a much more realistic amount of territory and also absorbing the Cape Coloureds into the white community. Bearing in mind racial attitudes in South Africa, I do not believe that there is any other solution. It is quite impossible to have one country. The most effective form of pressure which has taken place to date is, undoubtedly I think, the international sport boycott. South Africans are mad keen on sport and they are very good sportsmen. Their ostracism from the world of international sport has bitten very deep indeed. I think one can see that from the success in South Africa of what is known as the "Pain for Hain Fund". Heaven help Peter Hain should he ever fall into the clutches of Colonel Swanepoel and his band of thugs and torturers who run the South African police!
§ LORD AVEBURY
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him? I wonder whether he is aware that the South African Rugby Board have officially supported the prosecution of Mr. Peter Hain which was initiated in this country, and that, under the auspices of the South African Rugby Board, £3,000 has been raised in that country in order to assist the funds of the prosecution?
§ LORD VERNON
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and I probably agree on this matter. I did not know about what he has just told me.
The other method of bringing pressure to bear on the South African Government is by refraining from selling them arms. Here I feel I must say that the policy of our Government in this respect is mistaken. I think that any advantage, financial or otherwise, that may accrue to us from selling arms is easily outweighed by the disadvantages; and instead of saying that other people would sell them arms if we do not, it would be much better for us to try to persuade those other people not to sell them.
Finally, my Lords, I think it is the duty of each one of us who has contacts with South Africa, whether Government, businessmen, or others in a private capacity, to lose no opportunity of emphasising the utter folly and inhumanity of their present policies. The white South African, particularly the Afrikaner, is a person who likes to justify his policy in terms of theory. In the case of the Cape Coloureds he is absolutely unable to do this, and it can do no harm to remind him of it on every occasion. I certainly have found this very effective.
My Lords, those of us who criticise white South Africa, or the whites in Southern Africa as a whole, are often accused of being anti-white or pro-black. We are not anti-white. There are 3 million whites in South Africa and they have as much a right to that country, or to part of as the Africans and the coloureds. It is because we want to see a future for these people in South Africa, because we feel that they have an important part to play, and because we want to see not only justice for the non-whites but also a future for the white population, that we are anxious for changes to be made before it is too late.
§ 5.45 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BRISTOL
My Lords, in adding my voice to the expressions of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, for introducing this debate, I want especially to draw attention to some of the implications of Appendix VII of this book Violence in Southern Africa where there are, on pages 110 and following, extensive quotations from the actions of the World 125 Council of Churches which, at its Uppsala Assembly, where some 200 member Churches were represented, initiated a Programme to Combat Racism. Subsequently, at meetings of the Central Committee, first at Canterbury and then at Addis Ababa, that programme was implemented by the giving of certain grants to the liberation movements, nine of them being among the movements referred to in this report on Violence in Southern Africa. Those grants aroused a great deal of criticism and suspicion at the time, but I believe that the passing of time has done a great deal to vindicate the rightness of that action.
I should like, first, to sketch what were these definitions that the World Council gave of the purposes of the Programme to Combat Racism. It adopted these emphases. First, it is white racism in its many organised ways which is by far the most dangerous form of present racial conflict. Secondly, it is no longer sufficient to deal with the race problem at the level of person to person relationship. It is institutional racism as reflected in the economic and political power structures which must be challenged. Thirdly, combating racism must entail a redistribution of social, economic, political and cultural power from the powerful to the powerless. Fourth, no single strategy to combat racism is universally appropriate. There is need for multiple strategies. But, as part of multiple strategy, though not the whole of it, there was therefore the creation of this special fund from which the grants were given; and a special fund of 200,000 dollars was allocated in the first instance to 19 liberation movements, nine of which, as I have said, are actively referred to in the report we are considering.
That Programme to Combat Racism was intended to be essentially an attempt to make clear, by financial support and not just by passing resolutions, that the Christian Churches, as represented in the World Council, not only stand sympathetically beside those who are treated unjustly because of their race but also support them in their efforts to secure justice. I discern in the reaction to that action a sort of spectrum of which one may identify four bands. There were, first, those who reacted with simple horror. While in Addis Ababa I received 126 a letter which is typical of this. A lady who had spent most of her life in various parts of Africa wrote to deplore that the World Council should be "giving money to the absolutely filthy Communist-trained terrorists to help them murder my flesh and blood in Rhodesia." There have been other comments in similar vein.
At the other extreme, there is an equally simple approval. I remember a Congolese pastor speaking at Addis Ababa who greeted the World Council's action as being quite simply the most Christ-like thing the World Council had ever done. He saw it simply as an act of identification with the powerless and the oppressed. And at varying degrees of enthusiasm that reaction was typical of most of the rest of the expressed opinion of black Africans; of Christians in Asia; of many of those who were identified with the Civil Rights Campaign in the United States, and so forth.
Then, thirdly, there is a responsible section of opinion which expresses severe doubts, primarily among the white Churches in Southern Africa, ranging from outright condemnation by the Afrikaans-speaking Churches to a much more difficult situation on the part of the English-speaking South African Churches, whose courage in their ambiguous situation we all recognise and admire when it is personified in such people as the Dean of Johannesburg. But there were other Church leaders in Europe, notably in Western Germany, who also had such doubts. The most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury expressed similar doubts in a speech in the Convocations, asking whether sufficient attention had been paid to the deep moral and theological considerations regarding the association of the Christian Churches with violent means of social change and also whether action of this kind, with its political implications, is properly undertaken by agencies which claim to act in the name of the Churches corporately, as distinct from what might be confined to the response of individual Christians. I admit that I, too, voiced those as questions in the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, as did others, though they were not carried to the point where they became dissenting votes. Finally, there remains the most widespread reaction, 127 that in an already deeply divided world and recognising the ambiguities involved in all Christian attempts to achieve justice in a sinful world, it is right that the World Council should make clear that the Churches are not to be automatically identified with white supremacy.
As I have said, my attitude to these grants has been somewhat ambivalent, because at the Central Committee in Addis Ababa I was critical of some of the aspects of the procedure, and said so; but in this country and in this House I am prepared to defend this action, as indeed I voted for it at Addis Ababa. Things feel rather different when one is in a gathering where Western whites are in a minority, as we are in the world, though that does not in itself define the truth, and so of course anyone is at liberty to disagree with these actions. But it is important to note that in a gathering like the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches there was no recorded dissent or abstention in the final vote supporting these grants among one hundred or more delegates, after hours of consideration and debate, in a gathering which included not only many representatives of African and Asian nations but also, both among them and the Westerners, some theologians of international repute and some laymen with very extensive experience of the harsh realities of politics. But of the 19 organisations named, those which have aroused most criticism, especially in this country, are ZAPU, ZANU and A.N.C.
There are clearly certain points which need no defence. Racism is always evil. That we all recognise. I think there would also be a general recognition that the World Council has been right to concer4tritte on white racism, because this is more urgent though not more evil, since it is linked with the just distribution of power. It is then that the difficulties begin, because to touch power is to touch politics. And here this report on violence in Southern Africa is very helpful in its analysis of the issues involved. I do not need to repeat the well-balanced arguments that are there. I would only say that there is no spiritual stratosphere in which the Churches as such, any more than any individual Christian, can simply be above the struggles which already divide men. 128 We certainly need to be very aware of the relativity of every stance we take up. For example, it was I think necessary at the Anglican Consultative Council at Limuru, where again the majority vote supported the action of the World Council of Churches, either to embarrass people like the Bishop of Mashonaland, who felt obliged at that point to withdraw from the gathering, or to embarrass the black Christians of Rhodesia and South Africa so that they would have had to dissociate themselves from what was said by the representatives of the Anglican Communion.
Obviously beneath this dilemma there lie points of the first importance, points of morality and theology, which I do not propose to explore and expound any further, in view of what has already been said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham and by the noble Lord, Lord Soper. But I believe that this action, taken by a representative gathering of Christian Churches on an international and global scale, will be seen to be justified if it makes clear that the Christian community, composed as it is of all races, of the powerful and of the powerless together, was prepared to make this gesture of sympathy with those who fight for elementary freedom and justice in the face of bitter refusal to grant it. Such an action may be initially divisive, but I believe that we Christians can affirm that it is not finally destructive, simply because our community with each other rests in the last resort on the foregiveness of God, of which we all stand in need.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords. I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Walston for initiating this debate, which I think will have done a real service to the subject of racism. I am afraid that I was a little disappointed in the contribution that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, made. We all hold the noble Baroness not only in respect but in affection, but I thought she was perhaps a little too soft about the situation in South Africa. I should have liked to ask her many questions, but I will ask her only one. What kind of greater tyranny can she envisage than the tyranny of apartheid in South Africa? I hope that perhaps she will give me an answer to that.
129 This report of the working party of the British Council of Churches on Violence in Southern Africa is a remarkable document. I think that it should be compulsory reading for the Pearce Commission, and I hope that every member of the Commission received a complimentary copy. The report appeals to reason, letting the facts speak for themselves, and builds up its case with a logic that is absolutely irrefutable. What they say—and I do not believe that this has been made clear in the debate, because everyone has spoken as if the British Council of Churches were in favour of violence, but that is not so: at least it is not what I understood is in the report—is that, all else failing, the Churches support resistance movements, including revolutions, aimed at the elimination of political or economic tyranny which makes racism possible. This is interpreted by some as an incitement to violent action, whereas it is an example of political leadership, sadly lacking among many politicians, that the Church is giving to-day.
My Lords, one does not have to be a Christian (I am not a Christian; I am a Jew; and I am not religious, nor am I a pacifist) to find inspiration in this report. The courageous and unequivocal stand of the British Council of Churches is crucial, because the build-up of flagrant injustice in Southern Africa is done in the name of Western Christian civilisation. This statement, which can only be described as obscene, is made constantly. In my last year in the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations there was an attractive South African delegate who refused to be ostracised—because all the South African delegates were for years ostracised, something of which I thoroughly disapproved—and he asked me out to lunch to discuss apartheid. We had a good argument, and in the end he said to me: "I cannot think why you attack apartheid so strongly. Surely we are only trying to preserve your way of life"—meaning the British way of life. The assumption is that supreme and repressive power is coupled with moral superiority.
The more one learns about the Government of South Africa, the more diseased their laws appear. As usual, in a dictatorship, or in dictatorship societies, 130 words have no meaning, and "law and order" simply means institutional violence. In the name of achieving a just society, there is ruthless discrimination in education, in jobs and in residence. First, the Government in South Africa takes away opportunities for black Africans, and then it acts on the injunction that education must train and teach people in accordance with their opportunities in life. Dr. Verwoerd was a master of plain speaking, and this was his injunction. In the name of religion, families are broken up and husbands are separated from wives and children for long periods at a time. Perhaps the South African Government's policy of separate development is the most cruel and senseless. Of course there are show places and some model townships, though even in these the picture of the small robot houses, all alike, strikes a very inhuman note.
What the South African Government has created by its separate development policies and resettlement schemes is thousands of migrant workers and many poverty stricken refugees. It is not civil war, as recently in Pakistan, that has brought this about, but Government planning. For a detailed factual description of this inhuman process, as has been pointed out by several noble Lords, one has only to read The Discarded People, a book by Cosmas Desmond, a Franciscan priest. The picture of the tents in many of the camps before the houses are built, where there is often inadequate water supply and no sanitation, is painfully reminiscent of the plight of fleeing refugees, not of pioneers of development. This uprooting of vast numbers of human beings for what is supposed to be their own good is a political philosophy built upon a monstrous delusion. Unhappiness and repression on this great scale are sowing the seeds of revolution. The soft words of the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, on the position in South Africa are all going to be in vain: they will not turn away the wrath of the many oppressed people in South Africa. In fact, the whole thing will be taken out of our hands. In the end, it is for the people there to deal with this oppression, though we may help in various ways. Such flagrant injustices must reap a bitter harvest.
131 The report of the British Council of Churches is quite realistic. While proclaiming its solidarity with the aims of just revolutionaries, it does not offer hope of a quick success. I think that using violent protest for just ends is not so much a principle as a strategy in certain circumstances. The question of using violent means is a cruel dilemma for all of us, whether we are Christians or not. It seems to me that when a Government is very powerful, and has to use violent methods to maintain its power, this very power rests on great fear. It is as if, unconsciously, it realises that it is building a concrete edifice with its foundations in a swamp. However, there seems to be no limit to the self-deception of powerful white communities in Africa to-day. Even the Rhodesians are not immune.
To sum up, my Lords, the report of the British Council of Churches shows clearly that the Churches can be as much an instrument of radical change as many of the liberation movements, and in time can compound their strength by their authority. There are volcanic rumblings of changes in South Africa. The stand of the Ovambos has been mentioned several times this afternoon. This strike, which condemns the slavery conditions of employment, is a disaster for the Vorster Government because it has brought the entire mining industry to a halt—and this in a showpiece township. In this we have the embryo of a militant political Opposition.
The Zulu Chief, Buthelesi, a star among African Chiefs, has also been mentioned in the debate. He has refused to swear allegiance to the Republic of South Africa. These are but the faint murmurs of a gathering storm, but they are warnings that the Government of the richest society in the world should heed, because their prosperity can eventually be toppled when there are so many among the black communities who have nothing to lose but their chains.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord St. Just for allowing me to take his place in the debate. When I heard of this debate I was given to understand that it was likely to be rather shorter than it is 132 proving to be, and of course we did not know that there would be a long interruption for two Statements which took up some 45 minutes. Therefore, as I say, I am grateful to my noble friend, and I apologise to your Lordships for having to leave the House before the end of the debate owing to a longstanding engagement.
It has certainly been a most interesting discussion, for which we owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Walston. However, I should not agree with him in his remarks that this is art entirely objective report, although I do not think it is any the worse for that. It is in fact a statement of the African point of view and takes no account of any contrary opinion or any mitigating circumstances. Of course in a book of this nature there was no room for that, as I fully understand, and it does not diminish from the interest, usefulness or importance of what is there written. But the fact is that it is an indictment not only of British colonial policy but of all colonial policy, and I should not like this day to pass without at least one person stating that he believes that the benefits brought by the British colonial and imperial system have far outweighed any misdemeanours that may have been committed or any crimes that may have been perpetrated en route.
For that reason, of course, it would be quite easy to criticise some of the statements in this book, but there is only one very small point that I would pick upon to illustrate this point without trying to quibble unduly or to enlarge upon it. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, himself touched upon it in the course of his opening speech: that is, the usual complaint that education for black and white in Rhodesia is separate and the amount spent on each community is entirely different. They say in fact that ten times as much is spent on the white child as on the black; but of course there you are starting with two different civilisations and two different standards of living, with the vast bulk of the money being raised by the white population for the benefit of both. When you come to spread the amount to be spent by the Government on education, do you spread it evenly and immediately lower the standards to which the white population 133 has been accustomed? I think even the noble Lord would agree that that is socially undesirable and politically impossible.
The policy there has always been to introduce and enlarge primary education and spread it so that everybody will get schooling. When I first went there over twenty years ago, by no means a very high proportion of African children were getting primary education at all, and now I believe it is nearly 100 per cent. I remember discussing this very problem with Mr. Garfield Todd when he was Prime Minister and I was one of his branch chairmen. He took the attitude of all previous and subsequent Prime Ministers, that it was more important to build the pyramid soundly from the bottom up. I took the opposite view, that it would have been better to spend more on secondary and higher education, with a view to having enough African civil servants and other such people capable of helping in government and in building up a true partnership. But that was not the policy because they thought they had plenty of time, whereas I am afraid they were wrong and they had not. But that is just a small point about this rather glib and specious argument about education in Rhodesia.
I do not intend to criticise the book in any other way at all, because surely the whole purpose of the exercise and of this debate lies in what is written in Chapter 4, "What of the Future?", and in Chapter 5, "Revolution, the Church and the Kingdom". I felt personally that it was only when we came to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, that we really got down to the moral dilemma which we had been invited to discuss. This was pursued again by the right reverend Prelate who has just resumed his seat. It is stated quite clearly in this book that it was felt that many Christians would not find it sufficient just to say that the situation in Southern Africa is one of intolerable injustice and that in human probability nothing is likely to be done to put an end to it, but that some action must be taken. It is set out quite clearly here what action is suggested; and all that has been put in general terms by the noble Lord, Lord Soper. What actually is suggested has not, I think, ben expressed by any previous speaker. It is suggeted here that presure should 134 be brought to bear on Portugal to stop breaking sanctions against Rhodesia and that a first step would be to inform Portugal of our intention to recognise the freedom fighters as belligerents, because that would make it legal to supply them with arms. So we are being asked in this book to supply the belligerents not just with money, which the right reverend Prelate who attended the World Conference of Churches was explaining and justifying—and I think, if I may say so, he did it with great moderation and considerable success—but with arms.
Again, a complete ban on arms to South Africa would be carried out on the grounds that… there is no validity in the distinction between arms used for internal security and those used for defence against external aggression. It is safety against external aggression which permits the South African Government to defy world opinion.But of course this is really an invitation to leave South Africa defenceless, and one can only assume that if this policy were carried out it might be considered an invitation to Russia, which is the only possible Power with ships in that part of the world, to take advantage of the situation. Would it be the desire of the British Council of Churches to exchange South African influence, evil though that may be considered to be, for that of a militant and atheistic Government? I do not think there would be a great advantage. At least this needs thinking about when a policy of that nature is advocated.
Then it says in the book that there would also be propaganda campaigns similar to those launched in war,… by political speeches, widely reported by the Press and by broadcasting, including African languages.I do not know whether the B.B.C. would do that willingly or whether the Government would have to compel the B.B.C. to do it, but I think that at least your Lordships should know what we are being asked to do. My noble friend Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie has already expressed some of the practical objections.
I should now like to turn to the pros and cons of the moral argument. As the noble Lord, Lord Walston, himself quoted from this book—and I would re-quote this because it is most important—The ethical discussion about the justification of revolutionary violence is concerned, with both means and ends.135 Then the argument is pursued—and the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, was quite right in pointing this out—that because all alternatives to violence have failed, therefore violence is the only means left to the oppressed Africans in these countries by which they could obtain their freedom. Therefore violence is justified, it is a just war and a just cause. Therefore the working party has gone on to conclude that support must be given to these people, and not merely verbal support because this would be hypocritical. So it must be active support, and I have quoted some of the proposals put forward, which include the export and provision of arms to the freedom fighters. It is said that this sort of support should be given quite openly because there is no alternative to violence; so it is a just war in the cause of freedom.
Now one can follow the argument to this point, and it would seem, as the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, said, to be perfectly logical. But now we come to the final argument, which was put to us very clearly by the noble Lord, Lord Soper. I now quote from the book. The working party begins to retreat slightly from the position it had hitherto taken. It writes:History shows that violence is seldom a direct path to justice and to the establishment of a higher humanity.Then it continues:The profound spiritual effect lies in deciding what means can be used to bring about political liberation without spiritual loss. The Church cannot accept the naĩve assumption that the kingdom necessarily follows the overthrow of present injustice. The establishment of the kingdom in our midst demands more than revolutionary commitment. It demands unqualified love.Lower down that page—and this is my final quotation—it says:Usually revolution has led to dictatorship, the establishment of a new tyranny. It seems likely that only a church within the revolution can help to humanise it.This is the argument that clinches it in their opinion—… only a church within the revolution can help to humanise it.It is an interesting thought, but I wonder whether there is any precedent for this. Has a Church ever actively supported a revolution—an internal revolution in the first place? It may be possible, but I do 136 not know. If it has, has it ever succeeded in controlling what subsequently happened, influencing and moderating that revolutionary government so that it would be based on love and peace thereafter? This I beg leave to doubt. I think the working party is walking, on thin ice, treading on very slippery ground, in pursuing that argument to the logical conclusion that it has. I would need to be convinced not only of the justice of the cause—and I can go along with this—but with the justice that is going to reign thereafter; in other words, is the revolution worth it? I would need to be convinced about that.
This was pointed out on the "24 Hours" television programme the other night. I think it was the night that Dr. Busia learned that he had been removed from office in Ghana. This was while he was here in London. It was pointed out in that programme that in nine years in the African countries South of the Sahara (that is East and West Africa and parts of Central Africa) there had been no less than 20 military coups d'etat—the last one being in Ghana. One would have thought that was the most useless and unnecessary one of the lot; but at least it has not been accompanied by bloodshed. As a result of these coups d'état and disturbances throughout the other countries in Africa, can one really look forward to a revolution in South Africa or Rhodesia, or Angola, or Mozambique achieving any better state than has been achieved in these other African countries?
It may be thought that the situation in those African countries is better than it was when they were not governing themselves. My point is that they have not achieved the freedom of democracy which we hoped they would. These revolutions have achieved freedom of movement for the Africans, and it is perfectly true that they would do so in Southern Africa. I recognise the fact that this would be the removal of a great frustration. But have they in other parts of Africa, and would they in Southern Africa, achieve not only freedom of movement, but freedom of speech, conscience and freedom from fear? Without those freedoms there is no true freedom. I cannot honestly say that I believe that these three freedoms exist in other African countries, even though they are governed by their own 137 people and they prefer them—and that is understandable. But it is not yet true freedom. Therefore when one comes back to the proposition put forward by the working party of the British Council of Churches in their individual capacity that one should export arms to the "freedom fighters"—I will not even quibble about that name—in a just cause because the means, although unjust, lead to a just end, like the noble Lord, Lord Soper, I should still require the proof that that just end will afterwards lead to justice for the black people who followed their revolutionary leaders, who might well find themselves no better off at all, but possibly even worse off and with a different tyranny. This is the problem. That is why if this document is to be put officially to the British Council of Churches with an invitation that they should consider this, and state whether or not this is official policy, they will find themselves in great difficulty, with which I fully sympathise.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I should like to finish if I may, because I am coming to the end of my remarks. If the Council came down in favour of this document as it is at present set out, and accept all the recommendations in it (and I hope that they will modify them) I believe they would cause a very serious split in their own churches in this country. Now I will sit down.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him one question? Towards the end of his remarks—if I understood him correctly—he said that this report actually advocates the sales of arms to the freedom fighters. Could he give me the reference to that, because I cannot find it?
§ BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I say that there are quite a few examples that I can think of where the Churches have supported revolutions; for example, the Catholic Church in the troubles in Ireland. Various non-conformist Churches supported people like the Chartists. I think that 138 the Israelis' fight for freedom was certainly supported by their Church. Whether this is a good thing is a different matter, but historically Churches have supported revolutions.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I do not know whether I am in order in pursuing my question to the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, but, as I understand it, this is not a recommendation that arms should be exported. That is one of the things that can be considered as a possibility. It is not a firm recommendation. That was the point that I wanted to clear up.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, as I have been asked a question I suppose that I have a right to reply, although I have finished my speech. I do not want to put into the mouth of the working party words that are not written in the book. I do not think I have done that. I should have thought that the difference between a recommendation and pointing out what is possible is rather a quibble.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, must be slightly surprised that his speech has created an amount of controversy from distinguished Members of this House who have responded to it. I was particularly interested in what he said about personal liberties in African countries after they had gained their independence. In the course of my speech I shall be turning, to that because I believe it to be a real issue for those of us who believe in democracy and freedom.
I want to join with others in thanking my noble friend Lord Walston and the working party of the Department of International Affairs of the British Council of Churches for producing this book. One of the big contributions which this debate, based on the book, has made is the fact that we have recognised that Southern Africa is essentially one problem; that the Republic of South Africa, Namibia South West Africa, the Portuguese Colonies, Angola, Mozambique, and Rhodesia all have the equalising basis that they represent the domination of the white race over the non-white population. I shall he devoting my speech to looking at this problem in that wider range of the whole of Southern Africa.
139 I feel so involved that I must begin with a reference to what is happening in Rhodesia. I have little doubt that Mr. Ian Smith is quite deliberately seeking to create conditions which will make the work of the Pearce Commission impossible. I believe he is now realising that the verdict of any Commission making an objective inquiry would he that the majority of the people or Rhodesia reject the settlement which has been proposed. And I believe that, rather than that he should face that verdict, he will seek to place on the British Government the responsibility of withdrawing the Pearce Commission from Rhodesia under conditions which he has created: because a "No" verdict by the Pearce Commission will not only be fatal to the settlement proposed but be fatal to Mr. Ian Smith and his Administration, since it will show that they have no authority over the majority of the people in Rhodesia. I make that reference because of my own association not only with the African leaders in Rhodesia but with the white opposition reflected in Garfield Todd and his daughter. That is the only reference I am going to make to a particular area because I think the value of this book, as I have said, is that it relates the whole of Southern Africa as one problem.
As the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, indicated, and as other speakers have emphasised, this book raises the issue whether those who hold Christian ethics have the right to support what are termed the "freedom fighters" in Angola, Mozambique, and perhaps increasingly in South West Africa, South Africa and Rhodesia. Those who are pacifists, and in relation to this book those who are pacifist because of their Christian religion, are entitled to object, as indeed the book recognises, to any assistance to the freedom fighters. But if it be true that their object is to end apartheid, to end white domination, and the oppression of the great non-white majorities, then I do not know on what principle support for the freedom fighters can be withheld by others. When there is a struggle for liberty or justice or for self-government, and all means of carrying on that struggle are destroyed—all means by persuasion, constitutional methods, political activity—it has been accepted by classical political philosophy, in this country by Mill and 140 Burke, and in America by Jefferson and Lincoln, that people have the right to rebel, and have the right to use force if methods of persuasion are denied. That is the situation of those who are struggling against the present domination in Southern Africa.
I go on to say this because it is so often overlooked, though I was glad to hear my noble friend Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe emphasise it in her speech. Often, violence is interpreted as action by a rebel who commits violence or assassination. Violence is rarely equated with the system which leads him to such acts. The major violence in Southern Africa to-day is not the violence of the freedom fighters; it is the organised violence by the Governments and Administrations themselves. If you have a system of government which maintains a society so that, in the case of a single man in Johannesburg, he has to live in compounds for two years separated from his family; which means that even married workers and their families have a wage which, while it may just satisfy physical needs, never allows the mind or the spirit to develop; which means that freedom of movement is denied and that there is an elaborate system of passes entailing over 1,000 people being sent to prison every week; which means a system of detention without trial, and ill-treatment (to use the phrase of Mr. Compton) and torture, so that 21 deaths have occurred in prison, even if some of them are by the prisoner's own hand—then that system is the incarnation of violence. It is violence, and it is the dominant and powerful and continuing violence which is to be condemned much more than the violence of the freedom fighters. This has to be in our minds.
Yet, my Lords, I want to say this: quite literally I have nightmares. I wake up in the night thinking about the appalling consequences of a racial war in Southern Africa: the destruction of white lives, the massacre of non-white lives, the hatred that would be aroused. As I fear that, I think of other cases in history. I think, for instance, of the partition of India and Pakistan, when more were killed in the massacre that followed than were killed in Europe during the world war itself. I think of the overthrow of Sukarno in Indonesia, and of the thousands of his supporters who were 141 massacred. I think of the recent events in Bangladesh, with the massacre of its people. With those precedents in our minds, can we begin to think of a solution to the problem in Southern Africa, with this absolute power of domination by the white races over the non-white races, without realising that if it is not found by political means and by other pressures, the massacre there will inevitably be as terrible as those to which I have referred?
Therefore we must consider whether there is any other method by which the change can be made in Southern Africa than by this mass violence which we fear. There is just a chink of hope—just a chink—at the present time. In the first place, the leader of the Zulu people, to whom the noble Baroness referred, may become the voice of the people of Africa. I met him here and I know his record since. It may even be that out of the wretched system of Bantustans, based on the idea of the segregation of races, there may come a contribution towards the settlement, because the leader of the Zulus now becomes the head of the Zulu Bantustan. Then there is this marvellous story of the Obivedos in South West Africa. Oh! their heroism, their spirit, their solidarity! Their tribe used to be the pet tribe; it used to be the contented tribe. Now they are leading in the revolt, and what is happening in South West Africa has led to concessions by the South African Government, which again indicates some change.
There is a change in a sphere in which I am tremendously interested. I was speaking to the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield, just a few minutes ago, and he referred to the change in the sphere of sport. Sport—Rugby, cricket, athletics—is almost the religion of the white people of South Africa. It is largely my own religion—or my own escapism—and a change is taking place there. It is inadequate in that still white and nonwhite teams are divided as they play on their local grounds; but in international competitions they are allowed to play together. That is a change which I do not think any of us would have expected two or three years ago. There is the attitude of the students—bless them! In white universities, as well as in the nonwhite universities, they are opposing the discrimantion of apartheid. There is the attitude of the English-origin industrialists, 142 which may also become important. They are now insisting that the nonwhite workers shall have the opportunity of promotion to higher skills and higher wages. There is the attitude of the Churches—all except the Dutch Reform Church. The attitude of the Churches makes, me feel that the Christian ethic (though I do not accept Church theology) still has some validity. All these tendencies in South Africa indicate that there may be within white South Africa a fifth column which would be prepared to identify itself with the African peoples in their struggle.
I say to my noble friend Lord Walston, and to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, that I do not believe the proposals which they made at the end of their speeches will be enough to prevent a physical conflict in Southern Africa. All these reforms and efforts at persuasion are admirable, but what is the real position in Southern Africa which we are failing to recognise? It is this: the power in South Africa of the apartheid forces is based on its capitalist society; it is based on its industry; it is based on British and American investments. That is the structure; within that structure apartheid rules, and the African is not allowed to have any skilled job. He is kept down the whole time. In this House, even from the Front Bench of a Government who rejoice in being defenders of the capitalist system, we hear criticism of apartheid; yet they will take no action against the industrial structure which is the power structure within South Africa and which is kept in being by British investments and American investments. It will only be when one has a policy which is making a fundamental attack, with the hope of success, upon the main structure that you will be able to avoid the massacre in civil war which I have described.
I believe that that policy is possible, but unlikely because I do not believe that either American or British Governments are going to place their opposition to apartheid before the profits from investments in the industries of South Africa and Rhodesia. If you had Governments prepared to do that, then I believe it would be possible for the United Nations to have such a system of boycott of Southern Africa in every way—economic sanctions, air, telecommunications, 143 post; utter isolation—that you should be able to bring down the white dominant régimes. It has failed in the case of Southern Rhodesia because South Africa and Portugese territories were open for the coming of goods. But if you regard Southern Africa as a whole and you apply your naval boycott as well as your boycott on land, there is no means, no neighbouring country, which would enable Southern Africa to be saved in this situation. It is a drastic proposal, but if you are going to avoid massacre and bloodshed there in a racial war it is only by that kind of drastic proposal that you will solve this position.
I just say this in conclusion, and I am very glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, has entered at this moment because I wanted to make a comment upon her speech. She said—and it is a very frequent argument—that one ought not specially to take action against South Africa because many other countries have their oppressions as well, and if we began to boycott them all the world would be chaos. I sympathise with that argument, expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, who has just spoken, as well as by Lady Tweedsmuir. I place tremendous emphasis upon personal democratic liberties, and I appreciate that they are outraged not only in Southern Africa; tragically, they are outraged in many African countries which have their independence. They are outraged in the Soviet Union and in Communist countries. Against these outrages, I feel just as deeply as the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, or the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, can possibly do. Indeed, I have spent a good deal of my life fighting for personal liberties.
But we must have a sense of history, and in a sense of history the consensus of world moral opinion advances from one stage to another. In modern times it began with slavery. After years of agitation, world moral opinion took the view that slavery was impossible and it was ended from one area and another. We have now reached a stage where world moral opinion regards the rule of a people by an alien people against their will as something wrong, as something which should not be tolerated in world society. We have advanced from the consensus on slavery to the consensus 144 which is opposed to colonialism. In the last two or three years we have advanced a stage further; we have advanced to moral consensus of opinion against racial inequality and discrimination. There is now a world morality which takes the view that unequal treatment on the grounds of colour or race or religion is wrong. That is our world morality, and because of it the world is justified in taking action against the small area which defies human equality. I hope that the day will come when moral consensus will also proceed historically to denounce personal persecution wherever it occurs. That day will come when we have carried through the morality consensus of to-day. We will move by education to a moral consensus to-morrow which will make us as eager to act for personal democratic liberty as we are now to act against colonialism and racialism.
My Lords, I have spoken longer than I intended. I have tried to deal with what I regard as the fundamentals of this issue. I again thank the noble Lord. Lord Walston, for introducing this Motion and the Church for contributing this book. It means that we are going to discuss these deep issues with greater thoroughness and in a more comprehensive way than we have ever done before.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, I break a long silence in your Lordships' House, and I do so because I have, not a financial, but the strongest possible political interest in the subject of to-day which my noble friend, Lord Walston, has done so well to introduce. I am Chairman of the Committee for Freedom in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea, and the primary object of that Committee is to give all possible support—moral support, material support and political support—to the three liberation movements which have actually been fighting with us since the early 1960s against the Portugese forces: the M.P.L.A., the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola; Frelimo, the Mozambique liberation front, and the P.A.I.G.C., the African Independence Party for Guinea and Cape Verde. It is only proper that I should state right why it is my unshakable belief that it is not only in the interests of humanity but in the interests of this country that Members 145 of this House and this Government should give their full support to that struggle.
The book that we have been discussing is entitled Violence in Southern Africa, and violence, as has been said, is a somewhat emotive and loaded word; it is normally used to describe a resort to force of which we disapprove. It often implies an irresponsible and uncontrolled shedding of blood. It is a suitable word, as the authors of the book rightly point out, to describe the repressive brutality of the ruling élites in Southern Africa. Those who have talked of violence by Africans have tended to depict—and perhaps, looking to the future, with some justification—a horrendous cataclysm which is to erupt. In that context it is only right to pause to discover what in fact is happening in these three little known and under-reported wars in Portuguese Africa. One discovers that a guerrilla struggle under responsible leadership is not just the only alternative to serfdom and oppression; the guerrilla struggle can provide, and is providing, in Mozambique and Angola and in West Africa in Guinea, the first opportunity which the people of those areas have had to build their own society and to control their own destiny. That is a goal to which I believe all of us in this House subscribe.
The book reminds us, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Walston, pointed out, that in the conflict which is to come and in the conflict which is already happening we can none of us he neutral and none of us be unconcerned. In many countries there is repression, dictatorship, brutality. But let us not mince words about the uniquely disgusting nature of repression in Southern Africa. A group of privileged minorities of one race have arrogated to themselves the right to rule over and exploit the majority of another race. They justify their position on racialist grounds; they rule by force, and they have no intention of giving up. In South Africa, as has been eloquently stated, these propositions are perhaps self-evident. In Rhodesia the true intentions of the Smith réegime are perhaps becoming daily more evident, even to the most naïve and most sincere supporter of the proposed settlement.
As to Angola and Mozambique, the Portuguese have tended to peddle a myth; a myth that their rule is somehow 146 enlightened, benevolent and non-racial, and that is a myth which has to he exposed. One can take an example from the days of slavery. No doubt there were some owners of slaves who made their slaves work by beating them with a stick, and no doubt there were others who made them work by a certain affection and a certain familiarity; but the nature of the condition of slavery remained the same, and the means used to beat back any recalcitrant slave were the same. So it is in Southern Africa.
It is true that the Portuguese do not segregate, and to a certain extent they fraternise so long as the African is prepared to accept docilely a subservient position. But their determination to hold power as a white Government over a black country is as zealous as that of any South African nationalist. The figures and facts speak for themselves. What hypocrisy to speak about a civilising mission when, after hundreds of years of so-called civilising, less than one per cent. of the African population are considered worthy to become citizens! What nonsense to talk about equality, when a white unskilled industrial worker earns twenty times that of a black unskilled industrial worker! Not only do the figures speak for themselves, but the Portuguese rulers themselves speak. The Commander in Chief of the Portuguese Forces in Mozambique—and a man who, one gathers, has ambitions for political office—is General Kaulza de Arriaga, and in a series of lectures entitled "The Portuguese Strategic Problem" he had this to say about his ideas about the races:If we move from North to South, it appears that latitude has a certain influence on the races. We see the Nordic peoples, highly developed, capable of a most enlightened public opinion. Then it is our turn, the Latins, already much less enlightened. Then we move to the Arabs, much worse than us, and we end up with the blacks. There is no doubt that the black race has inferior characteristics to the white race, just as we, the Latins, have certain inferior characteristics to the Nordic peoples.After peddling this claptrap, he goes on to talk of policy in Africa, and he says:We shall not be able to maintain white rule in Angola and Mozambique, which is a national objective, unless the settlement of whites takes place at a rate which matches and at least slightly exceeds the birth rate of educated blacks. If the opposite happens, and the rate of settlement is exceeded by the birth rate of educated blacks, then one 147 of two fatal things will happen either we shall install apartheid, which would be terrible and unacceptable, or we shall have black Governments.This supposed multi-racialism of the Portuguese colonialist is at best a kind of arrogant paternalism. It masks a grasping determination to deny the human rights and the human dignity of the African, and to deny them because he is black.
In the context of this debate, and as evidence of the reality of the situation in the Portuguese Colonies, it is perhaps worth recalling the courageous stand taken by the White Fathers, a senior and much respected missionary Order, when they left Mozambique last year. They left because their position, regarded as it inevitably was as one of collaboration with the colonial régime, offended against the basic principles of their faith. The regional Superior of their Order in Mozambique, Father Cesar Bertulli, had this to say:There exists in Mozambique a situation of injustice in which the Africans, who are unilaterally declared 'Portuguese' without any previous consultation, cannot exercise their fundamental human rights as regards their freedom, self-determination, development of their language and their culture.The régime maintains this situation of injustice through total control of the means of communication, illegal scrutiny of private correspondence, indiscriminate raids, illegal and prolonged detentions, threats and torture adopted as a system by government in order to frighten all those who do not accept this official policy,…If one has come to recognise the right of the people of Southern Africa to take up arms, one must ask the next question: what form will their struggle take? The form, of course, will very according to the conditions. The people of the underpopulated wilderness[...] of Mozambique and Angloa have opportunities denied to the urbanised [...] of South Africa. In a sense they are the lucky ones. In view of what has been said, and I think said in a rather facile way, about evil begetting evil and violence therefore being unacceptable, in making such pronouncements we must study very carefully the principles, methods, and achievements of the liberation movements. First, they are not fighting against whites as whites; they are fighting the Portuguese armed forces and those who directly assist them. Secondly, they are 148 not using violence indiscriminately and for its own sake. That is a charge which can with greater justification be levelled against the Portuguese Air Force, which bombs the civilian populations of the liberated areas with napalm, and in Angola ruins or seeks to ruin their crops with herbicides and defoliants.
Thirdly, and perhaps most important, the guerrilla war is only a subordinate part of the greater task: to transform and develop the lives of the people. Scattered over the vast areas of Northern Mozambique and Eastern Angola, and made possible by the liberation struggle, there are schools where before there were no schools; there are clinics where before there were none; there is a simple cooperative agricultural structure which allows people to grow crops to feed themselves and not enrich an absentee landlord, and above all a simple democratic system whereby, through village meetings, mass meetings and regional authorities—and, in the case of Guinea, perhaps the most developed, there will soon be popular elections—the people can work out their own future for their own good. Just consider what that means. No amount of bombing, no amount of intimidation, no amount of herding people into fortified villages, will deter them from building, for however long is necessary, on the foundations of freedom which they have already laid.
In the context of the future of this struggle, I wish to quote the words of the late Eduardo Mondlane, the former President of FRELIMO, who was assassinated nearly three years ago. He was a great man and I do not apologise for quoting him, and his great example has been carried on by his successors. Of the future he said this:Among the uneducated, authoritarian rule discourages initiative, a sense of personal responsibility, and breeds instead an attitude of non-cooperation with government; among the educated few, it encourages an élitism imitated from the elaborate hierarchy of colonial government. In the liberated areas, these are the sort of influences we have had to combat at the same time as campaigning against traditional problems such as tribalism, superstition and the general low level of political and economic understanding. The urgency produced by war conditions has forced us to recognise these problems very early and shown us the enormous importance of political education. As a result, attitudes are beginning to change in the liberated areas. There are still local divisions, misunderstandings, some 149 corruption, and a great deal of sheer inefficiency; but these are decreasing. People are beginning to realise that their future is now in their own hands. This is why we can view the long war ahead of us with reasonable calm. If the Portuguese government were to hand over Mozambique to-morrow, this work would still have to be begun in all the rest of the country; if they hang on for another five years, another ten, or more, it wilt have gone much further.This is perhaps the answer to those who ask: "How can we expect a Government obtained by violence to be any better than that which preceded it?"
At this stage, I should like very briefly to answer one or two points which the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, made. In our attitude to what is going on in South Africa, of course it is not for us to preach to them what they should or should not do. But, equally, when they have taken their decision, and taken it in great numbers, and are implementing it with great determination, it is also not for us to take a holier than thou attitude, when we ourselves unhesitatingly resort to the use of force if our own freedoms are threatened. At one part of her speech, the noble Baroness was driven back to a strange argument that, whatever we feel, we should not support the liberation movements because they are not going to succeed. Quite apart from the logic of that argument, I do not think that the situation which has emerged over the last 10 years, where 170,000 Portuguese soldiers are being held down in Africa; where, for instance, in the province of Tete in Mozambique, the province in which the Cabora Bassa Dam is to be built, 20,000 troops are being held down after a campaign of only three years; where civil programmes, educational programmes, within areas controlled by liberation forces are going ahead apace, can be called failure, however long the ultimate success will take. I suggest to the noble Baroness and her colleagues in Government, that in assessing the situation they look rather further than Portuguese communiqués stating, year by year, that the guerrilla bases have been almost finally wiped out and exterminated; communiqués which have lost all credibility.
In this debate many noble sentiments have been expressed by noble Lords, but we must take care not to be too complacent about the situation in which we find ourselves. Let us have no illusions 150 about where our representatives, our Government, are aligned in this conflict. They are aligned, whether they accept it or not, fairly and squarely on the side of racialism. We supply arms to South Africa, or offer to do so, and our first proposed deal is with helicopters, one of the basic essential weapons in anti-guerrilla war. We seek to abdicate our responsibility to the majority of people in Rhodesia. Through our alliance in NATO, we allow the Portuguese to obtain arms, to obtain training for their troops, to obtain bases for the defence of their own metropolitan country, and, far from protesting at it, we appear increasingly to be supporting their position. We boost the South African economy with our trade and our investment, and we are doing our best to expand into South-West Africa, Angola and Mozambique. Without our backing, and the backing of other Western Powers, the position of Portugal —a poor backward country in itself—would be untenable. Without our support and backing, the South Africans would be isolated.
Almost all Members of the House who have spoken have posed the question: what are we to do? May I suggest that the first thing we must do is, for Heaven's sake!, to try to come to art understanding of the problem, to try to learn, and to try to discover the truth. In November of last year, Mr. Amilcar Cabral—perhaps the greatest revolutionary leader in Africa today—was in London, and I wrote to the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, suggesting that I should come with Mr. Cabral to a meeting. The reply that I received from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Anthony Royle, was this:Peter Lothian would not be prepared to see your committee in connection with Mr. Amilcar Cabral's visit. You will, I am sure, understand that this would be inappropriate since Mr. Cabral is committed to violence against a government with whom we have friendly relations.My Lords, I do not understand it. I find it a despicable attitude; a head in the sand attitude. How can you formulate policy and understand these issues if you refuse even to listen to the other side? Perhaps it is one of the services which my noble friend Lord Walston will have rendered, that he has forced us to examine these issues and to listen.
151 Secondly, in addition to understanding, we must use our position within the NATO alliance. Even on military grounds, I should hardly think that Portugal, with her resources drained to fight colonial wars, is playing her part in the defence of Europe; and on political grounds she is flouting the fundamental principles which NATO is supposed to be defending. The liberation movements do not ask us to expel Portugal from the NATO alliance. They ask us to use that alliance as an instrument for good and not as an instrument for harm.
Thirdly, let us stop our investment in South Africa. Since the Conservative Government came to power, the Portuguese have been wooing trade delegations to Angola and Mozambique, and several have been and returned. No doubt they were offered very attractive conditions—cheap labour, a vast mineral potential; favourable incentives, I am sure of that, because Portugal, hitherto having neglected the development of the colonies, is now trying to achieve by industrial expansion what they are failing to achieve by armed force: as the right reverend Prelate put it, the perpetual subjugation of the African people. The most conspicuous example of this effort is the Cabora Bassa Dam—a vast project intended to be the basis of much greater industrial development and situated at the very frontier of the advance of FRELIMO. I would ask businessmen who may read the Report of this debate: Do you want to be, is it sound business to be, in the firing line of the conflict between black and white in Southern Africa?
Finally, my Lords, we must turn away from condoning or supporting racialism, and give direct support to the liberation movements in Angola and Mozambique now, and inevitably—because it is going to happen—in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa as they take root and prosper to-morrow. The lead has been given by the Governments of Sweden and Holland and, above all, by the World Council of Churches. The lead has been followed by the Labour Party, and not just with empty words but with concrete financial aid. The lead has been followed by the Joseph Rowntree Social Service 152 Trust, with its major contribution of funds both to the Mozambique Institute and to the humanitarian programmes of the P.A.I.G.C. in Guinea. It has not yet been followed, in a united way at least, by the British Churches, and I hope that this debate will serve to speed up that process. And, of course, it has not been followed—indeed, it has been rejected—by our own Government.
I believe that in my lifetime—and in the lifetime, I hope, of many others in this House—with or without our help, the people of Southern Africa will win their liberation. Without our help, the struggle will be long drawn out, and it will be bloody. With our help, the armies of white supremacy will crumble much more easily. It is for us to decide on which side we stand.
§ 7.21 p.m.
LORD ST. JUST
My Lords, I am very glad that I changed places in the list of speakers with the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, because I thought that he gave us a very measured and clear speech on a country that he knows exceedingly well. I have been fascinated listening to this debate from the start to what is now near the end. It has gone through various stages, and I must say that I have been slightly surprised about one thing. It may be that various noble Lords will say I am exceedingly naïve about Africa, although I have studied it over a certain number of years and I have many friends out there. But what has surprised me is that little has been said in the debate about the question of the Churches in South Africa. Though the Dutch Reform Church is Calvinistic, is entrenched, I think that it does have various sides to its work; and although I do not think there is a hope at present of getting through to the Dutch Reform Church in any form, I believe that in time that may be possible. After all, what has not been mentioned during this debate to-day, so far as I have heard, is the division among the Europeans of Africa. We have heard that it is the African against the white, or the native against the white. But, my Lords, a great many people in South Africa do not approve of or believe in apartheid, any more than we do here. They fought hard against it, and they are being made utterly miserable by what is going on at the present time.
153 I still believe that one must not be utterly negative on this matter, and turn away saying, "We have to leave it entirely to the freedom fighters, and the only hope is an uprising"—and, I believe, a blood bath such as has never been seen before. Let us still have a little patience and try to steer our thoughts towards what can possibly be done with what is, after all, a political branch of the white South Africans, or the Europeans in South Africa. I know that it is not very strong against the Nationalists, but it is there. They are deeply disturbed by this complete movement of the races of Africa. I mean, you cannot get the Afrikaner—and I am sure that a number of your Lordships know many of them—to see any sense at all. His emotional approach is one of such mistrust and fear of the African, through his superiority in numbers, that he cannot believe that at the present time there is any way of being able to work in harmony with him. This, I believe, is the difficulty. But I believe that the solution to this may in time be found.
I do not think one should dismiss the Transkei operation which is going on. I know that it is easy to criticise. People have said to me—and it is totally untrue —that they have been given the worst land of Africa. Transkei is some of the finest land in Africa. We all know that they still have a great many Europeans or Afrikaners in charge in Transkei. As I say, I may be naéve, but I really do believe that they wish in time to hand this over to the Africans. One of the reasons why I say this (I may be wrong) is that when I was out there after the war—and I was there for some six months—I was deeply impressed by a good many of the Afrikaner farmers whom I knew and who seemed to have an incredible understanding of the African mind. This has changed a great deal, I know, but the fact is that that basis is still there. I remember talking on one occasion to a Zulu. We were just talking about farms, and I said, "Do you like working under a European or English farmer?"—of whom, of course, there were quite a number in Natal. He said, "Yes; they are very kind". When I asked him, "What about the Afrikaners?", he replied, "They are harder than the English, but they understand us; they are part of Africa ". To 154 me, this was most interesting. There is this situation which exists in Southern Africa, where the African, though he dislikes the position intensely in many ways, has accepted the Afrikaner. He accepts the Afrikaner: he does not accept the European. The English (and I believe that this has always been one of the difficulties that has existed in Africa) have been the people who have gone out there to make money and have then left. I do not pretend to understand the African mind, but I happen to have talked to a certain number of people in South Africa, mostly Zulus, for whom I have the deepest admiration, and I find their outlook on this exceedingly interesting.
My Lords, this has been a long debate, and everything that can be said, I think, has been said. My final words would be: do not let us give up hope. Apartheid is the most ghastly thing, and the most terrible tragedies are happening in Africa at the present time—this movement of races, the Bantu, and so on; the Cape Coloureds, and the inability to work. All this is absolutely ghastly, yet even to-day there are people in South Africa who are working against this and who are trying to get through to the Afrikaner's mind; and it is doing this that is the problem.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, we are discussing to-day an area which contains 35 million people, 85 per cent. of whom are non-whites; in other words. 31 million people who are ruled by white minorities, with little or no say whatever in the government, and subject to treatment which amounts to a denial of elementary human rights. Both my noble friend Lord Walston and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham set out very clearly the restrictions under which these 31 million Africans live—and live in their own country—and therefore I do not propose to burden your Lordships with a further recital of those restrictions. What I imagine we are mainly concerned about is the violence which is taking place on both sides in that area. Happily— I say happily—we are living at a time when the world is questioning injustice and corruption. In the richer countries—and I think of America, Europe and the United Kingdom—it is the young who are questioning our standards, our 155 attitudes and our values. In the poorer countries it is mainly a few educated people who are doing this.
Thinking people, and those with a sense of responsibility for those less fortunately placed, whether they are black or white, do not like what they see and hear, and are coming to the conclusion, as have those millions of non-whites in Southern Africa, that the process of gradual reform is so imperceptible that it has failed, and that only violent action can bring about a change. I must confess that it is a feeling which I understand and which—and I make no apology for it—I share. History gives very little place to non-violence. In fact, I am almost tempted to say that very little that has been worth while has been achieved by non-violence. I would ask your Lordships to remember that years and years of non-violence have brought the African people nothing for their comfort. It has brought them only fewer rights and more repressive legislation.
I understand the difficulty of the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir in speaking for the Government. I found some of her comments disappointing, particularly the one about the Freedom Fighters being misguided. As I say, history records time and time again that the price of freedom is high. The noble Baroness is, however, right when she says that we must not overlook the importance of discussion. I think I am quoting her correctly when I say that she spoke of "discussion" and "peaceful persuasion and exposure". I do not say this unkindly or in any sense of criticism; but I wonder how much "discussion, persuasion and exposure" this Government have undertaken with Governments in Southern Africa about their treatment of the Africans. I share all that was said by my noble friend Lord Gifford in his criticism of this Government, because I believe that there are racial overtones as far as this Government are concerned. I do not believe that they have done as much as we have a right to expect of them in the field of discussion, persuasion and exposure.
I think that we should do well to thank the Christian Churches, particularly in South Africa, for the stand that they have taken on behalf of the helpless millions of Africans. It is so easy for 156 those of us in this Chamber to feel strongly about things which are happening thousands of miles away and to feel that because we have expressed ourselves, perhaps in strong terms, we have achieved something. At the end of the day, I venture to suggest, this debate will have achieved very little unless the Government become more determined than they are now or than they have been in the past to do what the noble Baroness herself has suggested: to expose what is happening in Southern Africa and to make it abundantly clear that this is not our concept of freedom and neither is it the way of life to which we subscribe.
Racial injustice and discrimination produce a deep resentment and hostility. Injustice is the cause of violence and men are being driven by their consciences to violence. I am not suggesting that violence is the answer. Violence begets violence. If we want to prevent it, I believe that we must examine carefully the wants and needs of the people of Southern Africa; we must identify ourselves with them and try to understand their plight. It does not help merely to condemn violence; we have to recognise the injustice and discrimination to which they are subjected and endeavour to bring about fundamental changes. Only the Government of the day can do that.
We in Britain are deeply involved; we are morally and, I believe, legally responsible for what has happened and is happening at the present moment in Rhodesia and for what will happen if the current proposals for a settlement are accepted. We have an historic involvement in South Africa. Our trading and current financial state there are such that we should be able to exert much more influence on the South African Government than we have so far exerted with regard to what is happening there. This we can do if we sincerely believe that what they are doing is wrong. It should not be left to a committee of the World Council of Churches to be our conscience. I believe that the Government should be bolder in their condemnation of what is occurring in Southern Africa at the present moment.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I had understood that the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, was to be the 157 final speaker, but he seems to have left us. Therefore it is now my responsibility to try to make some comments on what I think all noble Lords will agree has been a most fascinating and interesting debate. I should like first to refer to the questions raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, and in particular to the questions concerning Rhodesia. I think that she and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, were the only speakers to ask specific questions on this subject. Both the noble Baroness and Lord Brockway asked, first: does Mr. Smith really want a settlement? We have no reason to suppose that the Pearce Commission is not being received in good faith and that there is not a very genuine wish to get a settlement.
The second question referred to Sir Dingle Foot. Of course we regret very much that his entry was refused. In fact, his colleague Mr. Sheridan is now going in his place. The fact remains that however we may seek to persuade from this country, Rhodesia has had control of immigration there, not only since U.D.I. but since 1923. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, in particular, asked about either a Labour Party or an all-Party delegation to Rhodesia at this time. I have passed on his comments about the possibility that Members of this House might be included. The latest news I have is that all these matters are being considered through the usual channels. The noble Baroness asked whether the Government are quite firm that they intend to keep sanctions. We have made that perfectly clear in the White Paper. If a settlement is arrived at—and we have every hope that in the end it will be, despite all the fuss and bother at the moment, because we believe that it is in the interests of all Rhodesians and of this country—the White Paper makes it clear that it will be necessary for the Rhodesian Government to introduce certain legislation. Only when we are satisfied that that has been done, shall we commend to the House the termination of sanctions or of other economic measures.
The noble Baroness Lady Llewelyn-Davies was, I felt, quite right in referring to the question of the Dean of Johannesburg. I think that it is just this kind of debate in this House that gives us the opportunity to express a view—one 158 shared, I am glad to say, by all Parties in the House—regarding the treatment of the Dean of Johannesburg. Of course the laws which a Government enact are entirely a matter for them as an independent self-governing territory. But I think it right that we should express indignation at the treatment of a man who has in no way resorted to violence, or to the threat of violence, and I am very glad to have this opportunity to say so; although I do not think that I can say any more in detail now because his case is to be heard shortly on appeal.
The noble Baroness also referred to the question of arms for South Africa and she was joined in an "unholy alliance", if I may say so, with my noble friend Lord Vernon, who also felt that perhaps we were being unwise over the whole question of arms for South Africa. But, as I think the House knows very well, as a trading nation it is of immense importance to us to keep the freedom of the sea, and not least the important routes round the Cape because they carry a quarter, by value, of our total seaborne trade, including at present more than half of our total oil supplies. For these reasons we made clear that we would be prepared to consider applications for the export to South Africa, in the context of the Simonstown Agreement, of certain limited categories of arms for maritime defence only, directly related to the security of those routes. To bring everything up to date I would say to the House that we have in fact entered into no further commitments since authorising the supply of seven Wasp helicopters in February of last year.
The noble Baroness asked about the Mandate in South-West Africa. This is a highly technical and legal question which I have tried my best to study. As the House knows, on June 19 the International Court of Justice gave an Advisory Opinion which Her Majesty's Government do not accept because we consider that the Mandate bestowed by the League of Nations on South Africa after the First World War still remains in force; and that, consequently, the obligations then assumed by South Africa likewise apply. We of course agree only too much that the South African Government, by introducing the dreadful practice of apartheid into that territory, 159 have not measured up to their responsibilities under the mandate, because they were given the responsibility "to promote the moral and material welfare of the people of the territory". We certainly believe that the people have an undisputed right to self-determination as a whole. That is why Sir Colin Crowe, our representative at the United Nations, in his speech on the subject of the Advisory Opinion on the Mandate, suggested that we should try to reach a solution through the United Nations, with possibly a visit by the Secretary General.
My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, is not in the Chamber. If I may say so, I always enjoy immensely the delivery of his speeches. To be able to deliver a speech in this House without a single note and to do so in a very fine speaking voice, with great conviction and persuasion, is something that we can all admire and enjoy. I could not, of course, entirely accept his arguments because he said quite clearly, as he has often done before, that he is by nature a pacifist. But I would agree with him that we should do everything we can to try to work, as we are doing, to achieve some measure of disarmament through the usual international United Nations sources. I agree with the noble Lord, and with the words he used, that this question, which has been posed to us by the book Violence in Southern Africa is a complex and a tortuous difficulty. He said he did not think that violence was either morally, practically or intellectually possible, and with that I am glad to say I very much agree.
My noble friend Lord Vernon spoke with great knowledge on the question of the Cape Coloureds, and I feel that I have been fortunate in being able to try to learn something of their problems while in the Cape at the time. As I understand it, the whole question of the elimination of the coloured communities' political rights has provoked a considerable storm within the Nationalist Party itself, and in particular among the younger intellectuals. This is quite apart from the fact that the coloured community itself is very embittered about this treatment. I understand that the idea of Colourstans as opposed to Bantustans is being mooted by individual members of the South African Government. This 160 idea has not yet developed in any detail, but it shows—this was brought out by my noble friend Lord St. Just—that there is a great divergence of opinion within the Nationalist Government and a genuine wish among the younger element in particular to try to produce some change.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol spoke to us about the special fund which the World Council of Churches is giving to the liberation movements. I can only regret that this is being done, for the reasons that I gave in my earlier speech and which I do not wish to repeat, but I thought that the right reverend Prelate put the pros and cons to the House very fairly. The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, said she thought, to quote her, that my words were "too soft". I hope that the noble Baroness will read my first speech tomorrow, if she has the strength to read the report of a speech to which she has listened, and then perhaps she will agree that I was not at all soft, but very much the reverse, in my condemnation of the practices in the five territories which are under discussion to-day. Just because I did not advocate violence for their solution does not mean that I approve of them in any way. The noble Baroness asked specifically for an answer to a question. She asked what greater tyranny is there than apartheid? Without wishing to offend many countries in the world. I could think of various answers, but I would say briefly that I should prefer not to be in a labour camp in Siberia.
My Lords, if I may say so, I thought that my noble friend Lord Hastings brought to the debate a balance which it was perhaps very necessary to provide. When we consider the difficulties confronting some of the African territories under discussion we are perhaps inclined sometimes to give the impression that all is bad, that nothing good is ever happening and that the colonial or imperial system, as the noble Lord called it, never achieved any good. In this connection I should like to do something which was asked of me by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford, who was unable to take part in the debate. He said he hoped that I would take the opportunity to pay tribute to all those members of the clergy, those who work in medicine and social work throughout Africa and 161 notably in South Africa, for all that they do in all the difficulties confronting them, with apartheid and many other problems. The right reverend Prelate felt that the impression should not be given that this House, remote as we are from that great Continent, did not appreciate the great and devoted work which they undertake.
The noble Lord, Lord Gifford, was good enough to send me a pamphlet called War on Three Fronts. He asked me to read it, which I did with great care. I do not agree with its conclusions but I found it very interesting. I hope I did what he would like me to do: try to understand the feelings behind these movements. The noble Lord spoke with great enthusiasm and with conviction, and that is always good to hear in this House, even if one does not agree with all the premises of a speech. He spoke in particular against Portugal, against her colonial empire, and said he thought it a great mistake that we should encourage any kind of investment or help to Portugal. First, on the question of arms to Portugal, I would point out that successive Governments since 1961 have given arms to Portugal only in the context of her being an ally within NATO, as I think was recognised by the noble Lord. I cannot understand the great objection to the Cabora Bassa Dam, because it is going to bring to Mozambique a great deal of help in irrigation and electrical power which is going to be carried down to South Africa and which in its own way will help the black South Africans as well as the white South Africans. It seems to me that to support FRELIMO in trying to do everything to oppose the building of the dam is going to impoverish that part of the Portuguese overseas territories, instead of making it possible for the people who live there under present conditions to have at any rate a better form of life. Therefore, I cannot accept the premises of the noble Lord, Lord Gifford.
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, on the question of the dam, on which I touched briefly, does not the noble Baroness agree that if the Portuguese Government carries out its expressed intention of settling one million people in the enlarged area to be developed around the dam, that is going substantially to put back the hopes of freedom and self-determination in Mozambique?
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I cannot accept that, because when we look at the great dams of the world we see that they have always brought many and wider possibilities of better livelihood with them, and the placing of Portuguese settlers would mean that far more work and possibilities for advancement would be given to those who are living there, while if everything is destroyed by the FRELIMO they will have nothing left to hope for.
The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said he thought that we ought constantly to expose the problems which exist in apartheid and in many other ways in South Africa. This we do all the time—indeed, that is the purpose of this debate—but I hope that we should expose it in the right balance, because if we overdo it, if we give the impression that everything is completely bad all the time and people have no form of ordinary life whatsoever, that is obviously not true. I think we add greater strength to our case when we point out where things go wrong and do our best to persuade on the facts of the case.
I would finish—because I feel that your Lordships have had quite enough of my speaking to-day—by saying this. While one can understand the deeply difficult choice for the individual posed by this book Violence in Southern Africa —and it may seem right to some that the answer should be a violent one—there is one feature that is an overriding requirement in Southern Africa: that is, the importance of the rule of law. And it is not only in Africa that violence is seen and used. In many parts of the world lives are being taken, often of the innocent and the uninvolved. Force in itself is so terrible a weapon and its consequences are so unpredictable that I do not believe we can condone those who take the law into their own hands. Many Governments have come to power on the back of armed rebellion and have found, to their cost, either that the steed which they rode successfully can also be ridden successfully by others or that it is impossible to still it.
Of course, as we have all said, there are people living under intolerable conditions of social injustice. Of course, they feel, as the years go on without much measurable change, that physical action is 163 all that is left. And if in such circumstances violence in the end erupts, then the blame cannot rest only with those who seek redress in force, because repression is in itself an incitement to violence and therefore a threat to stability and to the rule of law. That is why I think that this House as a whole has a duty to expose social injustice, whether people are suffering under Communism or suffering under apartheid or suffering under any of the creeds which do not square with the practices of true democracy. On behalf of Her Majesty's Government, I should like to say that we wish to see change in Southern Africa. We want the peoples of those countries to share in human rights. But in Southern Africa, as elsewhere, we cannot ever back the use of violence in the pursuit of political aims.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, there is much I should like to say but I do not think it would be the wish of your Lordships that I should say it and I will confine myself to a few remarks. In the first place, with all sincerity I thank all noble Lords who took part in this debate. It has been, as one would expect, a debate of the highest standard and I think that we can read it in future with interest. In particular, may I thank those noble Lords who are not usually speakers here but who have come along and given us of their experience and wisdom. It is good to hear new voices among us. Also, if I may do so without embarrassment, I should particularly like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, for so nobly taking on a task which has been forced upon her due to exigencies of the service. She has performed it in a most admirable way, as one would expect. Clearly, she has given a great deal of thought to this problem and has studied it very closely. But, having said that, may I voice one criticism, not of the noble Baroness but of the attitude of Her Majesty's Government.
The whole tenor of the speech of the noble Baroness has been that it might he unwise to do certain things, that it would be unwise not to sell arms to South Africa. She also emphasised the legality of the South African Government and of their actions. Of course law must be 164 looked on with respect; but law must also be looked on critically, and if the law is unjust, is it for us to say that people must submit themselves to that unjust law? This is one of the basic problems we have to face as a Christian society and a Christian Government. We are not purely legalistic automatons who, because something has been passed on to the Statute Book of another country, automatically accept it and refuse to do anything to alter it or to support those who wish to alter it.
The problem facing us and which we must face up to, is not whether it is unwise to sell arms to South Africa or foolish to think of certain things because the chances of success are slight, but whether it is right to do it, whether it is good to do it, whether it is consistent with the moral values that we preach and that with varying degrees of success we try to practise. That is what we must think about, not only at home but also with regard to South Africa. The second point I should like to make is that in this book, as I understand it, there is no advocacy of violence. I certainly have not advocated violence myself. I abhor violence and I believe that the writers of this book do, also. The point is that when people of their own volition feel that violence is the only way to right an injustice, we have to decide what attitude we then take to them. That is the problem and that is very different from actual advocacy of violence.
The third point I would take up is something said by my noble friend Lord Wells-Pestell. He said that at the end of the day this debate will have achieved very little. It depends on the day that ends. If he means that when the day ends will there be a change of Government policy or of attitude on the part of any single person with influence in South Africa, of course he is right. It will have achieved nothing. But what I hope it will have achieved is that when a much later day ends it will have caused men of good will, and women of good will, who simply have not thought about things, to face the problems, and make the Government face the problems, as a moral issue and not one of expediency. If it has achieved that, even though the day does not end for another five years, we shall not have wasted our 165 time here this afternoon. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.