§ 2.44 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE)
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name on the Order Paper; namely—
That this House takes note of the Report of the Commission on Rhodesian Opinion, believes that it is right that there should be time for reflection on the implications of the Report and supports the Government in its desire to achieve a settlement within the Five Principles.
Your Lordships will note that an Amendment to this Motion stands on the Order Paper, together with an Amendment to the Amendment, and the House may perhaps find it convenient if, in dealing with the Motion, I refer to the substance of the Amendments. But I should like first if I may, to consider the situation we have now reached in this long history of Rhodesian affairs, a country of such great potential and familiar to so many of your Lordships.
My Lords, when we last held a debate on Rhodesia, in December, we considered proposals which could have provided a multi-racial solution in accordance with 224 the Five Principles. These proposals were subject to the test of acceptability conducted by the Pearce Commission. I should like to express the Government's appreciation of the way in which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, his Deputy Chairmen and his Commissioners completed a most difficult task. As we expected, they carried it out with integrity and determination. As noble Lords are aware, they concluded, first, that the great majority of those who gave their opinions to the Commission had a sufficient understanding of the content and implications of the proposals to pass judgment on them; second, that the proposals were acceptable to the majority of Europeans; third, that the majority of Africans rejected them. The Commission therefore concluded that the people of Rhodesia as a whole did not regard the proposals as acceptable as a basis for independence. In these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government have, as they said they would, accepted the verdict.
It is of course a grave check to Rhodesia's future. Successive Governments in this country have tried to find a compromise solution which would provide an acceptable basis for legal independence. The proposals were a compromise, and, as with any compromise, the terms were not ideal and did not wholly satisfy anyone. But, my Lords, when they are compared with the present situation, the advantages which they offered to the Africans were substantial. There would have been steady progress to majority rule, a blocking mechanism in the hands of Africans to prevent retrogressive amendment of the Constitution, a justiciable Declaration of Rights which would have prevented any increase in racial discrimination, and an independent Commission to examine present racial discrimination. This Commission would have made recommendations to the Rhodesians on ways in which they would carry out their declared intention of making progress towards ending discrimination. There would also have been the very substantial development programe, which would have provided better educational facility and greater opportunities of work for Africans. But, my Lords, all these improvements have been rejected; and I would therefore ask your Lordships to consider the reasons which Lord Pearce gives for this rejection.
225 Many who rejected the proposals did so because they hoped to get something better. But the overwhelming reason for rejection appears to have been that many Africans did not trust Mr. Smith to carry out his side of the bargain. But, of course, the choice lay between the present situation with Mr. Smith and a better situation, also with Mr. Smith. I think noble Lords will agree that there is no practical alternative to a settlement agreed with whoever is in power in Rhodesia if a solution is to be found at all. There is no doubt that the proposals which were negotiated last November represented the best terms that could in the circumstances have been obtained. They had been secured after long and detailed discussion and the Government used every ounce of influence available to them in these negotiations.
Since the publication of the Pearce Report, Mr. Smith has not modified, nor has he withdrawn, the proposals. But he has said that he would make no further concession. Therefore, noble Lords, none of us should underestimate the difficulties that confront us all. The Pearce Report has not solved any of these difficulties, but I suggest to your Lordships that it has been valuable in defining them. Anyone in Rhodesia who reads this document must reflect on the profound implications which it holds for Rhodesia's future. Your Lordships will have found in the Report a wide variety of views expressed by people of all races. But running through them all there appears to be one factor of immense importance. It is this: that there is still a real desire everywhere for a compromise solution. This is proved, on the one hand, by the overwhelming acceptance by the Europeans of terms which would have entailed eventual majority rule; and on the other, the fact that few Africans gave as their reason for rejecting the proposals a desire for immediate majority rule. That is why I suggest to the House that the search for a solution must go on. If in the end it fails, there can be little doubt that the only alternative will be a steady separation of the races, and in time such conflict as would have the most serious consequences for the whole of Africa.
My Lords, it is in the context of all Africa that this debate will be judged. That is why the Motion before the House 226 suggests that there should be time for reflection on the implications of the Pearce Report. My right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary believes most deeply that all races within Rhodesia must try to consider ways whereby they can somehow create greater confidence among each other: because without this confidence, no settlement within the five Principles, and acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole, will ever be possible.
The Amendment to the Motion recognises that time is really needed here. May I say how glad I am that the terms of the Amendment have been altered? I am pleased to say that Her Majesty's Government are willing to accept it. I therefore recommend to noble Lords throughout the House that if this Amendment is moved, it should be incorporated in the Motion. Her Majesty's Government must study ideas from any source which might help to resolve this most intractable problem. For ourselves, we do not consider the proposals sacrosanct, and, as I have said, certainly not perfect. But at present Mr. Smith has said that he will not improve upon them. I need hardly say that Her Majesty's Government are ready at any time to do what they can to help.
The last part of the Amendment urges Her Majesty's Government to continue to seek the co-operation, through the United Nations, of all other nations in an effort to make sanctions more effective. Both this Government and its predecessor have enforced sanctions rigorously. We have tendered close on 170 Notes to the United Nations Sanctions Committee, of which about 120 dealt with separate cases of suspected evasions of sanctions, on which we urged that Committee to take action. The result has been disappointing in the extreme. I suggest to this House that what is needed now is far more strict observance of sanctions by the international community. It is true that sanctions have not achieved their political purpose, which was a solution acceptable to all races within Rhodesia. But there is no doubt that they provided a major incentive for the Rhodesians to negotiate, primarily because of the lack of capital and investment due to the continuing uncertainty as to Rhodesia's future. That is why we are convinced that it is important now to maintain the 227 situation as it was before, while we allow time for considered thought in Rhodesia. No one can say how much time, but I should be surprised if any solution could emerge before the end of the year. But I should like to repeat what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said in another place: that if it becomes clear that sanctions have really failed in their purpose, or that the evasions are so widespread that sanctions no longer have any real effect, then we shall not hesitate to state both in Parliament and in the United Nations that a change in policy should be made.
I should like now, my Lords, to refer to the ideas behind the Amendment to be proposed by my noble friend Lord Coleraine. If ha will not mind my saying so, I very much hope that after hearing this debate, with so many speakers, he will perhaps not press his Amendment to a Division—if, of course, he moves it. The Government have made it quite clear that any future settlement must be within the Five Principles. It is true that the Pearce Commission have shown the considerable difficulties that exist in testing opinion in Rhodesia. But I suggest, nevertheless, that it is not wise to make predictions now about the methods which should be used to apply the Fifth Principle on future occasions, because the circumstances may be very different. I would only say that there is no reason at all to suppose that it is impossible to give effect to it in Rhodesia.
My noble friend's Amendment also asks usto make a settlement based on the interests of the Rhodesian people as a whole, irrespective of any other consideration.But Her Majesty's Government have long been committed to the Five Principles: the policy that we have followed has been an honourable one, and so it will always remain. It is true that this country now holds in practice, in domestic policy, only the residual powers, rather akin to those of a constitutional Monarchy: responsibilities to encourage, to advise, to warn; but not to impose a solution. Yet it is still only the United Kingdom that can give to Rhodesians the legal independence and the acceptance that so many desire and even more so greatly need.
228 My Lords, there is still a chance—just—to achieve a fair settlement. One thing is certain after the intense discussion of the proposals in the last few weeks: that Rhodesia can never be quite the same again. I suggest to the House that what is needed now is that Africans should ask themselves whether their decision really was in the best interests of their own people, and for Europeans to convince Africans that they mean from now on to create a partnership of all the races. That is why it is still my hope that there will be no Division in this House to-night on this most delicate issue. I would suggest that one of the most difficult things in all human affairs is to bide one's time. I believe that Rhodesia needs time now, above all else, free from pressures to take some particular action, whether the pressures come from this country or elsewhere. So I appeal to the House: let us give Rhodesians time, and, meanwhile, let us hold our peace. My Lords, I beg to move.
Moved, That this House takes note of the Report of the Commission on Rhodesian opinion, believes that it is right that there should be time for reflection on the implications of the Report and supports the Government in its desire to achieve a settlement within the Five Principles.—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie.)
§ 3.0 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD rose to move, as an Amendment to the Motion:
§ To leave out from ("House") to the end and insert: "expresses appreciation to Lord Pearce and members of the Commission on Rhodesian Opinion, approves the decision of Her Majesty's Government in accepting the findings of the Commission (Cmnd. 4964), agrees with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs that there should be a time for reflection by all Rhodesians on the implications of the Report and that any settlement must be within the Five Principles, and urges Her Majesty's Government to continue to seek the co-operation, through the United Nations, of all other nations in an effort to make sanctions more effective in order to create an atmosphere for constructive discussion in Rhodesia."229
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Baroness has made a notable speech and a very conciliatory one. I may myself walk into some field of controversy, but, if I may, I would seek to unite the House in expressing to the people of Rhodesia as a whole the deep sympathy and regret of the House at the tragic disaster which occurred at the Wankie coal pit, where some 400 black and white Rhodesians lost their lives.
§ To many of us, especially on this side of the House, Rhodesia represents a deep moral issue and commitment. In many ways the Report of the Pearce Commission has sharpened the issue. In to-day's debate we ought to look to the future rather than go over the past. The question that needs to be decided is: What stand should the British Government and Parliament take in the light of the Pearce Commission's Report? I would say at the outset that I am indeed glad that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, intends to move his Amendment. I say, without any offence, that the noble Lord has been a member of a group who have over a long period of time given comfort, in one way or another, to the illegal regime in Rhodesia. If this Amendment is moved it will give an opportunity for the noble Lord and those who think like him to stand up and be counted. The Amendment of the noble Lord provides as a solution that Britain should wash its hands of its constitutional responsibility to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, and condone rebellion and all the other evil things that the Smith régime stands for. I do not intend to say anything further about the Amendment but will leave it to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to echo the words of the noble Baroness in expressing the view of Her Majesty's Government on that Amendment. We on this side of the House require no advice; but although it appears that we are unlikely to have a Division on our Amendment against the Government I would ask my noble friends to stay, if they feel able to do so, in case there is a Division later this evening.
§ I would also say to the noble Baroness that it is with regret that we have found it necessary to put an Amendment to the Motion. I am bound to say that I found the original Motion, which has 230 strangely disappeared from the Order Paper and which merely "took note", to be in many ways more acceptable than the one which the noble Baroness has now formally moved. Here again I want to be conciliatory, but I feel that the Motion which the Government laid was tepid, flaccid and open to misunderstanding. In some quarters it could even have been open to some sinister interpretation. I was in no way reassured in this connection by the speech of the Foreign Secretary, but I have a much easier line, not only because the noble Baroness says she will accept our Amendment but also because of the tone of her speech. We move our Amendment because we wish to record what we understood to be the position of Her Majesty's Government and the Foreign Secretary on May 23. It is a long time since an Opposition has moved an Amendment with the intention of approving and seeking to sustain the Government in their position so recently declared. We felt bound so to do, my Lords. I am glad that we have now been able to show the way to the Government.
The Government's Motion refers to the Five Principles and calls for a period of reflection. I think we ought to consider, for a brief moment, the circumstances under which that reflection is to take place. I think I should remind the House of what the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said in our debate last December. The noble Lord spent many weary months in Rhodesia seeking a solution, and he said this of those in whom the noble Baroness says the African must place his trust:
… distasteful for a number of reasons: not because they were hostile, not because they were unfriendly, but because they involved such a difference of approach, of principle and of social morality between the two sides as to make it necessary to shelve all such considerations in our discussions and restrict them wholly to the technical issues."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1/12/71; col. 326.]
Then he goes on, speaking of the Africans, at col. 328:
The fact that they had political aspirations different from those of their Rhodesian masters was enough to stamp them as outside the pale of human intercourse. That we did not accept this, that we found these notions horrible, did not affect the fact that we were unable to make inroads on their way of thinking. It would be hypocrisy to say that we set out on a political mission to reform Mr. Smith and his friends in their way of political thought. If we did so set out, I regret to inform your Lordships that we returned with a total lack
of success. I do not think we have persuaded Mr. Smith to a more liberal way of thought.
My Lords, those were the words of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, in whose knowledge and expertise the Government placed great trust.
§ Rhodesia is in rebellion against the Crown. It is an illegal régime and has adopted policies which I fear make it an outcast among nations. Mr. Smith, in a recent radio interview, was asked what would be the intentions of his Government on certain racialist legislation that had been contemplated before the proposals came forth, and what would have been his intention if the proposals had been accepted. His reply was that they would have gone forward, but in a different form: the end would have been the same. We must recognise that whatever may have been the intentions of Mr. Smith, he was, and still is, under formidable pressure from the main weight of his Party not to depart from the clear policy of the Rhodesian Front, which undoubtedly is racialist in character, despite some of the good sides displayed by Europeans in Rhodesia. It is against this background that we need to consider how reflection is to be undertaken. But are the proposals open to reflection by the African Rhodesians? In the same interview, Mr. Smith said that of course the proposals were on the table, because it would need two parties to agree to their removal; but as far as he was concerned he had no further interest. It seems that so far as Mr. Smith is concerned the proposals are not negotiable—and I think the Foreign Secretary accepts that. Therefore a call for reflection, particularly if the plea were directed in the main to African Rhodesians, could only be an invitation by Her Majesty's Government to accept them, and that would be asking the Africans to capitulate. From what the noble Baroness said, this was not the intention of the Government. But if one takes the tone of the speech of the Foreign Secretary, and the way the Motion was drafted, then that could be the interpretation of the Motion.
§ In our debate on December 1 and 2 we expressed our concern on how the proposals met the Four Principles. Our view was that they were not satisfactory but that the people of Rhodesia were entitled to decide upon them. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, made the position 232 of the Government quite clear: they stood or fell by the decisions of the people of Rhodesia and as recorded through the Pearce Commission. When I looked at the Motion, and the fact that there were no words of acceptance, and when I read the speech of the Foreign Secretary, I felt that the position of the Government was obscure. The Foreign Secretary repeatedly drew upon his interview with one member of the African National Council who, he claimed, had been unaware of one of the most important safeguards in the proposals, and more or less suggested that if the A.N.C. had been aware of this safeguard perhaps a different result might have been achieved. Some of us have been involved with the Housing Finance Bill for a few nights. I am pretty certain that I know what I think about the Bill; but if I were challenged or if the noble Baroness, Lady Young, were asked what were some of the safeguards in the Bill, on the spur of the moment she might have difficulty, as I would, in giving the details. Therefore I felt it rather strange that the Foreign Secretary should have relied on this interview. I believe that he was seeking to show that in the Pearce Commission Report there was a large area of doubt. It unfairly reflected upon the Pearce Commission.
§ The Pearce Commission had a number of tasks: first of all, it had to ascertain and be satisfied that the proposals had been fully and properly understood. It is perfectly clear, when one reads the Report, that the Pearce Commission has done that. The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack spoke in the fullest possible terms of the capability and integrity of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, and the noble Baroness has referred to that. Those particular characteristics come through the Report very clearly. I find it inconceivable that the noble and learned Lord. Lord Pearce, when he saw the African National Council, did not satisfy himself that the members who were being interviewed were fully and completely aware of the proposals upon which they were being asked to give their views. I will leave that; but I want to say something about the Pearce Commission Report. I was rather critical of some of the appointments; I must admit my error; I was 233 wrong. When one reads particularly the reports of the Commissioners, when they went through the particular areas of Rhodesia, one can see how these experienced men weighed and balanced the evidence and then sought to find the reason for the particular views. We on this side of the House would pay a sincere word of tribute to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, and his colleagues. I thought that a most scurrilous attack was made upon the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, by Mr. Smith—as though the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, would seek to persuade Her Majesty's Government in a matter of this sort.
§ This Report is now in front of us and I think that I ought to say a few words about intimidation. We cannot condone it. We ought to understand that for the first time for many years—for some, perhaps, for the very first time—there was some opportunity to persuade people politically. Intimidation undoubtedly took place, but it is quite clear from the Report and the way in which this aspect was carefully examined by the Commissioners, that intimidation did not have a material effect upon the decision of the Africans in any way, and in the end the decision of the Africans was a genuine expression of view.
§ I am glad that the Government feel that we ought to put in our final Motion our expression of gratitude to the noble and learned Lord. Lord Pearce. I thought it was right to put it in the Amendment, and this we have done. Quite clearly, our Amendment calls for reflection by the people of Rhodesia as a whole; but reflection must lead somewhere else. This is why I was so attracted to the words of the Foreign Secretary when he referred to constructive discussion in Rhodesia. Is this not in fact the final answer to the problem of Northern Ireland, where the various groups have to be brought together to consult among each other and to reach a conclusion with which they can all live? That is the only solution to Rhodesia. Reflection must lead to consultation, and therefore I am glad that the Government are willing that this point should be included in the Amendment.
§ I believe there is something further. The noble Baroness spoke about the way 234 in which some Europeans recognised that there must be some advance. It must not only be in the political fields; it must be also in the fields of opportunity, of work. A man, despite his colour, must be able to rise to the highest position in industry, Government, the Civil Service, and education. If there is this genuine feeling in Rhodesia, then this is the real way in which it can be proved to the Africans that the European is sincere. Therefore I hope that constructive discussions will not only be on political terms, but in the things that really matter in the relationship of man with man.
§ I want to say something further and I do so with some degree of hesitation because I do not want to embarrass the Government. I understand their problems with sanctions and their Party. They may also feel slightly upset that we tend to have suspicions about their own intentions in this matter. On that they have only themselves to blame, in view of the speeches and the attitude that was taken in this House when the Party opposite were in Opposition. I hope that the Government will stand resolute in maintaining sanctions, because this in the end is the only way in which the Party that is in power, with all the military and police forces behind it, can be brought, as the Foreign Secretary said, into an area where there is the right constructive atmosphere for discussions. I hope that the Government will sustain this position and will renew their efforts at the United Nations to make sanctions more effective.
§ There are many countries which have complained of this country for its colonial past and about many other things that we have done or have failed to do, but who have failed to carry out the obligation which they themselves have freely and willingly undertaken through the United Nations. My Lords, I hope that the Government will renew their efforts—there is no question of criticism—at the United Nations in this matter.
§ Whether the African can he brought to see that there could be a future in these proposals if they were brought into a constitution I do not know, because, of course, constitutions depend entirely on the spirit in which those who are in power and those who may be in Opposition carry them out. Therefore there needs to be a new attitude in Rhodesia of the whites, the coloureds and the 235 Africans. My Lords, the Pearce Commission was a major break-through for the African because for the first time he was being consulted. I agree with the noble Baroness that Rhodesia will never be the same again. I hope that the Europeans will recognise this and will look to Northern Ireland to see whether there are some lessons to be learned there. I hope that they will come together, but pressure undoubtedly will have to be continued upon the Smith régime. Therefore, I am glad that the Government intend to sustain sanctions as the noble Baroness has said, and that she, on behalf of the Government, accepts our Amendment. I believe it is a significant step forward, and I am very grateful that the Government have felt able to do this. I beg to move.
§ Moved, As an Amendment to the above Motion, to leave out from ("House") to the end and insert ("expresses appreciation to Lord Pearce and members of the Commission on Rhodesian Opinion, approves the decision of Her Majesty's Government in accepting the findings of the Commission (Cmnd. 4964), agrees with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs that there should be a time for reflection by all Rhodesians on the implications of the Report and that any settlement must be within the Five Principles, and urges Her Majesty's Government to continue to seek the co-operation, through the United Nations, of all other nations in an effort to make sanctions more effective in order to create an atmosphere for constructive discussion in Rhodesia."—(Lord Shepherd.)
§ 3.23 p.m.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I feel I am privileged to take part in this debate at such an early hour. I am conscious of the number of speakers to follow me and I shall do my best to be brief. First, I should like to add my thanks to those of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, to the noble Baroness for the way in which she has presented the Government's case to-day. I do not want to cause any distention in the Government or between the noble Baroness and her honourable friends in the other House, but the way in which she presented the case to us to-day was rather more acceptable to me than the way it was presented by the Foreign Secretary the other day.
236 The first question I would like to dispose of is whether in fact the answer which the Pearce Commission Report gave, that the overwhelming majority of the Africans were saying "No", was a valid and correct judgment. That of course is the issue raised by the Amendment which is to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, later on. What does the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, amount to? It amounts to saying this, does it not?—that the Fifth Principle, from the moment it was laid down many years ago, was always meaningless and unworkable. There was no way, the Amendment says in effect, by which any kind of body could find out the opinion of those who are called, I think rather offensively, the unsophisticated people of Rhodesia. The Amendment suggests that if you ask a question, you are asking it of respondents who are incapable of understanding and of answering it.
May I say about that proposition, first, that it is a proposition which could not be supported even by Mr. Ian Smith. It was Mr. Ian Smith himself who originally proposed that any settlement should be tested as to its acceptability by the people. Not only did he originate the suggestion of an acceptability test, but in the package settlement which was negotiated, and into which the Pearce Commission were inquiring, he had agreed in principle and in detail to the Commission which was to be set up. Therefore we are in this odd situation: we have heard time and time again, in this House and elsewhere from the apologists of the Rhodesian régime—and unless my memory fails me, this is the first occasion that anybody has come forward and suggested that Mr. Smith has overestimated the sophistication of the Africans; this is a proposition which I am glad to say the Government have rejected—that the Government never had any alternative but to reject it. From the beginning, when the Fifth Principle was accepted, it was implicit that there had to be a majority accepting any settlement before it was adopted. It was implicit in that principle that it was possible to ascertain whether the people wanted it or not.
Secondly, in the debates which we had in this House and in the other place back in November and December of 237 last year when we were discussing the proposed settlement, it was repeated time after time by the Government, and particularly by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that the Government were entirely satisfied that the Pearce Commission was the best procedure that could conceivably be devised in order to arrive at a correct conclusion.
I fail to understand the words in Lord Coleraine's Amendment, where he says that the House recognises:that the clear implication of the Commission's report … is that it is impossible to give effect to the Fifth Principle in a society politically as unsophisticated as that of Rhodesia …How can the noble Lord argue—indeed, it will be interesting to hear him do so—that that is the clear implication of the Report, if, as the Report says, the Commission had stated precisely that they felt entirely able to carry out the task they had been given. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has already quoted one of the terms of reference. May I quote the terms of reference in full. They had to satisfy themselves of two things. First, they hadTo satisfy themselves that the proposals for a settlement as set out in … (the) Command Paper … have been fully and properly explained to the population of Rhodesia;and secondly;to ascertain by direct contact with all sections of the population whether the people of Rhodesia as a whole regard these proposals as acceptable as a basis for independence;Those are the two things they were charged to do. What do the Commission say about their ability to carry out the task? They say in answer to the first part of the reference:We are satisfied that the Proposals have been fully and properly explained to the population of Rhodesia'. We believe that the great majority of those from whom we heard had a sufficient understanding of the content and implications of the Proposals to enable them to pass judgment on them.With regard to the second, as the noble Baroness has said, they say:The majority of those Africans whom we consulted privately or publicly were against the Proposals. We believe, for reasons which we shall set out in detail, that this represents the opinion of the African population.How is it possible, in the face of that, for the noble Lord to contend that the clear 238 implication of this Report is that they were dealing with an unsophisticated people who were unable to understand what they were being asked or make any coherent reply?
As the noble Baroness said, after this exercise of the Pearce Commission things will never be the same again in Rhodesia. I cannot think of an historic parallel where it has been possible to test the bona fides of a minority Government to see whether they indeed enjoy the support of the people whom they govern. The finding of the Pearce Commission was a momentous event because it demonstrated in particular not only that this is an illegal regime, as we have for so long known, but that this is a naked tyranny by a tiny minority over a large majority, and a tyranny based fundamentally on colour. That is something which the Report of the Pearce Commission demonstrated clearly for all the world to see. The last shred of the suggestion or pretence that the Smith régime has in fact enjoyed the consent, or at any rate the acquiescence, of the majority of the African people has been torn away.
For these reasons I welcome and approve the Government's suggestion that there should be a period of reflection. This is one of those occasions when I have felt that what I have heard from the noble Baroness was more sympathetic than what we heard from the Foreign Secretary the other day. Reading in the OFFICIAL REPORT what the right honourable gentleman said in the other place, he seemed to feel that the people who in the main should reconsider the matter and reflect on the situation were the Rhodesian Africans. I think I see the noble Baroness shaking her head in dissent. I have a quotation on which I had intended to rely, but I do not want to waste the time of the House. Let us disagree, but let us also assume that the noble Baroness is right.
Even if it is right and proper, as it is, that the Africans should consider their situation, there are others who should use this period of reflection to consider their situation also. Indeed, there are many other candidates, and I suggest that Lord Goodman is one of them. I remind the House of what he said about this acceptability business on the occasion of that brilliant speech which we all remember 239 when, discussing the settlement terms, he said:I believe that the best way to do it …"—to test opinion—… is the way selected: for a Commission of honourable and able men to go round the country inquiring, wherever they think it necessary, whether, on balance, the people of Rhodesia consider that these proposals are substantially better than the conditions now prevailing.He went on, and I particularly draw attention to these words:If I were Her Majesty's Government, I should not discourage it."—that is, not discourage the opposition from taking part. He added:I believe that if these proposals are fairly explained to the people of Rhodesia, it is extremely unlikely that they will reject them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1/12/71; col. 327.]I suppose that there is no living Englishman who in recent years has been more closely concerned with the affairs of Rhodesia than the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and nobody would seek for a moment to question either his impartiality or, more than that, his capacity. However, perhaps the noble Lord would care to reflect in this period of reflection how it came about that he came so completely and totally to misjudge what the African people were likely to want. He might at the same time reflect whether possibly some of the arguments which he addressed to us on that occasion in support of the settlement should not now be brought into question. I suggest that the people for whom there is the most urgent need for this reflective process are the white Rhodesians. I am not speaking of the Government; I do not think we shall get anything useful from that quarter. If there is to be a solution, it can come only from the white Rhodesian people themselves.
What is the future that confronts these 250,000 people? It is bleak indeed. They now know—at least, they should know—that the white supremacy which they enjoy will never be acceptable to the people whom they govern. They now know—at least, they should know—that the affluent existence which they enjoy is enjoyed on the foundation of economic surfdom. They now know—at least, they should know—that the Africans are not prepared, as they hoped they would be, to barter their aspirations for self- 240 government for a few more schools or jobs. I would have hoped that the illusion under which some of them may have lived for years—the illusion that they have in fact got the acquiescence of the coloured people behind them—would at last have been dispelled. The question I ask is: what are the possibilities of there being a change of heart and mind on the part of the white Rhodesian people? I feel that everybody outside Rhodesia would agree that the alternatives for Rhodesia are evolution towards a settlement—evolution towards majority rule—or, on the other hand, a dreadful insurrection.
What does Mr. Smith offer to his own people in Rhodesia to-day? He says that now that the settlement has been rejected, the only alternative is the status quo. He says, in effect: "We stand firm where we are." Not only is that a denial of the hopes of the African people; it is denial of any hope to his own people because he is depriving them of the opportunity of following the path of evolution towards majority rule and is forcing them along a path which will lead in the end to violent disaster.
I ask whether it is possible for there to be a change of heart in Rhodesia among the white people. I also ask, if that is possible, how we can help. This, I suggest, is where the question of sanctions comes in because—I may be unorthodox in this—the justification of sanctions has never been wholly whether they were working economically and effectively; there is an important political significance to sanctions in that when we adopted them and when the United Nations made its mandatory order for sanctions, that was open condemnation by the community of nations of the policies and régime in Rhodesia.
I do not know that the imposition of sanctions did in fact have any beneficent result among the white Rhodesians. I am open to the argument that it may have brought them together in greater intransigence. That may well be so; I would not argue with that. The imposition of sanctions may therefore have made them more intransigent; but when you are talking about the removal of sanctions you are talking about something quite different. If you remove sanctions—as was hinted at in that statement made the other day by the Foreign 241 Secretary, and repeated to-day by the noble Baroness—or if at some future date this Government or any Government were to go to the United Nations to urge the removal of sanctions, in my opinion that would be the last and the greatest blunder in the long catalogue of mistakes which we have seen in this Rhodesian affair. The stigma would have been withdrawn, the rebellion would have paid off and the chance of there growing up a movement of moderation among the white people of Rhodesia would, in my view, be killed stone dead.
May I conclude by saying that I think that in this Rhodesian affair all parties have made mistakes, and there is no point at this stage of engaging in recriminations; but my belief is that if this Government or any Government should seek to achieve the removal of sanctions before we have an acceptable settlement, that would be the most monstrous blunder of all.
§ 3.42 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, I wish from these Benches first to express our gratitude to the noble Baroness for the moderate and constructive way in which she has presented this Motion to us to-day. I am grateful that, first of all, she has signified her desire that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, may be disposed to withdraw his Amendment, for, like the noble Lord, Lord Foot, who has just spoken, I would say that a Motion to scrap the Fifth Principle, and most of all on the basis of the particular and categorical recommendation of the Pearce Report, would be interpreted, elsewhere at least, as either very politically naive or simply cynical.
I welcome also that the noble Baroness is prepared to accept the Amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for I am bound to say that he has in my judgment filled out the case of what we would, I hope, wish to say to the world in rather greater detail. I hope I may he excused if, owing to a pressing engagement in my diocese tonight, I do not wait to the end of the debate, but I certainly would have wanted to support the noble Lord's Amendment if it had been pressed as an alternative to the Government's Motion. But I would support it more on the grounds that here is a Report which has been recognised, I 242 think on all sides, for the thoroughness of its investigation, for the fact that it has put out fairly an assessment, lucid in its reasoning, and has made a very great impact upon a far wider community than the two countries directly concerned.
To add a little warmth to our appreciation of that Report is part of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and I certainly think it requires a considerably greater warmth of acceptance on our part than might have been indicated. Of course the Government are right about this time for reflection, and I cannot but refer again to what has been better said than I could say it by the noble Lord, Lord Foot; that is, that Pearce has done more than give us a clear and unequivocal answer to a question of acceptability; it has in fact awakened or perhaps made articulate the African self-consciousness which hitherto seemed to slumber. No more can it be said that the majority are content with the regime or that sanctions, because they hit the Africans hardest, ought therefore to be removed for the sake of the Africans. No more can it be said that their opposition, when expressed, can be brushed aside on the ground that it is under pressure or intimidation. In fact, the Commission's investigation has proved a kind of catalyst for African attitudes, bringing to light not only their frustrations and resentments but also a greater political understanding than they were given credit for before. For this reason it is really a watershed and it is not possible, as it has repeatedly been said, to go back to the pre-Pearce conditions or assume any African acquiescence.
African Rhodesia to-day is different, therefore, from what it was. It has been alerted critically to its own situation and has become vocal about it. I realise that this does not strengthen our hand as a Government, but it does enhance and restore confidence in our British desire for justice. It is suggested also to the Africans—and this comes out in the Report—that Her Majesty's Government are still concerned about their interests. This gives us a good basis to approach the United Nations and its Members for greater support in our policies.
There are two things, my Lords, to which I wish to refer in this Report. 243 The first is, as has been remarked, that the most significant comment in the assessment of African opinion is that mistrust of the intentions and motives of the Government transcended all other considerations. It could not be put clearer than that, and unless we are going to brush that aside as ill-based or malicious, or merely indifferent, how can we possibly view the negotiations with that Government in quite the same way as we tried to do before Pearce had reported.
I do not want to enter into the field of sanctions, but apart from other arguments for their retention one of the strongest reasons for adhering to them is that their removal would seem to identify this country with the policies of the present régime, and that means not only present policies but possible future policies—and who will calculate what those may be? All Governments which have to sustain themselves by force rather than consent are compelled sooner or later by the inner logic of their own position to increase the degree of force. Force begets revenge and therefore has to be increased lest any concession would suggest weakness and open the floodgates. So tyranny becomes more tyrannical and oppression becomes more oppressive. We have seen a number of examples of this in our own century but we need not go any further than see what is happening in the Republic of South Africa and the savage repression of the students of the universities that seems to mark a new stage in their relations with their opponents. Unless checked or halted, a Rhodesian Government which has to base itself on force will be bound to go more and more in this direction rather than draw back from it—and indeed all the more so if it is susceptible, as this one is, to pressure from its own extreme Right Wing. We must not take any step which might identify this country with that kind of process which we could not control ourselves but which in fact our actions might seem to be encouraging.
We all realise the limited effect of sanctions, though I take heart, from what the noble Baroness has said of Government policy, that we shall stick to them and seek to make them more effective by the action of other countries, as well we are entitled to do. But I want to add that there is—this comes out again in 244 the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and the noble Baroness also referred to this—a second factor. The Report suggests that there is a widespread desire in both white as well as black representatives of the population for some solution. This Report reveals the impossibility of any kind of agreement which is not based upon consultation with the Africans. We recognise that pressure from sanctions or otherwise, in so far as it is outside pressure, will never by itself achieve what we want, which is the beginning of some internal reassessment or mutual recognition.
The Pearce Report has emphasised that there are a number of aspects of the present proposals which Africans, quite apart from their general suspicions, feel to be inadequate, and I hope that the implication of what the Government have said is that they are going to look at these to see whether there is any possible movement forward along these lines. But we have to accept the fact that no vestige of real agreement is possible in any country where conflicting parties will not in some degree talk with one another. We have to go no further than Ireland to see this, and our own political experience and wisdom as a country emphasise it again and again. I see, as others, the danger of what some Africans have asked for—an official round table conference, which might produce a kind of drastic confrontation at the wrong moment and perhaps drive parties into entrenched and extremer positions themselves—but there must be, surely, some intermediate stages, unofficial ways of responsible people meeting together, so that they do not necessarily commit themselves there and then to policy statements, but may in some way break down some of the barriers of ill-confidence between the conflicting sections of the community. Even the Churches themselves out there, which seem to share in this division of opinion, ought to take action in this field.
Are there not ways beyond this in which the atmosphere can be eased, ways in which limited aid programmes of one sort or another through education can alleviate the tension between them, ways in which Churches or voluntary agencies can give some support in their own educational structures out there? Is our sympathy with the Wankie Colliery victims only verbal, or can we send grants in aid to the survivors or their families?
245 There may be ways in which we can ease this forward. Therefore I support very much the terms in which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd has put his Amendment, that different races in Rhodesia must find some way to meet together, and that they have an initiative in this. If this is impracticable, I think it must equally be said that no country in which different sections will not meet together has any hope of survival or of averting ultimate bloodshed. There may be as The Times in a leading article recently said, a faint hope. I hope we shall underline that hope and support it with all this country can give of patient negotiation, in order that it may become something more of a force.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE rose to move, as an Amendment to the Amendment:
§ To leave out all the words from ("Opinion") in line 2 to the end of the Amendment and insert ("but, recognising that the clear implication of the Commission's Report (Cmnd. 4964) is that it is impossible to give effect to the Fifth Principle in a society politically as unsophisticated as that of Rhodesia, urges Her Majesty's Government to make a settlement based on the interests of the Rhodesian people as a whole, irrespective of any other consideration.").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Amendment to the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper. May I say at once how delighted I am to be able to go as far as the third line of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. I do not think that I have ever travelled so far with him before and I doubt whether I shall ever be able to travel so far with him again. I will at a later stage, I hope, given time, make some comments upon what he said in moving his Amendment, but in the meantime I hope I shall not be thought very much out of order if I make some reference to the Report of the Pearce Commission. It may seem an eccentric thing to do, but I feel that it needs to be done.
§ First of all, I would express the appreciation which we must all feel to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, 246 and his Deputy Chairmen and his Commissioners for their sincere and devoted efforts to perform what in my judgment was a quite impossible task. They made an immeasurable sacrifice of leisure, time and also, I dare say, health—for not all of them were young—in the service of a country: if I may adapt a once famous phrase, in the service of a far away country of which we know a good deal, or at any rate ought to know a good deal, if we had been listening to the debates we have had in this House over the past seven or eight years. But what I do regret is that so much high endeavour, so much sacrifice, so much earnest and sincere labour should have had so negligible and, as I believe, so lamentable a result.
§ The noble Lord, Lord Foot, asked how it was possible for me to question the Fifth Principle in the light of this Report. The answer is quite a simple one, and quite a direct one. I do not think very highly of this Report. I do not consider myself bound by it. I do not know why it is, but it seems that when eminent advocates or distinguished civil servants are thrown into the rough seas of politics they are not at home and they make a sorry hash of things. I remember that when I entered the House of Commons more than 40 years ago the most distinguished lawyer in the land, a man of commanding intellect, of unchallenged probity, held office as Foreign Secretary. I do not think anybody would have said then, or would say now, that Sir John Simon (as he then was) was the greatest Foreign Secretary we had ever had.
§ Your Lordships may recall, too, that only a few weeks ago there died at the age of 90 a most distinguished civil servant. In his day he was perhaps the most distinguished of all civil servants, the most eminent administrator. He was called in by the then Prime Minister as his diplomatic adviser. Sometimes he was used as the Prime Minister's agent and intermediary. A great many people would say that Sir Horace Wilson had a great responsibility for making inevitable the Second World War. I am not sure that I would not say that myself; but certainly no one would say that he did anything to avert it. So I am not a great believer in advocates and judges and administrators being given what are essentially political tasks.247
§ The situation in Africa to-day is nothing like so dangerous as the situation in Europe was in 1938, but I believe that it is far more dangerous than most of us on either side of the House realise. The Government talk of time for reflection. The Opposition support them. But, my Lords, time is running out. There is not an infinity of time; and unless we take care, before there is any change in political attitudes there will be an insurrection in Rhodesia, which will be easily put down, but only with appalling bloodshed, because as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester said, and also, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, nothing will be the same again after the Pearce Commission Report. The right reverend Prelate went so far as to say that it had stimulated African nationalism in Rhodesia for the first time, and this may mean that insurrection will overtake the painstaking, patient, altogether well-meaning efforts of my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, and my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. That is something we have to remember.
§ It seems to me—and I say it without disrespect—that as a test of opinion the findings of the Pearce Commission are absolutely worthless. I believe that at any rate a number of my noble friends share my view.
§ LORD COLERAINE
Let me say this. If the answer to the Pearce Commission had been, "Yes" as emphatically and as decisively as it is, "No", that would still have been my view, because I believe that the method adopted by the Commission to secure their evidence, the inferences they drew from the evidence when they had got it, meant that the answer, whatever it was, must be wrong. I know that when he spoke in our last debate the noble Lord. Lord Goodman, showed some signs of embarrassment because I murmured "Hear, hear!" when he rose to his feet. Nevertheless, I am going to venture to quote him. I will make only the one quotation. In our last debate the noble Lord said:… for a Commission of honourable and able men to go round the country inquiring, wherever they think it necessary, whether, on balance, the people of Rhodesia consider that these proposals are substantially better than 248 the conditions now prevailing. That is the test that ought to be applied."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1/12/71, col. 327.]In the noble Lord's opinion the test was simply: does the settlement represent an improvement on the existing position? It is not unfair to say that the Commission applied every test excepting that one.
I still maintain, in spite of the noble Lord, Lord Foot, that the only unassailable truth that emerges from the Pearce Commission's Report is that it is impossible to implement the Fifth Principle. The Pearce Commission certainly did not do it, and I cannot believe that any other body could. I would ask the House to turn to that section of the Report which in my opinion is the most crucial and the most revealing: Chapter 10, which is described as "Assessment of Evidence". I would ask your Lordships to refer in particular to Table I, on page 53, and Table III, on pages 58 and 59. Before doing so, it is worth while to glance at the map at the end of the Report. When one looks at the map and sees the tremendous number of noughts and crosses spread over it, one is inclined to think that the whole population of Rhodesia was covered by the Commissioners. Of course it was not.
But let us have a look at Table I. It is headed: "Numbers of People Met by Commissioners". That heading is definitely misleading, for it implies that the Commissioners met 114,600 Africans. They did nothing of the kind. They saw that number of Africans from public platforms, according to the best estimates they could make; but the numbers they met are given in Table III, on page 59, as "Groups (under 20) and individuals", and that amounted in total to 14.234. The Commission met 14.234 Africans, out of a total African population of two million.
§ LORD COLERAINE
Four million. Let us leave that aside and just take the 100,000 whom the Commissioners saw. What are we to infer from that figure? We know what the Commission infer. They infer that that 100,000 effectively represents the whole African population. Yet in an earlier chapter the Commission spend some time in explaining why it was impossible to do what 249 they would have liked to do; that was, to take a sample. Therefore this 100,000 is clearly not a sample; it is gust a selected, or, if you like, self-selected, section of the population.
If I may, I should like briefly to develop that argument a little further. Some of your Lordships may be more familiar than I am with a book entitled, Elementary Manual of Statistics, written by the late Professor Bowley. I would commend this book to your Lordships, but I would commend it especially to the members of the Commission, who seemed to be very badly in need of it. The relevant and important passage which I am going to quote to your Lordships is this:The first essential of an examination by sample is that every member of the group considered should have nearly the same chance of being included in the sample.In the present context this means that every one of the Africans whom the Commission did not see should have had the same chance of being included in the sample as the 100,000 whom the Commission did see. Clearly, this was not the case. Professor Bowley goes on to say:The temptation is always to measure the obvious and easily accessible, but if we do this our sample is of the accessible, not of the whole group.I think it is quite clear that the Commissioners fell into this temptation with both feet, and their conclusions are therefore quite valueless. The plain fact of the matter is that there are only two really satisfactory ways of testing opinion. One is by random sample, and the Commission took the view—I think rightly—that in Rhodesia that was impossible. The other is by a referendum of the whole adult population, which I consider (and I dare say that some of your Lordships would agree) would be absurd. Therefore there is no way of giving effect to the Fifth Principle.
I would now ask your Lordships to turn for a moment to Table III, which is on pages 58 and 59. That Table shows that of the votes counted, so to speak, there were 106,000 against and 3,000 in favour. I do not have a slide rule with me, and if I had I should not know how to use it, but I think that that is a majority of rather more than 99 per cent. I ask your Lordships to reflect for a moment on that figure. It is surely 250 axiomatic that such a majority is suspect. It is surely axiomatic that it is completely unreliable as an expression of opinion. It is the kind of majority with which Louis Napoleon supported his coup d'état; the kind of majority which Hitler had after the Reichstag fire; the kind of majority which Governments get in elections in People's Democracies or in Latin American Republics. It is a majority based on fear and hysteria. I think this must be specially true in Africa, where the African, as is generally accepted, is highly suggestible, highly emotional, highly excitable and not really stable.
What was the reason for the size of this majority? Surely it is simply that for four weeks a massive campaign had been mounted against the proposals, financed perhaps by the Chinese, perhaps by the British Council of Churches—I do not know. But this massive campaign was launched and carried on, and there was no counter-campaign whatever. Why did that happen? It happened because there was a gap which could be measured, not in weeks but very nearly in months, between the announcement of the Settlement and the departure of the Commission. Why was the departure of the Commission delayed? It was delayed for two reasons. I think the first was the negligence of the Government, because one would have thought they would have it buttoned up as soon as they had the Settlement. But, even more, there was what seemed to me (I say this with respect to one of the Deputy Chairmen who is sitting beside me) the extraordinary interpretation which the Commission put on their terms of reference.
What the Commission were asked to do was to find out whether the proposals were acceptable, and to report accordingly to the British Government. But if noble Lords will look at paragraphs 17 and 155 of the Report they will see that the Commission took the view that it was essential that whatever they did should be acceptable to public opinion in this country and elsewhere, and that (paraphrasing the old tag) justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done. I wonder whether, when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, sitting in his judicial capacity, has as his first consideration when he is considering his verdict what sort of Press he will get. I very much doubt if it is. So I find it 251 very difficult to see why he strayed so far from his terms of reference, which were simply to report to the British Government and not to engage in a political exercise to influence the Organisation of African Unity, or the United States, or the Liberal Party or whoever it might be. I cannot see why the Commission departed from their terms of reference. But the fact that they did depart from them, the fact that they delayed their departure from this country, meant that the result was what I would call a dictator's majority against the proposals.
There is another reason for this massive majority, and that is what one might call the "bandwagon mentality" of the African. He dearly wants to be on the winning side, and it did not take him long to find out which was the winning side. First of all, there was the four months' campaign. Then the Pearce Commission arrived, with their Union Jack and all the prestige of Her Majesty's Government behind it; and very soon the Commission made it quite clear—I am sure inadvertently—that they, too, were on the bandwagon. If noble Lords will refer to page 34, paragraph 148, where the Report deals with Mr. Garfield Todd and his daughter, they will see that the Commission felt constrained to give a Press Conference which was—as I think noble Lords who look at that paragraph will agree—a direct criticism and a direct attack upon the Rhodesian Government.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I will say what is wrong with that. It meant that the Pearce Commission were aligning themselves with the African National Council, when they were supposed to be impartial. There is something else which is wrong with it. It was perfectly right for the Commission to hold any view they pleased about Mr. Garfield Todd and Miss Todd; it would have been perfectly right for them to express their misgivings in their Report to the Government after their tour had been completed. But for them to express their misgivings at a Press conference, and to criticise directly the Rhodesian Government, could have only one meaning to the African; and that was that 252 the Pearce Commission were not impartial but were on the African side.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment and ask him for the reference to this paragraph? I think he said page 34, paragraph 148, but this does not seem to tie up.
§ LORD COLERAINE
I think I said page 39, paragraph 148. I agree that what we have to do is to look to the future. What are the choices that are open to us? Some of us still speak as if we had some mystic power in Rhodesia. The noble Lord still speaks of the régime when he means the Government.
§ LORD COLERAINE
He seems to imagine that by using words in a different meaning he alters facts. He does not. It may interest him to know that a régime is a form of government, so he is wasting his breath anyway. It is an indication of the unreality which persists in some quarters. I hate to differ from my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie. I admired the clarity, the moderation and the charm of her speech, but she seemed to give her whole case away in the last sentence she uttered. I am not able to quote her verbatim, but the sense of what she said was, "Time is running out and Rhodesia needs time, free of pressures". If that is the position why sanctions? Are sanctions not a pressure?
My Lords, we should consider sanctions a little more deeply than we have done this afternoon. It may well be that sanctions are beginning to bite. I have heard that for seven years, and I am not overwhelmingly impressed by it. Sanctions may have brought Mr. Smith to the conference table. If that is so, then they brought him there two years ago or five years ago at the time of the "Fearless" and "Tiger" talks. But if sanctions are biting, if the economy is running down, if the railroads are running out of spare parts and so on, what is going to happen? Are the white Rhodesians going to run to Her Majesty's Government and say, "Help us"? No; because they cannot expect much help. They are going to draw still further into their laager mentality and see that the blunt effect of sanctions falls still more heavily on the black Africans. As I said earlier, if that 253 process goes on, and if the effect of the Pearce Commission's Report is to stimulate nationalist feeling, the Government policy of reflection combined with sanctions will not avoid polarisation or a blood bath, but may possibly invite them. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, and the Foreign Secretary for whom I have the very greatest respect, will consider that.
What do we want to do in Africa? Surely we want to give the African a dignity that he does not have now. Surely we want to give him economic opportunities that he does not have now. Surely we want to bring about a relationship between the races which does not exist now. Are we going to do that by this long pause for reflection over to October? I do not think that we are. I can see no reason to suppose that we are. I can see every reason to suppose that we shall not. Are not dignity, opportunity and economic advancement more important than the Five Principles—not only the fifth but the other four as well? Each one of us has to ask himself this question: are we, as a Parliament and as a people, entitled to crucify the black African on principles which most of us now recognise to have been ill-advised from the start? My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment to the Amendment.
Amendment to the Amendment moved—
Leave out all the words from ("Opinion") in line 2 to the end of the Amendment and insert ("but, recognising that the clear implication of the Commission's Report (Cmnd. 4964) is that it is impossible to give effect to the Fifth Principle in a society politically as unsophisticated as that of Rhodesia, urges Her Majesty's Government to make a settlement based on the interests of the Rhodesian people as a whole, irrespective of any other consideration.").—(Lord Coleraine.)
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, during the last eight years we have had a number of debates, which I think may not unfairly be called historic debates, on Rhodesia. I feel that the first thing I should say to-day is how delighted I am that we have now reached the situation in which there is virtually a complete consensus by all three political 254 Parties in this field. After I had been out there and discussed their views with the leaders of all sections of opinion in Rhodesia, and came back, the views which I then expressed were, except only as to the relative effectiveness of sanctions, the same as those which I now hold. I said, your Lordships may remember, that I thought the Europeans had done a splendid job in Rhodesia in the introduction of capital, in the development of the country and in the hard work they had put in—their skill as farmers, and so forth—but that they could not have done all that without the Africans, and it seemed to me a classic case for a multi-racial country. I am glad to see that the first thing which the Foreign Secretary said when he opened the discussion on this subject on Thursday last in the other place was:I hope the debate will justify my assumption that the aim of all parties in this House is to try to secure progress for Rhodesia towards a truly multi-racial society ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 15/6/72, col. 1756.]My Lords, it seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that the country was not ready for African rule, and that there was nothing much wrong with the 1961 Constitution, though it would have required amendment. It was, after all, a Constitution which would have led to African majority rule in periods of time—on which there were great differences of opinion—varying between ten and fifty years. I agree, too, with what the Foreign Secretary said on Thursday last; namely, that he thought that Mr. Nkomo had made a great mistake—and I told Mr. Nkomo so myself—in rejecting that Constitution and in boycotting elections, instead of accepting it and fighting elections, in which case, as I pointed out to Mr. Nkomo, he would by then have been the acknowledged leader of the African Parties, and gaining experience every day.
Throughout it has always seemed to me that there has been a grave failure of communication in Rhodesia; but this is inevitable, I think, if Europeans know Africans only in their capacity as servants. I think that if there is one thing which has been made clear by the Royal Commission's Report, it is that Mr. Smith himself completely misjudged African opinion. In never getting round a table to discuss things with them, he relied always on the Chiefs. It was always his 255 contention that the Chiefs speak for the Africans, that the Chiefs supported the Government, and that the Africans were the happiest Africans in the whole of Africa. My Lords, having spent a long day at an Indaba and then most of another day talking to the Council of Chiefs, I could not believe that that was right. Whatever we asked the Chiefs, Mr. Harper, the then Minister of Native Affairs, always told them what to say, and they always replied accordingly. One could not altogether leave out of account the fact that the. Chiefs are appointed by the Government, are paid by the Government and can be dismissed by the Government. I regret having to say so, but it seems to me that this failure of communication may still persist.
There have been some welcome changes in opinion in Rhodesia, in that first of all the Africans are no long saying, "We want 'One man, one vote' tomorrow, and we will not consider anything else". That was the attitude five years ago. They are no longer saying, "You ought to use force in Rhodesia", which they said for a long time. And they are no longer saying, "Our solution is that of force". There is a very great change between what Mr. Nkomo and other politically-minded Africans were saying in 1965 and what the African National Council is saying to-day. Therefore, on the face of things there ought to be an improvement. But I am not clear whether there has been any similar change, or indeed any change at all, in the views of the Rhodesian Front. After the Royal Commission Report, Mr. Smith said in the House of Assembly:If therefore the Africans of Rhodesia want a settlement, they will have to reverse the Pearce verdict. The terms of the settlement are not negotiable. These were agreed by the British and Rhodesian Governments last November and there is no question of amending them in order to make any further concessions to the Africans or to anybody else. The hon. Member for Kunyasi and other hon. Members on the Cross Benches appealed to me to talk to the Africans, to discuss with them ways and means of achieving a settlement. Because the terms already agreed with the British Government are not negotiable, there is no point whatever in my talking to people whose object is to get these terms amended.I can only still hope that, one day, Mr. Smith will realise that that is not the way of advance.
256 There are only two possible solutions: one is the use of force by one side or the other, and the other is a settlement by negotiation. I hope, therefore, we shall encourage Mr. Smith, so far as we can, to get round a table and start talking to the Africans, and generally to reconsider the Africans' position. After all, it is now more than seven years since I saw Mr. Nkomo in detention. He is still in detention. There are those still in prison or detention who have been there between 10 and 20 years, without any charge ever being made against them. Peace in a country cannot come while a small minority acts in that way.
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, in his statistical arguments. We all know the sincerity with which he holds the views which he has about Rhodesia, but I shall leave the Report largely to speak for itself. It explains very clearly what the members of the Commission did, why they did it and with what results. It is of course the fact that since then the Foreign Secretary has found one leading African who did not understand one of the terms. Now, as my noble friend Lord Shepherd has said, Constitutions can be as complex as legislation, but that does not I think in any way invalidate what the Royal Commission said on that point. It is interesting to see from The Times this morning the degree of misrepresentation by Mr. Smith yesterday on this very point. It says:Mr. Smith told the Senate today that Sir Alec's 'confirmation' last week that even the leadership of the African National Council"—it was not the leadership, it was one member—was ignorant of the settlement terms"—he did not say "the settlement terms"; he said "one term"—meant that the Foreign Secretary had cast doubts on Lord Pearce's findings that most of those interviewed were capable of understanding the main elements of the proposals".In fairness to the Foreign Secretary, I must point out that, while having said that, he said unequivocally last Thursday of the Royal Commission's Report:I am not questioning their findings or their judgment".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 15/6/72, col. 1761.]Then there is what was alleged to have been the campaign which in a moment 257 converted what would have been an African minority into a majority. The Royal Commission dealt with this very fully themselves. They said in paragraphs 414 and 415:It is very significant that over the country as a whole the checks on individuals and groups who were in our view clearly not being intimidated, nearly always confirmed the general trend of rejection. We believe that most of the 'Noes' sprang from a genuine, deeply-felt opposition to the Proposals. The reasons for this were many and varied …We found it improbable if not impossible that with such a tight security system as that which has existed in Rhodesia for several years, a minority could dominate a majority by intimidation in a few weeks. We have grounds for belief that the African National Council itself was surprised at the extent of its success. We do not think that the African National Council would have obtained so great and so swift a response had they not met a potential desire among a majority of the people for leadership in a rejection of the terms and in a protest against the policies of the last few years".The Royal Commission Report can, I think, be left to speak for itself. Of course, one has the best of both worlds if one says, as the noble Lord has said, that if there is a large majority one way, that, in itself, must be treated as highly suspicious.
§ LORD GARDINER
The noble Lord talked about a dictatorship; but who was the dictator was not clear. It leads, I suppose, to the convenient argument that as there is no possibility of any other way in which to obtain the views of the Africans—as "one man, one vote" is no good, and as the Royal Commission is no good—then, conveniently, the only people who can never he consulted about the future of Rhodesia are those who represent 19 out of every 20 people in the country.
My Lords, I think I may curtail the speech that I was going to make; but I should like to say a word or two on sanctions. It is clear that sanctions are not going to bring down the Smith régime. At the same time, it is the fact that while their exports are going up by 9 per cent. per annum, their imports are going up by 20 per cent. and they are in difficulties about foreign exchange. I can understand the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, saying that he is suspicious about anybody sug- 258 gesting that sanctions are beginning to bite, but be might care to bear in mind that before the Royal Commission went out Mr. Smith himself had said:Sanctions have escalated into a savage economic war with tremendous odds loaded against us.I hope very much that the Government will do what they can to encourage other countries, particularly at the United Nations, to be as scrupulous in their observance of sanctions as we have been. I do not know exactly what is the position in the United States of America with regard to chrome; perhaps the noble and learned Lord when he comes to reply may be able to tell us. My information, which of course will not be as good as that of Her Majesty's Government, is that an action has been started in America against the Secretary of the Treasury and other high-ranking officials, the Foote Mineral Company and the Union Carbide Corporation for an injuction to restrain the importation of Rhodesian chrome. I believe when the Bird Amendment was passed it was said that chrome was a vitally-needed strategic material for American security, that most of it was coming from Russia and that it was wrong that America should be dependent for any of her strategic materials upon Communist countries; and that was why it was absolutely essential for them to have Rhodesian chrome.
Having read such part of the proceedings in the action as I can, what now appears is, first, that the American use of chrome is 90 per cent. for domestic purposes (making pots and pans for their kitchens) and only 10 per cent. for strategic purposes; that there has been a big fall in purchases from Russia, that now they get the material from Turkey; and that so far from their being short of chrome there was such an enormous quantity of chrome in the stockpile that the American Government are at the moment selling off 1,300,000 tons of it which are surplus to their requirements. They have something like 40 years' supply in their stockpiles. In describing this on the 31st of last month in the Senate, Senator Kennedy said:Who are we kidding? American industry consumes 900 thousand tons of chromate annually. We obtain that amount from the world market—without buying from Rhodesia.259Under the new authority permitting disposal of 1.3 million tons of stockpile ore—we would not need to buy chrome ore for 18 months. And even then, our remaining stockpiles of 4 million tons would sustain our defense needs for 40 years or more.I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack could tell us the present position in that respect.
Lastly, my Lords, our attitude to Rhodesia must inevitably affect the whole of this country's reputation in black Africa. I must say that I thought the Government made a bad start in this respect by agreeing to sell arms to South Africa; but this present issue is, both from the point of view of our own reputation and economically, important to us. Our total exports to Rhodesia used to be £30 million a year. We have lost that £30 million out of a total of £19,000 million. Our exports to Nigeria are far higher than £30 million; and to black Africa they totalled, in the last year, £560 million. So, economically, our reputation in black Africa is of great importance to us.
But far more than that matters our reputation as a country; and I congratulate the Government on their present attitude to Rhodesia because I am quite sure that the sending out of the Royal Commission and the publication of its Report has done a great deal to improve our image in black Africa. This is the first time that the white people have actually gone to ask the black people (who represent 19 out of every 20) of the country what they think ought to be done in their country. I agree with the noble Baroness: I do not think things will ever be the same in Rhodesia. Therefore I congratulate the Government on what they have done. May I also very respectfully congratulate them on accepting the Amendment of the Opposition which will, I should have thought, meet with the approval of the whole House if on reflection, as I hope will be the case, the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, does not press his Amendment to a Division.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, I wonder whether I might ask one question arising out of the economic argument that he used. He spoke of the value of our exports to other African countries. He did not mention the value of our imports from other African coun- 260 tries. In fact, we have a very considerable adverse balance of trade, and if all exports ceased we should probably, on balance, be better off.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Loan GOODMAN
My Lords, as it seems that that particular inquiry is not likely to provoke a reply, perhaps I might start on a few observations of my own. To the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, I hasten to say that I cannot reply to that question. In relation to the noble Lord's Amendment, may I add my own appeal that this should not be pursued? I might express to him an argument that does not touch on the question of the efficacy of sanctions; for this is an arguable matter and I have expressed my own view that while no amount of sanctions are likely to bring that particular Government to its knees, sanctions in combination with other matters might do so. But have we not got to consider that the Pearce Commission went out to interrogate a great many people, many of whom asked them, as I read the Report, what would happen if they gave a "No" answer? They were told by the Commission that sanctions would then continue. Would it not be an extreme breach of faith if now we withdraw sanctions on that consideration and on no other consideration? I think that what has been salved from this situation—mention has been made of this—is that we still retain a degree of authority and good faith on the part of the African people that we should not have retained if the Commission had not been conducted as it has been. I cannot help feeling that the suggestion that we should now betray the Commission by destroying sanctions would be a rather woeful conclusion to what is still not a terribly happy affair.
The second argument I would present to the noble Lord, which is really a more fundamental one, is that I do not think it is to the advantage of white Rhodesians that sanctions should be withdrawn. What one must not do in Rhodesia is to leave a situation in which the African feels total desperation. What is really being suggested is that by withdrawing sanctions we withdraw totally any suggestion that we are supporting him in his perfectly legitimate fight to secure political recognition. I believe that if we leave the African in that position the consequences 261 will be dire indeed. The whole purpose and logic of the operation in which many of us have been concerned—I speak now solely as a private person—was the belief that it was the best of two alternatives; and what we were seeking to do in Rhodesia has been stated I think by the noble Lord in impeccable terms. What we were seeking to do was not to allow the white Rhodesian to continue unlawfully and immorally to dominate the black Rhodesian, nor to allow the black Rhodesian to wrench power from the white Rhodesian in circumstances which produced a total destruction of white interests; but to see whether we could achieve a multiracial society in which they could live side by side with a proper recognition of the electoral power of each element, with a hope, rather more than a faint hope, that political considerations might so coalesce that you found a Party system that was not devised purely on the question of pigmentation and with people discovering that they had interests in common despite the colour of their skin. On both those grounds I would ask the noble Lord to consider whether he is really assisting the possible solution of this matter, which I still regard as a possibility, by suggesting that a voice should be sent out from this country saying that we recognise that the fate of Rhodesia can be left not to the Rhodesians, as has been suggested, but purely to the white Rhodesians; and to remove any prospect or hope from the black Rhodesians that they can look for aid from us.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, obviously I must give very great weight to what the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has said. But would he not admit that there is something in this argument: that power is in the hands of the white Rhodesian, and that the best thing that we can do to help the black Rhodesian is to have it in the hands of a different kind of white Rhodesian? Are we not more likely to get that if Rhodesians are not living under a siege economy? Would he not perhaps agree with me that if we had not had sanctions at all, Mr. Smith might have been disposed of years ago and a more moderate leader have taken his place?
§ LORD GOODMAN
My Lords, I am compelled to say to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, that that is an extremely 262 hopeful assessment of the situation of which I could find no sign or evidence when I was in Rhodesia. I am not a Rhodesia expert. I hope to say a word to my noble friend Lord Foot on the question of why I arrived at the appalling mistake that he has attributed to me and which I think will be explained by the recognition that I am not a Rhodesia expert. But I am a believer in reason and logic—two commodities which find very little support in society in these days. I would say to the noble Lord that I do not believe that the abandonment of sanctions would be anything but an encouragement to the more extreme elements in Rhodesia. That is my belief. I do not believe that it would be an encouragement to the white liberal element in Rhodesia which certainly exists. Hence, I think that one can reinforce the suggestion that this Amendment, far from being helpful, will he damaging to the policy that the British Government desire to pursue. I think that the noble Lord has some responsibility—if I may venture to say so; I do not think he needs any urging from me in the discharge of his responsibilities by recourse to the strength of his feelings—not to promote a policy which may be injurious to the cause that we all share. I think I will say no more than that.
My Lords, may I say a word about the Report because the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, analysed it with some skill. I read it with immense care. I suppose that there was no one in the whole wide world who had a greater interest in discrediting that Report than I had. I fell upon it with an avidity with which I have not fallen on any volume since many years ago when, perhaps, a work of my favourite author might have emerged. I studied it with care and I arrived at the unhappy conclusion that it was very difficult to assail its findings. May I just point this out to the noble Lord. The question whether you have a majority of 90 per cent. or 99 per cent. is largely irrelevant against the fact that if you study the Report you will find that Mr. Smith's own Chiefs did not support him.
I think this was one of the basic reasons why Mr. Smith believed, and unquestionably believed with total fervour and sincerity, that he would get a "Yes" answer. He was persuaded that the 263 Chiefs would all say "Yes" and be believed, as it turned out, erroneously. I know nothing about the anthropological condition of Rhodesia; and Mr. Smith appears to have known even less, if I may venture to say so since he worked on the assumption that the Chiefs led the tribes and spoke for them, and that what they said went. When I read Lord Pearce's Report I found that it was quite clear that this was a fundamental error. The Chiefs did no such thing. The Chiefs did not lead the tribes, the Chiefs spoke for the tribes; and in matters outside the tribal customs the tribes were not in the least influenced by what the Chiefs said.
If the noble Lord reads the Report he will find that a majority of the Chiefs said, "No", and therefore there was never any real prospect—when one comes to analyse the situation—that the Chiefs would have said "Yes", and hence that the tribal Africans would have said "Yes". And Mr. Smith pinned his entire faith on the certainty that the tribal Africans would say "Yes", almost to a man. Hence, when he got the very disagreeable, and what he regarded as the perverse, view of the metropolitan Africans, the urban Africans, he was not in the least disconcerted; he was quite convinced that when the day came when they got out to the tribal areas there would be an overwhelming vote in his favour.
May I say a word to my noble friend Lord Foot? I do not in the least mind admitting error—a great deal of error. In my day I have made as many mistakes as most people, but the explanation of my mistake has a little relevance in this matter and is of some importance. In fact the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, put his finger on it. What I said was that if the African was asked whether he preferred what he had got now to the proposals that had been extracted, with immense care and difficulty, and in the most arduous fashion, from Mr. Smith it appeared to me unlikely that an African, or any other human being answering that question, would say, "No". It still appears to me to be unlikely. But what I see now—in distinction from what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine: he does not believe it—is that that question could not have been asked. It is 264 now quite clear to me that the African was not going to reply to that question; he was going to reply to quite a different question. He would reply in exactly the same way to any question asking him to place reliance on the Smith régime. If he had been asked whether he wanted a plum pudding and a pot of jam delivered to him in the morning by Mr. Smith, he would have uttered a raucous, "No".
This, if I may say so, is a highly encouraging sign. I take it to be some vindication of the freedom of the human spirit. And however much I deplore the answer—because I think the solution in Rhodesia would have been achieved by the adoption of these methods; I think that the African may well have been wrong in arriving at the conclusion which he did—nevertheless it is not an answer that one is entitled to reject. Nor do I think that any purpose is served by seeking to impugn the validity of the Pearce finding. I am in some agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, when he talks about lawyers in their historic role. He, of course, was talking only about barristers. We had, in Lloyd George, if I may point it out (I cannot, I fear, resist the opportunity of scoring a small point in quite another battle) a naturally splendid solicitor.
In any event, I think that the British Government have achieved quite a lot. There has been sent out to the world a message that probity still exists in international affairs. I never had any doubt about this investigation, since I had total faith in Sir Alec in this matter. He has, if I may say so—and he needs no tribute from me—behaved in a fashion which I think will bring him a great deal of historic praise. I never had any doubt that in embarking on this matter he would fulfil his obligations. Others had such doubts, and quite legitimately expressed them. But now that we have sent out a message that we have honourably discharged the duty that we were going to do, I believe it would be wrong to lose the benefit that should come to us throughout the world from having done something—however unethically, however clumsily—honestly, and with a due regard to our moral obligations. Hence I think that this Report should be unanimously accepted.
I have said that I am totally unrepentant about the view that I formed of what 265 the Africans would say. If the noble Lord, Lord Foot, had studied a few other observations I made at the same time, he would have found that I never claimed to be an African expert. I never really met an African. My colleagues and I were sent out to see whether we could extract from Mr. Smith certain proposals that might be acceptable as a basis for a settlement. The only Africans I met on any terms of intimacy were the very agreeable waiters at the Meikel's Hotel, and I may say that I would rate them as a "Yes" to a man. But what the views of other Africans might be and what considerations might have weighed in their minds, it would have been a great nonsense for me to assess. I viewed the situation on the basis that there was a prototype reasonable African—the African on the Clapham omnibus, if I may use that phrase—who could not fail to see that his advantage would be served by saying "Yes".
What happened instead was that people who were politically dominated for years seized the opportunity of being treated as free men for a few seconds to utter a cry of defiance. This answer was a cry of defiance against the Smith régime. Hence—this is my main reason for speaking to-day—I should like to send out a few words that I hope might register with Mr. Smith. I have never taken the view that Mr. Smith was a villain. I never took the view that he would seek to renage on the agreement. This is where I differed with many people with whom I have had long associations and agreements for years. I think Mr. Smith would have carried out the agreement. One has only got to look at the Pearce Report to see the rather tragic irony that it confirms my view in a very unexpected fashion, because while the black African was busy saying: "I do not trust Mr. Smith. My reason for saying 'No' is not because I am concerned with the niceties of this agreement, but because I do not believe he will honour any agreement," the white African was saying exactly the reverse. A major reason for the white African expressing his approval of the agreement as recorded in that Report was that he was satisfied that it was better to have an arrangement which brought majority rule to the Africans in an orderly fashion over a period of time than to leave a situation that must end in bloodshed. He was affirm- 266 ing his determination to maintain the agreement precisely at the moment when the black African was rejecting it for the very reverse reason. This is the tragic irony of the whole situation.
What I would say to Mr. Smith is this, and perhaps this has some relevance to the observations by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. It would not I think have mattered if this Commission had been sent out four months earlier or six months earlier. It would be, if I may say so, a rather frivolous method of seeking to procure a snap result for a historic purpose that the Government sent a Commission a few weeks earlier or a few weeks later. I think the decision the Government wanted was the considered decision of the people. Nor do I think it was relevant that people agitated and conducted political campaigns, because the right to conduct a political campaign was contained in the agreement. Provision was made in the agreement that people should have access to the radio and to newspapers and that they should campaign. Mr. Smith has quite a lot for which to blame himself. It would have been difficult to manifest publicly a more ungracious attitude towards the Africans than he did from the moment that agreement was concluded.
I do not want to say anything about the Todds. I personally have suffered at the hands of Miss Todd, a very pre-possessing young lady who I am sure socially it would be highly desirable to entertain, but about those political judgments I have very little doubt. Mr. Smith's behaviour in relation to the Todds was not remotely tolerable, and in making clear to Mr. Smith that he must not do it the Commission were doing no more that fulfilling their obligation to see that political conditions existed in which a true answer could be obtained. The Commission cannot be blamed for this in the slightest degree. Mr. Smith should not have locked up the Todds. It was political ineptitude of the highest order, and the sort of ineptitude that is in key with his own firm belief that his tribal Africans would all give a "Yes" answer and that all the Africans loved him. I do not want to sneer at Mr. Smith. I believe that in all sincerity he maintains the belief that he is popular and liked by his Africans as a father of his people. This Report will not 267 have brought a more devastating disappointment to any human being than to Mr. Smith, and I would urge from this Chamber that he reviews his position in a fashion which might bring some advantages.
First of all, it is great nonsense to say that he will achieve nothing by talking to the Africans, because all they want is a change of the terms. He would achieve miracles by talking to the Africans if he merely discussed the terms with them. No great revision of these terms would be necessary to achieve a settlement with a large number of moderate Africans, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, has rightly put his finger on a change of attitude on the part of Africans that has appeared over recent months and in the least year or so. It would not be necessary for Mr. Smith to revolutionise these proposals in order to secure more than a modicum of acceptance by the Africans throughout the country. What he would have to do is to show that he rated them as human beings; that he, too, regarded them as worthy of the self-respect of which, by the answer they have now given, they show they regard themselves as worthy.
The African answer is something from which we can all learn. It would have been great folly for us to believe that we know the inner workings of the African mind. I do not accept the suggestion in Lord Coleraine's Amendment that the Rhodesian society is a totally unsophisticated one. He will find Africans who have been trained, who have had the benefit of education, perfectly capable of discharging the most sophisticated activities. If one can find a few samples from the great mass who are capable of doing this, it must arouse more than a sensible suspicion that there are a great many more who can do the same thing. After all, as I said previously, the exercise of a vote is not a particularly sophisticated operation. One does not have to be a profound student of human affairs to sense instinctively who is on one's side; and if I were voting in Rhodesia I think the problem might be solved more easily than in other places.
I conclude, my Lords, by saying this. I am profoundly disappointed by this result. Speaking purely as an individual, 268 it is a profound disappointment to me and it would be hypocritical not to say so. But all is not lost, and if we maintain the authority that I believe the Pearce Commission have given to us, if we maintain the faith of the African people that we are still there to see justice as between them and the people who they believe are dominating them, something good may still come out of it.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I will say at the beginning of my speech what I had intended to say at the end, because after the long and extremely interesting session we have had, a great many may leave the Chamber and I want the conclusion at which I have arrived to be registered by as many as possible. I recommend that sanctions be abandoned. I do not recommend that they be abandoned to-day, because the Government cannot afford to quarrel with any of their voters in the Lobbies of the House of Commons between now and the end of July. Nor can they afford to quarrel with Ireland or with anybody else. But I beg the Government to abandon sanctions before they come back to Parliament and ask us to renew them. That is really all I need say, but I am going to say quite a bit more.
First of all, I did go and see Mr. Ian Smith in Rhodesia last March. I rather think he is a man I admire and that he knows how to govern his country according to his lights and the environment in which he lives. Who can do other than that? Secondly, I would like to praise the Rhodesians over the last three quarters of a century for the way they have turned a desert into a land, if not flowing with milk and honey, at any rate where there is food and clothing for most, if not for all, and housing for many. And, remember, it was a desert three quarters of a century ago. Then I had, in a separate interview, an hour with Lord Pearce, Lord Harlech and Sir Glynne-Jones. I considered that extremely interesting, and I was honoured that they spared me an hour to talk to them. I imagine, from my knowledge of some of those men and from the talk I had with them, that they would do any job they undertook with the utmost propriety and with the utmost intelligence. That I think they have done.
269 At this stage I see no value whatever in blaming Sir Alec Douglas-Home or Mr. Smith for what has happened. That will do no good to anybody. Indeed, I would praise them both for having arrived at a settlement. I only deeply regret that, if we take the advice of the Government, or even the advice of the noble Lord who spoke last from the Benches opposite, it is going to be a very long time before anything (whatever it may be) is settled in Rhodesia.
I want to examine the question of acceptability, because, although I admire the work of the Pearce Commission—I have read the whole Report in detail, and have thought of the ingenious ways in which they tried to test their own opinion—I think a mistake was made by those who thought that you could consult 5 million people on the question of acceptability. I ask myself: What did these people vote for?—and here I seem to have a little support from the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. I do not believe for one moment that they voted on the terms of the settlement. I do not believe that most of the 5 million black Africans understood the settlement, or could understand it. I think they voted against Mr. Smith, or against the white man, or possibly just voted against the Government. That is something with which all of us are familiar. Every voter in this country likes to vote against the Government from time to time, and that is why they say: "Let us have a change."
I think of two other votes held recently in this world of ours. One was by the French on the question of whether we should be welcomed into Europe. Millions of Frenchmen took a delight in abstaining in order to show their dislike of President Pompidou. Millions of them did not think at all about Britain or whether Britain should go into Europe. They thought: "Here is a chance of voting against the Government" or "abstaining against the Government"; and that they did. Then, if your Lordships turn your minds to the railwaymen: Did they vote because they really wanted to stage further industrial action? I do not for a moment believe it. They voted because if they voted "Aye" there was a good chance of getting a "tenner", and if they voted "No" there was not such a good chance.
270 I think it was as simple as that, plus a tremendous loyalty, fellow to fellow and men to leaders. Did the Irish vote to go into Europe entirely because Irish voters were concerned in the matter? I do not believe it. They thought: "Here is a chance to vote against the I.R.A. without getting our heads chopped off"; and they gave the Prime Minister of Ireland a tremendous fillip. So it appears to me that these votes, plebiscites and ballots very often fail in their purpose or are counter-productive.
I have noted with great interest that Sir Alec Douglas-Home himself has said—whatever he may have said about the Five Principles in this Motion which the noble Baroness has moved to-day—that he reserves his opinion as to whether anything like the Fifth Principle could be applied again. I do not think that 5 million Africans, at the stage of education and development at which they are at present, will ever agree to any settlement, however you put it to them. And why not? Because among them there are 100,000 or 200,000 who are better educated—some very well educated; some sophisticated; some, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said, extremely intelligent, knowledgeable and capable people—who will say: "No settlement as now contemplated by people in Southern Africa or people in Britain will give us the power that we want, the votes that we should like to have in order to acquire power." I mean by that power of government. They will lead opinion, and the black people, if ever they can he consulted again, will always say "No" to any settlement. I therefore do not believe that this idea of appealing on acceptability to vast masses of people is sensible.
Nor do I believe in majority rule as being the solvent for all the problems of this wicked world. I have noticed two things about majority rule. The first is that, apart from countries like Britain, where we have quite definitely developed a preference to vote as opposed to shooting (that is what has happened over the last 600 years in Britain, I think), I do not know of any country where this preference is so marked. Apart from us here, nobody wants majority rule if they are the Government: that is the last thing they want. They want power, and they 271 want to retain power; and they do it by every hook, every crook and every device. The whole object of elections is to acquire power and, if you have not reached the stage of development that we have reached here—if you are in power, say, in South America, in Africa or in most parts of the world—to retain the power. Therefore you do not want elections; you do not want votes; and you do not want majority rule.
The contra to this argument is that the people who want majority rule are those who think that it will give them the power they have not got: and very often that is what happens. But as soon as they get majority rule, they abandon it. Every country in the African Continent that has attained independence has abandoned majority rule. We set out fairly, with good intentions, to give them majority rule, with votes for all, on the Westminster model of Constitution, and every single country that was a former British Colony, one after the other, has abandoned it. So now what is left is a dictatorship, a semi-dictatorship or a one-Party State. I bet my bottom rand (I will not say dollar; I am a South African) that if you gave majority rule to the 5 million Rhodesians, after a few years of less effective, less efficient and less prosperous government they would permit the ruling Government of the day to make a one-Party State, to lock up the Opposition, or create a dictatorship: majority rule would disappear from this earth if it was granted. It is a mistake to think that the right way to treat ex-Colonial peoples coming to independence is necessarily to give them majority rule.
It always was a mistake to nail the Five Principles to any flag or mast, and I deeply regret that this was done—because all the trouble has arisen out of it. I therefore advocate abolishing the Principles entirely, taking off the sanctions and letting Rhodesia, subject to the pressures inside its own borders, settle the matter as it will, with time. And do not let us suppose or imagine that the Rhodesians are all a bad lot of cruel bastards: nothing of the kind. Many of them are our own people who, a generation or two ago—my father was one of them, and incidentally I must say that I have no financial interest to declare in that country—went from Britain to South 272 Africa. They made this land fertile, gave it an infrastructure and a civilised way of life; and the things we are talking about to-day would have been quite impossible if it were not for the splendid work of the settlers during the last three-quarters of a century.
Sir Alec Douglas-Home enhances his argument in another place by making our flesh creep, by telling us, "If you take off the Beira control the Russians will step in and create their own control". I do not believe it for a moment, although it did help his weak argument for the moment to say that. I repeat, I do not believe it for a moment. We need to fear the Russians and the Chinese in Africa, but the best way to keep them out is to strengthen, rather than weaken, the countries of Southern Africa. Moreover, though the loyalty of the officers and the lower-deck men of our Navy would never be disputed by me, I still think it is a mistake to make people do an absolutely insane exercise—sailing up and down the coast to do absolutely nothing at all; because that is really what they are doing. It is too much to ask of loyal men. Take off the Beira control: take it off anyway, even if you are going to continue sanctions, because it does not do any good. I would repeat this to the noble Baroness: it does not do any good.
Now the Africans have a touching faith—and this bears upon their vote: they think that Britain has the power to do them some good; and, basing themselves upon this touching faith, they say, "No: now it is up to Britain. Sir Alec is a terribly nice, kind gentleman; he and the kind British will do something for us which Mr. Smith has not done." Every one of us in this Chamber, my Lords, knows that we have not this power. I am no strategist but, with Ireland on our hands and without the large American bomber which can carry half a dozen tanks and a hundred men at a time, we have not the power to land in that country, to conquer and police it. Short of doing that, there is no other way to impose our wishes upon Rhodesia. It is quite absurd to talk about our having the power, and it is most pathetic that the black man should have this touching faith. I would go further and say that even if we had the power (together with a few of those great aeroplanes) we have not the will. Thank God we have not! Do not let us forget that there are 4 273 million old soldiers in this land. They do not forget that the Rhodesians were their comrades, and they do not want to fight the Rhodesians any more than any of us did, or do. So I would affirm that we have not the power to help the Africans and, even if we had the power, we have not the faith.
Now I come to these words "honourable" and "dishonourable". The noble Baroness used them in her speech. I think she said that she hoped we should always "do honourably", or words to that effect. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, although I forget the exact words that he used, made the same implication in his speech. Over and over again people speak about "the honour of the British" being engaged in this matter, or they refer to the moral or the ethical attitude. If you have done your best and failed, there is nothing dishonourable in admitting that you have failed. Anyone who has been a soldier and who has fought a battle will know that. "Selling them down the river"—this is another of the tendentious statements which are all calculated to bring a certain amount of emotion into what ought to be a reasoned decision. I say there is nothing dishonourable about admitting that we have failed, any more than there was in our getting out of the United States when we failed to hold the American Colonies, or among the Scots, when they recognised the Redcoats, as they once did—though they did not like it.
Sir Alec again reinforces his argument for delay, for hoping that something will turn up, by saying that we might lose just as much trade in the rest of Africa as we might gain in Rhodesia were we to abandon sanctions. I do not believe that. Apart from the argument of my noble friend Lord Coleraine about the balance of payments, there is another point which we had better not overlook. It is this: we are the only country who loyally carry out sanctions. Nobody is more double-faced about sanctions than black Africa. They shout the loudest, and they trade both ways to the utmost possible extent; and it is great nonsense to suppose for one moment that they would take their trade away from us. What they would do is to take it round the corner so that it does not show so much.
274 May I remind myself, and indeed all your Lordships, that the object of war is to make people change their minds when they do not want to do it; and that is why people stand up against you in a war? The object of a cold war is the same: to make people change their minds. Sanctions represent a cold war. We have failed to make these people change their minds; nor can we expect that they will come forward and tell us that they have changed their minds. We shall not hear from Smith. We shall not hear anything unless we go out and seek their friendship and talk to them. I believe that this land of ours would do well to take a leaf out of President Nixon's book. He is no fool. I cannot imagine any two régimes, Governments or, if you like, ways of life, which are more different in every conceivable way than those of the Russians and the Americans. Yet Mr. Nixon goes and talks to and with the Russians, and most of the world now think that this talk has helped towards keeping the peace for a little longer—perhaps a little longer than might otherwise have been the case.
Is it not really rather humbug to say, "We cannot talk to the South Africans; we cannot talk to the Rhodesians"? Is it not rather humbug, and would it not really be better to talk to them, to send a Minister of high rank to talk to them without inhibitions, to talk about some of the menaces which really do persist in that part of the world—the menace to the Indian Ocean and the Cape route—without the prejudice which now inhibits talking, so much so that even Tory Ministers who would dearly like to get off the hook cannot go and talk to the South Africans? I can understand Labour Ministers not going, but for Tory Ministers not to go seems to me quite incredible. I do ask them to think again about this.
My Lords, Britain has lost many battles in her time; she can admit to having lost the battle of Rhodesia without losing any of the faith or pride which many of us share. She will, on the other hand, free this Southern Continent of Africa—and particularly little Rhodesia—from an unwise, an unfair and an unprofitable exercise which penalises them and penalises us, diminishes the extent to which we can help other countries with aid and is altogether out of line with our history. I therefore earnestly 275 urge Mr. Heath and Sir Alec Douglas-Home to take off sanctions as soon as the Whips will allow them to do so.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I support wholeheartedly the Motion put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, as amended by my noble friend Lord Shepherd. I believe this amended Motion to be the right one and a useful one. I listened most attentively to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, in his advocacy of his Amendment; but he will not be altogether surprised to learn that he did not convince me. He is, as we all know, a man of great courage, conviction and conscience, and I pay him tribute for that. I agreed with the things that he asked for for the Africans when he spoke of the list of desirable things for the African population of Rhodesia, but I would say to him that those things, good though they be and much though I share his desire to see them, cannot be achieved for the African population in a country which has permanent white domination. I would also say that he left out one factor of overriding importance in the things which I, and I think most of us believe must be obtained for the Africans: the rights that any human being, of whatever colour in whatever country, should enjoy in a free society.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, there are many countries in the world, in Africa, Asia and America, where people do not have those rights. That is no reason at all why we, for a territory over which we historically have had control for a long time and for which we still have a moral responsibility, even though the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, does not believe in moral responsibility—
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I did not say that. I said that I did not think that it existed in this case. Indeed, there never was control; the noble Lord is wrong.
§ LORD WALSTON
I am glad that the noble Lord accepts that there is such a thing as moral responsibility, and I hope that he will go along with me in saying 276 that we have a moral responsibility here. We must do all in our power to bring about that moral responsibility.
The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, asked us in effect to reject the findings of the Pearce Commission. His two main points for asking us to do so were, first of all, because, as he said at the outset of his speech, eminent advocates and distinguished civil servants usually made a sorry hash of politics. It is not for me to defend the Pearce Commission, but I would point out that among the Commissioners is the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, who, although I am sure he would have been an eminent advocate had he taken to the Bar, is not such a person, and although he was for a short while in his career a distinguished public servant in Washington, is essentially a politician, and a politician of great ability and distinction. Although the noble Lord, Lord Pearce, was in his day an eminent advocate, his reputation to-day is founded upon his ability to weigh evidence, to assess the facts of a case and deliver an impartial judgment at the end of it. That argument falls to the ground because of the ability of the Commissioners.
His second argument—and I am compressing it, naturally—is that you cannot believe the figure of 99 per cent, of the African population which rejected the proposals; you get a 99 per cent. rejection only when there is something approaching a totalitarian régime and intimidation. I would make only two comments on that. First of all, our jury system works very largely not on 99 per cent. but on 100 per cent. The decisions given by our juries are normally unanimous. There is no question of fear, of oppression, of intimidation; they reach their decisions solely on the grounds of weighing the evidence. We take ordinary people, not highly qualified people, and ask them what they feel when they have heard the evidence on both sides. That is what happened in Rhodesia. When you talk about intimidation, about totalitarian methods, about Police States, what about Garfield Todd and Miss Todd? What about Mr. and Mrs. Chinamano? Not only were they and many others locked up while this was going on, but they are still under detention in spite of the fact that the whole problem now has been settled, when there is no longer anything at issue. Yet the present Government of 277 Rhodesia behaves in what can only be a totalitarian Police State manner in keeping these people, and many others, under detention with no charge brought against them. I suggest that the grounds on which we are asked in effect to reject this Report cannot really hold any water at all. More important than that, as many noble Lords have asked, where do we go from here? What is the future now? We cannot just let matters ride. I am all for taking things slowly. We do not want to gallop into any new venture, but we must be thinking and acting in order to bring this sorry tragedy, if possible, to an honourable end—and I use the word, "honourable" without any sense of shame whatsoever.
First of all, we must maintain sanctions and, where possible, strengthen them. It is true that imports into Rhodesia continue, and we know perfectly well, although we talk about having lost 100 per cent. of our imports into Rhodesia, that there are many goods from this country which find their way into Rhodesia through other countries costing the Rhodesians more and possibly bringing us less. Imports continue into Rhodesia, as their statistics show. Exports from Rhodesia also continue, but in both cases the effect on the Rhodesian economy is undoubtedly a harmful one. The things they import, whether from ourselves or in greater degrees from other countries—our allies and friends—cost them more. They receive less for the things they export because the goods go through other hands. Therefore the effect on their balance of payments is undoubtedly a serious one, and that is one of the reasons which brought Mr. Smith to the stage which he arrived at in his negotiations with the noble Lord, Lord Goodman.
But more important than either of those two sanctions, the sanctions on exports and imports, is the interdiction of access to the capital markets of the world, particularly the capital markets of this country. So long as Rhodesia is unable to raise capital its economy will be slowly strangled. I am not happy about that; I do not relish it at all; it does nobody any good. But it will do good in the long run if it continues to bring such pressure on the régime in Rhodesia that they are prepared—as they 278 have shown in the last 12 months they are prepared—to talk, and talk with somewhat more fluidity. So I do urge on any noble Lords who have any doubts about the value of sanctions, the value of strengthening sanctions so far as possible.
But we must do more than that: we must bring as much pressure as we can on, above all, South Africa and on Portugal. It is thought that we have no power in these matters, but I do not believe that we are as powerless as all that. I would say, in talking about South Africa, in particular, that it is an intolerable situation that a country which appears to be, and professes to be, friendly to us, and which is so dependent on us for much of its well-being, its investment and its exports, should be prepared to send its own armed forces into a British Colony in revolt in order to assist the rebellious forces of that colony. That has happened, and so far as I know we have made no protest about it. I believe that such a protest should be made very clearly to South Africa.
But here I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale. At the same time as exerting pressures of all kinds on South Africa itself, it is essential that we should have talks at the highest level between the British Government and the South African Government. I freely admit that the last Government were just as guilty as the present one in their omission in this respect, and in certain other things to which I shall come later, so I am not taking a Party political point. The fault, alas! is on both sides. But we must, in the talks to which I have referred, use all our efforts to convince the South African Government and the South African people that the future welfare of their country—the future safety of the West, if you care to put it that way—depends on a speedy and a peaceful solution of the Rhodesian problem. Their interest in this is as great as ours, and in some ways, because of their proximity, greater.
Similarly, we must take such an initiative with Portugal. Portugal is very fond of pointing out that we are her oldest ally or that she is our oldest ally. Can it really be maintained that it is the act of an old friend, an old ally, to assist 279 a colony in revolt? What would Portugal say if we assisted Angola and Mozambique in their struggles? They would say a great deal, and yet they give invaluable assistance to Rhodesia and then talk to us of our obligations as their oldest ally. This we must continue to point out to them. We must also point out that they are members of NATO, as we are, and that as such they have obligations to their allies in NATO and they are failing in those obligations by helping to keep Mr. Smith and his Government in power. The safety of Western Europe and the North Atlantic cannot be assured by a modern type of Maginot Line drawn around Europe. The safety of Western Europe and the North Atlantic depends, as we are often told, on what goes on in the Indian Ocean, in the South Atlantic and in the African Commonwealth. For that reason, if for no other, a solution of the Rhodesian problem is essential to Western Europe and it is the duty of all our allies in NATO to do all they can to help us to bring about a solution which will be for their benefit as well as ours.
Thirdly, we must pursue this problem—and I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, gave the Government credit for this, as I do also—in the United Nations. We know that there are many fellow members of the United Nations who are not as strong as we are in the imposition of sanctions. My noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner mentioned the imports of chrome by the United States from Rhodesia. It is intolerable that people who profess to be our friends and who are full members of the United Nations, with all the privileges and the obligations that that entails, should either deliberately, through acts of their own Government, or tacitly by turning a blind eye to the actions of private companies in their own countries, allow sanctions to be weakened in this way. We must continue to press and publicise as widely as we can all those countries, all those Governments and all those individual firms, who transgress against sanctions and who thereby not only make a mockery of the United Nations and its solidarity but make our task in Rhodesia and in Southern Africa that much more difficult.
But that is not enough for us to do. I believe we want something rather more 280 positive than strengthening sanctions and gaining the support of South Africa and Portugal and the United Nations. Sooner or later—and it will be sooner if sanctions are made more effective—the time will be ripe for another initiative. This initiative must not be taken by us alone; it must be taken in concert with those countries most concerned with the solution to the Rhodesian problem, particularly countries of the Commonwealth, the neighbouring countries of Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya, and I would urge on the Government, as I have done before, that Mr. Jomo Kenyatta be asked at some suitable time to convene a conference of those countries, possibly with South Africa—I would be happy to have them included because their interest is as great as any other—and ourselves under the chairmanship of Mr. Kenyatta, a respected and wise elder statesman of the African continent. We could then work out jointly the type of settlement which we believe is fair and just and looks after the interests of the whole of Southern Africa and not merely one section, be it the black section or the white section. I believe that that is the only way in which we are likely to arrive at a settlement which will be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. I believe that this conference should be held with the minimum of publicity and with no television cameras or interviews while it is going on.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, has he ever read Alice in Wonderland?
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I certainly have read Alice in Wonderland, and I think it is very valuable reading for any politician. But I also think it is very valuable for any politician to have a real assessment of the facts as they are to-day, and an appreciation, not of the ancient power of the British Empire as it was in the days of Queen Victoria, but of the value of the Commonwealth and the importance of the members of the Commonwealth as it is at the present time. Both Governments have failed to make use of that in attempting a solution of this problem. Having arrived at some agreed policy—which will take months—I would hope that those countries which have worked it out between themselves would give a guarantee that if the policy is accepted by the people 281 of Rhodesia they will see that the terms of that settlement are carried out. Then there need be no fear of mistrust of Mr. Smith or anyone on the further Right who may succeed him. There will be an international guarantee of the neighbouring countries to ensure that the agreement is adhered to. Only if we can get a common policy of this kind agreed in this way will there be any hope of a final settlement to the Rhodesian problem.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, as frequently happens, I have the privilege of speaking immediately after the noble Lord, Lord Walston, whose speech I enjoyed. Although he and I find ourselves in agreement on many subjects, we generally disagree on political matters. I will not attempt to deal with his speech in the manner in which he dealt with those that preceded him. I am anxious to make a few comments and not to be diverted along other paths. I will therefore refrain from commenting in detail on the noble Lord's speech, but I assure him that it was an interesting contribution to which I listened with great attention.
Official sources disclose that in the first German war, the number of those killed by total Empire forces was just over 900,000 and that in the second war started by Germany the number killed by those forces totalled just over 300,000. In our wisdom, it seems, hatred has been suppressed and it is only a few years ago that we put out the red carpet on the floor of the Palace of Westminster to receive the German Chancellor. This brings me to the subject of Rhodesia, and I am always perplexed when I see how strong emotions run and heat is generated when the various Parties discuss this issue. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, with his vehement invective of the last seven or eight years, has been a rude example of consistency in his venom towards Rhodesia. We must remember that during that time he had important Ministerial responsibility. Presumably, therefore, his views were those of his Government. For how long is this hatred through sanctions to last? Our forefathers, in their disapproval of the naughty American colonists, were satisfied with a period of seven years. Evidently we are likely to continue our sanctional hatred for a good deal longer than that. This is regrettable, because 282 I do not like to see hatred expressed in this way.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, spoke of what he thought was immoral. My noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, on the other hand, said that in her long history (I presume that he was not speaking of the tenure of office of recent Governments) Britain had reneged on her responsibilities. In years past that may have been considered at least unethical, but whether the same applies to-day is another question. I am in the unpleasant position to-day of finding myself in disagreement with the Party line and with my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, for whom we on this side of the House have such great respect. As has been pointed out, it was regrettable that if the Commission had to be established, they took so long to "get cracking ". I doubt whether it is true to say that the time for reconsideration will bring about more likelihood of a peaceful solution. I recall that the Prime Minister said in another place in 1968:The purpose of sanctions is to bring about a negotiation, and that can he the only justification for the policy of sanctions.We have had the negotiations; a settlement was arrived at. But we are no further. I am confident that something different should have been resolved.
I listened attentively to the remarks of my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie. She was as fluent, efficient and persuasive as ever, though I am still not convinced that sanctions should necessarily be continued. I find myself in large measure in agreement with my noble friend Lord Coleraine, who was extremely convincing in his intensive analysis of the phases through which this problem has passed. It is not possible in the short time at one's disposal to refer to all the phases.
In relation to the Government's policy and the Commission, I regret that the item of assessment was not that which I understand the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, would have preferred to see: what is best for the Africans in Rhodesia. We listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, whose brilliance, fluency and speed of delivery made it difficult for a dull brain like mine to take it all in. We appreciate that he speaks from tremendous experience, and 283 between the logic of my noble friend Lord Coleraine and the attempted rapid destruction of a good part of it by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, we must create a balance, and I admit to finding this not an easy exercise.
A change of Government in Rhodesia, and certainly a change to a more liberal régime, is unlikely. As my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale said, we have no authority in that country and force will not be used. The noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, dealt with the subject, and I rather think the noble Baroness did also, though I have forgotten it, but I have enjoyed talking with her about it. I do not believe that the dropping of sanctions would endanger our trade with the rest of Black Africa. That is ivory tower reasoning and not the experience of the market place. What is our total trade with the whole of Black Africa? It is large and important; but what is going to decide it, my Lords? Price, quality, delivery and terms. Those are the things that will decide what Black Africans buy from Britain.
What do Black Africans really want? Why, they want an increased income. But surely they are unready for the sophisticated position of having within measurable time, to administer a highly complex industrial State. As well as agriculture, Rhodesia, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Walston, emphasised, has a high degree of sophistication about the Africans. Of course, as Lord Fraser of Lonsdale said, there are a considerable number of sophisticated Africans, though if one takes the total number who are registered to vote one asks is that sophistication or is that just evasion because they do not register to vote? But, when one flies over Rhodesia and sees those thousands of kraals, and then goes on to the big estates and sees the hundreds of workers working on them, is one to believe that it can be other than a considerable time—however well we may wish the country—before they are really competent to administer it effectively? No, my Lords; I believe that too rapid a speed would bring disorder.
Lord Walston emphasised the need to the infrastructure of foreign investment. They need it. They need communications of all kinds: reinforcements, re- 284 placements of industry, and so on. But is disorder in Rhodesia going to encourage foreign capital to come into Rhodesia? Not a bit. Remove strong white Government and what would happen? In pretty quick time the Matabele, to use an idiom, would eat up the Mashona. That certainly would not be the setting under which black or white would have peaceful and contented lives and that is why I come to the point of sanctions. Again, I am convinced and satisfied with what my noble friend Lord Coleraine says as to why they should be dropped. I remember that my noble friend Lord Milverton has often said in this House that sanctions are unethical. Is it wrong to drop something that is unethical?
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, would the noble Lord explain why sanctions are unethical against a treasonable regime?
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, for these last seven years I have been consistently saying, based on experience of economic warfare in two wars, that sanctions cannot succeed. They never have and they never will.
§ LORD BARNBY
I owe the Pearce Commission a tribute to their dedication as producers of riot, disorder and destruction. The Africans are still in the superstitious age. Surely, we all know that the power, the magic of the witchdoctor, directs a good deal of the thinking of the country. Intimidation is endemic. Those who have read the speeches in another place last week will have seen many instances of it quoted. Indeed, I think the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, himself admitted that there was a good deal of intimidation. Undoubtedly there was. What the degree of it was none of us can assess, but there are many who have said that it was of a very large degree.
To the whites, the slaughters of Burundi and the Sudan are a sufficient warning of what might well happen if there was too rapid a speed of release of effective Government. Of course, if by sanctions one can destroy the whole 285 economy of Rhodesia, that will not improve matters; those would not be the circumstances under which happiness would come to either blacks or whites.
My Lords, I beg the Government to reconsider. I beg the whole House to review the situation, recognise realities and respect logic. Why should there be further consideration when action now could be taken along the lines of what my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said and which the noble Baroness has repeated. Why prolong the punishment of the sanctions? Remember that a child of 12 in 1965 is to-day a man of 18 in Rhodesia. Time marches on. I say, give them the pay packet now. Appeal for the assistance. If that £5 million plus the £5 million promised had been given seven years ago, think of the advance that would have taken place in African education, particularly agricultural education. I have taken the trouble of going about Africa and going up to some of the 90 stations manned by dedicated whites and blacks developing agricultural knowledge in the tribal trust lands. How they would have been advanced—and it would have been a pittance compared to what disorder is costing the taxpayer in this country and in Ireland. I urge that consideration be given to financial assistance.
My Lords, I remember some past debates in this House as to whether ladies should sit in this House. There were agonised cries of, "Never in my time", and yet to-day ladies grace the scene and add wisdom to our debates. So I feel that it would be wrong to suggest that nothing must be done in the way of hastening financial assistance to the Black Africans, and that is why I suggest that Britain should return to her traditional role of banker, of instructor and of guide to the Black African.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ LORD GARNER
My Lords, any debate on Rhodesia is bound to give rise to a variety of opinions because the problem itself bristles with so many elements from a world almost of make-believe. Rhodesia is a British territory where Britain has never exercised any power. It is the last problem of decolonisation in the British Empire and yet one in which international co-operation through the United Nations is sought. There is in Rhodesia a large disfranchised section 286 and yet that section has virtually been given the veto over any amendment of that Constitution. There are a variety of other anomalies one could point to, and I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, who said there was a total absence of logic and reason, as indeed there is. It is, therefore, all the more satisfactory that this evening we seem to be reaching a broad concensus of opinion in this House, and it certainly is a matter of great relief to me, as a Cross Bencher who has in the past served both Governments, trying to grapple with and solve this difficult issue, that I can stand wholeheartedly behind the Motion moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, as amended by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd.
I wish to make only three brief points: first, perhaps on the Pearce Report, but only to join with others in commending it for its complete fairness, and, to my mind, completely convincing verdict. But though the verdict was so clear the question put, or rather the answers given, did have an element of ambiguity. The Europeans and Africans, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, was suggesting, really gave different answers. The Europeans said "Yes", because they trusted the Smith régime not to allow government to fall too rapidly into what they would regard as uncivilised hands; and the Africans said "No", because they did not trust the régime to honour all the changes fairly.
Secondly, sanctions: I have no doubt in my mind that they must, of course, continue, not least perhaps to give continuing assurance to the Africans in Rhodesia. But I must confess that I personally derive very little comfort or satisfaction from sanctions, and in this I am not critical of any Government; I myself was certainly up to the neck in the sanctions in my time. But this is perhaps the one area where I do have some sympathy with the attitude expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and his supporters. Parenthetically, may I observe here, on the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, that I did not detect in his remarks that he found the Pearce Report, which he criticised in such vehement terms, as recording a verdict of African opinion that was inaccurate. On the terms of his Amendment, I could only go along 287 with it if it assumed that the settlement which he asks Her Majesty's Government to make in the interests of the Rhodesian people as a whole to be one that made very considerable further concessions to the African point of view from the present proposals, and one which in present conditions presumably would require to be imposed by force. But I merely say that in parenthesis.
On sanctions, they were initiated originally, as everyone knows, in the hope that the Smith régime would be replaced by some other Administration with whom a moderate settlement could be reached. As we all know, that did not happen, and after the initial failure to secure this result sanctions were kept on, and indeed intensified, perhaps for two reasons; first, to ensure that they took a real bite into the Rhodesian economy; and second, partly possibly to prove our sincerity to the world. I must say that it strikes me, after six or seven years, that it is really a miserably negative policy to seek to try to bring about the impairment of the economy of a territory which is in fact British arid for which we are responsible. As for the propaganda value, I would have thought now that surely Britain's sincerity is plain for all to see in the whole world, not least for the stand which Her Majesty's Government have taken after the Pearce Report. I think they deserve full credit for that, and I am delighted to know myself, from reports reaching me from a number of countries, that very full credit has indeed been given to them.
But it seems to me illusory to imagine, whatever wording may be used in this House, whatever resolutions perhaps may be passed at the United Nations, that there will be real international acceptance for great intensification. And here I want to put forward a point of view that may not be popular. Much has been said about how Britain alone has carried out sanctions fully and how many foreigners are falling down. That is certainly so, and I am not for one moment seeking to defend the various foreign countries. I merely want to explain a point of view about that. I feel that sometimes we British try to have it both ways. We say that this is a British problem and that we intend to solve it in our own way, as witness the various nego- 288 tiations we have had with Mr. Smith from time to time. But at other times we say, "This is a world problem and the United Nations must go into action". Basically and psychologically this is a British problem; morally it is a British problem, in a way that it is not a problem for other foreign countries; and I can quite understand why other foreign countries say: "This is nothing to do with us in the same way as it has to do with Britain". This was certainly brought home to me most forcefully when I had some discussions with the Japanese Foreign Office in Tokyo about two years ago. Then it was quite clear that in their own hearts and minds they recognised no moral responsibility whatever for a problem which was of absolutely no concern to them.
§ BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? Does that mean, therefore, that nations are absolved from having obligations to mandatory sanctions where these have nothing to do with their own colonial responsibilities?
§ LORD GARNER
My Lords, not in the slightest; and I was not trying to suggest that. I was merely trying to put a point of view certainly felt by a number of foreign countries, and to suggest that any hope that one could get maximum co-operation from all foreign countries was probably illusory. If I am wrong, I shall be very happy. Perhaps what I am going to say next will please the noble Baroness more. Nevertheless, in spite of my reservations, my rather philosophic doubts about them, I agree that there is no alternative to sanctions. Clearly, military force has been and must continue to be ruled out. Sanctions must continue as the one form of pressure we can employ, with the hope expressed in the Motion as amended.
Thirdly, as to the possibility of solution, there is no doubt in my mind that this really must come, and can only come from Rhodesia itself. I personally have some anxieties as to the likelihood of a solution and how early it will come. I think there are obvious dangers of the polarisation that set in some years ago being increased after these excitements. But nevertheless there are, as several noble Lords have pointed out, some encouraging signs. As the noble 289 and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, said, the Africans are adopting a very different line and a very much more moderate and helpful line than was the case some little time ago; they have moved very substantially towards the possibility of a compromise solution. Indeed, as the Pearce Report brings out, there is an increasing number of Europeans who recognise that the aim of their country must be to achieve a multi-racial society in which there is partnership between the two races. It seems to me that our main task must be to encourage the two sides to come together and that we should do nothing to make either side more obdurate by giving it the feeling that we have totally deserted it.
As the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, there is really a parallel with Northern Ireland here. In my view, our task is to try to bring about a coming together of the two sides, and perhaps especially to persuade the major group in power in each case, which is the one closer to us in many ways, to understand where its own best interests for the future lie. Certainly the need for a change in the European attitude is just as great as, if not far greater than, a need for a change in the African attitude, and I was very relieved to hear the words which fell from the lips of the noble Baroness, the Minister of State, this afternoon. Perhaps after all it is not too much to hope that the Pearce Report and all it stood for, when it has really been absorbed and taken in in Rhodesia, may act as a catalyst; that the Europeans may realise that in the long run, for the sake of their children and their children's children, government by consent of the mass will he essential and that they must work for a partnership of multi-racialism. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that more should be done on a man-to-man basis—not, I would suggest, merely in the factory, in business, in education, but ultimately surely also in other walks of life such as in sport, in entertaining in the home, and (why not?) in personal friendship. It seems to me that our task is to encourage to prevail the humanity there is on both sides.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Garner, sits down may I ask him a question? If he says, as he did, that the problem really was 290 Britain's and we should not have expected anybody else to help, how can he justify the continuation of sanctions which stem from an approach to the United Nations?
§ LORD GARNER
I am sorry, my Lords. I must have given a very potted version of my views. I certainly did not intend to, and I am glad to have this opportunity to correct them and also to refer to what the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, was asking about. I was merely putting a point of view. I was not suggesting that it was wrong for us to have gone to the United Nations; I was merely saying that it sometimes suited us to put the emphasis a little more on British responsibility than on the United Nations, and I did not want us to be hypocritical about it. I was not saying that it was wrong for us to seek international support and still less that foreign countries were justified in not observing mandatory resolutions of the United Nations.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ LORD NAPIER AND ETTRICK
My Lords, it is with a sense of not a little depression that I rise again to address a few remarks to your Lordships on Rhodesia. I find that the last time I spoke on this subject was in 1970, when we were approving the Order in Council to continue sanctions. I looked to see what I had said on that occasion and I found that I told your Lordships that I had visited Rhodesia that year and at the end of my visit had put to Mr. Smith that I was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that it was then too late for our two countries to reach a negotiated settlement based upon the Five Principles. Mr. Smith agreed with my conclusion. A few days earlier my right honourable friend Mr. Powell had commented in another place that the prospects for a settlement based upon the only terms that the House of Commons could consider beggared the imagination and that the Foreign Secretary knew that the chances of a settlement were negligible.
Here we are, some 19 months later, and quite simply we have failed, for the moment at any rate, and Mr. Powell was right. However, I should like to pay my tribute to the great efforts of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary who throughout these past 19 months has striven with absolute sincerity to reach an honourable settlement. He 291 has my very real sympathy, because he came so close to success. Our gratitude for the efforts made should also go to all his staff and particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. I am paying him this compliment now because I did not speak the last time Rhodesia was debated in your Lordships' House. If I may say so with great respect, I thought he made a masterly speech this afternoon.
If we are fair to all, we must agree that it was not Mr. Smith who stood in the way of a settlement this time. It was Lord Pearce's Commission and the Fifth Principle. Nothing will now make Mr. Smith renegotiate the November agreement. He offered to implement the agreement if we would do the same. We said that we could not do so. I have always hoped that in these circumstances Mr. Smith would implement his side of the agreement unilaterally, as I believed, and still believe, that this would have a marked effect on world opinion in Rhodesia's favour. However, he has said that he will continue to govern under his 1969 Constitution. I respect the sincerity of the views of the majority of the Party opposite on their adherence to sanctions and the Fifth Principle. I presume they believe that in the ultimate sanctions will bring down the Smith régime. As we all know, there are two sides to any case. My own views, equally sincerely held, are diametrically opposed to those of noble Lords opposite. Not so long ago your Lordships debated the subject of violence in Southern Africa. Some of your Lordships may recall a little of what my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir said on behalf of the Government on that occasion. She insisted that there was only one way to try to influence affairs in Southern Africa and that was to persevere with contact and discussion.
§ LORD NAPIER AND ETTRICK
She said that the Government believed that people's minds could better be changed by contact and discussion than by boycott and isolation. I cannot help wondering how she reconciles those sentiments, with which I wholeheartedly agree, with the Government's present policy of no mutual diplomatic representation whatsoever and the announcement that sanctions are to be maintained. I do not believe that the two things go together. My 292 noble friend went on to say that if we take it upon ourselves to encourage and support violence in Southern Africa we would in logic have to do the same thing to other régimes which we regard as oppressive, and the result could only be chaotic. I trust that no British Government of any Party would ever encourage and support violence in Rhodesia.
It appears to me that when all the fine words have been stripped down to their basic essentials, the question that the African National Council was answering was not whether it liked or disliked the settlement agreement but whether African majority rule would come soon enough for its liking. It evidently did not think that orderly advancement was quick enough. It wanted all, and quickly. That it has received nothing is equally obvious. The Rhodesian Prime Minister has now said that the opportunity to settle with Britain will be lost, possibly for ever, if the Rhodesian African does not show a change of heart on the settlement terms. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary may have said in another place that it was now up to the Rhodesians to sort things out for themselves, but Mr. Smith has qualified this by saying it is now up to the African peoples of Rhodesia to show that the verdict of the Pearce Commission was incorrect and that on reflection they prefer the terms of the settlement to retaining the status quo. Therefore it seems to me that it is up to the Africans themselves to reverse the findings of the Pearce Commission.
This leads me to question very seriously whether we are right to continue with our policy of maintaining sanctions and I have taken into account all that has been said on the subject already this afternoon. My noble friend Lord Barnby has already quoted what the present Prime Minister said in another place in 1968, but I shall say it again because I think it needs repeating. Mr. Heath, when Leader of the Opposition, said,The purpose of sanctions is to bring about a negotiation, and that can be the only justification for the policy of sanctions.We have already had the negotiations; the two Governments reached agreement, and the proposals were subsequently endorsed by both Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Therefore I 293 find this part of our post-Pearce policy a little hard to comprehend.
Everyone knows that those who are hardest hit by sanctions—where they bite at all—are the very people whom we profess to be trying to help. And let there be no doubt, my Lords, if sanctions were ever really to hurt, Rhodesia would immediately be forced into the South African system—something which she has so far successfully resisted and for which she is seldom, if ever, given credit. I must also tell your Lordships that there is a view abroad in Rhodesia that we are pursuing our present policy deliberately to try to foment a civil war. That of course is nonsense; but the feeling is there. Sanctions will not work; they never have done. We may not wish to trade with Rhodesia but, as we all know only too well, there are many who do and who will continue to do so. I venture to suggest that all our efforts at the United Nations will be of no avail.
I do not know whether your Lordships have read an article by Sir Roy Welensky in to-day's Daily Telegraph but, with great respect, I recommend its reading. With permission, I should like to read two paragraphs to your Lordships. He attended the debate in another place last week and, among other things, he writes:Time is running out, but the attitudes that I am concerned about do not enhance the prospects of a peaceful solution. On the contrary, I am beginning to wonder if in some quarters they are not directed to achieving the reverse result. Far from creating an atmosphere in Rhodesia which would bring the races together at the conference table, they seem calculated to make certain that this is delayed for as long as possible.He goes on to say a little later:With due respect to the House of Commons, the fact that there are elements in it that persist in continuing the myth that it can decide Rhodesia's future would be funny if it were not so tragic for both countries. I want to put it on record that there is only one place where the Rhodesian issue can be settled, and that is in Rhodesia. The continuation of sanctions and the denial of legality will affect and damage us, principally will it damage the black people of Rhodesia, but it will not cripple us, nor will it bring a political solution.Having said that, I feel that I must, in all honesty, say now that if we are invited to renew sanctions again by Order in Council in November, not only shall I find it impossible to support Her 294 Majesty's Government but I shall vote against it. I express the hope that sufficient of your Lordships may feel the same way as I do, so that we may once and for all sink without trace this totally sterile policy.
Finally, my Lords, I and my noble friends have not had an opportunity of hearing at first hand the views of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. That was no fault of Sir Alec's. All we could do was to study what he had to say in another place last week. Having done so, I am bound to say that I am not convinced. As I see it, the Fifth Principle is dead. I believe that the time has come for us to implement the proposals for a settlement, for that is surely the best thing that could be done for the welfare of the people, both black and white, in Rhodesia. If we cannot stomach this, then surely we have reached the end of the road. There comes a time when failure must be admitted, and I believe that this time is now upon us. At the moment I intend—although I shall listen to what other noble Lords have to say during the rest of the debate—to support my noble friend Lord Coleraine.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, there is surely a silver thread which has run through this debate which informs each of the three proposals to which we are invited to give our attention, and it is the genuine desire to make use of the Pearce Report as a means of approaching some solution to a problem which has vexed everybody for such a long time. I shall not impugn to any of those who have taken part in this debate a desire for anything less than the improving of the situation in which many an African now lives, and the resolving of a problem which is both vexatious and harmful in so many respects. Therefore I, like many other noble Lords taking part in this debate, have to ask myself what I feel about the various options which are before your Lordships' House.
I feel that the case presented by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has already been demolished and I shall take no sadistic pleasure in dealing with the corpse. But it is, I think, a corpse. It proceeds in the first instance from an incorrect appreciation of what happened in the Pearce Report itself. It proceeds to use 295 words like "sophistication". As a Protestant, when I hear the word "Popery" I am inclined to smell faggots, and when I hear words like "sophistication" and "charity" it seems to me that they represent exactly the kind of degradation which happens to words which are too often in the minds of the privileged few. "Sophistication" originally was a principle of wisdom. "Sophistication", in the ears of many people to-day, is a kind of attachment to the various requirements of a particular kind of society, not necessarily wise at all.
So it is to me impudent and impertinent to conceive that African people, because they are unlettered, are incapable of the original meaning of the word "sophistication", even though they may not be able to write it down on paper. I should have drought that other examples throughout Africa have given substance to the contention that they are at least equal in their capacity to many other much more vaunted civilisations which have taken much longer to mature and which are still fragile. Furthermore, it appears to me that to ask this House to "make a settlement" is a contradiction in terms. You can only arrive at a settlement. You can make a diktat. If one thing has appeared in almost every speech which has been made, it is the wide gulf which is now still fixed between those who would be required to come together around one table if any settlement were ever to be arrived at. No, my Lords, the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, will not do. I hope that it will be repudiated.
I come to the major Motion before it was agreed to be amended. If the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, committed the sins of commission, it appeared to me that the Government Motion unamended committed a number of sins of omission. It was all right so far as it went, but it did not go very far and it preferred words like "reflection" and "desire" to "action". "Reflection" is a very good word and I am all for reflection, particularly if it leads to action. But I am irresistibly reminded of the use that none other than St. James made of it in his Epistle. It was Luther who said that it was an Epistle 296 of straw. Nevertheless, St. James made a very good brick out of that useful commodity in this regard. I would venture to quote it if I may:Be ye hearers of the word, and yet doers also, For he who is but a hearer of the word is as a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholdeth himself, and then forgetteth straightway the sort of man that he was.I would not indict the Government too heartily on that score, but I am glad that they quickly—and, I think, very agreeably—agreed to the much improved Motion which now includes the Amendment. Not that I am opposed to reflection, but it does not seem to me that one kind of reflection upon the Pearce Report needs very much time. If the question is asked, what persuaded so many of the Africans, not least of course the tribal chiefs, to say No, it was not so much—as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has pointed out so clearly—their rigid and absolute objection to the substance of the proposals, but their complete lack of faith in those who would be expected to carry them out. There is evidence that such a sense of incredibility is not to be wondered at.
Let me give some facts about the African National Council which may be of interest to your Lordships and which go far to substantiate the position of those who fear that, whatever arrangements are made, Mr. Smith and his friends will be totally opposed to their implementation. Are your Lordships aware that the African National Council is prohibited from issuing membership cards to those who would seek to join it? Are your Lordships aware that a great number of its prominent members have already been put into a form of custody? One of them, with the delightful name of Josiah Chinermano, has been prohibited from circulation and from speaking, and a great many of his friends are in detention. No funds are available from outside. That is the sort of thing which persuades even the unlettered African to believe that he is treating with a hostile Government and not one that is prepared to agree with him on terms which he would regard as eminently reasonable. This reflection should give purpose to those who believe that the first duty is to bring pressure to bear, not so much on Africans to change their minds as upon Europeans to change their attitudes.
297 I turn now to the Amendment, and I would express my pleasure and a little surprise—although professionally I should not be surprised by sudden conversion—that the Government are prepared to accept it. I am drawn to the conclusion that this is because inadvertently, they forgot to put into their Motion some most important matters. The practical effect of the Amendment is to transfer the emphasis away from speculation, reflection and desire and towards positive action. I suppose that the first characteristic of that positive action is to be seen in the emergence of the African National Council. There was no African National Council until 1971. It is now chaired by an eminent black Bishop who has the inestimable advantage of being a Methodist. It is a non-violent association. It has pledged itself to the use of Parliamentary and non-violent methods. As the missionary societies know, it has acquired a vast reputation in a very short time and now represents a viable, intelligent, practical and co-ordinated black viewpoint. This surely means that in any future attempts at a resolution of this vexatious issue there are now people who from the black or African standpoint can present an overwhelming case to he included. The supreme claim of the African National Council is that it should be regarded as a party to any general agreement. I would commend to your Lordships the eminently reasonable attitude that it has taken in the publications which I have read out and which are available. This is a most hopeful sign, for at long last the African voice, although not completely united, is coherent.
Let me turn to the question of sanctions. As a pacifist I have considerable reservations about killing people slowly, just as I have about killing them suddenly. Ethically I must point out that there is a very slender difference between some of the methods employed in sanctions and those employed in open warfare. I am totally opposed to the kind of sanctions that would be calculated to bring Rhodesia to its knees. But I am of the opinion that in the compromising condition in which this world's affairs are, we are entitled to apply such sanctions as may bring Rhodesia to its senses. This process is by no means without some kind of hopefulness, but, even if it were 298 not, there is an overwhelming political reason why sanctions should be continued. It is that we should lose whatever residual faith we still enjoy in the minds and hearts of the African people, if we were to withdraw them. This is of extreme importance, and to maintain sanctions is the right thing to do. I am committed to the proposition that what is morally right can never finally be politically wrong.
I would delay your Lordships for a moment with one other comment. What has emerged from the Pearce Report to which we can give attention and ask the Government to consider? I believe that there are avenues whereby we can seek to bridge the gulf which separates the intellectual opportunities enjoyed by the white Rhodesian and those enjoyed by the black Rhodesian. It might not be a very large operation and it might well leave a vast gulf. Nevertheless the provision of scholarships for African students outside Rhodesia and the acceleration of programmes of relief through the churches and other voluntary organisations is the kind of work which in Rhodesia is constructive. I believe that this type of thing can have a fundamental impact upon future generations. There are probably other things that belong to the realm of voluntary aid—for example, Voluntary Service Overseas—but I will not dilate upon them now.
What has emerged from this debate is that we are morally committed to a number of processes and issues to which at the moment we cannot see a satisfactory or complete answer. But if it is ultimately a matter of keeping faith in order that we may bridge a gulf and secure a just solution, then we should not be timid. Let me conclude by completing the quotation from St. James's Epistle:But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty … he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer … this man shall be blessed in his deed.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, I have followed the noble Lord, Lord Soper, before and I have always enjoyed it because he beats me at this quotation game. There is no opposition of any kind, and I entirely agree with most of what he said, particularly his comments about Africans' being detained without charge. Earlier we heard from the noble Lord, 299 Lord Goodman, references to the Pearce Report. I was particularly interested in his view that, although we took a deal of trouble and were rather deliberate and slow about it, we still took that trouble, and when we produced an awkward and disappointing answer it nevertheless should stand. It may be a catalyst for the future. I was also very interested in Lord Garner's description of how the Africans were slowly moving towards our view about the problem. The noble Lord thought that it was time for the 250,000 European whites to do the same.
Before I go on to rather more definite views I should explain my personal position. First of all, I have always been for majority rule and the consequential multi-racial society that we all desire. Secondly, I have always been against sanctions, not for the ethical reasons described by various noble Lords but because I was convinced that they were never likely to succeed. This brings me to the question of power which has already been mentioned in the debate. I felt at the time that Britain did not have the power to impose a solution on Salisbury and I have now come to the conclusion, after seven rather painful years, that we have no prospect of getting that power. We cannot insist on majority rule, for example. This view was reinforced by Prime Minister Mr. Wilson in 1965, when he declared that we should not use force. I am therefore going to confine my remarks to two points, which I hope will be fairly brief. The first is sanctions, which have been covered already; and the second is the possibility of a future settlement.
With regard to sanctions, I will not repeat all the opinions, except to say that it is quite clear to me, at all events, that sanctions are not going to bring the country politically to its knees; and although one can argue for and against sanctions, and although it may even be possible that sanctions helped to bring Smith to the negotiating table, in my opinion he will never do it again for that reason. I played golf with a Rhodesian businessman last week, and he reiterated that exports now stand at 97 per cent., and he has never done so well in his life. Personally, I do not think that sanctions are hurting them much, except for what Lord Blake said on December 2, when 300 he pointed to the very adverse effect on the life of the Africans—the 5 million Africans in whom we are interested. I am therefore against sanctions, as I always have been; and I believe that we should lift them now. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Napier and Ettrick. If we do not lift them, or if we do not begin to lift them, they will collapse anyway. I think that that has not been mentioned before, and it is a point: they are a dwindling force, in my view.
Now a word about the possibility of a future settlement. It is still possible, although we must remember that the terms of settlement get worse each time. The terms of U.D.I. were bad; the terms of "Tiger" were worse the terms of "Fearless" were worse still. And although we congratulated the Foreign Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, very warmly indeed, the fact remains that the terms of the settlement were worse and slower than had been envisaged before. In my view—and I do not think this point has been mentioned in the debate so far—the reason Smith came to the negotiating table was not because of sanctions but because he faces the choice: the choice between renewing Rhodesian links with Britain and the West, and accepting some concessions on the way to that, or isolating himself from the West and lining himself up with South Africa and its objectionable social system. In my view, we should take advantage of this continuing situation, because there is no doubt that we now face an entirely new situation.
To borrow the phraseology of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, we have already lost three battles with Smith—U.D.I., "Tiger" and "Fearless". We did quite well on the settlement proposals; but now, to our great disappointment, we have lost one more battle, and that is with the Africans. If we want to continue the campaign—and I am quite sure we all do—we must admit these failures, re-group and fight again on ground not of our own choosing, knowing that Smith wants to stay with the West. The questions are, "How?" and "When?"
As to "How?", Smith faces these two unpalatable solutions, which the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, mentioned in our debate in early December. Lord Trevelyan also pointed to the fact that 301 in this life you almost invariably have to choose the less unpalatable of two alternatives and go for that. Smith's choice, to my mind, is this. The first alternative is to make the best agreement he can with Britain, with November as the model, in spite of what he has said. I think he will have to consider that. The second is to be driven into the arms of the Union of South Africa, apartheid and eventual bloodshed. I say "eventual" because black Africa have no power at all to intervene now, but in 20 years' time they might be able to. At the moment, a company of the Rhodesian Defence Force would "see them off".
Britain also faces two unpalatable alternatives. The first is the Government's solution of doing nothing now. They call it "time for reflection"; but it really means, I think, doing nothing and hoping that the Rhodesians will suggest a solution in view of their huge and obvious forfeits, which have been listed by the Foreign Secretary. The second is to work for a Government-to-Government agreement—which we have signed, anyway. Here I agree with the noble Baroness who introduced the original Motion, that we must in future deal with the Rhodesian Government in power. In suggesting these fresh negotiations, I personally think that we ought to offer, on the granting of independence following successful negotiations, to repeat the £50 million aid programme and promise to lift the sanctions. I personally do not think that the first of these two alternatives—the "do nothing" solution—is likely to succeed. It will produce an unprofitable debate in the United Nations, and will also continue to hurt the 5 million blacks whom we want to help. In other words, the situation will drag on and on and on.
I believe that the second solution—to work for a Government-to-Government agreement—is better, because it is based on both sides being free. If I learned anything in Berlin 20-odd years ago, it was that if they were under pressure the Russians would never agree to negotiate—they would get up from the table and walk, and then write you a polite letter and come back in about a fortnight. I personally believe we ought to get rid of the "sovereign Power to the rebel Government" relationship. I know that, strictly speaking, that is legally the true 302 position, but the fact remains, in my view, that you are likely to get better results if you negotiate freely. The noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, said in her speech—I am not quoting her exactly—that there is a general desire for a compromise settlement. I am sure that is right. But there is not much time, in my opinion. The last chance we have now, and we ought not to miss it.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ LORD DIGBY
My Lords, the key to the Rhodesian situation, I think, lies not in some magic formula but in that simple and elusive commodity called "confidence". I would be the last to belittle the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and his predecessors in the maze which is called "negotiation", but the object of any negotiations must be to produce a formula and a climate of opinion which engenders confidence in all parties. Confidence is not engendered by any piece of paper; still less can it be produced overnight. It is produced not by the words but by the actions of the parties—not only major actions, but the accumulation of small deeds revealing the will behind the words. It is the accumulation of these actions over the months and over the years that will produce the basis for a settlement.
Running through the Pearce Report is the consistent theme of African distrust of Europeans and European fears of being overrun. Confidence is completely lacking. This is the root cause of the rejection, and it is instructive to see what either party did to allay these fears. I am afraid the answer must be, "Precious little". Was there not one part of the settlement that could have been implemented immediately as an earnest of good faith by the Rhodesian Government? If the Rhodesian Government really wanted a "yes", some such gesture could have had great effect. Doubtless, the argument would have been used that such an act would be interpreted as a sign of weakness; but to me it would have been a sign of strength and of confidence. Instead of such action hitting the headlines and resounding throughout the country's bush telegraph, it was the arrest of a former Prime Minister which caught everyone's attention. I cannot imagine any action more calculated to reduce confidence in a Government at the start of a period of free political debate.
303 Another theme running through the Report is the lack of any concerted Government campaign to persuade the Africans to say, "Yes". Why? Was it because the Rhodesian Government themselves were rather lukewarm about the settlement; or did they believe their own propaganda that the Chiefs would "deliver the goods"; or was it that they believed the Africans were incapable of understanding the issue and that it was not worth while explaining it to them? It was a great error. Whatever the reason for this failure, I suggest that success in the future requires a lot of quiet work to produce confidence. We must accept that there are many on the right of the Rhodesian Front and many African Nationalists on the other extreme who do not want a settlement except on their own terms. The only hope of a lasting settlement lies in confidence between the moderates and the African majority; and confidence here is being eroded since U.D.I. by a gradual swing towards apartheid.
Sanctions brought Mr. Smith to the negotiating table; but if noble Lords believe that more effective sanctions will bring Rhodesians to their knees they do not understand or have not absorbed the lessons of history; and they do not understand the white Rhodesians who equate their present position to ours at the time of Dunkirk. When you face annihilation of your way of life, capitulation is unthinkable, however daunting the odds; further pressure must increase the determination to resist and in this case will speed up the move to apartheid. So I support the continuation of sanctions but they must operate in a way towards negotiation and not to unconditional surrender. Nothing could be more dangerous than to force the Rhodesians "back to the wall". This could lead to chaos and violence not only in Rhodesia but in Southern Africa.
The British Government also have their part to play in increasing confidence. They must show, as I believe they are showing, to the Africans that we must maintain the Five Principles, and to the white Rhodesians that a fair settlement is possible by negotiation. Many noble Lords will have listened to the deliberations of the white and black Rhodesians 304 belonging to the non-racial Centre Party who pleaded for acceptance of the settlement despite the Fifth Principle. However much we feel that this would be in the interests of Rhodesia, in view of the Government's consistent and honourable stand on the Fifth Principle and in view of the state of world opinion, this is just not acceptable. So I must support the Government Motion for "time for reflection" and reject the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. Let the Government use this time for reflection to urge the Rhodesian Front to action to arrest the move to apartheid and to build up confidence in their ability to govern fairly, but firmly, when independent.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
My Lords, I shall be very brief because of the lateness of the hour, because of the long list of speakers, because I have only one major point that I wish to make and also because, to a certain extent, that point has already been made better than I could make it by the noble Lord, Lord Soper. Nine months ago I was in a recently independent African country and was talking to an African administrator who had worked under the colonial system and was now an administrator in free territory. We talked about the social and economic problems of his country and after a while he said, hesitantly, "But surely, if the position gets really bad, Britain will intervene." A naïve question; in the circumstances, to me, a moving question; and an irrelevant one to be posed in an independent country. But I have wondered since how many ordinary Rhodesians, non-political men and women in the street in Rhodesia, must have said and thought again and again over the last seven years, "Surely, if things get really bad, Britain will intervene." The Motion before the House calls for a "time for reflection." But time for reflection, as your Lordships well know, can all too easily become a time for sleep. We pause for reflection and it provides us with a good excuse for doing nothing at all—an excuse not only for the Government to do nothing, but, in many ways more seriously, for the men and women of the country to decide once again that Rhodesia is a far-away country about which they can do nothing and about which they wish to forget.
305 I would urge upon your Lordships that, while this time of reflection continues, and before this much sought after but illusive political settlement can be arrived at, we ask ourselves what we can do for the ordinary man and woman in Rhodesia. Particularly we should ask what can be done in the field of education and training for job opportunities. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, suggested more scholarships for Rhodesians to come over here. This is an obvious first thing that we could do to step up our help to Rhodesians to come to study in this country. It is a first and an obvious and to a limited extent, a useful contribution. But it is limited and will have very serious drawbacks if, after we have got those Rhodesians to this country, the opportunity for their return to responsible jobs in their own country is too long delayed. Although I would urge that we try to explore this path I see it as one and only one, minor way in which we can contribute to this big problem of speeding up the education and training opportunities for the Rhodesian people.
There are, of course, voluntary organisations of one kind or another. There are the Churches of all kinds, the schools being run effectively by the Jesuit Fathers and many others; and here in this House are many people who have contacts with these organisations. Can we not, through them, see that more educational work is carried on in a situation which is becoming increasingly difficult for those people who are conducting education in Rhodesia? Then there are funds in the United Nations and, it may be, educational and training schemes through United Nations agencies. Could we not press this matter increasingly in these interim months—and it may be years—before a change takes place on the political front?
May I say, thirdly (and here perhaps individual noble Lords could help more than in any other way), that there are the great companies, the multi-national companies. If Rhodesians are, in the end, to take real lead and play an active part in the affairs of their country, they must be trained in how to run big businesses and medium-size businesses. Is it asking too much that the big companies should get Rhodesians, graduates from Salisbury and give them management training 306 opportunities now, so that, as the situation opens up in Rhodesia, there will be people trained, ready to go into these positions? I ask this for two reasons—in fact all these educational and particularly vocational and managerial, training opportunities should be given for two reasons. First, nothing, I believe, would do more to reassure the ordinary Rhodesian that Britain has not forgotten, that we have not washed our hands of the matter and that the time for reflection is not also a sanctioning of inaction. Secondly, and more than that, there will be an end to this dark night. Opportunities will come for Rhodesians one day, we hope after a peaceful settlement; if not then, after a bloody settlement. But what will be the use of those opportunities if, when that day dawns, there are not enough trained, educated and experienced Rhodesians to carry their country forward?
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ LORD SINCLAIR OF CLEEVE
My Lords, at this late hour I will try to be very brief and deal only with three main points: the test of acceptability; the sanctions and a brief concluding word about the future, or the possible future, as I see it. No one with any knowledge of Rhodesia or its people, whatever his conviction or prejudices, can fail to be impressed with the great care which the Pearce Commission took to arrive at an assessment which was as fair as possible in the circumstances of the extent to which the settlement proposals were acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. With hindsight, of course, we can see that the period between the appointment of the Commission and the beginning of its work in Rhodesia gave time which opponents of a settlement on the lines proposed, or indeed on any lines, were quick to use. Undoubtedly in many cases the using took the form of intimidation rather than reasoned argument.
I should like here to state that I have great sympathy with the argument used by my noble friend Lord Coleraine to show the tremendous difficulties there are in the application of this test of acceptability to the people of Rhodesia as a whole under present conditions. In their 307 conclusions in Chapter 13 the Commission stated first thatthe great majority of those who gave us their opinions had a sufficient understanding of the content and implications of the Proposals to enable them to pass judgment on them.Secondly that they, the Commission, weresatisfied after considering all our evidence including that on intimidation, that the majority of Africans rejected the Proposals.It is obvious that these words were chosen with the greatest care and they mean precisely what they say.
I would, however, submit that these two statements do not necessarily imply that the majority of Africans are capable of understanding fully what the proposals mean or of fully appreciating the extent to which their position and prospects would be improved if the proposals were adopted. Although my personal experience of Rhodesia is now about five years' out of date, I must confess that I should be very surprised if in that period the educational development of the Africans generally in that country had grown to the extent that the majority are able to appreciate the full significance of the proposals. The proposals for voting qualifications on the civil rolls; freedom of rights and enforcement provisions and the Land Tenure Act are not, by any means, easy for the majority of Africans—and even, perhaps, for some of us—fully to understand and evaluate.
Moreover, my Lords, if we take paragraphs 151 and 208 of the Report together it is a reasonable inference to draw that this disapproval of the Rhodesian Government's policies or distrust of that Government's intentions weighed heavily in the scale against acceptance. I am trying very hard not to overstate the case. There are, I suggest, good grounds for the belief that had not the 1951 Constitution been rejected by the Africans, there would have been by now, as the Foreign Secretary has stated in another place, an effective and powerful Opposition in the Rhodesian Parliament and the prospects of a constitutionally adopted majority rule, and under such conditions the attitude of many of the Africans to the proposed settlement might well have been very different. Some may say that this is pure speculation, yet I feel that it would be wrong to conclude—and, as I have explained I am not by any means suggesting that the Commission con- 308 cluded—that the proposals themselves, by themselves, are fully understood by the majority of the Africans.
While I doubt whether anyone would be justified in asserting the fact that if the Africans, as a whole, had been capable of fully understanding what the proposals meant, and if such fears and distrusts as many appear to have of the Rhodesian Front Government could have been removed, the majority would have said, "Yes", yet few could deny that under those conditions the result of the test might have been vastly different. For these reasons, my Lords, I must confess that I feel that experience has shown that the test of acceptability is, in present circumstances, virtually an unrealistic condition.
As regards sanctions in the context of non-acceptance of the present settlement proposals, I should like to say this. The application of sanctions was a natural reaction to U.D.I. which may surely be seen in perspective to have been a tragic mistake. The doubts that were expressed originally about the effectiveness of sanctions have, in the effect, been largely justified; and for some time now, as we all know, this country has been almost alone among the United Nations in rigidly applying them. From such experience as we have had, and while recognising that they have had some effect in making more difficult the availability of foreign currency to the Rhodesian Government, I still find no justification for the belief that the extension of sanctions will serve any useful purpose, or that efforts by this country to make them more effective would, whatever commitment some other members of the United Nations might for the time being make, have any beneficial effect on the situation. So far from creating an atmosphere for constructive discussion in Rhodesia, I think the result of such effort might well be not only, on the one hand, a hardening of the attitude of those Rhodesians who have had misgivings or fears about the effect of the liberalisation and acceleration of progress towards true democracy which the settlement proposals aim to achieve and a worsening of conditions on the part of the Africans in Rhodesia (for it is on the Africans that such direct effects as sanctions have so far had have chiefly fallen) but also would have the effect of driving the present Government in Rhodesia to seek still closer ties with 309 South Africa. We are committed to our present policy of sanctions up to November and the Foreign Secretary has indicated that in his judgment they will have to continue for some time beyond then, though he would not wish to make any commitments now. No doubt, time for reflection on the implications of the Report is desirable, if it is not too long.
My Lords, I now come to something which is not too dissimilar from the latter part of what the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said a few moments ago. If we want—as I believe most people in this country do—to see real progress towards a true democracy in Rhodesia and a steady betterment of the lot of the Africans there, with sanctions abandoned if possible, the sooner a start can be made on action by Rhodesia and by this country in giving effect, irrespective of any formal agreement, to at least some of the policies outlined in the settlement, the better. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, mentioned education. There are many things in the proposals for settlement on which a start could usefully be made. It would be very desirable—it seems like crying for the moon—in considering what Rhodesia could do on their side in that way, that that should be done in full consultation with the Africans as well. What I am saying is that in short, by parallel action, we should try to get rid of some of the artificiality of the present situation and give some practical encouragement towards progress, towards true democracy, in a country with which we have so many historical ties. That may sound vague and wishful thinking. I confess that to some extent it is; but wishful thinking may be the prelude to conviction and conviction may lead to action. "Where there's a will there's a way."
§ 7.22 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I will begin by offering my respectful congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, who spoke, as I thought, giving offence to no one, and who was lucid and brief. I say "respectfully" not as from age to youth but from the Back Bench to the Front Bench, and I would venture the opinion that if we end up united to-night the credit will be due more to her than to anyone else. As other noble 310 Lords have done, I should like to congratulate the Pearce Commission. With me, their Report carries conviction. It is a surprise, much as it was to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goodman, who made another brilliant speech earlier today. Nevertheless, it carries complete conviction with me. I have studied Mr. Ian Smith's two speeches, printed copies of which were sent to me, as usual, by friends in Rhodesia; and so far as I understood them his principal complaint was that the Pearce Commission dwelt too much on quantity factors and too little on quality. I thought, however, that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, in his moving speech, complained that there had been insufficient quantity. Nevertheless, whichever it is, it is the Pearce Commission who carry weight with me.
I must mention what appears to be a flaw in the terms of reference which say, among the other things, when translated into the vernacular, that Rhodesia will become an independent country if the proposals are accepted. I heard the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, say to-day that we always negotiate with whoever is in power and indicate that that was Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith is the Prime Minister of a de facto Government, and I think this phrase might have misled quite a number of Africans into believing that power resided with us, whereas it does not, although we have influence. Nevertheless, reading from the Report itself, I had the impression that, even if Africans had it presented and understood that power does reside with the Smith regime, they would still have rejected the proposals. I should like to congratulate Mr. Smith himself on the exercise of control in what was rather an inflammable situation. I can imagine that, if it had been possible to stage a test of acceptability of the rulers in, say, Ethiopia, it might well have precipitated the disintegration of the colonial empire which they gathered together about the same time as we did.
I congratulate next the black Rhodesians on having replaced NIBMAR by ULMAR—ULMAR being ultimate majority rule. This is a tremendous advance from Resolution 1514 of 1960 in the United Nations, which was the recipe for instant independence, no matter what. It is a very great change and I could not commend them more highly 311 for that. Equally, the Rhodesian whites have moved to the acceptance of ultimate majority rule, instead of NOMAR. They deserve commendation because now that they have accepted it, they will need to look at their future taking the comparisons from Kenya. Is it not likely that quite a number of white farmers will be dispossessed? Who will compensate them? Who will provide the finance for resettling Africans in a different, perhaps less viable, way but in accordance with what perhaps Marx would have called "petit bourgeois" Socialism. Asians, the middle men, are much detested in all immature communities because they buy at one price and sell at a much greater one; and nobody can see what they have done to deserve it. They are bound to be dispossessed. What are we going to do about them? Are we going to receive them all in this country?
In this connection, Mr. Maudling is showing a great deal more compassion on behalf of the present Government than the previous one did in this matter, which excited the emotions of many of us. Nevertheless, is this going to recur? The prospect before White Rhodesians is that there will be tribal rivalries leading to the emergence of some father figure of black power possibly as a result of violence. Looking around Africa that is what happens. One cannot imagine the Amharas ceding power in Ethiopia, or the Kikuyu in Kenya. Then the defence forces will be Africanised, and by degrees there will be no white officers left. There will be, no doubt, some elderly white general bearing the appearances of authority and exercising it less and less. It will be the same with the police forces. White political power will pass from the corridors of power, leaving perhaps a Minister of Agriculture for a time to exercise authority. These are the prospects before the white people. I am not suggesting that we should not face them; I am suggesting that we should. Time must be allowed: time for some to adjust themselves; time for those who cannot to find some other way and go somewhere else. Time is necessary for that.
With regard to the black vision of ULMAR I cannot help thinking that it is very largely to them a mirage which disturbs them greatly. This is the kind of expression they have heard about the time it is going to take before majority 312 rule arrives: "Neither clock nor calendar can measure it"—Mr. Wilson addressing the United Nations. "It is politically impossible to name a date"—Sir Alec Douglas-Home on a not very important occasion in this country. Mr. Smith: "Not in my lifetime", which he has said since the Report was published, and has added to that, I think, "not even then". Mr. Smith, I believe, is 52 or 53. I think the Africans can see 25 years ahead to the end of Smith; but "not even then", what does that mean? Are not these constitutions a deliberate fog, created so that the Africans may hope for the best in the shortest possible time, and the whites for the best in the longest possible time, and they are left deliberately obscure?
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, mentioned to-day that at some earlier date, opinions on the constitution, as to when it would operate and produce majority rule, varied from 10 to 40 years. Is not this fog gradually going to produce a condition of despair among black Africans? We are told—and I believe it—that things will never be the same again in Rhodesia, but nobody seems to have drawn any particular inference from that. What I would look forward to is that in the course of accepting fully the Africans' doubts about the future we should come to the point where we, in the United Kingdom, after the greatest possible care, name a date on which, if majority rule has not arrived, we withdraw our umbrella, our assistance and everything else from Rhodesia and leave them naked in the world in Africa for other organisations to deal with. I feel that the time has come where we have to say what we consider is right. I do not think we can consult the Africans again on this date, which will certainly be later than they hope. But, having regard to the achievements of the whites of Rhodesia and to their difficulties, which we must foresee and look at, we should, I think, name this date to which we are going to work, no matter what.
If such a date were agreed with Rhodesia, it would render totally obsolete the First Principle, and I think put the horse before the cart for once. I think—and I imagine that the noble Baroness. Lady Seear, whose speech I partly heard, was on the same line of thought—that one wants to build up a community, friendly 313 with and in association with the whites, and acquiring affluence and education even before political power. The fault and flaw of all these constitutions in the First Principle is that they put what ought to come last, first. Maturity all round comes first; political power comes next. If we fix a date, we could forget about the emphasis on political power.
With regard to sanctions, I have often spoken in this House on this subject. I supported them to topple Smith when he was presented as a man of straw, and the toppling was said to be going to take a matter of weeks. Even if one made allowances for verbal—shall I say?—imprecisions, seven years was not in contemplation anywhere. Sanctions are now being used to exercise pressure. This has been plainly and frankly said. It has been a principle throughout my life that you do not accept concessions or confessions under severe pressure. That is why I think that sanctions should be removed. I have not been moved from that position by anyone, except to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, when he said—and it surprised me, because I did not know it; I had not noticed it—that in this current ascertainment of opinions from Africans they were told that sanctions would remain if they said "No". The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, added that if we were to withdraw them now it would cause dismay and despondency among the Africans. I am sorry that this should have been stated to them, because I still hold my views. But the last thing I should wish would be to precipitate dismay, and therefore I join with others to-night in supporting the Amendment with the reference to sanctions for the reason advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, but for this year alone and not further.
Incidentally, having said that (I was hoping that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, might be here), I wondered whether something of Lord Coleraine's Amendment could not be incorporated. Perhaps that is not possible, but Amendments have been accepted on one side and another, and the noble Lord has such an acceptable phrase in his Amendment:having regard to the interests of the Rhodesian people as a whole".314 Could that not be incorporated? Who would wish it not to be included? I do not know whether such a thing is possible in the interests of unity.
I have one tailpiece to offer. There is another part of Africa which attracts no attention whatever, either among black Africans or white, the United Nations or the Organisation of African Unity, and that is a case where a French colony is still a French colony. The Emperor Haille Selasse in 1965, addressing the world and the city of Paris, said:If only the Somali Republic would waive its claim to Jibuti, Ethiopia would thank God that France should remain the colonial power for ever.That is quite a lot coming from the present President of the Organisation of African Unity. There are little places outside Rhodesia where there are difficulties, and I think that sometimes Africans in the Organisation of African Unity should take into account some of these things. And Heaven forbid that they, or anyone else, should finance guerrillas anywhere! I cannot say how abominable I think guerrillas are and have been in my experience—the Maquis in France; the Partigiani in Italy; Tito's Partisans in Jugoslavia; E.A.M. in Greece; the Lublin Committee in Poland, and others. I would be the last to support these things. I feel that by not giving de facto recognition to the Smith régime we support not only every malefactor who wishes to commit a crime, but also all these abominable guerrilla forces which produce the most disastrous divisions, even if they are successful, even when they are on our side.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
I welcome wholeheartedly some remarks made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, when with great heartiness he welcomed the ability of the Government and the Opposition to combine in a Motion on this subject. It would have been so easy to drift either inertly or cantankerously into a Division. It will be much more impressive externally that the main Parties, and I hope a number of us on these Benches, should be able to combine in an expression of view which we may have arrived at by different processes but which would be a unanimous expression.
315 I should like to devote a few remarks to the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and then offer a few reflections—one each to our own Government, to the white Rhodesians and to the Africans. On the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, I would turn to an argument which goes really deeper than any which has hitherto been used. If you had been in India in 1935 and had not been noticed doing it and had consulted the vast majority of people they would have been perfectly content with British rule. They might not have heard of Mahatma Gandhi or Pandit Nehru, or else they might have known that they were in prison and therefore not doing much about the situation; and you would have got a perceptible appearance of adherence to sustained British rule. In fact, what was going on was exactly the opposite: something irresistible was on the move which the preponderance of British opinion ultimately accepted. I have no doubt that that is what is happening in Rhodesia among the Africans, and it explains what happened, to the surprise of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. You have only to read paragraph 311 of the Report of the Pearce Commission to see how that operates: it is the paragraph in which somebody is quoted as saying quite simply—We do not reject the Proposals, we reject the Government.So I think that, on the basis of historic processes, the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has been too reasonable and too logical. These things go much deeper.
There is one other thing that I would say to the noble Lord for whom, if I may say so, as an adviser of his at the first United Nations conference ever held, I have deep respect and affection. I should like to say this to him: that in those days, and later on at San Francisco, we dedicated ourselves to the proposition that, by and large, people should run their own affairs; and I think this is a case of some people, if blunderingly, trying to run their own affairs. I think we must have sympathy for them, rather than try to tell them how their affairs should be run for them by somebody else.
316 If I may turn now to the reflections I spoke of, I find myself, on balance, in sympathy with all those noble Lords (notably the noble Lord, Lord Digby) who feel that there is a time for reflection. I do not mean a time for laziness or inertia. But I think that in external affairs and in diplomacy there are times for great busyness and there are times when it is right not to show too much mechanical zeal. I, for instance, would not feel—although I have a great respect for the knowledge of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, of Africa and kindred problems—that the time was right to erect a great structure of conferences, which I can only see ending in rather angry deadlock. I think that reflection is right—not reflection backwards, necessarily, on how nice it would have been if there had been agreement, because people will not go back to that agreement, but really reflection on where we go from here.
First, on the matter of sanctions, I find myself in agreement with the attitude expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Soper. I think they are part of our moral obligations to the world community in this matter. I do not think it is apposite to say that they have succeeded or failed. Their direct effectiveness was sadly overrated at one time. Now they are put in their perspective as an adjunct to negotiations, representing a limited degree of power exerted, on this occasion by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and Lord Goodman, on the process of negotiation: no less and no more. Therefore I have no doubt that we have to retain them. I have an even stronger feeling that the one thing we must not do is to lead the international community away from sanctions. I think that would be an expression of abnegation of our obligations to the Africans in this situation, and it would be so regarded by them. Our difficulty is that by the negotiations conducted by Mr. Wilson, by these further negotiations and by the honest acceptance of the African attitude towards them, we have acquired what is called in the idiom "a good posture". But the difficulty about a good posture is that if you do not use it, it is apt to wither, and if you do use it, you are apt to lose it. Therefore I think we have to use it but with some discretion and in ways that I am describing.
317 In our attitude to the white Rhodesians I would suggest that we should not go on making a habit of calling Mr. Smith, loudly, a bad man and leaving out the "Mr.". It seems to me that he is a skilful politician at the disposal of forces stronger than himself. What we need to do all the time is to remind white Rhodesians of the terrible isolation, worldwide, that they are still in, and that they are likely to remain in. It is a remarkable fact that people simply have not recognised the Rhodesian State and I do not see any immediate prospect of their doing so. If the Europeans in Rhodesia carry on with their present policies they are going ineluctibly down a cul-de-sac, and the longer you go down a cul-de-sac the more painful is the process of getting out of it. I can foresee in the end very much the kind of State that the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, was describing. There should be in the end a multiracial state: but, in preaching this, we must not underestimate the agonies that communities go through in establishing such a country.
I would also have a word to say to the Africans, and this involves resurrecting a sentence which somehow or other has been forgotten. There was, during the time of the previous Government, a Sixth Principle which has been silently dropped from view but which, to my mind, has become suddenly appropriate. I should like to recite to our African friends, and particularly to the Methodist Bishop who is now at the head of the A.N.C., this sentence:It would be necessary to ensure that, regardless of race, there was no oppression of majority by minority or of minority by majority.May I suggest that if Africans in Rhodesia could resurrect and adopt this as a policy, it would be something of a reassurance to Europeans, who naturally live in fear of the consequences of majority rule. I do not know whether it is practical or possible, but at least it would be some kind of verbal encouragement to those, particularly in the white European community, who are liberal in view and who would like a little African help to pursue their liberal preachings and policies.
So, my Lords, I would simply conclude by underlining that the achievement of 318 such a multi-racial society is not going to be easy. From some speeches one had a slight feeling that "this negotiation has failed and now, my African friend, let us go and have a drink about it." It will not be like that: it will be much more difficult. But it is the only way of going after it, and I am sure that in Rhodesia, where, as many noble Lords have said, we do not now exercise power, we can only operate by persuasion, and by persuasion of the right kind. If we can contribute our small mite to this, then perhaps I can cap the quotation of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, by saying: "Now we see through a glass darkly". But a little later on Europeans and Africans in Rhodesia will be able to see each other "face to face".
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, mine is not the next name on the list of speakers, but I cannot see the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, in his place. Therefore perhaps I may proceed. It seems a very long time since this debate began, but I feel I must echo the appreciation which has been expressed by other noble Lords of the speech with which the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, introduced our debate. We are very happy that she should be the voice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in this House, and the country should be happy that she is in that Department.
I dislike the psychology of, "I told you so." But if one looks back to the debate when the settlement proposals were first discussed your Lordships will find that some of us then gave the warning that they would not be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, and particularly to the African population. But one wants now to think of the present situation and the contribution which we can make to its solution. In one sense, in Rhodesia itself this debate will he regarded as irrelevant. It will he regarded by a large number of Europeans as irrelevant because for seven years sanctions have been in operation there and they have carried on; there have been difficulties, but they have been overcome. There is therefore a feeling among many Europeans, "We can achieve our object whatever Westminster says." There is a similar psychology among Africans, 319 who will also regard our debate as irrelevant. There is a new sense of self-confidence and self-reliance among the African community, reflected in the African National Council which had such a marked influence during the period of the Pearce Commission's visit. Therefore both on the European side and on the African side in Rhodesia there will be doubts about the effectiveness of continued British intervention.
Nevertheless, we have to continue our interest and intervention. We cannot withdraw for historical reasons, because of our association with Rhodesia in the past; we cannot withdraw because a withdrawal would have such a dangerous effect upon all the whole of Africa, including the Commonwealth countries. Even though our policies have so far had little effect in Rhodesia itself, it is impossible to believe that a European population there, which is not larger than a medium-sized town in this country, can defy the opinion of the United Kingdom and defy the great opinion of the world. Before I conclude I shall try to suggest a policy which is more effective than our present application of sanctions.
There are three things upon which I believe we ought immediately to insist. First, in contrast with the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, the Fifth Principle is absolutely essential. It was way back in 1923 that the Devonshire Declaration made it clear that the interests of the African population came first in our territories in Africa. I have an interesting memory of one of my first associations with Colonial Secretaries in this country. He was a man who we have almost forgotten was ever a Colonial Secretary, Sydney Webb. That was in 1924. It was with excited pleasure that he told me he had applied the Devonshire Declaration principle that "African interests must come first" to the area of East and Central Africa. That has been our policy, the policy of our tradition. Therefore when we are thinking of the future of Rhodesia we must insist on the Fifth Principle, the principle that the people as a whole including the African majority must accept any settlement that is suggested.
The second point I want to emphasise is that we must insist upon the release of the political detainees. We forget that 320 they are our allies. It is the Africans and their organisations who are standing with us against the illegal organisation in Rhodesia; it is the African spokesmen, unlike the Europeans, who are in favour of racial equality. They are not saying that the Europeans shall not have any voice in the nation; they are saying that European residents shall have the same right as African residents. They are standing for democracy. They are our allies. Some have been in detention for seven years, and hardly a voice has been raised on their behalf. I think of Africans who are at present in death cells in Rhodesia. But it is not only the Africans: I think also of Garfield Todd, an ex-Prime Minister, who is under house arrest. I think of his daughter Judith, who sat and watched your Lordships' proceedings when we last discussed Rhodesia in this House. These people stand for all the principles for which we stand, and they are under arrest by this illegal régime which we do not recognise.
Thirdly, I believe that we must stand for the principle that if there is to be a solution in Rhodesia it must be one in which the representatives of the Africans fully take part. I was absolutely amazed to-day to hear in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that when he had been to Rhodesia to negotiate the possibilities of a settlement he had not spoken to a single African. One of the reasons why the Africans have rejected this settlement is that it has been imposed on them without any discussion with them at all. My Lords, that must never happen again. We should be supporting the proposal of the African National Council for a constitutional conference with representatives of the Europeans and the Africans and the Coloureds—for all to work out the future of Rhodesia. I believe that the leaders of the African National Council are right when they say that this is the constructive conciliatory alternative to violence in Rhodesia, and I have no doubt that the British Government should be supporting that principle.
But, as I indicated earlier, I do not believe that our present policies can achieve an influence by this country which will enable these results to be achieved. Sanctions are broken massively through South Africa and the Portuguese territories; broken by one industrial concern and another all over the world for the 321 sake of the profit they can make; broken in the black market. They are partially effective; but is there any Member of your Lordships' House who believes that sanctions, as they are at present imposed, are going to bring the Smith régime to a new attitude of mind on the question of Rhodesia? No, my Lords.
I am very interested that the Government have accepted the Opposition Amendment, in view of the fact that it not only asks for a continuation of sanctions, but asks for a strengthening of sanctions. It asks that Her Majesty's Government should,continue to seek the co-operation, through the United Nations, of all other nations in an effort to make sanctions more effective …"—a recognition that sanctions as they are now imposed are not equal to the situation. My Lords, I believe that if the minority in Rhodesia still deny their rights to the African majority of 20 to one this country and the United Nations should isolate Rhodesia completely; supplement our present sanctions by cutting them off from all communication, cutting them off from all air visits, adding to the blockade of Beira—which is not very successful—a successful blockade of Lourenço Marques through which goods are still pouring into Rhodesia. I believe that the answer to the present ineffectiveness of sanctions is not to say that we must withdraw sanctions, but to insist that they shall be fully and comprehensively applied.
May I make this suggestion? Breaches of sanctions are illegal. Why not prosecute the banking firms and the oil firms which are breaking sanctions? Why not raise at the United Nations Security Council the proposal not only of opposition to the United States chrome concession but the suggestion that all Member States should be alert and alive to this problem and should bring prosecutions against those offending?
My Lords, I want to end on a note which will gain, I believe, the sympathy of those who may be opposed to my political line. I am very glad indeed that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, from the Front Bench referred to the mining disaster at Wankie. May I express the hope that when funds are raised in that connection they will be used for the 322 families of all the mining community there, irrespective of their colour, and not, as it may be, on the basis of the wage which was paid—so much higher in the case of a white worker than of a black worker. Perhaps one might even ask the International Red Cross to be responsible for the administration of such a fund.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD HAILSHAM OF SAINT MARYLEBONE)
My Lords, I interrupt the noble Lord at this stage only because it is unlikely that I shall be able to refer to this question in my reply. The noble Lord will no doubt observe that two Africans have been appointed to the board of trustees of the fund for the relief of distress—Mr. Gumede of Bulawayo and Captain Gayo of the Salvation Army, Salisbury. I think this will go some way to meet his point. I mention that, not to interrupt the noble Lord, but only because I am unlikely to be able to refer to this in my reply.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I admit at once that I was unaware of that fact and I am grateful to the Lord Chancellor for intervening.
I conclude with a deeper point. What impressed me about the mining disaster was the absolute absence of any colour sense as men went to rescue those in the mine, white Europeans, black Africans, thinking only of those doomed men as human beings and not as blacks or as whites. My Lords, I feel that if that sense of humanity above race and colour can be found in the presence of death and disaster we have some hope of its coming in days of construction and of life. That must be the aim of all of us, whatever our different views may be.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to participate in this debate may I begin by saying that I am in complete agreement with the Amendment moved so convincingly by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. It enables me to be very brief. First, may I say one word about the Pearce Commission. In my opinion a group of very able men were given an impossible task to perform, in the circumstances, concerning such ambitious 323 aims. The Report has had a mixed reception, varying from the caustic comments of Mr. Smith and his Government to the somewhat nebulous approval of the British Government. One can admire the immense trouble taken by Lord Pearce and his staff while regretting that so much talent should have been squandered on such a task.
I ask your Lordships to take a brief look at the past. I have suppressed certain parts of a speech that I had thought of making because of the time factor; I have no wish to repeat what has probably already been said, no doubt better, by someone else. However, it is most important to get a correct picture of Rhodesia's position. Although it has been freely called an illegal and rebel Government in this debate, these descriptions are emphatically not true.
In our last debate on Rhodesia I tried to sketch its origin, from the early white settlers in 1890 who came to an empty country sparsely populated by a very primitive people. Since then the great bulk of the population, white and black, has arrived by immigration, attracted no doubt by opportunity and the security of life and property available there. It is now the permanent and rightful home of peoples of different origins and backgrounds and it does not belong to one race or ethnic group alone.
Rhodesia has never been supported by the British Exchequer and has never been under British administration. Its status was that of Canada, Australia and New Zealand 50 years ago. It then had executive accountability to a Rhodesian Parliament with legislative autonomy. It handled its own foreign commerce and currency, posted consuls abroad and participated in Commonwealth affairs on a virtual parity with the Dominions.
There followed the British experiment of a Federation with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland which Rhodesia was persuaded to join. The Federation broke up into the independent States of the Republics of Zambia and Malawi, while in 1961 a new Constitution for Rhodesia was being worked out as a basis for independence. Official opinion as to whether Rhodesia should be treated as an independent State or a Crown Colony seemed to vary with what suited the Prime Minister of the day. When, in 1965, Rhodesia asserted her political 324 independence, it was part of her rejection at that time of the United Nations insistence on universal adult suffrage. Since under the U.N. Charter they could not interfere in the internal government of an independent State—on the other hand, they had no right to interfere with the behaviour of a dependent State because that would be the business of the Mother State—it suited the book of the Prime Minister of the day in this country to advance the preposterous claim that Rhodesia was a danger to world peace and that, therefore, these prohibitions against United Nations interference had no effect and should no longer obtain.
Voluntary sanctions proving ineffective, Mr. Wilson pressed to have them made mandatory. Under the Charter of the United Nations mandatory sanctions could be invoked only when the Security Council found that the offending State had committed or threatened to commit a breach of international peace and security. Rhodesia had done nothing except to announce that political ties between it and Britain had been ended. Further to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, it did not renounce its connection with the Crown but merely emphasised that it had no political dependence on this country.
Mandatory sanctions proved no more effective than voluntary ones in bringing Rhodesia to heel. White Rhodesians have been brought together rather than divided by external pressures and have proved most ingenious in using great resources and industrial capacity to meet the needs of their beset economy. The black members of the community in Rhodesia—until recently under the new influence described in the Pearce Commission Report—have proved co-operative rather than recalcitrant towards the régime. The countries round Rhodesia, black and white, furnish copious leaks through the blockade. Practical operators are not deterred from a profitable bargain by so bogus an international obligation as United Nations sanctions.
Sanctions have been a failure; yet they are harmful. They are hurting unintended victims and are bringing about unintended results. Strangely enough, the chief economic victims now appear to be black people in Rhodesia, through unemployment and the slow-down in growth.
325 Zambia is economically dependant on the Rhodesian market and because her market for labour and materials has been decreased, Zambia has asked Britain for large subsidies to compensate for the harm done to her. The Rhodesians feel at bay, conspired against by declared enemies, the target of foreign-trained and equipped terrorists and pushed towards a racial attitude they do not want to adopt. Dr. Hastings Banda, the President of Malawi, who had seen that his country's future welfare lay in closer co-operation with his highly developed white neighbours to the South, spoke then as hostilely about United Nations sanctions as Mr. Smith has ever done. The extreme left joins the Afro-Asian and Communist blocs in calling for majority rule before independence in Rhodesia, and some of them call too for force—by somebody else—to achieve it.
One could go on emphasising the stupidity of discouraging good will, co-operation and stability in Southern Africa. Surely, it is the height of folly to sacrifice these desirable ends to an aggressive reformist intervention in the internal affairs of these States, an intervention to force upon them electoral practices that none of the black African or Communist States, and very few Asian, would accept. Incidentally, my Lords, regarding that refusal to accept these electoral practices, the attempt is being made to force them on Rhodesia by a very large number of members of the United Nations who would not dream of accepting such conditions.
I suggest that there can be no hope of progress towards amicable co-operation between the racial groups in Rhodesia until the immoral, illegal and tyrannical enforcement of sanctions is abandoned. To use an old phrase, the real fault in the machine of progress is sanctions, for the reasons that I have just submitted to the House, and I think that the settlement proposed and accented by the Rhodesian Government would make possible a real advance towards peace and future co-operation in Rhodesian affairs.
My Lords, it is surely a mistake to think that in the realm of human relations you can blueprint an immediate solution. Time is the essence of such advance, as is also a flexible approach which allows the healing process of time 326 and mutual understanding to take some effect. Therein surely lies the hope that springs eternal in the human breast for taking a part in the affairs of the country in which you live. It is said that wisdom is justified of her children, but haste was ever the enemy of achievement. The history of the world is full of such lessons.
My Lords, I have endeavoured to speak with suitable brevity and to avoid unnecessary repetition of points already made by other speakers. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary speaking, I think last week, in the House of Commons promised that if at some future date the Government decided to end sanctions on Rhodesia they would come to the House and would openly go to the United Nations and state the case for a change of policy. That time is now—to retrieve the reputation of the British Government for fair play based upon wise experience, and to be just to the Rhodesian Government in their determination to create conditions which will ultimately ensure the future stability of civilised Government for all races in Rhodesia. My Lords, I conclude by saying that if the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, chooses, as I hope he will, to press his Amendment to a Division I shall have the greatest pleasure in following him into that Lobby.
§ 8.25 p.m.
My Lords, so much has been said on this subject in the last 12 years that I hesitate to add my quota. But I should like before anything to pay my humble tribute to Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Lord Goodman and Lord Pearce for all their trouble and all their attempts to get a reasonable settlement in Rhodesia. I looked up various debates before making my speech, and I was very struck with two things said by the noble Lord, Lord Alport, who probably knows more about this part of Africa than a great many of us here tonight. He said in one of these speeches that Rhodesia is no longer purely British. In olden days the Rhodesian people were nearly all British, but now we have foreigners from different parts of Europe and therefore it is not quite so necessary to uphold the people of Rhodesia.
He went further than that—and I quote from Hansard:If Rhodesia is to be saved it must be by the action of Rhodesians in Rhodesia, and in327my view the British presence can at the present stage only hamper the process.I believe that those words are as true to-day as they were two years ago. We have tried to do everything we can to get the two sides, black and white, African and European, to come to a decent agreement, and we have hopelessly failed. It is not our fault; it is the fault of the people in Rhodesia, and I personally think that the policy we ought to adopt now is for the British Government to wash their hands of the whole caboodle. It has got nothing to do with us now. We have done our best to get those people together, and it is up to them to see that the Africans get fair play.
But I think that we could twist the tail of the Rhodesian Government a bit by saying to them, "Now look here: one thing you must do is to release the political prisoners, whether white or black". I was particularly impressed that the noble Lord. Lord Brockway, was the only noble Lord tonight who brought out that point. I believe that we ought to take a step and say to the Rhodesian Government, "If you will release the political prisoners (not the scallywags who have committed murder and have been a nuisance) both black and white, we will take off sanctions. And not only will we do away with sanctions, but we will do a great deal more than that: the moment we take off sanctions we will pour into the country every blessing we possibly can. We will try to increase imports and to increase your exports, and we will try to bring the country to real prosperity." That would be something on which they could really work. I cannot understand how the present Government—or the last Government, for that matter—can imagine that we can make friends with the Government while we twist their tails. Either you make friends with the Government, and do all you can to keep them going, or you cut out and get away from them completely.
I do not pretend to know the Rhodesian native but I can claim to know the African native in some of their glorious countries from the source of the Nile to the Rovuma River and from the Indian Ocean to the Great Lakes. When I was out in East Africa I often talked to the Africans and asked them, "What do you think of our Government?", and 328 their answer has always been very much the same. They said, "You white people come to make your home with us and, with certain exceptions, we like you, we get on well with you and we know you have our interests at heart; but we cannot quite understand what on earth the Government six or eight thousand miles away have to do with it. We understand local government, we understand local people, whatever their colour, but we cannot understand how you are treated by the Government at home." That is one of the troubles in Africa at the moment: that the local government does not take kindly to the Government at home. I think that is a very serious point we have to think about. I remember when I was a small boy at Winchester we had a missionary preaching. He was a coloured man and he made a very apt remark I have always remembered. He said, "You boys go out into the countries of Africa. In the one hand you carry a Bible and in the other a cricket bat." That good man was putting the jam on pretty thick, but there is a great deal in it; it is the personal touch which is so important. And that is what we have to consider with the African today.
As Europeans, we have to realise that in Rhodesia the European has come to stay. I was in Rhodesia and went from Bulawayo to Salisbury just over 60 years ago, when those two towns were not much more than what the Americans called a "one-horse daub". Do you really expect the white man in South Africa to sacrifice all that and give it straight away to the African? Of course not; you cannot expect him to. But the white man, surely, must make up his mind and acknowledge that he must do something for the African. The African must equally realise that he cannot get it all in one mouthful; it is going to take a great many years. He must come into his own, just as the white man must come into his own. It is going to be a very long process and the African has to take his time; he must be patient and come into his own in due course.
My Lords, I do not think we ought to delude ourselves. We ought to acknowledge that the British Empire is as dead as the dodo, and I think many of us would also acknowledge that a British Commonwealth in Africa is also a dying duck. We are at a crossroads 329 now. We stand alone and we have to make up our minds what we are going to do. If we stay in Africa, if we try to rule the roost there for long, we are going to get our fingers badly burned. I believe that what we ought to do in Rhodesia, if Mr. Smith and his colleagues will not come to terms with the Africans, is to wash our hands of the whole matter. Sanctions are no good whatever; they will only irritate the whole question. We stand alone. But I do not think there is need for despair. I have tremendous faith in the white man in Africa. He is a very sensible person; he has been through it all, and he is there to help the African. And I believe the African is gradually coming to his senses. He will get everything he wants in the course of time, if only he will be patient and wait. I believe that in Africa, in Rhodesia especially, there is no reason for despair at all. White and black will eventually come into their own and live for ever happily.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I am not sure whether I entirely followed the theme of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Poltimore, in his statement that he thought that political detainees in Rhodesia should be released and that Mr. Smith should have released them a long time ago. There has been, over a number of years in Africa, insurrection operating across the borders of Rhodesia, and any man responsible for their affairs, even if non persona grata with the British Government, has a duty to the territory to maintain some form of law and order. To take a parallel example, we have at the present moment, in Northern Ireland of all places, political detainees locked up because of trouble in that part of the country, and it ill behoves anybody in this Parliament to cast a stone in that direction at Mr. Smith.
I cannot help feeling that in all quarters of your Lordships' House this evening there is a sense of frustration in dealing with the Rhodesian problem. For six years, since 1966, we have, on and off, been seeking a solution to this problem, but so far success would appear to have eluded us. Again, I sense that people outside Parliament are tired and bored with this dispute and there is a feeling that politicians are inept in their failure 330 to find a solution. Assuming, as I must, that all noble Lords desire a settlement of this problem—and I do not believe there is any noble Lord in your Lordships' House who does not desire that state of affairs—I think it might be appropriate to consider what has in part hampered a solution to this problem so far.
I do not think that it helps particularly if we consider this matter in a political atmosphere of Party advantage, or that one Party necessarily has a monopoly of wisdom over the other. However, we have this problem and we have to deal with it as it exists. A political stance by either one Party or the other only tends, in my view, to polarise the issues, causing extremes of opinion and thus making more difficult the arrival at a just solution. If it were possible—I realise now that it is not entirely possible—I should like this matter taken entirely out of the realm of politics, because it really is a problem of finding how people in another part of the world may live together in amity and peace. It is an extremely heavy responsibility on the British Parliament to judge these issues eight or twelve thousand miles away from the spot where the difficulty has occurred. A good deal of emotion was created at the time of the imposition of sanctions, at the time of the unilateral declaration of independence. I must say that I do not know what any self-respecting British Government could have done at that time but impose sanctions. There is no law condoning an illegality, and the use of force was out. Let us all agree about that.
Then there is what I would call the emotive issue. While it is right, in my opinion, that in justice five million Africans in Rhodesia cannot be denied their national aspirations indefinitely, it is equally unfair to depict all white Rhodesians as necessarily wanting to preserve the status quo indefinitely. Over a long period I have listened to speeches in your Lordships' House and read articles in the Press. Some of the remarks which have been attributed to the white community in Rhodesia have not helped towards the climate necessary to solve this difficult problem. Neither has justice really been done to them. There is another point in this matter which I do not think can be over-emphasised. In all the hundreds of 331 speeches that have been made or the thousands of words that have been written on the Rhodesian problem, I do not remember that anything has ever been said or written about the great contribution made to Rhodesia by the white community. That is my first point.
I will mention another example and quote a case which is within my own knowledge. As a colonial civil servant, I knew after 30 years in Malaya that I and my wife and children had a home in England to which we could retire. It is not true to say that this is the position of many of the white community in Rhodesia. For many, Rhodesia is their only home. There is justifiable fear among the white community as to what might happen by too rapid a change of government. What about the British Press? Sometimes the British Press has been constructive in this matter, but has its attitude always been helpful? I can remember occasions when it was not helpful in colonial matters. As a civil servant in Malaya in 1941 I can remember the vehemence with which the British Press attacked us. The time to which I refer was when I and others were most dispirited and were on our way to Changi Gaol, in which we were to be incarcerated by the Japanese for four years. The fall of Malaya and what happened in that country was due, so the Press screamed, to whisky-swilling planters of Malaya and to others who had been responsible for affairs in that country. It was a lie, of course.
I know of the great part played by British people in industry, in Government, in the success story of overseas territories. In the case of Malaya many white people died in the service of the Crown. Others of us were received back afterwards with open arms. I cannot conceive that it is impossible to believe there are white people of a similar sentiment and calibre in Rhodesia to-day. After all, we have all come more or less from the same stock and will be animated by the same ideals in our attitudes towards people of other countries. I mention these points because, sooner or later—I hope it is sooner rather than later—we are going to have to deal with this Rhodesian problem again. It was a disappointment to me that the Africans in Rhodesia were unable to agree to the settlement proposals, Command 4835, 332 which were agreed between my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and Mr. Smith.
In this country there is in existence an organisation known as the Justice for Rhodesia Campaign, the sponsors of which are the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, and the Bishop of Stepney, Dr. Huddlestone. The views of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, are known, and it is a disappointment to me that he has not been able or has not seen fit to take part in this debate. I could not subscribe to some of the views about our problems with overseas people that have been expressed in speeches by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, in your Lordships' House. Whether your Lordships feel that the existence of power groups is of any particular help in a consideration of the Rhodesian problem is a matter for your Lordships individually. My own feeling on the matter is that it makes no constructive contribution whatsoever to a solution. I do not know to what extent the Justice for Rhodesia Campaign may have influenced Bishop Muzorewa, of the African National Council, in the action he or the Council took to advise Africans to reject the Home-Smith agreement, but if such influence was used by the Justice for Rhodesia Campaign it would appear to me that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, was not acting in the best interests of the Africans in Rhodesia. The Justice for Rhodesia Campaign was certainly not doing so in any action that may have been taken.
I have said these things, my Lords, because this is a time for reflection, both in Rhodesia and here, on what is to happen as a result of the rejection of the proposals for a settlement, and in an attempt to be constructive in what may lie ahead of us in our future considerations of this problem. As to our influence and our experience, and the power which may be left to us, I hope that we shall try to bring to bear an influence which is for good. May I quote a few words from a speech given by the Malayan High Commissioner in London, in May of this year, at the Royal Overseas League, of which I am a member? I think they apply equally to our people in Rhodesia. The High Commissioner said that the peoples of Malaysia valued and treasured their membership of the 333 Commonwealth, which enabled them to continue their long association and many individual friendships with Britain and the British people, their former guides and mentors and now equal partners in the great Commonwealth of nations. The relationship, he stated, must go on. He said that Malaysia would like to have more visits from members of the Royal Family and British Ministers, and he specially mentioned the warm regard felt in different parts of Malaysia for individual British officers who had served the territories as members of Her Majesty's Overseas Service in pre-Independence days.
The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, made a powerful plea in his speech, which he directed towards Mr. Smith, that Mr. Smith should not ignore the Africans in Rhodesia but should now seek them out in order to persuade them to accept, possibly in some modified version, the settlement proposals which up to the present they have rejected. I hope most sincerely that in the period ahead of us Mr. Smith may listen to the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. At the same time, I wish the noble Lord (this is not a criticism of Lord Goodman's speech; it relates to something he did not say and which I wish he had said) had seen fit to give credit to the Rhodesian Government where such credit was due, and to praise the contribution made by the white community in Rhodesia. I should also have liked him to say that the existence of pressure groups, wherever they might be, was a contribution to this difficulty and to advocate that they should be discouraged. This is indeed a time for reflection, a time for healing, a time for understanding. I praise the speech of my noble friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, which I thought statesmanlike and which covered most points in the present situation.
We have listened to one or two remarkable speeches this evening, and I would particularly mention that of the noble Lord, Lord Napier and Ettrick. The words which he used about continuing sanctions indefinitely filled me with a certain amount of foreboding, and they were echoed to some extent by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bourne. I hope that, in the intervening period before November, it may somehow be possible 334 for Mr. Smith to get together with the Africans in Rhodesia, and hammer out proposals on the lines of the agreement reached between him and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I also hope that nothing will be said in the interim that might inflame the situation, and that we shall all join together in doing our best to seek a solution to what has so far proved a most intractable problem. My Lords, that is all I have to say, except that I hope that there will be no Division to-night in your Lordships' House.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WINCHESTER
My Lords, the Motion before the House to-day asks us to agree that there should be time for reflection on the implications of the Report, but reflection on what? The terms of reference given to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, were to find out whether the settlement proposals were acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole, and he found that they were not. It was agreed between the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Ian Smith that should the proposals not be accepted there would be no further negotiation. I see no real reason at this time why we should reflect on what has been a "No" answer. But I should like to pay tribute to Lord Pearce and his Commissioners for carrying out what I believe was a magnificent but almost impossible task. The way they conducted their inquiry in the time they were given must have required a tremendous amount of patience. However, it is with regret that I find that I cannot entirely accept the findings of the Pearce Commission.
Consider, my Lords, the Rhodesian African and, in particular, the rural African. It is a custom of the African people not to make a decision immediately. They require to talk and think about the matter, which may take three days or a month, and they then like to come back and discuss it some more. But at the various meetings which the Pearce Commission had in the rural areas, they stipulated the amount of time which they could grant and said, "We can give you approximately two hours of our time. For the first hour we will tell you what the proposals are all about, and for the second hour you must ask any questions you like. You must then come 335 to any decision you like." That was not good enough.
I admit that the Africans were given ample opportunity to study the proposals before the Commission ever went to Rhodesia, but having heard what the Rhodesian Government officials had to say, they quite naturally wanted to hear what the Pearce Commission had to say and then to go away and think again about the proposals. It is my belief that when they found that they could not do that, the few cheer-leaders turned around and said, "No, no, no", even before the time was up. Several of the Commissioners—I am not sure how many—were people well versed in African affairs and in the ways of Africans and, to a degree, the Commissioners have let us down since they should have known that this method of sampling African opinion was not very satisfactory.
In their Report, the Commissioners stated that one of the main reasons why the settlement proposals were rejected was distrust of the Rhodesian Government. Again, I am not at all sure that that is really a very valid point. In 1961, similar proposals were made to the Africans at the time of the late Sir Edgar Whitehead's Government, which was considerably more liberal than the present Rhodesian Government, and they were turned down. So I feel that this suggestion about distrust of the Government is not completely valid. On the subject of intimidation, I feel that the Commission were not really inclined to believe the suggestion that there was no intimidation, but I think they considered that the intimidation was not quite so serious as Government officials in Rhodesia suggested. I should like to digress for a moment to give your Lordships an example of intimidation. I was in Fort Victoria at the time of riots which occurred as the result of the Commissioners being in the area. I know for certain that a good number of Africans employed within the town of Fort Victoria were too frightened to return home in the evening to the African township where they were housed, and they slept wherever they could. A number of noble Lords have talked about intimidation, and I think we all agree that there was a fair amount of it.
With regard to sanctions, I am a little distressed at the number of people who 336 are calling for sanctions to be increased and for a turning down of the screws. I really do not believe that this can achieve anything. I say that for a number of reasons, one of them being that the majority of white Rhodesians are of British stock, and they have that quality of British bulldog determination which has for centuries made the British nation famous. I am afraid that their attitude will be, "Where there's a will, there's a way". But I wonder how many people have considered what would happen if sanctions were really effective. If all the countries in the world turned down the screws and completely cut off Rhodesia, the economy would collapse, the country would collapse and there would be absolute chaos. Would it then be handed back to the British Government, and would they then be told, "O.K. it is your problem. There you go."? Who would pay for it? Who would put Rhodesia back on its feet under any Government?
I feel that I must support the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, in his Amendment. I should like to say, in conclusion, that since U.D.I. was declared nearly 7 years ago there have been many hard and bitter feelings internationally, internally and politically, between political Parties in both countries, in countries all around the world and among individuals, all of whom have tried to find a solution. That they have tried to find a solution is very commendable, but I would earnestly ask your Lordships to bear in mind that we must not let this become a completely political question. When we are searching for a solution on Rhodesia, we must remember that we are, after all, talking about the future of a country and her people.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Marquess, Lord Winchester, on the excellent speech he has just made. He has come a very long way to make it and it has moved the whole House. My noble friend Lord Napier and Ettrick asked me some time ago whether I would support him in this debate. I thought it would be a mini-debate and would have something to do with logarithms because it was an ancestor of his who invented logarithms. I was having lunch out today and I rang up to ask how many 337 speakers were listed. I thought there would have been three or four but I found that there were 35. Then I discovered that it was not the debate on which I had set out to speak. But I had said that I would support my noble friend and that is what I intend to do. The speeches I have heard have urged me to do this. What I say will be very short and will not be of any great interest to anybody.
This is a religious question. It is a funny sort of religion. I do not understand off-beat religions. I believe in a God who knows that I am right and that everybody else is wrong. That is essential. I have also my morals. I say, "If it is fun, do it". I do not think that it is fun to put sanctions on Rhodesia because sanctions have impoverished the Africans. Before sanctions they had the highest standard of living in Africa and that has now deteriorated. This is borne out by what I have been told by people from Rhodesia. I do not think that it is right to supply arms—
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether the people to whom he has spoken are Europeans or Africans, because it is for the Africans themselves to judge?
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. It was very kind of him to make it. If he understands me at all, he must know that I have a religious conviction that I am right and that everybody else is wrong. I cannot help it; it is my religion. I do not think it is fun to supply arms for one lot of Africans to kill another lot in the cruellest and most vicious war we have had in this century. I do not think that it is right to stop our cricket and rugby football games. I cannot see that it has anything to do with your Lordships' religion. I do not understand what it is about.
If the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, presses his Amendment I shall vote for it. I know that I shall be right. Sanctions should be stopped. I would not say, "No more sanctions". I would not give way on a principle. I would simply let sanctions fade out quietly and say nothing. Knowing the Press and everybody else, they would soon be forgotten. I wish to support the Amendment.
§ 9.3 p.m.
My Lords, I shall not keep your Lordships long because most of the things that I was going to say have already been said. This is a terribly sad occasion. We can look back to last November and see a picture in the Press of Sir Alec Douglas-Home shaking Mr. Smith's hand and saying "Agreement at last. Our countries are no longer at war". I was in Salisbury at the time. The flags were flying. Blacks and whites were singing with joy. They were saying, "Better things to come. More houses; more money for education; more trade; better wages". All this has now been lost because the Pearce Commission were outwitted by the A.N.C. The A.N.C. used foul methods. I am glad to say that the Pearce Commission did not.
There was intimidation. We have heard of one instance of this from the noble Marquess, Lord Winchester. Your Lordships will forgive me for citing one more. I have a farm there with about 200 labourers. After November, they were all very pleased. We talked about how much more tobacco and cotton we were going to grow, how many more houses were going to be built. I was quite certain that they would all say, "Yes". But two rather smart individuals walked into the compound. I asked them who they were. They said, "Strangers". I asked them what they wanted and they said, "Work". To me they did not look like workers. They moved on. Shortly after that, the Commission went to Sinoia, a town 50 miles away, and did their stuff. Like all other farmers I had a list of my men and a little paragraph from them to say whether it was "Yes" or "No". I said, "Here we are; I think you are all going to write 'Yes'. Would some of you like to write 'No'?". Not a word; just stony silence. They wrote nothing. They were the silent majority. The same thing took place in most of the other farms round about me. The Pearce Commission saw under 10 per cent. of the Africans so your Lordships can think of the 90 per cent. who thought it wiser to say nothing. I asked my old cook boy who had been with me for 12 years why this was, and he said, "Dangerous to write".
That is in the past. What of the future? I can be a little more optimistic. Before 339 I came away I heard that many Africans in the tribal areas were changing their ideas. They wished that they had said, "Yes" instead of "No". Quite a few were writing to ask whether Lord Pearce would come back. But it was too late. As has already been said, the African likes time, but the time is about up. Sir Alec has said that he wants time for reflection, but we have had a month or so. It is my belief that that 90 per cent. of the Africans, especially in the tribal areas—I do not worry about the trouble-makers, the power-seekers in the towns—would write, "Yes", and we might still have agreement.
To turn to sanctions for a minute, it is unbelievable that anybody should want to stifle a young country like Rhodesia, especially a country which, per capita, did more for us in the last war than any other Dominion or Colony. What is more, as has already been said, we are harming the native. Perhaps he does not mind; but the ones who do mind are the children. There has been an enormous population explosion in Rhodesia. I believe that 50 per cent. of the Africans are now under 18. All those young men and women want education and will want work. The only way to secure that is to bring capital into the country and produce more industries, and also to place some of these people, if necessary as "white-collar" workers—not that they have many white collars. Sanctions have been imposed just out of spite. They would never bring Mr. Smith to the conference table (he has already been), and a country which can survive six years can easily survive another two. So I appeal to everyone to support my noble friend Lord Coleraine, and to vote that sanctions be ended as quickly as possible.
Incidentally, November is not a very good time to re-enact them. To-day is mid-winter's day—it feels like it—and spring is not far away in the garden. Before the spring, we shall have to cultivate our areas—the tobacco, the cotton and the maize, which is all planted on the first rains. So the sooner we can get rid of those "something" sanctions, the sooner we can get on with the work and do good for everyone. I had a letter, which I think I must quote, from a friend of mine who is a very big farmer—and I am almost ashamed, from these Benches, 340 to repeat it. What he said was, "Certainly the Conservatives have done far more harm to Rhodesia than the Labour Party ever did". But then he added. "That was not for want of trying."
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, I apologise for rising out of turn, and I want to speak only very briefly in defence of my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir. This question is a question of great importance: it is a question of liberty, it is a question of honour. We have had questions about the Africans like this, we have had speeches about the Africans like that. The Africans have said quite categorically that they want sanctions to go on.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
It is not nonsense, my Lords. They have rejected the proposals put to them by the Pearce Commission.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
In an opinion poll one thousand people are asked questions, and this is supposed to represent the views of 50 million; and it is almost always, except in the polls of June, 1970, accurate.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Still, a very large number of Africans have said they do not want it. The Press, in their judgment of the situation as they saw it in Africa at the time, said that the Africans are solidly against the proposals. All the Pearce Commission did was what the British Government asked it to do. We should all have liked the Africans to accept the proposals, but the Africans did not accept them. We made the Fifth Principle, which is by far the most important Principle of all. It is the Principle that what is proposed must be acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole. That means every Rhodesian. It does not mean the Matabele only, it does not mean the Mashona only, it does not mean the people from England only: it means the Rhodesian people as a whole. The Government have very wisely said that we must have time for thought, time for 341 everybody to think; and this I hope we shall allow them to have. I also hope that sanctions will go on. Mr. Smith is in direct treason from the Crown. He disobeyed his Privy Counsellor's Oath. He promised the Governor that he would not declare U.D.I. eight hours before he did it. This is not the action of an honourable man. In spite of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, going on saying that Mr. Smith, like Brutus, is an honourable man, Mr. Smith is not an honourable man.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
Shame? Because he broke his allegiance to the Crown? I hear high Tories—and I take this as a high Tory argument—saying, "Mr. Smith is perfectly all right; he is marvellous." He broke his word to the Crown, and the high Tories are in support of somebody who has broken his word to the Crown. This is turning the English Parliament upside down; this is turning liberty upside down. I sincerely hope that we shall reject Lord Coleraine's Amendment, however well and cleverly moved it was. I hope sincerely that we shall stand by our principles, by the priciples of liberty and justice and by the principle of freedom for man. In 1940, in 1914, in 1815 and in the Spanish Armada men died for those principles; and we must go on, even though our power is very limited. Now it is not the Grand Fleet, it is not Trafalgar; but we must still go on and aim for liberty and justice, which is far more important than any other single principle to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I have only a word or two to say. I should have supported the original Motion but, since the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has been accepted I can never support it as it recommends the continuance of sanctions. In his speech, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, implied that people of his mind were the only people who had the real interest of the Africans at heart. I want to say that if he was implying that, then he was in error. He further said that he hoped that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, would press his Amendment to a Division. I do not know whether he pro- 342 poses to do so; but the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said that if he did it would mean that those who supported him would stand up and be counted. If the House were to divide on Lord Coleraine's Amendment, then I should support it because on such a subject I should be proud to stand up and be counted.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE
My Lords, we have had a most fascinating debate to-night, in some ways an unexpected kind of debate, which I think we have all greatly enjoyed and which has given rise to a great deal of thought among all parts of the House. Speaking from these Benches, we are glad that the noble Baroness was able to accept for the Government the Amendment which we put down; she did so characteristically gracefully and in a very powerful speech. The noble Baroness always speaks in a way which fills me with admiration, even when I do not agree with her.
At this time of night one does not want to waste time repeating all that has been said. Every part of the House has praised the work done by the Pearce Commission—with, perhaps, the exception of the noble Marquess; and although I did not agree with what he said I think we can all accept the deep sincerity with which he spoke. Undoubtedly the Pearce Commission did a most magnificent job and I think there can be no question that the Commission's proposals were broadly understood even in the tribal trust areas. We are deeply grateful to the Commission for the way in which they have enriched even the history of the British race. I think they have done something about which we shall all be proud. I think that we should also be thankful to those Africans, who, as the Commission themselves said, trekked miles to the points of assembly, and who had the courage and political sophistication and the energy to go there, to listen to the Commissioners and to record their votes.
Her Majesty's Government in the shape (the very nice shape) of the noble Baroness, have honourably accepted that the vote was "No" to the settlement proposals. I think it important to put on Record that we on this side of the 343 House always thought the settlement proposals were misconceived. This was very fully debated on the last occasion in your Lordships' House and my noble friend Lord Brockway has taken up some of the arguments. I do not propose to go into all that again. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, explained to us that Mr. Smith was wrongly informed by his district commissioners that the Chiefs would deliver the answer "Yes". He disarmingly admitted that, although he is normally very sagacious, he also accepted that entirely erroneous advice. So much for legal notables in politics—even if they are solicitors, let alone barristers. I hope that he will take the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, who asked him to speak to Mr. Smith and get Mr. Smith to agree with him. My Lords, I think that without that total misconception on the part, anyhow, of Mr. Smith and certainly of the noble Lord, the settlement proposals might never have reached Parliament in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, also, rather disarmingly, admitted that he had never spoken to Africans.
Many of my noble friends, and noble Lords in other parts of the House who knew, and know, Rhodesia, assured the House that the Africans were prepared to go on suffering the injustices of the Land Tenure Act, of increasing racial discrimination, and a lack of proper secondary education. They were, as the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, said, prepared to accept those burdens rather than vote themselves into a position of political oppression which would then become legal in the eyes of the world. And, my Lords, we were very severely castigated for saying so. I should like to say again to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that it was not simply, in that rather condescending phrase of his, that they "would not have accepted a plum pudding or a pot of jam from Mr. Smith"; it was that they made a choice between the alternatives honestly given to them by the Pearce Commission, and they accepted the one which they knew would give them no benefit at the present time, but which they felt was the right choice for themselves. The Government have had the integrity to accept the Pearce Report. Mr. Smith is now reduced to saying that he doubts whether Lord 344 Pearce actually wrote the Report. There is a report in to-day's Guardian which says that Mr. Smith says there is,an absence of any judicial flavour in the Report,and he goes on to say,It was from there but a short step to ponder as to the real authorship of this document.My Lords, I think that noble Lords understand the opinions of my noble friends on this side of the House about Mr. Smith, which I fully accept are shared by noble Lords on the Benches opposite. But to-night is not the time to go in for recriminations of any kind. I believe that this is the moment for constructive thinking, and possibly even for action. That is why we particularly regret the Amendment put down in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. We utterly repudiate the idea; his conception that Rhodesian Africans are politically unsophisticated to the extent that they are unworthy of the application of the Fifth Principle, which was, after all, devised by the right honourable gentleman the Foreign Secretary. But in fact the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, did not attempt to prove to us that the Africans were unsophisticated. His speech really was a criticism of the Pearce Commission, and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Foot, dealt adequately with that side of it.
I was rather surprised by the noble Lord's odd and (may I say, with respect?) perhaps insensitive echoes of Munich; that he should ask us to aim at the appeasement of Mr. Smith, rather than look for a solution for all the inhabitants of Rhodesia. When the noble Lord said he thought that the Pearce Commission consultation might in itself lead to an insurrection by the Africans I wondered whether he remembered that Mr. Smith is in rebellion against the Crown. I must admit also that when the noble Lord, Lord Forester was speaking (we know that he has the right, given to his ancestors by King Henry VIII, to wear his hat in the presence of the Sovereign) I wondered whether he also remembered that Mr. Smith is in rebellion against the Crown.
My Lords, I say again that we repudiate this conception of the unsophisticated African. It is traditional to think that African women, with their different role in their culture from the role of 345 women in our culture, and the fact that they do not have the same opportunities for education, might be considered perhaps a little unsophisticated. This is entirely confounded by the Report of the Commission itself, and I should like to read part of it from Miss Gwilliam, who actually went to meet the women. She was told: "African women … would not be interested in meeting a Commissioner; even if they were to do so, they would not understand; even if they did understand, their husbands would not let them come; and if they were to come, they would not have anything to say". In the event all this proved untrue. The women presented their views with conviction; they did not repeat things parrot fashion, and they were able to develop arguments, reply to questions and to expand on reasons. In other words, I do not think anyone could possibly say that these tribal women in the reserves were anything but fully responsible and doing their best to understand.
There was one further thing from the Commission which I want to tell the House; it is what a nurse said. She stated:Don't believe we were intimidated into saying 'No'. When we first heard of the Settlement we were full of joy. Then we began to read the Proposals and study them deeply. It was then we realised they were not for us. It was not intimidation, it was a spontaneous expression, even women were moved.Unsophisticated, my Lords? If I am not thought unkind, I should like to suggest that perhaps it is the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, who is an unsophisticated Member of your Lordships' House. The counsels of Lord Coleraine and his friends are utterly pessimistic: they lead to nothing, except to dishonour. To ask us to give up our responsibility, to throw everything to the winds in that way, is exactly what would lose us our honour and our position in the eyes of the world—a position which with great difficulty, in the face of lack of support on sanctions, we have been able to keep up.
I most earnestly ask the House to repudiate the Amendment, if the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, presses it, because I believe that, in spite of all appearances, we are at a moment when we may be about to see some fluidity in the Rhodesian situation. I will try to show noble Lords what I mean by that. My noble friend Lord Shepherd referred to the ter- 346 rible disaster at Wankie colliery. We all send our sympathy, and we deeply welcome the Government's relief donation of £25,000. One of the things that emerged in the description of that disaster was the astonishing fact of the almost international composition of the work force there. It is a kind of microcosm of Southern Africa. The men who worked and died in Wankie colliery were 176 Rhodesians; 91 Zambians; 52 Portuguese; 37 Malawis; 30 Tanzanians; 12 South Africans; 13 South-West Africans and one man from Botswana. This shows how impossible it is for Rhodesia to isolate herself in the way she has been trying to do. It is a self-imposed isolation which even South Africa, so very much richer than Rhodesia, is already finding herself unable to sustain.
This has a bearing on the situation. Quite apart from the pressure which I am quite sure sanctions exerted on Mr. Smith to come to the Settlement proposals, I am sure it was the advice of Dr. Vorster which also persuaded him to come. There is no doubt that South Africa is finding it more and more difficult to sustain Rhodesia not only economically but militarily. They have great problems of their own in South Africa. Their Bantustans, in which I think Dr. Vorster sincerely believes in his own way, are costing far more to keep up this respectable, as he thinks, side of apartheid than he ever thought they would. I think he does not want the drag of Rhodesia on him. I am sure that he is advising Mr. Smith to exert caution. On March 18 a report appeared in The Times of a desperate appeal by Mr. Smith in Cape Town for what he called a sub-Sahara community. He wanted a redistribution of resources for the benefit of all participants of these areas, even if this meant that sacrifices would have to be made by the more advanced nations of Southern Africa. There has been no overt answer to that appeal. I think Dr. Vorster has enough troubles of his own, particularly now that the younger members of the Afrikaner people are thinking new things and turning to new ways, to sustain forever the increasing burdens which Rhodesia is bringing to South Africa.
There is a further question which has not been touched on to-night and which I should like to mention, and that is the 347 problem of security. There is no question that the guerrillas in Mozambique are making serious threats to Rhodesia's outlet for her goods. There was a speech by Mr. Fleming, the Secretary for Law and Order, reported in the Daily Telegraph on May 17, in which he said:It is necessary for us to maintain a watch on this new border which in effect means a further extension of areas which require constant supervision.There is no question but that the guerrillas have made great inroads, and that the security authorities are deeply concerned by the incursions of Frelimo guerrillas, with very sophisticated weapons, South of the Zambesi and, above all, in the Tete Province, which is the outlet for Rhodesia to the outer world. This is a great strain on Portugal. Portugal is a tiny country. Those young soldiers are young men who are conscripted for four years. There is a strong possibility that Portugal may not be able to keep up this support, either.
Under these various pressures I really believe, although I know it is an unpleasant subject to think about, that Mr. Smith or his successors will have to yield to reason in a way that they have not had to yield before now. I think that they are desperate economically. There is no question, whatever noble Lords on the other side may say, that sanctions are a desperate source of concern to them. We know that the Gnomes of Zurich and other places lend them money; but we know that they get the money at very high interest. We know that the South African and Portuguese businessmen who conduct the illegal imports and exports for them take a very big rake off. We know that their balance of payments situation is desperate. We know that their rate of growth is not merely not going to be increased, but shortly will not be able to be maintained, together with their railways, their farms, their tobacco, and so on.
I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and also to noble Lords like the noble Lord. Lord Bourne, that there are two big misconceptions about sanctions. Sanctions do not hurt the blacks most, which is what noble Lords opposite are always saying; it is the whites who really suffer from sanctions. It is the whites who cannot sell their tobacco, who cannot buy their tractors, 348 who cannot get at their pensions and their dividends in this country. They are desperate for foreign exchange, and the burden falls on the Europeans, although sanctions also affect the blacks. The second misconception is that sanctions are an intolerable burden on this country. My noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner dealt with this matter very fully, and I do not propose to go into it. But politically sanctions are also very serious for the Rhodesians, because they cannot get what they desperately want—white immigration—unless sanctions are taken off. For all these reasons, I think that the situation may be more hopeful to-day than we realise. And it is added to, as many noble Lords have said, by the emergence of a new African Party, the new African National Council, whose President, Bishop Muzorewa, many noble Lords have met and been greatly impressed by.
Our Amendment of the Government Motion calls for a period of reflection. Bishop Muzorewa has also called for a period of reflection. He is a man of immense courage, political wisdom and moderation. Some of us were afraid that, like all his predecessors, he might have been put in prison once the Pearce Commission had gone. He has not been yet, and I think this is also a hopeful sign. It is true the A.N.C. have not been able to issue their membership cards—that was called a forbidden publication—and there is a new order to say that they cannot get money from abroad. I think we should ask the Government to enquire of Mr. Lardner Burke whether he will keep his pledge that, provided no law is broken and that the A.N.C. work constitutionally for the good of Rhodesia, the Government would not oppose or ban it. I ask the Government this with some confidence, because I know that the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack and who is to reply has a warm and spirited devotion to fair play and a passionate determination to honour obligations. We should like to find out whether that applies also in Rhodesia.
The A.N.C. are calling for a constitutional conference, and of course we must support them in that. It may sound impossible; it may not happen now; but in the next few years, with the military situation and other things all changing, I believe that it will be 349 possible; and that is what we have to work for. Of course it is a very cautious hope that I have, but I have got it; and it is increased by the fact that the Organisation of African Unity are being more constructive in the calls they make to ministerial members, as I am sure the noble Baroness will confirm. This is partly because of the great prestige which the Pearce Commission has won for us. There is a trust in Britain now that was not there perhaps six months ago.
My Lords, it is getting late and there is a lot I could say, but I must try to cut it short. However, there is one positive thing I must say before sitting down. In our Amendment we stress that unless sanctions are maintained, and indeed made more effective through the United Nations, we have not very much hope for the future. We believe that the United Nations should perhaps install inspectors at ports of embarkation and disembarkation, that there should perhaps be a permanent secretariat which could publicise properly those who break sanctions, and that there should be a general concerted effort by the other nations, as we say in our agreed Amendment, to support the excellent record of the British Government on sanctions. These sanctions are a small price to pay for sustaining our reputation for honourable dealing, and I believe that the maintenance of sanctions coincides with our own interests.
We have Commonwealth responsibility; we have a deep responsibility in Rhodesia. The other day the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat called for the vigorous implementation of sanctions. I think that in almost every part of the House noble Lords are aware of this Commonwealth responsibility. Staying with us at the moment is a young Spanish friend, and she said something to me the other day which I found disconcerting but interesting. It was:When I first came, I thought I was coming to one of the top countries in the world, a country with an Empire. Now I see I was uninformed. I did not realise how small you have become and that you did not want to make progress. But I notice that it is the old people—I think she means anybody over 25—who do not mind and who only want not to think of the rest of the world; but the 350 young people mind very much about how your old Empire is. They want to be sure that they have the justice that you have.My Lords, all of us may be over 25 years of age, but whatever differences there may be—and some of them are very great—I am quite sure that the majority of your Lordships' House have shown that we want Rhodesia to have the social justice as we understand it, and that we shall all strive for a multi-racial society. Any other course would be a complete tragedy.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the debate has now proceeded since the early hours of this afternoon and there have been more than 30 speeches. I feel quite certain that the House will forgive me if for more reasons than one I do not proceed according to what I might call the "usual pattern" and refer in detail to the very many points which have been raised during the course of this debate. I feel certain that the speech with which my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie began this debate made a deep impression in all quarters of the House. It made a deep impact. The burden of that speech was the time for reflection. We have an amended version, that is to say a Motion on which the Government have accepted the Amendment, and we have an Amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Coleraine. There have been many appeals to him from all quarters of the House not to press this Amendment to the Division lobby, and of all the reasons of policy one of the most cogent has been that to press it now would be contrary to the period of reflection for which we have asked.
But there is in addition a House of Lords' reason which I should like to put to the noble Lord. This House is not a mirror image of the House of Commons and it never can hope to become one. It is, and it has been from the earliest days, an assembly of individual counsellors of the Crown and very often its opinions are more cogently expressed by the speeches than ever than they can be by focusing them in the Division lobby. I should have thought on this occasion in particular, with such a range of different opinions expressed in all quarters, the wisdom of the case was to leave the speeches as they have been made as 351 representing the opinions of this House and not to seek to force it into a Division. But if the Division were called, if my noble friend proved completely unreceptive to whatever pleas have been made to him, including mine, I have no doubt I should be compelled to advise my noble friends to reject his Amendment. I hope that it will not come to that, but that is what I should feel compelled to do.
But I ask him to consider for a moment why. My mind goes back to the debate last December to which I was asked to reply. I did so prefacing my remarks, as I do now, with an acknowledgments that, unlike most or, at any rate, many noble Lords who had participated, I had no special knowledge of Rhodesia and no right to speak with any degree of authority in that matter. What I did was this: I pressed the point on the House that the proposals which I endorsed, and which the House subsequently endorsed, were ad referendum the Rhodesian people as a whole. I remember engaging in some kind of interchange with one noble Lord on the Liberal Benches (I think the noble Lord, Lord Wade) in which I put this particular point so strongly that he challenged me as to whether I endorsed the proposals at all, and I said that I did. But I went on to say that it was an essential part of the settlement that a Commission should go out and that the Commission should ascertain whether or not the Fifth Principle had been satisfied; and the House endorsed that by a substantial majority.
What I would put to my noble friend Lord Coleraine is this—and I am not concerned about my own position; I do ask him to believe that: What kind of figure would I make, and far more important what kind of figure would the House itself cut, if, having said that these proposals were acceptable, that it was an intrinsic part of them that there should be a Commission ad referendum the people of Rhodesia as a whole, and having approved the proposals, having approved the method and having sent out the Commission and got the answer which so far as the Government were concerned they did not want, they should turn their back on it and say, "we throw the whole thing overboard". There is in so doing a degree in which I feel 352 strongly we should be lacking in integrity.
I am not making this charge against my noble friend. His views are sincerely and strongly held. They have been held consistently for a number of years; he has nothing with which to reproach himself. But I ask him out of consideration for the House as a whole to recognise the difficulty in which he would be putting us. We could not honourably say that the Fifth Principle is of no value to us after we had placed a substantial part, perhaps the crucial part of our case last December, upon the Fifth Principle's being satisfied.
That leads me to remind the House of two factors about this principle. There are, of course, two elements of subjectivity about it; it is important to remember that. Unlike all the others the Fifth Principle was that the British Government should be satisfied that whatever settlement was made should be acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole. That was one element of subjectivity. The other element of subjectivity was this: the question was not whether the Rhodesian people as a whole were wise or foolish in acceptance or rejection of the proposals, it was whether they did in fact find them acceptable.
This, I think, does answer a number of criticisms which were made both of the Pearce Commission and of the Fifth Principle. A number of noble Lords indicated that Africans, for one reason or another which they thought either irrational or inconclusive, rejected the proposals and if they had been wiser they would have accepted them. But that was not the question to which the Pearce Commission set out to find the answer. The question was whether they did accept them. The Pearce Commission answered the question, "No, they did not accept them". It is reported that the proposals were acceptable to the overwhelming majority of Europeans, and I think also of Asians, but not to the majority of Africans. In the result they reported that it was not acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole, and the Government have thought it right to accept the view of the Pearce Commission. I need hardy say that this Report was a disappointment to the Government. It was a disappointment to the 353 noble Lord, Lord Goodman, as he candidly admitted.
I made it clear in December that I saw in the proposals some degree of hope. I thought, and I still think—as did the noble Lord, Lord Foot, in his speech—that the choice before Rhodesia is between evolution and bloodshed. I thought, and I still think, that the hope for African advance resides in the development of a powerful African working and middle-class in their proper proportions; skilled and semi-skilled and professional workers. I regard the present status quo as preserving the existing political and economic balance, and that prevents such a development, or at least retards it. A settlement would have enabled us to move forward, and the continuance of the status quo will at best keep the situation as it is.
What should we do in the light of the Report? There is a body of opinion that says "No" really meant "Yes", and that the Pearce Commission was deceived in its appreciation of what the African majority really thought. I do not accept that view. I found the Report of the Commission convincing. The Fifth Principle requires the Government to be satisfied, and I must say this in answer to my noble friend Lord Coleraine, to some of whose other arguments I will come in rather greater detail later, that even if I thought that his statistical analysis of the various elements in the Commission's Report were valid, and I do not share that view, they would still in my opinion have left a void. They would not have supplied a "Yes" instead of a "No". There would be, if one rejected the Commission's Report, no material now available on which, in the absence of the rejected Report, we could have supplied a positive answer, and a positive answer is what the Fifth Principle requires. In any event, having set up the Commission, we could only reject its findings in the presence of overwhelming evidence that it was wrong.
My noble friend Lord Coleraine made a number of other criticisms of the Commission to which I should give some reply. I was rather sorry that he made a generalised attack on lawyers and civil servants in public life. When I reflect on the long and honourable association 354 in public life of my profession and at various times of the Civil Service I am not at all sure that my noble friend was justified in what he said. He would have been better advised to stick to his objective criticisms rather than to his subjective judgments. This was not, as he seems to think and as he at one point explicitly said, a political exercise. It was an inquiry as to fact.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I did not say that it was intended to be a political exercise. I said that the noble Lord and his colleagues had turned it into one.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I shall come to that. I thought that at one point my noble friend said that civil servants and lawyers were not suitable for political exercises and that they should not dabble in politics. I am sure that when he reads the OFFICIAL REPORT of his speech he will find that, perhaps inadvertently, he said that.
This was an inquiry into fact and it was, I would have thought, appropriate that a distinguished but retired judge should be selected to chair a Commission whose purpose was to inquire into fact, because that is what judges largely are professionally skilled to do. I think that my noble friend was a little brash in his attack on some of the things the Commission did. For example, he seemed to think that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, had somehow compromised his judicial impartiality by what he said in paragraph 17 of the Report.
I will quote that paragraph:We felt it to be of supreme importance that our report should command respect in Britain and elsewhere. It was therefore vital that we should do all that we could to establish our credibility as a Commission. So we had to devise procedures which would fairly enable us to probe Rhodesian opinion thoroughly at all levels with as comprehensive a geographical coverage of the country as time and circumstances would permit. We had also to be seen to be taking our own line about where and how to test opinion. Yet we should get nowhere without the full co-operation of the Rhodesian authorities with their detailed knowledge of the country and their administrative apparatus on which we had largely to depend. In these circumstances we decided that before starting discussions with the Rhodesian authorities we should form our own provisional opinions on what best to do. So, rightly or wrongly, we felt it advisable to defer acceptance of a suggestion that the Rhodesian authorities should send over to London to work 355 with us as our consultant throughout the operation, Senator S. Morris, a former Secretary for Native Affairs and Chief Native Commissioner.In other words, in this paragraph, in which he is alleged to have compromised his judicial integrity and impartiality, he is explaining why he felt it necessary to reject the assistance of an experienced Rhodesian who he thought would have compromised that very thing, though, of course, this was not the purpose of the suggestion which had been made.
My noble friend then went on to criticise the passage which dealt with the Todds, which he described as a Press conference. Now if noble Lords will look at paragraph 148, which is that to which my noble friend referred, they will find what they did was not to hold a Press conference but to issue a statement to the Press in which they said that they:… fully recognised the responsibility of the Rhodesian Government to maintain law and order …".But that—'nevertheless in the absence of satisfactory explanation from the Rhodesian Government about those detained under ministerial orders, and the failure either to prefer charges against them or to release them, the Commission must infer that the purpose of their detention is to inhibit the free expression of opinion.'I must say that I feel my noble friend's strictures on that paragraph are unjustified.
To cast one's mind back to that situation: I make no allegation against the Administration who detained these people, but clearly the Commission were there to discover the true state of Rhodesian opinion. They had been promised, and promised by both sides, that there would be normal political activity. Two prominent persons were detained. What the Commission felt it necessary to say was that, of course, if security reasons justified their detention they would accept them, but a detention of that kind required explanation and must affect their situation. There was a real danger at that time, I think, that the Commission would have been forced by the pressure of public opinion to retire without giving a positive answer of any kind. It would have been a disaster for all of us if that had happened, and it seems to me that the Commission acted with perfect propriety in issuing a statement of that kind and that such a statement could not, by 356 any legitimate stretch of the imagination, be treated as taking sides.
There is only one other point I would say about my noble friend's attack upon the Commission. He complained that they had delayed their going out. That has been explained more than once, but I must say to my noble friend that on the assumption which the Commission at least were entitled to make that they seriously wanted to find out what Rhodesians were thinking after a long period of political inactivity, to have had a rushed Commission leading to a snap decision, for whatever reasons, would have carried no conviction with anybody at all. This of course is outside the terms of the Amendment which my noble friend proposed, although it was very much within the terms of the speech with which he supported it.
The object of the Amendment is to call upon Her Majesty's Government to abandon the Fifth Principle altogether, and it then calls upon Her Majesty's Government, in effect, to make a settlement which it considers for the good of the people of Rhodesia as a whole, regardless of whether or not it considers it acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole. The Amendment does not disclose, and my noble friend did not disclose in his speech, exactly what the terms of such a settlement would be. If it is different from what I may call the so-called Goodman proposals, I simply cannot speculate as to what he has in mind, but if it is identical with the Goodman proposals, the proposition is that we should impose them upon the Rhodesians, not merely regardless of whether they were acceptable to the people as a whole but in the knowledge, or at least the belief, that they were not, and specifically that they had been rejected by a majority of Rhodesian Africans.
My noble friend will forgive me if I say that this is rather strong meat. The Fifth Principle has been part of the policy of successive Governments since before 1964. It has not, I believe, so far been openly challenged until this moment, and certainly, whatever else is true, my noble friend's proposition is not Mr. Smith's proposition. Mr. Smith's approach has been that the Fifth Principle has been satisfied but the Pearce Commission had the wool pulled over 357 their eyes and did not see it. His attitude, as I understand it, is not that we should substitute "Yes" for "No"; it is that the answer really was "Yes" all along. My noble friend's contention is almost exactly the opposite of that. It is that so far from being ascertainable, the wishes of the Rhodesian people as a whole are totally inascertainable; and, putting the matter at its mildest, I must say to my noble friend that the time to say that was before the Pearce Commission went out and not after it had reported.
I know my noble friend is every bit as jealous of this country's honour as any Peer in this House, but I must ask what kind of honour the Government could preserve if, after sending out a Commission, it deliberately jettisoned a principle which it had announced in Government and Opposition for nearly ten years, simply because the response was different from that which it desired. And what advantage should we get to ourselves if we adopted this course? I do ask my noble friend to consider this. Rightly or wrongly, the matter has been made subject to Chapter VII procedure of the United Nations Charter, and under it has been made subject to mandatory sanctions. I realise, as my noble friend, Lord Milverton pointed out, that the propriety of this arrangement may be open to question, but that is what has happened. How would an imposed settlement help us to get rid of those sanctions? How would it affect our other interests in Africa, some of which, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, pointed out, are of substantial size? How would our Commonwealth partners, old and new, view this matter? These are questions which, if we were going to accept this Amendment to-night, we must surely ask, and if my noble friend is to press the Amendment he owes the House a conclusive and satisfactory answer to them, if he asks us to abandon the Fifth Principle. I am bound to say I could not see any attempt to tackle it in the course of my noble friend's speech. I would ask him not to press this Amendment to-day. His is a voice always listened to with respect.
I am bound to ask a further question. If the questions I have asked were in fact to be answered satisfactorily should 358 we then be justified in dropping the Fifth Principle? And if the Fifth, why only the Fifth and why not the other four? If the society of Rhodesia is in fact so politically unsophisticated that it is not to be consulted about its own future, what is the value of unimpeded progress to majority rule? What is the purpose of blocking retrogressive amendments, or improving the political status of the African population, or bringing ill measures against racial discrimination? And if we are to impose settlements on a society without consulting its members, but based on their supposed interest as a whole, on what criteria, on what basis, are we to define their interests?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Who are we to decide? Does my noble friend's conclusion really flow from his premise? Supposing one does grant that the society of Rhodesia is so politically unsophisticated that the wishes of its inhabitants are either unascertainable or irrelevant, has not the time gone by when this country, with its democratic electorate, based at a distance of many thousands of miles away ill the Northern Hemisphere, can impose a settlement on a politically unsophisticated society in the southern tip of Africa? No doubt the Government are supremely wise in this, as in all else, but we are responsible to Parliament and Parliament to the electors. If we were to adopt my noble friend's suggestion without consulting the inhabitants of Rhodesia and imposed a settlement which would dominate their future for the coming decades, would it be a settlement which my noble friend would endorse or to which he would give support? My guess is that it would not.
I do not know what the Labour Party supporters in the country would say—at least I think I do—or what the Liberal Party would think. We have heard speeches on both sides from the Conservative Benches. I must say to my noble friend that, granted that the Government and the public here are qualified to impose a settlement without consulting the wishes of the inhabitants of Rhodesia, I rather question what kind of a settlement my noble friend would get at the end. The truth is, and let us face it, that the effects of the Pearce Report have been 359 to put us back to square one. For myself I regret that conclusion, not least because it extinguishes the glimmer of hope that I saw in the Goodman proposals. I would ask the House to consider that it does probably represent the present situation and that the conclusion must be a time for reflection: for reflection by Africans, for reflection by Europeans in Rhodesia, for reflection by the British Government and the British Opposition. Two noble friends of mine, Lord Forester and Lord Napier and Ettrick, said (and certainly with that part of their speeches I had a great deal of sympathy) that if the Rhodesian Africans were as favourable to the proposals as they seem to think, and as Mr. Smith undoubtedly believes, they may already be having second thoughts. The proof of that pudding is surely very easily established in the eating. There is nothing in the proposals that could not be implemented by the régime itself, apart of course from the removal from the régime of the taint of illegality and its consequences. In the meantime I find myself quite unable to fault the Report.
We in the Government have no interest in making Rhodesia a football in any kind of Party political game. Our only interest is to secure a just settlement, acceptable to Rhodesia's people, conducive to its future prosperity. I have not so far mentioned, and I do not propose to mention, except in very few words in the concluding part of my speech, the question of sanctions. There have been those who claim that the policy of sanctions has failed, or perhaps even that the policy of sanctions was doomed to failure from the start. But this is basically a debate about the Pearce Report, and the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, pointed out that, whatever conclusion one may have about sanctions, we said at the outset—we promised at the outset—that if the Goodman proposals did not go through we should revert to the status quo; and that means a continuance of sanctions.
I do not want to anticipate what may happen in November, but I should like to put into the heads of noble friends of mine, who have spoken so strongly against them, one simple consideration. They almost all of them—with, I think, the exception of my noble friend Lord 360 Milverton, to whose point I have in a sense already replied—spoke as if sanctions were a sort of policy unilaterally adopted by the British Government. In a sense I wish they were; but one cannot evade the fact that, rightly or wrongly, they have been imposed by a vote of the Security Council, under Chapter VII of the Charter. What would be the effect of our unilaterally removing them? Certainly it would be serious, both in its repercussions on the future of the United Nations Organisation and upon our own interests. I earnestly say to my noble friends that, whatever may be the value of such a course, it is not one we should embark upon without much more careful consideration than has so far been given, and I would ask my noble friend not to press this Amendment. I trust that I have said nothing to him either wounding or in any way offensive to his feelings. But I feel that this House is bound in honour to give effect to the amended proposals which have met with support from both Front Benches, and I would urge the House strongly to take the same view.
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I had hoped—and still hope—to spare the House a second speech, but my noble and learned friend has put certain points to me to which I think he demanded an answer, and to which I feel I should give him an answer. May I say, with reference to his last remarks, that he has treated me with the greatest courtesy, and I feel very fortunate that I have not been crushed by either of the two wheels of the juggernaut—either my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, or the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, who is not now here—and I am most grateful to both noble Lords.
The noble and learned Lord began by saying something with which I am in absolute and entire agreement. He said that this House is not a microcosm of the House of Commons but is rather a House in which each one of us, as an adviser to the Crown, has to make his own judgment. I hold that view very strongly. I have held it ever since I have had the honour of being a Member of your Lordships' House. In another place it is necessary to vote for the Party. I submit that in this place it is not. Indeed, I would go further than that and 361 say that the House of Lords does itself very great damage if it is regarded as an institution where it is only Labour Governments that are voted against, and where Conservative Governments are allowed all the latitude they please. I think that is very dangerous.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor referred to my statistical excursion. I have to confess that I am not a statistician. He did not agree with my conclusions, and he is of course entitled to disagree. But he said that even if my conclusions were right they would not have supplied "Yes" instead of "No". I entirely agree with him. But if my statistical conclusions were right, the answer of the Commission could only have been, "We do not know". That is the answer which I deduce from the Commission's Report. I should like to ask the House to consider for a moment what the terms of reference of the Commission were. The announcement made at the time said:The British Government will therefore appoint a Commission to ascertain directly from all sections of the population of Rhodesia whether or not these proposals are acceptable and to report accordingly to the British Government.One thing that is quite certain is that the Commission did not discover whether these proposals were acceptable. They discovered a great many other things. They discovered that Mr. Smith's Government were very unpopular. They discovered that the black African felt a sense of discrimination. They discovered many most interesting and significant things about Rhodesian society. But I maintain that they did not discover that the proposals, regarded by themselves as detached propositions, were either acceptable or unacceptable. The only answer that reasonable people can take from that is that they did not know.
The noble and learned Lord corrected a slip that I made when I said "Press conference" instead of "statement to the Press". I admit the error. It does not seem to me to be a very vital one. If the point that I made was a valid one, it is still valid: that is, that a public rebuke of the Rhodesian Government must unfailingly give the Africans the impression that the Commission was on the side of the Africans. It would have been perfectly possible for the noble and learned Lord, Lord 362 Pearce, to see Mr. Smith privately and to impress it upon him. It would have been perfectly possible, when he wrote his Report afterwards, to say what he said in his statement to the Press.
My noble and learned friend (I think I can still call him that) the Lord Chancellor said that the time for me to say what I have said to-day was when we debated the matter six months ago. If I had had any idea that so much ineptitude was going to be shown I would have said it then, and I would have implored Her Majesty's Government to despatch the Commission forthwith. I—and, I am sure, many others—knew by the end of the year, when the Commission still had not left, that whatever the Commission could do there were only two possible answers. One was for them to return and say that their task could not be performed. The other was that the answer was bound to be, "No". Anybody who understood Africa must have known that. As I say, if I had suspected for a moment that there was to be this delay I would have spoken in December; but I thought that I would spare your Lordships' House some things which I have not spared it to-day.
I was very much impressed, if he will allow me to say so, by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bourne. He pointed out how much worse were the terms of the "Fearless" than the terms of the "Tiger", and how much worse still were the terms of the present settlement; and he asked how much worse the next terms would be. I think we can go further back than that. If we had given independence to Sir Edgar Whitehead, what a happy country Rhodesia would probably have been to-day! If we had given independence to Mr. Winston Field, what a happy country Rhodesia would have been to-day! And if, when Mr. Smith made his U.D.I.—to which I was very much opposed at the time—instead of "conning" ourselves into the belief that he was in our power and that, by imposing sanctions, we should topple him, we had shown some understanding; if we had said, "Well, you have put yourself outside the Commonwealth; you lose the advantage of being in the Commonwealth, but you have been a self-governing Colony", I think we would have seen a very much better Government in Rhodesia to-day than we have now.
363 My noble and learned friend asked me what settlement I would accept as being best in the interests of the Rhodesian people as a whole, irrespective of any other consideration. My Lords, I would accept the settlement that was negotiated by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, between the two Governments. I think we all accepted that. I think we all know that that would have been an immense improvement on anything we can look forward to now. One could say, "But we cannot trust the other party". One could say that of any Treaty, of any undertaking that is entered into. But we cannot govern the future. We seem to have the idea that we can hold the future in bond, that we are masters of it, when we are not even masters of the present. So far from a vote for my Amendment being a betrayal of the honour of the House, I believe that it would be a recognition by the House that this Parliament and this country have honourably done everything possible along this road to secure the future prosperity of Rhodesia. It would mean a recognition that we had come to the end of the road and that we
§ must try another road. My Amendment is not directly concerned with sanctions, but I must honestly say that I cannot understand the logic of my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. He knows that sanctions are not being observed. He wants an agreement between the two parties. He wants a time for reflection; but he insists that the screws should be kept on. That seems to me simply to make no sense whatever.
§ May I say one word more? More than one noble Lord has said what a tragedy it is that Mr. Smith never made any gesture to the black Africans. Is it not possible that the historian of the future may say what a tragedy it was that Her Majesty's Government never made any gesture of trust or generosity to the Rhodesian Government? I regret very much that I do not feel able to withdraw my Amendment.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Amendment to the Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 19; Not-Contents, 112.365
|Barnby, L. [Teller.]||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Gisborough, L.||Poltimore, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Greenway, L.||Strange, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Hatherton, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Coleraine, L. [Teller.]||Mar, E.||Winchester, M.|
|Ferrier, L.||Milverton, L.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Cowley, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)|
|Ailwyn, L.||Cranbrook, E.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Croft, L.||Hale, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Henley, L.|
|Arwyn, L.||Delacourt-Smith, L.||Hertford, M.|
|Auckland, L.||Denham, L. [Teller.]||Heycock, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Digby, L.||Hoy, L.|
|Balogh, L.||Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Hylton-Foster, Bs.|
|Belstead, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Janner, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Elles, Bs.||Kennet, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Blackett, L.||Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Lee of Asheridge, Bs.|
|Brecon, L.||Falkland, V.||Limerick, E.|
|Brockway, L.||Ferrers, E.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Foot, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.|
|Byers, L.||Fortescue, E.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Gainford, L.||Lytton, E.|
|Canterbury, Abp.||Gardiner, L.||Macleod of Borve, Bs.|
|Chalfont, L.||Garner, L.||Maelor, L.|
|Champion, L.||Gladwyn, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]|
|Collison, L.||Goodman, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Gowrie, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Oakshott, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Gridley, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Hailes, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Orr-Ewing, L.||St. Helens, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Perth, E.||St. Just, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Phillips, Bs.||Samuel, V.||Teviot, L.|
|Platt, L.||Sandford, L.||Thomeycroft, L.|
|Polwarth, L.||Seear, Bs.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Popplewell, L.||Sempill, Ly.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.|
|Raglan, L.||Shepherd, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Rankeillour, L.||Simon, V.||Walston, L.|
|Reay, L.||Strabolgi, L.||Watkins, L.|
|Redesdale, L.||Strathclyde, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Rochester, Bp.||Summerskill, Bs.||White, Bs.|
|Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.||Swansea, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Sainsbury, L.||Tanlaw, L.||Young, Bs.|
On Question, the Amendment agreed to, and the original Motion, as amended, agreed to.
§ Resolved in the negative, and the Amendment to the Amendment disagreed to accordingly.