HL Deb 31 October 1975 vol 365 cc775-812

12.56 p.m.

Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS rose to move, That the draft Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order 1975, laid before the House on 13th October, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order 1975, a draft of which was laid before this House on 13th October 1975, be approved. The effect of the Order is to continue in force for a further year Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965, which gives Her Majesty in Council power to take whatever measures are necessary to deal with the situation in Southern Rhodesia brought about by the unilateral declaration of independence. The Orders in Council which impose sanctions in Rhodesia are made under Section 2.

This debate traditionally gives us an I opportunity to survey political and economic developments in general in and around Rhodesia. When I introduced this same Motion in the House last year, there was a widely shared feeling among your Lordships—I certainly shared in it—that we had seen momentous and radical changes and that there might well be more to come. Certainly,1975 has been an eventful year for Rhodesia, but it has also been a disappointingly inconclusive one. It may be helpful, therefore, if at this point in my speech I describe briefly some of the more important events of the year and go on to suggest some reasons why more positive progress has still not been achieved in the search for a peaceful settlement of the Rhodesia question.

Even before the end of 1974, events were taking a new and dramatic turn. Rhodesians of all creeds, colours and races heard with some surprise, as well as hope, Mr. Ian Smith announce on 11th December that there was to be a ceasefire in the guerrilla war, that the African leaders and their followers were to be released from detention and allowed to take part in political activities, and that constitutional talks would take place—and I quote him— "without pre-conditions".

It was learned at the same time that Mr. Joshua Nkomo, leader of the Zimbabwe African People's Union and Mr. Ndabaningi Sithole, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union, had already been released from the detention without trial in which they had been held since before UDI—detention without trial for nine or 10 years—that they had been attending talks in Lusaka with the Presidents of Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia and the future President of Mozambique, and that they had merged their organisations, together with the smaller FROLIZI group, in a new African National Council under the Presidency of Bishop Abel Muzorewa. For the first time in many years, therefore, African Nationalists in Rhodesia had formed a united front; Mr. Smith had acknowledged their position as leaders and spokesmen, a status he had always been reluctant to concede them in the past; and a peaceful settlement appeared to all of us to be a real prospect.

Then there were setbacks. Almost immediately, differences arose over the interpretation of the so-called Lusaka agreement, an agreement which had not, unfortunately, been reduced to writing. Guerrilla activity went on, if at a somewhat reduced level, and only 100 or so detainees, out of a total of some 400 were, in fact, released. Difficulties were put in the way of African political meetings. This was the developing background against which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs visited Southern Africa in January of this year.

He returned from his fortnight of talks with African leaders convinced that, although there was a better chance of achieving a peaceful settlement than for many years, there was still a long way to go. But, as he said at the time, his visit at least succeeded in achieving a convergence of policy between Britain and the African Governments most closely concerned—I stress the plural "Governments". They include, with great respect and admiration, the part played over the past few months by the Prime Minister of the South African Republic.

Although inconclusive meetings on procedural matters had taken place, there had been no discussion of matters of substance between the régime and the enlarged ANC when the news broke on 4th March that the Reverend N. Sithole had been redetained. At this point the ANC refused to take part in any further talks and demanded Mr. Sithoie's release. Mr. Sithole was, in fact, released again in April to attend a meeting of OAU ministers in Dar-es-Salaam, but only on the understanding that he would be rearrested if he attempted to return to Rhodesia.

Nevertheless, neither the OAU Ministers nor the Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Kingston in May despaired of the possibility of reaching a settlement by negotiation, rather than through violent means. And my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs visited first Pretoria and then Salisbury at the end of June to assess the situation. He returned—to quote his own words—"encouraged by the sense of urgency to find a peaceful way forward"—a sense of urgency which he had gathered from his visits to Pretoria and other capitals, although he warned that "real difficulties" remained. That visit was followed in early August by an invitation to Bishop Muzorewa to visit London as the guest of Her Majesty's Government in order to discuss ways of getting talks started again.

Again, it seemed possible to hope that progress might be resumed for it was announced, after Bishop Muzorewa had returned to Zambia from London and after talks had taken place between Prime Minister Vorster and Mr. Smith in Pretoria, that the parties were to meet at the Victoria Falls Bridge on 25th August. Not the least remarkable feature of that meeting was that, for the first time, Mr. Smith and the united leadership of the ANC—including the exiled Mr. Sithole and Mr. Chikerema—faced each other across the negotiating table. Yet in spite of a large measure of agreement on procedure for the next steps in negotiation, there arose an impasse over Mr. Smith's refusal to grant immunity from arrest for the exiled ANC leaders to return to Rhodesia for talks. And before any effective steps could be undertaken to surmount this difficulty, a rift became apparent in the leadership of the ANC which has unfortunately since deepened.

My Lords, I have spent some time on this recital of events, because I believe it illustrates clearly some important themes which I should now like to suggest for your Lordships' attention. First we can see vividly that there is a strong sense among Rhodesia's neighbours that the people of Rhodesia must be helped and encouraged to find a solution which has evaded them for 10 years since the illegal Declaration of Independence in 1965. Rhodesia stands at the crossroads of Central Africa, without access to the sea. She cannot stand alone; her neighbours equally cannot comfortably co-exist with the glaring political anomaly which Rhodesia now constitutes. Time and again in the last year the Presidents of Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, and the Government of the South African Republic, through their Prime Minister, Mr. Vorster, have exercised a helpful influence and have made unstinted use of their good offices in order to promote a just and peaceful outcome in Rhodesia. This is a trend which Her Majesty's Government unreservedly welcome. It is, in a way, a new element in this continuing and tragic situation, the emergence of a consensus confined to what we call "Black Africa" about the need for a peaceful solution, and a very large degree of agreement as to how it should be brought about.

Secondly, it is clear that these helpful and constructive moves by neighbouring countries have not met with the response they deserve from Mr. Smith and his supporters. Great opportunities have been missed, not least at the Victoria Falls talks. There may not be many more of these opportunities—opportunities for a negotiated peaceful solution, fair and secure for all the elements of Rhodesia. It is, however, encouraging that as these setbacks occur a persistent hope emerges. It is encouraging that the communiqué issued following Mr. Smith's meeting with Prime Minister Vorster on 20th October should state that: Both Prime Ministers have agreed that genuine attempts should be made to pursue policies leading to peace in southern Africa". Finally, no one who has the future of Rhodesia at heart can fail to have been saddened and disappointed by the disunity which has once again become apparent in the Rhodesian African Nationalist movement. The influence of that movement would have been immeasurably greater today had they maintained and strengthened the unity which they established in Lusaka last December. Let us hope that it is not too late for them to rediscover that unity and to advance together, not in the unity of violence, but in unity towards a settlement by negotiation for a peaceful and secure future for their common country.

Throughout the last year, Her Majesty's Government have actively demonstrated their support for the efforts of the Governments of Southern Africa to promote such a settlement. They have done so by Ministerial visits to Salisbury and, indeed, to every capital in the region; by diplomatic activity; by frequent meetings with leading political figures from the region in London, at the United Nations and at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kingston. We remain ready to discharge our historic and, indeed, constitutional responsibility for Rhodesia and to convene a constitutional conference when the time is right. I believe my right honourable friend has taken the occasion in another place to repeat this fundamental point in our policy and programme. Our aim throughout has been to urge all those concerned in the events of the past years not to despair of peace, whatever the setbacks and the disappointments.

I think we can claim some modest success for our own endeavours, and I should like to pay tribute to Members in all parts of the House who, by speech and action, have themselves contributed to the possibility of this country continuing with its contribution in creating, so far as we can, a climate of negotiation and of settlement by peaceful means. What is undeniable is that the door is not yet closed. It might close, but it is not yet closed. The international community has not yet committed itself to force as the only means of bringing Rhodesia to majority rule.

My Lords, this is a position which the Government will continue to defend with all the means at their disposal. The maintenance of sanctions is a necessary and important element in defending that position. Why should this be so? In the first place, there can be little doubt that the effects of mandatory sanctions, together with those of the international recession, transport difficulties, and the increasing burden of defence expenditure upon the Rhodesian illegal régime, must have contributed significantly to bringing Mr. Smith and his associates as near as they have come to substantive negotiation with the nationalist leaders.

Of course, the international recession has played its part—this is a fact of life. But so, I believe, has the evidence of a new seriousness, a new sense of urgency demonstrated by the international community in the enforcement of United Nations sanctions. Practical co-operation and exchanges of information on sanctions enforcement have developed increasingly between our officials and those of our fellow members of the Community. Japan has introduced new documentary requirements, and has made it an offence for her firms to trade with Rhodesia via third countries. Of course, there have been setbacks, particularly the failure, by a relatively small majority, of the opponents of the Byrd Amendment, to carry a repeal Bill through the House of Representatives, but that setback carries with it an assurance by the American Administration that they wish to see such a repeal Bill go through. The general trend is unmistakable, and this is emphatically not the moment for Britain to stand aside, to cut herself off from what is a very real international consensus about sanctions in relation to Rhodesia.

My Lords, a still more important consideration here is that any sign of a slackening of the effort on sanctions enforcement on our part, or on the part of other developed countries, is almost certainly going to be seen by the Third World as a final admission that attempts to find a solution by peaceful means have failed, and that the only way open for them is a war of liberation—as they would call it—in Rhodesia, with all that that entails, not only in human suffering and misery in Rhodesia itself, but also in the horrifying implications of something like a Continental holocaust which it would open up. Is that really what any of us wants? I very confidently reply that no one in this House, no one in this country, wants that.

Yet we may possibly, by procedural action today—which I very much hope will not happen—strengthen the very forces with whom we are trying to negotiate into a moderate position, and weaken the very forces which at the moment are taking a moderate position in Rhodesia. Let us think very carefully indeed before we do or say anything that encourages such a conclusion, especially on the part of Rhodesia's African neighbours.

My Lords, I think the House has heard me a sufficient number of times to know that I, like Her Majesty's Government, deeply believe in a future for Rhodesia which is fair and hopeful, and which is constructive for all its people. It is in no spirit of vindictiveness or animosity against Rhodesia or the white Rhodesians that successive Governments, Conservative and Labour, have maintained sanctions at the behest of the international authority since 1965. It is certainly not in any spirit of animosity or vindictiveness that I commend this Order to your Lordships today. Each year, every one of us must hope that this is the last time we shall have to re-adopt these measures. But by maintaining them this year, we shall be helping, not hindering, those concerned in Rhodesia and outside who have not yet abandoned the search for a negotiated settlement, and who realise that to seek a solution by military means would have disastrous consequences. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order 1975, laid before the House on 13th October, be approved.—(Lord Goronwy-Roberts)

1.17 p.m.


My Lords, I am very sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for whom I, like everyone else in the House, have the greatest respect and for whom, if he will allow me to say so, I have a great liking as well, has once again been put up to defend the indefensible. I do not deny that the noble Lord deployed his argument with great moderation and great skill. As he spoke, I could not help wishing that the same moderation and understanding had been shown on both sides of the House 10 years ago. I do not know how many noble Lords who are here this afternoon were here in the small hours of the morning on 16th November 1965, when this Bill was passed. But however many may be here, I think they must agree with me that every prediction upon which that Bill was passed and became an Act has been falsified by the event. If any of us late that night had thought that we would be debating again the stale and unprofitable Order 10 years later, he would not have supported the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965.

My Lords, the whole basis of the policy of Her Majesty's then Government, and the whole basis of the support given to it by the Opposition, was that there would be a short, sharp, decisive frontal attack upon an illegal régime, with the result that within a period of months, the régime would be brought back to legality. As we know, none of that has happened. I listened to the speech of the noble Lord with the closest attention, and I was delighted to find that nearly all the slogans and the shibboleths of 10 years ago had been abandoned. There were no demands for the return to legality. There were no promises that sanctions would immediately be effective. There were no appeals to that meaningless abstraction, the conscience of mankind, even though I think the noble Lord came fairly near it when he talked about the international consensus and how important it was that we should not detach ourselves from it. Whether or not we should detach ourselves from the international consensus seems to me to depend on one thing only; that is, whether the international consensus is right or whether it is wrong. I wish that I could be sure, for my own part, that it is right.

The noble Lord said that from 1965, at the instance of the United Nations, we had imposed these sanctions. I think he was wrong in that; it was only after 1965 that we went to the United Nations and asked for mandatory sanctions, but that is a matter of detail. But I do not see how any of us can seriously claim that the United Nations, especially in the context of Southern Rhodesia, has represented the conscience of mankind or any other kind of conscience whatever. It really has represented the determination of those nations, which used to be called underprivileged—and then under-developed and now, I think, developing—which I am beginning to think are over-privileged, to bring down the supremacy of the white peoples in Africa and indeed in other parts of the world.

This is a digression, but I can claim to be—at any rate to have been—a very junior partner in the firm of architects which designed the United Nations, and certainly we did not design it for the kind of purposes for which it has been used in recent years. At that time at the San Francisco Conference there were, I think, 37 Member-States of the United Nations. Today there are 142, and each one of those is supposed to be the equal of any of the others in political experience, political wisdom, disinterestedness and everything else, and that surely is a sham. In particular, when one looks back on this sad story the fact that the United Nations imposed these mandatory sanctions without giving the accused even the opportunity of speaking in their own defence is sufficient denial of any hypothesis that the United Nations as constituted today represents in any sense the conscience of mankind.

I agree with the noble Lord; we are now faced with a new position. There is a possibility of a settlement and that is really the objective on which each one of us must set his eyes. It is now not a question of restoring legality. It is now not a question, I believe, despite what the noble Lord said, of expediting majority rule. How can anyone, particularly anyone as intelligent and understanding as the noble Lord, believe, after these new divisions in the ANC, which are obviously tremendously deeply-rooted, that majority rule would mean anything other than intense tribal warfare? The reason we want a settlement now is to preserve in Central and Southern Africa—if it is at all possible—a plateau of sanity in a continent which is visibly disintegrating into anarchy and which will proceed from anarchy to something far worse unless we get an agreement.

I have no doubt that what has happened with the oil States has affected the opinion of many of us on the whole of this African question. Certainly it has affected my opinion. I have come to the conclusion that unless we get a settlement we shall be faced not only with a problem in the Gulf States over oil, but possibly in the whole of Africa over raw materials vital to the economy of the West. We have simply got to get a settlement. Clearly, opinions must now differ on the value of sanctions in this respect. The noble Lord says that they are beginning to have an effect. Every speaker from the Government Bench, whether Labour or Conservative, has said that for the last nine years. Perhaps there is more in it this time; I do not know. The noble Lord said, after outlining the history of the past year and the disappointments which we have experienccd, that one of the obstacles was (I forget his exact words') the withdrawal of the white Rhodesian Government from the negotiations. I wonder—this is a point I have made before and I believe it is still valid—whether the best way to have successful negotiations is to have them when one of the parties is under duress. I am not at all certain and, indeed, if the decision were mine I would lift sanctions now in the belief that that would facilitate a settlement and not make one more difficult.

1.29 p.m.


My Lords, it is not with very much pleasure that one rises again in what may be termed the annual fixture against the Eleven of the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, and well represented they are today. We have all said so many of these things before that there does not appear to be much chance that we are likely to persuade each other, and for that reason I shall not detain your Lordships for very long. The position of my Party—noble Lords on these Benches and myself—is indeed well known.

I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for the extremely interesting and succinct account of recent developments in Rhodesia. It is valuable to have it in this form on the Record. To the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, I would say that whatever you think of the United Nations—and its defects at the moment are grievous, have been grievous in the past, and will continue to be so—this subject is an obvious example of how good the United Nations has been in doing something which most of its founders hoped it would do; that is, putting very steady pressure over a long period of time on a régime, which in its disregard of human rights can only be called evil, to mend its ways and to change.


My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I do not want to be unduly tendentious, but why is it a sign of merit in the United Nations to single out Southern Rhodesia for its disregard of human rights, and ignore far greater disregard of human rights all over the African Continent?


My Lords, there is a very great disregard, but Rhodesia is in a peculiar position. Rhodesia is in a situation where Britain, as a member of the United Nations, is the nation responsible for the rights of those people in Rhodesia. The white Rhodesian Government rebelled against the Crown, and Britain, as a member of the United Nations, asked for the help of all the nations in the world to assist it in discharging its duties to the enormous majority of citizens of Rhodesia for whom it was responsible. This is not on a par with any other situation, many of which I deplore just as much as the noble Lord, Lord Colerain. This case is a good example, and I think we are seeing progress.

I was not here in your Lordships' House when we first started these debates 10 years ago; I came about two years later. But until last year I certainly was never at any time optimistic that there would be a speedy solution. I do not say that I do not think there could have been a speedy solution at the start—I think there could have been—but soon after that it became apparent that the situation would last for a long time. It is only recently—in fact, at the time of the debate last year on this same subject when we first saw the situation coming under the pressure of the dissolution of the Portuguese colonial empire—that it became clear that the situation had changed and was moving very much against Mr. Smith and the white régime. This is even more true today.

The pressure from all over the Continent, as from all over the world, is gradually increasing. Economic difficulties, which are difficulties for all of us, are becoming even more pronounced for Rhodesia. Mr. Smith is not now able to get on, or to maintain solidarity, with Mr. Vorster. Even within Mr. Smith's own Party, as we read in our papers this morning, there are considerable rumblings and discontent. I should like to go on record as saying that I do not think that this problem will be solved in a year, or even two years. I can see, with gloom and despondency, that we may still be discussing this Order again in three, four or five years' time. But I do say that the tide has turned, and that this is certainly no moment to ease up on our pressures. What we are trying to do, and what we are doing—no matter where else in Africa or elsewhere in the world human rights are abused—is to make certain that we have no responsibility for their being abused in Rhodesia, and that the enormous majority of citizens of Rhodesia, for whom we in this Legislature are all responsible, get justice and freedom.

1.35 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure I shall be echoing the feelings of most of your Lordships in saying that none of us is really enamoured of our position in having to continue sanctions. But it is right for those who were in your Lordships' House 10 years ago, some of whom came from Rhodesia, and who stated that the imposition of sanctions would stiffen the Rhodesian Government in their hostility to independence, to call attention to the fact that they have been proved right. Again, those noble Lords who opposed sanctions on the grounds that perhaps the timing of independence was wrong, could argue with some justification that when civil war broke out in Nigeria, and when the difficulties arose in Uganda under General Amin, have demonstrated all too clearly that British policy in regard to the bestowal of independence has not always been right at a certain time, and in some cases has probably been premature. I am prepared to concede all that, and that it is regrettable that in individual cases Africans should suffer, because we have had responsibility for Africans and that responsibility still exists. But our decolonisation has undoubtedly been a success in other parts of the world, and compares favourably with what occurred in the Belgian Congo and in some of the territories of metropolitan France.

I now turn to the problem of Rhodesia. To me it is a white settler problem. In my opinion—and I have said this before in other debates in your Lordships'House—if we can settle this white settler problem the solution to the Rhodesian dispute cannot be very far away. But how can the whites, vastly outnumbered by coloureds, be made to feel secure with a coloured Government in control? Mr. Vorster has been mentioned by other noble Lords who have preceded me. I believe that Mr. Vorster, the South African Prime Minister, sees this problem in that light and is endeavouring to seek a solution to the issue.

If Press reports are accurate, then in my opinion Mr. Smith would appear to be unhelpful over this issue. I am now beginning to believe that this can be said to have applied to the unhelpful manner in which he acted towards Mr. Vorster's efforts at the Victoria Falls Conference. If that transpired on that occasion, are we to be completely certain that it did not occur at an earlier stage when attempts were made to reach a Rhodesian settlement? It may be rather unpopular for me to say this from this side of the House, but I would suggest that he was probably difficult to deal with when our present Prime Minister endeavoured to seek a solution many years ago. What are we really seeking for when we give independence to all those territories for which we had responsibility? I suggest that what we seek to achieve for all of them is freedom with responsibility.

I must refer to an event which occurred in this country today. In view of the words which I intend to use, I should say that I have endeavoured to make contact with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark but have been unable to do so. I wonder what the people of Rhodesia will say when they read in their newspapers, as they will and as will others overseas, that the Bishop of Southwark published in an article in the Communist Morning Star this morning, that a Communist Government established in Britain would clear up the worst features of our society overnight? I think I know what the reaction in Rhodesia will be. It is that Britain has taken leave of its senses and is no longer fit to propound any of its policies anywhere in the world. I invite the right reverend Prelate to come back with me a few years, to the time when my friends had their heads blown off when we were facing a Communist insurrection in Malaya; and even earlier than that, to the Fascist Japanese war machine that had taken over large tracts of that territory when they established all the apparatus of a Gestapo State. Is that what we really want for this country? I suggest that this sort of behaviour here at home makes a solution of our problems and of the Rhodesia problem more difficult for the Government. So, in a period of unbridled difficulty for us at home, I come down solidly this afternoon on the side of the continuance of sanctions. We expect others for whom we are responsible to exercise freedom with responsibility. Let us do so ourselves.

1.42 p.m.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, I must first declare an interest in the subject under discussion. The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, referred to the origins from which sanctions first came to be imposed, but he did not mention, nor did the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, that it was necessary, in order to get the assistance of the United Nations machine, to create a purely spurious argument to ensure that the United Nations would impose sanctions, and that was that Rhodesia constituted a threat to peace. The only threat to peace that we can see after the 10 years since that statement was made is that there are a number of countries which appear to be threatening to attack Rhodesia. If one pursues this argument to its logical conclusion, then if one is weak and threatened by the strong one has no right to defend oneself.

If I understood the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, correctly, he was saying—and I know that all noble Lords agreed with him—that it would be a disaster if, as a result of failing to achieve a settlement in Rhodesia, there was an appalling holocaust on the Continent of Africa. But it seems to me that if we carry our desire to get a settlement too far, we are in danger of falling back in the same error that we were when we originally asked the United Nations to impose sanctions. I can see no reason for supposing that at any time Rhodesia would be a threat in an aggressive sense to any of its neighbours. So far as I can see, no results have been achieved as a result of 10 years of sanctions. As has been pointed out, many people have suffered, not only in Rhodesia but among the peoples of its neighbours. Indeed, the people of this country have suffered, for not only have we suffered a decline in our trade with Rhodesia at a time when we could ill-afford it, but—as I understood from what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said in a debate on this matter in June—we as taxpayers will be asked to subsidise Mozambique if it agrees to intensify sanctions against Rhodesia. Thus I ask: who has gained from this unhappy story?

As we know, behind the original reason of trying to ensure that Rhodesia returned to the sovereignty of this country, there was also a desire in all parts to ensure that the Africans in Rhodesia were properly looked after and that their interests were protected, and it was also thought desirable to increase as rapidly as possible their political representation. For these reasons, the Five Principles were evolved on which negotiations have, before now, fallen by the way through failure to measure up to requirements. Up to three years ago they formed as I understand it, the criterion on which a settlement rested. I asked Her Majesty's Government whether this still holds good or whether other considerations have arisen which go further than those Five Principles originally demanded. I ask this because there have been rumours—I put it no higher than rumours—that, additionally, Her Majesty's Government seek at this time a more general acceptance of the settlement from a greater number of people in Rhodesia than would have been so, say, at the time of the Pearce Commission's visit. Secondly, I ask whether Her Majesty's Government would now require, for a settlement to be acceptable, that the arrangements should provide for almost immediate majority rule. If this second condition applied, I believe that it would almost certainly mean tribal warfare, as referred to by my noble friend Lord Coleraine, in view of the grass-roots of the two branches of the ANC, and, in the light of what has happened in other countries in Africa, to some form of totalitarian government. It would not be in the democratic sense in which we refer here to majority rule, but in the sense that someone who has been thrown up as a result of that would be given totalitarian powers.

At the same time, we must accept that Her Majesty's Government have very limited influence in Africa at the present time. They may be able to help. I hope they will continue their efforts, as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said to secure agreement or at least to get the parties together, but it seems that the matter we are discussing today is almost the only one on which we have any direct part to play, and that is whether or not sanctions continue. If a settlement, as seems likely, is reached in Africa and it meets the requirements which Her Majesty's Government have laid down, would they accept it and would that mean that they would thereupon agree to Rhodesian independence? If so, would Her Majesty's Government be prepared to go to the United Nations to seek the ending of sanctions?

It may, however, be too optimistic to be talking about a possible settlement now. There have been other negotiations before and they have not succeeded. The reasons are many, one being that the ANC negotiators have not been able to speak with the support of the representatives who sent them. As one further example, I quote from a statement made by Mr. Smith in Rhodesia on 19th June 1974, when he spoke of the negotiations he had had with Bishop Muzorewa. He said: On this basis, and in order to bring the matter to a conclusion, I agreed to the Bishop's request for an advance of six seats. The ANC Leader expressed his appreciation and said it was not often that a negotiator in his position ended up getting exactly what he had asked for. But of course it came to nothing, because the Bishop's supporters refused to endorse it. This seems to me to be one of the problems we face in dealing with the African negotiators. It is very difficult for them to carry their extremists, who have other objects in view, with them.

I should like to illustrate this by mentioning the publicised aims of ZANU, and I shall quote in this context the judgment of the Rhodesian Court of 3rd March this year, when hearing the appeal of the Reverend Sithole against his continued detention. Referring to two ZANU publications, the judgment said: All these documents proclaim that Zanu is a 'Marxist-Leninist organisation'. No attempt is made to conecal this. In Zanu's official political programme, at page 29, it is stated that: 'A truly socialist, self-supporting economy will be established and organised on broad principles enunciated by Marxism-Leninism' and in its political programme, on page 39, Zanu states: 'Zanu is committed to achieving national independence through the armed struggle. It disapproves of the policy of collaboration with the white racist states in Southern Africa advocated by the Republic of Malawi. While Zanu appreciates the motives and reasons behind the signatories of the Lusaka Manifesto, it completely rejects its approach to the problem and reaffirms its belief in the armed struggle'. There appears to be no doubt that this was the view of Mr. Sithole, because during the trial his counsel, Mr. Maisels said that the Reverend Sithole did not wish to defend himself against Part B, as it was common cause. Nor did he wish to contest documents that were attributed to him personally. Part B refers to charges of incitement of terrorists to kill. It seems to me that in talking about achieving a settlement, as long as this is the view held by one of the principal parties to the negotiations, it will be extremely difficult to get any reasonable agreement between the parties concerned. If ZANU get their way, it is clear what they would like to see happen in Rhodesia.

Of course, there are other alternatives and I should like to make one suggestion as to a possible basis for negotiation. It has always seemed to me that the basis on which the 1961 Constitution was founded was very reasonable and sensible and, had the Africans not boycotted it, it might by now have taken them a long way along the road to majority rule. It had the great merit that it was non-racial, though it had a limited franchise as a basis. It was the same for all people—black, white, coloured, Indian and so on—and, to ensure that those who did not qualify were represented, it gave a guaranteed representation in the form of a B roll to the others. It does not seem to me that it would be unreasonable to modify the basis of the electorate, perhaps widening the basis by lowering the standards. The economic side could be treated rather differently and possibly more representation could be given than existed under the old B roll to those voters who were not qualified for the A roll.

All this seems to me to be a step in the right direction towards achieving a settlement which would be fair to everyone and which would also provide for the requirement of unimpeded progress to majority rule. I believe it also has the advantage that it has already been accepted as a principle by Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Rhodesia. I do not for a moment suggest that we should go back to the 1961 Constitution; one does not do that. All I would ask is whether there is a basis for trying to find a solution with that kind of background.

I shall conclude by saying that it seems futile to allow the present impasse to continue. No one has gained by it so far, and a large number of people have suffered from it. So while it appears inevitable that sanctions will be renewed for yet another year, I support the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, when he says that he hopes that a genuine attempt will be made in the near future to break the deadlock.


My Lords, this Order—a mournful sequence of a sterile list—will doubtless receive assent. So much has been said over the years on the objections to sanctions that anybody who speaks must find it difficult to avoid repetition. Silence might well be best today, but it so happens that I feel very strongly on this subject, as do many others, and, like others, I could not suppress the desire to participate. The Minister has given, in his customary lucid and audible manner, a good and wide-ranging account of recent events. I should like to pay tribute at this point to his approachability and his readiness to listen on many matters, particularly Rhodesia. We thank him for that lucid survey, the Report of which I shall read with great interest and profit.

There are two points on which I cannot help commenting. First, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, referred to the ANC, which is, of course, pivotal in this situation as being an enlarged body. One might have thought that it would be a very heavily disrupted body in the disarray in which it now finds itself. Indeed, it is hard to see that it can any longer be regarded as a body representative of African opinion, with which to negotiate. The noble Lord said that there had been great changes in Africa. Indeed, there are changes. Surely, in Uganda, Angola and Mozambique, events have happened which all considerably modify the situation which existed in the early days when this Order was first brought in. I also add the diminished status of the OAU, because of its present leadership, the world recession, and the worldwide expansion of Communist influence—all situations which have changed a good deal during the past year.

Regardless of this disorder in Africa the Government persist with this Order. It is disadvantageous to the Africans who are the biggest sufferers. Fancy throwing away £20 million a year, which is available if wanted for increased African expenditure. That seems an unwise rejection. But are the Africans better off in other States in Africa which are no longer constitutional? By that I mean the standard of education. Are they better off in Uganda under a mad dictator? Are they better off in Mozambique under Marxist rule? Are they better off in Angola with a bloody civil war?

The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, referred to the original Order, and let us remember, that that was brought in because, under Article 6 of the Charter, Rhodesia was said to be a danger to the peace. In the event, over all these years there has been complete internal law and order and the only disorder has come from external forces. I cannot help interjecting a few reflections here. I was born in the Victorian era when the strength of Britain contributed a great deal to the maintenance of world: peace. The Union Jack was respected over the five Continents. I deplore the change taking place, with the progressive, lessening of the influence of Britain from continual erosion of an extreme liberal I thinking.

Surely it was by British leadership, I sophistication and finance that, in my lifetime, Rhodesia has been raised from savagery to a significantly industrialised country, very different from the majority of other countries in Africa which have rejected constitutional government and now are under one-man government, or military dictatorship. I opposed sanctions at the beginning, because from experience of economic warfare in two World Wars in Government service I was satisfied that they could not succeed. Like others who held that view, it has been proved in the experience. I have already said that the ANC is no longer representative, whatever it may have been at one I time. It is now admitted everywhere that the high volume of finance needed to conduct the agitations, the terrorism, and so on is coming from external sources, and that must be Communist sources.

At this point, I want to revert to the Minister's original review of recent events, including the position of the ANC, and the so-called Lusaka agreement. I was in Rhodesia in January, shortly after that, and it was available from responsible authority that the Rhodesian representatives were not authorised to sign any agreement; and, indeed, as the noble Lord said, none was signed. But there were expressions of hopes, and among things was a simultaneous release of detainees and a cessation of terrorism. The release of detainees was to be conditional upon an immediate cessation of terrorism. Of course, the detainees were released in part; I suppose that we are doing the same thing where there are people detained without trial in Northern Ireland. The detainees were released in part, but the terrorism was not stopped. I remember going to a place about 80 miles from Salisbury where one of the District Representatives reported how two members of the South African police force—not military, of course—had been shot during the previous week. He also explained where bombs had been planted in the roads. In short, the cessation of terrorism had not been respected.

Intimidation is inherent in African thought and action, and confidence is not respected. In the main, the African does not seem to be ready for Western constitutional rule. Certainly, the talent does not exist in Rhodesia, where there are black Members of Parliament and where black Members in junior positions in Government have been tried in the past. It seems that, whether it be the picture of Uganda, or Angola, or of Mozambique, where white rule is suddenly withdrawn disorder follows and in Rhodesia the Matabele would be at the throats of the Mashona. The Minister mentioned the names Nkomo and Sithole. One is a Matabele and the other is a Mashona. Of course there will be disarray in the ANC body.

I now come to the charade of the OAU and its fictional status. One recognises, of course, that trading relations with the rest of Africa are important; yet it is not unreasonable to consider policy. In another place in June 1972, it was represented by an authoritative personality that possibly we should go to the United Nations and say, "We have done our part; others have not done theirs, and we are packing it up. "I doubt not that that would be unpalatable to the present Government, but it should be possible. Surely it is ridiculous to continue to describe the Rhodesian Government as an illegal Government. It was constitutionally elected. Most of the other Governments in Africa which were started off on constitutional lines have rejected constitutionalism. We find that in India Mrs. Ghandi has flouted the law officers and has constituted herself the Government, which must therefore be an illegal Government. At home, we are talking of devolution. That would weaken England.

I suggest a new tack. Leave Rhodesia to manage her own affairs, dismiss the past responsibility and, instead of boycott, make some substitute in the way of mutual presence. I welcome the emphasis put by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, on the fact that, above all, there should be an avoidance of the use of force. I record my opposition to this Order.

2.13 p.m.


My Lords, I was one of those people in this House 10 years ago—I think the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, mentioned it—when we had a very long debate regarding the question of the I United Nations' sanctions on Rhodesia. I know that one docs not like saying, "I told you so", but always since that time 10 years ago I have absolutely deplored the impositions of sanctions, and I have always spoken out against them. Sanctions have never succeeded anywhere in the world. We applied sanctions against Mussolini over Abyssinia—quite rightly, I think—but they did no good to achieve their purpose. The only thing I was wrong about that day was when I said that it would bring about Mr. Wilson's downfall, because I likened him to Robespierre and said that he would fall by his own act in going to the United Nations and putting into action what I considered—and I have asked many international lawyers—was, from its imposition, legally suspect. No good can come of anything that is legally suspect.

I was rather interested to hear what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. I forgot his exact words now, but he was rather of the opinion, I think—and I quite agree—that it would be politically embarrassing for Her Majesty's Government if they were to go to the United Nations to suggest that sanctions were taken off and it would make the white Rhodesians more intractable. I do not agree with the Minister in that view. It might make those who are very politically right more intractable, but the Rhodesians who I know feel that if sanctions were taken off it would create a lot of good will. In my opinion, therefore, from what they tell me the majority would be far more tractable to some solution.

My Lords, this is the eleventh year in which we are being asked to continue this Order. Your Lordships cannot say that sanctions have succeeded. I have always been told that the art of politics is the art of the possible and the practicable. I think they have failed economically, too, apart from failing to do what they were meant to do; that is, to make the Rhodesian Government do a more hasty switch into African rule than they considered wise. I think they have failed economically, because they have made Rhodesia become a far more self-supporting country. During the last debate I quoted figures on this subject. I do not have the figures for 1974, but according to the figures which I had for 1973 Rhodesia's balance of payments surplus had increased. She had a favourable balance of payments, I was told, of £23 million in 1973. I do not know her balance of payments figure for 1974. But provided that those figures are correct—and I have no reason to doubt them—sanctions can be said to have failed economically, at least up till 1973.

My Lords, in the early 1960s we had Mr. Macmillan with his "wind of change" in Africa. I think that was rather a rash statement, because out of the wind of change what has emerged? We have had the most ghastly holocaust, the most ghastly bloodshed, the most ghastly tortures. I do not agree at all with what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, said. When one noble Lord—I cannot remember who it was—asked, "Why do we attack Rhodesia, why put sanctions on Rhodesia, because compared to many of the other African countries she is a model of tolerance", the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, replied, "Ah! but it was our responsibility. "Of course it was, but so was Zanzibar.


My Lords, I said that it is our responsibility legally, not "it was".


So was Zanzibar, and within 24 hours of our giving independence to Zanzibar what happened? There were tortures. Arabs there had their hands cut off. There were 2,000 people murdered in two or three days. That was our responsibility. What did we do about it? Nothing. Why? I have a very good idea why. We know why. It was because it was done by the extreme Left. It was done by Communism, that is why.


My Lords, I really must intervene, if the noble Viscount will allow it. It was not our responsibility, because he has just said that that is what happened several days after Independence. It then became the responsibility of the Zanzibar Government, to whom we had legally handed over. We have never legally handed over responsibility for Rhodesia. The position is entirely and utterly different.


My Lords, it was irresponsible of us to hand it over so quickly; that comes to the same thing in practice. I do not want to go on too long in this vein, but I should like to say that we have had the wind of change now for ten years and that we ought to try for a new approach. Cannot we have—I do not know what to call it—a new involvement, a new method of approach to the whole of Africa, a new accommodation? South Africa wisely appears now to be attempting a new accommodation with the black States to the North. I heartily hope that a great deal of good will come out of that.

Like the noble Lords, I was unhappy to see this friction within the ANC. If we had not had that, then I am quite sure that matters would have progressed far faster towards a settlement in Central Africa. But the trouble is, as the noble Marquess pointed out, that Zanu is really a Communist organisation. If only we did not have Communist interference, then I have no doubt that very soon an agreeable solution for Central Africa would come about.

My Lords, I have always understood from the Rhodesians whom I know that what they want—and it is not a question of colour at all—is to evolve a system where men are elected on the basis of ability and popularity—quite apart from their colour. Rhodesia has not done too badly in the matter of education compared with a great number of her African neighbours. I believe that she has spent on education more per head of her population than many of the black republics. We give a lot of money to various States in Africa. I really do think—and I have mentioned this before—that if only this Government could give a little money to Rhodesia for education, to speed up the process where Africans of proven ability can play their part in the Government of their country, it would be far better than continuing the imposition of these sanctions. Of course, I do not know what has been the economic effect in the last two years; but presumably sanctions cannot help the African population and I do not suppose they help the whites. I think a better solution would be to hold out the hand of friendship and try to increase the degree of education in Rhodesia; although the Rhodesian Government themselves have done a lot in this direction.

When the Organisation for African Unity talk about majority rule, they do not mean majority rule at all—they mean black rule. They do not mean democratic rule. They are talking racialism in reverse. Black rule has been far more vicious and blood thirsty than ever has white rule in Africa. Therefore I think we need to approach this subject as we always should have approached it: with great understanding and with more tolerance perhaps to the whites in Rhodesia.

I suppose that this Order will go through; but I should like Her Majesty's Government to try to evolve some new approach to this problem. I agree that Mr. Smith appears to have become perhaps a little more intransigent and intractable in the last month or two; but he has tremendous pressures on him and it is quite understandable. It is amazing to consider that his house needs scarcely to be guarded at all; whereas the houses of many African leaders have to be guarded with machine guns and protected by barbed wire and searchlights.

My Lords, there are many Africans in Rhodesia who are very pro-Government. As my noble friend said, there are African MPs and junior Ministers and there are many Africans who would be terrified of a too hasty plunge into universal franchise for the whole of the African population; because they realise that when some Africans get power they can be most arrogant and can behave very badly towards their own people.

My Lords, it is obviously asking too much of Her Majesty's Government that they go to the United Nations and say: "Sanctions have failed; we should like to try a new approach! "I suppose that is asking too much; but I personally do not think that the international consensus was right over sanctions. I think it was wrong. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, was not prepared to give a "yea" or "nay" on that. Perhaps in my rashness, stepping in where angels fear to tread, I can say in all conscience that I think the international concensus was wrong. I therefore hope that some new approach can be made and that the wind of change will now start to blow in a better direction in that it will be a change to tolerance and good government over Africa.

2.29 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise to the House for not having my name on the list of speakers. I had intended to speak, but I was not sure that I could get here. I promise I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes. I am one of the survivors—like the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard and the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine—of the "10 years ago" debate. There are not many of us left. I think it is almost worthy of a sort of club with a "sanctionists" tie for those who took part in that historical debate. But it seems to me that this is a sad occasion; because it is quite obvious to me that Her Majesty's Government cannot take off sanctions at the present time. Yet sanctions have failed, both in the short-term and the long-term, in their objective.

Ten years ago there was a rigidity on both sides which does not exist today. On the one side there was just the UDI. The Governor at that time was put in a highly embarrassing position; the Government of the day were saying sanctions would I have almost instant effect. There were declarations made which, looking back, were wrong. Looking back, no doubt the circumstances of the time allowed them to be accepted as declarations on the one side or on the other. Today, I feel there is a change of spirit abroad. I was impressed by what my noble friend Lord Coleraine said at the conclusion of his speech. I hope I paraphrase it correctly. He said a settlement now is really vital for the peace of Africa and for the economic good of the world. Therefore, what one would not have thought possible ten years ago, we can discuss dispassionately today.

But there are grave difficulties in a settlement, difficulties which Her Majesty's Government must play a considerable part in removing. The chief difficulty is the adherence of the two (now fighting) bodies of African national opinion to what used to be known as NIBMAR—no independence before majority rule. I have not seen any declaration by the rival leaders that they are not standing by that as an essential condition for the gaining of support of their followers. Yet it is the menace—and I use that word advisedly—ofthat claim that makes much support for the claim for the white settlers' extraordinarily difficult. Why should white settlers in Rhodesia, who see their own Rhodesian national parties splitting, fighting, who see bloodshed and who see events in Mozambique and Angola, be expected to support a policy in their country which they have done so much to build up? Why should they support such a policy? It is beyond human expectation. Therefore, I come to the position where I hope Her Majesty's Government will make clear that NIBMAR is not something which they support as an essential for a settlement.

What is majority rule? Does it mean one vote for one man? There are other forms of majority which one can consider. To me, one man, one vote in a country where many of the inhabitants have to have drawings made in the sand on various political issues in order that leaders can gain their support, is an absurdity in a country which is still developing as is Rhodesia. Let us face it, what the leaders of those rival factions want is one man, one vote in order that they should get the power to do things which we have seen in other parts of Africa with great sorrow and regret.

We must make firm our view that we abandon NIBMAR as an essential for our support in a settlement. There are other forms of majority; George Orwell's "All men are equal, but some are more equal than others". That applies to Rhodesia as everywhere else. The majority that I should like to see would be a majority of citizens who wished to see social progress, better education, health and better commercial ventures and opportunities, whether the citizens be coloured or white. That is a majority I want to see, not the electoral, political majority of the signs in the sands which is nonsense. Surely, we can work towards getting majority rule by those capable of ruling and those who have a sense of responsibility in ruling. That is the majority I wish to see and to which I hope Her Majesty's Government will give support.

2.36 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for going into such detail about the background to this Order when he introduced it at the beginning of this debate. I believe that this has been a most useful exchange of views because those views have been so divergent. I do not think there is anyone in this House who is not concerned about achieving a peaceful settlement and a just settlement in Rhodesia. It is important that the tragic relationship between Britain and Rhodesia should be solved. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, when he said that it was an advantage that this Order has to be introduced every year because it has the benefit of having the problem of Rhodesia, and its position within Southern Africa, discussed on at least one day every year.

In spite of the almost notorious assessment that sanctions would take effect "within weeks rather than months", United Nations mandatory sanctions have now been imposed against Rhodesia for 10 years. This point has been mentioned by my noble friends, the new members of the newly-formed "Sanctions Club": As noble Lords will remember, the Conservative Party opposed the introduction of sanctions in 1965, and disapproved of the decision to hand over the problem to the United Nations Security Council because sanctions were considered to be ineffectual, and the responsibility of Rhodesia remained with Britain. This, as noble Lords will remember, resulted in a measure of disagreement between this House and another place. However, following the introduction of the sanctions, Governments of both political Parties have attempted to follow, so far as possible, a bipartisan policy in respect of Rhodesia.

We on this side of the House, as with Labour Governments, have attempted to find a just settlement that would be acceptable to the Rhodesians as a whole I as well as being in accordance with the Five—or, if you are a member of the Labour Party, Six—principles. I think those Principles still fit in with my noble I friend Lord Gridley's concept of freedom j with responsibility. However, success has I eluded Governments of both political Parties. The situation in Southern Africa has changed dramatically over the past eighteen months. I believe that the future of Rhodesia and the solution to the problem lies within Southern Africa, and it is up to the people of that area of the world to decide whether they wish to have immediate majority rule now or to progress towards it.

I think this covers the points raised by my noble friends Lord Salisbury and Lord Balfour. It is no longer a problem between Britain and her recalcitrant Colony. The Portuguese withdrawal from Mozambique and that country's subsequent independence last June—mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley—and the undeclared state of civil war in Angola have changed all that. For economic and political reasons, the Governments of South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia have been able to come together in an attempt to persuade the various factions in Rhodesia to reach a peaceful settlement, but the failure of the Victoria Falls meeting has shown to the world how difficult that task is.

In Bridget Bloom's very good article in today's Financial Times, she writes: In today's depressing scene in Southern Africa, one thing stands out: despite, concerted efforts, for the first time, by both Black and White leaders in the area, and despite the vastly changed circumstances which have resulted from the Portuguese withdrawal from Southern Africa, a peaceful settlement to the Rhodesian problem seems as far away as ever. One might think that is a rather pessimistic and depressing outlook, but I agree with her conclusion at the end of the article, when she says this: In the short term, gradual implementation of the new policy is bound to be to the advantage of Mr. Smith. White Rhodesia could well celebrate an 11th, 12th or even 13th anniversary of UDI without feeling that it is in danger of imminent defeat. But when the reckoning comes, it is likely to face a much tougher, a much more determined and much more radical opposition than it can presently believe. There is little doubt that the effectiveness of sanctions against Rhodesia will increase rather than decrease in the future. It is probable that the new Government of Mozambique will impose sanctions especially if it is to receive monetary compensation in the form of development assistance, as agreed at the Common- wealth Heads of Government Meeting in Jamaica earlier this year.

Also, as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, has said, the amount of "sanction busting" being carried out by United Nations Member States has been reduced. Consequently, I believe that sanctions have played some part in bringing the Rhodesian Government to the negotiating table. However, it is regrettable that at this time of South African detente and until recently the ostensible willingness of Mr. Smith's Government to negotiate, the ANC should suffer a serious split, since this can only further complicate the issue. The consequences of various nationalist factions arguing among themselves can be seen only too clearly by looking at what is happening in next-door Angola.

I have listened with a great deal of interest and care to the arguments put forward by my noble friends behind me concerning the effectiveness of and the justification for sanctions. I respect their deeply-held convictions, although I cannot always share their points of view. Whether the effect of sanctions is minimal, as my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard believes, or whether it is decisive in bringing about a settlement in Rhodesia is not as vital when compared with other factors involved. The mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia are contained in a number of Resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council between April 1966 and Spring 1970, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. These Resolutions, unlike others that have been passed by the United Nations, are binding in international law, and consequently binding upon this country. Only last week we on this side of the House, with considerable support from the Liberal Party and the Cross-Benches, bitterly condemned the Labour Party, when in Opposition, for encouraging their supporters in local government to disregard their obligations under the Housing Finance Act—an Act of Parliament democratically passed—and then, when they got back into power, for giving these same Labour councillors total immunity from the process of law. I believe it would be, to say the least, hypocritical of us from this side of the House to condemn the Labour Party for supporting its followers when they chose which national laws they would obey and which they would not, if at the same time we were considering following a similar course of action as far as international law was concerned.


My Lords, would the noble Earl allow me one question? Is he really saying that there are no circumstances whatever in which Her Majesty's Government could raise sanctions?


I was going on to say that if Britain feels that sanctions are not working and that there needs to be a change of policy then Britain should go to the United Nations Security Council honestly and openly, and say so. But these sanctions are United Nations sanctions and it is up to the United Nations to change them. On 11th October 1973, at the Conservative Party conference my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel said: It is true that mandatory sanctions should never have been put on. We voted against them but the British Government of the day put its signature to a Resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations which is binding on its members. We are a permanent member and we are in the habit of keeping Britain's word. We do not, and individual Conservatives do not, pick and choose which laws we obey and which we do not, nationally or internationally.


My Lords, I am sorry to press my noble friend on this, but have the Government of this country the right to go to the United Nations and say: "We are lifting sanctions"? Or have we surrendered all right to the Security Council?


My Lords, my impression is that Britain has the right to go to the United Nations to ask for sanctions to be removed. It does not have the right to remove them unilaterally.


So we have abandoned all our rights.


My Lords, as I said earlier, it does not mean that sanctions must go on for ever but to vote against this Order is not the right course to take. If Britain feels that sanctions are serving no useful purpose, then it must go to the United Nations and say so. It is up to the United Nations Security Council to bring mandatory sanctions to an end. I believe that for this country to remove them unilaterally would have consequences far in excess of any economic considerations or benefits that might apply. It is up to Britain to hold the ring between the various parties, and for that role Britain must be seen to be, and be, scrupulously fair. While it can be argued that sanctions have little economic or political effect their unilateral removal by this country would cause bitter reactions from other member-States of the United Nations, the Commonwealth and Africa.

While we are a trading nation, it is vital that our relations with other countries in the world should remain as good as possible. Furthermore, to remove sanctions unlaterally would cut the very ground from beneath those countries which are attempting to find a peaceful solution to the Rhodesian question. Such action would be seen not as a recognition of the ineffectual nature of sanctions, but as support for Mr. Smith and for his Government's policies.

While the main effort to find a settlement must be exercised by the countries of Southern Africa, Britain has an important role to play when enough progress has been made. Thus it is important that we should not lose our credibility as a participant in any future settlement. I was surprised to see reported last Tuesday that Britain had joined a consensus of United Nations members in approving a resolution which quite rightly reaffirmed the right of the Rhodesian black majority to self determination, freedom and independence, but at the same time declared—and this part is important—the legitimacy of their struggle to obtain this, "by all means at their disposal". I should be grateful if the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, when he comes to reply, could elaborate on these last few words and say to what the Government feel they have morally committed this country.

On 11th June this year, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, when repeating a Statement made by the Secretary of State in another place, said: In conclusion, I should like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the Government remain pledged to do all that lies within their power to promote a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia as the alternative to the violence which … will otherwise be inevitable."— [Official Report, 11/6/75, col. 336.] Has there been a change in Government thinking on this matter? In view of what certain of my noble friends have said, and in view of the views expressed by some nationalist movements, this is an important point which deserves full consideration.

Also, perhaps the noble Lord could tell us whether the Government have had further thoughts on the holding of a constitutional conference which was also mentioned in the same Statement. What was said was: The House will see that I am not setting a deadline for the commencement of a conference. If as I hope both sides in their direct talks begin now to negotiate issues of substance I would not be dogmatic as to the timing of the Government's proposed conference. But a start must be made before it is too late, and if it is clear in due course that substantial progress is not resulting from the direct talks between Mr. Smith and the ANC it will then become the Government's responsibility to call the parties together." [col. 335] I wonder whether the noble Lord could give the House his thoughts on that particular point.

My Lords, while one can certainly argue very forcefully that sanctions should never have been introduced and that sanctions are ineffective as a means of persuading the Smith Government to reach a peaceful settlement, I believe that there are other considerations which are of greater weight and importance. Our commitments under international law and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council; our credibility as a country which has important links with the whole of Africa, both black and white; the moves within Southern Africa itself towards detente; the possible resultant incentive to use increased violence on the part of the African nationalists; the whole question of the rule of law—I would sincerely ask my noble friends behind me to consider most carefully all these important factors. While it is entirely within their prerogative to divide the House, I believe that it will be a great pity if they do. It would be far better to let the Order go through without a Division or even to show their disapproval for it by abstaining. But I must tell my noble friends, in order to be honest with them, that if they do decide to divide the House I shall be unable to join them in the Division Lobby.


My Lords, if it is a question of international law that we cannot go to the United Nations to withdraw this Order, what is the point of having this debate? If we divided the House we should presumably be going against international law but if the Government could not go to the United Nations in order to withdraw sanctions I do not see why we should have this debate.


My Lords, the Government can go to the United Nations, but since the sanctions were imposed by the Security Council they have to be removed by them.


My Lords, could we have some clarification so that we all know where we are? Could the Opposition Front Bench reply to one question arising from the interchange between the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and the noble Earl, Lord Cowley? If the United Kingdom goes to the United Nations and asks for their agreement for us to lift sanctions, and if UNO refuses, which seems likely, then are we powerless and have to retain sanctions against our wishes for an indefinite period until UNO alters its mind?


My Lords, I believe that in reality the British Government could go to the United Nations to ask for the withdrawal of sanctions with the approval of all the countries in Southern Africa most immediately affected. I think the point put forward by my noble friend is at least hypothetical. I do not believe that Britain, whether a Conservative or Labour Government were in power, would go to the United Nations for the removal of sanctions in the face of opposition from the parties most immediately involved.

2.57 p.m.


My Lords, I hope not to detain your Lordships too long. I made a fairly full statement when I moved this Motion and we have had a truly excellent debate. I should like to thank every speaker who has taken part for his moderate and constructive contributions, and I of course include those with whom I profoundly disagree. Indeed, I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, set the tone, although his views are very different from mine on this issue. I thought his speech was a most eloquent plea for moderation. I think it was intended as such and certainly I heard it as such. He mentioned with his noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye a very important particular which I had not mentioned but which is increasingly apparent to all who think about Rhodesia and beyond Rhodesia, namely, the vital and urgent need for agreement not only in the interests of Rhodesia and of Southern Africa but indeed of this country and of countries like it, particularly in the economic situation in which the Western World finds itself. I am most grateful for a speech which at some points took us to matters of even graver importance than those implied by the Order I moved.

The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, made what I thought was an excellent speech. Once again I did not agree fundamentally with the noble Lord, but, as last year, I thought the way he put his views forward was most impressive. I wish the galleries had been full of Rhodesians of all colours to hear the debate, to hear how we deal with this kind of question, where feelings run very deep, and are always informed, and where there is always a readiness to listen to the other man's point of view and to try to find bridges rather than gulfs between those of opposite points of view. The noble Lord, Lord Gridley. gave his own heading to his speech by saying that he believed in freedom with responsibility. This is a hackneyed phrase but it needs repeating, and as Rhodesia moves into responsible independent Statehood, as we hope it will soon, by agreement through the co-operation of all its citizens, this principle of freedom with responsibility must be its guiding line.

The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, also mentioned the situation of white settlers, as did other noble Lords. As your Lordships know, I have from time to time indicated my own concern that when we talk about the future of Rhodesia we certainly include the future of the white settlers and those who have lived there, many of them over generations, and who have in many ways made distinguished and valuable contributions to the development of the country.

This brings me to the point which a number of noble Lords raised; particularly it was raised in the attractive speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. He denied robustly that Rhodesia is any threat to peace. This theme was taken up by the noble Lord, Lord Barnby. Who does he mean by Rhodesia? Does he mean the 300,000 white settlers are not threatening the peace? Perhaps this is so, so long as they get their way.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving away. I mean the existing de facto (as I would refer to them) Government of Rhodesia, who I think, contrary to what I gather the noble Lord thinks, represents the vast majority of people in Rhodesia.


My Lords, there might be various psephological views about that, as to which and how many Rhodesians the Smith régime represents. The point I was going to make is one with which I hope the noble Marquess would agree. A country becomes a threat to peace because of the conditions within it quite as often as because of the policy of its Government. We are faced in Rhodesia and in Central Southern Africa with a potential situation of very grave danger, not only to that immediate area but possibly outside it. While there may be argument whether Rhodesia is a threat to the peace within the terms of Article VII, it is a danger to peace. The urgency which, for the reasons advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, should prompt us to seek an agreement as soon as possible applies equally because of this persistent danger.

May I pass on quickly to the points raised by the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, who asked whether our vote for the United Nations' Fourth Committee resolution (I think that is the one he meant) on Rhodesia, including references to NIBMAR and implicitly to the use of force, indicates any change from Her Majesty's Government's position as stated in the Secretary of State's Statement of 11th June. The answer is, No, my Lords. The position in the Fourth Committee was this. For the first time we have been able to join a consensus on a general political resolution on Rhodesia at the General Assembly. This was because this year's resolution, unlike in past years, did not make criticisms of this I country or unreasonable demands upon us. We made it plain, however, that we could not accept an unconditional commitment to NIBMAR, and we could not condone the use of force. So in agreeing without a division to the consensus, we placed very carefully on record our reservation on the first point and our complete rejection of the second.

My right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said that, should substantial progress not result from direct talks between Mr. Smith and the ANC, it would then become the Government's responsibility to call the parties together. That is still the position, but I do not think we have yet reached that stage. I however appreciate that the noble Earl should have raised this, because it gives me an opportunity of repeating that there is absolutely no change between the position stated by my right honourable friend on 11th June and where we stand today; nor do I anticipate that there will be any change. We stand ready to perform our constitutional duty in the matter of the constitutional conference, hopefully after, and as a result of negotiation in Rhodesia by Rhodesians, assisted by friendly neighbours, including the South African Republic; but if necessary, in the right or inevitable circumstances, by initiative. I hope it does not come to that. I do not think it will. I am hopeful that our role will be played as a result of sensible and constructive discussions in Rhodesia as a start.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, on the question of mutual presence is it still the firm opinion of the Government that a boycott at arm's length is preferable to mutual presence—by which I mean mutual representatives, of course?


On the question of representation, my Lords? —Yes. Successive Governments have decided that if we honestly adhere to the decisions of the international authority we must conform in the matter of representation as well as in other matters. However, it is sensible and practical to have contacts, but not formal representation. I suppose the noble Lord has in mind the future of Rhodesia House and a number of other questions which he has mentioned to me from time to time. While it is reasonable and practicable to have contacts in order to promote negotiation, and we hope agreement, formal representation is out. That would not be in conformity with decisions of the United Nations to which we are party.

There are a number of other points, but not one of them I think a point of information that it is immediately necessary to answer. I should like to close by reinforcing the reasonable appeal made by the noble Earl that, having once more made prefectly clear with great force and clarity, all the more forcefully for the moderation shown, what many noble Lords feel about sanctions and the right way of going about this very difficult and long-standing problem, it would be the height of statesmanship to refrain from dividing the House. We are, perhaps, poised on the brink of a possible break-through. It is very difficult to define how hopefully we may interpret the position. Equally, there are forces in Rhodesia, in Africa and outside Africa which are loudly proclaiming that it is absolutely no good negotiating and that the only solution to this kind of problem is the so called "war of liberation". Anything that we say or do to encourage that kind of thinking would place a dreadful responsibility upon us. Rather I think that, as the free assembly of a free, democratic country, this House and the other place will today have expressed a wide range of view on this difficult question, but I hope without engaging in a divisive procedure which could dismay only the moderates and would encourage the extremists.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him about one point which I raised in my remarks. Do Her Majesty's Government still hold to the Five Principles as being the test of acceptability or have they moved further than that?


My Lords, we hold to the Five Principles, and to the sixth, which enjoins that any settlement should have regard to all sections of the population, majorities and minorities.

On Question, Motion agreed to.