HL Deb 06 July 1976 vol 372 cc1178-221

4.30 p.m.

The Marquess of SALISBURY rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will state precisely what advantage they expect to accrue to the peoples of Rhodesia if the principle of majority rule is applied to that country. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I beg to ask the Unstarred Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. The reason for my doing so is that I have read reports that Her Majesty's Government are seeking to establish majority rule in Rhodesia either now or within the next two years. This does not seem to be in accord with what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said in the debate in this House last November on sanctions where, in reply to a question from me, he said that Her Majesty's Government stood by the five principles enunciated and also the sixth principle. Nor does it seem to me to be in accord with Sir Harold Wilson's statement in an interview on April 29th last year on BBC-2 in which, when he was asked about the time-scale for majority rule, he said that there was no time-scale, not necessarily today or tomorrow. For these reasons I hope that Her Majesty's Government will state where they now stand in view of the serious position in Rhodesia today.

I should also like to draw your attention to the difference in the attitudes adopted by Her Majesty's Government over Rhodesian affairs and over Northern Ireland with which your Lordships have just been dealing. In Rhodesia, we appear to have the same demand for majority rule, with or without safeguards; whereas in Northern Ireland the principal trouble seems to be that Her Majesty's Government are unable to secure sufficient safeguards for the minority there. With respect to safeguards, we have found it necessary to implement them here. We now have the Race Relations Board supported by the full force of the law. I wonder whether Her Majesty's Government, in exploring the Rhodesian situation, have something similar in mind for that country. If not, I fail to see how they will be able to implement the sixth principle. I should have thought it clear that some safeguards were necessary in African countries. We have only to remember the plight of the Asians in Uganda and the Portuguese in Angola.

It may be that Her Majesty's Government are not guided by any special principles or policies; for noble Lords opposite appear to see nothing wrong or objectionable in Russian colonialism in Eastern Europe, whereas they seem utterly opposed to white participation in Government in Africa on the grounds that it is a relic of colonialism. Of the two, I should have thought that the latter was a more beneficial rule and less harsh. It may be that they just want to get rid of this problem both in Ireland and in Rhodesia without regard to the consequences. I believe it true that, since UDI, Her Majesty's Government claim to have taken over direct rule in Rhodesia.

I think that we also ought to take a look at the effects of granting majority rule in Rhodesia. One thing that seems certain is that after a brief period, no democratic Government will exist; and Dr. Sithole has made it clear that it would be a Marxist State. He also said that a great deal of blood will flow, whatever happens. I shall not enlarge on this because I tried to deal with this in the sanctions debate; but the pattern seems to be similar to what happens after the grant of majority rule in other African States. It may be that Dr. Sithole no longer counts; because Mr. Austin Chakaodza, the London representative of ZANU, in an interview with the Argos Press said: People like Nikomo, Muzorewa, Sithole and Chikerama are irrelevant, and in the new Zimbabwe there will be no Parliamentary democracy, no voting and no canvassing. There is some confirmation of this in reports in the Rhodesia Herald of 24th June this year which, among other things, says: The Soviet Union is masterminding President Machela's attempt to demolish the overall political leadership of the African National Council. What has caused this desire for a change of leadership? Can it be that ZANU's paymasters are dissatisfied with the results so far obtained ?—for we must surely accept that Rhodesia's problems stem largely from outside interference.

In this connection I should like to quote from a letter of my father's of 12th January 1966 to the Daily Telegraph in the course of which he said: While it may well be that respect for law is the dominating consideration in the minds of Mr. Wilson and his colleagues, it is surely not the consideration which is uppermost in the minds of the Afro-Asian States and of those other nations, like Russia, whom, by bringing the Rhodesian issue before the United Nations, he has rallied to his standard. Their concern is not whether Mr. Smith's Government is legal. They do not care a rap about that. Some of them have not worried unduly about the legality of changes in their own constitutions. What they are after is something quite different. It is the disappearance from the Continent of Africa, South of the Sahara, of every Government that is not entirely non-European. Behind them loom the far more sinister figures of the great Communist powers, Russia and China, whose aims in many matters may not be identical with those of the African States or even with each other's, but who have this in common: they both want to see the disappearance from Africa of any régimes that are, in their minds, on the side of the West.

Another question that we should ask ourselves is whether the truly remarkable progress made in Rhodesia, both before and after UDI, can be maintained under African rule or even held at its present level. Judging by other African States, the answer must be, No. As one observer who recently returned from Rhodesia has written: No one in their senses either in London or Salisbury could possibly doubt that black majority in two years would mean anything but catastrophe and chaos for black and white alike.

There are a number of reasons for this. First, the inability of African States, in the main, to prevent a collapse of the economy—and there are many examples of this. The latest example is Mozambique where Samora Machel has probably earned the unique distinction of plunging his country into economic and financial chaos, as well as starvation, with greater rapidity than any statesman in history. Secondly, the inability to maintain an effective administrative machine; any of your Lordships who have tried to do business with the African Civil Service will know the problems with which one is faced. Thirdly, the collapse of law and order which seems to follow majority rule, at least in the sense that we understand it in this country. There are many examples which no doubt will spring to your Lordships' minds. Fourthly, the inability of these African countries, after majority rule, to feed their population. In the case of Rhodesia it is now well over 5 million people; and although African agriculture has made rapid advances in the last few years, this, I believe, is too big a task for it to tackle.

One glance at the Tribal Trust lands will confirm this. The Africans there can perhaps maintain themselves, but they are quite incapable of feeding the urban areas. The food for this must come from the white farms which currently provide some 75 per cent. of agricultural production. Finally, what applies to agriculture is also true of the services such as education and the hospital services. There cannot be any prospect of them maintaining their present level of efficiency—which, indeed, is very high—unless they receive support in administration and servicing from whites.

The truth is that Rhodesia has developed into a prosperous State thanks to the endeavours of its white population. As a result of improved conditions, the population has multiplied and it has grown to a point when it can survive only with the aid and direction of the whites for some considerable time to come. Without them it faces starvation and the deterioration of its services and probably the collapse of organised and effective government. One must ask oneself whether this is what the majority of the African population really wants. This is very difficult to assess. I personally do not believe that they do, and there are indications at the present time that they do not like what they have seen for themselves or heard about what is going on in Mozambique. Nor do I think that ZANU and ZAPU command the support of the majority of Africans, although there have been special occasions when they have been able to whip up considerable support; but, so far, this has never lasted. One of the reasons would appear to be that the African at this stage is politically apathetic.

We ought to consider what the views of the people of this country are. I understand that recently the BBC commissioned an opinion poll, and that this was undertaken by the Opinion Research Centre. Three questions were asked. The first question was: " Do you think the Africans should rule? " To this 11 per cent. said, " Yes ". The second question was: " Do you think the whites should rule? ". To this, again, 11 per cent. said, " Yes ". The third question was: " Do you think there should be joint rule between blacks and whites? " To this 68 per cent. replied, " Yes ". This seems a fairly conclusive verdict, one with which I myself concur.

In conclusion, I would say this. I have tried to show what I believe the effect would be of handing over the control of Rhodesia to the Africans prematurely. It would have disastrous results, not only for Rhodesia but for her neighbours. It is for this reason that I seek clarification of Her Majesty's Government's aims and of how they see the future developing in Rhodesia.S

4.44 p.m.

Baroness ELLES

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Salisbury has put a question to the Government of vital importance both to this country as well as to the future of the peoples of Rhodesia, and with his very great knowledge and experience of that country—both its history and its peoples—we have heard a very clear reason why he has put this Question and the basis which forms his thinking. Nevertheless, it is not my role, speaking from these Benches, even to attempt to answer the Question, since it is put to Her Majesty's Government, but rather to add one or two questions myself and to single out one or two factors which must be taken into account when we are considering this problem.

First, we are only too well aware of the very rapid change in the political and military situation of Rhodesia: the strengthening of the guerrilla forces in Mozambique and the formation of a possible third force with the support of the Organisation of African Unity. That certainly cannot be ignored in considering the position of all the people of Rhodesia, both black and white. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Salisbury referred to the present position of the people of Mozambique. Not only of course is there catastrophic food shortage. but there is great shortage of medical and para-medical personnel; and, indeed, the Government of Mozambique, as I understand it, are now trying to get professionally trained Portuguese people to come back to Mozambique to contribute to the furthering of the economic and social development of that country. We might take this into consideration when we are discussing the future of Rhodesia,

If the bloodshed which has been threatened by so many world leaders is to be avoided, and if the great contribution made by the European settlers of Rhodesia in the development of agriculture and their major contribution to the raising of the economic and social standards of living of all the people of Rhodesia are not to be ignored or wasted, the Government must take a new initiative. We need some indication of the Government's intentions. Why, for instance, was it left to Mr. Vorster and Dr. Kissinger to discuss the future of Rhodesia ? Was there no British representative present ? Were we consulted as to the kind of policy which was going to be formed at that meeting? What measures are being taken within the European Community for assisting in a solution to this problem ?

I have put this question before to the Minister: we should like to know what is in the mind of the Government as to what they mean by " majority rule ". Is it not the case that an extension of the electoral roll based on educational standards would lead in effect to the majority of elected and representative members representing the vast majority of the people without eliminating white representatives ? We have not heard any detailed thinking from the Government on this subject. Surely this is of direct and immediate concern to white people as well as people of other colours in Rhodesia.

If Rhodesia is to remian outside the sphere of Communist influence, and if there is to be a peaceful settlement acceptable to all groups in Rhodesia—and both these aims are surely shared by both Rhodesians and the people of this country—the Government must act diplomatically to take the initiative to implement what we regard as two major achievements. What the Government should be doing—and we have no evidence that they are doing this—is encouraging knowledge of the dangers to the European settlers in Rhodesia of refusal eventually to accept majority rule. What measures are the Government taking to inform these people? Are they to put on television programmes? Are they broadcasting on the World Service what are the real dangers to the European settlers of Rhodesia if they do not prepare themselves for a gradual transition to majority rule? Even more important in that context, what guarantees are the Government prepared to give for the safety, of their lives, property and future prospects in the land where, after all, they, too, were born?

If the white people of Rhodesia are to accept that the British Government supports the policy of an orderly transfer of power into black African hands—and this has been repeated several times by the Government—we believe that there are highly trained and capable Africans who can and do wish to see their country remain outside the Soviet sphere of influence and who are perfectly capable of governing their country together with European settlers. What are the Government doing to encourage and ensure that the safeguards of all the people of Rhodesia lie in the hands of the British Government? So we therefore wish to know what the Government are doing to safeguard the lives, property and prospects not only of the European settlers of Rhodesia, but also the black peoples of Rhodesia, from threats from guerrilla invasion and economic disaster. We have seen over and over again, as my noble friend pointed out, both elements happening in so many other countries in Africa. The responsibility is the Government's and we hope to have an answer from the Minister.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, I think it is rather odd that we should be debating this Question at a time when Her Majesty the Queen is visiting our most famous ex-Colony, which most people would agree has made a success of majority rule. I am nevertheless grateful to the noble Marquess for giving us this opportunity of facing squarely the benefits of majority rule to Rhodesia.

I think the right answer to the noble Marquess's Question is to ask the people of this country what they would regard as the advantages to them of having majority rule. I think one would find they would say that they gained the Factory Acts of 1833, 1874, 1878, and the later amendments, which controlled the conditions under which they were forced to work. I think one would find they would mention the Mines Act, the Municipal Corporations Acts and the subsequent Local Government Acts which established the present system of local government in this country, which is the envy of the world. I think one would find they would mention the Poor Law Amendment Act, the various Public Health Acts, and the Education Acts, which first established and then extended State education, the opening up of our universities to other than members of the Church of England and the gradual extension of higher education to its present level. One would find they would mention the reform of the Civil Service, the enfranchisement and the protection of the trade unions and the growth of the Labour Party. They would also mention the Workmen's Compensation Acts, the National Insurance Acts of 1911 and 1920, the Beveridge Plan and the establishment of the Welfare State. They would mention the National Health Service, municipal housing, the Town and Country Planning Act and the development of new towns.

Of course, not all these things would necessarily receive the plaudits of your Lordships, but these were all gained after the Reform Acts of 1832, 1867 and 1884; and I would make bold to say that they would not have occurred but for those Acts and the various extensions of the franchise which followed them. It is similar advantages that we hope will accrue to the people of Rhodesia by the application of the principle of majority rule. They may not make as good use of them as we should like them to, but we will at least give the Rhodesians the opportunity of doing these things for themselves. It is a long-honoured principle that where constitutional channels of progress are closed, revolution becomes legitimate. In the modern world, all peoples demand an equal right to determine the laws which they have to obey and the character of the society in which they have to live. Either adult suffrage will be granted to Rhodesia and the rest of Southern Africa, or it will be won in battle.

Britain has been consistently on the wrong side in Central and Southern Africa. We gave white supremacy to South Africa in 1910 and to Southern Rhodesia in 1923. We admitted South Africa to the Commonwealth in 1931. We imposed the Central African Federation on the peoples of Central Africa in 1953. We presented the Rhodesians with the Federation's armed forces, and it is those forces which are now used to support the rebellion against the Queen. We tried to appease Ian Smith before and after UDI. In each case, we supported the minority against the rights of the majority. It is no wonder that the freedom fighters have had to turn to the Communist world for arms. I appreciate the concern of the noble Marquess about the danger of Communist influence in the area, but we are making Communist influence likely by refusing to allow the majority to determine their affairs. We are in fact almost making a present of Southern Africa to the Communists.

The Presidents of neighbouring States —Kaunda of Zambia, Nyerere of Tanzania, Machel of Mozambique and Seretse Khama of Botswana—have all gone to the limit in trying to secure majority rule through negotiation in order to save thousands of lives. They have actually jeopardised, certainly in a couple of cases, their own position in order to do so. They failed because of Ian Smith's continued intransigence, and that intransigence has continued to find support in some quarters in this country. Unless we have more influence than these Presidents and Mr. Vorster, and can exert it on the Smith régime, then a bitter racial war is inevitable, with all the consequences that that will entail. Frankly, it has already started, although it is in such a limited state that at the moment obviously it can still be stopped.

Such a war would affect every society in which different races live side by side, including our own. We have to stand up and be counted, for everyone in this conflict is considered to be either on the side of the majority or on the side of the minority. This is seen not only in Africa but throughout the rest of the world. Soweto has exposed to the world what happens when people are in anger, and I am sure that none of your Lordships would want to see a Soweto in Rhodesia. But, my Lords, how long can Africans be expected to tolerate a situation in which 5 per cent. of the population make the laws and in which land is divided equally between that 5 per cent. and the remaining 95 per cent.?— a situation, if I may point this out to the noble Marquess, whereby he could buy land in certain parts of Rhodesia which I could not buy, regardless of what money I had.

Of course there are difficulties in introducing adult suffrage into Rhodesia. There were difficulties in this country; and there are certainly what I would call tragic divisions among the nationalist organisations in Rhodesia. But we have to leave it to the African leaders to try to heal that breach. The tragic situation is being perpetuated and deepened by the refusal to grant majority rule—and I hope that your Lordships will try to see that point—and delay can only intensify the bitterness augmenting the eventual bloodbath. It is in European as well as in African interests to arrange the transition as speedily as possible, with the maximum assistance in training and economic aid. I was very glad to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, deal with that side of the matter in the way she did, because we need to have this transition to majority rule and we need to have it quickly.

It does not follow, as night follows day, that because you have majority rule there is a need for the minority either to be oppressed or to have to leave. There can be a situation in which the majority and the minority can live together; in fact, it is essential for the success of the area that they should do so. But that is being endangered by the continued refusal of the minority to do justice to the majority. I hope that in his reply the Minister will indicate that Her Majesty's Government are firmly committed to majority rule, and will not be deviated one iota from that path. I await his reply with the greatest interest.

5.2 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Salisbury for initiating this Question, particularly since it has brought out a remarkable speech by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, which showed where we are sometimes in disagreement on these matters, because he has regarded Central Africa as similar to London where he has a very distinguished career in administration. This is the mistake which Europe has made in the last century, and when the history of the world is written, people will look at the failure of Europe to help the Africans to form the kind of government that fits them best. We have ourselves hawked around the Westminster model of Parliament to people to whom it is a strange thing for the leader of an Opposition to survive, and quite ridiculous to pay him a salary when he has survived. This is not happening in Africa, and instead of trying to send the Westminster model around Africa we should have been thinking about, and helping the Africans to work out, what form of government would suit them best. I am certain that to Africans majority rule does not mean what it means to us here, or to the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead.

The noble Lord, Lord Pitt, said that where constitutional progress is slow revolution follows. What has happened in Africa in the last five years is that where constitutional progress has been fast one revolution has succeeded another. What country in Africa today has a Government with a stable Opposition, such as we try to give them under the rules laid down in Erskine May ? —not a single country. Therefore, we ought to try first not to be so presumptuous as to think—


My Lords, will the noble Lord please give way? I ask him please not to be unfair to Botswana.


I agree, my Lords, and I think that Botswana has done well. But there is no Opposition in any major country. Certainly, we will give the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, Botswana, but there is no Opposition in Kenya where no Luo dares enter politics. I am not blaming Africa. This is the nature of Africa. Therefore, when noble Lords talk about majority rule let them take the problem out to Central Africa and ask them. I do not have a solution, although I shall later lay down one or two guidelines. But if you say to a Matabele that he will have majority rule, which means permanent rule by the Mashona, what will be the answer? I should like the noble Lord who has just spoken to put that question to Mr. Joshua Nkomo and see what his answer is. Again, if we take the population of Rhodesia, of course the Europeans are a very small minority; equally the coloureds and the Asians are in a minority. But I million of the Africans are in the townships, and over 3 million of them are in the Tribal Trust and other areas. Are you going to say that the townships will be ruled by the Tribal Trust areas? You will not get a very sweet reception in Harari and Highfield if you put that view forward to them.

I do not want to take up the time of your Lordships, but somehow we have to find a way in which there can be a proper form of power-sharing within the concept of the African. I have always felt that much swifter progress should he made with local government, particularly in the townships. The Tribal Trust areas have a proper decentralisation of authority, but that has not been so for a long time in the townships, such as Harari, Highfield and Bulawayo. But how this power-sharing is to be done must be worked out when the threat of Communist aggression, which is killing more Africans than Europeans in Rhodesia, is ended. Then, I believe that there should be a great indaba where all these problems can be talked over by the different elements in Central Africa, and a proper solution found. Work is being done. I hope that the Minister of State can say a word on the report of the Quenet Commission, which was published only two months ago, and which, to my mind, gives a remarkably clear picture of how to eliminate racial discrimination in Rhodesia. It is a remarkable report, produced by a Commission which had Africans and Europeans as members of it, and it makes several dynamic recommendations to put matters right.

Meanwhile, let me come to the point made by my noble friend Lady Elles. If we are to have any hope of peace in Central Africa, we must see that agricultural development is advanced far more quickly than is the case at the present time. This requires, in particular, personnel from Europe going out and helping the Africans to develop their agriculture, because they are principally a pastoral and agricultural people. Secondly, it is made very clear in the Quenet Report that the result of sanctions has been to hold up technical education for Africans. I remember that when sanctions were first put on I made an appeal in another place to this country. I said that, whatever were the disagreements, we should pour money in for the technical education of Africans. But nothing has been done, and there have passed something like ten wasted years. If we believe in the advancement of all races in Central Africa, as I do, and in a multiracial community, surely we should spare whatever we can in order to increase technical education for Africans. At the moment such education is being delayed by our sanctions policy.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, I must confess to being somewhat out of date on this subject as it is nearly eight since years I was last in Salisbury. It was at the time when Gibbs, the Governor, was cut off in Government House by the Smith régime before he was finally expelled. I went to visit him in Government House and was very impressed by his line of thinking—as I was by that of other members of what I think was then called the Centre Party, who were all in favour of the gradual extension of the franchise and against the Smith régime.

This was not the reason why I went to Salisbury. I went there because a cousin of mine was then the priest in charge of the outer suburb of Mableraine. He has since died of the disease which had then begun to attack him and this was the reason for my visit. I was taken around the black township of Salisbury by the deputy mayor, also a member of the Centre Party, who was a cousin of the then leader of your Lordships' House, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. We were the only three whites in this township. Not one policeman was in sight. I wonder where else in Africa that could have taken place.

In my cousin's church—Mableraine is mainly a white suburb—people of all colours were worshipping together. Having come to Salisbury from Johannesburg the difference was so striking that I thought that if only this gradual process, which was supported by people like Gibbs and the Centre Party who were then in opposition to the Smith régime, could continue we might reach a reasonable solution to the problem. I spoke words to that effect in your Lordships' House after I returned from Salisbury, but now I am about eight years out of date.

I am grateful to the noble Marquess for introducing this debate. There is only one question which I want to ask the Government: whether they will give me an answer which they failed to give to a question I asked during the debate on immigration 10 days ago which was initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Gridley. At my house in Devon last night I entertained the Exeter branch of the English Speaking Union and their guests. This was in connection with the big celebrations that are taking place all over the country on the 200th anniversary of the American UDI. One of the guests came up to me after I had given my talk—they were having supper with me which, thank Heaven! they had laid on—and told me that she was a Rhodesian and that this cousin of mine, to whom I have referred, had married her. She also told me that she had been able to visit her relations here only because she was born in Australia and was able to get an Australian passport. I hope that your Lordships will see the point I am leading up to now.

Today we have heard phrases like: " It will be won in war if it is not won otherwise "—the exhortation of the freedom fighters. The pressure which is being put upon us all the time brings me to the question that I asked 10 days ago and which I should like to ask again: whether the Government will make it quite clear that when this holocaust comes, or is seen to be approaching, there will be no nonsense about regulating the number of people from this country, who will then be refugees, who want to come here. I am anxious about this question because I have relatives in that part of the world and I know that many people of British origin are growing anxious, too.

In both Rhodesia and South Africa people are already thinking about moving. I was appalled by the " neck " of a Mr. Mukherjee, as reported in The Times last Friday, who said that there should be no free allocation for our own people who may become refugees and want to leave Rhodesia or South Africa if this much forecast holocaust comes about. I should like it to be made clear that we are not going to be dictated to by Mr. Mukherjee and his organisation over here which says that the number of our own people coming to this country from Rhodesia must be judged on the same basis as the number of Asians who have been given British passports. An article in the Karachi newspaper Dawn is on the same basis: that Pakistani organisations in this country are threatening our Government by saying that they will cast their votes one way or another in constituencies over here so as to get their own way.

Therefore, can the Government give a guarantee that should British stock have to leave Rhodesia if what is being prophesied comes about, they will be able to come back to their country of origin? If they are not allowed to come back, then the blood bath will surely be great because if they have nowhere to go they will fight harder to hang on to what they possess. That is why it will be much harder still in South Africa if this prophesied holocaust comes about. The Boers will have nowhere to go and will fight to the last man. If an assurance along those lines could be given by the Government to our relations in that part of the world, it might allay much of the anxiety for the future of people who came originally from this country.

5.19 p.m.


My Lords, I must first apologise to the House for my late arrival at this debate. I had to attend a meeting this morning in the Midlands and yesterday morning when I telephoned the office of the noble Baroness the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, I was assured that the debate would probably take place at about 5.30, so I motored down to London this afternoon thinking that I should be in time for the start of the debate. Therefore, I apologise to the House and in particular to my noble friend Lord Salisbury for having missed his speech.

I am at some disadvantage—and perhaps the House is at an even greater one —inasmuch as I may repeat arguments that have already been put forward. But the first thing that strikes me about my noble friend's Question on the Order Paper is why in the world nobody has ever asked it before. It has always been taken for granted that the principle of majority rule was unquestioned; that it was bound to bring infinite advantages to Rhodesia. But nobody has ever stated what those advantages were, and until this afternoon nobody has ever, I think, even bothered to ask. I can understand this wholly uncritical acceptance of the principle of majority rule ten or twelve years ago when the White Paper was published referring to the creation throughout Africa of Parliaments on the Westminster model, to which my noble friend Lord Tranmire referred a few moments ago; but now, after ten or more years' experience of what majority rule means, it seems quite incredible that people should go on accepting it as an axiom which does not even have to be proved.

I am very sorry indeed that, except for the end of it, I missed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, for whom I have the greatest respect; and if I do not agree with what I heard it is simply for the reason given by my noble friend Lord Tranmire, that it seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, was transferring to Southern Africa his own experiences in London—and I freely give him Botswana, as he asked for earlier on!

I cannot understand how anybody today can seriously advance the proposition that majority rule in the context of Africa is a good thing. I do not want to traverse the whole of the African continent, but let us take one or two of Rhodesia's neighbours who enjoy the blessings of majority rule. Let us take, for example, Malawi. I remember some years ago now when the noble Earl, Lord Longford, whom I see sitting opposite, was, I believe, leading for the Labour Party on this side of the House and a report was published on Nyasaland. It was written by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Devlin, and it began with what seemed to me then to be the astounding statement: " Nyasaland is a police State ". If the noble and learned Lord thought that Nyasaland was a police State then, I wonder what he would think of Malawi now, with Dr. Banda and his squad of young thugs who beat up and murder anybody who goes against his policy.

Then there is Mozambique. When Frelimo took control of Mozambique they gave the most categorical assurances to the Portuguese that they would institute a democratic form of government; but as soon as the Portuguese pulled out the undertakings of Frelimo were thrown out of the window as well, and I suppose never in human history has any country deteriorated so far and so rapidly as has Mozambique in the last twelve months. As for Mozambique being a democracy, I should like to read to your Lordships a report of a public speech by President Machel. Speaking at Maputo's Machava Stadium he said: We have our prisons full to capacity here in Maputo and other parts of the country. Then he went on to say that the only answer to crime was people's courts, in which: parents must also participate, brothers, wives, children… in order that everybody knows what the father does. When the husband disappears at night, the wife and children must know what he is doing. That does not sound to me very much like the ideal democracy which majority rule was supposed to bring.

I do not know whether your Lordships noticed the report of some comments by an African specialist at the Brookings Institute in New York, Dr. Ernest Lefever, on this issue of majority rule. Dr. Lefever said: Majority rule is a code word for black rule which actually means rule by a minority of self-appointed militants. There is no majority rule in Zaire or Uganda where small cliques govern to suit themselves. Kissinger "— This is Dr. Lefever speaking, not me— has over-identified with guerrilla groups, but no-one's going to stand up and say so because race is the one issue on which no-one speaks honestly. Then he goes on: To the extent that Americans have a picture of Africa it is a projection of the racial situation in the United States. Here "— that is in the United States— we have 10 whites to one black and we are guilt-ridden about slavery and discrimination. We transfer our experiences to Southern Africa where things are very different. I think to some extent we are even less justifiably guilt-ridden because of our colonial past. I have often thought—and I think I have said it before in this House—that it might have been better if we had never gone into Africa. Looking back, the struggle for Africa was in many respects unedifying, but I doubt whether it was anything like as unedifying as the scuttle from it. We raised these people up so far and then we abandoned them and dropped them down. Lord Acton was not so far wrong when he said—I think it was in his Essay on Freedom in Antiquity: Oppression by a minority is bad, but oppression by majority is worse. I believe that has been proved again in our own time.

If one leaves the philosophical side of all this and looks at the practical side, what do we see? We see in Zambia a once prosperous agriculture which has fallen into utter decline. I think I am right in saying—and if I am wrong the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, will correct me—that before it had the blessings of majority rule Zambia was pretty well self-sufficient so far as food was concerned. By a curious irony it has to import food from Rhodesia. I am told that two trains a day cross the Victoria Falls bridge, carrying maize and meat into Zambia. We have the curious irony that if we insist on immediate majority rule in Rhodesia, it would not only be the black Rhodesian who suffers, but the black Zambian and probably, too, the black inhabitant of Mozambique, for I believe it is the case that feelers are being put out from Mozambique to the Rhodesians to supply Mozambique with some of their surplus maize.

My Lords, now that we have committed ourselves so far to this uncritical acceptance of the principle of majority rule, it is very difficult for us to go back to anything more sensible. But if we want a settlement, and if we want to avoid the holocaust which is at the back of all our minds we have got to modify our attitude about majority rule. We have got to make an effort of the imagination, and put ourselves in the place of the white Rhodesians. They see chaos around them. They are not readily going to invite that chaos themselves. My own view is that the white Rhodesians will fight to the death to avoid it. I am sure this will come as a shock to many of your Lordships, but white Rhodesians in general have a contempt for this country, and are unlikely to be moved at all by the kind of lectures to which we have been treating them for the past two years. But, of course, we say, " There is the United Nations. Look how we are bound to the United Nations." How many of your Lordships, if you really examine your hearts and minds, can really feel that we owe any duty to the United Nations?

For example, the Security Council condemned South Africa for its intervention in Angola, which was in fact practically nominal, and made no mention whatsoever of the 13,000 Cuban mercenaries who decided the issue in Angola. Only yesterday or the day before, the Secretary-General of the United Nations worked himself up into a fever of indignation about that very gallant exploit of the Israeli Commandos, and demanded action by the Security Council. He conveniently forgot altogether that the Sudanese Government were accusing the Libyan Government of a far more damaging and flagrant breach of national sovereignty than anything the Israelis committed at Entebbe.

There is one final word I would say to your Lordships. We have mocked long enough at the Rhodesians for their superstition, as we have thought it, about Communism and the Red menace. After what has happened in Angola, after what is happening in Mozambique, are we so sure that the Rhodesians are wrong? I conclude with an observation from another American observer, Professor John Hutchinson of the University of California. He said: Rhodesia is the place where the NATO countries can call a halt to the recolonisation of Africa. ". Here, if I may interpolate we must remember that nature abhors a vacuum, and the mere fact that we have stopped colonising Africa does not mean that others are not very busily doing it. Professor Hutchinson goes on: If we do not, the knock will soon be heard on other doors.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, I have most sincerely to apologise to this House for being late for this debate. I, too, had an appointment which seemed to me to be important. I received the same " guestimate " as to the time, but I make no complaint about that. I express both my regrets and my personal sorrow at having missed what the noble Marquess had to say in opening. I hope that, in what I have to say, I do not fall across things which, owing to my negligence, I did not hear.

I was particularly impressed by what the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, had to say with regard to the meaning of majority rule. I am, I believe, a democrat, but I do not equate democracy with the rule of the majority. Again as Lord Acton said: There can he no worse tyranny than majority tyranny. We saw an example of that, perhaps, in Northern Ireland, the tyranny of the Protestants: we saw that in Cyprus, the tyranny of the Greeks. To me, democracy means much more tenderness for minori- ties, a feeling for the rights of minorities and the guarantee of the rights of minorities. Throughout Africa, majority rule, which, as has accurately been said, is a code name for black rule, has meant the end of the rights of minorities. Nearly all the liberated ex-colonies accepted constitutions which guaranteed the rights of minorities. Almost without exception, those constitutions have been torn up, those guarantees to racial minorities have been broken; the racial minorities have been expelled, and we have to accept them here.

I would define democracy as being a form of government in which opposition was legal, in which an Opposition is free to speak, in which an Opposition is free to organise and form themselves into Parties, in which an Opposition can contest lawful elections fairly conducted and in which Oppositions who won those elections can assume power in peace. I would describe as Fascist a nation in which opposition was not allowed, in which only one Party is permitted, and in which the government can be changed only by violence. On those definitions there is scarcely a democracy in Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, for whom I have the greatest respect and I admired his speech, quoted Botswana. Botswana is one of the rare and very small exceptions in the Fascist continent of Africa. That, one must remember, is a place which is so completely under the control of Seretse Khama that he has no occasion to be worried by opposition.

Within this Fascist rule, which in Africa has been the result of majority rule, what has the performance been? In Africa we sometimes hear Fascism described as " African Socialism ". What have been the results of African Socialism? Lord Tranmire referred to the tremendous need for education. Is there a single African country which can seriously be proud of its record in education ? When you look through them, they are quite awful. Again, economically, it is an impoverished continent. Majority rule has meant not only more poverty hut more ill-distributed wealth. Broadly speaking. the governing Parties who have gained control and the soldiers who have gained control in Africa are Mission boys, foreign-trained in foreign universities, ruling in a foreign language which alone can express the quite foreign colonial system which they have sought to take over. The only African ruler with an African background is General Amin. The others come from our system, and these Europeanised Parties are getting immensely rich by comparison with their people. This is one of the great difficulties of aid to Africa; how do you stop it simply getting into the hands of the ruling Party. It has been happening all the way through.

Then there is the question of law and order, the terrible examples we have seen in the ex-Portuguese colonies. Remember those two colonies were not racialist. I was in them a few years ago. There was no racial feeling at all. One constantly met Africans who were in command of Portuguese, both in the Army and in business. It was not an inefficient economy ; it was a lazy economy. I think probably in Mozambique it took live men to do the work which one man would have done in the Union of South Africa. But none the less it was a much happier society. In fact I think they avoided probably what have been the three curses of Africa; democracy as applied to Africa, efficiency and racialism. Those were the three things which the Portuguese avoided, and I think they were making a society which had great prospects. But it was too great a burden on the homeland and the nerve broke. Now we have seen this disaster, a Cuban conquerer on one side and simply anarchy on the other.

Now we have to look to the unhappy situation of the Rhodesians, and here, of course, the demand, the slogan of majority rule, has been the curse. I was over there when it all started 10 years ago. I had very long talks with Mr. Smith. At that time it was a quite feasible proposition that if this country would take over secondary education, which was quite agreeable, a constitution providing for an educated vote which would give a majority of black voters in about 12 to 15 years—that is by now—was perfectly acceptable. That could have been negotiated and done. It would not have meant one man one vote. It would not have meant majority rule. It would have meant shared rule. It would have meant a community which would not be the dictatorship either of a minority or a majority. It would have meant a State which perhaps had a chance of not joining the Fascist bloc which is the rest of Africa.

But those chances have now gone. I really cannot see how at this point one can advise our friends in Rhodesia to compromise any further. It seems at this point that you either abandon your country to what has happened in Mozambique and what has happened in Luanda —you abandon your country, as well as many of the Africans who were your friends, who have grown up with enterprises which we have created; you abandon civilisation to chaos—or you realise you have got to fight for it. Whether or not you can fight for it, I believe, is a matter of nerve. When Mr. Mukherjee—I think his name was mentioned—stated that we should not allow these white Rhodesians free immigration here, he may have done a great service to Rhodesia, because I believe that the one thing that could kill Rhodesia would be if the young men lose faith in her and start going. They have got to stay and fight.

I should like to see a closer link between Rhodesia and Israel, because Israel has had that experience. They have had to live and had the will to live and the nerve to live and the courage to live in a situation in which their neighbours are importing terrorism. They know there is no use in those circumstances simply sitting on the defensive. If invaders are sent into your land you have to pursue them and destroy their camps; you have to take your reprisals. You cannot sit this out on the defensive. If your people are kidnapped you have to go and fetch them—and what a splendid effort that was. These are the things with which a minority has to live, and it knows that living will depend on its will. I think for Rhodesia the time for soft talk has passed.

5.48 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, for allowing me to change places with him on the list; I have an engagement at six o'clock, and 1 know the noble Lord who is to reply will forgive me if I am not here for his reply. I need not have gone to that trouble, because, as always happens in short debates of this sort, the points that one wanted to make and thought rather important have already been made by noble Lords with perhaps greater experience of these matters than I can claim to have. But I should like to reinforce what they have said by saying this. This debate is very timely; the judgment of the noble Marquess on timing is absolutely right. I believe the standing of this country on this vital issue was, by our silence, falling very low. Everyone is expressing a view ; all nations which are considered of consequence seem to be giving their views, but at this vital time of obvious deterioration, surrounded by many dangers, we have had official silence. If the noble Marquess gets an answer that will let it be seen that we are still alive and very active in this field, only good can come from it.

In this debate today it is not so much the views of individuals we want—noble Lords have been very helpful, and we have all tried to be helpful in putting on the record what we feel about these things—but those of the Government. I should have thought that the noble Lord who is to reply will have to admit that the reply he gives as to the Government view on this important matter cannot be the same as it was ten or twelve years ago. Ten to twelve years ago things had not happened which have now clearly happened. The evidence is there now for us all to see. There is now clear evidence in contradiction of the rosy views as to what would happen if we had had majority rule—not that one even knew quite what that meant, but if it was majority rule as the people who used the term meant it, and if it had followed the lines they thought it would. We have the clear evidence outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, who named country by country. It looks as though all of the apprehensions that the white Rhodesians voiced when they were not prepared to accept the compromises that were being suggested have been confirmed. The rosy views that people on the other side of the argument put forward have been proved to be false.

They must be very unhappy about that, but in their unhappiness it is vital that they should accept the clear message which comes from it. The message which comes from what has happened over recent years is clearly that those who are agitating for majority rule, in the sense that they want it almost tomorrow, are people who have made it perfectly clear that they do not want Western influence to be in Africa at all. This nation has a greater responsibility than any other in this matter. The white Rhodesians are not only looking after themselves, but are our allies in trying to retain the Western influence in a part of the world which needs it perhaps more than any other part, and if we are to retain their support, their alliance with us, it is vital that the statement which the noble Lord gives voicing the Government's reaction should be one which will maintain their confidence.

I wonder whether it would not be practical and constructive to think in terms of removing sanctions, or at any rate of greatly watering them down. We have heard lots of suggestions that we are going to have bloodshed, as the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, said, if certain things do not happen. The equivalent of what has recently happened in Mozambique will happen if what other noble Lords have said happens. Ought not we to think in terms of admitting that whatever hopes sanctions may have offered when they were first started—and they have been supported by all Parties; this is not a Party matter—those hopes have not been fulfilled, and do not look like being fulfilled ? The only effect of sanctions has been to make it even more difficult for the people we want to help in Africa to get educated, trained, and be ready to take over the responsibility of government when at some time it comes, as we all know it will. There would be no weakness, there would be no question of showing any cowardice, if we said that sanctions had failed. It may well be that if we could remove or weaken the appeal of sanctions, it may give the white Rhodesians greater heart to compromise a little further than with sanctions. With all the world apparently against them they feel that they have to look after themselves, and bring themselves tightly together in order to be allowed to exist at all.

I would suggest to the noble Lord that to think in those terms may be one way of removing the threat of a holocaust, or the risk of bloodshed. The one thing we must not do is do nothing. The other thing that we must not do is to produce the same arguments that we produced ten to twelve years ago, before the evidence which has accumulated since was there for all of us to see and to take into account. The thing we must not do, if we want to retain the respect of the world and be able to go on exerting the influence that I believe over the centuries we have attained, is not to leave it to Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Vorster to talk about these things while we are not there or apparently applying no influence at all.

I suppose that behind everything is the question of time. I always felt that my noble friend Lord Home had almost got to the point where he was able to achieve a settlement that could have given worthwhile satisfaction to both sides. I am sorry that that did not occur. It almost did. If we can again get back to that point, and by weakening sanctions and recognising that the evidence of what they said would happen has happened in adjoining countries, we may be able to return to the point where we can take an extra step and bring about some sort of compromise that will remove this easy talk of a holocaust and bloodshed.

In a way the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, gave the answer when he quoted the development in our own country. He said that it was only since we had extended the franchise after the Reform Act that we had the Factory Acts and the local government Acts; and he spoke about all the things that he thinks have improved the way of life in this country, and I believe that to be so. But in saying that, he ought to have remembered that it took 100 years. There is no question that within two minutes of the Reform Act being passed the Factory Acts, the local government Acts and all these things we now look on with so much pride as advancement, happened. It took years. All that I think is needed in Rhodesia is for all sides to recognise that in order to get to the point where we can have multiracial government, where the aspirations of both white and black Rhodesians can be faced up to, is by recognising that it must take time.

We are going to have an explanation from the noble Lord from the Government side of what he believes is meant by majority rule. If he answers the Question put by the noble Marquess, and if we are to get to the point where we can avoid the talk of bloodshed, then we have to make some concessions on our side to show that we recognise the lesson of the last ten years. If we do that, I believe that the confidence will be there to carry on where the noble Lord, Lord Home, had to finish, when his was just a minor failure.

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, to all of us in this House who are passionately anxious to help towards a sensible settlement in what is after all British territory, and acknowledged as such, it is refreshing and timely at this moment to have this debate, for which we are indebted to the noble Marquess. It has produced a powerful and challenging speech from my noble friend Lady Elles from the Opposition Front Bench. We had a most refreshingly practical speech from my noble friend Lord Tranmire who, with his long Parliamentary experience and practical knowledge of the subject, was able to put the question before us with such conviction. Neglecting the limitations of Party loyalty, the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, has again refreshingly put before us other views which are interesting. My noble friend Lord Coleraine, to whom we always listen with interest, has made a speech from which we shall certainly profit by studying it in Hansard tomorrow. My noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls, who I know must leave shortly to catch a train, gave a practical picture and provided forceful cause for reflection. The noble Marquess can feel satisfied that he has initiated a very challenging, timely and helpful debate.

Contemporaneously, across the Atlantic in the United States, there arc joyous celebrations for the independence which was declared by the then rebel government of 1776. Our Queen in person is there to honour it, the same Monarchy for which the Rhodesians fought in World War II and in which their Prime Minister was severely injured. Sir Harold Wilson remains the barren hero of sanctions. Her Majesty's Government are ready to recognise, and quickly, any African or other State in which a bunch of fluent rebels with the aid of the gun, the bomb and the knife can secure power. Contrary-wise, the British Government regard as illegal Rhodesia, where internal law and order is maintained by a constitutionally elected British Government; I say " British Government " in this context because they are the same stock as those who, in the United States, declared their independence of Britain in 1776.

It is eleven years since an exchange of ambassadors took place. Is it to be a lifetime in the case of Rhodesia ? Is it not time that this nonsense about an outlaw Government was brought to an end ? Is not " forgiveness " in the vocabulary of the Christian bishops or even the World Council of Churches? A constitutional Government remains in Rhodesia. From research I did this morning about the United States it is interesting to note that so great has been its prosperity that, since my first visit to that Continent, the population has increased by no fewer than 140 million. I repeat that we are here speaking of Rhodesia being outlawed by the same folk who would deny to South Africa the arms with which to defend the Cape route, our lifeline, who would see Russia take over that part of the Continent or who would willingly give money to Mozambique, a wholly Communist and Marxist Government. I am sure that the majority of people in this country do not want to see the taxpayers' money being given to a country like that, for it would seem that by so doing the British Government are allying themselves with action by that Communist Government, something which is undoubtedly contrary to their announced intentions.

Terrorists are sent to Rhodesia from Mozambique for the murder and mutilation of black and white. I will, with the indulgence of the House, repeat the interpretation by an Anglican dean of " terrorism ": Terrorism stands for what it is, lawless violence. Christian opinion must turn in revulsion against it. Terrorism is indifferent and cruel in all its effects and it overthrows all recognised standards of national and international relations. I come briefly to another subject which is associated with Rhodesia and the whole of Southern Africa; namely, minerals and raw materials. It is on these that the manufacturing countries of Europe, Japan and, progressively so, of the United States, depend; and of course the control of raw materials permits blackmail. Russia has long understood this. Russia's first offensive in this connection was in the energy field, and what an upset that has brought about in the world! The Russians armed the Arabs and brought about the 1973 conflict in the Middle East. Raw materials are indeed the true issue behind the conflicts of today. What a glittering prize the Southern portion of Africa offers, with all its mineral and other resources, to anybody who controls it, and Russia recognises that.

According to authentic figures provided by the Government, since independence Zambia has received £114 million of British taxpayers' money. But she, too, is sending terrorists into Rhodesia. The Head of State is reported to have said: The only solution can come from violence. That country also pays money to send terrorists into Rhodesia. While Her Majesty's Government desire a peaceful settlement in a territory for which they claim responsibility, they countenance, indeed pay for, revolting violence by terrorism. I say that we should give Rhodesia time. We have there a mixed Government, black and white, with blacks in every administrative office; as in the Army, the police and in all Government offices dealing with education, agriculture and agricultural education. One need only look at what has been achieved in the sphere of agricultural education to see what has been done in this so-called illegal territory. Look at the research stations for maize, tobacco and cotton. They are accepted as being among the most efficient in the world.

Need I remind noble Lords that between the Roman and Norman invasions of Britain 1,000 years passed—and we were not so very well advanced even when the Normans arrived. Let us remember the promise for additional education in Rhodesia of, I believe, 10 millions from each Government thrown out by a 6 per cent. sample in the Pearce Report. I am sure that a referendum by those who understood such matters in Rhodesia would have not supported that decision. That is in addition to the 30 million dollars spent by Rhodesia last year in African education.

Today's Question deals with majority rule. We await with intense interest the reply of the noble Lord, Lord GoronwyRoberts. I have been having some correspondence with the noble Lord and I always appreciate his approachability. I am hoping that I shall today receive replies to some of the questions which I have sent him. We look for an interpretation of what majority rule " really means. My noble friends Lord Tranmire, Lord Salisbury and Lady Elles referred to this. We are all panting to hear the real interpretation of " majority rule ". Is it heads, including all those in the Tribal Trust areas and the kraals, who have not the least conception of what constitutional government is? Or does it mean sophisticated bodies?

Few of the countries in black Africa that we recognise have constitutional Governments, as has been clearly emphasised by other speakers this afternoon. Have we really a majority Government in this country? They have no overall majority. In the United States, the Polish vote delivered by Stas Radziwill, who died last week, exactly equalled the majority by which Kennedy overcame Nixon. Or again, there are those who might say that the non-white vote put the present Government into office in this country.

We should take heed of foreign dominance in Africa. The examples of Angola and Mozambique and the frightful massacres in the Congo, Uganda and Nigeria should be remembered. Why not trust the British leaders and those of British stock in Rhodesia and give time and help for a peaceful settlement? Why not set our aim against collaborating in any way, however indirectly, with terrorism or sanctions and dismiss this nonsense about present oppression? We have just seen an outstanding example of individual action. Surely the Israeli exploit is something we can admire. It gives the world an example of disregard of hypocritical United Nations discussions and wranglings and world opinion, putting the country's own immediate interests before protocol and diplomacy, meaning action, not words.

I ask that noble Lords should listen to the most informed people, as my noble friend urged. Remove white rule from Rhodesia too quickly and there will inevitably follow violence between the Matabele and the Mashona. The disarray in the ANC indicates that. I repeat, give Rhodesia time. Let it become the granary of Southern Central Africa, which today more than ever before needs food, technology and peace.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Marquess bears a proud name and we can be grateful to discuss his Unstarred Question. I specially noted the words in which it was couched. The noble Marquess asked the Government to state, precisely what advantage [will] accrue from majority rule. The word " precisely " is significant. May I put the ball in the noble Marquess's court and ask him precisely what advantage will accrue if minority rule goes on during this century in Rhodesia?

After the remarkable speech of my noble friend Lord Pitt, I find that there is really very little to say, and I shall be brief. But it is in the politics of today that we must look at African politics, not in the politics of the last century. We should now look at what is happening in Africa not from the self-regarding attitude of Western man—and that is what has mostly emerged from the speeches today. We have heard mostly about the superiority of white Western man who has had the advantage until the 20th century of reigning supreme in the world. Now that he is rather on the decline, he will not allow the less fortunate peoples of the world to come up as quickly as they want to.

To say that all the problems in Rhodesia come from outside, or that we can arrest Communism and that majority rule would be a catastrophe, in no way stops the march of history. We only have to look round at what is happening in the world apart from what is happening in Africa. Many speakers today have said that the white Rhodesians will fight to the death. But so will the black Rhodesians. So what those speakers are saying is only that a holocaust is inevitable.

To talk of such things as not being able to do business with an African civil servant, or to speak about the inadequacies of African agriculture or the African hospital services raises the question of whose fault that is. Is it not the fault of the white minority which has ruled up to now? The white people have only themselves to blame for all the things that are wrong with the services. Also, to say that the black people in Africa do not really want to rule themselves is what I call political baby talk. It bears no relation to reality. We do not know what evidence people have for talking such nonsense.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, I believe that the noble Baroness is referring to what I said. I can only say that, when I was in Rhodesia some weeks ago, I talked to a number of people and they told me that Africans they knew had expressed those views.


My Lords, I was not referring to what the noble Marquess said: I was thinking of what many Europeans have said to me about Rhodesia and really was not referring to what the noble Marquess said. We should all like to savour the wonders of gradualism in any process of government but, looking round the world, we cannot speak of white devils or black angels. We can only look towards freedom for minorities and equality for minorities, and the road towards that is a very rough one indeed.

We have no power to order a swift and peaceful path to majority rule because of many things, including past exploitations and past inequalities, both of which cast a very long shadow, and revolution is the price that a minority has to pay finally if it resists the majority during this century. People speak of the threat of Communism ; that threat will always be there if the democracies do not behave as they should, if they do not educate the minorities over which they rule. Everything that is wrong with capitalism will rebound in this way, and Communism will come. It is only when we make a mixed economy work well, when we make democracy work well, that we can avoid holocausts in places like Africa.

I think that the Government can do very little except to face and to deal with the realities of the situation. Up to now we have gone in for a certain amount of self-deception about the power which we can exert in Rhodesia. We have the legal power, but I do not believe that we have the actual power to do a great deal. There is no time in the present; majorities will not wait; they will wrest power wherever they can, even if they are in a very weak position to do it.

Finally, I should like to point out that there are two miracles which could take place in the world today if we looked at the facts facing us. The first is if apartheid in South Africa could, in a miraculous way, be overturned in one night, and the other is if in Rhodesia majority rule were accepted. I am not saying that if both these miracles happened there would he no violations of human rights anywhere in the world; but it would make the most tremendous difference to human rights in the world today.

6.24 p.m.


My Lords, I do not wish to detain your Lordships' House, and I am speaking for myself, not as a Party spokesman, but I felt that I could not leave without contributing at least one Liberal attitude to the debate. I have disagreed with, or thought shorth-sighted, most of the speeches from this side of the House. But one point which is absolutely true is that the technical ability and the enterprise shown by the white settlers in Rhodesia has created enormous agricultural wealth. We need this skill, enterprise and knowledge in Africa, and it will be some time before it can he taught to the natives of Rhodesia or other parts. But having said that, I believe it true to say that all the massacres, all the slaughter, and all the injustice which has been perpetrated in newly emerging, newly independent countries in Africa has has always been worst in those countries which have had least freedom, or least training or least preparation.

Of course we should be proud of how we have brought on these countries, but at least our success in relation to them must be measured by the countries which have been prepared, educated and given a chance. There is no other solution; it must be accepted that one cannot have islands of white supremacy which have been quite blatantly declared by the people there as not to be given up in their lifetime. I have never been in Rhodesia, but it is a fact that Prime Minister after Prime Minister has been discarded because they wished to go farther than the settlers would allow them to go. The present Prime Minister has had to give way on agreements which he had reached in principle simply because his constituents would not give up one iota of power.

We must say simply that there have been enormous imperfections, there are imperfections, there will be imperfections, and there will be trouble, but there is no other way except progress—and progress which can be seen—towards majority rule. I should like to ask the Government whether they would indicate how they would give guarantees—and I mean financial guarantees—to the able white farmers who, as has been said, are very necessary for production. Much of the trouble in Kenya has been caused by people who simply have not received economic justice for the work they put in in the past. It would be very valuable to the African populations if the white technicians could see a future in the country. Indeed, I believe that that is essential and I should very much like to have the Minister's views on that. Otherwise, there is no alternative to majority rule.

6.26 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a serious debate and I think on the whole a balanced one in which a very wide range of opinion has been expressed, beginning with the noble Marquess who marshalled his own particular view of the situation with his accustomed courtesy and clarity. He asked a number of fundamental questions to which I immediately address myself. He asked what do we mean by the term " majority rule "? As I told this noble House, on behalf of the Government, on 29th March, we mean the maximum possible participation of the people of Rhodesia, of whatever race, in choosing their own government. Anything else is not majority rule; indeed it is not natural rule. This does not necessarily mean immediate universal suffrage. Our own franchise remains qualified in certain respects; and certainly Members of this noble House do not fully participate in the privilege of one man, one vote. We do not choose Members of the other place.

But having said that—that no system of suffrage is unqualified—we must come down to the basics of this matter, which are that it is for the people of Rhodesia to decide what form of Government they want for their country. That decision must reflect the wishes of the majority. The noble Marquess made a suggestion that this Government, and elements in this country, are against the continuation of white participation in government in Southern Africa. This is certainly not the case. What we oppose is the imposi tion of white rule on the entire population of Southern Africa, of Rhodesia.

The noble Marquess asked—apparently in some disbelief—whether Britain would agree to a race relations board in Rhodesia. Well, it probably needs one, but that is one of the details which a properly convened constitutional conference might settle. He also asked about the pace at which majority rule would be implemented. My Lords, there is nothing sacrosanct about the figure of 18 months or two years, as mentioned by the Prime Minister. Indeed, he indicated that the Government are prepared to be flexible on this point. But I must warn the House that by far the prevailing view among the 6 million black Africans of Rhodesia and outside Rhodesia is that probably two years is far too long. We can only do our best, remembering that the people mainly concerned regard two years as excessive.


My Lords, the noble Lord is always so courteous that I hesitate to interrupt him, but how does he know that the majority of African opinion would regard two years as excessive ?


My Lords, I know from the information that Her Majesty's Government, which are not without their resources, are able to gather; but if there is any doubt about this perhaps the illegal régime would institute a properly conducted plebiscite in which everybody in Rhodesia can take part—possibly under international supervision in order to ensure that it is properly conducted. Then we will know.

I pass on now to the point made in the statement of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place on the 22nd March, and that is that majority rule is not an end in itself. Its acceptance is one of the preconditions, although a fundamental one, for the start of negotiations on the actual terms of a constitution for independence. The noble Baroness and others have asked me to state what the Government intentions are at this juncture. They are that when the illegal régime genuinely and conclusively accepts the principle of majority rule, then the way is clear for a properly convened constitutional conference in which will be settled not only the form of the future Government of Rhodesia—settled by discussion among all those concerned in that future—but also other details relating to economic and social affairs, and indeed the points of guarantee which the noble Lord, among others, raised during this debate. But the first step is for Mr. Smith and his colleagues—and the onus rests upon them —to state quite clearly and honestly that they accept this precondition.

Now the Unstarred Question asks for a statement of the benefits which we consider that majority rule would confer upon the peoples of Rhodesia. The first benefit, in fact, would be independence. It would accrue to the people of Rhodesia once the principle of majority rule was implemented. The one follows from the other. More concretely, majority rule will provide a basis—and the only basis, we believe—for the establishment of peace in Rhodesia. The Rhodesian authorities have laid the blame for the present violence everywhere but where it should be: just as the noble Baroness, of course, as usual, says that the whole responsibility is on the British Government. Not a word about the responsibility accruing to the fascist camarilla that has usurped authority for the last 11 years in Rhodesia in rebellion against the Queen! That is where the responsibility lies, and that is where the point of advance is possible—with these people who, for the past 11 years, have held down Rhodesia and imperilled the peace of an entire continent in so doing.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. May I ask him whether this means that Her Majesty's Government approve of the activities of the guerrillas coming in to adjust the balance, as he sees it?


My Lords, I will come to the question of the guerrillas in a moment. I will ask then: Which guerrillas, and which side? Because people in rebellion against constituted authority are themselves guerrillas.

I was asked repeatedly during this debate about the need for time to make a transition to majority rule, majority rule in the meantime being denounced as being in itself undesirable and, indeed, disastrous. But still, in spite of that, I was asked whether we would arrange for a very slow transition. There have been 11 years during which the kind of transition that has been urged on the Government this evening could have been effected gradually, credibly and acceptably in Rhodesia. Those 11 years have been wasted in an expenditure of arrogance and selfishness. One after another the leaders of this country, from both sides of the House—men of the stature and the humanity of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and, of equal stature in these matters, Sir Harold Wilson, and others—have gone out to place before the illegal régime and its leaders reasonable, practical proposals, and one after another during those 11 years they have been betrayed; and, with them, there have been betrayed the interests of all the peoples of Rhodesia. So let us not ask where the responsibility lies. That is why I have to say at this Box today that I fear that 18 months or two years is no longer acceptable to the peoples of Rhodesia for the transition.

The blood that is now being shed by all sides in the present conflict is shed because the majority of Rhodesians are being denied their legitimate aspirations—political, economic and social. Her Majesty's Government believe that if the preconditions outlined in the Statement of my right honourable friend in another place on the 22nd March are accepted—and there is time to accept them—it will be possible to negotiate a settlement which would recognise and meet those aspirations, and, hopefully, to work into them guarantees for the future for all the minorities of Rhodesia, thus securing a future, the only possible secure future, for all races in Rhodesia.

At this point I refer to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, who asked about the admission of, as he put it, Rhodesians of British stock to this country if the worse came to the worst. The answer is, of course, that there is no obstacle to the return to this country of Rhodesians with a right of abode—no obstacle at all. In fact, some of them are already returning to this country.

Secondly, returning to the question of benefits accruing from majority rule, majority rule would bring with it the prospect of a more prosperous future for Rhodesia. On the one hand, we are urged to discontinue sanctions; on the other, we are told that sanctions have rebuilt Rhodesia, giving it a new, flourishing lease of life. It is very difficult to know what the effect of sanctions has been.

However, if Rhodesia emerged through the proper processes as an independent country the economic benefits would be considerable not only to that country but—and here I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine—to countries adjacent to it. He raised a very interesting point when he spoke of the import of Rhodesian foodstuffs into Zambia. This has already ceased; but it is quite true that Rhodesia has the potential to become again a net exporter of food to her neighbours; but, for that, it is necessary for a return of peace, because there is no peace there now, with a chance of further investment and development. Another point that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, made was about Rhodesia's railway system. This is potentially of enormous economic benefit to the surrounding countries, including Zaire; but it is idle to think that African Governments will permit themselves to depend on a white minority régime indefinitely for access to the sea. They will continue to seek alternatives and, finally, to find them. Let us not belittle the point made by the noble Lord of the great importance of this railway not only to Rhodesia but to surrounding countries.

I pass on now to the third point of advantage which majority rule would bring to Rhodesia. It would provide the opportunity to tap the vast human potential which has been wasted in Rhodesia as a result of the illegal régime's oppressive racial policies. My noble friend Lord Paget asked which black African Government could be proud of their educational policy. He was making a very good point about the need for the expansion of education—and here I commend the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, about the need for technical education, too long neglected in Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Paget, asked which of them could be proud of their educational policy. Certainly not the Rhodesia of the illegal régime; because the situation there is that although Whites get their education free and it is compulsory, it is not compulsory for the blacks to receive education; and in any case they must pay for it.


My Lords, would the noble Lord permit me to interrupt ? Could he tell us which African-ruled country has a rate of African literacy equal to that of Rhodesia ?


My Lords, I could, of course, with notice, give the figures for this.


My Lords, I can give the figures now.


My Lords, that is the noble Lord's interpretation of the facts and I have some experience of the noble Lord's eloquence and of his—

A noble Lord: Partiality.


I would not say " partiality ", but (shall I say?) specific emphasis. Finally I would say a few words about—


My Lords, would the noble Lord give way before leaving education? Is it not a fact that the proposal by the former British Government, agreed to by the Rhodesian Government—was it for £10 million or £20 million each per annum—has now been rejected by the ANC?


My Lords, the ANC have looked very many of these gift horses in the mouth. I do not think that either the noble Lord or I will find the ANC receptive to these rather particularist proposals until they find a properly constituted constitutional conference sitting down to treat across the board all the questions arising from an orderly and effective transition to independence.

We are faced today in Rhodesia with an illegal régime which abuses the courts and the penal system for its own ends. There is daily evidence that the régime's courts are being used to silence the political aspirations of the majority. We believe there are at present in excess of 1,000 political detainees and prisoners in Rhodesia, not counting the tens of thousands herded into the so-called protected villages. Her Majesty's Government believe that the best hope of assisting all political prisoners is the achievement of a just and peaceful solution of Rhodesia's political and constitutional problem based on the principle of majority rule.

I detected in the Unstarred Question asked by the noble Marquess and in much of the debate which followed, a hint that majority rule does not mean the same in Britain as it would if it were effected in Africa. This was echoed by a number of participants in the debate. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, that we should have done much more to help the Africans to fashion the systems of Government best suited to their history, their temperament and their desires. We have not done one-tenth enough in that field of education in this vast continent where our responsibility in the past has been so immense. We can still help to do this, and our posture and policies towards Africa and its independent countries are based on this realisation that we still can as the former imperial Power now genuinely concerned about assisting these new States in their path to social progress. We can certainly make a contribution now, but not on the basis of sticking out in favour of the retention of a white-based dictatorship in Rhodesia. Anything we say to the Africans until we have ensured a majority rule in Rhodesia will not carry credibility with them.


My Lords, will the noble Lord not appreciate that to use European catch-phrases like " majority rule " makes the Africans think that we are not thinking in the terms he envisages ?


My Lords, that may be so. I was agreeing with the noble Lord that we should in the past have assisted them—and probably have a chance now, if our posture is right, to assist them—and worked with them to achieve majority rule in terms that affect the African background and aspirations. If there is a quarrel against the phrase, let us find another phrase. It is a perfectly effective and a precise description of what we are all after.

The choice before us is not a choice between a continuation of the past way of life in Rhodesia, on the one hand, and some uncertain future under majority rule. The choice is a direct one between chaos, bloodshed and misery and a fresh start and a real effort to build a just society using all that is best from every section of the Rhodesian people. If Rhodesians do not make this effort, then all the good that has been created in that country and of course many white Rhodesians have made tremendous contributions to that country's development—stands to be destroyed. Time and time again in the past 11 years all that could have been saved for Rhodesia as a whole. There was every chance to break from the rock of intransigence of a tiny minority of self-privileged people in Rhodesia. These are the policies which so far have made it impossible for us to make an advance on this problem.

The first requirement, as I said, is an acceptance by the illegal régime of the principle of majority rule. The British Government, of course, will move swiftly from that point. Indeed, the intransigence of the white minority risks provoking the very disaster which they claim to be striving to avoid. Here the impressive speech made by my noble friend Lord Pitt will bear study when it is published in the Official Report tomorrow. I agree with him. The short cut to Communism in Africa is along the Smith road. The only way to avoid the imprint of Communism on Africa is for Europe to get alongside Africa. We are told not to lecture the white minority. It is all right to lecture the African. It is time Europe ceased lecturing the African about his civilisation. Europe in the last few generations produced Auschwitz, Belsen and the unimaginable horrors of the last war.

Now it is time for Europe to become a true partner with Africa. If you want to prevent Africa from going Red, recognise that it is black because the national feeling of Africa goes much deeper than any imported ideology. That is the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Indeed, it is the policy of the Western democracies generally today, to recognise that the fundamentals of this great continent are national and racial in the best sense of the word, and not ideological. Our contribution to Africa must be made as friends and partners. The noble Baroness, as usual, threw me into a certain combative mood when she asked a series of probing questions: " Why has Britain left it to Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Vorster to discuss Rhodesia ? " As if this country has never discussed Rhodesia with either of those two gentlemen before! " Those two gentlemen came together and exchanged ideas. Why were we not there ? " Really! The answer is that Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Vorster discussed Southern Africa as a whole, and there is no reason why we, or our friends and partners in the Community for that matter, should have been ,resent at that particular exchange of ideas. Of course we are in constant touch with both the United States Government and the South African Government about questions concerning Rhodesia. Dr. Kissinger gave us a full account in confidence of his talks with Mr. Vorster. He also made clear in Lusaka on 27th April his strong support for British policy in Rhodesia.

As for the European Community, British policy has been fully discussed and continues to be discussed with the countries of the Community, and the Community as an entity has expressed strong support for the Prime Minister's Statement of 22nd March. The noble Baroness asked what we had done to tell the Rhodesian Europeans of the dangers of continuing with their present attitude. She wanted more lectures. Successive Governments have done everything possible so far back as I can remember—Conservative and Labour Governments—to spell out to the white population in Rhodesia the consequences of their actions. Statements by Ministers have been carried by the BBC, the World Service and indeed in the Rhodesian Press. I hope that this debate will be read extensively in Rhodesia. If I may say so without presumption, all the speeches have been extremely competent. Some of them of course have been excellent on the point of view of explaining fully the consensus of view in this country about the way Rhodesia should develop in the future.

I end on this note, my Lords: it is a serious matter. I hope I am wrong. I hope that those who have taken part in this debate, and who have spoken of the approaching holocaust, are all wrong. But hoping is not enough; action must be taken. We have made clear to the illegal régime—once more I address myself to the Liberal Benches—that if they indicate effectively and genuinely that they accept this basic principle of majority rule, then the gates will be wide open not only for conclusive constitutional discussions, but also for the consideration of all the necessary economic and social guarantees, if you will, that should follow such a settlement.

This country has a long and honourable record, of its own volition, of assisting former colonies, dependencies, from their situation of dependency to that of independence and, in so doing, to take account not only of the national aspiration which demands independence, but also the economic and social consequences of the tradition. It would not be found wanting if the peoples of Rhodesia and, above all, its present régime, gave the effective signal that such discussions leading to such a transition from dependency to independence were now possible. This country will play its part to help Rhodesia to a multiracial, prosperous future, as it has done in so many cases in so many other parts of the world.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I put one point to him. It relates more directly than the latter part of his speech to the Question on the Order Paper. In the latter part of his speech he made a most eloquent declaration of general Government policy towards Rhodesia. He was perfectly entitled to do so, and the House wanted him to do so. I wonder whether I may refer him back to this extent to the Question on the Order Paper. He is asked what advantage the Government expect to accrue to the peoples of Rhodesia from the application of the principle of majority rule.


My Lords, with very great respect indeed, I will challenge the generalisation as to what precisely has happened in all countries of Africa. They have developed in various and uneven ways, but I think we should be misleading ourselves if we grouped all new States in Africa under one umbrella. That is not the position. We wish to apply our own special Western European criterion to such States and hope that they would all develop to our satisfaction. They have not; but I know of no new State in Africa where the possibilities of development in their own way towards stability, peace and co-operation with their neighbours is either dead or impossible. There is not one State— n ot even after last weekend, and so I would say there is not a single exception to that.

The first part of the noble Lord's question is well taken: what guarantee have 1? At this stage, nobody can guarantee that the kind of Rhodesia we all want to see will in fact emerge from even the most carefully arranged and brilliantly chaired and led discussions. That is the tragedy of it. If we had used only the last 11 years, I do not think we should be in this position today of questioning whether we might succeed. If, first, the illegal régime would say: " Yes, we accept this. Let us get together and let us talk "; and then Britain were to say: " We will chair this conference and we will call it together and invite all elements in Rhodesia to come there and sit down "; and if nothing is excepted from the discussion, I have faith that we might be able to do it. But the time gets shorter every day. Every day this decision is being hammered out on the anvil of guerrilla warfare makes it less probable that what the noble Lord and I, and of course the whole House, want to see in Rhodesia may be achieved. So one guarantees the first part of what the noble Lord said just now, but one cannot agree with the second part.


My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the fact that there are seven new black Ministers in Mr. Smith's Government is a matter of great importance?


My Lords, it is not for me to agree, but it is for the black population to agree, including the ANC—and they hooted with derision when the announcement was made.